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Writing Well

How's That Again? Logical Fallacies

Faulty logic—like the example here—can demolish the most carefully constructed persuasive essay. It's one of the surest ways to lose your readers. Following are the most common logical fallacies, errors in reasoning. They are arranged in alphabetical order.

Author! Author!

“Well-known” information is another form a bogus claim can take. Be wary of sources that tell you that “Everybody knows that …” or “It is a well-known fact that …”

Write Angles

Loaded terms are sometimes used in inflammatory essays that deal with politics.

These are sneaky little critters, so be especially vigilant. Reread your papers to make sure that every point you make is valid and logical. And while you're at it, check that you haven't built your entire argument on a fallacy. If that happens, even the best prose won't save the day.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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