Fallacies of risk

by Judith Curry

In addition to traditional fallacies such as ad hominem, discussions of risk contain logical and argumentative fallacies that are specific to the subject-matter. Ten such fallacies are identified, that can commonly be found in public debates on risk. They are named as follows: the sheer size fallacy, the converse sheer size fallacy, the fallacy of naturalness, the ostrich’s fallacy, the proof-seeking fallacy, the delay fallacy, the technocratic fallacy, the consensus fallacy, the fallacy of pricing, and the infallability fallacy.Sven Ove Hansson

Ever since Aristotle, fallacies have had a central role in the study and teaching of logical thinking and sound reasoning.  It is not difficult to find examples of traditional fallacies such as ad hominem in any major modern discussion of a controversial issue. Discussions on risk are no exception. In addition, the subject-matter of risk  seems to invite to fallacies of a more specific kind. The purpose of this short essay is to discuss ten logical and argumentative fallacies that can be found in public debates on risk. Read more