Snopestionary: The Ad Hominem Logical Fallacy.

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Also known as the personal attack fallacyad hominem means “against the man.” This type of logical fallacy is characterized by irrelevant insults or attacks on the person, their actions, or their character instead of their reasoning.

Ad hominem can be addressed to a person, group or institution and appeals to sentiment or prejudice rather than intellect. This logical fallacy works by shifting the burden of proof in a dialogue so that instead of defending their argument, a debater must defend their personality. The truth or falsity of an assertion has nothing to do with who argues for or against it.

Example of ad hominem error:

Person A might Claim X
personB attacks the character or actions Person A
For this reason, Claim X is wrong

There are three subcategories of ad hominem error, which we have listed below:

Tu quoque (Latin for “you too”) is an attempt to discredit the argument by attacking the opponent’s personal conduct and accusing him of having committed the act being argued against.

Person A: Alcohol consumption is bad for brain development, so you shouldn’t drink it before a certain age.

personB: You drank when you were my age! So I can do that too.

appeal to authority is the inverse of ad hominem. This fallacy uses another person’s credentials to reinforce an argument. Although the person making the argument is not criticized, the appeal to authority does not directly address the argument at hand.

Person A: Albert Einstein was a genius and he did not believe in a personal God. Therefore the Bible is wrong.

argument from abuse targets the person making the argument and attacks their character to discredit their point of view.

Person A: We should turn off the air conditioner. It’s not that hot outside and that saves energy.

personB: Of course you want to turn it off. you are so cheap

Snopes says:

To Battle or avoid these fallacious arguments, imagine writing down the claim as if you don’t know who is arguing the case. If you can’t prove or disprove the argument with evidence, you may have used ad hominem as a substitute for good arguments.

The Snopes editorial team has been reviewing claims focused on fallacies for decades. The following are examples of the ad hominem logical fallacy we explored earlier:

Curious how the writers of Snopes verify information and create their stories for the public? We’ve collected a few posts that explain how we do what we do. Enjoy reading and let us know what else might interest you.


“Ad hominem fallacy.” Excelsior College OWL, accessed May 26, 2022.

ad hominem. ad hominem. May 15, 2019

Errors | Internet encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved May 26, 2022.

Raley, Yvonne. “Character Attacks: How to Properly Use the Ad Hominem.” Scientific American, accessed May 26, 2022.

Wrisley, George. “Ad Hominem: Tu Quoque.” Bad Arguments, edited by Robert Arp et al., 1st ed., Wiley, 2018, pp. 88–93. (cross reference), Snopestionary: The Ad Hominem Logical Fallacy.

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