False Premise: When Arguments Are Built on Bad Foundations

  A false premise is an incorrect proposition or assumption that forms the basis of an argument and renders it logically unsound. For example, in the argument “all birds can fly, and penguins can’t fly, so penguins aren’t birds”, the premise that “all birds can fly” is false, since some birds can’t fly, and this …

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Circumlocution: When People Use Too Many Words

  Circumlocution is the act of saying something using more words than necessary, often with the intent of being vague, evasive, or misleading. For example, a politician might use circumlocution by giving a long and vague response to a question, in order to make it difficult for people to notice that the politician didn’t actually …

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The Appeal to Definition Fallacy: When People Misuse the Dictionary

  The appeal to definition (also known as the argument from dictionary) is a logical fallacy that occurs when someone’s argument is based, in a problematic manner, on the definition of a certain term as it appears in a dictionary or a similar source. The main problem with such arguments is that dictionaries are descriptive in …

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Equivocation and the Equivocation Fallacy

  Equivocation is the deliberate use of vague or ambiguous language, with the intent of deceiving others or avoiding commitment to a specific stance. For example, when a person is asked a direct yes-or-no question, and gives a vague response that doesn’t answer the question, that person is equivocating. The equivocation fallacy is a logical fallacy …

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False Equivalence: The Problem with Unreasonable Comparisons

  False equivalence is a logical fallacy that occurs when someone incorrectly asserts that two or more things are equivalent, simply because they share some characteristics, despite the fact that there are also notable differences between them. For example, a false equivalence is saying that cats and dogs are the same animal, since they’re both …

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Slippery Slope: What It Is and How to Respond to It

  A slippery slope is an argument that suggests that a certain initial action could lead to a chain of events with a relatively extreme result, or that if we treat one case a certain way then we will have to treat more extreme cases the same way too. For example, a slippery slope argument …

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Cherry Picking: When People Ignore Evidence that They Dislike

  Cherry picking is a logical fallacy that occurs when someone focuses only on evidence that supports their stance, while ignoring evidence that contradicts it. For example, a person who engages in cherry picking might mention only a small number of studies out of all the studies which were published on a certain topic, in an …

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The Appeal to Emotion: Persuasion Through Feelings Rather than Facts

  The appeal to emotion is a logical fallacy that occurs when a misleading argument, and particularly one that is unsound or missing factual evidence, is used with the goal of manipulating people’s emotions. For example, a person using an appeal to emotion in a debate might encourage the audience to ignore facts that their …

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