When we make a conclusion that is based on a subject’s origin and not on the actual content we make a genetic fallacy. Genetic fallacies are very common and we are all too ready to lend credibility to statements from sources that have similar beliefs and ideologies as us.
Examples of Genetic Fallacy
Genetic Fallacy of News Media
If we were to automatically discount a news story from Fox News simply because the story came from a right leaning source we would have committed a genetic fallacy. Fox news might report a story in a completely logical and sound manner or it might not. We cannot completely discount the data because of the source. The acceptance or rejection should be based on the content and data. Like wise we could not discount a story from CNN simply because it is a left leaning source.
Example of a Positive Genetic Fallacy
Genetic fallacies can also run in the positive. For example if you were to accept an argument that street violence is on the rise from a police officer simply because they are a police officer you would have committed genetic fallacy. In this case we cannot accept the argument simply on the idea that a police officer will know. We need to see the data on the actual amount of street crime and compare it against data from past years.
The actual truth of the conclusion is not what makes it a genetic fallacy, it is the structure of the analysis leading to the conclusion. In order to increase our chances of knowing a thing and finding the truth we need to try and remove biases about the nature of the origin of a statement and seek answers in data and evidence.
Genetic Fallacy Logic Structure
Because A is (trustworthy, original, credible) then B (source A) is C (conclusion)