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Short List of Fallacies

by Nathaniel Bluedorn

This material is taken from the book The Fallacy Detective.

Avoiding the Question

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 doesn’t.

2. Ad Hominem: Where someone attacks an opponent’s character, or his motives for believing something, instead of disproving his opponent’s argument.

3. Genetic Fallacy: Where someone condemns an argument because of where it began, how it began, or who began it.

4. Tu Quoque (You Too): Where someone dismisses your viewpoint on an issue because you are yourself inconsistent in that very thing.

5. Faulty Appeal to Authority: Where someone appeals to the authority of someone who has no special knowledge in the area they are discussing.

6. Appeal to the People: Where someone claims his viewpoint is correct just because many other people agree with it.

Making Assumptions

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.”

2. Equivocation: Where the meaning of a word is changed in the middle of an argument.

3. Loaded Question: Where someone asks one question which assumes the answer to a second question.

4. Part-to-Whole: Where someone asserts that what is true of part of something must also be true of the whole thing 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 fallacy.

6. Either-Or: Where someone asserts that we must chose between two things, when in fact we have more alternatives.

Statistical Fallacies

1. Hasty Generalization: Where someone generalizes about a class or group based upon a small and poor sample.

2. Weak Analogy: Where someone claims that some items which have only a few minor similarities are practically the same in almost everything else.

3. Post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc: Where someone assumes that since A happened before B, A must have caused B.

4. Proof-by-lack-of-evidence: Where someone claims something is true simply because nobody has yet given them any evidence to the contrary.


1. Appeal to Fear: Where someone moves you to fear the consequences of not doing what he wants.

2. Appeal to Pity: Where someone urges us to do something only because we pity him, or we pity something associated with him.

3. Bandwagon: Where someone pressures us to do something just because many other people like us are doing it.

4. Exigency: Where someone offers nothing more than a time limit as a reason for us to do what he wants.

5. Repetition: Where a message is repeated loudly and very often in the hope that it will eventually be believed.

6. Transfer: Where an advertiser gets us to associate our good or bad feelings about one thing, to another unrelated thing.

7. Snob Appeal: Where someone encourages us to think his product would make us better, or stand out, from everybody else.

8. Appeal to Tradition: Where we are encouraged to buy a product or do something because it is associated with something old.

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.

Copyright April 01, 2002, all rights reserved. 61794 views

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