Magenta Nation – Fakchex


We all know the dangers of disinformation, and the importance of making decisions based on verifiable facts. But there’s another pitfall in the battle for truth that is not quite so obvious, yet it is rampant in our world today. It’s called “the logical fallacy.” A fallacy is an argument that involves faulty or flawed reasoning. It sounds convincing, especially when communicated with conviction and emotion and with statistics thrown out to “support” it. Yet, when analyzed, it is not true.

Here are some examples.

“There are many examples of successful people of all races in America. Therefore, racial prejudice no longer exists in America. The ‘playing field’ for success is level.”

We’d all love to believe that this is true. However, pointing to individuals from different racial groups who are wealthy, well-educated, and/or respected does not mean that opportunities are the same for the group as a whole. Other statistics – showing lower educational opportunities, high poverty rates, systemic racism, or a high prevalence of violent incidents – about a racial group should be considered before making this statement. The example of a few does not mean that what is true for them, is true for all.

Here’s another example. “John Jones went to prison for robbery. There are a lot of people named Jones. They are probably criminals as well.” The first two statements may be true. However, taken together, they do not prove the third statement.

When reading articles or watching broadcasts, keep your antenna on alert for fallacious thinking. Here are some real examples pulled from various media.

“The funds for pandemic aid have run out, and we still have poor people. Therefore, welfare is a failure.” The fallacy is that pandemic aid was never intended to eradicate poverty.

“We have people who are dead who have not been removed from the voter rolls. Therefore, we have people masquerading as these dead people and committing voter fraud.” The voting rolls may need to be updated, but there is no evidence cited that people are actually impersonating the deceased and voting illegally.

“A doctor is recommending this medicine; therefore it must work.” Who is this doctor? What studies support the claims? Inferring that a doctor’s statement is always correct is fallacious.

Propaganda frequently makes use of fallacies to try to convince people of the rightness of a course of action.

“The region used to have many Nazis living in it; therefore we need to attack it to get rid of the Nazis.” There’s no evidence here that Nazis are still in the region or that there is a danger.

Grammarly cites specific types of fallacies, here are some of them:

  • Ad hominem: invalidating an opponent’s position based on a personal trait of fact about the opponent rather than through logic.

    “She can’t be a good candidate because she’s too old.” “He can’t be a good candidate because he didn’t go to a top school.”

  • Red herring: shifting the focus from the topic at hand by introducing an irrelevant point.

    “Forget the national deficit; how much did your house cost?”

  • The slippery slope argues that a series of events will follow a starting point, typically with no supporting evidence for this chain of events.

    “If we don’t have strict traffic laws, people will be endangered, young people will not learn to respect the law, and we’ll have riots in the streets.”

  • A hasty generalization reaches a conclusion with just one or a few examples, rather than relying on more extensive research.

    “Our neighbors have a messy yard and have noisy parties. All members of that group of people are sloppy, inconsiderate, and irresponsible.”

  • The straw man fallacy happens when an opponent attacks an exaggerated version of an argument rather than an actual argument.

    “My opponent wants to ban books from libraries. Obviously, she wants us to revert to a time when we were all illiterate savages, living in caves.”

  • Finally, the “you too” fallacy is very popular today to deflect attention from accusations or criticisms that may be valid.

    “It doesn’t matter what I did, look at so-and-so!”

How do you spot fallacies, and inoculate yourself against this particular disinformation virus? Recognizing them can be challenging, because often they sound so logical on first hearing. Ask yourself, “Because X is true, does that mean Y is also?” You can begin to train yourself by applying critical thinking to what you read, hear, and see.

Be especially aware of the use of data. We can be overwhelmed when data is cited and jump to the conclusion that whatever follows the data, is true. After all, the data supports it, right? Well, not so fast. There may be only the illusion of a cause-and-effect relationship, not the reality of one.

As you become more sensitive to these nuances, you’ll find yourself tuning in to more and more examples of fallacious thinking. Your ability to discern truth from this type of disinformation will protect you from claims and examples that may sound logical at first, but which are actually inaccurate and misleading.

Thank you for reading this Fakchex article. Please share this article and join us in the fight to combat disinformation.



Fakchex presents short, fact-based articles and videos on topics about which there is considerable disinformation. It is the only grassroots communication program that helps people personally combat disinformation. Fakchex articles are designed for sharing with people who care about these topics, but may not be aware of the facts OR may not have time to research them on their own. Together, we can combat the powerful forces of disinformation that prevent us from coming together to realistically address our problems and opportunities.

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