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SAT Essay Logical Fallacies

Subjects : sat, english, writing-skills
  • Answer 50 questions in 15 minutes.
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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. Trying to prove one idea with another idea that is too similar to the first idea

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

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

4. Introducing an irrelevant point to divert readers' attention from the main issue being discussed

5. Information that is an interpretation of numerical data

6. How similar or how different are the cases being compared? How many point of comparison is the arguer using?

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

8. Analogy or comparison that is not logically consistent

9. 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?

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

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

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

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

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

15. Information gained from personal experience representing a general pattern

16. Have all reasonable alternatives been considered/eliminated? Does this author attack the other views in a fair way?

17. Common knowledge or beliefs readers accept as true

18. Appeal to the reader's emotions

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

20. Information the writer asserts as being the result of an event

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

22. 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'

23. Fallacy that asserts that given two positions - there exists a compromise between them which must be correct.

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

25. Information that can be objectively proven as true

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

27. Appeal to reason

28. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

34. 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!'

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

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

37. 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

38. 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.

39. Obscuring or denying the complexity of an issue

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

41. 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.'

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

43. Generalization: an argument that ignores all unfavorable evidence

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

45. 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.

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

47. Cause and Effect: Assuming that an incident that precedes another is the cause of the second incident

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

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

50. The use by a speaker of coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has a different (and negative) meaning for a targeted subgroup of the audience.