- Mere assertion
Mere assertion is a form of fallacy, where somebody tries to argue a statement by asserting it is true despite the contradictions it raises. For example, John says, “This answer is correct”. Peter says it is wrong, but John insists that the answer is right, because he believes he is right. In this fallacy, individuals are usually close-minded and do not accept other people’s opinions.
- Circular reasoning
Under this fallacy, someone attempts to support a premise by repeating it in a different form or term instead of using a conclusion. One restates a statement instead of proving it; for example, Obama speaks effectively, because he is an excellent communicator. The conclusion that he speaks effectively and the reason given excellent communicator’ are the same thing (Popkin, and Stroll, 2012).
- Ad hominem
This fallacy arises from an argument based on ignorance, and it essentially states that a certain belief is true just because we do not know whether it is not true (Engel, Soldan, and Durand, 2007). For example, all UFO eyewitnesses cite seeing objects or lights in the sky and conclude that they are alien spacecrafts, which is not necessarily true. They do not have evidence that the objects are indeed UFOs.
- Red herring
People use this fallacy as a diversionary tactic to avoid the key issues rather than addressing them. For instance, someone says, “The amount of mercury in seafood may not be safe but will the people who rely on fish to support their families do if fishing stops.” In this example, the narrator avoids the real issue of food safety and introduces an economic issue of how fishers will support their families.
Pseudo-questions are a fallacy, where one influences the answer by asking questions with unjustified assumptions. For instance, a lawyer asks, “Have you stopped insulting your wife?” The lawyer assumes that the person has a wife, which may not be true, or maybe the man has a wife but never insulted her.
- False cause
This fallacy is the outcome of common human habits to correlate events, which occur in succession, and to presume that there is a causal link. For example, someone reports that there is an increase in births in China during the full moon; therefore, full moon leads to a rise in birth rate. However, there is no way of proving that full moon causes a rise in birth rates.
- Sweeping generalizations
This fallacy applies to general statements too broadly. It happens when someone applies a general rule to a specific case where the rule does not apply (Tindale, 2007). For instance, general rule that children are to be seen not be heard. Specific case – little Amadeus is a pianist but is a child. Therefore, little Amadeus should not be heard. However, the general rule does not apply, because he is a pianist and is worth listening.
- Slippery slope
This fallacy occurs when someone makes a conclusion on the argument that occurrence of one event depends on the occurrence of a previous event, and if the first event does not occur, then the other event will not occur. This fallacy equates one event to another. For instance, if the government bans hummers, because they not environmentally friendly, then it will eventually ban all cars; therefore, the government should not ban hummers. The author here equates banning all cars to banning the hummer, which is very different.
- Equivocation, or changing meanings
People commit this fallacy when they use a single term in more than one sense in the same argument resulting in different meanings. For instance, criminal actions are illegal, and all murder trials involve criminal actions; therefore, all murder trials are illegal. Using criminal action is right in the first statement, but it is not appropriate in the conclusion (Tindale, 2007).