Understanding Fallacy: Impact on Reasoning

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  • 0:02 Understanding Fallacy
  • 0:33 What is a Fallacy?
  • 1:42 Fallacies and Reasoning
  • 5:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Cathryn Jackson

Cat has taught a variety of subjects, including communications, mathematics, and technology. Cat has a master's degree in education and is currently working on her Ph.D.

When preparing a speech or conducting academic writing, understanding how to spot fallacies in reasoning is very important. This lesson will teach you the pitfalls in types of reasoning.

Understanding Fallacy

Travis is doing some research for his debate team. He comes across a note to research different types of fallacies. Types of fallacies? He thought there was only one! A logical fallacy! That's the only type, right? Experts of logic have found hundreds of different types of logical fallacies. You will find these in writing, speeches, media, advertising, and pretty much everywhere!

Today, you will learn about fallacies, how they relate to reasoning, and some common types of fallacies.

What Is a Fallacy?

First, you need to be able to define 'fallacy.' A logical fallacy is a misconception or false assumption made in reasoning. This can often result from using reasoning in a faulty way, leading to an invalid argument. For example, Travis and his friends are discussing what they should do this weekend. His friend wants to invite a new kid to hang out with them, but Travis disagrees. 'That new kid plays in the band. The last band kid I hung out with was weird; all band kids are weird.'

In this case, Travis is using a logical fallacy called a hasty generalization to persuade his friend. We'll talk more about this type of reasoning later. Many logical fallacies are made unintentionally, and Travis probably didn't realize he was using a logical fallacy. There are ways you can avoid making a logical fallacy. Using deductive reasoning, you can almost always create a true conclusion, provided that your premises are true as well. However, other forms of reasoning can have exceptions and aren't always 100% true. Let's discuss logical fallacies and how they relate to certain types of reasoning.

Fallacies and Reasoning

Remember, reasoning is the action of constructing thoughts into a valid argument, and a valid argument is reasoning that is comprehensive on the foundation of logic or fact. Sometimes when you use reasoning, it can lead to a fallacy. These are common fallacies that can result from using different types of reasoning:

  • Hasty generalization
  • False cause
  • Faulty analogy

Using inductive reasoning, reasoning where the premises support the conclusion, can result in hasty generalization, which is the use of specific instances to create an incorrect generalization of a population or scenario. For example, many of the stereotypes that exist are based on hasty generalizations that are not true for many members of a particular population. If Travis was researching a debate case about youth violence and found that a few of the cases of youth violence happened between youths that are of ages 10 - 13, then Travis may make the hasty generalization that youths between the ages of 10 and 13 are violent.

Using causal reasoning, which is the relationship between two premises to develop a conclusion, can result in the logical fallacy false cause, which is the faulty assumption that a certain agent is causing the act. This is also known as 'correlation does not equal causation,' meaning that just because two things happen at the same time does not mean that they are the cause and effect of one another. For example, it is often thought that because youth violence occurs when there are teens that play violent video games, then the violent video games are the cause of youth violence. More research is needed to prove this causation; however, the biggest counter to this argument is the fact that there are many youths that play violent video games that are not violent. We can see with this argument that currently, all violent video games do not cause all teens to become violent.

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