click here to learn more about being redeemed from sin and set free to serve God in spirit and in truth. click here to learn more about holiness click here to learn more about being changed into the same image click here to learn more about sowing and reaping click here to learn more about the free gift of righteousness. click here to learn more about how faith gives us access to grace and grace does the works. click here to learn more about faith and how it comes. click here to learn more about acknowledging Jesus click here to learn more about how God speaks Who will you listen to?  Click here to learn more. click here to learn more about the pattern of God. click here to learn more about the pattern of God for individuals, marriage, and family. click here to learn more about the pattern of God for the local church click here to learn more about the Church universal
SeekFind Logo Menu

Fallacies of Ambiguity



Whenever a logical fallacy is committed, the fallacy has its roots in Agrippa's trilemma which is simply the fact that the foundation of all human thought (without Divine revelation) is one of three unhappy possibilities. These three possibilities are infinite regression, circular reasoning, or bare assertions without any evidence.


Fallacies of Ambiguity (being unclear)

  • Logical Fallacy of Ambiguity / Vagueness / Doublespeak: occurs when communication is unclear, whether intentional or accidental. This includes lexical, syntactic, and every other form of ambiguity. It also includes missing information such is specifically what, when, how, how you know, where, or who specifically: the actor, the receiver of the action. The conclusion is not proved, or a false impression is created, due to vagueness in words, phrases, or grammar. EXAMPLE Bill Nye, arguing against Creation Science: "So, your view that we’re supposed to take your word for it—this Book, written centuries ago, translated into American English is somehow more important that what I can see with my own eyes is an extraordinary claim." Bill's argument is that he can see something (we don't know what, so this is ambiguous.) with his own eyes that refutes the history that God is giving us through Scripture. At no time, during the debate from which this quote came, did Bill Nye give any credible evidence that in any way could back up his claim.
  • Barnum Effect / P. T. Barnum Effect / The Fallacy of Personal Validation / The Forer Effect: occurs when vague descriptions are regarded as accurate, though they can be interpreted in different ways. Horoscopes and fortune-telling often work this way.
  • Ambiguous Assertion: occurs when claims are sufficiently vague as to allow more than one interpretation. Sometimes, statements are so vague the audience is forced to guess what was meant. As with all fallacies, this may be a calculated technique or an error in communication, but the result is that some people may be influenced to believe something that isn’t true.
  • Logical Fallacy of Innuendo / implication: occurs when a conclusion is suggested to be true without directly stating the point. This is a fallacy because it is a deceptive tactic. Innuendo is generally used as a substitute for evidence. In other words, the innuendo technique is used as the only proof for a claim. It is often more persuasive than a straightforward statement because a clear statement is easier to evaluate for logical fallacies, to realize that a claim (implied) has no basis, no proof.
  • Sly Suggestion: occurs when innuendo is used to suggest claims, but no statement of the claim is made without the hedge of innuendo. EXAMPLE Bill Nye, arguing against Creation Science: ". . . we can compare Mr. Ham’s story to a story from what I will call the story from the outside, from mainstream science." There are a few sly suggestions in this statement. This is just one of the ways that Bill attempted to prove that only Ken Ham, and a few people who work at the Creation Museum, believe what God is saying about history through the Bible. Here, Bill carries this sly suggestion by referring to Creation science as "Mr. Ham's story." Ken Ham is a science teacher who has branched out. The scientific Creation Model is developed by PhD scientists throughout the world, not by Ken Ham. Bill used the phrase, "the outside," throughout the debate as a way to imply that the Creation Museum is some sort of a little secret society. Then, Bill used the term, "mainstream science," to imply a bandwagon fallacy and a no true scientist/Scotsman fallacy. In this short statement, Bill also used the label, "Mr. Ham," to make Ken seem less human and more rigid while Bill portrayed himself as fun-loving and charming. While all of this is great propaganda technique, Bill never proves anything during the debate other than that he is good at propaganda.
  • Syntactic Ambiguity / Structural Ambiguity / Grammatical Ambiguity / Amphiboly / Semantic Ambiguity / Semantical Ambiguity Fallacy: The Syntactic Ambiguity Fallacy  / Structural Ambiguity / Grammatical Ambiguity occurs when two or more meanings are possible because of the the arrangement of words and phrases. Amphiboly occurs when a statement can have more than one meaning, often through a modifying expression, syntax or punctuation. Amphiboly is often confused with equivocation, which has to do with the meaning of a word or phrase rather than an entire thought. Often, this results in something being unclear. Often, it results in a bit of humor. Sometimes, it results in irrational thinking that leads to false conclusions.
  • Lexical Ambiguity: occurs when there are two or more possible meanings within a single word.
  • Homonymy: occurs when a word is a homonym, having two meanings, and either meaning could make sense in the sentence. This is a type of lexical ambiguity.
  • Shingle Speech: occurs when a case is made in an unorganized way so that it is impossible to tell assumptions and stories from observations, and it is difficult to tell what the relationships are between ideas and things. This is not a fallacy, but it may contain some. The fact that it is unorganized makes it harder to understand and more difficult to spot truth or fiction. When confronted with a shingle speech, try drawing out the person using and open mind, questions, kindness, and active listening. You may find some insights you hadn’t known existed. You may help uncover hidden fallacies. In either case, you can show the compassion of Christ.
  • Use-Mention Error / UME: occurs when the word that is used to describe an entity is confused with the entity itself. In writing, it is common to put the word in quotes when it is being used to mean the word rather than the entity. This fallacy becomes very deceptive when thinking about God. God is an entity. He is three in one, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Son, Jesus Christ, is the Word. When God spoke, the Universe came into existence. It is impossible to read the Bible without experiencing the Spirit of Jesus Christ, since the words of the text are infused with His Presence. However, UME is committed when the Spirit is resisted and an attempt is made to give an interpretation of what God is saying through the Bible without listening to the Voice of God through the Bible. God speaks through the Bible; yet, it is possible for human beings to refuse to acknowledge Him and to depend on their own understandings. EXAMPLE The person of Jesus Christ is often confused with theologies, theories, or concepts by believers and unbelievers alike. For instance, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” and “the Mind of Christ” are sometimes thought to be creations of humanity in the human mind rather than the Essence of the Living God abiding within. Thinking about God as a concept creates a block to understanding that God speaks to His people. This makes real faith impossible, since faith comes by hearing the utterance of God. When UME is in play, all that is left is a rationalized faith that is powerless. EXAMPLE Sandra: “There is no 'god' [meaning a word to describe an entity]. Roxanne: “I actually know God [meaning the person of God, not the word, 'god'] personally. Jesus Christ [meaning His person] leads me and guides me daily, moment by moment.” Sandra: “That can’t be true. 'God' [meaning the use of the word, “god”] has changed over history.” Roxanne and Sandra think they are having a conversation. Sandra thinks she is trying to win an argument. Roxanne is trying to tell about her ongoing experience. They are actually talking past each other because Sandra is talking about “god” [mention], while Roxanne it talking about God [use]. EXAMPLE The book, “A History of God,” describes various definitions people have had for the word, “god.” It is not a history of God, the Almighty Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. It is the history of the word, "god."
  • Double Entendre: occurs when a word or phrase that can be understood in two ways is used for the purpose of articulating something perfectly and indirectly. Double Entendre is generally used to articulate an insult, insinuation, or something off color. It serves as a hedge if it becomes necessary to retract the statement. If the double entendre isn’t too obvious, the person using it may claim innocence. Otherwise, the person can say that they were only kidding. It was a joke.
  • Misuse of Etymology: occurs when it is assumed that the oldest or original meaning of a word is its true of proper meaning. Another way to state this is that it is believed that the present-day meaning of the word should be the same as the original meaning of the word. This is a form of appeal to definition. It is also a kind of genetic fallacy. If we are trying to find out the intent of the original author, then the definition that the original author used would be important. For instance, pursuit of happiness, in the philosophy of the period when the U.S, Declaration of Independence was written would have meant pursuit of wisdom. Another example would be in understanding Scripture, it is sometimes good to look up the word in the original language and find out what it means, since the translations are often inaccurate and conflicting. However, the fallacy of misuse of etymology is in insisting that the meaning for present-day use must be the same as the oldest meaning known. EXAMPLE A politician used the word, "hysterical," to describe the woman against whom he was running. The news media immediately attacked him for the sexist remark. You might ask how they could do that. It turns out that the word, "hysterical," once meant "of the womb." Who knew?
  • Garden Path Ambiguity: occurs when a thought is temporarily misunderstood but then is made clear as the complete sentence or idea is expressed.
  • Squinting Modifier: occurs when a modifying word, usually an adverb, could be modifying more than one word.
  • Quantifier Fallacy / Quantifier Shift Fallacy: occurs when the scope of the quantifiers is shifted in the middle of a logical argument. This is a particular type of scope fallacy. EXAMPLE Rocky: “Every person who follows Christ is led by Christ to a certain place of service, to manifest the love of Christ in a certain way.” Sandy: “So you are saying that there is a certain place of service, a certain way of manifesting the love of Christ that is universal to all who follow Christ. So everyone has the same calling and ministry?” Rocky: “No, I didn’t mean to have the scope of the word, ‘every,’ apply to the phrases, ‘certain place of service,’ and ‘way of manifesting,’ implying a universal calling and ministry for most people. I meant to apply the quantifier, ‘every,’ only to ‘person who follows Christ,’ stating that each person who follows Christ has his or her own specific, individual calling and place of ministry.”
  • Quantificational Fallacy: occurs when the quantifiers of the premises are in contradiction to the quantifier of the conclusion. Quantifiers are words such as "all," "none," "many," or "some."
  • Illicit Observation Fallacy: occurs when two terms are used in a way that implies that one negates the other but they don't or that they are opposites when they are not. This fallacy often involves that distinction between contrary and contradictory terms. This is a type of ambiguity fallacy.
  • Metaphorical Ambiguity: occurs when a metaphor is taken literally.
  • Euphemism: occurs when a softer, vaguer, or even pleasant expression is used for something that is a negative or unpleasant. EXAMPLE Pro-choice means pro-abortion. When politicians invest, it means they are going to spend more money.
  • Quantifier Shift: occurs when two quantifiers are reversed. EXAMPLE "Everyone has a moral value system. Therefore, there is a moral value system that everyone has."
  • Logical Fallacy of Equivocation / Bait and Switch / Lexical Ambiguity / Ambiguous Terms: occurs when a word is given more than one definition in the same argument. This is often confused with amphiboly. The difference is that amphiboly consists of confusion of the meaning of an entire statement due to grammar or syntax. Equivocation, or bait and switch, has to do with changing the meaning of a word or phrase. Equivocation can take the form of changing the meaning of a word within a single syllogism, semantic shift where the meaning is slowly changed throughout a presentation or dialog, changing the referant (the person or thing to which the word or phrase refers), or switching between a metaphorical meaning and a literal meaning. The two meanings can be very close to the same and yet drastically destroy the logic.
  • Redefinition Fallacy: occurs when a word is redefined in order to prove a point. This is very different from clarifying the meaning of a word so that a point is not misunderstood. It is also not a fallacy to redefine a word for a specific purpose as in applying a common word to a specific technical discipline in which the word takes on a meaning that is very different from the common meaning of the word.  It can be confusing, though. EXAMPLE Roxanne: “When you say that the Big-Bang-Billions-of-Years-No-Flood-Molecules-to-Man story is science and the Creation-Flood account is not science, how are you defining science? Is it a process, knowledge gained by this process, or opinions drawn from arbitrary assumptions and presuppositions, and the opinion of the majority of scientists?” Sandra: “I am defining science as all of those things. Evolution [the Big-Bang-Billions-of-Years-No-Flood-Molecules-to-Man story] is science. Creation [the Creation-Flood account] is not science. Therefore, Evolution [the Big-Bang-Billions-of-Years-No-Flood-Molecules-to-Man story] should be taught in schools, and Creation [the Creation-Flood account] should not.” Here, the redefinition is purposely made broad enough that you don’t know if something is merely an opinion of a select group or it has real observed evidence without opinion behind it. That being the case, the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. EXAMPLE Fuzzy: “Only God can create something from nothing.” Sandy: “How are you defining nothing?” Fuzzy: “Nothingness is that from which only God can create something.” This definition actually is circular. It simply restates the first proposition. God reveals to us, as He speaks through Scripture, that, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” He also reveals that He made everything through His Word, and then He further says that Jesus Christ is His Word. This is not the same as nothing. Why not just say, “I know, by Divine revelation that comes from the indwelling Christ, that God created the Universe and everything in it in six days through His spoken Utterance, Jesus Christ, and there is nothing that is excluded from this Creation other than God, Himself.”
  • Middle Puzzle Part Fallacy: occurs when a spurious connection is made between different things by changing the meaning of words.
  • Idiosyncratic Language: occurs when words or phrases are loaded with personal meanings rather than what those words are commonly known to mean. This is sometimes just a mechanism to create interest. However, it causes misunderstanding. Sometimes it is a mechanism to deceive. EXAMPLE A premise is known as an assumption in logic-talk. If a logical argument is to be sound, then its premises must be true. An assumption is something that is assumed to be true without knowing that it is true. In science and logic, no difference is made between assumptions that are known to be true and assumptions that are not known to be true. This is very confusing to students who ask questions about it and generally receive very confusing or misleading answers. EXAMPLE Rocky: "Do you believe Jesus is God?" Sandy: "Yes, I believe that Jesus is God." Sandy is a Mormon. What he means is that he believes that Jesus is a god, one of many. EXAMPLE "Fundamentalist Christians gathered with just one goal . . . " "Fundamentalist Muslim terrorists attacked the World Trade Center." The word, "fundamentalist," was coined by Christians. Applying the word to Muslims, particularly Muslim terrorists, is deceiving.
  • Type-Token Ambiguity: occurs when a statement is made that is ambiguous because the same word can mean either a type or a token. For instance, a car manufacturer may put out six cars in a year, meaning six models or types of cars. However, someone hearing this may think it is impossible for a car manufacturer to put out only six cars in a year, meaning six actual cars (tokens).
  • Fallacy of Modal Logic / Modal (Scope) Fallacy / Misconditionalization: occurs when the scope of what is necessary of possible (in a statement or argument) is confused.
  • Modal Fallacy / Modal Scope Fallacy: occurs when the modal operator of necessity is applied to the consequence instead of the conditional. This fallacy is a confusion of the necessitas consequentiae with the necessitas consequentiis, the necessity of the consequence with the necessity of the consequent. EXAMPLE “Necessarily, whatever happens, happens. Therefore, whatever happens, necessarily happens, so that whatever occurs could not have been otherwise.” EXAMPLE “If John is a bachelor, then he must be single. If John is single, he cannot be married. Therefore, John can never marry.” The modal fallacy is to say that since John must be single, he can never get married.
  • Scope Fallacy: occurs when the scope of a modifier is changed during an argument. Scope fallacy is a type of amphiboly. EXAMPLE “All that glitters is not gold. This rock glitters. Therefore, this rock is not gold.” The troublesome modifier is negation: the word, “not.” In the first premise, “not” has a narrow scope, applying only to “not … gold.” In the conclusion, “not” is applied to the entire sentence of the first premise. In other words, the first premise can be interpreted in two different ways by varying the scope of the word, “not.”
  • Ambiguous Middle / Ambiguous Middle Term: occurs when the middle term of a syllogism has more than one possible meaning. EXAMPLE "We can easily observe evolution (adaptations and mutations) taking place. Molecules turning into humans over millions of years is evolution (evolution has just changed meanings). Therefore, we have observed molecules turning into humans over millions of years."
  • Logical Fallacy of Hypnotic Bait and Switch: occurs when certain terms, having more than one meaning, are continually used to plant seeds of association (where no real association exists) in a way that molds that inner worldview of others without them ever knowing that a hypnotic technique is being used. Hypnotic bait and switch is part of a complex hypnotic technique known as Neuro Linguistic Programming that is actually a collection of techniques that were collected, documented, and taught by Bandler and Grinder during the 1970s. The techniques are nothing new, but they are now documented. These techniques are used in politics, marketing, and religion, including Atheism. They are also used in psychotherapy.
  • Definist Fallacy: occurs whenever the definition of a term, word, or concept is used in a way that hinders reason or communication. Examples are equivocation on a word, the fallacy of persuasive definition, defining a word in terms of itself, the definition of one property in terms of another, failure to elucidate, distinction without a difference, Socratic fallacy, defining a term too broadly, and defining a term too narrowly.
  • Logical Fallacy of Defining a Word in Terms of Itself / Appeal to Definition / Appeal to the Dictionary / Definist Fallacy: occurs when someone defines a word in a way that helpful in persuading the audience to believe the conclusion but doesn't really support the conclusion. The definist fallacy can mean the fallacy of persuasive definition, the definition of one property in terms of another, or the Socratic fallacy in which terms must be defined before use. Here, we are only dealing with the fallacy of defining a word in terms of itself.
  • Socratic Fallacy: occurs when a false claim is made that terms are required to be defined before examples of those terms can be given. This is not to say that it isn't vital that everyone is using the same definition of a given term. EXAMPLE Rocky: "God speaks to me through my soul, my innermost mind." Sandy: "You can't speak of either the soul or the mind until you can give a comprehensive definition." The problem is one of circularity. We have to know enough to give a comprehensive definition before we can know anything. We know in part. Often, we don't know enough to define a matter, but God reveals by degrees in unfolding revelation. This is true of natural things and of spiritual things. If we apply this logic to everything, then we can't talk about anything until we know everything about everything. However, when challenged, Sandy is likely to commit a special pleading fallacy to make exceptions for the things that he knows something about.
  • Logical Fallacy of Defining Terms Too Broadly / Discarded Differentia: occurs when the definition of a term is too broad so that it includes people, items, things, or concepts that should not be included. This is only a fallacy when it causes confusion or creates a false impression. EXAMPLE Bill Nye, arguing against Creation Science: "I’m looking for explanations of the creation of the world as we know it based on what I’m going to call science. Not historical science. Not observational science. Science." Bill is defining science as not only careful observation and recording of data but also arbitrary assumption and storytelling. In this way, we cannot tell when Bill is talking about something that was actually observed and something that was just made up.
  • Logical Fallacy of Defining Terms Too Narrowly: occurs when terms are defined so narrowly that people, items, things, or concepts are excluded when they should not be.
  • Logical Fallacy of Failure to Elucidate: occurs when the definition of a word or concept is more difficult to understand than the word or concept itself or a definition that is doesn't describe the word or concept in a realistic way.
  • Logical Fallacy of Persuasive Definition / Appeal to Definition / Appeal to the Dictionary:  occurs when someone defines a word in a way that helpful in persuading the audience to believe the conclusion but doesn't really support the conclusion. This is a type of definist fallacy. EXAMPLE "there are billions of people in the world who are deeply religious, who get enriched by the wonderful sense of community by their religion." Bill Nye, in this quote, is defining the word, "religion," in a way that includes everyone but people who refuse to acknowledge God's Divine revelation. However, their belief in not God or belief that no one can know God is based on vapor, made up stuff. It is held on make-believe faith. And, a person who refuses to acknowledge God does "get enriched by the wonderful sense of community by their religion." Atheism is a philosophy about God. It is a belief that God doesn't exist.
  • Logical Fallacy of Composition / Exception Fallacy / Categorical Error / Category Error: occurs when the properties of parts are confused with the properties of the whole. In this fallacy the properties of the parts are assumed to be the properties of the whole.
  • Logical Fallacy of Division / False Division / Ecological Fallacy / Ecological Inference Fallacy: occurs when it is assumed that what is true for the whole must be true of the individual parts.
  • Etymological Fallacy: occurs when someone fails to realize that the meaning of a certain word has changed. This is sometimes confused with the fact that those people who have the power to do so may begin to deliberately change the meanings of words for their purposes.
  • Logical Fallacy of Nominalization / Misnomer / Labeling: occurs when someone makes an action (or other part of speech) into a noun. That is, someone is doing a certain thing, and someone else or the same person identifies the person with the action as if the person were the action or had become the action. On the other hand, our own actions do change us. We eventually become what we repetitively do. That is true of doing/being anything, for instance: Christian, homosexual, thief, murderer, idolater, or ungodly person.
  • Inference from a Label: occurs when it is assumed that labels attached to people/things/concepts/organizations are accurate in defining them. Labels are not always accurate. EXAMPLE "Come to beauty science. We will make you beautiful scientifically." The label, “science,” has been successfully used to promote many scams and lies. EXAMPLE "We are going to a Christian concert tonight. I'm sure that the Holy Spirit will be moving there." The label, “Christian,” is applied to many things that have nothing to do with Jesus Christ, not just music. Discernment is required. Sometimes all you get is emotion or worse. When a conclusion is drawn from the label, a fallacy has been committed.
  • Pigeonholing Fallacy / Ahistoric Fallacy: occurs when something or someone is sorted into a category incorrectly or inaccurately. Pigeonholing means either to categorize or to put off to a future time. The fallacy applies to faulty categorization. A large part of understanding has to do with categorizing things and people. This is part of how you can tell the difference between things and make decisions. So pigeonholing is not a bad thing. It means to sort things out. When this is done incorrectly, it is a pigeonholing fallacy. The pigeonholing fallacy is generally seen in assigning a person, organization, or concept into a category that doesn’t fit. Sometimes, this is done by name-calling/labeling. Often, this is associated with faulty generalization. Often, it may be associated with the fallacy of undistributed middle. EXAMPLE Sandy: "I used to be a Christian, and I never had any experience with Christ, nor did I ever have an answer to prayer. Finally, I discovered that Evolution was a fact of science, so I stopped the religious thing. Don't tell me that you are a follower of Christ and that Christ leads you. My life proves that to be impossible." Sandy is pigeonholing someone into Sandy's own lack of experience. Who knows why Sandy failed to make contact. Most likely, he was a hypocrite, insincerely doing religious form and ritual. However, from what was said, it would be impossible to know. What is true is that just because someone has failed that person cannot pigeonhole everyone else into his or her own failure.
  • Category Mistake / Category Error: occurs when one or more qualities are assigned to an object/person/organization/concept that cannot possibly belong to it. This could be ascribing motives to a person that are not that person’s motives. This could be ascribing attributes to God that are not God’s attributes. It could be ascribing qualities to a made-up story that made-up stories cannot have. EXAMPLE “Evolution [molecules to man] is science [observation and rational thinking].” Molecules-to-man is a story. Like all science fiction, it is written in a way that fits the known facts. As the known facts change, the story morphs. No one can observe molecules turning into people over billions of years. There is no rational way to get the molecules-to-man story from what we can observed. It requires many fallacies, arbitrary assumptions, and made-up stories. EXAMPLE Sandra: “The way the world looks, God is either powerless or evil.” Roxanne: “To make a comment like that requires some arbitrary assumptions. Fortunately, your arbitrary assumptions are not true. God hasn’t revealed the fullness of what He is doing, but He tells us enough so that we can trust Him. We know that the present situation is just a step in God’s process to finish something glorious and wonderful.” Sandra: “How do you know that?” Roxanne: “I know that because I know Jesus Christ. In fact, whoever is following Christ knows His Voice. You can too.”
  • Logical Fallacy of the Conjunction Effect / Conjunction Fallacy: occurs when a person thinks that a more specific condition is more likely than a more general condition. The conjunction fallacy is similar to the disjunction fallacy except that the conjunction fallacy mistakes a super-set for one more alternative of equal standing while the disjunction fallacy mistakes a subset or member of the more general class for an alternative of equal standing with the class.
  • Disjunction Fallacy: occurs when a subset or member of the more general class is mistaken for an alternative of equal standing with the class. The Disjunction Fallacy is similar to the Conjunction Fallacy, but with the difference that the falsely chosen "alternative" is a subset of or member of, rather than a superset of, the correct choice. That is, the correct choice includes the incorrect choice. The disjunction fallacy mistakes a subset or member of the more general class for an alternative of equal standing with the class while the conjunction fallacy mistakes a superset for one more alternative of equal standing.
  • Logical Fallacy of Argument by Fast Talking / Information Overload: occurs when someone speaks too quickly for the audience to process or keeps asking questions without allowing time to process and answer. This may involve moving from subject to subject with glittering generalities each of which would take hours of research to verify or refute.
  • Logical Fallacy of Proof by Verbosity / Argumentum Verbosium: occurs when a conclusion is supported with an argument too complex and verbose to reasonably deal with in all its intimate details. This fallacy is similar to the fallacy of information overload. Sometimes, verbosity can be a means of intimidation, especially when insider jargon is used to confuse and overwhelm the listener/reader.
  • Logical Fallacy of Argument by Gibberish / Bafflement / Snow Job / Prestigious Jargon: occurs when obscure language is used or normal words are used in an uncommon way without defining the words. The result is that concepts become incomprehensible. Trying to overwhelm with unnecessary facts can be a pressure or deception technique. Some people may be intimidated into accepting whatever they conclude as being true, not wanting to admit that they don't understand the premises. This is the use of ambiguity to persuade. At other times, people get used to using jargon and then apply this specialized language outside of their domain. Sometimes, gibberish is a way to cover when someone doesn't have a clue and is trying to appear knowledgeable. Sometimes gibberish and bafflement is a technique for appeal to self-declared authority.
  • Logical Fallacy of Confusing Contradiction with Contrariety: The fallacy of confusing contradiction with contrariety occurs when something, because of lack of knowledge or understanding, seems to be a contradiction, but, in fact, is not a contradiction. EXAMPLE "If God is good, then how can there be evil in the world?" Following Christ is a life of both extraordinary joy and peace on the one hand and sorrow and persecution on the other. There is no contradiction, even though we sometimes don’t fully understand God’s purposes.
  • Ambiguous Collective / Type-Token Ambiguity: occurs when a collective term ("you,” "we,” “everyone,” "the people") is used without defining exactly who or what is included in the term. EXAMPLE Bill Nye, arguing against Creation Science: “This is what geologists on the outside do, study the rate at which soil is deposited at the end of rivers and deltas, and we can see that it takes a long, long time for sediments to turn to stone.” Who specifically can see this?  Bill can’t be referring to the geologists, since he is not a geologist. Bill seems to be implying that he and the entire audience do this, but they don't. Who does this? This is an especially important question since stone can form very quickly.
  • Conceptual Fallacy: occurs any time that concepts are misused in any way.
  • Anti-Concreteness Mentality Fallacy / Attributing Abstractness to the Concrete / Mistaking an Entity for a Theory / Mistaking Reality for an Assumptions: occurs when facts or entities are treated as perceived concepts, theories, assumptions, or abstractions. A reality is declared to be an assumption, concept, theory, or abstraction by unsupported assertion. EXAMPLE Rocky: “The reason that I believe in Jesus Christ is because I know Him personally. He leads me moment-by-moment.” Sandy: “So you just assume that God exists!! I would worry if I heard voices talking in my head. Ha! Ha! Ha!” Generally, ungodly people need to throw in more than one fallacy, so, Sandy gives us not only Anti-Concreteness Mentality but also unsupported assertion and appeal to ridicule.
  • Butterfly Logic: occurs when thoughts are joined in ways that are serendipity. When there is no foundation for thought, this is one of the problems that can result. Jesus Christ is the foundation, and no other foundation can be laid that that which is laid. Without Jesus, thoughts may jump like a butterfly flies. EXAMPLE “Mutations are the source of new information in the genome that adds complexity and causes one kind of living thing to change into another kind of living thing like bacteria gaining immunity to antibiotic or beetles who lose their wings; then natural selection selects those that are more fit and we have a new species.” Mutations don’t cause new information. “Kind” is being used as “species,” which is a loss of information, but the Biblical “Kind” is closer to the level of “family” of living thing. The two examples given are losses of information. New species do not support molecules-to-man but are the road to extinction since they have lost some of their built-in ability to adapt.
  • Process-Product Ambiguity / act-object ambiguity: occurs when a statement is unclear as to whether it is referring to a process or the product of the process. EXAMPLE The word, "work," could refer to the work someone does or the results of the work someone did.

Last updated: Sep, 2014
How God Will Transform You - FREE Book  

Logical Fallacy of Ambiguity

Logical Fallacy of the Barnum Effect / P. T. Barnum Effect / The Fallacy of Personal Validation / The Forer Effect

Logical Fallacy of Ambiguous Assertion

Logical Fallacy of Innuendo

Sly Suggestion Fallacy

Syntactic Ambiguity Fallacy / Structural Ambiguity / Grammatical Ambiguity / Amphiboly / Semantic Ambiguity / Semantical Ambiguity Fallacy

The Logical Fallacy Lexical Ambiguity


Shingle Speech

Use-Mention Error / UME

Double Entendre

Logical Fallacy of Misuse of Etymology

Logical Fallacy of Garden Path Ambiguity

Squinting Modifier Fallacy

Quantifier Fallacy / Quantifier Shift Fallacy

Illicit Observation Fallacy

Metaphorical Ambiguity Fallacy


Logical Fallacy of Equivocation / Bait and Switch / Amphiboly / Semantic Ambiguity / Type-Token Ambiguity / Vagueness

Redefinition Fallacy

Middle Puzzle Part Fallacy

Idiosyncratic Language Fallacy

Type-Token Ambiguity Fallacy

Fallacy of Modal Logic / Modal Scope Fallacy / Misconditionalization

Modal Fallacy / Modal Scope Fallacy

Scope Fallacy

Ambiguous Middle / Ambiguous Middle Term

Logical Fallacy of Hypnotic Bait and Switch

Definist Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Defining a Word in Terms of Itself

Socratic Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Defining Terms Too Broadly

Logical Fallacy of Defining Terms Too Narrowly

Logical Fallacy of Failure to Elucidate

Logical Fallacy of Persuasive Definition / Appeal to Definition / Appeal to the Dictionary / Definist Fallacy (type of) / Rhetorical Definition

Logical Fallacy of Composition / Exception Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Division / False Division / Ecological Fallacy / Ecological Inference Fallacy

Etymological Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Nominalization, Misnomer, Labeling

Logical Fallacy of Inference from a Label

Pigeonholing Fallacy / Ahistoric Fallacy

Category Mistake / Category Error

Logical Fallacy of the Conjunction Effect / Conjunction Fallacy

Disjunction Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Fast Talking / Information Overload / Bang-Bang-Bang

Logical Fallacy of Proof by Verbosity / Argumentum Verbosium

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Gibberish / Bafflement / Prestigious Jargon

Logical Fallacy of Confusing Contradiction with Contrariety

Logical Fallacy of Ambiguous Collective / Type-Token Ambiguity

Conceptual Fallacy

Anti-Concreteness Mentality Fallacy / Attributing Abstractness to the Concrete / Mistaking an Entity for a Theory / Mistaking Reality for an Assumptions

Butterfly Logic

The Logical Fallacy of Process-Product Ambiguity / Act-Object Ambiguity

Bread Crumbs

Home     >   Meaning     >   Christian Witness     >   Encyclopedia of Logical Fallacies     >   Fallacies of Ambiguity








Toons & Vids



General Fallacies

Fallacies of Presumptions, Bare Assertions, and Lies (using no evidence at all)

Fallacies of Flawed Evidence

Fallacies of Limiting Presuppositions

Statistical Fallacies

Fallacies of Contradiction

Fallacies of Comparison

Fallacies of Choice

Fallacies of Cause

Fallacies of Circular Reasoning

Fallacies of Non Sequitur

Fallacies of Invalid Form

Fallacies of Ambiguity

Relevance Fallacies of Authority

Relevance Fallacies of Emotion

Relevance Fallacies of the Source: Person, Organization, Book, etc.

Relevance Fallacies of Pressure

Relevance Fallacies of Distraction/Misdirection

Fallacies of Omission

Tactics and Mind Games

Faulty Conclusions that Affect Future Reasoning

Answer to Critic



Answer to Critic

Appeal to Possibility

Circular Reasoning

Argument to the Future

Insignificant Cause

Word Magic

Love Between a Man and Woman


Colossians 2

Righteousness & Holiness

Don't Compromise


Proof by Atheism

Scriptures About Marriage

Genuine Authority

The Reason for Rejecting Truth

Witness on the Internet

Flaky Human Reasoning

How Do You Know?


The Real Purpose of the Church

The Real Purpose of Life

From Glory to Glory

REAL Faith--What it IS & IS NOT

REAL Love--What it IS & IS NOT

How to be Led by God

How to Witness

Wisdom: Righteousness & Reality

Holiness & Mind/Soul

Redemption: Free From Sin

Real Reality

Stories Versus Revelation

Understanding Logic

Logical Fallacies

Circular Reasoning-Who is Guilty?

How Can We Know Anything?

God's Word

God's Process

God's Pattern

Mind Designed to Relate to God

Answers for the Confused

Fossil Record Says: "Creation"

Avoid These Pitfalls

Public School's Religion

Twisting Science


Public School Failures

Twisting History

How can we know anything about anything? That's the real question

more info: mouseover or click

The complexity of Gods Way understood in a single diagram
Obey your flesh and descend into darkness