INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL THINKING
Six Informal Fallacies
What is critical thinking? Critical thinking is the systematic study of the ways in which both formal and informal logic can be applied to real-world examples.
Formal logic is based on the abstract structure of human thought and deals with arguments that have conclusions that must follow from the premises of an argument. It is a difficult subject usually taught as a separate course.
Informal logic involves the examination of arguments that are usually less compelling than those of formal logic. While informal arguments that are viable do not have an official name, informal arguments that fail to convince -- or should fail to convince -- have earned a special title. These are called the informal fallacies. These fallacies have become very well-known because they are frequently committed by politicians, writers, news commentators, educators, and ordinary people who have strong beliefs that they try to support by by a combination of rhetoric and argumentation.
This introduction concerns just a few of the more common informal fallacies. It is one of easiest ways to be introduced to critical thinking because it relies on our intuitions about what is right or wrong about certain forms of argumentation. Yet, it can be very tricky! Intuitions are not always right. Step through the following slides carefully. Imagine that you are making the arguments shown. Try to guess what may be wrong with the approach you are taking in the argument, then move to the next slide for an explanation.
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