I'm trying to think of the name of this fallacy, and it's driving me crazy. The typical situation is this: I make a claim, and list several examples supporting this claim. Someone then discredits one of the examples, focuses on that example, and insinuates that the entire argument is invalid based on this.

Example follows. I do not want this to turn into a political conversation, so please do not focus on the example topic in your response


Conclusion - Trump's victory had emboldened racists and bigots to be more open with their hate.

Evidence - multiple news articles showing examples of his supporters acting in hateful ways this week.

Counter point - one of the articles was later shown to be a hoax.

Counter conclusion - These articles can't be trusted, so your claim is false.

Your input would be greatly appreciated.

I apologize to mods if they see this was posted elsewhere. I was directed to this page, instead. Please feel free to cleanup The post on the English page.

  • 1
    As @MrKennedy points out, there are two things wrong there. It is not worth a whole separate answer just to inject their traditional names: Even if all the articles are discounted, deciding the conclusion is false is concluding "from ignorance", (due to lack of proof). Removing the evidence, we now have no argument. But having no argument does not lead to being wrong. But dismissing the whole lot on the basis of a single example is a false generalization due to "cherry picking" and/or 'guilt by association" to begin with (depending on how it is pursued).
    – user9166
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 18:38

6 Answers 6


I can't think of a specific term, but the closest one that I remember is called the fallacy fallacy: dismissing an opponent's conclusion as false/unworthy of consideration merely because fallacies were present in their argument.

  • I think this is a good answer: Yes, they are also guilty of cherry picking and of guilt by association in order to lump arguments in with the conclusion and dismiss them all as fallacy because of the one fallacy. The issue for us all is: what answer is the best summary of the fallacious thinking and for me, that is to call the conclusion fallacious without having argued to demonstrate it and thus the fallacy fallacy.
    – SkyLeach
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 14:55

Well, it's not the same as having a premise demonstrated to be false.

First of all:

"X's status change has made Y (proponents of X's status change) do A"

followed by

"Citing reports of Y doing A"

is not demonstration of a causal relationship nor can a falsifiable hypothesis be formed to verify and advance from. Correlation is not causation.

That is one mistake.

To demonstrate causal correlates conclusively for a meaningful sociological conclusion a preponderance of examples may imply an accurate conclusion that Y does A because of X's status change. It must also be demonstrated, however, that these pattern examples could not otherwise be attributable. Again, tho - not a matter of deriving a truth value from premises which are either true or false. Note also the different "becauses" at work here:

Q: Why are you shivering?

A: Because I am cold.


Q: Why are you putting on your sweater?

A: Because I am cold.

Two very different "becauses"

To entirely dismiss a position over one dubious source of verifiable data is just intellectually disingenuous but only when all other reports are not only verifiable but have been verified.

If an example is shown to be false, the thing to do if you want to maintain the position is to find another example, verify it and present your research for peer review. The thing not to do is to find examples which support the position by limiting your research to only finding data which agrees with your assertion and rejecting that which counters the position.


Mistaking inductive reasoning for deductive reasoning.

If an argument is deduced from axioms, then, yes, one point of failure implies the failure of the entire argument. For example, all men are not equal - this is an empirical fact - therefore any government whose constitution is built on the axiom "all men are equal" is bound to collapse sooner or later.

On the other hand, if an argument is based on facts, it can indeed tolerate factual errors or even logical inconsistencies because, if there are such errors, the argument can still be partially true. Most conclusions based on empirical facts use inductive reasoning, in which both true or false needs supporting evidence; when evidence is lacking, one suspends judgement instead of concluding false.

To illustrate the point, the following is a comparison made by Bertrand Russell:

In Locke or Hume, a comparatively modest conclusion is drawn from a broad survey of many facts, whereas in Leibniz a vast edifice of deduction is pyramided upon a pin-point of logical principle. In Leibniz, if the principle is completely true and the deductions are entirely valid, all is well; but the structure is unstable, and the slightest flaw anywhere brings it down in ruins. In Locke or Hume, on the contrary, the base of the pyramid is on the solid ground of observed fact, and the pyramid tapers upward, not downward; consequently the equilibrium is stable, and a flaw here and there can be rectified without total disaster.

Russell, Bertrand. "Locke's Influence." A History of Western Philosophy. New York: A Touchstone Book, 2007. 643-644. Print


This sort of thinking has some validity when time is important.

If you are putting forth a proof, and some of the assumptions you put forth are found to be unreasonable, you can't just automatically assume the rest of the argument works. You now have a new proof. Sometimes the remaining evidence is enough, sometimes it is not. We would have to rehash the entire argument from start to finish to know for sure.

In a perfectly-logical world, one would have all the time in the world to listen to arguments and debate. In a real world, both of these consume time. Thus, one may reject an argument when an assumption is invalidated, not based on the argument being invalid, but rather on the cost/benefit analysis that suggests that helping you build your argument may not be worth the time it takes.

While your political example is one where a valid argument is not far off, there are disciplines where this is untrue. Mathematics, in particular, is known for having to throw out entire thesis-sized proofs due to one overlooked assumption, and it may take 20 years or more before a new proof comes out which takes care of that minor detail. It's not always obvious how close one is to a working argument, so if your argument isn't polished, its not obvious how much work it will take to get there.

One place where you may see a fallacy here is if they then reject the proof as "incorrect," rather than merely "not worth my time to determine if it is correct or incorrect." However, whether this is a fallacy or not depends on whether they are operating under an open-world hypothesis (things I do not know may be true) or a closed-world hypothesis(nothing is true unless I know it to be true). Both hypotheses have their merit, but if you think someone is using one of them when they are actually using the other it can be infurating!


I would call this a hasty refutation ... a hasty generalisation, but used to refute, rather than support. Another example of this type of fallacy would be when someone says 'Wow, what a cold day today. So much for global warming!'.

I am also reminded of 'throwing out the baby with the bath water', though that one is more applicable when one objects to a particular facet of an argument in order to reject the whole thing, e.g. one notes that in certain places the argument is using some rhetorical ploys and thereby rejects the argument altogether, thus possibly ignoring what may well be a valid point.

But in this case, where you have a list of similar points (the news articles), the 'hasty refutation' is to me the better option.


I can't think of a formally acknowledge fallacy that describes your scenario, however, if slothful induction is one in which an inductive conclusion is avoided despite an abundance of supporting premises exist, and considering that this seems the opposite, I would call it hasty induction. The interpreter hastily dismisses other premises upon determining that one of them is false or unfounded. That way it is somewhat of a mix between slothful induction and hasty generalization.

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