It’s great to have the courage of your convictions, but you need more than
that to put forth a winning argument.
In last week’s post, I offered
11 logical fallacies and why it’s important to recognize them in what we see, read and hear.
Such fallacies weaken arguments; employing them can make you and your
organization less credible.
Here are a few more logical fallacies to be aware of:
1. Anecdotal evidence
. Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid
argument or compelling evidence to state your position; often used to
Example: I knew someone in high school who died in a car accident
because his seat belt was stuck. That’s why I’ll never wear a seat
2. The argument from inertia
. Arguing that you need to continue on a course of action even after
discovering it is a mistake, because changing course would mean admitting
that the action was wrong and the efforts toward the action were for
Example: Eve knows that taking the new job is a mistake, but she’s
already quit her old job and she starts in an hour, so she decides to
go ahead with it.
3. Default bias
. Acceptance of a situation simply because it exists right now and arguing
that any alternative is impossible or would take too much effort, expense
or risk to change.
Example: Abolishing the Electoral College would take years and cost
millions of dollars, and the efforts would fail.
. Invalidating an individual’s knowledge and experiences by twisting or
distorting known facts, memories, events and evidence. The idea is to make
those who disagree with you doubt themselves (as seen in the 1944 movie
“Gaslight,” starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman).
Example: At a meeting on Tuesday your boss says, “You can all leave at
noon on Friday.” Then Friday comes along, and your boss indignantly
says: “I would never say you could leave early. You must not have been
This occurs when an event or discovery is given undue
attention or its importance is exaggerated, such as describing a study as a
“breakthrough” or an event as “the most significant in human history.”
Example: This new research has upset all our previous assumptions about
the health effects of drinking on the job.
6. The non sequitur.
Offering reasons or conclusions that have no reasonable connection to the
argument at hand.
Example: The hurricane is a punishment for our sins.
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7. Post hoc.
Assuming that because B comes after A, A caused B; correlation does not
always equal causation.
Ice cream consumption rises in the summer. So does the murder rate.
Therefore, eating ice cream leads to murder.
Deceiving an audience by offering simple answers or using sound bites to
answer complex questions.
Example: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must vote to acquit.”
Which of these fallacies do you see or hear most frequently? Please let us
know in the comments section below.
Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor. She is also
the author of the writing/editing/random thoughts blog, Impertinent Remarks.