10 Fallacies of Argument

10 Fallacies of Argument

Some years ago I took a speech class at San Antonio College. One thing I remember the most out of that class was the fallacies of argument. Something that has been bothering me the longest time is how people use faulty logic to answer arguments. Information can be distorted to resemble valid reasoning and can lead to harmful consequences. There are several fallacies but here are the ten most common. It is important to not accept everything you see at face value or to assume it is right.

1. Hasty Generalization: making a claim from insufficient or unrepresented examples.

Example: Two students caught cheating on a test. Cheating is happening all across campus.

2. False Analogy: an argument by analogy compares entities to have have critical differences.

Example: If eighteen year old's can go vote and go to war. Eighteen year old's can buy a beer.

3. Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: ( Latin for after this, therefore because of this) a chronological fallacy that says a prior event caused a subsequent event.

Example: A person refuses to diet and exercise citing a relative who smoked and eat what ever they wanted until they were 98.

4. Slippery Slope: one action inevitably sets a chain of events in motion.

Example: If restriction on gun sales occur. The right to bear arms will disappear from the Constitution and hunters will be denied their basic freedoms.

5. Red Hearing: introduction of irrelevant issues to deflect attention from the from the subject under discussion.

Example: A politician is being questioned for misconduct in their office, he respond by saying, "My father was a minister at the local church. The church is having a bake sale".

6. Appeal to Tradition: opposition to change by arguing that old ways are always superior to new ways.

Example: "We've always done it that way, there is no need for change".

7. False Dilemma: confronts listeners with two choices when, in reality, more options exist.

Example: "It's my way or the highway".

8. False Authority: use of testimony from sources who have no real expertise on the topic in question.

Example: Fox News.

9. Bandwagon: determines truth, goodness or wisdom by popular opinion.

Example: "Everybody is doing it, you should do it too".

10. Ad Hominem: ( to the man) urges listeners to reject an idea because of allegedly poor character of the person voicing it; name calling.

Example: My opponent can not hold public office because his lack of experience and he did those horrible things ... allegedly. Most political ads during midterm election.

Work cited:

Grice, George, Skinner, John. Mastering Public Speaking. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.

(Grice and Skinner 398 - 403)

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