Friday, February 27, 2015

Slothful Induction Fallacy

When a person is called as a “sloth”, it means that that person is very unwilling to work or exert himself on doing something. However, in the case of the slothful induction fallacy, it is rarely due to that person being a sloth. Instead, it means that the person fails or refuses to concede, or see, the most likely inference from the evidence. It is also called as “ignoring the evidence”, or the opposite of the hasty generalization fallacy. It is the opposite of hasty generalization fallacy because the hasty generalization fallacy refers to generalizations made by insufficient evidence or proof, while the slothful induction fallacy refers to the failure to make a generalization that is proved by sufficient evidence. This fallacy happens because the person is usually unwilling to understand the evidence and this may seem like that person is being stupid or even dogmatic. In other words, the person does not accept the evidence at all and still strongly believes that it might be due to other factors.

An example of slothful induction fallacy would be a person who tripped at least 10 times a day and said that it was due to bad luck even though there were evidence suggesting that he himself did not look properly when walking. This person may be saying that it was due to bad luck, but he failed to see that he did not look carefully and properly when he walked, which was why he tripped so many times. Yet another example is that an economist would say that the oil prices would increase even though the current situation showed that the oil prices futures were decreasing drastically due to a recession. The economist might be being optimistic, but this did not stop him from committing a fallacy, and refusing to accept the fact that the oil prices futures were decreasing drastically due to a recession.

Todd Akin, a 2012 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate has actually committed this fallacy once. He believed that abortions should be illegal, and when a reporter asked him what if the woman who got pregnant was a rape victim, he replied that the woman’s body had biological features that could block herself from being pregnant through rape. Instead of accepting that female rape victims would be an exception at first, he believed that the illogical theory that women have a system to shut down when being forced to have sexual intercourse. He clarified later that the rapists would be ones punished if rape victims were pregnant, but the statement he gave had already angered many people due to his ignorance and usage of this fallacy.

However, there are also times where it is actually more appropriate to refuse to concede to the inference of a good argument because there might be other prevailing reasons that might support the other conclusion. Hence, it is only appropriate to refuse a certain inference unless the conclusion or argument is very strong, such as “The Earth revolves around the Sun”, or “There are seven days in a week”.

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