Logical fallacies poster

A printable logical fallacy poster. (via @mrbadexample)



  1. Pop quiz: which logical fallacy covers the logical fallacy assuming because you matched an opponents argument to a logical fallacy on this poster that they are completely wrong or you are right?

    1. I think I invented the Argumentum ad Perennium last week as a kind of Godwin’s Law for segueing into issues that are perpetually unresolvable, like Vinyl vs. CD.

      1. For a second there, I thought you said “Argumentum ad Perineum,” the simplest translation of which would appear to be “‘taint one thing nor t’other.”

    2. That doesn’t seem to be actually a logical fallacy though. At least in the examples given, the person with the authority isn’t attempting to argue with the critic’s position on logical grounds, merely stating that they have the authority to punish the disenter for their dissent (which they very well may have)

      1. It depends.  If your boss tells you to shut up or else, and you do, if your boss walks away thinking that he has proven you wrong, he has made a fallacy.  The reason why it isn’t in the pantheon of fallacies is because you need to understand something of how people are perceiving the “shut up or else” argument.  If he walks away thinking that he has just shut you up, then it isn’t a fallacy.
        I know it sounds dumb, but I have met more than one upper management type who has so gotten so used to using “shut up or else” that I truly believe that they think they have proven someone wrong when they engage that kind of argument.

        A:”I think that this is a bad course of action.”
        B:”We are going to do it, and if you don’t like it, you can write a memo to C explaining why you refuse to do it.”
        A:”Fine, we can do it your way”.
        B:”Good, now that we are all in agreement…”

        1. My point is in such cases it isn’t clear if the boss actually thinks that the point has been refuted, only that it wasn’t acceptable to *their* boss and that they aren’t willing to get chewed out on your account. The two aren’t necessarily the same.

    3. appeal to force is a special case of appeal to consequences, which would fit under the poster’s “burden of proof” paragraph, no?

    1. It’s already a crappy layout and design suitable only for dormrooms (sorry, dear artist), why worry about legibility?

  2. I wish this meant that people would finally stop falsely accusing each other of ad hominem fallacies in the comments of BoingBoing points.  But nothing can stop that.

    For reference, ad hom: “You’re stupid and therefore you’re wrong.”
    Not ad hom: “You’re simultaneously stupid and wrong.”

    1. Without any other context, 
      “You’re simultaneously stupid and wrong.” generally implies a “therefore” even if it’s not written down. “Ad hominem” is a closer accusation than just “offtopic”.

  3. Awesome!  Can we permanently post this list right above the comment text box on makezine.com?

  4. Logical fallacies are so over-done. I’m into illogical fallacies now. Why, just this morning I constructed an entire argument out of nothing but non sequiturs and paste.

  5. What kind of fallacy is it to assume that your readers want to download poster-sized PDFs before they can even read your sub-microscopic text?

      1. Selecting the image in Adobe Reader and copying to an image program seems to give a better looking result than Firefox and Google.

        1.  It definitely does, but the problem I have is forcing users to download a file, and then chase it down and open it in a standalone program, just to see what the words are. Or even to use a browser plugin.

          It’s not these people’s fault specifically, but it’s a design failing in general to have to do anything except click on a link to see a picture on the internet.

      1. Thanks for the technical support! While we’re at it, can you tell me why vector graphics make it impossible to hit the ‘Print Screen’ button on a keyboard?

    1. That being said, a shortened version of this should be the first thing on Boingboing’s comment policy page.

    2. The rest of the website works as single pages, each devoted to its own fallacy. Click the icons at the bottom of the page, or the title bar to take you to the home page.

  6. Excellent!

    Sure there are other fallacies that could be included, but if just this one page was understood by everyone, can you imagine how much bullshit would evaporate from our lives?

    I do think it would have been worth an extra sentence on the “Begging the Question” to note how the term is normally misused to mean something like “raises the additional question.”

      1. Thanks…

        My own first reaction to just about everything is cynical, critical, and bitter as the worst bastards on 4chan. But why on earth would I burden everyone else with crap like that?

        Optimism is hard work, but worth it. “Fake it ’til you make it” I guess.

  7. thou shalt not commit logical fallacies

    I certainly shall, so you’re begging the question.

  8. How about the “whatever!” fallacy that implies that no matter what your argument is, it is boring and ignorable. Normally used by teens.

  9. If I were going to create a comment system, I would allow commenters to tag other comments with what fallacy they thought it was using.   In addition, allow others to “Flag as illogical” any post.

    Anyone arguing against this idea is just being difficult and thus has no real value in their reply, not to mention I can point to past replies they have made which are false, meaning most anything they post is going to be false.  I HAVE after all moderated forums before so would know how this will work.  We also know that most commenters are unable to post without using some kind of logical fallacy, so clearly there would be value in this kind of idea.  After all, so many people are just dicks online that it’s clear some solution like this is required.  And if we don’t do something like this to help others see their fallacies, things are just going to go more to hell than they already are.  

    Indeed, everyone likes a well thought out argument, so obviously poorly written ones deserve to be tagged as such. And bad arguments are just one more step to the obvious police state crackdown that is inevitable if we don’t do something.  Of course I know most of you dear BB readers won’t make such mistakes. Bad posts are obviously from outsiders and troublemakers – not us BB readers.  

    Seriously though, this is such a new idea it has to be better.  Some of you have such good intentions with your posts, it’s sad when mean people stomp on them with their fallacious posts.  At least almost everyone likes logical posts, so it’s obvious they’d like a system like this to help make most posts logical.  

    And for those of you who don’t like it?  Your spelling is so bad in your posts that I don’t see why we should even let you post at all!    Of course some of you will put down the idea simply because I recommended it – typical.   But giving feedback on others arguments is a long standing tradition – after all Plato probably gave his students feedback, so it makes sense here.  And if you can’t agree to this idea?  Then I’d have to ask, “Why are you supporting the trolls?”  You must be one if you can’t agree.  

    It’s clear that since we don’t have such a system now, and we do see posts that are bad, that we will see ones that are good after it’s in place.  My own comment here after all is an example of well thought out logic so backs up this idea of “logic means good”.  

    To check if it wasn’t just me, I pinged a few friends who all agreed, and so it’s definitely a majority supporting this great idea.  And seriously, if you don’t think it will work, then prove it.  You can’t tell me otherwise just because you “think” it won’t work.   I bet if I check your accounts, I’ll see that moderators have told you to chill in the past, meaning your opinions are of no value really.  

    Reading many posts, it’s clear that good posts are often logical, so one can conclude that all logical posts will be good.  And since good posts are often logical, it’s clear that it is the logic that makes them good.  I mean posts are either good and logical, or not logical, and therefor not good.

    And we do need to stop trolling and illogical posts, because the more there are the worst things get here.  It’s not bad now, but the more it continues, the more of a slime pit this place will be.  If we let people post illogical fallacies we might as well let them post kiddy porn and idiotic Teaparty diatribes.  Hell just slap a Romney 2012 sticker on the BB header right now you’re not going to be with me on this.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve spelled out my case for a new type of comment system very well here, and I’m sure you all can’t help but agree with my impeccable logic.

    1. If we implement this system, isn’t there a danger of elephants marrying  jars of mustard?

      1. Indeed.  Grown men will be able to stand in public and play with their fallacies as if it was the most natural thing ever!

    2. You have too much time on your hands, and these are first world problems anyway.

      1. Also, paragraphs dude… paragraphs.  I am generally up for a good read, but help a brother out a little.

        1. That is logical Rindan, plus your appeal to my humanity by implying a brotherly relationship is honest and without rancor, which prompts me to respond in a helpful manner by adding paragraphs.

    3.  Your post isn’t strictly logical. Boing Boing often runs stories of an emotional nature, and since emotions aren’t logical, any comment based on such stories would also not be logical and therefore “not good” (according to your reasoning). However, in the case of emotional stories, it is usually the emotional comments that are considered “good” and the logical comments that are considered “not good”.
        For example, if a story ran about a young hero that risked life and limb to save an unknown toddler from certain death, the emotional comments (“Yay! What a hero!” or similar) would be considered “good” and the logical comments (“He should have 1st performed a risk-assessment and profitability-study before taking action”) would be considered “not good.”
        Thus without applying the necessary caveats limiting it only to logic-based articles, your proposal is not a logical solution.

  10. I love this *so* much.

    Best thing that’s happened to me this week. Of course, it’s only Monday. ;)

  11. Sheesh. You follow all these rules and you find you can’t actually *have* an argument.

  12. On a more serious note…

    I caught a live taping of the US public radio show “Philosophy Talk” http://philosophytalk.org/ the other day.  What a great show that is.  I’m struck by the wonderfully intelligent and cordial nature of the discussions.  The hosts don’t always agree on everything (perhaps somewhat for good radio), and they do so in a friendly, engaging way that makes you walk away feeling smarter, not polarized.

  13. Nitpick: no one says “black-and-white” fallacy, it’s called a “false dichotomy.”

  14. In my experience, this stuff is the most reliable way to utterly destroy any serious discussion; the thoughtful posters instantly divert into discussion not of the actual topic but of the correctness of the invocation of whichever of these is mentioned, and the only ones staying on topic are the idiots and trolls.

  15. From “Bandwagon”: “Shamus pointed a drunken finger at Sean and asked him to explain how so many people could believe in leprechauns if they’re only a silly old superstition. Sean, however, had had a few too many Guinness himself and fell off his chair.”

    Your logical fallacy is racism.

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