Blog post 2
In class we defined a fallacy as an incorrect reasoning that render arguments logically unsound. Although these reasoning’s may be false, they can still be very persuasive. In todays day and age, most arguments are viewed as invalid until there is some form of proof given to support the claim. This is where the Texas sharpshooter fallacy takes form. Many weight loss adds supply you with information regarding a study that seems nearly impossible. But then again, these are the results from their study, right? Why shouldn’t we believe them?
The Texas sharpshooter fallacy consists of ignoring specific data but stressing certain similarities. The name itself has a way of explain the fallacy. In other words, someone can fire their rifle into the side of a barn. Once they’re done firing, they inspect the shots and find the closest grouping. Then, they place a target around the grouping, which portrays them as a “sharpshooter”. This fallacy is meant to provide information that appears to be extremely accurate, while the remainder of the data is ignored.
This fallacy has a number of flaws. First, the fallacy aims to focus on only the data that confirms the study. Without understanding the elements, context or other results, one can not make an accurate interpretation of the data that is presented. An example of this would be if a study was conducted to see if living next to power lines can cause health illness. Hypothetically, say the study finds that in fact those living within X amount of meters from power lines develop severe illnesses. Concluding that these illnesses are directly related to the power lines would seem logical, to some. But in fact, such illnesses could have been caused from other sources. Ignoring those other sources and concluding that power lines cause these major illnesses would be an act of the Texas Sharp shooter.
Another example comes from a Netflix documentary titled “BIGGER, FASTER, STRONGER”. The documentary analyzes the use of steroids in the fitness industry and how that impacts society. During an interview with a sponsored fitness model, he was asked if he actually takes the product that he endorses. “Yes, of course.” A follow up question asked if that was the only thing he takes to stay in shape? “No. If you choose to believe that, then that’s your choice”. When these companies place models on their products and describe how you can look just like them if you use their product, there’s actually a possibility that you can’t. (SHOCKER) But by focusing on the person who is endorsing the product and believing that this product helped them get so fit, we are once again caught in this fallacy. The sharpshooter hits again.
When it comes to fallacy, they can be difficult to spot. As for this fallacy, it may help to be a little more skeptical than usual. Rather than focusing on the facts that are highlighted, question the ways in which they were found. This can help you from falling victim to the infamous outlaw, the Texas sharpshooter.