Logical fallacies are little faults hidden within your
reasoning. They may be very small. You might not see them even after youve
been over your paper a number of times. Nevertheless, these tiny fractures
in your papers crust can shift and send parts of your logic
tumbling to the ground. Anything but bombproof.
Here are a few of the most common ones you should watch out for:
- Bandwagon: Everybodys doing it! So shouldnt you?
- Begging the Question: Slipping in a false (or not necessarily true)
assertion and moving on as if everybody accepted
it. Be especially careful when talking about groups that you (and many
people around you) belong to. Dont call America "the greatest
nation on the face of the earth" without qualifying
- False Analogy: analogies and metaphors are greatwhen they fit.
When they dont, youve got a logical fallacy on your hands.
Or rather, on your paper. Just as nearly all male birds are endowed
with bright-colored feathers, so is it that guys have a genetic need to
show off. Newsflash: guys are not birds. That wasnt a very good
one, lets see if I can do better: the Spanish take a two hour
medio-dia siesta every afternoon, so we should too. That was a little
better. One more try: UVSC should put in more parking! After all, the
mall has plenty. You may agree with the assertion, but that doesnt
make it any less of a logical fallacy.
- False Dilemma: Just because you say there are only two choices doesnt
make it true. Middle-of-the-road options are often the best. If the
city doesnt add a left-turn light next to the elementary school,
more children will be needlessly killed. You could always build a pedestrian
overpass, get a crossing guard person, or other options.
- Non Sequitur: Your conclusion isnt reliably based on your argument.
Your back up for an assertion doesnt really
back it up. Like when you claim that Bob is the most popular guy in school
because he won the student body presidential election. Or saying that your
roommates car would be the best one to take to California for Spring
break because it gets the best mileage (maybe the best car would be the
one with room for everyone on the inside or the one that will make it there
- Oversimplification: This one may often tie into other fallacies. Fact
is, our world is complex, full of many causes and effects, many of them
immeasurable. Dont get caught pretending that you understand the
reasons for everything.
- Post Hoc (ergo proctor hoc): Translationafter this, therefore
because of this. Cause and effect fallacy. I washed my car yesterday,
so of course it rained today. I get better grades when I dont
study (just because it happened in the past doesnt prove that
its the cause of your better grades). Our football team hasnt
changed our socks ever since our homecoming victory and its brought
good luck all season. Luck? Maybe your success was due to a little
nausea on the other team.
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