Imagine the following conversation between you and a friend:
“I can’t wait to go to the beach!”
“Oh, I didn’t know you liked camels.” they respond.
“What? I said I was going to the beach.”
“Right and the beach is full of sand and camels live in the sand, so you must love camels.”
That’s quite the logical leap! There is only the most tangential of connections between liking the beach and liking camels. In logical terms this is what’s known as a non sequitur. The term comes from two Latin words meaning “that does not follow”. It’s clear to see that in this case that it’s a fallacious assumption. Assuming your friend likes camels just because they visit sandy beaches is a fallacious assumption. Which is a precise way of saying that the logic they are using just doesn’t make sense.
However, non sequiturs are not always so obvious. For example, when I was younger I planted a large vegetable garden every year. Thus, I must have loved eating fresh vegetables, right? Is that a logical conclusion? At first glance it seems completely reasonable. But it’s not true. I loved growing vegetables to give to others; I was an extremely picky eater who never ate anything from my garden.
That’s why a non sequitur is always considered to be a fallacy. Whether the conclusion reached is absurd or reasonable–even correct–it is not a valid argument. For an argument to be legitimate there must be a direct and provable connection between the evidence and the conclusion.
For an argument to be legitimate there must be a direct and provable connection between the evidence and the conclusion.