Faulty Comparison

(also known as: bad comparison, false comparison, incomplete comparison, inconsistent comparison)

Description: Comparing one thing to another that is really not related, in order to make one thing look more or less desirable than it really is.

Example #1:

Broccoli has significantly less fat than the leading candy bar!

Explanation: While both broccoli and candy bars can be considered snacks, comparing the two in terms of fat content and ignoring the significant difference in taste, leads to the false comparison.

Example #2:

Religion may have been wrong about a few things, but science has been wrong about many more things!

Explanation: We are comparing a method of knowledge (science) to a system of belief (faith), which is not known for revising itself based on new evidence.  Even when it does, the “wrongs” are blamed on human interpretation.  Science is all about improving ideas to get closer to the truth, and, in some cases, completely throwing out theories that have been proven wrong.  Furthermore, the claims of religion are virtually all unfalsifiable, thus cannot be proven wrong.  Therefore, comparing religion and science on the basis of falsifiability, is a faulty comparison.

Exception: One can argue what exactly is “really not related”.

Tip: Comparisons of any kind almost always are flawed.  Think carefully before you accept any kind of comparison as evidence.


+2 #1 helen sabin 2013-04-07 18:00
I just ordered your book - hope its worth the huge amount i paid for it!! But....thanks for posting this illogical false comparison.
-1 #2 Tom 2014-01-25 00:44
Your first example is a bad one. Without context we cant tell what why those are being compared. If we are just saying that Broccoli is a better snack because of less fat then i would agree. What is considered better in that case is subjective. If we are attempting to compare which is a over all healthier option. Then sure in general I would say that broccoli is healthier than a candy bar and the fact that they contain less sugar and therefore less fat from sugar is a plus. You need to contextualize your example in the first one other wise its a poor example. Your second one seems to work fine.
+2 #3 Bo Bennett 2014-01-25 08:00
Hi Tom,

Good thing there is not a fallacy of tact :)

Most faulty comparisons are done without context in order to maintain ambiguity because if too many details are offered about the comparison then the fallacy becomes more apparent. Remember, it is not about the truth claim of the statement—it is about the meaning intended to be communicated. In the first example, the assumed indented meaning is not to make a blatantly obvious statement, but to make broccoli look more appealing as a snack by comparing it to other snacks that are in a very different category, thus, a faulty comparison.
0 #4 Luke Murphy 2014-02-05 21:22
I no-longer ask my younger brother on issues surroundings things that make me scrupulous or anxious, because he's just waaaaaaaaaaaaaa y too cut & dry (Personality-Wi se) which in-turn leads him to make waaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaay off-kilter comparisons that are useless and don't amount to anything as such!

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