Selective Abstraction in Action

There was a lovely example of the thinking error “selective abstraction” on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. They were discussing criticisms of the BBC’s coverage of the Royal Jubilee Flotilla, in particular with regard to the inclusion of an item about sick bags illustrated with images of the royal family. The person defending the BBC said that it was not fair to focus on one item and use this to condemn the whole show.

Incidentally, while on the subject of the Today programme, I think that John Humphrys is an exemplary exponent of Socratic questioning – he has an endearing curiosity that encourages his interviewees to examine and explain their thinking about the topic under discussion, cutting through attempts at glibness and obfuscation.


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