Essay #3: Logical Fallacy Analysis
If you have ever thought, “That’s unfair!” or “Wow, what a dumb way to do that!” or “They twisted the whole idea!”, you may have been faced with a logical fallacy.
Familiarize yourself with the Logical Fallacies in the textbook and lecture notes. Consider when/where you see examples of logical fallacies in our daily lives. Choose one example of a logical fallacy you have observed and analyze it using the steps below. The example you choose can be something you have faced or something all people are subjected to. If you choose something that you personally experienced, it should be something that could happen to anyone.
Example of a personal experience that is OK to use:
You have a disagreement with your child’s teacher about a classroom rule that seems unfair, and the teacher tells you she maintains the policy because that’s the way she’s always enforced the rules (appeal to tradition). This topic is OK to use because other students and parents experience the same policy.
Example of a personal experience to AVOID:
You want to purchase a boat to fish and explore the local waters with your family. Your spouse says no to buying a boat because your family has never owned a boat and the family’s recreation has always been land-based (appeal to tradition). This topic is not OK to use because it is too personal…no one else is married to your spouse (let’s hope not anyway), no one else takes your family’s specific vacations and therefore, the situation is not experienced by anyone but you.
Think about what you encounter that seems silly or unfair…chances are a logical fallacy can be applied to it!
Paragraph #1: Introduction
Catch the reader’s eye with an introduction strategy. Then transition to the situation/example in which you observed or experienced a logical fallacy. The introduction paragraph does not have to explain what the logical fallacies are, nor should it define/explain the specific logical fallacy you are using. Assume the audience is familiar with the logical fallacies and the fallacy you have chosen.
The thesis statement should appear at the end of the introduction. The thesis should simply state the situation/item and the logical fallacy: Advertisements for the Miracle Weight Loss System use false dichotomy to sell their diet program to consumers.
Paragraph #2: Describe the situation/item
The second paragraph should describe the situation or item you are examining. This paragraph should provide details so the audience fully understands the situation or item. If you are describing an advertisement, then explain what happens in the beginning/middle/end of the ad—include descriptions of both words and images. If you are describing a policy (for example, something in the rules about financial aid) describe what the rule says and what one would experience step-by-step when encountering the rule. Do not add opinion statements about the fairness of the policy/situation/item in this paragraph; just describe it. If you are describing an advertisement on TV, walk your readers through it, describing its features.
Paragraph #3: Explain why the situation/item presents a logical fallacy
Identify the features of what makes the item/situation a logical fallacy. This is the place to include your opinion about what is unfair or illogical. Explain where the situation or item breaks from logical thinking to fallacy—for example, when the Miracle Weight Loss System ads present two pictures, one of an obese person and another of a fit, slim person, the ad is presenting a false dichotomy, as more body types exist. The ad shows two extremes, and clearly this is not true. In addition, the overweight people in the ad look unhappy while the thinner people look happy. Clearly, weight is not what makes people unhappy and weight loss alone will not give someone a completely happy life as depicted in the ads. You do not have to explain the logical fallacy itself, as your audience already knows about the logical fallacy.
Paragraph #4: Explain a more realistic picture
Apply argument concepts/terminology to the logical fallacy to present a more realistic or accurate view. Apply argument terminology or strategies to explain how the fallacy can be eliminated and the situation could include more fairness or logic. For example, the Logical Appeal could be used to present statistics for the Miracle Weight Loss Program—how much weight did people actually lose? What was their starting weight and final weight after loss? The ad could use the ethical appeal to address some of the concerns skeptics might have about the product. You can apply any of the concepts or terminology from the textbook or notes in this paragraph (No need to list or define the concepts; simply integrate the concepts into your paragraph and combine the argument concepts with your own ideas). You could apply Rogerian principles and explain how the Rogerian Argument could be used to improve the situation and perhaps eliminate the logical fallacy. Basically, anything from the readings/notes that can be applied to eliminate the logical fallacy is fair game for this paragraph.
Paragraph #5: Conclusion—Reflect introduction and make a prediction
Remember that the conclusion should bring the essay to a logical close. A good way to do this is to bring the essay full circle by reflecting something from the introduction. For example, if you asked a question in the intro., answer it in the conclusion. If you used an example, mention that example in the conclusion. Then, based upon what you have written in your essay, make a prediction about the future about the situation/item. Will the policy change in the future? Will the ads for weight loss include even more logical fallacies? What new rule will be added to financial aid? What do you see happening in the situation’s future? Remember that the conclusion is not a place for advice or clichés. Your conclusion is the last impression you leave on the reader, so make it count by saying something intelligent that shows your critical thinking skills.
Formatting & Proofreading:
This essay does not require research. Please do not go to Google and look up “Examples of Logical Fallacies.” I have seen most of those already. If you must do some research, please use MLA style documentation for any outside source information. This includes in-text citations and a works cited.
2 – 4 pages
The Logical Fallacy you write about MUST come from the textbook or the lecture notes only. Do not Google “Logical Fallacies” and choose another fallacy from an online source.
You may use 1st person or 3rd person. (It is OK to use “I” if you experienced something personally.)
Academic style & tone
No Academic Writing Don’ts—especially weak wording such as “there are/is” and 2nd person “you”
Proofread for errors
Follow all guidelines