Logical Fallacies

The following list of logical fallacies is taken from Rise Axelrod and Charles Cooper's The Concise Guide to Writing.

Fallacies are errors or flaws in reasoning. Although essentially unsound, fallacious arguments seem superficially plausible and often have great persuasive power. Fallacies are not necessarily deliberate efforts to deceive readers. They may be accidental, resulting from a failure to examine underlying assumptions critically, establish solid ground to support a claim, or choose words that are clear and unambiguous. Here, listed in alphabetical order, are the most common logical fallacies:

Begging the question. Arguing that a claim is true by repeating the claim in different words. Sometimes called circular reasoning.

Confusing chronology with causality. Assuming that because one thing preceded another, the former caused the latter. Also called post hoc, ergo propter hoc (Latin for "after this, therefore because of this").

Either/or reasoning. Assuming that there are only two sides to a question, and representing yours as the only correct one.

Equivocating. Misleading or hedging with ambiguous word choices.

Failing to accept the burden of proof. Asserting a claim without presenting a reasoned argument to support it.

False analogy. Assuming that because one thing resembles another, conclusions drawn from one also apply to the other.

Overreliance on authority. Assuming that something is true simply because an expert says so and ignoring evidence to the contrary.

Hasty generalization. Offering only weak or limited evidence to support a conclusion.

Oversimplifying. Giving easy answers to complicated questions, often by appealing to emotions rather than logic.

Personal attack. Demeaning the proponents of a claim instead of their argument. Also called ad hominem (Latin for "against the man").

Red herring. Attempting to misdirect the discussion by raising an essentially unrelated point.

Slanting. Selecting or emphasizing the evidence that supports your claim and suppressing or playing down other evidence.

Slippery slope. Pretending that one thing inevitably leads to another.

Sob story. Manipulating readers' emotions in order to lead them to draw unjustified conclusions.

Straw man. Directing the argument against a claim that nobody actually holds or that everyone agrees is very weak.