When visiting political forums or listening to political discussions, not a day goes by when I don't encounter some example of the fixed pie fallacy in regards to economic policy. The idea that some groups of people starve or are poor because other groups are rich is a dangerously destructive fallacy that seems to be increasingly driving ill-conceived policy discussions.
One common kind of fallacy, which the linked article is clearly guilty of, is implying that research studies draw conclusions, when really all they do is report correlations. That's their purpose. The correlation may or may not imply causation and most studies will spend some time discussing the evidence for causation, and also the statistical significance of the findings. However, overzealous media, as well as sarcastic would-be debunkers like this guy gloss over such details. I'm all for legitimate criticism of methods and findings, but when peppered with "Gee, I wonder ..." type of comments, I know I'm reading the work of an idiot, and worse: an idiot with an agenda.
The best criticism of the findings was:
But what’s even more astonishing is that the candy-eating behavior of 17,380 children was not reported. What if 10,000 of those children also reported eating candy at age 10 daily? Wouldn’t that basically nullify the researchers’ findings?
He's right that one percentage (the rate of convicted criminals that were candy-eaters) wouldn't have any context without the rate of candy-eaters in the general population, and therefore would be meaningless. However, somehow he missed that he quoted this percentage himself mere lines earlier.
About 69 percent of those who reported having committed violent acts also reported eating candy daily at age 10, compared to 42 percent of those who did not have a violent criminal past, the study authors noted.
Not only did he not read the study he is criticizing, but he didn't even carefully read the excerpted parts from the 200 word US News and World Report article he using as a source.
Get me the mayor's office! I need to tell her about this tiny ad: