Errors in thinking

Photo Credit: History Rundown

While in the hospital a toddler girl named Maggie and a 10-month-year-old boy named Eli were exposed to measles. Maggie was recently diagnosed with cancer and was not able to get the measles shot, and Eli was too young to receive the shot. The child that exposed the disease to Maggie and Eli had not had a shot because his parents were scared he would develop autism. Maggie has been in and out of the hospital six times and has had many procedures done to get cancer free. While Maggie was taking a three-week break from chemotherapy, she was supposed to see snow but was not able to because her family did not want to expose the disease. Because one family was afraid their child would develop autism, they put at least two other children at high risk. There are many thinking errors that can cause people serious problems. These thinking errors include argument from ignorance, argument from authority, and false correlation.

The first error in thinking that causes problems for people is Argument from Ignorance. The Amityville house is an excellent example of Argument from Ignorance. The woman who lived in the house smelled strange odors coming from the house and automatically assumed that ghosts were the cause of the smell. There are many other reasons for why her house might have smelled, and these reasons should have been proven wrong before deciding the smell was ghosts. Her home could have smelled because of old food, animals, or even plants. Just because something smells does not mean it is a ghost. Another good(synonym) example for Argument from Ignorance is the people who believe the holocaust did not occur. A man wrote to a professor who knew much about the Holocaust asking him questions. Since the professor did not respond, the man assumed he did not respond because the Holocaust did not happen. In reality, there could have been countless reasons as to why the teacher (synonym) did not provide a response. For example, he may not have even received the email. Just because a man did not respond to an email about the Holocaust does not mean the Holocaust did not happen. The third and final(synonym) example for Argument from Ignorance are Bigfoot believers. Many people believe that Bigfoot exists and is roaming around, but their beliefs are not based on evidence but thinking errors, the ability to not critically think, and logical fallacies (I,ccI). The evidence is a man was collecting wood in his backyard when he saw a footprint. The man claimed it was Bigfoot because he did not recognize the print as any other animal. But when his friend came and looked at it, he claimed it was a moose footprint. This story is an example of Argument from Ignorance because the man did not know what the footprint was; so he claimed it was Bigfoot. The man had no evidence of the footprint being from Bigfoot, and since he could not figure out what the footprint was, he assumed the print was Bigfoots. Overall, the Argument from Ignorance makes people believe in things that are untrue.

Photo Credit: Your News Wire

Another common error in thinking is false correlation. The first example of false correlation is that vaccines cause autism. A woman went and had her child vaccinated, and weeks later the child started showing signs of autism. The thinking error the woman is facing is false correlation. Just because a boy got vaccinated, then weeks later developed autism, does not mean the vaccines caused it. There could have been numerous other reasons as to why the child developed autism. Autism’s roots form early in the brains growth process and often takes years to show symptoms. It is not scientifically proven that vaccines can cause autism. A second example to support false correlation comes from the Roswell New Mexico crash. A man supposedly spotted an alien crash in an open field. He put the pieces from the crash into his car and later he was driving on the highway when he swerved off the road. He died during the accident(synonym), and the “alien” evidence was destroyed. Skeptics believe that the government planned the crash to get rid of the evidence. Skeptics believing the crash was planned is an example of false correlation because although his car crashed, it does not mean that the car crashed because he had alien metal. The car could have crashed for multiple other reasons; for example a faulty brake. If the car was not recovered, it could not have been tested to see if the crash was a mechanical malfunction. Since the car could not have been tested, that option could not have been ruled out. That means there are other possible explanations instead of the crash being a result of tampering from the government. The third example comes from the Apollo moon landing. Skeptics believe that Neil Armstrong did not land on the moon. The skeptics believe this claim for many reasons. In the picture on the moon it looks like the flag is moving; but it has been scientifically shown that there is no atmosphere on the moon so the flag can not move. A TV show had come out before the moon landing, and a boy on the show was wearing an Apollo 11 shirt. The skeptics believe this is proof that no one landed on the moon because Apollo 11 had not yet launched. Wearing the shirt does not mean the moon landing did not happen. The tv show could have easily been photoshopped or fake. There are many pieces of evidence proving the moon landing did in fact happen. As a result of false correlation, people are making crucial decisions based off of false evidence and believing in untrue things.

Photo Credit: Daily News

The last error in thinking that creates problems for people is argument from authority. The first example for argument from authority is the Amityville house. Many people believe in supernatural events such as the Amityville Horror house because they do not understand the problems in thinking (ID). The people who lived there thought that evil spirits were living in their house. The family called in a priest to see if he sensed anything. The priest said he could sense and hear evil spirits in the house, but there was no physical proof such as tape recordings. Because the man was a priest and had authority the family believed him. The priest could have easily been lying to the family, but because he had authority he was “trustworthy.” Another example of argument from authority that supports my claim is that vaccines cause autism. A woman wrote on her blog how her child was vaccinated then developed autism. Many people across the country believed her because she had followers and people listened to her. This story is an example of argument from authority because people think she must be right because she has a blog. Blogs are people’s opinion, and there is usually no real evidence in them. The final example comes from bigfoot believers. A man was writing about how he believes in Bigfoot because he heard a military official saying Bigfoot is real. The military official could have been lying or only basing his evidence off of anecdotal evidence, but because he was in the army people believe him. This story is an example of argument from authority because the only reason the man believed the military official was because he had higher power.

Not critically thinking has a negative effect on people around you and yourself. Argument from ignorance, false correlation, and argument from authority can cause serious problems for people. Because people do not understand critical thinking, it may lead people to believe things with poor evidence (D,I). These thinking errors might cause people to spread false evidence, make crucial decisions based off of false evidence, or believe in untrue things. By not critically thinking through options, you can put many people in danger. For example, when people choose not to vaccinate their children because of false evidence of autism, they are helping to spread the disease to others. Children like Maggie have to live with the poor decision of one parent. Overall, critically thinking is a crucial skill that will help people numerous times through life.

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