A Fallacy Recognition Handbook
†Zionism & Israel Center †† Zionism and Israel Pages†† MidEastWeb Middle East News Views & Facts
A Fallacy Recognition Handbook
Zen & Understanding the Middle East
"The truth is out there "
Use & misuse of words
False information signals more false information
Understand the Context
Lies, More Lies, Damn Lies and Newspapers
Beware of Generalizations
Theology and scripture
Smoke in your eyes
What is Missing?
Myth versus fact versus narrative
The past was not like the present; the future will be different
Fallacy Recognition in the Middle East
Fallacies and Arguments
Fallacies and Arguments
Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
Appeal to Authority
Appeal to Belief
Appeal to Common Practice
Appeal to Consequences of a Belief
Appeal to Fear
Appeal to Flattery
Appeal to Novelty
Appeal to Popularity
Appeal to Tradition
Begging the Question
Burden of Proof
Circumstantial Ad Hominem
Confusing Cause and Effect
Guilt By Association
Poisoning the Well
2 Wrongs Make A Right
This fallacy has the following general form:
1) A and B are associated on a regular basis.
2) Therefore A is the cause of B.
The general idea behind this fallacy is that it is an error in reasoning to conclude that one thing causes another simply because the two are associated on a regular basis. More formally, this fallacy is committed when it is concluded that A is the cause of B simply because they are associated on a regular basis. The error being made is that a causal conclusion is being drawn from inadequate evidence.
The Questionable Cause Fallacy is actually a general type of fallacy. Any causal fallacy that involves an error in a reasoning due to a failure to adequately investigate the suspected cause is a fallacy of this type. Thus, fallacies like Post Hoc and Confusing Cause and Effect are specific examples of the general Questionable Cause Fallacy.
Causal reasoning can be quite difficult since causation is a rather complex philosophic issue. The complexity of causation is briefly discussed in the context of the specific versions of this fallacy.
The key to avoiding the Questionable Cause fallacy is to take due care in drawing causal conclusions. This requires taking steps to adequately investigate the phenomena in question as well using the proper methods of careful investigation.
Joe gets a chain letter that threatens him with dire consequences if he breaks the chain. He laughs at it and throws it in the garbage. On his way to work he slips and breaks his leg. When he gets back from the hospital he sends out 200 copies of the chain letter, hoping to avoid further accidents.
When investigating a small pond a group of graduate students found that there was a severe drop in the fish population. Further investigation revealed that the fishesí food supply had also been severely reduced. At first the students believed that the lack of food was killing the fish, but then they realized they had to find what was causing the decline in the food supply. The students suspected acid rain was the cause of both the reduction in the fish population as well as the food supply. However, the local business council insisted that it was just the lack of food that caused the reduction in the fish population. Most of the townspeople agreed with this conclusion since it seemed pretty obvious that a lack of food would cause fish to die.
Previous: Post Hoc ††Next: Red Herring
See Also: Cause and Effect (in Middle East Fallacies), Post Hoc
This book is copyright 2002 by Dr. Michael C. LaBossiere. It may be freely distributed for personal or educational use provided that it is not modified and no fee above the normal cost of distribution is charged for it. Visit my web site at www.opifex.cnchost.com.
Reproduced by permission
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