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non sequitur

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non sequitur

Master of the non sequitur: Ralph Wiggum of The Simpsons (TM and © FOX and its related entities)

Definition:

A fallacy in which a conclusion does not follow logically from what preceded it.

See also:


Etymology:

From the Latin, "it does not follow"

Examples and Observations:

  • "We realize that it would be in the best interest of the community and our children to address the issue expeditiously. In order to make this happen, I respectfully request an eight month payment delay calling for payment of the $10 million obligation on August 31, 2015."
    (Savannah City Manager Stephanie Cutter in a letter to the city's superintendent of schools; reported in the Savannah Morning News, April 3, 2014)


  • "Non sequiturs are most obvious when absurd. For instance, from the facts that most cats like milk and some cats have tails I could not derive the conclusion that David Hume was the greatest British philosopher. That would be a complete non sequitur that borders on the surreal, whether or not its conclusion is true. Non sequiturs are often advertised by the spurious use of 'so' and 'therefore' . . ., but the context of a statement can also suggest that it is a conclusion derived from what has gone before even when there is no such word used to indicate it.

    "Any formal fallacy will have a non sequitur as its conclusion, though most of these non sequiturs will be less obvious than the one above."
    (Nigel Warburton, Thinking from A to Z. Routledge, 1996)


  • "The difference between the post hoc and the non sequitur fallacies is that, whereas the post hoc fallacy is due to lack of a causal connection, in the non sequitur fallacy, the error is due to lack of a logical connection."
    (Mabel Lewis Sahakian, Ideas of the Great Philosophers. Barnes & Noble, 1993)


  • Ralph Wiggum: Martin Luther King had a dream. Dreams are where Elmo and Toy Story had a party and I was invited. Yay! My turn is over!
    Principal Skinner: One of your best, Ralphie.
    ("The Color Yellow," The Simpsons, 2010)


  • "A non sequitur is any pretended jump in logic that doesn't work cleanly, perhaps because of unfounded premises, unmentioned complicating factors, or alternative explanations, such as 'This war is righteous because we are French!' or 'You will do what I say because you are my wife!'"
    (Steve Hindes, Think for Yourself. Fulcrum, 2005)


  • Ralph Wiggum: Um, Miss Hoover? There's a dog in the vent.
    Miss Hoover: Ralph, remember the time you said Snagglepuss was outside?
    Ralph Wiggum: He was going to the bathroom.
    ("Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song," The Simpsons)


  • "Warming was caused by sunspots, or fluctuations in the Earth's orbit, or volcanic eruptions. Therefore it cannot be caused by mankind. The 'therefore' is the giveaway, the delicious non sequitur: just because Earth has warmed for one or another reason in the past is no reason why it cannot warm for a completely different reason in the future."
    (John Llewellyn, "In a Confusing Climate." The Observer, Sep. 2, 2007)
Pronunciation: non SEK-wi-terr
Also Known As: irrelevant reason, fallacy of the consequent
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