The fallacy of circular reasoning: a vast infection in public discourse

The fallacy of circular reasoning: a vast infection in public discourse

by Jon Rappoport

January 9, 2017

The simplest definition of circular reasoning is: assuming what you’re trying to prove.

But that makes no sense.


As an abstract example—it always rains in Seattle. Today, it’s cloudy in the city. Therefore, it’s going to rain today.

Not necessarily, unless you assume up front that it “always” rains in Seattle. You give the impression of proving it’s going to rain today, but actually you’re already assuming that.

How about this? Mayor X is a racist. When he says he hopes black people living in the city will help the police catch criminals by providing eyewitness testimony, he’s demeaning black people.

Well, no. He may be correct or incorrect in believing these residents will, in fact, make reports to the police, but his statement isn’t, on its own, racist—unless you assume, in advance, that the mayor IS racist.

And if you do assume he is, then you ought to provide evidence.

—To which some readers will reply, “What you’re talking about here is miles beyond what happens in real life. There is no thought in real life. There are just knee-jerk reactions.”

No, not among all people. Raising the level of logic and understanding is an extremely worthwhile activity, and it benefits those who can grasp the essentials.

Here is another example: “We know Senator X is guilty of the crime he’s charged with, because no one reaches the level of senator unless he’s been blackmailed for committing crimes.” There are people who would accept this as a given, but it’s spreading a generality over all senators. And furthermore, even if Senator X has committed crimes, that doesn’t means he’s guilty of the one he’s been charged with recently. Perhaps, for instance, he’s been charged in order to smear his reputation, because he’s supporting a bill that would endanger the profits of a large corporation.

Here are three slightly different versions of circular reasoning:

“There is no reason to allow Politician X to air his views on television talk shows. He doesn’t have a following because his ideas don’t make an impact.” Really? Perhaps his ideas make no impact because no one will allow him exposure on national television.

“If the herbal treatment you’re suggesting had value, it would have been studied and tested at universities.” Is that so? Maybe it wasn’t tested at universities because it did have potential value, and would present a challenge to pharmaceutical drugs.

“Europe doesn’t need a leader like him. He’s a divider, he sets people against each other, and we need unity.” Again, the person being marginalized is rejected by definition. Maybe he divides people because he’s the only one who will speak up against a unity based on submission and abject compliance.

How about this? “The science is settled, and here comes that professor with his crazy ideas.” The professor is defined as crazy and out of step. But maybe he’s the one who will show the science isn’t settled at all, or shouldn’t be.

“He’s all about money. We want a better society where everyone can share, but he wants to keep everything for himself. He’s a greedy capitalist. Capitalism is dead. It’s been discredited.” The person being attacked is buried under a welter of preconceptions, with no evidence offered as to why he’s “bad.”

In circular reasoning, the deception happens right at the beginning. That’s where the conclusion is embedded. Then, some appearance of reasoning and proof are advanced. But there is no reasoning or proof.

Here is an example I would call disguised circular reasoning. It’s a bit slippery: “Frank’s cousin Sam was convicted of bank fraud in 1998. Now Frank has been brought up on the same basic charge. Wouldn’t you say that’s a pretty odd coincidence?” Yes, it is odd, but if you’re going to imply Frank is guilty, you’re going to need more than his cousin’s conviction. A lot more. Some people would call this example guilt by association, and it is, but there is also the telltale assumption of “proof” right at the start, when there is no proof.

“Look, I just counted 27 articles in respected newspapers claiming that the Russians hacked the election. I mean, what else do you want? The facts are obvious. So this guy who comes along and says there is no evidence—he’s spreading fake news. That’s the other thing all these newspapers are talking about: the pernicious spread of fake news.” Same basic approach, used with a bit more complexity: pile on the preconceptions right from the get-go, and then make it seem as if actual reasoning and evidence are being supplied to demean the “denier.” This is also an example of the ad hominem fallacy: attack the person and ignore what he has to say.

“Three reporters from a website I never heard of just came out with the crazy theory that people don’t really have SARS because, when they were tested, there was no sign of the SARS virus. That’s ridiculous. I don’t even know what that means. These reporters are just making it up. They’re on the fringe, and they’re looking for visibility. Get it? They want readers to pay attention. This always happens. Meanwhile, actual doctors and PhDs in labs are analyzing the disease and have the actual facts…” By definition, by accusation, by attack, by generality, this is assuming what is supposed to be proven, and no evidence is offered to refute the claims of these three reporters. The “reasoning” is circular.

The Matrix Revealed

(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, The Matrix Revealed — which
includes the Logic And Analysis course, click here.)

Finally, here is an example that builds up even more vague complexity, as a substitute for verification of assertions. And there is no complete chain of reasoning: “Globalism is a structure with many moving parts, and one can’t hope to understand it by using a few simple ideas. Across national borders, massive confusion could stifle the trade of goods and services, if there were tariffs. Globalism eliminates those tariffs. That’s what we mean by free trade. These treaties on trade are worked out with great care, and the result is the smooth flow of goods. Besides, Globalism promotes an overall sense of international cooperation, which is something we all need in these times of danger. It’s drawing the world closer together…”

This argument, designed to defeat people who oppose Globalism, simply piles up a group of statements that define Globalism as something good and necessary. The statements aren’t connected in a single chain of reasoning. Examine each statement and find its flaws. Spot the vagueness. Figure out what is being omitted—for example, the loss of American jobs when US corporations go overseas and thus throw huge numbers of workers on to unemployment lines.

Circular reasoning: assuming what you’re trying to prove. It poses as logic, but it isn’t.

Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at or OutsideTheRealityMachine.

12 comments on “The fallacy of circular reasoning: a vast infection in public discourse

  1. Dana Doran says:

    Yes, just this morning I turned on the local CBS affiliate – and from the kitchen where I was grinding my coffee I heard, “deployment of troops to Germany to battle a Russian Invasion.” And I thought Germany had been invaded by ISIS….we didn’t help them fight that… Russia is invading and we’re going to defend against it? What a crock.

  2. andycandydandy says:

    Nukes are fake, galen winsor blew the whistle on youtube, they are heat and light, no poisonous fallout. this is earth shattering news.

  3. Greg C. says:

    Those who use circular reasoning are desperate to believe in the narrative in question, and to have others believe in it too. Logic is not their friend. The narrative is all they have, poor devils.

    • leslie says:

      Absolutely. People who are very sophisticated and well-educated use their advantage to concoct the most flimsy of cotton candy fabrications which are consumed by the masses with no question at all – precisely because they have never been taught how to think critically. Two wonderful (and shockingly glaring) examples of this that come to mind are the drivel you will find at the Federal Bank’s website and at the World Bank’s website…as well as all the fluff pieces that get written by their obedient shills and printed unquestioningly in the Atlantic and the Economist. On dark days they make for some good belly laughs..

      Thinking critically and employing logic in every situation needs to be taught beginning in early education. It requires training and practice. We get none of that because, in letting the state raise our children (and most of us were raised in public school) the state has its own agenda i.e. to make good workers who never question anything and who conform and consume passively. Don’t let the state raise your children and do learn and practice all concepts of critical thinking.

  4. Oliver K. Manuel says:

    “Consensus science” is circular reasoning.

    We humans were endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as Jefferson publicly proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776.

    But the scientific revolution proceeded too fast when Einstein discovered in 1905 that rest mass (m) of atoms is stored energy (E):

    . . . . . . . . . . E = mc^2

    That landmark discovery was used as a tool of human destruction in WWII, and worldwide fear of nuclear annihilation disrupted the upward advancement of human evolution frightening world leaders to limit mankind’s knowledge of abundant and free atomic energy that powers the Sun and the cosmos.

    Although Einstein’s discovery might have united physics with spirituality, explaining why the whole universe is alive, humming with a fundamental vibration recognized centuries earlier in meditation as:

    . . . . . . . . . . ommmmmm

    Hiroshima & Nagasaki were destroyed on 6 & 9 Aug 1945 and nations and national academies of sciences were united on 24 Oct 1945 in a desperate but futile attempt to save the world from nuclear annihilation by hiding the source of energy that powers atomic bombs, the Sun, galactic cores, and the expanding universe from the public:

    That is how Einstein’s 1905 discovery disrupted humanity’s upward evolution and produced our tyrannical one-world government instead.

  5. From Quebec says:

    Circular reasoning of MSM and his audience.

    Best Compilation- People Who Laughed at TRUMP…and said he would never be President – FUNNY!

  6. Prescott says:

    Thanks Jon. This is a good article.

    After beginning to seriously studying logic, I’ve realized I wasn’t going to start thinking clearly by flipping a mental switch. I can’t simply “turn on the lights” and illuminate my thought processes in a second. Rather, honing the mind takes a concerted effort over time.

    I may slip and stumble in the haze of propaganda occasionally., But, every day I study logic I become more adept at navigating the numerous pitfalls.

    The study of logic is a grand undertaking, with equally grand rewards. The best part is you reap what you sow (a clearer, more focused mind) every day.

  7. You occasionally write pieces that really strike a chord, get beneath the skin and nail it. This is one of your better efforts, Jon.

    In fact, you (in some ways) mirror my own yet-to-be-released essay, titled “Callous Abuses of the Word “Abuse””. Unlike you, I really get into the difficult areas, the topics NO ONE wants to discuss. I happen to think you would get enormous value out it, if you found the time to review it once published. Here’s a sneak peak:

    “…Perhaps anyone else would have said “sovereign choice” in place of liberty. However, sovereign individuality potentially conflicts with social liberty and the distorters of “abuse” know that all too well. Mankind is heading towards totalitarianism, the only utopian alternative to communion, at a rapid rate. There are two fundamental versions of the slave/master paradigm. One is labelled fascism. This form of order is built on the premise that the fabric of commerce is strong enough to regulate social charters. Evidence might appear in the form of something like, shall we say, corporate responsibility whereby employees are bound by “the law” and their company manifesto. Companies seeking new employees (of all rank) would rate assessment of authority documentation (official identification, police check, bankruptcy report and so on) as the most important stage of the internment process under fascist totalitarianism. Penal facilities would be run by privateers. Marxism, the other totalitarian model, is very similar, except the social charter is outsourced to government and, consequentially, core business might be nationalised.

    Sovereign individuals disrupt utopian society (per the fascist/Marxist models). Societies are governed by standards and these might conceivably be eroded by abusers. Therefore, logically, abuse of the word abuse relies on the distortion of truth, which allows the marginalisation of social values geared to reducing sovereign choice to an effect of social conditioning or not at all. Society masters impose order on members as parents oppress their children. In today’s society children are broken into conformation in what could be a lifelong family battle. The regime treats its members with common impunity. As children are conditioned into responding to family boundaries, so too are society’s members. Freedom is limited to “they tell me this is allowed”. Abuse has been distorted as a consequence of “that which isn’t allowed”. True violation is secondary and largely irrelevant now.

    Flawed logic can be expanded. If abuse is symptom of that which defies freedom, our vile powers may as well argue they protect those locked up in prisons from the world at large. Under that premise, they would do detainees a great service. The whole foundation of abuse as a concept has been twisted in this way. Expanding on my incarceration metaphor, it might be argued that though people are taken, against their will, they are actually thrown into cramped cells “for their own good”, so how can this be “abuse”? Though currently, for my research, the justice system hasn’t made claims of this nature, it’s only a matter of time before it happens….”


  8. Isn’t circular reasoning another name for solipsism?

    1. Philosophy. the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.
    2. Extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.

    In other words, all of my senses indicate that it’s true so… it’s true.

    Total subjectivity.

    Sophists are another bunch of bananas.

    1. Any of a class of professional teachers in ancient Greece who gave instruction in various fields, as in general culture, rhetoric, politics, or disputation. A person belonging to this class at a later period who, while professing to teach skill in reasoning, concerned himself with ingenuity and specious effectiveness rather than soundness of argument.
    2. A person who reasons adroitly and speciously rather than soundly.
    3. A philosopher.

    The first sophist (according to wikipedia anyway lol) was Protagoras, “whose theory said “Man is the measure of all things”, meaning Man decides for himself what he is going to believe.” Sophists were said to be refuted by Aristotle and Plato.

    After many encounters with circular reasoners, solipsists and sophists, I’ve come to the conclusion that arguing with them is futile. Some of them love to argue (as opposed to logically debate) and fall back on solipsism as their only “reasoning.” Most of them are just mind-controlled morons. It’s important to realize who and what you are dealing with when encountering such people. Now I just point at them and say “you’re a solipsist” and walk away. Let them “reason” with that.

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