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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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Mel Blumberg

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Mel Blumberg


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Mon, Nov 05, 2018 - 12:54 PM

Must I have my children vaccinated?

The local school board refuses to admit my children and demands that I have them vaccinated because it helps to protect them from contracting the disease, and also helps prevent the spread of disease. They claim that if all children were vaccinated, society could quickly "stamp out" the disease, and no future child would need to be vaccinated, They also argue that it is every parent's duty to help with this just and righteous effort to protect children of future generations worldwide -- even at a very slight but finite risk to children of our current generation. I believe vaccinating children is dangerous, and is also unnecessary for me because all of the other parents have already had their children vaccinated. Is there a fallacy to my reasoning?


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Charlie Walch

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Charlie Walch


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Print Tue, Nov 06, 2018 - 07:47 AM
Yes. Microbes don't care what you think. They just live and if humans are their chosen host, they will sicken or kill humans.

Worse, by 'protecting' your child through refusing vaccinations, you inadvertently create a grave risk to the rest of the "herd" of humans around you.

Sorry, your position is neither logical or ethical. The human brain is 70,000 years old. Microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) have been at it 3.5 billion yrs. Don't fool with them.


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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 Mon, Nov 05, 2018 - 01:31 PM
I believe vaccinating children is dangerous

This is not a fallacy, it is just an erroneous (and potentially harmful in this case) belief. Of course, anything can be "dangerous" including jogging. What really matters is weighing the risks with the benefits, and making an informed decision based on the data.

The reason WHY you believe this is likely to uncover many fallacies such as the anecdotal fallacy ("i know this kid who..."), emotional appeal ("This anti-vaxx group showed me photos of..."), etc.

and is also unnecessary for me because all of the other parents have already had their children vaccinated.

I wouldn't say unnecessary, but in an ideal world, less urgent is a reasonable conclusion. The problem is, many parents think this same thing (let the other parents take the risk). As more parents vaccinate their children, the overall risk to any single child goes down. Conversely, as more parents refuse to vaccinate their children, the overall risk to any single child goes up. I see no fallacy in this reason; rather you coming to an incorrect conclusion because of missing information.
Bo Bennett, PhD
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Colin P

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Colin P


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Print Tue, Nov 06, 2018 - 04:14 PM
No your reasoning does not contain a fallacy, it contains a gamble. A much fuller answer would derive from game theory. For example I found this background article: Vaccination and the theory of games, but there are many others. Also in the absence of more information we are entitled to believe you are talking about standard childhood vaccinations and a standard child :-), and then your gamble has moral implications as others have pointed out. However if your school is insisting on non-standard vaccinations owing to a local outbreak of an unusual disease, or if your child has certain medical conditions, then those moral implications reduce, disappear, or even turn around the other way. Yes there is a moral dimension but no there is not a fallacy.


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