Sniper Fallacy: What is it?

In the field of logic, errors are arguments that seem valid but that contain a bias that completely negates their content.

They are often used in debates and discussions, with awareness of what is done and what is not. Their identification and refutation depend on the expertise and experience from which they receive them.

In this article, we will discuss the sniper error because it is one of the most common. It can be presented in particular in the context of forecasts or future decision-making.

    What is the sniper error?

    The Sniper Fallacy, also known as the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, describes reasoning that avoids any hint that an idea is wrong, to emphasize information that seemed to support it. Sometimes this reality is distorted, disfigured interpreted to approach the.

      In this way, almost all information can be subject to attempts to manipulate it to fit particular ideas or theses, establishing forced coincidences. This is a cognitive bias associated with apophenia, which consists of an erroneous perception of logical or regular patterns where there is really only chance (for example a series of random numbers where a progressive or multiplier order is deducted when this is not the case).

      This error implies a devaluation of all the discordant information in relation to the subject on which we want to convince, as well as an amplification of the importance of that which affirms it. An example could be found in the way star constellations are interpreted, since it involves drawing a succession of imaginary lines to connect the stars the position is absolutely random, deliberately ignoring celestial bodies that could distort the sought figure.

      The curious name of the error is due to a metaphor about the accuracy of the shot. It describes an idle man shooting from a high position against a barn on his property, ultimately forming a network of holes without order or meaning. In order to cut down on the nonsense and be able to think of himself as a great sniper, the fearless gentleman would later draw targets where the bullet holes were, simulating a deceptive skill with his weapon.

      Five examples of sniper mistakes

      In order to clarify the concept of sniper error, nothing better than using a few simple examples. Through these examples, it is intended to illustrate what this bias is and how it is explained.

      1. The fortune teller

      Imagine a fortune teller shrouded in his aura of mystery and predicting from his pulpit a series of grim predictions for the future. As a prolific prophet, he wrote thousands of texts throughout his life in which he included a great deal of information about where and when all of these dismal events would occur, leaving a legacy of fear for later. and intense uncertainty.

      His work was so vast that he not only occupied dozens of dusty volumes in a dark and inhospitable library, but he dealt with all manner of calamities in the most diverse places imaginable. So it generated such abundant information that there was room for just about anything. In this way, the passage of time allowed him to be right on a percentage of his predictions, which could easily be explained by alluding to the laws of probability.

      However, given the fascination with his figure and the severity with which he used to emphasize his words, many interpret them as successes as a compelling sign of his visionary ability. What they didn’t notice, however, was in the thousands of stray volumes that remained forever among the clouds of dust. and mouse droppings.

      2. A gentleman in search of love

      Once upon a time there was a thirsty gentleman to find his orange half, in his other half. He had searched for her in the most remote places, but all the women he could meet seemed insufficient in some way. And he was a very demanding man, to the point where he was starting to think that there was nowhere in the world someone who could meet his romantic expectations. Because of this, he felt a little stunned and hopeless.

      One afternoon, while walking through the city center, he came across a lighted sign that said “marriage agency”. He was surprised he had never seen it before, as the thick layer of dust and cobwebs that covered him screamed loudly that he had been there for a long time, so he took that as a sign of the destination. He pressed the doorbell button and someone opened the banged door silently.

      After a series of formalities, and after leaving a substantial sum, he fills out a very short form in which he inquires about his personal tastes and questions his physical appearance. Size and weight, nothing else. He returned the papers and was promised he would hear from a perfect couple in a few days. A month passed, however, until a startling call made her heart tremble: they had found the perfect woman.

      They put them in touch and stayed in an Italian restaurant in the center. Apparently, according to the data available at the agency, this was someone with whom he agreed on all the parameters expected: he liked the movies and walked on the beach at sunset, and was a few inches away less than him. Her heart was racing. What he didn’t know at the time was that after going through a few sentences with this lady, he would find he loved her even less than the ones he had come across.

      3. A premonitory dream

      A woman woke up, surprised, at three in the morning. She had dreamed of a certain Jeanne, at least she thought she heard it, chasing her in the dark streets of an unknown city. His voice exploded over the walls, echoing in the narrow space between them. His legs seemed numb, as if an elastic band had been pulled from his waist to the shadow beneath him. “Joan, Juaaaan …” he whispered, louder and louder.

      The point is, he couldn’t sleep through the night. He saw the sun come up and for some reason he was terrified that this dream was a warning that something horrible was about to happen. He stood up, called one of his best friends, and told him he needed to talk to him about what had happened. As she was an attentive girl, she replied that she would wait for him in the usual cafeteria at the usual time..

      After frolicking a few more hours on the sheets, he decided to start the empolaina routine. She covered the glasses that dotted under her eyes with powdered makeup, untangled her hair, and dressed without thinking too much about what she would wear. Her friend arrived on time, as usual at her house, but was surprised to see that she was accompanied by a person she did not know. It was about their new partner, a guy they met on a recent trip and what they had talked about at another time.

      This boy’s name turned out to be Jaume. With “J”, just like the man in this dream. It was then that an unbearable shiver ran completely through her body and an icy sweat soaked her forehead: she concluded that it was a premonitory dream, and that perhaps her best friend could be found in grave danger.

      4. A distraught researcher

      One morning our distraught researcher woke up unhappy. He had long thought that he was not at all happy and he longed to find a way to feel happy. He didn’t know where to start, so he ended up turning to science, which was best for him. During his first search, he discovered Okinawa Island, which he believed was where the happiest people lived.

      He spent the whole morning reading about her. It was one of the areas in which older centenarians had enrolled. A long life and happy: there is nothing better. Among all these pages of Asian anthropology, which constituted a collection of dozens of in-depth researches on the island customs of traditional Japan, one detail particularly caught his attention: tea. And it turns out that these people drank a lot of green tea, to the point that most ingest infusions (made with the powder of the plant) absolutely every day.

      So, without thinking twice, he went to shoot the nearest supermarket and loaded the cart with boxes and boxes of green tea, until there was no more stock. When he left, he asked one of the restaurateurs if there was any more left in the warehouses. He was convinced that in the end, he had discovered the source of eternal happiness.

      5. The name of luck

      A young girl is going to face her practical driving test. She feels nervous and, for some strange reason, thinks of her lucky number: four.

      He quickly rushes into the closet where he kept the board games, finds a dusty parchment, and grabs a green cup and a dice. In order to feel calmer, she decides to test whether in a race appears such a coveted number, because that would be the signal that all would be well. So he puts the dice in the bucket, shakes it well and throws it.

      The dice roll, somersault and show the number six. He looks at it and decides it’s not a valid throw, because he got up in a weird way (or so he wanted to think), so he decides to try again. For this second occasion, the number two appears. To finish! She thinks … And six plus two is eight, but if that sum is divided by the total number of attempts she needed (two), it’s definitely a four. Now yes: to eat the world!

      Have you noticed

      So far this article contains 1725 words. However, the word “dust” has been present in all of the examples that have been presented (it has appeared five times), and although it is only 0.003% of the text, one would think it has special relevance.

      A sniper error would be to suspect that everything written here is in fact about dust., Thus ignoring the 1720 words that have nothing to do with it.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Comesaña, Juan Manuel (2001). Informal logic, errors and philosophical arguments. Buenos Aires: Eudeba.
      • Damer, E. (2005). Attack faulty reasoning. Belmont, Calif .: Wadsworth.
      • DH Fischer, The phalanges of historians: towards a logic of historical thought, Harper Torchbooks, 1970.
      • Walton, Douglas (1992). The place of emotion in the plot (in English). The Pennsylvania State University Press.

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