Some Fallacies That We Have Named
The fallacies below haven't shown up in any our our books or readings,
so we will name them ourselves:
- The Appeal to Innumeracy
Arguments based on mathematical calculations or graphs are immediately
ignored by almost all readers because "they don't do math"
and assume that all arguments based on math or graphs are just examples
of "figures don't lie, but liars sure do figure!"
- The Fallacy of Assumed Linearity
This one is related to the Appeal to Innumeracy. If a graph shows that
something is going up with time, the assumption is made that it will
continue to rise in the same way forever. "The Stock Market has
been going up for the last two years, therefore we should move all the
Social Security funds into the market to increase the money available
to Seniors through the year 2050."
- The Fallacy of Label Slapping
Just because you can slap a Fallacy label on something does not make
it untrue. When you cite an expert opinion, the expert may actually
know what he or she is talking about. You can't dismiss this as Appeal
to Authority. When someone tells you that an antihistamine really helped
with his hay fever, do you not try that over-the-counter medication
because his recommendation was a Testimonial? Label Slapping is a common
game in politics, of course. Would you vote for someone who is a "San
- The Appeal to Invincible Ignorance
Do not confuse this with the Appeal to Ignorance, which is very different.
The Appeal to Ignorance can be summed up in the phrase: "Absence
of evidence is not evidence of absence." In other words, you can't
claim that space aliens stopped your car because nobody riding with
you can tell you why it won't start.
The Appeal to Invincible Ignorance is used when someone clings to an
incorrect belief, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
"I don't care what science tells us about the age of the Earth.
I know it is 6000 years old, and you can't convice me otherwise, no
matter what you say."
- The Appeal to Baloney
"If you can't dazzle them with logic, then baffle them with baloney."
Psuedoscientific claims often substitute elaborate scientific-sounding
"theories" for an actual logical argument backed up with real
evidence. The term "Baloney Detection Kit" was made popular
by Carl Sagan. BDK's are offered by many authors in Critical Thinking.