Critical Thinking for Addiction Professionals

By Michael J. Taleff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
A Crash Course
in Fallacies

The next set of chapters point out more of the rocks and undertows to avoid while swimming in critical thinking waters. We are going to spend a lot of time on these hazards, so, we first need to discuss what we mean by fallacies, and a distant cousin called mind tunnels, and why both doggedly stick to us.

Recall that decisions are based on all kinds of thinking. Some of that thinking is good, like the type that uses solid reasoning and evidence-based arguments. Some arguments are not so good, like those that resort to fallacies. But what are fallacies? They can be mistakes, omissions, faults, and false beliefs. Fallacies have everything to do with making arguments defective; they supply a wrong conclusion from a set of premises (Bandman & Bandman, 1988; Engel, 1976; Hurley, 1997). They lull us into the sleep of reason (Blackburn, 1999), and are difficult to change once they become established.

Fallacies masquerade as true when in reality they aren't (Browne & Keely, 2004). To fall prey to a fallacy is a surefire way to misconstrue the true nature of a client or the thoughts and feelings of other addiction professionals. They cannot change things for the better (Blackburn, 1999). Fallacies are pernicious and can occur at any stage of the reasoning process, from formulating premises, to establishing connections with those premises, to making inferences (Grigorenko & Lockery, 2002). Clients and treatment programs that are on the receiving end of fallacies face serious problems.

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