Fallacy Summary and Application Paper: Question Everything (CSS330)

Essay by slherrinUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, June 2005

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Fallacy Summary and Application Paper: Question Everything

Critical thinking has been defined as "A process by which we use our knowledge and intelligence to effectively arrive at the most reasonable and justifiable positions on issues, and which endeavors to identify and overcome the numerous hindrances to rational thinking." (Haskins, n.d.) To be a critical thinker it is not only essential to have a healthy skepticism of events and views but also in evaluating arguments it is necessary to determine if fallacious reasoning is being employed in the arguer's premise. According to www.dictionary.com, a fallacy is:

1. A false notion.

2. A statement or an argument based on a false or invalid reference.

3. Incorrectness of reasoning or belief; erroneousness.

4. The quality of being deceptive.

It is worth examining three fallacies in particular which are often used in the area of politics: the straw man fallacy, the red herring fallacy, and lastly, the ad hominem fallacy.

"The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores an arguer's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position". (Labossiere, M., 1995) The error in reasoning here comes from attacking the distorted version and not the actual position. The fallacy is named straw man is analogous of dissembling a straw man versus that of a real man. It is much easier to tear down one's distorted argument (the straw man) than attacking the original argument (a real man). One example of the straw man fallacy as quoted from Mesher (1999) follows:

"Politician: My opponent believes that higher taxes are the only way to pay for needed improvements. She never met a tax she [didn't} like. But I have a better idea: [let's] cut waste in government first." The original argument is to raise taxes to pay for...