8 more logical fallacies to avoid

It’s great to have the courage of your convictions, but you need more than that to put forth a winning argument.

In last week’s post, I offered 11 logical fallacies and why it’s important to recognize them in what we see, read and hear. Such fallacies weaken arguments; employing them can make you and your organization less credible.

Here are a few more logical fallacies to be aware of:

1. Anecdotal evidence
Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument or compelling evidence to state your position; often used to dismiss statistics.

Example: I knew someone in high school who died in a car accident because his seat belt was stuck. That’s why I’ll never wear a seat belt.

2. The argument from inertia
Arguing that you need to continue on a course of action even after discovering it is a mistake, because changing course would mean admitting that the action was wrong and the efforts toward the action were for naught.

Example: Eve knows that taking the new job is a mistake, but she’s already quit her old job and she starts in an hour, so she decides to go ahead with it.

3. Default bias
Acceptance of a situation simply because it exists right now and arguing that any alternative is impossible or would take too much effort, expense or risk to change.

Example: Abolishing the Electoral College would take years and cost millions of dollars, and the efforts would fail.

4. Gaslighting
Invalidating an individual’s knowledge and experiences by twisting or distorting known facts, memories, events and evidence. The idea is to make those who disagree with you doubt themselves (as seen in the 1944 movie “Gaslight,” starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman).

Example: At a meeting on Tuesday your boss says, “You can all leave at noon on Friday.” Then Friday comes along, and your boss indignantly says: “I would never say you could leave early. You must not have been paying attention.”

5. Hyperbole
This occurs when an event or discovery is given undue attention or its importance is exaggerated, such as describing a study as a “breakthrough” or an event as “the most significant in human history.”

Example: This new research has upset all our previous assumptions about the health effects of drinking on the job.

6. The non sequitur
Offering reasons or conclusions that have no reasonable connection to the argument at hand.

Example: The hurricane is a punishment for our sins.


7. Post hoc. Assuming that because B comes after A, A caused B; correlation does not always equal causation.

Example: Ice cream consumption rises in the summer. So does the murder rate. Therefore, eating ice cream leads to murder.

8. Reductionism.
Deceiving an audience by offering simple answers or using sound bites to answer complex questions.

Example: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must vote to acquit.”
Which of these fallacies do you see or hear most frequently? Please let us know in the comments section below.

This post was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.

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