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SAT Essay Logical Fallacies

Subjects : sat, english, writing-skills
  • Answer 50 questions in 15 minutes.
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  • Match each statement with the correct term.
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This is a study tool. The 3 wrong answers for each question are randomly chosen from answers to other questions. So, you might find at times the answers obvious, but you will see it re-enforces your understanding as you take the test each time.
1. Introducing an irrelevant point to divert readers' attention from the main issue being discussed

2. Writer encourages readers to accept a conclusion without any support

3. Appeal to the reader's emotions

4. Generalization: Assumes that an individual must have a characteristic because the group to which he or she belongs supposedly has that characteristic

5. Trying to prove one idea with another idea that is too similar to the first idea

6. 'To the authority' appeal based on the authority of a source

7. Reasoning by Debate: In an argument - this is an attack on the person rather than on the opponent's ideas. It comes from the Latin meaning 'against the man.'

8. Stating the only two interpretations of actions are alternatives - ignoring any compromise or moderate course

9. How large is the sample size? How representative is the sample?

10. Everybody knows fallacy. Asserts that some idea is common knowledge - so it must be true.

11. Reasoning by Debate: When a writer argues against a claim that nobody actually holds or is universally considered weak. Setting up a straw man diverts attention from the real issues.

12. Reasoning by Proof: the evidence offered does not really support the claim. Non Sequitur (It does not follow)

13. Generalization: an argument that ignores all unfavorable evidence

14. Cause and Effect: claim than an event with more than one cause has only one cause

15. Does the evidence prove the point being argued? Is this authority an expert on this particular topic?

16. Information that is an interpretation of numerical data

17. Analogy or comparison that is not logically consistent

18. Concealing the author's true intent - belief - or attitude towards an issue

19. Information based on personal interpretation of facts

20. Common knowledge or beliefs readers accept as true

21. Prejudging an individual based on ideas one has about the group the individual belongs to

22. Citing an expert on one subject as expert on another

23. Drawing conclusions based on insufficient or unrepresentative evidence; using all instances when only some apply

24. When a writer uses the same term in two different senses in an argument. i.e. People choose what laws they obey. The Law of Gravity is a law. I choose to disobey the law of gravity.

25. Appeal to reason

26. Ambiguity or multiplicity of interpretations of a repeated word or phrase

27. 'To the people' appeal to the prejudices of the audience - or claiming that (or a majority) supports your opinion

28. Reasoning by Proof: an argument that because someone worked hard at something - their conclusions must be right

29. Cause and Effect: A fallacy that assumes that because two variables are correlated (happen at the same time) that one must have caused the other

30. Is there a reasonable connection between the cause and the effect? Is that connection explained? Are there other possible causes that have not been considered?

31. Appeal to the the pity - sympathy or 'misery' of the audience

32. Condemning an argument because of where it began - how it began - or who began it

33. Information that can be objectively proven as true

34. Statements that are intentionally vague so that the audience may supply its own interpretations

35. A fallacy that assumes that taking a first step will lead to subsequent steps that cannot be prevented

36. Reasoning by Proof: absence of evidence is not evidence; he didn't say that... so it must be false

37. 'Against the man' attacking the person or group to which you are opposed rather than addressing the issue

38. Reasoning in which a conclusion is reached by stating a general principle and then applying that principle to a specific case

39. Two comparable issues or ideas are judged by different criteria

40. Reasoning by Proof: A fallacy in which a speaker or writer seeks to persuade not by giving evidence but by appealing to the respect people have for a person or institution.

41. 'After this therefore because of this' implying that because on event follows another - the first caused the second

42. Generalization: Assumes that members of a group must have a characteristic because one or more of its members has that characteristic.

43. False transitive property - you assume that just because two things share a characteristic - all of their characteristics are shared: - 'penguins are black and white - old tv shows are black and white - therefore penguins are old tv shows'

44. Reasoning by Debate: A fallacy that forces listeners to choose between two alternatives when more than two alternatives exist

45. Obscuring or denying the complexity of an issue

46. 'it does not follow' drawing a conclusion or making a transition that is not a logical result of the facts

47. Generalization: drawing conclusions based on insufficient or unrepresentative evidence

48. Claiming that one step in the wrong direction will lead to another - potentially disastrous consequence

49. Cause and Effect: 'What if' fallacy. Argues that everything would be different if one variable was different. Example: 'If the Nazis had won WWII - we'd all be speaking German!'

50. Any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue