September 15, 2016 by David Sutton
Al Gore Owns A Large Home, Global Warming Isn’t Real
Tu quoque, known also as the appeal to hypocrisy, is one of the more common logical fallacies. Tu quoque is the attempt to discredit a person’s logical argument by pointing out said person’s apparent hypocrisy with regard to the argument’s conclusions.
The appeal to hypocrisy goes like this:
- Harry makes claim xyz.
- Sally pushes back, asserting Harry’s actions are inconsistent with claim xyz.
- Therefore claim xyz is false.
Tu quoque is a diversionary tactic often used to defend one’s actions or arguments by deflecting criticism to one’s opponent, and is a classic red herring device. In this case, the logical fallacy is in believing Harry’s failure to act in accordance to his claim proves the claim untrue.
A contemporary example of tu quoque is when opponents point to Al Gore’s multi-million dollar homes or his frequent air travel as means to discredit global warming. It is true Al Gore is one of the better known advocates for climate science, and it is also true Gore has owned expensive homes and he has often traversed the globe by airplane. But even if these things qualify as hypocritical, they do not disprove climate science or global warming. Of course there’s nothing wrong with pointing out hypocrisy, but you are committing a logical fallacy if you believe your opponent’s hypocrisy is the prescription to disprove your opponent’s argument.