World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Furtive fallacy

Article Id: WHEBN0020425541
Reproduction Date:

Title: Furtive fallacy  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of fallacies, Slothful induction, Correlative-based fallacies, Argument from analogy, No true Scotsman
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Furtive fallacy

The furtive fallacy is an informal fallacy of emphasis in which outcomes are asserted to have been caused by the malfeasance of decision makers. Historian David Hackett Fischer identified it as the belief that significant facts of history are necessarily sinister, and that "history itself is a story of causes mostly insidious and results mostly invidious." It is more than a conspiracy theory in that it does not merely consider the possibility of hidden motives and deeds, but insists on them. In its extreme form, the fallacy represents general paranoia.[1]

Fischer identifies several examples of the fallacy, particularly the works of Charles A. Beard. In each case, Fischer shows that historians provided detailed portrayals of historical figures involved in off-record meetings and exhibiting low morals, based on little or no evidence. He notes that the furtive fallacy does not necessarily imply deliberate falsification of history; it can follow from a sincere (but misguided) belief that nothing happens by accident or mistake.[1]

Richard Hofstadter discussed the fallacy before Fischer, although not by name. In reviewing histories from the Progressive Era, Hofstadter noted that the progressive historians tended to assume that reality was always hidden and ignored, being determined by bribes, rebates, and secret business deals.[1][2]

A modification of the furtive fallacy holds that when the historical record provides no evidence explaining a particular set of events, this is itself evidence of a furtive cause.[3]

The idea of the furtive fallacy is criticized by Jeffrey M. Bale, who cites the risk of historians underestimating the influence of political secret societies, vanguard parties, and intelligence agencies.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Davidson, Ronald M. (2002). Indian Esoteric Buddhism. 
  4. ^ Bale, Jeffrey M. (2007). "Political paranoia v. political realism: on distinguishing between bogus conspiracy theories and genuine conspiratorial politics". Patterns of Prejudice 41 (1): 58–59.  

Further reading

  • Roisman, Joseph (2003). Brill's Companion to Alexander the Great. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.