Is there a word/phrase for Person A in a conversation like this:

Person A: "Are you from this country?"

Person B: "Why does that matter?"

Person A: "So, that is a no..."

Person A asks an irrelevant question, and Person B points out the lack of relevance. Is there a word/phrase for Person A?


5 Answers 5


I think it is a case of faulty reasoning based on a fallacy that has irrelevant premises that is a fallacy with:

  • premises that have no bearing on the truth of the conclusion, that is that have nothing to do with the conclusion.

As asked, the answer might be single-minded or closed-minded.

However, there is a clarification that needs to be made. Note that B has not "pointed out" the lack of relevance, but rather has indirectly asserted it. Your question assumes B's position is correct, and (particularly in political and religious discussions) it is entirely possible that A profoundly disagrees. As to who is correct is beyond the scope of this discussion.

In any event, B's question constitutes a deflection of A's query, and from A's point of view may well constitute an evasion. In this case, A's response is an attempt to get B to stop avoiding the question. Whether the question should be avoided is another matter.


Inattentive: "Heedless, negligent, not attentive" [Attentive: "Heedful of the comfort of others; courteous."] both from Webster's New Collegiate. (See also my comment, which is not suitable for an answer.)


A couple of logical fallacies would seem to apply to the example given in the question title:

1 Argument from ignorance (appeal to ignorance, argumentum ad ignorantiam) – assuming that a claim is true because it has not been or cannot be proven false, or vice versa

(Person A assumes that his suspicion that Person B is a foreigner is true, simply because Person B failed to/refused to verify citizenship.)

2 Argument from silence (argumentum ex silentio) – where the conclusion is based on the absence of evidence, rather than the existence of evidence.

(Though this is mostly used in historiographical contexts, the mechanism of the example in the question is related: Person A concludes that Person B is a foreigner just because Person B put forth no evidence in not answering the question.)



The Wikipedia article for "Jump to Conclusions" uses the phrase false inference, which is fitting.

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