I have taught myself a good deal of fallacies listed here.

I did not find the fallacy I am looking for. I presuppose this is a fallacy. If this presupposition is wrong; I would like to know if it is classified as something else.
Here are 4 examples:

  1. If the machine is so fast it would've finished by now.
  2. If evolution were true we would have been much more advanced by now.
  3. If the airplane goes at 130m/s, it would've been at its destination by now.
  4. If the basic building blocks of life can be created in a laboratory; an entire planet would've created life on its own.

A single example consists of 2 parts:

  1. gives the condition of a (sometimes subjective) truth.
  2. Assumes that because of this truth - the process must have already finished.

The scope seems to always be with large(r) ifs; because a slow computer can be proven to not have finished its task.

I am currently under the impression that the fallacy is an appeal to probability (4), and an inductive fallacy in (1), (2), and (3). Perhaps misleading vividness?

Edit: I am becoming convinced that the fallacy of instantaneouity (temporary name to refer to the topic) is a mixture of the fallacies: appeal to probability and appeal to common sense as well as a hasty generalization.

3 Answers 3


This isn't a formal fallacy because the reasoning pattern is valid if used correctly. For example:

A train leaves Chicago bound for New York City at 10:07 AM. The train travels an average of 80 miles per hour and the route is 790 miles long. In New York City it is 10:20 PM. Has the train arrived?

It's perfectly appropriate to use reasoning like if the train is so fast (80 mph) then it should be here by now if in fact it is fast enough so that it should be here by now. You do the appropriate calculation or comparison and find out.

Or, for a probabilistic version:

I have been rolling these dice all morning (a thousand rolls an hour for several hours) and I have never seen double 6s. If these dice were fair, I should have seen it by now.

Well, we can just calculate to see how likely it is that a whole hour will go by without a single double-six, and then decide whether it's more likely that the dice are biased or that we just got that unlucky. If it's unlikely enough that we're that unlucky, we can conclude that the dice are biased with as much confidence as anything else we conclude.

So the form of argumentation is perfectly okay, but the calculation part is being skipped. Thus, it's an example of argument from incredulity (it's so fast that it must be done (even though I have no idea how much work there is to do!)) and/or the fallacy of incomplete comparison.

Answer to train:

The train has not arrived; the trip takes 9h 52m 30s, but there's a one hour time change, so it's only been traveling for 9h 13m.

Answer to dice:

The dice are biased. (1-1/36)^1000 is less than one chance in a trillion, and if it's multiple hours it's one chance in trillions of trillions. You're more likely to hallucinate a wall (or that you were rolling dice at all) than that.

  • My idea of the fallacy is actually based on subjective assumptions about the entity in mind (so fast, so good, so long) without providing concrete data to measure or calculate. Whenever you show the calculation; I can acknowledge it as valid argumentation. Does not your second example contain an appeal to probability? Certainly; it is probable that the die is unfair; but perfectly possible for a 6 to never come up in those thousands rolls.
    – user6752
    Aug 9, 2014 at 20:24
  • @BourgondAries - Events which are sufficiently rare (and specified) effectively do not happen. In the spoiler you can see that it is so rare that it can be discounted completely (definitely not "perfectly possible"), at least for the purposes of anything other than a mathematical proof. Arguments about real-world events are saturated with such assumptions about no utterly preposterously rare events happening, so it doesn't hurt to make use of it here. You cannot prove (mathematically) that it didn't happen, but you can't prove anything empirical.
    – Rex Kerr
    Aug 9, 2014 at 21:10
  • With a practically oriented mindset I can agree with the statement given. However, it appears that in general (the scope ranging all things arguable) such argumentation is fallacious.
    – user6752
    Aug 9, 2014 at 23:41
  • @BourgondAries - Fair enough, but you are then unable to conclude things like dogs are mammals, that people cannot walk through walls, or much of anything else. It's such an impoverished view as to be useless outside of constructing formal proofs from axioms. Also, you do not have "fallacies" in formal proofs. Either you apply relations correctly, or you are in error. Fallacies are all about reasoning about events that have an empirical component.
    – Rex Kerr
    Aug 11, 2014 at 19:55

1 2 and 3 [i couldn't parse 4] could be true but we are missing validity, and so it isn't sound. what exactly the fallacy is, would depend on why the opponent thinks that the argument is sound, when it so clearly isn't.

  • 1
    Argument #4 refers to the size of the laboratory (small amounts of chemical agents) versus earth; large amount of chemical agents. I currently think why some may think their conclusions are correct is due to them being overwhelmed and possibly incapacitated by the sheer sizes of the conditions. They will try to exploit this by proving the if statements false by absurdity.
    – user6752
    Aug 9, 2014 at 2:34
  • yeah we i don't know you'd have to point out that the argument is neither deductively nor inductively valid as it is, and you can add abduction too. then [ideally] get them to explain why they think it's valid, perhaps by sketching some VALID arguments, of different sorts
    – user6917
    Aug 9, 2014 at 3:33

I would refer to it more as an instance of simple hyperbole, in the form of absence of degree. I dislike your name, as it is not necessarily about time. (And it has too many vowels.)

If your binoculars are so good, you would have seen him coming.

I wasn't looking right then...

If he is really that hot, then she would have looked.

She is dating your sister.

It seems to be a matter of high degree implying perfection rather than of anything specific to elapsed time.

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