Monday, April 3, 2017

Misleading Vividness

Misleading Vividness is a fallacy in which a very small number of particularly dramatic events are taken to outweigh a significant amount of statistical evidence. This sort of "reasoning" has the following form:
1. Dramatic or vivid event X occurs (and is not in accord with the majority of the statistical evidence).
2. Therefore events of type X are likely to occur.
This sort of reasoning is fallacious because the mere fact that an event is particularly vivid or dramatic does not make the event more likely to occur, especially in the face of significant statistical evidence.

Example

Joe: "When I was flying back to school, the pilot came on the intercom and told us that the plane was having engine trouble. I looked out the window and I saw smoke billowing out of the engine nearest me. We had to make an emergency landing and there were fire trucks everywhere. I had to spend the next six hours sitting in the airport waiting for a flight. I was lucky I didn't die! I'm never flying again."
Drew: "So how are you going to get home over Christmas break?"
Joe: "I'm going to drive. That will be a lot safer than flying."
Drew: "I don't think so. You are much more likely to get injured or killed driving than flying."
Joe: "I don't buy that! You should have seen the smoke pouring out of that engine! I'm never getting on one of those death traps again!"

Also see Hasty Generalization

The Nizkor Project: Misleading Vividness

No comments:

Post a Comment