This image is true because it agrees with this image
Begging The Question
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
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
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- 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 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.
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 Wings (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:
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.
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."
- 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.
- 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".
- The British used a similar line of reasoning against employing homosexuals in the Secret Service (when it was illegal); it went like this:
Homosexuals cannot be employed in the Secret Service because they are a security risk.
Therefore, any homosexual employed by the Secret Service would lose his job if he were found out.
Therefore, any homosexual employed by the Secret Service would do anything to avoid being found out.
Therefore, homosexual employees of the Secret Service are more open to blackmail than non-homosexual employees.
Therefore, homosexuals present a security risk and should not be employed in the Secret Service.
- If homosexuality was illegal at the time, how is this circular reasoning? Given that anyone exposed as homosexual would fear prison, they would in fact be open to blackmail.
- Oddly enough, it was also thought to be a reason why they would make good agents; hiding one's activities, meeting covertly and maintaining a respectable front to avoid suspicion are the kind of skills the Service found useful.
- This reasoning destroyed Alan Turing's life when his homosexuality came out. Despite having helped crack the Enigma code in World War 2 and saving thousands of lives, along with doing brilliant work in computing, mathematics, robotics, etc. his security clearance was canceled. Given the Sadistic Choice of undergoing chemical castration or serve time in prison for his "gross indecency", Turing became depressed and killed himself. In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally issued an official apology.
- A version of this is used as a rhetorical device by legal scholars. Ask them why they criminalize something, most will answer "because it's criminal." This is not actually an example of this trope, because "criminal" has multiple meanings.
- According to Isaac Asimov, this was used in the Middle Ages as an excuse not to educate women; all intelligent people know Latin, but women don't know Latin so they must be stupid, which means that there's no point in teaching them Latin (or anything else). This is also the fallacy of confusing knowledge with intelligence, which also underpins large parts of so-called "intelligence tests".
- Even if this was true, it'd be a really weird thing to believe then suddenly finding out women in medieval Paris could vote on local affairs.
- A monarchy is a nation ruled by a monarch; a monarch 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 have an Empire already only when the Court protocol changed".
- Fix point in mathematics (and (co-)induction). Those are circular reasoning done in careful enough way that they 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?
- In the late 20th century, the then (Tory) government of the UK refused to legalise cannabis on the grounds that "it leads to hard drugs". This is the same "logic" as used in the The Non-Adventures of Wonderella in Web Comics above; all evidence is that cannabis leads to hard drugs solely and precisely because it's illegal. If the only way to vote Tory was to visit your local pusher, voting Tory would lead to hard drugs.
- 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 Circular Reasoning("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!").
- 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.
- 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."