|Part of the series on|
“”Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for an institution.
|—Mae West, The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said|
Equivocation is a logical fallacy that relies on the different meanings a word can have in different contexts.
It is a favorite fallacy of creationist and woo hucksters alike. It can be used both to seemingly belittle a concept or idea, or to raise one up to false pretenses. It can be used to disguise bullshit like in quantum woo where people like Deepak Chopra use equivocation to make their ideas sound like they have some basis in reality.
 Obviously false
P1: Noisy children are real headaches.
P2: An aspirin makes real headaches go away.
C1: An aspirin will make noisy children go away.
P1: Nothing is better than eternal happiness.
P2: A ham sandwich is better than nothing.
C1: A ham sandwich is better than eternal happiness.
P1: All bark is grown on trees.
P2: All dogs bark.
C1: All dogs are trees.
 Less obvious
- "Because it's called the theory of evolution, evolution is an unproven assumption!"
- This is fallacious because it equivocates two different meanings of the word "theory."
- "You have faith in science, and I have faith in God."
- This exploits the fact that "faith" is often used to mean "confidence," that is having a solid reason to be confident of something due to its past performance -- this argument is an effort to equate science with religion, when in reality science does not require faith (meaning belief without evidence).
- "The theory of relativity is immoral because it promotes moral relativism."
- This equivocates two different meanings of the word "relative."
- "Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth." (Macbeth; Act 4, Scene 1)
- Macbeth's enemy Macduff had been born by Caesarian section; is he "of woman born"?
 See also
- Fallacy of ambiguity
- Fallacy of accent
- Fallacy of amphiboly
- Rationalist taboo