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61 Examples of Fallacies

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A fallacy is an argument that can be shown to have errors. These are an important component of logic as it's often easier to find an error in an argument than to prove that it's logically correct. In other words, if you can't find a fallacy in an argument, it might be correct even if you can't prove it. The following are common fallacies:

Affirming The Consequent

Assuming that the converse of a true statement is also true.

Anecdotal Fallacy

An argument based on a statistically insignificant example in the form of a story or personal experience.

Appeal To Accomplishment

Using the opinion of an accomplished individual as proof or inferring that someone has no right to talk about a topic due to a lack of accomplishment. For example, "if you know so much about acting, why aren't you a famous movie star?"

Appeal To Authority

Implying that those with power must know best. For example, "Who are you to question the Prime Minister, you work at a coffee shop."

Appeal To Consequences

Suggesting that consequences are impossible when they are not. For example, "If robots could really think then they might take over the planet someday. Clearly this is impossible."

Appeal To Emotion

Arguments that prey on emotions such as fear, hope and anger.

Appeal To Novelty

Overstating the benefits of new or innovative things out of a sense of excitement.

Appeal To Possibility

Suggesting that because something is possible, that it will necessarily happen.

Appeal To Ridicule

Acting as if someone's argument is obviously ridiculous when it isn't.

Appeal To Tradition

Claiming that something is right because it has been that way for some time.

Argument From Ignorance

Asserting that something is true because it hasn't been proven false or vice versa.

Argument From Silence

Arguments based on the absence of evidence.

Argument To Moderation

Suggesting that the middle between two extremes is necessarily correct.

Argumentum Ad Hominem

Attacking the person instead of their argument.

Argumentum Ad Nauseam

Literally "arguing to the point of nausea", meaning a long, repetitive argument that causes an opponent to concede out of boredom and despair.

Association Fallacy

Arguing that things are the same merely because they are associated. Also known as Guilt By Association or Honor By Association.

Bandwagon Argument

An argument that something is true because many people believe it.

Base Rate Fallacy

A tendency to focus on specific information over general probabilities. Often results in dramatic errors of math.

Begging The Question

A type of circular reasoning that assumes the conclusion of an argument. Often takes the form of proving something using a word that's a synonym. For example, America is rich because it has great wealth.

Broken Window Fallacy

An argument that ignores opportunity costs. Associated with economics and the false idea that damage such as wars and natural disasters are good for the economy.

Cherry Picking

Choosing evidence that supports a theory and ignoring evidence that contradicts it.

Circular Reasoning

An argument that refers to itself as proof.

Conjunction Fallacy

Falsely assuming that specific information is more likely than general.

Conspiracy Fallacy

Assuming that theoretical conspiracies are real and concrete.

Correlation Proves Causation

Incorrectly assuming that one thing causes another simply because the two are correlated.

Destroying The Exception

A rule of thumb that is mostly true with the exception of minor or obscure special cases. Such arguments may have value as a rule of thumb despite being a fallacy.

Equivocation

Misuse of a word that has multiple meanings.

Fallacy Fallacy

Assuming a conclusion is wrong simply because an argument for it contains errors.

Fallacy Of Composition

Inferring that something has the same properties as its parts.

Fallacy Of Division

Assuming that parts have the same properties as the whole.

False Analogy

A misleading analogy.

False Dichotomy

The incorrect assertion that two things are opposites.

False Equivalence

Asserting that things are the same that are clearly different.

Gambler's Fallacy

The belief that a random event becomes less likely after it has just occurred.

Hasty Generalization

Easily seeing patterns in things that are statistically insignificant.

Historians Fallacy

Evaluating the past as if people had access to the same information we do now. Also applies to imposing modern values on the past.

If-By-Whiskey

An argument that strongly takes both sides of a controversial issue. Named for a remarkable 1952 speech.

Irrelevant Conclusion

A solid argument that fails to support the conclusion. For example, arguing that America is great when asked about a controversial topic.

Kettle Logic

A series of valid arguments that contradict each other.

Ludic Fallacy

The overuse of games to model more complex real life scenarios.

Masked Man Fallacy

Falsely assuming that two things aren't identical because they don't share a property. The term is an analogy to the assumption that someone is a different person because they are wearing a mask.

Misleading Vividness

The tendency for an extremely detailed example to be convincing despite being statistically insignificant.

Moralistic Fallacy

The argument that something can't be true because its result is morally objectionable. For example, "war can't be in human nature, because then we're all doomed."

Nirvana Fallacy

Asserting that a practical approach is invalid because it contains minor flaws or isn't ideal. In many cases, the ideal approach is unfeasible or impossible to achieve.

Overwhelming Exception

An large exception that makes a statement meaningless. For example, "we are always fair except when it's not in our best interests."

Proof By Example

An attempt to prove something based on a statistically insignificant example.

Proof By Verbosity

A long, boring and convoluted argument that wins because it is too much work to debunk it.

Prosecutor's Fallacy

A valid statistic that is interpreted incorrectly such as a base rate fallacy.

Proving Too Much

An overly broad argument that suggests absurd things.

Psychologists Fallacy

An ability to see the fallacies and cognitive biases of others but being blind to your own.

Red Herring

An argument designed to distract.

Regression Fallacy

An argument that ignores the impact of regression toward the mean.

Reification

Treating an abstraction as a concrete thing.

Retrospective Determinism

Viewing past events if they were predestined when in fact they could have worked out differently. For example, "once the industrial revolution started pollution was bound to damage the Great Barrier Reef." The statement presupposes that no other options were available.

Slippery Slope

A dramatic argument that one small action leads to greater actions in the same direction until some tragedy ensures.

Straw Man Fallacy

Refuting an argument that your opponent didn't make.

Survivorship Bias

Only considering the survivors or winners in a particular situation, typically resulting in an overly optimistic analysis or argument.

Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

Changing your target as you go. Often results in a clustering illusion whereby you find patterns that are random.

Thought-Terminating Cliche

Use of a catch-phase or slogan in place of rational thought.

Traitorous Critic Fallacy

Attacking a person's group membership as opposed to their argument. For example, "you're only saying that because you're a conservative."

Wrong Direction

Confusing cause and effect.

Summary

Fallacies are flaws in rational thought or logic that can be explained with a pattern or rule.

Discussion

While fallacies are famously used to influence, persuade and deceive it is also possible for people to have errors in their logic that are completely unintended. In fact, this is extraordinarily pervasive and can be difficult to detect. It is arguably common for fallacies of logic to be unintentionally present in strategies, analysis, research and expert opinions such that they represent a large source of human error.
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Argument From Silence
Arrow Of Time
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Base Rate Fallacy
Benefit Of Doubt
Big Picture
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Catch 22
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Choice Architecture
Circular Reasoning
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Excluded Middle
Failure Of Imagination
Fallacies
Fallacy Fallacy
False Analogy
False Balance
False Dichotomy
False Equivalence
First Principles
Formal Logic
Four Causes
Fuzzy Logic
Gambler's Fallacy
Generalization
Golden Hammer
Good Judgement
Grey Area
Groupthink
Heuristics
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Idealism
Ideas
If-By-Whiskey
Illogical Success
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Logic
Logical Argument
Logical Thinking
Ludic Fallacy
Magical Thinking
Meaning
Mental Experiences
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Misuse of Statistics
Motivated Reasoning
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Nirvana Fallacy
Norms
Not Even Wrong
Objective Reason
Objectivity
Opinion
Overthinking
Perception
Personal Values
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Positive Thinking
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Problem Solving
Proof By Example
Propositional Logic
Prosecutor's Fallacy
Radical Chic
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Reasoning
Red Herring
Reflective Thinking
Reification
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False Dichotomy

An overview of false dichotomy with examples.

Red Herring

Red Herring explained with an example.

Correlation vs Causation

The difference explained.

Cognitive Biases

A list of common cognitive biases explained.

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