Philosophy 101:
Practice With Fallacies



INSTRUCTIONS: Each of the following contains one of the fallacies discussed in class, or no fallacy. The answers are at the end of this page.

1. "Anyone who believes for a moment that the state would honor a pledge to replace the revenue lost to local government would believe pledges of fidelity made in a brothel. Eliminating the vehicle license fee is an election-year buzz-word scam touted by an Assembly member who salivates over the thought of no government to impede his motivations, and a governor who flat out hates counties." - letter to editor, Fresno Bee, May 12, 1998

2. Government ownership of utilities is dangerous because it is socialistic and anything socialistic is dangerous.

3. President Bush's spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, when asked what he thought about an investigation of charges that the 1980 Reagan campaign made a deal with Iran to delay the release of American hostages until after the Presidential election: "There's no reason to investigate something that never happened."

4. "Either President Clinton and his cronies must go, or our country will. There are no other options." - letter to the editor, Time, October 19, 1998.

5. [Arguing against medical research utilizing human embryos:] "We are confident that most people, to the extent that they are aware of the Panel's recommendation [favoring embryo research], experience an immediate and strong revulsion. This is not to be dismissed as an irrational reaction. It signals a deep, intuitive awareness of lines that must not be crossed if we are to maintain our sometimes fragile hold upon our own humanity." - The Ramsey Colloquium, Jan. 1995

6. "Macbeth shall never be vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him." - William Shakespeare, Macbeth, act 4, scene 1.
Macbeth assumed that since the forest at Great Birnam could never be moved to Dunsinane hill, he would never be vanquished. But he was vanquished when attackers camouflaged themselves with greenery at Birnam Wood and attacked at Dunsinane hill. What fallacy did Macbeth commit?

7. "The only 'choice' in an abortion is between a dead baby or a live baby." - "She's A Child, Not A 'Choice'", published by the Human Life Alliance of Minnesota Education Fund, Inc., p. 2

8. "I heard a fundamentalist preacher on TV say that the theory of evolution is false. So, it must be false."

9. "Marriage has been between a man and a woman throughout our nation's history, so that's the way it ought to stay."

10. "You haven't proven that ghosts don't exist, so it's reasonable for me to believe that they do."

11. "If you don't submit to random searches of citizen's houses, then the terrorists will win!"

12. "Freedom of speech is when you talk." - former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda arguing before a congressional committee why the First Amendment should not protect flag burning, Newsweek, July 20, 1998, p. 21.

13. "'Please your Majesty,' said the Knave, 'I didn't write it, and they can't prove I did: There's no name signed at the end.'
'If you didn't sign it,' said the King, 'that only makes the matter worse. You must have meant some mischief, or else you'd have signed your name like an honest man.'" - Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

14. "If you don't sacrifice goats on a yearly basis to my god, you will burn in hell for all eternity. Do you really want to burn in hell for all eternity?"

15. “Just last week I read about a girl who was dying of cancer. Her whole family went to church and prayed for her, and she was cured.  That only proves the power of prayer!"

16. "Literacy rates have steadily declined since the advent of television. Clearly television viewing impedes learning."

17. "All I'm saying is that millions of people believe in astrology, so there must be something to it."

18. "The Nazis invented eugenics, so it must be a bad idea."

19. "In the 6 years that I have been practicing my new and improved brand of cognitive-humanistic-dynamic-behavioral-deconstructive-metaregressive-deontological psychotherapy (now with biofeedback!), which I developed, there has not been one published study showing that it fails to work or that it has ever harmed a patient. It is clearly one of the safest and most effective interventions ever devised."

20. "Taking LSD won't hurt you. I did it and I'm OK."


1. Appeal to the Person
2. Begging the Question
3. Begging the Question
4. False Dilemma
5. Appeal to the Masses
6. Equivocation
7. False Dilemma
8. Appeal to Unqualified Authority
9. Appeal to Tradition
10. Appeal to Ignorance
11. Appeal to Fear
12. Equivocation
13. Begging the Question
14. Appeal to Fear
15. Hasty Generalization
16. False Cause
17. Appeal to the Masses
18. Genetic Fallacy
19. Appeal to Ignorance
20. Hasty Generalization


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