Misleading Vividness

Misleading vividness is a term that can be applied to anecdotal evidence describing an occurrence, even if it is an exceptional occurrence, with sufficient detail to permit hasty generalizations about the occurrence (e.g., to convince someone that the occurrence is a widespread problem). Although misleading vividness does little to support an argument logically, it can have a very strong psychological effect because of a cognitive heuristic called the availability heuristic.


Anne: "I am giving up extreme sports now that I have children. I think I will take up golf."
Bill: "I wouldn't do that. Do you remember Charles? He was playing golf when he got hit by a golf-cart. It broke his leg, and he fell over, giving himself a concussion. He was in hospital for a week and still walks with a limp. I would stick to paragliding!"

This rhetoric permits a kind of hasty generalization when an inductive generalization is a necessary premise and a single (albeit vivid) example is not sufficient to support such a generalization. See faulty generalization.

Famous quotes containing the word misleading:

    For this reason I think it might be better to use, for this way of doing philosophy, some less misleading name than those given above—for instance, ‘linguistic phenomenology,’ only that is rather a mouthful.
    —J.L. (John Langshaw)