Learning something every day

Occasionally you see something happening, know something is not right, but don’t know why. Thanks to a reader I recently learned what that something is. He introduced me to the fallacy of composition.

The Fallacy of Composition involves taking attributes of part of an object or class and applying them to the entire object or class.

If you look carefully, it appears the fallacy of composition is what drives much of the political rhetoric and very effectively I might observe. For political purposes it could be called the good old horror stories.

Take Elizabeth Warren and student loans. Her assumption is, or at least we are lead to believe, that because some people struggle with loans, everyone with such loan struggles and thus they should be forgiven. Same with her statements about child care.

One important thing to note is that the Fallacy of Composition is similar to but distinct from the Fallacy of Hasty Generalization. This latter fallacy involves assuming that something is true of an entire class due to an atypical or small sample size. This is different from making such an assumption based on an attribute which is indeed shared by all parts or members.

Bernie Sanders is expert at this as well. In fact, most progressive politicians are. I suspect it can be said of conservatives as well, they are just not in our face as much.

To hear the rhetoric all seniors are poor, all children are short of food, all insulin is too expensive, all wealthy Americans are tax cheats, all families need government child care and the US has horrible health care.

What a horrible place in which we live.

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