Thursday, May 03, 2012

Thursdays fallacies have far to go

So, Thursday already, doesn't time fly when you're having fun. I've got a couple of examples of long distance fallacies today (from me at least!) both really common and very effective on the unwary.

NO TRUE SCOTSMAN - Making what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of an argument.

In this form of faulty reasoning one’s belief is rendered unfalsifiable because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the goalposts so that it wouldn’t apply to a supposedly ‘true’ example. Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman sugars his porridge.

THE TEXAS SHARPSHOOTER - Cherry-picking data clusters to suit an argument, or finding a pattern to fit a presumption.

This ‘false cause’ fallacy is coined after a marksman shooting at barns and then painting bullseye targets around the spot where the most bullet holes appear. Clusters naturally appear by chance, and don’t necessarily indicate causation. The makers of Sugarette Candy Drinks point to research showing that of the five countries where Sugarette drinks sell the most units, three of them are in the top ten healthiest countries on Earth, therefore Sugarette drinks are healthy.

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