Limited Scope

Description: The theory doesn't explain anything other than the phenomenon it explains, and at best, is likely to be incomplete.  This is often done by just redefining a term or phrase rather than explaining it.

Example #1:

My car broke down because it is no longer working.

Explanation: “It isn’t working” is just another way of saying “broke down”, and fails to explain why it broke down.

Example #2:

People often make hasty decisions because they don’t take enough time to consider their choices.

Explanation: Not taking enough time to consider choices is precisely what a hasty decision is.  Again, no explanation is offered, just a definition in place of an explanation.

Exception: If “because” is replaced with a phrase like, “in other words”, then it is a deliberate clarification and not a fallacy.


Farha, B. (2013). Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims. University Press of America.

Questions about this fallacy? Ask our community!

Master the "Rules of Reason" for Making and Evaluating Claims

Claims are constantly being made, many of which are confusing, ambiguous, too general to be of value, exaggerated, unfalsifiable, and suggest a dichotomy when no such dichotomy exists. Good critical thinking requires a thorough understanding of the claim before attempting to determine its veracity. Good communication requires the ability to make clear, precise, explicit claims, or “strong” claims. The rules of reason in this book provide the framework for obtaining this understanding and ability.

This book / online course is about the the eleven rules of reason for making and evaluating claims. Each covered in detail in the book

Take the Online Course