Because once they’ve said it, the argument flies off into LaLa-Land. You find yourself defending something you didn’t say, or responding to an accusation that isn’t valid. And the more you try and counter their statement, the deeper the hole gets. It normally doesn’t end well. Often times they’ll end the conversation, withdraw, cackling softly and gloating. And you’ll be left wondering WTF just went wrong.
You just fell into a trap. The Logical Fallacy Trap. People use it all the time; some, consciously – others, inadvertently. Politicians use it to bring down their opponents, force them into corners. Biased news channels use it to manipulate their viewers.
I’ve listed 11 common Logical Fallacies below, with a brief description of how they work.
A • Strawman · Misrepresent an argument to make it easier to attack
B • False Cause · Misreading a correlation
C • Appeal To Emotion · Trying to evoke a sympathetic response rather than use a compelling argument
D • The Fallacy Fallacy · A claim wrongly based on a fallacy doesn’t make it untrue
E • Slippery Slope · If we allow X to happen, then Y is bound to follow
F • Ad Hominem · Attacking the messenger, not the message
G • Tu Quoque · Appeal to hypocrisy, pass the blame
H • Personal Incredulity · If you don’t ‘get’ it, it must be untrue
I • Special Pleading · Moving the goalposts
J • Loaded Question · A question containing an unjustified assumption
K • Burden Of Proof · Shifting responsibility of proof from the claimant to the critic
Now here is an example of each of those Logical Fallacies in action… Do you recognize them? Think you can identify them? (Click below each statement to reveal what type of logical fallacy each statement is…)
I’m an idiot for calling Özil a flop?! Last year you called Giroud a flop, and now he’s our top scorer.
Arsenal haven’t won the league since they moved to the Emirates. The stadium is bad luck. We should never have left Highbury.
Bergkamp is God. Show me evidence that he isn’t…
Arsenal’s win ratio is 72% when Arteta is playing, and 59% when he isn’t. Just goes to show that stats really mean nothing. Arteta is old and crap.
That Stan Kroenke is a lousy owner because his name rhymes with ‘wonky’ isn’t true. Therefore he must be a great owner.
Mr. Wenger – have you stopped obsessing about Mourinho?
If Wenger lets Ozil get away with clubbing in Berlin, it’s just a matter of time before Mesut starts missing games at will.
OK – Arsenal still lost that game despite the fact that I was wearing my lucky underpants. But that’s just because you didn’t believe they were lucky.
Wenger says qualifying for Champions League is like a trophy. He obviously doesn’t care about winning. He’s happy with fourth place.
Giroud says he’s the striker who can bring Arsenal success. (The same guy who is unfaithful to his wife the night before a game.)
I had to give up the season ticket I’ve had for thirty-six years. Arsenal has become another greedy corporation that only cares about the bottom line.
So, there you have it… If your brain feels like a pretzel during an argument – it’s probably because your opponent has sprung a logical fallacy trap and you fell into it. You cannot argue your way out of one of these traps. The only way to deal with them is to recognize them for what they are, and step away with your sanity intact. Proper arguments, like any game, are governed by rules; these rules are commonly called ‘logic’.
Logical fallacies break these rules. People who use them are cheating. The game is loaded, and it’s not in your favour! You can’t win. So don’t play.
Forewarned is fore-armed: if you know what to look out for, then you won’t fall into the trap. (As often!) But remember: Knowledge Is Power. Use your new-found weapon for good. Don’t use it to drive fellow Gooners crazy – we’re suffering enough already!
There are plenty of other logical fallacies to watch out for. Visit this great site for an extended list/deeper analysis. If you have any great examples to share with us, please be sure to add them to the comments section below.
Thanks for reading. Happy arguing!