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Mighty Victims 4: Anecdotal Evidence

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Power holders in the United States tend to be white, male, straight, and (profess to be) Christian. Membership in these groups also seems to confer a degree of advantage relative to people outside of these groups. Yet, as been noted in the previous essays, some claim that the people in these groups are the “real victims” today. In this essay I will look at how a version of the fallacy of anecdotal evidence can be used to “argue” about who is “the real victim.” The fallacy of anecdotal evidence is committed when a person draws a conclusion about a population based on an anecdote (a story) about one or a small number of cases. The fallacy is also committed when someone rejects reasonable statistical data supporting a claim in favor of a single example or small number of examples that go against the claim. The fallacy is considered by some to be a variation of the hasty generalization fallacy (drawing a conclusion from a sample that is too small to adequately support that conclusion). The main difference between hasty generalization and anecdotal evidence is that the fallacy anecdotal evidence involves using a story (anecdote) as the sample. Here is the form of the anecdotal evidence variation often used to “argue” that an advantaged group is not advantaged: Premise 1: It is claimed that statistical evidence shows that Group A is advantaged relative to Group B Premise 2: A member of Group A was disadvantaged relative to a member of Group B. Conclusion: Group A is not advantaged relative to Group B (or Group B is not disadvantaged relative to Group A). To illustrate: Premise 1: It is claimed that statistical evidence shows that white Americas are advantaged relative to black Americans. Premise 2: Chad, a white American, was unable to get into his first choice of colleges because affirmative action allowed Anthony, a black American, to displace him. Conclusion: White Americans are not advantaged relative to black Americans.   The problem with the logic is that an. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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