Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Common Logical Fallacies: Part II

The bandwagon fallacy:
"So if everybody is jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, you gonna do it too?"

The bandwagon fallacy has legitimate roots. Suppose you were an Eskimo and you had just slain a bear. Killing bears is a risky proposition and bear skins are hard to obtain. You need clothing to survive the winter. Do you tell your mother/wife to sew a radical, unproven pattern of clothing or do you point to everybody who survived the previous winters and say "Make it like their's"?

A key question to apply when confronted with what appears to be the bandwagon fallacy is: "How long of a record does the bandwagon have?" and "What is the cost of failure?"

Appeal to authority fallacy:
This is a big issue today.

Authorities are often guilty of answering questions you did not ask. For example, they might define your question far more narrowly than you intended. They might hear your question "How do I minimize the impact of Covid-19?" as "How do I minimize the number of deaths caused by Covid-19?" Truthfully, would you expect a medical doctor to hear that question any other way?

Other times, experts will unconsciously add constraints to your request. "How can I bring the economy back on-line?" morphs to "How can favored groups gain advantage as the economy is brought back on-line?"

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