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Critical & Creative Thinking - OER & More Resources: Logic Traps

Understanding, for better or worse, starts with entertaining the idea that something is true. The brain tries to make thinking easier by creating heuristics, but sometimes these are inaccurate. Therefore you must be vigilant in evaluating any assumption.

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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