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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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Kris Karl

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Kris Karl


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Mon, Feb 08, 2016 - 05:51 PM

Are these good analogies?

Since you lock your doors at night to keep your family safe, why shouldn't our country lock its doors/protect our borders to keep our citizens safe?

If your child went trick o treating and brought home a bag full of candy with one poisonous one but you didn't know which one, would you throw the whole bag away or risk letting your child eat the poisonous piece? Is it a good idea for our government to treat illegal immigration the same way?



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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 Mon, Feb 08, 2016 - 06:06 PM
A "good" analogy can be seen as one where the two things being compared are in fact similar, and any differences found are insignificant. Analogies are generally more rhetorical tools then they are tools of logic, so the onus usually falls on the one objecting to the analogy to point out the differences. For example, if I were arguing against the first analogy, I might say:

"Because I don't have a 305 foot statue in my yard that reads 'Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free'"

or a bit more serious...

"This is a weak analogy because virtually all people who break in homes cause harm to the homeowner, whereas a minuscule percentage of people who come to this country cause harm to its citizens."

Begging the Question: Don't be a victim of this fallacy by accepting the claims inherent in the question. The claim is that (1) illegal immigrants are dangerous. Are they? Maybe or maybe not. The other claim is that (2) protecting our borders will keep us safe. Does it? Again, maybe... but realize these are questions that should be asked, not assumed.

Someone commented anonymously:
Locked Doors Analogy: I think you are incorrect on the latter. First, you need to distinguish between those entering the Country Illegally vs Legally. The structure of the analogy (locked doors) Completely omits Legal immigrants from the proposition, therefore we are left with only harm caused by illegal immigrants, which you assert to be “miniscule”. There’s a lot of statistical info that would suggest otherwise.

The question is about the strength of the analogy. It is not about comparing legal vs illegal immigrants; it is about comparing locking doors of the home vs "locking doors" of the country (or building a wall and making Mexico pay for it). Even with the "lots of statistical info" the numbers are very different, making it a weak analogy. According to http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/08/politics/immigrants-crime/ (no, I will not consider Breibart a valid source of data). There are 11.2 million undocumented (illegal) immigrants in the US, 177,960 of which were convicted criminals, or about 1.6%. This would be like saying only 1 out of every 62 home break-ins result in property damage or loss when we know that it is closer to 62 out of 62. This is what makes the OP a very weak analogy.

Update: Friday, Feb 03, 2017 07:42 PM
Someone commented anonymously:
I lock my door to protect my assets. I pay taxes and give to charities to help others. We know taxes go toward benefits such as welfare. However, your saying not all illegals are bad. But they are breaking into my "house" and taking things that are meant for others.

I would ask that you substantiate the claim that they are "taking things that are meant for others." If you are referring to the myth that they don't pay taxes, this has been thoroughly debunked. But more to the fallaciousness of the original statement and less about the politics, let's grant you that illegals are "taking things that are meant for others." Even a conservative estimate might show that pennies of what you personally pay in taxes go these illegals. This is much more UNLIKE someone breaking into your home an causing your family harm or eating poisonous candy than it is LIKE. Again, demonstrating that this is a weak analogy, and therefore fallacious.

Update: Thursday, Mar 23, 2017 06:33 AM
Someone commented anonymously:
Would the following be a better analogy? As a US citizen does having a legal right to a domicile give you the right to grant or deny access to said domicile? If so why?

Since you put it in question form, the strength of the analogy does not matter because the question diffuses the assumption that it is strong and should be accepted. If you phrased this as

Since we have a legal right to domicile, then we have the right to grant domicile to others.

Then it would be more problematic. You would be saying "If we have X, we can grant X to others" with the assumption of still maintaining X for ourselves. Most of should be able to list off many more examples of exceptions to that rule (a medical degree, a driver's license, etc.) than examples that follow it. Therefore, a weak analogy.

Update: Monday, Jan 14, 2019 10:46 AM
Someone commented anonymously:

I say if you are against the border wall then you should leave your front door wide open and allow anyone who wants to come in and use the resources you paid for.

Then you are not a rational thinker. This is just as problematic as me saying that if you are for the border wall then you should board up all the windows and doors in your house and put a barbed wire fence around your house to deter people from using the resources you paid for. See the problem? A complex issue such as border security cannot be rationally understood by a FOX News (or MSNBC) talking point. There are costs and benefits to consider, statistics to understand, political implications, etc.
Bo Bennett, PhD
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Rich McMahon
Ye Olde Logician

Seasoned Vet

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Rich McMahon

Ye Olde Logician

Seasoned Vet

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, Mar 14, 2016 - 12:38 AM
At first blush this seems a poor analogy, since while it should be presumed that anyone entering your home without explicit or tacit permission intends to do harm, either to you or your family, either directly or indirectly, the same cannot be said for someone crossing our boarders, even unlawfully, since they may be seeking to make a better life for themselves, without intention to overtly harm anyone.
However, when factoring in the realities of life, e.g., that such individuals may be convicted felons, drug dealers or simply seeking to exploit the lawful tax payer thru welfare or medical expenses, the probability decreases that their entry (en masse) will be benign, thus strengthening the force of this analogy.


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Rich McMahon
Friday, March 18, 2016 - 06:52:54 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: The locked-door analogy IS directly related to Legal vs Illegal immigrants. An unlocked door corresponds to open (i.e., no restrictions, which currently does not exist) immigration. A locked door (posited it this analogy) then refers to our existing immigration system in which there are restrictions placed whereby you must meet requirements for legal entry. This has little to do with “building a (physical) wall.” Locking the door thus prohibits, at least in theory, entry of those not meeting these requirements, while allowing entry to those that do. Thus, individuals who potentially enter illegally (bypassing the in-place lock) constitute the relevant group for this analogy.

I think providing rebuttal statistics is not the purpose of this discussion or this site (though I would not have cited either FOXNews or Breitbart). I believe, per your response, we are in agreement that the strength of the analogy lies in the degree to which illegal immigrants do harm, and this is the salient point.

I enjoyed this exchange and look forward to others!




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Phil Martin
Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 07:15:07 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: The first analogy may be weak, but it has some appeal. The difference in the two parts of the analogy is a matter of scale. A person may welcome the poor and the tired into his home, but still lock his doors at night.

The second analogy, however, has so many aspects with which to quibble. First, there is no comparison between a bag of candy and people. The bag of candy has no traits in common with people other than that both exist. Second, the poisoned piece of candy is more an urban myth than a reality. As such one cannot be expected to draw any real conclusion from it. It becomes so distracting as to cause any discussion to digress from the original question.

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Rich McMahon
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 01:01:12 AM
“Welcoming the poor” (one way or the other) has no basis at all in the first analogy, since the poor can always be welcomed with doors open (unlocked.)
“Welcoming the poor” (one way or the other) has little relevance in the first analogy, since the poor can always be welcomed with doors open (unlocked.)
I agree, the second analogy (which I did not initially address) is highly flawed. However, it is irrelevant to bring up "Urban Myths", since the purported analogy posited that one piece of candy in the bag was poisonous. Given this and no other information, the Mother could only responsibly act to discard the entire bag of candy. Agree? Of course, this has absolutely no relation to the attempted immigration analogy. I think this fallacy should be correctly viewed as a non sequitur.

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Rich McMahon
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 01:01:10 AM
@Rich McMahon:

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