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  • how to test the strength of an argument

    Debates are meant to be an examination of the evidence, yet we are frequently taken in by arguments that are based on shared assumptions that turn out to be false under inspection.

    Below is a 'cheat-sheet' of tactics (called logical fallacies) used in debates to play on those assumptions and avoid scrutiny of an argument that may not be supported by the evidence.


    Jumping straight to a conclusion without stating one or more of the assumptions that led you there.

    Slippery Slope

    Claiming an action will have extreme consequences without explaining how or why.

    Straw Man

    Distorting someone’s argument (twisting their words) to make it easier to beat.

    Ad Hominem

    Attempting to discredit someone’s point of view by attacking their character instead.

    Appeal to Authority

    Attempting to justify a point of view by pointing out that an ‘expert’ agrees with it.

    Circular Reasoning

    Claiming the proof of your evidence is the conclusion you are using the evidence to prove

    Correlation v Causation

    Claiming that because two things happened at the
    same time, one must have caused the other.

    Sequence v Causation

    Claiming that because two things happened in sequence, one must have caused the other.

    Appeal to Numbers

    Claiming you must be right because most people agree with you (aka appeal to common sense).

    Appeal to Emotion

    Attempting to justify a decision based on an overwhelming emotional response.

    Appeal to Tradition

    Claiming that something considered to be true for a long time must still be true now.

    Appeal to Anecdote

    Claiming something to be generally true by highlighting a single example of it being true.

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