RESOURCES: Twisted Logic

Science  26 May 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5777, pp. 1113a
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5777.1113a

German chemist Friedrich August Kekulé claimed that he discovered the ring structure of the molecule benzene during his sleep, when he dreamed of a snake eating its own tail. Do the odd origins of Kekulé's hypothesis make the structure any less plausible? If you answered yes, you need a remedial session with the Fallacy Files. Gary Curtis, a philosophy Ph.D. in Austin, Texas, compiled this encyclopedia that dissects more than 100 common logical blunders, using cases from the media, books, politics, and other sources. For instance, attacking Kekulé's notion—or any idea—based on its history is an example of the genetic fallacy. Another gaffe to avoid is the Texas sharpshooter fallacy, which involves mistaken conclusions about disease clusters.

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