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Dr. Jay
VerLinden
Communication
Department
College of Arts, Humanities
and Social Sciences
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Argumentation and Critical Thinking Tutorial

INFORMAL FALLACY DEFINITIONS
GROUP 4: EVIDENCE BASED FALLACIES

 

Quick Review

This page reviews the definitions of fifteen fallacies. A common English name for each fallacy is used, with alternative names in parentheses. This page does not describe the fallacies in detail, so you should be sure to read some material on these fallacies before you take the tests.

These fallacies have been grouped together because they can all be considered to be based on the use of evidence in argumentation. Keep in mind that they could also be grouped in other ways, as could the fallacies in other sections of this site.

AD NAUSEUM : a form of appeal to the people that involves reasoning that a claim is true based only on the evidence that it has been made so often.

APPEAL TO ANONYMOUS AUTHORITY: a specific form of appeal to authority in which it is argued a claim should be accepted based only on evidence that unidentified authorities accept it.

APPEAL TO COMMON PRACTICE: a particular type of appeal to the people that argues something is right or should be done based only on evidence that other people are doing it.

APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE (argument by consensus, bandwagon appeal, ad populum, ad numerum ): a form of appeal to authority in which it is argued that a claim should be accepted based only on evidence that a large number of people accept it, or it should be rejected because a large number of people reject it.

APPEAL TO PRIDE (flattery, apple polishing): a particular type of appeal to the people that argues someone should accept a claim based only on the evidence that he or she has the favorable characteristics needed to understand the truth of the claim.

APPEAL TO TRADITION ( ad vericundiam. ): a particular type of appeal to authority that argues something should be done based only on evidence that it's been done that way in the past, or should be believed only because it's been believed for a long time.

ARGUMENT FROM AUTHORITY (appeal to authority, ad vericundiam ): arguing that a claim is true based only on evidence that an authority figure accepts the claim.

COMMON PERSON APPEAL (common man appeal): a form of appeal to the people in which it is argued that a claim should be accepted based only on evidence that a regular person accepts it.

POISONING THE WELL (no true Scotsman fallacy): a way of suppressing evidence that eliminates a source of evidence from consideration by claiming the source is flawed, when there is no true relationship between the alleged flaw and the reliability of the source.

SELF EVIDENT TRUTHS (appeal to beliefs): arguing that a claim should be accepted based on evidence that is not presented, but is asserted to be well known or obvious, when the information is either not well known or is incorrect.

SIGNIFICANCE (misuse of statistics, questionable statistics, questionable use of statistics): making an argument using statistical evidence when the basis of the statistic is not revealed, is distorted, or the statistics are misinterpreted, either innocently or on purpose.

SLIPPERY SLOPE (thin entering wedge, camel's nose): a type of causal reasoning in which it is argued that an apparently small cause will lead to a major effect, when there is no evidence of such a causal relationship.

SNOB APPEAL: a form of appeal to the people in which it is argued that someone should accept an idea or product based only on evidence that prestigious people accept it, or that non-prestigious people reject it.

SOLID SLOPE (spendthrift fallacy): reasoning that an act or series of acts should be carried out because they will have no significant consequences, when there is no evidence for the lack of significant effects or when there is reason to believe the results will be significant..

SUPPRESSED EVIDENCE (overlooked evidence): drawing a conclusion after purposely leaving out known evidence or intentionally failing to look for likely evidence that might contradict a claim.

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