Logical Fallacies

A logical fallacy is a systemic flaw in the sequential process of deriving conclusions that can occur in any application of that method of deliberation, and can result in achieving erroneous end states.  Significantly, it does not include cases of failure to implement logical processes in the first place, nor does it apply in most cases to innate traits of neurophysiology.

The Art of Thinking Clearly Review

This example, The Art of Thinking Clearly, is something that I’ve been meaning to post a review for on the site for quite some time now, mostly because of how often I reference logical fallacies.  Whatever else this book might be, and it certainly has its flaws, it is a short, approachable compendium of common logical fallacies.

No Silver Bullets

Humans are lazy, short-sighted creatures, and that makes perfect evolutionary sense.  When you’re starving to death in an unfamiliar forest, you don’t have time or energy to make plans for ten years later, or to waste on superfluous activities.  In evolutionary terms, laziness is just another word for efficiency.  Long term planning and the capacity for delayed gratification came with the development of the higher reasoning cortex and the capacity for complex thought, and our brains have a constant battle between the impulsive, instinctual brain and the reasoned, thoughtful brain.  It’s no surprise, then, that we are always looking for silver bullets.

The Fallacy of Regret

Queue swirling lights and rushing sound effects as we go back in time to stop regretting things and make our lives go how we wish they could have gone, with all of the wisdom and hindsight of our later years.  After an arbitrary passage through time and space, we find our former self, and we say something like “hey, don’t invest your money there, use it to start the business you’ve always dreamt of.”  Then, ignoring all considerations of paradox, physics, entropy, and causality, we zip back to the present time to see how much better our life us now that we made the choice we always wished we had.

Exceptionalism: It’s Always Dangerous, Except This Time

We've mentioned logical fallacies on the site before. It turns out that the human brain is not the most reliable machine, at least when it comes to being rational/logical. After all, our brains evolved to help us find better food sources and communicate about the dangers (and discomforts) of eating poison ivy or being attacked by saber-toothed tigers, not to help us analyze the finer points of morality or the inner workings of the cosmos. Functionally, they are just constructions of chemical and electrical signals that react to various stimuli.


Humanity's fascination with numbers can be traced back to the Sumerians, and the ancient language, cuneiform. In some of the species' earliest cities, written communication was invented as a means of keeping track of numbers. Census data, to be specific, which was used to levy taxes on the populace. Aside from showing that both writing, and math, were developed in order to facilitate taxation, this is arguably the start of humanity's fascination with using numbers to explain the world around it. As we developed new mathematics and new techniques for recording information, the unique capabilities of statistics were leverages for wider ranging applications. Geometry, for instance, which oddly enough has the same root word as geography or geology, geo, which means earth, is called geometry because the Egyptians invented it to measure out parcels of land.