No True Scotsman Fallacy (NTS)


This fallacy often creeps into ideological debates about topics like politics or religion.  People use this fallacy to avoid debating the truth or falsity of new evidence.

Below are examples that will make this clearer, but here’s a description of how the fallacy unfolds.  First, an individual claims that a general characteristic is sufficient to include a person in a group.  Second, another person challenges this claim by providing an example of a member who doesn’t possess this characteristic.  Finally, the first individual commits the fallacy by stating that this new information excludes membership in the group.

How the fallacy is used:

  • Person “A” posits a general characteristic that defines group membership.
  • Person “B” points to a specific individual that refutes this general claim.
  • Person “A” narrows the characteristics that define the group thereby excluding person “B’s” membership.

Example one:

  • Mary: Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility.
  • Jerry: But Republican senators Bill and Nancy voted to expand the deficit by 10 trillion.
  • Mary: Bill and Nancy are not true Republicans. They’re RINOs.

Example two:

  • Joe: Flowers smell wonderful!
  • Jan: Petunias have no scent.
  • Joe: Petunias aren’t real flowers.

To learn more about logical fallacies check out our Critical Thinking Resource page.


  • Bad Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Fallacies in Western Philosophy. Edited by, Robert Arp, Steven Barbone, and Michael Bruce.

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