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Questions tagged [fallacies]

Concerns formal (syllogistic) fallacies, informal (rhetorical) fallacies, tactical misdirection, and errors in logic or reasoning more broadly put.

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175 votes
18 answers
50k views

Is 'guns don't kill people, people kill people' a good argument?

I'm hearing the argument X doesn't do Y, people do Y in quite a few guises. For instance, in its original form: Guns don't kill people; people kill people. Presumably, therefore, guns are OK. Cars ...
Crab Bucket's user avatar
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70 votes
7 answers
20k views

What is the fallacy “X is bad, Y is worse, therefore X is not bad” called?

I have often heard this type of argument: You are criticizing X using well-researched facts and arguments. Your interlocutor states that Y is much worse, with equally well-researched facts and ...
Sardathrion - against SE abuse's user avatar
52 votes
13 answers
29k views

Why do they say I am committing a fallacy when I am just insulting someone?

On the internet, one is often accused of committing the so-called 'ad hominem'-fallacy, which, according to Sikipedia, is defined as a fallacious argumentative strategy whereby genuine discussion of ...
Dario's user avatar
  • 545
44 votes
12 answers
19k views

Fallacy by Sherlock Holmes 'Eliminate the impossible, and what remains must be the truth'

In The Sign of Four, Holmes asks Watson: "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" This may be ...
Mogli's user avatar
  • 467
39 votes
11 answers
8k views

What fallacy is the belief that we are special because our existence on Earth seems improbable an example of?

People often use the argument that there must be a God, for example, because Earth and the laws of physics are perfectly situated for humans to exist the way we do. However, if Earth, or even the ...
Tori's user avatar
  • 493
37 votes
10 answers
16k views

Is it a fallacy if someone claims they need an explanation for every word of your argument to the point where they don't understand common terms?

Is it a fallacy if someone claims they need an explanation for every word of your argument to the point where they don't understand common terms? For example, suppose someone said, "If a dog bites ...
dogperson's user avatar
  • 371
32 votes
10 answers
11k views

Isn't the notion that everything will occur in an infinite timeline an example of the gambler's fallacy?

I've seen a few different formulations of this, but the most famous is "monkeys on a typewriter" - that if you put a team of monkeys on a typewriter, given infinite time, they will ...
Lou's user avatar
  • 431
32 votes
5 answers
8k views

Is "I cannot imagine a mechanism for X to happen, so X can never happen" a named logical fallacy?

I have encountered this reasoning quite frequently: Somebody posits the hypothesis that an event X can happpen. A recent example I encountered was "vinegar and salt in the boiling water make eggs ...
rumtscho's user avatar
  • 470
30 votes
4 answers
9k views

Does the no true Scotsman fallacy apply to anti Stalinist etc. communism?

The internet is awash with claims that anyone arguing that Stalinist Russia / Maoism wasn't communist is committing the no true Scotsman / ad hoc rescue fallacy. However, I suspect that few of its ...
user avatar
27 votes
8 answers
11k views

If the Bible contains circular reasoning, does it discredit it?

If the Bible contains circular reasoning, does it discredit it? One of the reasons why I wonder about this is because in most academic/professional fields circular reasoning would discredit the ...
Programmer's user avatar
26 votes
7 answers
5k views

What type of rhetorical device is the offering of a source which is really long and not specifying what part of the source is relevant?

I'm encountering a frequent recurrence of a rhetorical device that seems to me fallacious but I can't figure out what it's called. When making an argument, the person does the following: Makes a ...
Kiril's user avatar
  • 371
24 votes
2 answers
30k views

What fallacy dismisses problems by presenting "bigger" problems?

Wasn't really sure how to phrase this, but I'm thinking of an instance in which someone diminishes a problem by presenting one of larger scope - as a rather shoddy example, "x political problem in ...
user2871915's user avatar
23 votes
11 answers
13k views

Is Yoda committing a fallacy?

I've been debating with a hard core Star Wars friend who loves repeating Yoda's "Do or do not, there is no try" knowledge. I tried to explain that the DO (B) and DO NOT (C), are end results, ...
Beach Bum's user avatar
  • 355
23 votes
7 answers
17k views

What's so fallacious about the Slippery Slope Fallacy?

When you look at the world, I think it's a rather non-controversial statement that a good percentage, if not a majority, of social problems are caused by people making choices based solely on short-...
Mason Wheeler's user avatar
22 votes
9 answers
4k views

What is this fallacy: Perfection is impossible, therefore imperfection should be overlooked

This is a pretty common fallacious statement that people make every now and then. Point me to any software that has been released without bugs? I think your expectations might be a tad high. It's ...
user1883337's user avatar
22 votes
8 answers
9k views

What fallacy is this? “This happened, therefore there must be good reasons for it”

What fallacy is it when someone says "this is true/it happened, therefore there are good reasons for it"? For example: We drive on the left (or right, depending on country) side of the road, ...
David Balažic's user avatar
22 votes
10 answers
5k views

Is it a fallacy to say that a sane person cannot apply rational thought to the motivations of the insane?

A common argument in today's news is that: Someone commits a heinous crime by shooting a bunch of people. Anyone who commits a heinous crime must be insane. Sane people cannot apply rational thought ...
YPCrumble's user avatar
  • 329
22 votes
8 answers
6k views

What is this logical fallacy? (Nothing new under the sun?)

It has been two decades since I took a reason and argument course in college. I am rusty on my command of logical fallacies. With that preface, I have been trying to locate a logical fallacy that ...
user avatar
22 votes
6 answers
6k views

What do you call the fallacy of thinking that some action A will guarantee some outcome B, when in reality B depends on multiple other conditions?

Example: Dentist: “You have multiple cavities.” Patient: “That’s ridiculous! You always told me that brushing my teeth prevents cavities. I brush my teeth every night. Therefore, I can’t possibly ...
andrewtc's user avatar
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21 votes
14 answers
13k views

Is “If white privilege exists, why did Elizabeth Warren pretend to be an Indian?" a fallacy, and if so, which one?

I recently came across the meme below. I consider it a logical fallacy (the existence of one use of a socioeconomic tool other than white privilege does not preclude the existence of white privilege). ...
mcating's user avatar
  • 385
20 votes
10 answers
2k views

Orderings in Philosophy

First of all, I’m a mathematician, not a philosopher, so I apologize in advance for any oversights or if my question maybe isn’t too relevant in philosophy. When reading popular philosophical content, ...
Henry T.'s user avatar
  • 309
19 votes
10 answers
10k views

Is the “no true Scotsman'” fallacy actually a fallacy?

I have trouble with many so-called 'fallacies', and the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy is no exception. Let me quote a famous line from Game of Thrones: Any man who must say "I am the King" is ...
gaazkam's user avatar
  • 1,371
18 votes
10 answers
7k views

What is the name of this fallacy: 101 is either binary or decimal?

A similar example would be of binary and decimal number where we are not sure about the number system. For example, The person who proposed a number is not remotely available to disclose about number ...
Ubi.B's user avatar
  • 320
18 votes
6 answers
5k views

What kind of fallacy is it to say if abolition of something isn't possible, we shouldn't attempt to address it at all?

I'm trying to figure out the exact fallacy (or if it even is one) that takes the form: If abolition of x isn't possible, we shouldn't attempt to address x. I see this quite often from radical second ...
N.F.'s user avatar
  • 199
17 votes
4 answers
7k views

What is the name of the fallacy where people assume that complex ideas are automatically better?

I often hear variations of the following premise in people's discussions: Your argument is too simplistic Which means that this simplicity is undesirable for some reason not present in the argument. ...
Red Banana's user avatar
  • 1,388
17 votes
8 answers
6k views

Is it fallacious to argue that something is correct, of good quality, or acceptable because a community of experts has established it as such?

Earlier today, I asked a programming question on a forum. I phrased the question as "What is the best way to do x?" Someone responded with something to the effect of, "the best way is ...
AffableAmbler's user avatar
17 votes
6 answers
3k views

What fallacy dismisses criticism of a bad law with "just don't break it"?

Let's say someone is criticizing the government for instituting some draconian policy, and/or for persecuting people for doing something minor. And the response is:"Just don't do it and you'll be fine"...
Legend of Overfiend's user avatar
16 votes
12 answers
3k views

Differentiating an argument from authority from expert testimony

Consider the following argument : The mathematical theorem T is a true theorem, because person(s) P say so. In a scientific context, it would be a fallacious argument from authority. However, suppose ...
Sam's user avatar
  • 541
16 votes
7 answers
7k views

What's the name of the logical fallacy where a debater extends a statement far beyond the original statement to make it true?

Suppose that someone initially states that "fossil fuel consumption due to mobile phone usage is similar to that of private transportation, so if you think we should switch to electric/bike to fight ...
DeltaIV's user avatar
  • 275
16 votes
7 answers
4k views

What type of fallacy is it when people in undeveloped countries claim something it's true, because developed countries do it?

A fallacy that we hear a lot here in undeveloped countries, and which is so deeply annoying, it's that something is true because the developed countries do it. It's particularly annoying because many ...
Pablo's user avatar
  • 527
16 votes
4 answers
6k views

Do "if everybody did it" arguments commit a fallacy?

Who is committing a fallacy in this discussion, and what kind of fallacy is it? A: There's nothing wrong with killing people at random B: If everybody did it, you would too most likely be a random ...
Kolia's user avatar
  • 161
15 votes
7 answers
10k views

Is reductio ad absurdum a fallacy?

If Miles told Frank: “Copying a DVD is stealing” And Frank's response to Miles: “if copying a DVD is stealing, then, by that logic, taking a photo of someone is kidnapping” And Miles Response is: “...
Jesse Kapahua's user avatar
15 votes
12 answers
20k views

What fallacy is assuming something is the case because of past events

I'm sure this is a simple question. What I am referring to is disbelieving someone on Day 20 because they have lied every day previous to Day 20. Another example is the boy who cried wolf. The 50th ...
Zebrafish's user avatar
  • 461
15 votes
9 answers
7k views

Is there a name for this fallacy when someone says something is good by only pointing out the good things?

A person says that a politician "Jane Doe" is good because he increased the education budget. (but in reality, Jane doe is also corrupt & racist, whose bad policies lead to the downfall ...
Mysterious Jack's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
5k views

Name of the fallacy that "you don't know" implies "the media is hiding it from you"

A very common fallacy used by propagandists has the structure: Person A presents fact X as support for a theory T that person A tries to prove, adding continuous suggestions about a conspiracy, but ...
ABu's user avatar
  • 277
15 votes
2 answers
2k views

Was Plato using strawmen in his dialogues?

In Plato's Dialogues, he often would put words into the mouths of two opposing points-of-view, while inserting a third voice, often initially presented as taking a position between the two viewpoints, ...
Ben Hocking's user avatar
  • 1,082
14 votes
18 answers
36k views

I have trouble understanding this fallacy: "If A, then B. Therefore if not-B, then not-A."

About "If A, then B. Therefore, if not-B, then not-A": From what I understand the conclusion is wrong, because it is not said that A is a sufficient condition for B, (and there may be other ...
user18894's user avatar
  • 165
14 votes
8 answers
8k views

If a person claims to know anything could it be disproven by saying 'prove that we are not in a simulation'?

Everyone starts out at 0 and if anyone wants to say that they know something they have to prove that claim. Is the counter to this person claiming that they know something logically correct? Person 1:...
Rolf Haugaland's user avatar
14 votes
11 answers
7k views

Is the burden of proof a fallacy?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burden_of_proof_(philosophy) When two parties are in a discussion and one makes a claim that the other disputes, the one who makes the claim typically has a burden of ...
Sayaman's user avatar
  • 4,249
14 votes
8 answers
9k views

Is there a fallacy about "appeal to 'big words'"?

Is there a fallacy about "appeal to 'big words'"? What I refer to are statements often encountered in political or economic rhetoric. An argument would go like this: Because of New Keynesianism, ...
mavavilj's user avatar
  • 3,036
14 votes
7 answers
7k views

Is there a name for the fallacy whereby the other party to the debate only suggests, does not articulate, what their point is?

Often, in a dispute, people only suggest their point without ever articulating it. An awful lot of people actually do that. This makes any rational debate impossible (if you second guess, they can ...
Speakpigeon's user avatar
  • 8,363
14 votes
6 answers
740 views

Are all fallacies created equal?

That is, are some fallacies considered worse than others, or does each fallacy have the same weight? For example, are formal fallacies considered "worse" than informal fallacies or vice versa? For ...
Brash Equilibrium's user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
2k views

Name for reverse Ad Hominem, (i.e. praising the defense)?

Is there a standard name for a fallacy of the same form as an ad hominem, except that instead of denouncing the opposition, it praises the defense? Typically an ad hominem ("against the man") fallacy ...
agc's user avatar
  • 366
13 votes
5 answers
6k views

When is pointing out a person's hypocrisy not considered to be a logical fallacy?

People keep using the word "whataboutism" and it seems people don't really know what it means, and I don't see how it's a logical fallacy if it's a very good argument. For instance, if the U....
Sayaman's user avatar
  • 4,249
13 votes
4 answers
1k views

What fallacy excludes "outsiders" from discussing "insider" issue?

I see this a lot on the internet, especially as of late with what's trending in the news: You're a man, so you're not allowed to comment on women's issues. You're a woman, so you're not allowed to ...
NobleUplift's user avatar
12 votes
19 answers
6k views

Is it "unscientific" to be sceptical without offering alternative explanations?

Alice has made some anecdotal observations. Through a process of elimination, she proposes a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon, as well as an experiment to validate (or otherwise) her hypothesis. ...
Xophmeister's user avatar
12 votes
17 answers
5k views

The implication if we discovered that natural abiogenesis is statistically nearly impossible

If we were to discover somehow that (sentient) life was so unlikely that it were almost impossible that it forms even once in the whole universe, does that imply anything about creation e.g.? My logic ...
Doot's user avatar
  • 237
11 votes
6 answers
2k views

Is it a "shifting of the burden of proof" if I show evidence in favor of a position, and ask the audience to debate that evidence if they disagree?

As far as I know, the "fallacy of shifting the burden of proof" is to refuse to show any evidence for my position, demanding the opponent to show evidence against my position, and claiming ...
vsz's user avatar
  • 384
11 votes
9 answers
3k views

Is one commiting the "argument from authority" fallacy and/or the "consensus fallacy" when one refers to a scientific consensus when asserting truth?

Bob and Alice disagree regarding subject X. Alice holds view A regarding subject X. Bob holds view B regarding subject X. View A and view B are quite contradictory views. Both can not be true at ...
Fiksdal's user avatar
  • 225
11 votes
3 answers
3k views

Are "if smoke then fire" arguments deductive or inductive?

I'm new to philosophy and have a question regarding deductive vs. inductive reasoning: I'm told that "John ate a strange plant in the forest and got sick. Clearly, the plant made John sick." I ...
Ben's user avatar
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