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Circular Reasoning
This image is true because it agrees with this image.

So you're denouncing the series for promoting stereotypes, by drawing upon said stereotype as evidence of your argument. That is the verbal equivalent of an Escher drawing.
- About 6 minutes into this MLP:FIM retrospective from Chad Rocco. note 

Begging The Question used recursively. A is true because B is true. B is true because C is true. C is true because A is true. The proof simply circles around and around, with nothing in it that it isn't being proved by itself. This is a logical fallacy, because it disallows the possibility that all three are false and, like Begging The Question, presupposes the truth of the thing it's supposed to be providing an argument to prove the truth of.

If A, B, and C all have independent proofs that are "outside the loop," it is no longer circular reasoning.

The simplest form of this is a tautology; see also Shaped Like Itself.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Fan Fic 
  • Directly invoked by the narrator in Equestria: A History Revealed, in which she states that if Celestia was willing to lie about the Hearth's Warming Eve Paegent first, then she would be willing to lie about the Hearts and Hooves Day legend too, as she would have experience in lying.
    But if she lied about the Hearts and Hooves Day legend first, then she would clearly also lie about the Hearth's Warming Eve Paegent, as it held much greater significance.
    • The whole exchange is directly lampshaded when she states that with this, she had reached a new shape of thought, one without a point, so she states she should make a 360 turn back to the original point of the paragraph.

    Film 
  • Invoked in Idiocracy by the Presidential Cabinet members when Joe fruitlessly tries to explain to them why they should stop watering crops with Brawndo (a sports drink):
    Attorney General: Brawndo's got what plants crave.
    Secretary of Energy: Yeah, it's got electrolytes.
    Joe: What are electrolytes? Do you even know?
    Secretary of State: It's what they use to make Brawndo.
    Joe: Yeah, but why do they use them to make Brawndo?
    Secretary of Defense: 'Cause Brawndo's got electrolytes.
  • The "gay employees are security risks" (seen under Real Life) was used in Clue as the reason for Mr. Green's blackmail material.

    Literature 
  • The Catch-22 of the novel of the same name is Circular Reasoning. The dialogue that explains it:
    Yossarian: Is Orr crazy?
    Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: Of course he is. He has to be crazy to keep flying after all the close calls he's had.
    Yossarian: Why can't you ground him?
    Doc Daneeka: I can, but first he has to ask me.
    Yossarian: That's all he's gotta do to be grounded?
    Doc Daneeka: That's all.
    Yossarian: Then you can ground him?
    Doc Daneeka: No. Then I cannot ground him.
    Yossarian: Aah!
    Doc Daneeka: There's a CATCH!
    Yossarian: A catch?
    Doc Daneeka: Sure. Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn't really crazy, so I can't ground him.
    Yossarian: Okay, let me see if I've got this straight. In order to be grounded, I've got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I'm not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying.
    Doc Daneeka: You got it, that's Catch-22.
  • The Little Prince encounters a tippler on his way to Earth. When asked why he drinks, the tippler explains that he wants to forget. When asked what he wants to forget, he says that he wants to forget that he is ashamed. When asked about that, he explains that he is ashamed of drinking.
  • In Nomes Trilogy (about a certain almost insignificant subset of living things of Florida):
    But they're the ones who matter. At least, in their opinion. And their opinion is the one that matters. In their opinion.
  • Rudyard Kipling nodded at it in a darkly humorous way in "The Sleepy Sentinel" (Epitaphs of the War):
    I sleep because I am slain. They slew me because I slept.
  • In Making Money, this is why The Department of Post Mortem Communications can't be called necromancy:
    Moist: So what you are saying is that necromancy is a very bad form of magic performed only by evil wizards, and since you are not evil wizards, what you are doing cannot possibly be called necromancy?
    Dr. Hicks: Yes.
    Moist: And what defines an evil wizard?
    Dr. Hicks: Well, for a start, doing necromancy.
    Moist: And because you're not evil wizards, what you're doing can't be called necromancy.
    Dr. Hicks: Exactly!
  • In Starfighters of Adumar, Wedge points out the use of this trope as he takes apart the concept of a Proud Warrior Race Guy:
    Wedge: Circular thinking. I'm honorable because I kill the enemy, and I kill the enemy for the honor. There's nothing there, Cheriss.
  • The "Gay people cannot have Government jobs, because they're a security risk, because they could be blackmailed, because gay people cannot have Government jobs" policy listed under Real Life is described by Roy Tappen in The Leaky Establishment by David Langford. In a reducto ad absurdum analogy, Tappen points out that if the security men start with "we find this behaviour suspicious", you can apply the same logic to anything. Drinking vodka, for example.
  • The same policy is played with in The Laundry Series, where the Laundry bosses are more logical. Pinky and Brain are required to attend Pride every year, thereby proving that their sexuality is not a secret that could be held over them.

    Live Action TV 
  • A sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look had a group of government agents justify covering up the Roswell incident in this way. They could release all the information now in order to gather support and build defences against a possible invasion, but people will be angry with the government when they learn that aliens exist, especially if there is an invasion and it turns out that the government knew about them for decades but did nothing to help gather support and build defences.
  • In The Twilight Zone episode, "Five Characters in Search of an Exit," when the major pounds on the wall, the clown sings, "We're here because we're here because we're here."
  • Monroe's dad in Grimm when he learns his son's marrying a Fuchsbau. This starts a huge argument, during which Bart starts ranting that mixed marriages destroy families: "It's happening already!" In other words, he disapproves of Monroe marrying Rosalee, because they're having an argument, because he disapproves of Monroe marrying Rosalee.

    Video Games 
  • In Fallout 3 it's possible to take down President Eden by convincing it that it is using circular reasoning when it declares that it is infallible because it was programmed to be. This initiates a Logic Bomb that allows the player to convince Eden to self-destruct.

    Web Animation 
  • On the Zero Punctuation review of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Yahtzee asked another player why he raids. The raider's reason is that it gets stuff. Why does he want stuff? To raid with.

    Web Comics 
  • On Order of the Stick: Though she ultimately turns out to be right, Elan points out that Haley is using circular logic against Tarquin: She won't tell him that lives are at stake concerning the information she wants because she doesn't trust him, and she doesn't trust him because he's withholding information when lives are at stake. Haley is not pleased at having been out-logicked by The Ditz.
  • In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: Wonderella and Dr. Shark use this when confronting an highscool student about the dangers of marijuana:
    Wonderella: Marijuana is illegal, young man.
    Student: But, why?
    Wonderella: Because it leads to harder drugs [...]
    Student: Who says I have to try harder drugs?
    Wonderella: Your dealer. [...]
    Student: But why do I need to go to a dealer?
    Dr. Shark: Because, young man, Marijuana is illegal.
  • When Trawn of Electric Wonderland takes a shortcut to her Home Base through 4chan's domain, she learns from passers-by that everyone there keeps repeating certain Catch Phrases because they're humorous, those Catch Phrases are humorous because everyone there keeps repeating them, and everyone there keeps repeating them because they're humorous.
    Trawn: Ugh, the logic here drives me crazy on normal days!
  • Used as an insult in Girl Genius here.
  • Knowingly used in Basic Instructions.
    Scott: "They were better, because they were superior." That's a good point, on account of its quality.
  • In the xkcd "Every Major's Terrible" song, a theology major can be seen writing a proof that goes "X, therefore there exists X".

    Web Original 
  • In Noob there seems to be little of this going on in Master Zen's situation and it comes up when Omega Zell gives him advice along the lines of "How about you stop harassing us and get yourself a hobby other than the MMORPG we're all playing?". Master Zen's reply can be paraphrased as "I can't keep myself busy with anything else than the MMORPG because I can't leave my hiding place. I escaped jail to be able to harass you guys one the game, remember?".

    Western Animation 
  • During one Beavis and Butt-Head music video segment, Beavis asks why a certain person in the video is on TV. Butt-head says he's on TV because he's famous. What's he famous for? He's famous for being on TV. This goes back and forth for awhile, with Butt-Head getting increasingly irritated that Beavis doesn't get it.
  • In the Jimmy Neutron TV movie, "The League of Villains", during a Kangaroo Court, T is upset that he has to be the court's bailiff instead of being on the jury with the rest of the villains. When he asks why he can't be on the jury, the villains tell him that they already voted on it. He asks why he didn't get to vote, to which the response is, "Because you're not on the jury."

    Real Life 
  • A monarchy is a nation ruled by a monarch; a monarch is someone who rules a monarchy. What with Hereditary Republics, Elective Monarchies, and Presidents-For-Life, that's about the clearest definitions there are, and political scientists often admit that sometimes the only difference between a monarchy and a republic are the titles involved. Practically, it's the same: as someone wrote, "Romans noticed they had an Empire already only when the Court protocol changed".
  • Fix point in mathematics (and (co-)induction). Circular reasoning done carefully enough to work.
  • This article exposes a logic bomb with the Scouts
    The Boy Scouts, as by now you know, has decided to allow in gay scouts while keeping two prohibitions. The first is that which prevents gay scout leaders. The second, which has gone mostly without notice, is the prohibition on sexual activity by scouts. This has put many Christians in a position they never asked to be in, in a fight they never asked for if being gay is not a sin, but homosexual practice is a sin, how then are they to exclude gay scouts who cannot practice homosexuality?
  • Try discussing with The Fundamentalist about the existence of God, as well as His, and by proxy his follower's rights to decree what's right or wrong and how people should live their lives. Constantly they'll begin answering with increasingly Tautological Templar, Knight Templar and Holier Than Thou reasoning, which are very much examples ("God is Right because he's God, and God is always right, so therefore all I do, as long as I'm doing it for Him, is also right!").
    • The circular reasoning here isn't actually that the fundamentalist is right because God is right, but rather that God is right because he's God. The "I'm right because I do things in His name" is a logical fallacy.
    • In the same vein, much of the "proof" that any given religion's holy book is true- and a traditional, time-honored defense of them- is because it says so.
  • Before it gained more acceptance, being gay and holding any sort of government-related position was (and still can be, depending on the government) a fireable offense, due to the belief that gay people would be inherent security risks. Of course, the reason they were guaranteed security risks were because of this policy - blackmailer finds out employee is gay, employee has to capitulate to the blackmail or else lose their job.

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Chewbacca DefenseLogical FallaciesConfirmation Bias

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