Fallacies of Relevance
by Laura Alfano
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Fallacies of Relevance
Appeal to Ignorance
This says that a claim must be true because no
one has proven that it is not true or that a claim
must be false because no one has proven it false.
Example: Aliens must exist because no one has
been able to come up with evidence to the
Appeal to the Mob
Also known as Bandwagon Fallacy. If everyone is doing something,
that is a good enough reason. It is a fallacy to think that because
a large group believes or does something, it is correct or
appropriate. This fallacy appeals to the need to be liked and
Example: All the other kids in school
are getting tattoos. It's time I got
Appeal to Emotion
It is false to think that we should base
our response on an emotional reaction.
Example: Penny is a below average worker,
but she should get the promotion because she
lost her pet cat in an earthquake last week.
Ad Hominem Attacks
Also known as Personal Attacks. Instead of
addressing the claim, the reasons attack the
character of another.
Example: John the plumber shouldn't be
trusted to repair your busted pipes. He is a
liar, a thief, and generally bad person.
This is a misrepresentation of
Example: Senator Smith is obviously opposed to
protecting the environment. He voted in favor of
increased gun control, and everyone knows hunters
Playing with Words
This includes slanted language, ambiguity,
stereotypes in the writing that are designed to
mislead or throw us off the track.
Example: The Democrats are keeping the other
parties in the dark. How are they supposed to
see to get any work done?
Misuse of Authority
This assumes that if someone popular or powerful
says something, it must be true. It doesn’t
matter if this popular or powerful person has no
expertise in the subject area.
Example: In the NCAA March Madness office pool,
the boss picked North Carolina State to win it all.
I’m going to pick the same team she picked.
After all, she’s the boss.
This occurs when an arguer attempts to
distract an audience by raising an irrelevant
Example: Many people criticize the U.S.
government for imprisoning Japanese Americans
during World War II; however, they don't take
into account that this country has some of the
most majestic landscapes in the world.