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The types of logical fallacies that should be avoided during arguments and debate

1.Argument from Consequences:Arguing from consequences is speaking for or agains
t the truth of a statement by appealing to the consequences it would have if tru
e (or if false).
for eg.take Dostoevskys line, If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.
Discussions of objective morality aside, the apparent grim consequences of a pur
ely materialistic world say nothing about whether or not it is true that God exi
2.Straw Man:To put up a straw man is to intentionally caricature a persons argument
with the aim of attacking the caricature rather than the actual argument. Misre
presenting, misquoting, misconstruing, and oversimplifying an opponents position
are all means by which one can commit this fallacy.
for eg. a skeptic of Darwinism might say, My opponent is trying to convince you t
hat we evolved from chimpanzees who were swinging from trees, a truly ludicrous
claim. This is a misrepresentation of what evolutionary biology actually claims,
which is that humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor millions of years
ago. Misrepresenting the idea is much easier than refuting the evidence for it.
3.Appeal to Irrelevant Authority:An appeal to the feeling that others are more k
nowledgeable, which may oftenbut of course not alwaysbe true.
For example, Astrology was practiced in ancient China, one of the most technologi
cally advanced civilizations of the day. Here it infers that astrology should be
true just because it originated some time ago in a civilization believed to be t
echnologically advanced.
4.Equivocation:Equivocation exploits the ambiguity of language by changing the m
eaning of a word during the course of an argument and using the different meanin
gs to support an ill-founded conclusion.
For eg. How can you be against faith when you take leaps of faith all the time: m
aking investments, trusting friends, and even getting engaged? Here, the meaning
of the word faith is shifted from a spiritual belief in a creator to a willingness
to undertake risks.
5.False Dilemma:A false dilemma is an argument that presents a limited set of tw
o possible categories and assumes that everything in the scope of the discussion
must be an element of that set. Thus, by rejecting one category, you are forced
to accept the other.
For example, In the war on fanaticism, there are no sidelines; you are either wit
h us or with the fanatics. In reality, there is a third option, one could very we
ll be neutral; and a fourth option, one may be against both; and even a fifth op
tion, one may empathize with elements of both.
6.Not a Cause for a Cause:This fallacy assumes a cause for an event where there
is no evidence that one exists.When two events occur one after the other (or sim
ultaneously), this may be by coincidence, or due to some other unknown factor. O
ne cannot conclude that one event caused the other without evidence.
For example,The recent earthquake was because we disobeyed the king is not a good

7.Appeal to Fear:This fallacy plays on the fears of an audience by imagining

cary future that would be of their making if some proposition were accepted.
her than provide solid evidence that the proposition would lead to a certain
clusion (which might be a legitimate cause for fear), such arguments rely on
toric, threats, or outright lies.

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For example, I ask all employees to vote for my chosen candidate in the upcoming
election. If the other candidate wins, he will raise taxes and many of you will
lose your jobs.
8.Hasty Generalization:This fallacy is committed when one forms a conclusion fro
m a sample that is either too small or too special to be representative.
For example, asking ten people on the street what they think of the presidents pl
an to reduce the deficit can in no way be said to gauge the sentiment of the ent
ire nation.
9.Appeal to Ignorance:This kind of argument assumes a proposition to be true sim
ply because there is no evidence proving that it is false.Hence, absence of evid
ence is taken to be evidence of absence.
An example from Carl Sagan : There is no compelling evidence that UFOs are not vi
siting the Earth; therefore UFOs exist
10.No True Scotsman:This argument comes up after someone has made a general clai
m about a group of things, and then been presented with evidence challenging tha
t claim. Rather than revising their position, or contesting the evidence, they d
odge the challenge by arbitrarily redefining the criteria for membership in that
For example, someone may posit that programmers are creatures with no social ski
lls. If someone else comes along and repudiates that claim by saying, But John is
a programmer, and he is not socially awkward at all, this may provoke the respon
se, Yes, but John isnt a true programmer.
Refer An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi