I've got a first-time question here I'd like to ask, and like a conscientious SE user I've been reading the FAQ, intro and related meta-threads to see if it's on topic or off topic. I haven't found a clear answer.

Question structure is like this:

  • Here's a set of (similar) dubious claims... There's a type of argument I hear used a lot, usually by politicians and economic pundits of dubious qualification. Arguments of this type all seem (to me) to share a logical flaw in common.
  • ...what fallacy (if any) are these examples of? I want to know: do they in fact share a common flaw? And assuming they do, how is it best classified? Is it a known logical fallacy, a sub-type of a broader type of known fallacy, etc? If someone makes a new claim using the same logic, how would we characterise it?

So it's very very close to a standard Skeptics question. We're taking notable claims, by politicians, and challenging them. The difference is, it's a batch operation looking for a flaw in a set of claims, not one claim at a time. We're looking for a logical fault in a set of claims, rather than an empirical fault in an individual claim.

I've read the FAQ and the introduction, and I've read the existing meta thread on logical fallacies, and I'm not clear on what the current consensus is (if there is one). It's clear that, at the one extreme, this isn't a place for abstract philosophical discussions of fallacies and logic. It appears that a question that I'm guessing was about the "argument from final consequences" logical fallacy in the abstract (rather than applied to specific claims) was removed. It's also clear that, at the other extreme, it's fine and seemingly encouraged to bring logical fallacies into discussions of specific claims. My question's somewhere in the middle.

It looks like there's some tolerance of questions about applying logical fallacies to real-world issues and general classes of real-world issue. For example, there's this popular question: Do most economists consider lump of labor to be a fallacy?. But the 'logical-fallacy' tag seems to have been culled and the 'logic' tag only applied to questions about claims about logic (e.g. in psychology).

So before I go to the trouble of writing a question of the form "What logical fallacy, if any, are these claims an example of?", what is the current policy? Would this question be okay?

2 Answers 2



Did you read our welcome post? That is an excellent place to start!

A question about logic would be off-topic here. Here's a quick breakdown of what's needed:

  1. There needs to be a claim (i.e. "An assertion of the truth of something, typically one that is disputed or in doubt.").

  2. The claim needs to be notable (i.e. a sizable number of people must believe it is a true statement).

  3. It must be verifiable by empirical evidence.

A question about logic would fail under point 3. or point 1. (depending on the wording).

On top of this there are the usual SE rules:

  • No invites to discussion ("I would like to hear your opinion on...")
  • No list questions ("What is the best...", "A few examples of...")
  • Small enough scope (e.g. if entire books have been written on the topic, it's too big)
  • No idle questions (no real problem to solve, just speculation).

If you come to the Skeptics chat with a specific example question then I or other users will be able to advise further.

  • 2
    As a side note, you should not presume a fallacy, questions should be neutral as possible. Asking "what fallacy does this claim depend on?" presumes that the claim is false.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 10:03

Questions along the lines of "name that fallacy" would be off topic, as this site is about investigating the validity of a claim not determining if its logical. Since you have a bunch of claims you are curious about, if they are similar you could bundle them as multiple examples of that similar claim and ask a question about the validity of the claim and listing shared fallacies would be part of a larger answer.

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