Published on September 23rd, 2014 | by Rayne10
Appeals to Nature: The one fallacy to rule them all
It’s about time I did a blog post on my most hated logical fallacy. I know I tend to call all the logical fallacies I write about “my most hated” but I really mean it this time. The “Appeal to Nature” is the war cry of the pseudoscientist and the bane of every skeptic in existence.
For those of my readers who don’t know, the Appeal to Natural logical fallacy attempts to argue the “naturalness” of a substance indicates its level of safety and effectiveness. Basically “X” is natural therefore “X” is good and “X is artificial/unnatural, therefore X is bad“.
Bloggers such as Food Babe and Mike Adams as well as the alternative medicine industry relies heavily on this fallacy; one could call it the bread and butter of pseudoscience. This argument is not only easy to debunk, it is also a great alarm bell that serves as a warning that you may be faced with a pseudoscientist.
The arguments falls over for several reasons:
1. Perhaps the most important reason is the “naturalness” of a substance is not an indication of its safety or effectiveness. Cyanide for example, is found in nature however it is not something you would or should put on your toast of a morning.
2. The dose makes the poison. As an addition to this – the dose of a substance makes the poison. Formaldehyde is a prime example. Formaldehyde is found within vaccines but at a very small quantity, so small it is harmless to humans. The quantity in vaccines is smaller than the formaldehyde produced per day as a by-product of digestion in the human body.
3. An “Artificially created substance” is not synonymous with “dangerous”. If something is created within a laboratory – this is not an indication of its danger. The painkiller and blood thinner Aspirin, has been created from the active ingredient found within the bark of a willow tree. A large majority of medication are derived or synthesised from active ingredients found within natural sources.
As mentioned before, if an individual uses an Appeal to Nature within an argument – there is a high likely they don’t understand basic science and chemistry.
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