Name That Logical Fallacy-Filter
December 3, 2014 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Quick 'n dirty: is there a name (in either classical logic/reasoning OR a newly-coined term) for the belief that "if you hold a different opinion on a topic than I, it must be due to a deficiency in information/experience/intelligence on YOUR part" (in other words - "anyone sufficiently smart/experienced/informed, when presented with this issue, would inevitably draw the same conclusion as I"). E.g. "You're a [member of political party] NOW, but that's only because you haven't [something] yet!", or "Wow, you believe in [thing]... maybe you should DO SOME RESEARCH and see if you don't change your tune!"
posted by julthumbscrew to Religion & Philosophy (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
These are all arguments ad hominem -- suggesting that someone's beliefs are wrong because of who they are (part of which is what they know, have experienced, have researched, how intelligent they are, etc.).
posted by shivohum at 11:15 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It's slightly different than ad hominem, I think - ad hominem is "you came to this conclusion because YOU SUCK"; the thing I'm thinking of is "there is one right and true path to the one true conclusion; ergo, if you do NOT reach this conclusion, you must've followed an incorrect path". It's less "you suck!" and more... pedantic, I guess?
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:21 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's sort of argument from authority -- "I have read the correct references, therefore I have the true knowledge."
posted by Etrigan at 11:21 AM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sounds a little like no true Scotsman? But that might be sort of the other way around from what you mean here.
posted by brainmouse at 11:26 AM on December 3, 2014

I think it's just a false premise. Or at least an unsupported, or potentially false premise. If you start with the premise, or assumption, that your opinion is true, you can draw false conclusions based on that, including about the validity of others' conclusions, or the validity of the origin of their conclusions.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:27 AM on December 3, 2014

"False consciousness" seems a bit related to this - "You're a smart person; only because you have [internalized misogyny/internalized classism/some other incorrect way of understanding your own experiences] are you incapable of correctly evaluating information on this topic".
posted by Frowner at 11:28 AM on December 3, 2014

Logical Rudeness.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:55 AM on December 3, 2014

I wonder if this isn't related to Socratic intellectualism and the idea that no one errs willingly. The basic point is that if someone pursues the wrong course of action or line of thought the only possible explanation is ignorance of the right course of action or thought.
posted by otio at 11:55 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Basically, what you're saying is that people assume their own conclusions are correct and others who disagree are wrong. Most of us carry this assumption around in our heads without realizing it. Even once you've noticed it, it's hard to stop.

I don't think there's a term for this assumption. Perhaps it's too basic to name! But maybe "Manichean thinking" -- the belief that there is a right and a wrong answer (and of course, we're always on the right side) -- gets you partway there. Another useful tool for unpacking this assumption is the Ladder of Inference. That link doesn't address your question, but the tool helps people get a more nuanced understanding of where their own conclusions came from (other than "I'm right! They're wrong!").
posted by equipoise at 11:59 AM on December 3, 2014

It's not a perfect fit (pretty good, though), but just in case this is the thing you're fishing for: how about confirmation bias?
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:13 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had a lot of opportunity to think about this lately, having had to escape a (relatively mild) toxic situation where the Other Side just doggedly, implacably proceeded with the a priori assumption that in any disagreement, they must be right. It's an awesome thing to behold. Someone who argues like this will just adapt, like the Borg. If necessary they'll twist things around to where all along YOU were the one arguing AGAINST the position that you were convinced had to be right (if it's eventually proven to be right all along).

I've tried to figure out what logical fallacy this might be; even asked a friend of mine who's a philosphy professor. He didn't have a tidy label for it either. I'm coming to the conclusion that it's not in the same category as, say, a False Dilemma, or Circular Reasoning. I think it's more an attitude, and that attitude causes the perpetrator to commit whatever specific logical fallacy it takes to try to keep their ego intact. If you asked what CAUSES it, I think it's insecurity, coupled with some kind of positional authority (being an adjunct professor, street cop, church deacon, or podunk appointed official seems to place one at high risk for the syndrome.)

I keep going back to an expression of my brother's: You can't make sense out of something that doesn't make sense.

update: what Quisp said about confirmation bias - it may not be one and the same, but it's highly correlated.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:15 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know what this logical fallacy is, but whatever it is, they must teach it in medical school, because my doctor is constantly telling me that if I read the "right" research, I would do what she thinks I should do (have a mammogram, get a flu shot, etc). The idea that maybe I am a competent, intelligent adult who has come to her own conclusion after considerable reading and thinking is just not a possibility to her...
posted by mysterious_stranger at 12:24 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

You see this a lot among people who think that the (often unstated) premises of their position are direct products of "rationality".
posted by thelonius at 1:04 PM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think "lack of empathy" or "insufficiently developed theory of mind to envision alternate points of view" might cover it. In more philosophy-ish sounding language, maybe we could call this "the fallacy of the Platonic ideal": in mathematical logic, one would in fact always reach the same conclusions if (correctly) arguing using deductive logic from the same initial set of axioms. But in the real world we don't have clear, well-defined axioms, complete information, etc. And we often have to make decisions or interpretations of situations based not on logical argument but on our values or personal preferences, which can vary a lot of course, for reasons completely orthogonal to logic and rationality.
posted by eviemath at 1:20 PM on December 3, 2014

Confirmation bias was the first thing that came to my mind, but apparently there is an "overconfidence effect," which may be a better fit. (note that I say "may"—I don't want to come off as too confident about this)
posted by adamrice at 2:31 PM on December 3, 2014

Someone argued with me once about something scientific and said "If you actually knew anything about science you wouldn't be able to believe in God." They refused to accept that I might have knowledge about the topic and that my education (I have a B.S. degree) was lacking. It was infuriating.

I think it is a mixture of Argument from Authority and Confirmation Bias. I just call it Intellectual Snobbery.
posted by tacodave at 4:32 PM on December 3, 2014

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