12 Logic Fallacies That Can Kill Your Blog Traffic

Hal Licino

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When it comes to shrinking a blog audience, the ways to do it are aplenty. Not posting often enough. Phoning it in with dull verbiage. Writing way too much on something very few people care about (your parents don’t count).

But perhaps the most insidious traffic killers are logical fallacies: disingenuous, oversimplified, and often emotion-driven statements that do a terrible job defending a cause. Here’s a list of 12 logical fallacies so you can avoid them in future posts.

1. Rash Generalization — All women want to look hot, or all Frenchmen are rude. If you are stating a generalization that you are basing on evidence that is biased, insufficient, or outright illusory, you are damaging the value of your own post.

2. Either/Or — Stop global warming or we’ll all drown, or either the tax code is revised or America will go bankrupt. The fallacy of presenting only two diametrically opposed possibilities when there are endless alternatives and shades of gray to the issues being discussed will make your blog seem extremist and disconnected.

3. Non Sequitor — Mitt Romney is tall so he’ll make a great President, or the Greeks can’t solve their financial problems because they drink too much Ouzo. If your conclusion does not logically follow on from the premise, you’re coming off as a total idiot to any perspicacious reader.

4. Ad Hominem Attack — David Letterman shouldn’t host his talk show because he had sex with staffers, or Bill Gates is an untrustworthy executive because he was arrested at 19. Ad hominem is a form of non sequitor with a vicious edge that attempts to correlate some personal trait with the capacity to perform a completely separate task, and thus has no place in any blog.

5. Red Herring — How can anyone vote for Obama after he said his son would look like Trayvon, or why bother with healthcare reform since doctors are crooks. You are distracting and misdirecting your reader by correlating the essence of your post with an issue that is irrelevant.

6. Circular Logic — Anyone can diet if they have the will power to eat less, or if piracy was not illegal then it wouldn’t be prohibited by law. The assumption that a claim is true does not mean that there is evidence to support that claim. Fallacious reasoning assumes that your readers are ignorant and easily swayed, and you’ll find to your chagrin that they’re neither.

7. False Analogy — The universe is a mechanism and since every mechanism must have a designer, so does the universe, or he was wearing colors which proves that he is a gang member. Applying an argument which is trivial and deceptive to arrive at a far fetched conclusion is only going to devalue your blog in the eyes of your readers.

8. Questionable Cause — I washed my car so it rained today, or the Chilean earthquake caused the Dow Jones to fall. Simply because an event follows another event chronologically, it does not equate to the assumption that they are in any way related.

9. Straw Man — People who do not contribute to hunger programs want to see children starve, or the Administration’s contraception policies represent eugenics. Oversimplifying a viewpoint in order to attack an essentially hollow argument fails to take into consideration the complexity of an issue.

10. Slippery Slope — If the government passes copyright protection laws the internet will collapse, or if superbikes are banned then all motorcycles will soon be legislated off the roads. If you are basing your blog on the premise that if a particular event happens then there will be a domino effect that will cause a far greater impact than is reasonably likely, you are dynamiting your own post.

11. Genetic Fallacy — Americans shouldn’t buy Mitsubishi cars because they built the WWII Japanese Zero aircraft, or Donny Osmond believes in polygamy since he’s a Mormon. If you are establishing your post’s thesis on assumptions of value, character, or nature about the origins of a particular entity you’re not writing a blog, you’re just slinging mud.

12. Ad populum — All loyal Americans have to reject the Iranian regime, or you can’t believe in democracy while still doing business with the Chinese government. These forms of equating unequatables represent emotional, not factual, arguments. There is in effect no linkage between the two aspects of the correlation other than appealing to patriotic, belief-based, or other jingoistic triggers.

Logical writing is a skill your readers will profoundly appreciate, even though it’s not as flashy or sensational as fallacy-laden posts. Steer clear of adding unnecessary drama and over-simplistic writing, or you’ll see your argument undercut and your audience migrate to blogs written by more level-headed individuals.

Hal Licino is a successful author, award-winning freelance writer, and frequent contributor to a blog hosted by Benchmark Email, an email marketing service for small businesses. He also writes a weekly column for Daily Blog Tips.

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5 Responses to “12 Logic Fallacies That Can Kill Your Blog Traffic”

  • Statesman Sentinel

    This is a good list of logical fallacies that people often get trapped in. However, I believe you may have oversimplified on a few and made logical fallacies yourself.

    Example: 10. Slippery Slope – you fail to take into account that if a certain principle is accepted that it can indeed lead to ramifications that could be described as a “slippery slope.” For instance, once it is an accepted principle that some people may be expropriated by a majority of others (democracy), over time the level of expropriation (taxation) will go up.

  • Rashmi Sinha @ TechInitio

    A nice collection of things you should NOT do when blogging. Usually we see guides on what to do, but guides what not to do are very important as well.

  • Binny Oinam

    Great points Hal. They are definitely best avoided and moreover these fallacies would never be a great read.

  • Kalen

    Thanks for the tips. However, I would say that some readers look for posts that are a little extreme or even geared towards fundamentalists. A very cynical financial news site I read sometimes is an interesting example. They have some really extreme claims that rarely come true, but they have a core base of doomsayers who enjoy reading it. I don’t believe anything they write, but is good to go for a laugh.

  • Ehsan

    Thanks Hal for this great logicz. specially all women wants to look hot:D.

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