False equivalence

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This article is about the logical fallacy. For the media term, see False balance.

False equivalence is a logical fallacy in which two opposing arguments appear to be logically equivalent when in fact they are not. This fallacy is categorized as a fallacy of inconsistency.[1]


A common way for this fallacy to be perpetuated is one shared trait between two subjects is assumed to show equivalence, especially in order of magnitude, when equivalence is not necessarily the logical result. False equivalence is a common result when an anecdotal similarity is pointed out as equal, but the claim of equivalence doesn't bear because the similarity is based on oversimplification or ignorance of additional factors. The pattern of the fallacy is often as such: "If A is the set of c and d, and B is the set of d and e, then since they both contain d, A and B are equal". d is not required to exist in both sets; only a passing similarity is required to cause this fallacy to be able to be used.

The following statements are examples of false equivalence:

  • "They're both soft, cuddly pets. There's no difference between a cat and a dog."
  • "We all bleed red. We're all no different from each other."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Phillips, Harry; Bostian, Patricia (2014). The Purposeful Argument: A Practical Guide, Brief Edition (second ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 129. ISBN 9781285982847.