Fallacies in Politics

July 17, 2012 in Government

These fallacies are too often ignored in the political world. It isn’t always clear to most people when a discussion becomes illogical, but we could try employ some educated debaters to rate the most important debates and arguments. There are websites that fact check in a journalistic way, like politifact.com but they are not the best judges we can find. Why is it that our political debates are not monitored by these logical standards? Logical fallacies are easy to learn and could easily be monitored by a few well trained people. Approaching political discussions in a logical and honest way is the only way to bring civility to our government and society. Until there is a trusted agency to look out for this I will do my best to post as many examples as I can, for my own sake.


  • Slippery Slope: This is a conclusion based on the premise that if A happens, then eventually through a series of small steps, through B, C,…, X, Y, Z will happen, too, basically equating A and Z. So, if we don’t want Z to occur, A must not be allowed to occur either. Example: If the government can tell us to buy insurance, next they will force us to eat broccoli.
  • Hasty Generalization: This is a conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence. In other words, you are rushing to a conclusion before you have all the relevant facts. Example: Even though it’s only the first day, I can tell this is going to be a boring course.
  • Post hoc ergo propter hoc: This is a conclusion that assumes that if ‘A’ occurred after ‘B’ then ‘B’ must have caused ‘A.’ Example: Bush took office and the towers were attacked, he must have allowed it to happen. Example: Obama took office and unemployment is high, he must have caused the unemployment rates.
  • Genetic Fallacy: A conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of a person, idea, institute, or theory determine its character, nature, or worth. Example: Don;t listen to that guy because he got his education from Berkley so he must be a communist liberal. Example: That’s a liberal idea, I don’t listen to any liberal ideas because they are all free loaders.
  • Begging the Claim: The conclusion that the writer should prove is validated within the claim. Example: Filthy and polluting coal should be banned. Example: Communist democrats should be jailed for starting a class warfare.
  • Circular Argument: This restates the argument rather than actually proving it. Example: George Bush is a good communicator because he speaks effectively.
  • Either/or: This is a conclusion that oversimplifies the argument by reducing it to only two sides or choices. Example: We can either stop using cars or destroy the earth.
  • Ad hominem: This is an attack on the character of a person rather than her/his opinions or arguments. Example: Green Peace’s strategies aren’t effective because they are all dirty, lazy hippies.
  • Ad populum: This is an emotional appeal that speaks to positive (such as patriotism, religion, democracy) or negative (such as terrorism or fascism) concepts rather than the real issue at hand. Example: If you were a real American you would be a republican.
  • Red Herring: This is a diversionary tactic that avoids the key issues, often by avoiding opposing arguments rather than addressing them. Example: Natural Gas is contaminating our drinking water all across America, but it’s okay because its creating jobs and reducing our oil dependency?
  • Straw Man: This move oversimplifies an opponent’s viewpoint and then attacks that hollow argument. People who don’t support the proposed state minimum wage increase hate the poor. Example: Obama wants to raise taxes on the millionaires, because he wants to penalize success.
  • Moral Equivalence: This fallacy compares minor misdeeds with major atrocities. Example: That parking attendant who gave me a ticket should go kill herself for being a Nazi loving tyrant.

Guess which one this is? Make your comment below.