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Introduction to Logical Fallacies

Estimated Lesson Time: 45 minutes (self-evaluated option) / 1 hour 30 minutes (instructor-evaluated option)

This is a sample lesson or if you are a student you are not logged in. You can view the course material, but to access all the course content, interact with other students, save your progress, and earn the certificate of completion, you must register and login.

Lesson Introduction

While this course is written for the layperson, I do need to introduce some concepts which may be new to you but play an important role in reasoning, as well as issue a few warnings and explain how this course is organized. In this lesson we will cover the basics of reasoning, arguments, beliefs, fallacies, rationality, and being a smart-ass. By the end of this lesson, you should:

know the difference between reason and rationality

know what an argument is and the many forms it can take

understand how beliefs are formed

know what is meant by the term "fallacy"

know the pros and cons of being a smart-ass

understand that fallacious reasoning is both active and passive

Lesson Resources

Enrolled Student Lesson Resources

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Lesson Videos

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Introduction to Lesson 1 (00:53)

Reason and Rationality (02:23)

Reason and rationality are not the same, and it is important to know the differences.

What is an Argument? (04:06)

An "argument" is often seen as a negative experience, but this is not the type of argument we are talking about in this course.

How Beliefs are Formed (05:41)

Not all beliefs are formed the same, and not all people are biologically influenced by information in the same way.

What is a Fallacy? (06:16)

There are formal and informal fallacies. The informal fallacies are arguments in themselves where there is a degree of subjectivity.

On Being a Smart-Ass (04:35)

Sometimes calling out fallacies is the best course of action. Sometimes it's not. Know the difference.

Fallacies: Who Commits Them? (04:10)

Sometimes an argument is fallacious. Sometimes it is the person who is making the argument who is fallacious. And sometimes it is the person interpreting the argument who is fallacious.

Lesson Key Points

Reason is not the same as rationality. Rationality is being consistent within one's beliefs, where the beliefs can be unreasonable.
Reasoning is a learnable skill that improves with practice.
An argument is an attempt to persuade someone of something by giving reasons to accept a given conclusion.
An argument is made up of premises and a conclusion. The premises can also be referred to as reasons, supporting evidence, or claims.
Deduction is a form of reasoning and argument in which the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises.  If the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. This is also referred to as a formal argument.
Arguments where the conclusion is merely based on probability, not necessity, are considered inductive arguments.
A belief is defined as the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.
Fallacious Arguments. Arguments that are fallacious contain one or more non-factual errors in their form.
Fallacious Reasoning. When an individual is using erroneous thinking (including bypassing reason) in evaluating or creating an argument, claim, proposition, or belief.
Fallacious Tactics.  Deliberately trying to get your opponent or audience to use fallacious reasoning in accepting the truth claims of your argument.
Focus on exactly what error in reasoning you are being accused of, and defend your reasoning—not a definition or name.

Lesson Discussion Questions

What do you think is the difference between belief and knowledge? How can we tell the difference?
Describe an irrational belief and explain why you think it is irrational.
Do you think it is okay to use fallacies in persuasion? Why or why not?

Lesson Assignments

Assignment #1:

This assignment is for students with the instructor-evaluated course option.

Post a question or offer an answer at https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/questions/index.html. You are already registered there. When you do post your question or answer, copy the URL of the question/answer in the response section below.
Assignment #2:

This assignment is for students with the instructor-evaluated course option.

In a paragraph or two, dissect one of your long held beliefs. What is the belief? What do you think are some of the reasons you have the belief? Do you think you can be reasoned out of that belief? Provide your answer in the section below.
Assignment #3Answer one of the following questions found in the "Lesson Discussion Questions" section using the discussion section below, and respond to/comment on at least one student's post. Comment on a post that has no comments yet, if possible.

Alternatively (or in addition to), if you have any questions about this lesson, post them in the discussion section below. Answer another member's question if you can.

Lesson Quiz

This is a sample lesson or if you are a student you are not logged in. You can view the quiz, but you will not be able to submit your answers.

This lesson's quiz comprises 10 multiple choice questions. Choose the best answer. Achieving passing score of 80% will register this lesson as complete if you have also passed the manually-reviewed assignments. You can take the quiz as many times as you wish.

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    From the Course:
    Mastering Logical Fallacies
    Bo Bennett, PhD

    (13 ratings)
    Academics : Social Science
    Offered by VirversitY
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    Lesson Progress

    This lesson is not yet complete. Still left to do: Assignments, Quiz


    Lessons greyed out are for enrolled students only.

    #3: Appeal to Common Belief
    #4: Fallacies and Religion
    #5: Deception Through Confusion
    #10: Fallacies of Poor Statistical Thinking
    #11: Black and White Thinking
    #12: The Impossible and the Possible
    #13: The Red Herring
    #15: Special Pleading
    #16: The Analogy - Both Friend and Foe
    #17: A Look at Nature
    #18: Fallacies Worthy of Mention
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    Lesson Quiz

    Be sure to click the "Submit Quiz Answers" at the end of the quiz to save and submit your quiz answers. Select the best answer.

    1) What is the best example of an irrational statement?
    a) Dogs bark more when they are in heat.
    b) I don't go to church because I don't believe in God, and he would be mad at me if I went in his home.
    c) I believe in fairies.
    d) I think pigs are responsible for global warming.
    2) Which is not involved in using reason?
    a) evidence
    b) theory
    c) beliefs
    d) fingers
    3) Which is true about an argument?
    a) It should be avoided at all costs.
    b) Most people see it as a good thing.
    c) The more true an argument is, the easier it is to believe.
    d) It is an important part of any democratic society.
    4) Based on format alone, which is most like an argument and least like a claim?
    a) African snails are more likely to mate in summer because of the favorable conditions for travel.
    b) Bill is a jerk.
    c) The moon is less than 6000 years old.
    d) People are crazy.
    5) Which is true about a belief?
    a) It must represent reality
    b) It can most often be easily changed
    c) It is independent of our environment and biology
    d) It is often strengthened by emotion
    6) Which affects belief?
    a) biology
    b) environment
    c) one's history
    d) all of the above
    7) A fallacy is
    a) a fancy word for story
    b) an error in reasoning
    c) a male private part
    d) a verbal mistake
    8) If you are accused of fallacious reasoning
    a) you should always concede to the fact and apologize
    b) you should always argue that your reasoning is not fallacious
    c) you should open a can of whoop-ass on your accuser
    d) you should consider the accusation, admit to it if warranted, or otherwise stand firm
    9) If someone obviously commits a fallacy, you should
    a) correct the person on the spot
    b) ignore the fallacy
    c) use your best judgment and diplomacy in deciding how to respond
    d) face palm
    10) What is the most diplomatic response to the claim, "You are either with me, or against me!"
    a) I am sorry, but it is possible for me to simply disagree with your position on that issue.
    b) That is a textbook example of black and white thinking.
    c) Not only is that a false dichotomy, but it is black and white thinking as well.
    d) If you really believe that, you are either a moron, or an idiot.
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