Understanding What a Logical Fallacy Is

Logical fallacies are quite common, especially when it comes to political issues. Many people get taken in by logical fallacies and may even use them without even realizing it because they don’t understand what a logical fallacy is. 

A dictionary definition is this: Logical fallacies are mistaken beliefs based on unsound arguments. They derive from reasoning that is logically incorrect, thus undermining an argument’s validity. 

For many people, the definition isn’t helpful because it lacks something concrete in order to understand it or compare it with. It can be said that most of the arguments for gun control in the US are based on logical fallacies, which is entirely true, but without knowing what a logical fallacy actually is, the statement lacks meaning.

An easier example that can lend meaning is this logical fallacy: Men are more likely to die in storms than women are, therefore nature doesn’t like the males of the Homo sapiens species.

Does this statement seem absurd from beginning to end? The actual facts are sound. That is, 83% of people who get struck by lightning are men. This is a fact. It is also a fact that most people who are struck by lightning die from electrocution.

The logical fallacy is in assuming that men are more likely to die in storms than women. Not all storms produce lightning strikes. There is no data that definitively says that men are more likely to die in storms, in general, so this is an assumption. A secondary logical fallacy is that nature has feelings and can like or dislike someone. 

The primary logical fallacy also doesn’t take into account that in the early spring, late summer, and fall, when thunderstorms are the most frequent, men are more likely to work outside and participate in outdoor hobbies where they can’t easily seek shelter (such as playing golf) than women are, which puts them at greater risk for a lightning strike. In fact, in those seasons, roughly 80% of the people who are employed in outside jobs are men. That falls in line with the greater number of men who are struck by lightning. However, this isn’t even considered in the logical fallacy. Instead, a statement that isn’t based on facts and another that is absurd is used, to cause an emotional response. 

This is the sort of logical fallacy that is frequently used in politics and by the media. Sometimes they don’t even try to hide the logical fallacy. For example, the media likes to claim that President Trump is against immigration because he wants to build a wall at the southern border (something that 90% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats support). However, this is an absurd claim, especially in light of the fact that the First Lady is an immigrant. However, Trump has been outspoken against illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and human trafficking, which a wall would help to prevent. In fact, the president is extremely supportive of legal immigration and has taken steps to make it easier for people to immigrate, particularly from south of the border. Legal immigration numbers also haven’t changed much; about a million people legally immigrate to the US every year and this number has remained constant for a couple of decades, at least. Thus, the claim is based entirely on a logical fallacy and one that is demonstrably incorrect but is made for the sole purpose of causing an emotional response.

As mentioned, gun control is based on many logical fallacies that keep being exposed and shown to be false.

Even more simply, a logical fallacy could be, “Cats are animals. Bears are animals. Therefore, cats are bears.”

What do you think?

4 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. In this post, you do not give an example of how gun control is a logical fallacy. i see where you are getting at though because if a person wants to kill another person, then that person will use another type of weapon if there is no access to guns.

    • I was thinking along the lines of studies that show that there is more likely to be a shooting in households in which someone in the house owns a gun than in homes where nobody in the house owns one. While it is true, it is also silly. It doesn’t take into consideration that people committing suicides are more likely to use a gun if one is present, though they will use another means if one isn’t. It doesn’t take into account the fact that one of the reasons someone might own a gun is because they might live in high-crime areas where a shooting is more likely anyway. It doesn’t take into consideration that the gun might be used to prevent a break-in or violent crime in the home. In other words, it is a logical fallacy.

      Another logical fallacy is that by increasing gun control laws, gun crimes will be prevented because there will be fewer guns. In the first place, criminals don’t follow the law, by definition. In the second place, there aren’t fewer guns in that situation, merely better-concealed ones. In the third place, well, you nailed that one. Los Angeles has a huge number of restrictive gun laws, more so than in most other places in the country, yet their gun crime rate exceeds most places and is growing. That rather destroys the logical fallacies.

      A large number of arguments in favor of gun control are, in fact, based on logical fallacies. It wouldn’t be difficult to write several thousand words just about the logical fallacies used by gun control advocates.

      • I just thought of yet another. Gun control advocates like to claim that there is a higher percentage of gun homicides in the US than in the UK. This is a logical fallacy that blows the argument out of the water before it even begins. In the US, a homicide is counted as soon as there is a crime. In the UK, it isn’t counted as a homicide unless there is a suspect in the crime. If the US counted homicides the same way the UK does, our rate would be substantially less than theirs. (It also doesn’t count the fact that the UK has a much higher homicide rate in which something other than a gun is used for the commission of the crime.)

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