A fallacy is the application of an incorrect argument in reasoning that employs various methods to create (by accident or design) a misconception or presumption.   Exploiting emotional triggers or social relationships, using sweeping generalizations, affirming the consequent or denying the antecedent: all to provide proof to a point are classic examples.  Most of these fallacies are decipherable by the majority of us. “If people have high cholesterol, they have heart attacks.  Fred has high cholesterol.  Therefore Fred will have a heart attack.”

One of my personal favorites, in terms of logical fallacies is Proof by Verbosity. This technique is commonly employed by pharmaceutical companies presenting studies on drugs.  They present the medication to health care providers with an irrelevant conclusion: “Our Company has shown this drug to be safe” (your company may be wrong…).  They then make use of affirming the consequent as demonstrated above.  At that point, they unearth Proof by Verbosity.  This awe-inspiring sum of facts and data that is so overwhelming and tedious; it most certainly makes interpretation difficult for anyone, especially for us running room to room to care for our beloved patients.  Sifting through the vast quantity is impossible.

This rhetorical technique persuades by overwhelming those considering an argument with such volume that the argument sounds plausible.  It is so laborious to unravel and review supporting facts that it simply goes unchallenged.  Something to think about when deciding between taking a pill or making some non-verbose lifestyle changes…




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