The Texas sharpshooter fallacy

The Texas sharpshooter fallacy is a type of cognitive bias that occurs when someone selectively focuses on data that supports their hypothesis or belief, while ignoring or dismissing data that contradicts it. This fallacy is named after a hypothetical cowboy who shoots randomly at the side of a barn, and then paints a bullseye target over the spot where the most bullet holes are clustered, claiming to be a sharpshooter.

In other words, this fallacy involves drawing a conclusion based on a pattern that emerges from random data, rather than from a valid causal relationship. It is often used to manipulate or deceive others by presenting a false or misleading impression of causality.

For example, imagine a company claiming that their new product improves athletic performance, citing testimonials from a few athletes who used the product and achieved great results. However, if the company ignores the majority of athletes who did not experience any improvement, they are committing the Texas sharpshooter fallacy.

Overall, the Texas sharpshooter fallacy can lead to flawed reasoning and incorrect conclusions, and it’s important to be aware of this bias in order to think critically and make informed decisions.

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