Cognitive Bias vs. Logical Fallacy

Seeing as we now know all about cognitive bias, we should begin to understand its buddy, logical fallacy. They are not the same. Many psychologists and philosophers have debated the differences between the two, but in the end, both have a very distinct definition. At the same time, one can also be malicious in nature. 

A logical fallacy is a common error in reason that undermines the logic and truth of your argument. These fallacies can fall in line with illegitimate arguments and ones that don’t even closely resemble the issue being talked about. They can also spew their point of view but have absolutely no evidence or completely biased evidence to back them up.

It seems that in this day and age of tumultuous politics, people find themselves battling back and forth, having negative information thrown at them without any type of explanation or proof. Most of the time, it’s personal emotion mixed with media bias. Either way, it’s not a good combination. 

Looking at cognitive bias, which is a falsity in logic due to underlying experiences, attention, and many other things, it is not intentional. Logical fallacies are known to be somewhat intentional and often malicious. Below we have detailed some different types of logical fallacies to look out for. 

1. Slippery slope- A slippery slope fallacy is best described as a hasty conclusion where someone equates an idea by skipping the steps in between to a final conclusion that could be a thousand steps away. 

Example: If we make a law that prohibits smoking on government property, then the government will ban cigarettes all together, making it illegal to smoke anywhere at any time. 

In this example, they jumped from a logical event to the worst case scenario, skipping all steps that would need to occur for landing at the end without cause. 

2. Hasty generalization- A hasty generalization is reaching an ultimate conclusion based on your own personal bias and without fact or evidence to back it up. 

Example: Even though I’ve never met Sally, I can tell by her picture at the beach I won’t like her. 

In this example, they prejudged Sally with personal bias without any evidence to back up their claim. Oftentimes, hasty generalization can lead to a missed opportunity, because you will put a negative thought on an opportunity before even giving it a chance. 

3. Post hoc ergo propter hoc: This is a decision or conclusion decided upon by assuming that if the first situation occurred after the second, then the second must have caused the first. 

Example: I drank a bottle of soda, and now I have indigestion, so the soda must have caused it. 

In this example, they are blaming the soda for indigestion without sufficient proof. Indigestion could have come from a number of things, but they have equated the first situation with the second. 

4. Genetic fallacy- A genetic fallacy can be really bad at times. It is the belief that the origin of a person, an idea, an institute, or a theory determines the character, nature, or worth of that person, place, or thing. 

Example: The news article is a conservative publication, so you know whatever they print has to be true. 

In this example, they believed that because the publication shared their ideals, everything they printed was absolutely true. This goes against facts and logic. 

5. Circular argument- A circular argument is simply restating a claim instead of giving any back-up or factual evidence. They ignore any question being asked. 

Example: You should invite your aunt to the wedding because it would be mean to not invite her. 

In this example, the person basically said the same thing in two different ways. 

6. Either/or- This type of logical fallacy over-simplifies a conversation by giving only two options (usually the best and the worst). 

Example: We either go on a diet or die from obesity. 

In this example, the person gave an ultimatum, basically. They completely left out the millions of other choices that sit between the two theories. 

7. Ad hominem- An ad hominem is when, instead of giving their facts and evidence for a statement, a person hurls attacks at others. 

Example: Vegans struggle to get people on board with their cause because they are loud, obnoxious, and dirty hippies. 

In this example, they began the sentence by stating their concern or their topic of discussion but ended it with an attack instead of saying why they thought Vegans were struggling. 

8. Bandwagon- The bandwagon fallacy is when a group mentality is pushed onto a person in order to get them to believe what they believe. 

Example: If you truly believed in this country, you would let everyone, including children, own machine guns. 

In this example, the person is using the country as a whole group to get the other to believe in allowing children and citizens of the country to own machine guns. 

9. Red herring- This is one of politics’ greatest fallacies. Not only do politicians use it, but the supporters do as well. With so many issues being faced, it’s hard not to accidentally slip into this fallacy on a regular basis. 

Example: I think what she wore is inappropriate, and the other party couldn’t stop talking about my friend when they didn’t like what she wore. 

In this example, instead of stating why they thought what she wore was inappropriate, they threw in a situation that was unrelated in an attempt to show cause, but not toward the initial person. They were dodging the original portion by stating something emotional afterward. 

10. Moral equivalence- A moral equivalence is when minor infractions are compared to major ones, basically insinuating that they are both equally as immoral. 

Example: Anyone who supports gun rights hates children. 

At the beginning, this example shows the topic of contention but then skips over to a completely ridiculous statement trying to draw a rise out of the other person. 
These are just some logical fallacies, and the list seems to grow on a daily basis.  


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