|When it is claimed that a small first step will inevitably lead to a chain of related events culminating in some significant undesirable impact.||If we allow alcohol use on campus, we will eventually be forced to allow illicit drug use.|
|Also known as: fallacy of the beard|
|This is a fallacy only where there is certainty in the conclusion and/or an absence of evidence that similar contexts have produced or would produce degenerating standards. There may very well be a snowball effect possible for the given phenomenon, but the evidence for such must be conventionally accepted, or accompany the argument. This is related to the continuum fallacy.|
Case Study One
Some social conservatives have argued that, if we accept gay marriage, there is nothing stopping us from allowing polygamy, adult/child marriage, or marriage between species. Unless this argument is accompanied by evidence or argumentation that the legalization of gay marriage removes all constraints upon the other forms of marriage cited, this is a slippery slope fallacy.
Case Study Two
On the second day of the Scopes Trial, Clarence Darrow argued…
If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After [a]while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.
Case Study Three
When someone from the media company MSNBC stated that “The goal is to move away from left-wing TV”, one commenter stated “No one needs another FOX”, implying that moving away from the far left would result in becoming the far right.
Keep in mind that a fallacious argument does not entail an erroneous position.