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Association Fallacy
"'All wood burns,' states Sir Bedevere. 'Therefore,' he concludes, 'all that burns is wood.' This is, of course, pure bullshit. Universal affirmatives can only be partially converted: all of Alma Cogan is dead, but only some of the class of dead people are Alma Cogan."
— "A Lesson in Logic", Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

Claiming a quality of one thing is also a quality of another thing because they have some other thing in common, e.g. "Water is a liquid. Water will put out most fires. Therefore, any liquid will put out most fires." And then you pour on the olive oil. Or the high-proof vodka. Or the gasoline...

Guilt by Association:

Also called:

Guilt By Association assumes that two separate things share a negative factor because they share a different, unrelated factor. (See also Stop Being Stereotypical, Don't Shoot the Message)

Examples:

  • Equating complex calendars with human sacrifice because the ancient Aztecs had a complex calendar, and also practiced human sacrifice.
  • Commonly used in arguments about religion:
    Pat Robertson said crazy things about Haitian voodoo practices causing the earthquake.
    Pat Robertson is a Christian.
    Therefore Christians are crazy.
    or
    Stalin was evil.
    Stalin was an atheist.
    Therefore atheists are evil.
    • This is also often done with Hitler; adding insult to injury, Hitler also often gets used for the reverse. Also see Hitler Ate Sugar.
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they use this to prove a woman is a witch.
    They burn wood.
    Therefore witches must be made of wood.
    Wood floats.
    Ducks float.
    Therefore anything that weighs the same as a duck must be made of wood.
    She weighs the same as a duck.
    Therefore, she must also be made of wood, and therefore, a witch.
  • You get compared to Your Obnoxious/Loser Relative, with the implication that because they aren't model citizens, whatever it is you're doing or thinking is wrong and must be stopped immediately:
    You give a detailed and well-researched argument on a subject.
    Your mother/cousin/sibling/whatever turns up his/her nose and declares, "You're acting just like (insert "know-it-all" relative here)!"
    OR You're doing something a family member doesn't approve of, which Your Loser Relative also happened/happens to do.
    Your family member declares: "You're acting just like Your Loser Relative!"
  • Saturday Night Live's spoof of John McCain's political ads:
    "Barack Obama plays basketball. Charles Barkley plays basketball. Is Charles Barkley qualified to lead our economy?"
  • Australia has proposed banning porn that stars small-breasted women because since children have no breasts and pedophiles like children, anyone who likes small-breasted women must be a pedophile. Thankfully nothing seems to have come of it.
  • Some teetotaller sects of Christianity maintain that Jesus never drank wine, based on logic which is sort of an inverse of this fallacy; an anti-association fallacy if you will:
    Alcohol is Bad (reasons vary as to why it's bad. Don't get into it, just accept that it's a premise of the argument)
    Jesus is Good
    Because Jesus is Good, Jesus only does and associates with Good things (again, there are flaws in the logic best left alone)
    Ergo, because alcohol is Bad, Jesus never partook of it.
    • In order to make this work, any time wine is referenced in a positive context (for example, Jesus' first miracle), the word is instead rendered as "unfermented grape juice" when translated into English. Never mind that "unfermented grape juice" was essentially an impossibility until the late 19th century (by the time you, a Russian landholder, gathered enough grapes to produce "unfermented" grape juice, enough of the grapes had started fermenting anyway that choosing not to ferment them was economic suicide.)
  • It has been suggested that, in the late 1960s and early '70s, some right-wing white Americans felt a particular resentment toward the Civil Rights Movement because it emerged at roughly the same time as the sexual revolution and the drug culture, and therefore the two were sometimes linked. The already widespread perception that young people in the '60s professed a great love for black music and that black music itself was inherently sexualized and contained occasional drug references (that Africans Are Kinky, if you will) certainly didn't help. The result that was that quite a few of these people saw the hippies as basically "niggers" with white skin (an insult that many hippies were all too happy to appropriate). The association persists in the present day, particularly since Barack Obama was elected President disproportionately by minorities, and his administration appears to have ushered in much more tolerance for such practices as homosexuality and birth control.
  • Professional wrestling example: Sting apparently turned heel early in 2010 when he attacked Hulk Hogan with his black baseball bat. Not long afterward, he attacked Rob Van Dam in a similar fashion. Sting was a Designated Villain until October of that year, when it became clear to everyone that all along Hogan had been plotting a conspiracy to take over TNA, in much the same way he had with WCW 14 years earlier; Van Dam, however, did not join Hogan's conspiracy. When Van Dam confronted Sting about the unfairness of this, Sting admitted he'd been wrong, but also defended himself by pointing out that Hogan and RVD had entered TNA at about the same time, and it was natural to assume (in Sting's mind, anyway) that they were working together.
  • In Metalocalypse, Nathan Explosion delivers one in order to convince the other members of the band to drink bleach.
    Nathan: Bleach is healthy. It's mostly water, and we're mostly water, therefore, we are bleach.
  • If one shows up at an event that featured pornography, they will be treated as if they did pornographic activities, even if they were not involved in any pornographic segments or if it was a video with pornographic segments added afterwards without the knowledge of the those involved, such as happened to some wrestlers who worked for Rob Black's XPW.

Reductio ad Hitlerum

A very common form of Guilt by Association is "Hitler did it, therefore it's bad." While persuasive, it's not always true, since while Hitler did a lot of evil things, he also was a massive advocate of animal rights (well, definitely more so than Jewish, gay, or Gypsy rights...), built motorways, painted pictures, hosted the Olympics, ate sugar, and breathed oxygen. This is related to the Fallacy of Division, since it assumes the evilness of the whole of Hitler also applies to any part of Hitler. Related to Godwin's Law and Hitler Ate Sugar.

Examples:

  • An anti-abortion Chick Tract claims abortion is wrong because Hitler killed Jewish babies, and therefore doctors who carry out abortions are as bad as Hitler.
    • To put it more accurately, Hitler believed both in killing Jewish babies and in not killing Aryan babies - so neither side has a leg to stand on here.
  • There's an interesting inversion of this making the rounds on the internet. Whenever some distressing news is revealed to the world, someone will inevitably use the clip from Downfall where Hitler has a Villainous Breakdown upon learning that Berlin will be overrun. The person making the video will often put their words into Hitler's mouth. This is usually a case of Even Evil Has Standards, with the intended message being "Even Hitler thinks that's going too far".
    "Y'know, Hitler was a vegetarian."
    "Vegetarianism then: not all it's cracked up to be. In some extreme cases may cause genocide." \\ — Bill Bailey
  • One of the posters on Conservapedia apparently does not like either mainline Protestants or people who play video games, and was quick to note that James Holmes (the "Joker" killer in Aurora, Colorado) was both Presbyterian and a video game fanatic. The obvious inference is that there is something intrinsic in both Presbyterianism and video games that can cause people associated with them to become mass murderers. By that logic, one might as well say that, because most serial killers are men, all men must be serial killers.
  • Used and played with in one book of The Dresden Files when a minor villain tries to justify killing a single mother.
    Harry: For god's sake, Trixie, she's got kids.
    Trixie Vixen: So did Hitler.
    Harry: No, he had dogs.

Looks like this fallacy but is not:

  • When an example is used to establish a fact about a group in the aggregate, rather than about members of that group. For instance, noting instances of gay men who are HIV positive and concluding that gay men have higher rates of HIV is not a fallacy (assuming valid statistical techniques are used). Concluding that a particular gay man is HIV positive is a fallacy.
  • When a member of a group is presented as an example of a common feature at work, rather than proof in itself that there is a common feature. For instance, it is valid to use the 9/11 attacks and abortion-clinic bombings as examples of how radical Muslims and Christians can be evil. They are not, on the other hand, examples of how all Muslims and Christians are evil. Capiche?
  • Discussions were the subject manner can be seriously compared to Hitler (or slavery, ect.) For instance, comparing the forced labor camps, purges, ect. under Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia without making the leap that those things are bad BECAUSE Hitler/Stalin did them.

Honor by Association:

The flip side of Guilt by Association, stating that two things share a positive quality because they share a different, unrelated quality.

Examples:

  • One Usenet poster who claims "we should all become vegetarian" claims in his sign that "Jesus was a vegetarian". His reasoning: vegetarianism is good; Jesus was good; therefore Jesus must have been a vegetarian. Which assumes that vegetarianism is "Good" by all standards and values of those who hold that Jesus Christ was good and that Jesus is believed to be "Good" by everyone.
    • Other people use a somewhat more complicated, but just as fallacious version of this argument: Because Jesus's teachings and behaviors were most in line with the Essene sect, Jesus must have been an Essene, and because the Essenes were mostly vegetarian (pescatarian, actually, but they leave out that part), Jesus must have been vegetarian and because Jesus is good, the vegetarianism is good and would therefore hate killing animals as much as they do. (Never mind that the Essenes weren't vegetarian out of compassion for animals, but rather because they believed anything created from sexual union was treif, but that fish spawned via abiogenesis in the waters and were therefore kosher. Of course that part gets left out, too.)
    • Most first-century Jews were pescatarian anyway, if only because fish was a much more reliable source of food in their part of the world.
  • Game of Thrones This exchange from "What Is Dead May Never Die". It's not precisely Honor by Association, but it certainly isn't guilt, either:
    Hot Pie: I've seen lots of battles! I saw...
    Arya: Liar.
    Hot Pie: I saw a man killing another at a tavern in Flea's Bottom. Stabbed right in the neck.
    Lommy: Two men fighting is no battle.
    Hot Pie: They got armour on.
    Arya: So?
    Hot Pie: So if they got armour on, it's a battle.
    Lommy: No, it isn't.
    Arya: Gendry's an armourer's apprentice. Hot Pie, tell Gendry what makes a fight into a battle.
    Hot Pie: It's, uh, when they've got armour on.
    Gendry: And who told you that?
    Hot Pie: A knight.
    Gendry: How'd you know he was a knight?
    Hot Pie: Wells, cause he's got a-armour on.
    Gendry: You don't have to be a knight to have armour. Any idiot can buy armour!
    Hot Pie: How'd you know?

Looks like this fallacy but is not:

  • When the example is being used to show that there is overlap in the members of two groups, but not to state or imply that the overlap is total. For instance, saying "many (or even most) vegetarians are good, moral people" is not this. On the other hand, saying it might be misleading: One hopes that most people are good, moral people.
    • Specifically—refuting the idea that an overlap between two groups is total, looks like an Association Fallacy, but isn't. The "Hitler was a vegetarian" sort of argument is most often this; not arguing that all vegetarians are genocidal dictators, but refuting the idea that vegetarians are all by definition good people. As the below example demonstrates:
    • Otacon states matter of factly that liking dogs is irrefutable proof that a person is decent, deep down. Snake immediately points out that Hitler was a big fan of dogs. Interesting in that while it applies under this variant, the exchange is often mistaken for an example of the Argumentum Ad Hitlerium fallacy. But Snake isn't saying liking dogs is bad; he's just shooting down Otacon's fallacy by pointing out a bad person who liked dogs.
Argumentum Ad LapidemLogical FallaciesHitler Ate Sugar
Argumentum Ad LapidemLogic TropesHitler Ate Sugar

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