Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Texas Sharp Shooter Fallacy? More like 'I'm right and whatever you say I'll pretend I can't hear'

The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy is basically when an argument is made that pretty much ignores differences in data. This flawed form of argument is related to confirmation bias which is a type of cognitive bias where people tend to construe things to match their own beliefs and ignore what they don’t agree with or what may challenge their argument.

A pretty interesting example I have personally witnessed of this has dealt with the controversial issue that is police brutality. Specifically, police brutality towards people of color. The argument that I have witnessed deals with the amount of people of color that are murdered by police and how many white people have been murdered also by police. The facts are that individuals of color are systematically stopped, frisked, and murdered on a statistically larger scale than white individuals.

The argument that matches this fallacy that I see is that white individuals are killed in larger numbers in comparison to people of color, but that is only speaking in numbers and amounts of people that are killed. This argument refuses to acknowledge statistics and the massive difference in the number of white people that live in the United States and everyone else.

This argument is supported by numbers such as in 2015, 1,502 people were shot and killed by police by on-duty police officers according to The Washington Post. 732 of them were white and 381 were black and then 382 were Latino or unknown.  

Based on those numbers, yeah, it’s not hard to believe that people of color are not shot and killed more by police than white folk. Unfortunately, what they are forgetting are more facts, ones that may challenge their argument. These statistics state that there are approximately 160 million more people of white descent that inhabit this country than there are black people specifically living in this country. That means that this country is about 62% white but only made up about 49% of those who were killed in that 1,502 total.

However, black individuals made up 24% of those who were fatally killed in 2015 despite only making up 13% of the country’s population.

The defender of this argument doesn’t exactly have false facts and has an easily visible point but the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy is very prevalent in the act of them refusing to acknowledge these simple facts and statistics because they don’t follow their bias because they can challenge and prove their argument wrong.


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