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Table 2 Definitions and general examples of commonly occurring argumentative fallacies in creationist writings

From: Argumentation and fallacies in creationist writings against evolutionary theory

  Definition Reference(s) Example(s)
Ad hominem Attacking an opponent’s character instead of evidence. Van Eemeren and Grootendorst [1992], Yap [2013] Evolutionists portrayed, for example, as racist, sadist, psychotic or plagiarist.
Circumstantial ad hominem ( = tu quoque ) Instead of evidence, an opponent’s past actions, words or motives are put under suspicion. Sahlane [2012] Scientists “admitting” lack of evidence for evolution, such as transitional fossils.
Poisoning the well Claiming that the opponent cannot help being opposed to an argument and, thus, the opponent can be discounted in advance. Walton [2006] Claims of the type: “Evolutionists refuse to consider supernatural explanations”.
Appeal to authority and ad populum The argument is right because an authority (or majority) says it is right. Jovičić [2004] Historical and contemporary scientists quoted as believing in creation. Out-of-context citations of scientists “doubting” evolution. Referrals to majority of citizens believing in creation.
Appeal to consequences and guilt by association Instead of evidence, a theory is rejected based on its alleged consequences or linking the opponent’s viewpoint to distasteful and evil phenomena. Van Eemeren and Grootendorst [1992], Curtis [2001] Evolutionary theory associated to, for instance, Nazism, abortions, adultery and eugenics.
Slippery slope Appealing to an undesirable sequence of events in order to oppose an argument. Van Eemeren and Grootendorst [1992] Evolutionary theory allegedly triggers a chain of events from, e.g., racism and eugenics to mass murder.
Straw man The opponent distorts the arguments attacking the distortion. Aikin and Casey [2011] Overemphasizing aspects of “chance” in evolution.
False dilemma A complex case is simplified into too few choices and a choice made among this shortened menu. Curtis [2001], Dowden [2010], Tomić [2013] Creation is the “only alternative” to alleged problems of evolutionary theory.
Hasty generalization Conclusions are based on limited evidence and/or some evidence is suppressed. Walton [1999a] One problem with a scientific method causes the whole concept of evolution to collapse (e.g., regarding radiometric dating).
Argument from incredulity and ad ignorantiam Attacking a proposition based on lack of definite evidence; accusing a theory of being irrational without presenting actual evidence. Dawkins [1986], Walton [1999b], Curtis [2001] “It is hard to imagine that [an aspect of evolutionary theory] would be true.”
Equivocation Misusing words in an ambiguous manner. Van Eemeren and Grootendorst [1992] E.g., evolutionary theory ≈ Darwinism ≈ social Darwinism.
Appeal to fear and force Instead of discussing evidence, the opponent is threatened with sanctions. Van Eemeren and Grootendorst [1992], Woods [1998] Disbelief in literal Genesis (i.e., acceptance of biological evolution) leads to “grave consequences”.
Appeal to pity or ridicule Emotional appeal instead of presenting actual evidence. Curtis [2001] “Supporters of creationism are discriminated by evolutionists.”