Logical Fallacies

It was Meet-the-parents night today. Insightful discussions with both students and parents . Overall, it was heartening to know that my new bunch of students are a motivated lot.

Observations: Parents (and many teachers) tend to attribute poor results to a lack of effort (on students’/ teachers’ part) because of the less-than-satisfactory MYE results.

BUT. There really are so many other factors that account for a less-than-satisfactory MYE grade. Giving my students the benefit of the doubt, I believe they did put in some measure of effort to prepare for the MYEs.

Anyway, the point of this post is that logical fallacies have been been an object of fascination of mine since the yesteryears or Uni days, Poking holes into arguments and spotting fallacious reasoning is more fun than it sounds. So for my students:

Check out this site: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/taxonomy.html

Fallacy of Affirming the Consequence:

If P, then Q

We see evidence of Q.

Therefore, P.

In context now:

If I don’t study for my MYE, I will fail.

I failed.

Therefore, I didn’t study for my MYE.

As I found out today, not true. You could have failed because you chose the wrong essay question to attempt for the MYE; you could have failed because you did not manage your time properly; you could have failed because you had less-than-ideal studying strategies.

Don’t beat yourself up over it.

Another illustration (that better demonstrates the fallacy):

If it is raining, the ground will be wet.

The ground is wet.

Therefore, it is raining.

Well, no. The ground could be wet because there was a leaking pipe. Or because someone spilled fluids on it. Or because the cleaners have just done a thorough washing.

This is the AFFIRMING THE CONSEQUENCE fallacy; it ignores the possibility that other factors might have been responsible for a specified consequence.

Useful fallacy to be aware of because students often make this mistake in Paper 1 and in AQs. For more logical fallacies, check out the site..


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2 Responses to Logical Fallacies

  1. Pingback: Pragmatic Fallacy | Illuminutti

  2. Pingback: The Curious Case of Correlation ≠ Causation | Illuminutti

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