Deficits, the National Debt, and Economic Growth: What many politicians don't want you to know.
Debt is the wrong enemy.  Growth is our forgotten friend.
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Logical fallacies are common mistakes which should be avoided, if one is attempting to support or refute an argument logically. I catch almost everybody committing one or more of these errors just about every day...


Fallacies to Avoid
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The offender I catch most frequently, by the way, is me. In this website, I have tried to avoid them, but I'll let you be the judge how well I did. If you spot any, go to the Feedback section and tell me.
Here are the most common ones:

Non sequitur
A conclusion that does not follow logically from the premise.
We've piled up $5.4 trillion in debt; we'd better institute term limits.

Hasty generalization
Jumping to conclusions before considering alternative information.
We ran a deficit again last year; we're still borrowing to pay entitlements.

Generalizing from a small sample.
We need to shut down the border; our welfare rolls are already too large.

Either-or thinking (aka: False dilemma).
Ignores other relevant alternatives.
We've got to make the tough decision: raise taxes or cut spending.

"Post hoc, ergo propter hoc" (Latin for: "after this, therefore because of this")
Assuming that A caused B, simply because B followed A.
There's been an eclipse just before every stock market crash. You'd better liquidate, because there's an eclipse next month.

Begging the question
Assumes truth without supporting evidence.
Debt is a burden on our children.

Circular reasoning
Asserting the same idea in different words.
The growing popularity of a Balanced Budget Amendment shows that people are fed up with deficits.

Special pleading
One-sided argument; completely ignores contrary evidence.
Debt is a virus that's eating us alive. We'll be bankrupt by 1995.

Red herring
Sidetracking by bringing in an irrelevant matter.
We'd better kill the supercollider project, because debt is a burden on our children.

Appeal to ignorance
Asserts truth because contrary evidence is lacking.
The supercollider would never have paid for itself.

Ad populum
Appeal to popular emotions, feelings, and prejudices.
We've already piled $20,000 of debt on every man, woman, and child in America.

Ad hominem
Attacking the person instead of the issue.
You think deficits don't matter? You, sir, are brain-dead.

False analogy
Comparison to something more unalike than similar.
I have to balance my personal checkbook; why shouldn't the federal government have to?

That's the end of the official list. However, I think I've discovered a new one:

The Snapshot Fallacy
Take a snapshot, examine it for things one likes or doesn't like, then draw conclusions about what should be different to make things better. The fallacy is this: A snapshot is a poor substitute for a movie.
The gap between rich and poor is too great. We must redistribute income to correct this inequity.


End of this article
Last update of this page: June 24, 2001
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