Tag Archives: Questions

Logical Fallacies

Logical Fallacies

  1. Hasty generalization: Conclusion not logically justified by sufficient or unbiased evidence.
  2. Post hoc ergo propter hoc: Literally, “after this, therefore because of this.” Just because Event B occurred after Event A does not mean that A necessarily caused B.
  3. Genetic fallacy: Arguing that the origins of a person, object, or institution determine its character, nature, or worth. Like the post hoc fallacy, the genetic fallacy is an error in causal relationships.
  4. Begging the question: Loading the conclusion in the claim. Arguing that “pornography should be banned because it corrupts our youth” is a logical claim. However, saying that “filthy and corrupting pornography should be banned is begging the question: The conclusion that the writer should prove (that pornography corrupts) is assumed in the claim.
  5. Circular argument: A sentence or argument that restates rather than proves.
  6. Either/or: An oversimplification that reduces alternatives to only two choices, thereby creating a false dilemma. Statements such as “Love it or leave it” attempt to reduce the alternatives to two. If you don’t love your school, your town, or your country, you don’t have to leave: A third choice is to change it and make it better. Proposed solutions frequently have an either/or fallacy.
  7. Faulty comparison or analogy: Basing an argument on a comparison of two things, ideas, events, or situations that are similar but not identical. Although comparisons or analogies are often effective in argument, they can hide logical problems. The point is not to avoid comparisons or analogies. Simply make sure that your conclusions are qualified; acknowledge the differences between the two things compared as a well as the similarities.
  8. Ad hominem (literally, “to the man”): An attack on the character of the individual or the opponent rather than his or her actual opinions, arguments, or qualifications.
  9. Ad populum (literally, “to the people”): An emotional appeal to positive concepts (God, mother, country, liberty, democracy, apple pie) or negative concepts (fascism, treason, atheism) rather than a direct discussion of the real issue.
  10. Red herring and straw man: Diversionary tactics designed to avoid confronting the key issue. Red herring refers to the practice of dragging a smelly fish across the trail to divert tracking dogs away from the real quarry. A red herring occurs when writers avoid countering an opposing argument directly. In the straw man diversion, the writer sets up an artificially easy argument to refute in place of the real issue. Avoid red herring and straw man tactics by either refuting an argument directly or acknowledging that it has some merit.

Art/Design Statements

Writing can be a significant part of any artist’s design process and can help you to develop sophisticated ways to articulate the significance of your work, your personal perspective and your aesthetic. 

Design Philosophy/Artist Statements

 Artists and designers often write statements that offer admirers of their work greater insight into the collection/portfolio, the design process of the artist, or what inspires the artist. Some of these statements are about a page and others are as short as a paragraph. You have to decide what works best for you and for your readers.  Either way, they need to be concise, yet meaningful.  Man Bartlett’s video (second down on the right) gives you an idea of how some artists choose to discuss their work and process.

Here are some questions that can help you build your own design philosophy/artist statement:

  • What inspires you as a designer?
  • What drives your design process?
  • What’s important to you as a designer?
  • What’s the theme or story behind your collection/portfolio?
  • How does that theme or story influence how you designed this collection/portfolio?
  • As a designer, what point are you trying to express through your collection/portfolio?

Maya Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC while she was in college and won a nation-wide competition for her work (see video top right). She believes her design was chosen over others in part due to the essay she wrote to accompany it. Writing can be a significant part of any artist’s design process and can help you to develop sophisticated ways to articulate the significance of your work, your personal perspective and your aesthetic.

Teaching With Writing

While formal writing assignments outside of the classroom can be excellent tools for teaching and learning, there are also ways to effectively use writing in the classroom. By building short, informal writing activities into your lesson plans, you can help students understand important concepts and think through complex material.  Since these writing activities are quick and do not require grading or “correcting,” incorporating them into your class does not require an extensive time commitment.  You may choose to collect these writing activities and use them to assess student understanding of course material, or you can simply ask students to read their writing out loud to the class to generate discussion.  Just five or ten minutes of class time spent writing can help students develop skills to comprehend and remember key points, make connections between reading assignments or lectures, and effectively express their ideas about what they’re learning.

Benefits of using writing in class:

 It helps students to learn and retain key concepts from the course, and to think critically about those ideas.

It helps students to develop communication skills that are valuable in any academic or workplace setting, and to learn the writing conventions of your specific discipline.

It helps you to gauge student understanding of course material and identify concepts that need more elaboration.

How to use writing in class:

There are a number of ways to effectively use writing in the classroom.  Below are some of the most common examples:

Freewriting and Focused Freewriting


Student Questions


You can use writing in class to:

Drive and focus discussion.

When starting a discussion, ask students to freewrite about the important points they remember from the reading assignment or previous lecture.

When students seem confused or frustrated by the reading assignment, ask them to freewrite about what they do understand about the reading and/or to generate questions they have about the reading.  Alternatively, you can ask students to write on specific questions related to important concepts in the reading assignment.  By asking them to write on the same questions at the end of class, you can also see how their understanding of the reading has improved and which concepts they are still confused about.

When a discussion seems to be going in several different directions, has gone off on a tangent, or is being dominated by just a few students, ask students to spend a few minutes freewriting about the key ideas brought up in the discussion or about what they think would be the most productive direction for the conversation to take.  This can help students focus the conversation more productively, and allows you the opportunity to redirect the discussion.

Reinforce concepts

Ask students to summarize the reading or lecture, share their summaries with a partner, and help each other fill in the gaps.

Ask students to record the steps of a problem or process as they are working through it. This can also work as a Write/Pair/Share, as students can help each other identify holes or weaknesses in their problem-solving processes.

Assess student comprehension

At the beginning of class, ask students to summarize the most important points from the reading or previous lecture.

At the end of class, ask students to summarize the most important points from the day’s lecture and/or to identify ideas they are still confused about.

Further resources for using writing in the classroom:

The WAC Clearinghouse: Examples of Writing to Learn Activities: http://wac.colostate.edu/intro/pop5.cfm

University of Richmond Writing Across the Curriculum: Write to Learn Activities: