Speech Study Guide

Faulty analogy occurs when speakers compare things that are not similar. There are no specific rules for when an analogy might become “faulty” but figurative analogies are logically faulty. Literal analogies may provide support for an argument, but their legitimacy is always open to debate. In conjunction with faulty analogies, slippery slopes are another fallacy which can occur if a speaker claims a cause will inevitably lead to undesirable effects. It treats probable or possible causal links as certain and or inevitable, while preying on the fears of a worst-case scenario. Slippery slopes and faulty analogies lead to fallacious arguments. Straw man fallacy occurs when a speaker weakens the opposing position of an argument by misrepresenting it or by attacking the weaker (straw man) position. A speaker may attempt to misrepresent an opponent’s position or argue in such a way to make the opponent’s position appear ridiculous. Strawmen have been prominent in debates over welfare reform in the United States. When this fallacy is used intentionally, it violates the spirit of deliberating in good faith. It produces conclusions that do not logically follow the evidence, and serves to distract from the real issues, along with appeal to ignorance, popular beliefs, non-sequitur, appeal to tradition, and red herring fallacies. Ad populum (appeal to popular beliefs) may also be called the “bandwagon appeal” and occurs when a speaker urges listeners to accept something simply because others do. Being aware that other people support an idea or policy is one piece of information that someone may want to take into account, but it should not be used to persuade another individual’s opinion. The bandwagon fallacy is dangerous to fall into because it does not allow for individual thinking and judgment, and appeals to the human desire to be accepted and not stand out. Non-sequitur is a fallacy which means “it does not follow” and occurs when a conclusion does not follow logically from arguments and the evidence that precedes it. Logical fallacies are more specific types of non-sequiturs. When a problem with an argument has evidence that is not relevant to the claim, the speaker has committed a non-sequitur. Basically, when evidence does not follow the argument, or is important to a different topic, non-sequitur has occurred. A speaker can avoid committing this fallacy by compiling a comprehensive outline to ensure logical organization and flow. Ad verecundiam (appeal to tradition) is typically heard in contexts when ideas or policies that hold a long history are being challenged and may be expressed as, “We’ve never done it that way before,” or “This is the way we’ve always done it.” Tradition can be a good thing, but it is unreasonable to use it as a shield against compelling arguments for changes. Change involves risk, while advocates of change have to meet the burden of proof. A speaker has to provide sufficient proof and evidence in order to convince an audience that change is warranted, otherwise the audience may subscribe to ad verecundiam. Red herring fallacy is an attempt to throw an audience off track by raising an irrelevant, often emotional issue, that prevents critical examination of the relevant issue. Essentially, this fallacy diverts the attention of an audience from the real issue. For example, the debate of prayer in schools may not be due to religious beliefs, but more out of concern for the separation of church and state. There are many more fallacies that may be committed if a speaker is not careful. Speakers can and


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