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Limited Depth

Description: Failing to appeal to an underlying cause, and instead simply appealing to membership in a category.  In other words, simply asserting what you are trying to explain without actually explaining anything.

Example #1:

My dog goes through our garbage because he is a dog.

Explanation: We know your dog is a dog, but what about him being a dog makes him go through the garbage?  By referring to your dog as a member of the category “dog”, this fails to explain anything.

Example #2:

Mormons are really, really nice because they go to Mormon church.

Explanation: Question begging aside, simply stating that they are a member of the group, “Mormon churchgoers” does not explain why they are nice.  A reasonable explanation would need to include a valid causal relationship between niceness and Mormon-church-going.

Exception: At times, limited depth can be used as a shorthand when assumptions are made that no deeper explanation is needed. 

I need oxygen because I am human!


Farha, B. (2013). Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims. University Press of America.

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