Logical Fallacies

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Mental models are world views - of how a person perceives, interprets, and acts in the world. Mental models determine one's behavior and habits - based on how one interprets surrounding events and phenomena. Thus, the mental models we hold are critically important. If these mental models are accurate, we can do well in terms of healthy, balanced, peaceful, constructive, and prosperous life. If they are inaccurate, we get into all kinds of trouble.

General Semantics deals with how we form our mental models. It is the study of how we create meaning - our mental models. Important work related to General Semantics includes the study of Political Ponerology - or how to avoid mass psychosis, such as Fascism or Dictatorship.

The map is not the territory is a fundamental principle from general semantics - meaning - what is - is not really. More specifically - what we perceive is typically not accurate, as it is distorted by our sensing and sensemaking apparatus. It is like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics - we can't really observe anything accurately, because observation changes the state of the observed - so accurate percpetion is not possible. This is true both at the quantum and macro levels. Understanding this concept deeply allows one to remain free from numerous mental fallacies - by observing more intricately and question more about one's beliefs.

Understanding that the map is not the territory is perhaps the greatest solution to all kinds of misconceptions, and resulting negative emotions that come from an inaccurate perception of the world. The practical ramification here is: if something disturbs you - get above it by understanding that it's an 'illusion' - or something that is probably not complete or fully 100% true. If you understand that something is not really as it appears to be - that can be a fundamentally liberating experience. Reminding oneself that the map is not the territory is the opposite of having a fixed and inflexible perception, taking things black-and-white, and otherwise being uncreative in response to surrounding stimuli. It's what allows us to be creative in response to uncomfortable or dangerous situations.

It should be emphasized that -'recognizing illusions' should not be a basis for avoidance or irresponsibility - such as leaving it to god or denying a problem. Recognizing the truer nature of something can instead be a basis for creative problemsolving that leads to a better world - and thus understanding that the map is not the territory is a call to action in a corrective direction.


Faulty logic, confusion, inaccuracy, misperception, and untruth can take many forms. Here are some concepts that we should be aware of so we don't fall into these traps.

However, note also that each fallacy must be evaluated specifically - as counterexamples, or cases where the fallacy actually helps - may also be found. So this list is for the reader with an open mind.

  • Misplaced concreteness an James's vicious abstractionism seems to undermine many philosophies - [1]
  • Generalization - formulation of general concepts from specific instances (or perhaps not listing specific instances and generalizing only), often making inaccurate assessment
  • Omission - omitting relevant details and therefore making for inaccuracy/confusion
  • Mind-reading- assuming that we know what others are thinking. We cannot really know what others are thinking because situations are complex. To think otherwise is dangerous. See [2]
  • Confirmation bias - is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses
  • Overconfidence in evaluating ourselves
  • Blind spots - things we don't know that we don't know
  • Apophenia - tendency to perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things
  • Hegemony - assuming 'that's just how things are' and nothing else can work or be changed
  • Non-sequitur - something that does not follow. Assuming some result when that conclusion cannot be drawn without further knowledge.
  • False dilemma - A dilemma that does not really exist. A statement such as: “The government should invest either in scientific research or in education” is a false dilemma, since it could actually do both.
  • Non-violent communication (NVC) - NVC warns us about the distinction between expressing feelings and what we think are feelings but are only thoughts. Lots of times people are unable to express feelings, and therefore not have their needs met. This applies to professional and personal relations.
  • Hubris - overstatement of one's significance or skill
  • Unwarranted Extrapolation - extrapo
  • Conspiracy theories - the attraction of conspiracy theories is that they always (warning: generalization) include an element of truth, and are thus convincing. Because of this element of truth, one cannot deny the entirety of the consiparacy theory, and therefore, even somewhat rationally, the theory can never be dismissed fully. But be careful, and hold on to your wallet.
    • A good way to think of these is mythology was used to understand the unknown, storms and natural disasters were beings with plots and personalities and were thus uderstandable. Now we don't use these mythologies, but have conspiracies. Virus outbreaks are bioweapons, not complecated logistical issues, mixed with a unknown genetic mutation in a virus that emerged somewhere, and...
    • We all do this to a certain extent, explaining and predicting things is one of the traits that defines humanity, main thing is keeping it in check
  • Mental Accounting
  • Motivated Reasoning

More Examples


  • The XY problem is asking about your attempted solution rather than your actual problem. This leads to enormous amounts of wasted time and energy, both on the part of people asking for help, and on the part of those providing help. - read the complete article at: http://xyproblem.info/

Mental Models of Collaboration

  • Circle of Competence - understand your own circle. [6]. Applied to OSE - how do we create an open circle of competence for a Hackathon event?