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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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Tristan

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Tristan


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Fri, Nov 09, 2018 - 12:39 PM

Is there a name for this error?

Here's the relevant quote:

"It's a common belief amongst "spiritual" people that you see white feathers as a message from angels when somebody dies. I wasn't always a super strong believer in all this, but one of my good friends was shot & killed in the Florida school shooting. That morning, around the same time the shooting happened but before I knew about it, I saw a whole bunch of white feathers right on my driveway lying in blood from probably another bird that was attacked. It was the weirdest thing and so out of place, but I got the strangest feeling that something wasn't right, before I even knew of what white feathers symbolized to some people."



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Abdulazeez Alabbasi

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Abdulazeez Alabbasi


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Print Tue, Dec 25, 2018 - 04:32 AM
yes, there's a name for this error. It's Magical Thinking.


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Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Fri, Nov 09, 2018 - 02:38 PM
Lots going on here. Poor statistical thinking (terrible things happen daily in the world, birds die all the time, etc.), confirmation bias (ignored all the time he saw feathers and bad things didn't happen), post-hoc rationalization (connecting the feathers to deal people after the fact), and common superstition, just to name a few.
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Michael Chase Walker
Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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Michael Chase Walker

Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

Master Contributor

About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Fri, Nov 09, 2018 - 01:38 PM
This is more of a cognitive bias or example of Hyper Active Agency Detection. As Dr. Daniel Dennett explains: ( As does Matt McCormack, Peter Boghossian, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Richard Carrier, Jordan Peterson, Michael Shermer and many other neuroscientists, evolutionary psychologists, and philosophers -'it is a by-product of more primitive cognitive mechanisms adapted for other purposes."


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Michael Chase Walker
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Print Wed, Dec 26, 2018 - 12:15 PM
"It's a common belief amongst "spiritual" people that you see white feathers as a message from angels when somebody dies".

As you rightly point out this is a belief system or cultural myth particular to certain ethnic and indigenous peoples who imagined a connection with winged creatures as agents or beings from another world. Primitive humans often imagined a hybrid mixture of humans with horns and hooves or angelic wings. Certainly these practices and symbols were further developed by the Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Zoroastrians, Vedic and early Jewish angelology and demonology. So, yes, it is a universal myth and therefore by definition, common. Whether it is "spiritual" or not, is a slippery slope argument. What does spiritual mean exactly? In fact, the very idea could be construed as a false premise. False, because neuroscience shows that humans instinctually see patterns where none exist. It is called Hyper Active Agency Detection. So it's not spiritual at all, in fact, it is quite genetically innate to human evolution.

The practice of anthropomorphizing animals or inanimate objects (constellations) is not magical thinking in itself. It is a natural cognitive mechanism adapted for other purposes. Believing them to have special powers or meaning is a by-product of those cognitive mechanisms. (see The Evolution of Misbelief).

As for the Florida shooting and the white feathers, as Dr. Bo points out, this is a common error of Post Hoc association. The next time you misplace your car keys try and track your thinking as you process how and where you lost them. Inevitably, you will consider blaming someone for else taking them even if they were nowhere around. Associating white feathers as some sort of omen, harbinger or sign is more of a function of your psychology than an error in logical reasoning. However, by applying logic you should be able to work through this kind of instinctual/religious/spiritual association.


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