Monday, 4 June 2018

A Master List of Fallacies

A fallacy is - effectively - faulty thinking which we use to underpin an argument that we present. I like to think of fallacies like a balloon: when we prick the faulty thinking, the whole argument disappears. The dictionary defines a fallacy as a 'mistaken belief'. We can use a fallacy deliberately, knowing it is unsound, or we can use it unwittingly, from our own uncritical thinking. It is always terribly shaming to use a fallacy unwittingly, then have someone else - a much clearer thinker - burst our bubble and make a mockery of our argument!!

A friend of mine directed me to a wonderful "Master List of Logical Fallacies" online. This list was generously compiled by Professor Owen Williamson at the University of Texas at El Paso, and contains a wondrous array of faulty thinking, defined and supported by examples. It is worth reading for pleasure alone.

My particular favourites are:
  1. The A Priori Argument (which relates to Occam's Razor)
  2. Ad Hominem Argument
  3. The Dunning-Kruger Effect
  4. The Fundamental Attribution Error
  5. Gaslighting
  6. Hoyle's Fallacy
  7. The Law of Unintended Consequences
  8. Post Hoc Propter Hoc
  9. Sophism (Mala Fides)
  10. The Straw Man
  11. The Wisdom of Crowds
Professor Williamson has compiled 146 fallacies: a most entertaining read. Have a scout through to see how many you can remember using!

Sam

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