Friday, April 11, 2008

Can you spot the fallacy?

I am preparing my poster for the Antwerp conference next week. It is going to be about fallacies when assigning causes to onset of stuttering. Here are the examples. Can you spot the fallacy? Please post your answers. I will publish the solutions after the conference next week! The winner will be awarded the Mr/Mrs Fallacy title and can write a guest post! :-)


A parent said: "My kid started stuttering a few days after our car accident. Therefore, his stuttering was caused by the accident."


A therapist said: "We have compiled reliable statistics on 1000 kids over the last 20 years, and we notice that many kids start stuttering around the time of the birth of a younger sibling. Therefore, The emotional effects must cause stuttering at least in some kids."


A therapist said: "We have compiled reliable statistics on 1000 kids over the last 20 years, and we notice that a traumatic event is often close to onset of stuttering. Therefore, traumatic events can cause stuttering."


A researcher says: "We have tested 100 kids who stutter on 20 variables and found 2 that were significant (p<5%). Therefore, I conclude that onset of stuttering is correlated to these two variables."


A person who stutter says: "After I have come to terms with my childhood trauma and undertook psychological treatment, my stuttering vastly reduced. Therefore, stuttering must be caused by a traumatic experience in childhood."


A researcher says: "We have recently launched a large-scale study to study kids around the onset of stuttering, because we want to find out what causes stuttering."


Anonymous said...

During my early childhood (age 2-6),
I fell down from stairs 3-4 time. I was always made to believe that falling from stairs *did* some damage to my brain which caused me to stutter.

Alex Mellor said...

Hey Tom,

Great post.

It seems like the common fallacy presented here is that of Questionable Cause.
A specific event or variable is being credited with causing stuttering simply because it occurred before the stutter developed.

It is fallacious to assume that development of a stutter is caused by a car accident or other emotional event simply because the event preceded development of the stutter.


Tom Weidig said...

Hi Anonymous,

it depends whether you had a real head injury or not. I am not excluding that it could have led to stuttering. I was referring more to incidents where there was no clear physical damage.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

No there was no injuries or anything special that happened to me. I have gone through X-ray and MRI and there was nothing pointed out.I just fell and my stutter has always been attributed to this.

Unknown said...

Fallacy: Correlation is not necessarily Causation. The formal name of this is Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc.

Note: A correlation could, after further investigation, lead to the discovery of causation, or partial causation. That's just good detective work. It's the assuming of causation that is the fallacy.

Tom Weidig said...

Hi Jack,

yes, you are citing the most common fallacy. However, not all of the sentences contain this fallacy.

Anyway, I wasn't too clear. If you want to write a guest post on any topic of stuttering, pls let me know and I publish it!

Best wishes,