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For example if a group of Creationist Scientists presented evidence for their world view, would it be the genetic fallacy to invalidate their evidence because they are Creationists?

Edit: there are conflicting answers and I am not sure which is correct, can some address why so and so's answer is wrong.

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  • I don't really see a conflict between these 3 answers. As far as I can tell, we all agree that your statement as it currently stands, is ad hominem as opposed to a genetic fallacy. I would suggest that Chris has provided the most comprehensive answer with regards to your specific question.
    – Five σ
    Feb 21 '15 at 8:00
  • In simpler terms, your fallacy is genetic if is of the form: Your opponent introduces evidence that comes from a creationist source, you then discredit the evidence solely on the basis that it is has a creationist origin.
    – Five σ
    Feb 21 '15 at 8:10
  • Your fallacy is ad hominem if it is of the form: Your opponent provides evidence for their worldview, you discredit the evidence on the basis of your opponent being a creationist. This is ad hominem because you are attacking the man, not the argument.
    – Five σ
    Feb 21 '15 at 8:11
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Keeping in mind that all of these informal fallacies have fuzzy borders, this is how I would parse it:

  • If you were debating directly with a group of Creation Scientists and you attempted to discredit their arguments solely on the basis of them identifying as Creation Scientists (not on merit) that would be ad hominem or argument against the person.
  • If someone attempted to introduce evidence into an argument that originated with Creation Scientists and you attempted to discredit it solely on that basis, that would be the genetic fallacy or argument against the origin.

In either case the evidence might be valid or invalid, but its worth (or lack of worth) doesn't stem from its origins. Note: There is a very big difference between committing these fallacies versus treating the evidence provided by two different groups differently based on actual differences in standards, processes, repeatability and so forth.

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You commit a genetic fallacy when you infer that something has certain properties based on that thing's origin, when such an inference isn't warranted. For instance, here's an argument that commits the genetic fallacy: the word 'philosophy' comes from the Ancient Greek word 'philosophia'. The Ancient Greek word 'philosophia' means 'love of wisdom'. So 'philosophy' means 'love of wisdom'. There are a few problems with this argument. But the foremost one is that it infers the meaning of the word 'philosophy' from its etymological roots - and this is incorrect. It may have been true in Aristotle's time that 'philosophy' meant 'love of wisdom', but nowadays it looks closer to something like a singular term - 'philosophy' denotes a particular academic field, or maybe a family of related fields.

So there's an example of the genetic fallacy. As far as your specific question is concerned, it seems like no, that would not be an instance of the genetic fallacy. It looks more like an ad hominem attack. But the important thing to keep in mind is not the label we assign to particular poor forms of reasoning. The important thing is being able to articulate where the reasoning goes wrong. And you don't need to be able to label fallacies to be able to do that.

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    "The important thing is being able to articulate where the reasoning goes wrong. And you don't need to be able to label fallacies to be able to do that. " +1 for that
    – Five σ
    Feb 21 '15 at 8:06
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Would it be the genetic fallacy to invalidate their evidence because they are Creationists?

If that is the sole reason for dismissing their argument, then I would say you are guilty of ad hominem. As already pointed out, the genetic fallacy is also known as the fallacy of origins or the fallacy of virtue.

Here is an example of said fallacy:

"Bill claims that 1+1=2. However, my parents brought me up to believe that 1+1=254, so Bill must be wrong."

A logical form

  • The origin of the claim is presented.
  • Therefore, the claim is true/false.

This type of fallacy typically overlooks the present situation in favour of earlier context. It's also important to note that in some cases, the origin of a claim is relevant to the argument at hand, so an argument of the above form is not always guilty of the genetic fallacy.

For instance, a claim by an expert in their area of expertise is likely to be true.

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