A Guide To Spotting Logical Fallacies

We can all remember an occasion when we got into a heated argument or participated in a debating contest. In such situations, every participant tries to prove their point right by coming up with the most convincing arguments for their position.

But this increases the chance of using arguments that are not well thought out and, in some cases, may be completely wrong. This is why students need to learn how to spot logical fallacies to immediately tell if their opponent is using a faulty argument. 

In fact, most critical-thinking courses at school or college try to teach students to identify logical fallacies to sharpen their reason and argumentative skills.

How To Spot A Logical Fallacy

To spot a logical fallacy, you first need to know what it is. To put it simply, a logical fallacy is a flaw in an argument’s reasoning, and this flaw will lead to an incorrect conclusion. This makes the whole argument invalid.

If one point of the argument is wrong, this usually means that the argument was not well-researched and the person is trying to prove their position based on insufficient data.

The Dangers Of Logical Fallacies

The trouble with logical fallacies is that it can be quite hard to spot them during a heated debate, especially when the participants do not have much time to think and must respond immediately.

This makes it more likely for them to miss the fact that their opponent uses a logical fallacy because, on the surface, logical fallacies appear entirely reasonable. Still, if you think carefully enough, you can spot the error.

Some Common Types Of Fallacies

Here are a few common types of fallacies that all students must know about:

  1. Strawman Argument: During this type of argument, one person will take the opposite side’s argument and present it in a distorted manner. Then they will argue against that distorted argument and show how it is wrong. But the fact that they distorted the other side’s position means that they never actually showed how the original position was wrong, even if they claim to have done so.
  2. False Dilemma: Basically, the person will present the argument as having only two conclusions when there are multiple conclusions that you could derive. Example: You are either with us or against us. As you can see, only two choices are presented when in reality, you could not be part of a group but still not be their enemy. You can choose a neutral position, but they don’t present that option.

Concluding Thoughts

Knowing how to spot logical fallacies can help you play the devil’s advocate by teaching you how to poke holes in faulty arguments. It is an essential skill for students these days and allows for their critical thinking skills to be put into use.

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