Fallacies 18: Appeal to authority

In the last ‘Fallacies’ entry we considered the appeal to popularity. In this entry we’ll look at a similar tactic known as the appeal to authority. This is a common argument used to shortcut any analysis of the issues and jump straight to the conclusion:
“Professor such-and-such thinks this is right so who are we to argue?”

There is some merit in this line of argument, especially when discussing complex issues about which most people know very little. We need to rely upon the judgement and opinions of experts simply because nobody has the time to study everything in enough depth to make informed decisions on all the topics that come up in modern society.

But if we don’t know enough to make our own decisions then we need some way to judge which expert does. This is no easy task.

It’s an old question that was first discussed (to the best of my knowledge) by Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher who covered it in his ‘Discourses’. Plato came to a rather unsatisfactory conclusion. He argued that the only way to judge the value of expert opinion is to become an expert yourself.

As we have seen this isn’t really an option. But if we want to make sense of the world we have to try because let’s face it – even experts can be fallible.

We have several basic problems here…

Expert in the right field

An expert in one field isn’t necessarily an expert in another. Indeed – the time and effort required to become an expert in any field means that it’s very unlikely that most people will be able to do it in more than one area of study. But it’s not enough to have a Ph.D. – you need to have the right Ph.D.

For example it is not uncommon for creationists to argue that some (admittedly not all that many) leading scientists deny evolution. But you’d be hard pushed to find an evolutionary biologist (or even a general biologist) to take their claims seriously. This was the crux of the problem with the 2005 school curriculum trial in Dover, Pennsylvania.

Although some members of the community and the school board wanted ‘Intelligent Design’ (the new incarnation of creationism) to be pushed on to the vulnerable minds of children in science classes, those who understood the issues (the teachers) refused. The case went to Court and (of course) the teachers won.

Is your expert authority skilled in the right field?

Is your expert authority skilled in the right field?

It’s not enough to cite an expert – it must be an expert in the appropriate area of study because nobody knows everything.

This was the problem with Bjorn Lomborg’s controversial work on climate change (The Skeptical Environmentalist, 2001 and Cool it, 2007). Lomborg is not a climate scientist, he has a Ph.D. in political science. The overwhelming majority of actual climatologists (those who understand climate science) reject his work out of hand and it’s not hard for even a layman to understand why.

His arguments contradict themselves (he can’t even make up his mind whether or not global warming is a good thing) and the evidence he uses to uphold one argument is conveniently ignored when he tries to make a different point without the merest hint of explanation.

None the less climate change deniers and right wing politicians regularly cite his work as an ‘appeal to authority’. This would be like asking someone with a Ph.D. in theology to recommend treatments for psychiatric patients, a ridiculous situation indeed. It isn’t reasonable to expect someone with no knowledge of the relevant field to be taken seriously when they make recommendations. None the less this is precisely what Archbishop John Sentamu did when he suggested in the UK’s House of Lords that exorcism should be available to psychiatric patients on the National Health Service.

Archbishop Jphn Sentamu thinks people with mental health problems should be subjected to (NHS funded) exorcism

Archbishop Jphn Sentamu thinks people with mental health problems should be subjected to (NHS funded) exorcism

Authority in the organisation

There are other types of authority to be wary of though. There’s the authority that comes from organisational structure – the boss.

As we all know people rise through the ranks in organisations for a variety of reasons and they’re not always the best person for the promotion. Managers are promoted because someone owes them a favour, because nobody else wants the job, because they have a good relationship with powerful outside funders or supporters or sometimes even because they know stuff.

Often though they are just in the right place at the right time. That’s not exactly a qualification for the status of expert. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has worked for incompetent managers and spent significant amounts of my time sorting out the messes they created.

The Peter Principle is the phenomenon of promoting people to the level of their own incompetence. The fact that John is a good technician doesn’t mean he will be able to manage other technicians or run a departmental budget. But he gets promoted (because of his technical ability) into a job that requires a completely different skillset – and John just can’t cut it.

But he doesn’t get sacked or demoted back to his former position. He just stays where he is. He’ll never climb any higher because he’s not good at his lower management job so he just stays there – perhaps for decades – making poor decisions and holding back his department’s progress. That’s the Peter principle at work. You’d be a fool to trust John’s judgement about anything to do with management. He’d be great at answering technical questions though. That’s his real area of expertise.

Experts are fallible

Even true experts are fallible. That’s why Alfred Russel Wallace (co-discoverer of the theory of evolution) was suckered by spiritism and spent much of his life vociferously supporting fraudulent mediums. He was good at what he did but he was far from perfect – just like the rest of us.

Whenever we try to assess the credibility of experts we come up against these sorts of problems and it’s genuinely difficult to know who to trust. It’s almost impossible to make that decision with absolute certainty. But there are some questions we can ask ourselves that may help:

Is this expert skilled in this particular area?
What do the majority of similairly trained experts think?
What does the evidence say?
How often has this person been right/wrong in the past?
If they’ve been wrong before have they been prepared to admit it?
Is this person ideologically driven?
Is this person financially driven to say this stuff?
Are there any other forms of bias you are aware of?
Does the expert use real data as evidence or just rely on stories and anecdote (you can make any point you like in a story)?
If you follow them and they are wrong – will there be a cost?
If you don’t follow them and they are right – will there be a cost?
What research could you do to check out their assumptions?

You see there’s much more to being right than merely being an expert or a boss.

The appeal to authority has merit – in fact it would be impossible to function in the modern world without trusting someone but it’s always a good idea to think carefully about which authority you choose to follow.


We have now reached the end of this blog series as originally planned. However I’ve enjoyed writing it so much I’m sure I’ll be adding to the ‘Fallacies’ blog category as time progresses.

About the ‘Fallacies’ series

The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com

Fallacies 17: The appeal to popularity

Appeal to popularity
It’s truly remarkable how many different tactics people will use to persuade us of their point of view. One of the most common is the ‘appeal to popularity’ in which we are encouraged to agree simply because a significant number of other people do. It’s an appeal to herd mentality in which reason is seen as less important than populism. This is the argument that would have us believe the Nazis were correct simply because so many people attended the Nuremberg Rally.

Of course that doesn’t mean that popular opinion is always wrong – far from it. But when popular opinion is reasonable it is because, coincidentally it matches the available evidence, not merely because it is popular.

Columbus disagreed with the majority view

Columbus disagreed with the majority view

An interesting aspect of this argument is that it relies solely upon a statistical analysis, an opinion poll if you will, and such statistical perspectives are notoriously misleading. Different populations give different results. Different cultural groups often have predictable opinions and different views are prevalent at different periods in history.

Unless we believe that modern society is infallible we need to be open to the possibility that popular opinion today may be wrong just as it was when most people believed that:

The earth is flat;
The earth is the centre of the universe;
Iron ships can never float;
Erupting volcanoes, failing harvests, infertility and disabilities are the judgements of the Gods.

And then there is the problem of sampling. For example I know a number of people who proudly insist that most people in the world believe in a God or Gods. They’re not usually quite so keen to report that most people the world over do not believe in their particular deity of choice. Nor do they generally like to acknowledge that (with the curious exception of the United States), the more advanced the nation the smaller the percentage of believers.

You see the question you ask about statistics of any kind can easily be used to manipulate the results to make whatever case you like. But that really just makes the very idea of the ‘appeal to popularity’ both meaningless and obsolete.

So what if most people in rural Kenya believe that unprotected sex with a virgin will cure AIDS? Most people who have studied the disease understand how tragic and dangerous such a very popular misconception really is. It results in the widespread rape of young girls who often go on to develop AIDS themselves as a direct consequence. So which statistic matters most?

The reality is that every major advancement in human understanding involved an individual or minority group disagreeing with the majority. This is how we develop as a society.

Will you follow the herd or will you think for yourself?

Will you follow the herd or will you think for yourself?

If the ‘appeal to popularity’ argument had held sway Eddison would never have developed electric lighting, Darwin would never have developed his theory of evolution and Columbus wouldn’t have rediscovered the Americas several centuries after Leif Erikson’s forgotten expedition to ‘Vineland’ (modern Newfoundland).

Dismissing the minority view simply because it is the minority view stymies growth and prevents improvement. It’s far better to judge an idea on its merits than worry about the numbers of supporters it may have. Every good idea was outside the mainstream once upon a time.

Instead of counting heads, ask what the evidence is for new ideas and beliefs. Who cares what the herd thinks? Unless, of course, you’re a sheep.

About the ‘Fallacies’ series

The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com

Fallacies 12: The false dichotomy

Anders Breivik

Anders Breivik

The false dichotomy argument (AKA Black & white argument, false dilemma argument, fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a favourite of a range of manipulators from quacks and politicians to clerics and snake-oil salesmen. It is a tactic used to convince the other person that there are only two possibilities when in reality there are more. For example…

The English Defence League claims to defend England from what it regards as the ‘Islamification’ of the Western world. You may have heard that argument before. It’s the one Anders Breivik used to justify his terrorist attacks in Oslo last year.

The argument is depressingly simplistic, allowing for only two possibilities….

‘The Muslims’ will take over the world
We will stop ‘the Muslims’ from taking over the world

It’s not hard to see that there are many, many more possibilities than this. Other possibilities include…

People can learn to live harmoniously together.
Many parts of UK are peacefully integrated.
‘The Muslims’ is no more an homogenous group than ‘The Christians’ is. There are ‘good and bad’ in both religions.
The extremist antics of the EDL and other far-right neoNazi organisations is a bigger threat by far to our society than the presence of people whose creed or colour differs from the stereotypical ‘Aryan Christian’ ideal.
All people, regardless of race, colour or creed have equal rights.

And yet, by creating a false dichotomy this divisive group of neoNazis have managed to convince themselves that standing around in car parks and attacking anyone who looks a bit foreign somehow constitutes defending the nation.

An equally silly false dichotomy involves the political nonsense that led David Cameron and Theresa May to inform us that the UK’s only options were:

Scrap the Human Rights Act
Watch the collapse of the British economy.

Dale McAlpine preaching

Dale McAlpine preaching

It’s true that the British economy isn’t doing particularly well right now but there’s much more to the argument than workers’ rights and a legal system that protects minimum wages and opposes unfair dismissal. Reducing tax for the highest earners, destroying the public sector and using tax payers money to boost private profits might have something to do with it too – not to mention the global financial crisis.

One of my least favourite false dichotomies came from a West Cumbrian, Christian street preacher who kindly informed my autistic, teenage stepson that he had only two options…

Convert to fundamentalist Christianity
Burn in Hell for all eternity

As you may imagine I was sure to point out a range of options to that preacher when I saw him in the street some time later.
And yet the narrow focus of the false dichotomy continues to influence people and can actually sound quite convincing if we accept their assessment of the situation at face value.

So I’ll set up a little dichotomous argument of my own. You can judge for yourself whether or not you consider the dichotomy to be a false one……

When you are presented with only two options ask yourself if
there may be more things to consider

Remain vulnerable to these manipulators and their superficial assessments of reality

About the ‘Fallacies’ series

The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com

Fallacies 7: Argument from personal incredulity

Nobody knows everything. That’s just the way it is. That’s why different people do different things. That’s why people specialise in different areas of expertise. A wise man or woman understands this and takes care to ask the right people (the right specialist) when he or she needs some advice. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t ask a mathematician for advice on gourmet cooking any more than you’d expect Jamie Oliver to help you with advanced logarithmic calculations.

This point may seem obvious but it’s surprising how often we forget it when making our own decisions. It’s not enough just to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. We also need to be careful that the person we ask for advice does have the answers – or at least has integrity enough to admit it if they don’t.

I remember an interesting (and particularly entertaining) series of conversations with a couple of LDS missionaries on the origins of humanity. As may be expected I argued that our species had evolved over time via a process of natural selection. The most forceful of these two church ‘elders’ (both were in their early twenties) helpfully explained that he knew ‘all about evolution’. He went on to explain that he could not imagine how if he stopped using his right arm his son would be born without that particular limb.

This is a perfect example of the argument from personal incredulity. He didn’t understand it and so he didn’t believe it. To be fair, I don’t believe that my son would be born without arms if I didn’t use mine either. The difference between the aforementioned Mormon missionary and myself is that I know enough about evolution to understand that Darwin’s ground-breaking theory never suggested any such thing.

Before you can advise another person on any topic you need to understand it. As Richard Dawkins famously remarked:

“A true scholar reads more than one book”

wpid-1344283851.jpgThis earnest young missionary knew only what his church had told him about evolutionary theory. He’d never troubled himself to understand what evolutionary science was really all about. That’s why he didn’t understand how it could be possible. He didn’t know because his advisors (other members of the Mormon church) didn’t know either. His objection was based entirely upon his own ignorance. The argument from personal incredulity. He had relied upon the wisdom of LDS church leaders whose amazing insights include such scientific pearls of wisdom as:

“The moon is a superior planet” which man will never reach.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I remember a recent discussion about a TV conjurer and his genuinely remarkable illusions. The child I was conversing with insisted that the illusions we watched on the TV screen really must be magic simply because he didn’t know how else they could be achieved. But, of course, that’s the whole point of conjuring tricks.

This conjurer made no claims (outside of his act) and certainly doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a skilled illusionist, however convincing his tricks may be. And they really are convicing.

A host of mediums, charlatan fortune-tellers and other assorted confidence tricksters rely upon exactly that same trickery to fleece gullible ‘patrons’ every day. They use the incredulity of their ‘marks’ to persuade them of all sorts of deceitful claims from communion with the dead to knowledge from the Akashic record. And they make a great deal of money into the bargain.

wpid-confused.jpegAs I write this post I’m reminded of the original motivation for this series. It was inspired by a series of frustrating and ultimately futile internet exchanges with someone claiming to be an advisor in mental health law. Yet the bulk of this individual’s arguments were based upon ‘out of context’ quotations that he clearly didn’t understand well enough to tell how they relate to each other. This superficial ignorance not only led him to make some worrying statements (extremely worrying when made by an ‘advisor’) but also to rely heavily upon the argument from personal incredulity. Several of us who have studied the relevant legislation saw right through this charade but equally many of those who hadn’t the same level of knowledge were completely fooled. They had taken the word of a man whose main argument amounted to little more than his own inability to understand complexity.

That’s another classic example of the argument from personal incredulity. And it brings with it a particular warning….

Whenever someone tries to convince you of anything by telling you that they can’t see how something might be true – go and find someone who can. Then you can make a decision based upon genuine understanding, not upon the lack of it.

About the ‘Fallacies’ series

The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com

Fallacies 6: The Transcendental Temptation

In the last post we saw how willing people are to believe that natural events are the results of supernatural agency, intention and consciousness. It’s easy to expose the beliefs of those who claim that weather patterns represent the whims of the Gods or that the universe can impart its wisdom via a swinging pendulum or a pile of bones. #

wpid-1342295979.jpgBut what about the more widespread and socially accepted forms of the Agency fallacy? What about those who claim (as did the previous Bishop of Carlisle) that the devastating floods of 2007 were actually God’s judgement on a sick society?

What about the legions of Christian evangelists who describe HIV & AIDS as God’s judgement on homosexuality or the Catholic bishops who oppose contraception in Africa in spite of the AIDS epidemic sweeping that continent. Then there are the millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses who would rather die than accept a blood transfusion?

If for no other reason than sheer weight of numbers these people are much more difficult to dismiss as misguided cranks than the ‘leyline dowsers’, ‘past life regression therapists’ and ‘energy healers’ of the world. But that doesn’t make them any less damaging. Consider for example the evangelical Christian who wants to bring violent ‘curative’ assault to UK in the name of his (presumably equally violent) God. Or imagine the terrifying plight of the 15 women who were burned at the stake in 2007 by religious believers in Gambia.

And yet these more mainstream ‘agency inventors’ have no more evidence or grounds for their beliefs than any of the rest. They may even have less. After all, at least the astrologist can show you that the stars exist. I’ve yet to find a priest, Rabbi, Pastor, Imam or Scientologist who can do the same for their revered God or alien overlord.

So what drives these otherwise intelligent, rational people to believe so completely in a deified agency without (or even in spite of) real world, empirical evidence? There are, of course many reasons for this. Some are cultural, some developmental and some neurological. But here we shall consider only one.

Welcome to the Transcendental Temptation.

Most people seem uncomfortable with mortality. There are exceptions, of course and throughout my care career I’ve known several people who seemed quite content for life to slip away as the end approached. These people experienced what we know ‘in the trade’ as a good death. But they’re not the only kinds of death that people experience.

Others seem terrified at the prospect of their own demise. Their deaths are distressing, not only for themselves but also for those around them. It’s never pleasant to sit with and try to comfort a dying person who hasn’t managed to come to terms with the inevitable. For many people the prospect of death and eternal non-existance is just too difficult to contemplate.

 If only there was a way to cheat death.
 If only there was a way to live forever.
 If only there was a way to ‘transcend’ the physical body after death and carry on living in another, less tangible form.

Now wouldn’t that be tempting?

That’s the essence of the transcendental temptation. It’s a form of wishful thinking that allows the believer to pretend that they can cheat the reaper. But it comes at a price. This sort of belief can only survive so long as believers refuse to think too deeply about the evidence.

wizardThe fact that not a jot of evidence exists (outside the world of cold-reading charlatans and heavily stage managed seances or TV shows) doesn’t matter at all. That’s why belief that comes from the transcendental temptation is called ‘faith’. That’s what we always call belief without evidence. Another equally descriptive term might be ‘wishful thinking’.

Of course none of this takes away people’s right to believe what they want to and nobody should feel the need to justify their beliefs to anyone else. That’s not the point of this post.

But whenever anyone tries to impose their religious morality upon others, from the ‘donation’ seeking psychic medium to the Archbishop in the House of Lords it’s worth being clear about where their motivation springs from. It’s also worth understanding the extent to which their views and moral standards are based upon wishful thinking and the transcendental temptation.

It seems that for many of our self-appointed ‘moral leaders’ the chief professional qualification is gullibility and the desire to hide from reality. Think carefully before you allow these people to impose their views of right and wrong upon your life. After all these are the same people who brought us & continue to bring to many countries (including in many cases the UK):

Subjugation of women;
Anti birth-control campaigns & legislation;
Variously encouraging and condemning suicide and attempted suicide;
Corrective rape of lesbians;
Witch trials & executions;
Discrimination against (& even execution of) LGBT citizens;
Book burning;
Barbaric ritual slaughter of animals (EG Kosher & Halal);
Genital mutilation of infant girls and boys;
Censorship of science teaching (EG Evolution and the Tennessee Stopes ‘monkey’ trial) in schools;
Holy wars;
State-sanctioned apartheid & slavery;
Loss of sexual freedom;
Religious genocide………….

The list goes on and on.

Don’t let your life, your morality, your sense of self and your way of life be torn asunder by those who are so heavily motivated by the irrational desire to deny their own, inevitable demise. Unless you want to, of course.

We all have the right to believe in whatever transcendental belief system we choose. At least here in UK we have that right. Exercising such freedom of belief in many Islamic states is likely to result in imprisonment or even execution.

But we have that right in UK.
We all have that right.

And because we all have that right, nobody has the right to insist that other people ‘join in’ with their particular, preferred transcendental temptation.

What motivates your morality?

About the ‘Fallacies’ series

The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com

Fallacies 4: Agency fallacy 1

What is agency? In simple terms it means ‘intention’. It’s about a conscious decision to do something, to achieve a particular result or to make a particular thing happen.

The agency fallacy comes in two forms and both are related to intention. In the first form of agency fallacy we’ll discuss the issue is the agency, the intention, of other people.

According to evolutionary psychologists such as Allen MacNeill human beings evolved an in-built ‘agency detector’ that allows us to understand possible threats and dangers. By developing the ability to understand and anticipate the actions of others we can learn useful survival information.

However the agency detector sometimes goes awry and we attribute agency (intention) when none really exists. This is especially so when the issue at hand is risky. We are far more likely then to assume intention when someone does something that hurts us than we are when they do something that is neutral or even beneficial to us. The evolutionary reason for this is very simple. Detecting harmful agency is much more important to our safety than detecting neutral agency. If it can’t hurt us it’s not so important to be aware of it.

This is why our agency detector goes into overdrive when we are harmed. It’s a natural defence mechanism. If we assume that the other person meant to harm us we will be ready and watching in case they try to harm us again. In this sort of situation it’s better to assume too much agency (that keeps us safe) than to assume too little (that makes us more vulnerable).

Consequently our agency detectors are calibrated to be a little over-sensitive and we imagine intention when it doesn’t exist. It may be that that’s part of the reason why people become paranoid. They have over active agency detectors and they see malicious intent in others whether it exists or not. As do we all if we’re not careful. The antidote to over-active agency detection – to the first part of the agency fallacy is to remember Hanlon’s Razor:

“Never assume intention if incompetence will suffice”

Most of the time other people aren’t really interested enough in us to waste their time trying to hurt us. But they’re often not interested enough to worry about keeping us safe either. Hanlon’s razor essentially assumes that the source of most of our misfortunes when dealing with others is just as likely to be lack of agency on the other person’s part as anything else.

The agency fallacy (type 1) is responsible for broken friendships, conflicts and lost opportunities. That’s why one of the most important things we can do when patching up our relationships is to make it clear that whatever the other person might imagine we didn’t mean to hurt them. Apologies are useful too but understanding the needs of the other person’s agency detector is vital.

In the next part of the Fallacies series we’ll consider the 2nd type of agency fallacy. This is what prompts people to attribute agency to anything from ‘the universe’ to bad omens, black cats, the planets, pendulums and dowsing rods.

About the ‘Fallacies’ series

The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com

Fallacies 1: Why write this series?

As much as anything else this blog series was first intended to help me to clarify my own thinking about the various ways in which we fool ourselves (and others) as we try to make sense of the world around us. That’s been an interest of mine for many years but it came to the fore of my thinking when I first wrote this series in 2012 because of a number of exchanges and experiences online.

In one such experience I found myself at the sharp end of what has come to be known as a ‘Twitter spat’ in which some very good people, people whom I respect greatly, allowed themselves to be convinced by someone who from my perspective seems to be a particularly obvious charlatan. This surprised me and prompted me to ask myself how so many intelligent people could be fooled so completely.

As the series progresses we’ll look at various fallacies and types of argument that people use (consciously or otherwise) to misrepresent themselves, their arguments, the world around us and other people. We’ll cover some fairly obscure areas but also look at a number of ‘current affairs’ stories to try to get a sense of what is happening in the real world as well.

As ever I’ll try to use illustrations alongside any more abstract discussion to try to maintain some sort of balance and keep the blog accessible. Some of these illustrations will be more familiar than others. Some of the logical fallacies and tactics that we will cover are used commonly in ‘everyday’ discussions whilst others are seen more rarely or apply only to particular situations. All of them have the potential to lead us astray, often to our cost, both financially and in terms of our quality of life.

We will cover the following fallacies, thinking errors and manipulative techniques.
I hope you enjoy this series and as always I’d welcome feedback. You can leave your comments on the blog or Email me at info@thecareguy.com

List of contents

 Clinician’s illusion
 Naturalistic fallacy
 Agency fallacy 1
 Agency fallacy 2
 Transcendental temptation
 Fallacy from personal incredulity
 Albert Ellis’ three major thinking errors
 Single cause fallacy
 Straw man argument
 Taking offence (the argument from outrage)
 False dichotomy (if not this then it must be that)
 Ad hominem argument
 Shifting the burden argument
 Correlation = causation fallacy
 Star-trek fallacy (Argument from internal circularity) Appeal to popularity
 Appeal to authority

About the ‘Fallacies’ series

The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com


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