One kind of formal fallacy project is briefly summarized here:
From a selection of your own resources (online reading, newspapers, magazines, books, or journals), find and analyze five different formal fallacies. All references are cited in a standard bibliographical manner. Keep in mind the following guidelines:
Finally, take care not to cite and analyze advertisements which are merely emotive appeals and not formal arguments.
- Examples from textbooks or online logic sites are not used.
- Fallacy examples are selected from argumentative contexts.
- Oral arguments, whether in ordinary conversations, speeches, lectures, or television broadcasts, are not used unless a separate written text is available and cited.
- The fallacy cited must be used and not just mentioned. For instance, examples from writings where a formal fallacy is mentioned or identified by an author are not used.
As an example, consider the following passage from a recent essay on feminism:
Not so long ago, it was impossible to imagine young women, young people, or anyone really, protesting in numbers about anything, now, they're on the streets and furious all the time. The _Daily Mail_, concluding its analysis: "Thus, for the first time in a protest filled with confrontation and hatred, young girls took centre stage. Now everything is up in the air and changing all the time.' (Jenny Turner, "As Many Pairs of Shoes as She Likes," _London Review of Books_ 33, No. 24 (Dec. 15 2011): 15.)
Image from the Daily Mail's, Young, bright and pretty: The day girl students went to war over tuition fees... and the pupils who just wanted a photo for Facebook"
The quotation can be analyzed along the following lines:
Without further evidence an implicit contradiction in this passage requires clarification. The inclusion of the conclusion indicator "thus" indicates the following paraphrase of that contradiction would be adequate:
Young women are protesting _all the time_; thus, _for the first_ time young women are protesting.
If a distinction were being implied between "young women" in the first sentence and "young girls" in the second sentence in the quotation being analyzed, then the argument would be an example of an ignoratio elenchi. The final sentence of the quotations above is too indefinite to conclude that after this particular protest, young girls are now furious and protesting all the time.
As to whether or not there actually is a contradiction in the passage, the context of the conclusion written in the Daily Mail's report would need be examined. As it turns out, the final quoted sentence in Ms. Turner's quoted passage above is not part of the Daily Mail article. Possibly the final sentence was Ms. Turner's own conclusion to her essay and was mistakenly included in the quotation from the Daily Mail from a typographical error. Consequently, the originally quoted passage as it appears stands as being contradictory.
In point of fact, the conclusion of the passage, "Thus, for the first time in a protest filled with confrontation and hatred, young girls took centre stage," stands alone in a one-sentence paragraph in the Daily Mail report.