Accused of a fallacy? Suspect a fallacy? Ask Dr. Bo and the community!

Quickly register to comment, ask and respond to questions, and get FREE access to our passive online course on cognitive biases!

one moment please...

Appeal to Coincidence

(also known as: appeal to luck, appeal to bad luck, appeal to good luck)

Description: Concluding that a result is due to chance when the evidence strongly suggests otherwise.  The appeal to luck variation uses luck in place of coincidence or chance.

Logical Form:

Evidence suggests that X is the result of Y.

Yet one insists that X is the result of chance.

Example #1:

Bill: Steve, I am sorry to say, but you are a horrible driver!

Steve: Why do you say that?

Bill: This is your fourteenth accident this year.

Steve: It’s just been an unlucky year for me.

Explanation: Based on statistical norms, it is very clear that anyone getting into fourteen accidents in a single year has a safety issue as a driver.  Ignoring this obvious fact and writing it off as “bad luck”, is seen as the appeal to coincidence.

Example #2:

Mom: This is the eighth time you have been sent to the principal's office this year.  The principal tells me she has seen you more times in her office than any other student.  Why is this?

Dwight: A teacher just happens to sneak up on me whenever I am doing something against the rules, which is no more often than any other student.

Explanation: Dwight is a trouble-maker -- that is quite clear.  Rather than face the facts, he is appealing to coincidence by suggesting he just gets caught more often due to bad timing.

Exception: Coincidences do happen.  When the evidence points in the direction of coincidence, the coincidence might be the best option.



Shermer, M. (2002). Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. Henry Holt and Company.

Registered User Comments

Become a Logical Fallacy Master. Choose Your Poison.

Logically Fallacious is one of the most comprehensive collections of logical fallacies with all original examples and easy to understand descriptions; perfect for educators, debaters, or anyone who wants to improve his or her reasoning skills.

Get the book, Logically Fallacious by Bo Bennett, PhD by selecting one of the following options:

Not Much of a Reader? No Problem!

Enroll in the Mastering Logical Fallacies Online Course. Over 10 hours of video and interactive learning. Go beyond the book!

Enroll in the Fallacy-A-Day Passive Course. Sit back and learn fallacies the easy way—in just a few minutes per day, via e-mail delivery.

Have a podcast or know someone who does? Putting on a conference? Dr. Bennett is available for interviews and public speaking events. Contact him directly here.

About Archieboy Holdings, LLC. Privacy Policy Other Books Written by Bo
 Copyright 2017, Archieboy Holdings, LLC.