Logical Fallacies

Below is a selection of logical fallacies: common errors in reasoning that can undermine the validity of an argument. Check that your writing doesn’t include any of these to make sure you’re making the best possible arguments!

Ad Hominem: Stating that an argument is invalid because of the character of the person advancing it.
God cannot exist because Hitler believed in Him.

Anecdotal Evidence: Relying on personal experience instead of an argument backed up by logic.
Nothing happens when I pray - Allah does not exist.

Appeal to Emotion: Making an argument designed to evoke an emotion in the target, rather than being based on logic.
If you don’t believe in God, you will not be saved.

Argument From Authority: Stating an argument is valid because of the character of the person advancing it.
Mahatma Gandhi was a great man who changed the world for the better - he believed in God, so God must exist.

Bandwagon: An idea is true because many people believe it.
Nobody believes in Vishnu anymore.

Begging the Question: A circular argument in which the premise is the same as the conclusion. The argument presupposes the conclusion is true.
Allah exists (conclusion) because the Quran said so (premise, which is not functionally different to the conclusion).

Black and White: There are only two extremes with no middle ground to be had.
Believing in God means you are against all science.

Burden of Proof: Making claim X and putting the onus on the other person to disprove it.
God doesn’t exist. Prove He does.

Composition: Making assumptions about the entirety of something based on something that is true of its parts.
There are many acts of kindness described in the Torah. Judaism is a religion of kindness.

Correlation vs Causation: Mistaking two events occurring or two things being true for one causing the other.
Protestants are, on average, taller than Catholics - Protestantism makes you grow.

Division: Something that is true for the whole of something must also be true of each individual part.
Mormons are more generous than Atheists, therefore I, a Mormon, am kinder than you, an Atheist.

Generalisations: Taking a singular event or rare occurrence and assuming it’s true of every similar scenario.
Atheists are all heretics with no moral compass!

No True Scotsman: Making a generalised statement about a group, but moving the goalposts for being part of that group when the statement is disproved. All X people do Y, and if an X person does not do Y, it means they are not a true X.
Person X: Buddhists aren’t violent.
Person Y: But Ashin Wirathu is Buddhist, and he’s incited the massacre of Muslims in Myanmar.
Person X: Well, Ashin Wirathu is not a true Buddhist!

Non Sequitur: An argument where the conclusion is not related to the premises.
If you really loved me, you would believe in Allah!

Personal Incredulity: Believing that something is not true purely because you do not understand it.
I don’t see how humans could come from monkeys, so evolution isn’t real.

Red Herring: Changing what an argument is about rather than debating the original issue.
But not believing in religion is so depressing!

Slippery Slope: Suggesting that an event will eventually inevitably lead to a much more extreme event. Stating that A is unacceptable as it will eventually lead to Z.
If we can’t say ‘Under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance, soon the state will ban being a Christian.

Straw Man: Framing the opposing side of the argument as so extreme that no one would support it.
To support Atheism is to support having no morality.

Texas Sharpshooter: Picking and choosing data and information based on a predetermined agenda.
The chance of the universe being created randomly is incredibly low, so creationism is the only answer!

Tu quoque: Answering criticism with criticism instead of counterarguing the original critique.
Person X: Islam as an institution has long held prejudices against the LGBTQ community.
Person Y: Well, so have other religions!

And most importantly…
The fallacy fallacy: Just because an argument includes a fallacy doesn’t mean it’s automatically untrue!

This page was last edited on Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020 at 10:27 UTC