User:Stevenarntson/Freshman Seminar/Critical thinking

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  1. Sculpture Park Assignment
  2. "Always Wanted To" progress
  3. This list, written by this man, in this book.
  4. Discussion: What's the difference between thinking and critical thinking?
  5. Logical fallacies and misuses of language.
  6. Sarah Haskins and Target Women
  7. Assignment.

Steve's Favorite Logical Fallacies and Misuses of Language[edit]

  • An argument gives reasons to support a conclusion. A logical fallacy is an argument whose reasons don't support the conclusion; but they seem like they do.
  • Well-used language will clear up an issue. Misused language will cloud an issue.



This term is Latin for "it does not follow." It involves a premise that does not relate to the conclusion. Convincing non sequiturs seem to have some relationship, though; they aren't totally random.

example #1
It's sunny out, so you should wear shorts.
example #2
John is a great student. You should date him.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc[edit]

This Latin term means "After this, therefore because of this." An author commits the fallacy when it is assumed that if B follows A, then B was caused by A.

example #1
My mom broke her back right after I stepped on a crack.
example #2
I took Nyquil, and my cold went away. Therefore, Nyquil cured my cold.

Argument From Ignorance[edit]

The assumption made in this fallacy is that if something can't be proven false, it is true. Conversely, if something can't be proven true, it is false.

example #1
You can't see air, so there is no air.
example #2
Cedric said he's faster than Alice, but he wouldn't race her, so he's not.

Truth Through Humor[edit]

If it's funny, you'll like the product more, because you like to laugh. In advertising, such jokes are frequently combined with other logical fallacies.

example #1
That guy got kicked in the crotch haha! Verizon.
example #2
That guy is an idiot haha! Energizer.

Truth Through Irony[edit]

The ad appears to make fun of ads, but still functions as an ad. This is a powerful selling technique because the message "is what it is," but also critiques what it is.

example #1
One ad
example #2
Another ad


This fallacy occurs when someone makes a simple solution for a complex problem.

example #1
Only you can prevent forest fires.
example #2
Say no to drugs.


This fallacy occurs when a sweeping generalization is made without sufficient evidence. Words to watch for: all, everyone, no one, always, never.

example #1
Students always love studying.
example #2
Everyone knows some races aren't as intelligent as others.

Proof By Example (Anecdotal evidence)[edit]

This fallacy occurs if too few examples are provided to support a general truth.

example #1
Smoking cigarettes gave me bone cancer of the jaw!
example #2
Garth Brooks is stupid. I hate country music.

False Dilemma (Either/Or reasoning)[edit]

A false dilemma takes a range of options and reduces it to two—a hero and a villain.

example #1
America: Love it or leave it.
example #2

ad for axe body spray.


"One thing leads to another," is what this argument contends. But sometimes it isn't necessarily true.

example #1
If we cut taxes for the rich, they will spend more money in stores, and then the stores will make more money, and the people who work in the stores will make more money, and more stores will open, unemployment will drop, and the poor will become rich.
example #2
If I make an exception for you, then I have to make an exception for everyone.

Dubious Authority[edit]

A figure of undeclared or unrelated expertise makes claims about something.

example #1
Batman says, "Got milk?"
example #2
Chuck Norris allegedly has a fist under his beard: Vote Huckabee!

Bandwagon Argument (Peer Pressure)[edit]

This fallacy plays on one’s natural desire to belong to a group and fear of being rejected, or left out.

example #1
This ad is not only an example of the bandwagon argument, it is also an explanation of it.
example #2
What demographic(s) is this ad intended to manipulate?



By using just part of a quote, its meaning can be changed.

example #1<
"This is a great movie." (Original quote: "Idiots think this is a great movie.")
example #2
"The results of the study indicate that survival rates for smokers are much better than expected." (However, only 1 person survived.)


These words are a way of implying something without actually claiming anything. Words to watch for: helps, like, virtual, a part of, believe.

example #1
Crest helps reduce cavities.
example #2
Wrinkles will disappear virtually overnight.

OBFUSCATION (Doublespeak)[edit]

This misuse occurs when someone intentionally makes a simple thing seem complex to confuse the audience.

example #1
There was collateral damage during the attack.
example #2
"Testimonial transcriptions of the study indicate a small number of participants experienced negative/contrary indications/side effects of a variety of rarely terminal degrees of severity."


Loaded language uses manipulative vocabulary to influence a reader’s opinions without ever claiming anything.

example #1
Fox News: Fair and Balanced.
example #2
Some rich old men want this bill to pass.


Using vague language and undefined terms that have a positive connotation, an audience is manipulated into accepting an argument.

example #1
We want to bring freedom and democracy to the rest of the world!


This fallacy involves complimenting an audience to get them on your side.

example #1
Now you're all reasonable people, I'm sure you can appreciate ...
example #2
Are you classy enough for a Rolex? We think you are.

Target Women[edit]

This is a TV short by Sarah Haskins that exists to expose how ads manipulate women.