Friday, September 17, 2010

Mistaking the Person (Group) for the Claim

This fallacy basically states that a person's argument is more than likely to be assumed as false or a lie. Although the argument may be true or valid, that person's claim is mistakenly thought of as an invalid argument. This may be caused by that person having a low credibility when it comes to similar types of claims he or she has made previously, such as a person who has lied about something in the past or someone who was wrong about an argument they made.

My example of this fallacy occurred while I was in high school. One of the girls at my school hit her head somehow and supposedly got amnesia. It turns out that she didn't really have it, but acted as if she did for some odd reason, probably to gain attention from everyone. She later admitted to not having amnesia and said that nothing like that would happen again. But, whenever she says there is something wrong with her, like and illness or an injury for example, people automatically assume she's faking it again even when she really is sick or hurt. Even though she may really be under the weather or in pain, some assume that she is lying about her ailments again.


  1. Hello! (:

    That's a great example you have for mistaking the person (group) for the claim. It was clear and understandable as to why it was a fallacy. How in your example the girl was faking an injury to gain attention from everyone even though she didn't have that illness. Her argument was a lie or it was false. It kind of reminds me of the story of the boy who cried wolf. It was similar to your example, the boy cried wolf and every mistakingly thought the claim was true but in reality it was a lie. And later the villagers didn't believe him after that and sadly, I believe he suffered dire consequences when a wolf really came. In everyday life to use such fallacies is easy because people tend to assume things as true rather than a lie even if it has plausible statements and facts.

  2. You wrote a very nice summary. I feel like this happens a lot in real life. You lose a lot of credibility by making things up or lying. I have a similar experience with this girl I went to elementary school with. She always said she was hurt or something so she never participated in physical education. But after physical education was over, she would magically be okay to play at recess. After a while, everyone stopped believing her. I think it is important to establish credibility not only when you are trying to prove a point, but with people in general.

  3. I enjoyed your summary and example. Your summary gave a clearer explanation than the one liner the book gave. Once people tells a big enough lie, they lose the credibility in any of their arguments. The focus of their arguments begin to turn into the person's credibility instead of the credibility of the premises. Your example was the basic, "Boy who cries wolf" story. The girl told a serious lie and it threw everyone off, but when she admitted that it was a lie everyone didn't believe in anything she said anymore. Sometimes I think my dad loses some credibility in me because when I was younger I had told a few lies.

  4. It sounds to me like if someone gives you a reason not to believe them the first time, other people are most likely not to believe them the second and third time around. Your example was very clear which gave me a better understanding of what "mistaking the person (group) for the claim." The girl in your example showed the cause and effect when a false premise is given. It seems that when someone mistakes another person for what has happened in the past, it affects how are viewed in the future. When this occurs, fallacy is made as well as bad arguments.