False Arguments

These are fallacies in arguments that are taken from a page on CARM

  1. Ad hominim - Attacking the individual instead of the argument.
    1. Example:  You are so stupid you argument couldn't possibly be true.
    2. Example:  I figured that you couldn't possibly get it right, so I ignored your comment.
  2. Appeal to force - The hearer is told that something bad will happen to him if he does not accept the argument. 
    1. Example:  If you don't want to get beat up, you will agree with what I say.
    2. Example:  Convert or die.
  3. Appeal to pity - The hearer is urged to accept the argument based upon an appeal to emotions, sympathy, etc. 
    1. Example:  You owe me big time because I really stuck my neck out for you.
    2. Example:  Oh come on, I've been sick.  That's why I missed the deadline.
  4. Appeal to the popular - the hearer is urged to accept a position because a majority of people hold to it.
    1. Example:  The majority of people like soda.  Therefore, soda is good.
    2. Example:  Everyone else is doing it.  Why shouldn't you?
  5. Appeal to tradition - trying to get someone to accept something because it has been done or believed for a long time.
    1. Example:  This is the way we've always done it. Therefore, it is the right way.
    2. Example:  The Catholic church's tradition demonstrates that this doctrine is true.
  6. Begging the Question - Assuming the thing to be true that you are trying to prove.  It is circular.
    1. Example:  God exists because the Bible says so.  The Bible is inspired.  Therefore, we know that God exists.
    2. Example:  I am a good worker because Frank says so.  How can we trust Frank?  Simple.  I will vouch for him.
  7. Cause and Effect - assuming that the effect is related to a cause because the events occur together.
    1. Example:  When the rooster crows, the sun rises.  Therefore, the rooster causes the sun to rise.
    2. Example:  When the fuel light goes on in my car, I soon run out of gas.  Therefore, the fuel light causes my car to run out of gas.
  8. Circular Argument - see Begging the Question
  9. Division - assuming that the what is true of the whole is true for the parts.
    1. Example:  That car is blue.  Therefore, its engine is blue.
    2. Example:  Your family is weird.  That means that you are weird too.
  10. Equivocation - The same term is used in an argument in different places but the word has different meanings.
    1. Example:  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Therefore, a bird is worth more than President Bush.
    2. Example:  Evolution states that one species can change into another.  We see that cars have evolved into different styles.  Therefore, since evolution is a fact in cars, it is true in species.
  11. False Dilemma - Two choices are given when in actuality there could be more choices possible.
    1. Example:  You either did knock the glass over or you did not.  Which is it?
    2. Example:  Do you still beat your wife?
  12. Genetic Fallacy - The attempt to endorse or disqualify a claim because of the origin or irrelevant history of the claim
    1. Example:  The Nazi regime developed the Volkswagen Beetle.  Therefore, you should not by a VW Beetle because of who started it.
    2. Example:  Frank's just got out of jail last year and since it was his idea to start the hardware store, I can't trust him.
  13. Guilt by Association - Rejecting an argument or claim because the person proposing it likes someone is disliked by another.
    1. Example:  Hitler liked dogs.  Therefore dogs are bad.
    2. Example:  Your friend is a thief.  Therefore, I cannot trust you.
  14. Non Sequitar - Comments or information that do not logically follow from a premise or the conclusion.
    1. Example:  We know why it rained today, because I washed my car.
    2. Example:  I don't care what you say.  We don't need any more bookshelves.  As long as the carpet is clean, we are fine.
  15. Poisoning the well - Presenting negative information about a person before he/she speaks so as to discredit the person's argument.
    1. Example:  Frank is pompous, arrogant, and thinks he knows everything.  So, let's hear what Frank has to say about the subject.
    2. Example:  Don't listen to him because he is a looser.
  16. Red Herring - The introduction of a topic not related to the subject at hand.
    1. Example: I know your car isn't working right.  But, if you had gone to the store one day earlier, you'd not be having problems. 
    2. Example:  I know I forgot to deposit the check into the bank yesterday.  But, nothing I do pleases you.
  17. Special Pleading (double standard) - Applying a different standard to another that is applied to oneself.
    1. Example:  You can't possibly understand menopause because you are a man.
    2. Example:  Those rules don't apply to me since since I am older than you.
  18. Straw Man Argument - Producing an argument to attack that is a weaker representation of the truth.
    1. Example:  The government doesn't take care of the poor because it doesn't have a tax specifically to support the poor.
    2. Example:  We know that evolution is false because we did not evolve from monkeys.

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Written 3/23/03