Fallacy Summary and Application

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Fallacy Summary and Application

Fallacy as defined by the web site Dictionary.com (2006) is "A false notion a statement or an argument based on a false or invalid inference, incorrectness of reasoning or belief; erroneousness or the quality of being deceptive." Fallacies are everywhere; in the workplace, in the media, and even at home. Fallacies can contain both relevant information and insufficient evidence. In the workplace today, it is important to be able to identify fallacies or the business could be adversely affected. A fallacy can be considered an argument also. If an argument contains a fallacy, then the conclusion will not necessarily be truthful or proven. Some fallacies can also be used to trap a person into believing incorrect conclusions. Some of these may be intentional and some unintentional. This paper will define three separate fallacies, explain their significance to critical thinking, and provide examples that illustrate each fallacy. The three closely related fallacies that have been chosen are Personal Attack, Appeal to Emotion and the Red Herring Fallacy.

A Personal Attack fallacy is committed when we reject the argument or claim of a person by attacking them with abusive remarks used as evidence to support their claim or argument. (Bassham, 2002) This type of thinking is fallacious because it directs the claim at the individual and not the claim that they are making. The truth in a claim should always be independent of the individual person. Many times a negative statement will make an assumption based on how they view the person. So no matter how you feel about a person, that should not be a part of the evidence used to support the argument. People should instead focus attention on the content of the claim and not the person who made the argument. The content of the claim should be what is used to determine the validity of the claim, not an attack on the person that is making it.

We have many examples of this type of fallacy almost every day in business. Most people have been in a meeting where a person makes a statement and then they are attacked, not the facts pertaining to their statement. A good Business Example might be the last project Bill managed was 30% over budget, so I don't believe Bill's projections on this one could be correct.

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