A fallacy is a mistake in the logic of one’s thinking or communicating which leads to wrong conclusions. We as those who desire to be clear thinking and accurate about the properties of reality need to be familiar with fallacies as we are presented with them, in order to hone our ability to rightly appraise truth claims.
Definition: The complex question informal fallacy is committed when the answer to a given question presupposes information not agreed upon by both parties. It is also related to the false dichotomy and begging the question fallacies.
Examples: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” The presumption taken as truth is that you have in fact been beating your wife in some time past. If you answer “yes,” then it means you used to beat your wife, but don’t anymore. If you answer “no,” it means you have been beating your wife and continue to do so.
“How many lives must be lost in school shooting incidents before we tighten gun ownership laws?” This question presumes that changing gun laws will reduce the amount of school shootings. Whether true or false, the question of gun laws efficacy to reduce school shootings is not a matter of common knowledge or broadly accepted truth, and so needs to be demonstrated first.
“Who created God?” This question presumes that God is a created being, which is a claim that needs to be established before this question is posed or meaningfully answered.
Recognizing the fallacy: As a rule of thumb, if it is impossible to answer a question without giving a wrong answer, there is something wrong with the question.