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Fallacies are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. They consist of fake or deceptive "junk cognition," that is, arguments that seem irrefutable but prove nothing. If one is not alert to this concept, it is possible to fall prey to its effect both in our personal lives and professionally. Fallacies often seem superficially sound and they far too often retain immense persuasive power even after being clearly exposed as false.Â Like epidemics, fallacies sometimes "burn through" entire populations, often with the most tragic results, before their power is diminished or lost. Fallacies are not always deliberate, but a good scholarâs purpose is always to identify and unmask fallacies in arguments.Â Note that many of these definitions overlap, but the goal here is to identify contemporary and classic fallacies as they are used in today's discourse. Effort has been made to avoid mere word-games (e.g., "The Fallacist's Fallacy," or the famous "Crocodile's Paradox" of classic times), or the so-called "fallacies" of purely formal and symbolic, business and financial, religious or theological logic.Â Â Â
Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim. Avoid these common fallacies in your own arguments and watch for them in the arguments of others.
As you read through the fallacies, it will become apparent how widely they are used by people in everyday conversations and can easily âslip byâ the uninitiated. As a court reporter, I don't know whether to say âeven lawyers do itâ or âespecially lawyers do it,â but they do do it...and sometimes they use it on us!
Helpful definitions as you read: ETHOS is an appeal to ethics, and it is a means of convincing someone of the character or credibility of the persuader. PATHOS is an appeal to emotion, and is a way of convincing an audience of an argument by creating an emotional response. LOGOS is an appeal to logic, and is a way of persuading an audience by reason.
Master List of Logical Fallacies
1.The A Priori Argument (also, Rationalization; Dogmatism, Proof Texting.): A corrupt argument from logos, starting with a given, pre-set belief, dogma, doctrine, scripture verse, "fact" or conclusion and then searching for any reasonable or reasonable-sounding argument to rationalize, defend or justify it. Certain ideologues and religious fundamentalists are proud to use this fallacy as their primary method of "reasoning" and some are even honest enough to say so. E.g., since we know there is no such thing as "evolution," a prime duty of believers is to look for ways to explain away growing evidence, such as is found in DNA, that might suggest otherwise. See also the Argument from Ignorance. The opposite of this fallacy is the Taboo.
2.Ableism (also, The Con Artist's Fallacy; The Dacoit's Fallacy; Shearing the Sheeple; Profiteering; "Vulture Capitalism," "Wealth is disease, and I am the cure."): A corrupt argument from ethos, arguing that because someone is intellectually slower, physically or emotionally less capable, less ambitious, less aggressive, older or less healthy (or simply more trusting or less lucky) than others, s/he "naturally" deserves less in life and may be freely victimized by those who are luckier, quicker, younger, stronger, healthier, greedier, more powerful, less moral or more gifted (or who simply have more immediate felt need for money, often involving some form of addiction). This fallacy is a "softer" argumentum ad baculum. When challenged, those who practice this fallacy seem to most often shrug their shoulders and mumble "Life is ruff and you gotta be tuff [sic]," "You gotta do what you gotta do to get ahead in this world," "It's no skin off my nose," "That's free enterprise," "That's the way life is!" or similar.
3.Actions have Consequences:Â The contemporary fallacy of a person in power falsely describing an imposed punishment or penalty as a "consequence" of another's negative act. E.g.," The consequences of your misbehavior could include suspension or expulsion." A corrupt argument from ethos, arrogating to oneself or to one's rules or lawsÂ an ethos of cosmic inevitability, i.e., the ethos of God, Fate, Karma, Destiny or Reality Itself. Illness or food poisoning are likely "consequences" of eating spoiled food, while being "grounded" is a punishment for, not a "consequence," of childhood misbehavior. Freezing to death is a natural "consequence" of going out naked in subzero weather but going to prison is a punishment for bank robbery, not a natural, inevitable or unavoidable "consequence," of robbing a bank.Â Not to be confused with the Argument from Consequences, which is quite different. See also Blaming the Victim. An opposite fallacy is that of Moral Licensing.
4.The Ad Hominem Argument (also, "Personal attack," "Poisoning the well"): The fallacy of attempting to refute an argument by attacking the oppositionâs intelligence, morals, education, professional qualifications, personal character or reputation, using a corrupted negative argument from ethos. E.g., "That so-called judge;" or "He's so evil that you can't believe anything he says."Â See also "Guilt by Association." The opposite of this is the "Star Power" fallacy.Â Another obverse of Ad Hominem is the Token Endorsement Fallacy, where, in the words of scholar Lara Bhasin, "Individual A has been accused of anti-Semitism, but Individual B is Jewish and says Individual A is not anti-Semitic, and the implication of course is that we can believe Individual B because, being Jewish, he has special knowledge of anti- Semitism. Or, a presidential candidate is accused of anti-Muslim bigotry, but someone finds a testimony from a Muslim who voted for said candidate, and this is trotted out as evidence against the candidate's bigotry."Â The same fallacy would apply to a sports team offensively named after a marginalized ethnic group,Â but which has obtained the endorsement (freely given or paid) of some member, traditional leader or tribal council of that marginalized group so that the otherwise-offensive team name and logo magically become "okay" and nonracist. Â Â
5.The Affective Fallacy (also The Romantic Fallacy; Emotion over Reflection; "Follow Your Heart"): An extremely common modern fallacy of Pathos, that one's emotions, urges or "feelings" are innate and in every case self-validating, autonomous, and above any human intent or act of will (one's own or others'), and are thus immune to challenge or criticism. (In fact, researchers now  have robust scientific evidence that emotions are actually cognitive and not innate.) In this fallacy one argues, "I feel it, so it must be true. My feelings are valid, so you have no right to criticize what I say or do, or how I say or do it."Â This latter is also a fallacy of stasis, confusing a respectful and reasoned response or refutation with personal invalidation, disrespect, prejudice, bigotry, sexism, homophobia or hostility.Â A grossly sexist form of the Affective Fallacy is the well-known crude fallacy that the phallus "Has no conscience" (also, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do;" "Thinking with your other head."), i.e., since (male) sexuality is self-validating and beyond voluntary control what one does with it cannot be controlled either and such actions are not open to criticism, an assertion eagerly embraced and extended beyond the male gender in certain reifications of "Desire" in contemporary academic theory. See also, Playing on Emotion. Opposite to this fallacy is the Chosen Emotion Fallacy (thanks to scholar Marc Lawson for identifying this fallacy), in which one falsely claims complete, or at least reliable prior voluntary control over one's ownÂ autonomic, "gut level" affective reactions. Closely related if not identical to this last is the ancient fallacy of Angelism, falsely claiming that one is capable of "objective" reasoning and judgment without emotion, claiming for oneself a viewpoint of OlympianÂ "disinterested objectivity" or pretending to place oneself far above all personal feelings, temptations or bias. See also, Mortification.
6.Alphabet Soup: A corrupt modern implicit fallacy from ethos in which a person inappropriately overuses acronyms, abbreviations, form numbers and arcane insider "shop talk" primarily to prove to an audience that s/he "speaks their language" and is "one of them" and to shut out, confuse or impress outsiders. E.g., "It's not uncommon for a K-12 with ASD to be both GT and LD;" "I had a twenty-minute DX Q-so on 15 with a Zed-S1 and a couple of LU2's even though the QR-Nancy was 10 over S9;"Â or "I hope I'll keep on seeing my BAQ on my LES until the day I get my DD214."Â Â See also, Name Calling. This fallacy has recently become common in media pharmaceutical advertising in the United States, where "Alphabet Soup" is used to create false identification with and to exploitÂ patient groups suffering from specific illnesses or conditions, e.g., "If you have DPC with associated ZL you can keep your B2D under control with LuglugmenaÂ®. Ask your doctor today about LuglugmenaÂ® Helium Tetracarbide lozenges to control symptoms of ZL and to keep your B2D under that crucial 7.62 threshold. Side effects ofÂ LuglugmenaÂ® may include K4 Syndrome which may lead to lycanthropic bicephaly, BMJ and occasionally, death. Do not take LuglugmenaÂ® if you are allergic to dogbite or have type D Flinder's Garbosis..."
7.Alternative Truth (also, Alt Facts; Counterknowledge; Disinformation; Information Pollution): A newly-famous contemporary fallacy of logos rooted in postmodernism, denying the resilience of facts or truth as such. Writer Hannah Arendt, in her The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) warned that "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists." Journalist Leslie Grass (2017) writes in her Blog Reachoutrecovery.com, "Is there someone in your life who insists things happened that didnât happen, or has a completely different version of events in which you have the facts? Itâs a form of mind control and is very common among families dealing with substance and behavior problems." She suggests that such "Alternate Facts" work to "put you off balance," "control the story," and "make you think you're crazy," and she notes that "presenting alternate facts is the hallmark of untrustworthy people."Â The Alternative Truth fallacy is related to the Big Lie Technique. See also Gaslighting, Blind Loyalty, The Big Brain/Little Brain Fallacy, and Two Truths
8.The Appeal to Closure: The contemporary fallacy that an argument, standpoint, action or conclusion no matter how questionable must be accepted as final or else the point will remain unsettled, which is unthinkable because those affected will be denied "closure." This fallacy falsely reifies a specialized term (closure) from Gestalt Psychology while refusing to recognize the undeniable truth that some points will indeed remain open and unsettled, perhaps forever. E.g., "Society would be protected, real punishment would be inflicted, crime would be deterred and justice served if we sentenced you to life without parole, but we need to execute you in order to provide some closure." See also, Argument from Ignorance, and Argument from Consequences.Â The opposite of this fallacy is the Paralysis of Analysis.
9.The Appeal to Heaven: (also, Argumentum ad Coelum, Deus Vult, Gott mit Uns, Manifest Destiny, American Exceptionalism, or the Special Covenant): An ancient, extremely dangerous fallacy (a deluded argument from ethos) that of claiming to know the mind of God (or History, or a higher power), who has allegedly ordered or anointed, supports or approves of one's own country, standpoint or actions so no further justification is required and no serious challenge is possible. (E.g., "God ordered me to kill my children," or "We need to take away your land, since God [or Scripture, or Manifest Destiny, or Fate, or Heaven] has given it to us as our own.") A private individual who seriously asserts this fallacy risks ending up in a psychiatric ward, but groups or nations who do it are far too often taken seriously. Practiced by those who will not or cannot tell God's will from their own, this vicious (and blasphemous) fallacy has been the cause of endless bloodshed over history.Â See also, Moral Superiority, and Magical Thinking. Also applies to deluded negative Appeals to Heaven, e.g., "You say that famine and ecological collapse due to climate change are real dangers during the coming century, but I know God wouldn't ever let that happen to us!" The opposite of the Appeal to Heaven is the Job's Comforter fallacy.
10.The Appeal to Nature (also, Biologizing; The Green Fallacy): The contemporary romantic fallacy of ethos (that of "Mother Nature") that if something is "natural" it has to be good, healthy and beneficial.Â E.g., "Our premium herb tea is lovingly brewed from the finest freshly-picked and delicately dried natural T. Radicans leaves. Those who dismiss it as mere 'Poison Ivy' don't understand that it's 100% organic, with no additives, GMO's or artificial ingredientsÂ It's time to Go Green and lay back in Mother's arms." One who employs or falls for this fallacy forgets the old truism that left to itself, nature is indeed "red in tooth and claw."Â This fallacy also applies to arguments alleging that something is "unnatural," or "against nature" and thus evil (The Argument from Natural Law) e.g. "Homosexuality should be outlawed because it's against nature," arrogating to oneself the authority to define what is "natural" and what is unnatural or perverted. E.g., during the American Revolution British sources widely condemned rebellion against King George III as "unnatural," and American revolutionaries as "perverts," because the Divine Right of Kings represented Natural Law, and according to 1 Samuel 15:23 in the Bible, rebellion is like unto witchcraft.
11.The Appeal to Pity: (also, "Argumentum ad Miserecordiam"): The fallacy of urging an audience to âroot for the underdogâ regardless of the issues at hand. A classic example is, âThose poor, cute little squeaky mice are being gobbled up by mean, nasty cats ten times their size!â A contemporary example mightÂ be America's uncritical popular support for the Arab Spring movement of 2010-2012 in which The People ("The underdogs") were seen to be heroically overthrowing cruel dictatorships, a movement that has resulted in retrospect in chaos, impoverishment, anarchy, mass suffering, civil war, the regional collapse of civilization and rise of extremism, and the largest refugee crisis since World War II. A corrupt argument from pathos. See also, Playing to Emotions. The opposite of the Appeal to Pity is the Appeal to Rigor, an argument (often based on machismo or on manipulating an audience's fear) based on mercilessness. E.g., "I'm a real man, not like those bleeding hearts, and I'll be tough on [fill in the name of the enemy or bogeyman of the hour]."Â In academia this latter fallacy applies to politically-motivated or elitist calls for "Academic Rigor," and rage against university developmental / remedial classes, open admissions, "dumbing down" and "grade inflation."
12.The Appeal to Tradition: (also, Conservative Bias; Back in Those Good Times, "The Good Old Days"): The ancient fallacy that a standpoint, situation or action is right, proper and correct simply because it has "always" been that way, because people have "always" thought that way, or because it was that way long ago (most often meaning in the audience members' youth or childhood, not before) and still continues to serve one particular group very well. A corrupted argument from ethos (that of past generations). E.g., "In America, women have always been paid less, so let's not mess with long-standing tradition."Â See also Argument from Inertia, and Default Bias. The opposite of this fallacy is The Appeal to Novelty (also, "Pro-Innovation bias," "Recency Bias," and "The Bad Old Days;" The Early Adopter's Fallacy),Â e.g., "It's NEW, and [therefore it must be] improved!" or "This is the very latest discovery--it has to be better."
13.Appeasement (also, "Assertiveness," "The squeaky wheel gets the grease;" "I know my rights!"): This fallacy, most often popularly connected to the shameful pre-World War II appeasement of Hitler, is in fact still commonly practiced in public agencies, education and retail business today, e.g. "Customers are always right, even when they're wrong. Don't argue with them, just give'em what they want so they'll shut up and go away, and not make a stink--it's cheaper and easier than a lawsuit."Â Widespread unchallenged acceptance of this fallacy encourages offensive, uncivil public behavior and sometimes the development of a coarse subculture of obnoxious, "assertive" manipulators who, like "spoiled" children, leverage their knowledge of how to figuratively (or sometimes even literally!) "make a stink" into a primary coping skill in order to get what they want when they want it. The works of the late Community Organizing guru Saul Alinsky suggest practical, nonviolent ways for groups to harness the power of this fallacy to promote social change, for good or for evil.. See also Bribery.
14.The Argument from Consequences (also, Outcome Bias): The major fallacy of logos, arguing that something cannot be true because if it were the consequences or outcome would be unacceptable. (E.g., "Global climate change cannot be caused by human burning of fossil fuels, because if it were, switching to non-polluting energy sources would bankrupt American industry," or "Doctor, that's wrong! I can't have terminal cancer, because if I did that'd mean that I won't live to see my kids get married!")Â Not to be confused with Actions have Consequences.
15.The Argument from Ignorance (also, Argumentum ad Ignorantiam): The fallacy that since we donât know (or can never know, or cannot prove) whether a claim is true or false, it must be false, or it must be true. E.g., âScientists are never going to be able to positively prove their crazy theory that humans evolved from other creatures, because we weren't there to see it! So, that proves the Genesis six-day creation account is literally true as written!â This fallacy includes Attacking the Evidence (also, "Whataboutism"; The Missing Link fallacy), e.g. "Some or all of your key evidence is missing, incomplete, or even faked!Â What about that? That proves you're wrong and I'm right!" This fallacy usually includes fallacious âEither-Or Reasoningâ as well: E.g., âThe vet can't find any reasonable explanation for why my dog died. See! See! That proves that you poisoned him! Thereâs no other logical explanation!â A corrupted argument from logos, and a fallacy commonly found in American political, judicial and forensic reasoning. The recently famous "Flying Spaghetti Monster" meme is a contemporary refutation of this fallacy--simply because we cannot conclusively disprove the existence of such an absurd entity does not argue for its existence. See also A Priori Argument, Appeal to Closure, The Simpleton's Fallacy, and Argumentum ex Silentio.
16.The Argument from Incredulity: The popular fallacy of doubting or rejecting a novel claim or argument out of hand simply because it appears superficially "incredible," "insane" or "crazy," or because it goes against one's own personal beliefs, prior experience or ideology.Â This cynical fallacy falsely elevates the saying popularized by Carl Sagan, that "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof," to an absolute law of logic. See also Hoyle's Fallacy. The common, popular-level form of this fallacy is dismissing surprising, extraordinary or unfamiliar arguments and evidence with a wave of the hand, a shake of the head, and a mutter ofÂ "that's crazy!"
17.The Argument from Inertia (also âStay the Courseâ): The fallacy that it is necessary to continue on a mistaken course of action regardless of pain and sacrifice involvedÂ and even after discovering it is mistaken, because changing course would mean admitting that one's decision (or one's leader, or one's country, or one's faith) was wrong, and all one's effort, expense, sacrifice and even bloodshed was for nothing, and that's unthinkable. A variety of the Argument from Consequences, E for Effort, or the Appeal to Tradition.Â See also "Throwing Good Money After Bad."
18.The Argument from Motives (also Questioning Motives): The fallacy of declaring a standpoint or argument invalid solely because of the evil, corrupt or questionable motives of the one making the claim. E.g., "Bin Laden wanted us to withdraw from Afghanistan, so we have to keep up the fight!" Even evil people with the most corrupt motives sometimes say the truth (and even good people with the highest and purest motives are often wrong or mistaken). A variety of the Ad Hominem argument. The opposite side of this fallacy is falsely justifying or excusing evil or vicious actions because of the perpetrator's aparent purity of motives or lack of malice. (E.g., "Sure, she may have beaten her children bloody now and again but she was a highly educated, ambitious professional woman at the end of her rope, deprived of adult conversation and stuck between four walls for years on end with a bunch of screaming, fighting brats, doing the best she could with what little she had. How can you stand there and accuse her of child abuse?") See also Moral Licensing.
19.Argumentum ad Baculum ("Argument from the Club." Also, "Argumentum ad Baculam," "Argument from Strength," "Muscular Leadership," "Non-negotiable Demands," "Hard Power," Bullying, The Power-Play, Fascism, Resolution by Force of Arms, Shock and Awe.): The fallacy of "persuasion" or "proving one is right" by force, violence, brutality, terrorism, superior strength, raw military might, or threats of violence. E.g., "Gimmee your wallet or I'll knock your head off!" or "We have the perfect right to take your land, since we have the big guns and you don't." Also applies to indirect forms of threat. E.g., "Give up your foolish pride, kneel down and accept our religion today if you don't want to burn in hell forever and ever!"Â A mainly discursive Argumentum ad Baculum is that of forcibly silencing opponents, ruling them "out of order," blocking, censoring or jamming their message, or simply speaking over them or/speaking more loudly than they do, this last a tactic particularly attributed to men in mixed-gender discussions.
20.Argumentum ad Mysteriam ("Argument from Mystery;" also Mystagogy.): A darkened chamber, incense, chanting or drumming, bowing and kneeling, special robes or headgear, holy rituals and massed voices reciting sacred mysteries in an unknown tongueÂ have a quasi-hypnotic effect and can often persuade more strongly than any logical argument.Â The Puritan Reformation was in large part a rejection of this fallacy. When used knowingly and deliberately this fallacy is particularly vicious and accounts for some of the fearsome persuasive power of cults.Â An example of an Argumentum ad Mysteriam is the "Long Ago and Far Away" fallacy, the fact that facts, evidence, practices or arguments from ancient times, distant lands and/or "exotic" culturesÂ seem to acquire a special gravitas or ethos simply because of their antiquity, language or origin, e.g., publicly chanting Holy Scriptures in their original (most often incomprehensible) ancient languages, preferring the Greek, Latin, Assyrian or Old Slavonic Christian Liturgies over their vernacular versions, or using classic or newly invented Greek and Latin names for fallacies in order to support their validity. See also, Esoteric Knowledge. An obverse of the Argumentum ad Mysteriam is the Standard Version Fallacy.
21.Argumentum ex Silentio (Argument from Silence): The fallacy that if available sources remain silent or current knowledge and evidence can prove nothing about a given subject or question this fact in itself proves the truth of one's claim. E.g., "Science can tell us nothing about God. That proves God doesn't exist." Or "Science admits it can tell us nothing about God, so you can't deny that God exists!" Often misused in the American justice system, where, contrary to the 5th Amendment and the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty,Â remaining silent or "taking the Fifth" is often falsely portrayed as proof of guilt. E.g., "Mr. Hixon can offer no alibi for his whereabouts the evening of January 15th. This proves that he was in fact in room 331 at the Smuggler's Inn, murdering his wife with a hatchet!" In today's America, choosing to remain silent in the face of a police officer's questions can make one guilty enough to be arrested or even shot. See also, Argument from Ignorance.
22.Availability Bias (also, Attention Bias, Anchoring Bias): A fallacy of logos stemming from the natural tendency to give undue attention and importance to information that is immediately available at hand, particularly the first or last information received, and to minimize or ignore broader data or wider evidence that clearly exists but is not as easily remembered or accessed. E.g., "We know from experience that this doesn't work," when "experience" means the most recent local attempt, ignoring overwhelming experience from other places and times where it has worked and does work. Also related is the fallacy of Hyperbole [also, Magnification, or sometimes Catastrophizing] where an immediate instance is immediately proclaimed "the most significant in all of human history," or the "worst in the whole world!" This latter fallacy works extremely well with less-educated audiences and those whose "whole world" is very small indeed, audiences who "hate history" and whose historical memory spans several weeks at best.
23.The Bandwagon Fallacy (also, Argument from Common Sense, Argumentum ad Populum): The fallacy of arguing that because "everyone," "the people," or "the majority" (or someone in power who has widespread backing) supposedly thinks or does something, it must therefore be true and right. E.g., "Whether there actually is large scale voter fraud in America or not, many people now think there is and that makes it so."Â Sometimes also includes Lying with Statistics, e.g. âOver 75% of Americans believe that crooked Bob Hodiak is a thief, a liar and a pervert. There may not be any evidence, but for anyone with half a brain that conclusively proves that Crooked Bob should go to jail! Lock him up! Lock him up!â This is sometimes combined with the "Argumentum ad Baculum," e.g., "Like it or not, it's time to choose sides: Are you going to get on boardÂ the bandwagon with everyone else, or get crushed under the wheels as it goes by?" Or in the 2017 words of former White House spokesperson Sean Spicer, ""They should either get with the program or they can go," A contemporary digital form of the Bandwagon Fallacy is the Information Cascade, "in which people echo the opinions of others, usually online, even when their own opinions or exposure to information contradicts that opinion. When information cascades form a pattern, this pattern can begin to overpower later opinions by making it seem as if a consensus already exists." (Thanks to Teaching Tolerance for this definition!) See also Wisdom of the Crowd, and The Big Lie Technique. For the opposite of this fallacy see the Romantic Rebel fallacy.Â
24.The Big Brain/Little Brain Fallacy (also, the FÃ¼hrerprinzip; Mad Leader Disease): A not-uncommon but extreme example of the Blind Loyalty Fallacy below, in which a tyrannical boss, military commander, or religious or cult-leader tells followers "Don't think with your little brains (the brain in your head), but with your BIG brain (mine)." This last is sometimes expressed in positive terms, i.e., "You don't have to worry and stress out about the rightness or wrongness of what you are doing since I, the Leader. am assuming all moral and legal responsibility for all your actions. So long as you are faithfully following orders without question I will defend you and gladly accept all the consequences up to and including eternal damnation if I'm wrong." The opposite of this is the fallacy of "Plausible Deniability." See also, "Just Do It!", andÂ "Gaslighting."
25.The Big "But" Fallacy (also, Special Pleading):Â The fallacy of enunciating a generally-accepted principle and then directly negating it with a "but." Often this takes the form of the "Special Case," which is supposedly exempt from the usual rules of law, logic, morality, ethics or even credibilityÂ E.g., "As Americans we have always believed on principle that every human being has God-given, inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including in the case of criminal accusations a fair and speedy trial before a jury of one's peers. BUT, your crime was so unspeakable and a trial would be so problematic for national security that it justifies locking you up for life in Guantanamo without trial, conviction or possibility of appeal."Â Or, "Yes, Honey, I still love you more than life itself, and I know that in my wedding vows I promised before God that I'd forsake all others and be faithful to you 'until death do us part,' but you have to understand, this was a special case..."Â See also, "Shopping Hungry," and "We Have to do Something!"
26.The Big Lie Technique (also the Bold Faced Lie; "Staying on Message."): The contemporary fallacy of repeating a lie, fallacy, slogan, talking-point, nonsense-statement or deceptive half-truth over and over in different forms (particularly in the media) until it becomes part of daily discourse and people accept it without further proof or evidence. Sometimes the bolder and more outlandish the Big Lie becomes the more credible it seems to a willing, most often angry audience. E.g., "What about the Jewish Problem?"Â Note that when this particular phony debate was going on there was no "Jewish Problem," only a Nazi Problem, but hardly anybody in power recognized or wanted to talk about that, while far too many ordinary Germans were only too ready to find a convenient scapegoat to blame for their suffering during the Great Depression. Writer Miles J. Brewer expertly demolishes The Big Lie Technique in his classic (1930) short story, "The Gostak and the Doshes." However, more contemporary examples of the Big Lie fallacy might be the completely fictitious August 4, 1964 "Tonkin Gulf Incident" concocted under Lyndon Johnson as a false justification for escalating the Vietnam War, or the non-existent "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in Iraq (conveniently abbreviated "WMD's" in order to lend this Big Lie a legitimizing, military-sounding "Alphabet Soup" ethos), used in 2003 as a false justification for the Second Gulf War. The November, 2016 U.S. President-elect's statement that "millions" of ineligible votes were cast in that year's American. presidential election appears to be a classic Big Lie. See also, Alternative Truth; The Bandwagon Fallacy, the Straw Man, Alphabet Soup, and Propaganda. Â Â
27.Blind Loyalty (also Blind Obedience, Unthinking Obedience, the "Team Player" appeal, the Nuremberg Defense): The dangerous fallacy that an argument or action is right simply and solely because a respected leader or source (a President, expert, oneâs parents, one's own "side," team or country, oneâs boss or commanding officers) says it is right. This is over-reliance on authority, a gravely corrupted argument from ethos that puts loyalty above truth, Â above one's own reason and above conscience. In this case a person attempts to justify incorrect, stupid or criminal behavior by whining "That's what I was told to do," or âI was just following orders."Â See also, The Big Brain/Little Brain Fallacy, and The "Soldiers' Honor" Fallacy.
28.Blood is Thicker than Water (also Favoritism; Compadrismo; "For my friends, anything."): The reverse of the "Ad Hominem" fallacy, a corrupt argument from ethos where a statement, argument or action is automatically regarded as true, correct and above challenge because one is related to, knows and likes, or is on the same team or side, or belongs to the same religion, party, club or fraternity as the individual involved.Â Â (E.g., "My brother-in-law says he saw you goofing off on the job. You're a hard worker but who am I going to believe, you or him? You're fired!")Â See also the Identity Fallacy.
29.Brainwashing (also, Propaganda, "Radicalization."): The Cold War-era fantasy that an enemy can instantly win over or "radicalize" an unsuspecting audience with their vile but somehow unspeakably persuasive "propaganda,"Â e.g., "Don't look at that website!Â They're trying to brainwash you with their propaganda!" Historically, "brainwashing" refers more properly to the inhuman Argumentum ad Baculum ofÂ "beating an argument into" a prisoner via a combination of pain, fear, sensory or sleep deprivation, prolonged abuse and sophisticated psychological manipulation (also, the "Stockholm Syndrome."). Such "brainwashing" can also be accomplished by pleasure ("Love Bombing,"); e.g., "Did you like that?Â I know you did. Well, there's lots more where that came from when you sign on with us!"Â (See also, "Bribery.") An unspeakably sinister form of persuasion by brainwashing involves deliberately addicting a person to drugs and then providing or withholding the substance depending on the addict's compliance. Note: Only the other side brainwashes. "We" never brainwash.
30.Bribery (also, Material Persuasion, Material Incentive, Financial Incentive). The fallacy of "persuasion" by bribery, gifts or favors is the reverse of the Argumentum ad Baculum. As is well known, someone who is persuaded by bribery rarely "stays persuaded" in the long term unless the bribes keep on coming in and increasing with time.Â See also Appeasement.
31.Calling "Cards": A contemporary fallacy of logos, arbitrarily and falsely dismissing familiar or easily-anticipated but valid, reasoned objections to one's standpoint with a wave of the hand, as mere "cards" in some sort of "game" of rhetoric, e.g. "Don't try to play the 'Race Card' against me," or "She's playing the 'Woman Card' again," or "That 'Hitler Card' won't score with me in this argument." See also, The Taboo, and Political Correctness.
32.Circular Reasoning (also, The Vicious Circle; Catch 22, Begging the Question, Circulus in Probando): A fallacy of logos where A is because of B, and B is because of A, e.g., "You can't get a job without experience, and you can't get experience without a job." Also refers to falsely arguing that something is true by repeating the same statement in different words.Â E.g., âThe witchcraft problem is the most urgent spiritual crisis in the world today. Why? Because witches threaten our very eternal salvation.â A corrupt argument from logos. See also the "Big Lie technique."
33.The Complex Question: The contemporary fallacy of demanding a direct answer to a question that cannot be answered without first analyzing or challenging the basis of the question itself. E.g., "Just answer me 'yes' or 'no':Â Did you think you could get away with plagiarism and not suffer the consequences?" Or, "Why did you rob that bank?" Also applies to situations where one is forced to either accept or reject complex standpoints or propositions containing both acceptable and unacceptable parts. A corruption of the argument from logos. A counterpart of Either/Or Reasoning.
34.Confirmation Bias: A fallacy of logos, the common tendency to notice, search out, select and share evidence that confirms one's own standpoint and beliefs, as opposed to contrary evidence. This fallacy is how "fortune tellers" work--If I am told I will meet a "tall, dark stranger" I will be on the lookout for a tall, dark stranger, and when I meet someone even marginally meeting that description I will marvel at the correctness of the "psychic's" prediction. In contemporary times Confirmation Bias is most often seen in the tendency of various audiences to "curate their political environments, subsisting on one-sided information diets and [even] selecting into politically homogeneous neighborhoods" (Michael A. Neblo et al., 2017, Science magazine).Â Confirmation Bias (also, Homophily) means that people tend to seek out and follow solely those media outlets that confirm their common ideological and cultural biases, sometimes to an degree that leads a the false (implicit or even explicit) conclusion that "everyone" agrees with that bias and that anyone who doesn't is "crazy," "looney," evil or even "radicalized." See also, "Half Truth," and "Defensiveness."Â
35.Cost Bias: A fallacy of ethos (that of a product), the fact that something expensive (either in terms of money, or something that is...