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Recursive appeal to probability

Everyone (especially “socratic” sealions) loves Wikipedia’s long List of Fallacies.

Here’s a new one you might’ve run into! Or, rather, a variant of one.

On that list, there’s the “Appeal to probability”. Statements using it aren’t necessarily wrong since we can’t know everything:

  1. Most daffodils are probably yellow
  2. Mom asked me to get a daffodil
  3. She probably wants me to get a yellow daffodil

So when we say it’s a fallacy, we’re not saying the factual truth behind it is necessarily wrong, we’re just saying it’s not a formal valid logical 100% proven 1+2=3 conclusion. We don’t know for 100% sure that the mom is gonna insist on a yellow daffodil.

In this case, this is called “inductive reasoning” and, since we on this Earth don’t have enough solid facts for 100% deductive reasoning 100% of the time, that means that a large amount of inductive reasoning is an unavoidable foundation of how humanity navigates the world.

Only restating Wikipedia so far.

Now on to my own fresh li’l thought here:

I think stacking up a whole chain of these inductive “conclusions” makes the leap from point A to point Z weaker, not stronger. It’s not like a sieve narrowing down tighter and tighter to a truth where some guesses in some steps are OK because they get canceled out by other, better guesses down the line. No no no. Instead, it’s like a branching tree of fuzziness and maybes, and the more branches the wider and wilder the tree and ergo the more of the steps in a chain that are inductive as opposed to deductive, the less sure we can be about the final claim that “with great A, there must also come great Z”.