I was trying to answer the question on Skeptics SE of whether hitler said that or not: “Who today still speaks of the massacre of the Armenians”?

I quoted a research from Ataa.org, the assembly of American Turkish association denying the fact that it is true.

Then one person came and said:

FWIW, the ATAA denies that the Armenians were the subject of a genocide.

I feel that this is fallacy, even if ATAA denied that armenians were subject of a genocide, that doesn't mean that their research is false.

What do we call this fallacy if it does exist?

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    It's a heavily politicised debate; as it would be given what it concerns; it is true that the AATA said what it said - this is merely a tautology; the question is how well does it reflect historical reality? This is truth of a different order - the historical. One expects the AATA, being the organisation that it is, to defend Turkey against such an indictment; one might expect them to have only a partisan truth. One possibility is to rely on research that comes from a more impartial source. Apr 22, 2015 at 11:11
  • Depending on context this could be a valid remark. It's not a stretch to imagine the American Turkish Association could have a bias when it comes to the Armenian genocide and therefore their research on the topic should be the subject of more scrutiny. This doesn't mean that it should be outright rejected, yet for laypeople who have nor the time nor the skills to indulge in the scrutiny of historical research, it's unfortunately practically the same. In that case it seems sound to look for what other experts have to say about the study.
    – armand
    Apr 13, 2023 at 4:46

6 Answers 6


I want to state at the onset, I have no personal opinion on this matter, I'm simply elucidating the logic of it:

In general, the genetic fallacy is the illegitimate rejection of an argument strictly on the basis of its origin. It is considered a fallacy because a valid argument cannot be made invalid by changing its origin. Like all fallacies, it gains its force because of its close but superficial similarities to more legitimate lines of argument.

In this particular case, your interlocutor is advancing an implicit argument of [his] own. That argument (we can infer) is that because the AATA is (putatively) committed to a certain core position on an certain issue of history, they are likely to endorse other positions that align with that first one, regardless of whether or not those positions are true.

It's definitely not a strong argument --no open and shut case --but it's not necessarily fallacious. In particular, it's not the genetic fallacy due to the fact that there is actually a relationship between the premise "A believes X" and the conclusion "A claims Y" (because there does exist a relationship between X and Y). It would become a stronger argument in the case that X itself can be demonstrated to be false, because it then switches to an argument that the same factors that made A wrong on X make A more likely to be wrong on Y.


When you cite a source in support of a position, you're implicitly making an argument along the lines of: the source says the claim is true, and the source is trustworthy, therefore the claim is likely to be true. It's reasonable to respond by attacking the trustworthiness of the source, since you relied on it.

They were not arguing that the source was wrong. They were arguing that the source was untrustworthy and you should find a better one to support the claim.


Like many fallacies, this one reduces to a non-sequitur.

The fact a person is wrong about one thing does not reliably lead to a conclusion that they are wrong about another thing.

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    While this is true from a formal logic view point, this kind of reasoning remains a valid heuristic from a practical, sceptic perspective. Being wrong on some topic (and refuse to acknowledge it or emit a correction) should undermine the credibility of a source even on other topics, because if they disregarded facts one time they can do it twice. Of course it doesn't mean that they are necessarily wrong, that would be just as unreasonable. But it can be considered as an orange flag.
    – armand
    Apr 13, 2023 at 7:02
  • @armand. Agreed. Apr 13, 2023 at 7:12

Actually this is not a fallacy. It is valid inference (eg ala Bayes).

Having evidence that a source has been wrong about some matter is an indicator that should influence the degree of belief one should give on some other matter by the same source. Same applies for some matter where the source has been correct.

Both these influence the degree of belief one should attribute to the source on some future matter. This is valid statistical inference.

The fallacy is when one takes note only of the failures of the source (or only of its successes) and disregards its successes (or its failures). Then that would be invalid statistical inference and this is a fallacy.


Your approach to fallacies is wrong. Like all formal fallacies are "non-sequitur" or "does not follow". The point isn't to give them a fancy name, the point is to find out THAT they don't follow and WHY they don't follow.

The thing about a deductive argument is, that in order to be valid, the conclusion MUST follow from the premises, so if you find just one example where it doesn't then you've proven the argument to be fallacious.

Now in real life that might not be terribly useful because most arguments don't have this rigorous logical aspiration to begin with so showing a counter example just makes them less likely but doesn't falsify them if they didn't assert truth to begin with.

So if they argue, that this organization must be lying about anything related to the Armenian genocide because they deny it happening, then no you could argue that in this case the truth might align with their narrative if Hitler didn't say that people already ignore it, that wouldn't contradict their narrative of it not happening in the first place. So they could say the truth here despite lying about that subject elsewhere.

I don't know enough of the subject to say what is the truth, apart from the fact that the genocide happened, so that's more theoretical about the argument than the content of it.

The other problem though is the unspoken problem of science, that is it's still based on the trust in the integrity of your work. Like you can conjecture all kinds of nonsense from your data, but people still need to trust you on that data collection process. And if you jeopardized that trust you're basically burned. Like sure it's not a fallacy in the sense of, "it's not impossible that you could be telling the truth afterwards", but people have good reason to be suspicious of your work in general and have little to no reason to trust you, so they would need to double check your every finding and if they need to do that, they could and would need to do the research themselves so your work would likely be entirely without merit.

So in theoretical terms it's a fallacy, in practical terms there's actually a case to be made to searching for better and more trustworthy sources.


It is definitely a fallacy. Oftentimes, people will attack a conclusion because they feel that the person making the conclusion doesn't share their beliefs. The attack usually takes the form of an ad hominem. Of course the merits of the conclusion are never addressed due to deflection. Perhaps one could label the sort of fallacious response you encountered as "inverse appeal to authority. "

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