In any debate or argument, it’s important to back up your claims with evidence. However, people sometimes try to win an argument using flawed logic. This is called a fallacy.
There are many different types of argument fallacies. It is important to be aware of them to avoid making errors in reasoning. Argument fallacies can be tricky to spot. Thus, you should learn about them to avoid them.
What Is Argument Fallacy?
We have all heard arguments that just don’t make sense, but did you know there is a name for this reasoning? It’s called an argument fallacy. Argument fallacies are logical errors that can occur in arguments.
Fallacies can occur due to lapses in reasoning, incorrect assumptions, or emotional appeals. Argument fallacies can be difficult to spot, but they can invalidate an argument and lead to false conclusions.
Fallacious arguments are often used in advertising and political speeches. Recognizing fallacies is important for assessing the validity of arguments and making sound decisions.
How To Recognize a Fallacy?
Fallacies often undermine the meaning of your arguments. They are of different types, but they all share one common feature: they allow someone to reach a false conclusion based on faulty reasoning.
While fallacies can be difficult to spot, some general strategies can help you identify them.
- Pay attention to how the argument is structured because if the argument’s premises are not logically valid, then the conclusion is likely to be false.
- Look for patterns of reasoning that are often used to mislead people. For example, appeals to emotion or authority can distract from the lack of evidence supporting an argument.
- Beware of arguments that rely on oversimplification or generalizations. These are often used to make an opposing view seem less credible. By being aware of these common strategies, you can learn to recognize a fallacy when you see it.
Types Of Argument Fallacies
Students of rhetoric knows fallacies can be dangerous. A fallacy is an error in reasoning that can lead to a false or incorrect conclusion. Fallacies can be tricky to spot, but they’re not so difficult once you know what to look for. Here are common argument fallacies that you should be on the lookout for.
Here is the list of fallacies that will help you identify the types and ways to avoid them in your writing.
Ad hominem is Latin for “against the person.” An ad hominem fallacy occurs when someone criticizes their opponent’s character instead of engaging with their argument. This attack is often seen in political debates, where one candidate will try to discredit their opponent by pointing out their flaws.
While it can be tempting to resort to this type of attack in an argument, it is important to remember that it does not address the underlying issue.
In easy wording, acceptance and rejection are based on the source, not merits. Furthermore, ad hominem attacks can often backfire, making the attacker appear unprofessional or even bullies.
For example, imagine two candidates for office debating. One candidate might say, “My opponent is a liar and can’t be trusted.” This is an ad hominem fallacy because the candidate is attacking their opponent’s character instead of focusing on the issues.
How To avoid?
Similarly, while writing an essay, it is important to stay focused on the argument and avoid personal attacks. This doesn’t mean that you can’t point out your opponent’s flaws, but you should do so in a way that is respectful and professional. By avoiding the ad hominem fallacy, you can ensure that your essay is logical and well-reasoned.
A straw man fallacy occurs when someone creates a false version of their opponent’s argument and then argues against that false version.
When writing an argumentative essay, it’s important to be aware of the straw man fallacy. This is when you present your opponent’s argument in a weakened or distorted way, making it easier to refute.
For example, imagine you are writing an essay about gun control. Your opponents might argue that restrictions on gun ownership would infringe on people’s second amendment rights.
However, you could distort their argument by saying that they want everyone to be able to own a machine gun. This would be a straw man argument because it’s not really what your opponents believe
How To Avoid
When making your arguments, be sure to represent your opponents’ views fairly and accurately. Otherwise, you risk falling into the straw man trap.
The false dilemma fallacy or false dichotomy is a type of error in reasoning that occurs when an argument presents two options as the only possible when there are other options available.
One of the most common ways the false dilemma fallacy appears is when an argument attempts to force someone to accept one side of a debate by presenting the other side as unacceptable.
For example, an argument might claim that we either accept the theory of evolution or believe that God created everything exactly as it is today. This presents two options, extremes, implying that there is no middle ground or compromise between them.
However, this is not always the case. There may be other theories that could explain how both evolution and creation could have occurred.
How To Avoid
The false dilemma fallacy is a common error in reasoning. Still, it can be avoided by considering all supporting evidence and options before concluding. When presented with an argument that offers only two extreme options, take a step back and consider if other less extreme or more moderate options are available.
Remember that just because something cannot be definitively disproved does not mean it must be true. And finally, remember that even if two things seem mutually exclusive at first glance, there may be a way to combine or reconcile them into a single cohesive whole.
Appeal To Ignorance or Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam
An appeal to ignorance fallacy occurs when you assume something is true simply because it hasn’t been proven false, or vice versa.
For example, let’s say you’re writing an essay about whether or not extraterrestrial life exists. It would be a fallacy to say that extraterrestrial life must exist because we haven’t proven that it doesn’t exist.
Similarly, it would be a fallacy to say that extraterrestrial life can’t exist because we haven’t proven that it does exist.
We simply don’t know one way or the other, and making either of these assumptions would be fallacious. So next time you write an essay, watch out for the Appeal to Ignorance fallacy.
How To Avoid
To avoid this fallacy, you need to base your arguments on evidence, not the lack of evidence. If you can back up your claims with hard facts and logical reasoning before claiming it to be true or false, only then you’ll be well on your way to writing a persuasive essay
The slippery slope fallacy is the belief that one event will lead to another event, and then to another until finally, a disastrous event occurs. This fallacy is often used in arguments against taking action since it can be used to show that the proposed action will have dire consequences.
A slippery slope fallacy occurs when someone suggests that one thing will lead to another without any evidence supporting that claim. It is also called post hoc ergo propter hoc – a Latin phrase that means because of this, after this.
For example, imagine someone saying, “If we allow same-sex marriage, then the next thing you know, people will be marrying animals!” This is a slippery slope fallacy because there’s no evidence to support the claim that same-sex marriage would lead to people marrying animals.
How To Avoid
The slippery slope fallacy should be avoided in both writing and debate. When evaluating an argument, look for this fallacious thinking, as it can cloud your judgment and lead to poor decisions.
Circular arguments assume the truth of what they are trying to prove. This makes them logically invalid because the argument doesn’t prove anything if the premise is already assumed true.
This argument occurs when the writer begins their essay by restating the prompt in different words.
For example, if the prompt asks the writer to discuss whether or not global warming is caused by human activity, and the writer begins their essay by saying, “There is no denying that human activity is responsible for global warming,” they have committed a fallacy.
This is because they have not provided evidence to support their claim- they have simply restated the prompt. As a result, their argument is circular and lacks any substance.
How To avoid
To avoid this mistake, it is important to ensure that each paragraph of your essay contains evidence supporting your claims. Simply restating the prompt is not enough. You must provide concrete evidence to support your assertions. Otherwise, your argument will be weak and unconvincing.
Moreover, circular arguments may be emotionally compelling but not sound logical. Therefore, they should be avoided in formal debates and discussions.
A hasty generalization is a fallacy when someone draws a conclusion based on insufficient evidence. This type of error can occur in writing when an author relies on stereotypes or makes sweeping statements without backing them up with facts or data.
A hasty generalization is a logical fallacy when someone draws an overly broad conclusion based on insufficient evidence. This error often occurs when people make sweeping statements about entire groups of people based on a small number of observations.
For example, if someone says, “all obese people are lazy,” this would be a hasty generalization. While it’s true that some obese people may be lazy, many obese people are not lazy.
Furthermore, if you meet a few people from a particular country who are rude, you might mistakenly assume that all citizens are rude.
Likewise, if you see a few cars with out-of-state license plates parked in handicapped spots, you might wrongly assume that out-of-staters are more likely to break the law. In these cases, the evidence does not support the conclusions being drawn.
How To Avoid
To avoid falling victim to this type of error, it’s important to be aware of your own biases and only to draw conclusions based on verifiable facts. When in doubt, it’s always best to err on caution and refrain from making any hasty generalizations.
Moreover, it is important to use evidence and specific examples to support your claims.
Appeal To Hypocrisy
The Appeal to Hypocrisy is a fallacious argument that takes advantage of someone’s inconsistency and discredits their position. It is also sometimes called the “tu quoque” fallacy, which in Latin stands for “you too.”
This fallacy gets its name because the person who uses it attempts to discredit their opponent’s position by pointing out that they are hypocritical.
Person A is hypocritical because they say that abortion is wrong, but they don’t think contraception should be banned.” In this case, the person making the argument is trying to discredit person A’s position on abortion by pointing out their inconsistency.
However, this is fallacious because there are many possible explanations for why person A holds the two positions (they could believe that abortion is a unique case or that it’s a lesser evil than contraception, etc.).
So the inconsistency itself doesn’t show that their position is wrong. If you want to use someone’s inconsistency against them in an argument, you need to do more than just point it out. Show that it’s relevant to the issue. Otherwise, you’re committing the Appeal to Hypocrisy fallacy.
In another example, if someone argues that you should not eat meat because it is cruel to animals, you might point out that they are wearing leather shoes. This would appeal to Hypocrisy because you are not addressing the argument that eating meat is cruel to animals. You are simply pointing out that the person making the argument is being inconsistent.
Why is this Fallacy Used
This fallacy is often used to deflect criticism or avoid taking responsibility for one’s actions. It can also be used to gaslight someone by making them question their own beliefs and values. The Appeal to Hypocrisy fallacy is a dangerous weapon in any debating arsenal and should be used with caution.
How To Avoid
If you want to avoid the Appeal to Hypocrisy Fallacy in your writing, ensure you’re not simply pointing out that your opponent is a hypocrite. You must go beyond that and show why their position is false or irrelevant. Only then will you be able to make a strong argument.
A red herring is a fallacious argument that directs an audience away from the truth. It is a common error in writing essays. This occurs when the writer introduces a new piece of information unrelated to the main argument. This new information can be used to distract or mislead the reader, causing them to lose focus on the main point.
The red herring fallacy can be used intentionally to deceive the reader or simply as an error in judgment. It is often used in debates or discussions to steer the conversation differently.
The term “red herring” comes from the practice of using smoked herring as a way to train hound dogs. The strong scent of the fish would lead the dogs away from their intended target towards the fish. Similarly, a red herring argument can be used to distract people from the real issue at hand.
While it can be effective in the short term, it is a dishonest tactic that fails to address the underlying problems.
How To Avoid
There are a few ways to avoid falling into this trap when writing essays.
First, stay on topic and do not allow yourself to be sidetracked by irrelevant information. Second, back up any claims you make with evidence and factual information.
Finally, if you get off track, take a moment to step back and refocus on the main issue.
By following these simple tips, you can avoid committing the Red Herring fallacy in your writing.
The causal fallacy is a logical error that occurs when someone incorrectly assumes that there is a causal relationship between two events. A person assumes that one event causes another, believing time and connection between the two events. This Fallacy is also a type of superstitious belief.
For Example, Whenever we wash the car, it rains.
If someone sees a black cat crossing their path and has bad luck, they may mistakenly believe it caused their misfortune. The causal fallacy can also occur when people confuse correlation and causation. Just because two events are related does not necessarily mean that one event caused the other.
For example, there may be a correlation between eating ice cream and having a higher risk of sunburn, but that does not mean that eating ice cream causes sunburn. The causal fallacy is often used to create false narratives or to make flawed arguments.
How To Avoid
To avoid falling victim to the causal fallacy, it is important to carefully examine the evidence before drawing any conclusion. You can also look for alternative explanations. This way, you can avoid making false assumptions and coming to erroneous conclusions. Critical thinking skills are essential for avoiding fallacies in general and the causal fallacy.
Appeal To Authority
When you use an appeal to authority, you try to convince your reader that something is true because an expert or famous person says it is. This is a fallacious form of argument because the expert’s opinion is not necessarily indicative of the truth of the claim.
For this appeal to be valid, the expert must be truly an expert on the subject in question, and their opinion must be relevant to the claim being made. Additionally, the arguer must present the expert’s opinion fairly and honestly. Unfortunately, often this criterion is not met, and people fall prey to this fallacy.
A recent example of this can be seen in an essay published in a major newspaper. In this essay, the author appealed to the authority of a professor specializing in climate change to support their claim that humans are not causing climate change.
However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the professor’s opinion was cherry-picked and presented as biased to sway the reader’s opinion. As a result, this appeal to authority was ultimately unsuccessful and served only to further muddy the waters on an already highly contested issue.
Just because someone says something is true doesn’t make it so. To argue effectively and responsibly, you need to use actual persuasive evidence
How To Avoid
To avoid committing this fallacy, it is important to only appeal to experts who are experts on the subject at hand and whose authority is relevant to the claim being made.
The sunk cost fallacy is a type of reasoning that can lead people to make poor decisions. The sunk cost fallacy occurs when people believe they must continue investing in something because they have already invested so much.
For example, someone might continue writing an essay even though it is not going well because they have already spent so much time on it.
The sunk cost fallacy is a cognitive bias that can lead to suboptimal decision-making. People mistakenly believe that the more they invest in something, the more valuable it becomes. However, this is not always the case.
Sometimes, it is better to cut one’s losses and move on. The sunk cost fallacy can lead people to persevere in tasks that are not worth doing or to hold on to possessions that are no longer useful. To make rational decisions, it is important to be aware of the sunk cost fallacy.
How To Avoid
To avoid falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy, it is important to be aware of its existence and to constantly remind ourselves that the past is irrelevant when making decisions about the future. With this in mind, we can more objectively evaluate whether or not something is worth our time and effort and make decisions accordingly.
Many people believe that they can make any claim they want in an essay, and as long as they back it up with evidence, their argument is sound. However, this is not always the case.
One of the most common fallacies in writing is equivocation, which occurs when a word or phrase is used in two or more different senses throughout an argument. This can lead to confusion and cause readers to question the argument’s validity.
For example, someone might argue that “violence is never the answer” by pointing to examples of non-violent conflict resolution. However, this argument equivocates to the word “violence,” which generally means physical violence or forceful action. As a result, the argument does not prove that violence is never the answer.
How To Avoid
To avoid this, it is important to be clear and concise in your writing. When using terms that have multiple meanings, be sure to specify which meaning you are using.
For example, if you are discussing the value of a currency, you would need to clarify whether you are referring to its purchasing power or exchange rate. By being clear and precise in your language, you can help avoid any confusion or ambiguity in your argument.
Appeal To Pity
The Appeal to Pity is a fallacy that occurs when someone attempts to win support for an argument by eliciting pity. This usually takes the form of an emotional appeal, but it can also be based on physical appeals or appeals to sentimental values.
The fallacy is fallacious because it relies on emotion rather than rational argument to win support. The Appeal to Pity is sometimes also referred to as the “Begging the Question” fallacy because it often takes the form of begging for sympathy or compassion.
How To Avoid
To avoid this fallacy, it is important to focus on the argument’s merits rather than on any emotional appeal.
The bandwagon fallacy is a form of informal logic that occurs when someone assumes something is true or good simply because it is popular. This reasoning is often used in advertising, where businesses try to convince consumers that they should buy a product simply because everyone else is doing so.
In the context of writing an essay, the bandwagon fallacy can occur when a student relies too heavily on sources that simply reiterate the same information or provide little evidence.
While it is important to use reputable sources, students need to be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that something is true simply because it is widely believed. When writing an essay, evaluating the evidence and making an independent judgment about the topic are essential. Otherwise, the essay will be nothing more than a regurgitation of popular opinion
How To Avoid
There are a few ways to avoid falling prey to the bandwagon fallacy in your writing. First, be aware of it! If you’re aware of the possibility of succumbing to this type of fallacious reasoning, you can catch yourself before you make a mistake.
Second, take the time to research your topic thoroughly. Just because something is popular doesn’t necessarily make it true or good. Be sure to look at all sides of the issue before you form an opinion or take a position in your writing.
Finally, avoid using emotional appeals in your writing. The bandwagon fallacy often relies on emotional appeals to persuade people, so if you steer clear of those arguments, you’ll be less likely to fall into this trap.
Appeal To Popularity
In logic and argument, the appeal to popularity is a fallacy in which a proposition is claimed to be true or good solely because many people believe it.
The thinker presents the claim as though the sheer number of people who accept it were sufficient evidence for its truth or goodness. This reasoning is often used in politics, advertising, and social pressure situations.
For example, “10 million people can’t be wrong!” cries the radio announcer trying to sell us a new product.
Appeals to popularity can be emotional rather than logical. They work by arousing our desires for approval, safety, or belonging. They exploit our natural tendency to “go along with the crowd.” We want to fit in and belong, so we may go along with what everyone else seems to think – even if we don’t have any good reason to believe it ourselves.
Of course, the fact that many people believe something does not necessarily make it true.
How To Avoid
The Appeal to Popularity fallacy can best be avoided by applying a healthy dose of critical thinking to claims based on popularity. Whenever you hear someone say, “Everybody knows that.” or “Everyone agrees that.” take a moment to question whether this is true.
Groupthink and herd behavior are very real phenomena, and it’s important to be aware of them so as not to be unduly influenced.
These are some of the common logical fallacies we use in daily life and while writing an essay. These fallacies make our argument illogical and baseless. So to avoid these fallacies follow the steps to avoid the fallacies.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Two Main Types Of Fallacies Used In An Argumentation?
The two main types of fallacies used in n argumentation are
- Formal Fallacy – A formal fallacy is an error in reasoning that can be detected by examining the form of the argument, not it’s content.
- Informal Fallacy – Informal fallacies are logical errors in everyday reasoning. They’re called “informal” because they’re not as strict as formal fallacies, which are the types of errors you learn about in logic class.
What Causes Fallacies?
Fallacies occur when the link between premises and conclusion depends on the imagination rather than reasoning and evidence.
Holds a degree in Literature from the University of Utah and has been writing for more than 10 years.