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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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Erin Dotsey

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Erin Dotsey


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logical fallacy
strawman
Sat, Feb 16, 2019 - 02:57 PM

Is this a strawman

I was arguing that a wall on the Southern US border is dumb and inefficient. The guy I was discussing it with said “tell that to Israel.”

I told him that was irrelevant and a strawman. He posted the “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” gif in regards to my calling him out. I linked to your page and even tried to give him an example of why it’s irrelevant and why it’s a strawman and he told me Iwas strawmanning him 😂 and sadly, I’m pretty sure he’s not trolling though I wish he was.



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David Franks

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David Franks


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Print Mon, Feb 18, 2019 - 02:15 AM
To the extent that "Tell that to Israel" was an attempt to change the topic to something that the other party thought he could argue better (though I'm betting he couldn't), it was a strawman. However, it was not really irrelevant.

Most of the "wall" along Israel's land borders-- about 97% of it-- is two chain-link fences with a patrol road between them, augmented by electronic surveillance equipment and sensors. There are some concrete walls in populated areas; they are specifically designed to block sniper fire from elevated positions, and are only as long and tall as needed for that purpose.

The "wall" around Israel was made relevant to our own southern border when Thump himself-- not knowing what he was talking about-- mentioned Israel's wall as a good example of border security and something we should emulate.

The person who said, "Tell it to Israel" apparently doesn't know what he's talking about, either, as Israel has found their chain-link border fences to be very effective. On the other hand, the wall that Thump wants to build would, indeed, be ineffective, expensive and an environmental and legal disaster.

As for the weak analogy fallacy, that is Thump's doing, but in his defense, I will note that he pulled it out of his bottomless chasm of ignorance. Unfortunately, a lot of people are happy to walk on the edge of that chasm.


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William Harpine, Ph.D.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.


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Print Sat, Feb 16, 2019 - 06:59 PM
Hi! Great question. Straw man makes sense to me, although nowadays we would say "straw person" or some such.

It also seems like a questionable analogy. An analogy only works if the two cases (the US & Israel) are similar in every essential way. The two cases are obviously much different. For example, Mexico is not threatening military action against the US. No one is firing rockets across the Texas border.

Informal logic fallacies don't always fall into neat categories, do they?

In any case, your buddy is making what seems to me to be a very weak argument.

William Harpine wdharpine@gmail.com


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Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Sun, Feb 17, 2019 - 06:54 AM
I think you could get away with calling that a strawman, but the person who called you out on that wasn't really wrong either. The fallacy "Tell that to Israel" person committed was more accurately a weak analogy.
Bo Bennett, PhD
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Keith Seddon

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Print Sun, Feb 17, 2019 - 10:52 AM
I would categorise this as a false comparison. The error concerns not the argument itself but what the argument is about. The Mexican border and the Israeli/Palestinian borders share virtually nothing on common other their actually being borders and, indeed, concerning any number of points, what is true of one is more than likely false regarding the other. Phrased differntly, this "argument" weighs AGAINST building the US/Mexican wall, precisely because the circumstances of the Israeli/Palestinian example are LACKING in the US case.


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Rich McMahon
Ye Olde Logician

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Rich McMahon

Ye Olde Logician

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About Rich McMahon

Retired Chemist, Fortune 500 Co. Exec., and Wall St. i-Banker. Now a fledgling Playwright & lyricist. Currently living la Vida Meditativo on a mountain in CO.
Print Mon, Feb 18, 2019 - 01:26 AM
William Harpine: No, you miss the point entirely. The obvious point of the analogy is to equate the EFFECTIVENESS of Israel's wall / fence with that proposed by DJT on the US Southern Boarder. How you could possibly misinterpret this?

Your assertion : "The two cases are obviously much different. For example, Mexico is not threatening military action against the US. No one is firing rockets across the Texas border" ....is antithetical to the analogy being made as to the similar effectiveness of the Wall in the respective countries.

In any event, it is an opinion being asserted, thus no logical fallacy exists.

Advise: Reflect more, post less.

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Michael Chase Walker
Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

Master Contributor

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Michael Chase Walker

Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Tue, Feb 19, 2019 - 02:57 PM
This has nothing to do with logic but everything to do with the problems of walls and fences.

Mending Wall
BY ROBERT FROST

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."


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