Logical and Rhetorical Fallacies Explained

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Fallacies are a dangerous thing. Fallacious arguments can be used either to manipulate a thought or through ignorance of the topic. When properly crafted, a fallacy has a resounding power to sound believable. Yet, a fallacy is, in fact, an invalid point of reasoning used to construct an argument. People are susceptible to arguments or debates. We cannot expect others to always agree with our opinions. But we all have the opportunity to win people over. Lawyers earn top dollar due to their talent to sway people into believing their arguments in court. Lawmakers pass national laws by earnestly lobbying for their advocacy and earning support from their colleagues. But when people use fallacies to sway others knowingly, things get dangerous. This can be done by making use of logical and rhetorical fallacies.

What is a logical fallacy?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a logical fallacy is a deceptive or misleading argument. It is an error in reasoning due to a misconception or presumption. If the assumptions of an argument are true, the argument can still be invalid if the logic used is not legitimate. That is if the logic is fallacious.

Aristotle shared in his treatise, The Art of Rhetoric, a writer has three methods to win people over. First, he can appeal to the person’s character or ethos. Secondly, he can appeal to one’s emotion or pathos. Lastly, an author can appeal to an individual’s logic or logos. The trouble with using logic is that it isn’t always straightforward. Sound logical reasoning requires a large factual basis on which the argument is built.

Our minds are wired to take shortcuts when solving problems. This practice is known as heuristics. These shortcuts may be practical and efficient but these can also cause mistakes. Heuristics should not replace formal logic.

Everyone is vulnerable to logical fallacies. In fact, some of us can also use them purposefully to prove a point and get our way. So, it is imperative that we are able to correctly identify fallacies and stop them in their tracks.

There are various fallacies, but the folks over at InformationIsBeautiful have once again outdone themselves. They made an infographic that covers all kinds of fallacies. Learn them, and use them in your next argument or debate!