Common Reasoning Fallacies

When it comes to logical fallacies, there’s an endless list out there (which you’ll see later in this week’s module).

When it comes to fallacies, there’s a huge list out there. Below, however, are a few of the more common ones that you’ll encounter. This page is intended to provide another way to look at some of the examples provided in the textbook, as well as help you prepare for this week’s activity on fallacies.

Hasty Generalization

Making a judgment before the facts are in; essentially, this is a use of bad inductive reasoning, where you don’t have enough examples, yet jump to a conclusion. Most stereotypes are based on this, e.g.:

· The last Leo I dated was a self-centered bigot; I’m never dating a Leo again.

· I did bad on my last two speeches; I’m pretty sure I’m a terrible speaker.

· The Raiders have won two games; I bet they’re going to the Super Bowl!

False Authority 

When individuals are presented as experts in fields they are not.  e.g.:

· Kanye West speaking on anything that’s not music (and arguably fashion)

· Many celebrities speaking on political matters during election years.

Ad Hominem 

Literally “against the man”; this is when someone attacks a person, rather than an argument, when the personal characteristic is not relevant to the argument. For example:

· I think Bernie Sanders is too old to be commander in chief.

· This person has never been married; why should I trust their relationship advice?

Slippery Slope 

When the argument predicts taking the first step will inevitably lead to a second, usually undesirable step.

· If we ban all firearms, then lawlessness will descend.

· If we allow for a man and a man to get married or a woman and a woman to get married, what’s to stop people from marrying their pets?

Straw Man 

Attacking a view that is similar, but not the same as the one your opponent holds. This one is likely better explained through this 5 minute video:



Ad Populum 

Making an appeal to the prejudices of the people. Similar to, but a little different from the bandwagon fallacy. For example:

· Why ban texting and driving?  Cell phone usage is ubiquitous in society.

· Any appeal to patriotism

Appeal to Tradition  

Arguing that what has existed for a long time has become a tradition and therefore should remain, without explaining why the tradition should be preserved. For example:

· We should not allow women in combat; it’s always been that way in the army.

· We should continue to fly the Confederate Flag; it’s part of southern tradition.

Video Overview – The Fallacy Project

This final video encapsulates a range of fallacies across a 10 minute video. You’ll find examples of some of the major fallacies listed here, as well as a few that aren’t:

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