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Fallacies: Identifying Problems with Reasoning

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Rodrigo Gomez

on 20 October 2016

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Transcript of Fallacies: Identifying Problems with Reasoning

Fallacies: Identifying Problems with Reasoning
Good reasoning is the foundation of any good argument--or any "sound" rhetorical appeal.

Fallacies: A definition
Fallacies, then, can be defines as (intentional or unintentional) claims that are manipulative, unfair, or deceptive
A few Common Fallacies
1. Begging the question
2. Either-or arguments
3. Ad Hominem
4. Faulty Causality
5. Red Herring
6. Slippery Slope arguments
7. Straw Man
8. Hasty Generalization
9. Faulty Analogies
10. Guilt by association
11. Appeals to authority
12. Appeals to fear, ignorance or pity

Assessing Sound Logic
First, react to the text and decide whether or not you are moved, or persuaded by the text.
Looking for Fallacies
However, some kinds of appeals try to convince using "faulty" reasoning," logic that is unsound", or even by derailing the issue completely by misdirecting your focus
Despite their gaps in logic, however, Fallacies can be very powerful and persuasive--sometimes even more so than "sound" logic.
Academic writing demands that you avoid fallacies and use "sound" logic, but Marketing takes full advantage of fallacies to act on you
Then, assess whether or not the text contains any "illogical" or "unsound" arguments--specifically, logical errors or manipulative content/information
Do any of the following arguments make such logical errors?
Circular logic. A claim that tries to get audiences to support an argument without providing real evidence, or by simply restating the premise.
Begging the Question
"We need to reduce the national debt because the government owes too much money"
These circular statements beg the question becuase they their premises and conclusions are the same, providing no reasons or evidence.
Either-Or / False Dilemmas
arguments that mislead the reader to assume there are only two alternatives to a situation where there are more
"I will not allow the U.S to become a defenseless, bankrupt nation--it must remain the military and economic supowerpower of the world."
In both you are given only two options when there are other possibilites in between
Ad Hominem
statements that focus our attention against "the person" instead of the point they are making
"Of course council member Acevedo doesn't want to build a new high school; she doesn't have any children herself."
Having no children might not be the reason for Acevedo's opposition. And Sarah's looks have nothing to do with her claims. Even if they did, personal attack still provides no basis or argument
Post Hoc, Ergo Proper Hoc
incorrectly assuming that simply because one event followed another, the second event was caused by the first
"Ever since I started having police patrol neighborhoods more frequently, crime rate has dropped significantly"
This assumes the two things are connected. But there might be many other reasons for the crime rate/economy
Red Herring
going off on a tangent, or raising a side issue that distracts the audience from the issue at stake
“Grading this exam on a curve would be the most fair thing to do. After all, classes go more smoothly when the students and the professor are getting along well.”

"Mr. Trump, Will you release your tax returns not hat the IRS has restated that you can release them under audit?"
"I'll release them after the audit, but more importantly why aren't we talking about Secretary Clinton's 33,000--probably more--emails..."
Slippery Slope
faulty logic that assumes that if one event happens, it will set in motion a chain of other events that will end in disaster
"I'm telling you, making euthanasia legal will lead to an increase in suicide rates becuase people will find it easier to kill themselves. Then it will even lead to an increase in murders disguised as suicide!"
Both examples end in disaster but there is no evidence for that assumption
Straw Man
a way of misrepresenting an opponents argument as more extreme to make it easier to attack
Legal Gay Marriage = "an assault on the civil liberties upheld by the constitution
The Affordable Care Act = "Government takeover of Health Care"
the misrepresentation of the author's words into a straw man makes the argument easier to "knock down"
Hasty Generalization
jumping to drastic conclusions without much evidence or support
"Both political scince classes I took were deadly dull, so it must be a completely boring subject."
"You shouldn't drink too much coffee--that study that NPR reported today said it causes cancer"
these are fallacies because they make unqualified assumptions, stereotype, or jump to conclusions too quickly without proper evidence
Faulty Analogies
comparisons that do not "hold up" because they are too dissimilar
"Parent's who homeschool their children are guilty of 'educational malpractice.' Parent's who aren't doctors wouldn't be allowed to perform surgery on their children on the kitchen table; so parents who aren't trained to teach shouldn't be allowed to teach their children either"
Both analogies are fallacious. There is not enough similarity to support that requirements for one should be equal to the other
Guilt by Association
attempting to discredit an idea or claim by affiliating it or associating it to a negative person or group
"Oh, you want us to relax anti-terrorism laws just like the terrorists want us to do. Are you saying you support terrorists?"
"Since the President's election more people are unemployed. So, the President damaged the economy"

Someone can argue that anti-terrorism laws are too harsh or inhumane without being a terrorist and non-racists also support Trump
Now, you will use 15 fallacies to attempt to sell a product--any object of your choice--without using "sound" logic or evidence.

Try to be as ridiculous, outlandish, and/or silly as you possibly can be.

Have fun with it. If you're stressing out about how to do it "right," then you're doing it wrong. Try to make outlandish connections and fallacies so that you know how they work and know how to identify them.
Recognizing & Using Fallacies Project
“Active euthanasia is morally acceptable. It is a decent, ethical thing to help another human being escape suffering through death.”
“Building "I" is in bad shape. Either we tear it down and put up a new building, or continue to risk student safety. Obviously we shouldn’t risk anyone’s safety, so we must tear the building down.”
“Sarah has written given several statements arguing that Trump harms women. But she's just ugly and bitter, so why should we listen to her?”
"Either we build a wall and secure our borders, or more drugs will come in, crime will increase, rapes will go up and we're not going to have a country anymore folks..."
"Republicans and their gun control advocates think people should have a missile launcher in their backyard as a Constitutional right..."
“Guns are like hammers—they’re both tools with metal parts that could be used to kill someone, yet it would be ridiculous to restrict the purchase of hammers. Restrictions on purchasing guns are equally ridiculous.”
"David Duke is a racist from the KKK and he supports Trump. I guess you're a racist too"
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