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5 Logical Fallacies: Definitions and Examples

October 18, 2022

Last Updated on October 18, 2022

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Most people believe that it is possible to think correctly on the basis of life experience, without using logical laws and techniques. Of course, for performing primitive operations and making simple conclusions, the so-called common sense may also be suitable. 

However, if you need to explain something more complex, convey a true knowledge about a subject, understand how to come to a conclusion from existing premises, not to mention a deeper understanding of the nuances of the phenomenon under study, then common sense will harm rather than solve the problem, and can even be misleading.

In fact, people who do not know logic well now and then make logical fallacies โ€“ errors of incorrect thinking, not built on logical laws. Logical fallacies are nothing more than holes in the education received, and a banal lack of knowledge. Logic can be studied, and therefore it can (and should) be learned and used correctly in everyday life.

Below, we present to your attention the 5 most common logical fallacies that are often found in discussions.

Logical Fallacy #1: Slippery Slope

According to the slippery slope fallacy, the author (arguer) claims that a particular chain of events will necessarily follow as a result of something. Usually, there is no logical explanation for all events in the series, and the arguer lacks knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. For example, once a super-powerful AI (artificial intelligence) will be created, it will be used for military purposes to dominate and rule our planet, and will eventually lead to the war of autonomous machines and nuclear war in the end. Everything that follows in this chain of events is based on mere supposition and fear, rather than a deep knowledge or understanding of the subject matter. 

Logical Fallacy #2: Requirement to Respect Opinion

โ€œWe, people, must respect each otherโ€ is a common clichรฉ that we all hear from childhood. It implies that if you want to be respected, you should respect other people too. However, very often the concept of respect is perceived incorrectly, and many people believe that you must perceive their opinion as equal to your own. Let’s say if you think that “2 + 2 = 4”, and your opponent claims that “2 + 2 = 1”, then your opponent’s opinion should be as correct as yours because people should respect each other.

In fact, this is a logical fallacy. This argument is wrong for one simple reason: although people are indeed equal, what people say is completely different. From the logical point of view, the people and their views should never be confused, as they are not equal.

Logical Fallacy #3: Argument from Ignorance

If a person lacks knowledge of something, he tends to use his lack of knowledge (ignorance) as proof of some other things. The most classic example of this argument is when “armchair philosophers” try to prove the existence of God. Usually, it looks like this: “I don’t know how the Universe began … so God must have created it!โ€ Unfortunately, such reasoning defies logic. If you don’t know how the universe came into being, that can only prove your ignorance. This does not necessarily mean that God has created it.

If you use your ignorance as evidence, then you are contradicting yourself. You say you don’t know something, but you take your ignorance as something you know. It is nonsense.

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Logical Fallacy #4: Argument from Inability to Conceive Something

Here is a common example: “I can’t imagine how people can influence the climate of the entire planet. So there is no global warming!” Why is this argument wrong? Because in the end, it turns out that your opponent expects all nature, the whole universe to submit to his imagination.

Another example: โ€œI can’t imagine how gravity can be so strong that not even light can escape from it. How can I believe in something that I cannot imagine? So black holes don’t exist! But this is a false argument, the same as in the case of climatology above.

Logical Fallacy #5: Argument from Authority

According to this logical fallacy, a person tries to put some other authoritative person on top of everything and everyone, and says something like this: โ€œDo you know that on this issue such an authoritative person said the following?โ€

First of all, it is worth noting that sometimes the “authority” in focus is not an authority at all in the particular area under discussion. For example, they may say to you: โ€œDo you know that Albert Einstein said this?โ€ Subsequently, they try to use “this” in modern politics. In this case, one should, first of all, ask the question: โ€œWhat did Albert Einstein even know about modern politics?โ€

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