Fallacy in Animal Rights and Vegan Discussions

Identification and categorization of fallacious reasoning as they apply to animal rights and vegan arguments.

The specific fallacies are listed in the TOC below. Each fallacy is provided with

Our special thanks to Nickeyp for initiating and contributing to this project in progress. Appreciation also extended to Kel, Chris Randall, Raw Zombie, Jacob, Mathyou, StyleStacker, Noha, Helena McCann, Jayney, DR and others who will be later named here.

The Nizkor Project: Fallacies
Changing Minds: Fallacies
Wikipedia List of Fallacies
Top 20 Logical Fallacies
Evolution vs Creationism: Logical Fallacies
Fallacy Files
Landers Informal Fallacies
Logical Fallacies with Animal Rights Examples


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Table of Contents

1 Ad Hoc

Alternate nomenclature:
Special pleading. Relativist. Subjectivist fallacy. False attribution. Fallacy of quoting out of context. No true Scotsman. Shifting ground fallacy. Doublespeak.

By arbitrary introductions of excuses one attempts to make the argument appear valid. Special pleading unjustifiably requests that certain things be not applicable to certain personal situations.

Data: Do you understand that there are moral implications involved in killing animals? These are sentient beings who experience emotions such as joy, fear and love, just as humans do.
Lore: Well that's no doubt true about the animals, but while the moral implications may apply to you, they don't apply to me.
Data: Since we are agreed that animals are sentient beings, everyone has a moral obligation to act towards them appropriately.

A accepts C for B.
A rejects C for A introducing arbitrary circumstances.
∴ C doesn't apply to A.

1.1 Banana allergy

One of my co-workers says she can't do veg, cuz she has a banana allergy. When I pointed out that you don't have to just eat bananas and can eat all sorts of other fruits, she said "Well I have allergies to all of those too". Ok how about vegetables? "Nope, I'm just allergic to eating veggies as well unless with some meat!"

While there may be a condition known as carbohydrate intolerance (lactose intolerance being the most common version), congenital forms of this are extremely rare. It is the inability of the body to process carbohydrates well due to missing enzymes (supplying the enzmyes externally can resolve the dilemma). However, it is clear here that the co-worker is just making up excuses on the go.

1.2 Foie gras compassion

Some protestors cornered a restaurant owner who sold foie gras in California back around 2000, pointing out how horribly the birds were treated. He agreed about the treatment and then just said "I don't share your compassion."

Here we have a case of rationalization in the form of "you can be compassionate, but I do not have to be (because I am so special etc)". A better argument might have been to fabricate something along the special pleading lines of "The inhumane treatment of the birds provide my livelihood", but even that fails dismally since livelihood does not justify cruelty.

1.3 Life is supposed to be fun

Life is about having fun. Eating just fruit and vegetables is way too serious and boring.

This is a case of special pleading. The individual pleads that she will not have fun eating just fruits/vegetables, therefore she should not have to do so. By this reasoning, some could claim that they should not have to go to the bathroom, because doing so smells and is therefore not fun. Of course, if they would eat fruits and vegetables, instead of corpse parts, they might find that the experience is possibly not quite as unpleasant.

1.4 I don't want to live forever!

I don't want to be so healthy that I keep living on and on. Therefore, it is fine to eat things that make me less healthy.

While the logic employed is impeccable, one wonders about the degree of sincerity. For instance, at what age does the individual consider to be 'long enough'? Will the individual terminate his/her own existence at that age? If so, why not live healthy and then self-terminate at the appointed time? The issue would seem to have nothing to do with being healthy and everything to do with consuming whatever one is tempted by.

1.5 The peer-reviewed, published study is useless as far as I'm concerned

The unfortunate thing about this study and the Harvard study is that they both relied on phone and face to face interviews in which they just asked people about what they ate. I find this type of study almost worthless since most people can't remember day to day what they ate let alone over a period of time.

The above comment is in reference to Red Meat Consumption and Mortality which was not only conducted with great thoroughness, but also accounted for factoring out known contributors of disease. The criticism is similar to the one generated by The Meat Institute: /"A new study in today’s Archives of Internal Medicine tries to predict the future risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease by relying on notoriously unreliable self-reporting about what was eaten and obtuse methods to apply statistical analysis to the data."/ (AMI) who naturally have a vested interest in maligning the study, but seem to be having some difficulty in coming up with sensible arguments to that effect.

1.6 Diet is a personal choice

My spouse eats meat. I don't. It's just a personal choice we've made.

Any action is essentially a personal choice. However, the fact that one has made a personal choice doesn't provide the justification of the action. For instance, killing your boss or restraining a child are also personal choices. However, to justify either requires more than just the obvious claim that these are personal choices. One may be able to justify the former because your boss was attempting to kill you (ie self-defense), while the latter may be justifiable in a situation where the child was trying to harm a sibling (ie defense of another), but neither uses the idea of personal choice as a rationale. Eating corpse supports the imprisonment, exploitation, abuse and murder of sentient beings and is not legitimized by the personal choice rationalization.

1.7 I have special requirements of science

Denyer: Animals are incapable of demonstrating altruism.
Response: You are just unaware of the past 3 decades of cognitive ethology.
Denyer: You are completely correct about that! I don't like modern ethology much.
Response: That is indeed a pity! I believe there is a lot being lost then.
Denyer: I don't think so. I'm selective and modern ethology generally does not meet my requirements for science.

Datanalysis\\ There is considerable inconsistency in the responses. If the person is unaware of cognitive ethology, how can he claim to not like it. Also, whether his requirements for science are met is irrelevant since it is merely a personal attitude irrespective of the facts. What we are dealing with here is a faith-based individual, so it matters little to him what science and reality clearly demonstrate. This person will always resort to "I don't believe it". Of course, belief has nothing to do with any of this. The research evidence clearly shows animal sentience and real scientists accept it. This individual will likely stay on his flat earth until he falls off the edge.

2 Ad Hominem

Alternate nomenclature:
Against the man. Against the person.

Attempt to invalidate an argument by attacking the character of the person making the argument: kill the messenger if you can't kill the message.

Data: Vegan is the nutritionally intelligent, environmentally sustainable and ethically correct diet to follow.
Lore: Data you're just an incompetent android who doesn't know anything so you're wrong!!!!
Data: While you are doing a fine job attacking me personally, you have done nothing to attack my argument.

P claims C.
Q says derogatory things about P.
∴ ¬ C.

2.1 You eat rabbit food

I was explaining the benefits of eating vegetarian to my friend and a colleague sticks out his front teeth and starts taunting me with "You're a rabbit. You eat rabbit food."

Evidently this colleague doesn't know much about vegetarian eating or comparative anatomy or he would not mistake a homo sapiens for a leporid.

2.2 You're insane for helping animals

Mai was involved with animal rescue and she had helped a lot of creatures, but when a neighbor found out he got irate and called her insane for trying to save these varmints.

The neighbor doesn't provide any evidence to substantiate his claim that Mai is insane. Rescuing animals is not grounds for insanity. In fact, considering the Canadian Revenue Agency Charity Registration views rescuing animals to be a legitimate charitable activity and of societal benefit one might think that this neighbor could benefit himself from doing the same.

2.3 Excessive reliance on sarcasm

Sometimes an argument is punctuated with sarcastic comments. Here is a series of excerpts attempting to defend a particular PETA advertisement by making sarcastic remarks about the attitudes of those who are in opposition:

  • yes sex is evil and nasty! appealing to sexual sentiments, and attempting to use humor! how Dare they! monsters!! it should have been the guy being beaten!!
  • it so sexist! the woman should be repairing the walls dammed stereotypes, the woman shoulda had a strap on
  • even your name is offensive to me… I don't know why… but it just is!!! ;)

Sarcasm may appear to be clever, but it essentially amounts to saying "I disagree" in a rather unpleasant sort of way. Since it usually tends to be nothing more than a 'disguised' personal attack, sarcastic remarks tend not to contribute concrete or persuasive information. The intent is not to make a point, but to demoralize, abuse or injure the opponent. Resorting to such tactics often exposes an inability to formulate viable arguments (possibly because there may not be any). What is more unfortunate is that succumbing to such tactics (usually a result of inadequate self-discipline), demeans, degrades and on occasion even destroys what might have been considered a legitimate argument.

3 Ad Hominem: Abusive

Alternate nomenclature:
Against the man. Against the person.

Attempt to invalidate an argument by making abusive remarks about the person making the argument: kill the messenger if you can't kill the message.

Data: Vegan is the nutritionally intelligent, environmentally sustainable and ethically correct diet to follow.
Lore: Data you're just totally ******** and a real ******** too!!!!
Data: What a potentially interesting challenge in cryptography, Lore! Each of those bleeped out expressions represent 268 potential word possibilities. However, since we know they failed the censor test, it is not necessary to perform an exhaustive search - heuristics will be adequate. You of course realize that you have failed to provide any rationale to counter my initial statement.

P claims X.
Q says nasty things about P's character.
∴ ¬ X.

3.1 The pie attack

Three vegans attacked Lierre Keith (The Vegetarian Myth)by pieing her in the face during a talk she was doing. Abusive monsters like you show just how ******* you vegans really are. You should all be locked up - nevermind being allowed to speak in a forum!

While it is quite correct to call such actions as abusive attacks, it is inappropriate to label the action as a 'vegan' one simply because it is thought that some vegans executed it. Furthermore, there is no rationality in insisting that anyone should be locked up or not permitted status on a forum due to the actions of three individuals.

3.2 Winning an argument vs discrediting an opponent

Some people think that if they can discredit an opponent by calling the individual names, they have won the argument. Here is an example of such a situation.

Cretin: You wrote "It's not that you're trying to win an argument, it's that you're trying to discredit an opponent." Well that is absolutely retarded because those two intentions are essentially the same thing.

Civil: Well no they're not. Winning an argument requires that one uses proper reasoning that is logically valid as well as sound. Discrediting an opponent can be done without even producing an argument. Some people try to do it with various outbursts like:

  • That is absolutely retarded
  • stop defending your stupid comments
  • you are not using the full capacity of your brain
  • I can't take this stupidity
  • you are either stupid or being stubborn

I think you get the general idea.

These ad hominem fallacies don't actually add strength to any argument. They are an attempt to discredit the individual you are talking to by attributing various features to them. As with typical ad hominems the idea is primarily to abuse the opponent into submission.

4 Ad Hominem: Flattery

Alternate nomenclature:
Appeal to flattery.

This is really a variation on the ad hominem theme. Instead of rubbishing one's opponent, one does quite the opposite in the hopes of gaining agreement on a claim, regardless of whether the claim has any merit.

Data: The high mercury content of fish makes it a most unwise choice for consumption.
Lore: Data you are brilliant! It's amazing how you can gather facts from all over and you present things so remarkably well too! I am always impressed by your knowledge and am so glad to call you my brother! By the way, one of my good friends runs a fish store, so let's not make a big deal out of the mercury - I'm sure you can use your cleverness to find some way of pointing out how minimal the toxic effects are anyway.
Data: Flattery will get you nowhere, Lore. You can't really alter the facts and the dangerous effects of mercury poisoning, by hurling compliments.

A flatters B.
A claims C.
∴ C.

5 Ad Hominem: Circumstantial

Alternate nomenclature:
Against the man. Against the person.

Attempt to invalidate an argument by claiming that the person making it is acting in own interests: kill the messenger if you can't kill the message.

Data: Vegan is the nutritionally intelligent, environmentally sustainable and ethically correct diet to follow.
Lore: Data you're just saying stuff like that because you're one of those bleeding hearts animal rights activists who wants all creatures to live happily ever after.
Data: Whether I want all animals to live happily ever after has little to do with my point that a vegan diet is what it is: specifically the nutritional research which clearly shows the health advantage of vegan diets; the environmental statements from various organizations such as even the United Nations; the ethical analysis from various philosophical viewpoints and authors.

P claims X.
Q says nasty things about P's character.
∴ ¬ X.

5.1 The Bully Card

Do me a favor and don't be a forum bully. I think you were completely rude … back off and don't be so ****** about it. Your tone was clearly not a friendly one so don't backpedal. I feel abused by you!

This is sometimes a ploy to create a distraction and at other times an attempt to discredit an adversary. Note that the accusations likely have nothing to do with the topic being discussed. In these situations, the chances are that the person complaining just didn't like how the discussion was going. There was likely no bullying, but a fair bit of whining.

6 Ad Hominem: Poisoning the Well

Alternate nomenclature:
Against the man. Against the person.

Attempt to invalidate an argument by trying to discredit the person making it: kill the messenger if you can't kill the message.

Data: Vegan is the nutritionally intelligent, environmentally sustainable and ethically correct diet to follow.
Lore: Data you were made as an imperfect android by Noonien Soonng and so anything you say is wrong.
Data: By focusing on my 'lack of perfection', you will deem whatever I say to be wrong, even when I am right. Neither does this 'lack of perfection' alter the facts which support my statement about a vegan diet: specifically the nutritional research which clearly shows the health advantage of vegan diets; the environmental statements from various organizations such as even the United Nations; the ethical analysis from various philosophical viewpoints and authors.

P claims X.
Q says P said or did something discreditable in the past.
∴ ¬ X.

6.1 Insider trading and deer slaughter

Sometimes individuals like to throw irrelevantly incriminating information into the mix. An example, is shown here in an articles relating to an injunction to stop deer slaughter in the Invermere community in BC, Canada where mention is made of the financial activities of one of the architects of the effort:

Explaining why he got involved in the issue, Mr. Suman said he and his wife, Monie, moved to the valley a year-and-a-half ago, and were instantly enamoured with the deer that live within the town. He acknowledged that he is the same Shane Suman who was recently found guilty, along with his wife, of insider trading by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and ordered to pay over $4 million dollars in fines and profits, but stated that the issues are completely unrelated, and he has nothing to hide in relation to the case.
Invermere ordered to put brakes on cull

While Suman's financial activities did result in a guilty verdict against him, his past dealings have no relevance to his trying to stop the deer slaughter in Invermere. To bring up the matter may be an attempt to discredit his character and thereby sway opinion against his efforts, even though there is no connection between trying to help deer and the prior monetary misdealings.

6.2 PETA kills everything!

DeerAdvocate: Hey Shishkabob! Good news for the deer! Even PETA is getting into this and asking people to write to Invermere to stop the killing.
Shishkabob: Oh, are they asking Invermere to send the deer to PETA's HQ so they can 'send' them to a better place, via needle?

This is one of those PETA-hating attitudes some people have even though they may be in favor of animal protection. Since PETA endorses euthanization in certain situations, some people feel that that they have to malign everything the organization does. Even when PETA acts in alignment with their own cause, they feel they have to take a potshot at them. This sort of bigotted behavior is not conducive to unity within the ranks, but these people are usually more interested in sounding off immaturely than engaging in any meaningful action.

7 Ad Hominem: Tu Quoque

Alternate nomenclature:
You too. Two wrongs make a right. Appeal to hypocrisy.

Attempt to invalidate an argument by claiming the person making it has done things which are counter to the argument: kill the messenger if you can't kill the message. Here is a good video on this fallacy: Are You PERFECT?!!

Data: Vegan is the nutritionally intelligent, environmentally sustainable and ethically correct diet to follow.
Lore: Data you don't eat, are made from environmentally unfriendly materials and kill millions of microorganisms when you simulate breathing and so you're spouting nonsense!
Data: My personal and behavioral parameters do not have any influence on the realities of a vegan diet. I may be lacking in certain areas, but my inadequacies do not alter the established facts: specifically the nutritional research which clearly shows the health advantage of vegan diets; the environmental statements from various organizations such as even the United Nations; the ethical analysis from various philosophical viewpoints and authors.

P claims X.
Q says P has acted in the opposite way to X.
∴ ¬ X.

7.1 You plant-eating mass murderer!

The hole in the vegan argument that meat is murder is this: more animals die to prepare and harvest crops.

Factually, the above statement is simply incorrect because between 50-80% (varies with country and time period) of the grain harvested goes to fattening animals. Additionally, calculations show clearly that eating strict vegetarian kills far, far fewer animals than eating from the corpse industries: Number of Animals Killed to Produce One Million Calories in Eight Food Categories.

Of course, the accuser usually knows that he/she is spouting nonsense. The argument presented has little to do with fact and everything to do with pathetic bravado. It can be summed up as simply as "You kill some animals with your plant-diet, so you shouldn't complain if I kill far more with my corpse eating fetish." There is no really argument here beyond a fallacious whining.

7.2 You can't attack my animal abusings because you aren't 100% pure vegan!

A vegan diet is a simple to do. Avoiding animal products completely doesn't seem so. Do you have a right to attack others for eating animals when you continue to use them? Products such as rubber and tires involve the use of animal products, and that plastic shoes devastate the environment? Unless you ran away naked from the society, you are contributing to animal exploitation in some way.

This is a typically simplistic case of "you too"! The idea behind this attack on vegan advocates is that they likely use some slaughterhouse by-product (eg stearic acid in rubber or plastic) and therefore are somehow barred from criticising those who eat animals or wear fur etc. It is a frequent effort by some people to deflect attention from their support of the imprisonment, exploitation, abuse and murder of animals.

One can run a line of defense such as in modern society it is impossible to be 100% vegan, but one can come pretty close. This is a reasonable answer which justifies one's actions while acknowledging certain short-comings. After all, it may be difficult to stop breathing to avoid killing thousands of microbes.

However, because we have a clear fallacy here of the lowly ad hominem family, the opportunity for attack is ever-present. The accusatory argument has no merit because:

  1. The personal action of an individual does not change the morality of a situation. If robbing a bank is unethical, having a bank robber speak out against the act, does not miraculously alter the morality of the act. Harming sentient beings is unethical (except in select situations such as self-defense). So even an animal abuser is entitled to speak against animal abuse.
  2. The fact that the individual who speaks out against animal abuse may engage in some sort of incidental action (often unknowingly) such as driving on tires which have been manufactured with some component derived from an animal, does not absolve those who regularly participate in various forms of animal abuse.

The above two realities negate the legitimacy of such immature, whiney onslaughts.

7.3 Nobody is vegan!

You're not vegan because you use car tires which are made from slaughterhouse by-products (stearic acid)! You're not vegan because your computer keyboard may have some sort of animal product! You're not vegan because the stickers on your organic bananas probably aren't vegan! You're not vegan because you may have stepped on an ant when you walked outside. You're not vegan because you kill microbes when you breathe!

While technically it can be argued that nobody really is vegan as per above, the attack is rather flawed due to its confusion between an ideal and the manifestation of the same. Vegan is a spectrum with a minimum threshold such as not participating in the imprisonment, exploitation, abuse and murder of animals. Incidental anomalies that appear as a result of the manufacturing process and breathing hardly constitute a violation of that threshold. A particularly fine analysis is presented in this article: Nobody Is Vegan.

8 Analogy: Extended

Alternate nomenclature:
False analogy. Faulty analogy. Questionable analogy.

The utilization of an analogy is deliberately misconstrued here. If two things have a basis of similarity, then one can be used to illustrate the other on grounds of that basis. Each does not need to be identical or similar in all aspects for the analogy to be valid. However, a critic will take exception to the analogy itself on grounds of whatever dissimilarities can be conjured up.

Data: Humans oppress animals in the same way they have oppressed other humans examples being the slave trade or the ethnic cleansing campaigns throughout history.
Lore: So what are you saying? That these humans were animals? Are you seriously equating humans to animals!
Data: Humans and animals do possess many similarities. However, the comparison was not between humans and animals, but between the treatment some humans received and the treatment some animals receive. Some humans and some animals continue to be kept in slavery. Some humans and some animals continue to be exterminated under the expediency of 'cleansing'. The analogy merely reveals the common mentality of the oppressors who do not seem to hold speciesist attitudes towards their victims.

A has some similar characteristics to B.
A is used as an illustration to clarify aspects of B
The illustration is criticized because A isn't identical to B.

9 Analogy: Weak

Alternate nomenclature:
False analogy. Faulty analogy. Questionable analogy.

The apparent similarity between two situations is utilized to insist that the properties belonging to one also belong to the other.

Data: Bees make honey for themselves, not for humans. Therefore, it is morally wrong to steal honey from them, an unnecessary act which kills countless numbers of bees.
Lore: Well don't you know that you kill bugs when you ride in a car? It's unnecessary for you to drive too!
Data: In present day society, driving is not always unnecessary (eg ambulance, fire brigade, food distribution etc). Furthermore, one doesn't drive to kill bugs deliberately anymore than one drives to kill humans deliberately, yet accidents kill members of both species. One does end up killing bees deliberately by taking their honey because the bees will fight to the death to keep what is theirs. Furthermore, bee industry practices end up destroying many bees that starve to death because they are not left with sufficient honey to see them through the winter. Death cause by driving is quite incidental while the deaths caused by the bee industry are invasively more deliberate.

A appears to be similar to B.
B has property P.
∴ A has property P.

9.1 Horses and dogs should work too for their living

Animals should have to earn their living. After all, humans have to earn a living. So why shouldn't animals as well? There's nothing wrong about making a horse pull a carriage or a dog pulling a sled.

There seem to be a couple of problems with this sort of analogus reasoning.

First, it is not true that all humans have to earn a living. Many don't work or can't work (eg children). They are often appropriately supported by family, friends or society.

Second, animals and some people work in their own way to 'earn their living'. Horses graze, some dogs hunt in packs and many humans gather and eat fruit. There is no reason to think that creatures who live in a way that is natural for them, necessarily need to fit into the modern society 9 to 5 schedules.

Third, hooking up a horse to a carriage or a dog to a sled is nothing short of exploitation. While there may be rare isolated situations where a symbiotic partnership is necessary (say someone who rescued a horse, but has no means of supporting his care, so the two of them go into business together), it is clear that the intent is almost exclusively to make money for the person at the expense of the animal.

Therefore, it is an unsound notion to suggest that animals should have to earn their living in a fashion as adopted by some humans.

9.2 Don't eat and drive!

The American Meat Institute says: A new study in today’s Archives of Internal Medicine tries to predict the future risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease by relying on notoriously unreliable self-reporting about what was eaten and obtuse methods to apply statistical analysis to the data. This imprecise approach is like relying on consumers’ personal characterization of their driving habits in prior years in determining their likelihood of having an accident that kills them in the future.

The analogy forced between 'what was eaten' and "personal characterization of driving habits' is a meaningless one. The former is tangible and can be objectively established in a variety of ways. The latter is purely subjective and prone to whims of the ego. Therefore, the attempt has no validity.

9.3 In defense of dog fighting

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) fielded a question about his opposition to animal rights and recently introduced legislation that would undermine local standards preventing animal torture. “It’s wrong to rate animals above human beings,” he told the questioner. To make his point, King argued that “there’s something wrong” for society to make it a “federal crime to watch animals fight” but “it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting.”

What is really wrong is not with society, but with King's reasoning. The analogy attempted between people fighting voluntarily (ie boxing) and animals being forced to fight (ie dog/cock fighting) is inappropriate. One could argue that there is something wrong with a society that induces people to watch any sort of fighting of any species, but it is an incorrect argument to suggest that it is wrong to punish people for going to fights of species A simply because you do not punish them for going to fights of species B.

10 Appeal to Authority

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad Verecundiam. Ispe dixit. Fallacious Appeal to Authority. Misuse of Authority. Irrelevant Authority. Questionable Authority. Inappropriate Authority.

The attempt to validate a conclusion based on some statement by some authority. While providing legitimate authority as backing for one's arguments is reasonable, the fact that some authority agrees with your point of view is insufficient as the sole basis. For instance, the authority may actually not be an authority or may have changed viewpoints or may be just plain wrong. Usually, the appeal to authority is invoked because other avenues lead to a deadend and there is no real support for the argument. For a more thorough presentation, see Nizkor Appeal To Authority.

Data: I find the attitudes and practices of humans towards other sentient beings most disturbing.
Lore: Well get over it because Descartes said that animals are just automatons.
Data: While citing authority to support an argument may be legitimate if the authority's statements are correct, no argument can be negated or validated purely on the solely the word of a specific authority - especially when the comment is demonstrably untrue, as it is in this case with Descartes who while being a competent mathematician was prone to "creating a world to suit his fancy without the slightest regard for the known facts" 1

P claims A is an authority on subject S.
P claims A supports C being true.
∴ C.

10.1 Authority in reverse!

Sometimes carnists call you out for being "emotional" about the plight of animal suffering and continues to attacks and trivialize your sympathetic sentiments. However, when you throw facts, clinical studies and data suggesting animal eating is bad, they resort to such classic rhetoric as "you shouldn't believe all you hear", "you are being too logical" and eventually "I'll believe you when you are a doctor".

This is the classic case of appeal to authority reversed. While the corpse eater is able to not deal with facts, it is easy to accuse the opponent as being 'emotional' (see Appeal to Emotion). However, there is no where to run when the actual data appears, so backed against a wall, the plea is fallaciously made to 'lack' of authority. Obviously, this effort reveals only the desperation, because it makes little difference what the qualifications are of the individual who presents the demonstrated facts.

11 Appeal to Authority: Age

Alternate nomenclature:
Appeal by age.

The idea here is to claim an argument is correct because the person making it has more experience by virtue of having existed longer. The fact that the experience may not have any connection to the argument or that the person might be just plain wrong, is thus circumvented. The age/experience of an individual may be used to some extent to strengthen an argument, but has nothing to do with its correctness.

Data: I find the attitudes and practices of humans towards other sentient beings most disturbing.
Lore: Look my young friend, I'm older than you are and have been around longer than you. I say things are fine just the way they are. How do I know this? Because I've seen things this way for a longer time than you.
Data: You are just a few months older, Lore. Furthermore, you are only providing a personal opinion without any verification of its correctness.

A is old/experienced.
A claims C.
∴ C.

11.1 The age card

I can use the age card. I've been a passionate vegan for 25 years, which is probably about the time that you've been on earth. Vegan for 25 years baby! Did you hear that? Let me say it again! VEGAN FOR 25 YEARS!!! I'm proud of being a 25 year vegan!! Nothing wrong with that. What comes with 25 years of veganism that many of you don't have? A lot of wisdom from making a lot of mistakes with other vegans through the years.

Datanalysis Judging by the repetitive nature of the statement, one could surmise that what comes with 25 years of veganism, in this particular case, is senility rather than wisdom. Correctness is not proportional to age. An argument cannot be substantiated simply by the age or experience of the presenter even if he is a vegan. The validity of an argument rests on its logical form and the evidence presented for its substantiation and not on the posturing of the one who is making it.

12 Appeal to Consequences of a Belief

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad consequentiam. Wishful thinking.

Here one tries to utilize the consequences of a belief to verify the belief itself. If believing something produces positive consequences, then one asserts the something is true.

Data: The fur industry is cruel.
Lore: I get money for the pelts and will hopefully be rich soon, so trapping and killing furry animals is the correct thing to do.
Data: Simply because you believe you will benefit from by engaging in these inhumane practices promoted by the fur industry, doesn't provide an argument that is contrary to my original statement.

C is desirable.
∴ C.

C is not desirable.
∴ ¬ C

12.1 Worrying is unhealthy

It's unhealthy to worry so much about animals and the environment. It'll stress you out. Just live and be free! Don't get so involved! Don't worry! Be happy!

While there is merit in not worrying and not getting stressed out, the above is nothing more than a rationalization for apathy. Interestingly enough, such rationalizations come from both those who oppress animals as well as those who presumably advocate the opposite. The latter though tend to do a balancing act on the fence when pressed. They don't want to confront the oppressors, but like to believe they are also not contributing to the oppression. One's own 'peace of mind' takes priority and therefore overrides any attempt at producing an effective argument.

12.2 Veganism should not be a religion

Some people in Western society already view veganism as a kind of religion, cult, or extreme point of view, and therefore reject it. We should be very cautious about trying to associate veganism with religiousness and or religious rights.

The concern that if veganism is viewed as a religion there will be bad consequences should not determine whether veganism is viewed as a religion. If veganism meets the appropriate criteria for being considered to be a religion, then it has a legitimate claim to be categorized as such. Gain or loss as a result of outlook, does not determine the validity of the outlook.

12.3 Honey is vegan!!

Rejecting honey as a vegan product hurts the vegan movement, therefore such a position on honey just doesn't make any sense. You're talking about some quasi-religious personal purity, rather than about stopping animal abuse. No wonder veganism can seem nonsensical to the average person.

Since there is so much evidence clearly demonstrating that honey is not vegan and that bees are sentient animals (part one, part two), what is indeed nonsensical is to take the incorrect stand that honey is vegan based on concern of the dire consequences such a stance might bring. One doesn't stop animal abuse by fictious arguments where we take from Peter with the hopes of giving to Paul: it is illogical and unethical to condemn bees to servitude and death, simply because we have hopes of appearing more 'reasonable' to a public who will thereby miraculously refrain from supporting the slaughter of cows and chickens.

12.4 This store made me who I am today!

I get a lot of good stuff at this store! They have great prices! Fantastic service too and they are so convenient! Wow! They even have rare things I want which I probably can't get anywhere else. It's unfortunate that they sell some shoddy books like How To Make Millions Off Your Fighting Dogs and 35 Ways To Pack Meat Into Your Pig! Well, I am a vegan after all, so I can't approve of this stuff. Oh yeah and they sell corpse parts like beef jerky and some foie gras too. Disgusting! I don't approve of this stuff at all! Ok, so they also sell live animals and ship them to wherever. I don't like that either. Geez! But you have to understand that they do so many other good things, like give me excellent discounts and the more I buy, the better chances I have at winning their monthly jackpot! Think of all the good I can do with that money, eh? And all stores in the world must do something wrong, I'm sure, so why pick on this one? That's why I gotta buy from these folks. They're the best deal going anywhere! They are a miracle! Ya!!

It would seem that the above individual is drowning in an overdose of self-indulgence. To justify an act simply because one stands to benefit from it is one of the most self-serving rationalizations that exist. The morality of an act is determined by its adherence to established criteria, which deal with questions such as:

  • does the act produce any victims?
  • is there any harm done indirectly as a result of the act?
  • are there any intended casualities caused by the act?
  • is the act even necessary to commit?

To support a commercial enterprise that is harmful to other lives and/or promotes harm towards other beings, for the sake of convenience (as opposed to basic need) is selfish and unethical.

13 Appeal to Emotion

Alternate nomenclature:
Ad misericordiam. Appeal to sympathy.

Here the argument is based not on facts or construction, but on manipulation of emotion.

Data: Culling 'excess' deer is an unethical activity since deer are sentient beings and it is human activity that has reduced their habitat.
Lore: Think of all the poor hungry people the venison will feed!
Data: Having poor hungry people is a fault of the social and municipal mechanisms in society. One may sympathize with their situation, but the deer should not have to compensate for human failings.

C produces emotions favorable to stance we hold.
∴ C.

13.1 Traitor to one's species!

How dare you put the rights of animals above those of humans?! Have you no sense of loyalty? You are a traitor to your own species!

There is no rational basis for insisting that any member show loyalty to its species. Dogs will fight dogs to save a human. Horses often relate better to humans than to other horses. Cats can co-exist with with various creatures (even birds and mice) and still show animosity towards other cats. Humans, as well, will defend their animal companions or even wildlife against the onslaught of other humans.

The notion that we should give priority to our own species is absurd. If it were otherwise, we should support legislation which would cause all pet owners to be traitors to the human species because they have not turned in their animals to medical research to supposedly benefit other humans.

Furthermore, a natural application of this 'loyalty' to one's own kind, produces dangerous precedents, such as

  • men who oppose sexism are traitors to all men: labelled pro-feminists
  • whites who oppose racism are traitors to other whites: called nigger lovers
  • hindus who supported religious tolerance were traitors to other hindus: Gandhi was murdered for holding such views

13.2 The Guilt Trip

So you won't buy a ticket for the Shiners Circus because you don't like them using animals in the acts! What about thinking of the poor burn victims who are just children? Won't you find it in your heart to help these unfortunate children?

The argument here is a non sequitur effort which tries to associate not getting a ticket to the Shiners Circus with not wanting to help children. Just because one doesn't support that circus doesn't mean that one is opposed to supporting children.

An appropriate clarification would be "I do have it in my heart to help children, but I have no intention of supporting your Shriners who utilize children as a front while abusing animals in order to draw in money so their members can wear silly hats and throw parties".

14 Appeal to Emotion: Fear

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad metum. Argumentum in terrorem.

The idea here is to scare people into thinking you are right by deception within the argument.

Data: The Ministry of the Environment has ordered killing of wolves because they seem to be showing up more frequently in inhabited areas.
Lore: Well, of course they did. Wolves can eat your babies and must be prevented from doing so.
Data: One does not need to kill off wolves in order to protect babies. One merely needs to not leave babies irresponsibly unattended. A program to relocate wolves would be a more humane solution than killing them.

¬ C produces fear. ∴ C.

14.1 Doctor using scare tactics

A remarkably healthy person goes to his doctor after several years and makes a very positive impression.

Doc: After going this long without having to go to the doctor I've got to ask, "What's your secret?"
RHP: Well, I'm a vegan and I…
Doc: What??? A vegan??? Why??? Don't you know how unhealthy that is??? … you won't be able to get enough protein … I'm being erious as a heart-attack! … You can't get enough iron in your diet … to start eating red meat 3 times a week or do massive supplements … You have to be careful or you may even have serious mental issues.

The interesting aspect of the doctor's position is that there is not a single piece of factual evidence being presented. If RHP chose to pursue the matter, he could show decades of amassed evidence clearly demonstrating the beneficial health conferred by a vegan diet. However, doing so is not likely to cause this doctor to rethink his position since the intention is to frighten his client into submission. The doctor unfortunately also reflects the deliberate ignorance shown by the medical profession in that they are unwilling to even learn about proper nutrition.

14.2 They won't like you

Don't tell people about not eating meat, they won't like you.

This is a rather poor rationalization that some people utilize in order to justify not taking action. The merit of whether an action is proper or not is not dependent upon whether one is liked. Furthermore, this attitude doesn't take into account these two possibilities:

  • many people may like you because you stood up for values of compassion
  • many people will not like the person who is telling you what not to do thereby that statement should not be made by its own logic

14.3 You'll lose your following

If only people that agree 100% with every aspect of vegan lifestyle are allowed on this forum, including only parents that feed their children 100% vegan foods and did not get them vaccinated, you'd end up with 100 people MAX.

It is unclear as to how the number of 100 is calculated. The argument assumes that restrictive parameters will be a detriment to the forum the assumption being that more is better. However, restrictions often encourage more people to join a group simply because they do not want to deal with spam and nonsense. Furthermore, if the goal of the forum is to maintain the standard of veganism, then it makes sense to have it populated by vegans: quality over quantity.

15 Appeal to Emotion: Force

Alternate nomenclature:
Ad baculum. Scare tactics. Appeal to force.

The idea here is to force people into thinking you are right with a threat.

Data: The Ministry of the Environment has ordered killing of wolves. This an act of cruelty towards sentient beings.
Lore: You need to cut out these nonsensical statements. If you don't, you see this phaser I'm holding? I just have to use it to melt your mouth shut!
Data: Your phaser does not negate the correctness of my statement. Besides, I took the precaution of discharging yours, Lore.

¬ C produces fear. ∴ C.

15.1 Boycotting businesses and more

Sometimes scare tactics can be used effectively on behalf of victims, especially when one has real power to wield. Here is an excerpt from an event in 2006 in which activist and business man Bruce Foerster 'persuaded' the Belize government, that it would not be in their interests to support Japan's slaughtering of whales:

As a business owner here in Belize I am ashamed that you would betray the world's few remaining whales by helping authorize their slaughter and should you indeed pursue this I will immediately sell my large resort and take all of my capital out of the country, compromising the 100 full time positions which this resort provides and the millions of dollars we invest annually into the local economy. I simply cannot tolerate such a destructive move on your part and will not live nor invest in a country which pretends to care for the environment but in reality cares only for the dirty money that they can earn by voting to destroy the relatively few whales that these butchers have not already painfully and mercilessly slaughtered.You are risking a huge economic backlash and a tourism boycott should you make the mistake of voting for the destruction of these rare and intelligent mammals!
The Power of One Can End the Killing of the Whales

Note that the idea of a boycott involves the application of the appeal to fear, however, it is not necessarily a logical fallacy. Here, Bruce substantiates his future actions giving reasons why whale slaughter is ethically immoral as well as environmentally absurd, then follows up with a statement of consequences. Bruce spoke and Belize listened!

16 Appeal to Emotion: Pity

Alternate nomenclature:
Ad misericordiam.

By trying to create pity, one hopes that the claim will be accepted.

Data: The practice of sucking oviductory excretions, drinking bovine secretions and eating corpse parts is proven to be harmful to birds, cows and various other sentient beings.
Lore: Oh come on Data! Don't be such a heartless android! These poor people get heart disease, cancer, osteroporosis, constipation and a lot of other diseases. Just let'em be, eh!
Date: I do appreciate the pity you show these individuals and what is happening to them is certainly unfortunate. However, they are the ones who are deliberately engaging in these practices which are harmful to themselves. They have a choice not to do so. Their victims do not have any choice.

C is presented surrounded by an aura of pity.
∴ C.

16.1 But they'll just starve!

I recognize that the mass killing of animals isn't pretty, but they are doing it for food.

The implication is that somehow certain unfortunates would starve horribly to death if factory farms were shut down. Evidently, those who put forth such pitiful arguments haven't discovered vegetarianism yet despite its centuries old existence.

16.2 Those vegetarians are picking on the poor bashers of baby seals!

Anti-seal hunt advocates are vegetarians who have set their sights on struggling East Coast hunters rather than fighting the beef cartel, says a Liberal senator.

Sen. Céline Hervieux-Payette told The Huffington Post Canada that Liberals and Conservatives have been united in trying to prevent rogue Liberal Sen. Mac Harb from tabling a bill banning Canada's commercial seal hunt for several years because it is "disturbing to the whole scene."

"It is giving the vegetarians a big opportunity," Hervieux-Payette said.
(excerpt from Huffington Post Article)

Apart from the complete inaccuracy of this remarkably absurd statement (most anti seal slaughter advocates are not vegetarians given that the campaign is so large and worldwide), one does have to wonder about the capacity for reasoning of Hervieux-Payette. If they really were vegetarians, then it would make sense that they would protest the beef cartel and not the seal slaughter because the vast majority of corpse eaters never eat seal flesh. So why would vegetarians come out in great numbers to protest something no one would eat in the first place? This would seem to be yet another effort to desperately draw pity for the "struggling East Coast hunters" who like to bash in the skulls of helpless baby seals.

17 Appeal to Nature

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad naturam.

Nature is utilized axiomatically as an authority. If it happens in nature then it is assumed to be good/optimal. The fact that nature doesn't always do things that are good/optimal is ignored. Furthermore, it is never really defined exactly what 'natural' means. For instance, if a beaver builds a dam that is supposed to be natural, but if a man builds a house that is considered unnatural.

Data: The fur and leather industries are exploitative towards sentient beings.
Lore: Oh come on! Do you realize that these are natural products rather than synthetic! Nature does things right! So do it her way!
Data: In nature, no creature takes the skin off another creature's back to wear it. Furthermore, leather and fur undergo extensive processing which is detrimental to the environment. Finally, calling these products of cruelty 'natural' doesn't address the issue of exploitation at all.

C is natural.
∴ C.

17.1 Arguing the tooth

We have the teeth to tear and chew and grind flesh therefore we should eat meat.

Here we have one of the most blatant denials of reality. The argument is that nature provided humans with the proper physiology to eat corpse parts, so we should.

The first error is the fallacy itself. Simply because it appears nature provided something is no reason to argue that using it is the correct thing to do. For instance, gorillas have large canines, but are vegetarians. Nature also provided humans with an appendix, but it isn't used because it isn't necessary. Nature also provided humans with fists to injure each other, but most humans seem to realize that such usage of these gifts of nature may not be in the best interests of the parties concerned.

The second error is that humans really don't have the teeth to 'tear' with and the 'chewing and grinding' isn't done with corpse parts anyway since carnivores general swallow pieces of flesh without chewing or grinding. Some humans point to their canines with pride, yet don't seem to understand that these are actually rather small compared to those of a bear, dog or cat. However, human canines have proven their immense value at tearing cellophane after hunting down bargain slabs of meat in grocery stores.

17.2 The Carnivore Mantra

A common implementation of this fallacy involved the "carnivores must eat meat" mantra which appears with equal enthusiasm in both veg and nonveg discussions.

Despite the healthy, documented existence of veg dogs and cats for more than 2 decades, some people insist that pets classified as carnivores must eat meat.

The argument usually develops something like this display of goal post moving:

Try 1: Dogs must eat meat to survive … ooops that's wrong because there are plenty of surviving dogs who do not eat any meat.

Try 2: Dogs must eat meat to thrive … ooops that's wrong too since it is regularly shown that veg dogs at the very least match their meat-fed counterparts as per clear eyes, great coats, energy, disposition and every other criteria (including longevity).

Try 3: Well it's not their optimal diet … ooops that can't be demonstrated either since we have surveys and studies showing veg dogs actually are less susceptible to meat induced diseases like infections, skin problems, arthritis, heart problems, weight issues, digestive difficulties, hypothyroidism, cancer.

Try 4: Not much left, so what can be done except to claim they should eat meat because they have big teeth …

Well obviously the "my what big teeth you have" hypothesis, while useful for Little Red Riding Hood, isn't particularly valid as an argument in light of the preponderance of evidence which goes beyond just the studies to the fact that mainstream pet food companies have a veg line simply because many dogs just can't handle meat based diets.

Now what is interesting to note is the form of the argument used by the mantra chanters:

If dogs eat meat, there are positive consequences (by the "my what big teeth you have" hypothesis). ∴ dogs should eat meat.

or in its wishful thinking form

I wish it to be true that eating meat is good for dogs (because I believe in the "my what big teeth you have" hypothesis). ∴ eating meat is good for them.

Utilization of this fallacy of course makes it possible to disregard all evidence to the contrary.

18 Appeal to Novelty

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad novitatem. Appeal to the New. Newer is Better.

The idea here is to assume that some newer item or approach is better because it is more recent.

Data: The bones-and-raw-food-paleos (BARFPal) diet that just came out is not very intelligently designed as far as human nutrition is concerned.
Lore: Geez Data! This is the latest and greatest way of eating. It's gotta be fantastic!
Data: Being the latest and greatest is not an indication of optimal or even intelligent. Sometimes each latest and greatest item is a short-lived fad or even a risky venture as demonstrated by all the latest and greatest drugs which get recalled.

C is new ∴ C

19 Appeal to Popularity

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad populum. Appeal to the people. Appeal to the masses. Appeal to belief. Appeal to the majority. Argument by consensus. Consensus fallacy. Authority of the many. Bandwagon. Argumentum ad numerum. Appeal to the number. Consensus gentium.

This is an attempt to win an argument through the claim of it being supported by some majority of opinions. The assumption is that since most people agree with a conclusion, the conclusion must be correct. In these situations, what 'most people' really constitutes or whether 'most people' actually exists isn't always clear. Even if 'most people' do a certain thing, there is no reason to think they are doing a good/correct thing as repeatedly evidenced by political elections.

Data: Drinking bovine mammarian secretions is hazardous to one's health not to mention the animals that are subjected to exploitation and abuse to produce it.
Lore: Oh c'mon! Most people in the USA like to drink milk, so doing so is ok!
Data: Most people in the USA also end up being afflicted with heart disease, cancer, arthritis, eczema, asthma, respiratory infections,diabetes and osteoporosis (2nd highest in the world next to the Inuits) for instance, which are diseases linked to dairy consumption.

Most people agree on, approve of, believe in, support (etc) C.
∴ C.

19.1 We have 80% of the population on our side, so we must be right!

Furthermore, Americans just don’t support the killing. In a survey of Americans’ attitudes towards outdoor cats, over 80 percent responded that they believe it is more humane to leave a cat outside than to have her caught and killed.

The above argument utilizes a specific statistic in order to assert its correctness. Even if an overwhelming majority support a concept, such support doesn't validite the concept. If ethics were simply a matter of voting, the state of moral judgment would be as precarious as the state of politics.

20 Appeal to Popularity: Belief

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad populum family.

This is an attempt to win an argument through the claim that many or most people believe the conclusion to be true: "If many believe so, it is so." There are situations though where the belief of a certain number of people does align with the reality.

Data: Vivisection is a very cruel form of animal abuse.
Lore: Many medical researchers experiment on animals because they believe it's all for the greater good, so they can't all be wrong.
Data: Having a majority of believers doesn't make something correct. For instance, at several points in history a majority believed that the earth was flat and that bats are blind.

Most people believe that C is true.
∴ C.

20.1 My parents told me, so there!

Eating meat is part of most people's nutrition regimen. They were taught this by their parents.

In certain parts of the world, children are taught by their parents to do certain things. Most children grow up believing that what they have been taught is correct which is why most adults tend to follow common practices. Unfortunately, most adults do not necessarily contemplate whether the practices they follow are beneficial or even morally appropriate. Hence, a wrong action can be propagated over generations justified purely on the basis of parental tutelage.

21 Appeal to Popularity: Common Practice

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad numerum. Part of the Argumentum ad populum family.

Here the attempt is made by reference to the fact that many people engage in the action supported by the argument.

Data: Factory farms are a very cruel institution.
Lore: Oh really now! Most people eat meat!
Data: The fact that many people eat meat isn't a justification for eating meat.

Many people do C.
∴ C.

22 Appeal to Ridicule

Alternate nomenclature:
Appeal to Mockery. The Horse Laugh.

This is an attempt to prove that C is true because ¬ C is made fun of.

Data: Vegetarians tend to be comparatively healthy compared to corpse eaters.
Lore: That's so totally laughable my circuits are fusing! Don't you know that vegetarian means lousy hunter?
Data: Actually, vegetarian doesn't mean lousy hunter. That is simply an ill-conceived effort at weak humor. Besides, ridiculing vegetarians does not change the fact that they tend to exhibit a superior level of health as well as health awareness than non-vegetarians.

¬ C is presented in an aura of absurdity.
∴ C.

23 Appeal to Spite

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad odium.

Here a conclusion is asserted to be true based on one's personal spitefulness rather than the conclusion's validity.

Data: Vegans do hold the moral high ground.
Lore: Well if you keep up this self-righteous stuff, you'll turn everyone off! That's why I'll never be a vegan because you guys go around wearing your judgemental halos all the time.
Data: That vegans hold the moral high ground can be demonstrated via ethical arguments as well as numerous examples of vegans accepted for their ethical leadership and perspectives. The fact that you do not seem to like them, is not an argument to negate my point.

¬ C is presented in an aura of spite.
∴ C.

23.1 Vegan be ashamed! Vegan be grateful!

Geez, people are dying of starvation all over the world and here's you with your 'fad' diet turning down food they would kill for. You should be ashamed…

I don't see why vegans are so ungrateful vegans should just shut up and eat the meat , they should be happy to have food at dinner …

The statements above has no merit since neither even attempts to formulate any sort of an argument. Rather each is an effort to denigrate vegans simply because of their choice to not adhere to the standard corpse eating fare. The logical impact is equivalent to "You should be chastised because you stayed sober when the rest of us are sloshed out of our minds". In other words, the translation is simply, "You choose to be vegan and we don't like you because of that."

24 Appeal to Stupidity

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad plumbeum. Deliberately dullard. Feigned ignorance. Thinking hurts my head.

Usually argumentative individuals try to show off the cleverness of their case. However, when there is a paucity of that quantity, an attempt is occasionally made to be excused from understanding why they are wrong and the opponent is right. The hope is to put issues out of sight and out of mind.

Data: It is cruel and unethical to imprison, exploit, abuse and murder sentient beings.
Lore: Ok but, ummm, what does that even mean? My circuits are frying up thinking about it. This stuff is too complicated, so it can't be right.
Data: Whether or not you can understand the moral significance of my statement, does not affect its correctness. However, I would be happy to explain the details to you as soon as you are willing to undergo an upgrade, followed by a reboot.

C is viewed as being too complex.
∴ ¬ C.

25 Appeal to Tradition

Alternate nomenclature:
Ad antiquitatem. Appeal to the Old. Old Ways are Best. Fallacious Appeal to the Past.

This is the it's "been always done this way", it's traditional, it's cultural and so it must be correct, attitude.

Data: The Canadian Seal Slaughter is a brutal and barbaric massacre of defenseless baby seals.
Lore: Ya but so what! It's a tradition in Newfoundland. It's cultural. It's in their heritage to brutalize helpless animals.
Data: Just because something is traditional, does not make it morally acceptable. Culture is not equivalent to correctness.

C is traditional, cultural, old.
∴ C.

25.1 Killing for a long, long time

We have been killing animals for food since the discovery of fire. That's a long time! A lot of history supports these actions!

History merely records what has happened. It does not justify what has happened. Humans have been killing each other even before the discovery of fire, but it seems some have at least managed to understand that there is something wrong with such actions. Many have evolved away from traditional barbarities to recognize that there really is something wrong with killing animals as well. As Leonardo da Vinci is believed to have said, "The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men."

26 Begging the Question

Alternate nomenclature:
Petitio Principii. Circular Definition. Circular Reasoning. Reasoning in a Circle. Chicken and Egg argument.

The premises of an argument claim that the conclusion is true. The fallacy can be very short and usually obvious or appear in many parts, thereby disguising the claim.

Data: Abuse of animals should not be permitted in civilized society.
Lore: Ha! If abusing animals really were illegal, it would be prohibited by the law.
Data: Since the law determines what is illegal, the truth of your conclusion is assumed by your premise. In other words, your premise essentially states your conclusion. While such arguments have to be logically 'correct', they are also quite useless since they are equivalent to arguing that "if 1 is a number, then 1 is a number".

If C, then C.
∴ C.

26.1 It's against the law!

You can't kill humans for food. That is against the law.
[animal abuse is] not [analogous to] owning slaves because even though humans were at one point able to buy and sell other humans, that is no longer lawful.

Note that both of the above have the same form:
It is against the law to kill/buy/sell humans, because it is against the law.

Such a presentation has no merit logically since it does not actually say anything at all. However, it is thrown as a counter into arguments where humans are substituted for animals in situations of suffering, in the hopes that the absurdness of the fallacy will go unnoticed.

27 Burden of Proof

Alternate nomenclature:
Ad ignorantiam. Appeal to Ignorance.

When a claim is made, the burden of proof lies on the side of the claimant. Sometimes an unscruplous debator will try to transfer the burden of proof to the other side. A variation of this fallacy is to suggest that if you can't prove something to be false, then it is automatically true.

Data: Vivisection causes horrendous suffering to animals.
Lore: You can't prove that animals feel pain. Though they exhibit pain behavior, since they have no consciousness, they feel no pain.
Data: While we cannot conclusively 'prove' that animals (or humans, for that matter) feel pain, there are several factors which support the premise that they are capable of suffering just as humans. These factors include physiological and behavior similarities to humans as well as evolutionary evidence provided by homology which demonstrates that humans developed their traits on the foundations provided by their animal ancestors. Based on these findings, the burden of proof lies not with me, Lore, but on you to prove that animals feel no pain. Finally, the inability to conclusively prove something as true (ie animals/humans feel pain), does not automatically make it untrue (ie animals/humans do not feel pain).

C is claimed by A.
¬ C is unprovable.
∴ C.

28 Complex Question

Alternate nomenclature:
Loaded question. Presupposition.

Two points which are not related are joined in a single question so that they have to both be accepted or rejected together. Generally, one is acceptable while the other is not.

Data: Many humans engage in animal abuse and need to be stopped from doing so.
Lore: So you vegans must support animal rights and hate humans, eh?
Data: You are actually making two disconnected points here, Lore. One is that vegans hate humans. The other is that we support animal rights. The two have nothing to do with each other, yet your question requires me to either affirm or deny both. As such, your question needs to be appropriately rephrased in order to deserve an answer, beyond what I have provided just now.

C,D are unrelated.
C,D are phrased in the same sentence with a connective such as ∧.
∴ (C ∧ D) ∨ ¬ (C ∧ D).

28.1 Still arsoning?

Are you animal rights fanatics still burning down legitimate animal production facilities or have you finally stopped this sort of illegal activity?

The argument is setup with two separate questions each of which makes assumptions which are not verified. The first question implies that those who support animal rights are committing arson. While some activists do engage in arson, there is no grounds to assume and accuse one of arson simply because he/she is an animal rights activists. The second question assumes that the implication of the first is valid and asks if the activity has been terminated. However, since it has not been established that animal rights activists do engage in arson, the second question is inappropriate to ask.

29 False Cause of Effect

Alternate nomenclature:
Non causa pro causa. Cum hoc ergo propter hoc. Questionable cause. False cause. Ignoring a common cause. Wrong direction.

When events A and B occur in close proximity and established order, it is falsely assumed that A is the cause of B.

Data: Animal sacrifices were a brutish pastime of savage cultures.
Lore: What are you talking about? They sacrificed animals and got good rains and decent crops as well as victories in wars.
Data: The slaughter of animals does not affect natural events or military exploits just because the former precedes the latter. The same primitive mentality exists with vivisectors who think sacrificing animals will somehow lead to curing human illnesses even though there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

A is seen to be followed by B.
∴ A is the cause of B.

29.1 The Meatgasm!

"And then there is the kind of instantaneous healing that occurs with the first bites of animal food. In The Vegetarian Myth, Lierre says “I could feel every cell in my body - literally every cell - pulsing. And finally, finally being fed.” Tasha says “I had only eaten a small piece of cow flesh, and yet I felt totally full, but light and refreshed all at once.” Eating meat also instantly improved her heart rate!

Since one actually has to digest the nutrients and have them find their way to those 'pulsing cells', the accounts above are physiologically not possible. Therefore, one must conclude that either Lierre and Tasha were being influenced by a strong desperation which manifested itself as a placebo effect or they were under the influence of drugs that animals are routinely subjected to or may be they did their own.

29.2 People live longer now than ever before!

Everyone lives longer now than in the past so they must be doing things right like eating meat and taking medicines.

First, the statement idea of everyone living longer these days is not correct. Longevity has much to do with sufficient, proper nutrition, hygiene and genetics. In the past, there were many who lived well past the average expectancy of modern times. In third world countries, the life expectancies are still quite low due to factors such as malnourishment and unclean living conditions.

The assertion that longer life spans are attributable to eating corpse parts and doing drugs, is a variation of questionable cause since the consequent is assumed from two cherry-picked antecedents without any rationale. One could also have made the claim that people live longer these days because of global warming or the increased levels of mercury in fish.

29.3 Tallest people in the world eat corpse!

Dutch people are the tallest people in the world, and the amount of animal products they consume is enormous, much higher than any other country.

First, though the Dutch are presently the tallest people in the world, they certainly don't consume a higher amount of animal products than any other country. A 1997 report shows that they ranked 7th. More importantly, to attribute one factor as the cause without proper controls is improper. One may as well argue that most Dutch are fair skinned and that is what causes their height. Nor is it correct to argue that diet is closely connected to physical features because it depends upon what features we are talking about (eg an animal based diet results in atheromas and osteoporosis, but not height except through hormones). We also have a case of misapplication of the general (diet is closely connected to some physical developments) to a specific (therefore, diet determines height).

30 False Dilemma

Alternate nomenclature:
Black and white. Bifurcation. False dichotomy. Morton's fork. False choice.

Here alternatives are limited to an either-or situation. The argument is presented in such a way that one choice becomes true because the other choice is false. For instance, consider the phrase "either you are with us or against us" which doesn't take into account the concept of neutrality. In some situations, of course the argument can be valid: "either you are alive or dead, and since you are not dead, you are alive".

Data: Many humans oppose experimentation on animals for the benefit of humans.
Lore: Well that's ridiculous! How can anyone prefer an animal to a human?! They must be anti-human! You're either with us or against us!
Data: Just because a human is against exploiting an animal for the purpose of supposedly serving a human, does not make the person anti-human. It merely makes the person anti-exploiting animals. Besides, Lore have you forgotten you really aren't a human?

X ∨ Y.
¬ Y.
∴ X.

30.1 Your child or your dog

You are on a boat with a baby and a puppy. The boat starts to sink. Which are you going to save?

This is the classic false dilemma. The instigator has not only set the hypothetical environment and the players, (s)he has also established the rules in that you have to save either one or the other. The reality is that you'd be pretty foolish to go in a boat with a baby and a puppy without taking precautions for their safety in the first place. Furthermore, the situation overlooks the possibility of your saving both because you can utilize existing resources or saving neither because you can't swim. The intent of the effort of false dilemma is to force a kobiashi maru (no-win) where you appear to be either a traitor to your species or a traitor to your cause. It's a pathetic and stale effort, but it is still attempted by immature individuals.

30.2 The baby, kitty and coin variation

If a baby and a kitten were about to be run over by a train, would you save the baby, save the kitty, or flip a coin to decide which one to save?

This is essentially the same scenario with a choice selector mechanism attached. Note that the choices are still the same: save either the baby or the kitty. The only difference is to offer an additional value statement which amounts to "I do not really care whether I save the baby or the kitty".

Sometimes people erroneously think they have presented a new scenario via this value selector, but it should be emphasized that the choices are still the same. Merely the mechanism for making one has been augmented.

One could extend this mechanism ad absurdum by

  • consult with a priest to help make the decision
  • discuss the matter with the Libertarian Advocacy Group regarding rights of babies on train tracks
  • ask for guidance from The International Society of Cat Right Lovers
  • correspond with the Train Engineers Association

These efforts do not change the choices allowed anymore than the coin-toss, which is why the False Dilemma exists.

Boolean logic allows only four possibilities as far as who gets saved:

TTboth get saved
TFsquished kitty
FTsquished baby
FFboth squished

The scenario, despite introduction of any mechanisms ad absurdium, still permits only the middle two choices, disallowing the bottom and unfortunately the top items (both demonstrate with different results that no value preference is given to one party over the other). Having only the choices which necessitates a death, is what makes the scenario a False Dilemma.

31 Gambler's Fallacy

Alternate nomenclature:
Post Hoc. Attribution Theory. Fundamental Attribution Error.

The idea here is to conclude that because a number of events contrary to expectations have taken place, the next one is going to be what is expected.

Data: There are several cohort studies showing the long-term benefits of vegetarian diets.
Lore: Well obviously they got lucky with the first 76000 over the decade long observations. If they'd gone to 76001 and continued for a few extra days, then you'd undoubtedly see how dangerous these animal-product-free diets really are!
Data: If you throw dice 10 times and get snake eyes each time, there is no reason to think that it must be otherwise on the 11th try. In fact, there is good reason to appreciate that the dice are loaded. So it is with strict vegetarian diets because they are indeed loaded, for optimal health.

X is contrary to expectations. X has occurred N times in a row. ∴ next time ¬ X.

31.1 You need to be vegan for eternity to convince me!

I've got a mate I've known for 7 years now and he supposed to be into healthy eating. He is getting fatter, sicker and slower, but he won't go veg even though he knows I've been that way for a long time. He says "Yeah, I'm not so convinced man! I need you do be vegan longer than 11 years before I really commit".

The above is a puzzling instance of the gambler fallacy in that the individual in question seems to want to anticipate failure of the veg diet at some point in the future despite the obvious long-term benefits already demonstrated. The underlying motivation likely has nothing to do with fear that the veg diet will fail. It is more plausible to assume that the person just wants to consume corpse products and is determined to find excuses, however absurd, for doing so.

32 Generalization: Composition

Alternate nomenclature:
Faulty Induction.

The characteristics of parts of a group are erroneously applied to the entire group. For instance, Hitler was a brutal tyrant, therefore the human race is brutal and tyrannical.

Data: The brutal mass killing of 50000 dogs in China due to a rabies scare is ethically unjustifiable.
Lore: They had to kill all the dogs because a few of them were found to have rabies. So it is obvious that all of them had rabies!
Data: By that reasoning, we should have to kill all dogs everywhere. If a few of them were found to have rabies, then it is likely that only a few did have rabies. An entire barrel should not be judged by a few rotten ones.

A,B,C ∈ S.
A,B,C has characteristic K.
∴ S has characteristic K.

32.1 That's why they're called animals!

Chimpanzees of one group have wars over territory with chimps of another group. Dogs, and many creatures, are capable of rape. Cats will kill their young if they show some defect. In effect:

  1. Animals have been known to display bad behavior.
  2. Bad behavior is in opposition to moral reasoning.
  3. Therefore, all animals are incapable of moral reasoning.

It is illogical to conclude that because some animals act viciously, hence immorally, all animals act immorally. The science of cognitive ethology over the past few decades clearly shows that many animals have a very clear sense of ethics as demonstrated by the works of Mark Bekoff, Jonathan Balcombe and Jeffrey Masson for instance.

Curiously, this line of reasoning is devastating for humans who have had (and continue to have) a far worse record of brutality and aggressiveness towards each other compared to any animal:

… the ultimate disobedience to this fantasy is the continuous predation by humans on other humans. War, famine, theft, rape, child abuse, and numerous varieties of discrimination based on race, gender, class, religious belief, appearance, language, age, height, economic status, …
The Common Sense Animal Rights Argument

The obvious conclusion by the prior reasoning is that:
All humans are incapable of moral reasoning.

It does appear evident though, that some humans seem to be incapable of logical reasoning.

32.2 Meat has protein

Meat is one of the highest sources of protein! You need protein! So you need meat!

This is a typical argument produced in favor of corpse eating. It is true that certain meat products have a high protein content. Furthermore, it is true that humans need to consume a certain amount of protein. However, those two antecedents, despite their correctness, does not lead to the consequent that one needs to eat meat in order to get protein. There are plenty of vegetarian protein sources. These are not only of higher quality from an assimilable point of view, they do not contain the various chemicals, toxins, hormones and other hazards corpse products invariably have. The argument is as absurd pragmatically as saying engine coolant has water; you need to drink water; therefore, you need to drink engine coolant.

33 Generalization: Division

Alternate nomenclature:
Faulty deduction.

The characteristics of a group are erroneously applied universally to the individuals of a group. For instance, humans are greedy and selfish, therefore Gandhi was greedy and selfish.

Data: Dogs generally tend to like to be playful and friendly.
Lore: Right and any dog who isn't should be killed because there's something seriously wrong with it and could be a danger.
Data: Each dog has his/her own personality. While all dogs share certain characteristics, it is erroneous to think that all dogs will possess exactly the same characteristic.

A,B,C ∈ S.
S has characteristic K.
∴ A,B,C have characteristic K

34 Generalization: Hasty

Alternate nomenclature:
Insufficient statistics. Insufficient sample. Leaping to a conclusion. Hasty induction.

Being somewhat similar to composition, here a conclusion is drawn about population P, based on an insufficiently small sample S from P.

Data: A new poll shows that there are more than 9 million vegans in USA.
Lore: No way! I asked 10 people on the street if they were vegan and not one of them said yes.
Data: A sample size of 10 people is not sufficiently large to draw meaningful conclusions about a population of over 311 million. A recent poll showed that 3% of the population was vegan, so that would mean in your sample size you'd have only a 0.3 part of a person admitting to being vegan. You could ask 100 people and you may find that there would be 3 in that sample who were vegan.

C is shown to be true from sample S of population P.
∴ C for all P.

34.1 So how come I'm not dead already?

If meat is so bad for you, why am I not sick?
If meat eating is so bad than why haven't I heard of it yet.
Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger - so eat corpse parts!

This is a common class of attitudes based on a restrictive, temporal sampling. Eating products from the corpse industries don't do immediate, visible damage any more than smoking does. Therefore, it is easy to claim that because one doesn't see any harm done, no harm is done. However, illnesses such as cancer, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, ischemic strokes, osteoporosis do develop over a period of a couple of decades to the point where good health is not only hampered, but one's quality of life and even the life itself is jeopordized. Sometimes the first symptoms result in sudden death, so there is no one around to say "I'm not dead already"!

So while it is true that eating a little meat will not kill you, it will nevertheless 'kill' you a little bit each time.

35 Generalization: Prejudiced

Alternate nomenclature:
Biased statistics. Prejudiced statistics. Loaded statistics. Biased induction. Biased generalization. Loaded sample. Prejudiced sample. Unrepresentative sample.

Here a conclusion is drawn about population P, based on a small or biased sample from P.

Data: A strict vegetarian diet has been repeatedly shown in peer reviewed literature to be a very healthy one.
Lore: Well I met two vegheads yesterday and they looked pretty skinny to me. Vegetarians are all weak and emaciated you know.
Data: A sample size of two is not particularly significant. Additionally, it is likely you may be exaggerating the appearence of these individuals since you are on record for opposing vegetarian diets. Just so you are not under any further delusions about vegans necessarily being weak and emaciated, take a look at these vegan bodybuilders and strength athletes.

C is shown to be true from sample S of population P.
∴ C for P.

35.1 You don't look like a vegan.

These body builders can't be vegan! They are too muscular to be vegans! Ok if they are vegan and you aren't vegan, how come you don't look like them?

Initially we have a denial of fact by the individual who seems unable to shake some bigoted idea of what vegans should look like. That is followed by the continued bias that all vegans must have the same physical appearance. The person seems to have lost touch with more than biological realities and is wandering in the realms of fantasy.

36 Generalization: Vividness

Alternate nomenclature:
Misleading vividness. Spotlight.

A small number of striking examples are used to justify a conclusion which should be reached by more thorough statistical evidence.

Data: Vegan babies get a great start in life.
Lore: You mean a great start in death. Didn't you hear about the Moaligou case where an 11 month old vegan baby died or the death of the 9 month old Manuelyan baby or the 6 month old Moorhead baby? They all died due a vegan diet.
Data: Actually they died because they were malnourished through an inadequate diet which did not contain necessary nutrients. Non-vegan babies die from malnutrition too. Both vegan and non-vegan diets can be poorly designed, so the issue is by no means restricted to vegan diets. A few sensational headlines does not alter the benefits of nutritionally sound vegan diets.

P is set of observed events.
Y,Z ∈ P.
Y >> Z.
But, Zs are more 'spectacular' than any Ys.
∴ Z applied to P.

36.1 The long-living grandfather

My grandfather smoked, drank and ate meat all the time! He lived to the ripe old age of 99. So you can't tell me that there's something wrong with doing what he did!

This is a typical case of generalization based on inadequate sampling size with a bit of spectacularness thrown in! Such grandfathers are what are known statistically as 'outliers' (one in ten thousand live past 100 yrs in USA), anomalies from the vast majority of results which clearly show the hazards of such lifestyles. Most 'grandfathers' of this sort, don't live long enough to see their grand children grow up.

In these situations, it is unwise to have the exception formulate the rule.

37 Genetic Fallacy

Alternate nomenclature:
Appeal to origin. Genesis fallacy.

The correctness of a position is mistakenly based upon its origin. This is an extreme form of appeal to tradition in that something is considered to be right (or wrong) dependent upon whether it was originally so.

Data: Eating parts of dead animals lead to various health issues.
Lore: Look eating corpse parts is good for you! Early humans did it all the time!
Data: Early humans who ate considerable amounts of animal products were prone to mostly the same illnesses that present day humans suffer from. For example, the Inuits were affected by atherosclerosis and severe osteoporosis due to their heavy consumption of animal foods (Nat. Geog., A. Dekin Jr, Sealed In Time p12).

C occured during its early origins.
∴ C.

37.1 Respect for our ancestral heritage!

Our ancestors all ate wild-meat based diet so we should too!

Neanderthals left the planet quite some time ago. Even though some people try to act like 'neanderthals', their rude behavior really does not provide dietary affirmation. There is considerable evidence from anthropologist Robert Sussman that indicates early humans spent far more time being hunted than hunting. As a result, it is unlikely that most of them even had an opportunity to eat much meat. Of course, those that did, fell prey to the same diseases that eating corpse parts produce in modern times.

38 Guilt by Association

Alternate nomenclature:
Bad company fallacy. Company you keep fallacy.

A claim is accepted or rejected because of the people who accept or reject the claim.

Data: Gestation crates were banned in Florida since 2002 when over 2.5 million voter opposed the cruel confinement of pigs in factory farms.
Lore: Well I'm all for being nice to animals, but did you know that those wacko, human-hating animal rights activists supported this ban? So I'm not in favor of it.
Data: The population of Florida decided that the crates were excessively cruel and therefore voted accordingly to ban them. The fact that animal rights activists also have opposed this practice does not alter the inherent cruelty of gestation crates, something that the voters (who are not by any means, all animal rights activists) obviously recognize.

Group A likes C.
P doesn't like group A.
∴ ¬ C.

38.1 Hitler was a vegetarian

You vegans should realize that Hitler was a vegetarian! That means all you vegans are Hitlers!! So there!!!

In actual fact, Hitler wasn't remotely close to being a vegetarian. However, from the logical perspective it wouldn't impact on anyone even if he were. If Hitler had a big nose, should everyone with large noses go for surgery? Since Hitler was a Catholic, should all Catholics be excommunicated? Hitler spoke German, but that still remains a common language in constant use. Furthermore, since Hitler wasn't a vegetarian, should this revelation mean that all those who do not follow the vegetarian diet, can now be considered Hitlers?

Obviously, this sort of 'bad company' argument has no legitimate place in rational discussion.

What is interesting though is that vegetarians can cite within their ranks, several historical figures (eg Gandhi, Einstein, Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, César Chávez), athletes (eg Scott Jurek, David Zabriskie, Brendan Brazier, Georges Laraque, Molly Cameron) and celebrities (eg Ellen DeGeneres, Michael Dorn, Bryan Adams, Heather Mills, Brian Greene, Alicia Silverstone). Doing so does not become a fallacy so long as one is not is not insisting that all vegetarians can be historically prominent, athletic, or achieve celebrity status, simply by being vegetarian.

39 Inflation Of Conflict

Alternate nomenclature:
Wrong by apparent disagreement.

The idea here is to pick on a disagreement by experts on a topic and thereby 'inflate the conflict' to the point of claiming that the experts know nothing or the topic itself is inherently wrong by virtue of the inconsistencies.

Data: Animal rights has a rich and diverse foundation.
Lore: Nonsense! The leading authorities on the subject can't even agree on anything. Singer says one thing and Regan says another. Francione wears abolition as a badge of honor, while Dunayer accuses him of being a welfarist! You guys are all mixed up because animal rights is just wrong!
Data: You are confusing multiple paths to a destination with the destination itself. Animal rights activists do not disagree on the fundamental issue of ending the imprisonment, exploitation, abuse and murder of sentient beings. There exist various ideas on how to achieve this goal which is one reason why the philosophy has developed such a rich basis.

A,B,C disagree on some aspects of C.
∴ ¬ C.

39.1 Scientists don't know what they are talking about

So one minute coffee's good then it's bad. Then meat is bad, now it's good. Science studies contradict each other all the time, so since science hasn't figured it out yet so why should I care.

While science studies do sometimes contradict each other, this fact does not make science illegitimate. There is overwhelming evidence spanning decades which show that corpse industry product consumption is detrimental to health. These studies are done independently and with very large sample sizes which range from the thousands and even into the millions. Often opposing studies which favor corpse consumption are financed by specific industries and utilize poor methodology. Even so, sometimes these latter studies demonstrate exactly the opposite of what their financier intended: that meat, milk, eggs are harmful to health. So there is nothing wrong with the science, though there definitely is much to be desired as far as the bought-and-paid-for 'scientists' who engage in such unscrupulous activities.

40 Middle Ground

Alternate nomenclature:
Golden mean fallacy. Fallacy of moderation.

One assumes that the middle or moderate ground between two separate items must be the correct choice.

Data: Animals being sentient beings have rights and these should not be violated.
Lore: Well I sorta agree with you Data my boy! Animal abusers are just meanies and no one should abuse animals who can be used to provide food and clothing. They should be treated humanely.
Data: The problem with your welfarish stance is that it is inadequate. While it pretends to be helping animals to some extent, it is equivalent to suggesting that slaves are alright to keep just as long as you treat them reasonably well. Compromise in principle is never a virtue and those who walk along the middle of a road are likely to get hit from both sides.

A < B.
A < C < B.
∴ C.

40.1 Let's agree to disagree.

So we have a difference of opinion here. I think it is fine to kill animals for human use and you think it's not. We're obviously not going to resolve this, so let's just agree to disagree.

This is a standard cop out when one does not want to deal with actual issues. The idea is to acknowledge the opponent's position as well as one's own. Then, regardless of examining the validity of either, to escape into the safety of diplomacy. It is a gesture by which one through a minor compromise (recognition of the opposing side), hopes to also acknowledge the validity of one's own, sort of an all inclusive version of showing up on middle ground with both viewpoints in tact. Unfortunately, acknowledging a disagreement has no bearing whatsoever on either position's correctness.

41 Red Herring

Alternate nomenclature:
Ignoratio Elenchi. Smoke screen. Wild goose chase. Ignorance of refutation. Irrelevant Thesis.

The presentation of an irrelevant item is done to divert attention from the actual issue being discussed. It can also apply to any argument where the premises are logically irrelevant to the conclusion and can thereby theoretically include a wide variety of other fallacies. However, usually the term applies to attempts to distract by introduction of irrelevant information.

Data: Many activists protest animal abuse.
Lore: Well I don't really see why they do since most of them probably didn't protest in the 60s when they took to the streets against the Vietnam war.
Data: It is unclear what your point is, Lore. Most of these activists weren't even alive in the 60s and so their failure to appear in those protests have no bearing on what they are doing now.

X is discussed. Y is suddenly introduced though it has no relevance to X. X is abandoned because Y takes precedence.

41.1 I'm bad but he's worse, so I'm ok

Yes I do eat meat and know that is bad for the animals. But I don't actually put them in those horrible factory farms like some people. I don't cause them agony when it's time to slaughter them. I also don't rob banks or bomb places like Iraq. I don't even park my car in handicapped spots! So why don't you go pick on some of those other people?

If action A is morally unethical, it remains so regardless of whether actions B, C, D are also morally unethical. One cannot justify committing crime A because others commit crimes B, C, D. As a result, even the claim that B, C, D are worse than A, is insufficient to justify or excuse A. The introduction of B, C, D is merely an attempt to distract from A.

41.2 What about humans?!

I don't see why you animal rights activists are so hung up on the orangutan sex trade. As bad as orangutan sex slavery is, not much is done about human sex slavery: 500,000 women are annually trafficked into Western Europe!

There is no relevancy to this statement since the topic is about orangutans and not humans. Additionally, just because one protests orangutan abuse, doesn't mean that one automatically doesn't protest human abuse as seems to be implied.

A way to bring some relevancy to both issues though is to realize that oppressors are not speciesist. They will oppress anyone and everyone in order to make a buck or get what they want. As such, the fight for orangutan rights aligns well with the fight for human rights provided we focus not so much on the victim, but on the oppressor.

41.3 What about everything else!

I seriously doubt if any country outside the USA or Europe has ever wondered aloud if it is ethical to eat meat. Given the multitude of crises facing the world at present, doesn't it seem a little bit silly to be a cape-wearing "crusader of the cows"? I can think of a lot more serious and relevant issues to be debated intelligently by the times.

The ethics of eating corpse parts is not determined by the 'wonderings' of any country. Neither is it affected by all the other problems on the planet. If one is going to legitimize such irrelevancies one might as well argue that we shouldn't deal with any issue (eg child slavery) because some countries never think about the matter and/or there are so many other problems on the planet. The most 'serious and relevant' issue to be debated for the individual bringing the matter up is that he/she debate the seriousness and relevancy of his/her comment which is merely an effort to evade and distract from the issue at hand.

41.4 Happy slaves

Limba the elephant gets along fabulously with her trainer. I'm making a little film about an elephant I knew and her keeper. I have a short trailer here. The bond between the 2 and the dedication of this elephant's keeper is obvious. You want to call this slavery? What would that make this dedicated keeper? A slave driver? If your answer is yes then we really have nothing more to discuss. http://youtu.be/-s_SPHt4M_M

The fact that the elephant has a bond with the trainer (apparently anyway) doesn't alter the fact that Limba has been made into a performer through force (we somehow doubt she applied for the position submitting her resume of talents).

We also do not know if the video was 'canned' - after all, perhaps Limba was being made forcibly to perform as though she has a bond with the trainer. Or perhaps the trainer is the only high point in her life. So this bond is quite irrelevant to the issue which is that Limba is being exploited by her 'owners'.

42 Slippery Slope

Alternate nomenclature:
Camel's nose. Absurd extrapolation. Thin edge of the wedge.

The argument insists that taking some small actions will invariably lead to some enormous consequences: sliding down a slippery slope begins slowly, but picks up speed as you go down.

Data: Going vegan is the best thing we can do for the planet.
Lore: Look if you go vegan, then you'll save some cows. If more people go vegan, more cows will be saved. Pretty soon we'll be overrun with cows and that will be the end of the world!
Data: Going vegan doesn't necessarily equate to saving cows, but even if it were so, having some people go vegan doesn't result in everyone going vegan at once. Furthermore, going vegan has nothing to do with increasing the bovine population to the point of bringing the world to an end.

(Note that there is no slippery slope here: "Don't vegans run the risk of having protein deficiency? I mean if the whole world went vegan then we would all be undernourished and die.", because the correct and demonstrable answer to the question about deficiency is just no. End of discussion!)

Y >> X.
X -> Y.

42.1 Voting rights for plants!

Animal rights! That's ridiculousness! Next thing you know you would want pigs to vote in our elections and I will have to ask permission to the ants before I build a house! You probably won't be happy till we have a poinsetta for president!

Considering the dubious record politicians have maintained, one might think that a poinsetta may actually be an improvement in the presidency. Nevertheless, the concerns about voting pigs and requiring land transferences from ants does not follow from granting animal rights which maintains that we give due consideration to the interests of other beings. Therefore, since a pig really has no interest in voting to elect human politicians and ants due to their marvellous adaptibility manage to make homes practically anywhere, concerns of such magnitudes are somewhat exaggerated.

42.2 Overrun by animals!

If animals weren't used for food, couldn't the planet become overrun with those animals?

This remarkable suggestion is still made in moderately intelligent company to rationalize corpse consumption. The idea of course is that humans must keep eating animals or they will over-populate the earth. Interestingly enough, no mention is made of the idea that it is humans who are breeding the animals in the first place. If people stopped eating animals, there would be no effort to breed them and therefore the planet would be perfectly safe from cattle, pig and chicken stampedes.

Note that though this item is placed as a slippery slope fallacy, it could just as easily have been a false dilemma if phrased as "eat animals or sacrifice the planet!" Obviously those are not the only choices available. Nor does the latter follow necessarily from the former.

43 Straw Man

Alternate nomenclature:
Fallacy of Extension. Aunt Sally.

Here a distorted version of the argument is presented and shown to be false in the hope that the argument itself will be thought to be false.

Data: Stopping oppressors is an important step towards creating a civilized society.
Lore: I just don't get it! Why are you working so hard to suppress human freedom and human dignity? Don't you know our civilization was built through the blood, sweat and tears of human endeavors?!!
Data: My statement has nothing to do with suppressing human freedoms or dignities. In fact, stopping oppressors of sentient beings is an important step in maintaining human freedom and dignity.

X is misrepresented as Y.
¬ Y → ¬ X.

43.1 Meat replacements aren't healthy

Meat substitutes are highly processed, contain GMO soy and are a threat to the health of a vegetarian!

While the argument presented is quite valid for the most part, the argument suggests that one must eat meat substitutes if one is a vegetarian. This is by no means the case, since no vegetarian ever needs to eat meat substitutes. Therefore, the health hazards of meat substitutes do not apply to vegetarians in general. The argument, concocted through ignorance and/or malice, has no relevance to vegetarians at all and hence, its denouement is irrelevant as an attack on vegetarian diets.

43.2 Vegan cult and X

Vegan cult indeed has some downsides. The distrust towards vaccinations is one.

The distrust towards vaccinations is not a vegan cult issue. There are plenty of corpse munchers who oppose vaccination and there are plenty of members of that vegan cult who insist vaccination is a good thing. Of course, 'vaccination' can be replaced with other items such as modern medicine, public education, science etc depending upon how absurd one wants to make the argument.

44 Supremacy

Alternate nomenclature:
Argumentum ad imperium. Might is right.

The argument here is based on the idea that if one has supremacy over some being, then one can do whatever one wants. It appears in the animal rights arena in the form of humans reign supreme over animals and therefore are free to take advantage of this dominance.

Data: Some humans need to learn to control their behaviors and eliminate those which are intentionally detrimental to other sentient beings.
Lore: What's with all this now, Data? Haven't you heard of "survival of the fittest"? Humans are at the top of the food chain and can do whatever they want to animals because they are superior.
Data: By this reasoning, humans should be preying on other 'unfit' humans too since clearly, depending upon how it is defined, 'superior' characteristics are not homogenously present amongst all humans. Your comment of humans being at the top of the food chain is illogical except for those humans who resort to cannibalism as well as incorrect due to the fact that bacteria feed on humans, enabling them to ascend to the top of this imaginary pyramid.

H > A.
∴ H can do whatever to A.

44.1 The Animal Holocaust

This is the mass killing of animals by certain humans and parallels the Nazi mass extermination of Jews. The animals are primarily domesticated animals on factory farms of various sorts that are imprisoned, exploited, abused and murdered. Animal Holocaust victims also include any animals and their populations that humans control and systematically destroy, such as on fur-farms, in laboratories as well as in the wild.

Some humans try to justify this mass murder of animals using arguments ranging from "who cares they're just animals" to "we need to clean-up the place from these varmints". These are generally the same arguments utilized by those who kill off large populations of humans abitrarily using excuses such as "they're not like us" or "we need some serious ethnic cleansing around here". The rationalizations are the same, because the oppressor mentality is a consistent one.

44.2 Compassion for our own

No one is gonna stop killing animals until we find compassion for our own species.

This is yet another attempt to segregate humans from the rest of the population of the planet. There is no evidence to show that humans who are compassionate to other humans don't want to kill animals. In fact, history has shown quite the opposite because humans who 'look out' for their own species do so by subjugating other species (animal exploitation for medical research, food, entertainment, clothing etc). In fact, it is even worse than that because segregation based on notions of supremacy have serious effects within the human species itself:

  • racism (whites being compassionate about whites and doing so the expense of races of other colors),
  • sexism (men being compassionate about men becoming misogynists),
  • nationalism (american being compassionate about americans implanting a new world order)

Segregation becomes merely a vehicle to continue oppression through the supremacy syndrome.

44.3 Deer are criminals in British Columbia

Last year the province of British Columbia Canada decided to begin promoting the culling (slaughter) of wild deer, especially those living in and around populated areas.

These culls can now be decided by individual municipalities, and there are currently four places planning culls. Why? One mayor actually called deer "criminals". Can you imagine? Lots of people want a sanitized environment, with no animals or birds, or anything that might eat their plants.

Human supremacy rears its ugly head for the most trivial things. These deer are being slaughtered because of pressure from The Poop and Flower Crowd. Expediency and the politics of convenience nurture brutal measures which wreak havoc on other lifeforms and eventually other humans as well.


1 A. D'Abro - The Rise of the New Physics Volume One p11