logical fallacy identification
January 18, 2008 5:50 AM   Subscribe

Is there a formal name for the logical fallacy shown by the following statement; "We don't have to worry about lead paint in our homes because we grew up in such homes and turned out fine."? Thanks.
posted by lyam to Religion & Philosophy (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Generalization or rationalization, apparently (search: logical fallacy and "it never did me any harm")
posted by Leon at 5:58 AM on January 18, 2008


Saturnism.
posted by box at 5:59 AM on January 18, 2008


I'm not sure, but it sounds like an "Appeal to ignorance".
posted by null terminated at 5:59 AM on January 18, 2008


Second Leon, it seems to be a specific type of generalization.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:59 AM on January 18, 2008


GENERALIZATION
(Rash Generalization/ anectodal evidence/prejudice and provinicialism)
-"A general statement based on insufficient evidence." (101, Warburton 96)

"It Never Did Me any Harm": "a common and particularly irritating form of rash generalization in which someone defends some unattractive practice on the grounds that they survived having the same thing done to them." (74, Warburton 96)
-often relies on anectdotal evidence
-generalizing from a single case
-can also be wishful thinking
-Arguing from a single case
posted by Happy Dave at 6:07 AM on January 18, 2008


I would consider that to be misuse of anecdotal evidence.
posted by MarkAnd at 6:08 AM on January 18, 2008


That's called a "Hasty Generalization" if you want to be specific.
posted by Breo at 6:13 AM on January 18, 2008


It's also a bit of a solipsism -- counting one's own experience as the only valid filter for reality.
posted by briank at 6:32 AM on January 18, 2008


Thanks guys! I tried skimming through (extensive) lists of fallacies but didn't see this one.
posted by lyam at 6:33 AM on January 18, 2008


It seems like some for of non sequitur

A= "living in a lead painted house"
B = "becoming sick"

P1 : A causes B
P2: There is no B after A
P3:Therefore A doesn't cause B

While P1 and P2 are TRUE ( living in lead painted house may make some sick / there was no sickness after living in lead painted houses) , P3 just doesn't follow

From the wiki
Another common non sequitur is this:

1. If A then B. (e.g., If I am in Tokyo, I am in Japan.)
2. Not A. (e.g., I am not in Tokyo.)
3. Therefore, not B. (e.g., Therefore, I am not in Japan.)

The speaker could be anywhere else in Japan. This sort of non sequitur is called denying the antecedent.
posted by elpapacito at 7:41 AM on January 18, 2008


And the snarky rejoinder is "the plural of anecdote is not data".
posted by gaspode at 7:43 AM on January 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


elpapacito, P3 does follow, given your premises.

If P1 were 'A sometimes leads to B'
P2 were 'in my non-exhaustive experience of A, B didn't follow'
then your P3 wouldn't follow


As for the OP, I'd call it the problem of induction.
posted by Gyan at 8:28 AM on January 18, 2008


In terms of the ancient art of Rhetoric, this kind of argument would probably be deemed an example of the Argument from Experience (Argumentum ad Experientiam). In Rhetoric, it is the most common argument, consisting of personal anecdotes which in the author's view support the claim. It's recognised as fallacious. No number of isolated anecdotes can establish a general theory.
posted by londongeezer at 8:48 AM on January 18, 2008


This example also shows some survivor bias, since the people who did suffer neurological damage from lead poisoning as children were probably less likely to grow up to become your colleagues or friends.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:16 AM on January 18, 2008


This example also shows some survivor bias, since the people who did suffer neurological damage from lead poisoning as children were probably less likely to grow up to become your colleagues or friends.
That's been my typical response.
posted by lyam at 10:30 AM on January 18, 2008


Selection bias is a phrase that might apply to the "All Lead-addled children raise your hands!" problem.
posted by Orb2069 at 10:47 AM on January 18, 2008


There is no logical fallacy involved, I think. The problem is that logic has limitations. It's not useful for thinking about risk and uncertainty. For that you need something like probablility theory.
In logic you can make a statement like "If I am exposed to lead, then I will become sick." From that you can logically conclude, if you did not become sick, that you were not exposed to lead, or that lead does not cause illness. But in reality, exposure to lead does not always make you sick, it just increases the probablility that you will suffer from some illnesses. You may or may not actually get sick. Statistical methods are designed to handle this kind of situation.
posted by euphotic at 2:19 PM on January 19, 2008


« Older Picking teams for the upcoming interspecies...   |   Does my dream job exist? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.