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Incomplete Explanation Fallacy

Updated Feb 10, 2023

The Incomplete Explanation Fallacy: Understanding its Impact


In the realm of critical thinking and logical reasoning, fallacies play a significant role in identifying flawed arguments and deceptive reasoning. One such fallacy, the Incomplete Explanation Fallacy, can often go unnoticed but has the potential to mislead and hinder our understanding of complex issues. This blog article aims to shed light on this fallacy, exploring its definition, examples, and the impact it can have on our thinking processes.

Understanding the Incomplete Explanation Fallacy

The Incomplete Explanation Fallacy occurs when an argument or explanation fails to provide sufficient evidence or reasoning to support its conclusion adequately. It can be deceptive because it may appear to provide a satisfactory explanation, but upon closer examination, crucial details or relevant factors are missing.

This fallacy can manifest in various forms, including:

  1. Cherry-picking evidence: Selectively choosing only the evidence that supports a specific conclusion while ignoring contradictory evidence.
  2. Oversimplification: Offering an explanation that is overly simplistic and fails to consider the complexity of the issue at hand.
  3. Misrepresentation of statistics: Manipulating statistical data to present a skewed or inaccurate representation of the situation.
  4. Appeal to authority: Relying solely on the opinion or expertise of an authority figure without considering other perspectives or evidence.

Examples of the Incomplete Explanation Fallacy

To better grasp the concept, let's explore a couple of examples that illustrate the Incomplete Explanation Fallacy:

Example 1: Cherry-picking evidence "All the top athletes use this particular brand of sports shoes, so it must be the best."

In this example, the argument relies solely on the fact that top athletes endorse a specific brand of sports shoes. However, it fails to consider other important factors such as individual preferences, personal contracts, or marketing strategies that may influence their choice.

Example 2: Misrepresentation of statistics "Over 90% of people who exercise daily live to be 100 years old. Therefore, exercise is the key to longevity."

While the statement presents a statistical correlation, it overlooks other essential aspects like genetics, diet, socioeconomic status, and overall health. Neglecting these factors gives an incomplete explanation of the relationship between exercise and longevity.

The Impact of the Incomplete Explanation Fallacy

Understanding the Incomplete Explanation Fallacy is crucial because it can significantly impact our decision-making processes and the way we perceive information. Here are a few key points to consider:

  1. Misinformed conclusions: Falling victim to this fallacy can lead us to draw inaccurate or flawed conclusions based on incomplete evidence or reasoning.
  2. Biased perspectives: The Incomplete Explanation Fallacy can reinforce our existing biases by selectively presenting information that aligns with our preconceived notions, preventing us from considering alternative viewpoints.
  3. Stifled critical thinking: Embracing incomplete explanations can hinder our ability to think critically and evaluate arguments effectively. It discourages us from seeking out additional evidence or questioning the validity of the presented information.

Overcoming the Incomplete Explanation Fallacy

To avoid falling into the trap of the Incomplete Explanation Fallacy, here are a few strategies to employ:

  1. Seek diverse perspectives: Engage with multiple sources and viewpoints to gain a broader understanding of the issue at hand.
  2. Consider the broader context: Evaluate arguments within the context of the larger picture, considering all relevant factors and variables.
  3. Question assumptions: Challenge assumptions and be aware of potential biases that may influence the information presented.
  4. Demand complete explanations: When encountering arguments or explanations, critically evaluate the evidence provided and ensure that all necessary information is included.


The Incomplete Explanation Fallacy poses a significant challenge in our quest for understanding and logical reasoning. By being aware of its existence and understanding its impact, we can equip ourselves with the necessary tools to identify and overcome this fallacy. By seeking complete explanations, considering diverse perspectives, and thinking critically, we can navigate through the complexities of information and make more informed decisions.

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