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List of commonly used fallacies on Social Media & in life
    -arguments that are misleading, deceptive, or false 


Personal Attack

Attacking a person or their character rather than making a point based in reasoning or evidence.





Correlation vs.

Confusing correlation for caustion, or mistakingly claiming that one thing caused another to happen since they happen in sequence.

      Example -There is a correlation between rates of ice cream sales and rates of murder.  Rates of murder have been known to increase as ice cream sales increase. However buying ice cream does not cause people to commit murder.



How Ice Cream Kills! Correlation vs. Causation DecisionSkills YouTube



Appeal to Emotion

An argument is made due to the manipulation of emotions (fear, disgust, etc.) rather than the use of valid reasoning or evidence.

       A Red Cross commercial that shows the devastation of a hurricane with survivors crying just before asking viewsers to donate money.



Red Herring & Straw Man

A statement that is irrelevant and draws attention away from the subject of argument.  Including trying to make one side of the argument appear extreme often by refering to the exception rather than the rule.

          "Biology teacher begins teaching evolution by stating that all things evolve. Student says she just can't accept that humans came from bugs."

              "Senator Smith says that the nation should not add to the defense budget. Senator Jones says that he cannot believe that Senator Smith wants to leave the nation defenseless."



Black or White

Stating an issue as one between two extremes with no room for middle ground or nuance.  An opinon that claims there are only two alternatives (when there possibly or probably are more).   The truth is we know that on most issues there are many alternatives.

                                                               Examples- "You are either for me or your against me.” 

"Are you a jock or a nerd?”



False Analogy

Making a comparision between two things and suggesting the two things are more alike then they really are

"That group of teenagers is up to no good - they are wearing dark clothes and baggy pants."
 (Reality: This is a stereotype)




Keane, Bil and Jeff Keane. "Family Circus." Cartoon.



Jumping to Conclusions 
(Hasty Generalization)

Basing a broad conclusion on a small sample. Making a determination without all the information required to do so.
However to help prevent making hasty generalizations it is always good to keep an open mind/heart, be willing to learn, and not to reason based on only a few examples.

             You visit a new country and the first person you meet in the airport is rude.  You think to yourself that "Everyone in this new country is rude.".



Appeal to Authority

 A statement is seen as true solely based on the position or authority of the person who stated it.

A policeman I know said that only a criminal would carry a knife in their pocket.



Middle Ground


Seeking a compromise is almost always a reasonable goal, however sometimes it is not appropriate, attainable, or practical.  A half-truth is still a lie.

                "My friend James says it's never okay to lie.  My friend Lisa says it's okay to lie as much as you want.  I guess I believe that it's okay to lie sometimes.



Packard Pokes at Logical Fallacies: Middle Ground  Packard Pokes At YouTube

                                                   -Fallacies - from Wikipedia & University of Idaho & some examples form                    



Help yourself and others reveal fallacies and biases with these FUN GAMES!

Critical Thinking Card Game and Posters -Only $1 through Creative Commons license -

Other game-like activities:

Quiz -

Downloadable card game -

Lessons & activities:

Cool lesson on Logical Fallacies by Annenberg Learner: Monty Python and the Quest for the Perfect Fallacy

Great lessons on bias in the news and otherwise

Guide yourself and your students to opening to new people and perspectives:   

Critical Thinking and Philosophical discussions on popular culture. Very engaging: PBS Idea Channel
   -There are 50 additional thought provoking YouTube channels by PBS here: Digital Studios





Five Fallacies PBS Idea Channel YouTube
Even More Fallacies! PBS Idea Channel YouTube
Cool lesson on Logical Fallacies by Annenberg Learner: Monty Python and the Quest for the Perfect Fallacy
Check out SlideShare for - 9 Logical Fallacies from kidkhaos7



Are you practicing Harvard's thinking routines and information/digital literacy skills on a consistent basis?  If not, ask your teacher or librarian for help.