All Tools






Truth: Awareness Of Faulty Thinking

On the quest for truth, be aware of the following 50+ logical errors/fallacies. If you lack awareness, it is easy to be confused and mislead into reaching false conclusions.

At the bottom of this alphabetical list are:

(a) 4 common categories within which the fallacies can be grouped;

(b) a list of references; and

(c) a table of other web pages dealing with fallacies.

Abusive Personal Attack: shifting attention away from facts by personally attacking the individual presenting the argument (IR-h1)

Ambiguity/Unclear Meaning: structuring the wording of a claim to create two or more possible meanings (UR-d1)

Analogy, Faulty: a comparison which is alike in some respects doesn't mean it is similar in other or all important respects (UR-e7)

Authority (Questionable/Irrelevant): using the opinion of an authority who may be unqualified in current field or biased (IP-a4)

Before Therefore Cause/ Post Hoc: assuming that if one event comes before another it is the cause of the second (IG-f6)

Black & White/Either-Or/False Dilemma: overlooking other answers by restricting choices (contraries as contradictions) (UR-e6)

Change Meaning of Word (Equivocation): shifting the meaning of a key word in an argument resulting in deception (UR-d4)

Circular Argument/True By Definition: using the conclusion as one of the premises (reassert conclusion without evidence) (UR-c1)

Cliché/Aphorism: covering for lack of evidence with cute phrase, parable, or story (IG-g4)

Composition (Parts to Whole): if each part has a quality the whole must have the same property (good players = good team) (UR-e1)

Compromise/Moderation/Golden Mean: assuming a moderate view is best because it is the middle or least offensive view (UR-e4)

Confusing Necessary & Sufficient Condition: meeting a necessary condition but not meeting all sufficient ones (IG-f2)

Distinction without Difference: attempting to distinguish from a similar losing argument with clever wording (UR-d3)

Diversion (Whole to Parts): if a whole has a property or quality then each part must also have it (good team = good player) (UR-e3)

Domino Effect/Slippery Slope: arguing against by linking a first decision with possible unproved negative future outcomes (IG-f3)

Double Standard/ Special Pleading: rule applies to you but it doesn't apply to me because of a poorly supported exception (IG-g7)

Evidence, Denying: refusing to seriously consider or acknowledge evidence which is opposition to claim (IR-i1)

Evidence, Ignoring / (1 Sided Assessment): ignoring negative evidence or omitting it as though it was not relevant (IR-i2)

Evidence, Omission: failing to include critical positive evidence which supports the claim being made (IG-g6)

Fake Precision/Unknowable Statistic: presenting mathematical precision or essentially unknowable statistics as fact (IG-g3)

False Hypothesis/Predict "if": stating as fact hypothetical claims about what would happen under different conditions (IG-g2)

False Opposites /Illicit Contrast (not P -> not Q): assuming an unstated related contrasting claim (UR-e10)

Flattery/Excessive Praise: providing praise or flattery instead of evidence (IP-b7)

Force/Threat/Intimidation: using intimidation or threat instead of presenting evidence or proper argument (IP-b1)

Gambler's Fallacy/False Probability: thinking past independent chance events effect the odds or probability of future events (IG-f4)

Generalization (Sweeping)/General Principle Misuse: assume no exceptions to general rule or use exception to disprove rule (UR-e9)

Guilt By Association: using a negative view of the company kept by an opponent instead of presenting evidence (IP-b5)

Humor/Ridicule: avoiding appropriate arguments by distracting with humor or attacking with ridicule (IR-j3)

Ignorance, Arguing From: stating a conclusion as true because it hasn't been proven false (or false because not proven true) (IG-g1)

Innuendo/Suggestion without Evidence: implicitly suggesting a claim without actually stating it (to discredit an argument) (UR-d2)

Is-Ought/Status Quo/Inertia: if it is done now, then it should continue or the reverse (if not done then don't start) (UR-e8)

Label, Inference from: using a label attached to a person or thing as a though it were a sufficient reason to reach a conclusion (IG-g5)

Leading Question: phrasing a question unfairly or in a biased manner to force desired answer (UR-c2)

Loaded-Complex Question: presenting assumptions/premises in a question which force acceptance regardless of the answer (UR-c3)

Neglect Multiple Cause /Common Cause: thinking one event causes another when both are actually effects of a separate cause (IG-f5)

Novelty/New Is Good: it is good just because it is different from the past (UR-e5)

Out Of Context/Improper Accent: shifting tone of voice to alter meaning of a quote or presenting it out of context (UR-d5)

Oversimplification: using insufficient factors to account for an event (IG-f1)

Past context Applied Now/Genetic: using evaluation from past context and applying it to present changed context (IP-a3)

Pity/Mercy: appealing for special treatment based on sympathy as a distraction from relevant evidence (IP-b3)

Poisoning The Well/Damning Source: attacking motives to discredit possible future points (suggesting lying/hidden agenda) (IR-h2)

Popular Opinion/Bandwagon/Polls/Everyone Does It: urging acceptance or rejection of an argument because many others do (IP-a1)

Rationalize/Believe Then Prove: (IP-a5)
...hiding real reasons for a position with better sounding false/weak ones

Red Herring/Side Issue: attempting to divert attention from a weakness by presenting a distracting side issue (IR-j2)

Sample, Insufficient: reaching a conclusion about the whole population based on a sample that is too small (IG-g8)

Sample, Unrepresentative: using biased, exceptional, or an unrepresentative sample of a population to represent the whole (IG-g9)

Self Interest/Personal Circumstance: appealing to an opponent's personal interest or circumstance instead of a valid argument (IP-b2)

Small Difference Irrelevant/Continuum: thinking a small change in a sequence doesn't matter so there is no true cut off point (UR-e2)

Straw Man: distorting or misrepresenting an opponent's argument in order to make it easier to refute or attack (IR-j1)

Strong Feelings/Mob-Crowd Appeal: appealing to mass enthusiasm or popular opinion with no supporting evidence (IP-b6)

Tradition/Past is Best: appealing to reverence or respect for tradition to avoid presenting evidence (IP-b4)

Trivial Objection/Minor Point: attacking a minor point as though it was a major one (believing this defeats whole argument) (IR-j4)

Vague Expression: assigning a very specific meaning to an opponent's vague term and then attacking the interpretation (UR-d6)

Wrong Conclusion/Non-Sequitur: presenting evidence for one conclusion and then stating another (IP-a2)

You Do It To/Two Wrongs Make A Right: suggesting a position is reasonable because your opponent acts in a similar way (IR-h3)

The above list was compiled by a Paladin on a quest to act as a positive force by sharing knowledge, empowering others, advocating kindness, and providing encouragement today. Carpe Diem! (ver 9512)


.....(a) Irrelevance/Unrelatedness
.....(b) Emotional Appeal

.....(c) Begging the Question
.....(d) Linguistic Confusion
.....(e) Unwarranted Assumption

.....(f) Causal
.....(g) Missing Evidence

.....(h) Attacking the Person
.....(I) Counter Evidence
.....(j) Diversion

A Rulebook for Arguments = Anthony Weston (0-87220-156-2)
Attacking Faulty Reasoning = T. Edward Damer (0-534-21750-8)
Beyond Feelings-Guide to Critical Thinking =Vincent Ruggiero (1-55934-357-5)
de Bono's Thinking Course = Edward de Bono (0-8160-3178-9)
Fallacies and Pitfalls of Language = S. Morris Engel (0-486-28274-0)
Informal Logic -Handbook for Critical Argu = Douglas Walton (0-521-37925-3)
Logic And Contemporary Rhetoric = Howard Kahane (0-534-16896-5)
Reason & Argumentation = Richard Feldman (0-13-767229-2)
The Elements of Reasoning = David Conway (0-534-51672-6)

Other Web Pages Dealing With Faulty Logic

Brian Yoder (friendly)

Stephen Downes (Complete)

San Jose St U (flashy_good)

James Stanger (9 ex long)

Jon Shemitz (11_ex)

Cederblom Paulsen (12_ex_good)

Brigham Young U (13_ex_short)

Matt Miller (14_ex)

Perry Greene (15_ex_short)

Longview CC (17_ex_long)

Thinking Page (18_ex_+_overview)

Luke Setzer (37_ex_good_layout)

Univ Nevada (42_ex_brief)

Nizkor/Labossiere (42_ex_very_good)

Diana Wash U (80_ex_brief)

Ohio State (1_slide_ea)

Just Thinking (overview_no_ex)

Aaron Delwiche (ex_propoganda)

IL State U (prim_layout)

Fergus Duniho (prim_but_detailed)

Peter Suber (many_links)

U Miami (other_links)