A fallacy can be defined as a mistaken belief based on unsound logic. A fallacy can make an argument invalid. Different types of fallacies can be harmful if they pass unnoticed.
Looking around, one can see various real-life examples of fallacies. A fallacy exists without any logical or factual evidence to support it. Understanding these is important to ensure that arguments and debates are conducted rationally and with a view to improve our understanding of a topic.
5 Fallacies And Examples
While people use these various types of fallacies in their daily life, it gets in the way of healthy arguments and arriving at solutions. Fallacies are a byproduct of the collective unconscious and can prove to be unfruitful and even dangerous if allowed to slide. Let’s look at 5 fallacies and examples-
Appeal To Authority:
One of the most common types of fallacies is the appeal to authority fallacy. It involves invoking an authority figure—typically someone who has enough knowledge about the subject matter at hand—to back the position. This can be a great value-add but you can’t rely on it to be the foundation of the argument. Always remember that simply because someone in a position of authority believes something to be true does not make it so.
Here’s an example of the appeal to authority fallacy:
“Even Albert Einstein believed in God! How can you be an atheist? Do you think you are smarter than Einstein?”
Against The Man:
Also known as ad hominem, the ‘against the man’ fallacy is frequently seen in debates. It involves a personal attack on the opposition. If you chose to pass a personal remark or comment instead of engaging with the opposition’s argument on its merits, you can be said to have committed fallacy ad hominem.
Here’s an example of fallacy ad hominem: “Mahee says that one should not listen to Rishi on matters of budgetary changes for the annual fashion show because Rishi has a very poor taste in clothes.”
This type of fallacy involves an opponent misrepresenting or oversimplifying the other side’s argument to make it simpler to attack or debate. They set up a metaphorical ‘straw man’ for them to destroy instead of engaging with the original and precise premise of the other side’s argument. This helps them confuse the audience and create the illusion of having defeated the other side in an intellectual battle.
Here is an example of the straw man fallacy:
First debater: “The country is in debt and we should not increase the defense budget.”
Opponent: “I cannot believe you. Do you want to leave the country defenseless?”
Tu Quoque Fallacy:
This means insulting the other person for making certain choices in the past. It is also known as the appeal to hypocrisy. It is a version of “Looks who’s talking”. Often, it involves overlooking one’s own shortcomings and pulling the other person down. It is a defensive move and is typically resorted to when one knows one has been beaten on merit and now needs to save face.
Here is a Tu Quoque fallacy example:
Arpita says, “Don’t tell me to exercise. Look at yourself. What was the last time YOU took a walk?”
Appeal To Ignorance:
The gist of this fallacy is that it claims that an argument is true because it has not yet been proven false. You would have come across it in all sorts of places—from mundane conversations to large-scale advertising to political campaigns.
Here is an appeal to ignorance fallacy example:
Rohan says that since there is no proof aliens don’t exist, there is a chance they do!
Harappa offers a course called Thinking Critically where you can learn about various types of fallacies from leading behavior scientists, business scholars, educators and trainers. They will walk you through real-life examples of fallacies as well as strategies for identifying and getting past them.
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