Recognizing Fallacies Critical Thinking

Critical thinking can be extremely useful if applied effectively to the practice of business analysis. A key element of critical thinking is being able to spot logical fallacies in your thinking and in conversations with stakeholders. Logical fallacies when recognized, should not be ignored as ensuing decisions can easily lead to inaccuracies. Identifying these fallacies is a first and crucial first step to eliminating them in daily interactions with stakeholders.

Here are 5 logical fallacies to be aware of:

Argument from Authority

This fallacy goes like this: “Manager X believes Y, Manager X speaks from a position of authority, therefore Y is true”.

Stakeholders in most cases, have preconceived notions of where problems exist in an organization. As such, it’s possible for the analyst to encounter several SMEs or authorities who are knowledgeable about problems in the domain or organization. The mere fact that a person is highly placed does not mean that their claims are always true. The analyst should therefore, look beyond posts, experience, reputation and formal degrees to investigate all claims. After all, no matter the amount of experience a person has, he or she can still be wrong.

The same goes for frontline staff; the fact that frontline staff usually have less authority does not mean that they do not have any valuable information to contribute. The key takeaway is to investigate all claims, regardless of the authority (or otherwise) associated with the person.

Hasty Generalization

An analyst says after the first week on a project, “I can tell that this project won’t work, just from observing the attitudes of the end users. They don’t seem to be enthusiastic about this project”.

Hasty generalization is said to have occurred when the analyst rushes to a conclusion before gathering all the facts. Such rushed conclusions are usually based on insufficient or biased evidence. To make a fair and reasonable evaluation of project success, the analyst must have discussed with several stakeholders, immersed themselves in the organization to get a sense of people’s perspectives, and invested significant effort in trying to reduce negative vibes.

Generalizing before getting all the facts right is a fallacy that should be avoided in all situations.

False Dichotomy

This can be said to have occurred when the analyst oversimplifies reality by reducing it to only two choices.

Let's say a company is having problems keeping up with competition. On closer investigation, it is discovered that a system that allows the company to store, manage and analyze customers' buying patterns would be helpful in improving customer satisfaction and staying ahead of competition.

Presentation on theme: "Recognizing Fallacies.  Logic ◦ The study of the methods and principles of reasoning  Premises ◦ Facts or assumptions  Fallacy ◦ A deceptive argument-"— Presentation transcript:

1 Recognizing Fallacies

2  Logic ◦ The study of the methods and principles of reasoning  Premises ◦ Facts or assumptions  Fallacy ◦ A deceptive argument- an argument in which the conclusion is not well supported by the premises

3  Appeal to Popularity ◦ Many people believe p is true, therefore…p is true.

4  False Cause ◦ A came before B; therefore…A caused B.

5  Appeal to Ignorance ◦ There is no proof that p is true; therefore…p is false.

6  Hasty Generalization ◦ A and B are linked one or a few times; therefore…A causes B (or vice versa)

7  Limited Choice ◦ p is false; therefore…only q can be true.

8  Appeal to Emotion ◦ p is associated with a positive emotional response; therefore…p is true.

9  Personal Attack ◦ I have a problem with the person or group claiming p; therefore…p is not true.

10  Circular Reasoning ◦ P is true…and then p is restated in different words.

11  Diversion (Red Herring) ◦ P is related to q and I have an argument concerning q; therefore…p is true.

12  Straw Man ◦ I have an argument concerning a distorted version of p; therefore…I hope you are fooled into concluding I have an argument concerning the real version of p.

13  Page 20 ◦ 22 ◦ 24 ◦ 26


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