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  • False Conversion
  • False Dilemma
  • False Effect
  • Far-Fetched Hypothesis
  • Faulty Comparison
  • Gambler’s Fallacy
  • Genetic Fallacy
  • Hasty Generalization
  • Having Your Cake
  • Hedging
  • Historian’s Fallacy
  • Homunculus Fallacy
  • Hypnotic Bait and Switch
  • Hypothesis Contrary to Fact
  • The Fallacies: If–Mu
  • If-By-Whiskey
  • Illicit Contraposition
  • Illicit Major
  • Illicit Minor
  • Illicit Substitution of Identicals
  • Inconsistency
  • Inflation of Conflict
  • Jumping to Conclusions
  • Just Because Fallacy*
  • Just In Case Fallacy
  • Least Plausible Hypothesis
  • Limited Depth
  • Limited Scope
  • Logic Chopping
  • Ludic Fallacy
  • Lying with Statistics
  • Magical Thinking
  • Meaningless Question
  • Misleading Vividness
  • Missing Data Fallacy*
  • Modal (Scope) Fallacy
  • Moralistic Fallacy
  • Moving the Goalposts
  • Multiple Comparisons Fallacy
  • The Fallacies: Na–Ri
  • Naturalistic Fallacy
  • Negating Antecedent and Consequent
  • Negative Conclusion from Affirmative Premises
  • Nirvana Fallacy
  • No True Scotsman
  • Non Sequitur
  • Notable Effort
  • Overwhelming Exception
  • Package-Deal Fallacy
  • Poisoning the Well
  • Political Correctness Fallacy
  • Post-Designation
  • Prejudicial Language
  • Proof by Intimidation
  • Proving Non-Existence
  • Quantifier-Shift Fallacy
  • Quantum Physics Fallacy*
  • Questionable Cause
  • Rationalization
  • Red Herring
  • Reductio ad Absurdum
  • Reductio ad Hitlerum
  • Regression Fallacy
  • Reification
  • Relative Privation
  • Retrogressive Causation
  • Rights To Ought Fallacy*
  • The Fallacies: Sc–Wi
  • Scapegoating
  • Selective Attention
  • Self-Sealing Argument
  • Shoehorning
  • Slippery Slope
  • Special Pleading
  • Spiritual Fallacy*
  • Spotlight Fallacy
  • Statement of Conversion
  • Stereotyping
  • Stolen Concept Fallacy
  • Strawman Fallacy
  • Style Over Substance
  • Subjectivist Fallacy
  • Subverted Support
  • Sunk-Cost Fallacy
  • Suppressed Correlative
  • Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
  • Tokenism
  • Two Wrongs Make a Right
  • Unfalsifiability
  • Unwarranted Contrast
  • Use-Mention Error
  • Weak Analogy
  • Willed Ignorance
  • Wishful Thinking
  • Poisoning the Well

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    Get It!

    (also known as: discrediting, smear tactics)

    Description: To commit a preemptive ad hominem attack against an opponent.  That is, to prime the audience with adverse information about the opponent from the start, in an attempt to make your claim more acceptable, or discount the credibility of your opponent’s claim.

    Logical Form:

    Adverse information (be it true or false) about person 1 is presented.

    Therefore, the claim(s) of person 1 will be false.

    Example #1:

    Tim: Boss, you heard my side of the story why I think Bill should be fired and not me.  Now, I am sure Bill is going to come to you with some pathetic attempt to weasel out of this lie that he has created.

    Explanation: Tim is poisoning the well by priming his boss by attacking Bill’s character, and setting up any defense Bill might present as “pathetic”.  Tim is committing the fallacy here, but if the boss were to accept Tim’s advice about Bill, she, too, would be committing the fallacy.

    Example #2:

    I hope I presented my argument clearly.  Now, my opponent will attempt to refute my argument by his own fallacious, incoherent, illogical version of history.

    Explanation: Not a very nice setup for the opponent.  As an audience member, if you allow any of this “poison” to affect how you evaluate the opponent’s argument, you are guilty of fallacious reasoning.

    Exception: Remember that if a person states facts relevant to the argument, it is not an ad hominem attack.  In the first example, if the other “poison” were left out, no fallacy would be committed.

    Tim: Boss, you heard my side of the story why I think Bill should be fired and not me.  Now, I am sure Bill is going to come to you with his side of the story, but please keep in mind that we have two witnesses to the event who both agree that Bill was the one who told the client that she had ugly children.





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