In academic writing, fallacies are frowned upon because they are ill-substantiated statements. Unlike incorrect information that can be easily corrected, logical fallacies involve flawed arguments where the premises have not been fully supported, leading to a weak and faulty conclusion.
Academic writing requires careful writing using a language that is logical—that is, free from bias and properly supported by solid facts and well-researched evidence. A knowledge of the common fallacies will help you avoid making flawed arguments.
The following list is neither complete nor an extensive philosophical discourse, but it will help you recognize the common errors in reasoning.
Literally, this fallacy means “to the person.” This is the equivalent of character assassination and attacks a person’s character instead of focusing on his/her performance.
I wonder why she was given that post. A girl who used to be a member of a sexy girls group surely does not have enough training to be a government official!
Appeal to flattery
This argument uses compliments and praise (often insincere) to win the argument.
I’ve always thought of myself as a true-blooded Bicolano. The Bicolanos have always been my favorite constituents. This coming election, vote for me, your fellow Bicolano.
Appeal to force
Also called argumentum ad baculum, this argument uses force to win the argument.
If you don’t sign up now, you could lose your scholarship.
Appeal to pity
This argument is also known as argumentum ad misericordiam capitalizes on the fact that people easily fall prey to their emotion and sentimentality. In the following example, the fundraisers could be unscrupulous con artists out to fool unsuspecting victims.
Donate now. Give to our Foundation because we support the orphaned children of Marawi.
This fallacy appeals to one’s need to be part of the group, to be “in” and stems from the assumption that just because the majority approves of something, it must be good for the individual, too.
Majority of the Bicolanos have signified support for our candidate, so you must vote for him, too.
Begging the question
This fallacy uses circular argument—arguing without sufficiently explaining why the argument has to be accepted.
Open pit mining is bad because mining is not acceptable.
This fallacy offers only two alternatives and nothing else, leading to weak correlates.
The antibiotics didn’t work. It is either expired or fake.
This fallacy arises when a misleading correlation was drawn between two events, ending in a questionable conclusion.
A large percentage of voters under 25 voted for the president. In the event that he won in the 2016 elections, it is safe to assume that he’s popular with the under-25 population.
This kind of fallacy happens when the debater uses ideas that have similarities but doesn’t consider that the analogy has been overextended, and no longer applies.
The presidential campaign is so much like a sales campaign.
This fallacy uses an isolated experience as basis for a general statement.
I’ve had spicy food for breakfast and lunch this day. All the dishes in this town are spicy indeed.
This argument literally means “it doesn’t follow” and contains a weak conclusion from a set of premises.
If we offer a 10% discount to all students who dine in our restaurant, all students will choose to dine here.
This argument happens when the correlation between events is hastily concluded without sufficient reason or explanation and so much has been attributed to the conclusion being the result of the cause.
Meat contains carcinogens. Meat eaters will ultimately have cancer.
This fallacy is used by debaters when they try to distract their opponent away from the real issue and onto something irrelevant. It is also a common ploy committed by the government to veer the public’s attention away from more pressing concerns by focusing on something less pressing.
(When a politician is asked about the recent sex scandal against him) Oh that? It’s just locker room talk. Have you seen my latest advertisement on TV?
This erroneous argument happens out of fear that once an action has been taken, a series of actions (often negative) will happen as a result of the previous action.
If we legalize the use of marijuana or cannabis, then we can no longer control this illicit drug and every single soul in this land will use it; maybe even their dogs will.
When the debater caricaturizes or trivializes another person’s argument to refute it, the debater has committed the straw man fallacy.
Your argument is so old school. The millenials will not fall for it.