1. Red Herring: Where
someone introduces an irrelevant point into an argument. He may
think (or he may want us to think) it proves his side, but it really
Grizzly bears cant be dangerous
they look so cute.
When the presidential candidate was asked
whether hed name as a running mate someone who was opposed
to abortion, he replied: It would be incredibly presumptive
for someone who has yet to earn his partys nomination to
be picking a vice president. However, the main criterion I would
use in choosing a running mate would be whether the person was
capable of being president.
2. Ad Hominem: Where someone
attacks an opponents character, or his motives for believing
something, instead of disproving his opponents argument.
Jenny: My uncle says that all murderers
should be put to death because then nobody would want to murder
anybody anymore. Sylvia: Wasnt your uncle in
jail once? I dont think that we can trust somebodys
opinion who was once a criminal.
I know everybody thinks Einsteins
theory of relativity is correct, but I cant accept it. Einstein
believed in evolution.
3. Genetic Fallacy: Where
someone condemns an argument because of where it began, how it began,
or who began it.
Jenny: I think abortion is the
murder of innocent children. Clyde: The only reason
why you disagree with abortion is because you were abused as a
child and you have never recovered from it.
Bert: Mr Gritchus, why do you always
wear suspenders and never a belt? Mr Gritchus: Because
belts were developed in the military centuries ago and were used
by soldiers. Since the military is evil, and belts came from the
military, therefore I cant wear a belt.
4. Tu Quoque (You Too):
Where someone dismisses your viewpoint on an issue because you are
yourself inconsistent in that very thing.
Fred: I wouldnt smoke cigarettes
if I were you. It is a bad habit and it will bring you all kinds
of problems. Jake: Dont tell me not to smoke.
You do it, too.
I dont see what is wrong
with speeding everybody does it.
5. Faulty Appeal to Authority:
Where someone appeals to the authority of someone who has no special
knowledge in the area they are discussing.
My car mechanic says the best way to
fix computer problems is to just give the computer a good, sharp
Bert: Ive been homeschooled
all of my life, and I think it has helped me out a lot.
Clyde: The man who has the highest IQ in the world said
he didnt think homeschooling turned out good citizens. He
said he didnt think homeschoolers received enough socialization,
so they will become social misfits. Do you still think homeschooling
is a good idea?
6. Appeal to the People:
Where someone claims his viewpoint is correct just because many
other people agree with it.
Political Candidate: My opponent
says abortion is murder despite the fact that a recent
poll concluded 76% of Americans believe an abortion does not murder
an innocent child.
It looks as if more people vacation in
Florida than any other place. It must be the nicest place in America
1. Circular Reasoning:
Where someone attempts to prove his conclusion by simply restating
it. He says P is true because Q is true, and Q is true because
P is true.
Jimmy: Dad, why do I have to learn logic?
Dad: Because it will help to develop your mind. Jimmy: Why will
it develop my mind? Dad: Because it will help you think better.
2. Equivocation: Where
the meaning of a word is changed in the middle of an argument.
If the English dont drive on the
right side of the road, what are they doing on the wrong side?
Dad: Son, when you grow up I want
you to always be a responsible young man. Son: But
Dad, I am already very responsible. Whenever something breaks
around here, it seems as if I am always responsible.
3. Loaded Question: Where
someone asks one question which assumes the answer to a second question.
Neighbor: Why do you like to disturb
the neighborhood by playing your music so loud everybody can hear
it a mile away? [Does the neighbor really like to disturb
Judge: Have you stopped beating
your poor dog yet? [Has he ever begun beating his dog?]
4. Part-to-Whole: Where
someone asserts that what is true of part of something must also
be true of the whole thing together.
Child: Mommy, why is this feather
pillow so heavy? It only has feathers in it and little feathers
weigh hardly anything.
If I can break this bunch of sticks,
one by one, Mommy, why cant I break a bunch of sticks together?
5. Whole-to-Part: Where
someone asserts that what is true of something as a whole must also
be true of each of its parts. This is the reverse of the part-to-whole
If our bag of potato chips wont
float when I throw it in the pond, why will one of my potato chips
float by itself?
If I cant break this bunch of sticks,
all at once, Mommy, shouldnt I be able to break each individual
6. Either-Or: Where someone
asserts that we must chose between two things, when in fact we have
Either youre an American or you
are a Communist. You arent from America, so you must be
Either you believe in evolution, or you
are totally irrational. You say you dont believe in evolution,
so you must be irrational.
1. Hasty Generalization:
Where someone generalizes about a class or group based upon a small
and poor sample.
All plumbers are brilliant. I know a
plumber who can calculate Pi to the 289,954th digit.
Southerners talk fast. I was just
on the phone with one and he sure talked fast.
2. Weak Analogy: Where
someone claims that some items which have only a few minor similarities
are practically the same in almost everything else.
Clyde: I think it is all right
for governments in developing countries to execute citizens who
dont agree with the government. If you want to make an omelet,
then you have to break a few eggs.
A cloud is 75% water. A watermelon is
75% water. Since a plane can fly through a cloud, therefore a
plane can fly through a watermelon.
Where someone assumes that since A happened before B, A must have
Our rooster crows every morning. Then
the sun comes up. Now do you understand how important roosters
Christianity came along in the first
century, and a few hundred years after that, the Roman Empire
fell. Christianity must have made it fall.
Where someone claims something is true simply because nobody has
yet given them any evidence to the contrary.
There must be mountain lions living
in Illinois, because I havent seen any proof that none exist.
No evidence has been found that life
does not exist on other planets. Therefore, we are not alone in
1. Appeal to Fear: Where
someone moves you to fear the consequences of not doing what he
Prosecuting Attorney: Ladies and
gentlemen of the jury, I urge you to convict John Jones of this
crime of murder. We need to put him where he can never commit
any crimes. If you dont convict him, you may be his next
Restaurant owner: You no lika
da pizzas? I send over my cousin Tony for a little change
a mind. He maka you lika da pizzas.
Do you know what kind of damage a loose
cow can do on your farm. Imagine what would happen if your electric
fence failed and your cows wandered into the neighbors field.
Buy a Zapper electric fence and you wont have
to worry about it.
2. Appeal to Pity: Where
someone urges us to do something only because we pity him, or we
pity something associated with him.
Radio advertisement: Mr Jones lost
the last election because his opponent used a smear campaign to
discredit him. Mr Jones lost the election before that because
of voter fraud. Dont you think it is about time you voted
for Mr Jones?
Motorist: But officer, this is
the fifth ticket Ive been given this year. If I get another
ticket, then they will take my license away, and I wont
be able to drive to work. My wife and children will starve.
3. Bandwagon: Where someone
pressures us to do something just because many other people like
us are doing it.
Clyde: Dad, can I go to see the
movie Attack of the Killer Wombats? Dad: No,
son, you cant go. I heard that movie has bad things in it.
Clyde: Awe, come on, everybodys going to see it.
More Americans get their news from
ABC than from any other source.
4. Exigency: Where someone
offers nothing more than a time limit as a reason for us to do what
Genuine lead teacups! Now 95% off! Hurry,
while supplies last!
Mr: Come on, why dont you
marry me today? Miss: Oh, I cant make up my
mind. I only met you this morning. Dont you think it is
a little early. Mr: Im leaving tonight and wont
be back for several years. If you dont marry me now, we
may never have another chance.
5. Repetition: Where a
message is repeated loudly and very often in the hope that it will
eventually be believed.
Eat Sugarloops for breakfast! Eat
Sugarloops for lunch! Eat Sugarloops for supper! Eat Sugarloops
all the time! You will love Sugarloops.
6. Transfer: Where an
advertiser gets us to associate our good or bad feelings about one
thing, to another unrelated thing.
In a commercial, a handsome man with
big bulging muscles is seen working out on the new Gutwrencher
exercise machine. The announcer says, Tone up your muscles
in two weeks!
In a commercial, Gara Gorgeous, the famous
movie star with beautiful hair, holds up a bottle of shampoo and
says. Use Shimmer Bounce shampoo for better looking and
better smelling hair.
Purefresh Mountain Spring Water
7. Snob Appeal: Where
someone encourages us to think his product would make us better,
or stand out, from everybody else.
Advertisement: Why read those boring
logic books like everybody else does? You know youre better
than that. You need more intellectual stimulation. Read The Fallacy
Detective. Be more logical than the rest.
Buy skunk brand perfume. You will stand
out in the crowd.
8. Appeal to Tradition:
Where we are encouraged to buy a product or do something because
it is associated with something old.
A black and white photograph of man building
a guitar. The caption reads: Play Martin Guitars. Our expert
guitar craftsmen build guitars using only the most time honored
A black and white photograph of an old
1920s coupe on one page, and on the next a picture of a
smart modern looking coupe whizzing down the road. Caption reads:
Ford Thunderbird: yesterday, today and tomorrow.
9. Appeal to Hi-tech: Where someone
urges us to buy something because it is the latest thing
but not necessarily because it is the best thing.
Clyde: Hey Bert, you need to buy
one of these new Niko shoes. They have hi-tech Dinotraction.
Its a new special feature that helps you cling onto the
back of a running plesiosaur without falling off.
Our Laundry Ball cleans your
clothes automatically with our patented method of defusing the
ionization of the fetezoic acids and implanting a catalyst.
Copyright April 01, 2002, all rights reserved. 79251 views