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Top fallacies: All

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Oct 21 2010
1 Ad hominem: attacking the person instead of the argument. A form of this is reductio ad Hitlerum. 6326
2 Straw man argument: based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position 4242
3 Begging the question (petitio principii): where the conclusion of an argument is implicitly or explicitly assumed in one of the premises 2574
4 Correlation does not imply causation (cum hoc ergo propter hoc): a phrase used in the sciences and the statistics to emphasize that correlation between two variables does not imply that one causes the other 2563
5 Post hoc ergo propter hoc: also known as false cause, coincidental correlation or correlation not causation. 2428
6 Teleological Fallacy: In which a speaker claims that some object or idea has a purpose, and then claims that the existence of this purpose suggests or requires that the speaker's argument is true. The initial claim that a purpose must exist is rarely explicitly stated. 2081
7 False dilemma (false dichotomy): where two alternative statements are held to be the only possible options, when in reality there are more. 1900
8 Slippery slope: argument states that a relatively small first step inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant impact 1287
9 Pathetic fallacy: when an inanimate object is declared to have characteristics of animate objects 1257
10 Gambler's fallacy: the incorrect belief that the likelihood of a random event can be affected by or predicted from other, independent events 1250
11 Argumentum ad populum ("appeal to belief", "appeal to the majority", "appeal to the people"): where a proposition is claimed to be true solely because many people believe it to be true 1176
12 Equivocation Fallacy: In which a speaker will use a general definition of a term to a specific insinuation. 1150
13 Argument from ignorance (appeal to ignorance): The fallacy of assuming that something is true/false because it has not been proven false/true. For example: "The student has failed to prove that he didn't cheat on the test, therefore he must have cheated on the test." 1045
14 Naturalistic fallacy: a fallacy that claims that if something is natural, pleasant, popular, etc. then it is good or right. 868
15 Composition: where one reasons logically that something true of part of a whole must also be true of the whole 757
16 Hasty generalization (fallacy of insufficient statistics, fallacy of insufficient sample, fallacy of the lonely fact, leaping to a conclusion, hasty induction, secundum quid) 695
17 Tu quoque: the argument states that a certain position is false or wrong and/or should be disregarded because its proponent fails to act consistently in accordance with that position 653
18 Fallacy of many questions (complex question, fallacy of presupposition, loaded question, plurium interrogationum): someone asks a question that presupposes something that has not been proven or accepted by all the people involved. This fallacy is often used rhetorically, so that the question limits direct replies to those that serve the questioner's agenda. 637
19 Wishful thinking: a specific type of appeal to emotion where a decision is made according to what might be pleasing to imagine, rather than according to evidence or reason 621
20 Poisoning the well: where adverse information about a target is preemptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say 611
21 Affirming the consequent: the antecedent in an indicative conditional is claimed to be true because the consequent is true; if A, then B; B, therefore A. 546
22 Cherry picking: act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position 534
23 False analogy: false analogy consists of an error in the substance of an argument (the content of the analogy itself), not an error in the logical structure of the argument 518
24 Reification (hypostatization): a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a "real thing" something which is not a real thing, but merely an idea. 498
25 Intentional fallacy: addresses the assumption that the meaning intended by the author of a literary work is of primary importance 466
26 Ecological fallacy: inferences about the nature of specific individuals are based solely upon aggregate statistics collected for the group to which those individuals belong 463
27 Association fallacy (guilt by association) 438
28 Appeal to emotion: where an argument is made due to the manipulation of emotions, rather than the use of valid reasoning 416
29 Texas sharpshooter fallacy: Picking your target after you shoot the dart ensuring that you are right 380
30 Denying the antecedent: the consequent in an indicative conditional is claimed to be false because the antecedent is false; if A, then B; not A, therefore not B. 352
31 If-by-whiskey: An argument that supports both sides of an issue by using terms that are selectively emotionally sensitive. 309
32 Two wrongs make a right: occurs when it is assumed that if one wrong is committed, another wrong will cancel it out 297
33 Base rate fallacy: using weak evidence to make a probability judgment without taking into account known empirical statistics about the probability. 296
34 Argumentum ad baculum ("appeal to the stick" or "appeal to force"): where an argument is made through coercion or threats of force towards an opposing party 296
35 Genetic fallacy: where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone's origin rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context. 265
36 Appeal to fear: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made by increasing fear and prejudice towards the opposing side 256
37 Appeal to pity: a specific type of appeal to emotion 251
38 Accident (fallacy): when an exception to the generalization is ignored. 248
39 Fallacy of the single cause ("joint effect", or "causal oversimplification"): occurs when it is assumed that there is one, simple cause of an outcome when in reality it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes. 231
40 Prosecutor's fallacy: a low probability of false matches does not mean a low probability of some false match being found 231
41 Division: where one reasons logically that something true of a thing must also be true of all or some of its parts 229
42 Appeal to ridicule: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made by presenting the opponent's argument in a way that makes it appear ridiculous 222
43 Conjunction fallacy: assumption that an outcome simultaneously satisfying multiple conditions is more probable than an outcome satisfying a single one of them. 215
44 Appeal to nature: an argument wherein something is deemed correct or good if it is natural, and is deemed incorrect or bad if it is unnatural 213
45 Appeal to tradition: where a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it has a long-standing tradition behind it 212
46 Sentimental fallacy: it would be more pleasant if; therefore it ought to be; therefore it is 210
47 Special pleading: where a proponent of a position attempts to cite something as an exemption to a generally accepted rule or principle without justifying the exemption 201
48 False compromise/middle ground: asserts that a compromise between two positions is correct 186
49 Nirvana fallacy: when solutions to problems are said not to be right because they are not perfect. 184
50 Argument from fallacy: assumes that if an argument for some conclusion is fallacious, then the conclusion is false. 165
51 Converse accident (a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter): when an exception to a generalization is wrongly called for 157
52 Dicto simpliciter 156
53 Bare assertion fallacy: premise in an argument is assumed to be true purely because it says that it is true. 146
54 Appeal to probability: assumes that because something could happen, it is inevitable that it will happen. This is the premise on which Murphy's Law is based. 140
55 Fallacy of the undistributed middle: the middle term in a categorical syllogism is not distributed. 137
56 Continuum fallacy (fallacy of the beard): appears to demonstrate that two states or conditions cannot be considered distinct (or do not exist at all) because between them there exists a continuum of states. According to the fallacy, differences in quality cannot result from differences in quantity. 133
57 Regression fallacy: ascribes cause where none exists. The flaw is failing to account for natural fluctuations. It is frequently a special kind of the post hoc fallacy. 127
58 Argument from silence (argumentum ex silentio): a conclusion based on silence or lack of contrary evidence 125
59 Appeal to flattery: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made due to the use of flattery to gather support 124
60 Circular cause and consequence: where the consequence of the phenomenon is claimed to be its root cause 121
61 Luddite fallacy: related to the belief that labour-saving technologies increase unemployment by reducing demand for labour 116
62 Retrospective determinism: the argument that because some event has occurred, its occurrence must have been inevitable beforehand 114
63 Perfect solution fallacy: where an argument assumes that a perfect solution exists and/or that a solution should be rejected because some part of the problem would still exist after it was implemented 113
64 Misleading vividness: involves describing an occurrence in vivid detail, even if it is an exceptional occurrence, to convince someone that it is a problem 104
65 Affirmative conclusion from a negative premise: when a categorical syllogism has a positive conclusion, but at least one negative premise. 102
66 Etymological fallacy: which reasons that the original or historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day meaning. 91
67 Fallacy of four terms: a categorical syllogism has four terms. 90
68 Moving the goalpost (raising the bar): argument in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded 90
69 Existential fallacy: an argument has two universal premises and a particular conclusion, but the premises do not establish the truth of the conclusion. 88
70 Appeal to spite: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made through exploiting people's bitterness or spite towards an opposing party 87
71 Proof by example: where examples are offered as inductive proof for a universal proposition. ("This apple is red, therefore all apples are red.") 86
72 Appeal to novelty: where a proposal is claimed to be superior or better solely because it is new or modern 83
73 Chronological snobbery: where a thesis is deemed incorrect because it was commonly held when something else, clearly false, was also commonly held 80
74 Masked man fallacy: the substitution of identical designators in a true statement can lead to a false one. 79
75 False attribution: occurs when an advocate appeals to an irrelevant, unqualified, unidentified, biased or fabricated source in support of an argument 71
76 Fallacy of necessity: a degree of unwarranted necessity is placed in the conclusion based on the necessity of one or more of its premises. 70
77 Overwhelming exception (hasty generalization): It is a generalization which is accurate, but comes with one or more qualifications which eliminate so many cases that what remains is much less impressive than the initial statement might have led one to assume 68
78 Illicit major: a categorical syllogism that is invalid because its major term is undistributed in the major premise but distributed in the conclusion. 63
79 Affirming a disjunct: concluded that one logical disjunction must be false because the other disjunct is true; A or B; A; therefore not B. 63
80 Historian's fallacy: occurs when one assumes that decision makers of the past viewed events from the same perspective and having the same information as those subsequently analyzing the decision. It is not to be confused with presentism, a mode of historical analysis in which present-day ideas (such as moral standards) are projected into the past. 62
81 Package-deal fallacy: consists of assuming that things often grouped together by tradition or culture must always be grouped that way. 61
82 Appeal to law: an argument which implies that legislation is a moral imperative. 52
83 Suppressed correlative: where a correlative is redefined so that one alternative is made impossible. 52
84 Wrong direction: where cause and effect are reversed. The cause is said to be the effect and vice versa. 49
85 Denying the correlative: where attempts are made at introducing alternatives where there are none. 48
86 Fallacy of exclusive premises: a categorical syllogism that is invalid because both of its premises are negative. 47
87 Appeal to motive: where a premise is dismissed, by calling into question the motives of its proposer 47
88 Appeal to accomplishment: where an assertion is deemed true or false based on the accomplishments of the proposer. 33
89 Psychologist's fallacy: occurs when an observer presupposes the objectivity of his own perspective when analyzing a behavioral event 32
90 Square logic: A complex argument which is an iteration of non-sequitur arguments used as a premise for an unrelated conclusion 25
91 Fallacies of distribution 24
92 Definist fallacy: involves the confusion between two notions by defining one in terms of the other 20
93 Inconsistent comparison: where different methods of comparison are used, leaving one with a false impression of the whole comparison 20
94 Judgmental language: insulting or pejorative language to influence the recipient's judgment 15
95 Incomplete comparison: where not enough information is provided to make a complete comparison 15
96 Perverted analogy: twisting an opponents analogy to mean something broader than intended 9
97 Demanding negative proof: attempting to avoid the burden of proof for some claim by demanding proof of the contrary from whoever questions that claim 7
98 False surrender (or agree to disagree): offering truce or falsely surrendering the position in order to misrepresent opponent's position as unprovable or ad nauseam while ignoring Aumann's agreement theorem 7
99 Style over substance fallacy: occurs when one emphasizes the way in which the argument is presented, while marginalizing (or outright ignoring) the content of the argument 6
100 Spotlight fallacy: when a person uncritically assumes that all members or cases of a certain class or type are like those that receive the most attention or coverage in the media 5
101 Proof by verbosity (argumentum verbosium) (proof by intimidation): submission of others to an argument too complex and verbose to reasonably deal with in all its intimate details. see also Gish Gallop and argument from authority. < 5
102 contextomy (Fallacy of quoting out of context): refers to the selective excerpting of words from their original linguistic context in a way that distorts the source’s intended meaning < 5
103 Correlative based fallacies < 5
104 Broken window fallacy: an argument which disregards lost opportunity costs (typically non-obvious, difficult to determine or otherwise hidden) associated with destroying property of others, or other ways of externalizing costs onto others. < 5
105 Red herring: This occurs when a speaker attempts to distract an audience by deviating from the topic at hand by introducing a separate argument which the speaker believes will be easier to speak to. < 5
106 Argument from repetition (argumentum ad nauseam): signifies that it has been discussed extensively (possibly by different people) until nobody cares to discuss it anymore < 5
107 Appeal to ignorance: a specific type of appeal to emotion < 5
108 Composition: where one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some (or even every) part of the whole < 5
109 Homunculus fallacy: where a "middle-man" is used for explanation, this usually leads to regressive middle-man. Explanations without actually explaining the real nature of a function or a process. Instead, it explains the concept in terms of the concept itself, without first defining or explaining the original concept. < 5
110 Appeal to poverty (argumentum ad lazarum): thinking the conclusion is affected by a party's financial situation. < 5
111 Thought-terminating cliché: a commonly used phrase, sometimes passing as folk wisdom, used to quell cognitive dissonance, conceal lack of thought-entertainment, move onto other topics etc. but in any case, end the debate with a cliche—not a point. < 5
112 Is–ought problem: the inappropriate inference that because something is some way or other, so it ought to be that way. < 5
113 Appeal to authority: where an assertion is deemed true because of the position or authority of the person asserting it < 5
114 No True Scotsman: when a generalization is made true only when a counterexample is ruled out on shaky grounds. < 5
115 Appeal to wealth (argumentum ad crumenam): concluding that a statement's truth value is affected by a party's financial situation. Very similar to Agrumentum ad lazarum. The terms ad lazarum and ad crumenam can be interchangeable. < 5
116 Negative proof fallacy: that, because a premise cannot be proven false, the premise must be true; or that, because a premise cannot be proven true, the premise must be false. < 5


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