Description: When a conclusion is assumed not because it is probably true or it has not been demonstrated to be impossible, but because it is possible that it is true, no matter how improbable.
X is possible.
Therefore, X is true.
Brittany: I haven’t applied to any other schools besides Harvard.
Casey: You think that is a good idea? After all, you only have a 2.0 GPA, your SAT scores were pretty bad, and frankly, most people think you are not playing with a full deck.
Brittany: Are you telling me that it is impossible for me to get in?
Casey: Not *impossible*, but...
Brittany: Then shut your trap.
Explanation: Yes, it is possible that Harvard will accept Brittany to fill some sympathy quota, or perhaps someone at admissions will mix Brittany up with “Britney”, the 16-year-old Asian with the 4.0 average who also discovered a vaccine for a rare flu in her spare time, but because Brittany is appealing to possibility, she is committing this fallacy.
Dave: Did you know that Jesus was gay?
Tim: And why do you say that?
Dave: You have to admit, it is possible!
Tim: So is the fact that you are a moron.
Explanation: We cannot assume Jesus was gay based on the possibility alone. This also includes the argument from ignorance fallacy -- concluding a possibility based on missing information (an outright statement that Jesus was a heterosexual).
Tip: Catch yourself every time you are about to use the word “impossible”. Yes, there are many things that are logically and physically impossible, and it is a valid concept and word, but so often we use that word when we really mean “improbable”. Confusing the impossible with the improbable or unlikely, could, in many cases, destroy the possibility of great success.
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:
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.