The fallacy of Exaggeration

An exaggeration fallacy is committed when irrelevant causal influences are added to the argument.

For example, "My client killed Joe Smith, but the cause for his violent behaviour was eating junk food which impaired his judgment." There is no clear link between junk food and violent behaviour, and the real causes end up being hidden behind irrelevant pseudo-causes.



Problem Solving


The causation fallacies: oversimplification and exaggeration

The causation fallacies, known as oversimplification and exaggeration, occurs when a series of real causes for an event is either reduced or overstated to the extent that it distorts the truth. Multiple causes are reduced to just one or a few (oversimplification), or a few causes are multiplied into many (exaggeration).

For the sake of brevity, well-intentioned writers and speakers can fall into the trap of oversimplification. They may leave out too many details and omit critical information that needs to be included.

In the real world, events typically have multiple intersecting causes that work together to cause the events we see.

However, the complexities are often difficult to grasp and even harder to change, resulting in simplification. While the causes we cite may be true, it seldom is the sole or primary cause.

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Right-Handed Vs Left Handed

Human hand preference is predictably a biological and genetic (hereditary) phenomenon, but we see that 85 percent of people are right-handed.

Researchers have identified the specific gene (D Gene) that occurs more commonly among the population which responsible for promoting right-hand preference. The C gene, which is less likely to occur within our gene pool, creates a coin-toss chance of an individual being left or right-handed.



  1. Explain why this sort of reasoning is fallacious: namely the fact that your opponent’s inability to explain a certain phenomenon or to understand a certain theory, does not invalidate current explanations for it.
  2. Shift the burden of proof back to your opponent: ask them to support their initial assertion, and explain why they are incredulous, and why they think that this validates their position.
  3. If possible, you should show that there is scientific evidence that can be used in order to explain the phenomenon that’s being discussed. 

Stories often focus on the outcomes that can be seen while ignoring the underlying processes.

  • This leads to widespread blindness to possible deceptive behaviours that contributed to the outcomes. Examples include Ponzi schemes and fraudulent business practices.
  • It leads to a misunderstanding of how innovation works. Focusing on the individuals' creativity glorifies the final version while ignoring the underlying collaborative processes by risk-taking entrepreneurs.

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