Informal Logical Fallacies

Well, super informal logical fallacies (ones that you made up)…

Here’s a list of regular informal logical fallacies.

What sort of informal logical fallacies have you noticed in arguments, that aren’t listed above?



And its cousin: outright lies.

Also “This can’t be true because it doesn’t make me feel good”, sometimes followed by “and you must be a pervert if you believe it anyway”.

There’s “You insulted me, and it doesn’t matter what else you say because that’s NOT what we’re talking about now, we’re talking about how you INSULTED me and how utterly completely wrong you were to do it, and how you now have NO credibility at all.”

(Circular) Argument from Assumed Bias

Example - A writer publishes a story about Mr. Politician. It contains many scandalous details. Defenders of Mr. Politician argue as follows - (1) The article is against Mr. Politician, hence (2) the writer is biased against Mr. Politician, hence (3) we have good reason to doubt the story. (After all, the story was written by a biased author. And we know he was biased because he wrote a negative article about Mr. Politician.)

And of course enemies of Mr. Politician are likely to fall for the “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” fallacy - (1) An article alleging serious misdeeds was written about Mr. Politician; (2) Mr. Politician is thus the sort of guy people write negative articles about, therefore (3) the allegations are probably true.

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One of the guys I game with has started using this one. It’s even more infuriating since he started it on a rules discussion on a message board. Now, I realize that it can be easy to raise your voice and not realize it, but it’s hard to type in all caps with multiple exlimation marks and not realize you sound like a dolt.

He also included “XXX is better than YYY. PERIOD!”

Yes, because adding the word “PERIOD” makes us believe you.

“I’m special because I’m right.”

This is the belief — usually implicit but sometimes maintainted explicitly — that a certain tactic or behavior which is generally considered onerous is permitted for those who believe as the speaker does, because theirs is the actually correct side, and the truth need brook no compromise.

The problem, of course, is that everyone believes themselves to be correct, so to embrace this way of thinking is to embrace rudeness, underhandedness, or what-have-you from all sides in disputes generally.

It is true because of technical quibbles. (States can leave the Union because it does not say they cannot leave the Union.) (I never had sex with that woman.) (I never question the loyalty of lawyers who defended terrorists.)

Don’t forget the ‘I’m right because I’m special’, because nobody else in the whole world has ever gone through what I have gone through and I am a unique snowflake!


The convenient appeal to majority support. As in:

If a majority of the public shows through voting or polling that they support the given position, then the position is supported by ‘the will of the people.’

If not, the public has obviously been deluded by those nefarious scoundrels on the other side of the issue, and it’s our bounden duty to re-educate them, probably by demonstrating what we can accomplish by putting our ideas into practice. The public is bound to come around to our side sooner or later. If not, though, it’s still for their own good.

How about, “I’m right because I said it last/ I repeated it until you got tired.”

Otherwise known as the ‘yes it is/ no it isn’t’ fallacy.

I’m right, so I shouldn’t have to apologize for being rude to you.

People seem to forget that the whole point of arguing with someone is to convince them that you are right. If you insult them, you’ve put them on the defensive. Which goes with the biggest fallacy of all:

People think logically, and if my position is logically sound, I will win any debate.

An argument is a connected series of statements to establish a definite proposition. It’s an intellectual process … contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

The “lies, damned lies, and statistics” fallacy, where all statistics are assumed to be suspect. When done properly, statistics are a great way of getting an understandable window on something, but many people will reject any argument based on statistics out of hand.

The “I’m having a bad day” fallacy, where special weight is given to an argument due to unrelated suffering.

If you disagree with me, it’s because you’re too stupid to understand my position.

If I write a lot of stuff on a blackboard, with circles and arrows, it must be true.

I agree with you in principle about the counter-productivity of meanness, but I don’t argue to convince the other person I’m right. I argue to convince the quiet, undecided types.

My contribution is, ‘‘That can’t be true because I wouldn’t like the consequences.’’

Happens a lot here.

The opposite of the “My opinion = fact”, where facts are just opinions. This is disturbingly common among the fundamentalist set, where science is not to be trusted and the common man knows more than the expert.

A related fallacy: Intelligence = elitism.

No it’s not.