This is a crash course, meant to catapult you into a world where you start to see things how they really are, not how you think they are. The focus of this course is on logical fallacies, which loosely defined, are simply errors in reasoning.
Significantly Improve the Way You Reason and Make Decisions
Learn how to recognize bad arguments
Be able to articulate why an argument is bad
Learn important details on over 100 of the most common logical fallacies
Learn the Fine Points of Common Fallacies
Fallacies have been around since the ancient Greek philosophers, and perhaps since the dawn of communication. Since the advent of social media, they seem to be around a lot more. Through mastering logical fallacies, you can not only correct others when they display a lapse in reasoning, but you can prevent yourself from making similar reasoning faux pas. You will be doing your part in making the world a more reasonable place.
Unlike other mentions of logical fallacies, the instructor goes into depth discussing many of the cognitive aspects of why we commit these fallacies and why we fall for them, offering academic insight in the world of logical fallacies.
While this course is written for the layperson, some concepts which may be new to you but play an important role in reasoning are introduced, in section1 we will cover the basics of reasoning, arguments, beliefs, fallacies, rationality, and being a smart-ass. In sections 2–18 we will go over in detail the most common logical fallacies, the variations of those fallacies, psychological reasons behind them, examples, and exceptions.
By the end of this course, you should be more confident in your ability to engage in rational arguments as well as present your own arguments.
Unlike most online courses unaffiliated with a university, each lesson in this course includes assignments that are manually evaluated by the instructor with detailed feedback provided (instructor evaluated course option only).
For this course, text, audio, and video resources are used. All of the resources are compatible with virtually all modern web-browsers and mobile devices.
The instructor is available for students to discuss course-specific content via e-mail, online chat, Skype, and telephone for the first six months of the course (instructor-evaluated option only).
There are no prerequisites for this course.
There are no required resources for this course.
The book, Logically Fallacious is suggested if reading via book or ebook is preferable to reading online.
This course begins with an introduction lesson, then the other lessons presented are in no particular order. You are free to skip around to the lessons that interest you most at the time and complete the lessons in any order.
This course is graded on a pass/redo scale. When lessons are reviewed, the student will either get a "pass" or a "redo". Students can redo assignments as many times as they like. All of the lessons are evaluated by both manual review of lesson-specific assignments and automatic grading of quizzes.
This course contains instructor-reviewed assignments, self-evaluated assignments, and multiple choice quizzes. There are no due dates or time limits on any of the assignments or quizzes.
As a self-paced course, there are no time expectations. However, student support is limited to 6 months from the start of the course date. Students are expected to communicate with instructors and other students in a professional and respectful manner.
This Syllabus May Be Updated
The contents of this syllabus may change from time to time. All students will be notified by e-mail of any significant changes.
Lessons in this Course
Click on any lesson below to see the lesson details. If you are a student and logged in, or if the lesson is a sample lesson, you will be able to go to the lesson.
While this course is written for the layperson, I do need to introduce some concepts which may be new to you but play an important role in reasoning, as well as issue a few warnings and explain how this course is organized. In this lesson we will cover the basics of reasoning, arguments, beliefs, fallacies, rationality, and being a smart-ass. By the end of this lesson, you should:
know the difference between reason and rationality
know what an argument is and the many forms it can take
understand how beliefs are formed
know what is meant by the term "fallacy"
know the pros and cons of being a smart-ass
understand that fallacious reasoning is both active and passive
In this lesson we will cover the Ad Hominem fallacy in detail, including five common forms: Ad Hominem (Abusive), Ad Hominem (Circumstantial), Ad Hominem (Guilt by Association), Ad Hominem (Tu quoque), and Poisoning the Well.
By the end of this lesson you should be familiar with these fallacies and be able to recognize when they are committed, even if not by name. You will have practice identifying the fallacies in real world contexts. And you will create your own examples choosing from these fallacies.
In this lesson we will cover the Appeal to Common Belief fallacy in detail, also known as: appeal to accepted belief, groupthink, appeal to widespread belief, appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, argument by consensus, consensus fallacy, authority of the many, bandwagon fallacy, argumentum ad numerum, appeal to the number, argumentum consensus gentium, appeal to the mob, appeal to the gallery, mob appeal, social conformance, value of community.
By the end of this lesson you should be familiar with this fallacy and be able to recognize when it's committed, even if not by name. You will practice identifying this fallacy in real world contexts. And you will create your own example of this fallacy.
In this lesson, we cover four fallacies that are directly related to religion: Appeal to Faith, Appeal to Heaven, Magical Thinking, and Spiritual Fallacy. It will be made clear that it is not faith, the belief in magic, Heaven, or a spiritual world that is fallacious—it is the reliance on these beliefs in place of reason in rational discourse that is fallacious.
By the end of this lesson, students will
learn when faith becomes a problem in rational discourse
learn why any person of any religion claiming to know the will of the gods is acting fallaciously
learn that magical thinking is very common, when it helps and when it doesn't
learn when spirituality can be a roadblock to reason
In this lesson we will cover the Ambiguity Fallacy, Equivocation, and the Use-Mention Error in detail. These fallacies involve playing with language and not being clear.
By the end of this lesson you should be familiar with these fallacies and be able to recognize when they are committed, even if not by name. You will have practice identifying these fallacies in real world contexts. And you will create your own example of one of these fallacies.
In this lesson, we cover five fallacies that are directly related to authority: Anonymous Authority, Blind Authority, Just Because Fallacy, Appeal to Celebrity, and Appeal to Authority. We’ll take a detailed look at how you can know when calling on an authority is fallacious vs. rational.
By the end of this lesson, students will
learn that "they" are usually full of crap
learn how dangerous blindly following authority can be
learn how celebrities persuade us even though they shouldn't
learn when believing an authority is a helpful heuristic, and when it is not
learn that rational thinkers don't say "just because"
In this lesson, we cover five fallacies that are directly related to emotion: Appeal to Ridicule, Appeal to Pity, Appeal to Fear, Appeal to Emotion, Appeal to Desperation, and Appeal to Anger. We are both creatures of emotion and logic, and despite what some may want to believe, emotion is a very important part of our humanity. Reason alone cannot guide our actions, but emotions often get in the way. In this lesson we will discuss this important distinction.
By the end of this lesson, students will learn
how pity should not guide reason
emotion can be both a powerful ally and foe to reason
desperate times may call for desperate measures, but not irrational ones
how talking louder and with more anger does not make one more right
how powerful fear can be in clouding our ability to reason
In this lesson we will cover the Argument From Ignorance fallacy in detail, also known as: appeal to ignorance, absence of evidence, argument from personal astonishment, argument from Incredulity.
By the end of this lesson you should be familiar with this fallacy and be able to recognize when it is committed, even if not by name. You will have practice identifying this fallacy in real world contexts. And you will create your own example of this fallacy.
We will also answer the big question, is absence of evidence, evidence of absence?
Lesson #9: Circular Reasoning and the Fallacious Question
In this lesson, we cover three fallacies that are related: Begging the Question, Circular Reasoning, and Complex Question Fallacy. Circularity is common, sometimes humorous, and some would argue it is also necessary. But it doesn't have to be fallacious.
By the end of this lesson, students will learn
when circularity is fallacious and when it is not
how to counter the "all reasoning is circular" argument
how to identify the complex question
why the loaded question tricks us
the difference between begging the question and raising the question
Lesson #10: Fallacies of Poor Statistical Thinking
In this lesson, we cover seven fallacies that are related by the use and abuse of statistics: Multiple Comparisons Fallacy, Lying with Statistics, Ludic Fallacy, Hasty Generalization, Fake Precision, Biased Sample Fallacy, and Base Rate Fallacy. Circularity is common, sometimes humorous, and some would argue it is also necessary. But it doesn't have to be fallacious.
By the end of this lesson, students will learn
how important it is to pay attention to a study's sampling method and size
what statistical significance is
how easily we are deceived by charts, graphs, and figures
when common sense should trump statistics
how exact numbers are deceiving
that when something works "sometimes," it is often the equivalent of not working at all, due to probability alone
In this lesson, we cover the fallacy known as Black and White Thinking, or by its other common name, the False Dilemma. We discuss when and when this is not a fallacy, and cover many of the reasons why people make this fallacy. We also look at the anti false dilemma: Denying the Correlative.
In this lesson, we cover fallacies associated with creating impossible standards. These include Moving the Goalposts, Nirvana Fallacy, Unfalsifiability, Proving Non-Existence, Definist Fallacy, Appeal to Possibility, and Appeal to the Moon.
In this lesson, we cover the fallacy of the Red Herring. The Red Herring is also know as: beside the point, misdirection [form of], changing the subject, false emphasis, the Chewbacca defense, irrelevant conclusion, irrelevant thesis, smokescreen, clouding the issue, ignorance of refutation, judgmental language [form of]. We focus quite a bit on this fallacy because of its power over arguments and debate.
Lesson #14: The Legitimacy and Fallaciousness of the Slippery Slope
In this lesson, we focus on the Slippery Slope argument or fallacy, also known as: absurd extrapolation, thin edge of the wedge, camel's nose, and domino fallacy.
When a relatively insignificant first event is suggested to lead to a more significant event, which in turn leads to a more significant event, and so on, until some ultimate, significant event is reached, where the connection of each event is not only unwarranted, but with each step it becomes more and more improbable. Many events are usually present in this fallacy, but only two are actually required—usually connected by “the next thing you know...”
We will look when this is a legitimate argument, and when it is fallacious. More important, we will explore why.
In this lesson we will look at Special Pleading. Special Pleading is applying standards, principles, and/or rules to other people or circumstances, while making oneself or certain circumstances exempt from the same critical criteria, without providing adequate justification. Special Pleading is often a result of strong emotional beliefs that interfere with reason.
In this lesson we explore fallacies related to the concepts of nature and the natural, including Naturalistic Fallacy, Moralistic Fallacy, and Appeal to Nature.
The Naturalistic Fallacy and Appeal to Nature are perhaps the two most confused fallacies. The names are not what is really important, but the meanings are. By the end of this lesson, you will know the difference—and remember it.
In this final lesson, we briefly cover many different fallacies that are worthy of mention based on the frequency of their usage, and clear up some common confusion with these fallacies. We will cover Appeal to Tradition, Appeal to Normality, Reductio ad Absurdum, Fallacy of Composition, Fallacy of Division, Cherry Picking, Sunk-Cost Fallacy, Self-Sealing Argument, and Shoehorning.
About Your Instructor
Bo Bennett, PhD. Bo Bennett's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime." Much of his work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think. His projects include his books, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies, and Year To Success, a full year course in success. Bo has a podcast/blog called "The Dr. Bo Show" at http://www.TheDrBoShow.com where he takes a critical thinking-, reason-, and science-based approach to issues that matter with the goal of educating and entertaining.
Bo holds a PhD in social psychology, with a master's degree in general psychology and bachelor's degree in marketing. His complete bio along with current projects can be found at BoBennett.com.
Refund Policy: All course purchases can be refunded within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.
Group Discounts: We offer enrollment discounts for 10 or more students. Contact us for details.
With the seemingly infinite amount of information available today, two tools are necessary in making sense of it all... a means to FIND what you're looking for and a means to VALIDATE what you've found.
Google's Advanced Search Operators solve the former (Nerd Alert), and Bo's "Mastering Logical Fallacies" course solves the latter.
It's bar-none the best at keeping your mind focused and sharp when it comes to BS in the information age.
Instructor-Evaluated Option Student since Nov 12 2014
An amazing course! I bought the book and decided that taking the course would also be a great idea. Quite comprehensive and easy to follow. I loved every moment of it