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Fallacies and Non-Rational Persuasion


Fallacies and Non-Rational Persuasion Appeal to Authority a misdirected appeal to authority in which something is mentioned as a trusted source when, in fact, it is ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Fallacies and Non-Rational Persuasion

Fallacies and Non-Rational Persuasion
Appeal to Authority
  • a misdirected appeal to authority in which
    something is mentioned as a trusted source when,
    in fact, it is not reliable.

Example of Appeal to Authority
  • Barry Schweid of the Associated Press, in his
    efforts to criticize President Reagan's
    space-based defense against Soviet missiles, came
    up with a report from some Stanford University
    group that claimed to find little evidence of
    cheating by the Soviet Union on arms-control
  • Middleton B. Freeman, Louisville, "Letters From
    Readers,"The Courier-Journal, April 1, 1987.)

  • The article mentions some Stanford University
    group as a source of information about missiles.
    The author points out that this group may not be
    correctly informed, and that just because the
    group is from a prestigious school does not mean
    it is a viable source.

Appeal to Common Belief
  • A fallacy that appeals to a wide-held general
    opinion and is inappropriate to use in most
    statements used to verify facts.

Example of Common Belief
  • Alas, we have been long led away by ancient
    prejudices, and made large sacrifices to
    superstition. We have boasted the protection of
    Great-Britain, without considering, that her
    motive was interest not attachment that she did
    not protect us from our enemies on our account,
    but from her enemies on her own account.
  • Thomas Paine. Common Sense. 1776

  • Thomas Paine appeals to the belief that at the
    time of the American Revolution, Britain had no
    personal interest in the colonies, but, rather,
    cared only for what the colonies produced. He
    appeals to the common opinion of that time and
    does not take into consideration that perhaps
    this belief is not true

Common Practice
  • Misleading appeal to common practice in which an
    action is justified because everyone else is
    doing it.

Example of Common Practice
  • We found a lot of agreement on the basic goals
    of reform. No one is content with the status quo.
    Most are open to new ideas. Everyone agrees at
    least that the problems are serious and action is
    urgently needed.
  • Radio address by President Bush to the nation. 27
    January 2001

  • Twice in this example, President Bush lumps all
    Americans into the pronouns no one and
    everyone. He says that no one is content with
    the status quo and that actions are need
    immediately. Although a majority of Americans
    might agree with Bush, he does not consider those
    who disagree with him.

Two Wrongs
  • Argument that it is acceptable to do something,
    not because people are doing it, but because
    others are doing things that are just as bad.

Example of Two Wrongs
  • The operation cost just under 500, and no one
    was killed, or even hurt. In that same time the
    Pentagon spent tens of millions of dollars and
    dropped tens of thousands of pounds of explosives
    on Viet Nam. Because nothing justified their
    actions in our calculus, nothing could contradict
    the merit of ours.
  • (Bill Ayers, Fugitive Days, quoted in Radical
    Chic Resurgent, by Timothy Ash.)

  • Although the first action mentioned was wrong,
    the author argued that it could not be wrong
    because another action used at the same time was
    also wrong. One actions being more wrong than
    the other, does not give the first action any
    more merit.

Indirect Consequences
  • Distantly possible, but usually negative effects
    are presented as the consequence of a course of
    action or belief with the idea that the
    negativity of those effects will ensure the
    rejection of that course of action or belief.

Example of Indirect Consequence
  • "If today you can take a thing like evolution and
    make it a crime to teach it in the public
    schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to
    teach it in the private schools, and next year
    you can make it a crime to teach it in the
    church. At the next session you can ban books and
    the newspapers.
  • (Clarence Darrow, cited in Stephen Jay Gould's
    Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, p. 278.)

  • The author states that if teaching evolution
    becomes a crime, the whole educational system
    will fall apart. Because the author believes
    that this will happen, he lists several negative
    consequences in order to make his point seem like
    the right idea.

Wishful Thinking
  • Like Indirect Consequence, this fallacy uses
    remote facts. However, wishful thinking uses an
    extremely positive outcome so it distracts from
    the values of the case at hand.

Example of Wishful Thinking
  • I have a dream that my four children will one
    day live in a nation where they will not be
    judged by the color of their skin but by the
    content of their character... we will be able to
    speed up that day when all of God's children will
    be able to join hands and sing.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.I Have a Dream

  • King uses only positive and idealistic outcomes
    in his speech. Though these outcomes are nice to
    think about, they were seemingly impossible for
    the nation at that time.

Appeal to Fear
  • A non-rational persuasion used to threaten the
    safety or happiness of ourselves or someone we
    love the use of scare tactics in order to get
    ones way.

Example of Appeal to Fear
  • There is no want of power in God to cast wicked
    men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot
    be strong when God rises up. The strongest have
    no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out
    of his hands. -- He is not only able to cast
    wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do
  • excerpt from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry
    God by Jonathan Edwards

  • During the 1st Great Awakening, people thought
    that God was an unmerciful and harsh being.
    Edwards reaffirms this fact by telling the
    violent consequences of not obeying God and
    appeals to the fear that each human has of

Hasty Generalization
  • stating premises, or drawing conclusions, based
    on too little information, or generalizing from
    too few particulars that are probably not
    representative of an entire group

Example of Hasty Generalization
  • "I hardly think that 58 is the right age at which
    to talk about a retirement home unless there are
    some serious health concerns. My 85-year-old
    mother power-walks two miles each day, drives her
    car climbs stairs, does crosswords, and could
    beat Slatalla at almost anything." (Nancy
    Edwards, "Letters to the Editor", Time, 6/26/00.)

  • The author assumes that since her mother, who is
    85, is so active, that every other woman her age
    is just as active. She does not take into
    concern that her mother may be an exception.

Appeal to Pity
  • Persuading the reader to agree with the
    preposition because of the pitiful state the
    author is in.

Example of Appeal to Pity
  • How many deaths were we talking about when
    abortion was illegal? In N.A.R.A.L. we generally
    emphasized the drama of the individual case, but
    when we spoke of the latter it was always "5,000
    to 10,000 deaths a year." I confess that I knew
    the figures were totally false, I suppose the
    others did too if they stopped to think of it.
    But in the "morality" of the revolution, it was a
    useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of
    our way to correct it with honest statistics. The
    overriding concern was to get the laws
    eliminated, and anything within reason which had
    to be done was permissible.-Bernard Nathanson,
    M.D., Aborting America (New York Doubleday,
    1979), 193.

  • Explanation- The author describes how he was put
    under the impression that the death rate would be
    lower. He also used the argument of morality
    to tug at the emotions of the readers and to make
    evident the pitiful state of the situation.

Appeal to Prejudice
  • Tendency to judge people, good or bad, even after
    the facts of a case indicate otherwise.

Example of Appeal to Prejudice
  • Authority (as Professor Aitken reminded us last
    night in her splendid sermon at the Liturgy) is a
    slippery idea. In which connection, I incline to
    agree with Robert W. Jenson questions such as,
    What is the authority of Scripture? are largely
    meaningless, if by them we intend to imply that
    there can possibly be discerned any one way in
    which the Bible relates to or regulates Christian

  • The speaker is still doubting the authority of
    authority, even though the previous sermon
    supported the contrary well. This shows how even
    though there is evidence that authority is a good
    idea, the author still thinks that it is not

Appeal to Loyalty
Appeal to the feeling of patriotism or loyalty to
a certain group or belief, instead of appealing
to logic
Example of Appeal to Loyalty
  • As a long and violent abuse of power, is
    generally the Means of calling the right of it in
    question and as the King of England hath
    undertaken in his OWN RIGHT, to support the
    Parliament in what he calls THEIRS, and as the
    good people of this country are grievously
    oppressed by the combination, they have an
    undoubted privilege to inquire into the
    pretensions of both, and equally to reject the
    usurpation of either.
  • -Thomas Paine, Common Sense

  • Explanation
  • Thomas Paine appeals to the loyalty of the
    colonial citizens by giving them the message
    appealing to their feelings of rebellion. He
    stresses that the king has harmed the colonists
    by making his every action HIS OWN RIGHT.
    Therefore, he encourages the colonists to reject
    the kings rules and become loyal to the new
    cause, the revolution.

Appeal to Vanity
  • creating a tendency toward agreement by

Example of Appeal to Vanity
Idols define good and evil in ways contrary to
God's definitions. They establish a locus of
control that is earth-bound either in objects
(e.g., lust for money), other people ("I need to
please my critical father"), or myself (e.g.,
self-trusting pursuit of my personal agenda).
Such false gods create false laws, false
definitions of success and failure, of value and
stigma. Idols promise blessing and warn of curses
for those who succeed or fail against the law
"If you get a large enough IRA, you will be
secure. If I can get certain people to like and
respect me, then my life is valid." There are
numerous idolatrous values which influenced Wally
and continue to pressure him beguiling him,
frightening him, controlling him, constraining
him, enslaving him. 
This example shows how idols appeal to vanity, by
giving the victim what they want, or telling
them what they want to hear, or appealing to them
by complementing them, thus leading them down a
path of falsehood and lies.
Appeal to Spite
  • spite is replaced with evidence when an argument
    is made against a claim

Example of Appeal to Spite
  • True salvation revolves around three focal
    points. These are the Word of God, the work of
    Christ and the witness of the Spirit. Cain found
    a substitute for all three and founded a false
    religion. In Genesis 41-3 he substitutes his own
    religion for the Word of God. While he did not
    have the written record we have today, he had the
    witness of his parents as well as direct
    communication with the Lord (Genesis 49). There
    can be no doubt from the Scriptures that blood
    must be shed for an acceptable sacrifice (Exodus
    123, I John 17, I Peter 118-19).

This example describes how in the bible, the act
of Cain killing his brother was out of pure
spite. Therefore, he tries to justify his
religious choice.
Argument from Silence
  • Instead of using evidence to support a
    generalization, all the audience hears is silence.

Example of Argument from Silence
  • No one has ever seen God, but if we love one
    another, God lives in us and his love is made
    complete in us.
  • 1 John 412

  • No one knows God or if he loves us, but the Bible
    states that we should believe in him even though
    there is a lack of evidence. This example asks
    the reader to believe in something without
    knowing the facts or background information.

  • Ad Hominem
  • The argument is not directed at the conclusion
    one wishes to deny, but at the person who
    supports or doesnt support the conclusion.
  • There are two forms of Ad Hominem
  • Abusive-attacking the character the one assessing
    the argument
  • Circumstantial the irrelevant connection between
    the beliefs held and the circumstances of those
    holding the beliefs

  • Example of Ad Hominem
  • Kenneth Robinson, when he was Great Britains
    minister of health, told Parliament that
    Scientology was potentially harmful and a
    potential menace. Elliott, the local minister of
    the Church of Scientology, was asked to comment
    on those criticisms. Of the remarks made before
    Parliament, he said I am afraid Mr.. Robinson
    has since suffered two demotions and was just in
    the last few weeks quietly released from the
    Wilson Administration altogether.
  • Honolulu Advisor, November 22, 1969 p.6

  • Explanation
  • This is an abusive example of ad hominem. Elliott
    attacks Kenneth Robinsons character with
    information of his job situation. Robinson
    attacks the Church of Scientology with phrases
    such as potentially harmful because the only
    reason Robinson holds these beliefs is because he
    thinks the Church of Scientology to be morally
    wrong based on his own personal religious
    beliefs. Robinson holds little or no basis for
    his accusations against the Church of Scientology
    except for the fact that they go in direct
    opposition to his own beliefs.

Post Hoc
  • The use of the proposition as an example of a
    fallacy arguing from a sentence to a cause and
    effect relationship

Example of Post Hoc
  • When Rodger Babson, whose prediction of the
    great stock market crash brought him renown,
    became ill with tuberculosis, he returned to his
    home in Massachusetts rather than follow his
    doctors advice to remain in the West. During the
    freezing winter he wore a coat with a heating pad
    in the back, and had his secretary wear mittens
    and hit the typewriter keys with rubber hammers.
    Babson got well he attributed the cure to fresh
    air. Air from pine woods, according to Babson,
    has chemical or electrical qualities (or both) of
    great medicinal value.
  • -Martin Gardner, Fads and Fallacies in the Name
    of Science

  • Gardner employs a post hoc fallacy through his
    dissection of Babsons illness and how Babson
    acted throughout his illness as well as Babsons
    final outcome from his illness and Babsons
    explanation for becoming well. Gardner shows the
    cause and effect relationship, linking Babsons
    prediction of the stock market crash to his
    illness and Babsons illness to his form of
    recovery, even though each of the events did not
    actually directly deal with one another.

  • Sweeping Generalization
  • When the conclusion drawn exceeds what the
    evidence given supports

  • Example of Sweeping Generalization
  • Example"Does a gun in the home make you safer?
    No. Despite claims by the National Rifle
    Association (NRA) that you need a gun in your
    home to protect you and your family from possible
    home invasion, public health research
    demonstrates that the most person likely to shoot
    you or a family member with a gun already has the
    keys to your house. Simply put Guns kept in the
    home for self-protection are more oftentimessic
    used to kill somebody you know than to kill in
    self-defense 22 times more likely, according to
    a 1998 study by the New England Journal of
    Medicine. -Sarah Brady, A Good Fight

  • Explanation
  • The statistics used in Sarah Bradys reasoning
    make this argument a sweeping generalization.
    Also, how Brady makes this statement apply not to
    the general readership as a whole, but instead to
    the individual who may or may not be pro-gun.
    Brady makes this statement through the usage of
    statistics. Brady makes the reader feel as though
    each individual possesses a gun and will
    eventually be harmed as a result of owning that

  • Part for the Whole
  • The fallacy of composition the whole is more of
    less than the sum of its parts-the fallacious
    reasoning is from attributes to the individual
    elements or members of a collection to
    attributes of the collection or totality of those

  • Example of Part for the Whole
  • Seeing that eye and hand and foot and every one
    of our members has some obvious function, must we
    not believe that in like manner a human being has
    a function over and above these particular
    functions? -Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

  • Explanation
  • Aristotle demonstrates the part for the whole
    fallacy through his explanation of different body
    parts and how they related to the body and the
    functions of the body as a whole. Aristotle
    explains functions of body parts and speaks of
    how these body parts relate to the body as a
    whole, and how the parts all work together to
    make up the body as a whole.

  • Whole for the Parts
  • The fallacy of division arguing fallaciously
    that what is true of a whole must also be true of
    its parts or when one argues from the attributes
    of a collection of elements to the attributes of
    the elements themselves.

  • Example of Whole for the Parts
  • Thomas Carlyle said of Walt Whitman that he
    thinks he is a big poet because he comes from a
    big country..-Alfred Kazin, The Haunted
    Chamber, The New Republic, June 23, 1986, p.39

  • Explanation
  • The author does not commit the fallacy, but he
    claims that Whitman did commit the fallacy in
    thinking about himself. The claim is that Walt
    Whitman is a large poet therefore, he must be
    from a large country because if one part of
    something is large then the whole must be large

  • Straw Man
  • Creating a false image of someone elses ideas,
    feelings, or beliefs

  • Example of Straw Man
  • We all want our families, our soldiers, our
    unions, our sport teams to be united toward
    clear, common goals. But is it not dangerous for
    a democratic populace weighing if and how to wage
    war to value unit above all else? It's all too
    easy to mandate patriotism, as the New York Board
    of Education did last week, bringing back the
    pledge of allegiance to classrooms as if that
    will stop the Osama bin Ladens of the world.
    -Robert Sheer (10-23-01 LA Times)

  • Explanation
  • This creates the fallacy of the straw man through
    Sheers portrayal of the New York Board of
    Education.Sheer takes their act of mandating the
    Pledge of Allegiance in every classroom not as an
    act of instilling patriotism in the young
    citizens of America, but instead he states his
    opinion that this will not result in increased
    patriotism and will not help prevent against
    terrorism. This, does not attack the beliefs of
    the New York Board towards the country as a
    whole, but rather just towards a particular

Burden of Proof
  • In an argument one asserts that the opposition
    must prove his or her side of the case in order
    to find your argument invalid.
  • Common example You are innocent until proven

Burden of Proof Example
  • On the Senate Floor in 1950 Joe McCarthy
    announces that he had penetrated Trumans iron
    curtain of secrecy. He had 81 cases histories
    of persons whom he considered to be communist in
    the state department. Of Case 40, he said, I
    do not have much information on this except that
    general statement of the agency that here is
    nothing in the files to disprove his communist
  • -Richard H. Rovere, Senator Joe McCarthy

  • By proving that there is no evidence against his
    case, McCarthy uses the empty files as support
    for his side of the case.

Circular Reasoning
  • Deductive reasoning is used to prove or assert a
    fact when actually it is based on an assumption
    or a single premise. Usually used with parts
    that are irrelevant to one another.

Example of Circular Reasoning
  • If the man who turnips cries
  • Cry not when his father dies,
  • Tis a proof that he had rather
  • Have a turnip than his father.
  • -Mrs. Piozzi Anedotes of Samual Johnson
  • The author draws together two irrelevant facts to
    attempt to achieve an absurd realization.
    He tries to place turnips and the mans fathers
    death on the same level.

  • The author draws together two irrelevant facts to
    attempt to achieve an absurd realization.
    He tries to place turnips and the mans fathers
    death on the same level.

Loaded Question
  • A question that involves many terms that would
    seem to be disagreeing and contradictory if
    answered. Usually people tend to want to give
    a simple yes or no answer, yet people end up
    saying things that they usually would not assert.

Example of Loaded Question
  • Why should merely cracking down on terrorism help
    to stop it, when that method hasn't worked in any
    other country? Why are we so hated in the Muslim
    world? What did our government do there to bring
    this horror home to all those innocent Americans?
    And why don't we learn anything, from
    our free press, about the gross ineptitude of our
    state agencies? about what's really happening in
    Afghanistan? about the pertinence of Central
    Asia's huge reserves of oil and natural gas?
    About the links between the Bush and the bin
    Laden families?"
  • (Mark Crispin Miller, "Brain Drain")
  • The is no real simple answer that the reader is
    willing to give to this question.

  • The is no real simple answer that the reader is
    willing to give to this question.

False Dilemma
  • Presenting two options as if they were
    contradictions or contraries, when in fact they
    are not. It creates a dilemma due to the fact
    that two hard choices are presented and false
    because there are actually more that the two
    presented choices.

Example of False Dilemma
  • "'Which is better -- to be a pack of painted
    Indians like you are, or to be sensible like
    Ralph is....Which is better -- to have laws and
    agree, or to hunt and kill?'"
  • Lord of The Flies, William Golding

  • Provides no real simple answer to the question.

False Compromise
  • This occurs when the audience usually doesnt
    care enough or is uninterested in the topic
    enough to make an accurate decision. Therefore
    usually the audience simply splits the difference
    and make a decision rather than educate

Example of False Compromise
  • There shall be a firm and universal peace between
    His Britannic Majesty and the United States, and
    between their respective countries, territories,
    cities, towns, and people, of every degree,
    without exception of places or persons. All
    hostilities, both by sea and land, shall cease as
    soon as this treaty shall have been ratified by
    both parties, as hereinafter mentioned.
  • The Treaty of Ghent 1814

  • Both sides of the argument evenly split the
    difference and returned pre-war status.

False Equity
  • Sometimes the several different meanings of a
    word or phrase can come confused, either
    intentionally or accidentally, in such case the
    word becomes used equivocally.

Example of False Equity
  • Who did you pass on the road? the king went
    on, holding his hand out to the messenger for
    some hay.
  • Nobody said the messenger.
  • Quite right, said the king this young lady say
    him too. So of course Nobody walks slower than
  • Through The Looking Glass Lewis Carol

  • The first use of the nobody, meaning no person,
    is replaced by its second uses as a name,
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