Logical Fallacies

Dawson Wright                                         10-28-14                                                                  4th

Fallacies of Relevance

Red Herring

Example: We admit that this measure is popular. But we also urge you to note that there are so many bond issues on this ballot that the whole thing is getting ridiculous

Explanation: The speaker started talking about bond issues, causing the conversation to digress from the popular measure.

Ad Hominem


Bill: "I believe that abortion is morally wrong."

Dave: "Of course you would say that, you're a priest."

Bill: "What about the arguments I gave to support my position?"

Dave: "Those don't count. Like I said, you're a priest, so you have to say that                                    abortion is wrong. Further, you are just a lackey to the Pope, so I can't                                believe what you say."

Explanation: Dave used Bill's status as a priest to turn the argument on Bill.

Faulty/Weak Analogies

Example: How is a raven like a writing desk?

Explanation: A raven is nothing like a writing desk. The creator of this riddle didn't expect to get any answers to the riddle.

Fallacies of Accuracy

Straw Man


Prof. Jones: "The university just cut our yearly budget by $10,000."

Prof. Smith: "What are we going to do?"

Prof. Brown: "I think we should eliminate one of the teaching assistant positions. That                               would take care of it."

Prof. Jones: "We could reduce our scheduled raises instead."

Prof. Brown: "I can't understand why you want to bleed us dry like that, Jones."

Explanation: Professor Brown used a poor example to help his opinion of the situation stand.

Either/Or False Dilemma-

Example: "Look, you are going to have to make up your mind. Either you decide that you can afford this stereo, or you decide you are going to do without music for a while."

Explanation: The speaker gave only two extreme decisions instead of giving other options.

Fallacies of Insufficiency

Hasty Generalization-

Example: Sam is riding her bike in her home town in Maine, minding her own business. A station wagon comes up behind her and the driver starts beeping his horn and then tries to force her off the road. As he goes by, the driver yells "get on the sidewalk where you belong!" Sam sees that the car has Ohio plates and concludes that all Ohio drivers are jerks.

Explanation: Sam made a hasty conclusion and decided that all people from Ohio are jerks just because of that one driver from Ohio.

Circular Reasoning-


Interviewer: "Your resume looks impressive but I need another reference."
Bill: "Jill can give me a good reference."
Interviewer: "Good. But how do I know that Jill is trustworthy?"
Bill: "Certainly. I can vouch for her."

Explanation: Bill said that Jill can vouch for him and then he said that he could vouch for Jill. The interviewer doesn't know either of them to know if they are trustworthy enough, so the evidence given by Bill doesn't help in any way.