Posted: November 8th, 2022

Critical Thinking

Consider the fallacies of relevance listed in Chapter 8 of our textbook. Consider a recent conversation or a recent news or magazine article you have read. Identify two fallacies of relevance you noticed in the conversation or article. Consider how you, personally, might avoid committing fallacies of relevance, and list two ways you can avoid them in the future. In your replies to students, note some polite ways to point out when someone commits a fallacy of relevance.

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In your posts this week, please be sure to include ideas or insights from the textbook as you seek to make connections from theory to practice.


I recently had a conversation with a coworker who said to me, “my brother’s friend is a doctor at a major hospital and had a severe reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. Therefore, it isn’t safe, so I will not be getting it. They felt sick and had a fever for two days!” This is a fallacy of relevance because it only considers a source group of one person, and ignores that there may be millions of people that have already received the vaccine without issue. It also assumes the the doctor mentioned is an expert in the field, even though they could actually be a podiatrist. Lastly, it assumes that what my coworkers brothers friend experienced was in fact some sort adverse reaction, which is an unexpected or unwanted reaction to a medication or vaccination. Where as something like a fever, fatigue, or soreness, is a known and common side effect of many vaccines and poses no immediate health issue unless side effects persist. A comparable example to this that I could use to check the falaciousness of the argument would be, “my brothers friend crashed his car, it was a Mercedes so you know it’s safe, and yet the seatblet burn nearly killed him. Therefore, cars are unsafe, and I won’t drive one.”

    They went further to show me an Instagram post from a user called CV19vaccinereactions, that only shows posts from Tweets and articles discussing adverse reactions allegedly caused by the vaccine. I was able to recall from a previous chapter that this was a clear example of confirmation bias by both my coworker and the Instragram user since they never showed any positive outcomes from the vaccine, only bad ones as 
a means to spread misinformation about a belief they already hold.

    A few ways I can avoid commiting fallacies of relevence would be to make sure that what I choose to say or believe has multiple sources and that the sources have knowledge in a pertitnent field. Another is to consider what my own beliefs are initially, make sure to consider that my own beliefs may be incorrect, then find a wide variety of source information to determine the actual truth of the matter. Lastly, as I did above, I could always use comparable examples to test if the statement is falacious or not. 

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