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Logical Fallacies: Hasty Generalization, Circular Reasoning, False Cause & Limited Choice

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  • 0:05 Logical Fallacies
  • 1:17 Hasty Generalization
  • 1:49 Circular Reasoning
  • 2:23 False Cause
  • 3:02 Limited Choice
  • 3:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Watch this video lesson to see how you can identify cases where logic is not sound. Learn the characteristic traits of hasty generalization, circular reasoning, false cause, and limited choice.

Logical Fallacies

Logical fallacies refer to ways of reasoning and proving statements that are not based on pure fact. They are, in essence, bad logic. It's like making the claim that a big-footed monster exists just because one person says he saw it in the woods last fall. It's easy for one person to claim he saw something, but without more evidence, it is difficult to prove that it really happened. Such is a logical fallacy.

But, just because something is a logical fallacy does not necessarily mean that the statement is false. For example, if I reasoned that my friend's rabbit must love carrots just because another rabbit I know loves carrots, this might actually be true if my friend's rabbit really did love carrots. So, even without proper logic and proof, I can still arrive at a correct conclusion.

The thing to remember about logical fallacies is that the conclusion reached by this type of reasoning is not guaranteed to be correct. Keep watching, and you will find out about hasty generalization, circular reasoning, false cause and limited choice.

Hasty Generalization

A hasty generalization is making assumptions without sufficient evidence, like making a guess about a large population based on your knowledge of just a few in the population. If I were to say that Judy's daughter should be talking by the time she is eight months old because Jill's daughter did so, then I would be making a hasty generalization because I'm basing everything on Jill's daughter. This makes for improper logic because there is so much variability in babies and when they start talking.

Circular Reasoning

Circular reasoning is when a statement is used to prove itself. This one is fun. I'm sure you have heard this type of reasoning before. I know I have. And, I have done it many times just because I wanted things to go my way. When you hear someone say, 'Because I said so,' you are hearing an example of circular reasoning.

It is like saying that stars are painted in the sky because they are painted in the sky. There is no proof other than the statement itself. And because of this, this type of reasoning does not produce logically useful statements.

False Cause

False cause is arguing that one thing is related to another thing because they happened at the same time or in order. Just because two events are happening at the same time does not mean that they are causing each other to happen. For example, say I'm sitting in my parked car one day close to the entrance of a store with those automatic doors, and I notice that when I swing my arms out, the doors open by themselves. Would this be sufficient proof for me to say that I can make the doors open by swinging my arms out? No, because this type of reasoning uses the logical fallacy of false cause.

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