Tag: critical thinking

The false dilemma: Are there really only two choices?

The false dilemma fallacy presents an issue as if there are only two ways to solve it—often, two opposite ways—when, in fact, there are more ways than that. The conflict between the two ways presented is also false.

The small sample and the slender majority

In scientific research, sampling is the primary method used when research cannot be conducted on a one-to-one scale. The facts discovered at the level of the sample are presumed to apply in general.

The appeal to novelty: How can it be faulty when it’s so bright and shiny?

To make an argument by appealing to the novelty of an idea— to the innovation it brings to a certain area—is not necessarily wrong. The visionary thinker Alvin Toffler coined the wonderful phrase nostalgia for the future, referring to his appreciation of the adventure the future promises through the desire many of us have to merge with 'the new' that is still developing (in statu nascendi).

Everything relevant to know about the irrelevant conclusion

What we call an “irrelevant conclusion” is an argument that gives the impression of having something to do with an idea it aims to support, but which actually shifts attention to something else.

Circular arguments: a vicious cycle of faulty logic

A circular argument is an argument forming part of a thesis which has not been established, but still needs to be argued for.

Slippery slopes and anxious feet

The fact that we are able to anticipate most of the consequences of our actions is undoubtedly a blessing. However, we can also allow fear or over-cautiousness to make us anticipate events that are not likely to follow. This edges us toward a common error of judgement: the slippery slope.

Hasty generalisations: Jumping from one to all, and from once to always

We use our experience and knowledge to understand what is unknown or inaccessible to us. We are attracted to patterns and judge the world in terms of what is already familiar to us. However, out of a desire to understand some things more quickly, we often draw conclusions without sufficient evidence. Thus we fall into the trap of the sophism called hasty generalization.

Appeal to ignorance: Why it is useless to hide behind your finger

The appeal to ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam) is an error in thinking which argues that a conclusion is true because there is no evidence against it, or that a conclusion is false because there is no evidence in its favour.

Non Sequitur: A forced conclusion is not really a conclusion

Needing to process a multitude of complex information in a short amount of time can lead to erroneous reasoning. When a conclusion is supported by weak or irrelevant arguments, the reasoning falls into the category called non sequitur—does not follow, or irrelevant argument.

Equivocation: Playing hide-and-seek in communication

When what someone says can be interpreted in multiple ways, we are in danger of coming to an understanding which is different to their intended message.

Appeal to hypocrisy: the trick of pointing the finger

When one wants to justify the harm one has done by saying that others have done the same or that this evil was only a reaction to the harm done by someone else, they commit the logical error of appealing to hypocrisy.

Argumentum Ad Hominem or how you attack yourself when attacking others

In an argumentative discussion each party involved must be able to express their point of view without constraints, discrimination or other interferences. This is, in fact, an important prerequisite for the effort to overcome differences of opinion. In practice however, often things are far from this ideal. Not only do interlocutors not respect each other’s right to free speech, but they also resort to unfair and manipulating arguments in order to impose their own opinion. One of these devices is the appeal to the person or the argumentum ad hominem.

The straw man. An argument the size of a flash in the pan.

The moment we distort a person’s intention, statement, gesture or action for our own personal gain we are using, consciously or unconsciously, the straw man argument − a frequent fallacy.

The appeal to tradition or the risk of repeating history

In our everyday lives we ​​often resort to simply repeating what has been said or done before. But not everything that is old is authentic or correct. When we refer to tradition with full confidence that the way it was understood and acted on in the past is self-evident, we are committing the logical error of appealing to tradition, or false induction.

Appealing to authority: an expensive logical mistake

In everyday life, whether we like it or not, we rely on the information provided by experts or specialists. However, no authority deserves blind trust. When we take someone's word for granted simply because that person is an authority, we make the logical mistake called "appeal to authority."