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

2. 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'

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

4. Logical reasoning that establishes specific facts or contentions leading to a general conclusion

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

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

7. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

13. 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.

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

15. 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!'

16. 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.'

17. Information that can be objectively proven as true

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

19. Information gained from personal experience representing a general pattern

20. Information based on personal interpretation of facts

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

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

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

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

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

26. Obscuring or denying the complexity of an issue

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

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

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

30. 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.

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

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

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

34. Appeal to the reader's emotions

35. Analogy or comparison that is not logically consistent

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

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

38. Common knowledge or beliefs readers accept as true

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

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

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

42. Appeal based on the credibility of the author

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

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

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

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

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

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

49. Generalization: an argument that ignores all unfavorable evidence

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