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by | Logic | 1 comment

Jenig has submitted an example of the Fallacy of Equivocation (also called Doublespeak or Ambiguity) for our logic contest, but we need more examples (although I doubt anyone can top Jenig’s). Here are a few to help you get started.

Abbott and Costello’s Who’s On First? routine

If the English don’t drive on the right side of the road, what are they doing on the wrong side?

We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. (Benjamin Franklin)

Calvin: A bushel is a unit of weight equal to four pecks. What’s a peck?
Hobbes: A quick smooch.
Calvin: You know. I don’t understand math at all.

Dad: Go put the dogs in the pen.
Son: Aw, Dad, I couldn’t do that. The dogs are too big. Besides, it would mess up all the ink, and the pen wouldn’t write correctly.

The Fallacy of Equivocation is committed when a person uses a particular multi-definition word (usually a common word and often one with strong emotional meanings) twice in his argument. The first time he uses the word, the word has one meaning, but the second time he uses the word, it has a distinctly different meaning.