Spotting these 10 common logical fallacies is the only way to guard against being manipulated. We have compiled a set of the most common misconceptions that destroy your reasoning abilities. Once you can spot these tactics, you won’t fall into their trap.
Arguments sell ideas. Ideas can set us free, or beliefs can imprison us. Identifying the misuse of arguments will help you avoid many pitfalls. It will keep you from buying into spurious and invalid claims and ideas.
A logical fallacy is a tactic of persuasion. It’s an intentional misrepresentation people use to sell an idea.
“Before the truth can set you free, you need to recognize the lies that make up your prison.” ― Guru Tua
Logical Fallacy Slippery Slope
Spotting these 10 common logical fallacies is a necessary skill in the modern world. We are bombarded with all types of propaganda every day. So, learning how to identify false claims and statements is critical.
If you don’t spot them, they lead to extreme worldviews and beliefs which have little or no basis in fact. The problem is these unfounded views distort your thinking, they “kill the mind’s ability” to think rationally.
These tools, which are a part of our modern culture, aren’t new, but they have found new ways to use them. Self-hypnosis and group hypnosis date back to the beginning of civilization in Assyria and Babylon. This programming is prevalent in our modern culture. This propaganda shows up in many kinds of media.
The slippery slope of these tactics leads downward to the belief in nonsense known as “conspiracy theories.” Learning to identify and challenge them is the best way to unmask their hypocrisy and inaccuracy.
This list will help you to identify these tactics quickly. It’s is just one of the tools which will enhance your critical thinking. We recommend two other logical tools: logical reasoning and the truth-seekers axioms. Together they provide a mental inoculation against a host of harmful things.
To be sure, these analytical sciences do not have all the answers. Yet, these sciences provide tools to identify fact from fiction. This list isn’t exhaustive. It contains the ones you’ll encounter the most.
Spotting 10 Common Logical Fallacies
These false arguments only work when you do not challenge them. So, by all means, when you encounter these tactics, challenge them. When you point out their errors, it takes away their false power. Otherwise, they continue to use them, which is a slippery slope leading to further deceptions. It’s easy to fall down the slippery slope because we are subject to religious indoctrination that programs harmful scripts. So, losing your faith in imaginary friends is the best thing that could happen.
We’ve seen this happen in the US presidential debates in 2016. When a bully uses a false argument and gets away with it, they use it repeatedly. Not because the proposition is convincing but because you accept the fallacy. The same bully tried the technique in 2020, but it didn’t work. Confronting the behavior directing exposes the tactic. It makes all the difference.
1) Strawman Fallacy
When you misrepresent the argument to make it easy to attack, you’ve created a strawman. Here we see exaggerating, misrepresenting, or fabricating an idea. By distorting the other person’s statement, it’s easier to present your position as valid. This kind of dishonesty serves to undermine rational debate.
We start with the strawman fallacy because it’s a favorite of unscrupulous religious and political pundits. Of the 10 common logical fallacies, this one is most often used along with other fallacies. It’s a way of disguising it.
For example, “A” says we should put more money into health and education. “B” responds by saying, “A” hates our country. He wants to leave it defenseless by cutting military spending. In the above example, “B” misrepresents what “A” said. Then fabricates assumptions. It follows a similar pattern to the slippery slope tactic below.
2) Logical Fallacy Slippery Slope
We use the same example above, “A” says we should put more money into health and education. “B” responds by saying, “A” hates our country. He wants to leave it defenseless by cutting military spending.
This fallacy asserts that if “A” happens, “Z” is the result. Therefore, we should not allow “A” to happen. This tactic avoids the factual basis of the connection between the assertion and the consequences. Instead, it shifts attention to the baseless extreme hypothetical result. The unsupported and often outlandish conjecture distracts the audience from the real issue.
Example: Rod says to Emily that if you believe in climate change, its required policies will destroy our way of life. Consequently, destroying our entire country, and we will die, destitute, and homeless. In this example, we see how Rod attaches unsubstantiated conclusions to climate change.
3) The Poor Argument Fallacy
Presuming the argument’s substance is invalid because of the facts’ poor presentation. Few things are more frustrating than watching someone argue a valid point with flawed logic and presentation. In many cases, someone wins a debate not because they are right but because they are better at debating. They are better at presenting a compelling argument, even if it is entirely wrong. No example is necessary.
“The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.” ― Carl Sagan
4) Substituting the Burden of Proof Fallacy
They say that the burden of proof lies not with the person making a claim but with someone else to disprove their hypothesis or claim. But, the burden of proof lies with the person making the argument or claim, not upon someone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove an assertion does not make a claim valid.
Example: Bertrand claims that God exists and is sitting on a throne in another dimension. Since we cannot disprove it, it must be true. Similarly, Bertrand claims God wrote a book, and because we cannot disprove that God didn’t write it, it must, therefore, be true. It’s an Argument from Ignorance, which asserts that their conclusion is correct because there is no evidence to prove it is false. Don’t fall for this. The burden of proof is always on the person claiming the existence of something.
5) Logical Fallacy Ad Hominem
Ad Hominem is Latin for “to the person.” An attack on the character or personal traits instead of engaging with their argument. Ad Hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody or, more subtly, casting doubt on their character. The result of an ad hominem attack can be to undermine someone without engaging with their arguments.
Logical Fallacy Ad Hominem is becoming a common tactic in politics. Discrediting the person is always a distraction from the substance of the actual argument. It’s a favorite tactic of the bully. So, spotting logical fallacies is only part of the equation; you need to call them out on the tactic after identifying them.
For example, calling someone a demeaning name when addressing them, “She’s bad.” Using repetition works. Even if this slander has no basis, the ordinary person will associate “she’s bad” with her, whoever she is, regardless if she’s done anything wrong. You would think this simple tactic would be too transparent to work, but sadly it still does. Re-watch the Presidential debates of 2016 in the United States. They often combine it with the strawman proposition above.
6) Personal Incredulity Fallacy
Essentially they are saying they don’t understand the argument or the facts. So, because it’s too complicated, it can’t be valid. Some scientific subjects can be complicated. Subjects like biological evolution, for example. To understand how it works, you need more than a passing knowledge of several fields of science. So, claiming something is not true because you don’t understand it is a fall-back strategy. When one does not understand the subject matter’s complexity, they assume it must be false.
Example: Kirk draws a picture of a fish and a human. He asks Richard if he is stupid enough to believe a fish can become a human. He says this can’t happen by chance. Note, this example also incorporates an Ad Hominem attack. It implies Richard is stupid to give credence to the theory of biological evolution. Nice going, Kirk!
“You can’t use reason to convenience, anyone, out of an argument that they didn’t use reason to get into.”― Neil deGrasse Tyson
7) Loaded Question Fallacy
A loaded question is asking something which has a built-in assumption. In this way, you cannot answer the question without appearing guilty of something. The loaded question fallacy effectively derails rational debate because of its inflammatory nature. The recipient of the loaded question feels compelled to defend themselves.
Example: In a verbal sidewalk debate, Phillip asks Ron, Have you had sex with our teacher all you want? No matter how Ron responds, he appears guilty. If Ron replies no, it sounds like an admission he has had sex with the teacher. It’s just not as much as Ron wanted. If he doesn’t respond, he “appears” guilty. The correct answer would be, that is an absurd and loaded question.
8) The Gambler’s Fallacy
This fallacy believes that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena such as when a roulette wheel spins. This fallacy creates an entire city in the State of Nevada, USA. The overall odds of a big run are low and improbable because each wheel’s spin is entirely independent of the last turn.
Example: Red had come up six times in a row on the roulette wheel. So, Greg presumes that Black would be next. Greg has a 50/50 chance of losing again.
9) Black or White Fallacy The False Dilemma
Presenting two alternatives as the only two choices is the premise for many inaccurate comparisons. In this “set up,” the answer must either be A or B, black or white. They offer this tactic in the correct form of a deductive argument. However, under closer scrutiny, there are more possibilities than presented.
This tactic is one of the 10 common logical fallacies used by propaganda outlets posing as informational or newscasts. A case in point is the far-right TV station Fox News. It’s a common ploy used on the Christian Broadcasting Network. In one hour of programming, you are sure to spot its use at least 2 or 3 times.
You can spot this because the two possibilities are cloaks for bias and prejudice. The black or white fallacy is a popular choice of those in front of an audience. They design this ploy to elicit an emotional response from the crowd. It keeps the respondent from offering rational alternatives. So some call this tactic the False Dilemma.
This tactic sets the logical fallacy slippery slope in fast motion. People use it in rapid succession with other strategies for misdirection. Of all the tools for spotting logical fallacies, this is one you’ll find most often used by dictators. It helps them deflect any arguments.
Examples: Either believe in the same God that I do, or you are a Devil. If we feed the poor people, we’ll run out of money to protect the nation.
10) Begging the Question Fallacy
Begging the question is a circular argument in which the conclusion includes invalid premises. The logically incoherent proposition often arises where people have ingrained assumptions. These assumptions are often things that people do not want you to question. So, they must defend them regardless of the other possibilities or despite evidence against their deeply held belief.
Example: The word of Apollo is flawless and perfect. We know this because it says so in the great and infallible “Book of Apollo.” So Apollo exists. Because we give Apollo offerings and prayers, he blesses us with miracles. So, they assert this is evidence of the greatness of Apollo. Around and around, it goes.
Final Thoughts on the 10 Common Logical Fallacies
Learning how to spot these fallacies is a necessary skill in our world. We need to know how to identify these tactics to be persuaded by these mind control tactics. We suggest reviewing this list from time to time. We also recommend a thorough understanding of Logical Reasoning and the Truth-Seekers Axioms.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia