Logical fallacies

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Fallacies are statements that might sound reasonable or superficially true but are actually flawed or dishonest. When readers detect them, these logical fallacies backfire by making the audience think the writer is (a) unintelligent or (b) deceptive. It is important to avoid them in your own arguments, and it is also important to be able to spot them in others’ arguments so a false line of reasoning won’t fool you. Think of this as intellectual kung-fu: the vital art of self-defense in a debate. For extra impact, learn both the Latin terms and the English equivalents. You can click here to download a PDF version of this material.

In general, one useful way to organize fallacies is by category. We have fallacies of relevance, component fallacies, fallacies of ambiguity, and fallacies of omission. We will discuss each type in turn. The last point to discuss is Occam’s Razor.