Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Slothful Induction

A slothful induction is a fallacy where the proper conclusion of an inductive argument is denied despite the evidence to the contrary. In logical form, it’s when evidence suggests X results in Y, yet the person in question suggests Y was caused by something else.

An inductive argument is one made from the available facts. Like police officers at a crime scene gathering and finding evidence, an inductive argument bases it’s conclusion based on the evidence that supports it.

Someone exhibiting slothful induction is one who refuses to accept what’s most likely to be the truth despite any and all evidence presented. This can be done stubbornly or through an absence of common sense.

The most common example is with car accidents. Let’s say a man named Charles has been in 10 car accidents in the last 3 months because he runs red lights. Yet every time he gets in a car accident, he insists that it’s the other driver’s fault even though his accidents have been recorded on multiple traffic cameras.

Another example is with food allergies. My friend is allergic to strawberries, but continued to eat them and insisted she was allergic to something else that wasn’t the strawberry. Despite numerous encounters with strawberries, she waited to get an allergy test done because she liked strawberries and didn’t want to admit that they were the problem.

Another real world example is with parents not wanting to vaccinate their children because they believe vaccines cause diseases like autism or cancer. Despite there being little to no evidence suggesting such a theory, people still believe that autism and children’s cancer comes from the vaccines that have prevented 322 million illnesses, help avoid 732,000 deaths, and save nearly $1.4 trillion in total societal costs between 1994 and 2013, (The CDC)

This fallacy gives the benefit of the doubt to the denier because it acknowledges their laziness to consider the evidence rather then their confirmation bias. Sometimes the denier isn’t being lazy, in reality they just don’t like where the evidence is heading so they try to spin it in their favor. 

Another problem with this fallacy is when the denier requires “absolute educative proof” in order for the conclusion to be reasonable. Not every statement can be proved, like the statement that gravity will always exist. But as we continue our day to day lives, gravity continues to exist, so we can conclude that the statement is true. Deniers of this fallacy are annoying in the sense that even though there’s a large amount of evidence, they don’t support it because there’s no real “proof.”


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