What is a Fallacy?

[What is a Fallacy?  This is the question for Writing 101-Poetry course.]  Here’s the list I prepared to use as my outline for writing the post:

What is a fallacy?
Something widely believed but false.
No basis in fact
Cut from whole cloth
A rumor
An old wives’ tale
A lie?
Stretch of the imagination
Mistaken notion
History is full of fallacies.

Christopher Columbus Discovered America.
He didn’t — but most think he did.
Children learn this “fact” early in school
and it is never corrected
fallacies can’t be “unlearned.”
The best verification : “My teacher told me.”

SO…continuing with the writing prompt for today… I read some of the great entries of my classmates.  They were all correct, of course, but the definitions were ringing a bell in my head.  (whatever…lots of bells.)

So did a search of the word, and read theWikipedia definition and some others…which seemed close, but well, incomplete.  When I couldn’t find my hard-back dictionary I went on a search for it.

Went looking for my dictionary
heart-pounding, breath imprisoned,
silent voice whispering “Websters”
in plaintive and slightly panicky tones–
Where could it be?   Where has it gone?

Sorry to break the anticipation and tension, but I’ll cut to the chase.  Went downstairs to my “old” work station and (still holding my breath) spied my Random House Webster’s College Dictionary stacked unceremoniously in a pile with my well-beaten-up and strapping-taped paperback copy of the University of Chicago Spanish Dictionary, and a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.    There was a pang of nostalgia from seeing these old pals sitting there all dusty, mixed up with umpteen drafts of my unfinished dissertation.

Any way,  <sniff>, back to the future here… I  find with relief that my definition of Fallacy is still accurate and current.  My faith in my spelling prowess is resored!    Apparently the definitions in the online-dictionary have just been updated to include numerous other shades of meanings–all of them correct, I hasten to add.

At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur tapping away at a stone tablet with a chisel…I will offer my definition (which, not coincidentally, is the same as Webster’s.)    Simply put:

When a falsehood  is accepted as truth,
it follows that any subsequent argument
or opinion based on it is rendered void.
This =  a Fallacy.

If someone tells a deliberate lie,
and others believe the lie and
and proceed to repeat and elaborate on it–
the result is: a Fallacy.
Any embellishment or embroidery of the
information, no matter if the re-teller
believes he is repeating the truth,
based on the original falsehood…
it remains false: a Fallacy.






2 thoughts on “What is a Fallacy?

    1. if they start out with a falsehood, everything they say about it later is based on a fallacy. As you say, a politician’s speech often falls into that category. 🙂


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