Decisions can be affected by fallacies. Decisions are taken based on subjective knowledge. Knowledge need to be prioritized or decisions can lead to death. I find that this is the most extended fallacy of people; no matter who, even close friends or family fall into this error: taking bad decisions due to bad prioritization.

Q: I see a lot of fallacies on several lists, but no fallacy of priorities. Is there a priorities fallacy? Is there any formalization of such a fallacy?

I have several examples, but this are some that come to my mind right now:

  • People is religious because they prioritize their personal issues in front of logic. Some individuals need to show they are strong before accepting any argument stating that the bible has a minimum logical error.
  • We are destroying the planet because we don't understand the importance of changing. For most individuals, pleasure is of more priority than survival. It is clear that saving the planet is not a current high priority, while for a lot of us, this is the imperative.
  • Populism is also a fallacy of priorities: people decides based on the smile of politics, some phrases, friendship, work possibilities, instead of deciding based on best actions.
  • Education is bad, due to people educates to follow a fallacious priority: a medicine student studies first, for surviving, for having money, status, looks, house, etc.; second, to heal. Then, the universities that give easy titles earn more money (don't need to teach how to heal).
  • Media contents are garbage. But that's not due to media, but caused by each individual's priorities about information. Media sellers can only survive selling what people buys, so they need to include some sexual oriented content, some yellow-ish news, some soap-opera histories, some scandals, etc. Then, this becomes the main media contents.
  • Fidel Castro is honored by several governments because he did some good things: this is a very clear error due to prioritization of facts: goals doesn't justify means. Means are more important than goals. If not, Hitler can also be honored, because Germany has learned a lot from the Holocaust.
  • A trial is clearly a decision between several facts, having priorities a very important impact. Bad prioritization leads to judicial errors.
  • 2
    "We are destroying the planet because we don't understand the importance of changing. For most individuals, pleasure is of more priority than survival. It is clear that saving the planet is not a current high priority, while for a lot of us, this is the imperative". I think if someone actually knew that burning oil would lead to their death, they wouldn't do it. In other words, people don't necesssarily think through all these things logically. It's based on false information, like that global warming isn't real.
    – APCoding
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 17:54
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    This question is dauntingly enormous in scope, and really to answer this question adequately philosophy would have to be "done", which even that isn't particularly clear that it's possible. As @APCoding mentioned some of the things you mentioned are based on false information (in other words a false premise, so the fallacy would be some sort of informal fallacy). There is also an assumption that you know what is ultimately right going on here. I think ultimately you're wondering how can we decide what is right when it is impossible for us to predict the outcome of our actions.
    – monster319
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 21:08
  • @APCoding it can be based of course on false information, I'm not asking why the fallacy raised. I'm just asking if there is such fallacy.
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 5:05
  • @monster319 omitting the examples, the question is quite simple, is there a formal expression of such fallacy? A "yes/no" is enough. The extent of the application is not to be considered, which can be smaller or as wide as red herring.
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 5:10
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    @RodolfoAP No, there is certainly no fallacy that would encompass all, or even several of your examples. You are making a ton of assumptions with your examples, for example claiming that religion is a fallacy because people are prioritizing their personal issues in front of logic. What if they are right, and so in professing religious doctrine they are desperately trying to save you from an eternity in hell? This is highly unlikely, but by no means impossible as far as we know. So if they believe it to be true then certainly taking care of that must be their top priority at all times.
    – monster319
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 9:12

4 Answers 4


I'd think that the 'fallacy' of Cherry Picking would actually summarise each example and is indirectly caused by priority bias;

Cherry picking (suppressed evidence, incomplete evidence) – act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.

But I also think that the reason there is no fallacy that encompasses the priority bias requested here is that there is a fallacy for arguing that one's own bias proves it is false, Bulverism.

Bulverism (psychogenetic fallacy) – inferring why an argument is being used, associating it to some psychological reason, then assuming it is invalid as a result. It is wrong to assume that if the origin of an idea comes from a biased mind, then the idea itself must also be a falsehood.

  • Very interesting, thanks +1. Following bulverism links, I see the fallacy which resembles most to a prioritization fallacy would be Hasty Generalization. Not precisely, though.
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 15:32

No. "Fallacy" usually means "logical fallacy", which means a mistake in reasoning, which has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of premises and conclusion. What you're talking about is Error, not Fallacy. You could try to categorize non-logical errors, but I'm not aware of "priority error" as a widely recognized error. If you can invent it you get fame!

  • Disagree. Error is the difference between the proposition and the fact, and is not related to reasoning. Fallacy is the wrong reasoning that leads to error. We're addressing an incorrect way of reasoning, therefore a logical fallacy. If you give the oxygen mask first to your baby on a plane emergency, you are committing an ERROR: (best probabilities are 1st-you, 2nd-baby). Your error was thinking that the baby has the breathing priority. You assigned bad priorities to you and the baby's breathing order. That's a "FALLACY of priorities" (until I find the proper name).
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 15:55
  • I recently saw a YouTube of an escaping thief running full-speed into a pane of glass that he thought was an open door, knocking himself out. Clearly, his priorities were wrong; he should have placed a higher priority on making sure there was an open door there. Would you call his mistake a "fallacy" of any kind? Which is really no different than putting the mask on the baby first - a mistake, that's all.
    – user20153
    Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 0:34

Priorities are evaluated based on the consequences. And the consequences are evaluated based on experience and logic. Lack of experience or any error in logic could result in bad priorities. Different people will fall to different fallacies.

Fallacies require a more specific logic error.


Can I suggest an alternative for "fallacy of priorities". Lets start with an example. A CEO also happens to be the CTO of a business. But since the priorities of the CEO are greater than of the CTO, he neglects to deal with issues that are standard concern for any CTO. A perversion occurs in the business, resulting in real business outcomes that come full circle for him as a CEO. He is (X) to delegate the responsibilities of a CTO either formally or informally. What is X: unable or unwilling? If unable, then fine there is no fallacy. If unwilling, then his reasoning is being affected by some agency, perhaps irrational fear. The fallacy comes in when he attempts to justify his lack of action by appealing to the idea of "priorities". Hence, the "fallacy of priorities".

Update: I see someone else got there first https://facilethings.com/blog/en/secondary-projects

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