"It's not a spectator sport!"

recognize the common fallacies of logic.

Dicto Simpliciter."

"Dicto Simpliciter means an argument based on an unqualified generalization. For example: Exercise is good. Therefore everybody should exercise."
 Exercise is good is an unqualified generalization. For instance, if you have heart disease, exercise is bad, not good. Many people are ordered by their doctors not to exercise. You must qualify the generalization. You must say exercise is usually good, or exercise is good for most people. Otherwise you have committed a Dicto Simpliciter.

 Hasty Generalization.

 You can't speak French. I can't speak French. Petey Bellows can't speak French. I must therefore conclude that nobody at the University of Minnesota can speak French."


 it's a fallacy. The generalization is reached too hastily. There are too few instances to support such a conclusion."

 Post Hoc.  Let's not take Bill on our picnic. Everytime we take him out with us, it rains."

Bill doesn't cause the rain. He has no connection with the rain. You are guilty of Post Hoc if you blame Eula Becker."


Contradictory Premises."
 If God can do anything, can He make a stone so heavy that He won't be able to lift it?"
"Of course," she replied promptly.
"But if He can do anything, He can lift the stone," I pointed out.
"Yeah," she said thoughtfully. "Well, then I guess He can't make the stone."
"But He can do anything," I reminded her.
She scratched her pretty, empty head. "I'm all confused," she admitted.
"Of course you are. Because when the premises of an argument contradict each other, there can be no argument. If there is an irresitible force, there can be no immovable object. If there is an immovable object, there can be no irresistible force. Get it?"

 Ad Misericordiam."
"A man applies for a job. When the boss asks him what his qualifications are, he replies that he has a wife and six children at home, the wife is a helpless cripple, the children have nothing to eat, no clothes to wear, no shoes on their feet, there are no beds in the house, no coal in the cellar, and winter is coming."

"Yes, it's awful," I agreed, "but it's no argument. The man never answered the boss's question about his qualifications. Instead he appealed to the boss's sympathy. He committed the fallacy of Ad Misericordiam.

False Analogy.

Students should be allowed to look at their textbooks during examinations. After all, surgeons have X rays to guide them during an operation, lawyers have briefs to guide them during a trial, carpenters have blueprints to guide them when they are building a house. Why, then, shouldn't students be allowed to look at their textbooks during an examination?"


"the argument is all wrong. Doctors, lawyers, and carpenters aren't taking a test to see how much they have learned, but students are. The situations are altogether different, and you can't make an analogy between them."


 Hypothesis Contrary to Fact."
 If Madame Curie had not happened to leave a photographic plate in a drawer with a chunk of pitchblende, the world today would not know about radium."


 the statement is a fallacy. Maybe Madame Curie would have discovered radium at some later date. Maybe somebody else would have discovered it. Maybe any number of things would have happened. You can't start with a hypothesis that is not true and then draw any supportable conclusions from it."


Poisoning the Well."
"Two men are having a debate. The first one gets up and says, 'My opponent is a notorious liar. You can't believe a word that he is going to say'...  "It's not fair," she said with indignation. "It's not a bit fair. What chance has the second man got if the first man calls him a liar before he even begins talking?"


"Right!" I cried exultantly. "One hundred percent right. It's not fair. The first man has poisoned the well before anybody could drink from it. He has hamstrung his opponent before he could even start...

"My dear," I said, favoring her with a smile, "we have now spent five evenings together. We have gotten along splendidly. It is clear that we are well matched."
"Hasty Generalization," said Polly brightly.
"I beg your pardon," said I.
"Hasty Generalization," she repeated. "How can you say that we are well matched on the basis of only five dates?"


"five dates is plenty. After all, you don't have to eat a whole cake to know that it's good."
"False Analogy," said Polly promptly. "I'm not a cake. I'm a girl."


"Polly, I love you. You are the whole world to me, and the moon and the stars and the constellations of outer space. Please, my darling, say that you will go steady with me, for if you will not, life will be meaningless. I will languish. I will refuse my meals. I will wander the face of the earth, a shambling, hollow-eyed hulk."

"Ad Misericordiam," said Polly.


 If I hadn't come along you would never have learned about fallacies."
"Hypothesis Contrary to Fact," she said instantly.


I dashed perspiration from my brow. "Polly," I croaked, "You mustn't take all these things so literally. I mean this is just classroom stuff. You know that the things you learn in school don't have anything to do with life."
"Dicto Simpliciter," she said, wagging her finger at me playfully.


 "That rat!" I shrieked, kicking up great chuncks of turf. "You can't go with him, Polly. He's a liar. He's a cheat. He's a rat."
"Poisoning the Well," said Polly,