Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies

Strawman: Misrepresenting or exaggerating someone’s argument to make it easier to attack.

Slippery Slope: Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then Z will consequently happen too, therefore A should not happen.

Special Pleading: Moving the goalposts or making up exceptions when a claim is shown to be false.

The Gambler’s Fallacy: Believing that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena such as roulette wheel spins.

Black or White: Where two alternative states are presented as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist.

False Cause: Presuming that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other.

Ad Hominem: Attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits instead of engaging with their argument.

Loaded Question: Asking a question that has an assumption built into it so that it can’t be answered without appearing guilty.

Bandwagon: Appealing to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation.

Begging the Question: A circular argument in which the conclusion is included in the premise.

Appeal to Authority: Using the opinion or position of an authority figure, or institution of authority, in place of an actual argument.

Appeal to nature: Making the argument that because something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, or ideal.

Composition/Division: Assuming that what’s true about one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it.

Anedotal: Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument, especially to dismiss statistics.

Appeal to Emotion: Manipulating an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument.

Tu Quoque: Avoiding having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser – answering them with criticism.

Burden of Proof: Saying that the burden of proof lies not with the person making the claim, but with someone else to disprove.

No True Scotsman: Making what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of an argument.

The Texas Sharpshooter: Cherry-picking data clusters to suit an argument, or finding a pattern to fit a presumption.

The Fallacy Fallacy: Presuming that because a claim has been poorly argued, or a fallacy has been made, that it is necessarily wrong.

Personal Incredulity: Saying that because one finds something difficult to understand that it’s therefore not true.

Ambiguity: Using double meanings or ambiguities of language to mislead or misrepresent the truth.

Genetic: Judging something good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it comes.

Middle Ground: Saying that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes is the truth.

A logical fallacy is often what has happened when someone is wrong about something. It’s a flaw in reasoning. They’re like tricks or illusions of thought, and they’re often very sneakily used by politicians, the media, and others to fool people. Don’t be fooled! This poster has been designed to help you identify and call out dodgy logic wherever it may raise its ugly, incoherent head. If you see someone committing a logical fallacy online, link them to the relevant fallacy to school them in thinly awesomeness e.g.yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman. More in-depth explanations and examples of these fallacies can also be found at the website.

See: A3 poster of logical fallacies here.

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