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The Student News Site of Vel Phillips Memorial

8 Common Logical Fallacies and How To Avoid Them


A fallacy is an error in reasoning that simultaneously makes a point sound more well reasoned than it actually is. Whether you’re having an argument with someone or just trying to prove a point, logical fallacies are roadblocks to effective communication in any situation. Here, I’ve explained 8 of them so that you can avoid using them in your daily life. 

  1. The Straw-Man Fallacy:

“This fallacy occurs when, in attempting to refute another person’s argument, you address only a weak or distorted version of it.” – Texas State University

The Straw Man fallacy is called as such, due to the attacking of a “straw man.” by changing the meaning of what you were saying to make their side of the argument seem more rational. For example:

Frank: “Hi, my name is Frank and I like dogs!”

Laura: “Cats are so nice though, why are you saying that dogs are better?!”

Frank didn’t say that he disliked cats or that he liked dogs better than cats. Laura is disagreeing with something he didn’t say in the first place. In essence, Laura is constructing a straw man to argue with, not arguing with Frank himself.

      2. The Red Herring Fallacy:

A red herring fallacy is when someone tries to redirect the attention of the argument from its original purpose; thus drawing attention away from one thing and bringing it to another. For example:

Employee: “What happened to my insurance??”

Boss: “We’re taking away your healthcare, but we still have good benefits for you and all our employees!”

       3. Equivocation Fallacy:

The equivocation fallacy is when someone uses vague or confusing language, most often to hide or conceal the truth. Taking the meaning of something and twisting it to try and confuse people. For example:

Laura: “What happened to the last pancake in the fridge?”

John: “Someone took it.”

John is the someone who took the pancake. However, he doesn’t include that detail in his statement and uses equivocation in an attempt to conceal the truth.

       4. Circular Reasoning:

Circular reasoning is a fallacy in which when trying to prove something is true, you use your conclusion as proof rather than provide proof. For example:

Kathryn: “Jerry it’s bedtime because it’s time to go to bed.”

Jerry: “That doesn’t make any sense though?”

Kathryn: “No one asked.”

        5. Ad Hominem Fallacy:

The Ad Hominem fallacy is when someone rather than using logic and addressing someone’s position, they attack the person making the position. For example:

John: “I think that pie is better than cake.” 

Frank: “Well of course you would think that, no one likes you.”

This is not only uncalled for, but also a good example of the Ad Hominem fallacy. Depending on the circumstances joking around can be fine, but in a serious disagreement insults such as this is entirely unacceptable.

     6. No True Scotsman Fallacy:

This fallacy is used when in a group. When someone calls out the behavior of one person and how the group might condone that behavior, the group deflects and claims that the person was not a true part of the group to begin with. With this in mind: having a member be a bad person does not mean that the group is bad, so long as it is recognized and not condoned.

For example:

John: “We have no mean people in our group!”
Laura: “But Jerry yelled at me just this morning-”

John: “Well yeah but he’s not really a part of our group..”

        7. The Band Wagon Fallacy:

The belief that if a majority of people believe something, it must be true. Oftentimes used to discredit another person’s opinion. For example:

Frank: “I like carrots and ranch together.”

John: “Well a majority of people hate ranch, so you must be wrong.”

        8) Fallacy Fallacy

This fallacy occurs when someone uses the fact that another person is using a fallacy against them. Just because someone’s argument may contain a fallacy does not mean that the conclusion is automatically incorrect. For example:

Kathryn: “Humans breathe air because they breathe oxygen.”

Frank: “You used circular reasoning so clearly humans DON’T breathe air.”

Frank is incorrect. Just because you might know what logical fallacies are now, doesn’t mean that you will automatically be correct and the other person automatically incorrect.

Overall, I hope that in the future this article will help you recognize and avoid logical fallacies in your writing! 

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    RachelMar 2, 2024 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you! I learned a lot from this!