Each element relates to persuasion, but in distinct ways. These tactics violate our sense of fairness, freedom, and ethics:
In your speech, consider honesty and integrity as you assemble your arguments. Your audience will appreciate your thoughtful consideration of more than one view and your understanding of the complexity of the issue, and you will build your credibility as you present your information.
Fallacy is another way of saying false logic. These rhetorical tricks deceive your audience with their style, drama, or pattern, but add little to your speech in terms of substance and can actually detract from your effectiveness.
In other words, fallacies let speakers rely on dramatic flair without offering substantive argument, obscure the central message, or twist the facts for their own gain.
The table below examines the eight classical fallacies. You may note that some of them relate to the ethical cautions listed earlier in this lesson.
|Red Herring||Any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue, particularly by relating the issue to a common fear.||"It’s not just about the death penalty; it’s about the victims and their rights. You wouldn’t want to be a victim, but if you were, you’d want justice."|
|Straw Man||A weak argument set up to be easily refuted, distracting attention from stronger arguments.||"What if we released criminals who commit murder after just a few years of rehabilitation? Think of how unsafe our streets would be then!"|
|Begging the Question||Claiming the truth of the very matter in question, as if it were already an obvious conclusion.||"We know that they will be released and unleashed on society to repeat their crimes again and again."|
|Circular Argument||The proposition is used to prove itself by assuming the very thing it aims to prove. Related to begging the question.||"Once a killer, always a killer."|
|Ad Populum||Appeals to a common belief of some people, often prejudicial, and states everyone holds this belief. Also called the bandwagon fallacy, as people "jump on the bandwagon" of a perceived popular view.||"Most people would prefer to get rid of a few 'bad apples' and keep our streets safe."|
|Ad Hominem||"Argument against the man" instead of against the message. Stating that someone’s argument is wrong solely because of something about the person rather than about the argument itself.||"Our representative is a drunk and philanderer. How can we trust him on the issues of safety and family?"|
|Non Sequitur||"It does not follow." The conclusion does not follow from the premises because they are not related.||"Since the antiwar demonstrations of the 1960s, we’ve seen an increase in convicts who got released from death row."|
|Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc||"After this, therefore because of this," also called a coincidental correlation. It tries to establish a cause-and-effect relationship where only a correlation exists.||"Violent death rates went down once the media started publicizing executions."|
Avoiding false logic will help you make a stronger case or argument for your proposition. Consider this five-step motivational checklist to keep in mind as you bring it all together:
Source: This content has been adapted from Lumen Learning's "Speaking Ethically and Avoiding Fallacies" tutorial.