Spot Bad Arguments

We have a lot of arguments today between people who haven’t even formed clearly thought out opinions or aren’t even completely sure of their view yet still participate in arguments and so, when in an argument, spout all sorts of mind vomit. In these situations and more, we see the appearance of fallacious arguments, if you observe arguments you can probably already spot them but gaining knowledge of all the different kinds will only make you wiser to the facts and the fallacies in arguments. (There are many types I will list only a few)

The object of an argument is to prove your point to be and the two ways you can do this are; 1) proving how strong your argument is or 2) showing how weak your opponents argument is- both can be fallacious. I think we all know that we do this through premises/reasons showing why you move to your conclusion of the argument and through your premises should have proven your conclusion correct. Once an argument is fallacious consider it null and void.

Fallacies of Relevance

Argument from Ignorance: Argument Ad Ignorantiam

When deep in an argument and someone ‘creates’ a ‘fact’ telling you it’s true because you cannot prove it false then they are committing an argument from ignorance. This is when you take an argument to be true just because it is yet to be proven false, but it is not up to the opponent to prove the falsity of the argument rather up to you to prove the truth of your argument so this is deemed fallacious.

An example of this is…

Those who looted all voted Labour! A clear indication those who vote for Labour are not worthy to be part of our society- (BS someone can just make something up and it isn’t up to you to prove the falsity of the argument but rather them to prove its truth)

Appeal to Inappropriate Authority: Argument Ad Verecundian

This is when during an argument a person of a certain profession or expertise is called upon to support a side in the argument and it is considered their word can conclude the argument when actually the argument in question is about a completely different field to that of their intelligence. Just because they have intelligence and expertise in one field in no way supports that they will be that well informed on another subject area so this argument is fallacious.

An example of this is…

How can you say the riots were a good thing when ‘Only way is Essex’ star Mark Wright said…- (No…bring me a political sociologists’ opinion instead then I may find it hard to disagree, using someone with no expertise on the matter adds nothing to your argument)

Complex Question

Sometimes you’ll be asked a question where within the question the truth of another proposition is already supposed.  This argument is fallacious because it is structured to trap you into admitting something not directly asked and to then turn that against you within argument.

An example of this is…

So when you and others rioted what were the causes of this?- (Already accused you of rioting in the question so even if you haven’t and you provide reasons for the riot you have admitted culpability.)

Argument against the Person: Argument Ad Hominem

This is when rather than finding weaknesses in the argument and attacking them you resort to attacking the person defending the argument and attacking their character, creed, race etc. as a way to devalue their argument. It’s fallacious because a person is separate from the argument at hand no matter what they believe, all sorts of different people hold the same view.

An example of this is…

Why should we listen to him about the law? He’s been to prison!- (Here information about someone’s passed is being dragged into an argument that may have to do with law, this example shows some relevancy because of the link between law and prison but the attack against the person can be completely irrelevant to the argument at hand  a lot of the time and you’d be surprised how often it is used)


An accident is where we take the example of a stereotype or a generalization and apply it to a specific case, however each individual case should be studied by its own merits and not be subjected to general claims which in turn deem this sort of argument fallacious.

An example of this is…

The rioters were nothing more than opportunistic criminals looking to loot- (May be true in majority of cases but that substantive experience isn’t always correct, in some cases people may have rioted because the current system angered them.)

Converse Accident

This is the opposite of the case of an accident mentioned above whereby we use examples from particular cases and apply it to the general population. This is fallacious because variables of an individual case are too much to be applied to the general.

An example of this…

This young man was rioting because of the student cuts! These riots were about cuts in the budget!- (You can’t apply one situation to the vast majority, common sense but you’ll see this happen in the media a lot where they may interview one person and take his view as gospel of everyone involved in a sitaution)

False Cause

Is when we witness an effect and try to assign to it a cause which is not the true cause of the effect, most commonly this may be seen after an event follows another event we may assign to the first event the title of being the second events cause.

An example of this…

The reason for the riots in the UK was the death of Mark Duggan- (Yes it sparked public disorder in Tottenham first but what spread into a riot all over the United Kingdom had nothing to do with the death)

Begging the Question: Petitio Principii

Popular. This is when in an effort to prove your argument, you assume the truth of your argument in order to show its proof. It is a circular argument whereby you to prove your argument you use itself.

An example of this…

If riots weren’t bad for society then they wouldn’t be illegal, but they are bad because the law forbids them!- (Much hasn’t really been said apart from the riots being illegal but somehow you come away thinking that they’ve provided a reason…well they haven’t)

Appeal to Emotion: Argument Ad Populum

When the argument quickly from relevant premises into a usage buzzwords and expressing emotions through certain words to influence the direction of the argument though they may not add to the strength of the argument this is fallacious. Expressive words that increase enthusiasm and excitement or rage and hatred towards an argument do not give or take from the actual argument.

An example of this…

These mindless criminals cannot get away with these heinous crimes! They are dangerous to the stability of this country and want to see it in tatters! We cannot let them take control and those involved need to be taught a harsh lesson they will never forget! (The Sun. This argument tries to wind you up and excite your rage to agree and nod your head along as reading. Lots of expressive swollen language, not a lot of facts)

Appeal to pity: Argument Ad Misericordiam

This is branching off on the appeal to emotion to a specific area concerned with sympathy and altruism of other human beings. Seeking to win an argument by resorting to evoking pity is fallacious as mercy does not conclude your argument as stronger through its premises.

An example of this…

The twisted mindless thugs ransacked shops and heartlessly tore down people’s hard work. Shopowners are left with nothing in the world after these yobs demolished their dreams.- (Some facts shrouded in a majority of expressive language playing to your pity. This is fallacious because you’re no longer just sticking to facts and trying to persuade people by other methods.)

Appeal  to force: Argument Ad Baculum

Ad Bacalum literally meaning ‘to the stick’ refer to situations where indirectly or directly a hidden threat is made in an argument forcing you to accept a conclusion or face further action. This argument is fallacious because you haven’t used premises or reason to prove your conclusion but rather you have appealed to the strength of your position to scare people into agreement.

An example of this…

The riots were sick and disgusting, to say otherwise would be a form of treason and inciting people to riot which are punishable by law!-(An extreme example but you get the idea of a threat within an argument to shut up the opponent)

Irrelevant Conclusion: Ignoratio Elenchi

When the premises are coherent to make a strong argument for a particular objective but then is drawn to conclude on a different point. The conclusion doesn’t quite follow from the premises and we can call this non-sequitar

An example of this…

We need to punish the rioters! Immigrants should be sent back and black people should be sent to prison- (How does sending immigrants back and sending black people to prison follow from punishing the rioters? May support an EDL goal instead…)


An evil spirit released from Pandora’s Box, Apate, was the Greek personification of deceit. The daughter of the Goddess of Night, her companions were ‘The Pseudologoi’ – male spirits of lies.

I used these examples because they are relevant to news at this time and a lot of fallacies are committed by the media in order to get you to think a certain way. Be wise to them.


One thought on “Spot Bad Arguments

  1. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s