A fallacy is a flaw in reasoning. They are like tricks or illusions in thought in order to fool people. They are often used by the media, politicians, and even people you are having a friendly debate with. To better help you call out these fallacies, I have made this list of several of the most common fallacies used by people in debate or discussion in order to help you call them out!
This is the "You-misinterpreted-someone's-argument-to-make-it-easier-to-attack" fallacy, and is frankly one of the most common. When this fallacy is used, the opponent will create a "strawman" of the person's claim in order to better debunk it, without even addressing the original argument at all. It is basically moving the attention away from the original claim in order to make themselves look like they won the argument, when in reality they have built up another argument in order to knock it down. You may have used this one without realizing it.
Example: "I believe that driving a car emits a lot of greenhouse gases, so we should cut our driving in order to cut back on these emissions."
"What? Are you saying we should stop driving all together? That's not going to happen and you know it!"
"There you go, strawmanning my argument..."
2. Ad Hominem
This literally means, "at the person". Another common type of fallacy, and is used quite often by political leaders. Instead of attacking the person's ideas or claim, you instead attack the person's character, appearance, or other things about them in order to overthrow their argument. This, like strawman, adverts attention away from the original argument and moves it onto the person that you are arguing with. An immature way of arguing, frankly.
Example: "I don't think we should shame a person for their own personal choices."
"Well you're a fucking slut! Why should we listen to you?"
"Resorting to ad hominem, I see..."
Also called false dilemma, another common fallacy that may have flew straight over your head. An insidious way of arguing that presents two alternative states as the only two options, when in fact their are way more options to choose from. This fallacy falsely cancels out any other possibilities, and makes the argument seem one-dimensional. Misleading is one word to describe this type of fallacy, and is also a common one used by political candidates and perhaps the friends that you are debating with.
Example: "You're either for God or against Him. Go back to your evolution theory."
4. Appeal to Authority
The "An authority figure claimed something, so therefore is must be true" argument. This fallacy should not be used to dismiss the claim of experts, but it should also be noted that using appeal to authority is not a valid way to argue a position in a debate. For example, a group of scientists who say something is true based on logic and evidence is technically not an appeal to authority fallacy, but saying something is true because Donald Trump says so may very well be an appeal to authority argument, and therefore is not a valid argument against a claim. This fallacy is used in order to back up a claim, when in reality the figure of authority that the person is appealing to may be just as wrong in that sense. This, in most cases, is not a strong device to base your argument on.
Example: "You're really fat, you should really go on a diet. Try to cut back on meat and dairy. It would do you some good."
"Are you my doctor? Right, so keep your mouth shut because you don't know a thing about my health."
"No, I'm not a doctor, but my friend is a vegan doctor and he says that meat and dairy are bad for you, and can even cause cancer! Can you believe that?"
5. No True Scotsman Fallacy
The term calls into question the "purity" or "validness" of something as a way to refute an argument. For example, if you deem a characteristic of something as universal, the opposing argument will refute that claim by saying only "true" things in that set of ideals possess that characteristic. A user of No True Scotsman defends their claim by a reactionary subjective notion based on what category something belongs in, and sets the degree in which something truly belongs in that category. This fallacy is most commonly used to exclude bad members of a group by declaring that no true member of a group would do such a thing. The term was coined by a Scotsman who found out that one of his countrymen had committed a heinous act of violence, and the Scotsman responded with "No true Scotsman would do such a thing."
Example: "Third wave feminists are not for equal rights! You all hate men, I can see right through your lies, Patricia!"
"What? That's not true at all! These radical, man-hating feminists are not true feminists! Real feminists fight for equal rights for both sexes!"
7. The Fallacy Fallacy
This fallacy occurs when you claim that a fallacy has been made, so therefore the entire argument must be incorrect, which is not always true. Remember, not everything you disagree with is a fallacy, and to deem the opposing side's argument automatically as a fallacy is not only fallacious in itself, but it is also boring. While an argument may contain a fallacy, their conclusion may be correct, which can in some cases be a valid point that they are making.
Example: "All cats are animals. Ginger is an animal, so therefore, Ginger is a cat."
"Ah, you just committed the "affirming the consequent" logical fallacy. Sorry, you are wrong, which means that Ginger is not a cat."
8. Moving the Goal Posts
Ah, humans and their reluctance to knowledge when they are wrong. We've all been here at some point. The "moving the goal posts" fallacy involves demanding from an opponent that he or she address more and more points after the initial counter-argument has been satisfied refusing to conceded or accept the opponent’s argument. This usually occurs when the opposing side has ran out of counter-arguments, and to win the argument, they allow the person to go off on a tangent until there is no more evidence applicable to back up the initial argument. Truly evil indeed.
Example: "There is nothing to worry about! I'll be worried when there's a clear difference in the climate!"
"But things are different! We have evidence to back it up! What about the glaciers melting? That is proof in itself! The climate hasn't been this bad for as long as humans have existed."
"Those are indirect measurements. You are making a leap of faith."
"What about all the records that go back 150 years?"
"That is nothing. Show me records going back past that, then we'll talk."
9. The Texas Sharpshooter
Coined from a Texan who had fired random shots at a barn and then painted a bulls eye around them to make it look like he made a good shot, when in reality he just painted a bulls eye around where most of his shots were. In conversation, a Texas sharpshooter ignores information outside of a desired result. Only information that relates to a desired conclusion, or relate to their proposal, are considered worthy. This fallacy is based on confirmation bias, a type of cognitive idea in which humans are biased against information that supports their already existing ideals on a certain topic, ignoring what challenges or disproves their them. You may be a Texas sharpshooter and not even know it. You brain may already be doing it for you. However, ignoring information that challenges your bias against a topic may not help you win an argument, and just debunk your claims even more.
Example: "Mike has been in relationships in which the women have been abusive, and he has never met a women who would have sex with him willingly, so therefore, all women must be evil bitches."
10. Appeal to Emotion
Instead of proposing a valid or compelling argument, the user of appeal to emotion attempts to manipulate an emotional response in place of an argument. Remember, not all appeals to emotion are fallacies and may have a logical aspect to them, but a true appeal to emotion uses emotion appeal INSTEAD of a logical rebuttal to an argument, or it obscure the fact that there is no evidence to back up a claim, whether it may appeal to fear, envy, pride, hatred or more. One of the most overused and most looked over fallacies to date.
Example: "Eating meat causes unnecessary suffering and death. Every time you eat meat, think of the mother cow who was raped and tortured for that hamburger you are eating. Her calf was ripped away from her soon after birth so that you can have that milk you are drinking. The calf was sent off to be murdered so you can have veal! Think of all the animals who die so that you can fulfill your selfish human desires! Eating meat should be outlawed! Go vegan!"
I hope this information on logical fallacies has been helpful. Which fallacy are you guilty of using in your arguments? Will you resort to using better arguments next time? I want to know! Thanks for reading, and the next time you're in a heated debate, call them out on their use of fallacies!