New fallacies: divining rod, palm reader

Via Daily Nous, I encountered two new informal fallacies. Keith Payne, Laura Niemi, and John Doris coin them in writing about implicit bias at Scientific American.

  1. picture of a philosopherthe divining rod fallacy: On the basis of an instrument or scale for measurement being problematic, inferring that the property which it measures is not real. “[J]ust because a rod doesn’t find water doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as water.”
  2. the palm reading fallacy: Expecting psychological or sociological phenomena which occur at the group level to yield predictions about particular group members. “[U]nlike palm readers, research psychologists aren’t usually in the business of telling you, as an individual, what your life holds in store.”

You should feel free to diagnose these fallacies in the arguments of your interlocutors. I’ve added them to my list.

3 thoughts on “New fallacies: divining rod, palm reader”

  1. I nearly jumped out of my seat with candor when I saw these. Still, I cannot find an additional site, other than this and Scientific American, that provides these fallacies. I will use them when the time arrives, nonetheless.

  2. I’m not a big fan of methodological naturalism (assume all variables and their strengths are known. Go with what you have. Not very open to the new.) But the divining rod fallacy is sleazy. It was cooked up to support the notion of implicit bias, which has not been shown to exist. IB is a bit chilling because it assumes we can critique and perhaps impugn the unconscious thinking of others, which we haven’t shown to exist.

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