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List of logical fallacies

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See Formal fallacy

As space does not permit a full list in the Logical fallacy article, this is a list of fallacies in logic and rhetoric, and some of the more logically-based Appeals closely related to Propaganda techniques. The study of logic and logical fallacies furthers the construction of arguments that are sound and convincing, or by unethical people, to create arguments that are devious and entangle their critics in endless refutation

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Formal fallacies[edit]

Formal fallacy Argument that is fallacious due to an error in its form or technical structure.[1] All formal fallacies are specific types of Non sequitur (logic)|non sequiturs

  • Appeal to law: an argument which implies that legislation is a moral imperative
  • Appeal to probability: assumes that because something could happen, it is inevitable that it will happen. This is the premise on which the humorous Murphy's Law is based.
  • Argument from fallacy: assumes that if an argument for some conclusion is fallacious, then the conclusion itself is false
  • Base rate fallacy: using weak evidence to make a probability judgment without taking into account known empirical statistics about the probability
  • Conjunction fallacy: assumption that an outcome simultaneously satisfying multiple conditions is more probable than an outcome satisfying a single one of them
  • Correlative based fallacies
  • Fallacy of necessity: a degree of unwarranted necessity is placed in the conclusion based on the necessity of one or more of its premises
  • False dilemma (false dichotomy): where two alternative statements are held to be the only possible options, when in reality there are more.
  • Is–ought problem: the inappropriate inference that because something is some way or other, so it ought to be that way
  • 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
  • Masked man fallacy: the substitution of identical designators in a true statement can lead to a false one
  • Naturalistic fallacy: a fallacy that claims that if something is natural, pleasant, popular, etc. then it is good or right
  • Nirvana fallacy: when solutions to problems are said not to be right because they are not perfect
  • Philosophic burden of proof (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. This is the basis of the Argument from ignorance
  • Package-deal fallacy: consists of assuming that things often grouped together by tradition or culture must always be grouped that way
  • Equivocation Fallacy: In which a speaker will use a general definition of a term to a specific insinuation

Propositional fallacies[edit]

Propositional calculus (Propositional) fallacies:

Quantificational fallacies[edit]

Quantificational fallacies:

  • Existential fallacy: an argument has two universal premises and a particular conclusion, but the premises do not establish the truth of the conclusion
  • Proof by example: where examples are offered as inductive proof for a universal proposition. ("This apple is red, therefore all apples are red.")

Formal syllogistic fallacies[edit]

A Syllogistic fallacy is a logical fallacy that occurs in logical arguments in which one proposition (the conclusion) is inferred from two others (the premises) of a certain form, i.e. categorical proposition

Informal fallacies[edit]

Informal fallacies are arguments that are fallacious for reasons other than structural (formal) flaws

  • Argument from repetition (argumentum ad nauseam): signifies that it has been discussed extensively (possibly by different people) until nobody cares to discuss it anymore
  • Appeal to ridicule: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made by holding the opponent's argument up to ridicule
  • Argument from ignorance Something must be true/false because there is no proof that it is false/true. In rare cases, this can be true in practical terms, such as Scientific understanding, if the amount of investigation into the matter is sufficiently developed, but never true logically (eg As no evidence for the existence of God has never been shown in any modern scientific investigation, Science asserts that God does not exist, but logic itself cannot disprove God)
  • Begging the question (petitio principii): where the conclusion of an argument is implicitly or explicitly assumed in one of the premises
  • Circular cause and consequence: where the consequence of the phenomenon is claimed to be its root cause
  • Continuum fallacy (fallacy of the beard): Related to the Sorites paradox, this 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. "Fred losing a hair", says one example of the fallacy, "will not make him bald. Therefore, losing one hair at at time, he can never go bald". A similarly diminishing heap of sand and a room that goes from cold to hot are other examples.
  • 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 necessitate the causation of one by the other, although it does imply it may be so, and is required for a specific type of causation, linear causation
  • Square logic: A complex argument which is an iteration of non-sequitur arguments used as a premise for an unrelated conclusion
  • Philosophic burden of proof (Demanding negative proof): attempting to avoid the burden of proof for some claim by demanding proof of the contrary from whoever questions that claim
  • Equivocation: the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time)
  • Etymological fallacy: which reasons that the original or historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its actual present-day meaning
  • Fallacy of distribution
    • Fallacy of division: where one reasons logically that something true of a thing must also be true of all or some of its parts
    • Fallacy of composition: where one reasons logically that something true of part of a whole must also be true of the whole
    • Ecological fallacy: inferences about the nature of specific individuals are based solely upon aggregate statistics collected for the group to which those individuals belong
  • If-by-whiskey: An argument that supports both sides of an issue by using terms that are selectively emotionally sensitive.
  • Loaded question (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.
  • 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.
  • False attribution: occurs when an advocate appeals to an irrelevant, unqualified, unidentified, biased or fabricated source in support of an argument
  • Argument to moderation (False compromise/middle ground): asserts that a compromise between two positions is correct. Even if it is a true middle ground, it is not necessarily logically true or even acceptable because it lies between the two.
  • Gambler's fallacy: the incorrect belief that separate, independent events can affect the likelihood of another random event. Even after losing for hours, the chance of winning is no greater. However, before the fact, the chance of losing after hours of gambling can be assessed. Also, after the event, the odds of losing for all that time (how 'unlucky' the gambler was) can be assessed.
  • 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 (literary and historical analysis)|presentism, a mode of historical analysis in which present-day ideas (such as moral standards) are projected into the past.
  • Incomplete comparison: where not enough information is provided to make a complete comparison
  • Inconsistent comparison: where different methods of comparison are used, leaving one with a false impression of the whole comparison
  • Intentional fallacy: addresses the assumption that the meaning intended by the author of a literary work is of primary importance
  • 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. Regardless of whether the new requirement is met, the previous one has been, and the one who set this goal must concede this fact.
  • 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
  • Post hoc ergo propter hoc: also known as false cause, coincidental correlation or correlation not causation.
  • 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. A satire of certain arguments in the field of mathematics. Some people take it seriously, but since it is a subjective judgement, it can never be proved. See Gish Gallop and argument from authority
  • Prosecutor's fallacy: a low probability of false matches does not mean a low probability of some false match being found. The larger the pool of potential matches from which the match comes, the higher the probability a match will be found. If a probability of a DNA match at random in the population is one in a hundred thousand, but the pool of DNA used to find a match is a thousand, then this actually expresses a probability of one in a hundred.
  • Psychologist's fallacy: occurs when an observer presupposes the objectivity of his own perspective when analyzing a behavioral event
  • Ignoratio elenchi (red herring): This occurs when a speaker attempts to distract an audience, for instance, by deviating from the topic at hand to introduce a separate argument which the speaker believes will be easier to speak to.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Retrospective determinism: the argument that because some event has occurred, its occurrence must have been inevitable beforehand
  • 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
  • Suppressed correlative: an argument which tries to redefine a correlative (two mutually exclusive options) so that one alternative encompasses the other, thus making one alternative impossible
  • Wrong direction: where cause and effect are reversed. The cause is said to be the effect and vice versa.

Faulty generalizations[edit]

Faulty generalizations:

  • Accident: when an obvious exception to the generalization is left out, it can create an equally obvious fallacy. By the same token, obvious exceptions to a premise that an argument's creator has ignored can attract criticism to a good argument that it does not deserve.
    • No True Scotsman: when a generalization is made true only when a counterexample is ruled out on shaky grounds.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Dicto simpliciter
    • Converse accident (a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter): when an exception to a generalization is wrongly called for
  • 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
  • Hasty generalization (fallacy of insufficient statistics, fallacy of insufficient sample, fallacy of the lonely fact, leaping to a conclusion, hasty induction, secundum quid)
  • Misleading vividness: involves describing an occurrence in vivid detail, even if it is an exceptional occurrence, to convince someone that it is a problem
  • 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
  • Pathetic fallacy: when an inanimate object is declared to have characteristics of animate objects
  • 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
  • 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.

Red herring fallacies[edit]

A red herring is an argument, given in response to another argument, which does not address the original issue. See also Ignoratio elenchi (irrelevant conclusion)

  • Ad hominem: attacking the person instead of the argument. A form of this is reductio ad Hitlerum.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Association fallacy (guilt by association)
  • Appeal to authority: where an assertion is deemed true because of the position or authority of the person asserting it.[2][3]
  • Appeal to consequences: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument concludes that a premise is either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences for a particular party
  • Appeal to emotion: where an argument is made due to the manipulation of emotions, rather than the use of valid reasoning
    • Appeal to consequences: a specific type of appeal to emotion
    • Appeal to fear: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made by increasing fear and prejudice towards the opposing side
    • Appeal to flattery: a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made due to the use of flattery to gather support
    • Appeal to pity: a specific type of appeal to emotion
    • Appeal to ridicule: a specific type of appeal to emotion
    • 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
    • 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
  • Appeal to motive: where a premise is dismissed, by calling into question the motives of its proposer
  • 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
  • Appeal to novelty: where a proposal is claimed to be superior or better solely because it is new or modern
  • Appeal to poverty (argumentum ad lazarum): thinking the conclusion is affected by a party's financial situation.
  • Appeal to wealth (argumentum ad crumenam): concluding that a statement's truth value is affected by a party's financial situation. Very similar to argumentum ad lazarum. The terms ad lazarum and ad crumenam can be interchangeable.
  • Argument from silence (argumentum ex silentio): a conclusion based on silence or lack of contrary evidence
  • Appeal to tradition: where a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it has a long-standing tradition behind it
  • Chronological snobbery: where a thesis is deemed incorrect because it was commonly held when something else, clearly false, was also commonly held
  • 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.
  • Judgmental language: insulting or pejorative language to influence the recipient's judgment
  • 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
  • Appeal to consequences (Sentimental fallacy): it would be more pleasant if; therefore it ought to be; therefore it is
  • Straw man argument: based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position
    • Perverted analogy: characterizing an opponents analogy as meaning something broader than intended, and thereby declaring the analogy false[4]
    • 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 Game theories are uniformly immoral, and this steaming pile is the exception only in that it is also filled with paranoid delusion. This guy Aumann has set himself up his own private wiki, and now his disciples are carrying the word to WP. They deserve each other.
  • 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.[5] Similar to Ad Hominem. More adaptable, as a critique, to fallacies not involving individuals
  • Texas sharpshooter fallacy: Picking your target after you shoot the dart ensuring that you are rightNice guess, WP. Actually it is about finding patterns in random or manipulated data. The scientific method is to choose the hypothesis first. 'Sharpshooter' comes from the example shooter painting a target in the center of a cluster of bullet holes.
  • Two wrongs make a right: occurs when it is assumed that if one wrong is committed, another wrong will cancel it out
  • 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. Within the purposely limited focus of a single logical statement, prior acts are not for consideration. Hypocrisy is for the wider consideration of a series of logical arguments, or perhaps quicker assessements, but a logical assessment of an argument does not consider its source. Related to ad hominem.

Conditional or questionable fallacies[edit]

  • Definist fallacy: involves the confusion between two notions by defining one in terms of the other
  • Luddite fallacy: Luddites got a lot of bad press, it seems. They believed that labour-saving technologies increase unemployment by reducing demand for labour. In the sense that installing machines does not necessarily do this, since displaced workers could just find new jobs, it is a fallacy. But that shows clearly the eagerness of capitalists to believe anything, no matter how foolish; a practice they decry in those seeking alternatives as 'utopianism' and 'dreaming'. Those people displaced would not all find new jobs. Few of them would find work immediately, and some perhaps, not at all. So in practice, this 'fallacy' is true; the unemployment rate would be affected. Capitalism is not capable of both, creating cheaper alternatives to human labor, and paying the salaries of those that machines displace. Only a planned economy can do that.
  • 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.
  • Slippery slope: argument states that a relatively small first step inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant impact. Variations on the imagery used to describe this effect: Boiling frog, camel's nose, thin end of the wedge.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

The following is a sample of books for further reading, selected for a combination of content, ease of access via the internet, and to provide an indication of published sources that interested readers may review. The titles of some books are self-explanatory. Good books on critical thinking commonly contain sections on fallacies, and some may be listed below.

  • Damer, T. Edward, {{{first}}} (2009). Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-free Arguments, . Wadsworth.
  • Engel, S. Morris, {{{first}}} (1994). Fallacies and Pitfalls of Language: The Language Trap, . Dover Publications.
  • Hughes, William, {{{first}}} (2004). Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills, . Broadview Press.
  • Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter, {{{first}}} (2010). Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic, . Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
  • Thouless, Robert H, {{{first}}} (1953). Straight and Crooked Thinking, . Pan Books.
This particular book is a classical text on fallacies, to the extent that to find a book listing this title in its references, is an indicator of the effort to which the book writer has done his or her homework on the subject.


  1. Gupta, Bina (1995). Perceiving in Advaita Vedanta: Epistemological Analysis and Interpretation, p. 197, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
  2. Clark, Jef, {{{first}}} (2005). Humbug! The Skeptic's Field Guide to Spotting Fallacies in Thinking, 13-16. Nifty Books.
  3. Walton, Douglas, {{{first}}} (1997). Appeal to Expert Opinion: Arguments from Authority, 28. Pennsylvania State University.
  4. Perverted Analogy Fallacy: look out for it YouTube
  5. Style over Substance Stephen's Guide

External links[edit]

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