A fallacyIn the field of logic, it is an argument or reasoning that seems valid at first glance, but it is not. Whether they are committed intentionally, for the purposes of manipulation and deception (sophistry), or disinterestedly (paralogism), fallacies have preoccupied various discursive fields of social endeavor, such as politics, rhetoric, science or society. religion. For instance: begging the question, sniper fallacy, ad populum argument.
Aristotle postulated the existence of thirteen types of fallacy, but today we know a much higher amount and various forms of classification to understand them. In general terms, an argument will not be fallacious when it has deductive or inductive validity, true and justified premises, and does not fall into the call begging of the question.
Examples of fallacies
- Petition of principle. It is a fallacy characterized by containing the conclusion of the argument to be proved implicitly or explicitly within the premises available for it. Therefore it is a form of circular reasoning, in which the conclusion points to the premise itself. For example: “I am right, because I am your father and parents are always right.”
- Affirmation of the consequent. Also called reverse error, this fallacy ensures the truth of a premise from a conclusion, going against linear logic. For example: “Whenever it snows, it is cold. As it is cold, then it is snowing ”.
- Hasty generalization. This fallacy draws and asserts a conclusion from insufficient premises, extending the reasoning to all possible cases. For example: “Dad loves broccoli. My sister loves broccoli. The whole family loves broccoli. “
- Post hoc ergo propter hoc. This fallacy is named after a Latin expression that translates “after this, as a consequence of this” and is also known as coincident correlation or false causality. You attribute a conclusion to a premise by the simple fact that they occur in succession. For example: “The sun rises after the rooster crows. Therefore, the sun rises because the rooster crows ”.
- Sniper fallacy. Its name is inspired by an alleged sniper who shot a barn at random and then painted a target on each hit, to proclaim his good aim. This fallacy consists of the manipulation of unrelated information until achieving some kind of logical effect between them. It also explains autosuggestion. For example: “Today I dreamed that I was twelve years old. In the lottery the number 3 came out. The dream warned him because 1 + 2 = 3 ”.
- Scarecrow fallacy. Also called the straw man fallacy, it consists of the caricature of the opposing arguments, in order to attack a weak version of them and demonstrate argumentative superiority. For instance:
– I think children shouldn’t be out late.
– I don’t think you should keep him locked up in a dungeon until he grows up (fallacious rebuttal)
- Special plea fallacy. It consists of accusing the adversary of lacking the sensitivities, knowledge or authority to participate in the debate, thus disqualifying him as inept for the minimum level necessary to be refuted. For instance:
– I do not agree with the increase in electricity and water rates from one day to the next.
– What happens is that you do not understand anything about economics.
- Fallacy of the false trail. Known as red herring (red herring, in English), it is about diverting attention from the debate to another topic, as a fun maneuver that hides the argumentative weaknesses of the argument itself. For instance:
– Do you disagree with the proposed sentence for the rapist? Don’t you care what thousands of parents think about it?
- Argument to silentio. The argument from silence is a fallacy that draws a conclusion from silence or lack of evidence, that is, from silence or the refusal to reveal information about the opponent. For instance:
– How well can you speak German?
– It is a second language for me.
– Let’s see, recite me a poem.
– I don’t know any.
– So you don’t know German.
- Ad consequentiam argument. This fallacy consists of evaluating the veracity of a premise based on how desirable or undesirable its conclusions or consequences are. For instance:
– I can’t be pregnant, if I were, Dad would kill me.
- Ad baculum argument. The argument “that appeals to the cane” (in Latin) is a fallacy that supports the validity of a premise based on the threat of violence, coercion or threat that not accepting it would represent for the interlocutor or adversary. For instance:
– You are not homosexual. If you were, we couldn’t remain friends.
- Ad hominem argument. This fallacy diverts the attack from the opponent’s arguments to his own person, distorting them by extension from the personal attack. For instance:
– Long-term loans will fix the fiscal deficit.
– You say that because you are a millionaire and do not know about needs.
- Argument ad ignorantiam. Also known as the call to ignorance, it affirms the validity or falsity of a premise based on the existence or lack of evidence to prove it. Thus, the argument is based not on actual knowledge, but on one’s own or opponent’s ignorance. For instance:
– You say that your party is in the majority? I do not believe it.
– You can’t prove otherwise, so it’s true.
- Ad populum argument. Known as the populist sophistry, it implies the assumption of validity or falsehood of a premise based on what a majority (real or supposed) thinks about it. For instance:
– I do not like chocolate.
– Everybody loves chocolate.
- Argument ad nauseam. Fallacy consisting of the repetition of the premise, as if insisting on the same could impose its validity or falsity. It is the fallacy summed up in the famous phrase of the propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels: “A lie repeated a thousand times becomes the truth.”
- Argument ad verecundiam. Also called “authority argument”, it defends the validity or falsity of a premise based on the opinion of an expert or some authority (real or alleged) in this regard. For instance:
– I don’t think there were that many people at the demonstration.
– Yes of course. The newspapers said it.
- Argument ad antiquitatem. This fallacy consists of an appeal to tradition, that is, it assumes the validity of a premise according to the customary way of thinking about things. For instance:
– Gay marriage cannot be allowed, when has something like this been seen?
- Ad novitatem argument. Known as an appeal to novelty, it is the opposite of an appeal to tradition, it suggests the validity of a premise based on its unpublished character. For instance:
– I don’t like this show.
– But if it is the most recent version!
- Argument ad conditionallis. It is a fallacy that conditions the argument or the proofs of its conclusion, preventing them from being refuted because they have not been fully affirmed either. It is typical of journalism and uses many words conditionally. For instance:
– The politician would have diverted public funds for his personal benefit.
- Ecological fallacy. This attributes the truth or falsity of a statement, from the erroneous attribution of some characteristic of a human group (for example, those thrown by statistics) to any of its individuals without distinction, promoting stereotypes and prejudices. For instance:
– One in three assailants in the United States is black. Therefore, blacks are more likely to steal.