Faulty generalization fallacy

Cherry picking fallacy

Cherry picking (suppressed evidence, incomplete evidence, argument by half-truth, fallacy of exclusion, card stacking, slanting) – using individual cases or data that confirm a particular position, while ignoring related cases or data that may contradict that position


False analogy

False analogy – an argument by analogy in which the analogy is poorly suited.


Hasty generalization fallacy

Hasty generalization: Drawing a conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence.


What does it look like?

  • The cherry-picking fallacy, also known as the fallacy of incomplete evidence or the fallacy of suppressed evidence, occurs when someone selectively chooses specific pieces of information, data, or examples that support their argument or position while disregarding contradictory or counterbalancing evidence.
  • In the context of disinformation, the cherry-picking fallacy is often employed to distort the overall picture and manipulate public perception. Disinformation campaigns may deliberately present a one-sided or biased selection of information to create a misleading narrative that supports their agenda or viewpoint.
  • For instance, a disinformation campaign may selectively highlight statistics or anecdotes that support a particular claim while ignoring a more comprehensive analysis that provides a different perspective. By cherry-picking data or evidence, they create a distorted representation of reality that aligns with their desired narrative.
  • This fallacy can also be used in the context of quoting statements out of context. By selectively extracting portions of a speech or removing crucial context, a disinformation campaign can manipulate the intended meaning and mislead the audience about the speaker's actual stance or intentions.
  • It is essential to critically evaluate information and recognize when cherry-picking is taking place. Considering the full range of evidence, analyzing data in its proper context, and seeking diverse perspectives are key to avoiding the influence of the cherry-picking fallacy.
  • By promoting media literacy and fact-checking, individuals can develop the skills to identify instances of cherry-picking and demand a more complete and balanced representation of information. Engaging with reliable sources and critically evaluating claims help mitigate the impact of disinformation campaigns that employ the cherry-picking fallacy and promote a more accurate understanding of complex issues.

What does it look like?

  • The false analogy fallacy occurs when an argument relies on an analogy or comparison between two things that are not truly comparable, leading to an invalid or misleading conclusion. This fallacy is commonly employed in disinformation campaigns to manipulate public opinion by drawing inaccurate parallels and fostering faulty reasoning.
  • In the context of disinformation, an example of the false analogy fallacy could be the inappropriate comparison of two unrelated situations, events, or individuals to support a particular agenda or viewpoint.
  • For instance, a disinformation campaign might attempt to equate a political candidate or leader with a historically controversial figure, suggesting that they share similar characteristics or ideologies. By drawing a false analogy between the two, the campaign aims to create negative associations or evoke strong emotional responses that are not based on factual or logical comparisons.
  • This fallacy can also manifest in misleading comparisons of policies or actions. A disinformation campaign may assert that implementing a certain policy in one context will lead to the same negative outcomes experienced in an unrelated situation, even if the circumstances and factors are substantially different.
  • It is essential to recognize that analogies can be a useful tool for understanding complex issues, but they must be based on relevant and valid similarities. Critical evaluation of the factors being compared and an examination of the specific context are crucial in avoiding the false analogy fallacy.
  • By promoting critical thinking skills and media literacy, individuals can learn to identify false analogies and engage in reasoned analysis. Fact-checking and seeking reliable sources of information are crucial in countering disinformation campaigns that employ the false analogy fallacy. By recognizing faulty comparisons and evaluating evidence-based reasoning, we can foster a more informed and discerning public discourse.

What does it look like?

  • The hasty generalization fallacy, also known as the fallacy of insufficient statistics or overgeneralization, occurs when someone draws a conclusion about a whole group or category based on an inadequate or insufficient sample size or evidence. This fallacy is often employed in disinformation campaigns to make sweeping generalizations and perpetuate stereotypes or biases.
  • In the context of disinformation, an example of the hasty generalization fallacy could be a campaign that draws broad conclusions about an entire community or population based on limited or anecdotal evidence.
  • For instance, a disinformation campaign might highlight isolated incidents or specific examples to make sweeping claims about the behavior or characteristics of a particular group. By using a small sample size or selectively highlighting extreme cases, the campaign aims to generalize those behaviors or traits to the entire group, disregarding the diversity and complexity within the population.
  • This fallacy can also manifest in misleading statistical claims. A disinformation campaign might present data that appears to support a particular conclusion but fails to consider other relevant variables or factors that could significantly influence the outcome. By relying on insufficient statistical evidence, the campaign creates a distorted view of reality and fosters misperceptions.
  • It is essential to recognize that making accurate generalizations requires sufficient and representative evidence, as well as considering the specific context and characteristics of the group being studied. Engaging in critical thinking, seeking diverse perspectives, and examining a range of data are crucial in avoiding the hasty generalization fallacy.
  • By promoting media literacy and fact-checking, individuals can develop the skills to identify instances of hasty generalization and demand more robust and comprehensive evidence. Challenging unsupported generalizations and seeking a nuanced understanding of complex issues help to counter disinformation campaigns that perpetuate biases and stereotypes through hasty generalizations.
  • Example: "I met one rude person from that country, so everyone from that country must be rude."

Other related resources from our collection

Biases which frequently come into play with disinformation and help it influence our opinions and behaviours:

  • Authority bias
  • Bandwagon effect
  • Bias blind spot
  • Confirmation bias
  • Continued influence effect
  • Curse of knowledge
  • Dunning-Kruger effect
  • False consensus effect
  • Halo effect
  • Identifiable victim effect
  • In-group bias
  • Reactive devaluation
  • Selective perception
  • Semmelweis reflex

Suggested use in training

  • Present the bias to your learners and ask them to come up with examples from around them
  • Challenge your learners to report a situation where they were personally affected by Dunning-Kruger and acted in a biased manner