Fallacies are fake or deceptive arguments, arguments that prove nothing. Fallacies often seem superficially sound, and they far too often retain immense persuasive power even after being clearly exposed as false. Fallacies are not always deliberate, but a good scholar’s purpose is always to identify and unmask fallacies in arguments. Note that many of these definitions overlap, but the goal here is to identify contemporary and classic fallacies as they are used in today’s discourse. Effort has been made to avoid mere word-games (e.g., “The Fallacist’s Fallacy,” or the famous “Crocodile’s Paradox” of classic times), or the so-called “fallacies” of purely formal, symbolic, or business and financial logic.  No claim is made to “academic rigor” in this listing.

  • The A Priori Argument (Also, Rationalization; Proof Texting.): A corrupt argument from logos, starting with a given, pre-set belief, dogma, doctrine, scripture verse, “fact” or conclusion and then searching for any reasonable or reasonable-sounding argument to rationalize, defend or justify it. Certain ideologues and religious fundamentalists are proud to use this fallacy as their primary method of “reasoning” and some are even honest enough to say so. The opposite of this fallacy is the Taboo. See also “Two Truths.”
  • Actions have Consequences:  The contemporary fallacy of a person in power falsely describing an imposed punishment or penalty as a “consequence” of another’s negative act. E.g.,” The consequences of your misbehavior could include suspension or expulsion.” A corrupt argument from ethos, arrogating to oneself or to one’s rules or laws an ethos of cosmic inevitability, i.e., the ethos of God, Fate, Destiny or Reality Itself.  Freezing to death is a natural “consequence” of going out naked in subzero weather but going to prison is a punishment for bank robbery, not a natural, inevitable or unavoidable “consequence,” of robbing a bank.  Not to be confused with the Argument from Consequences, which is quite different. An opposite fallacy is that of Moral Licensing.
  • The Ad Hominem Argument (also, “Personal attack,” “Poisoning the well.”): The fallacy of attempting to refute an argument by attacking the opposition’s personal character or reputation, using a corrupted negative argument from ethos. E.g., “He’s so evil that you can’t believe anything he says.” See also “Guilt by Association.” The opposite of this is the “Star Power” fallacy.  Another obverse of Ad Hominem is the Token Endorsement Fallacy, where, in the words of scholar Lara Bhasin, “Individual A has been accused of anti-Semitism, but Individual B is Jewish and says Individual A is not anti-Semitic, and the implication of course is that we can believe Individual B because, being Jewish, he has special knowledge of anti- Semitism. Or, a presidential candidate is accused of anti- Muslim bigotry, but someone finds a testimony from a Muslim who voted for said candidate, and this is trotted out as evidence against the candidate’s bigotry.”  The same fallacy would apply to a sports team named after a marginalized ethnic group,  but which has obtained the endorsement (freely given or paid) of some member, traditional leader or tribal council of that marginalized group so that the otherwise-offensive team name and logo magically becomes “okay” and nonracist.
  • The Affective Fallacy (also The Romantic Fallacy): A fallacy of Pathos, that one’s emotions, urges or “feelings” are in every case self-validating, autonomous, and above any human intent or act of will (one’s own or others’), and are thus immune to challenge or critique. In this fallacy one argues, “My feelings are valid, so therefore you have no right to criticize what I say or do, or how I say or do it.”  This latter is also a fallacy of stasis, confusing a respectful and reasoned response or refutation with personal devaluation, disrespect, prejudice, bigotry, sexism, homophobia or hostility. A grossly sexist form of the Affective Fallacy is the well-known crude fallacy that a phallus “Has No Conscience,” i.e., since (particularly male) sexuality is self-validating and beyond voluntary control what one does with it cannot be controlled and is not open to criticism, an assertion eagerly embraced and extended beyond the male gender in certain reifications of “Desire” in contemporary academic theory. See also, Playing on Emotion. Opposite to this fallacy is the Chosen Emotion Fallacy (thanks to scholar Marc Lawson for identifying this fallacy), in which one falsely claims reliable prior voluntary control over one’s own “gut level” internal affective reactions. Related to this last is the ancient fallacy of Angelism, falsely claiming that one is capable of “objective” reasoning without emotion, or claiming for oneself a viewpoint of Olympian  “disinterested objectivity” or pretending to place oneself above all emotion. See also, Mortification.
  • Alphabet Soup: A corrupt implicit fallacy from ethos in which a person inappropriately overuses acronyms, abbreviations, form numbers and arcane insider “shop talk” primarily to prove to an audience that s/he “speaks their language” and is “one of them” and to shut out, confuse or impress outsiders. E.g., “It’s not at all uncommon for a K-12 with ASD to be both GT and LD;” “I had a twenty-minute DX Q-so on 15 with a Zed-S1 and a couple of LU2’s even though the QR-Nancy was 20 over S9;” or “I hope I’ll keep on seeing my BAQ on my LES until the day I get my DD214.”   See also, Name Calling.
  • The Appeal to Closure: The contemporary fallacy that an argument, standpoint, action or conclusion no matter how questionable must be accepted as final or else the point will remain unsettled, which is unthinkable because those affected will be denied “closure.” This fallacy falsely reifies a specialized term from Gestalt Psychology (closure) while refusing to recognize the undeniable truth that some points will indeed remain unsettled, perhaps forever. E.g., “Society would be protected, crime would be deterred and justice served if we sentence you to life without parole, but we need to execute you in order to provide some closure.” See also, Argument from Ignorance, and Argument from Consequences. The opposite of this fallacy is the Paralysis of Analysis.
  • The Appeal to Heaven: (also, Argumentum ad Coelum, Deus Vult, Gott mit Uns, Manifest Destiny, American Exceptionalism, or the Special Covenant): An ancient, extremely dangerous fallacy (a deluded argument from ethos) asserting that God (or History, or a higher power) has ordered or anointed, supports or approves of one’s own standpoint or actions so no further justification is required and no serious challenge is possible. (E.g., “God ordered me to kill my children,” or “We need to take away your land, since God [or Manifest Destiny, or Fate, or Heaven] has given it to us as our own.”) A private individual who seriously asserts this fallacy risks ending up in a psychiatric ward, but groups or nations who do it are far too often taken seriously. This vicious fallacy has been the cause of endless bloodshed over history. See also, Magical Thinking. Also applies to deluded negative Appeals to Heaven, e.g., “You say that famine and ecological collapse due to climate change are real dangers, but I know God wouldn’t ever let that happen!” The opposite of the Appeal to Heaven is the Job’s Comforter fallacy.
  • The Appeal to Nature: The contemporary romantic fallacy of ethos (that of “Mother Nature”) that if something is “natural” it has to be good, healthy and beneficial.  E.g., “Our premium herbal tea is lovingly brewed from the finest freshly-picked natural T. Radicans leaves. People who dismiss it as mere ‘Poison Ivy’ don’t understand that it’s 100% organic, with no additives, GMO’s or artificial ingredients  It’s time to Go Green and lay back in Mother’s arms.” One who employs or falls for this fallacy forgets the old truism that left to itself, nature is indeed “red in tooth and claw.”
  • The Appeal to Pity: (also, “Argumentum ad Miserecordiam”): The fallacy of urging an audience to “root for the underdog” regardless of the issues at hand. A classic example is, “Those poor, cute little squeaky mice are being gobbled up by mean, nasty cats ten times their size!” A contemporary example might  be America’s uncritical popular support for the Arab Spring movement of 2010-2012 in which The People (“The underdogs”) were seen to be heroically overthrowing cruel dictatorships, a movement that has resulted in retrospect in chaos, anarchy, mass suffering, the rise of extremism, and the largest refugee crisis since World War II. A corrupt argument from pathos. See also, Playing to Emotions. The opposite of the Appeal to Pity is the Appeal to Rigor, an argument (often based on machismo or on manipulating an audience’s fear) based on mercilessness. E.g., “I’m a real man, not like those bleeding hearts, and I’ll be tough on [fill in the name of the enemy or bogeyman of the hour].”  In academia this latter fallacy applies to politically-motivated or elitist calls for “Academic Rigor” and against college developmental / remedial classes, open admissions, “dumbing down” and “grade inflation.”
  • The Appeal to Tradition: (also, Conservative Bias; “The Good Old Days”): The fallacy that a standpoint, situation or action is right, proper and correct simply because it has “always” been that way, because people have “always” thought that way, or because it was that way long ago and still continues to serve one particular group very well. A corrupted argument from ethos (that of past generations). E.g., “In America, women have always been paid less, so let’s not mess with long-standing tradition.”  See also Argument from Inertia, and Default Bias. The opposite of this is The Appeal to Novelty (also, “Pro-Innovation bias,” “Recency Bias,” and “The Bad Old Days”), e.g., “It’s NEW, and [therefore it must be] improved!” or “This is the very latest discovery–it has to be better.”


  • The Argument from Consequences (also, Outcome Bias): The major fallacy of arguing that something cannot be true because if it were the consequences or outcome would be unacceptable. (E.g., “Global climate change cannot be caused by human burning of fossil fuels, because if it were, switching to non-polluting energy sources would bankrupt American industry,” or “Doctor, that’s wrong! I can’t have terminal cancer, because if I did that’d mean that I won’t live to see my kids get married!”) Not to be confused with Actions have Consequences.
  • The Argument from Ignorance (also, Argumentum ad Ignorantiam): The fallacy that since we don’t know (or can never know, or cannot prove) whether a claim is true or false, it must be false (or that it must be true). E.g., “Scientists are never going to be able to positively prove their theory that humans evolved from other creatures, because we weren’t there to see it! So, that proves the Genesis six-day creation account is  literally true as written!” This fallacy includes Attacking the Evidence, e.g. “Some of your key evidence is missing, incomplete, or even faked! That proves I’m right!” This usually includes “Either-Or Reasoning:” E.g., “The vet can’t find any reasonable explanation for why my dog died. See! See! That proves that you poisoned him! There’s no other logical explanation!” A corrupted argument from logos, and a fallacy commonly found in American political, judicial and forensic reasoning.

See also “A Priori Argument,” “Appeal to Closure,” “The Simpleton’s Fallacy,” and “Argumentum ex Silentio.”

  • The Argument from Inertia (also “Stay the Course”): The fallacy that it is necessary to continue on a mistaken course of action even after discovering it is mistaken, because changing course would mean admitting that one’s decision (or one’s leader, or one’s faith) was wrong, and all one’s effort, expense and sacrifice was for nothing, and that’s unthinkable. A variety of the Argument from Consequences, E for Effort, or the Appeal to Tradition. See also “Throwing Good Money After Bad.”
  • The Argument from Motives (also Questioning Motives): The fallacy of declaring a standpoint or argument invalid solely because of the evil, corrupt or questionable motives of the one making the claim. E.g., “Bin Laden wanted us out of Afghanistan, so we have to keep up the fight!” Even evil people with the most corrupt motives sometimes say the truth (and even those who have the highest motives are often wrong or mistaken). A variety of the Ad Hominem argument. The counterpart of this is the fallacy of falsely justifying or excusing evil or vicious actions because of the perpetrator’s purity of motives or lack of malice. (E.g., “Sure, she may have beaten her children bloody now and again but she was a good Christian woman doing the best she could with what she had. How could you stand there and accuse her of child abuse?”)

See also Moral Licensing.

  • Argumentum ad Baculum (“Argument from the Club.” Also, “Argumentum ad Baculam,” “Argument from Strength,” “Muscular Leadership,” “Non-negotiable Demands,” Bullying, Fascism, Resolution by Force of Arms.): The fallacy of “persuasion” or “proving one is right” by force, violence, or threats of violence. E.g., “Gimmee your wallet or I’ll knock your head off!” or “We have the perfect right to take your land, since we have the guns and you don’t.” Also applies to indirect forms of threat. E.g., “Give up your foolish pride, kneel down and accept our religion today if you don’t want to burn in hell forever and ever!”


  • Argumentum ad Mysteriam (“Argument from Mystery.”): A darkened chamber, incense, chanting or drumming, bowing and kneeling, special robes or headgear, holy rituals and massed voices reciting sacred mysteries in an unknown tongue  have a quasi-hypnotic effect and can often persuade more strongly than any logical argument.  The Protestant Reformation was in large part a rejection of this fallacy. When used knowingly and deliberately this fallacy is particularly vicious and accounts for some of the fearsome persuasive power of cults.  An example of an Argumentum ad Mysteriam is the “Long Ago and Far Away” fallacy, the fact that facts, evidence, practices or arguments from ancient times, distant lands and/or “exotic” cultures  seem to acquire a special gravitas or ethos simply because of their antiquity, language or origin, e.g., publicly chanting Holy Scriptures in their original (most often incomprehensible) ancient languages, preferring the Greek, Latin, Assyrian or Old Church Slavonic Christian Liturgies over their vernacular versions, or using classic or newly invented Latin names for fallacies in order to support their validity. See also, Esoteric Knowledge.
  • Argumentum ex Silentio (Argument from Silence): The fallacy that if available sources remain silent or current knowledge and evidence can prove nothing about a given subject or question this fact in itself proves something about the truth of the matter. E.g., “Science can tell us nothing about God. That proves God doesn’t exist.” Or “Science admits it can tell us nothing about God, so you can’t deny that God exists!” Often misused in the American justice system, where, contrary to the 5th Amendment,  remaining silent or “taking the Fifth” is often falsely portrayed as proof of guilt. E.g., “Mr. Hixel has no alibi for the evening of January 15th. This proves that he was in fact in room 331 at the Smuggler’s Inn, murdering his wife with a hatchet!” In today’s America, choosing to remain silent in the face of a police officer’s questions can make one guilty enough to be arrested or even shot. See also, Argument from Ignorance.
  • Availability Bias (also, Attention Bias, Anchoring Bias): A fallacy of logos stemming from the natural tendency to give undue attention and importance to information that is immediately available at hand, particularly the first or last information received, and to minimize or ignore broader data or wider evidence that clearly exists but is not as easily remembered or accessed. E.g., “We know from experience that this doesn’t work,” when “experience” means the most recent local experience, ignoring overwhelming experience from other places and times where it has worked and does work. This fallacy is also related to the fallacy of Hyperbole, where an immediate instance is immediately proclaimed “the most significant in all of human history,” or the “worst in the whole world!” This latter fallacy works extremely well with less-educated audiences and those whose “whole world” is very small indeed, audiences who “hate history” and whose historical memory spans several weeks at best.
  • The Bandwagon Fallacy (also, Argument from Common Sense, Argumentum ad Populum): The fallacy of arguing that because “everyone” supposedly thinks or does something, it must be right. E.g., “Whether there actually is large scale voter fraud in America or not, most people now believe there is and that makes it so.” Sometimes also includes Lying with Statistics, e.g. “Surveys show that over 75% of Americans believe Senator Snith is not telling the truth. For anyone with half a brain, that conclusively proves he’s a dirty liar!”

This is sometimes combined with the “Argumentum ad Baculum,” e.g., “Like it or not, it’s time to choose sides: Are you going to get on board  the bandwagon with everyone else, or get crushed under the wheels as it goes by?” For the opposite of this argument see the Romantic Rebel fallacy. See also The Big Lie Technique.

  • The Big Lie Technique (also the Bold Faced Lie; “Staying on Message.”): The contemporary fallacy of repeating a lie, fallacy, slogan, talking-point, nonsense-statement or deceptive half-truth over and over in different forms (particularly in the media) until it becomes part of daily discourse and people believe it without further proof or evidence. Sometimes the bolder and more outlandish the Big Lie becomes the more credible it seems to a willing, most often angry audience. E.g., “What about the Jewish Question?” Note that when this particular phony debate was going on there was no “Jewish Question,” only a “Nazi Question,” but hardly anybody in power recognized or wanted to talk about that, while too many ordinary people were only too ready to find a convenient scapegoat for the Depression. Writer Miles J Brewer expertly demolishes The Big Lie Technique in his (1930) short story, “The Gostak and the Doshes.” However, more contemporary examples of the Big Lie fallacy might be the completely fictitious August 4, 1964 “Tonkin Gulf Incident” concocted under Lyndon Johnson as a justification for escalating the Vietnam War, or the non-existent “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (conveniently abbreviated “WMD’s” in order to lend this Big Lie a legitimizing, military-sounding “Alphabet Soup” ethos) in Iraq, used in 2003 as a false justification for invading that country. The November, 2016 U.S. President-elect’s statement that “millions” of ineligible votes were cast in that year’s American. presidential election appears to be a classic Big Lie. See also, The Bandwagon Fallacy, Alphabet Soup, and Propaganda.
  • Blind Loyalty (also Blind Obedience, Unthinking Obedience, the “Team Player” appeal, the Nuremberg Defense): The dangerous fallacy that an argument or action is right simply and solely because a respected leader or source (a President, expert, one’s parents, one’s own “side,” team or country, one’s boss or commanding officers) says it is right. This is over-reliance on authority, a gravely corrupted argument from ethos that puts loyalty above truth, above one’s own reason and above conscience. In this case a person attempts to justify incorrect, stupid or criminal behavior by whining “That’s what I was told to do,” or “I was just obeying orders.”  See also, “The Soldiers’ Honor Fallacy.” A not-uncommon but extreme example of this fallacy is the Big Brain/Little Brain Fallacy (also, the Fuhrerprinzip) in which a tyrannical cult-leader tells followers “Don’t think with your little brains (the brain in your head), but with your BIG brain (the leader’s).” This last is sometimes expressed in positive terms, i.e., “You don’t have to worry and stress out about the rightness or wrongness of what you are doing since I, the leader. am assuming all moral and legal responsibility for your actions. I will defend you and gladly accept all the consequences up to and including eternal damnation if I’m wrong.” The opposite of this last is the fallacy of “Plausible Deniability.” See also, “Just Do It!”
  • Blood is Thicker than Water (also Favoritism, Compadrismo, “For my friends, anything.”): The reverse of the “Ad Hominem” fallacy, a corrupt argument from ethos where a statement, argument or action is automatically regarded as true, correct and above challenge because one is related to, knows and likes, or is on the same team as the individual involved.  (E.g., “My brother-in-law says he saw you goofing off on the job. You’re a hard worker but who am I going to believe, you or him? You’re fired!”)
  • Brainwashing (also, Propaganda, “Radicalization.”): The Cold War-era fantasy that an enemy can instantly win over an unsuspecting audience with their vile but somehow unspeakably persuasive “propaganda,”  e.g., “Don’t look at that website! They’re trying to brainwash you with their propaganda!” Historically, “brainwashing” refers more properly to the inhuman Argumentum ad Baculum of  “beating an argument into” a prisoner via a combination of pain, fear, sensory or sleep deprivation, prolonged abuse and sophisticated psychological manipulation (also, the “Stockholm Syndrome.”). Such “brainwashing” can also be accomplished by pleasure (“Love Bombing,”), e.g., “Did you like that? I know you did. Well, there’s lots more where that came from when you sign on with us!” (See also, “Bribery.”) An unspeakably sinister form of persuasion by brainwashing involves deliberately addicting a person to drugs and then providing or withholding the substance depending on the addict’s compliance. Note: Only the “other side” brainwashes. “We” never brainwash.
  • Bribery (also, Material Persuasion, Material Incentive, Financial Incentive). The fallacy of “persuasion” by bribery, gifts or favors, the reverse of the Argumentum ad Baculum. As is well known, someone who is persuaded by bribery rarely “stays persuaded” unless the bribes keep on coming in and increasing with time. Related to this is the fallacy of Appeasement (also, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”), most often popularly connected to the shameful pre-World War II appeasement of Hitler but still commonly practiced in public agencies, education and retail business today, e.g. “The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. Just give’em what they want so they’ll shut up and go away–it’s cheaper and simpler than a lawsuit.”
  • Circular Reasoning (also, The Vicious Circle; Catch 22, Begging the Question, Circulus in Probando): A fallacy of logos where A is because of B, and B is because of A, e.g., “You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.” Also refers to falsely arguing that something is true by repeating the same statement in different words. E.g., “The witchcraft problem is the most urgent spiritual crisis in the world today. Why? Because witches threaten our very souls.” A corrupt argument from logos. See also the “Big Lie technique.”
  • The Complex Question: The contemporary fallacy of demanding a direct answer to a question that cannot be answered without first analyzing or challenging the basis of the question itself. E.g., “Just answer me ‘yes’ or ‘no’:  Did you think you could get away with plagiarism and not suffer the consequences?” Or, “Why did you rob that bank?” Also applies to situations where one is forced to either accept or reject complex standpoints or propositions containing both acceptable and unacceptable parts. A corruption of the argument from logos. A counterpart of Either/Or Reasoning.
  • Confirmation Bias: A fallacy of logos, recognizing the fact that one always tends to notice, search out, select and share evidence that confirms one’s own standpoint and beliefs, as opposed to contrary evidence. This fallacy is how “Fortune Tellers” work–If I am told I will meet a “tall, dark stranger” I will be on the lookout for a tall, dark stranger, and when I meet someone even marginally meeting that description I will marvel at the correctness of the “psychic’s” prediction. In contemporary times Confirmation Bias is most often seen in the tendency of various audiences to seek out and follow solely those media outlets that confirm their common ideological and cultural biases, sometimes to an extreme that leads a the false (implicit or even explicit) conclusion that “everyone” agrees with that bias.. See also, “Half Truth,” and “Defensiveness.”
  • Cost Bias:: A fallacy of ethos (that of a product), the fact that something expensive (either in terms of money, or something that is “hard fought” or “hard won”) is generally valued more highly than something obtained more easily or cheaply, regardless of the item’s real quality, utility or true value to the purchaser. E. g., “Hey, I worked hard to get this car!  It may be nothing but a clunker that can’t make it up a steep hill, but it’s mine, and to me it’s better than a millionaire’s limo.”  Also applies to judging the quality of an item solely by price, label, brand or source, e.g., “Hey, you there in the K-Mart suit! Har-har!”
  • Default Bias: (also, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it;” Acquiescence; “Making one’s peace with the situation;” “Get used to it;” “Whatever is, is right;”  “It is what it is;” “Let it be, let it be;” “This is the best of all possible worlds (or, the only possible world);” “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”):. The logical fallacy of automatically favoring or accepting a situation simply because it exists right now, and arguing that any other alternative is mad, unthinkable, impossible, or at least would take too much effort, expense, stress or risk to change.  The opposite of this fallacy is Nihilism (“Tear it all down!”), blindly rejecting what exists in favor of what could be, the infantile disorder of romanticizing anarchy, chaos,  “permanent revolution,” or change for change’s sake.
  • Defensiveness (also, Choice-support Bias): A fallacy of ethos (one’s own), in which after one has taken a given decision, commitment or course of action, one automatically tends to defend that decision and to irrationally dismiss opposing options, even when one’s decision later on proves to be shaky or wrong. E.g., “Yeah, I voted for Snith. Sure, he turned out to be a crook and a liar and he got us into war, but I still say that at that time he was better than the available alternatives!”  See also “Argument from Inertia” and “Confirmation Bias.”
  • Diminished Responsibility: The common contemporary fallacy of applying a specialized judicial concept (that criminal punishment should be less if one’s judgment was impaired) to reality in general. E.g., “You can’t count me absent on Monday–I was hung over and couldn’t come to class so it’s not my fault.”  Or, “Yeah, I was speeding on the freeway and killed a guy, but I was buzzed out of my mind and didn’t know what I was doing so it didn’t matter that much.” In reality the death does matter very much to the victim, to his family and friends and to society in general. Whether the perpetrator was high or not does not matter at all since the material results are the same. This also includes the fallacy of Panic, a very common contemporary fallacy that one’s words or actions, no matter how damaging or evil, somehow don’t “count” because “I panicked!” This fallacy is rooted in the confusion of “consequences” with “punishment.”
  • Disciplinary Blinders: A very common contemporary scholarly fallacy of ethos (that of one’s discipline or field),  automatically disregarding, discounting or ignoring a priori otherwise-relevant research, arguments and evidence that come from outside one’s own professional discipline, discourse community or academic area of study. E.g., “That may be true or may be false, but it’s so not what we’re doing in our field right now,”  See also, “Star Power” and “Two Truths.”
  • The “Draw Your Own Conclusion” Fallacy (also the Non-argument Argument; Let the Facts Speak for Themselves): In this fallacy of logos an otherwise uninformed audience is presented with carefully selected and groomed, “shocking facts” and then prompted to “draw their own conclusions.” E.g., “STD’s are more than twice as high among middle-class Patzinaks than among any other similar population group–draw your own conclusions.” It is well known that those who are allowed to “come to their own conclusions” are generally much more strongly convinced than those who are given both evidence and conclusion up front. However, Dr. William Lorimer points out that “The only rational response to the non-argument is ‘So what?’ i.e. ‘What do you think you’ve proved, and why/how do you think you’ve proved it?'” Related to this is the well-known “Leading the Witness” Fallacy, where a sham, sarcastic or biased question is asked solely in order to evoke a desired answer.
  • E” for Effort. (also Noble Effort; The Lost Cause): The common contemporary fallacy that something must be right, true, valuable, or worthy of respect and honor simply because someone has put so much sincere good-faith effort or even sacrifice and bloodshed into it. (See also Appeal to Pity; Argument from Inertia; Heroes All; or Sob Story.).  An extreme example of this is the Blood of the Martyrs Fallacy (also, Waving the Bloody Shirt), the fallacy that a cause or argument, no matter how questionable or reprehensible, cannot be questioned without dishonoring the blood and sacrifice of those who died so nobly for the cause. E.g., “Defend the patriotic gore / That flecked the streets of Baltimore…” (from the official Maryland State Song). See also Cost Bias, The Soldier’s Honor Fallacy, and the Argument from Inertia.
  • Either/Or Reasoning: (also False Dilemma, False Dichotomy, Black/White Fallacy, False Binary): A fallacy that falsely offers only two possible options even though a broad range of possible alternatives are always readily available. E.g., “Either you are 100% Simon Straightarrow or you are as queer as a three dollar bill–it’s as simple as that and there’s no middle ground!” Or, “Either you’re in with us all the way or you’re a hostile and must be destroyed!  What’s it gonna be?”  Also applies to falsely contrasting one option or case to another that is not really opposed, e.g., falsely countering “Black Lives Matter” with “Blue Lives Matter” when in fact not a few police officers are themselves African American, and African Americans and police are not (or ought not to be!) natural enemies.  See also, Overgeneralization.
  • Equivocation: The fallacy of deliberately failing to define one’s terms, or knowingly and deliberately using words in a different sense than the one the audience will understand. (E.g., President Bill Clinton stating that he did not have sexual relations with “that woman,” meaning no sexual penetration, knowing full well that the audience will understand his statement as “I had no sexual contact of any sort with that woman.”) This is a corruption of the argument from logos, and a tactic often used in American jurisprudence.
  • Esoteric Knowledge (also Esoteric Wisdom; Gnosticism; Inner Truth): A fallacy from logos and ethos, that there is some knowledge reserved only for the Wise, the Holy or the Enlightened, things that the masses cannot understand and do not deserve to know, at least not until they become more “spiritually advanced.”  The counterpart of this fallacy is that of Obscurantism (also Obscurationism; Willful Ignorance), that (almost always said in a basso profundo voice) “There are some things that mere mortals must never seek to discover!” E.g., “Scientific research on human sexuality is morally evil!  There are some things that humans are simply not meant to know!” For the opposite of this latter, see the “Plain Truth Fallacy.” See also, Argumentum ad Mysteriam.
  • Essentializing: A fallacy that proposes a person or thing “is what it is and that’s all that it is,” and at its core will always be the way it is right now (E.g., “All terrorists are monsters, and will still be terrorist monsters even if they live to be 100,” or “‘The poor you will always have with you,’ so any effort to eliminate poverty is pointless.”). Also refers to the fallacy of arguing that something is a certain way “by nature,” an empty claim that no amount of proof can refute. (E.g., “Americans are cold and greedy by nature,” or “Women are naturally better cooks than men.”) See also “Default Bias.”  The opposite of this  is the fallacy of Relativizing, blithely dismissing any and all arguments against one’s standpoint by shrugging one’s shoulders and responding that “Everything’s relative,” or falsely invoking Einstein, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle or Quantum Weirdness to confuse, mystify or “refute” an opponent. See also, “Red Herring” and  “Appeal to Nature.”
  • The Excluded Middle: A corrupted argument from logos that proposes that since a little of something is good, more must be better (or that if less of something is good, none at all is even better). E.g., “If eating an apple a day is good for you, eating an all-apple diet is even better!” or “If a low fat diet prolongs your life, a zero-fat diet should make you live forever!”  An opposite of this fallacy is that of Excluded Outliers, where one arbitrarily dismisses examples or results that disprove one’s standpoint by simply describing them as “Weird,” “Outliers,” or “Atypical.”  Also opposite is the fallacy of the Middle Path, where one demonstrates the “reasonableness” of one’s own standpoint (no matter how extreme) not on its own merits, but solely or mainly by presenting it as the only “moderate” path between two obviously unacceptable alternatives.  E.g.  Lenin successfully argued for Bolshevism as the only available “moderate” middle path between bomb-throwing Nihilist terrorists on the ultra-left and a corrupt and hated Czarist autocracy on the right.
  • The False Analogy: The fallacy of incorrectly comparing one thing to another in order to draw a false conclusion. E.g., “Just like an alley cat needs to prowl, a normal adult can’t be tied down to one single lover.”

The opposite of this fallacy is the Sui Generis Fallacy, a postmodern stance that rejects the validity of analogy and of inductive reasoning altogether because any given person, place, thing or idea under consideration is “sui generis” i.e., unique, in a class unto itself.

  • Finish the Job:  The dangerous contemporary fallacy that an action or standpoint (or the continuation of the action or standpoint) may not be questioned or discussed because there is “a job to be done,” falsely assuming all “jobs” are meaningless but never to be questioned. Sometimes those involved internalize (“buy into”) the “job” and make the task a part of their own ethos.  (E.g., “Ours is not to reason why / Ours is but to do or die.”) Related to this is the “Just a Job” fallacy. (E.g., “How can torturers stand to look at themselves in the mirror?  But, I guess it’s OK because for them it’s just a job.”)   (See also “Blind Loyalty,” “The Soldiers’ Honor Fallacy” and “Argument from Inertia.”)
  • The Free Speech Fallacy: The infantile fallacy of responding to challenges to one’s statements and standpoints by whining, “It’s a free country, isn’t it?  I can say anything I want to!” A recent extreme case of this is the “Safe Space,” where one is not allowed to refute, challenge or even discuss another’s beliefs because that might be too uncomfortable or “triggery” for emotionally fragile individuals.
  • Gaslighting: A vicious fallacy of logic, deliberately twisting or distorting known facts, memories, scenes, events and evidence in order to disorient a vulnerable opponent and to make him or her doubt his/her sanity. This fallacy is named after British playwright Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 stage play “Gas Light,” also known as “Angel Street.”
  • Guilt by Association: The fallacy of trying to refute or condemn someone’s standpoint, arguments or actions by evoking the negative ethos of those with whom one is identified or of a group, party, religion or race to which he or she belongs or once associated with. A form of Ad Hominem Argument,. e.g., “Don’t listen to her. She’s a Republican so you can’t trust anything she says,” or “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”  An extreme instance of this is the Machiavellian “For my enemies, nothing” Fallacy, where real or perceived “enemies” are always wrong and must be conceded nothing, not even the time of day, e.g., “He’s a Republican, so even if he said the sky is blue I wouldn’t believe him.”
  • The Half Truth (also Card Stacking, Stacking the Deck, Incomplete Information): A corrupt argument from logos, the fallacy of consciously selecting, collecting and sharing only that evidence that supports one’s own standpoint, telling the strict truth but deliberately minimizing or omitting important key details in order to falsify the larger picture and support a false conclusion.(e.g. “The truth is that Bangladesh is one of the world’s fastest growing countries and can boast of a young, ambitious and hard-working population, a warm climate, low cost medical and dental care, a multitude of places of worship, a delicious, spicy local cuisine and a swinging nightclub scene. Taken together, all these facts clearly prove that Bangladesh is one of the world’s most desirable places for young families to live, work and raise a family.”)  See also, Confirmation Bias.
  • Hero-Busting (also, “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good”): A fallacy of ethos under which, since nothing and nobody in this world is perfect there are not and have never been any heroes: Washington and Jefferson held slaves, Lincoln was (by our contemporary standards) a racist, Karl Marx had a kid by the housemaid, Martin Luther King Jr. had an eye for women too, Lenin condemned feminism, the Mahatma drank his own urine (ugh!), the Pope is wrong on capitalism, same-sex marriage and women’s ordination, Mother Teresa loved suffering and was wrong on just about everything else too, etc., etc  Also applies to the now nearly-universal political tactic of ransacking everything an opponent has said, written or done since infancy in order to find something to misinterpret or condemn (and we all have something!). An early example of this latter is deftly described in Robert Penn Warren’s classic (1946) novel, All the King’s Men. This is the opposite of the “Heroes All” fallacy.
  • Heroes All (also, “Everybody’s a Winner”): The contemporary fallacy that everyone is above average or extraordinary. A corrupted argument from pathos (not wanting anyone to lose or to feel bad). Thus, every member of the Armed Services, past or present, who served honorably is a national hero, every student who competes in the Science Fair wins a ribbon or trophy, and every racer is awarded a winner’s yellow jersey. This corruption of the argument from pathos, much ridiculed by American humorist Garrison Keeler, ignores the fact that if everybody wins nobody wins, and if everyone’s a hero no one’s a hero. The logical result of this fallacy is that, as children’s author Alice Childress writes (1973), “a hero ain’t nothing but a sandwich.” See also the “Soldiers’ Honor Fallacy.”
  • I Wish I Had a Magic Wand: The fallacy of regretfully (and falsely) proclaiming oneself powerless to change a bad or objectionable situation. E.g., “What can we do about gas prices? As Secretary of Energy I wish I had a magic wand, but I don’t” [shrug] .

Or, “No, you can’t quit piano lessons. I wish I had a magic wand and could teach you piano overnight, but I don’t, so like it or not, you have to keep on practicing.” The parent, of course, ignores the possibility that the child may not want or need to learn piano. See also, TINA.

  • The Identity Fallacy (also, “Die away, ye old forms and logic!”): A corrupt postmodern argument from ethos, a variety of the Argumentum ad Hominem in which the validity of one’s logic, evidence, experience or arguments depend not on their own strength but rather on whether the one arguing is a member of a given social class, group or subgroup. E.g. “This is fine as a general principle, but we Patzinaks use a different logic.”  Or, in extreme cases, “This logic is fine for Patzinaks, even for  Patzinaks who are metrosexual, but what about metrosexual apoplectic Patzinaks?” Identity fallacies are occasionally self-interested, driven by the egotistical ambitions of would-be group leaders anxious to make their own careers carving out a special identity group to lead to the exclusion  of existing broader-based leadership. The Identity Fallacy can lead to scorn or rejection of useful “allies,” real or prospective, and an exclusivist, cultish “do for self” philosophy which in today’s world virtually guarantees self marginalization and ultimate defeat. Conversely, valid opposing evidence and arguments are brushed aside without comment or consideration, as simply not worth arguing about, solely because of the lack of proper racial, ethnic or gender background of the person making the argument, or because the one arguing does not self-identify as a member of the identity “in-group.” E.g., “You’d understand me if you were Burmese but since you’re not there’s no way I can explain it to you,” or “Nobody but a nurse can know what a nurse has to go through.”
  • The Job’s Comforter Fallacy (also, “Karma is a bi**h;”  “What goes around comes around.”): The fallacy that since there is no such thing as random chance and we (I, my group, or my country) are under special protection of heaven, any misfortune or natural disaster that we suffer must be a punishment for our own or someone else’s secret sin or open wickedness. The opposite of the Appeal to Heaven, this is the fallacy employed by the Westboro Baptist Church members who protest fallen service members’ funerals all around the United States. See also, Magical Thinking.
  • Just Do it.  (also, “Find a way;” “I don’t care how you do it;” “Accomplish the mission;” “By Any Means Necessary.” ):  A pure, abusive Argumentum ad Baculum (argument from force), in which someone in power arbitrarily waves aside or overrules the moral objections of subordinates or followers and orders them to accomplish a goal by any means required, fair or foul  The clear implication is that unethical or immoral methods should be used. E.g., “You say there’s no way you can finish the dig on schedule because there’s an old unmarked graveyard on the excavation site? Well, find a way! I don’t want to know how you do it, just do it! This is a million dollar contract and we need  it done by Tuesday.”  See also, Plausible Deniability.
  • Just Plain Folks (also, “Values”): This corrupt modern argument from ethos argues to a less-educated or rural audience that the one arguing is “just plain folks” who is a “plain talker,”  “says what s/he is thinking,” and thinks like the audience, and is thus worthy of belief, unlike some East Coast Liberal, “double-domed professor,” “Washington bureaucrat,” “tree-hugger” or other despised outsider who “doesn’t think like we do” or “doesn’t share our traditional values.”  This is a counterpart to the Ad Hominem Fallacy and occasionally carries a distinct flavor of xenophobia or racism as well. This also includes the fallacy that “We’re just plain folks so we need to keep our heads down and not get involved in the big things of this world, like politics, demonstrations or protests.” See also the Plain Truth Fallacy and the Simpleton’s Fallacy.
  • The Law of Unintended Consequences (also, “Every Revolution  Ends up Eating its own Young:” Grit; Resilience Doctrine): In this very dangerous, archly pessimistic postmodern fallacy the bogus “Law of Unintended Consequences,” once a semi-humorous satirical corollary of “Murphy’s Law,” is elevated to to the status of an iron law of history. This fallacy arbitrarily proclaims a priori that since we can never know everything or foresee anything, sooner or later in today’s “complex world” unforeseeable adverse consequences and negative side effects (so-called “unknown unknowns”) will always end up blindsiding and overwhelming, defeating and vitiating any and all “do-gooder” efforts to improve our world. Instead, we must always expect defeat and be ready to roll with the punches by developing “grit” or “resilience” as a primary survival skill. This nihilist fallacy is a practical negation of the the possibility of any argument from logos. See also, TINA.
  • Lying with Statistics: The contemporary fallacy of using true figures and numbers to “prove” unrelated claims. (e.g. “College tuition costs have actually never been lower. When expressed as a percentage of the national debt, the cost of getting a college education is actually far lower today than it was in 1965!”). A corrupted argument from logos, often preying on the public’s perceived or actual mathematical ignorance. This includes the Tiny Percentage Fallacy, that an expense that is quite significant in and of itself somehow becomes insignificant simply because it’s a tiny percentage of something much larger.  E.g., a consumer who would choke on spending an extra dollar for two cans of peas will typically ignore $50 extra on the price of a car or $1000 extra on the price of a house simply because these differences are “only” a tiny percentage of the much larger amount being spent.  Historically, sales taxes or value-added taxes have successfully gained public acceptance and remain “under the radar” because of this latter fallacy, even though amounting to hundreds or thousands of dollars a year in taxation. See also Half-truth,  Snow Job, and Red Herring.
  • Magical Thinking (also, the Sin of Presumption):: An ancient but deluded fallacy of logos, that when it comes to “crunch time,” provided one has enough faith, prays hard enough, does the right rituals, or “claims the promise,” God will always suspend the laws of the universe and work a miracle at the request of or for the benefit of the True Believer. In practice this nihilist fallacy denies the existence of a rational or predictable universe and thus the possibility of any valid argument from logic. See also, Positive Thinking, the Appeal to Heaven, and the Job’s Comforter fallacy. .
  • Mala Fides (Arguing in Bad Faith; also Sophism):  Using an argument that the arguer himself or herself knows is not valid.  E.g., An unbeliever attacking believers by throwing verses from their own Holy Scriptures at them , or a lawyer arguing for the innocence of someone whom s/he knows full well to be guilty. This latter is a common practice in American jurisprudence, and is sometimes portrayed as the worst face of “Sophism.”  [Special thanks to Bradley Steffens for pointing out this fallacy!] Included under this fallacy is the fallacy of  Motivational Truth (also, Demagogy), deliberately lying to “people” to motivate them toward some action the rhetor perceives to be desirable (using evil discursive means toward a good material end). A particularly bizarre and corrupt form of this latter fallacy is Self Deception (also, Whistling by the Graveyard). in which one deliberately and knowingly deludes oneself in order to achieve a goal, or perhaps simply in order to suppress anxiety and maintain one’s energy level, enthusiasm, morale, peace of mind or sanity in moments of adversity.
  • Measurability: A corrupt argument from logos and ethos (that of science and mathematics), the modern Fallacy of Measurability proposes that if something cannot be measured and quantified it does not exist, or is “nothing but touchy-feely stuff” unworthy of serious consideration, i.e., mere anecdotal gossip or subjective opinion.
  • Mind-reading (Also, “I can read you like a book”): An ancient fallacy, a corruption of stasis theory, speculating about someone else’s thoughts, emotions and motivations and then claiming to know these clearly, sometimes more accurately than the person in question knows themselves. The rhetor deploys this phony “knowledge” as a fallacious warrant for or against a given standpoint. Scholar Myron Peto offers as an example the baseless claim that “Obama doesn’t a da** [sic] for human rights.” Assertions that “call for speculation” are rightly recognized as fallacious in judicial proceedings but far too often pass uncontested in public discourse. The opposite of this fallacy is the postmodern fallacy of Mind Blindness (also, the Autist’s Fallacy), a complete denial of the human capacity for “Theory of Mind,” postulating the impossibility of ever knowing or truly understanding another’s thoughts, emotions or intents.
  • Moral Licensing: The contemporary ethical fallacy that one’s consistently moral life, good behavior or recent extreme suffering or sacrifice earns him/her the right to commit an immoral act without repercussions, consequences or punishment. E.g., “I’ve been good all year, so one bad won’t matter,” or  “After what I’ve been through, God knows I need this.”  The fallacy of Moral Licensing is also sometimes applied to nations, e.g., “Those who criticize repression and the Gulag in the former USSR forget what extraordinary suffering the Russians went through in World War II and the millions upon millions who died.”  See also Argument from Motives.  The opposite of this fallacy is the (excessively rare in our times) ethical fallacy of Scruples, in which one obsesses to pathological excess about one’s accidental, forgotten, unconfessed or unforgiven sins and because of them, the seemingly inevitable prospect of eternal damnation.
  • Mortification: (also, Live as Though You’re Dying; Pleasure-hating; No Pain No Gain): An ancient fallacy of logos, trying to “beat the flesh into submission” by extreme ascetic practices, deliberate starvation or infliction of pain, denying the undeniable fact that discomfort and pain exist for the purpose of warning of lasting damage to the body. Extreme examples of this fallacy are various forms of self-flagellation such as practiced by the New Mexico “Penitentes” during Holy Week or by Shia devotees during Muharram. More common contemporary manifestations of this fallacy are extreme “insanity” exercise regimes not intended for normal health, fitness or competitive purposes but just to “toughen” or “punish” the body. Some contemporary experts suggest that self-mortification (a word related to the Latin/French root “mort,” or “death.”) is in fact “suicide on the installment plan.” Others suggest that it involves a narcotic-like addiction to the body’s natural endorphins. The opposite of this fallacy is Hedonism, seeking physical pleasure simply for pleasure’s sake.
  • Moving the Goalposts: A fallacy of logos, demanding a certain degree of proof or evidence and then when this is offered, demanding even more, different or better evidence in order to validate an argument or establish a fact.
  • MYOB (Mind Your Own Business;  also You’re Not the Boss of Me;  “So What?”, The Appeal to Privacy): The contemporary fallacy of arbitrarily terminating any discussion of one’s own standpoints or behavior, no matter how absurd, dangerous, evil or offensive, by drawing a phony curtain of privacy around oneself and one’s actions. A corrupt argument from ethos (your own). (E.g., “Sure, I was doing eighty and weaving between lanes on Mesa Street–what’s it to you? You’re not a cop, you’re not my nanny. It’s my business to speed, and your business to get the hell out of my way.  Mind your own business!” Or, “Yeah, I killed my baby. So what? Butt out!  It’s none of your business!”) Rational discussion is cut off because “it is none of your business!” See also, “Taboo.” The counterpart of this is “Nobody Will Ever Know,” (also “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas;” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” or the Heart of Darkness Syndrome) the fallacy that just because nobody important is looking (or because one is on vacation, or away in college, or overseas) one may freely commit immoral, selfish, negative or evil acts at will without expecting any of the normal consequences or punishment . Author Joseph Conrad graphically describes this sort of moral degradation in the character of Kurtz in his classic novel, The Heart of Darkness.
  • Name-Calling: A variety of the “Ad Hominem” argument. The dangerous fallacy that, simply because of who one is, any and all arguments, disagreements or objections against one’s standpoint or actions are automatically racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, bigoted, discriminatory or hateful. E.g., “My stand on abortion is the only correct one. To disagree with me, argue with me or  question my judgment in any way would only show what a pig you really are.” Also applies to refuting an argument by simply calling it a “fallacy,” or declaring it invalid without proving why it is invalid, or summarily dismissing  arguments or opponents by labeling them “racist,” “communist,” “fascist,” or some other negative name without further explanation . A subset of this is the Newspeak fallacy, creating identification with a certain kind of audience by inventing or using racist or offensive, sometimes military-sounding nicknames for common enemies, e.g., “The damned DINO’s are even worse than the Repugs and the Neocons.” Or, “In the Big One it took us only five years to beat both the J*ps and the Jerries, so more than a decade and a half after niner-eleven why is it so hard for us to beat a raggedy bunch of Hajjis and Towel-heads?” Note that originally the word “Nazi” belonged in this category, but this term has long come into use as a proper English noun. See also, “Reductionism,” “Ad Hominem Argument,” and “Alphabet Soup.”
  • No Discussion (also No Negotiation, the Control Voice, Peace through Strength, Muscular Foreign Policy, Fascism):  A pure Argumentum ad Baculum that rejects reasoned dialogue, offering either instant, unconditional compliance/surrender or defeat/death as the only two options for settling even minor differences. E.g., “Get down on the ground, now!” or “We don’t talk to terrorists.” This deadly fallacy falsely paints real or potential “hostiles” as monsters devoid of all reason, and far too often contains a very strong element of “machismo” as well. I.e. “A real, muscular leader never resorts to pantywaist pleading, apologies, fancy talk or argument. That’s for lawyers, liars and pansies and is nothing but a delaying tactic. A real man stands tall, talks straight, draws fast and shoots to kill.”  The late actor John Wayne frequently portrayed this fallacy in his movie roles. See also, The Pout.
  • Non-recognition: A deluded fallacy in which one deliberately chooses not to publicly “recognize”  ground truth, usually on the theory that this would somehow reward evil-doers if we recognize their deeds as real. Often the underlying theory is that the situation is “temporary” and will soon be reversed. E.g., In the decades from 1949 until Richard Nixon’s presidency the United States officially refused to recognize the existence of the most populous nation on earth, the People’s Republic of China, because America supported the U.S.-friendly Republic of China government on Taiwan instead and hoped they might return to power on the mainland.  Perversely, in 2016 the U.S. President-Elect caused a significant international flap by chatting with the President of the government on Taiwan, a de facto violation of long-standing American non-recognition of that same regime. More than half a century after the Korean War the U.S. still refuses to pronounce the name of or recognize a nuclear-armed DPRK (North Korea). An individual who does this risks institutionalization (e.g., “I refuse to recognize Mom’s murder, ‘cuz that would give the victory to the murderer! I refuse to watch you bury her! Stop!  Stop!”) but tragically, such behavior is only too common in international relations. See also the State Actor Fallacy, Political Correctness, and The Pout.
  • The Non Sequitur: The fallacy of offering reasons or conclusions that have no logical connection to the argument at hand (e.g. “The reason I flunked your course is because the U. S. government is now printing purple five-dollar bills! Purple!”). (See also Red Herring.)

Occasionally involves the breathtaking arrogance of claiming to have special knowledge of why God, fate or the Universe is doing certain things. E.g., “This week’s earthquake was obviously meant to punish those people for their great wickedness.”

  • Nothing New Under the Sun (also, “Seen it all before;” “Surprise, surprise;” “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”):  Fairly rare in contemporary discourse, this deeply cynical fallacy, a corruption of the argument from logos, falsely proposes that there is not and has never been any real novelty in this world,. Any argument that there are truly “new” ideas or phenomena is judged  a priori to be unworthy of serious discussion and dismissed with a  jaded sigh and a wave of the hand as “the same old same old.” E.g., “[Sigh!] Idiots! Don’t you see that the current influx of refugees from the Mideast is just the same old Muslim invasion of Europe that’s been going on for 1,400 years?”   Or, “Libertarianism is nothing but re-warmed anarchism, which, in turn, is nothing but the ancient Antinomian Heresy. Like I told you before, there’s nothing new under the sun!”
  • Olfactory Rhetoric (also, “The Nose Knows”): A vicious, animal-level fallacy of pathos in which opponents are dismissed, marginalized, dehumanized or hated primarily based on their supposed odor, lack of personal cleanliness, or filth. E. g.,  “Those demonstrators are demanding something, but I’ll only talk to them if first they go home and take a bath!” Or, “I can smell a Jew a block away!”  Also applies to demeaning other cultures or nationalities based on their differing cuisines, e.g., “I don’t care what they say, their breath always stinks of garlic. And have you ever smelled their kitchens?”  See also, “They’re Not Like Us.”
  • Oops! (also, “Oh, I forgot…,” “The Judicial Surprise,” “The October Surprise,”): A corrupt argument from logos in which toward the end of a discussion or debate an opponent suddenly, elaborately and usually sarcastically shams having just remembered or uncovered some salient fact, argument or evidence.  E.g., “Oops, I forgot to ask you:  You were convicted of this same offense twice before, weren’t you?!” Prohibited in judicial argument, this fallacy is only too common in public discourse. Also applies to supposedly “discovering” and sensationally reporting some potentially damning information or evidence and then, after the damage has been done, quietly declaring at the last moment, “Oops, I guess that really wasn’t that significant after all.  Sorry.”
  • Overexplanation: A fallacy of logos stemming from the paradox that beyond a certain point, more explanation, instructions, data, discussion or proof inevitably results in less, not more, understanding. Contemporary urban mythology holds that this fallacy is typically male (“Mansplaining“), while barely half a century ago the prevailing myth was that it was men who were non-verbal while women would typically overexplain (e.g.,  the 1960 hit song by Joe Jones, “You Talk Too Much”).  “Mansplaining” is, according to scholar Danelle Pecht, “the infuriating tendency of many men to always have to be the smartest person in the room, regardless of the topic of discussion and how much they actually know!”  See also the “Plain Truth” fallacy.
  • Overgeneralization (also Hasty Generalization; Totus pro Partes Fallacy; the Merological Fallacy): A fallacy of logos where a  broad generalization that is agreed to be true is offered as overriding all particular cases, particularly special cases requiring immediate attention. E.g., “Doctor, you say that this time of year a  flu vaccination is essential. but I would counter that ALL vaccinations are essential” (implying that I’m not going to give special attention to getting the flu shot).  Or, attempting to refute “Black Lives Matter” by replying, ‘All Lives Matter,” the latter undeniably true but still a fallacious overgeneralization in that specific and urgent context.  “Overgeneralization” also includes the the Pars pro Toto Fallacy,. the stupid but common fallacy of incorrectly applying one or two true examples to all cases. E.g. “Some college student was tailgating me all the way up North Main Street last night. This proves that all college students are lousy drivers and that we should pull their driver’s licenses until they grow up, learn to drive or graduate!”
  • The Paralysis of Analysis (also, Procrastination; the Nirvana Fallacy): A postmodern fallacy that since all data is never in, any conclusion is always provisional, no legitimate decision can ever be made and any action should always be delayed until forced by circumstances. A corruption of the argument from logos.

(See also “Law of Unintended Consequences.”)

  • The Passive Voice Fallacy (also, the Bureaucratic Passive): A fallacy from ethos, concealing human agency behind the curtain of the grammatical passive voice, e.g., “It has been decided that you will be let go,” arrogating an ethos of cosmic infallibility and inevitability to a very fallible conscious decision made by identifiable and fallible human beings.
  • Paternalism: A serious fallacy of ethos, arbitrarily tut-tutting, dismissing or ignoring another’s concerns as “childish” or “immature;” taking a condescending attitude of superiority toward opposing arguments or toward opponents themselves. E.g., “Your argument against the war is so infantile. Try approaching the issue like an adult for a change,” “I don’t argue with children,” or “Somebody has to be the grownup in the room, and it might as well be me. Here’s why you’re wrong…”  Also refers to the sexist fallacy of dismissing a woman’s argument because she is a woman, e.g., “Oh, it must be that time of the month, eh?” See also “Ad Hominem Argument” and “Tone Policing.”
  • The Plain Truth Fallacy; (also, the Simple Truth fallacy, Salience Bias, the KISS Principle [Keep it Short and Simple], the Executive Summary): A fallacy of logos favoring familiar or easily comprehensible data, examples and evidence over that which is more complex and unfamiliar but much closer to the truth. E.g., “Ooooh, look at all those equations and formulas!  Just boil it down to the Simple Truth,” or “I don’t want your damned philosophy lesson!  Just tell me the Plain Truth about why this is happening.”  A more sophisticated version of this fallacy arbitrarily proposes, as did 18th century Scottish rhetorician John Campbell, that the Truth is always simple by nature and only malicious enemies of the Truth would ever seek to make it complicated. (See also, The Snow Job, and Overexplanation.) The opposite of this is the postmodern fallacy of Ineffability or Complexity (also, Truthiness; Post-Truth),, arbitrarily declaring that today’s world is so complex that there is no truth, or that Truth (capital-T), if indeed such a thing exists, is unknowable except perhaps by God or the Messiah and is thus forever inaccessible and irrelevant to us mere finite mortals, making any cogent argument from logos impossible. See also the Big Lie, and Paralysis of Analysis.
  • Plausible Deniability:  A vicious fallacy of ethos under which someone in power forces those under his or her control to do some questionable or evil act and to then falsely assume or conceal responsibility for that act in order to protect the ethos of the one in command. E.g., “Arrange a fatal accident but make sure I know nothing about it!”
  • Playing on Emotion (also, the Sob Story; the Pathetic Fallacy; the “Bleeding Heart” fallacy, the Drama Queen Fallacy): The classic fallacy of pure argument from pathos, ignoring facts and calling on emotion alone. E.g., “If you don’t agree that witchcraft is a major problem just shut up, close your eyes for a moment and picture in your mind all those poor moms crying bitter tears for their innocent tiny children whose cozy little beds and happy tricycles lie all cold and abandoned, just because of those wicked old witches! Let’s string’em all up!” The opposite of this is the Apathetic Fallacy (also, Cynicism; Burnout; Compassion Fatigue, where any and all legitimate arguments from pathos are brushed aside because, as country music artist Jo Dee Messina sang (2005), “My give-a-damn’s busted.”

Also associated with the Pathetic Fallacy is the ancient fallacy of Refinement (“Real Feelings”), where certain classes of living beings such as plants and non-pet animals, infants, babies and minor children, barbarians, slaves, deep-sea sailors, farmworkers, criminals and convicts, refugees, addicts, terrorists, foreigners, the poor, people of color, “Hillbillies,” homeless people or “the lower classes” in general are deemed incapable of experiencing real pain like we do, or of having any “real feelings” at all, only brutish appetites, vile lusts, animal instincts, evil drives, filthy cravings and automatic tropisms. See also, They’re Not Like Us.

  • Political Correctness (“PC”): A postmodern fallacy, a counterpart of the “Name Calling” fallacy, supposing that the nature of a thing or situation can be changed by simply changing its name. E.g., “Today we strike a blow for animal rights and against cruelty to animals by changing the name of ‘pets’ to ‘animal companions.’” Or “Never, ever play the ‘victim’ card, because it’s manipulative and sounds so negative, helpless and despairing. Instead of saying ‘victims,’ we are proud to be ‘survivors.'” (Of course, when “victims” disappear then perpetrators conveniently vanish as well!)

Also applies to other forms of  political “Language Control,” e.g., being careful never to refer to North Korea or ISIS/ISIL by their rather pompous proper names (“the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and “the Islamic State,” respectively) or to the Syrian government as the “Syrian government,” (It’s always the “Regime” or the “Dictatorship.”). See also, Non-recognition. An opposite of this fallacy is the fallacy of Venting, below.

  • The Pollyanna Principle (also, “Projection Bias,” “They’re Just Like Us,” “Singing ‘Kumbaya.'”):  A traditional, often tragic fallacy of ethos, that of automatically (and falsely) assuming that everyone else in any given place, time and circumstance had or has basically the same wishes, desires, interests, concerns, ethics and moral code as “we” do. This fallacy practically if not theoretically denies both the reality of difference and the human capacity to chose radical evil.  E.g., arguing that “The only thing most Nazi Storm Troopers wanted was the same thing we do, to live in peace and prosperity and to have a good family life,” when the reality was radically otherwise. Dr. William Lorimer offers this explanation: “The Projection Bias is the flip side of the ‘They’re Not Like Us’ fallacy. The Projection bias (fallacy) is ‘They’re just people like me, therefore they must be motivated by the same things that motivate me.’ For example: ‘I would never pull a gun and shoot a police officer unless I was convinced he was trying to murder me; therefore, when Joe Smith shot a police officer, he must have been in genuine fear for his life.’ I see the same fallacy with regard to Israel: ‘The people of Gaza just want to be left in peace; therefore, if Israel would just lift the blockade and allow Hamas to import anything they want, without restriction, they would stop firing rockets at Israel.’ That may or may not be true – I personally don’t believe it – but the argument clearly presumes that the people of Gaza, or at least their leaders, are motivated by a desire for peaceful co-existence.” The Pollyanna Principle was gently but expertly demolished in the classic twentieth-century American cartoon series, “The Flintstones,” in which the humor lay in the absurdity of picturing “Stone Age” characters having the same concerns, values and lifestyles as mid-twentieth century white working class Americans.  This is the opposite of the “They’re Not Like Us” fallacy. (Note: The Pollyanna Principle fallacy should not be confused with a psychological principle of the same name which observes that positive memories are usually retained more strongly than negative ones. )
  • The Positive Thinking Fallacy: An immensely popular but deluded modern fallacy of logos, that because we are “thinking positively” that in itself somehow biases external, objective reality in our favor even before we lift a finger to act. See also, Magical Thinking. Note that this particular fallacy is often part of a much wider closed-minded, sometimes cultish ideology where the practitioner is warned against paying attention to to or even acknowledging the existence of “negative” evidence or counter-arguments against his/her standpoints. In the latter case rational discussion, argument or refutation is most often futile.
  • The Post Hoc Argument: (also, “Post Hoc Propter Hoc;”  “Too much of a coincidence,” the “Clustering Illusion”): The classic paranoiac fallacy of attributing imaginary causality to random coincidences, concluding that just because something happens close to, at the same time as, or just after something else, the first thing is caused by the second. E.g., “AIDS first emerged as a problem back in the very same era when Disco music was becoming popular–that’s too much of a coincidence: It proves that Disco caused AIDS!”
  • The Pout (also The Silent Treatment; Nonviolent Civil Disobedience; Noncooperation):. An Argumentum ad Baculum that arbitrarily rejects or gives up on dialogue before it is concluded. The most benign nonviolent form of this fallacy is found in passive-aggressive tactics such as slowdowns, boycotts, lockouts, sitdowns and strikes.  Under Barack Obama the United States ended a half-century long political Pout with Cuba. See also “No Discussion” and “Nonrecognition.”
  • The Red Herring (also, Distraction): An irrelevant argument, attempting to mislead an audience by bringing up an unrelated but emotionally loaded issue. E.g., “In regard to my several bankruptcies and recent indictment for corruption let’s be straight up about what’s really important: Terrorism! Vote for me and I’ll fight those terrorists anywhere in the world!”  Also applies to raising unrelated issues as falsely opposing the issue at hand, e.g., “You say ‘Black Lives Matter,” but I would rather say ‘Zika Matters!'” when the two contentions are in no way opposed, only competing for attention. See also Availability Bias.
  • Reductio ad Hitlerum (or, ad Hitleram): A highly problematic contemporary historical-revisionist contention that the argument “That’s just what Hitler said (or would have said, or would have done)” is a fallacy, an instance of the Ad Hominem argument and/or Guilt by Association. Whether the Reductio ad Hitlerum can be considered an actual fallacy or not seems to fundamentally depend on one’s personal view of Hitler and the gravity of his crimes.
  • Reductionism: (also, Oversimplifying, Sloganeering): The fallacy of deceiving an audience by giving simple answers or bumper-sticker slogans in response to complex questions, especially when appealing to less educated or unsophisticated audiences. E.g., “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must vote to acquit.” Or, “Vote for Snith. He’s tough on terrorism!” In science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM subjects”) reductionism is intentionally practiced to make intractable problems computable, e.g., the well-known humorous suggestion, “First, let’s assume the cow is a sphere!”.
  • Reifying: The fallacy of treating imaginary categories as actual, material “things.” (E.g., “The War against Terror is a never-ending fight to the death between Freedom and Absolute Evil!”) Sometimes also referred to as “Essentializing” or “Hypostatization.”
  • The Romantic Rebel (also, the Truthout Fallacy; the Brave Heretic; Conspiracy theories; the Iconoclastic Fallacy): The contemporary fallacy of claiming Truth or validity for one’s standpoint solely or primarily because one is supposedly standing up heroically to the dominant “orthodoxy,” the current Standard Model, conventional wisdom or Political Correctness, or whatever may be the Bandwagon of the moment; a corrupt argument from ethos. E.g., “Back in the day the scientific establishment thought that the world was flat, until Columbus proved them wrong!  Now they want us to believe that ordinary water is nothing but H2,O. Are you going to believe them? The government is frantically trying to suppress the truth that our drinking-water supply actually has nitrogen in it and causes congenital vampirism! And what about Area 51? Don’t you care? Or are you just a kiss-up for the corrupt corporate Washington establishment?” The opposite of the Bandwagon fallacy.
  • The “Save the Children” Fallacy (also, The Humanitarian Crisis): A cruel and cynical contemporary media-driven fallacy of pathos, attracting public support for intervention in somebody else’s crisis in a distant country by repeatedly showing in gross detail the extreme suffering of the precious, innocent little children (occasionally extended even to their pets!) on “our” side, conveniently ignoring the reality that innocent children on all sides usually suffer the most in any war, conflict, famine or crisis. Recent examples include the so-called “Rohingya” in Myanmar/Burma (ignoring multiple other ethnicities suffering ongoing poverty and conflict in that country), children in rebel-held areas of Syria (areas held by our rebels, not by the Syrian government or by Islamic State rebels), and the children of Mediterranean boat-people (light complected children from the Mideast, Afghanistan and North Africa, but not the darker, African-complected children from sub-Saharan countries, children who are evidently deemed by the media to be far less worthy of pity).
  • Scapegoating (also, Blamecasting): The ancient fallacy that whenever something goes wrong there’s always someone other than oneself to blame. Although sometimes this fallacy is a practical denial of randomness or chance itself , today it is more often a mere insurance-driven business decision (“I don’t care if it was an accident! Somebody with deep pockets is gonna pay for this!”), though often scapegoating is no more than a cynical ploy to shield those truly responsible from blame. A particularly corrupt and cynical example of this is Blaming the Victim, in which one falsely casts the blame for one’s own evil or questionable actions on those affected, e.g., “If you move an eyelash I’ll have to kill you and you’ll be to blame!” or “You bi**h, you dressed immodestly and made me rape you! Then you went and snitched on me and now I’m going to prison and every bit of it is your fault!” See also, the Affective Fallacy.
  • The Scare Tactic (also Appeal to Paranoia): A variety of Playing on Emotions, a raw appeal to fear. A corrupted argument from pathos.(E.g., “If you don’t shut up and do what I say we’re all gonna die! In this moment of crisis we can’t afford the luxury of criticizing or trying to second-guess my decisions when our very lives and freedom are in peril!  Instead, we need to be united as one!”) See also, “We Have to do Something!.” See also, the Worst Case Fallacy.
  • Sending the Wrong Message: A dangerous fallacy of logos that attacks a given statement, argument or action, no matter how true or necessary, because it will “send the wrong message.” In effect, those who use this fallacy are openly confessing to fraud and admitting that the truth will destroy the fragile web of illusion that has been created by their lies. E.g., “Actually, we’re losing the war against drugs hands down, but if we publicly admit it we’ll be sending the wrong message.”  See also, “Mala Fides.”
  • Shifting the Burden of Proof:  A classic fallacy of logos that challenges an opponent to disprove a claim rather than asking the person making the claim to defend his/her own argument. E.g., “These days space-aliens are everywhere among us, masquerading as true humans, even right here on campus! I dare you prove it isn’t so! See?  You can’t! You admit it! That means what I say has to be true. Most probably, you’re one of them!” The most typical tactic in using this fallacy is to get an opponent to admit that a far-fetched claim is indeed “possible,” and then declare the claim “proven” absent your evidence to the contrary. E.g., “So you admit that massive undetected voter fraud is in fact theoretically possible, and you can’t produce even the tiniest scintilla of evidence that it didn’t happen!  I rest my case.” See also, Argument from Ignorance.


  • The Shopping Hungry Fallacy: A fallacy of pathos, a variety of Playing on Emotions, making stupid but important decisions (or being prompted, manipulated or forced to “freely” take public or private decisions that may be later regretted but are difficult to reverse) “in the heat of the moment,” when  under the influence of strong emotion (hunger, fear, lust, anger, sadness, regret, fatigue, even joy, love or happiness). E.g., Trevor Noah, current (2016) host of the Daily Show on American television attributes approval of draconian measures of the Patriot Act and the creation of the U. S. Department of Homeland Security to America’s “shopping hungry” immediately after 9/11. See also “We Have to Do Something.”
  • The Simpleton’s Fallacy:  (Or, The ‘Good Simpleton’ Fallacy): A corrupt fallacy of logos, described in an undated quote from science writer Isaac Asimov as “The false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” The name of this fallacy is borrowed from Walter M. Miller Jr.’s classic (1960) post-apocalyptic novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz, in which in the centuries after a nuclear holocaust knowledge and learning are so despised that “Good Simpleton” becomes the standard form of interpersonal salutation. This fallacy is alleged to have had a great deal to do with the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election. See also “Just Plain Folks,” and the “Plain Truth Fallacy.” U.S. President Barrack Obama noted (2016), “In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not real or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.” The name “Simpleton’s Fallacy” has also been used to refer to a deceptive technique of argumentation, feigning ignorance, particularly in order to get one’s opponent to admit to, explain or overexplain something s/he would rather not discuss. E.g., “I see here that you have a past conviction for ‘Criminal Sodomy.’ I may be a poor, naive simpleton but I’m not quite sure what that fine and fancy lawyer-talk means in plain English.  Please explain to the jury what exactly it was you did that got you convicted.” See also, Argument from Ignorance.
  • The Slippery Slope (also, the Domino Theory): The common fallacy that “one thing inevitably leads to another.” E.g., “If you two go and drink coffee together one thing will lead to another and next thing you know you’ll be pregnant and end up spending your life on welfare living in the Projects,” or “If we close Gitmo one thing will lead to another and before you know it armed terrorists will be strolling through our church doors with suicide belts on during the 10:30 service right here in Garfield, Kansas!”
  • The Snow Job (also Information Bias): The fallacy of “proving” a claim by overwhelming an audience with mountains of true but marginally-relevant facts, numbers, documents, graphs and statistics that look extremely impressive but which they cannot be expected to understand or evaluate. This is a corrupted argument from logos. See also, “Lying with Statistics.”

The opposite of this fallacy is the Plain Truth Fallacy.

  • The Soldiers’ Honor Fallacy: The ancient fallacy that all who wore a uniform, fought hard and followed orders are worthy of some special honor or glory or are even “heroes,” whether they fought for freedom or fought to defend slavery, marched under Grant or Lee, Hitler, Stalin, Eisenhower or McArthur, fought to defend their homes, fought for oil or to spread empire, or even fought against and killed U.S. soldiers!. A corrupt argument from ethos (that of a soldier), closely related to the “Finish the Job” fallacy (“Sure, he died for a lie, but he deserves honor because he followed orders and did his job to the end!”). See also “Heroes All.” This fallacy was recognized and decisively refuted at the Nuremburg Trials after World War II but remains powerful to this day nonetheless. See also “Blind Loyalty.” Related is the State Actor Fallacy, that those who fight and die for a country (America, Russia, Iran, the Third Reich, etc.) are worthy of honor or at least pardonable while those who fight for a non-state actor (abolitionists, guerrillas, freedom-fighters, jihadis) are not and remain “terrorists” no matter how noble or vile their cause, until or unless they are adopted by a state after the fact.
  • Star Power (also Testimonial, Questionable Authority, Faulty Use of Authority, Eminence-based Practice): In academia, a corrupt argument from ethos in which arguments, standpoints and themes of academic discourse are granted fame and validity or condemned to obscurity solely by whoever the reigning “stars” of the discipline are at the moment. E.g., “Network Theory has been thoroughly criticized and is so last-week!. This week everyone’s into Safe Spaces, Trigger Warnings, and Pierce’s Theory of Microaggressions. Get with the program.” (See also, the Bandwagon.) At the popular level this also refers to a corrupt argument from ethos in which popular support for a standpoint or product is established by a well-known or respected figure (e.g. a star athlete or entertainer) who is not an expert and who may have been well paid to make the endorsement (e.g., “Olympic gold-medal pole-vaulter Fulano de Tal uses Quick Flush Internet-shouldn’t you?” Or, “My favorite rock star warns that vaccinations spread cooties, so I’m not vaccinating my kids!” ). Includes other false, meaningless or paid means of associating oneself or one’s product or standpoint with the ethos of a famous person or event (e.g., “Try Salsa Cabria, the official taco sauce of the Winter Olympics!”).
  • The Straw Man (also “The Straw Person” “”The Straw Figure”): The fallacy of setting up a phony, weak, extreme or ridiculous parody of an opponent’s argument and then proceeding to knock it down or reduce it to absurdity with a rhetorical wave of the hand. E.g., “Vegetarians say animals have feelings like you and me. Ever seen a cow laugh at a Shakespeare comedy? Vegetarianism is nonsense!” Or, “Pro-choicers hate babies!” Or, “Pro-lifers hate women and want them to spend their lives barefoot, pregnant and chained to the kitchen stove!” This fallacy is only too common in American politics and popular discourse.
  • The Taboo: The fallacy of unilaterally declaring certain arguments, standpoints or actions “sacrosanct” and not open to discussion, or arbitrarily taking some emotional tones, logical standpoints or options “off the table” beforehand. (E.g., ” “No, let’s not discuss my sexuality,” “Don’t bring my drinking into this,” or “Before we start, you need to know I won’t allow you to play the race card or allow you to attack my arguments by claiming ‘That’s just what Hitler would say!'”)  Also applies to discounting or rejecting certain arguments and evidence out of hand because they are “against the Bible” or other sacred doctrine (See also the A Priori Argument). This fallacy occasionally degenerates into a separate, distracting argument over who gets to define the parameters, tone and taboos of the main argument, though at this point reasoned discourse most often breaks down and the entire affair becomes a naked Argumentun ad Baculum. See also, MYOB, and Tone Policing.
  • They’re All Crooks: The contemporary fallacy of refusing to get involved in public politics because all politicians and politics are allegedly corrupt, ignoring the fact that if this is so in a democratic country it is precisely because “decent” people like you and I refuse to get involved, leaving the field open to the “crooks” by default. An example of Circular Reasoning.
  • They’re Not Like Us (also, Othering, Stereotyping, Xenophobia, Racism, Ethnic Prejudice): A badly corrupted, discriminatory argument from ethos where facts, arguments, experiences or objections are arbitrarily disregarded, ignored or put down without serious consideration because those involved “are not like us,” or “don’t think like us.” E.g., “It’s OK for Mexicans to earn a buck an hour in the maquiladoras.  If it happened here I’d call it brutal exploitation and daylight robbery but south of the border, down Mexico way they’re not anything like us.”  Or, “You claim that life must be really terrible over there for terrorists to ever think of blowing themselves up with suicide vests just to make a point, but always remember that they’re different from us. They don’t think about life and death the same way we do.” A vicious variety of the Ad Hominem Fallacy, most often applied to non-white or non-Christian populations. A variation of this fallacy is the “Speakee” Fallacy (“You speakee da English?”), in which an opponent’s arguments are mocked, ridiculed and dismissed solely because of the speaker’s alleged or real accent, dialect, or lack of fluency in standard English, e.g., “He told me ‘Vee vorkers need to form a younion!’ but I told him to come back when he learns to speak proper English.” A dangerous, extreme example of “They’re Not Like Us” is Dehumanization, where opponents are dismissed as mere cockroaches, lice, apes, monkeys, rats, weasels or bloodsucking parasites who have no right to speak at all and probably should be “squashed like bugs.” This fallacy is the “logic” behind genocide and gas ovens. See also “Name Calling” and “Olfactory Rhetoric.” The opposite of this fallacy is the “Pollyanna Principle” above.
  • The “Thousand Flowers” Fallacy (also, “Take names and kick butt.”): A sophisticated “Argumentum ad Baculum” in which free and open discussion and “brainstorming” is temporarily allowed and encouraged (even demanded) not in order to hear and consider opposing views, but rather to “smoke out,” identify and later punish, fire or liquidate dissenters. The name comes from the Thousand Flowers Period in Chinese history when Communist leader Chairman Mao Tse Tung applied this policy with deadly effect.
  • Throwing Good Money After Bad (also, “Sunk Cost Fallacy”): In his book, Logically Fallacious (2015), Author Bo Bennett describes this fallacy as follows: “Reasoning that further investment is warranted on the fact that the resources already invested will be lost otherwise, not taking into consideration the overall losses involved in the further investment.”  In other words, risking additional money to “save” an earlier, losing investment, ignoring the old axiom that “Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”  E.g., “I can’t stop betting now because I already bet the rent and lost, and I need to win it back or my wife will kill me!” See also Argument from Inertia.
  • TINA (There Is No Alternative. Also “That’s an order,” “Get over it,” “Suck it up,” “It is what it is,” “Actions/Elections have consequences,” or the “Fait Accompli”): A very common contemporary extension of the either/or fallacy in which someone in power quashes critical thought by announcing that there is no realistic alternative to a given standpoint, status or action, arbitrarily ruling any and all other options out of bounds, or announcing that a decision has been made and any further discussion is insubordination, disloyalty, disobedience or simply a waste of precious time when there’s a job to be done. (See also, “Taboo;” “Finish the Job.”)  Often a variety of the Argumentum ad Baculum.  See also Appeal to Closure.
  • Tone Policing. A corrupt argument from pathos and delivery, the fallacy of judging the validity of an argument primarily by its emotional tone of delivery, ignoring the reality that a valid fact or argument remains valid whether it is offered calmly and deliberatively or is shouted in a “shrill” or even “hysterical” tone, whether calmly stated in professional, academic language or screamed through a bull-horn and peppered with vulgarity. Conversely, a highly urgent emotional matter is still urgent even if argued coldly and rationally.  This fallacy creates a false dichotomy between reason and emotion and thus implicitly favors those who are not personally involved or emotionally invested in an argument, e.g., “I know you’re upset, but I won’t discuss it until you calm down,” or “I’d believe what you wrote were it not for your adolescent use of exclamation points throughout the text.” Or alternately, “You seem to be way too calm about the death of your spouse. You’re under arrest for homicide. You have the right to remain silent…” Tone Policing is frequent in contemporary discourse of power, particularly in response to discourse of protest.
  • Transfer: (also, Name Dropping) A corrupt argument from ethos, falsely associating a famous or respected person, place or thing with an unrelated standpoint (e.g. putting a picture of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an advertisement for mattresses, using Genghis Khan, a Mongol who hated Chinese, as the name of a Chinese restaurant, or using the Texas flag to sell cars or pickups that were made in Detroit, Kansas City or Kyoto). This fallacy is common in contemporary academia in the form of using a profusion of scholarly-looking citations from respected authorities to lend a false gravitas to otherwise specious ideas or text. See also “Star Power.”
  • Tu Quoque (“You Do it Too!”; also, Two Wrongs Make a Right): A corrupt argument from ethos, the fallacy of defending a shaky or false standpoint or excusing one’s own bad action by pointing out that one’s opponent’s acts, ideology or personal character are also open to question, or are perhaps even worse than one’s own. E.g., “Sure, we may have tortured prisoners and killed kids with drones, but we don’t cut off heads off like they do!” Or, “You can’t stand there and accuse me of corruption! You guys are all into politics and you know what you have to do to get reelected!”  Related to the Red Herring and to the Ad Hominem Argument.
  • Two Truths (also, Compartmentalization; Epistemically Closed Systems): A fallacy of logos and ethos, first formally described in medieval times but still common today, holding that there exists one “truth” in one given system (e.g., science, work or school) and simultaneously a different, directly contradictory but equally true “truth” in a different epistemic system, context or discourse community (e.g., religion or home). This can lead to a situation of stable cognitive dissonance where, as UC Irvine scholar Dr. Carter T. Butts describes it (2016), “I know but don’t believe,” making rational discussion difficult or impossible.
  • Venting (also, Letting off Steam; Loose Lips): In the Venting fallacy a person argues that her/his words are or ought to be exempt from criticism or consequence because s/he was “only venting,” even though this very admission implies that the one “venting” was, at long last, freely expressing his/her true, heartfelt and uncensored opinion about the matter in question. This same fallacy applies to minimizing, denying the significance of or excusing other forms of frank, unguarded or uninhibited offensive expression as mere “Locker-room Talk,” “Alpha-male Speech” or nothing but cute, adorable “Bad-boy Talk.” See also, the Affective Fallacy. This fallacy is an opposite to the fallacy of Political Correctness, above.
  • We Have to Do Something: (also,  the Placebo Effect; “Security Theater”): The dangerous contemporary fallacy that when “People are scared / People are angry / People are fed up / People are hurting / People want change” it becomes necessary to do something, anything, at once even if it is an overreaction, is a completely ineffective, inert placebo, or actually makes the situation worse, rather than “just sitting there doing nothing.” (E.g., “Banning air passengers from carrying ham sandwiches onto the plane and making parents take off their newborn infants’ tiny pink baby-shoes probably does nothing to deter potential hijackers, but people are scared and we have to do something to respond to this crisis!”) This is a badly corrupted argument from pathos. (See also “Scare Tactic.”)
  • Where there’s Smoke, there’s Fire (also Hasty Conclusion; Jumping to a Conclusion): The dangerous fallacy of drawing a snap conclusion and/or taking action without sufficient evidence. E.g., “Captain! The guy sitting next to me in coach has a dark skin and is reading a book in some funny language all full of weird squiggles like ‘ñ ‘and ‘¿’. It must be Arabic! Get him off the plane before he blows us all to kingdom come!” A variety of the “Just in Case” fallacy.

The opposite of this fallacy is the “Paralysis of Analysis.”

  • The Wisdom of the Crowd (also, The Magic of the Market; the Wikipedia Fallacy): A very common contemporary fallacy that individuals may be wrong but “the crowd” or “the market” is infallible, ignoring historic examples like witch-burning, lynching, and the market crash of 2008. This fallacy is why most colleges and universities ban students from using Wikipedia as a serious reference work.
  • The Worst-Case Fallacy (also, “Just in case;” “We can’t afford to take chances.”): A pessimistic fallacy by which one’s reasoning is based on an improbable, far-fetched or even completely imaginary worst-case scenario rather than on reality. This plays on pathos (fear) rather than reason. E.g., “What if armed terrorists were to attack your county grain elevator tomorrow morning at dawn? Are you ready to fight back?  Better stock up on assault rifles and ammunition today, just in case!”  The opposite of this is the Positive Thinking Fallacy.
  • The Worst Case Negates the Bad (also, Be Grateful for What You’ve Got): The logical fallacy that a bad situation stops being so bad because it could be far worse, or because someone, somewhere has it even worse. E.g., “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw someone who had no feet.” Or, “You’re protesting because you earn only $7.25 an hour? You could just as easily be out on the street! I happen to know there are people in Uttar Pradesh who are doing the very same work you’re doing for one tenth of what you’re making, and they’re pathetically glad just to have work at all. You need to shut up, put down that picket sign, get back to work and  thank us each and every day for giving you a job!”
  • Zero Tolerance (also, Zero Risk Bias, Broken Windows Policing, Disproportionate Response, Even One is Too Many, Judenrein): The contemporary fallacy of declaring an “emergency” and promising to devote unlimited resources to stamp out a limited, insignificant or even nonexistent problem. E.g., “I just read about an actual case of cannibalism somewhere in this country. That’s disgusting, and even one case is way, way too many! We need a Federal Taskforce against Cannibalism with a million-dollar budget and offices in every state, a national SCAN program in all the grade schools (Stop Cannibalism in America Now!), and an automatic double death penalty for cannibals; in other words, zero tolerance for cannibalism in this country!” This is a corrupt and cynical argument from pathos, almost always politically driven, a particularly sinister variety of the “We Have to do Something” fallacy. See also, “Playing on Emotions,” “Red Herring,” and also the “Big Lie Technique.”