TGI #FallacyFriday Every week, Oliver Diaz-Neda will post a logical fallacy and an example to help you all become better debaters, persuaders and rational thinkers. What is a logical fallacy? It is defined as – a flaw in the structure of an argument which renders the argument invalid.

Today’s fallacy

Circular reasoning

Extremely popular with individuals who hold absolutist positions absent any evidence to support their position, circular reasoning fallacies are committed when a debater makes a claim whereby the premise is the sole support for the conclusion. In theory, circular arguments can be valid given the right context. In practice, circular arguments rarely provide the kind of context that would logically support the conclusion.

Example:

John

Most criminals are poor people, which is why they are poor in the first place.

Maria

So you are saying that because poor people have a higher rate of criminality, that is the reason they are poor?

John

Exactly. If they were not criminals in the first place then maybe they wouldn’t be so damn poor!

Maria

Have you ever considered that maybe it is the stress of poverty, limited resources and unequal distribution of educational and occupational opportunities that may be driving poor people to commit crimes? I think you have it backwards.

John

Give me a break Maria. You sound like a bleeding heart liberal. Boo-hoo!

John’s conclusion that poor people are poor because they are criminals is a perfect example of a chicken and egg paradox – it is also a fine example of a circular reasoning at it’s worst. The premise of his assertion provides the only support for his illogical conclusion. Any reasonable person can see how such a statement is ridiculous and lacks merit, even if the premise is factual (that most criminals are indeed poverty stricken). John is an ignoramus. Don’t be like John.