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Habits of Mind Unit 5









Which logical fallacies can you identify in each of the following statements?


a.  Once the U.S. consents to enter formal talks with a country governed by a tyrannical dictatorship, it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. has to endorse that country’s actions.  Therefore, we should not enter formal talks with any undemocratic countries.


b.  The city council has never asked citizens to participate in creating policy, and therefore there’s no reason to start doing so now.


c.  The percentage of people in prison in the U.S. has always been greater than that in other countries, and therefore this is not an important issue.


d.  A reporter had to wait five hours at the local hospital’s emergency room for attention; that means that the hospital emergency room has major problems that need to be fixed.


e.  College students are poor tenants because they are loud, don’t take good care of a property and are often late with rent payments.


f.  An immigrant to the U.S. either has legal documents and should be treated as a legitimate visitor or citizen or else is a criminal and should be locked up in prison.




What is the logical fallacy (or fallacies) at work in each of the following situations?  Briefly say how the situation illustrates the fallacy.


a.  A blogger writes a post about the meaning behind a political candidate’s wearing a bow tie, saying it means that he’s out of touch with the times and attends too much to superficial matters.


b.  A reporter talks with several “people on the street,” who say that they’ve noticed the town seems busier this summer.  The reporter writes a news story based on that evidence.


c.  A columnist quotes a poll that suggests most people in his community believe that the mayor is overpaid.  Therefore, he says, mayor's salary should be trimmed.


d.  One candidate for city council supported raising taxes for water and sewer costs.  She was not elected.  Her opponent, who won the seat, says she lost because she supported raising taxes.




a.  Using the textbook’s description of logical fallacies as a reference, make up four statements, each of which includes a different kind of logical fallacy.


b.  Describe the logical fallacy at work in each.

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