Talk:Balance fallacy

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Icon logic.svg

This Logic related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.



Okay, so it's in dinosaur comics and it's fairly obvious that it's a real fallacy. Is there another name for this as I can't find it refferred to via google or wikipedia. ArmondikoVmoral 07:47, 30 October 2008 (EDT)

Equal time? Wazza (Not Wazzock, Wazza)Approach the Presence 10:06, 30 October 2008 (EDT)
I've got one reference to equal balance fallacy. --Bobbing up 14:28, 30 October 2008 (EDT)
I got lots of Google hits for "false balance" and have edited the article accordingly. ... of liberals? (talk) 19:57, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

In my opinion this practice is very fair, I always respect the opinions of my adversaries in discussions, as long as they're the least intelligent or logical, in other words I don't feed the trolls Lalumierebleue (talk) 04:12, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

That's not a balance fallacy. If two viewpoints actually deserve 50% weight each, then it would be fallacious (aka bias) to not do so. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 19:26, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
This is where the "fallacy" most comes into play. X acknowledges that X's knowledge ultimately rests on a long string of connected research X trusts because most of it seems to make sense [X has not done all of research on their own, they simply believe in the scientific method] that yields information necessary at that time in communication with Y. Y may or may not feel that same way about what they understand as 'true and so the phrase is applicable in one particular sense.
Z (you, in this case), responds to X or Y with what they consider to be the conclusive, true definition of the idea behind discourse they had no place in to begin with and subjectivity re: operative definition is not taken into account and contributes nothing to X or Y, solely patting themselves on the back for their prompt overly methodological response rooted in the wording and logic some amount of peers also accept as true. Read all that very carefully if you want to understand why the "somewhere between two extremes..." phrase is used. (talk) 01:30, 17 October 2017 (UTC)


I've always felt that (some) agnostics fall for some form of the balance fallacy. The argument seems to something like this: "As we cannot know for certain that God does or doesn't exist, then the possibility of his existing or not existing are equal."--BobSpring is sprung! 10:03, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes, only true for some agnostics, I'm not sure if it's a balance issue with agnosticism itself - particularly true agnosticism that argues that you can't give a probability of any description. Scarlet A.pngbomination 12:12, 4 April 2010 (UTC)
Agnosticism only refers to knowledge (or one's own acknowledgement that they lack the knowledge) inherently and not belief. As such, I would argue that the label of "agnostic" is incomplete and more properly expressed as "agnostic [a/theist]" but I digress partially; agnosticism is not fallacy.
Matter of fact, that there's an opposite to the "balance fallacy" sort of makes this whole page laughable, as it validates it not on a technical level but on the level it was meant to be expressed, which is in regards not to that which one doesn't know or understand but rather that which one might understand partially with recognition of some form of previous bias. In this manner, it's less an argument and more of a rhetorical, albeit sound idiom. RW of course feels the need to reduce such statements to a stupidly bare level where every fundamental component is analysed and argued (upon itself, ironically) until the whole thing is both simultaneously irrelevant and yet empirical in some way, shape or form. Most people who have expressed most of the idioms taken as fallacy here or elsewhere do so with either a gigantic grain of salt or the preexisting assumption that their statement will interpreted "correctly" according to their intention and not as some form of argument point the other person who will present two blatant extremes within one extreme (the most common response that you see to this idea, though not the only one) to "prove" wrong what is more of a belief requiring no validation whatsoever. If someone did try to use it in the form of a fallacy, as in NOT rhetorical, then one might be prompted to challenge it. Other than that, a lot of this is a very good example of taking something entirely too literally/seriously. (talk) 01:17, 17 October 2017 (UTC)

Redirect from False Equivalence[edit]

Why does False Equivalence redirect here? False Equivalence does not seem to be the same as Balance Fallacy.DarkSpecterAnon (talk) 03:18, 14 July 2015 (UTC)


Some content from and The FCP Foundation (talk/stalk) 21:46, 1 August 2015 (UTC)

Adversarial journalism is not the problem[edit]

The article currently states:

This is primarily a problem in the media, where confrontational or adversarial journalism might present more of a controversy than actually exists.

This I believe is exactly wrong. The "false equivalency" issue is intimately related to the rather new, corporate journalism model of "objectivity." We need more adversarial journalism not less, to uproot the balance fallacy. David Halberstam didn't practice "he said, she said" journalism when he refused to cater to what the generals wanted him to write during the Vietnam war. Halberstam was deeply adversarial to power and insisted on reporting the truth as he could best determine it. In one of his last speeches before he died, to Columbia journalism students, Halberstam declared:

One of the things I learned, the easiest of lessons, was that the better you do your job, often going against conventional mores, the less popular you are likely to be. (So, if you seek popularity, this is probably not the profession for you.)


I want to leave you today with one bit of advice: never, never, never, let them intimidate you. People are always going to try in all kinds of ways. Sheriffs, generals, presidents of universities, presidents of countries, secretaries of defense. Don’t let them do it.

Probably the moment I am proudest of in my career is this: By the fall of 1963, I was one of a small group of reporters in Saigon – we had enraged Washington and Saigon by filing pessimistic dispatches on the war. In particular, my young colleague, Neil Sheehan, and I were considered the enemy. The president of the United States, JFK, had already asked the publisher to pull me. On day that fall, there was a major battle in the Delta (the Americans were not yet in a full combat role; they were in an advising and support role). MACV – the American military command – tried to keep out all reporters so they could control the information. Neil and I spent the day pushing hard to get there – calling everyone, including Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and General Paul Harkins. With no luck, of course.

In those days, the military had a daily late afternoon briefing given by a major or a Captain, called the Five O’clock Follies, because of the generally low value of the information.

On this particular day, the briefing was different, given not by a Major but by a Major General, Dick Stilwell, the smoothest young general in Saigon. It was in a different room and every general and every bird Colonel in the country was there. Picture if you will rather small room, about the size of a classroom, with about 10 or 12 reporters there in the center of the room. And in the back, and outside, some 40 military officers, all of them big time brass. It was clearly an attempt to intimidate us. General Stilwell tried to take the intimidation a step further. He began by saying that Neil and I had bothered General Harkins and Ambassador Lodge and other VIPs, and we were not to do it again. Period.

And I stood up, my heart beating wildly – and told him that we were not his corporals or privates, that we worked for The New York Times and UP and AP and Newsweek, not for the Department of Defense. I said that we knew that 30 American helicopters and perhaps 150 American soldiers had gone into battle, and the American people had a right to know what happened. I went on to say that we would continue to press to go on missions and call Ambassador Lodge and General Harkins, but he could, if he chose, write to our editors telling them that we were being too aggressive, and were pushing much too hard to go into battle. That was certainly his right.

So: Never let them intimidate you. Never.

What I'm getting at is looked at here and here.

I'd like to add a paragraph explaining all this.---Mona- (talk) 20:44, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

While I agree - just as a general rule for thought - that it's stupid for anyone to consider any type of media as objective (everyone's got an agenda they're pushing), the fallacy that this article is covering has nothing to do with bravery or ethics, but with logic, and with an illogical scenario inherently related to the providing of a spotlight for arguments. That makes the first half of the sentence regarding it primarily being a problem of the media valid, in my view, the media (however you define that) indeed being the most visible spotlight for the clash opposing views. What we "need" isn't what logic determines, nor what this article covers. Then again, on the other hand, it could also seem that that description has indeed wandered away a bit from the logical definition - or the logic needs proper expansion to cover the media scenario. The actual fallacy simply points out that discarding the extremes in favor of any given middle isn't inherently logical, just as discarding the middle in favor of any given extremes isn't inherently logical. So maybe you are right that the media description doesn't fit this exact fallacy as it stands now. But that point, if valid as it may be, has absolutely nothing to do with any "need" for anything, or with any people who stood up against oppression or whatever. Logic doesn't test truth or ethics, only the relation of ideas, e.g. like math. This article is best argued in equation form. I could argue on a tangent that, for all intents and purposes, both your arguments for a counter-media and the article's suggestion that people out to pick a bone are doing exactly that could both fit under the bias article instead. So I don't know this is actually fully in agreement with you, though it might be, but I'd just like to add or point out or reiterate or whatever that this article could do with a combing through to eliminate any description of the fallacy in use that isn't essentially (X + Y) → Z . Reverend Black Percy (talk) 21:29, 26 August 2015 (UTC)
Isn't this article essentially media criticism, and not just about logic per se?---Mona- (talk) 23:33, 26 August 2015 (UTC)
Actually it's part of the series on logic and rhetoric, as per the logicnav. These are meant to be built around actual logic, and while additional examples and extrapolations are often useful (when correctly applied), any article in that series - broadly speaking - doesn't require anything outside a brief text outline and the actual logic equations. I think you may have this category confused with Reverend Black Percy (talk) 23:49, 26 August 2015 (UTC)
Oh, I see. I took logic in college and had to use it professionally 'n all, but formal logic isn't my field of expertise. So this isn't an article I should especially mess with. I just remain bothered by the sentence I quoted above negatively reflecting on adversarial journalism. Thank you for the explanation.---Mona- (talk) 00:47, 27 August 2015 (UTC)
Glad we could clear that up. I took university level logic as recently as just this spring, though I had some background in programming logic, so it was far from "all new" to me, but I'm not any kind of logician either. Though I do plan to study it more at university fairly soon (aside from spare time reading various introductory texts on logic just for fun). And again, while I won't pick any side for or against your position given initially here (as this is, again, not the talk page for any ethics debates), I would agree with you on some level that this talk page should probably engage people in a discussion - again, not on any ethics considerations but on specifically defined logic and rhetoric - regarding ways that the RW community may clarify the choice of text phrasing to support the very well motivated logic of this article. Because, even in the scenario that I were to agree perfectly with the intention and message of that summary sentence on inflammatory media or whatever, that still doesn't show me how that exact example appearing in this exact article displays this quite specific fallacy of how essentially forcing a Venn diagram fringe-unity of X and Y would amount to anything inherently logical (which, again, it doesn't). What should be demanded of every logic article is that the text examples actually follow the argumentative logic provided in equation format in the very same article. That is an obvious point, but I'd like to state it aloud anyways. Thanks for raising this general point and humbly acknowledging your mistake - we all make them. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 01:33, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, I feel that this is talking about two different things:

  1. You can't assume that something is true just because it's between two extremes (logical fallacy)
  2. Presenting minority fringe viewpoints with equal weight as mainstream viewpoints misleads viewers into overestimating their truth

These are both issues of "balance", but don't seem to me to be in the same category. Hmmph (talk) 01:48, 23 September 2015 (UTC)

I agree. #1 is the balance fallacy. #2 is appeal to moderation, which was its own article until August, when FuzzyCatPotato turned it into a redirect here – though without adding "appeal to moderation" to the "Alternate names" section (curiously, argumentum ad temperantiam is there, if misspelled), and without turning the link in the "Problems" section into a bolded mention without link. I think the article should be restored, as it is about a similar but distinct fallacy. -- (talk) 01:42, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

Several issues[edit]

There are several issues in my view with this article.

  • In the first paragraph, it is stated "it is effectively an inverse false dilemma". Not really. A false dilemma means only two options are presented, and they are presented as mutually exclusive, when in fact there may be many more and/or they may not be mutually exclusive. A false dilemma does in no way imply correct answer is in the middle.
  • The whole "false equivalence" section. First of all, it does not belong in this article, as there is no connection between a balance fallacy and a false equivalence. But second and most importantly, its contents only reference the contents of an irrelevant book written by some conservative, without any accurate description of what a false equivalence is or any conclusion being presented. (talk)

Couldn't agree more. The "false equivalency" section doesn't actually define what a false equivalency is, instead presenting denialist arguments from a couple of anti-intellectual right-wing apologists that the argument never even tries to rebut. Some problems with their rhetoric expressed include:
  • They say that "we don't remember false equivalence from logic class because liberals made it up." ...No, we don't remember it from "logic class" because there is no such thing as "logic class"! Logical fallacies are usually taught in writing classes, and the reason they never taught us about it is because, due to constraints of time, most writing classes only bother to teach you about nine or ten fallacies out of the hundreds that exist overall.
  • It is obvious that these people refuse to believe that the left and the right could possibly be anything but equals. Their assertion that liberals are "anti-science" because they're more likely to oppose nuclear power than conservatives is fallacious. To quote Cracked, opposing one science on one level does not mean you reject all science on all levels. That's not to mention that liberal opposition to nuclear power is ethical in nature, as opposed to refusing to believe that established scientific principles exist because they think an invisible giant in the sky told them so.
  • The piece about climate change is especially absurd. Instead of conceding that liberals are more knowledgable in that field than conservatives, these two hacks use blatant special pleading to smear the left by saying that conservatives "won" the debate because they recognize the difference between climate change and global warming better than liberals do. Here's the problem: THERE IS LITERALLY NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO WHATSOEVER!!! Anyone with even the slightest knowledge on the subject could tell these clowns that "global warming" and "climate change" are synonyms that describe the same phenomenon, so that would only make conservatives look worse for not recognizing obvious fact. That's not even getting into the fact that, even with all that hair-splitting I just described, they still failed to rebut the fact that the numbers show that liberals are more likely to recognize the existence of climate change than conservatives. The statistics show that liberal belief in climate change existence is over 90%, while conservatives who believe such are at much lower numbers regardless of the terminology used. This isn't like golf where the lowest score wins!
Look, I know I'm ranting here, and I'm sorry. To see such blatant ignorance go unchallenged just nettles me is all. NotYourAverageBoN (talk) 02:31, 23 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Agreeing with the above; even if its logic wasn't flawed, it doesn't have any sort of introduction or explanation for its presence. It's just... there. I would just remove it myself, but that is, apparently, section blanking, and thus an administrator needs to come and do it. (talk) 00:07, 7 February 2018 (UTC)

Shouldn't this be linked to from Horseshoe Theory?[edit]

Or is it already? Evil Zionist (talk) 23:23, 30 August 2017 (UTC)