Fallacies are errors in reasoning. They happen in speech and in writing. The danger of fallacies is that they can deceive people into accept false ideas and claims that can lead to serious consequences. In this post we will look at several types of fallacies with examples.
A hasty generalization happens when an individual makes a broad claim on a few instances. Below is an example
Throughout American history, military leaders who become president are terrible leaders. Consider the examples of Ulysses Grant and James Buchanan..
The problem with the reasoning in this fallacy is that it is not always true. There are many examples of military leaders who became excellent presidents. Examples include George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Dwight Eisenhower.
A false cause fallacy is claiming that A caused B when there is no real connection. Below is an example.
When ice cream sales increase there is also an increase in homicide rates. Therefore, if we want to reduce homicides we need to reduce ice cream sales.
On the surface, such an argument makes sense. However, correlation is not causation. There are other factors that lead to homicide in addition to ice cream sales.
An analogy is the comparison of two concepts or things for the purpose of explanation. An invalid analogy is the inappropriate comparison of two concepts. Below is an example.
In America, the school-year is from September to May. Since this schedule works in America it will surely work in Thailand
This analogy is comparing the American and Thailand with the idea that they can both have the same academic calendar. The problem is that both countries are radical different in terms of facilities. Most American classrooms are temperature control while many in Thailand are not. Since there is a lack of air conditioning in many Thai schools the calendar has been adjusted so that teaching does not take place during the hottest time of the year.
A bandwagon fallacy is based on the premise that since so many people are doing A it serves as evidence that everyone should do it. Children are often victims of this fallacy when they try to justify why they did something. Below is an example.
The action of the administration is appropriate. The reason being because is that 70% of the faculty support the decision of coed dormitories.
The fact that the majority support something is not the only indication of whether it is right or wrong. Other factors such as religious beliefs and even culture may need to be considered as well.
Fallacies can serve as a major tool for confusing people on different topics and ideas. The examples in this post only serve to show some of the few ways that fallacies manifest themselves. It is important for consumer of information to be able to identify fallacies when they are apparent.