Fallacies from Chapter 3 - 5469
false or doubtful premise
accepting a premise when there's no good reason to because either you know it's false, you believe it probably is false, or you don't know if it is false but no evidence is offered to believe it
How to Explain
show evidence why premise is doubtful or state no evidence was given
All Iraqis are fanatics.
1. A premise is questionable if:
a. You know it to be false and have proof.
b. You have a good reason to doubt its truth.
c. You have no good reason to think it is true, even though you don't have any reason to doubt it. So, there is a lack of evidence one way or the other.
2. We need accurate background beliefs to separate believable claims from unbelievable claims.
3. Why don't we tend to doubt or question certain kinds of claims?
a. We may be blinded by official myths, a notion based on tradition or convenience rather than fact. Examples: capitalism is the only effective economic system; the U.S. is morally superior to other nations.
b. We are awed by authority figures and forget the 60s slogan to 'question authority'. Not all experts have integrity.
c. Our feelings and emotional attachments make it hard to be objective and unbiased.
d. Our narrow interests and selfish desires make us deceive ourselves and favor poor thought.
e. We hang onto our beliefs out of fear and loyalty; thus, don't seek the truth.
f. We lack background knowledge, or we forget old information relevant to the current issue.
4. Note that if there is no direct evidence or beliefs to help us evaluate a premise then a judgment is still possible if an expert opinion is available and we can determine that the expert is trustworthy.
5. For test purposes, you should choose questionable premise when there is a false or doubtful premise and no other specific fallacy applies.
1. All Iraqis are terrorists. We should bomb them back to the Stone Age.
Analysis: Not only a questionable premise, but a false, ignorant statement.
2. There’s not a person in this class who doesn’t think that Critical Thinking will be the best course they’ve ever had.
Analysis: This is a very doubtful premise. As long as one person disagrees with the premise, then it is mistaken.
3. President Bush: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees in New Orleans from hurricane Katrina."
Analysis: Many experts warned for years that the levees would breach during a powerful hurricane.
4. Ann Landers: "I read every letter that was sent to me."
Analysis: This is very questionable after you learn that Ann Landers receives so many letters that she would need to be reading letters almost 24 hours per day.
5. Ed Meese: In 1986 he replied to a question concerning the Miranda ruling, which gives suspects a right to counsel before police questioning. "You don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That's contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect"
Analysis: The last statement (If...then) is very doubtful, especially given that no evidence is presented in favor of it.
6. Arnold Schwarzenegger: "What I did 30 years ago doesn't matter in this election. I wasn't running for Governor."
Analysis: What Arnold did 30 years ago may in fact matter in regards to him being the Governor, if he still carries those same traits as he had 30 years ago. There is some evidence that he still carries some of those traits. In any event, it is a questionable statement to say it doesn't matter.
7. Boonville must be a boring place with a name like that.
Analysis: What's questionable is the implied premise that a town would be boring because someone feels it's name conveys something boring.
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Last updated: 15:36 on 30 January 2013
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