...scientists need to be
critical and sceptical, and that if you apply science to any
field you don't want to prove that your ideas are correct,
you want to test whether they are correct. -
Edzard Ernst, Peninsula Medical School
Invalid Argument Terms/Techniques
(some of these terms do not always imply an invalid
technique, but the ploy can be labeled as such)
Ad Antiquitam Appealing
to convention or traditional action as a proof of validity.
Ad hoc Simply means directed to a single proposition or issue–no further
implications intended. A proliferation of
ad hoc adjustments to a theory indicates a crisis in acceptability.
Ad hominem (abusive) Attacking the behavior or character of the man instead of his
argument. Appealing to emotions and/or prejudices rather than to intellect or
Ad Novitam Appealing to modernity or newness as a proof of validity.
Associationism Implying that an associative relationship is a causative one.
Affirming the Consequent Within valid logic
structure when we say that if A is true then B is true,
we must prove A to be true in order to conclude that B is true.
Affirming the consequent is to erroneously conclude that A is true upon
finding that B is true.
Authoritarianism Unquestioning reliance on an authority or expert.
Composition Fallacy Applying to the whole the properties of the parts.
Defeatism Claiming an end is impossible to achieve as a reason for not
following a line of reason.
De fide Literally "of faith",
but implying revealed by god and requiring unconditional assent.
Denying the Antecedent Within valid logic structure when we say that
if A is true then B is true, we must not assume B to be false
because A is false. Denying the antecedent is to erroneously
conclude that B is false upon finding that A is false.
Derision Using an emphasis on ridicule to assail a premise or argument.
Dis-accreditation The ploy of pointing
out a lack of formal accreditation on the other side.
contradiction or repudiation of a premise formerly stated or agreed upon.
Preemptive Dismissal Dismissing a premise, hypothesis
or theory before hearing the argument.
oneself by the ploy of being formally or academically unqualified.
Division Fallacy Applying to the part what may be true of the whole.
Dogmatism Unwarranted or arrogant stating of opinion or position.
Equivocation Using the same term or word in different and incomparable senses.
implying supernatural inspiration, it is often used to
try to override logic or evade careful reasoning.
Overemphasizing to an extreme degree.
False Analogy An offering of resemblances that don't really imply essential similarity.
Gamblers Fallacy Thinking that some pattern of the past has an influence on a truly
Genetic Fallacy The
Origin of something is erroneously ascribed.
Ignotum per ignotius
The attempt to defend an assertion against criticism by deriving it from some
principle" that is even more vulnerable to that criticism.
Illogical Based on faulty logic.
Accenting or stressing a word or phrase in a sentence where that
accent or emphasis changes the probably received meaning..
Invalid Syllogism A syllogism is a major premise,
minor premise and valid conclusion such as: All virtues
are laudable, kindness is a virtue; therefore kindness is laudable. An invalid form would be:
Some Danes are dogs, Lars is a Dane; therefore Lars is a dog.
Irrelevance Where an argument that may support one conclusion is used to support
another, or where the argument is misguided or oblique to the issue
and/or needlessly limiting the number of options or possibilities.
meant acting like an actor or a puppet lacking in judgment or lacking the quality of
genuine careful and critical thinking. Now used here to denote an agenda other than to
arrive at the truth.
Loaded Questions Asking
questions where no simple response can be reasonable, or where any
response implies acceptance of what is asserted as part of the question.
Mala fide With intent to deceive.
Mal entendu Misunderstood or poorly conceived.
Mal absurdum Mis-characterization or invalid reduction to an absurdity.
Misinform To supply with misleading information.
Non-comparable Not worthy of comparison.
Latin for out of sequence, a break in the chain of logic with an unwarranted leap.
Obscurum per obscurius Any arguement that proves
more obscure than what it supposedly clarifies.
Pedantism A demand to prove the case within the conventional framework.
Petitio principii Assuming in the premise of an argument the
conclusion which is to be substantiated; a form of circular reasoning.
Post Hoc Ergo Prompter Hoc An argument that implies that
since A preceded B in time, A caused B.
Proton Pseudos First or fundamental falsity or error. Many times arguments start
with this up front or as a hidden assumption.
Red Herring Raising an issue or challenge that is not relevant or is simply a
distraction from the issue at hand.
Reductionism Any method or theory that reduces data, information or processes to
seeming equivalents that are less complex or developed than is the actual case.
Reification The attempt to make a purely abstract idea or
concept into a real-world extant entity.
Simplistic Demand Demanding
a simple or inadequate answer to a complex question or issue.
Special Pleading Using
a double-standard to require less rigorous treatment for one's own
assertion than one would use against a counter assertion.
Straw man Arguing against a premise not taken
or presented, knocking that premise down,
and then assuming or implying that you have then discredited the
original premise at question or under consideration.
Tautology A form of needless repetition or circular reasoning that
does not advance understanding.
Confusing the symbol with the reality for which it stands.
Unilateralism Taking into account only one side of an issue or matter.
[*] Most men of good will would say they place the highest priority on knowing
the truth, and they would deny being willing to deliberately promulgate
falsehood for no higher purpose than to win an argument or to defend status or
a personal position. These men would all claim to value the truth over what they really
value more. It is in this most fundamental way–men pay lip service
to the truth, then let some other agendas override–that we are using
the terms hypocritical and hypocrisy. Any man that is driven to use
invalid techniques can be considered to be a hypocrite.
Note: The author of this site is dedicated to being circumspect
and honorable in his presentation of material and his arguments
for support of positions, and pledges to avoid using these
invalid argument techniques.