The confirmation bias is the tendency to listen more often to information that confirms our existing beliefs. Through this bias, people tend to favor information that reinforces the things they already think or believe.
There are a few reasons why this happens. One is that only seeking to confirm existing opinions helps limit mental resources we need to use to make decisions. It also helps protect self-esteem by making people feel that their beliefs are accurate.
People on two sides of an issue can listen to the same story and walk away with different interpretations that they feel validates their existing point of view. This is often indicative that the confirmation bias is working to "bias" their opinions.
The problem with this is that it can lead to poor choices, an inability to listen to opposing views, or even contribute to othering people who hold different opinions.
Fallacies are false arguments used to persuade through appeals to emotion or prejudice and through the use of misleading statements rather than appeals to logic, demonstrable facts, and reason.
Attacking the character or motives of the person who has stated an idea rather than attacking the idea itself.
Example: Don’t listen to Bob about unicorns, Bob is stupid & ugly.
Appeal to authority
Attempting to bolster claims by citing the opinions or testimony of “experts”.
Example: Pliny the Elder affirmed the existence of unicorns in his catalog of animals, in Natural History.
Appeal to emotion
Appealing to the audience’s emotions rather than to logic or reason for the sake of getting a conclusion accepted (These appeals to emotion are irrelevant to the argument and draw attention away from the real issue. Often, these appeals are appeals to prejudices or fears or desires.)
Example: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if unicorns existed, so we should believe in them.
Appeal to tradition
Asserting that something is right or good because it is old or has always been believed or done that way (For some reason, the standard for continuing a tradition is usually lower than the standard for making a change).
Example: People have believed for centuries and even written songs about unicorns.
Bandwagon (appeal to the majority)
Attempting to win acceptance for an argument by demonstrating that a large group of people already accept the claim.
Example: A lot of people believe in unicorns, so they exist.
Begging the question
Stating premises that are at least as questionable as the conclusion to be reached from the premises.
Example: Of course unicorns exist, that’s why people believe in unicorns.
Positing an either/or scenario.
Example: Either unicorns exist, or there is no magic at all.
Forming a general rule by examining only a few specific cases that are not representative of all possible cases.
Example: Unicorns must be real because lots of animals have horns, so why not unicorns.
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc
Translates to "after this, therefore because of this" - assuming that event A has caused event B simply because event A has occurred before event B.
Example: If unicorns existed, people would believe in them, therefore they exist, because we believe they exist.
Introducing irrelevant facts or arguments in an attempt to distract attention from the question at hand. The red herring argument may prove a point. It doesn’t prove the point at issue.
Example: Why are you wasting time denying unicorns exist when people are homeless.
Arguing that adopting one policy or taking one action will lead to a series of other policies or actions that are more frightening than the originally proposed policy or action and that, therefore, the proposed policy or action should be avoided.
Example: If we aren’t going to believe unicorns exist, then what else are we not going to believe in? Horses? People? The Earth?
Misrepresenting someone else’s position so that it can be attacked more easily; setting up a straw man (the misrepresented position) that can be knocked down easily and then concluding that the original position has been refuted.
Example: Bob doesn’t want you to believe in unicorns, because he wants you to believe in griffins, which is ridiculous. Unicorns are real.
Imposing a comprehensive conclusion without having examined the individual cases.
Example: Animals exist. Unicorns are animals.