Friday, March 25, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Just Because!

(trust me, mother knows best fallacy, because I said so, you’ll see)

This fallacy occurs when, instead of giving valid reasons or evidence for a position, someone says, “Because I said so” (or some variety). This is a type of appeal to authority because the individual making the claim is essentially stating that their position, who they are, is enough of a reason for compliance, regardless of whether or not their position is valid. These arguments are completely unhelpful because they neither elicit understanding from the other person nor do they reach mutual acceptance.


Like all logical fallacies, there may be valid reasons that support their position; they are just ignored in favor of the easier appeal to authority. By not taking the time to explain their position, they often undermine their own authority by appearing untrustworthy. A child asking why his friend can’t come over won’t learn anything except resentment when told, “Because I said so,” and the parent misses opportunities to teach their children about setting boundaries and limits (“because you had a friend over last night”), being empathetic (“because I’m sick”), or a variety of other important social and personal skills. In attempting to teach obedience, we may only harbor resentment and frustration. Additionally, in teaching children to rely too much on authority, they may not develop the ability to act ethically in the face of authority (see the Blind Loyalty fallacy).

Another reason to avoid settling for the “Just because” excuse is because there may be a real reason that needs to be addressed. A car salesman may say, “Just because” when you ask why you can’t get a better deal on a car when the real reason may be that your credit score is too low – which, if surprising, may be an indication of identity theft.

Examples:


Trebor: Mom, can David sleepover tonight?
Mom: No.
Trebor: Why not?
Mom: Because.
Trebor: Because why?
Mom: Because I said so! End of discussion!

Slick Rick: The best I can do for ya is $25,000.
Prospect: Why can’t you do any better?
Slick Rick: Just because that is the lowest I can go.
Prospect: But why.
Slick Rick: Because.

"It's time to come in the house now, Billy."
"Why?"
"Because I said so!"
"Why?"
"Because it's time, and I said so."