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Fallacy: Hasty generalization 

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It is not difficult to locate examples of good and bad logic in everyday life. Below are some examples for you to evaluate. For this assignment, you will indicate whether a statement implies sound reasoning (i.e., good logic) or fallacious reasoning (i.e., bad logic). These are challenging statements to evaluate so take your time thinking through your coding decision.

Directions: there are three steps to answering each question:
1. Use the following codes1 to show your evaluation of each statement. Only use one code per statement.

  1. Sound reasoning, no fallacy involved.
  2. Fallacy: Hasty generalization
  3. Fallacy: Appeal to unreliable authority
  4. Fallacy of false cause (spurious relationship)
  5. Fallacy of the wrong level
  6. After identifying the code explain in a sentence or two why you chose this answer.
  7. Finally, if there is a fallacy please write a correct statement—one without fallacies.

1) (From a letter to the editor): “Each person who works at this University is well- organized. So, how can anyone say this University isn’t well organized?”

2) (From a letter to the editor): “Birth control pills came into widespread use in the 1960s. Since that time, the life expectancy of women has increased significantly. This proves that birth control pills promote women’s health.”

3)_____ (From a letter to the editor): “Americans won every war in which they fought until the Vietnam War. Why did we not win that war? It’s simple: That was the first war to be fought by soldiers who grew up watching television!”

1 You might find some statements that can fit under the hasty generalization and wrong level categories. These are the only questions where you can identify two codes.


4) (Overheard at a Department of Sociology meeting): “According to the American Sociological Association, courses in social research methods are crucial elements in an undergraduate sociology curriculum. Therefore, our department must offer a research methods course for undergraduates.”

5) (Read in a brochure): Consuming large amounts of alcohol is bad for your health. So, if you care about your health, you ought to consume alcohol in moderation or abstain from it entirely.

6) ____ (Overheard on a bus): “Mom, all the other kids’ parents are letting them stay out all night for graduation parties. I should be able to stay out all night too.”

7)____ (Overheard in the student union): “During my first year here, my English professor was a complete jerk. I never took another English class. But my psychology professor was a real hottie—so I decided to major in psychology.”

8) (Overheard at a student-teacher conference): “You wrote on my paper that the writing was unclear and confusing. My mother read the paper and said it made perfect sense to her!”

9) (Overheard in line waiting for a latté): “I never used to be superstitious, but last week I walked under a ladder on my way to biology class and I failed the quiz! It’s like they say, ‘the proof is in the pudding’—next time, I’ll avoid ladders!”

10)____ (Overheard at the grocery store): “Did you hear about Chris? He got the flu even though he had his flu shot. The same thing happened to Lucy. I told my mom that those flu shots were pointless.”

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