Home » Confusing an Explanation with an Excuse Summary

Confusing an Explanation with an Excuse Summary

Description: Treating an explanation of a fact as if it were a justification of the fact, a valid reason for the fact, or evidence for the fact.

Logical Form:

Person 1 wants claim X be justified.

Person 2 explains claim X in detail.

Therefore, claim X is justified / true.

Example #1:

Barto: If masks don’t work, how do you explain the almost perfect correlation between mask-wearing communities and lower transmission rates?

Tikki: All this means is that in communities where more people where masks, the virus is less-likely to spread. It is not proof that masks are the reason.

Explanation: Not only did Tikki not answer the question asked, she created an answer based on elucidation of what Barto had said. Tikki explained what a correlation is (i.e., not “proof”) but came no closer to explaining the reason for the correlation.

Example #2:

Virgil: How do you justify the claim that Bigfoot is the missing link between the great apes and humans?

Marshall: Well, a “missing link” is the intermediary species between the two in the evolutionary process.

Explanation: Marshall simply explained what a missing link is; he did not give a valid reason for why he believes that Bigfoot is the missing link.

Exception: If it is clear to both parties that no justification attempt is being made, but rather just stating a fact, then this fallacy is not being committed.

What Now: If you are unsure if someone is trying to make an excuse or simply stating a fact, ask them.  Don’t assume.

References:

This a logical fallacy frequently used on the Internet. No academic sources could be found.