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Archive for Abusing Language

Loaded Question

July 22, 2012 No Comments

Loaded question: A question with an unacceptable pre-supposition. (Why do you hate America so much? – Stephen Colbert)

Definitional Matters, Loaded Questions

Equivocation

July 20, 2012 No Comments

Equivocation: when an argument relies on an ambiguous word (a word with more than one possible meaning), shifting in meaning, to get its conclusion

Definitional Matters, Equivocation
Joe The Plumber “I’m Not Saying…”

Joe The Plumber “I’m Not Saying…”

June 29, 2012 No Comments

An ad from Samuel "Joe The Plumber" Wurzelbacher's campaign against Marcy Kaptur for Ohio's 9th district seat in the House of Representatives. It uses a the technique of distancing the speaker from obvious fallacious claims by qualifying them with the phrase 'I'm not saying that...'

Woman calls Obama an Arab, McCain says he is a “family man”

Woman calls Obama an Arab, McCain says he is a “family man”

June 13, 2012 No Comments

A woman at a town hall style meeting claims Barack Obama is an "Arab." McCain takes the mic to correct her, saying Obama is a 'decent, family man.'

Ambiguous logical relations in folk art

Ambiguous logical relations in folk art

August 8, 2011 No Comments

I found this in the shed of my parents, while taking my son to visit his grandparents. It belonged, originally, to my grandmother. There are two distinct ways to interpret the sentence: 'Without a cat, a home is just a house' which was probably the intent of the author, and certainly the intent of my cat-loving grandmother and cat-loving parents. I, however, prefer the alternative, where the phrase 'without a cat' attaches to 'house' rather than the sentence as a whole. : or, to make it explicit: 'A home is just (a house without a cat)'

The Fake MLK Quote

The Fake MLK Quote

June 10, 2011 No Comments

In the days after the death of Osama bin Laden, this quote made its way around the various social networking sites:

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of

1988 Presidential Debate – Bernard Shaw’s question

1988 Presidential Debate – Bernard Shaw’s question

April 9, 2011 No Comments

In an infamous moment from the 1988 Presidential debate, the moderator Bernard Shaw asked Dukakis if his wife were raped and murder, would he still oppose the death penalty.

2004 Bush Ad – Victory

2004 Bush Ad – Victory

April 7, 2011 No Comments

From the 2004 Presidential Campaign: Victory, which claims that Iraq and Afghanistan were now (in 2004) democracies.

2004 Bush Ad – Progress for America: 11

2004 Bush Ad – Progress for America: 11

April 7, 2011 No Comments

From the 2004 Presidential Campaign: the 527 ‘Progress for America’: 'These people want to kill us' - the list of 'these people' includes Chechen rebels.

2004 Bush Ad – Swift Boat Vets: Any Questions

2004 Bush Ad – Swift Boat Vets: Any Questions

April 7, 2011 No Comments

From the 2004 Presidential Campaign: the 527 'Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' ran this ad questioning Kerry's public biography about his war record

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Fake Expert

Fake Expert: A fallacious appeal to authority in which the 'expert' is not an expert at all.

Expert in the wrong domain

Expert in the wrong domain: a fallacious version of an appeal to authority - i.e. appealing to a doctor...

Slippery Slope

Slippery slope: If we take one step, we’ll have to take all the rest of them because there’s no...

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Post hoc ergo propter hoc: “After this, therefore because of this”, a fallacy in reasoning about causes. (I took...

Poisoning The Well

Poisoning the well: Telling the audience what to think of a speaker when you’re introducing the speaker (My next...

Loaded Question

Loaded question: A question with an unacceptable pre-supposition. (Why do you hate America so much? – Stephen Colbert)

Fallacies of Relevance

Fallacies of Relevance: Bringing up irrelevant considerations in an effort to distract listener from the merits of the actual...

Guilt By Association

Guilt by Association: You are just the same as X, and X is terrible. Therefore, you’re terrible (the conclusion...

Genetic Fallacy

Genetic fallacy: Saying that some idea’s history or origin (genesis) means it is true/false.

Equivocation

Equivocation: when an argument relies on an ambiguous word (a word with more than one possible meaning), shifting in...

Enthymeme

Enthymeme: general term for an argument with a gap (missing premise)

Confusing Correlation With Causation

Confusing Correlation With Causation: (Buying gas is correlated with owning a car. Clearly, buying gas causes car ownership.)

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias: seeing what you believe; interpreting observations/data to match a conclusion you already have in mind.

Undermining Biography

Undermining Biography: sewing seeds of doubt due to questionable background. Also known as ‘swiftboating’.