Internet trolls are logical fallacy machines. They use logical fallacies to convince people they are correct, even if they are wrong. This article is a comprehensive logical fallacies list often used by internet trolls and how you can argue against them. This list of fallacies will help you win the next argument on social media or in person!
What Are Logical Fallacies
A logical fallacy is an error in reasoning, but it’s not always easy to spot. It’s also the opposite of a logical argument because it relies on illogical or untrue things.
Logical fallacies are not always easy to spot because they don’t just rely on circular reasoning but also include slippery slopes and other errors. The following list will help you better understand logical fallacies.
Top 10 Logical Fallacies List
Nitpicking is a fallacy that describes the process of pointing at minor, irrelevant flaws. Nitpicking is often considered unhelpful because it makes people doubt legitimate problems (since they will permanently lose out to trivial issues). As such, anyone who engages in nitpicking should try to stop before their input becomes harmful rather than helpful.
A strawman argument is an argument in which a person misrepresents their opponent’s position to make it easier to defeat. The term originates from an ancient technique for defeating a scarecrow. One would dress a scarecrow in old clothes and place a stuffed-straw man inside the clothing, giving it a human-like appearance, then set fire to it.
Moving The Goalposts
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the phrase “moving the goalposts” is used to describe a situation in which someone or something changes or moves their standards for doing something, often because they didn’t achieve their goal. The person usually does this, so they have lower means for accomplishing the objective.
Ad Hominem is Latin for “against the man.” It’s a logical fallacy in which you attack your opponent’s character by pointing out bad things about them instead of addressing the argument they just made. For example, if you’re arguing that women should be allowed in combat, someone might say that you want this change because you want more jobs for women. This person would commit an Ad Hominem fallacy because they are attacking your character instead of addressing your argument.
Bandwagon jumping is a term used to describe when an individual or group of people decide to adopt the majority’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Bandwagon jumping may lead to new ideas, such as biases and stereotypes.
Bandwagon jumping can cause new groups to form with expectations for members that fit the norms of the original group. The inherent problem with bandwagon-jumping is that it often results in conformity and pressures individuals to change their behavior and thoughts to fit in with everyone else.
Appeal to Authority
This fallacy can occur when someone says something is true because someone who is an authority says it. Any argument based on one’s power is fallacious.
The appeal to authority fallacy happens when someone uses an expert or person in a position of power to support a conclusion they have drawn. It is a persuasive technique, but any argument based on one’s authority is fallacious.
Begging the Question / Circular Logic
The begging the question fallacy is a form of circular reasoning, which is the argument that one needs an answer to their statement to answer their argument. In the case of the begging the question fallacy, however, one asks another to answer a question that is actually what they are trying to prove.
It uses only the parts of scientific studies that favor your argument while ignoring or attacking any studies contradicting it.
A red herring is a side topic used to deflect the main issue. It is a way to distract and misdirect people from the actual problem. This is commonly used in politics but can also be applied elsewhere.
Appeal to Ridicule
An appeal to ridicule fallacy is a logical fallacy often seen in ad hominem arguments. It involves mocking the argument of someone instead of addressing the merits of their argument.
Typically, this would be considered an ad hominem fallacy. But it’s different in this case because the appeal to ridicule is explicitly used to refute someone else’s argument, not as a reason they are wrong. The fallacy happens when people resort to mockery instead of using good reasons for rejecting someone’s view.
List of Less Common Logical Fallacies
The position must be correct if you find examples or evidence to support your position.
The false dilemma fallacy believes that only two choices are available when there are more in reality. This can lead to unreasonable conclusions without considering other possible options or solutions.
The loaded question fallacy is an informal fallacy that occurs when a person asks a question to which they already know the answer. The person will ask the question in such a way as to make the respondent incriminate.
Appeal to Nature
The appeal to nature fallacy is a fallacy that is used when an individual rejects the idea of something because it does not align with what they believe is natural. The appeal to nature fallacy can also justify actions and policies.
I just saw a meme on Twitter that made me think about the genetic fallacy. It’s when you use something from someone’s genetics to explain their behavior, like people struggling with addiction, and use the fact that they’re Asian American to explain why they’re working with addiction because of genetics. It allows you to blame their parents or grandparents or whoever for what might otherwise be something they could be in control of.
Fallacy of Moderation
The fallacy of moderation is when someone tries to moderate their eating, drinking, or other behavior to avoid the extreme consequences. The problem with this approach is that it also means avoiding the positive effects of having more than one piece of cake. This means you’ll miss out on some crucial benefits in life.
Reductio ad Hitlerum
Reductio ad Hitlerum is a common type of argument in which you respond to another person’s statement by saying, “If you liked that, then you’ll love this!” and linking them to Adolf Hitler. The technique’s name comes from the Nazi propaganda associating anything good with the Nazis so people would like it better.
The Manipulative Language fallacy is a type of fallacy that is used to create an emotional reaction. For example, you might say, “you’re lazy,” but you mean, “you don’t work as hard as I do, so I’m disappointed in you.” So when someone says, “you have done nothing all day,” they are manipulative because they are saying it angrily and belittling, so the other person feels bad.
Reversal of Causality
The Reversal of Causality fallacy is when something is blamed for an event instead of the person’s behavior. It’s used to justify bad behavior, so it doesn’t seem they are at fault.
An example would be that your boss might tell you, “If you had done a better job on that project this wouldn’t have happened.” That would be the reversal of the causality fallacy because your boss would be blaming you for their own mistake.
The arguer presents someone who they claim is an authority on a topic but whose views have no credibility about that subject.
The list of logical fallacies is not exhaustive (yet), but it covers the most common reasoning errors. If you want to ensure your arguments are sound and persuasive, use this list to guide what to avoid when writing or speaking with others.