Photo Credit: NPR

Is Everything what it Seems?

All over the world, people are under the impression that a kid receiving a vaccine and subsequently developing autism are somehow connected. However, this is only a false correlation. No evidence shows a link between vaccinations and autism. It could merely be a coincidence. Because of logical fallacies like false correlation, people’s lives can be drastically different. To prevent tragedies such as kids dying from preventable diseases, people must first know some of the errors in thinking. If people became conscious and aware of fallacies and errors in thinking, they would be able to detect and refute any false information fed to them. There are three different errors in thinking that can cause serious problems for people.

To begin, the first error in thinking that causes serious problems for people is an argument from ignorance. An example of this is when people claim that vaccines cause autism. Adults who do not vaccinate their children look at kids who developed autism after being vaccinated and say, “The doctors do not know what caused the autism, so it must have been the vaccine.” This idea is wrong because there is no evidence that the vaccine caused the autism. Another example of an argument from ignorance is when people say that ghosts moved a ouija board. They will say, “I do not know what moved the board, so it must have been a ghost or demon!” Jumping to conclusions like this is wrong because there is no evidence. The person just stated that they were unsure of what moved the board, and then claimed they were certain it was a ghost. They went from uncertainty to certainty in the same sentence. The last example of an argument from ignorance is when people claim to have seen Bigfoot. People will go into a forest, see a weird creature, and then claim to have seen Bigfoot because it could not have been anything else. This preconceived notion is also not a valid argument because, again, they went from not knowing anything to being certain. They do not have any evidence to support it was bigfoot and not just a person in a gorilla costume. In conclusion, arguments from ignorance affect people because it leads them in the wrong direction, causing them to make bad decisions. For instance, not vaccinating and putting children at risk for fatal illnesses. At first, arguments from ignorance seem convincing, but in reality, they are hollow arguments.

The second error in thinking that gets in people’s way is that people prefer stories to statistics. An example of when people prefer stories to statistics is when people believe stories of alien abductions. This occurrence is a very common error in thinking. Someone hops onto Youtube and watches a video on someone’s abduction story, and believes it. Believing abduction stories like these is an error in thinking because, in that video, there is only a story and no facts or statistics to back it up. A second example of when people prefer stories to statistics is when people believe in the Bermuda Triangle. The “evidence” for the Bermuda Triangle is all stories. Statistically, there are no more sunken ships at the triangle than any other part of the ocean. People just like to believe the haunting stories they are told rather than looking at the facts. Another example of preferring stories to statistics has to deal with acupuncture. If someone says after months of acupuncture that it cured their cancer, they may just be telling a story. People believe these stories over telling the truth about acupuncture because they want to believe that it can help people. In reality, acupuncture patients may be experiencing the Placebo effect or just healing from other factors. In summary, trusting stories over statistics is a formula for being fooled with false information.

Photo Credit: Meridian Centre

A final error thinking that is especially significant is that people seek to confirm. A prime example of seeking to confirm is when people believe in Theresa Caputo. Theresa Caputo is a supposed psychic medium who claims she can communicate with the dead. It is often hard for people to not be able to speak with their loved ones after they pass, so Theresa helps the grievers speak with their loved ones. The grievers are seeking to confirm that their loved one is still watching over them, making them more susceptible to anything Theresa says. Another example of seeking to confirm is when people post pictures of their Nessie sightings. When visiting Loch Ness, home of Nessie, people think they spot Nessie. They decide to take a picture and post it to make sure it is her. Posting it for the internet to see is seeking to confirm because the person who took the picture wants to believe it was the Loch Ness monster and not just a log, so they ask for others to agree online. Lastly, Holocaust deniers are a strong example of seeking to confirm. When the Holocaust happened, many people were, and still are, very distraught. The deniers deny the mass genocide because they do not want to believe this horrible tragedy ever occurred. They believe it was a hoax because they wanted to confirm that the government was corrupt or that people are not so evil. To sum up, seeking to confirm is an inferior human habit that can result in faux claims.

If everyone knew of these fallacies, so many people would not be capitalized upon or make bad decisions. If anti-vaccination parents were more aware of false correlation and other errors in thinking, they would be able to see their false arguments and potentially save their children’s lives. Another excellent example of the use of logical fallacies in everyday life is, sadly, our new president. Donald J. Trump is infamous for his Twitter addiction. If anyone says one thing that he does not like or agree with, he immediately takes to Twitter and insults them. His Twitter fights are known as ad hominems. Ad hominem means “to the man” in Latin and is when someone attacks a human personally, instead of critiquing their argument. Donald Trump has various tweets that display examples of ad hominems. In conclusion, for the world to function with more ethical, just decisions and actions, everyone must be aware and detect logical fallacies and errors in thinking.

Photo credit: Web CEO