The only way to guard your mind from being mislead by these false arguments to learn how to spot them. There are 10 common logical fallacies used to 95% of the time. Learn to how to spot these common tactics and you won’t fall into their mind trap.
Fallacies are Illogical Arguments
An argument is a tool of language which is used to persuade and convince people to buy or accept an idea. A logical argument uses sound common sense reasoning and valid premises. A fallacy is a mistaken assumption often based on false or unsound reasoning.
A fallacy is an illogical argument. They do not use sound reasoning or valid facts. If we can Identify them, we can avoid being misled.
“Before the truth can set you free, you need to recognize the lies that make up your prison.” ― Guru Tua
The Logical Fallacy is a 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 can 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.
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.
Learn to Spot 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.
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 was convincing, but because people accepted 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.
The strawman argument is framing an issue in a way which makes it easy to defeat. This tactic exaggerates and misrepresents the facts. It can also be used to undermine the credibility or integrity of the opponent.
Then they repeat the distortion, and contrast it with their position. This kind of tactic undermines rational debate.
We start our list with the strawman fallacy because it’s a favorite of unscrupulous religious and political pundits. Of the 10 common logical fallacies, it is the one you will find the most often. It is often combined with other fallacies to disguise it.
One political party uses this almost exclusively. Need a hint? Their mascot symbol is the world’s largest living mammal from Africa with distinctive long ears, a large body and trunk.
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. Sound familiar? It follows a similar pattern to the slippery slope tactic below.
2) Logical Fallacy Slippery Slope
All fallacies are illogical arguments. This one is called “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 assertion. It is a slippery slope which shifts attention to the baseless extreme hypothetical result. The unsupported and often outlandish conjecture distracts the audience from the real issue.
For 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. Logical Fallacies are illogical arguments that make sense if want to believe the premise is true.
3) The Poor Argument
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
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) Ad Hominem Attack
Ad Hominem is Latin for “to the person.” Here, the tactic is to attack the character of your opponent. The goal is to undermine the credibility of your opponent. This way, you don’t need to deal with the substance of their arguments. You see this tactic in politics. It is a slippery slope of choice for the narcissist and con man.
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
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, require an understanding of genetics and statics.
Many scientific theories require in-depth 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 complexity of the subject, 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
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 is a Slippery Slope of 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 will 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 is the tactic that sets the logical fallacy slippery slope in fast motion. People use it in rapid succession with other strategies for misdirection. The false dilemma is a tactic used by dictators. It helps them deflect any arguments. Remember fallacies are illogical arguments, so look for other possibilities and options to see past this smoke screen.
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. Here, the conclusion includes one or more invalid premises. They assume the truth of the proposition without being able to prove it is true. You find this argument used to support ingrained false assumptions.
For example, the underlying assumption is the word of the god 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
We know fallacies are illogical arguments cloaked in emotion. We must learn to dissect the emotional rhetoric for the underlying premises. Then we need to fact check.