Logical Gal shines the light on the Fallacy of Fake Precision

11 Oct

Son # 2 is visiting this week with his wife and little one.

His presence has stirred up many precious memories, especially of meals shared around the dinner table.  As a teen, Wes loved to pronounce facts dramatically with flair.

His style was to throw in large numbers, meant to beef up a weak argument.

  • 16.27 million teens have their own cell phones
  • 97.5 % of all high school juniors have a curfew later than mine

Or he would announce some news and just add in a big number to make it sound more interesting.

  • Did you know, Mom, that 7.2 out of every 10 American households have at least 3 television sets?

This use of arbitrary figures, pulled-out-of-thin-air statistics is meant to make the claim-maker sound more knowledge.  After all, how many people are going to actually challenge his large numbers?   So what defense is available to you?  How do you respond?  Simply ask:

  • How do you know that?
  • What is the source of your statistic?

Many groups make use of this creative fallacy.  Scientific researchers, political groups and marketers.   Who doesn’t remember Crest toothpaste’s statistic!

And you can bet that 84.5 % of America’s car salesmen use this kind of tactic to get you to part with your money and buy from them!

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