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Can you outsmart the fallacy that divided a nation? - Elizabeth Cox

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  • TEDEd Animation

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It’s 1819. The US is preparing to make Missouri and Maine new states. One representative insists that slavery shouldn’t be allowed in any new state. Another believes it should be a state’s right to choose. A compromise is proposed: slavery will be allowed in Missouri and prohibited in Maine. Can you spot the problem with this compromise? Elizabeth Cox explores the middle ground fallacy.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Elizabeth Cox
  • Director Hector Herrera, Pazit Cahlon
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Animator Hector Herrera
  • Art Director Hector Herrera
  • Storyboard Artist Pazit Cahlon
  • Sound Designer Nick Sewell
  • Music Massassauga
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Content Associate Abdallah Ewis
  • Special Thanks Alicia Lane
Additional Resources for you to Explore
A logical fallacy is simply an error in logic. For example, a middle ground fallacy illogically equates two extreme views, such as anti-slavery and pro-slavery, as equally valid. We have learned that if one view is wrong, while the other is correct, a compromise between the two is still wrong. The midpoint between two opposing views is not always the truth.

Watch episodes from TED-Ed’s Logical Fallacies series here to see if you can outsmart common fallacies!

The Missouri Compromise and the American Civil War shows us that the use of faulty logic or reasoning has the potential for centuries of devastating and enduring consequences. The stage was set for the Missouri Compromise long before 1820. The first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, more than 150 years before the Declaration of Independence, and over 240 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.

Pulitzer Prize winner, Nikole Hannah-Jones conceived The 1619 Project to chronicle the history of slavery, it’s continued impact on our culture, and to celebrate the role of formerly enslaved peoples in defining American democracy. Take a look at this short film to get an idea of how systematic fallacies can perpetuate centuries of oppression and affect all of our daily lives.


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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Elizabeth Cox
  • Director Hector Herrera, Pazit Cahlon
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Animator Hector Herrera
  • Art Director Hector Herrera
  • Storyboard Artist Pazit Cahlon
  • Sound Designer Nick Sewell
  • Music Massassauga
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Content Associate Abdallah Ewis
  • Special Thanks Alicia Lane

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