Fallacies from Chapter 3
1. My plumber friend says that environmentalism is a disease and he knows about these kinds of things.
Analysis: Fallacious Appeal to authority because I would question his friend's expertise on the environment.
2. Whatever is less dense than water will float, because such objects won’t sink in water.
Analysis: Begging the question because 'will float' means the same thing as 'won't sink'.
3. Either we have prayer in the schools or we become just like the Russians.
Analysis: False dilemma because we could have both or neither.
4. John thinks we should spend less on defense. Apparently, he thinks nobody will ever attack us, so we don’t need any military protection.
Analysis: Straw man. Notice the keywords 'Apparently, he thinks' and then the exaggeration that follows.
5. You know why this restaurant is so expensive? Probably because it’s not that cheap.
Analyis: Begging the question because 'expensive' and 'not that cheap' are close to the same meaning.
6.If you don’t take the next job that comes along then you’ll have to go on food stamps.
Analysis: False dilemma. Notice that 'If not A then B' = 'Either A or B'. There may be several 3rd alternatives, such as staying at with relatives, going to a homeless shelter, etc.
7.Senator Hatch: “Capital punishment is our society’s recognition of the sanctity of life.”
Analysis: Obvious inconsistency.
8. It’s not that fallacies are hard to understand, it’s just that comprehending them is difficult.
Analysis: Inconsistency. Some would say it's begging the question but they would be wrong. Notice that 'not hard to understand' contradicts 'comprehending them is difficult'. Begging the question would be correct for 'Fallacies are hard to understand because they are difficult to comprehend'.
9. I don’t give opinions about schools politics, but I do think President Agrella is wrong on whether faculty internal affairs should be abolished.
Analysis: Inconsistency because the person says they don't give opinions about school politics and then proceeds to give their opinion.
10. Jennifer is against legalizing marijuana. She probably thinks that anything that is fun is sinful.
Analysis: Straw man. Notice the keywords 'probably thinks' and the probable exaggeration that follows.
11. There isn’t a person around who would doubt that unquestioned support guarantees you friendship.
Analysis: Questionable premise because it is highly unlikely that at least one person, if not many, would have doubts that unquestioned support guarantees you friendship.
12. President Johnson believed that civil rights was morally wrong but then years later changed his mind after much reflection on the subject.
Analysis: No fallacy because he had a reasonable change of mind.
13. People who support welfare programs seem to think that it is beneath the dignity of people on welfare to do the same kinds of menial jobs that many of us had to do.
Analysis: Straw man. Notice the keywords 'seem to think' and the exaggeration that follows.
14. Sam: “Seattle will be the strongest team at running the football next year, at least in the AFC.”
Jeff: “What makes you think so?”
Sam: “ It’s just the other teams, however good they may be, will be unable to produce the same effectiveness at running the ball that we’ll see with Seattle.”
Analysis: Begging the question because 'strongest team at running the football' means the same as 'other teams will be unable to produce the same effectiveness at running the ball'.
15. You should support the nuclear freeze. Paul Newman is in favor of it.
Analysis: Fallacious Appeal to authority because Paul Newman is an expert actor, NOT an expert on nuclear issues.
16. John: “If Ben doesn’t stop harassing me, I’m going to bust his head in.”
Mark (speaking to Ben later): “John said he was going to bust your head in.”
Analysis: Suppressed evidence because Mark leaves out the conditional part of the statement, namely, 'If Ben doesn’t stop harassing me'.
17. Patient: “Dr. Smith, what’s causing the bleeding inside of my eye?’
Dr. Smith: “spontaneous hemorrhaging”.
Analysis: Begging the question because 'bleeding' means the same as 'spontaneous hemorrhaging'. The patient wants to know the real cause, not medical jargon for bleeding.
18. Politician: “NAFTA is working. 300,000 jobs have been created.”
Analysis: Suppressed evidence because the negative fact is suppressed, namely that 1,000,000 net jobs were lost (according to the Economic Policy Institute).
19. What do you mean, I didn’t help you with the chores. I took out the garbage in the kitchen.
Analysis: Obvious tokenism. A single effort is claimed to be enough with helping with chores.
20. From a survey: The majority of Doctors think that the morals of our young people have declined.
Analysis: Fallacious Appeal to authority because most doctors are not experts on morality.
21. That Saddam Hussein is a bad person. In fact, people from Iraq are just born bad.
Analysis: Obviously a questionable premise that 'people from Iraq are just born bad'.
22. If a software program is created by Microsoft, then it must be good. Why? Because Microsoft creates only good programs.
Analysis: Begging the question because the premise merely restates the conclusion.
23. Advertisement: “If you know about BMW, you either own one or you want one.”
Analysis: False dilemma because a 3rd choice would be neither.
24. “Senator, if you the think that the CIA has been engaging in torture, why don’t we get the Director to testify at this hearing and find out if the rumors about widespread torture are really true.
Analysis: Fallacious Appeal to authority because the CIA director, though perhaps an expert, may have a vested interest in covering up and lying about this.
25. Student: “How are you going to help me pass this class?”
Teacher: “I have to ensure that every student in this class has every opportunity to succeed to the best of their abilities.
Analysis: Begging the question (evades the issue) by answering in a general way, rather than a specific way that the student is asking.
CATE: Computer-Assisted Teaching Environment
Distance Education office at Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA USA
Last updated: 15:35 on 30 January 2013
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