Examine written and visual advertisements.
Select five advertisements that demonstrate the use of five different fallacies outlined in the University of Phoenix Material: Common List of Logical Fallacies.
Write a 350-word summary for each of your selected advertisements in which you address the following:
Summarize the content of the advertisement.
Identify the fallacy portrayed by the advertisement.
Describe how the fallacy is used as a persuasive argument.
Explain why you think that the creators of the advertisement used the fallacy to promote this product or concept.
Common Logical Fallacies
The following is a list of common fallacies. Some are covered in the textbook, and others are introduced by the faculty member. Use this document for your reference.
1. Ad hominem, or attacking the person: This fallacy involves attacking the arguer rather than his or her argument. Consider the following example: John’s objections to capital punishment carry no weight because he is a convicted felon.
Note. Saying something negative about someone is not automatically ad hominem. If you are discussing a person—such as a politician—criticizing him or her does not mean you have created an ad hominem fallacy.
2. Ad ignorantium, or appeal to ignorance: This fallacy, sometimes called the burden of proof fallacy, involves arguing on the basis of what is not known and cannot be proven; if you can’t prove that something is true, then it must be false, and vice versa. Consider the following example: You can’t prove the Loch Ness monster doesn’t exist, so there must be one.
3. Ad verecundiam, or appeal to authority: This fallacy involves trying to convince the listener by appealing to the reputation of a famous or respected person. This often involves an authority in one field speaking about a subject outside of his or her expertise. A sports star with little car expertise who endorses a car and the actor on a TV commercial who says “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV” are examples of this fallacy.
4. Affirming the consequent: This fallacy involves an invalid form of the conditional argument in which the second premise affirms the consequent of the first premise and the conclusion affirms the antecedent. Consider the following example: If he wants to get that job, he must know Spanish. He knows Spanish, so he will get the job.
5. Amphiboly: This is a fallacy of syntactical ambiguity in which the position of words in a sentence or the juxtaposition of two sentences conveys a mistaken idea. This fallacy is like equivocation except that the ambiguity does not result from a shift in meaning of a single word or phrase; it is created by word placement. Consider the following example: Jim said he saw Jenny walk her dog through the window. She should be reported for animal abuse.
6. Appeal to emotion: In this fallacy, the arguer uses emotional appeals rather than logic to persuade the listener. This fallacy may appeal to various emotions, including pride, pity, fear, hate, vanity, or sympathy. Generally, the issue is oversimplified to the advantage of the arguer. Consider the following example: An activist group which uses horrific or disturbing imagery unrelated to their cause.
7. Argument from analogy, or false analogy: This is an unsound form of the inductive argument in which an argument relies heavily on a weak analogy. Consider the following example: This must be a great car because, like the finest watches in the world, it was made in Switzerland.
8. Begging the question: This is an argument in which the conclusion is implied or already assumed in the premises. It is also referred to as a circular argument. Consider the following example: Of course the Bible is the word of God. Why? Because God says so in the Bible.
9. Slippery slope: This fallacy involves a line of reasoning that argues against a course of action because it assumes that if you take the first step, you will inevitably follow through to an assumed conclusion. This fallacy uses the valid form of hypothetical syllogism, but uses guesswork for the premise. Consider the following example: We cannot allow students any voice in decision making on campus; if we do, it won’t be long before they are in total control.
10. Common belief: This fallacy, which is sometimes called the bandwagon or appeal-to-popularity fallacy, is committed when we assert a statement to be true because many other people allegedly believe it. Being widely believed is not proof or evidence of the truth. Consider the following example: Of course Nixon was guilty in Watergate. Everybody knows that.
11. Past belief: This is a form of the common-belief fallacy. The same error in reasoning is committed except the claim is based on outdated beliefs or support. Consider the following example: We all know women should obey their husbands. After all, marriage vows have contained those words for centuries.
12. Contrary-to-fact hypothesis: This fallacy is committed when one states with an unreasonable degree of certainty that the hypothetical results of an event would have occurred. Consider the following example: If President George H. W. Bush had not gone into the Persian Gulf with military force when he did, Saddam Hussein would control the oil in Saudi Arabia today.
13. Denying the antecedent: An invalid form of the conditional argument in which the second premise denies the antecedent of the first premise, and the conclusion denies the consequent. This is often mistaken for modus tollens. Consider the following example: If she qualifies for a promotion, she must speak English. She doesn’t qualify for the promotion, so she must not know how to speak English.
14. Division: This fallacy is committed when we conclude that any part of a particular whole must have a characteristic because the whole has that characteristic. Consider the following example: I am sure that Karen plays the piano well because her family is so musical.
15. Composition: This fallacy is committed when we conclude that a whole must have a characteristic because some part of it has that characteristic. Consider the following example: The entire Dawson family must be rich because Fred Dawson makes a lot from his practice.
16. False dilemma: This fallacy, which is often called the either/or fallacy or a false dichotomy, assumes that we must choose one of two alternatives instead of allowing for other possibilities; it a false form of disjunctive syllogism. Consider the following example: Either you can love the United States of America, or you can move to another country.
17. Equivocation: This fallacy is a product of semantic ambiguity. The arguer uses the ambiguous nature of a word or phrase to shift the meaning to make his or her argument more convincing. Consider the following example: We realize that workers are idle during periods of lay-offs. However, the government should never subsidize idleness, which has often been condemned as a vice. Therefore, payments to laid-off workers are wrong.
18. Hasty generalization: This fallacy involves a generalization accepted on the support of a sample that is too small or too biased to warrant it. Consider the following example: All men are rats! Just look at the louse I married.
19. Post hoc and ergo propter hoc: This fallacy—which means after this, therefore caused by this—is a form of the false-cause fallacy in which it is inferred that because one event followed another, the first event caused the second event. Consider the following example: Mary joined our class and the next week we all did poorly on the quiz. It must be her fault.
20. Inconsistency: An argument is inconsistent or self-contradicting if it contains, explicitly or implicitly, two assertions that are logically incompatible with each other. Inconsistencies can also occur between words and actions. Consider the following example: That woman represents herself as a feminist, yet doesn’t believe women should run for Congress.
21. Non sequitur: In this fallacy, which means it does not follow, the premise of the arguement has no direct relationship to the conclusion. This fallacy often appears in political speeches and advertising. For example, a waterfall in the background of a commercial and a beautiful person in the foreground have nothing to do with an automobile’s performance.
22. Non causa pro causa, or questionable cause: This form of the false-cause fallacy occurs when the cause for an occurrence is identified on insufficient evidence. Consider the following example: I can’t find the checkbook; I am sure that my husband hid it so I couldn’t go shopping today.
23. Red herring: This fallacy introduces an irrelevant issue into a discussion as a diversionary tactic. It distracts people from the topic being discussed. Consider the following example: Many people say engineers need more writing practice, but I would like to remind these people of how difficult it is to master the math and drawing skills engineering requires.
24. Slanting: This is a form of misrepresentation in which a true statement is made, but is made to suggest that something is not true or to give a false description through the manipulation of connotation. Consider the following example: I can’t believe how much money is being poured into the space program The word poured in this case suggests heedless and unnecessary spending.
25. Straw man: This fallacy occurs when someone misrepresents an opponent’s position to make it easier to attack, usually by distorting the opponent’s views to ridiculous extremes. This can also take the form of attacking only the weak premises in an opposing argument while ignoring the strong ones. Consider the following example: Those who favor gun-control legislation just want to take all guns away from responsible citizens, and give them to criminals.
26. Two wrongs make a right: This fallacy is committed when someone tries to justify a bad or imprudent action with charges of a similar wrong. The underlying assumption is that if some people do it, then others are justified in doing the same thing. Supporters of apartheid, for example, are often guilty of this error in reasoning. They point to former U.S. slavery practices to justify their system.
27. Far-fetched hypothesis: This fallacy of inductive reasoning is committed when we accept a particular hypothesis when a more acceptable hypothesis, or one more strongly based on fact, is available. Consider the following example: The church with a large membership of African-American individuals was set on fire after the civil rights meeting last night. Therefore, the church leader and the minister must have done it to cast suspicion on the local segregationists.