Fallacies of insufficient evidence have premises that are relevant to the conclusion, but the premises do not give sufficient evidence to support the conclusion. In the following passages, identify whether or not there is a fallacy of insufficient evidence. Identify the fallacy or state that there is no fallacy. Give reasons for your answer.
- Most celebrities believe in reincarnation. I know because I heard it on the Jerry Springer show.
- I know you want to go to school but you have the flu and if you go to school, you could give it to others. They could then pass it on to their family and friends and it would continue to spread.
- Green tea is leafy, green, and tastes great either as an iced or hot beverage. Marijuana is leafy and green. Therefore, marijuana is great as a hot or iced beverage.
- No one objects to an attorney looking up a legal case during a trial. Why should students not be able to look up information during an exam?
- Do you still take money from the petty cash box to buy your lunch?
- In New York, there has been a move to restrict the size of sugary soft drinks that can be sold. If this stands, who knows what they will restrict next. The next thing will likely be French Fries and then they will restrict red meat or processed foods like hot dogs. If we don’t stop this type of regulation now, the government will keep telling us what we can and can’t eat and drink.
- Mary got one of those emails that said that God will protect her if she passes along the email to 10 of her friends. She deletes the email as it is “junk”. On the way home, she is in a wreck and her car is totaled. As soon as Mary gets back to her computer, she retrieves the email from the trash file and forwards it to everyone in her contact list.
- Since the days when I was young about 50 years ago, teen pregnancy, bullying, drug use, and violence in schools has increased quite a bit. We need to put prayer back in school.
- The best soccer players are from England. It has to be true because Judge Judy said so.
- Three times last week on my way to work, I was cut off by drivers going way too fast and all of the drivers were women in mini-vans. Women who drive mini-vans are reckless drivers.
In the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), there is a scene that is a spoof of the witch hunts that took place in the Middle Ages: A group of peasants set upon a woman and declare that she is a witch and demand to burn her. The scenario goes something like this:
Knight: How to you know she’s a witch?
Crowd: She is dressed like a witch.
Knight: Why is she dressed like a witch?
Crowd: We dressed her up to look like a witch.
Knight: What do you do with witches?
Crowd: We burn them.
Knight: What do you burn besides witches?
Knight: Wood! So why do witches burn?
Crowd: Because they are made of wood.
Knight: Does wood sink or float in water?
Crowd: It floats.
Knight: What else floats in water?
Crowd: A duck.
Knight: Exactly! So . . .
Crowd: If she weighs the same as a duck, she’s made of wood!
Knight: Therefore . . .
Crowd: She’s a witch—burn her!
List the premises and the conclusion that you find in the argument. Does the conclusion follow the premises logically? If not, where does the reasoning break down? Can you spot a fallacy? Explain your findings.