Why you judge things on the basis of the source of information

We often overestimate and overstate just how much we can learn about a claim based on where that claim originated, and that's the crux of the genetic fallacy, according to the experts in this episode.

The genetic fallacy appears when people trace things back to their sources, and if you traced back to their shared source the ad hominem attack (insulting the source instead of attacking its argument) and the argument from authority (praising the source instead of supporting its argument), you would find the genetic fallacy is the mother of both kinds of faulty reasoning.

You might be in danger of serially committing the genetic fallacy if your first instinct is to ask where attitude-inconsistent comes from once you feel the twinge of fear that appears after a belief is threatened.

In this episode, listen as three experts in logic and rationality when we should and when we should not take the source of a statement into account when deciding if something is true or false.

This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the eighth in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.


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BobBob Blaskiewicz is an assistant professor who teaches, among other subjects, critical thinking at Stockton University. He also writes about logic and reasoning at skepticalhumanities.com, and is a regular guest on the YouTube show The Virtual Skeptics.


Julie Galef is the president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit devoted to training people to be better at reasoning and decision-making. She is also the host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast and writes for publications like Slate, Science, Scientific American, and Popular Science. This is her website.

Vanessa Hill is an Australian science writer and stop-motion animator who hosts BrainCraft, a PBS series exploring psychology, neuroscience and human behavior. She previously worked for Australia's national science agency, as a science reporter for ScienceAlert, and has appeared in TIME,The Huffington Post, Scientific American, and Brain Pickings. Her Twitter page is here.

In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Jon Schnapp who sent in a recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Links and Sources


Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes


Center for Applied Rationality

Skeptical Humanities

Your Logical Fallacy Is

PBS Idea Channel

A Guide to Logical Fallacies

Image Source – Micah Baldwin, CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic