Argumentation fallacies are found in every aspect of communication and are crucial to understanding truth and reasoning in what is said in speech and written communications. I give many examples including hasty conclusion, irrelevant reason, and problematic premise.
1) Irrelevant Reason – not following along with what is being said or something being unrelated to the topic.
My example – When I was told I would need braces, I tried to argue that I had endured enough taunting and teasing form the children at school for wearing glasses, braces would humiliate me further. One thing really has nothing to do with the other. Wanting not to be ridiculed had nothing to do with my teeth needing to be straightened.
2) Hasty Conclusion – Jumping off an argument to make a final decision without all of the details.
My example – When I made my first college decision to attend Dominican University, I ruled out all large, state schools purely because of size and ruling them all to be overcrowded. This time around all 3 of my applications went out to larger schools with larger programs. I judged too soon without really researching any large schools, and I am still paying for that decision.
3) Problematic Premise – The situation is virtually impossible, or the proposition itself has restrictions or flaws.
My example – “Supersize Me”, the movie. Of coarse the body would take a huge health hit if fast food was eaten three times a day for a month. Perhaps a better premise would have been once a day, and compared to a month without it.
4) Begging the Question – The claim presented is only acceptable if the conclusion is accepted or believed.
My example – Prostitution hurts all involved, so it should be outlawed everywhere.
5) Inconsistency – An unfounded idea serves as a conclusion.
My example – The argument that the earth has survived all this long, and will adapt to carbon dioxide emissions, and won’t be affected by global warming.
6) Straw Person – Claiming that the opponent has a position that is not necessarily true.
My example – When politicians use the phrasing “My opponent would like you to believe” during a campaign.
7) Ad Homenim – An attack not on the argument, but the person making it.
My example – I think that many people completely ignore the significance of global warming in the movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, just because it is Al Gore in the film. Many critics let their personal bias against him affect the review of the movie and its message.
8) Guilt By Association – Judging someone by the group or people they belong to.
My example - The way Republicans are often grouped together as being pro war. Another example is labeling UC Berkeley students as radical or liberal because of the school’s history.
9) Red Herring – Shifting a conversation to something unrelated by bringing in another issue.
My example – Shifting the focus of global warming on the economic issues of industry. Favoring GM and Ford as American automotive manufacturers even though they are not competitive in making gas-efficient vehicles.
10) Faulty Analogy – Arguing a point using a false relationship
My example – Comparing whether or not an arena succeeds for a soccer arena in England compared to a basketball arena in Sacramento.
11) Two wrongs – Suggesting a solution that is normally a negative to correct a current problem
My example - I work selling programs. Someone suggests I keep a few dollars and throw away those programs claiming I never had them. This doesn’t work because all the money and programs would be accounted for eventually.
12) Improper Appeal to Practice – Something is ok because it is widely accepted.
My example – Just because thousands of people are alcoholics or use drugs, we should legalize everything because it takes place already.
13) Correlation – Making a connection between unrelated things.
My example – Suggesting that the stock market reflects people’s general emotions.
14) Necessary and Sufficient Claims – Identifying a relationship as dependant. Things only happen when certain precursors happen.
My example – Claiming that people only get sick when the weather is bad.
15) Questionable Cause – Claiming where an issue originates, possibly without any grounds to the claim.
My example – When judgments are made concerning the origins of species and the earth.
Fallacies of Language and Meaning
16) Ambiguity – A statement of questionable or dual meanings or interpretations.
My example – If I as the prime minister determine the criteria of a case to be for the “general good.”
17) Equivocation – Using one word or concept in more than one way.
My example – Using the word performance in relationship to the noun school in reference to faculty, and to describe the performance of the student’s in the classrooms.
18) Vagueness – A Weak claim or unclear idea.
My example – Presenting a plan without any details. A generalization like saying “We want to improve the city”, without saying how.
19) The Freeloading Term – Labeling a word or concept and giving it value.
My example – Calling a plan genius. Labeling a proposition as uninformed or using an unfounded claim.