3

Recently on Twitter someone posted CCTV footage of a man leaving a launderette then one second later a drier explodes taking out the front of the building and the door he just left by, followed by billowing flames. He would have been seriously injured if he had not just vacated. One disbelieving commenter stated that he has run a launderette business for 30 years and that has never happened to him, ergo, he doubts this happened, despite a recording of it available for all to see. Is there a fallacy name for this? I'm aware of normalcy bias but that doesn't seem to fit the bill, and it's more than denial... the person is essentially saying their opinion trumps visual evidence purely because of their own personal experience to the contrary. What is that?

EDITED AFTER TWO RESPONSES:

Maybe I didn't explain it properly and this is also my first time here so I'm very new to the terminology, forgive rookie mistakes. What I mean is, is there a name for when somebody mistakenly assumes that something is untrue / not possible because it hasn't happened to them? Reasoning from experience is about applying logic, isn't it? But this person was asserting that the footage was unlikely to have actually happened based solely on the fact that it hadn't happened to him in his 30 years experience. But it had happened (regardless of how). What I'm asking is simply is there a term for making that assumption. Thanks in advance and sorry once again for not being well versed in the lexicon

4
  • I'm not sure that basing an opinion on 30 years experience with a launderette is a fallacy. It's possible a gas explosion occurred. It's possible somebody put some kind of IED in the dryer. Electric dryers don't tend to explode.
    – Boba Fit
    Apr 3, 2023 at 16:48
  • It's called reasoning from experience, and it's not a fallacy. Apr 3, 2023 at 17:26
  • Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    Apr 3, 2023 at 21:23
  • This has the form of the argument from incredulity. However, considering how easily videos can be faked these days, just doubting one, without further confirmation and based on vast personal experience, does not qualify as fallacious.
    – Conifold
    Apr 4, 2023 at 0:10

1 Answer 1

1

My guess is that this is an appeal to authority, which is a controversial form of argument. Some consider it a fallacy while others do not. I hate quote Wikipedia, but it was the best source I could find.

Historically, opinion on the appeal to authority has been divided: it is listed as a non-fallacious argument as often as a fallacious argument in various sources,[6][7] as some hold that it can be a strong or at least valid defeasible[8] argument[9][10][11][12] and others that it is weak or an outright fallacy.[4][13][14][15][16]

The basic form of an appeal to authority argument is:

  1. Alice claims X is true.
  2. Alice is an expert in a related field.
  3. X is true.

The reason there is so much debate about appeals to authority is because of the second part. How do you decide who qualifies as an expert, and how do you decide what qualifies as a related field?

In your example, the person's experience mostly likely qualifies him as an expert in the field of launderette management. If he claimed that malfunctioning laundry machines do not explode, then his expertise would probably apply and they are making an appeal to authority argument.

However, if made a stronger claim, such as the video was digitally edited to add in the explosion, then their claim is no longer regarding their field of expertise. Therefore, they are making an appeal to improper authority fallacy.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .