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Ten ‘faults’ in thinking

May 12, 2011 No Comments

John Casey over at The NonSequitur shared a link today to a list of the 10 ‘More common faults in human thoughts‘ at listverse.com. Unfortunately, the list comes with no examples, no citations, no literature to continue research, etc.  In a way, this is exactly why CT2.0 was founded – the items on the list (see below) are what I’m classifying as ‘cognitive fallacies.’ There is great research tracking them, and it, in its best form, keeps alive the tradition of William James and Charles Sanders Peirce who saw Logic and Philosophy on a continuum with Psychology.  But lists like these need to be sourced – the web, and contemporary blogging software, has multiple ways of linking and classifying content. Each item on that top-ten list should have at least (a) citation to an academic study, (b) an real world example and (d) an example that can be replicated in the classroom [a ‘tool’ in the lingo of the site] and (d) links to more research for the interested.

That’s what we’re trying to build here. Granted, we’re a long way from completing that goal – the only one that comes close is the example of lesioning in modeling. But we’ll keep building.

Here’s the list, with links to my existing categories, if they exist (I’ll update them as we go)

  1. Bias Blind Spot
  2. Cryptomnesia (false memories)
  3. Self-Serving Bias
  4. Endowment Effect
  5. Just-World Phenomenon
  6. Restraint Bias
  7. Planning Fallacy
  8. Illusion of Control
  9. Availability Heuristic
  10. Confirmation Bias

One that is missing from here, but underlies many, is our tendancy to supply missing premises to fill out enthymeme arguments.  One could probably add to that the tendancy to see supply a conclusion when it is not drawn out by the speaker – i.e. to see an argument where there is none.

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Fake Expert

Fake Expert: A fallacious appeal to authority in which the 'expert' is not an expert at all.

Expert in the wrong domain

Expert in the wrong domain: a fallacious version of an appeal to authority - i.e. appealing to a doctor...

Slippery Slope

Slippery slope: If we take one step, we’ll have to take all the rest of them because there’s no...

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Post hoc ergo propter hoc: “After this, therefore because of this”, a fallacy in reasoning about causes. (I took...

Poisoning The Well

Poisoning the well: Telling the audience what to think of a speaker when you’re introducing the speaker (My next...

Loaded Question

Loaded question: A question with an unacceptable pre-supposition. (Why do you hate America so much? – Stephen Colbert)

Fallacies of Relevance

Fallacies of Relevance: Bringing up irrelevant considerations in an effort to distract listener from the merits of the actual...

Guilt By Association

Guilt by Association: You are just the same as X, and X is terrible. Therefore, you’re terrible (the conclusion...

Genetic Fallacy

Genetic fallacy: Saying that some idea’s history or origin (genesis) means it is true/false.

Equivocation

Equivocation: when an argument relies on an ambiguous word (a word with more than one possible meaning), shifting in...

Enthymeme

Enthymeme: general term for an argument with a gap (missing premise)

Confusing Correlation With Causation

Confusing Correlation With Causation: (Buying gas is correlated with owning a car. Clearly, buying gas causes car ownership.)

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias: seeing what you believe; interpreting observations/data to match a conclusion you already have in mind.

Undermining Biography

Undermining Biography: sewing seeds of doubt due to questionable background. Also known as ‘swiftboating’.