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Module 4: Identifying Assumptions, Biases, and Fallacious Thinking flashcards |

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  • Inert Information Source

    Taking into the mind information that, though memorized, we do not understand. We think we understand this information, but we don't or can't use it.

    Activated Ignorance Source

    Taking into the mind, and actively using, information that is false, although we mistakenly think it is true. We mislearn or partially learn information or accept illogical beliefs and then act on them.

    Activated Knowledge Source

    Taking into the mind and actively using information that is true and, when understood insightfully, leads us by implication to more and more knowledge. We bring significant ideas and knowledge into the mind and are able to apply them, systematically, to new situations.


    A claim that is made without any supporting statements in a conclusion. An unsupported claim.

    Reasoned Conclusion

    A claim that is accepted because we think it is justified by the supporting statements for it. It is inferred from the reasons.

    Three Types of Thinker

    Uncritical persons, skilled manipulators, and fair-minded critical persons.

    Uncritical Persons

    Intellectually unskilled thinkers with socially conditioned beliefs, beliefs grounded in prejudice, that are motivated by irrationality, vanity, and intellectual arrogance, are prone to emotional counter-attacks when thinking is questioned, and tend to see themselves as "good" and opponents as "evil".

    Skilled Manipulators

    Weak-sense critical thinkers that are skilled in manipulation, pursue self-interest, employ manipulation, domination, and demagoguery, and try to keep other points of view from being heard.

    Fair-Minded Critical Persons

    Strong-sense critical thinkers that reject manipulation and controlling others, combine critical-thinking skills with a desire to server public good, want all points of view expressed, and want manipulative persuasion exposed.


    An error in reasoning that is present in an argument when the premises (or reasons) given for the conclusion don't properly support the conclusion.

    Ad Hominem Fallacy

    Dismissing an argument by attacking the person who offers it rather than by refuting its reasoning.

    Appeal to Authority Fallacy

    To justify support for a position by citing an esteemed or well-known figure who supports it. An appeal to authority does not address the merit of the position.

    Appeal to Experience Fallacy

    Claiming to speak with the "voice of experience" in support of an argument (even when that experience may not be relevant).

    Appeal to Fear Fallacy

    Citing a threat or possibility of a frightening outcome as the reason for supporting an argument. This threat can be physical or emotional: the idea is to invoke fear. This is sometimes called "scare tactics."

    Appeal to Popularity or Popular Passions Fallacy

    Citing majority sentiment or popular opinion as the reason for supporting a claim. It assumes that any position favored by the larger crowd must be true or worthy.

    Attacking Evidence Fallacy

    This approach focuses on discrediting the underlying evidence for an argument and thereby questioning its validity.

    Begging the Question Fallacy

    Asserting a conclusion that is assumed in the reasoning. The reason given to support the conclusion restates the conclusion.

    Denying Inconsistensies Fallacy

    Refusing to admit contradictions or inconsistencies when making an argument or defending a position.

    Either-Or Fallacy

    Assuming only two alternatives when, in reality, there are more than two. It implies that one of two outcomes is inevitable -- either x or y.

    Evading Questions Fallacy

    Avoiding direct and truthful answers to difficult questions through diversionary tactics, vagueness, or deliberately confusing or complex responses.

    Faulty Analogy Fallacy

    Drawing an invalid comparison between things for the purpose of either supporting or refuting some position. Suggesting that because two things are alike in some respects, they must be alike in other respects.

    Hard-Cruel-World Argument Fallacy

    Justifying illegal or unethical practices by arguing that they are necessary to confront a greater evil or threat.

    Hasty Generalization Fallacy

    Inferring a general proposition about something based on too small a sample or unrepresentative sample.

    Red Herring Fallacy

    Introducing an irrelevant point or topic to divert attention from the issue at hand. It is a tactic for confusing the point under debate.

    Search for Perfect Solution Fallacy

    Asserting that a solution is not worth adopting because it does not fix the problem completely.

    Slippery Slope Fallacy

    To suggest that a step or action, once taken, will lead inevitably to similar steps or actions with presumably undesirable consequences.

    Straw Man Fallacy

    Distorting or exaggerating an opponent's argument so that it might be more easily attacked.

    Thrown-In Statistics Fallacy

    The use of irrelevant, misleading, or questionable statistics to support an argument or defend a position.

    Two Wrongs Make a Right Fallacy

    Defending or justifying a wrong position or conduct by pointing to a similar wrong done elsewhere.

    Treating Abstracts as Reality Fallacy

    Citing abstract concepts (freedom, justice, science) to support an argument or to call for action.


    A partiality or prejudice that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation.

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