Ch 1: Test Yourself

What is the “everyday thinking” error in each of the following examples?

3d human with a red question mark

  1. Claiming that the TV show must be very popular since one of our friends watches it each week.
  2. Most violent crimes are committed with guns; thus, restricting gun ownership will likely reduce the number of such crimes.
  3. Crimes are often prevented by the deterrent effect of the possibility of victim gun possession.
  4. You find a wart on your hand, and you hear that rubbing it with a real copper penny will make it go away. You do that and several weeks later, your wart is gone!
  5. Looks like organic foods cause autism;
    ku-xlarge

The Answers

  1. Error: generalizing from one person to all TV viewers
  2. Error: no scientific data are presented to support a cause & effect relationship here. First be sure that “most” violent crimes are committed with guns. Even if so, will restricting guns reduce crimes then? Data to support this common statement are needed.
  3. Error:  no scientific data are presented to support a cause & effect relationship between victims owning guns and reduction in crime. Does deterrence work?
  4. Error: cause and effect concluded just because there is a correlation, but have all alternate explanations been ruled out?
  5. Error: There appears to be a correlation since rates of autism increase along with the rates of organic food sales. But unless you can demonstrate that one comes before the other, that alternative explanations have been ruled out, and that scientific methods (like control groups with placebos) were use to produce this chart, then imputing cause from correlation is not acceptable.
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