Avoiding fallacies can be considered an art form and science.
It’s difficult for many people to detect the validity of claims and determine the truth. However, thanks to what Dr. Carl Sagan provided in one of his earlier essays, we become closer to finding truth in what people say. Dr. Sagan suggested a method to help us formulate conclusions while avoiding misleading notions, fallacies, and untruths.
More on avoiding fallacies
In one of his essay entitled, ‘The Fine Art of Baloney,’ Sagan offers 10 warning signs. He calls the process of validating information “The Baloney Detection Kit.”
Here are 10 things to look out for when trying to determine the truth in what someone claims:
- How reliable is the source of the claim?
- Does the source make similar claims?
- Have the claims been verified by another source?
- How does the claim fit with what we know?
- Has anyone gone out of his or her way to disprove the claim, or has only supportive evidence been sought?
- Does the preponderance of evidence point to the claimant’s conclusion or to a different one?
- Is the claimant employing the accepted rules of reason and tools of research, have these been abandoned in favor of others that lead to the desired conclusion?
- Is the claimant providing an explanation for the observed phenomena or merely denying the existing explanation?
- If the claimant proffers a new explanation, does it account for as many phenomena as the old explanation did?
- Do the claimant’s personal beliefs and biases drive the conclusion, or vice versa?
Avoiding fallacies takes time and effort
Realizing there’s no foolproof method of detecting and avoiding fallacies, utilizing Dr. Sagan’s suggestions offers a better way to distinguish fact from fiction. Dr. Sagan shared much more insight on the topic of detecting baloney, or validating claims than what was provided in this article. You’ll find more information on this subject at Dr. Carl Sagan’s website: The Carl Saga Portal.
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