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Fallacies in Reasoning - 3 reasoning 'tricks'

©2012 Shers Gallagher
*Once again the pedant comes out as the fever of politicking spreads throughout the American psyche!

The three tricks of reasoning are...
  1. Providing reasoning that requires inaccurate or incorrect assumptions.
  2. Distracting the listener by making information appear relevant to the claim when it isn’t.
  3. Providing support for an assumption that one is depending on to already be true – meaning that, though the claim can be a strong one, the support can be weak.
Clues for locating & assessing fallacies in reasoning
Reject an author/speaker’s reasoning if it...

attacks a person – or person’s background, instead  of  the person’s ideas                    (ad hominem).
  • bases its assumption that one action taken will set  off an uncontrollable chain of negatively perceived events (slippery slope).
  • reflects a search for perfect solutions (either/or thinking).
  • uses misleading language to avoid giving an answer (equivocates).
  • inappropriately appeals to common opinion.
  • supports a claim made by citing one lacking expertise (appeals to questionable authority).
  • addresses a ‘panacea’ instead of addressing the real issue at hand (straw man).
  • falsely believes that a certain action taken would resolve the problem at hand when that wouldn’t be necessarily so (presents a faulty dilemma).
  •  makes an assumption that because we wish something to be so, then it is indeed so (wishful thinking).
  • explains by labelling something; putting it in a box (explaining by naming).
A fallacy then is a reasoning ‘trick’ that an author might use while trying to persuade you to accept a conclusion.

You don’t need to know all of the names of common fallacies – you only need to be aware of them by ‘self-questioning’ strategies.

Steps to take in locating fallacies:
-      Identify the conclusions and reasons.
-      Contrast reasons and conclusions that you consider valid with the author’s stated claims.
  - Determine whether the reason states a  specific/concrete advantage or  disadvantage.
  -  Check for possible distractions appealing to your emotions...etc.


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