Logical Fallacies

Student 01 is writing about the dangers of dietary supplements, which, because they’re not considered drugs, aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and can be sold without being proven safe. To make his case that such products are hazardous, perhaps even deadly, Student 01 makes the following argument:

These supplements are virtually unregulated and therefore can be sold even if they have side effects as serious as high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack, even risk of death, all of which could be prevented if the products were re-classified as drugs and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Convincing as this might sound, Student 01’s argument commits the logical fallacy of mistaking one reason for the reason. The argument assumes that because a lack of regulation results in risks, the presence of regulation would eliminate risk. Of course, if lack of regulation were the only reason for the risks, FDA oversight might eliminate them, but we know that even FDA-approved drugs have sometimes serious side effects. Consequences usually result from many causes and eliminating just one cause rarely eliminates the consequence.

Student 02 is writing about obesity and the fact that Americans, who used to gauge their fitness using just two measures—weight relative to height—have been obsessing about their Body Mass Indexes (BMI) since the term was coined by the US Surgeon General in 2001. She makes the following argument:

The coining of the term Body Mass Index by the Surgeon General in 2001 gave Americans a new way to measure our fitness and ushered in an era of renewed interest in our percentage of body fat. BMI-consciousness motivated us to exercise more and maintain healthier diets so that we have reduced our national average BMI from 41.5 to 28.7.

Again, the argument may sound reasonable, but the fact that BMI has fallen in no way proves that we were more conscious of our BMI numbers. The two numbers share a relationship, but the argument mistakes correlation for causation the same way a person would be in error who concluded that “breakfast causes lunch.” Other numbers than BMI probably improved too despite our ignorance of them.

Student 03 is writing about the effects of divorce on membership in youth gangs. In particular, he’s researching whether the lack of a positive male role model in the home is a good predictor of a teen joining a gang. He makes this argument:

The presence of a biological father in the home provides the structure that can keep a teen from seeking parental guidance outside the home, from gang leaders for example. In a typical gang, a startling 50% of the members have experienced a divorce in their lives.

While there is most likely a connection between “fatherlessness” and gang membership, the evidence offered here does not begin to demonstrate what it wants to. “Experiencing a divorce” does not justify the faulty conclusion of “living life without a father,” for starters. Not to mention the meaningless statistic about divorce. The percentage of Boy Scouts who have “experienced a divorce in their lives” might be close to 50% as well.

Student 04 is writing about Adrian Peterson’s remark that he is a “40 million dollar slave.” Though it’s tempting to dismiss Peterson’s analogy, Student 04 argues that it is at least partly valid. She makes this argument:

On plantations, slaves were “recruited” and used for their physical abilities but denied education. In the NFL, the players, 70% of them black, are drafted by owners, 100% of them white, for their athletic skills alone. And if they get injured, they can be cut without pay.

While it’s hard to argue that football players are the pawns in a game played by wealthy owners, the analogy is so mixed here it’s hard to tell how much of it is relevant to the argument. What’s the NFL equivalent of denying slaves education? And what’s the slavery equivalent of being cut from the team?

Student 05 is examining the relative dangers of obesity and a drug designed to combat obesity, Qnexa. He has a tricky argument to make, that Qnexa is the best option for obese patients to reduce their weight despite the health risks the drug itself has been shown to create. He tries to avoid the argument altogether by making this claim:

Since for many patients medication to reduce obesity is the only alternative to carrying dangerously high body weight, the important question is how to reduce the risks of Qnexa, and whether to prohibit its use to only those patients who can best tolerate it.

In doing so, Student 05 commits the common logical fallacy known as begging the question, by using the conclusion he wants to reach as one of the premises of his argument. He should have to prove that Qnexa is the only option for patients; instead, he only asserts that it is.

Student 06 is arguing to determine whether file sharing is stealing or just a high-tech version of lending a paperback to a friend. In his essay, Student 06 describes the argument made by supporters of peer-to-peer networks that facilitate illegal file sharing:

Peer-to-peer networks are useful for legitimate sharing of public domain or personal documents and therefore should not be shut down.

He hasn’t done so yet, but Student 06 will likely refute this flimsy argument as an example of substituting the part for the whole. The benefits the networks provide are irrelevant to the fact that they facilitate criminal sharing, the same way the Mafia can’t justify its racketeering operations by pointing out that they give heavily to the orphans’ hospital. We also can’t defend cheating on our taxes by saying: “But I pay so much!”

Student 07 is arguing that marijuana is incorrectly categorized as a Schedule 1 Drug. Marijuana’s “relative abuse potential” is not high, she claims, and neither does it have a high potential for dependence. She makes the following sloppy argument:

The truth is, every drug, every cleaning product, every household chemical, even common tools such as X-acto knives or razor blades can be abused, so the potential for abuse is no reason to consider any particular drug dangerous.

The claim is reasonable on its face, but it doesn’t address the actual situation. Marijuana wasn’t placed in Schedule 1 because it can be abused. The FDA considers “relative abuse potential,” not “the possibility of abuse.”

Student 08 is writing about the impossibility of walking in a straight line while blindfolded. It’s a fun and fascinating topic that readers might well enjoy, provided he makes the right assumptions up front. However, Student 08 himself makes a false first step and ends up walking in circles:

It is quite obvious to anyone who gives it a moment’s thought that nobody can walk a straight line blindfolded. The only interesting question is why.

His opening is a blend of faulty assumption and begging the question because it makes a claim for the reader the reader might not readily concede and takes the fun out of what would be entertaining to illustrate. Even if readers would predict a deviation from “straight,” it’s unlikely they would predict the wild spiraling meanderings of actual test subjects.

Student 09 is investigating the changing landscape of “privacy” in our increasingly digital world. Because the definition of privacy is a moving target, it’s hard to blame her for using the term inconsistently and for making this sloppy argument:

When we post personal information about ourselves online, for example, regardless of how we configure our “privacy settings,” it would be naïve of us to expect Facebook—a company that makes money selling information about its users—to respect our confidentiality.

When her own definition of privacy is too fluid, Student 09 engages in accidental equivocation; in other words, substituting different meanings for privacy in different contexts. In the first meaning, we are entitled to reasonably expect Facebook will comply with its own privacy settings. On the other hand, if what Facebook sells is aggregate data (for example, that users who claim they are twenty-year-old men click a surprising number of ads for retirement housing), such as sale wouldn’t invade anybody’s privacy in a way that individual users could object to.

Student 10 is arguing that certain overlooked statistics are better indicators of a baseball player’s value to a team than the commonly used RBI and batting average numbers that usually command high salaries. Because he’s relying on statistics to prove a statistical conclusion, he needs to be certain that the numbers prove what he says they prove:

It has been demonstrated in the majority of World Series games that the pitching staff that posts a better RE24 differential wins every time, whether that staff is favored or the underdog in any game.

Now, a statistic that correlates with winning World Series games a majority of the time might well be something to follow, but it might not help a manager hire a good staff for a simple reason. Another statistic is 100% accurate: the “comparative runs scored” number, or CRS, which says that if your staff gives up more runs than your team scores, you lose.

Student 11 is making a complex argument that Marvel Comics Inc. should not sue its own artists for making a few bucks selling commissioned drawings at trade shows of the characters they draw for Marvel. Is there any way around this restriction for the artists who could use the extra cash?:

The same talented artists could make money drawing caricatures of Barack Obama at trade shows and nobody would sue because Obama is not a licensed image or character. So perhaps these cartoonists should sell their work as “caricatures” of Captain Marvel or Deadpool.

The trouble with this false analogy is that there is no living person to caricature. Nobody can bring Obama to life by drawing him, but when the Marvel artist draws Captain Marvel for a kid at a trade show, he almost literally creates the real thing on the page, and that’s not caricature no matter how differently he tries to draw it.

Student 11 has had enough of the War on Drugs and wants it to end. A common tactic of those arguing to end the government’s high profile eradication effort is that its true purpose is to provide politicians an easy campaign issue:

Washington doesn’t really expect to end drug use through law enforcement; no matter how much we spend arresting and prosecuting, we only succeed in putting more nonviolent people in jail, but being “tough on drugs” is a good way to get elected.

This argument is a blend of legitimate evidence and the motive fallacy, which attacks a program not because it’s ineffective but because it serves somebody else’s purpose. Plenty of programs, both useful and useless, get politicians elected. That’s no reason to eliminate the good ones, nor a reason to eliminate the bad ones.

Student 12 is arguing in favor of illegal steroid use in baseball . . . well, sort of. He’s arguing that steroid use be legal in baseball, thereby eliminating the hazards of buying from illicit sources and self-injection, as well as the complaints that steroid use creates an unfair advantage for users. If everyone can use, personal choice will dictate. He makes this careless mistake:

Fans love the long ball, so anything that helps sluggers hit more big home runs is good for the game, the league, the players who want to be popular and sign big contracts for breaking records!

This special use of the bandwagon fallacy puts popular opinion in charge of dangerous medical decisions they have no business judging. A similar argument could be made for more crashes at Nascar events, or for legalized dog fighting. (No, I’m not being fair either, but you see the point.)

Student 13 is arguing that recession is good for marriage, or at least bad for divorce lawyers. Apparently, during recession and high unemployment, the divorce rate declines, perhaps because divorce is so expensive. How she handles other explanations could cause Student 13 some trouble if she’s not careful:

The numbers clearly show that when it’s easier to afford, divorce is more popular; and when money is tight, couples find it easier to stay together. The recent decline in the divorce rate cannot be explained by greater commitment between couples facing hard times; it’s just a matter of economics.

This false choice makes the unstated claim that only one explanation is possible. If nothing in the essay demonstrates that miserable couples are staying together and that love is no factor in marriages lasting, then merely showing that the cost of divorce is a factor doesn’t refute at all the possibility that couples pull together when times get tough.

Student 14 would like the US government to more clearly define the term “embryonic stem cells” so that the ban against their use in stem cell research can be reversed to the greater enrichment of medical science. Because his argument crosses back and forth over the line between science and morality, he needs to be very careful to avoid engaging in fallacies that mistake the arguer for the argument:

The same people who think it’s acceptable to compel a rape victim to carry to full term and give birth to the product of her attack want to deny Alzheimer and ALS patients a chance at a cure because of the “moral value” they place on a few strands of tissue that happen to result from the interaction between an ovum in a laboratory and a sperm cell.

Whatever the merits of this argument, it tries to poison the well from which is drawn the objection against stem cell research that it kills human life. Whether we like it or not, the same people can have both good and bad ideas, so associating an idea with people who are wrong about something else is no refutation at all.

Student 15 thinks science has failed to establish a causal link between violent video game-play and actual acts of violence by game-players. Because his essay depends on the quality and the results of controlled experiments with game-players, Student 15 needs to avoid logic errors when drawing conclusions:

The three month study was not at all conclusive, since it failed to show any increase in aggression in the group that had played the game for at least two hours a day for more than three months, compared to control groups that played less-violent games or played violent games less frequently.

The obviously faulty reasoning here is to conclude that a careful experiment which showed no increased aggression was “not conclusive.” A more reasonable explanation is that playing the game every day for three months does not create a more aggressive person.

Student 16 is examining court-mandated rehab and counseling as an alternative sentence for “drug offenders.” Student 16’s primary responsibility is to avoid equivocation:

It is clear from the evidence that billions of dollars are wasted locking up drug offenders who would be better served by rehabilitation, and less costly to society. Literally millions of prisoners convicted of drug crimes could take advantage of such programs.

This argument very likely uses two definitions for “drug offenders” and “drug crimes.” Casual users convicted of simple possession might well benefit from rehab and return to society more productive. But dealers convicted of murdering other drug dealers are also in jail for “drug crimes.” Do we want to release them to rehab?

Student 17 is arguing that nutritional supplements can be quite dangerous and that better regulations would protect the public from unscrupulous companies selling useless, even hazardous products. Because supplements are not required to prove their efficacy or safety, Student 17 will have to guard against non sequiters:

The supplement needs to provide something nutritional that is missing from a person’s diet, be available in a common form such as a tablet, and be clearly labeled as a nutritional supplement. So how does it happen that useless, dangerous, even deadly products can be sold on the shelves of GNC after meeting these requirements?!

As they are reported to us in the argument above, nothing in the requirements obligates the maker to test a nutritional supplement for effectiveness or safety. So it does not follow (the Latin for that is non sequiter) that we have any right to expect efficacy or safety. Nor should we be surprised when the product sold at GNC has neither.

Student 18 is arguing that it’s time to abolish Affirmative Action. There are countless ways to go wrong in this argument, but the one Student 18 makes is the slippery slope:

The Act was certainly a legitimate and well-intentioned program to reverse hiring and admissions injustices present in employment and higher education when it was enacted. Those injustices have been largely now successfully reversed. The danger of continuing the program is that in addition to “proportionally representing” race, ethnicity, and gender in their hiring practices, employers will soon be required to hire a “quota-ful” of homosexuals, Muslims, atheists, geriatrics, and people with all kinds of developmental disabilities that make them unfit for any sort of work.

Student 18 resorts to an ugly slippery slope argument when he warns of the dire consequences of extending a program far beyond its intentions. Learn to recognize the insidious slippery slope argument and avoid it.

Student 19 is writing to criticize the Stop Overseas Piracy Act (SOPA) for being an unwarranted invasion into the privacy of all internet users. He apparently wants to demonstrate that the authors of the Act are hiding behind platitudes to conceal their real motive: to censor or stifle creators. He makes this argument:

Legislators who support the Stop Overseas Piracy Act say they want to eliminate the theft of American intellectual property, but the Act would breach the privacy of all innocent consumers. SOPA’s goal is not so much to discourage the stealing of ideas as it is to intimidate potential creators of new content by endangering consumers who infringe on the rights of the creators.

What logical fallacy or fallacies are in play here? Does the claim that the Act would breach privacy mean it won’t eliminate theft? Does the claim that the Act would breach privacy mean the intention of the Act is to breach privacy? Does the claim that content thieves would be threatened mean that creators would be stifled from creating? If it did stifle content, could we conclude that such was the Act’s intention?

Student 20 is arguing for the repeal of bicycle helmet laws. He thinks they’re counterintuitive in that they actively discourage bike riding and that, furthermore, they don’t provide the safety they promise. He makes this argument:

People can fall from their bikes or be struck by cars, so, for their protection, laws require them to wear helmets designed to protect the head and reduce injury. Sadly, bike helmets aren’t made to sustain a hit from a car moving over 20 mph, so the helmet won’t help a cyclist who’s hit by a car traveling faster than that.

What logical fallacy or fallacies are at work in this argument? Point out the problem or problems and, if possible, name the fallacies.


About davidbdale

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28 Responses to Logical Fallacies

  1. primav01 says:

    Logical Fallacies:
    Argument 19- The problem I see with their argument is the quote, “SOPA’s goal is not so much to discourage the stealing of ideas as it is to intimidate potential creators of new content by endangering consumers who infringe on the rights of the creators” because of their argument behind this sentence. I don’t see how this act, SOPA, is meant to intimidate “potential creators,” when its’ purpose is actually to protect these creators’ work.
    Argument 20- I have a problem with the quote, “Sadly, bike helmets aren’t made to sustain a hit from a car moving over 20 mph, so the helmet won’t help a cyclist who’s hit by a car traveling faster than that.” This argument is completely irrelevant to me because, firstly, being that bike helmets ARE made to sustain a hit from a car moving 20mph or less makes them important because there is always a possibility of that kind of collision happening (my uncle was actually hit by a car definitely going less than 20mph backing out of their hidden driveway and he had terrible head injuries that a helmet could have easily prevented). Also another reason I have a problem with this statement is because, even if a car were to be moving faster than 20mph, helmets are an absolute necessity being that they will at least aid in preventing more damaging head injuries.

    • davidbdale says:

      19. To be fair to Student 19, I haven’t provided enough details to make clear the threat to the creators, if there is one.
      20. What you say about helmets is certainly true. The helmet might be crushed in a collision with a car, but that at least absorbs some of the impact that the head would have taken.

  2. adkins70 says:

    19 – Prevention of theft by SOPA would not prevent new content from being created. In theory, the Act would encourage creators to release more content, that would be harder to steal, so that they could benefit and profit from the content that would have to be attained through purchase. SOPA’s goal is to prevent piracy by giving prosecutors more authority and permission to stop acts of piracy from being committed, or at least punish those who commit it.

    20 – A helmet is better than no helmet when being struck by a vehicle, regardless of the speed. The helmet will not prevent the entirety of the damage, but will reduce it and lessen the extent of the injury. Therefore, helmets are still useful, especially when worn properly. Helmet laws require riders to help prevent their own possible injuries.

    • davidbdale says:

      19. That’s a thrillingly complete, accurate, and utterly clear explanation of the stated purpose of SOPA, Brent!
      20. Again, very nicely stated. You don’t conclude that helmet laws should be mandatory, nor do you identify the logical fallacy, but you do state an opposing case most convincingly.

  3. cdisarcina says:

    This is probably going to be all wrong but…

    19] I think this student is trying to poison the well. He writes that SOPA’s goal is not to discourage but to intimidate by endangering those who infringe on rights. The intention of the Act is probably not meant to breach privacy; at least they’re not outright about it. Stifling content does not necessarily mean that privacy is being breached.

    20] This student is has made use of mistaking one reason for the reason logical fallacy. He puts the popular opinion against bike helmets by stating that they aren’t protective under circumstances where a car is traveling more than 20 mph. The car driver has no responsibility at all during collisions with a biker? A helmet can’t protect you if your injured below the neckline.

    • davidbdale says:

      19. Several good points here, Chris, and I think you’re right about poisoning the well. You’ve answered the stifling/privacy question correctly. And I agree that there’s no reason to think (other than that the well is poison) that the point of SOPA is to poke around in people’s viewing habits, for example.
      20. I think you’re exactly right about mistaking a single reason for the only reason here, Chris. (After that, you get a little muddled.) It’s hardly an indictment of helmets to point out that they don’t prevent injury in every situation. Why you ask about the driver’s responsibility I don’t know. Regarding the lower body injury, no, the helmet certainly won’t help, but then, nobody’s requiring a helmet for the purpose of preventing broken arms.

  4. briannewaters3 says:

    19. This argument goes from stating that SOPA will eliminate theft to saying they will intimidate every potential creator on the internet. This seems like the slippery slope fallacy.
    20. The students says how bike helmets are made to reduce injury, but then says how it will not help a rider who is hit by a car moving over 20mph. This means that the helmet does help if they simply fall off the bike or they are hit by a car moving under 20mph. The student himself admits that they are made to reduce injury, not eliminate it all together so he contradicts himself here.

    • davidbdale says:

      19. That’s an interesting take, Brianne. There is certainly an element of over-reach in the objection that feels slippery.
      20. Why do you continue to use “how” so often, Brianne? The student says “that” bike helmets . . . but then says “that” they will not help . . . . (Sorry, I just want to break you of this if I can.) Otherwise, your observations seem perfectly reasonable. Nobody else so far has mentioned that helmets are good in a fall, The helmet itself doesn’t need to be struck by the car to do its job.

  5. clarkn92 says:

    The problem I see with Student 19’s argument is the part which states that SOPA’s main goal is to intimidate potential creators rather than discourage the stealing of ideas. I don’t understand how SOPA’s goal is to intimidate creators when they actually want to protect their work.

    Student 20 describes how people fall from their bikes all of the time or get hit by cars and wear helmets to protect themselves. But they also write that a helmet will not protect someone from a car moving faster than 20 mph. It seems to me a little contradictory since helmets are meant to keep people safe from falling off their bikes and getting hit. The main purpose for wearing a helmet is protection and not wearing one is still safer when it comes to head injuries.

    • davidbdale says:

      19. To be fair to Student 19, I haven’t provided enough details to make the threat clear. You’re right to object that the connection isn’t clear, given what little you’ve been told. There is an explanation, but you certainly don’t get it here.
      20. I’m really unclear what you’re saying in the middle here, Nicole. You say, although you certainly can’t mean, that helmets are worn to “keep people safe from falling off their bikes.” Maybe you mean they’re meant to prevent injury when bikers are hit after a fall. But that doesn’t really change the situation we’re offered. Cars traveling faster than 20mph will crush the helmet and still injure the fallen rider is the claim.

  6. justinbaker2007 says:

    19- The comment is insinuating something different than what it really means. “SOPA’s goal is not so much to discourage the stealing of ideas as it is to intimidate potential creators of new content by endangering consumers who infringe on the rights of the creators.” SOPA does want to discourage the stealing of ideas. It’s also trying to go from another angle by suggesting downloading destroys new creativity. I strongly disagree with this and I believe it is worded wrongly.

    20- While helmets are very important, safety is always needed on a bike, with or without a helmet. “Sadly, bike helmets aren’t made to sustain a hit from a car moving over 20 mph, so the helmet won’t help a cyclist who’s hit by a car traveling faster than that.” Where most cars are driving, it is usually around or faster than 20 mph. I believe a helmet would help even if a car is faster than 20 mph. The resulting injuries depend on how your body reacts from being hit by a car.

    • davidbdale says:

      19. Justin, I hope you’ll read your entry again carefully and see how completely you sabotage your own good work by being completely ambiguous in your last sentence. You quote the Student. You make your own claim about SOPA’s intentions. Then you strongly disagree with “this,” and conclude that “it” is worded wrongly. I promise you I’m not pretending to be confused. I have no idea what you disagree with.
      20. So . . . is there a logical fallacy in the argument?

  7. smithk53 says:

    Student 19: This student is making a motive fallacy because they are making it seem like legislators for SOPA want to infringe on privacy and stifle creators.
    Student 20: The problem with this argument is that a helmet still protects a cyclist in some situations. Student 20 argues that just because helmets don’t always work means that cyclists shouldn’t have to wear them by law. Speed limits in neighborhoods are usually about 25 mph or less so I’m sure that helmets do have some benefits for people who ride them. This logical fallacy here is substituting part for the whole. Basically student 20 is saying that since helmets don’t protect people from injury when a car is driving over 20 mph people shouldn’t have to wear them. What about people who only ride in residential areas with low speed limits?

  8. oconne92 says:

    19. This is a Motive Fallacy, it’s the government’s intent to protect us, but that would require us giving up some rights. Even though the act is ment to protect s and stop theft it wont work, online “theft” will always happen no matter what laws are put i place. Although the claim is that the act wont breach privacy,it will inevitably breach it as a “side effect” of security. We cant directly claim that the acts purpose is to stifle creativity but it is an indirect result of overprotection.
    20. This is a motive fallacy, just because the biker is hit by a car doesn’t mean they need a helmet. If they want to reduce injury they should separate the bike and road lanes.
    (…something something my white paper…)

    • davidbdale says:

      Did you have a sticky keyboard, Rory? Letters are missing, spacing is weird, several apostrophes have been dropped . . . .
      19. Yes, there is very likely motive fallacy here. (You seem to have some of it yourself as you go on about the inevitability of privacy breaches.) 🙂 How does overprotection stifle creativity?
      20. Above I get it, but here, I’m not sure what you mean by motive fallacy. Are you attributing a bad motive to the legislators? Or are you just saying their solution is wrong-headed?

  9. rickc1030 says:

    Student 19 can be said to reach a faulty assumption or faulty reasoning. How do we know that SOPA will damage the productive work of the creators? There is no hard evidence other than speculation because the bill doesn’t really exist yet. The problem that this argument has is “What if” syndrome because it’s honestly all speculation. I’m getting a feeling this is part of my paper.
    Student 20
    This student writes that all cars drive over 20 mph all the time, and that common sense is not a factor to riding a bicycle. A head injury is one of the worst injuries possible. The Strawman fallacy is also used here.

    • davidbdale says:

      19. Don’t despair about your paper, Rick. It’s original purpose was to demonstrate that the internet is a strong tool for oppression. I don’t think we can convincingly say that content creators will stop producing content because of anti-piracy laws, but I do think you can still argue that websites and whole domains will become very careful about what they host if they know they can be shut down without due process for appearing to allow unlicensed material to appear on their pages.
      20. I see your point about the straw man fallacy, Rick, though I wouldn’t call this example a straw man myself. It is true the author tries to refute an entire law on the basis of objecting to one premise.

  10. kmbuttari says:

    Student 19 doesn’t provide any support for his argument. He simply makes a claim without backing it up with any facts or reasoning.

    Student 20 committed the Straw-man fallacy. Although they made a point about helmets not being able to stop a 20 mph+ car hit, they totally ignored people falling from their bikes and under 20 mph crashes, yet still claimed a victory for making the claim that a car traveling over 20 mph will injure you regardless of whether you’re wearing a helmet.

    • davidbdale says:

      19. Well, that’s true but not a sufficient response, Kevin. To be fair the Student 19, I did not provide enough details to make the argument clear. On the other hand, it is never a sufficient rebuttal to say: the essay didn’t provide enough evidence. The proper refutation for insufficient evidence is to provide a shred of evidence for an opposing point of view and win by default.
      20. Yeah, that’s nice.

  11. anthonymatias97 says:

    19- The act may threaten the thieves but in no way would put an end to the crimes that they are committing. The reason for this act is quite vague it could be to invade the privacy of other or to stop the thieves no one can ever fully know the intensions of the government. Just because the act might scare the thieves that might not be the governments sole objective of putting the act in place. The student doesn’t fully know the objective and tries to pinpoint it on one thing.

    20- The fact that they are unsafe isn’t the direct reason why people don’t ride bikes. Also there are more possibilities of accidents that could happen to the rider that the helmet may protect. Just because the helmet can’t sustain a hit from a car at twenty miles an hour doesn’t make it unsafe. The number of times that the cyclist will be in that situation are very low. This could be faulty reasoning because there must be more reasons on why the helmet is labeled unsafe and how much of the reason people are discouraged is from that lack of safety.

    • davidbdale says:

      19. I’m not sure I can consider this an analysis of logical fallacies in the original, Anthony. You make not unreasonable claims, but I don’t see you clarifying what’s wrong with Student 19’s presentation.
      20. I think you may be introducing your own small fallacies here, Anthony. Nobody said the helmets were unsafe. Student 20 does suggest they don’t keep cyclists as safe as they should to warrant the regulation.

  12. lebano55 says:

    The fallacy within Student 19’s argument is that it assumes that creators rely solely on free distribution of their ideas and creations and that their ideas would be entirely stifled by SOPA.

    Student 20’s fallacy is that their argument avoids the fact that a bicycle helmet could be helpful in a crash under 20 mph or in an accident not involving a car.

  13. billykluge says:

    19. This section of writing has a motive fallacy. The writer states that the legislatures who are supporting SOPA are promoting it for alternative reasons which is why it is bad, instead of attacking what SOPA actually says.
    20. The problem with this example is that the helmet does work for cars that are going under 20 miles per hour showing that there is still a purpose for the helmet.

  14. kaileewhiting says:

    19- Just because SOPA breaches privacy doesn’t mean it will or will not eliminate theft. Maybe I don’t understand the argument at all, but I don’t see how the two are connected. The intention of the act is to eliminate theft, not to breach privacy. So the claim connecting the two does not make much sense. The claim that content thieves would be threatened could relate to creator stifling creation because products need consumers. If there are no consumers than there is no use for a a product.
    20- Student 20 makes a huge mistake by saying that a bike helmet won’t help in a 20 mph collision. Well, in a 20 mph collision there’s more on the line than just someone’s head. Their whole body will be part of the crash and anything below the head is subject to injury.

  15. jodidziedzic says:


    20- This argument reminds me of student 17’s argument. It is similar in the way that we do not have the right to expect the creator of a nutritional supplement have a test for safety. We cannot ask that these bicycle helmet companies ensure that the helmets can withstand a car traveling over 20 mph. So although wearing these helmets would not necessarily benefit us if we were possibly hit by an oncoming car, is it fair to use something inevitable like that as an excuse why we shouldn’t wear them?

  16. kovnat77 says:

    “Legislators who support the Stop Overseas Piracy Act say they want to eliminate the theft of American intellectual property, but the Act would breach the privacy of all innocent consumers. SOPA’s goal is not so much to discourage the stealing of ideas as it is to intimidate potential creators of new content by endangering consumers who infringe on the rights of the creators.”

    Student 19’s criticism on the Stop Overseas Piracy Act (SOPA) is on one hand, well thought out, and the other a very wordy statement. I feel that the arguments they are expressing are leading towards a “slippery slope” argument, with the initial statement that the SOPA act means well in some cases, but becomes a hinderance to far more that it helps in the long run. The reader initially interprets it as “too much information” because it has that slight contradiction, or Motive fallacy that makes it evident that the writer is on the side of people who would be hurt from SOPA. It criticizes a program that technically makes sense, but will only swell and make things worse for the rest of the population.

    “People can fall from their bikes or be struck by cars, so, for their protection, laws require them to wear helmets designed to protect the head and reduce injury. Sadly, bike helmets aren’t made to sustain a hit from a car moving over 20 mph, so the helmet won’t help a cyclist who’s hit by a car traveling faster than that.”

    Student 20’s claim is very valid, but sorely forgets that the group of people forced/pressured to wear helmets mostly are children who are not capable of traveling faster than 20 miles per hour anyway, and often times have to worry more about falling off the bike going 5 miles per hour, maybe the helmet was created for that purpose, and not that of stopping moving vehicles from crushing skulls.

  17. mmiddleton1 says:

    Student 19 has logical fallacy because the amount of new content that is created by its creators has little to do with the endangerment of consumers. If SOPA wants to deal with the content and its creators it should not threaten the consumers, who are the actually the main issue with internet piracy. Similarly, would the lack of media response discourage a news reporter to write new articles? No.

    Student 20 has many logical fallacies. The main logic fallacy I see is practically stated inside the argument, that a helmet is “designed to protect the head and reduce injury,” but it is then said the helmet won’t help a cyclist who is hit by a car traveling more than 20 mph. This tells me that helmets somehow lose all its safety uses after this condition. What I also don’t understand is that if the law requires people to wear helmets for their protection because of the risk of being “struck by cars” why are they only useful up to 20 mph? How often would a crash between a bike and car occur under 20 mph? Not very often at all, even on back roads! The final fallacy I see is, how does the combined speed and direction of the bike play into this? What if the car is going 10 mph North and the biker is heading straight for it at 15 mph South? According to the logic of the argument, the cyclist with a helmet is fine since the car is only going 10 mph.

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