a fortiori: (“with stronger reason” or “even more so”) a term used to show that a less certain proposition is being used to set up support for a more obvious one.

abduction: arriving at a hypothesis, or best guess, on the basis of the facts at hand that can be accepted

abductive reasoning: pulling together facts, making sense of them, and arriving at conclusions based on what they seem to suggest as a set

Ad Hominem: (“argument against the man”) choosing to attack the person making the argument rather than addressing the points raised in the argument itself

Addition:  the valid argument form “It is the case that P (premise 1).  Therefore, it is the case that P or it is the case that Q (conclusion).

Affirming the Consequent: an invalid argument in the form “If P then Q (premise 1). Q is true (premise 2). Therefore, P is true (conclusion). This invalid form is often confused with the valid form Modus Ponens

ambiguity: something that is imprecise or indeterminate; when the meaning of what is expressed can be taken in more than one way

ampliative argument: an argument in which the conclusions go beyond what is expressed in the premises.  This type of argument may be cogent even if it is unsound.

analogy:  finding relevant similarities between a familiar, undisputed case and another case that is being argued; drawing useful parallels between the two cases

anecdotal evidence: reports of individual incidences that seem to confirm some claim, which are mistakenly presented or accepted as evidence of the claim

antecedent: the first factor, upon which the second factor depends; the thing to which the “if” is attached

Appeal to Emotion: activating emotional responses such as fear, pity, anger or pride as a means of leading people toward the desired conclusion

Appeal to Popular Opinion: the mistaken reasoning that if enough people believe it, it must be true; holding the popularity of a belief to be sufficient evidence that it is true.

Argument by Dictionary: appealing to a dictionary definition as a means of settling a dispute

Argument from Authority: a fallacious appeal to vicarious authority; the mistaken idea that because a certain person says so, and that person is famous in some field, that he should therefore be taken as an expert on the topic at hand

Argument from Ignorance: the fallacy that if we have found no evidence for something, then it is not true or does not exist

Argument from Missing Evidence: a broader version of the Argument from Ignorance; this line of reasoning can have non-fallacious instances

argument: in this context, an argument is the line of reasoning a person offers up, or is prepared to offer up, to rationalize a viewpoint.

Argumentum Ad Baculum: (“Argument from Threat of Force”) an argumentative strategy of coercing people into adopting a viewpoint by suggesting that they will suffer ill consequences if they fail to do so.

assertion: a declaration of opinion or belief, either positive or negative

attentional bias: an aspect of confirmation bias that affects the degree to which we examine and remember evidence even if it is available

attribution theory: an approach to studying how people ascribe psychological states and explain behaviour – including their own

auxiliary hypotheses: assumptions and theories external to the theory being tested, which help “connect” it to empirical observation

Bandwagon Effect:  joining in with popular beliefs, opinions or attitudes; the tendency for our beliefs to shift toward the beliefs we take to be widely held by those around us

Base-Rate Error: a type of error that results from overlooking broader statistical or probabilistic information, and focusing instead on immediate or local information that is either incomplete or irrelevant.

Begging the Question (Circular Argument): any argument of the form “P, therefore P” where a claim is put forward both as a premise and as the conclusion

bell curve (normal curve): a pictorial representation of the standard deviation of a set of data; in a bell curve, the mean is the centre line, and the number of data points tails off symmetrically as values are farther from the mean

bias: tending toward a specific sort of interpretation; a disposition to reach a particular kind of endpoint in reasoning or judgment

bivalent: refers to the quality of having only two states, in this case, two states of truth

burden of proof: when the audience is obliged to look for evidence against a claim rather than the speaker providing evidence in its favour

cardinal numbers: numbers used to express quantity (i.e. one, two, three…)

categorical probability: a straightforward probability where no conditional needs to be taken into account.  This is represented as Pr( )

categorical: having to do with categories, either the way things are organized into categories, or the relationship between categories

causal: having to do with cause and effect relationships; consideration of how one thing leads to another, or results from another

charity: the good practice of interpreting arguments generously; choosing to take the best version of a person’s argument under consideration rather than poking holes at errors made in wording, or disregarding an otherwise sound argument on the basis of obviously correctable mistakes

clichés: overused words or expressions

closed systems: systems or environments to which nothing new is admitted

cogency: this is a quality of arguments that is less technical than validity and soundness, but which entails that the reasoning put forward makes sense and seems to support the conclusion.

cognitive biases: biases that influence such cognitive processes as judging, thinking, planning, deciding and remembering

common cause: when two phenomena are correlated, not because one causes the other, but because they are both caused by some other factor that they have in common.

comparative reasoning: the process used in situations calling for the comparison between two things

complimentary copy: a technique of matching the topics and tone of stories covered in a publication or broadcast to that of the advertisements located near them, thus creating positive associations between news coverage and products

conclusion:  the attitude, belief or outlook that we hold on the basis of the truth of the premises that support it.

conditional fallacy: any logical fallacy that involves a conditional argument

conditional probability: a conjoint probability of dependent events where P(A|B) is read as “the probability of A given B.”

conditional reasoning:  any reasoning that uses an “if” statement to mean “in the case that”

Conditional statements:  statements in which one thing relies on another, as is expressed by an “if –then” structure.

confidence interval: the range of values within which we can be statistically confident (to some specified degree) that the true value falls

confirmation bias: a wide variety of ways in which beliefs, expectations or emotional commitments regarding a hypothesis can lead to its seeming more highly confirmed than the evidence really warrants

confounds: alternative explanations for the observed correlations between phenomena

Conjunction: the valid argument form “It is the case that P (premise 1).  It is the case that Q (premise 2).  Therefore, it is the case that P and it is the case that Q (conclusion)”

Conjunctive statement (conjunction): a sentence with two or more statements (conjuncts) that are joined by conjunctions such as “and” or “but”.

consequent: the factor that will result, depending on what happens with the antecedent; the thing to which the “then” is attached.

consilience: the success of a theory or method in a domain other than that which it was originally formulated to explain

Conspiracy Theory: a theory that claims that there appears to be no evidence for a supposed conspiracy because that conspiracy is so widespread and powerful that anything that might be used as evidence of it has been covered up

Constructive Dilemma: the valid argument form “Either P is true or Q is true (premise 1).  If P is true, then R is true (premise 2).  If Q is true, then S is true (premise 3).  Therefore, either R is true, or S is true (conclusion)”


t of discovery: the situation in which the formulation of the hypothesis happens, whether through intent or by accident


t of justification: where the evidence that lends support to the hypothesis is taken into consideration

contingent truth:  a truth that depends on a certain situation, and could, conceivably, be untrue given different circumstances.

continued influence effect: the way that information continues to influence our judgments even after we know enough to conclude that it was actually misinformation

control group: the group included in an experiment or scientific study for the purpose of providing a standard of comparison for the test group (i.e. to help distinguish the effects of the test that is performed on the test group, by showing the state of things with subjects that were not tested)

convergent argument: in this sort of argument, any one premise is not dependent on the truth of other premises to support the conclusion; each premise directly supports the conclusion in its own right.

conversational implicature: indirect ways of expressing premises or conclusions in conversation; when the meaning of what we say goes beyond the literal sense of the words we use

correlation: factors that can be seen to occur together, yet between which no causal relationship has been established; two phenomena or variables that co-vary in predictable ways across different circumstances

counterfactuals: statements of alternative outcomes that did not happen.  This is a way of considering what might have happened under different circumstances, but didn’t.

co-variation: variations or changes that take place concomitantly, and that suggest interdependence.

credibility: grounds for believing or having confidence in someone or something

Cutaneous Rabbit: an illusion involving the sense of touch that shows how the brain can be tricked into feeling taps on the arm in different places than they are actually delivered

decile: one of ten even groups that a set of values is divided into for the purpose of ranking

decision theory: the formal study of how to weigh competing choices in the most rational way

deductive thought: a process of reasoning (syllogism) in which conclusions, or particular truths, are inferred from premises or accepted general truths; you are thinking deductively when you follow clues that lead you to a logical conclusion.

defeasibility: the quality of ampliative reasoning that leaves it open to amendment.  Even if inductive arguments are cogent (solid), they are still defeasible, meaning they may have to be revised or rejected if new information comes to light that doesn’t support the conclusions.

demarcation problem: the difficulty of trying to define the exact distinctions between science and non-science

Denying the Antecedent: an invalid argument in the form “ If P then Q (premise 1). It is not the case that P (premise 2). Therefore, it is not the case that Q (conclusion).” This invalid form is easily confused with the valid form Modus Tollens

Destructive Dilemma: the valid argument form “If P is true, then R is true (premise 1).  If Q is true, then S is true (premise 2).  Either R is not true, or S is not true (premise 3).  Therefore, either P is not true, or Q is not true (conclusion).”

Dialetheic logic: this system of logic retains the Law of Excluded Middle, but restricts the Law of Non-Contradiction; it allows that in certain cases, there are at least some contradictions that are allowable.

direct quotation: relating what was said or written in the precise words in which it was originally expressed; using quotation marks

disanalogies: ways in which two situations or things being compared are unalike or at odds

disconfirmation bias: a bias that overstates the evidence against a hypothesis

Disjunctive statement (disjunction): a sentence in which the composite statements are presented as alternatives.  The word “or” can be used either inclusively (one or both of the statements is true) or exclusively (only one of the statements can be true).

Disjunctive Syllogism:  The valid argument form that goes “Either P or Q (premise 1).  Not Q (premise 2).  Therefore, P (conclusion).”

Double Standard: a form of bias where one holds the opposing position to higher evidential standards than one’s own beliefs; readily accepting supporting arguments while raising every conceivable challenge against opposing arguments

double-blinding: designing an experiment in such a way that neither the subjects nor the experimenters know which subjects are in the test group and which are in the control group

Double-Negation Elimination: the idea that not-not P is the same as P; in everyday speech, this is often referred to as a double negative

editor’s bias: biasing factors that influence an editor in his job of assigning, selecting, editing and arranging in order of importance the stories to be broadcast or published.

efficient causes: the actual event that leads to an observed outcome

egocentric bias: the tendency to read special significance into the events that involve us and into our roles in those events

embedded media: reporters who are formally assigned to military units, and whose independence and objectivity is consequently compromised

empirical: used to describe knowledge or information acquired through experience and experimentation.  Such information is demonstrable and observable.

enthymemes: arguments that are technically invalid because they have premises that are implied but not explicitly stated

enumerative argument: taking a pattern that seems to emerge in x number of observed cases, and carrying it forward to make inferences about subsequent unobserved cases.

equivocation: a fallacy that involves changing the definition of terms in different premises or conclusions of a single argument

essential premises: supporting evidence that is entirely relevant to the argument, and which must be true in order for that argument to be sound.

evidential fallacy: an argument that fails to show its conclusion to be reasonably likely because the state of information is too weak to support the conclusion

evidential reasoning: a method of arriving at conclusions based on the evidence available rather than through setting up valid forms of deductive arguments; an approach to argumentation that involves evaluating and lining up evidence in support of a conclusion.


istential quantifiers: “some”, “a”, “the”, “one”

experimenter bias (E-bias): the beliefs, attitudes, or emotional commitments that can influence the way that an experimenter records data and/or draws conclusions from it

experiments: testing by establishing a controlled situation, choosing factors to introduce into that situation, and then seeing what results


planations: distinguishable from arguments in that they involve calling on related facts to clarify or fortify a claim being made, as opposed to making the claim on the basis of a set of premises


plicit: expressed outright; that which is actually said or written

fallacies of relevance: an argument that introduces factors that are irrelevant to the real issue under discussion

fallacies: unreliable methods of reasoning (either accidental or intentional) that result in faulty argumentation

fallacious argument: an argument that is not well-founded; the flaws in this sort of argument may not seem immediately obvious, but careful reasoning will reveal the fallacies.

fallacy of composition: the assumption that because the parts of some thing have a certain property, that thing, as a whole, possesses that property as well

fallacy of division: assuming that because a thing, as a whole, has a certain property, each part of that thing will possess that property as well

False Consensus Effect: the tendency to incorrectly assume that other people are in agreement with one’s own opinions and beliefs, or at least to pay little notice to the discrepancies between their viewpoints and one’s own.

false dichotomy (dilemma): the fallacy of suggesting that there are only two options when, in fact, other options may exist

False Enchotomy: the suggestion that the options given, however many they be, exhaust the possibilities, when there may exist other options beyond those listed

false memories: entire vivid memories of things that never happened that can be implanted by circumstance or by design

false neutrality: facts about the two sides of an issue are presented in a way that suggests that they are equal in plausibility or reasonableness when, in truth, they are not.

False Polarization Effect: exaggerating the distinction between one’s position and the opposing viewpoint by taking the views of others to be of the most stereotypical or strongest sort on their side of the issue, and by overestimating the difference between the opposing viewpoint and your own.

False Presuppositions: implicit propositions that are granted or assumed to be true, but which are actually false

falsifiability: the view that, in order for a statement to be scientific, it must be possible for that statement to be judged false based on specifiable observations and experimental outcomes

File Drawer Effect: the bias in favour of positive results

flashbulb memories: memories of traumatic or famous events that have a frozen-moment photographic quality

framing effects: the powerful influence that describing or presenting information in a certain way can have on the audience’s reception and interpretation of that information

Fundamental Attribution Error: a bias in favour of explaining someone’s situation or behaviour in terms of that individual’s personality, character, or disposition while overlooking explanations in terms of context, accidents, or the environment more generally

funnel plots: a graph used in a meta-analysis to display a relation between the sample sizes of trials and the degree and kind of effect the trials indicate

Fuzzy Central Limit Theorem: a statistical theorem which states that properties affected by lots of independent random factors are approximately normally distributed, and can be made to fit a normal curve when a large sample is considered

Gambler’s Fallacy: the mistake of thinking that if a series of independent events has the conjoint probability

p, then the probability of any single event in the series is somehow dependent on the probability of the series as a whole.

Genetic Fallacy: basing an argument on irrelevant facts about the origin of a claim rather than on the evidence for or against it.

Hasty Generalizations: jumping to conclusions; drawing a general inference too strong for the specific evidence at hand. This fallacy can also be called a “sweeping generalization” or an “overgeneralization”

heuristics: implicit or unconscious shortcuts and approximations that we use to reason things out

hindsight bias

(The Historian’s Fallacy): the error of overestimating one’s own earlier confidence that events would happen as they actually did, and therefore, seeing those past events as predictable

Hollow Face Illusion: a perceptual bias that leads the brain to interpret the concave shapes and shadows on the inside of a mask as a normal face that projects outwards; this illusion demonstrates how our brains tend to turn face-like information into actual faces

homonymy: two or more unrelated meanings for a single expression

hypothesis: a conjecture or tentative explanation that is put forward as part of the process of scientific investigation, to be supported or rejected by empirical evidence.

Hypothetical Syllogism: the valid form of argument that goes “If P, then Q (premise 1).  If Q, then R (premise 2).  Therefore, if P, then R (conclusion).”

ignoratio elenchi: an alternative term for a non sequitur, referring to an argument with an irrelevant conclusion

implicature: the meaning that can be read into a word or statement, although it has not been expressed outright; something that is not explicitly stated, but implied.

implicit: implied, but not stated outright; what is suggested without being said or written

inattentional blindness: failure to notice even spectacularly attention-getting events when in the midst of concentrating on an absorbing task

indicative conditionals: statements with a basic “If P then Q” structure

indirect quotation: reporting the general sense of what was said or written, without using the exact same words or phrases to express the meaning

individual reasoning: the process used in situations that call for the singular evaluation of a single thing or case

inductive argument: drawing upon what is known about observed cases to make conjectures about unobserved cases, when similar premises seem to apply; taking what is  known about specific cases in order to come up with general conclusions.

inductive base: the evidence available from the observed cases which is used to draw conclusions about unobserved cases.

Inference to the Best Ex

planation: arriving at a hypothesis that ties together the available data (much of which might have previously seemed irrelevant or mystifying) better than any other hypothesis that comes to mind.  This is a type of inductive reasoning.

inference: the thinking process through which premises lead us to conclusions

infotainment: a more entertaining style of news report that aims to engage more viewers and readers in current affairs; newscasts and newspapers that include stories on quirky or funny events in order to broaden their appeal

innumeracy: a lack of ability with math facts and arithmetic; incompetence with numbers

intention to treat group: the subjects in a medical study to whom a treatment is initially applied

interpersonal strategy: a technique used to project our desired view of ourselves into other people’s judgments of us

interpretive bias: an aspect of confirmation bias that affects the significance we assign to the evidence that we do examine and remember

Intuitionistic logic: an alternative formal system of logic that allows for more vagueness at the boundaries, but is more stringent in another way: this system does not accept the Law of Excluded Middle which allows the disproof of not-P to stand as proof of P

Is-Ought problem: inferring conclusions containing moral terms from premises not containing moral terms

Lake Wobegon Effect: an alternative term for optimistic self-assessment

law of science: a generalization that describes some observed fact or tendency in mathematical terms; a broad or universal principal that typically applies to more basic or simple phenomena

Law of Similarity: the assumption that factors similar to some effect must have the power to cause the effect; a variety of magical thinking

Laws of Thought: a conception of logic that defines it in terms of three guiding principles – The Law of Identity, The Law of Non-Contradiction, and The Law of Excluded Middle

leveling: the process through which the elements of a story that are perceived as minor or less central tend to get minimized or omitted over successive retellings.


ical ambiguity: when a word or expression has more than one meaning or interpretation

Linear Projection: a numerical variety of the Hasty Generalization, this is the assumption that a rate that has been observed over some specific duration must extend into unobserved territory as well-either the past or the future.

linked arguments: when one common conclusion is supported by the premises of two or more arguments, those arguments can be said to be linked.  In other words, they work towards a shared conclusion.

Loaded question: a question that presupposes the same proposition whether answered positively or negatively

logical fallacy: an argument that is structurally invalid because its premises do not suffice to logically determine the truth of its conclusion; error in reasoning; faulty argumentation

longitudinal study: a study that tracks a group of subjects over time, comparing the outcomes for that group at one point in time, with the outcomes for the same group at a different point in time

loss of information:  the decontextualization that results in lost information when an absolute number is turned into a representative number

mainstream media: the most popular and influential of broadcasters (television and radio) and publishers (newspapers and magazines)

margin of error: half the confidence interval, expressed relative to the midpoint of that interval

McGurk Effect: a perceptual bias that demonstrates how we make sense of conflicting visual and audio input. Confronted with a video clip of the face of a speaker uttering a sound, with a different speech sound in the audio track, the audience often experiences the perceptual judgment of some third sound: the “gah” that the person in the video is saying, and the “bah” that is recorded on the superimposed audio track combine to become “dah” or “thah” in the audience’s perception

mean: one of three interrelated types of averages, the mean is calculated by adding up the values of a sample and dividing the sum by the number of elements in the sample

median: one of three interrelated types of averages, the median is the midpoint in the distribution of a group of data points

metaphysical naturalism: the view that there are no supernatural entities

Method of Counter-ex

ample: an approach that can be used to test an argument for invalidity.  If you are able to come up with a situation in which the premises of the argument would be true, yet the conclusion would be false, then you determine that the argument is not valid.

methodological naturalism: the rejection of appeal to supernatural entities or processes in explanations; the view that whether or not there are supernatural entities, science cannot implicate them in its theories

metrics: measuring systems; a science of measurement within a particular field (e.g., biometrics, econometrics, psychometrics)

Mill’s Methods: five methods developed by John Stuart Mill to explore the various levels of causation and correlation: Method of Agreement; Method of Difference; Joint Method of Agreement and Difference; Method of Concomitant Variations; Method of Residues

misattribution:  identifying one person as the source of a quote when another person actually said it; this is a form of misquoting.

misquote: saying that someone said something when they didn’t

modal logics: other systems of logic that extend from classical logic, but with added complications related to such concepts as “knowledge”, “possibility” and “temporality”.

mode: one of three interrelated types of averages, the mode is the most commonly occurring value in a set of data points

Modus Ponens: (“affirmative mode”) This is the term used to denote the valid argument form  “If P is true, then Q is true (premise 1). P is true (premise 2).  Therefore, Q is true (conclusion).”

Modus Tollens: (“mode of denying”) This is the term used to denote the valid argument form “If P is true, then Q is true (premise 1).  Q is not true (premise 2).  Therefore, P is not true (conclusion).”

motivated inference: reasoning that is influenced by our preferences and desires, leading us to give little notice to evidence that is contrary to the beliefs or ideas to which we are emotionally attached

Multiple Endpoints: a misdiagnosis of correlations that results from gathering data and then looking for significance after the fact, rather than first deciding on a hypothesis and then testing it

naturalism: the view that the world is best explained in terms of natural influences and forces

Naturalistic Fallacy: making references to alleged facts about nature when a moral question is under discussion. This is misleading because it gives the false impression that there are good naturalistic grounds backing whatever moral conclusion is proposed

necessary condition:  some thing cannot be true unless this condition is met

necessary truths: truths that remain true no matter what

Negation: Not-P;  the statement that some thing (P) is not whatever the affirmative statement said it was.

negative correlation: changes in the correlated variables happen in opposite directions; one variable increases as the other decreases

neutral state of information: when the available information weighs in evenly for and against a proposition; when information balances out so that there are no rational grounds to take a side on an issue.

No True Scots Fallacy: first claiming something as an empirical truth but, when challenged with a falsifying counter-example, redefining the term in a way that rules out that counter-example

non sequitur: (“it doesn’t follow”) a conclusion that doesn’t follow logically from the premises; stringing together disjointed or unrelated thoughts

null hypothesis: the assumption that any correlation observed between phenomena is purely random or accidental

objective: fact-based; external; impartial; true for all

observational study: a style of investigation that relies on observations of target events or phenomenon made in an uncontrolled test environment without any interventions being imposed by the scientist

open systems: systems that things can enter and leave

optimistic self-assessment

(The Lake Wobegon Effect): an egocentric bias that leads most people to rank themselves as above average with respect to certain virtues, specifically those that are more vaguely defined and that are not frequently or publicly measured and compared (e.g. amicability)

ordinal numbers: numbers used to show the order of sequence (i.e. first, second, third,...)

outlier: something that is far from the norm, or not easily categorized

ownership bias: the ways that media owners and managers can constrain or shape the focus and attitudes in the media that they control to ensure that their own views are reflected

pair-matching: the method of delegating subjects into the test and control groups in such a way that each one put into one group is deliberately matched with a counterpart that shares all of the properties suspected to even possibly make a difference to the outcome

peer-review process: the practice of subjecting academic studies and publications to the scrutiny of experts in the relevant field as a means of ensuring that the methods and results of the research keep to the expected standards

percentage: rate per hundred;

x number out of one hundred

percentile: a term used to numerically rank values by how they compare to other values

perceptual biases: the natural human tendencies to see or hear things in a certain way; the effects that beliefs, expectations and emotions have on our perceptions

performatives: acts that language is used to express that are actually accomplished rather than just described.

Persuasive Definition: defining something in such a way that bias is integral to the label applied to that thing

phlogiston: an imaginary element that scientists in the 17th and 18th centuries conjectured was a key factor in the process of combustion: they thought it was present in all flammable substances, and was released when such substances were burned

placebo effect: the way that believing that you are being treated for some medical condition can make you feel better, even when no pharmacological treatment is actually administered

Poisoning the Well: casting doubt on an opposing viewpoint by calling the worth or reliability of the arguer’s utterances into question

polysemy: ambiguity between related meanings of an expression

positive correlation: changes in the correlated variables happen in the same direction; variables increase or decrease together

possible worlds: the other ways things could have been, events could have unfolded, etc.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: (“after, therefore because”) the superstitious or magical line of thinking that if one thing happens after another, then it happens because that other thing happened first.

premises: the reasons for arriving at a conclusion, if deductive reasoning is employed.

press releases: articles written by public relations professionals that aim to endorse the organization or institution that those professionals represent

presupposition: what is not stated, but must be taken as true about some statement in order for that statement to be meaningful

prior probability: the probability that exists before the data gathered through investigation and analysis is taken into account; prior probability can influence the interpretation of new evidence

procedural (pragmatic) fallacy: reasoning that is marred by the use of argumentative or conversational tactics that distract from the real issues, and disrupt the procedure for exchanging ideas and evidence

proposition(statement, sentence, claim):  the articulation of an assertion

prosody: the focus on how something is said rather than on what is said; when form of expression is considered rather than content


imate causes: causes that are immediate or close at hand


planation: an explanation that, when carefully examined, turns out not to offer any useful clarification.

pseudo-independent confirmation: the way that information taken from a single (or very limited) source can filter out through various channels, giving the mistaken impression that many independent sources support a claim; in actual fact, the support all traces back to the same origin.

pseudo-news: media forms such as press releases that blur the distinction between news and advertising

pseudo-precision: the practice of stating a numerical claim in exaggeratedly precise terms and, by doing so, misleading the audience into assuming that the claim has been much more carefully investigated than is actually the case

pseudo-science: a set of beliefs, claims, and practices presented as scientific, but which depend upon a mixture of prejudged conclusions, sloppy methodology, irreproducibility, and an unwillingness to give up a relevant conviction in the face of countervailing evidence; non-science that masquerades as science, invoking the authority of scientific discourse without possessing its virtues

publication bias: the tendency for studies or experiments with positive outcomes to be published at a higher rate than studies with a negative outcome

p-value:  a term used to denote how probable it is, given a particular sample, that you would get a sample that far from the null hypothesis if the null hypotheses were true; 5 percent or 1 percent are usual minimum p-values for claiming statistical significance

quantification: putting things in terms of numbers and numerical concepts.

quantifier ex

pression: a word such as “each” or “some” that is attached to the variable (in the Modus Ponens example, P and Q) used to represent objects

Quantifier Scope Fallacy: the mistake of inferring a specific statement from its unspecific version; misordering a universal quantifier and an existential quantifier, resulting in an invalid inference; the mistaken reasoning that what is true for all/every/each of something is also true for some/a/the/one of that thing.

quote-mining: quoting a sentence or phrase without giving the context in which it was said, and thus changing the meaning and the way it will be interpreted

rate: speed at which something happens; the relation of one thing to another; proportion

red herring: a statement or objection that leads the discussion away from the key point of a discussion

Reductio Ad Absurdum: a proof technique that establishes an argument as false because the argument leads to an absurd conclusion.  And if it is accepted that one argument leads to a false conclusion, then any other argument that has been taken as analogous to it must also be assumed to have a false conclusion

regression effects: the way that a random sample within a normal distribution tends toward the mean; the probabilistic likelihood that any deviation away from the mean will eventually swing around to become a return to the mean.

Regression Fallacy: interpreting a trend toward the mean to have some correlational or causal explanation rather than recognizing it as a trend that is entirely consistent with randomness.

remote causes: more distant causes, such as might initiate a chain of events leading to proximate causes and, ultimately, to the observed effect

repetition effect: the tendency of people to judge claims they hear more often as likelier to be true

reporter’s bias:  perceptual, cognitive and social biases that can have an effect on the way a reporter views, records, interprets, recollects, or reports events

representative number: a number such as a percentage, rate or simple average, that is used to represent the essential numerical information derived from a complex state of information.

rhetoric: the study and use of effective communication, including cogent argumentation; the technique of using words to achieve a calculated emotional effect.

rhetorical questions: assertions that are presented as questions; these questions do not call for an answer, because they present, in interrogative form, the premise that the speaker wants understood

sample: a small selection from a larger group, the qualities or features of which are taken to represent those of the group as a whole

scientific method: the steps that are widely accepted as “best practice” procedure for scientific inquiry

scientism: the methods or attitudes characteristic of science (denotation); an excess of enthusiasm for the methods of science (negative connotation)

screening off: when an apparent correlation between X and Y exists by virtue of Z’s being correlated with them both, as when Z is a common cause, we say that Z screens off X from Y

selection bias: incorporating some bias into the selection of a sample which is likely to result in an unrepresentative sample

self-fulfilling prophecies: the way that predicting that something will happen can actually make it happen; a process through which prediction gives rise to an expectation that a prophesied event will occur, with this expectation then leading to actions that bring about the event

self-serving bias: a preference for explanations that reflect positively on oneself

sequential argument:  a more complex argument in which premises lead to intermediate conclusions in the process of arriving at a further, primary conclusion

sharpening: enhancing certain details in a story, or changing the significance or connotation of aspects of it, with the result that the story becomes exaggerated and less accurate over successive retellings

Sharpshooter Fallacy: another name for the Multiple Endpoints fallacy that refers to working backwards in establishing correlations, using data to determine a hypothesis

Simple (atomic) statement: a sentence that contains one statement, composed of a subject and a predicate.

Simplification: the valid argument form “It is the case that P and it is the case that Q (premise 1).  Therefore, it is the case that P (conclusion).”

Simpson’s Paradox: the surprising fact that an apparent correlation in a set of data may actually be reversed within each subset of the data when it is partitioned in a particular way.

single-blinding: designing an experiment in such a way that the subjects in an experiment do not know whether they are in the test group or in the control group

situational (structural) bias: an aspect of confirmation bias that systematically affects the availability of evidence for or against a hypothesis

Slanting Language: biased words used to lead the audience to the desired conclusion

social stereotype: preconceived notions about the characteristics a person will exhibit based on what sort (i.e. gender, age, race, religious background, ethnicity) of person he is

Sorites reasoning: characterized by a lack of sharp boundaries; admitting cases that are neither one thing nor the other

soundness: a quality that an argument possesses when it is valid and when it does, in fact, have premises that are all true.

speech-act: language that is formulated to carry out specific functions such as commanding, questioning, and asserting.

spin: a term used to refer to the way that media makers use framing effects in presenting information to the public

standard deviation: a representative number that shows the spread in the sample data

standard error: a measure of error that reflects both the sample size of a trial and the standard deviation of the trial’s method of sampling the population

state of information: the facts at hand; the information that we have available to us when we lay out our course of action or proposed solution

statistical significance:  statistical support for the conclusion that something was unlikely to ha

ve happened by chance

straw man fallacy: failing to apply the good practice of charity in interpreting an opposing viewpoint; misrepresenting an argument or a view in order to refute a dumbed-down version of it

structuring causes: the factors that come together to create a context in which the chain of events leading to the outcome can take place

subjective: a matter of personal opinion or taste; partial

subjunctive conditionals: statements with the more complex structure of “If it were to be the case that P, then it would be the case that Q”

sufficient condition:  some thing can be true, provided this condition is met

syntactic ambiguity: when the structure of a sentence allows it to be read in more than one way

Terms of Entailment: words such as “thus”, “consequently”, and “therefore” which show that a speaker is communicating an inference or a conclusion

The Mrs. Lincoln Fallacy: setting aside factors that are obviously significant, while still giving serious consideration to the conclusions that are reached by ignoring them

theory laden (theory-infected) data: the sorts of facts that are used for the purpose of science which must be defined in a way that gives some consideration to scientific theorizing

theory of science: an explanation of one or more phenomena that is the result of testing and refining a hypothesis

tipping point: Malcolm Gladwell uses this term to refer to the point at which factors that have related to each other in a linear fashion cease to do so.

top-down effects: the ways that what we already believe, desire, expect or remember can shape our perceptions of raw sensory input

treatment group

(test group): the group of subjects in an experiment or test situation upon which the test is performed

trimmed sample: manufacturing the appearance that a significant phenomenon or trend exists by trimming the data so that the sample will exhibit the desired trend or streak; an unprincipled, unconventional sample size used to support a claimed trend.

truth conditions: the conditions that would have to exist in order for a statement to be true

truth values: the two possible states of truth that a given statement can have: true or not true

Tu Quoque Fallacy: (the literal English translation is “You Too!”) responding to a moral criticism by pointing out that someone else is also open to a moral criticism.  Often the finger will be pointed back at the person who voiced the criticism in the first place.

Type I Error: also called a false positive, this is the error of rejecting the null hypothesis when it is actually true; finding an explanation other than chance when chance is actually the right explanation

Type II Error: also called a false negative, this is the error of failing to reject the null hypothesis when there is another hypothesis that is actually supported; assuming that something happens randomly or by chance, and therefore disregarding the actual explanation for the correlation or condition that exists

universal quantifiers: “all”, “every” and “each”

univocal: having only one meaning; unambiguous

unrepresentative sample: a biased selection; a sample that over-represents or under-represents some feature or sector of the general population from which it is drawn

urban legends: stories that circulate as true stories irrespective of their truth or falsity; stories that are reported and received as true accounts, even if they are exaggerated, or entirely fabricated.

utilitarianism: the theory that the fundamental moral principle is to do whatever increases utility (often understood as “happiness”) to the greatest extent

validity: when an argument meets the structural requirement that the conclusion is absolutely certain to be true provided all of the premises are true.

value-theoretic: the interpretation and supposition necessarily involved in considering topics that are value laden,  such as aesthetics and morality.

verifiability: having the quality of being able to be verified by evidence

verificationism: the view that, in order for a statement to be scientific, or even meaningful, it must be possible to say what evidence would verify that statement

warrant (justification): the level of support needed to give adequate grounds to accept an argument, action or belief as sound.

weasel word: a vague word that can be inserted into a claim to make it easier to escape from if it is challenged; words such as “quite”, “some” and “perhaps”.