James Roger Brown





Many mental health experts are, we have found, subject to the same beliefs and behavioral traits as the naive or addicted gambler.  They maintain the strong though unwarranted conviction that by virtue of their special training, experience, or gifted intuition, or through reliance on an inchoate method of weighing or interpreting clinically derived information, they can beat the odds imposed by nature.  The hubris of the expert in this area is not subject to the humbling reality of the gambler losing, over the long run, at games of chance.  When an expert's opinion becomes dispositive of what he or she is postdicting (the absence of objective criteria or correctness being the rich soil in which his or her claims to expertise grow), a self-aggrandizing confidence in his or her inherent abilities ensues.  We note that certain experts pride themselves on their "ability" (which might be more accurately termed "readiness," "willingness" or "eagerness") to find abuse where others fail to see the signs. (Horner and Guyer, p. 228)1


“There can be little doubt that the power and scope of expertise have been aggrandized beyond the actual capabilities of experts to predict effectively or even better than chance levels.” (Horner and Guyer, p. 248)1


            An essential fact about psychology is that there are two critical divisions, experimental psychology and therapy.  Experimental psychologists work in the laboratory conducting experiments to understand how the human central nervous system works.  Their general goal is to understand the physiological processes behind neurological disorders.  Their work is responsible for the advances in understanding drug addiction, Parkinson’s Disease and other real physiological disorders.

            Therapy is the domain of organized criminal activity in “mental health.”  Over the years since the foundation of “therapy,” increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for committing intellectual fraud have been constructed.

            To understand how criminal fraud is committed by psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, we need to examine how intellectual fraud is successfully committed.  This will require a crash course in the use of logical fallacies.  This will be less painful than one might think.  You may discover you have been the unwitting perpetrator, as well as victim, of logical fallacies all your life, you just did not have a name for what was happening.


The mechanics of intellectual fraud

            The Table of Fallacies below is structured to demonstrate how two broad classifications of fallacies interact to create specific types of logical fallacies used by psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and child abuse investigators (as well as prosecutors) to commit intellectual fraud.













1. Sweeping Generalization





2. Hasty Generalization





3. Bifurcation









1. Begging the Question





2. Question-Begging Epithets





3. Complex Question





4. Special Pleading









1. False Analogy





2. False Cause





3. Irrelevant Thesis





Expanding the table

            A fallacy is a defective or flawed argument.  Fallacies occur for one of two reasons, either the individual does not know how to properly construct a logical argument or the intent is to deceive or manipulate.  Fallacies are very powerful tools when intentionally used for deceit or manipulation.


I. Fallacies of Relevance are arguments in which the propositions, despite appearances, do not justify the conclusions drawn in the argument.  Fallacies of Relevance introduce irrelevant information that tends to confuse.  The common element in these fallacies is that the irrelevance introduced is an attempt to obscure the real issues by evoking emotions.  Fallacies of Relevance are effective because evoking emotions creates short term changes in the way the central nervous system processes information.  Strong emotional states make it more difficult to think clearly.  A state of fear, for example, releases Adrenaline into the blood stream, which, among other changes, drastically narrows the focus of attention.  When manipulated into an emotional state, arguments that would be immediately recognized as outrageous under other circumstances may seem quite reasonable at the time.

A. Appeal to Authority is an argument that attempts to coerce or emotionally blackmail an opponent into accepting a conclusion by playing on their reluctance to challenge famous people, time-honored customs, or widely held beliefs.  This fallacy is used to play on our feelings of modesty, insecurity, and to our sense that others might be more knowledgeable.

EXAMPLE:  Raising my daughter to hate men is the right thing to do because the editor of Ms magazine, Robin Morgan, said hating men was honorable and the right of all women.  ("I feel that 'man-hating' is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them." -- Robin Morgan, editor of Ms. magazine <>) 


B. Appeal to Ignorance is an argument that uses an opponent's inability to disprove a conclusion as proof that the conclusion is correct.  By shifting the burden of proof outside the argument onto the person hearing the argument, such an argument becomes irrelevant.  The inability to disprove a conclusion cannot by itself be regarded as proof that the conclusion is true.

EXAMPLE:  Mary and John stand accused of abusing their children.  Their parental rights should be terminated because they can not prove they did not abuse their children.


C. Appeal to Emotion: Human beings have a wide range of emotions that can be exploited by the unscrupulous.  Among some professions, the ability to evoke and exploit emotions is viewed as a valuable skill.  Those unable to identify when they are being emotionally exploited are at a disadvantage when making important decisions.

            Appeal to Fear is an argument that uses the threat of harm to advance one's conclusion.  It is an argument that people rely on when they are not interested in advancing relevant reasons for their positions.

            Appeal to Emotion is an argument that seldom alleviates a dispute.  In relations between large groups or nations, Appeal to Emotion frequently means a resort to arms to decide the issue.

EXAMPLE:  If all school children who talk about guns are not immediately expelled and placed in residential mental health facilities for treatment, then more children will be murdered in our schools.


II. Fallacies of Presumption are arguments that are unsound because of unfounded or unproven assumptions embedded in them.  By smuggling presumptions in under the guise of a valid argument, these fallacies give the false impression of being the valid argument they imitate.  However, no conclusions can be more reliable than the assumptions on which they are based.  The conclusions in such arguments cannot be trusted.  In fallacies of presumption, facts relevant to the argument have not been represented correctly in the premises.  This inappropriate treatment of facts can take three forms: (1) one may overlook significant facts entirely, (2) one may evade them, or (3) one may distort the facts.

A. Overlooking the Facts: In this group of presumptive fallacies, the error committed is one of neglecting important facts relevant to the argument.

1. Sweeping Generalization: The error lies in assuming that what is true under certain conditions must be true under all conditions.  It is committed when a general rule is applied to a specific case to which the rule is not applicable because of special features of the case.

EXAMPLES:  (1) Because all parents are child abusers, John and Mary are abusing their children.

(2) Everybody has psychological problems and would benefit from therapy.

Both examples incorporate unproven assumptions that all people have certain characteristics in common: (1) all persons who become parents become child abusers ; and (2) all person suffer from mental illness.  Unproven assumptions are beliefs whose truth or falsity is not determined by the number of people who hold those beliefs.


2. Hasty Generalization: The error lies in assuming that the evidence on which the argument is based is sufficient to warrant its conclusion, when in fact such evidence is either unrepresentative or insufficient.  It is precisely the reverse of the sweeping generalization.  In hasty generalization, an isolated or exceptional case is used as the basis for a general conclusion that is unwarranted.

EXAMPLE:  I read that two Christian fundamentalist parents were convicted of abusing their children, that proves that the children of all Christian fundamentalists should be removed and placed in protective State custody.


3. Bifurcation: the error lies in falsely assuming that the alternatives presented in the argument are the only alternatives available, when other alternatives do exist.  It is an argument which presumes that a distinction or classification is exclusive or exhaustive, when other alternatives exist.  Bifurcation is bound up with confusion over the words "either/or."  This fallacy presents contraries as if they were contradictories.  Two statements are said to be "contraries" when it is impossible for both to be true but possible for both to be false.  Two statements are said to be "contradictories" when it is impossible for both to be true and also impossible for both to be false.  The fallacy of bifurcation arises when an either/or statement that actually contains two contraries is instead put forward as containing two contradictories.

EXAMPLE: We have a severe drug abuse problem in this country.  There are only two solutions, either we let all the addicts kill themselves or throw them all in jail for life.


B. Evading the Facts: In this second category of fallacies of presumption, the error lies, not in overlooking facts as in the first category, but in seeming to deal with all relevant facts without actually doing so.  Such arguments deceive by inviting us to presume that the facts are as they have been stated in the arguments, when the facts are quite otherwise.

1. Begging the Question: This fallacy tries to settle a question by simply reasserting it.  It is committed when, instead of offering proof for its conclusion, an argument simply reasserts the conclusion in another form.  Such arguments invite us to assume that something has been confirmed when in fact it has only been affirmed or reaffirmed.

EXAMPLE:  Everyone in the mental health profession knows that therapy works because all mental health practitioners say that therapy works.


2. Question-Begging Epithets: this fallacy avoids a reasonable conclusion by prejudging the facts.  The error lies in the use of slanted language that reaffirms what we wish to prove but have not yet proven.  An "epithet" is a descriptive word or phrase used to characterize a person, a thing, or an idea.

EXAMPLE:  Any parent accused of abusing their child is a monster, no longer a human being, and deserves whatever happens to them.  When a child abuse allegation is made, the important issue is whether the allegation is true or false.


3. Complex Question: this fallacy evades the facts by arguing a question different from the one at issue.  It is the interrogative form of the fallacy of begging the question.  Like begging the question, it begs the question by assuming the conclusion at issue.  A Complex Question accomplishes this by leading one to believe that a particular answer to a prior question has been answered in a certain way, when this may not be the case.

EXAMPLE:  If we must err, we must err on the side of the child.  This reasoning is used by mental health practitioners and child abuse investigators to justify falsely accusing and convicting innocent people of child abuse.  This complex question presumes a “yes” answer to a previous question “Do we have to err when investigating child abuse allegations.”  A more rational policy goal in child abuse investigations might be to make no errors.


4. Special Pleading: this fallacy invites us to view the argument from a biased position.  It is committed by applying a double standard: one for ourselves (because we are special) and another (a stricter one) for everyone else.  When we engage in special pleading, we favor ourselves and are prejudiced against others.  As in the case of question-begging epithets, we imply (and hope others will believe) that our labeling correctly describes reality when in fact it merely reflects our prejudice.  To engage in special pleading is to be partial and inconsistent.  It is to regard one's own situation as privileged while failing to apply to others the standard we set for ourselves or, conversely, to fail to apply to ourselves those standards we apply to others.

EXAMPLE:. Therapists should not be held to the same strict scientific and legal standards applied to experts in the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) because social scientists have good intentions and cannot use the same tools to study people.  This fallacy presumes that therapists can not establish physiological causal relationships between real dysfunction of the central nervous system and mental disorder alleged to exist by such “official” publications as the DSM IV.  “Mental disorders” were placed in the DSM IV, and previous editions, on the basis of popular votes among mental health practitioners, rather than the establishment of causal relationships with disorders of the central nervous system.


C. Distorting the Facts: rather than overlooking or evading relevant facts, these fallacies actually distort such facts.

1. False Analogy: in this fallacy, certain cases are made to appear more similar than they really are.  Few techniques of reasoning are so potentially useful, or so potentially dangerous, as analogy.  When we reason by analogy we attempt to advance our position by likening an obscure or difficult set of facts to one that is already known and understood and to which it bears a significant resemblance.  The fallacy of false analogy arises when the comparison is an erroneous one that distorts the facts in the case being argued.

EXAMPLE:  “This is your brain," says the  announcer holding up an egg.  After breaking the egg and dropping it into an over-heated skillet, he says, "This is your brain on drugs."  The sponsors of the advertisement want you to conclude that your brain will be destroyed if you take illegal drugs.  The analogy compares an egg to the human brain, which is very complex.  The analogy does not make a distinction between legal and illegal drugs.  It does not make any statement about helpful verses harmful effects.)


2. False Cause: this fallacy makes it appear that two events are causally connected when they are not.  It is an argument which suggests that events are causally connected when in fact no such causal connection has been established.  Although experts in the philosophy of science disagree on all the requirements that must be met, there are specific minimum requirements for establishing the existence of a causal relationship:

For x to cause y:

1. x must precede y in time on all occasions

2. y must follow x on all occasions

3. y must occur on all occasions of x

4. y cannot occur under any other circumstance except x

5. x must be necessary for y

6. x must be sufficient for y

If any of these conditions are not met, a causal relationship is not established.              There is an additional problem with causal statements against which there is no defense.  It is possible to make causal statements that are false but appear to be true and appear to be validated by contemporary science.

            The history of causal explanations for malaria provides an excellent example.  "Malaria" is a French word meaning "bad air."  The first causal explanation for malaria was that at night bad air would rise from the earth and drift around like fog.  If you breathed in the bad air while sleeping, you would develop malaria.  Using this explanation, the remedy was to seal up the house at night so bad air would not get into the house.

            The second explanation was that mosquitoes caused malaria.

            The third explanation was an organism carried by mosquitoes caused malaria.

            The solution using the first causal explanation, sealing up the house so bad air could not enter, would reduce the incidence of malaria and thereby validate any of the three causal explanations.  We have no way of knowing how many of this type false causal statements are imbedded in our current scientific "understanding" of how the universe works.

            To clarify "necessary" and “sufficient,” will a 451°F heat source applied to paper be necessary and sufficient for it to burn?  Answer, “No.”  Paper will not burn in the absence of oxygen.  A 451°F heat source is necessary to ignite paper, but not sufficient, the presence of oxygen is required.  Both heat and oxygen are necessary, but neither is sufficient.

EXAMPLE:  Playing violent video games causes children to kill because all of the children who brought guns to school and shot other students played violent video games.  To meet the requirements for establishing a causal relationship between violent video games and shooting fellow students, every child who played violent video games would have to take guns to school and shoot students.


3. Irrelevant Thesis: this fallacy distorts by concentrating on an issue that is actually irrelevant to the argument.  A "thesis" is a position that one advances by means of an argument.  Thus, it can be equated with a conclusion.  This fallacy is an argument in which an attempt is made to prove a conclusion that is not the one at issue.  This fallacy assumes the form of an argument that, while seeming to refute another's argument, actually advances a conclusion different from the one at issue in the other's argument.  Of all the fallacies mentioned thus far none is potentially more deceptive than irrelevant thesis.

            This fallacy goes by a variety of names: "irrelevant conclusion," "ignoring the issue," "befogging the issue," "diversion," and "red herring."  “Red herring" derives from the fact that escapees would sometimes smear themselves with a herring (which turns brown or red when it spoils) to throw dogs off their track.  To sway a red herring in an argument is to try to throw the audience off the right track onto something not relevant to the issue at hand.

EXAMPLE:  The National Rifle Association argues the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms protects America from despots taking control of the Government.  The National Rifle Association is wrong.  Citizens should never be allowed to posses guns because hundreds of people every year are killed or injured by accidents and criminal acts involving guns.  There are two different issues here.  (1) Does the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms help protect America from despots?  (2) Does the fact that people are injured or killed in accidents or criminal acts involving guns warrant depriving all Citizens of the right to keep and bear arms.

            This example provides a good demonstration of how Fallacies of Relevance and Fallacies of Presumption interact.  It incorporates the emotional appeal Appeal to Fear.  The fear appealed to is that someone you know or love may be killed if people are allowed to keep and bear arms.  If the counter had been “The National Rifle Association is wrong, because the Holy Bible says ‘You shall not murder’ (Exodus 20:13, NAS Bible),” that would be an example of Irrelevant Thesis incorporating an Appeal to Authority, the Holy Bible.  In this case the second issue irrelevant to the first issue would have been, “should we or should we not murder.”

            Perhaps a more familiar example of Irrelevant Thesis and Appeal to Emotion (anger) might be spousal conversations resembling the following:


Husband:  Sweetie, do you know anything about that new dent in the car fender?

Wife:  Why do you always ask me when something happens to the car?  You never help me do anything!  When are you going to start putting your dirty clothes in the basket instead of throwing them all over the place?

Husband:  About the same time you remember to check the oil and transmission fluid in the car before they run try.  I am tired of your pantyhose hanging all over the bathroom.  And by the way, when are you going to start putting the commode seat UP after you use it?.




"...meaning analysis, like psycho-analysis, may easily turn into 'an affliction that mistakes itself for its cure.'"  Sir Karl Popper, 1956 rev. 1983, p. 1763


            None of the “helping” professions have become as accomplished at the wholesale use of logical fallacies to commit intellectual fraud as practitioners of psychiatry, psychology, social work and “child protection.”  A few examples have been included in this crash course on logical fallacies.  In Part Four of Organized Crime Management in Government, the next installment will examine the use of logical fallacies in psychological testing and diagnosis.  The installment will include BROWN’S AMAZING UNIVERSAL SWISS ARMY TOOL OF INTELLECTUAL FRAUD, a three question pseudo science based “test” that incorporates logical fallacies identifiable in psychological testing.



1Horner, Thomas M. and Guyer, Melvin J.  (1991)  Prediction, prevention, and clinical expertise in child custody cases in which allegations of child sexual abuse have been made: Prediction rates of diagnostic error in relation to various clinical decisionmaking strategies.  Family Law Quarterly, 25(2).


2TABLE OF FALLACIES and the explanation of the types of logical fallacies are adapted from The Essential Skills of Critical Thinking, (1997), James Roger Brown, THE SOCIOLOGY CENTERTN.


3Popper, Sir Karl.  (1956 rev. 1983)  Realism and the Aim of Science.  Rowman and Littlefield, Totowa, New Jersey.





Argument - a conclusion supported by reasoning documented by evidence.


Contradictories - two statements that are impossible for both to be true and also impossible for both to be false.


Contraries - two statements that are impossible for both to be true but possible for both to be false.


Fallacy - an argument that is unsound.


Reasoning - the process of drawing appropriate conclusions based on the evidence.


© Copyright October 20, 2000 by James Roger Brown.  All rights reserved.



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