A fallacy is an argument that uses invalid and inaccurate premises in making a certain assertion. Fundamentally, fallacy emanates from poor reasoning that leads to inaccurate or invalid inferences. When making arguments, people often encounter fallacies, which distort the meaning and relevance of the said. Hence, for people to apply appropriate reasoning in their ideas, they must understand the nature and the types of fallacies that exist. Poor structuring of arguments causes delusion, as structuring determines the validity of the premise. Logical fallacies occur due to anomalies in patterns of reasoning and soundness of premises (Eemeren, Garssen, & Meuffels, 2009). Therefore, this essay examines common logical fallacies such as non-sequitur, faulty analogy, hasty generalization, and equivocation, and provides an example of each one.
Non-sequitur is a type of fallacy in which the inference has no relationship with the premise. This type of fallacy occurs when there is no logical sequence between the statement and a logical conclusion. In non-sequitur, faults in the pattern of reasoning cause poor alignment of premise and inference. For example, James owns a software company like Bill Gates. He must be very rich and famous like Bill Gates.
The faulty analogy is a form of fallacy, which assumes that since two things share some attributes, they are similar in all aspects. In this view, the discrepancy occurs because one assumes that two things are similar owing to the few attributes that they share. The fallacious inference emanates from faulty reasoning, which is dependent on a weak premise. For instance, buying shares in the stock markets is like gambling. Shareholders and gamblers are alike because they experience the same risk of losing their money.
Hasty generalization is a fallacy that uses insufficient evidence as a premise of a certain inference. Essentially, such a generalization entails the use of a set of findings or samples in making generalizations without considering entire findings coupled with confounding variables. In statistics, hasty generalization occurs when one uses a sample that does not represent the entire population. For example, software companies in the United States are very lucrative, and consequently, you should invest your money in them. Thus, it is safe to invest your money in software companies because they will not be insolvent.
Equivocation is a fallacy that occurs due to the ambiguity of certain terms in an argument. The differences in the meaning of terms used in an argument lead to the occurrence of equivocation. To avoid this form of fallacy, one has to understand the meaning of certain terms in their unique contexts before applying them in making an inference. For example, Jane is studying accounting in college. She will be accounting for how people in college spend their time.
There are some other forms of logical fallacies that are common in the media and on the Internet. For example, according to Vance (2010, para. 5), Glenn Beck argues that “when did it become a problem to be a businessman? When did it become a thing of shame or ridicule to be a self-made man in America? Conservatives believe we are guaranteed the right to pursue happiness. We are not guaranteed happiness. Who can guarantee happiness?” When arguing, Beck constructs weak arguments and subsequently disapproves them. In the first instance, Beck poses an argument that it is not a problem to be a businessman. In the second instance, Beck poses another argument, which insinuates that being self-made is not a shame. Furthermore, Beck asserts that conservatives want guaranteed happiness, yet no one can guarantee happiness. Thus, every point in the argument does not reflect facts about business, self-made, and happiness, as Beck has misrepresented each one of them.
Eemeren, F., Garssen, B., & Meuffels, B. (2009). Fallacies and Judgments of Reasonableness: Empirical Research Concerning the Pragma-Dialectical Discussion Rules. New York: Springer.
Vance, K. (2010). Glenn Beck’s compelling straw man argument fallacy. examiner.com. Web.