Errors in Reasoning: Fallacies
Fallacies are errors in reasoning better known to as misconceptions that arise as a result of incorrect reasoning particularly during argumentation (Rottenberg, 2004, p. 13). Consequently, fallacies arising by accident or design can influence certain emotional triggers in persons listening to such statements or they can also exploit the social interactions between the listeners. Furthermore, fallacies are statements used by people in order to avoid, confuse, or oversimplify certain issues, and finally, to deceive others.
Accordingly, fallacious arguments are constructed in such a way that the use of rhetorical arguments obscures the sound arguments, and thus making them difficult to detect (Rottenberg, 2004). In this essay, we will take an extensive look at the use of fallacies in argumentation. Here, the essay utilizes examples in real life to describe those fallacies that are used commonly and those that seem difficult to diagnose.
The Bandwagon Appeal is one of the most common fallacies, propagandas, or smokescreens used in several occasions. This fallacy is employed by most politicians to lure the masses into voting in their favor. For instance, “Barrack Obama-The Change that We Desire” forms a good example of the bandwagon appeal.
Furthermore, most TV ads present large numbers of people using a particular brand or product in order to influence the attitudes and actions of consumers. Here, the bandwagon appeal implies that if you cannot join the masses, then you are bound to be left in the dark (Rottenberg, 2004).
Another common fallacy involves changing the subject or the red herring fallacy. This fallacy entails instances where people use irrelevant information to justify the meaning of unsound statements or arguments. For example, one can say that, “There is the paramount need to increase our funding in education.
And just because our neighbors are pumping a lot of money into buying military equipment, does not imply that we should also do the same. This is because the future of our country depends on the youth of the present day.” Commonly, this fallacy is used by most mystery writers in order to conceal the truth from their readers (Rottenberg, 2004).
Further, fallacies occur during instances whereby one uses part of the argument in order to support the rest of the argument. This form of error in reasoning is known as circular reasoning. For instance, “Mr. Dominic is an excellent writer because he writes excellently.” Here, it is worth noting that the statement takes the reader in circles by using the same reason as the conclusion (Rottenberg, 2004).
Moreover, some fallacies occur when one makes an assumption that if two items are similar in one way, then they should be similar in other ways. This fallacy is known as false comparison. For instance, “Shoes and slippers are worn on the feet. Shoes can protect one from catching a cold more efficiently, and so are the slippers.”
Conversely, errors in reasoning that are more difficult to diagnose include fallacies such as conventional wisdom, which entails the use of facts known to everybody to construct arguments. For example, “A pen is mightier than a gun, therefore, if you are involved in any fight; just grab a pen to your defense.”
Moreover, the use of facts and opinions to construct the same argument leads to a fallacy known as opinion-fact, which is very difficult to detect (Rottenberg, 2004). For example, one can say that, “President Obama came into power during the global economic crisis. He must have helped the United States to get out of the crisis before any country could think of the same.”
Overall, charging from the discussions above, it is useful to take note of fallacies in argumentation because as mentioned earlier fallacies are errors in reasoning, which are used to confuse, oversimplify, or avoid certain issues, and thus fallacies can form the basis of deceptions.
As a result, the knowledge of fallacies helps people to maintain constant and strict checks against statements of deception, which can conceal the truth and lead one into believing false arguments, beliefs, or even making purchases on the basis of false premises presented in advertisements.
Rottenberg, A.T. (2004). Elements of argument (4th ed.). New York: St.Martin’s Press.