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Weekly Discussion #4: A Quick Logic Lesson

Confirmation Bias is  is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities. This is a bias we all have regardless of how smart we may think we are.

The best way to avoid confirmation bias is to consider alternative possibilities and to actively seek information that would falsify or disconfirm statements we think are true. This is often a difficult and uncomfortable thing to do, but as philosophers we’re committed to discovering the truth and confirmation bias seriously hampers our efforts at doing so.

The purpose of this assignment is to:

  • Recognize how easy it is to be hampered by confirmation bias
  • Recognize confirmation bias as a serious threat to our ability to maximize the number of true beliefs we have.

Assignment Instructions:

1. If you haven’t already done so read David McRaney’s article “Confirmation Bias”.

2. Go to this website (Links to an external site.) and try to solve the puzzle. Try at least one sequence of numbers and write down what sequences you tried in determining the answer to the puzzle.

3. Click the “I think I know it button” on the website and read the article.

4. Describe your results. Did you get it right? What sequences did you try? What does this exercise tell you about confirmation bias? Write at least one developed paragraph (about 200 words) in your response. Remember to use correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. This initial post is due Thursday.

Weekly Discussion #3: My Favorite Fallacy

There are many more fallacies than are covered in your text book, though your text covers some of the most common. www.fallacyfiles.org (Links to an external site.) and yourlogicalfallacyis.com (Links to an external site.)  are a great resources for learning about more fallacies.

  • Learning about fallacies will help you recognize when others are giving poor reasons to accept their claims.
  • Recognizing fallacies also helps you avoid them in your own reasoning.

Assignment Instructions:

Go to the www.fallacyfiles.org (Links to an external site.) and choose a fallacy that you thought was particularly interesting or that you have run across frequently. You will find an alphabetical list of fallacies in a selector on the left-hand side of the page. Alternatively you can use https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com (Links to an external site.). Click the symbols to get details about each fallacy. Make your chosen fallacy one that hasn’t already been covered in your Vaughn textbook.

In your initial post do the following. This is due Thursday.

1. Define the fallacy. Try to do this in your own words. If you do quote fallacy files, don’t forget to use quotation marks.

2. Include an example given on fallacyfiles.org. 

3. Give a novel example of an argument that commits this fallacy; either one that you found in the media or one you made up just for this assignment.

4. Explain why the example fallacious arguments fail to give good reasons for their conclusions. In other words, what’s wrong with committing this fallacy?