Slippery Slope Fallacy (29 Examples + Definition)

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Published by:
Practical Psychology
Kristen Clure
Reviewed by:
Kristen Clure, M.A.

You're here to understand the slippery slope fallacy, and you've come to the right place. This powerful concept can affect your decision-making, your debates, and even your understanding of the world.

A Slippery Slope Fallacy occurs when an argument suggests that a single action or event will lead to a series of other events without providing substantial evidence to support that claim.

We'll explain this subject and provide real-world examples. You'll learn about the psychology that makes these arguments so tempting to believe. By the end, you'll be more discerning and less likely to slide down that proverbial slope.

What is a Slippery Slope Fallacy?

slippery hill with a ball

Imagine you're on top of a hill covered in snow. You make a tiny snowball and give it a gentle push downhill. As it rolls, it picks up more snow and becomes a giant snowball, crashing into a house at the bottom.

The slippery slope fallacy is like saying that a small snowball you made must lead to a disaster without any evidence that it actually will. It assumes that one event sets off an unstoppable chain of events, ending in something really bad—or sometimes really good—but doesn't back it up with proof.

In the realm of arguments and debates, a slippery slope is a rhetorical device, which is a tool that debaters use to convince people. It often appears in discussions about law changes, ethics, and social norms.

It's also a logical fallacy, which is are logical error, usually in arguments, that people make, which leads to inconsistent reasoning.

Let's say someone argues that legalizing a minor form of gambling will inevitably lead to rampant addiction and crime. That's a slippery slope fallacy unless they prove that one action will lead to another.

The key takeaway is straightforward: not all initial actions lead to drastic outcomes. Just because an argument might sound compelling doesn't mean it's universally accurate.

When you hear someone use a slippery slope argument, ask for evidence.

Other Names for Slippery Slope Fallacy

  • Domino Fallacy
  • Thin Edge of the Wedge
  • The Camel's Nose

Similar Logical Fallacies

  • Straw Man Fallacy - Misrepresenting someone's argument to make it easier to attack.
  • Red Herring Fallacy - Introducing an irrelevant topic to divert attention from the original issue.
  • False Analogy - Comparisons between two things that seem similar but are very different.
  • Ad Hominem Attacks - Attacking the person instead of their argument.
  • Circular Reasoning - Using the conclusion as the premise, arguing in a circle.

The term "slippery slope" has been around for quite some time, although it's hard to pinpoint its exact origin. It gained prominence in legal and ethical debates, especially those dealing with changes that could have far-reaching consequences.

Some sources trace its modern usage back to the early 20th century. It's an enduring term because it paints a vivid mental picture: once you start sliding down a slope, it's hard to stop. But remember, it's a fallacy if it lacks evidence to support its claims.

29 Examples of Slippery Slope Arguments

1) Internet Privacy

"If we allow the government to access our data for national security, soon they'll be spying on our conversations and activities."

This argument assumes that allowing limited government access for a specific reason will automatically spiral into violating personal privacy. Without substantial evidence that this will occur, the argument leans on a slippery slope fallacy.

2) Soft Drinks and Health

soda cup

"If you start drinking one soda a day, you'll become addicted and eventually suffer from obesity and diabetes."

Here, the argument goes from a single daily soda to extreme health consequences without providing steps or evidence in between. It's a classic example of the slippery slope fallacy.

3) Video Games and Violence

"Playing violent video games will desensitize you to violence, and you'll eventually become aggressive in real life."

This argument suggests that an initial action—playing a violent video game—will lead to extreme real-world consequences. Yet, it doesn't offer concrete evidence to connect these two points, making it a slippery slope fallacy.

4) Legalizing Marijuana

marijuana plant

"If we legalize marijuana, then people will start pushing for the legalization of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin."

This argument assumes that legalizing one substance will automatically lead to the push for legalizing all substances, a slippery slope without concrete evidence.

5) Curfew Laws

"If we lift the teenage curfew, our town will become a haven for crime and lawlessness."

This leaps, lifting a single restriction to an extreme scenario of a crime-ridden town without any evidence to support such a claim.

6) Free Speech

"If we allow hate speech under the banner of free speech, it will inevitably lead to the spread of hate crimes and violence."

While the subject is sensitive, claiming that allowing one form of speech will result in violent actions is a slippery slope unless substantial evidence is provided.

7) Employee Benefits

"If we allow employees to work from home, productivity will plummet, and the company will go bankrupt."

This argument jumps from one policy change to a worst-case scenario without offering data or logic to link the two.

8) Plastic Surgery

"If you get one cosmetic procedure, you'll become addicted and end up ruining your natural beauty."

This assumes that one elective procedure will lead to an endless cycle of surgeries without any concrete evidence to prove it.

9) Gun Control


"If we enact even modest gun control measures, it's only a matter of time before all guns are banned."

This argument is a slippery slope, suggesting that a small regulation change will lead to a complete ban without evidence to back it up.

10) Relationships

"If you break up with me, you'll never find someone who treats you as well as I do."

This assumes that one decision—to break up—will lead to a lifetime of unhappiness, a slippery slope without basis.

11) Educational Policies

"If we remove one book from the school library due to inappropriate content, we'll end up censoring all literature that anyone finds offensive."

This argument jumps from a single action to a worst-case scenario without logical steps in between, making it a slippery slope fallacy.

12) Healthcare

"If we implement universal healthcare, the quality of care will decline, and we'll have to ration essential medical supplies."

This claim jumps from implementing a policy to extreme negative outcomes without offering evidence to connect these points.

13) Junk Food Taxes

"If the government starts taxing junk food, what's stopping them from taxing all the food we enjoy until we're only allowed to eat what they deem healthy?"

This argument assumes that one tax change will lead to a cascade of other taxes, affecting personal freedoms—another of conceptual slippery slope arguments without proper evidence.

14) Social Media Censorship

"If we allow social media platforms to remove hate speech, they'll start censoring any opinions they don't agree with."

This argument assumes that taking one moderation action will lead to broad censorship, a slippery slope without concrete evidence.

15) Veganism

"If you become a vegan, you'll eventually become so picky that you won't eat anything but raw vegetables."

Here, the argument makes a huge leap from choosing a vegan lifestyle to eating only raw vegetables without substantiated evidence.

16) Facial Recognition Technology

"If we allow facial recognition technology for security, it'll only be a matter of time before the government uses it to surveil us constantly."

This argument takes the introduction of a technology and jumps to an extreme invasion of privacy without showing the logical steps in between.

17) School Uniforms

"If we implement school uniforms today, tomorrow schools will dictate every aspect of student appearance and behavior."

This example claims that one dress code policy will lead to extreme authoritarian control without supporting evidence.

18) Environmental Policies

"If we ban plastic straws today, we'll be banning all forms of plastic and returning to the Stone Age tomorrow."

Here, the argument leaps from a simple environmental policy to an extreme rollback of modern conveniences without any evidence.

19) Early Relationships

"If you date him/her now, you're setting yourself up for a life of poor relationship choices."

This assumes that one relationship decision will dictate all future relationship decisions, a classic slippery slope fallacy.

20) Body Tattoos

"If you get a small tattoo, you'll end up with your entire body covered in tattoos and regret it later."

This example claims that a single, small action will lead to an extreme outcome without providing any evidence.

21) Digital Payments

"If we move to a cashless society, the government will control every aspect of our financial life."

This argument goes from a change in payment methods to extreme government control without showing logical progression or evidence.

22) School Testing

"If we remove standardized tests, the education system will crumble, and no student will be properly evaluated ever again."

This claim moves from a single policy change to the collapse of an entire system without substantiated evidence, making it a slippery slope fallacy.

23) Automation and Jobs

"If we allow more automation in factories, everyone will lose their jobs, and we'll have mass unemployment."

Here, the argument jumps from technological advancement to societal collapse without providing a concrete link between the two.

24) Online Education

"If we start offering more online classes, soon enough, traditional classrooms will become obsolete, and of course, the quality of education will decline."

This argument leaps from the introduction of online classes to the disappearance of traditional learning spaces and an overall decline in educational quality without solid evidence to support it.

25) Public Transportation

"If the city builds one more bike lane, cars will eventually be banned from the city center altogether."

Here, the argument suggests that adding a single bike lane will lead to a complete ban on cars in the city center without providing proof for such a drastic outcome.

26) Animal Rights

"If you adopt a shelter dog, you'll want to turn your home into an animal sanctuary and get overwhelmed."

This example takes a simple, kind act and turns it into an unsustainable, overwhelming lifestyle change without showing logical steps or evidence.

27) Streaming Services

"If you start subscribing to one streaming service, you'll waste all your money on subscriptions and neglect other responsibilities."

This assumes that subscribing to a single service will lead to financial recklessness and irresponsibility, another slippery slope without supporting facts.

28) Renewable Energy

"If we start relying on solar energy, it's a matter of time before other industries collapse and we face an economic downturn."

The argument jumps from adopting renewable energy to the downfall of other industries and an economic crisis without substantial evidence.

29) Exercise Routine

"If you skip your workout today, you'll lose all motivation and never achieve your fitness goals."

This example takes a single instance of skipping a workout and extends it to a lifetime of fitness failure without concrete proof.

The Psychological Mechanisms Behind It

The slippery slope fallacy often works because it taps into our emotional fears or desires.

Essentially, it plays on the human tendency to imagine worst-case (or best-case) scenarios. It's almost like a mental shortcut, helping us quickly assess a situation without going into the details of logical reasoning.

The appeal to emotion can make these arguments seem strong, even when they lack concrete evidence.

This logical fallacy also relies on another psychological concept called "cognitive ease." Your brain likes things that are easy to process.

When you hear a simple chain of events—"If A happens, then Z will surely happen"—it might feel intuitively right. But remember, feeling right doesn't make it logically right. Your brain may be taking the easy way out, but that can lead you down a slippery path of flawed reasoning.

The Impact of It

Slippery slope fallacies can have real-world consequences.

In politics, for example, they may be used to sway public opinion against a proposed law by predicting catastrophic outcomes.

In personal relationships, they can create unnecessary fear or conflict. Imagine being told that taking a break in a relationship will inevitably lead to a breakup; the emotional weight of such a statement can cause unnecessary strain.

Moreover, when decision-makers fall for this fallacy, they may forego beneficial opportunities. For instance, not adopting new technology for fear of potential, unproven drawbacks can result in missed advancements.

In these ways, the impact of the conceptual slippery slope fallacy is not just theoretical—it can lead to impractical or even damaging decisions.

How to Identify and Counter the Slippery Slope Fallacy

Spotting a slippery slope fallacy involves critical thinking. Listen for an argument that takes you from Point A to Point Z with little or no evidence. If you notice this, ask for the evidence that supports each leap.

Essentially, you're asking for the logical "steps" that take you down this so-called "slope." If these can't be provided, you've identified a causal slippery slope fallacy.

To counter it, request concrete evidence or data that links the initial action to the predicted outcome. Often, the person making the claim will be unable to provide it.

You can also turn the tables by asking how the proposed slippery slope differs from a scenario where no disastrous chain of events occurs. This forces the person to think critically about their argument, potentially revealing its weaknesses.

Remember, not all slippery slopes assume a negative outcome. It might be that such arguments are more convincing because they create positive emotions. The point of them is for the decision maker to shift their attention from the debate to their emotions. Please don't fall for it!

Reference this article:

Practical Psychology. (2023, October). Slippery Slope Fallacy (29 Examples + Definition). Retrieved from

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