What Is the Genetic Fallacy? | Definition & Examples

The genetic fallacy is the act of rejecting or accepting an argument on the basis of its origin rather than its content. Under the genetic fallacy, we judge a claim by paying too much attention to its source or history, even though this criticism is irrelevant to the truth of the claim.

As a result, we fail to present a case for why the argument itself lacks merit and to examine the reasons offered for it.

Genetic fallacy example
The Nazis were the first to research passive smoking and prohibit smoking in public. Therefore, a smoking ban is unacceptable.

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Fallacy of Equivocation | Definition & Examples

The fallacy of equivocation refers to the use of an ambiguous word or phrase in more than one sense within the same argument. Because this change of meaning happens without warning, it renders the argument invalid or even misleading.

Fallacy of equivocation example
Premise 1: Annoying co-workers are a headache.
Premise 2: Painkillers can help you get rid of a headache.
Conclusion: Painkillers can help you get rid of annoying co-workers.

The fallacy of equivocation can be used in a humorous way, but it can also be used in a deliberate attempt to confuse others or hide the truth.

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What Is Base Rate Fallacy? | Definition & Examples

Base rate fallacy refers to the tendency to ignore relevant statistical information in favor of case-specific information. Instead of taking into account the base rate or prior probability of an event, people are often distracted by less relevant information.

Due to this, people often make inaccurate probability judgments in medical, business, and everyday decision-making contexts. Base rate fallacy is also called base rate neglect or base rate bias.

Base rate fallacy example
You are asked to guess whether Mark plays soccer or golf based on the following personality description: “Mark has a PhD, reads poetry, and loves his cat.”

Your gut feeling tells you that Mark sounds like an upper class person, so he must play golf. However, this is the base rate fallacy at work, since far more people play soccer than golf.

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Fallacy of Composition | Definition & Examples

A fallacy of composition involves assuming that parts or members of a whole will have the same properties as the whole. This leads to wrong conclusions because what is true of the different parts is not necessarily true of the whole.

Fallacy of composition example
This house is made of bricks. A brick is light in weight. Therefore, this house is also light in weight.

A fallacy of composition is an oversimplification that invalidates an argument.

Fallacy of Composition

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Post Hoc Fallacy | Definition & Examples

The post hoc fallacy is the assumption that because one event preceded another event, they must be causally related. In other words, the first event must have caused the second.

However, the chronological order of two events does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between them.

Post hoc fallacy example
My computer crashed after I installed a new piece of editing software. I’m sure the software caused the crash.

Making erroneous assumptions about the cause of events can lead us to wrong decisions in many important areas of everyday life, including economics, policy, and health. The post hoc fallacy is also known as the fallacy of false cause, questionable cause, and faulty causation.

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Non Sequitur Fallacy | Definition & Examples

A non sequitur fallacy is a statement or conclusion that does not follow logically from what preceded it. Non sequiturs can be responses that have nothing to do with the conversation or flawed conclusions “based” on what preceded them.

Non sequitur fallacy example
Premise 1: All birds have wings.

Premise 2: That creature has wings.

Conclusion: Therefore, that creature is a bird.

Non sequiturs may appear in various contexts, including everyday conversations, political speeches, and literary texts. Non sequitur fallacy is also known as irrelevant reason, derailment, and invalid inference.

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Circular Reasoning Fallacy | Definition & Examples

The circular reasoning fallacy is an argument that assumes the very thing it is trying to prove is true. Instead of offering evidence, it simply repeats the conclusion, rendering the argument logically incoherent.

Circular reasoning fallacy example
Parent: “It’s time to go to bed.”

Child: “Why?”

Parent: “Because this is your bedtime.”

People may commit circular reasoning fallacy unintentionally because they are convinced of their own assumptions and take them as given. Sometimes, circular reasoning is used deliberately to mask the speaker’s lack of understanding or evidence.

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Hasty Generalization Fallacy | Definition & Examples

A hasty generalization fallacy is a claim made on the basis of insufficient evidence. Instead of looking into examples and evidence that are much more in line with the typical or average situation, you draw a conclusion about a large population using a small, unrepresentative sample.

Due to this, we often form a judgment about a group of people or items based on too small of a sample, which can lead to wrong conclusions and misinformation.

Hasty generalization fallacy example
You have a transit flight via Frankfurt Airport, Germany. On the way to your gate, several passengers hastily bump into you without even apologizing. You conclude that “Germans are so rude!”

Hasty generalization fallacy is also called overgeneralization fallacy, faulty generalization, and argument from small numbers.

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Ad Hominem Fallacy | Definition & Examples

Ad hominem fallacy (or ad hominem) is an attempt to discredit someone’s argument by personally attacking them. Instead of discussing the argument itself, criticism is directed toward the opponent’s character, which is irrelevant to the discussion.

Ad hominem fallacy example
Person 1: I think it is important to enforce minimum-wage legislation so that workers are not exploited.

Person 2: Nonsense. You only say that because you just can’t get a good job!

Ad hominem fallacy is often used as a diversion tactic to shift attention to an unrelated point like a person’s character or motives and avoid addressing the actual issue. It is common in both formal and informal contexts, ranging from political debates to online discussions.

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Logical Fallacies | Definition, Types, List & Examples

A logical fallacy is an argument that may sound convincing or true but is actually flawed. Logical fallacies are leaps of logic that lead us to an unsupported conclusion. People may commit a logical fallacy unintentionally, due to poor reasoning, or intentionally, in order to manipulate others.

Logical fallacy example
A student group suggests that “useless courses like English 101 should be dropped from the curriculum.” Without explaining why English 101 is useless in their view, the members of the group then immediately move on, arguing that spending money on a useless course is something that nobody wants.

Because logical fallacies can be deceptive, it is important to be able to spot them in your own argumentation and that of others.

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