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Flashcards in fallicies and rhetorics Deck (56):

politicians fallacy

We must do something. This is something. Therefore, we must do this.
•IF we do nothing THEN the world will end. We do something. Therefore, the world will not end.
•IF A THEN B. Not A. Therefore, not B.
im grunde denying the antecedent


belief bias

Possibly because of “BELIEF BIAS”–
the tendency to evaluate reasoning by how believable its constituents seem.


false consensus effect

A tendency to assume that attitudes held by us and our peers are held by society at large.


bandwagon effect

A tendency to align our belief system with the belief systems of those around us.
(E.g. the Asch effect: Perception is affected by what other people say they are perceiving.)


negativity bias

A tendency to assign more importance/credibility to information that is associated with negative emotion.


loss aversion

A tendency to assign more importance to arguments aimed at avoiding losses than acquiring gains.


availability bias

A tendency to endorse a belief depending
on the ease of with which one can recall examples


in-group bias

A tendency to favor or believe members of one’s in-group over out-group members. May take the form of automatically discounting arguments supporting the opinions of people who are “not one of us.”


fundamental attributions bias

A tendency to hold those who are “not one of us” especially blameworthy for their actions or responsible for their statements. A ist ein schlechter mensch denn er hat schlechte dinge gemacht--> kein gutes argument


obedience to authority

A tendency to endorse a belief because it is backed by an authority


overconfidence effect and better than average illusion

Cases where the subjective confidence in a judgment is greater than is objectively warranted.



e.g. People who lie frequently get into a lot of trouble.


grouping ambiguities

Fallacy of division: Arguing from collective differences to individual differences
Fallacy of composition: Arguing from individual differences to collective differences
Preference for social over cognitive psychology  preference for book, lecturer, practical, etc.


“Trump delivered a great, eloquent speech last night. Everyone awakened feeling refreshed.”

I can say the opposite of what I mean and can still be sure that you understand me right, because this is just so obvious.


“Is Deborah generous? She’d give you her life savings if she thought you were in need.”



“collateral damage” “stimulus package”

euphemism (making it sound less worse)


“junk food” “bail out”

dysphemism (making it sound more worse)


“An environmentalist is a tree-hugging extremist.”

rhetorical definition, a definition that uses emotive force to get you to feel a certain way about something


“The reason environmentalists won’t let you cut down a tree is they want to put everyone out of work.”

rhetorical explanation


“Your average environmentalist is about as smart as a toilet seat.”

rhetorical analogy


“What do you expect? She’s just a dumb blonde.”



“Pornography is a problem, but we must protect free speech.”

a word or phrase that is meant to reduce the importance of a topic


“Clearly, she shouldn’t have done that.”

proof surrogate, A claim masquerading as proof or evidence, when no such proof or evidence is actually being offered


“I didn’t say Bush invaded Iraq to help his friends in the oil industry. I just said his friends have done very well since the invasion.”

innuendo, a way to say something about something or someone without actually saying it outright


“This vitamin supplement may cure your problem.”



“When did you stop cheating on your girl friend?”

Loaded question (rests on an assumption that should have been established but wasn’t)


•“Everybody believes X. Therefore X is true.”
Example: “Everbody believes global warming is real. Therefore, global warming is real.”

argument from popularity


•“Everybody does X. Therefore it’s right to do X.”
Example: “Everybody breaks the speed limit. Therefore, it’s right to break the speed limit.”

“Argument” from Common Practice


•“Thinking or doing X is a tradition. Therefore it’s right to think or do X.”
Example: “Traditionally, marriage has been restricted to heterosexual couples. Therefore it’s right to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.”

“Argument” from Tradition


“Arguments” from Popularity, Common Practice, and Tradition

1.Everybody believes X. Therefore X is true.
2.Everybody does X. Therefore it is right to do X.
3.Everybody has always believed X or done X in the past. Therefore it is right to think or do X.


“Buy Michelin tires. Don’t risk your children’s safety by buying inferior brands.”

Scare Tactics
•Trying to scare us into accepting or doing something.


“Buy Michelin tires, or I will see to it you lose your job.”

Argument from Force
•Trying to threaten us into accepting or doing something.


“Buy a Mac Book Pro! Apple consumers are part of a special and sophisticated tech community”

Group Think
•Trying to get us to do or believe something by appealing to group identity.


“Of course we are winning the war! If you don’t like it here, move to Baghdad.”

Peer Pressure
•Trying to get us to do or believe something by appealing to fear of being excluded from the group.


Buying your wife a set of power-tools for her birthday: “She will really love this!”

•Lying to ourselves about our real reasons for believing or doing something.


Denial is a common form.
“Oh, Professor, I didn’t miss that many classes!”

Wishful Thinking
•Thinking X is true for no better reason than that you want it to be true.


“Yes, obviously the President’s strategy in Iraq is working. The liberal media in this country just can’t stand the thought of us winning this war.”

Red Herring / Smokescreen
•An irrelevancy brought in to “support” a claim or to distract one from the issue
•There are many types of Red Herrings


1. You can’t be pro abortion because killing babies is an outrage
2. If somebody has just lost a relative in a plane crash, you can’t argue that in fact airplanes are safer than cars.

1. argument from outrage
2. argument from pity


Al Gore comes from a rich family and has had it easy in life, therefore we shouldn’t take global warming seriously

argument from envy


When a car-salesman applies discount technique

apple polishing


When a car-salesman applies discount technique

Two Wrongs Make a Right
•Thinking wrongful behavior by someone else excuses wrongful behavior by you
•Thinking that the fact that another would do a wrong to you excuses you doing a wrong to him/her


“Well, I think human sacrifice is immoral, but the ancient Mayans didn’t, so it wasn’t wrong for them.”

Relativist Fallacy believing both of these at the same time:
•It’s wrong to do X.
•It’s not wrong to do X, if your society thinks it is okay to do X.


Example: “According to Al Gore, global warming is the most serious threat facing us today. This is not true. Al Gore spends $20,000 each year on electricity in his Tennessee mansion!”

Argumentum ad hominem: the most common fallacy on earth.
Premise: All Gore spends $20,000 each year on electricity.
•Conclusion: Therefore global warming is not the most serious threat facing us today.


•“What Al Gore says about global warming is not true! That clown will say anything to get attention.”

Attack ad hominem


•“What Al Gore says about global warming is not true. Al Gore makes a fortune from alternative energy investments. What do you expect he would say?”

circumstantial ad hominem


•“Senator Clinton says we should get out of Iraq. This is non-sense! She voted for the war, let’s not forget.”

Inconsistency ad hominem


•“Don’t watch Fox News. They distort their graphs and statistics when reporting on Democratic governments.”

Poisoning the well


•“Does God exist? Of course not. That idea originated with a bunch of ignorant people who knew nothing about science.”

Genetic fallacy


Rejecting some particular person’s idea as false because there is something defective about the person

ad hominem variant of the genetic fallacy


Example: “Either we increase the number of troops in Iraq or the terrorists will be attacking U.S. cities. Seems like a simple choice to me.”

false dilemma


“It’s impossible to eliminate terrorism entirely. We should stop wasting money on it.”

“Perfectionist” version of false dilemma


There shouldn’t be restrictions on violence in the movies. After all, when is a movie ‘too violent’? You just can’t draw the line.”

“Line-drawing” version of false dilemma


“Twenty percent? You want to tip her 20%? Hey, maybe you want to give her everything we make, but I frankly think that is ridiculous!

Straw man
Person 1 asserts proposition X.
Person 2 argues against a superficially similar proposition Y, falsely, as if an argument against Y were an argument against X.


“Twenty percent? You want to tip her 20%? Hey, next thing you’ll want to tip 25%! And then 30%! It will never end.”

slippery slope


“Can I prove the Biblical flood really happened? Hey, can you prove it didn’t? / Hey, I have no indications that the Biblical flood didn’t happen! ”

Misplacing the burden of proof / Appeal to ignorance


”Can I prove the Biblical flood really happened? Of course it happened! Why else would Noah build an ark?”

begging the question
an arguer includes the conclusion to be proven within a premise of the argument, often in an indirect way such that its presence within the premise is hidden or at least not easily apparent