Fallacies

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Fallacies and Generalizations
Posted by John Smith on March 30, 2011
Fallacies and generalizations of complex topics is common in today’s high-pace society. Even before the era of 24/7 news, it was often easier to persuade people to an action if the terms were simplified. Unfortunately, this simplification often mires debates, and those who have no cost to being wrong often burden others with the cost of making a wrong decision. As I have been reading Economic Facts and Fallacies (by Sowell), many of the common fallacies of today’s economics and culture situations are broken down to reveal possible causes, as well as the true causes.

For today’s post, common fallacies and generalizations will be defined, as well as an example of each. When debating with others, watch out for these fallacies and call them out when you are able to.

1. Ad hominem

One of the most common fallacies today, in which an argument is linked to a personal characteristic or belief to the opposition. It should not be confused with general name-calling or with legitimate concerns of the opposition’s motives for arguing.

Example:

Mark: Gay marriage is wrong.
Susan: Well, to you it is because you are a Christian.
Mark: All the reasons against have had nothing to do with religion.
Susan: You are religious so it does not matter what your reasons are for not supporting gay marriage.
2. Argument from Authority

Simply put, an argument/statement is correct because someone with recognized authority (person or organization) has said it is correct or endorses the position. It is commonly seen in commercials, but also prevalent in areas of debate that do rely upon factual data. Arguments based on a person’s expertise must be heavily scrutinized, especially in the scientific and mathematical fields, which require non-biased data to support conclusions in experiments.

Example:

“Hi, I’m (Athlete) here to talk to you about the amazing advantages of using the Dental

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