inFact with Brian Dunning inFact with Brian Dunning


Logical Fallacies 3

Think you know how to use and recognize logical fallacies in arguments? Here's how. Part 3.

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In this last of three videos, we're going to look at some common fallacious arguments; ways that people make their points sounds convincing even when they're not true.

One way to do this is to use the Excluded Middle. If something's not one extreme, it must therefore be the other extreme.

You either embrace raw organic food, or you believe that everyone should be forced to eat processed poisons infected with corporate hate energy.

It's gotta be one or the other!

If you don't accept that world leaders are reptoid aliens in disguise, it's because your mind is being controlled.

The Red Herring is the dropping of a distraction from the real point, which may have nothing whatsoever to do with anything, but it takes you off the original argument.

You say we actually sent men to the moon. But how can you reconcile that with Werner von Braun's having visited Antarctica only 18 months before?

Simply changing the subject hardly supports the original claim.

The use of a Special Pleading is when you're out of any useful evidence to support your point, so instead you simply assert that your claim is beyond the ability of mere mortals to test.

Homeopathic remedies are based on energies that Western scientists refuse to acknowledge, and their testing methods are too narrow and antiquated.

Well then, I guess we have to accept it!

A Non-Sequitur means "does not follow"; if this, then that.

This banana is so comfortable to hold. Therefore, the Earth is 6,000 years old.

It's the invalid drawing of a conclusion from one point that actually does not suggest the conclusion.

Big Pharma is corrupt. Therefore, energy blessings work.

The Argument from Ignorance is when something is unknown to you, therefore it must be unknown to everyone, therefore the supernatural claim must be true.

I don't understand how magnets work. It must be a power from Above.

This will always be an easy fall-back argument, since there will always be something unknown to someone:

Science cannot explain everything, so we must accept that some phenomena exist outside of the physical world.

Watch for all of these the next time you hear someone try to convince you of something that sounds fishy. If they resort to logical fallacies, it's a good clue that their claim is nonsense.

— Brian Dunning

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References & Further Reading

Albrecht, K. Brain Power: Learn to Improve Your Thinking Skills. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1980. 167-183.

Curtis, G. "What is a logical fallacy?" The Fallacy Files. Gary N. Curtis, 21 Feb. 2004. Web. 5 Sep. 2011. <>

Gula, Robert J. Nonsense: Red Herrings, Straw Men and Sacred Cows: How We Abuse Logic in Our Everyday Language. Mount Jackson, Va: Axios Press, 2002.

Novella, S. "Top 20 Logical Fallacies." Skeptics Guide to the Universe. SGU Productions LLC, 8 Feb. 2009. Web. 5 Sep. 2011. <>

Shuster, K., Meany, J. On That Point!: An Introduction To Parliamentary Debate. New York: IDEA, 2003. 313-315.

Whitman, G. "Logical Fallacies and the Art of Debate." Glen Whitman's Home Page. California State University, Northridge, 29 Jan. 2001. Web. 5 Sep. 2011. <>


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