A Thought Virus is like a computer virus but it infects your mind.
Install an Anti-Virus for your mind!
Protect your mind with awareness of how others try to deceive and manipulate you.
Common viruses listed below include cognitive bias, logical fallacies, propaganda, etc...
Please teach your friends and family how to protect their minds or we all suffer.

On the quest for truth, be aware of the following 50+ logical errors/fallacies. 
If you lack awareness, it is easy to be confused and misled into reaching false conclusions. 

Abusive Personal Attack: shifting attention away from facts by personally attacking the individual presenting the argument (IR-h1)
Ambiguity/Unclear Meaning: structuring the wording of a claim to create two or more possible meanings (UR-d1)
Analogy, Faulty: a comparison which is alike in some respects doesn't mean it is similar in other or all important respects (UR-e7)
Authority Questionable-Irrelevant: using the opinion of an authority who may be unqualified in current field or biased (IP-a4)
Before Therefore Cause/ Post Hoc: assuming that if one event comes before another it is the cause of the second (IG-f6)
Black & White/Either-Or/False Dilemma: overlooking other answers by restricting choices (contraries as contradictions) (UR-e6)
Change Meaning of Word (Equivocation): shifting the meaning of a key word in an argument resulting in deception (UR-d4)
Circular Argument/True By Definition: using the conclusion as one of the premises (reassert conclusion without evidence) (UR-c1)
Cliché/Aphorism: covering for lack of evidence with cute phrase, parable, or story (IG-g4)
Composition (Parts to Whole): if each part has a quality the whole must have the same property (good players = good team) (UR-e1)
Compromise/Moderation/Golden Mean: assuming a moderate view is best because it is the middle or least offensive view (UR-e4)
Confusing Necessary & Sufficient Condition: meeting a necessary condition but not meeting all sufficient ones (IG-f2)
Distinction without Difference: attempting to distinguish from a similar losing argument with clever wording (UR-d3)
Diversion (Whole to Parts): if a whole has a property or quality then each part must also have it (good team = good player) (UR-e3)
Domino Effect/Slippery Slope: arguing against by linking a first decision with possible unproved negative future outcomes (IG-f3)
Double Standard/ Special Pleading: rule applies to you but it doesn't apply to me because of a poorly supported exception (IG-g7)
Evidence, Denying: refusing to seriously consider or acknowledge evidence which is opposition to claim (IR-i1)
Evidence, Ignoring / (1 Sided Assessment): ignoring negative evidence or omitting it as though it was not relevant (IR-i2)
Evidence, Omission: failing to include critical positive evidence which supports the claim being made (IG-g6)
Fake Precision/Unknowable Statistic: presenting mathematical precision or essentially unknowable statistics as fact (IG-g3)
False Hypothesis/Predict "if": stating as fact hypothetical claims about what would happen under different conditions (IG-g2)
False Opposites /Illicit Contrast (not P -> not Q): assuming an unstated related contrasting claim (UR-e10)
Flattery/Excessive Praise: providing praise or flattery instead of evidence (IP-b7)
Force/Threat/Intimidation: using intimidation or threat instead of presenting evidence or proper argument (IP-b1)
Gambler's Fallacy/False Probability: thinking past independent chance events effect the odds or probability of future events (IG-f4)
Generalization (Sweeping)/General Principle Misuse: assume no exceptions to general rule or use exception to disprove rule (UR-e9)
Guilt By Association: using a negative view of the company kept by an opponent instead of presenting evidence (IP-b5)
Humor/Ridicule: avoiding appropriate arguments by distracting with humor or attacking with ridicule (IR-j3)
Ignorance, Arguing From: stating a conclusion as true because it hasn't been proven false (or false because not proven true) (IG-g1)
Innuendo/Suggestion without Evidence: implicitly suggesting a claim without actually stating it (to discredit an argument) (UR-d2)
Is-Ought/Status Quo/Inertia: if it is done now, then it should continue or the reverse (if not done then don't start) (UR-e8)
Label, Inference from: using a label attached to a person or thing as a though it were a sufficient reason to reach a conclusion (IG-g5)
Leading Question: phrasing a question unfairly or in a biased manner to force desired answer (UR-c2)
Loaded-Complex Question: presenting assumptions/premises in a question which force acceptance regardless of the answer (UR-c3)
Neglect Multiple Cause /Common Cause: thinking one event causes another when both are actually effects of a separate cause (IG-f5)
Novelty/New Is Good: it is good just because it is different from the past (UR-e5)
Out Of Context/Improper Accent: shifting tone of voice to alter meaning of a quote or presenting it out of context (UR-d5)
Oversimplification: using insufficient factors to account for an event (IG-f1)
Past context Applied Now/Genetic: using evaluation from past context and applying it to present changed context (IP-a3)
Pity/Mercy: appealing for special treatment based on sympathy as a distraction from relevant evidence (IP-b3)
Poisoning The Well/Damning Source: attacking motives to discredit possible future points (suggesting lying/hidden agenda) (IR-h2)
Popular Opinion/Bandwagon/Polls/Everyone Does It: urging acceptance or rejection of an argument because many others do (IP-a1)
Rationalize/Believe Then Prove: (IP-a5)...hiding real reasons for a position with better sounding false/weak ones
Red Herring/Side Issue: attempting to divert attention from a weakness by presenting a distracting side issue (IR-j2)
Sample, Insufficient: reaching a conclusion about the whole population based on a sample that is too small (IG-g8)
Sample, Unrepresentative: using biased, exceptional, or an unrepresentative sample of a population to represent the whole (IG-g9)
Self Interest/Personal Circumstance: appealing to an opponent's personal interest or circumstance instead of a valid argument (IP-b2)
Small Difference Irrelevant/Continuum: thinking a small change in a sequence doesn't matter so there is no true cut off point (UR-e2)
Straw Man: distorting or misrepresenting an opponent's argument in order to make it easier to refute or attack (IR-j1)
Strong Feelings/Mob-Crowd Appeal: appealing to mass enthusiasm or popular opinion with no supporting evidence (IP-b6)
Tradition/Past is Best: appealing to reverence or respect for tradition to avoid presenting evidence (IP-b4)
Trivial Objection/Minor Point: attacking a minor point as though it was a major one (believing this defeats whole argument) (IR-j4)
Vague Expression: assigning a very specific meaning to an opponent's vague term and then attacking the interpretation (UR-d6)
Wrong Conclusion/Non-Sequitur: presenting evidence for one conclusion and then stating another (IP-a2)
You Do It To/Two Wrongs Make A Right: suggesting a position is reasonable because your opponent acts in a similar way (IR-h3)
(ver 9512 by HappyOtter)


.....(a) Irrelevance/Unrelatedness
.....(b) Emotional Appeal
.....(c) Begging the Question
.....(d) Linguistic Confusion
.....(e) Unwarranted Assumption
.....(f) Causal
.....(g) Missing Evidence
.....(h) Attacking the Person
.....(I) Counter Evidence
.....(j) Diversion

Cognitive Bias: A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own "subjective social reality" from their perception of the input. An individual's construction of social reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behavior in the social world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.

Thought Virus - Cognitive Bias Examples

Below from www.YourBias.Is using creative commons attribution & noncommercial license

This version 190930 at www.AlaskaQuinn.com/thoughtvirus

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/iV8TRx1X4n5o7d8sJ-BszaBL8eVjAVSX2rEEzxj6tonNOx92qCjjgCNOHS7PoSiz3Li07TSlrQzAznujLte0GRVoA2rpjQLbfQqzIiWBo6aRhhZtTAaL_eA_G1atAaBPJpcbqy93Anchoring The first thing you judge influences your judgment of all that follows. Human minds are associative in nature, so the order in which we receive information helps determine the course of our judgments and perceptions. For instance, the first price offered for a used car sets an ‘anchor’ price which will influence how reasonable or unreasonable a counter-offer might seem. Even if we feel like an initial price is far too high, it can make a slightly less-than-reasonable offer seem entirely reasonable in contrast to the anchor price.

Note: Be especially mindful of this bias during financial negotiations such as houses, cars, and salaries. The initial price offered has proven to have a significant effect.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/533g3uDpKczok8Zde5XfoY9AKhXdvI8SQlfrQEA6MQtFSdm7lijKlFTRTTWMuJeS9nMN5mSu9V4qEMwhrVt1Z1T63uFAQiW6KVNhFzsAOQkNAU4fqJ9UzGbFX1vNIAkYNK7eTPgaAvailability Heuristic Your judgments are influenced by what springs most easily to mind. How recent, emotionally powerful, or unusual your memories are can make them seem more relevant. This, in turn, can cause you to apply them too readily. For instance, when we see news reports about homicides, child abductions, and other terrible crimes it can make us believe that these events are much more common and threatening to us than is actually the case.

Note: Try to gain different perspectives and relevant statistical information rather than relying purely on first judgments and emotive influences.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/qWJe96FZhtyvdxslycLfq2y_lKMnQIXVFuhhmkmEdjNfFsppKU1tTC620L3nALbU0ykvZBkBDO5htRGrekHGteE3dnfV84HVSYaikFBzR1xMEIsypE-5AE15jMMzIQmmZVkhRpjdBackfire Effect When some aspect of your core beliefs is challenged, it can cause you to believe even more strongly. We can experience being wrong about some ideas as an attack upon our very selves, or our tribal identity. This can lead to motivated reasoning which causes a reinforcement of beliefs, despite disconfirming evidence. Recent research shows that the backfire effect certainly doesn't happen all the time. Most people will accept a correction relating to specific facts, however the backfire effect may reinforce a related or 'parent' belief as people attempt to reconcile a new narrative in their understanding.

Note: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” - Mark Twain

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/5MxgYggZfiyxlMQKlM1GiM9u3tPss-X2t6uymNrYu8LkaY7xSzituNgp851eqrrJ0mNhyhk02-o8tEpwJUlpq8o7gsKcXbv5Efot0bE1RH9TLQFxj20lLBV0Tlx5Y2exs9hsHP-NBarnum Effect You see personal specifics in vague statements by filling in the gaps. Because our minds are given to making connections, it's easy for us to take nebulous statements and find ways to interpret them so that they seem specific and personal. The combination of our egos wanting validation with our strong inclination to see patterns and connections means that when someone is telling us a story about ourselves, we look to find the signal and ignore all the noise.

Note: Psychics, astrologers and others use this bias to make it seem like they're telling you something relevant. Consider how things might be interpreted to apply to anyone, not just you.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/yZNcgZtnJRh6685YxgWAyqeb8W6KFmW54UvXvcpg_B5K3uP-TN-vVr4gjbUwCMzXgZUrCyld5UuH9nelAM7_ganGEiqRRJTc8xzcXycHJ9FuOUPjJsOtyOKKkawXgSYVM1CHi6RbBelief Bias If a conclusion supports your existing beliefs, you'll rationalize anything that supports it. It's difficult for us to set aside our existing beliefs to consider the true merits of an argument. In practice this means that our ideas become impervious to criticism, and are perpetually reinforced. Instead of thinking about our beliefs in terms of 'true or false' it's probably better to think of them in terms of probability. For example we might assign a 95%+ chance that thinking in terms of probability will help us think better, and a less than 1% chance that our existing beliefs have no room for any doubt. Thinking probabilistically forces us to evaluate more rationally.

Note: A useful thing to ask is 'when and how did I get this belief?' We tend to automatically defend our ideas without ever really questioning them.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/wDG3ddrx3GCXrj8yYnORLDOxY1s9Bzh4cBRz4PibTotHpy2v2zjmsJd_whaRD31yzWPr73cQ7IGf4mgPyJWnEyRsPF6vIEitcb1gPCdgu5BoLfyI9LtScfvUD81YgZ2gyVokNzOpBystander Effect You presume someone else is going to do something in an emergency situation. When something terrible is happening in a public setting we can experience a kind of shock and mental paralysis that distracts us from a sense of personal responsibility. The problem is that everyone can experience this sense of de-individuation in a crowd. This same sense of losing our sense of self in a crowd has been linked to violent and anti-social behaviors. Remaining self-aware requires some amount of effortful reflection in group situations.

Note: If there's an emergency situation, presume to be the one who will help or call for help. Be the change you want to see in the world.


Confirmation Bias You favor things that confirm your existing beliefs. We are primed to see and agree with ideas that fit our preconceptions, and to ignore and dismiss information that conflicts with them. You could say that this is the mother of all biases, as it affects so much of our thinking through motivated reasoning. To help counteract its influence we ought to presume ourselves wrong until proven right.

Note: Think of your ideas and beliefs as software you're actively trying to find problems with rather than things to be defended. "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard Feynman

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/ewbTgGeQTgFWHcQoYgEW033wHjJqus8Z-XkjeJml2jh6Es4ufLcqfIXzSUziztkeTbPQurpEUJBJAlKvGp8hF2oPnUcTYx0Xwlq1qq_wWYL9wcDtHeEcYtdawIIn54ivPXKGYNNvCurse Of Knowledge Once you understand something you presume it to be obvious to everyone. Things makes sense once they make sense, so it can be hard to remember why they didn't. We build complex networks of understanding and forget how intricate the path to our available knowledge really is. This bias is closely related to the hindsight bias wherein you will tend to believe that an event was predictable all along once it has occurred. We have difficulty reconstructing our own prior mental states of confusion and ignorance once we have clear knowledge.

Note: When teaching someone something new, go slow and explain like they're ten years old (without being patronizing). Repeat key points and facilitate active practice to help embed knowledge.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/X-VnJ8OjmNOvdT5_NKNN_gcasMcIsG4qAQB5BUoRqXIv4aUjUTOMeTNk3twtReYK_ShZUxbtcd_RksEPFkt-61tY6VHQpdHqMbtnqMqgXRCYUtiKoZp3SCxJrwjlgg4bzUNli0VeDeclinism You remember the past as better than it was, and expect the future to be worse than it will likely be. Despite living in the most peaceful and prosperous time in history, many people believe things are getting worse. The 24 hour news cycle, with its reporting of overtly negative and violent events, may account for some of this effect. We can also look to the generally optimistic view of the future in the early 20th century as being shifted to a dystopian and apocalyptic expectation after the world wars, and during the cold war. The greatest tragedy of this bias may be that our collective expectation of decline may contribute to a real-world self-fulfilling prophecy.

Note: Instead of relying on nostalgic impressions of how great things used to be, use measurable metrics like life expectancy, levels of crime & violence, & prosperity statistics

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/3xScX7Y3kgQMJA05rirh43G_8fvx4WW1zRM_isB3T3IbmsXZijGqygp4nMI0N7wSeIEVzzpQ3h0eaoiawEO0GR4Vm7_JxfNBT-z5zlCmviWHrmaRqjT5apgGozmZyl88SyoXvHHDDunning-Kruger Effect The more you know, the less confident you're likely to be. Because experts know just how much they don't know, they tend to underestimate their ability; but it's easy to be over-confident when you have only a simple idea of how things are. Try not to mistake the cautiousness of experts as a lack of understanding, nor to give much credence to lay-people who appear confident but have only superficial knowledge.

Note: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves, yet wiser people so full of doubts.” - Bertrand Russell

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/2NlLYFdoTwb_zxtQResiX_cZQ1sJqP3uyG7G8BiAlea5ezteYmmRJDUzm6emldu4IXPW_arZMa5D145afMc8Ofm3H7dKckgtB14JIvtehah-tM30ucrsCCZAd1tNvLQEHlE6hKAPFraming Effect You allow yourself to be unduly influenced by context and delivery. We all like to think that we think independently, but the truth is that all of us are, in fact, influenced by delivery, framing and subtle cues. This is why the ad industry is a thing, despite almost everyone believing they’re not affected by advertising messages. The phrasing of how a question is posed, such as for a proposed law being voted on, has been shown to have a significant effect on the outcome.

Note: Only when we have the intellectual humility to accept the fact that we can be manipulated, can we hope to limit how much we are. Try to be mindful of how things are being put to you.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/Pp_PFVytUIMprosZ8DQvG0IqMhftt75u1bAexD71nOdWsPBCoOQiI_rDzHWscl7mksvk4Rt65hpYX2CU5XkohWbHzxQkyNVW9L-OsyLdM17jP-y52ZbquRoLbmTgxjWlcZ7VseOuFundamental Attribution Error You judge others on their character, but yourself on the situation. If you haven’t had a good night’s sleep, you know why you’re being a bit slow; but if you observe someone else being slow you don’t have such knowledge and so you might presume them to just be a slow person. Because of this disparity in knowledge we often overemphasize the influence of circumstance for our own failings, as well as underestimating circumstantial factors to explain other people's problems.

Note: It's not only kind to view others' situations with charity, it's more objective too. Be mindful to also err on the side of taking personal responsibility rather than justifying and blaming.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/jByWlTDfA19QaiwMopA7Y7D6NS1qG27CBKrrVGYVdc767fSUp6aKBn5Kss0IAFCx6gu_hkD9KaaHpjhQWthyoFgBUCIV_BHhraEpjSUm_dVAZlatrH-3n0Pd_TXh2ydi39UbihAUGroupThink You let the social dynamics of a group situation override the best outcomes. Dissent can be uncomfortable and dangerous to one's social standing, and so often the most confident or first voice will determine group decisions. Because of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the most confident voices are also often the most ignorant.

Note: Rather than openly contradicting others, seek to facilitate objective means of evaluation and critical thinking practices as a group activity.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_qGUQZkiI8t9oT_QUKRaMjI7xoerjwtbhk5KCMBfLaZxIILydUxYyMYLXqZFy9f9qI3-yomC0Ghk_Rk9WmOvqhHqxVKq2QeeuiU65Slm7MjdwV9t_ADme6f2x01sdC6mYFXwyo0gHalo Effect How much you like someone, or how attractive they are, influences your other judgments of them. Our judgments are associative and automatic, and so if we want to be objective we need to consciously control for irrelevant influences. This is especially important in a professional setting. Things like attractiveness can unduly influence issues as important as a jury deciding someone's guilt or innocence. If someone is successful or fails in one area, this can also unfairly color our expectations of them in another area.

Note: If you notice that you're giving consistently high or low marks across the board, it's worth considering that your judgment may be suffering from the halo effect.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/vNq68xS6aKMnGcsV7hh4sVGtIpVv9uQijNasWO2f_Fc8Lb9dm0YAWAa3nyBxQ29hzhmOCjjJDE37AHgA0EpJEzU26EgI8HnDpjVpFNVn40ttRhwdaEagmz1t39WF8qfI3tPPAl9zIn-Group Bias You unfairly favor those who belong to your group. We presume that we're fair and impartial, but the truth is that we automatically favor those who are most like us, or belong to our groups. This blind tribalism has evolved to strengthen social cohesion; however in a modern and multicultural world it can have the opposite effect.

Note: Try to imagine yourself in the position of those in out-groups; whilst also attempting to be dispassionate when judging those who belong to your in-groups.


Just-World Hypothesis Your preference for justice makes you presume it exists. A world in which people don't always get what they deserve, hard work doesn't always pay off, and injustice happens is an uncomfortable one that threatens our preferred narrative. However, it is also the reality. This bias is often manifest in ideas such as 'what goes around comes around' or an expectation of 'karmic balance', and can also lead to blaming victims of crime and circumstance.

Note: A more just world requires understanding rather than blame. Remember that everyone has their own life story, we’re all fallible, and bad things happen to good people.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/bqrO3zKF3hL5E9A9-zQCk2d7FQE2jzWW-NdzDITjSWa5c3R7s3A5GmzmjdQVhP7BepOklwGfQhXlDS6Yy8nHbM2WNRQFQ9kTzAdyrGrvwpYvNPpA-8s0YuSqEslwYIgF4q-al7c6Negativity Bias You allow negative things to disproportionately influence your thinking. The pain of loss and hurt are felt more keenly and persistently than the fleeting gratification of pleasant things. We are primed for survival, and our aversion to pain can distort our judgment for a modern world. In an evolutionary context it makes sense for us to be heavily biased to avoid threats, but because this bias affects our judgments in other ways it means we aren't giving enough weight to the positives.

Note: Pro-and-con lists, as well as thinking in terms of probabilities, can help you evaluate things more objectively than relying on a cognitive impression.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/auVV2lxOoMRj-vJ0GUi4xowFFHieKD7kxmtYwyRZswWwi548BLRRhIC0g0VnSZihmIsDDo_bSHtQ8dAyzU3dfHX5CnZxwClD85ga-vUsx1AXXl64919C9mJVm_3WKAwemOSn0haEOptimism Bias You overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes. There can be benefits to a positive attitude, but it's unwise to allow such an attitude to adversely affect our ability to make rational judgments (they're not mutually exclusive). Wishful thinking can be a tragic irony insofar as it can create more negative outcomes, such as in the case of problem gambling.

Note: If you make rational, realistic judgments you'll have a lot more to feel positive about.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/DSegLU6hv9Bty1gwNjzayeOkv-QpimrrOUomuNq3DkRYSIOAJy6w8GwuzlH9Bje3FXrWJtrPYxDjvqmghs3k5w0VYem7qmHJtLCgjtNOj9p32le2RQm9muh95A94omQCeA9ZDx8FPessimism Bias You overestimate the likelihood of negative outcomes. Pessimism is often a defense mechanism against disappointment, or it can be the result of depression and anxiety disorders. Pessimists often justify their attitude by saying that they'll either be vindicated or pleasantly surprised, however a pessimistic attitude may also limit potential positive outcomes. It should also be noted that pessimism is something very different to skepticism: the latter is a rational approach that seeks to remain impartial, while the former is an expectation of bad outcomes.

Note: Perhaps the worst aspect of pessimism is that even if something good happens, you'll probably feel pessimistic about it anyway.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/tj9BrdacRZctX_NZxHj6RET-XdHkCzF_WDU9Cu11xomYcPLV3gmbgLfDBBN5bkYObAPv78kTwqwx134jwOEjOODYSOruP1U1IHJVKL0JmhDEDmF583y-ZqjlPH0zycDZfUBnMnLTPlacebo Effect If you believe you're taking medicine it can sometimes 'work' even if it's fake.

The placebo effect can work for stuff that our mind influences (such as pain) but not so much for things like viruses or broken bones. Things like the size and color of pills can have an influence on how strong the effect is and may even result in real physiological outcomes. We can also falsely attribute getting better to an inert substance simply because our immune system has fought off an infection i.e. we would have recovered in the same amount of time anyway.

Note: Homeopathy, acupuncture, and many other forms of natural 'medicine' have been proven to be no more effective than placebo. Keep a healthy body and bank balance by using evidence-based medicine from a qualified doctor.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/4Mwh9I3Fe-asoz7hwzvzvPt5s-NRDaulMDgZO0wT6CF4Vn6XW8TgzRMB5MzeWWOGWq44JdFM4jcWrtR449JQ8pqK8e7SC5IkqtRq0lwXAAfbURv716meXUUIc7rfHVuxTH2hLxImReactance You'd rather do the opposite of what someone is trying to make you do. When we feel our liberty is being constrained, our inclination is to resist, however in doing so we can over-compensate. While blind conformity is far from an ideal way to approach things, neither is being a knee-jerk contrarian.

Note: Be careful not to lose objectivity when someone is being coercive / manipulative, or trying to force you do something. Wisdom springs from reflection, folly from reaction.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/D86_qYxrGwFXWr7WPslWTqcLBXLZt7pvM3n34ZIDVf1rOP-YU0ov2pTGVPWSGdwlc5ZEQg6Tr91V3OaCuDr5IvwpXp6Phga-cRIMUDwSbFM4gz9QVj9xlGlUqSFxFtZhkpAV4K5RSelf-Serving Bias You believe your failures are due to external factors, yet you're responsible for your successes. Many of us enjoy unearned privileges, luck and advantages that others do not. It's easy to tell ourselves that we deserve these things, whilst blaming circumstance when things don't go our way. Our desire to protect and exalt our own egos is a powerful force in our psychology. Fostering humility can help countermand this tendency, whilst also making us nicer humans.

Note: When judging others, be mindful of how this bias interacts with the just-world hypothesis, fundamental attribution error, and the in-group bias.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/bPnHrJ2unp4iwCmK1uaLL6VP4RNAXz_DImQzORAKeg_BSjNWXv_KDsMpAxaUn55oewUEVLt-Qz5uFOUMUb7oY5oTYAZqPtN0_WiIZdmhKfwHi4coMnEaVfgLbj5ZM2niB2ogayMASpotlight Effect You overestimate how much people notice how you look and act. Most people are much more concerned about themselves than they are about you. Absent overt prejudices, people generally want to like and get along with you as it gives them validation too. It's healthy to remember that although we're the main character in the story of our own life, everyone else is center-stage in theirs too.

Note: Instead of worrying about how you’re being judged, consider how you make others feel. They'll remember this much more, and you'll make the world a better place.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/97dd2XjmDHqHGOe_ZFwi1ezAuKSkS_XQr_hjqhFL9BdJ0isBBeoaRM__9jHXAD9m4cWAcvc7PofOvc44Zfvu0w25gbRO3pW7KA-4s5eOsWJVeaavqZmuApOdC9wNu6Ox3Bv4j1mNSunk Cost Fallacy You irrationally cling to things that have already cost you something. When we've invested our time, money, or emotion into something, it hurts us to let it go. This aversion to pain can distort our better judgment and cause us to make unwise investments. A sunk cost means that we can't recover it, so it's rational to disregard the cost when evaluating. For instance, if you've spent money on a meal but you only feel like eating half of it, it's irrational to continue to stuff your face just because 'you've already paid for it'; especially considering the fact that you're wasting actual time doing so.

Note: To regain objectivity, ask yourself: had I not already invested something, would I still do so now? What would I counsel a friend to do if they were in the same situation?

Above from www.YourBias.Is using creative commons attribution & noncommercial license

This version 190930 at www.AlaskaQuinn.com/thoughtvirus

Click image to enlarge
more details at ... www.yourbias.is

Logical Fallacy: A fallacy is the use of invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning in the construction of an argument. A fallacious argument may be deceptive by appearing to be better than it really is. Some fallacies are committed intentionally to manipulate or persuade by deception, while others are committed unintentionally due to carelessness or ignorance. (Logical Fallacy List)

Thought Virus - Logical Fallacy Examples

Below from YourLogicalFallacyIs.com using creative commons attribution & noncommercial license

This version 190930 at www.AlaskaQuinn.com

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/PuoqrxBFXL9sA8cWSAXKTW9wQ_zfnz5YUSVYwqmxP12k8nSTdX-V1_tDKKanA5NkRaMatwbjDnbYVJQg12JVtlIXI89M7MOVculQ8JTih-WMQxYiKeXjKRuwq-e_fC0e8E9kOECtAd Hominem You attacked your opponent's character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument. Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or more subtly casting doubt on their character or personal attributes as a way to discredit their argument. The result of an ad hominem attack can be to undermine someone's case without actually having to engage with it.

Example: After Sally presents an eloquent and compelling case for a more equitable taxation system, Sam asks the audience whether we should believe anything from a woman who isn't married, was once arrested, and smells a bit weird.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/47tY75IRI4qxFdvUzZZ1SUjJjcSgfH42tKrSAvyaW4kqyN78qdnmCUS-OlgmJxXELizun9AaaV7m_rLWIjWsmb2mSQLTRqtlM2UIcTKkrdH1UDCEV3d2WbnXCKwB4sVKsXn9VN_fAmbiguity You used a double meaning or ambiguity of language to mislead or misrepresent the truth. Politicians are often guilty of using ambiguity to mislead and will later point to how they were technically not outright lying if they come under scrutiny. The reason that it qualifies as a fallacy is that it is intrinsically misleading.

Example: When the judge asked the defendant why he hadn't paid his parking fines, he said that he shouldn't have to pay them because the sign said 'Fine for parking here' and so he naturally presumed that it would be fine to park there.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/txrcm-tliOcy3Tk8isqkem3JrDv-HNd1KMEWRt6bTcnZaAT4Dzsa_KN18aZ8RXuKqGVoKZr7hSa4b4J6HZoWGAlJSONOHmkXMLHpgaWvCNAsmwUG7VMQVtUUfgLyNtuflEjJukOZAnecdotal You used a personal experience or an isolated example instead of a sound argument or compelling evidence. It's often much easier for people to believe someone's testimony as opposed to understanding complex data and variation across a continuum. Quantitative scientific measures are almost always more accurate than personal perceptions and experiences, but our inclination is to believe that which is tangible to us, and/or the word of someone we trust over a more 'abstract' statistical reality.

Example: Jason said that that was all cool and everything, but his grandfather smoked, like, 30 cigarettes a day and lived until 97 - so don't believe everything you read about meta analyses of methodologically sound studies showing proven causal relationships.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/BBNr8y66k1xtsADuBwj4mxHwk3yaIzVKEBPHzKexvprJuXGWL_xptl6gWiDv6pPfdvJlJaQ_Bseto1DXIcwLHvz04geuFKdM-Yaznyn88Tw3ApPaa5ivTW7O9y1xiVbRedCuqMa3Appeal To Authority You said that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true.

It's important to note that this fallacy should not be used to dismiss the claims of experts, or scientific consensus. Appeals to authority are not valid arguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard the claims of experts who have a demonstrated depth of knowledge unless one has a similar level of understanding and/or access to empirical evidence. However, it is entirely possible that the opinion of a person or institution of authority is wrong; therefore the authority that such a person or institution holds does not have any intrinsic bearing upon whether their claims are true or not.

Example: Not able to defend his position that evolution 'isn't true' Bob says that he knows a scientist who also questions evolution (and presumably isn't a primate).

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/fnxUznjq5xYbvkHrG5n7gMj9X-_amJdEStO68-zqYU_yBQ3GMDbL3oErRhS5B3FZb4q0S_yFGXpUqRlVjs8JgMx3KcsL-WKoSG6ncEADDuJRrIPu1DfMLLMCArNvS6v9seyj1UEtAppeal To Emotion You attempted to manipulate an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument. Appeals to emotion include appeals to fear, envy, hatred, pity, pride, and more. It's important to note that sometimes a logically coherent argument may inspire emotion or have an emotional aspect, but the problem and fallacy occurs when emotion is used instead of a logical argument, or to obscure the fact that no compelling rational reason exists for one's position. Everyone, bar sociopaths, is affected by emotion, and so appeals to emotion are a very common and effective argument tactic, but they're ultimately flawed, dishonest, and tend to make one's opponents justifiably emotional.

Example: Luke didn't want to eat his sheep's brains with chopped liver and brussel sprouts, but his father told him to think about the poor, starving children in a third world country who weren't fortunate enough to have any food at all.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/xP8hwV1KRvDJ4c5ML5QLS-EelXjyOlw8g-0YQZtMTJ1RUPWjH5YEdkRcc9T-JnHB6qVYIvRAka-6mdckJSKDQtJDbuK0fkvrHnj3vkLHHL9R4bZpS8YDeZ0JmoMyMIR6B4VQ6VDVAppeal To Nature You argued that because something is 'natural' it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, good or ideal. Many 'natural' things are also considered 'good', and this can bias our thinking; but naturalness itself doesn't make something good or bad. For instance murder could be seen as very natural, but that doesn't mean it's good or justifiable.

Example: The medicine man rolled into town on his bandwagon offering various natural remedies, such as very special plain water. He said that it was only natural that people should be wary of 'artificial' medicines such as antibiotics.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/coZ_8lTv0IiXBZ0NnsxBy1yIOsy1He_XfFdYmZW5_8XuMT2L3zDnhOnuC-Hxo5mnh7PJ9PvTsA4lCNRHeRFuGOFbPREStl-JsxMwzgOhPhOzgdIF5X3GHU1e6WJ6rK4zZQoADNfRBandwagon You appealed to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation. The flaw in this argument is that the popularity of an idea has absolutely no bearing on its validity. If it did, then the Earth would have made itself flat for most of history to accommodate this popular belief.

Example: Shamus pointed a drunken finger at Sean and asked him to explain how so many people could believe in leprechauns if they're only a silly old superstition. Sean, however, had had a few too many Guinness himself and fell off his chair.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/H7zcpT0ZO_tSTfyrdEWteePL1ieBaJqvzuKWxBh1nTxXeZv8jMTBTOxVJd6DhCRigvlB6cc4TExxqJC8Zg9cdK55qDakCliTpfnztw-US4cbO66ANEzr-Nf2Y9EzFlH6RO2MeSPzBegging The Question You presented a circular argument in which the conclusion was included in the premise. This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it's not very good.

Example: The word of Zorbo the Great is flawless and perfect. We know this because it says so in The Great and Infallible Book of Zorbo's Best and Most Truest Things that are Definitely True and Should Not Ever Be Questioned.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/J1c0hRpQwdFuW5hpqOHQEaPYxO-3tLpJsOWs_0-Cik6Vl_ok_BMjbUfXUQHhTyr7yVDfYZQMdVb0WqH6_HgSP-RT-gzmqEqM6Tgij_bpljwkGp94nBHYlgZqI-v2oOwDPObGVylWBlack Or White You presented two alternative states as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist. Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is presented. Binary, black-or-white thinking doesn't allow for the many different variables, conditions, and contexts in which there would exist more than just the two possibilities put forth. It frames the argument misleadingly and obscures rational, honest debate.

Example: Whilst rallying support for his plan to fundamentally undermine citizens' rights, the Supreme Leader told the people they were either on his side, or they were on the side of the enemy.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/UJIjcgJy7v8SteyyeRdzS1sbKHJ6-H9sg3uo8qPQWRiwNMrd7Qq43DeOHVQqV7cEDkyhI3S_o3LFZzgJEfOFAr8_wadAj3uwGRTqrjecYHJHvGE9vT_gMldGJtJd-S8hFBOBwUIZBurden Of Proof You said that the burden of proof lies not with the person making the claim, but with someone else to disprove. The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim, and is not upon anyone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove a claim does not render that claim valid, nor give it any credence whatsoever. However it is important to note that we can never be certain of anything, and so we must assign value to any claim based on the available evidence, and to dismiss something on the basis that it hasn't been proven beyond all doubt is also fallacious reasoning.

Example: Bertrand declares that a teapot is, at this very moment, in orbit around the Sun between the Earth and Mars, and that because no one can prove him wrong, his claim is therefore a valid one.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/MwXXtg1DxItr_dizRieoIyyhGyhNkkn9KawLUvk7vRs5mCwNU9V5n_sAxjKdkDpFNhIPpk-g8Am390ksEJ3DMy1liZsvdB8YtwkdOdyXMDQ4Oyz8QA9qCpMFSD9Rq395SqakuT5DComposition/Division You assumed that one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it; or that the whole must apply to its parts. Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole, or vice versa, but the crucial difference is whether there exists good evidence to show that this is the case. Because we observe consistencies in things, our thinking can become biased so that we presume consistency to exist where it does not.

Example: Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking for logic. He reasoned that atoms are invisible, and that he was made of atoms and therefore invisible too. Unfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lost the game of hide and go seek.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/TdZlU9oKbI-X13EmOjGUSJmoOrZ8fqJkXO8cw56a4pakx5fe7RI1MQ6KJVhpYBldZve4CB1Zc0mprvG3Esmjub1tCo_PlgAN-vxj6U4zgTh8D9Jq6RuoDOH35efqGeqUqzO61qz5Fallacy Fallacy You presumed that because a claim has been poorly argued, or a fallacy has been made, that the claim itself must be wrong. It is entirely possible to make a claim that is false yet argue with logical coherency for that claim, just as it is possible to make a claim that is true and justify it with various fallacies and poor arguments.

Example: Recognizing that Amanda had committed a fallacy in arguing that we should eat healthy food because a nutritionist said it was popular, Alyse said we should therefore eat bacon double cheeseburgers every day.


False Cause You presumed that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other. Many people confuse correlation (things happening together or in sequence) for causation (that one thing actually causes the other to happen). Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may be attributable to a common cause.

Example: Pointing to a fancy chart, Roger shows how temperatures have been rising over the past few centuries, whilst at the same time the numbers of pirates have been decreasing; thus pirates cool the world and global warming is a hoax.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/j7ZePXrQt7TpPoFY3TB2j5dUGLuyqnaibyWxFSs1CcR9NzLA7H9w_iZY8bsIXKvyk9HZVtmss-QqAyCcCBJc-vEAG4l0C1u0wQay0Ox9mbCVZJa8FSVrSwr6vRIeadVpLWUUt9z5Gambler's Fallacy You said that 'runs' occur to statistically independent phenomena such as roulette wheel spins. This commonly believed fallacy can be said to have helped create an entire city in the desert of Nevada USA. Though the overall odds of a 'big run' happening may be low, each spin of the wheel is itself entirely independent from the last. So whilst there may be a very small chance that heads will come up 20 times in a row if you flip a coin, the chances of heads coming up on each individual flip remain 50/50, and aren't influenced by what happened before.

Example: Red had come up six times in a row on the roulette wheel, so Greg knew that it was close to certain that black would be next up. Suffering an economic form of natural selection with this thinking, he soon lost all of his savings.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/Cb-bsBxf6yYYM-5PlY8zderdjVmFhjN-UWSaDdscje7teD1Bl7khY7zGMrh8jA5Kaxt6uCoUiFypym3kf9hpIA9LYl1JaHIST4PWoOaHvDK0d-3T42rkwqiGizCZY79jAU3PWDgUGenetic You judged something as either good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it came. This fallacy avoids the argument by shifting focus onto something's or someone's origins. It's similar to an ad hominem fallacy in that it leverages existing negative perceptions to make someone's argument look bad, without actually presenting a case for why the argument itself lacks merit.

Example: Accused on the 6 o'clock news of corruption and taking bribes, the senator said that we should all be very wary of the things we hear in the media, because we all know how very unreliable the media can be.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/lIVdIMQ9TU5B1A5ehUifhXP1nYTlHD_Js3BTItZude4RdPs7Okbage3bu4caDXfUPGnJXKgwBK9IpuK0H4JMbOcUEmuCkcm74j823uTLyuN1Fq9SOFVXMIS-cy75AUtaK53UdGe_Loaded Question You asked a question that had a presumption built into it so that it couldn't be answered without appearing guilty. Loaded question fallacies are particularly effective at derailing rational debates because of their inflammatory nature - the recipient of the loaded question is compelled to defend themselves and may appear flustered or on the back foot.

Example: Grace and Helen were both romantically interested in Brad. One day, with Brad sitting within earshot, Grace asked in an inquisitive tone whether Helen was still having problems with her drug habit.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SaFfom9dYZl7z-1rDVfN5_n43FAYopVPiJTHWVgVggtCJoUEL9UqXGErcK2DXu4ASGNVaHQWQ1hHE0sa8LkT8o-KI_0z-oPOeoJeIZtPYnjOICOo3TL7razKcSeXFN1F2gtqPcCSMiddle Ground You claimed that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes must be the truth.

Much of the time the truth does indeed lie between two extreme points, but this can bias our thinking: sometimes a thing is simply untrue and a compromise of it is also untrue. Half way between truth and a lie, is still a lie.

Example: Holly said that vaccinations caused autism in children, but her scientifically well-read friend Caleb said that this claim had been debunked and proven false. Their friend Alice offered a compromise that vaccinations must cause some autism, just not all autism.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/tLTT2AQWTQP6LHDdA5_qnWmzNdZOHuk5GH-FUhJ_JA90BbDRl6-loD6Os6M9G-vp5SxU73U35twfTYZfPD5EaGSMrp3MTY2TxRXW4SbFRzxM_51t5OoYf_VrceTw-ti8onvyrYbANo True Scotsman You made what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of your argument. In this form of faulty reasoning one's belief is rendered unfalsifiable because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the goalposts so that it wouldn't apply to a supposedly 'true' example. This kind of post-rationalization is a way of avoiding valid criticisms of one's argument.

Example: Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman sugars his porridge.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/eNg_thhmYWPqVIW1ZGpUHRQrq6E8t9AYglIRuqStlyAqTal9qPVFiD3SN7X3hE24V9tCq7WVibBOkFJVbbSrRC4QunUmIkIR5t1_5quphind8amEDvDoLJqP4Kz0jwhWv-1M6VojPersonal Incredulity Because you found something difficult to understand, or are unaware of how it works, you made out like it's probably not true. Complex subjects like biological evolution through natural selection require some amount of understanding before one is able to make an informed judgment about the subject at hand; this fallacy is usually used in place of that understanding.

Example: Kirk drew a picture of a fish and a human and with effusive disdain asked Richard if he really thought we were stupid enough to believe that a fish somehow turned into a human through just, like, random things happening over time.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/YEnHJh3EC8KYTkrEdj6XRk9KLL2rCrOkqxEev7-IctygwAPj91NTUNEpnTpYzJa4xP9z7BxpLUEC2ye-Nawdw_ffJUIQOorjN2lzz_vss918cgPXV2pR_vCvQGlcUpBAbxfiKMNpSlippery Slope You said that if we allow A to happen, then Z will eventually happen too, therefore A should not happen. The problem with this reasoning is that it avoids engaging with the issue at hand, and instead shifts attention to extreme hypotheticals. Because no proof is presented to show that such extreme hypotheticals will in fact occur, this fallacy has the form of an appeal to emotion fallacy by leveraging fear. In effect the argument at hand is unfairly tainted by unsubstantiated conjecture.

Example: Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex couples to marry, then the next thing we know we'll be allowing people to marry their parents, their cars and even monkeys.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7Q_l7eDGQw9zUU8diqWj4oisRdxI4ZeJJ8qZXOKV4VvYZUdpaUKLwBxLtxVVxa8apcxu47VS3tNGAJI8PodKIoNatzMo3kRuVaZ9xGZjIUCMSylReWWorB4WzW0_B9z1MEoNyZnnSpecial Pleading You moved the goalposts or made up an exception when your claim was shown to be false. Humans are funny creatures and have a foolish aversion to being wrong. Rather than appreciate the benefits of being able to change one's mind through better understanding, many will invent ways to cling to old beliefs. One of the most common ways that people do this is to post-rationalize a reason why what they thought to be true must remain to be true. It's usually very easy to find a reason to believe something that suits us, and it requires integrity and genuine honesty with oneself to examine one's own beliefs and motivations without falling into the trap of justifying our existing ways of seeing ourselves and the world around us.

Example: Edward Johns claimed to be psychic, but when his 'abilities' were tested under proper scientific conditions, they magically disappeared. Edward explained this saying that one had to have faith in his abilities for them to work.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/QQC6U6fmSG8arN207Yj77hf0qx55lYyiJ4cXPLKVuxTDJXVEM8V1cYbe-KGCxmt8-ysAs4pITZOdgyrlBcwqL0w7Q5g2u9DehOPqoo_uT3DmgnaGHWvAZ0H7l8aLp6D-2l3bvj9WStrawman You misrepresented someone's argument to make it easier to attack.

By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone's argument, it's much easier to present your own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine honest rational debate.

Example: After Will said that we should put more money into health and education, Warren responded by saying that he was surprised that Will hates our country so much that he wants to leave it defenseless by cutting military spending.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/Zc-yPMbEvW5E_JrK2U-KSnvWZX-_v5wfitHD9jFFNjO8M7YZFy1MQUM0mxguOwa9ANBJKtgeA8zmsQ-1SH95ttax0ZG9NnxBzapT6VKPdQhQnARBUBU_tOuTuMIUCjyiwkfwUF_HTexas Sharpshooter You cherry-picked a data cluster to suit your argument, or found a pattern to fit a presumption. This 'false cause' fallacy is coined after a marksman shooting randomly at barns and then painting bulls eye targets around the spot where the most bullet holes appear, making it appear as if he's a really good shot. Clusters naturally appear by chance, but don't necessarily indicate that there is a causal relationship.

Example: The makers of Sugarette Candy Drinks point to research showing that of the five countries where Sugarette drinks sell the most units, three of them are in the top ten healthiest countries on Earth, therefore Sugarette drinks are healthy.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/zHD4W1lE11jR-JNFw4tVHVorT5k45qr0nlSwzIlG92TBjhbmZxu1WNZY230SGH85AriqnAhWL4VnUnLkneS0b0CaQPImrjsEF8x6FePTkeuNxBZP5zprOV1wNm91lfP4t-Cq7G0STu Quoque You avoided having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser - you answered criticism with criticism. Pronounced too-kwo-kwee. Literally translating as 'you too' this fallacy is also known as the appeal to hypocrisy. It is commonly employed as an effective red herring because it takes the heat off someone having to defend their argument, and instead shifts the focus back on to the person making the criticism.

Example: Nicole identified that Hannah had committed a logical fallacy, but instead of addressing the substance of her claim, Hannah accused Nicole of committing a fallacy earlier on in the conversation.

Below from YourLogicalFallacyIs.com using creative commons attribution & noncommercial license

This version 190930 at www.AlaskaQuinn.com/thoughtvirus


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Deception: Deception is an act or statement which misleads, hides the truth, or promotes a belief, concept, or idea that is not true. It is often done for personal gain or advantage. Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand, as well as distraction, camouflage, or concealment. There is also self-deception, as in bad faith. It can also be called, with varying subjective implications, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, ruse, or subterfuge.

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