Insidious Fallacies


Fallacies are insidious things. For instance:
  1. The controlled experiments that form the basis of (good) science are a sophisticated form of affirming the consequent (if Newtonian gravity is true, this ball will fall, the ball falls, so Newtonian gravity is true).
  2. The idea of signalling (that people mostly say things to demonstrate their allegiance instead of because they want to tell people) morphs quite easily into what I know as the positional ad hominum fallacy (he's just saying that free markets are good taxes because he's an economist and they always say that). Billy, did I describe the theory right? Also, does it have an official name?
  3. People have a tendency to assign total unknowns equal probabilities, which initially seems fair. Unfortunately, this often results in encoding some result in the formulation of the question, which is circular reasoning. For an example, you could assign the prior probability (i.e. before any evidence is considered) of the existence of God a many values. This is a yes-no choice, so there are 2 choices: 50%. There are many religions and only one atheism: >90%. There are many theories for why people might believe in a God, and only one is that He is actually there: <10%.
And yet...

Science works.
Politicians mostly say things they think their audience wants to hear.
We can't do probability without numbers.

And fallacies are real.

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