Test on Chapter 3 with Answers


The following paragraphs may contain informal fallacies. For each paragraph that contains a fallacy, name the specific fallacy exemplified by the whole passage, and explain your choice.

If there is no fallacy, write "No fallacy". 4 points each



Money canít buy happiness, so Iím afraid Iíll have to say no. I wonít increase your allowance.

Answer: Appeal to a saying, also known as fallacy of accident. "Money can't buy happiness" is a common saying, but the parent is using it to justify not giving more allowance money. Maybe that is the parent's real reason, but it looks like the parent is just dismissing the child's request on the basis of appeal to a saying that might not be relevant to the child's request.



Either you become a vegetarian or you will continue to subject innocent animals to needless pain and suffering. The choice is yours.

Answer: False dilemma or false dichotomy. The arguer presents only two options, when there are others (e.g., only eat animals that have been treated humanely).



The salad dressing says "Shake well before using". I shook it two weeks ago; do you think that was long enough?

Answer: Amphiboly. The expression "Shake well before using" could also mean "Shake a long time before using", where "well before" is used as in the sentence "I finished all my college applications well before the deadlines".



It would not be a good idea to appoint Jane Williams to the office of city manager. As city manager, Williams would control the cityís finances. But during the past fifteen years Williams has managed five different businesses, and all of them have declared bankruptcy.

Answer: No fallacy. She has a record of mismanaging money. It would be reasonable to consider this.



It's never a good idea to allow teenage children of driving age to have the family car. Soon they will be taking the car out on dates. This will lead to illicit sexual activity in the back seat, and in no time at all the girl will be pregnant Then the parents will have to face the moral crisis of whether to obtain an abortion for their daughter or see her raise an illegitimate child. Nothing but trouble will result from letting teens use the family car.

Answer: Slippery Slope. Every additional complication step requires a separate argument.



You argue that I should cut down on my drinking. But you drink much more heavily than I. You havenít been sober in a year.

Answer: Ad hominem tu quoque. Just because someone is a hypocrite and doesn't follow their own advice doesn't mean it's not good advice.



Some people argue that guns cause accidental deaths and wounding in private homes. This is certainly true. But stairways, defective flooring, power tools, lawn mowers, gas stoves, axes, and heaters are just like guns; they cause accidental deaths and injuries, too. And no one would think of suggesting that these things be banned from people's homes. So it seems to me that persons who wish to assume the risk of having guns in their homes ought to be permitted to do so.

Answer: False, misleading or dubious analogy. Guns are too different from stairs, defective flooring, etc.



You often hear people say that drugs are bad. But where do you draw the line? Caffeine is a drug, and so is sugar. So itís pointless to argue against drugs.

Answer: Continuum fallacy. "Drugs" is an open concept, but that doesn't mean the concept of drugs is meaningless.



George and Tom are both intellectually gifted and majoring in philosophy. Furthermore, both are bachelors. It must be the case that most bachelors these days are philosophy majors.

Answer: Hasty generalization. Sample of two bachelors isn't enough to generalize about bachelors.



The Surgeon General recently issued a report arguing that one third of the cancer fatalities in the United States can be attributed to smoking. But this claim is ridiculous. Americans have been smoking for years and a great deal of enjoyment has resulted. What would life be like if you can't enjoy something once in a while? Certain religious groups are that way. Take the Amish, for example. No booze, no dancing, no gambling. Good Lord, those people must be nuts!

Answer: Red herring. The Surgeon General's statement is never refuted.



Charlie wants a new car desperately but he doesnít have sufficient funds to buy one. Therefore, he should go to Saratoga or Los Altos Hills and steal one.

Answer: Missing the point. The premises don't justify the conclusion.



In June Ms. Hooper started taking vitamins, and she was dead by Christmas. So vitamins are obviously hazardous to your health.

Answer: False cause fallacy (post hoc ergo propter hoc). First the vitamins, then the death, so arguer claims vitamins caused death.



We must accept the fact that astrology is an accurate predictor of the future, because no one has ever disproved it.

Answer: Appeal to ignorance. Lack of proof is not proof.



An educated, thoughtful person couldnít possibly disagree with me on this issue.

Answer: Poisoning the well (begging the question). The arguer doesn't explain why an educated thoughtful person couldn't disagree.



More Americans drink Budweiser than any other beer. Clearly, then, if you drink beer, you should drink Bud.

Answer: Appeal to the people, bandwagon, appeal to popularity.



Molecules are in constant random motion. Michelangeloís David, a famous piece of sculpture, is composed of molecules. Therefore, Michelangeloís David is in constant random motion.

Answer: Composition. What's true of the David's molecules (the parts) isn't true of the statue (the whole).



A city council member has proposed that we abolish San Joseís vice squad. If this proposal passes, it will be signal that "anything goes" in San Jose. Soon there will be soliciting on the steps of City Hall, and then lovemaking on Stevens Creek Boulevard. Organized crime will profit, and San Jose will become the whorehouse of the nation. I say, keep the vice squad!

Answer: Slippery slope. Every additional complication step requires a separate argument.



Twenty percent of the men attending West Valley College are handsome. Jack attends West Valley College, so it follows that twenty percent of him is handsome.

Answer: Division. What's true of 20% of WVC men collectively isn't true of EACH WVC man.



The keg on the left is filled with light beer. Therefore, it must weigh several pounds less than the keg on the right, which is filled with regular beer.

Answer: Equivocation on "light".



During the short six months that the Reverend Evans has been pastor of our church, four members of the congregation have died. To prevent more deaths, Iím afraid we must get rid of Reverend Evans.

Answer: False Cause (post hoc ergo propter hoc).



Senator Kennedy has argued persuasively for federal insurance to protect the elderly against the burden of catastrophic illness or injury. But unfortunately nothing can stop the aging process. We have no fountain of youth. People who think they can remain youthful forever are simply deluding themselves.

Answer: Straw man. Arguer gives a distorted interpretation of Kennedy's claim.



If I take liberal arts courses, Iíll face years of unemployment; and if I take business courses, Iíll face years of boredom. But I must take either liberal arts or business courses. So it looks like Iím facing either years of unemployment or years of boredom.

Answer: False dilemma, also known as false dichotomy. There are more options that liberal arts OR business courses, e.g., science courses, the military, suicide.



Jack Sherman has argued that modern technology does not hold the key to human happiness. Apparently Sherman would have us throw out our computers, TVs, and appliances, and return to the stone age. I bet he also says we should turn in our clothing for animal skins and live in caves. What utter foolishness!

Answer: Straw man. Arguer gives a distorted interpretation of Sherman's claim.



What is wrong with gun control? Little imagination is needed to see where gun control will lead. First the idiotic government takes away our guns; then we get invaded by a foreign power, and weíre helpless to defend ourselves. Our wives and daughters are quickly raped and impregnated by enemy soldiers, and our children taken from us to be brainwashed by the enemy. Our businesses will be looted and our hospitals shut down. Society will be in chaos, and our beloved country will be history.

Answer: Slippery slope. Every additional horror requires a separate causal argument.



Deborah Coughlin is a lawyer, and she committed fraud against the company she works for. Dennis Decker is also a lawyer, and for over a year he drummed up needless paper work just so he could send his client a bill for it. The conclusion is obvious that lawyers are nothing but a bunch of crooks.

Answer: Hasty generalization -- sample too small.



Daddy, surely I deserve to have my allowance raised to $50 a week. If I donít get at least that much Iíll never be able to afford that new CD player, and if I donít buy it, Iíll miss all the new hits and all my friends will think Iím not cool.

Answer: Appeal to pity.



Strenuous exercise is good for people. Therefore, it would be a good idea for old Mrs. Bevans, who just had a heart attack, to go running today.

Answer: Accident, or Appeal to a saying ("Strenuous exercise is good for people" is only true ceteris paribus).



There are more churches in New York City than in any other city in the country; and more crimes are committed in New York City than anywhere else. So, if we are to eliminate crime, we must abolish the churches.

Answer: False cause -- correlation fallacy.



When a machine breaks down, mechanics replace the broken parts. Similarly, when the human body breaks down, it makes good sense to replace diseased organs with new ones if possible.

Answer: No fallacy.



To estimate public support for a new city-funded convention center, researchers surveyed 100 homeowners in one of the cityís fashionable neighborhoods. They found that 89 percent of those sampled were enthusiastic about the project. Therefore, we may conclude that 89 percent of the cityís residents favor the convention center.

Answer: Hasty generalization -- sample unrepresentative.



Extraterrestrials must exist. When people who have been abducted by aliens make sketches of the aliens, the similarities in the abducteesí drawings are amazing: all the sketches show large heads, big eyes, short skinny bodies, long fingers. That resemblance couldnít have happened if extraterrestrials didnít exist.

Answer: Begging the question. The arguer assumes from the start that there are "people who have been abducted by aliens" to prove that there must be aliens. But abductees couldn't exist if there were no aliens to begin with.



Up until now, no one has proved that UFOs donít exist, so I think we should give the benefit of the doubt to those people who claim to have seen them. in other words, I think we should believe in UFOs and extraterrestrials until the sightings are proven false.

Answer: Appeal to ignorance. Lack of proof is not proof.



You'll send a Hallmark card, if you care enough to send the very best.

Answer: Begging the question (assumes without proof that Hallmark cards are the very best). Irrelevant emotional appeal. Poisoning the well (you'd better buy a Hallmark card or people will think you don't care enough to send the very best).



If a car breaks down on a freeway, a passing mechanic is not obligated to render emergency road service. For similar reasons, if a person suffers a heart attack on the street, a passing physician should not be obligated to render emergency medical assistance.

Answer: False, misleading, or dubious analogy. Human lives are more important than cars.



Ellen has argued that logic is not the most important thing in life. Apparently Ellen advocates irrationality. It has taken two million years for the human race to achieve the position it has, and now Ellen wants to throw the whole thing into the garbage.

Answer: Straw man. Arguer gives a distorted interpretation of Ellen's claim.



Michel Foucault, the famous French philosopher, smoked pot, was gay, sexually promiscuous, and died of AIDS. Obviously, then, Foucaultís philosophy is not worth the paper itís written on.

Answer: Ad hominem (argument against the person). Foucault's philosophy might have been valuable even if Foucault was gay, etc.



George wouldnít keep his hands off me. Tom said that if I loved him, I would prove it by having sex with him. This proves men are all alike. all they want is sex.

Answer: Hasty generalization -- sample too small.



Swedes eat millions of pounds of cheese per year. Lars is a Swede, so Lars eats millions of pounds of cheese a year.

Answer: Division. What's true of Swedes collectively isn't necessarily true of EACH Swede.



People should tell the truth, so when my girlfriend asks me if that outfit makes her look fat, Iíll have to say yes.

Answer: Fallacy of accident, aka appeal to a saying. "People should tell the truth" is true ceteris paribus.



In every marriage either the man or the woman must dominate. So, Honey, whoís it going to be -- you or me?

Answer: False dilemma (false dichotomy). Only two choices presented. There may be other alternatives, e.g., egalitarian marriage.



Smoking cigarettes can harm one's health. So, it's best to avoid smoking assuming one wants to be healthy.

Answer: No fallacy.



Your honor, it's true that I killed my parents. I fully admit that I murdered them in cold blood. But I should get a light sentence. After all, I am an orphan.

Answer: Appeal to pity.



As I travel around and talk to people I find that many do not even know what genetic engineering is. Well, genetic engineering is best defined as the most recent in a long line of attempts, on the part of human beings, to play God. Of course, the proponents of genetic engineering overlook just one little fact: we humans are not God. And that's why genetic engineering is profoundly immoral.

Answer: Impromptu definition. This isn't how people define genetic engineering. The definition contains irrelevant and unscientific elements.



Of course it is reasonable to believe that we have been visited by extraterrestrial beings. After all, plenty of skeptics have tried, but none has been able to disprove that such visitations have occurred.

Answer: Appeal to ignorance. Lack of proof isn't proof.



I have worn these socks to the last five baseball games. Each time I've gotten a base hit. So, these are my lucky socks. I'll play better if I wear them.

Answer: False cause. The socks may have no effect on this person's play.



I do not have very much information about Mr. Reed, but there is nothing in his file to disprove that he's a Communist. So, he probably is one.

Answer: Appeal to ignorance. Lack of proof isn't proof.



Folk dancing is bad because it leads to ballroom dancing, which in turn leads to modern dancing. And modern dancing leads to promiscuity, which causes a total breakdown in the moral fabric of a country, and hence a lapse into primitive savagery.

Answer: Slippery slope. Each step must be justified separately.



In 1742 Christian Goldbach conjectured that every even number greater than 2 is the sum of two primes. Mathematicians have been trying to prove Goldbach's conjecture ever since, but no one has succeeded in doing so. After two-and-half centuries, I think we can safely conclude that Goldbach was wrong.

Answer: Appeal to ignorance. Lack of proof isn't proof. Interestingly, Goldbach's conjecture WAS recently proved.



No one has been able to prove that astrology is nonsense. For this reason I have concluded that astrology is not nonsense -- rather it is an insightful way of viewing our lives and the world around us.

Answer: Appeal to ignorance. Lack of proof isn't proof.



Paris Hilton says that monogamy is an unjust form of social organization. Therefore, monogamy is an unjust form of social organization.

Answer: Appeal to unqualified authority. Paris Hilton?!



I warned those boys not to stand on Prince Valdinsky's grave. He was murdered, you know. And when he was being buried, his mother put a curse on anyone who showed disrespect for his grave. I was there -- it was a very eerie thing to watch. Anyway, those boys wouldn't listen, and now look at them, all broken up from that automobile crash. I tell you, that curse worked!

Answer: Falce cause -- post hoc ergo propter hoc. Curse is claimed to cause the accident.



The largest slave revolt in U.S. history was one that occurred near New Orleans in 1811. Four or five hundred slaves were involved, lightly armed with cane knives, axes, and clubs. They wounded a plantation owner and killed his son. The revolt was put down by the U.S. Army who attacked the slaves, killing sixty-six of them. This is all true, for I read about it in Howard Zinn's, A People's History of the United States (New York: HarperCollins, 1995). And Dr. Zinn is a well known historian.

Answer: No fallacy.



That young man was just fine until he read Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. It wasn't but a week or so later that he began to walk in his sleep and to emit those awful moans. Therefore, Fear and Trembling is a dangerous book.

Answer: False cause. First he reads the book, then he goes nuts, so the book must have been the cause. But this doesn't rule out other more likely causal explanations.



Violent crime has been on the increase for the past two decades. The quantity of violent movies has also increased during this time. Therefore, in all likelihood, the cause of the increase in violent crime is the increase in the quantity of violent movies.

Answer: False cause -- correlation fallacy. It's true that violent crime is correlated with violence in films, but that doesn't mean the movie violence causes the violent crime. Maybe it's the other way around, or maybe the causality is circular.



If smoking is not harmful, then it is not wrong. And the tobacco companies say that smoking is not harmful. Therefore, smoking is not wrong.

Answer: Appeal to unqualified authority. The tobacco companies are probably biased about this issue.



Day always follows night. The two are perfectly correlated. Therefore, night causes day.

Answer: False cause -- post hoc ergo propter hoc.



Although they've certainly tried, scientists have not been able to demonstrate that ESP is a myth. So, ESP is probably real.

Answer: Appeal to ignorance. Lack of proof isn't proof.



After centuries of trying, no one has been able to prove that God exists. The attempt seems to be futile. So, at this point I think we can safely conclude that there is no God.

Answer: Appeal to ignorance. Lack of proof isn't proof.



We could get control of the crime problem in the U.S. if we would just punish criminals harshly. In Saudi Arabia, for example, thieves get their hands chopped off. Murderers are immediately put to death. And the rate of crime in Saudi Arabia is much lower than the rate of crime in the U.S. Therefore, harsh punishments would greatly reduce the rate of crime in the U.S.

Answer: False cause? Dubious analogy?



Leonardo da Vinci's paintings are immoral if they incite rape. And the Reverend Posner states that da Vinci's paintings incite rape. Hence, da Vinci's paintings are immoral.

Answer: Appeal to unqualified authority.



You have argued that it is wrong for me to hunt deer. Well, you eat hamburger, and that involves the killing of cows. Moreover, it is obvious that there is no moral difference between killing cows and killing deer, so your argument is unsound.

Answer: Dubious analogy? There's a difference between hunting meat and eating it? No fallacy?



It is quite clear what the proponents of legalized euthanasia are seeking. Put simply, they are seeking the power to kill anyone who has a serious illness. And that is why I stand opposed to legalized euthanasia.

Answer: Straw man. Arguer gives a distorted interpretation of the claims of proponents of euthanasia.



What is the pro-choice view? This: it is permissible to kill innocent human beings at will as long as they are small and helpless. By implication, then, the pro-choice view would permit the slaughter of children on a wide scale. And that is why we should all oppose the pro-choice view.

Answer: Straw man. Arguer gives a distorted interpretation of the pro-choice view.



You really think that drugs should be legalized? Think again. Dad will cut you out of the inheritance if you go on thinking like that. That should make it clear to you just how far off base your views really are.

Answer: Appeal to force. This is a threat.



Dr. Herzheimer has written essays criticizing self-help books from the standpoint of logic and science. I realize Dr. Herzheimer is a famous philosopher, but I think it's immature and cold-hearted to criticize people who are trying to help others get their lives together. Thus, I myself give no credence to Dr. Herzheimer's work whatsoever.

Answer: Ad hominem (attack on the person). Herzheimer is "immature and cold-hearted"?!



Mr. Johnson argues that we should stop eating meat. But did you know that Mr. Johnson owns the Vegetables Forever produce company? Oh yes, he stands to gain a lot, financially speaking, if the rest of us become vegetarians. I think we can safely ignore his line of argument.

Answer: Ad hominem circumstantial



Since you became a member of this club you've raised quite a ruckus about women's rights. And I know you sincerely believe in feminism. But if you go on holding these extreme views, I will see to it that you are never voted in as an officer of this club. And you know I can make good on that threat. I hope you follow me: your feminist views are too radical and need to be toned down.

Answer: Appeal to force. This is a threat.



Your Honor, my client does not deserve a year in prison. He has small children that need a father, and a wife that needs a husband.

Answer: Appeal to pity.



Excuse me, Mr. Smith, did I hear you correctly? Did you say that boxing should be banned? Sure, boxing is a little dangerous, but real men love boxing. Therefore, boxing should not be banned.

Answer: Ad hominem. Any man who opposes boxing isn't a real man?!



I was there, I tell you. I stood within ten feet of the man. Either I was hallucinating or he levitated. And I wasn't hallucinating. Therefore, he levitated.

Answer: False dilemma, false dichotomy. Only two options presented when there could be others, e.g., the guy didn't levitate either, but did some slight of hand "magic".



Either men are superior to women or women are superior to men. Men are not superior to women. Hence, women are superior to men.

Answer: False dilemma, false dichotomy. Only two options presented when there could be others, e.g., no one is superior to anyone.



No member of the crew can lift over 100 pounds. Therefore, the entire crew cannot lift over 100 pounds.

Answer: Composition. What's true of the members of the crew distributively isn't true of them collectively.



The Acme Corporation is very important. So, since Ms. Griggs works for the Acme Corporation, she must be very important.

Answer: Division. What's true of the Acme Corporation collectively isn't necessarily true of each of its employees.



God is love. Love is a character trait. Therefore, God is a character trait.

Answer: Equivocation on "love"? Amphiboly? "God is love" is a metaphor, no?



You either hate parties or you love them. So, since you say you don't hate parties, you must love them.

Answer: False dilemma, false dichotomy. Only two options presented when there could be others, e.g., you like some parties better than others.



Monty is so much fun at a party! He's a real ham! But if he's a ham, then he is high in cholesterol. So, he is high in cholesterol.

Answer: Equivocation on "ham".



The leader of this new religious group preaches the following message: "We shall wear no clothes to distinguish ourselves from our Christian brethren." Therefore, this religious group should be opposed. For it advocates nudity.

Answer: Amphiboly. The expression "wear no clothes" isn't meant the way the speaker says.



A hit man is a person. A two-hundred pound hit man is a two-hundred pound person. Therefore, a good hit man is a good person.

Answer: Equivocation on "good". The characteristics of a good hit man are different from those of a good person.



Sixty percent of the students at Seattle Pacific University are female. Pat is a student at Seattle Pacific. So, Pat is sixty percent female.

Answer: Division. What's true of the students collectively isn't true of each student.



People are either good or evil. And Doris is not good. Therefore, she is evil.

Answer: False dilemma, false dichotomy. Only two options presented when there could be others, e.g., Doris could be morally wishy-washy.



Sparrows are plentiful. Pete, my pet bird, is a sparrow. Therefore, Pete is plentiful.

Answer: Division. What's true of sparrows collectively isn't true of every sparrow.



Sleeping pills work because they cause people to go to sleep.

Answer: Circular definition.



Nuclear weapons are more destructive than conventional weapons. Therefore, over the course of human history, more destruction has resulted from nuclear weapons than from conventional weapons.

Answer: Composition. What's true of nuclear weapons distributively (each nuke is more destructive than a conventional bomb) is not true of nukes collectively. In fact, because there have been so few nuclear bombs but so many wars throughout human history, nukes have done far less damage.



Surely Anthony loves me. For he told me he loves me and he wouldn't lie to someone he loves.

Answer: Circularity, begging the question. She assumes that he loves her, but that's the question at issue.



Either you believe that the doctrine of reincarnation is true or you believe that it is false. Clearly, you do not believe that the doctrine of reincarnation is true. Accordingly, you must believe that it is false.

Answer: False dilemma, false dichotomy. Only two options presented when there could be others, e.g., one could be an agnostic about reincarnation.



Some people say co-educational classrooms are distracting for high-schoolers, but I donít agree. Study after study shows that boys and girls have equal intelligence.

Answer: Missing the point.



When you have cancer in your body, you get it removed if you can, or you kill it with radiation or drugs. Well, criminals are just like a cancer in the body of the state. So we should treat criminals just as we would treat any cancer, by killing them.

Answer: False, misleading or dubious analogy. Kill all criminals?!



Nobody complains when the government helps sugar growers in Hawaii and milk producers in Minnesota. So people shouldnít get upset that the government also helps tobacco farmers.

Answer: False, misleading, or dubious analogy. Tobacco (which can kill you) is very different from sugar and milk.




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