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Informal Fallacies Project

            For the Informal Fallacies Project, you are to choose your own resources:  newspapers, magazines, books, or journals.  The project is to find and analyze five different informal fallacies.  All references are cited in a standard bibliographical manner. The Informal Fallacies Project counts as one quiz grade.  Please keep in mind the following guidelines:

w        Newspaper and magazine sources for fallacies should be material published since January 1, 1970.  Book and journal sources of any date are acceptable.

w        Oral arguments, whether in ordinary conversations, speeches, lectures, or television broadcasts, are not to be used unless a written text is available separately.

w        Advertisements are not fallacy examples when the cited passages are merely emotive appeals rather than arguments to a conclusion.

w        The fallacy cited must be used and not just mentioned.  The use/mention distinction is important.  (For example, examples from writings on informal fallacies are not to be copied.)

An evaluation of your project is based on the following criteria:

(1)   Bibliography citations are given in proper form.

(2)   ) The excerpt (or fallacy quotation) should be sufficiently inclusive that the fallacy is evident:  not too brief and thereby committing the fallacy of accent and not too extensive such that irrelevant statements are present.

(3)   The extensiveness and adequacy of the explanation of how the fallacy is effected is essential for full credit.

(4)   The extensiveness and adequacy of the explanation of how the fallacy is effected is essential for full credit.

(5)   At least five different fallacies of relevance should be noted.

 The format of your paper should be similar to the example illustrated below.


“Before considering these development in detail it is worth asking why such an apparently simple device as the bicycle should have had such a major effect on the acceleration of technology.  The answer lies in the sheer humanity of the machine.”

S. S. Wilson.  “Bicycle Technology.”  Scientific American.  (March, 1973), 82.


            The question posed is a composite of several questions:  (1) Is the bicycle an apparently simple device?  If the answer to this question is yes, then the further question can be raised:  (2) Did this “apparently simple device” have “a major effect on the acceleration of technology?”  If the answer to this question is yes, the quoted question is appropriate:   (3) How had the bicycle had such a “major effect on the acceleration of technology”?  An answer to (1) is not clearly straightforward.  An answer to (2) is even less so, and an answer to (3) (provided in the text) is much more doubtful.  Most of the technical innovations used in the bicycle (e.g., differential gears, classic diamond frame, tubular frame, ball bearings, pneumatic tire) were developed independently of bicycle technology.

            Hence although the technology of this “apparently simple device” might be important for the evolution of modern technology, it is a fallacy to presuppose it had a major effect on the future development of technology.  The answer provided by Dr. Wilson blurs the distinct aspects of the question he raises and treats it as a simple one; hence, the fallacy of Complex Question occurs.

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