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Report on Informal Fallacies and Cognitive Biases

  • Subject: Science
  • Essay Topic: Logic
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 951
  • Published: 18 March 2021
  • Downloads: 46
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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Informal Fallacies
  3. Cognitive Biases and How They Lead to Informal Fallacies
    Informal Fallacies - Harmful Consequences
  4. Conclusion


The report discusses informal fallacies and cognitive biases, covering their definitions and explanations with examples followed by highlighting how cognitive biases cause us to engage in informal fallacy. Then it discusses some socio-political issues in which informal fallacies are manipulative and persuasive and as conclusion by understanding relation of informal fallacies with cognitive biases increase our reasoning for logical everyday life.

Informal Fallacies

A fallacy occurs when an argument is invalid or when premises are unable to support its conclusion and reasoning is incorrect. When fallacy arise due to language of content and misuse of evidence it is known as an informal fallacy. There is no limit to the variety of forms in which that content may appear, and thus informal fallacies are often more difficult to detect. It is language that deceives here because language is slippery and imprecise, one must be cautious in this enterprise. To understand informal fallacies further, following are some examples:

P1: Judges were fair.

P2: Who is brown cannot be fair.

C: Therefore, judges cannot be brown.

This argument looks valid but there is an informal fallacy of equivocation as the fair used in first premise was for ‘agreeable and good decision’ and fair used in second premise was for ‘skin tone’ and both are different in context, hence language of content deceives here and argument is invalid.

Another example is:

Did Ronald ever give up his bad habits?

What did you use to wipe your fingerprints from the gun?

This is a type of informal fallacy of complex question as it pre assumes an answer to the questions asked.

In the above questions there lies an assumed answer to a previous question like convict used a gun in the first place and John has bad habits all these are pre assumed and but there can be fallacies in them.

Class A is not good.

Ben is in class A.

Therefore, Ben is not good.

This is an example of informal fallacy of division as we only know class A has some mischievous students by which its reputation is bad but we have no facts to conclude that Ben is not good.

Cognitive Biases and How They Lead to Informal Fallacies

A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from rationality in judgement that affects the decisions and judgements that people make. Some of these biases are related to memory and past experiences. The way an individual perceives an event or input may affect their construction of social reality and in turn lead to biased thinking and decision making.

A classic example which includes ‘Bandwagon Effect’- tendency for people to do or think things because other people do or think them. Happens a lot in stock market. If someone starts buying a stock, because they think it is going to rise, then a lot of other people are going to start picking that stock too.

E.g. “I don’t want to get married. There would all that extra responsibility, along with costs of raising children and putting them through school. Not to mention the loss of my freedom.”

This is a well-known psychological effect known as the ‘focusing illusion’ is a cognitive bias that occurs when people place too much importance on one aspect of an event, consequently leading to hasty generalization and relevance fallacies.

P1: Jacob is a cautious driver.

P2: Jacob got into a serious car accident.

C: Jacob decided to discontinue driving.

Here Jacob’s opinion is biased on the basis of his bitter experience of his getting into a car accident despite being cautious. If a decision caused something bad to happen, then we will likely think the decision was unethical, even though it was well-reasoned. Driving a car safely might get someone killed, but it’s not wrong to drive a car.

Informal Fallacies – Harmful Consequences

Asaduddin Owaisi cannot truly have Indian interests in mind because he’s not truly Indian but Muslim.

Statements similar to this were quite prevalent during the 2019 parliamentary election and still appear on occasion. There is informal fallacy of pre assumption and attack on person is here. The pre assumption here is that if a person follows Muslim religion then they clearly can’t be Indian or interested in India. But there are many potential flaws in this argument as presented, the most obvious is that there are many Indians who are Muslims and who are quite interested and concerned about India and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was live example leading India from front as president and scientist.

P1: Killing of children is wrong.

P2: Abortion is killing of children.

C: Therefore, abortion is wrong.

The first premise is agreeable to all of us but the second premise is not accepted by many individuals as abortion is not killing of children but it is person’s opinion to best of their interest and how is abortion going to affect their lives after. The informal fallacy here is persuasive and lead to that abortion is wrong.


“Reasons are pillar of the mind” – Edward Counsel

Reasoning plays a critical part in every day of life and there are times when fallacies are embedded to reasoning and to be more logical these fallacies needs to be detected and to be removed. Most of fallacies are informal fallacies and is related to language of content or writing or speaking differently. If Informal Fallacy is gravy then cognitive biases act as special ingredients to it. Both creates confusion and lead to invalid reasoning of argument. Cognitive Biases perceives rational judgment because of confusion of mind and engage us in informal fallacies. Informal fallacies are sometimes manipulative and persuasive on socio-political issues which can create a massive negative impact on world but this can be avoided by being more reasonable and following valid reasoning. To be more reasonable one must consider the relation between informal fallacies and cognitive biases and how can they be prevented.

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