(a.k.a. anecdotal fallacy)
As promised, the first formal fallacy: Where one uses a personal story as evidence for a claim. As described in the link, formal fallacies are non sequiturs; meaning they hold no logical bearing on the argument at hand. I think of them as simply shouting something totally irrelevant mid-argument/sentence. The fallacy this week deals with anecdotal evidence being used to support an assertion, and giving one an implied permission to make a hasty generalization (a fallacy soon to be covered).
Example: 1) My experience tells me X. 2) Therefore X is true for all people.
Real World Example:
Anne: “I am giving up extreme sports now that I have children. I think I will take up golf.”
Bill: “I wouldn’t do that. Do you remember Charles? He was playing golf when he got hit by a golf-cart. It broke his leg, and he fell over, giving himself a concussion. He was in hospital for a week and still walks with a limp. I would stick to paragliding!”(Source)
Indicator: This fallacy usually comes in the form of a story, or anecdote, the point of which supports the tellers point of view. Being rather easy to spot in others, this fallacy is surprisingly tricky to spot in one’s self. The inner monologue of the mind doesn’t always inherently doubt its own rationale, and for that reason, to avoid this fallacy, it’s best to double-check your conclusions with external (non anecdotal) sources.
Next week: Appeal To Probability
Last week: Unfalsifiability