Monday, February 29, 2016

Don't Be a Sloth When it Comes to Making Conclusions (Slothful Induction Fallacy)

            Slothful induction is a fallacy that we come across in our daily lives without even realizing it. This fallacy gives a false conclusion to an event where evidence is provided and suggests a different conclusion. In some cases, the appropriate conclusion can be quite obvious but individuals create an illogical conclusion and often times put the blame on something or someone else. In a way, this fallacy is the opposite of the hasty generalization fallacy. Rather than having evidence and forming an illogical conclusion, a hasty generalization forms a conclusion using little to no evidence. 
            For instance, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Robert Downey Jr. struggled with drug addiction. He was arrested multiple times as well as incarcerated and attended many rehab clinics. After all of this, if one were to say that he was unlucky and that his arrests were coincidental, they would be making a false conclusion. The evidence of his arrests and prior actions logically lead one to conclude that he was engaging in illegal activities so he was caught and lawfully faced the consequences. While these events were unfortunate, they were not unlucky. In fact, they seem quite lucky because, upon reflection of his multiple arrests, he proceeded to his ultimate recovery. With this evidence, it is clear that luck had nothing to do with his arrests but rather his actions.
            Another, more recent example would be when a fertilizer factory in Texas had an explosion, which occurred two days after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. According to a Wall Street Journal article, many people falsely concluded that these two tragedies were connected and were executed by the same individuals. Since the tragedies occurred days apart, these people created a conclusion that, in the end, was not supported by the evidence. From their conclusion, it does not seem they took into account that the two cities are 1,800 miles apart and the perpetrators were under investigation and surveillance. It also seems that they are looking at the first tragedy and neglecting the research and information that the investigation of the second tragedy provided.
            In order to avoid using this fallacy, one should closely look at the evidence and the conclusion it points towards rather than making an excuse that fits the evidence. Following the arrests of Robert Downey Jr. one can properly conclude that his consequences were a result of his actions, not his luck. The Texas factory explosion was the result of an accident, not the act of under-investigation criminals half way across the country. So, the next time you start to blame your roommates on the messy state of your living space when everything in sight is yours, reevaluate, pay attention to the evidence and arrive at the more logical conclusion that it is, in fact, your own mess to tidy.

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