It’s difficult to spot the logical fallacies politicians use all the time. Many are educated and trained on how best to answer a question or phrase an argument. Often, that means using tricks of the trade with thinly veiled logical fallacies. Unfortunately, this doesn’t do anyone any good. To make sound decisions, people need sound arguments. Making decisions off of bad logic usually leads to terrible consequences. Regardless, all politicians know logical fallacies are effective in fooling the electorate and dodging uncomfortable questions that can hurt their campaigns. They’ll never stop using them, so you might as well learn and know how to spot them. Put on your thinking caps, here are 25 Logical Fallacies Politicians Use More Than You Realize.
(And don’t worry; we cover politicians across the spectrum.)
The fallacy of equivocation is when someone states a phrase of an argument in an ambiguous way with one meaning in one part of the argument and another meaning in another part of the argument. Donald Trump has used this countless times, often contradicting himself, in hopes he’ll confuse and appeal to everyone. For instance, when accusing Hillary Clinton’s donors of tax evasion he said, “So do all of her donors, or most of her donors. I know many of her donors. Her donors took massive tax write-offs.”
Fallacy of Sunk Costs
Politicians will often plead to the fallacy of sunk costs when a big investment has been placed into a certain project, arguing that since so much has already been invested, we need to see it through. Often, politicians will use this logic regarding war, including the Vietnam War, the War in Iraq, and Afghanistan. But, large investments in a bad project doesn’t justify putting more investments into a bad project.
Pronounced, “two-quo-quay” from the Latin for “you too,” this logical fallacy deflects arguments away by trying to blame their opponent of the same thing. When accused of something, politicians use this fallacy to call out hypocrisy, but the fallacy doesn’t answer the initial argument or question. For instance, when Donald Trump was asked what he thought of the Pope saying he wasn’t a Christian, Trump replied, “And he also talked about having a wall as not Christian, and he’s got an awfully big wall at the Vatican.”
This logical fallacy argues that if someone is intellectually slower, less ambitious, less aggressive, physically or emotionally less capable, then they deserve less in life and can be freely victimized by their supposed superiors. On the campaign trail, Donald Trump appealed to ableism by mocking a disabled reporter and saying Hilary Clinton had “lower energy” than Jeb Bush.
This logical fallacy is the Latin short form of “Post hoc, ergo protcor hoc,” or “after this, therefore because of this,” and it’s used all the time by politicians. Most often, the politicians out of power will argue if something is bad, the blame goes to the politician in power. For instance, Mitt Romney claimed because the economy is bad, it’s President Obama’s fault. Correlation does not mean causation.