SSH 105 Lecture Notes - Logical Form, Slippery Slope, Genetic Fallacy
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Appeal to authority: The fallacy of relying on the opinion of someone deemed to be an expert
who in fact is not an expert.
Background information: The large collection of very well-supported beliefs that we all rely on
to inform our actions and choices. It consists of basic facts about everyday things, beliefs based
on very good evidence (including our own personal observations and excellent authority), and
justified claims that we would regard as ‘common sense’ or ‘common knowledgeable‘
Expert: someone who is more knowledgeable in a particular subject area or field than most
others are. Indicators are:
Amount of education and training
Experience in making reliable judgments
Reputation among peers
Personal Experience: We accept a great many claims because they are based on personal
experiences – our own or someone else’s. Factors that give good reason to doubt:
Gambler’s fallacy: The error of thinking that previous events can affect the probabilities in the
random event at hand.
Fooling ourselves: When we:
Three most common mistakes are:
Resisting contrary evidence
Looking for confirming evidence (confirming bias)
Preferring available evidence (availability error)
Appeal to common practice: The fallacy of arguing that a price is ethical or wise merely
because a substantial number of people do it.