Ad Hominem in GMAT Critical Reasoning

Ad Hominem in GMAT Critical ReasoningOnce you get a feel of the various GMAT Critical Reasoning question types, it is important that you understand the fallacies in arguments that would be part of the answer choices. A common one seen in assumption and conclusion question type is the Fallacies resulting from Ad Hominem.

What is Ad Hominem

Ad Hominem is a Latin Word that translates to “To the Man” or more precisely “Against the man”. Politicians are experts at using Ad Hominem. In this type of fallacy, the author or source of the argument is attacked instead of attacking the argument per se.

If you don’t pay close attention, this fallacy might give you the impression that the argument of the author is targeted. This fallacy is a 2-step attack.

First step involve attacking the author’s character where his virtues and vices are questioned and exposed, then his actions and the circumstances under which those actions were performed are brought to the forefront. The first step acts as proof against any arguments that the author make even if the arguments have strong independent evidences to support it.

Conflict in Words and Action (of Group)

This Ad Hominem can be represented with an example about Politician A & B conversing about an anti-graft bill.

Politician A: I believe that a strong anti-graft bill is required to conquer corruption

Politician B: Your party members are involved in some of the biggest corruption scandals. Therefore, your position on corruption does not count.

Politician B assumes that just because Politician A is part of a party, the behavior of few of its corrupt members is the universal behavior endorsed and supported by the party, including Politician A.

Conflict in Words and Action (of Person)

We will cite an example where two activists are setting guidelines for the new anti-poaching law.

Activist A: We should set up strong rules to control poaching of non-endangered species.

Activist B: You are a non-vegetarian, and you actively take part in duck hunting. How will you convince the lawmakers when you violate poaching of non-endangered species?

Activist B assumes that Activist A has not quit poaching all together. Even if he goes for duck hunting, the argument for controls does not mean ban. For GMAT CR readers, this small difference might not be easy to spot, but with regular practice, you will master this common fallacy.

Changing Positions

Let us look at an example where two politicians are arguing about a new bill.

Politician A: For an inclusive democracy, we should have 33% reservation for women politicians

Politician B: Two years ago, you were against reservation for women; therefore, your conclusion is wrong. We don’t need women’s reservation for an inclusive democracy.

Politician B is attacking Politician A for changing his stand, and attacking the argument without going into the merits and demerits of the argument.

Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning (2019 Edition)


1) Introduction   
2) 6 Step Strategy to solve GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions   
3) How to overcome flawed thinking in GMAT Critical Reasoning?   
4) 4 GMAT Critical Reasoning Fallacies   
5) Generalization in GMAT Critical Reasoning   
6) Inconsistencies in Arguments   
7) Eliminate Out of Scope answer choices using Necessary and Sufficient Conditions   
8) Ad Hominem in GMAT Critical Reasoning   
9) Slippery Slope in GMAT Critical Reasoning   
10) Affirming the Consequent – GMAT Critical Reasoning   
11) How to Paraphrase GMAT Critical Reasoning Question   
12) How to Answer Assumption Question Type   
13) How to Answer Conclusion Question Type   
14) How to Answer Inference Question Type   
15) How to Answer Strengthen Question Type   
16) How to Answer Weaken Question Type   
17) How to Answer bold-faced and Summary Question Types   
18) How to Answer Parallel Reasoning Questions   
19) How to Answer the Fill in the Blanks Question   
Question Bank   
Question 1: 5G Technology (Inference)   
Question 2: Water Purifier vs. Minerals (Fill in the Blanks)   
Question 3: Opioid Abuse (Strengthens)   
Question 4: Abe and Japan’s Economy (Inference)   
Question 5: Indians and Pulse Import (Weakens)   
Question 6: Retail Chains in Latin America (Assumption)   
Question 7: American Tax Rates – Republican vs. Democrats (Inference)   
Question 8: AI – China vs the US (Weakens)   
Question 9: Phone Snooping (Strengthens)   
Question 10:  Traditional Lawns (Assumption)   
Question 11:  Appraisal-Tendency Framework (Inference)   
Question 12:  Meta-Analysis of Diet Trials (Weakens)   
Question 13:  Biases in AI (Strengthens)   
Question 14:  Stock Price and Effectiveness of Leadership (Inference)   
Question 15:  US Border Wall (Weakens)   
Question 16:  Driverless Car and Pollution (Assumption)   
Question 17:  Climate Change (Inference)   
Question 18:  Rent a Furniture (Weakens)   
Question 19:  Marathon Performance and Customized Shoes (Weakens)   
Question 20:  Guaranteed Basic Income (Assumption)   
Question 21:  Brexit (Infer)   
Question 22:  AB vs Traditional Hotels (Assumption)   
Question 23:  Tax Incentive and Job Creation (Weakens)   
Question 24:  Obesity and Sleeve Gastrectomy (Inference)   
Question 25:  Recruiting Executives (Weaken)   

Answers with Detailed Explanation

Download Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning (2019 Edition)

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