Inductive Hyperbole

Description:

The argument draws a conclusion that is stated more strongly than the actual observations would support.

 

Comments:

This may include overstating the significance of findings and overstating the degree of certainty attached to those findings.

 

Examples:

"Many hospitals have had to raise their rates recently. Medical costs are sky-rocketing out of control!"

 

"These findings that modest alcohol consumption can be beneficial for the heart completely upset all our previous assumptions about the health effects of drinking."

 

Discussion:

Over-enthusiastic statements of any kind might be called "hyperbole." The fallacy of Inductive Hyperbole refers specifically to over-inflated claims about inductive sampling. Inductive hyperbole is very common in science reporting. Science reporters try to make science interesting to the general public, and they sometimes do this by exaggerating the importance of certain findings, "hyping" them as "breakthroughs" that "entirely upset" our previous assumptions, etc. In fact, it is in the nature of inductive sampling that no conclusion is guaranteed to be true. There is always a degree of uncertainty, and always a possibility that the entire study might prove wanting.

 

Source: Various contemporary writers use the term "hyperbole," but applying the term to the common practice of over-stating the significance of inductive studies was my own idea.

 

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