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...scientists need to be critical and sceptical, and that if you apply science to any field you don't want to prove that your ideas are correct, you want to test whether they are correct.  - Edzard Ernst, Peninsula Medical School

Invalid Argument Terms/Techniques
Updated: 02/20/2020

(some of these terms do not always imply an invalid
technique, but the ploy can be labeled as such)

Ad Antiquitam    Appealing to convention or traditional action as a proof of validity.

Ad hoc    Simply means directed to a single proposition or issue–no further implications intended. A proliferation of ad hoc adjustments to a theory indicates a crisis in acceptability.

Ad hominem (abusive)   Attacking the behavior or character of the man instead of his argument. Appealing to emotions and/or prejudices rather than to intellect or reason.

Ad Novitam    Appealing to modernity or newness as a proof of validity.

Associationism    Implying that an associative relationship is a causative one.

Affirming the Consequent   Within valid logic structure when we say that if A is true then B is true, we must prove A to be true in order to conclude that B is true.  Affirming the consequent is to erroneously conclude that A is true upon finding that B is true.

Authoritarianism    Unquestioning reliance on an authority or expert.

Composition Fallacy   Applying to the whole the properties of the parts.

Defeatism   Claiming an end is impossible to achieve as a reason for not following a line of reason.

De fide    Literally "of faith", but implying revealed by god and requiring unconditional assent.

Denying the Antecedent   Within valid logic structure when we say that if A is true then B is true, we must not assume B to be false because A is false.  Denying the antecedent is to erroneously conclude that B is false upon finding that A is false.

Derision    Using an emphasis on ridicule to assail a premise or argument.

Dis-accreditation    The ploy of pointing out a lack of formal accreditation on the other side.

Disaffirmation    A contradiction or repudiation of a premise formerly stated or agreed upon.

Preemptive Dismissal    Dismissing a premise, hypothesis or theory before hearing the argument.

Dis-qualification      Excusing oneself by the ploy of being formally or academically unqualified.

Division Fallacy   Applying to the part what may be true of the whole.

Dogmatism    Unwarranted or arrogant stating of opinion or position.

Equivocation    Using the same term or word in different and incomparable senses.

Enthusiasm             Originally implying supernatural inspiration, it is often used to try to override logic or evade careful reasoning.

Exaggeration             Overemphasizing to an extreme degree.

False Analogy           An offering of resemblances that don't really imply essential similarity.

Gamblers Fallacy    Thinking that some pattern of the past has an influence on a truly random event.

Genetic Fallacy       The Origin of something is erroneously ascribed.

Ignotum per ignotius    The attempt to defend an assertion against criticism by deriving it from some
   "general  principle" that is even more vulnerable to that criticism.

Illogical   Based on faulty logic.

Invalid Emphasis    Accenting or stressing a word or phrase in a sentence where that accent or emphasis   changes the probably received meaning..

Invalid Syllogism    A syllogism is a major premise, minor premise and valid conclusion such as: All virtues are laudable, kindness is a virtue; therefore kindness is laudable. An invalid form would be: Some Danes are dogs, Lars is a Dane; therefore Lars is a dog.

Irrelevance   Where an argument that may support one conclusion is used to support another, or where the argument is misguided or oblique to the issue at hand.

Hyper-limitation      Intentionally and/or needlessly limiting the number of options or possibilities.

Hypocrisy[*]    Originally meant acting like an actor or a puppet lacking in judgment or lacking the quality of genuine careful and critical thinking.  Now used here to denote an agenda other than to arrive at the truth.

Loaded Questions    Asking questions where no simple response can be reasonable, or where any response implies acceptance of what is asserted as part of the question.

Mala fide    With intent to deceive.

Mal entendu    Misunderstood or poorly conceived.

Mal absurdum     Mis-characterization or invalid reduction to an absurdity.

Misinform    To supply with misleading information.

Non-comparable     Not worthy of comparison.

Non sequitur   Latin for out of sequence, a break in the chain of logic with an unwarranted leap.

Obscurum per obscurius    Any arguement that proves more obscure than what it supposedly clarifies.

Pedantism    A demand to prove the case within the conventional framework.

Petitio principii    Assuming in the premise of an argument the conclusion which is to be substantiated; a form of circular reasoning.

Post Hoc Ergo Prompter Hoc   An argument that implies that since A preceded B in time, A caused B.

Proton Pseudos    First or fundamental falsity or error. Many times arguments start with this up front or as a hidden assumption.

Red Herring   Raising an issue or challenge that is not relevant or is simply a distraction from the issue at hand.

Reductionism   Any method or theory that reduces data, information or processes to seeming equivalents that are less complex or developed than is the actual case.

Reification   The attempt to make a purely abstract idea or concept into a real-world extant entity.

Simplistic Demand   Demanding a simple or inadequate answer to a complex question or issue.

Special Pleading     Using a double-standard to require less rigorous treatment for one's own assertion than one would use against a counter assertion.

Straw man    Arguing against a premise not taken or presented, knocking that premise down, and then assuming or implying that you have then discredited the original premise at question or under consideration.

Tautology   A form of needless repetition or circular reasoning that does not advance understanding.

Ultra-Symbolism    Confusing the symbol with the reality for which it stands.

Unilateralism    Taking into account only one side of an issue or matter.

[*] Most men of good will would say they place the highest priority on knowing the truth, and they would deny being willing to deliberately promulgate falsehood for no higher purpose than to win an argument or to defend status or a personal position. These men would all claim to value the truth over what they really value more. It is in this most fundamental way–men pay lip service to the truth, then let some other agendas override–that we are using the terms hypocritical and hypocrisy.  Any man that is driven to use invalid techniques can be considered to be a hypocrite.

Note: The author of this site is dedicated to being circumspect and honorable in his presentation of material and his arguments for support of positions, and pledges to avoid using these invalid argument techniques.

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