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News Literacy: News Views & Fact Checking Resources: Logic Traps

Everyone is vulnerable to logic tricks & traps!

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments: Logical Falicies

Bad arguments book cover

Shorter FLICC from John Cook


Food for thought: Tricks and Traps.

A: I'm not old!     B: Only old people say that.
A: You're wrong. B: You're just saying that because you know I'm right and it scares you.
A: You're wrong. B: If I'm so wrong, why are you trying so hard to convince me I'm wrong, hmmm?

False Dilemmas,  Absolutes, & Authorities
Either X is always right or X is always wrong.  
If X is not 100% right, then X is 100% wrong.

The argument is only as good as the authority of the arguer.
You cannot separate the argument from the arguer.
If the person is a criminal they can do no good.
If the person is a saint they can do no wrong.
If you don't know anything about X, nothing you say about X can be correct.

Recommended Links

  1. Ad hominem – Making a personal attack against the person saying the argument, rather than directly addressing the issue.
  2. Anecdotal evidence – Thinking that just because something applies to you that it must be true for most people.
  3. Appeal to authority – Believing just because an authority or “expert” believes something than it must be true.
  4. Appeal to emotions – Trying to persuade someone by manipulating their emotions – such as fear, anger, or ridicule – rather than making a rational case.
  5. Appeal to ignorance – Thinking a claim is true (or false) because it can’t be proven true (or false).
  6. Appeal to tradition – Believing something is right just because it’s been done around for a really long time.
  7. Bandwagon fallacy – Thinking an argument must be true because it’s popular.
  8. Begging the question – Making an argument that something is true by repeating the same thing in different words.
  9. Cherry picking – Only choosing a few examples that support your argument, rather than looking at the full picture.
  10. Correlation proves causation – Believing that just because two things happen at the same time, that one must have caused the other.
  11. Ecological fallacy – Making an assumption about a specific person based on general tendencies within a group they belong to.
  12. Equivocation – Using two different meanings of a word to prove your argument.
  13. Fallacy fallacy – Thinking just because a claim follows a logical fallacy that it must be false.
  14. False dilemma – Thinking there are only two possibilities when there may be other alternatives you haven’t considered.
  15. Naturalistic fallacy – Believing something is good or beneficial just because it’s natural.
  16. Non sequitur – Implying a logical connection between two things that doesn’t exist. “It doesn’t follow…”
  17. Red herring – When you change the subject to a topic that’s easier to attack.
  18. Shifting the burden of proof – Thinking instead of proving your claim is true, the other person has to prove it’s false.
  19. Slippery slope – Taking an argument to an exaggerated extreme. “If we let A happen, then Z will happen.”
  20. Strawman fallacy – Misrepresenting or exaggerating another person’s argument to make it easier to attack.


techniques of science denial

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