Mike used the success of a fortuitous prediction as a basis to ignore previous failures.
Thus, this scenario demonstrates some of the features associated with the fallacy of positive instances. Mike has recalled and relied on a solitary event (the “hit”), in this case a phone call from his old sweetheart, to justify his assertion that he has extrasensory perception. There is no evidence that Mike can accomplish this feat regularly; indeed, there is no evidence that he has ever done this before. The analysis, therefore, must rest on this single occurrence. The second major characteristic of the fallacy of positive instances is also evident; in this case, for instance, Mike seems to ignore or assign as irrelevant the fact that he was incorrect in predicting the identity of many callers in the past (“misses”). In this way, Mike is relying on an extraordinarily selective event to assert a larger truth. In this case, his assertion is not justified because he relies on a single hit to the exclusion of many more misses.
The romantic attractions of extrasensory perception are present in this scenario. That a psychic can appear in an educational setting, adorned with the trappings of intellectual discipline, and then successfully predict that two students will share the same birthday is impressive. A consequent sense of awe is natural. It is natural because of the statistical improbability of the psychic being correct. This scenario, because of this statistical characteristic, demonstrates the fallacy of innumeracy.
The fallacy of innumeracy assumes that individuals may opt to believe that a chance occurrence cannot be explained through any rational means; more particularly, lacking an understanding of statistics or probabilities, people may choose to believe that an event is impossible absent some extrasensory power or insight. This type of fallacy can be applied to this scenario. In this case, there are twenty-four
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