Reflection Cube

Three-dimensional thoughts

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argument from incredulity - appeal to common sense

Fallacies – Argument From Incredulity (Appeal to Common Sense)

“I cannot imagine how this could be true; therefore, it must be false.”

Ex. 1: “I cannot imagine how a person can become ‘successful’ overnight without pulling any strings. Therefore, such a person must have cheated.”

Ex. 2: “I cannot imagine how massive, “official” government-funded organizations could be untrustworthy. Any accusations against the integrity of these systems must be unfounded.”

Ex. 3: “I can’t imagine how a person could be smart, beautiful, and kind. Therefore, a person cannot possibly possess all three of these qualities.”

argument from incredulity (appeal to common sense) illustration

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

argument from fallacy - or fallacy fallacy - illustration - chemistry, chemical equation, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur, water, dihydrogen oxide

Fallacies – Argument From Fallacy (the Fallacy Fallacy)

Assumption that if an argument for some conclusion is fallacious, the conclusion must also be false.


Bad argument: All blonde-haired people are sweet. Some sweet people are naive. Sally is blonde. Therefore, Sally must be sweet and naive.

(Sally does happen to be sweet and naive.)

The argument is a grossly illogical one, but the conclusion happens to be correct.

If we discredit the conclusion because of the poor argument, however, we would be committing the fallacy fallacy, or argument from fallacy.

It’s important to point out the logical flaws in an argument. But it’s also important to be aware that the conclusion may still be correct – it just hasn’t been defended well.


Bad argument: It’s ethical to defend the lives of unborn babies because they are cute.

While the conclusion is correct – every life matters – the argument is fallacious. It defends an ethical stance with an emotional argument. Emotions should not dictate ethics.

However, a conclusion should not automatically be presumed false simply because it is backed by a weak argument.

Please see Disclaimer.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved


argument from authority fallacy - logical fallacies series - illustration - incompetent math teacher

Fallacies – Argument From Authority (Appeal to Authority or Argumentum Ad Verecundiam)

A claimed authority’s support is used as evidence for an argument’s conclusion.

Example: Most psychologists assert that mental illness cannot be improved or cured with vitamins or nutritional treatment/supplementation. Therefore, there must be no “natural” cure for mental health issues.

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. – Galileo Galilei

Just because someone in a position of “intellectual” authority claims that something is true doesn’t necessarily mean it is.

No one is entirely liberated of personal motives or biases.

It’s important to remember that people with scientific (or other academic) authority aren’t necessarily also entirely ethical (or informed). Often, power, influence, and academic “authority” end up in the hands of the wrong people.

We shouldn’t automatically trust people in prestigious positions within the scientific, medical, political, educational, or psychological/social fields.

Everything merits examination.

dangers of using argument from authority - illustration

An authority on a subject may very well be speaking only truth and facts. However, accepting or discrediting an argument on the basis of someone’s title and education – or lack thereof – is a logically fallacious approach to understanding or advocating a matter.

The strength and logic of the case – not the eminence of the title – should support the argument.

Please see Disclaimer.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

fallacy of division - logic - picture of puzzle pieces, mostly blue, but not entirely

Fallacies – Fallacy of Division

Assuming that something which is true of a thing must also be true of some or all of its parts (reverse of the Fallacy of Composition).


Ex. #1: “The puzzle is mostly blue. Therefore, all pieces will also be mostly blue.”

Ex. #2: “America is going to war. All Americans are proponents of this war.”

division fallacy illustration

Note: this simplified illustration does not necessarily represent actual statistical proportions

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved


picture of whole with different parts (brick wall with bricks of different colors) - composition fallacy - logic

Fallacies – Fallacy of Composition

Assuming that something true of part of the whole must also be true of the whole.


Ex. #1: “I know some lazy, narcissistic Millennials who act entitled. Therefore, all Millennials are lazy, narcissistic, and entitlement-oriented.”

fallacy of composition illustration

Ex. #2: “Some Evangelicals are conservative, white, and Republican. Therefore, ‘Evangelical’ means conservative, white, and Republican.”

Evangelical graph

Please note: Illustrations do not necessarily represent actual statistical proportions.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

genetic fallacy - fallacies - logic - DNA - deoxyribonucleic acid

Fallacies – Genetic Fallacy

Discrediting something because of the source.


Anti Burns: “Audrey Hepburn said: ‘Water is life, and clean water means health.’ Audrey Hepburn was not a physician. Therefore, this health-related statement is invalid.”

Anti Pain: “Thomas Paine said: ‘It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.’ Because I disagree with Thomas Paine’s ideologies in general, this statement must be invalid.”

genetic fallacy illustration

I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good. – Seneca

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

logical fallacies - missing data - error - wrong or missing information

Fallacies – Intro

Ever been stuck in an argument, knowing that the other person’s logic is faulty, but not knowing exactly why or how?

In the upcoming weeks and/or months, I’m planning to do some short posts and illustrations on some types of logical fallacies. Many – if not all of these – are fallacies which we frequently encounter in journalism and in “debates” (cordial or not) with family or friends.

We begin with the argument from silence, or argumentum ad silentio.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

a great mistake - doing nothing when you can only do a little - edmund burke quote - quotes

A Great Mistake

Edmund Burke quote

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. – Edmund Burke

stream - poem about leaves on a stream - cognitive defusion exercise - thoughts, negativity, identity, observation


I hate these thoughts I'm having
They're just not me.
Gonna place them on some leaves
And let them flow down the stream.

I'm not the author of all of my thoughts
I'm more like an observer as they float by me.
I'm not responsible for everything that pops
Into my head, only if those things become my identity.

I'm not these thoughts
And they're not me.
I'm just watching patiently
As they travel down the stream
Inside my mind - that ever moving current
That brings me joy and pain.

Inspired by a meditation technique shared with me by a friend:

“Leaves on a Stream” – Cognitive Defusion Exercise

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

picture of rain, raindrops - thoughts, reverie


In reverie I dance, enraptured by a world of thoughts
And I wish that I could catch them all, but they fall much like raindrops.

I scurry about with my bucket, hoping to all the raindrops taste.
Then I realize that I'd capture more if I'd stand in just one place.

I cry over the drops uncaught, that teased me but moved on.
I raced to seal in every thought, but half of them are gone.

They're buried now within the dirt - land of subconsciousness.
But like the water soaking earth, they cannot be expressed.

Once they've mingled with the ground, their purity is gone.
My most transcendent thoughts, once found, swift to the earth withdraw.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

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