Fallacy Ad Hominem

I previously wrote an article documenting 5 logical fallicies, and providing some background on what a fallacy is and how to counteract them. Building off where that article left off, I feel compelled to share my every expanding knowledge of fallacies and logical arguments. On the whole, these fallacies will undoubtedly be much easier to grasp than my initial article. However, they are equally valid and it is important that you learn about these so you may be able to debate better; and be able to critically analyze statements often heard in the media and throughout other sources. With that said, here are 5 more common fallicious arguments:

1). Argument From Personal Incredulity

The very nature of this fallacy is one that is very unfortunate, especially in our modern age where information is readily accessible. In laymans terms, this argument goes like this: "I cannot understand such-and-such, therefore it cannot be true." There are undoubtedly very complex things at work in our universe, and perhaps even more complex is often the way in which we describe these things. Some people are not very gifted in the field of math and science (as these are often the fields where hard-to-understand and complex information arises). However, the complexity and lack of ability to understand is not evidence that those individuals studying these fields are inaccurate. Nor is it evidence that the information being conveyed is inaccurate as well.

Oftentimes arguments from personal incredulity leads to an individual looking into folk psychological beliefs, as these are much easier to understand. The problem here is that folk psychology on the whole lacks evidence. Folk psychology entails many studies in the realms of metaphysics, mysticism, and so forth. One may use this fallacy to insist that the mind does not function in the way it is described through scientific psychology, yet they will turn to a psychic in hopes of having the "mind" revealed to them in some way. Of course, this is not a fallacy dealing directly with folk psychology; though it is easy to see where it fits in here. Of importance is realizing that this argument is really one that is extremely ignorant. With some effort, and even a simple Google search, information is readily available so you may learn new things and not have to resort to poor argument tactics such as this.

2). False Analogy

Analogies can be very useful tools that we can use to paint a familiar picture with words in order to describe an unfamiliar thing. Like many other fallacies, words and images can be bent so as to paint a picture that is ultimately innaccurate of the concept being described. This occurs, more often than not, when refering to a metaphysical concept (a concept outside of the realm of the physical world) in physical terms.

An example of false analogy in action would be as follows: God is very much like your home structure. There are many parts that seemingly work together.

In many aspects this is a valid analogy. For the sake of common discussion, it may be a useful analogy to describe the nature of a deity. However, if this was to be used in a debate-like setting; it would undoubtedly be frowned upon as the analogy is comparing a metaphysical concept with one that is inherently physical. The "parts" of the home, whether they be the individual rooms or rather the individual people living in the home, are strictly physical. As one can see, the previously stated analogy can be useful; but it is certainly not evidence of the nature of god or the existence of god altogether.

3). False Continuum

This one is relatively simple to describe. A false continuum is a fallacy which is used when there is not a definitive demarcation line between two extremes. The implication is then that viewing these two extremes as separate is meaningless, when in fact it should be very much meaningful. As an example, one can consider the difference between cults and religion. They both have similar qualities, and therefore would lie on a continuous line. However, despite flowing in a continuum, it is important to acknowledge the difference between cults and religious institutions; as they are generally very different in their make-up. The reason some individuals choose not to distinguish between the two is heavily due to their own subjective biases. I am personally not a fan of religion myself, however I would not go so far as to invoke a notion that every church is a cult (and by extension evil). There are undoubtedly cult-like churches in all religions, such as the many mega-churches run by billionaire faith healers. These are merely scams, and would by definition fall into a cult category. However, there are other churches which do much more genuine good; such as feeding the homeless. There exist real boundaries here, even if they seemingly overlap on a continuum. Making broad, sweeping statements is of little use in an argument.

4). False Dichotomy

A false dichotomy occurs when an individual arbitrarily reduces a set of possibilities to two. This occurs all to frequently in the ever-controversial debate between evolutionists and Creationists/Intelligent Design supporters. A common argument used by Creationists follows as such: "Evolution is not real, therefore we must have been created." This is a poor argument because it presumes that there are only two options for how the universe came to be. While Intelligent Design and evolution are the leaders of "how the world came to be" arguments, there are some others which are often ignored by the mainstream. The bigger concern I have with this argument is that it leads to "holier-than-thou" attitudes (on both sides of the debate). The debate should rely on arguments and evidence as opposed to poorly constructed, fallicious arguments like this. It does nothing to prove a point for Creationism if we discount evolutionary evidence (even at a macro-level), which is inherently what this argument does. Like many other fallicious arguments, it is childish.

5). Inconsistency

This occurs many times without even thinking about it, even in our every day lives. Inconistency occurs when we apply a particular set of rules or criteria to a particular belief, argument, claim, and so forth; yet we do not apply the same to other beliefs. This is harmful to opposing beliefs because it does not give them a fighting chance, and by extension inconsistency reveals ones own biases and predisposition to unwillingness to hear evidence from the opposing viewpoint(s). As mentioned, this is fairly common in our own thinking due to it being engrained in human nature to a degree; however that is not an excuse for not reanalyzing our own beliefs and making sure we are remaining equally open to opposing points of view.

An example of an inconsistency would be insisting that Christians should be ethical and moral workers, yet we do not hold non-Christians to the same standard. In a way, this inconsistency sets up a moral and ethical heirarchy in the workplace; which is not a healthy work environment. On the surface, the fallacy of inconsistency may not seem like it would be particularly harmful; however in the long run it very well may be. This is all the more reason to avoid this fallicious way of thinking.


Undoubtedly, there are many more fallacies that I will be covering in future articles. Stay tuned!