Talk:Holmesian fallacy

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Question[edit]

To what extent is Holmes' statement a simplification of 'his' methodology in a very specific field (that of being a detective in fiction where the problem will be solved). More generally we all apply the process to some extent (it is #very# unlikely that (decommissioned gods) have stolen your keys/rearranged your computer etc) - even if it leads to the seemingly improbable conclusion that there are 'known (to be) unknowns or unknown unknowns involved.' And if one comes to the conclusion 'this conclusion is clearly false/illogical' one should reconsider the things considered impossible - Lord Kelvin #could# have deduced that 'the sun is fuelled by presently unknown processes' - or that the solar system began forming before the sun 'went luminous.' Anna Livia (talk) 10:22, 20 March 2018 (UTC)

This is nonsense[edit]

"Despite it being a quotation from a fictional character (Holmes) starring in a series of detective novels where the narrative contrives to have the mystery inevitably solved thanks to the hero's superior powers of observation, the saying is often mistakenly attributed to Arthur Conan Doyle himself." Are we really saying that Doyle didn't write it, but that Holmes did? Did Holmes exist outside out Doyle, somehow? Terrible writing here. (just venting here because i can't fit all that in the edit box.) Avida Dollarsher again 12:56, 13 May 2019 (UTC)

@Avida Dollars — I think the distinction is supposed to be made between something that the character said vice the author independent of any story. After all, rarely do people format quotes as:
"You're a wizard, Harry."
—J.K. Rowling
or
"No [Luke], I am your father."
—George Lucas
Compared to:
"Life doesn't happen in chapters — at least, not regular ones."
—Terry Pratchett, Booksource.com interview, 2008
Which isn't something any of his characters said. —ℕoir LeSable (talk) 14:01, 13 May 2019 (UTC)
But the sentence directly claims that Doyle didn't say it. And let's not forget that, for instance, most Shakespeare quotes are attributed to the bard himself, rather than the characters who say them. Avida Dollarsher again 18:39, 13 May 2019 (UTC)

This article is a joke[edit]

This article needs to be cleaned up, badly. It seems to refer to various mistakes as one single fallacy throughout the article.

The thesis, first sentence of the page: "...occurs when some explanation is believed to be true on the basis that alternate explanations are impossible, yet not all alternate explanations have been ruled out." That thesis refers to the following situation: We have possible explanations A, B, C, & D that must be evaluated to True or False; one and only one explanation is true. We evaluate A, we evaluate B, both are determined to be False. We decide, fallaciously, that explanation C must be true because alternate explanations are impossible, yet not all alternate explanations have been ruled out (We still haven't evaluated D).

The explanation section is a nonsensical mess, it refers to "The Holmes Method" without first describing it as if the reader should understand "The Holmes Method" from the quote presented even though the quote presented is a descriptive statement and not a process, algorithm, or method; it also seems to use circular reasoning to show that this made-up "Holmes Method" is a fallacy. I genuinely do not understand how to translate what this section is saying into logical propositions because it is so vague.

I would infer that "The Holmes method" is this: Create a list of possible solutions, each with a certain known probability of being True/False. Assume only one solution can be True. Evaluate each solution until a possible solution is found to be True.

The "explanation" section claims that "The Holmes Method" is a fallacy and attempts to prove it as such. However, based on the Holmes Method that I inferred and described above, we can see that the arguments use circular reasoning.

The first supposed condition for the Holmes Method to succeed is "Find every possible explanation." Feferring to our inferred algorithm above, in the step where we generate a list of possible solutions, we must, according to the page, generate a "complete" list for The Holmes Method to succeed. The page argues this is impossible and therefore THM is fallacious. But from what pool do we generate these possible solutions? Why must this necessarily fail? As an example using the inferred Holmes Method above: we begin with the pool {A, B, C} with A, B, and C each being possible solutions. We create a list of possible solutions drawing from the aforementioned pool {A, B, C}. We select B from {A,B,C}, our Holmes Method is now operating on the list {B}. We select A, then we select C from the original pool of all possible solutions and put them in our Holmes Method list which is now {B, A, C}. The Holmes Method list {B, A, C} contains every member of the original pool {A, B, C}, therefore we have "found every possible explanation" as was the condition placed on The Holmes Method by the article. We met the condition without using omniscience, so the page's "explanation" section's argument doesn't seem to apply.

Etc. etc. for the second condition "Correctly disprove every possible explanation, except the true and undisprovable one." If we're working with probabilities as the quote suggests, it is entirely possible for The Holmes Method as I have inferred above to meet such a condition, although the algorithm would only meet that condition some of the time. If we have a set {A-70%, B-20%, C-10%} and we evaluate them in order from lowest to highest we have like 70% chance to meet the condition without omniscience. It is only because the page editor has placed the unwritten conditions that The Holmes Method must evaluate all the wrong potentials first, every single time, under any circumstances, that the algorithm would require omniscience. To summarize, the entire explanation section refers to some nebulous algorithm which is not mentioned on this page, an algorithm which does not correspond to the page's thesis, and the section uses circular reasoning to prove that the algorithm doesn't work.

The Far-fetched section: I don't know what's going on here. The page claims that these are all examples of the Holmes fallacy but it doesn't offer any evidence to support those claims. Seems like one explanation for the examples is the Holmes theory, but I don't see why other explanations couldn't fit as well. Does that make it ironic? One of the bad examples that the page uses literally mentions iron, is this entire article like some super low-key satire piece that's going over my head? Am I getting memed? "The lodestone has a soul because it moves iron." "Thales failed to falsify all alternate explanations because he didn't know that magnetism existed" What alternate explanations did Thales have? Perhaps in his time it was "known" that the only way an object can exert force is if it has a soul. In that case he wouldn't be arriving at an incorrect conclusion because he eliminated other conclusions as the Holmes fallacy describes, but rather he would have had an unsound argument.

Seems to me like this page should 1) Describe the process of elimination 2) Explain how this can go wrong and become a fallacy 3) Explain that the Holmes quote gives the fallacy its name because it is a popular quote about the process of elimination and wackos who think they're Sherlock Holmes like to use it 4) Provide concrete examples where people have arrived at an incorrect conclusion SPECIFICALLY because they EXPLICITLY tried to use the process of elimination. There is no such thing as "The Holmes Method", you don't need to try and paint every UFO enthusiast as a victim of "The Holmes Fallacy" (I'm sure plenty of them believe they've direct experienced aliens!), and you don't need to shove drivel into an article just to make it bigger, a Wiki's goal is to inform and educate not to look impressive. If the article doesn't have enough info to be more than a stub, then figure out how to merge it with something else. — Unsigned, by: 2601:243:702:2b0:1c59:493:ceee:7895 / talk