Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

If you are like most people, you enjoy being right. The thrill of getting the right answer, or the endorphine high of proving someone wrong. This is the main motivation in someone who uses the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy.

The age old fallacy goes back to a man shooting out the side of his barn, and then finding the most bullet holes in a cluster. He then proceeds to draw a bull-eye on this cluster of bullet holes, to try and show how great of a shot he is.

Another example of this is Nostradamus, the man who predicted Hitler, the French Revolution, and 9/11 attacks. Just taking these events, you would think this man could see the future, but the thing is, Nostradamus predicted thousands of things to happen, in which none ever came into fruition. Without seeing the outside information, and choosing only to see what you want to see puts you into the category of this fallacy.

We tend to look at information through a lens of our rhetorical situation and who around us agrees or disagrees with the situation at hand, or how a collection of facts could win me an argument. Our views on certain situations, through our rhetorical situation, might influence the way we want to interpret facts. If we fall into this trap, we excluded important information that can totally shift a debate into a full-blown argument when we only want to see the facts that we want to see. With only getting information on what we want with the subject at hand, we fail to have complete knowledge over the subject, which is the greatest flaw that this fallacy possesses.

This is key in interpreting news, because if we fail to get the full story and all the facts involved, we can fall into a trap of being persuaded in a direction that lacks the appropriate backing.



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