Refers to a conclusion that isn’t aligned with previous statements or evidence.
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The term non sequitur refers to a conclusion that isn’t aligned with previous statements or evidence. In Latin, non sequitur literally means “it does not follow.”
A statement that is labeled a non sequitur is one that is illogical. For example, if someone asks what it’s like outside and you reply, “It’s 2:00,” you’ve just used a non sequitur or made a statement that does not follow what was being discussed.
Non sequiturs are found in everyday conversation and fallacious arguments, and are often used to good effect in literature. Let’s take a look at examples of these statements that “do not follow.”
Common Non Sequiturs
Many logical fallacies are types of non sequiturs, such as affirming the consequent (“If you’re right, then I’m right. As you’re right, therefore, I’m right.”) or denying the antecedent (“If I’m Indian, then I’m Asian. I’m not Indian. Therefore, I’m not Asian.”). They defy the basic rules of reason and are usually based upon unsound arguments.
Not only do non sequiturs fail to follow logic, they’re usually untrue, having jumped to unfounded conclusions. In conversation, a non sequitur is a statement that seems absurd — often causing confusion due to lack of understanding.
In the non sequiturs below you’ll see they either don’t follow a line of logic or are potentially fallacious in their nature.
- My refrigerator is acting up. I’d better finish that book by Friday.
- I read about a pitbull attack. Our neighbor owns a pitbull. My life is in danger.
- It’s time to take my car in for service. I wonder if my stylist is available this Saturday.
- I had a crazy music teacher in elementary school. All music teachers are crazy.
- When it’s sunny, I see my neighbor walking his dog. He must only walk the dog when the sun is out.
- If Jo loves to read, she must hate movies. Jo hates to read, so she must love movies.
- I don’t make much money and I’m unhappy. Rich people must be happy.
- He went to the same college as Bill Gates. Bill Gates is rich and famous. He should be rich and famous, too.
- My neighbor’s cat is aloof and mean. Cats are nasty animals.
- I dated a man who was an accountant and all he talked about was work. Accountants are boring.
- Mary bakes the best cakes in town. She should run for mayor.
- Dave was arrested for a DUI ten years ago. He’s definitely an alcoholic.
- I had eggplant at the local Italian restaurant and it was disgusting. All eggplant is soggy and bitter.
- I got into a car accident on a rainy day. No one should drive in the rain.
- Wooden furniture comes from trees. If trees are cut down, there will be no new furniture.
- The woman my brother married was a heartless woman. She was from New York. New Yorkers are terrible people.
- I got sick after eating sushi last week. Pizza is the best.
- Last night’s lottery winner hit the jackpot after buying tickets from three different stores. The strategy for winning the lottery is to buy tickets from a variety of locations.
- I lived in a house without a basement. That house flooded. Houses without basements will definitely flood.
- “It tastes like somebody stole my wallet. Ya know?” — Gerard Way
Examples of Literary Non Sequiturs
In literature, non sequiturs are often used for comedic purposes, as in the Theater of the Absurd. In these instances, something is stated that bears no relevance to what was being discussed.
These non sequiturs are so far-fetched, they serve as a literary technique for some added texture and comedy. Often, they catch people off guard, surprising a laugh out of them.
It was a spring day, the sort that gives people hope: all soft winds and delicate smells of warm earth. Suicide weather.- Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen
“I love you,” she said. She nestled closer, her hand moving up the back of his neck. The wind lifted. “Don’t kill me,” he said. “I’m not going to,” she said.- Lexicon, Max Barry
Beetroot Cossins had moved to Kuala Lumpur where she died of lethargy and pie.- The Bizarre Letters of St. John Morris, St. John Morris