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So you're denouncing the series for promoting stereotypes, by drawing upon said stereotype as evidence of your argument. That is the verbal equivalent of an Escher drawing.
—About 6 minutes into this MLP:FIM retrospective from TGWTG. [1]

Also called:

  • Circulus in demonstrando
Begging the Question used recursively. A is true because B is true. B is true because C is true. C is true because D is true. D is true because A is true. The proof simply circles around and around, with nothing in it that it isn't being proved by itself.
Examples of Circular Reasoning include:


Literature

  • The Catch-22 of the novel of the same name is Circular Reasoning. The dialogue that explains it:

 Yossarian: Is Orr crazy?

Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: Of course he is. He has to be crazy to keep flying after all the close calls he's had.

Yossarian: Why can't you ground him?

Doc Daneeka: I can, but first he has to ask me.

Yossarian: That's all he's gotta do to be grounded?

Doc Daneeka: That's all.

Yossarian: Then you can ground him?

Doc Daneeka: No. Then I cannot ground him.

Yossarian: Aah!

Doc Daneeka: There's a CATCH!

Yossarian: A catch?

Doc Daneeka: Sure. Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn't really crazy, so I can't ground him.

Yossarian: Okay, let me see if I've got this straight. In order to be grounded, I've got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I'm not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying.

Doc Daneeka: You got it, that's Catch-22.

  • The drunk in The Little Prince drinks. When asked why, he explains that he wants to forget. When asked what he wants to forget, he says that he wants to forget that he is ashamed. When asked about that, he explains that he is ashamed of drinking.
  • In Wings (about a certain almost insignificant subset of living things of Florida):

  But they're the ones who matter. At least, in their opinion. And their opinion is the one that matters. In their opinion.

  I sleep because I am slain. They slew me because I slept.

Live Action TV

  • A sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look had a group of government agents justify covering up the Roswell incident in this way. They could release all the information now in order to gather support and build defences against a possible invasion, but people will be angry with the government when they learn that aliens exist, especially if there is an invasion and it turns out that the government knew about them for decades but did nothing to help gather support and build defences.

Religion and Mythology

  • This fallacy is often used by fundamentalists as "proof" that the The Bible is correct and error free:

 Believer: "The Bible is literally true because it is the inerrant word of God."

Skeptic: "How do you know the Bible is the inerrant word of God?"

Believer: "It says so in the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16, specifically."

Video Games

  • At the end of Mass Effect 3 The Catalyst uses circular logic to justify creating the Reapers. It states that synthetics will always destroy their organic creators, so it creates the Reapers, who are synthetics, to wipe out organics every 50,000 years so they won't be destroyed by their own synthetics. You don't even have the option to call him on this.

Web Comics

  • On Order of the Stick: Though she ultimately turns out to be right, Elan points out that Haley is using circular logic against Tarquin: She won't tell him that lives are at stake concerning the information she wants because she doesn't trust him, and she doesn't trust him because he's withholding information when lives are at stake. Haley is not pleased at having been out-logicked by The Ditz.
  • In The Non Adventures of Wonderella: Wonderella and Dr. Shark use this when confronting an highscool student about the dangers of Marijuana

 Wonderella: Marijuana is illegal, young man.

Student: But, why?

Wonderella: Because it leads to harder drugs [...]

Student: Who says I have to try harder drugs?

Wonderella: Your dealer. [...]

Student: But why do I need to go to a dealer?

:Dr. Shark: Beccause, young man, Marijuana is illegal.

Student: Hmm, I guess it makes sense whent you put it like that.

  • When Trawn of Electric Wonderland takes a shortcut to her Home Base through 4chan's domain, she learns from passers-by that everyone there keeps repeating certain Catch Phrases because they're humorous, those Catch Phrases are humorous because everyone there keeps repeating them, and everyone there keeps repeating them because they're humorous.

 Trawn: Ugh, the logic here drives me crazy on normal days!

Real Life

  • The British used a similar line of reasoning against employing homosexuals in the Secret Service (when it was illegal); it was

 Homosexuals cannot be employed in the Secret Service because they are a security risk.

Therefore, any homosexual employed by the Secret Service would lose his job if he were found out.

Therefore, any homosexual employed by the Secret Service would do anything to avoid being found out.

Therefore, homosexual employees of the Secret Service are more open to blackmail than non-homosexual employees.

Therefore, homosexuals present a security risk and should not be employed in the Secret Service.

    • Oddly enough, it was also thought to be a reason why they would make good agents; hiding one's activities, meeting covertly and maintaining a respectable front to avoid suspicion are the kind of skills the Service found useful.
  • According to Isaac Asimov, this was used in the Middle Ages as an excuse not to educate women; all intelligent people know Latin, but women don't know Latin so they must be stupid, which means that there's no point in teaching them Latin (or anything else). This is also the fallacy of confusing knowledge with intelligence, which also underpins large parts of so-called "intelligence tests".
  • A monarchy is a nation ruled by a monarch; a monarch someone who rules a monarchy. What with Hereditary Republics, Elective Monarchies, and Presidents-For-Life, that's about the clearest definitions there are, and political scientists often admit that sometimes the only difference between a monarchy and a republic are the titles involved.
    • Practically, it's the same: as someone wrote, "Romans noticed they have an Empire already only when the Court protocol changed".

Web Original

  • On the Zero Punctuation review of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Yahtzee asked another player why he raids. The raider's reason is that it gets stuff. Why does he want stuff? To raid with.

Western Animation

  • During one Beavis and Butthead music video segment, Beavis asks why a certain person in the video is on TV. Butt-head says he's on TV because he's famous. What's he famous for? He's famous for being on TV. This goes back and forth for awhile, with Butt-head getting increasingly irritated that Beavis doesn't get it.

Notes

  1. On the criticisms that Rainbow Dash represented the "lesbian tomboy" stereotype.
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