4

For example:

If alcohol were bad, none of those old men in theirs 80s from my village would be healthy.

If smoking were bad, my grandfather wouldn't have lived until 94, as he smoked a lot.

Obviously we all know these arguments are wrong. But I would like to know if this fallacy has a common name. Is it a logical fallacy?

3

The above mentioned arguments could fall under and contain several fallacies, including:

  • Fallacy of Composition (part to whole fallacy) - assuming that a part of a whole has a characteristic, then the whole must also have the characteristic

    • In this example, the fallacy run as such: the men the arguer knew were healthy, anyone who drinks/smokes must also be healthy, as drinking/smoking is not the cause. The arguer has falsely associated the men he/she knew to all drinking/smoking men.
  • Cherry Picking data (as @Flo mentioned in comment above) - assuming something is true because the cases that support said position are chosen

    • In this instance, the arguer's grandfather and men from his village.
  • Fallacy of the Single Cause - assuming there is a single cause to the situation.

    • The arguer has assumed the only thing having a bearing on the men's health is their drinking/smoking or lack thereof. For example, we don't know if some activity or food counteracts the drinking/smoking.
  • Argument from Incredulity - dismissing an argument because the arguer cannot understand/imagine how such an outcome is possible.

    • The arguer cannot fathom that the men would be healthy if smoking/drinking caused poor health. He/she has eliminated all other possibilities because he/she has found them unfathomable.
2

As TheHonestAtheist points out, there could be a number of possible fallacies at work here. One more that he didn't mention is that it could be a simple case of a straw man. When we say that 'smoking is bad' we presumably mean something like 'smoking has some negative health effects that outweigh its positive qualities', which is a much weaker claim than 'everyone who has ever smoked will die young'.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.