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. To summarize, the one using it thinks that their claim proves itself. If A, B, or C has 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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- 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.
- 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.
- Bill and Ted wish fervently for their band The Wyld Stallyns to become famous. However, they disagree on how they should make this happen:
Bill: The truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar.Ted: Yes, Bill. But, I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video.Bill: Ted, it's pointless to have a triumphant video before we even have decent instruments.Ted: Well, how can we have decent instruments when we don't really even know how to play?Bill: That is why we need Eddie Van Halen!Ted: And that is why we need a triumphant video.Bill and Ted: EXCELLENT! (air guitar solo)
- Erik the Viking: "Well, if the only reason for the expeditions is the looting and pillaging, and the only reason for the looting and pillaging is to pay for the next expedition, then that's a circular argument, isn't it? They cancel each other out."
- 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 because we're here."note
- 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.
- In the Porridge episode "Rough Justice", Judge Stephen Rawley, convicted of corruption, gets out on appeal. Fletcher notes that Mackay is now calling him Mister Rawley (he only refers to prisoners by their surname).
Mackay: Certainly. If the appeal court judges say his nose is clean, that's good enough for me. They are men of the highest integrity in the land.
Fletcher: What're you talking about? He's one of them!
Mackay: Precisely. And he's innocent, which proves my point.
- 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.
- Employed by the train robots in Broken Age. They need the "Young Hero" to save the runaway train. Because the Young Hero is the only one that can save them, the train doesn't start until the he arrives. The robots are thus completely horrified by Young Hero's disappearance, because then no one will save them. The issue is a little justified: they were built to entertain a kid eager for something exciting.
Vella: If the train isn't a runaway until your hero arrives, and your hero is missing, then what's the problem?Train Conductor: If the Young Hero never arrives, then we have no purpose.Robot #1: Why do we exist?!Robot #2: Do we even exist?!Train Conductor: You see? Its unsafe from a philosophical point of view.
- 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.
Crystal: HEY! Our thieves are only allowed to steal from people our thieves are allowed to steal from!
- Another instance, when Grubwiggler accuses the Thieves' Guild of robbing him even though he pays them protection:
Bozzok: My colleague's circular logic notwithstanding, she is correct.
- In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: Wonderella and Dr. Shark use this when confronting an high school 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".
- Rose and Kanaya in Homestuck:
ROXY: so you are roses girlfriend right?
KANAYA: I Dont Know
KANAYA: Is That What Humans Call A Matesprit When The Matesprit Is A Girl
ROXY: i dunno
ROXY: is a matesprit the thing trolls call each other when they are girlfriends or boyfriends with each other?
ROXY: ah ha!
ROXY: then uh
ROXY: the answer is yes?
- 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 on the game, remember?".
- 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."
- 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.
- And that's all we have to say about that.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- Used by certain Men's Rights activists in an attempt to discredit feminism: feminists are dumb because sexism and misogyny aren't real, sexism and misogyny aren't real because there's no evidence supporting their existence, the ridiculous amount of evidence proving that misogyny and sexism still exist is clearly falsified because the reports come to the conclusion that misogyny is real which it isn't, because there no evidence supporting...