Friday, January 6, 2023

Logical Fallacies Cheat Sheet

Critical reasoning is the most important skill an individual can master. Logic is the foundation of critical thinking. Logical fallacies are the most commonly found errors in debate. It behooves us, therefore, to be intimately familiar with the forms of logical fallacy so that our faculties are better equipped to properly evaluate logical assertions, both in our own critical thinking and in debate with others.

Here is a quick reference guide (cheat sheet) of logical fallacies, slightly reorganized, from informationisbeautiful.net. I hope it is as useful to you as it has been to me. In my opinion, this is not the usual cheat sheet that you refer to when you have the occasion to need it, but rather a compact reference guide that you should refer to often, without needing it, until the information is memorized and internalized. 

And here's a description of the fallacies presented:

Appeals to the Mind

Appeal to Anonymous Authority: Using evidence from an unnamed expert, study, or generalized group to claim something is true

Appeal to Authority: Claiming something is true because an unqualified expert says it is

Appeal to Common Practice: Claiming something is true or good because it's commonplace

Appeal to Ignorance: Claiming something is true because it has not been proven false (or vice versa)

Appeal to Incredulity: Claiming something is false because it seems unbelievable or implausible

Appeal to Money: Supposing that wealth or expensiveness affects the truth of a claim

Appeal to Novelty: Supposing something is better because it is new or newer

Appeal to Popular Belief: Claiming something is true because a majority of people believe it

Appeal to Probability: Assuming because something could happen, it will inevitably happen

Appeal to Tradition: Claiming something is true because it has occurred or been true in the past

Appeals to Emotions

Appeal to Consequences of a Belief: Arguing a belief is false because it implies something you'd rather not believe

Appeal to Fear: Arguing by invoking fear or prejudice towards the opposing side

Appeal to Flattery: Using a compliment to hide an unfounded claim

Appeal to Nature: Drawing a comparision to the natural world as a standard

Appeal to Pity: Arguing by invoking sympathy or empathy

Appeal to Ridicule: Presenting the opponent's argument in a way that makes it appear absurd

Appeal to Spite: Dismissing a claim by way of personal bias against the claimant

Appeal to Wishful Thinking: Claiming something is true because it is desirable

Faulty Deductions

Anecdotal Evidence: Claiming something is true on the basis of isolated incidents

Composition: Assuming that characteristics or beliefs of members of a group apply to the entire group

Division: Assuming that characteristics or beliefs of a group automatically apply to an individual member

Design Fallacy: Claiming something is true because it is well-designed or aesthetically pleasing

Gambler's Fallacy: Predicting future outcomes on the basis of unrelated or independent past events

Hasty Generalization: Drawing a general conclusion from an inappropriately small sample

Jumping to Conclusions: Drawing a quick conclusion without considering relevant and readily-available evidence

Middle Ground: Assuming that because two opposing arguments have merit, the answer must lie between them

Perfectionist Fallacy: Rejecting an imperfect yet adequate solution on the basis of its imperfection

Relativist Fallacy: Rejecting a claim or argument because of a belief that truth is relative to a person or group

Sweeping Generalization: Applying a general rule too broadly

Undistributed Middle: Equating two things because they are similar or share characteristics

Manipulating Content

Ad Hoc Rescue: Repeatedly revising an argument to explain away problems

Begging the Question: Making a claim that ignores a larger issue

Biased Generalizing: Generalizing from an unrepresentative sample

Confirmation Bias: Placing heavier weight on evidence that supports a favorable conclusion while ignoring, dismissing, or marginalizing evidence opposing it

False Dilemma: Presenting a choice between two options while ignoring or hiding alternatives

Lie: A falsehood repeated knowingly as a fact

Misleading Vividness: Describing an occurrence in vivid detail, even if it is a rare occurrence, to increase its perceived importance

Red Herring: Introducing irrelevant material to the argument to distract or lead towards a different conclusion

Slippery Slope: Assuming a small change will lead to a series of related (negative) changes or events

Suppressed Evidence: Intentionally failing to acknowledge significant, relevant evidence

Unfalsifiability: Offering a claim that cannot be opposed because it cannot be tested

Garbled Cause & Effect

Affirming the Consequent: Assuming there's only one explanation for something

Denying the Antecedent: Assuming that because there is a cause for something, the lack of the cause will result in the lack of the effect

Circular Logic: A conclusion derived from a premise based on the conclusion

Ignoring a Common Cause: Claiming two things that are correlated must be causal, while ignoring a third event that may have caused both

Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: Claiming two events that occur together must have a cause-and-effect relationship

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: Claiming that because one event followed another, it was also caused by it

On the Attack

Ad Hominem: Claiming an argument is invalid by attacking the person making the argument and not the argument itself

Burden of Proof: Claiming an argument is true unless it is refuted

Circumstance Ad Hominem: Claiming an argument is invalid because of the advocate's interests in their claim

Genetic Fallacy: Attacking the cause or original of a claim rather than the claim itself

Guilt by Association: Discrediting an idea or claim by associating it with an undesirable person or group

Straw Man: Creating a distorted or simplified charicature of your opponent's argument, and the arguing against that misrepresentation