Logical Thinking

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What are two distinct fallacies committed in the media coverage of various subjects?


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The above are not logical fallacies. Remember that fallacious is not synonymous with "wrong" or "misguided" or "biased", but refers to a conclusion that does not follow logically from its premisses.

"All dogs are purple and Spot is a dog. Therefore Spot is purple." is a statement that is materially incorrect, but it is not fallacious (it is logically valid, but based on premisses that do not correspond to reality).


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Fallacy 1: Argument ad hominem

This fallacy is defined as argument from the person. It consists of assuming that irrelevant features of someone's personal life or character affect the validity of their arguments. This might take the form "We shouldn't trust X's statements about fiscal policy because he is an adulterer." It's true that X may be an immoral person, and it would be a bad idea to date him, but that has nothing to do with whether his recommendations about fiscal policy are bad or good.

Fallacy 2: Straw Man Argument

This is attributing to your opponents things (often extreme views) they do not actually hold and then arguing against the false image you have created. The Republican use of the term "death panels" to argue against President Obama's creation of universal healthcare is an example of a straw man argument.

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