The Guilty by Correction Fallacy

People are so politically divided that even when you correct them for repeating a false statement about something, they assume you are defending and/or are that thing, rather than you’re just stating a fact. I’ve experienced this so many times that I have decided to coin this as the “Guilty by Correction Fallacy.” I am not sure if this fallacy is already accounted for, but so far I haven’t seen one describing this situation in the way I am. The closest thing would be “Guilty by Association Fallacy,” but that is when you’re assumed to be guilty of something just for being around that thing.

Example:

Bob is a racist.

Tim is friends with Bob.

Therefore, Tim is also racist.

It is possible Tim is also a racist like Bob, but we don’t know that for sure. And Tim may not have known Bob was a racist; thus, to assume Tim is racist just because of his friendship with Bob is a logical fallacy because we do not know how close of friends they are. We see this all the time in politics and in cancel culture: someone is outed as something, then everyone who is around that person must disavow or disown them lest be considered the same thing. Again, could these people all be secretly that thing, sure, but they also may not be; we do not know the level of association nor do we know if the people around that person have always privately condemned the behavior that has been outed.  

As for my Guilty of Correction Fallacy, it differs from the Guilty by Association Fallacy because you are taking an action (correcting someone) which may cause them to see your action as defensive or sympathetic, rather than just you being known to associate with someone or something without doing anything specific.

Its structure is like this:

Scott makes a false statement.

Frank corrects him.

Scott claims Frank is defending and/or is sympathetic to that thing.

Here are some more examples below

Bill: Hitler was known to have sexual relations with his niece.

Jim: No, that is false; I’ve studied Hitler’s life and many things said about him are propaganda.

Bill: OMG, I didn’t know you were a Nazi!

Just because Jim studied Hitler’s life and corrected Bill, doesn’t mean he is a Nazi or that he sympathizes with Hitler.

Cara: Trump made fun of a disabled reporter.

Sarah: No he didn’t; he used that same gesture to mock several reporters!

Cara: Wow, when did you become a MAGAtard?

Cara incorrectly assumes Sarah now supports Trump just because she corrected her, when she actually hates him as much as she hates false statements.

Mike: Did you hear Biden say, “Salute the Marines!” as he walked by like an idiot?

Joe: No, he actually said, “Some good-looking Marines” as he walked by them. The Marines would have saluted him first, as he is a superior to them, but they didn’t. Biden would have never rendered a salute first, so someone allegedly telling him in his earpiece to salute the Marines doesn’t even make any sense.

Mike: LOL! Ok liberal.

Mike assumes Joe is a liberal just because he corrected him.

As someone who is neither on the Left nor the Right, I am constantly correcting both sides, and each of them thinks I’m the opposite of them. It is funny, but sad at the same time since the conversation becomes so predictable. The polarization of our country has never been this strong, and we have a lot of work to do to break down the Left-vs-Right false dichotomy, along with its narratives which continue to divide and dumb down the people.

So if you run into a similar situation above, know that you are not alone, and make sure you tell the person they are committing the Guilty by Correction Fallacy so they can learn to stop doing it.