The balance fallacy, also known as false balance, occurs when two sides of an argument are assumed to have equal value regardless of their respective merits.
The application of the fallacy leads to two major problems:
- Firstly, it can lead to equal exposure to arguments despite their lack of merits or relevance. This may arise due to a misunderstanding of probability; that two outcomes or positions lead to a probability of 50:50 for each, and so both deserve an equal chance to put themselves forward. In fact, probability is not necessarily equal.
- Secondly, it can lead to the belief that the truth must lie somewhere in between the two opposing sides, when in fact it’s possible that one side is completely wrong. In this context the fallacy is sometimes known as the argument to moderation or argumentum ad temperantium, and may be the result of attempts to reach a compromise between mutually exclusive positions, as often found in political debate where there is not necessarily an objective “truth”, as such, to be found behind a political policy.
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