The Three Fallacies That Make Up The Certainty Trap

The Settled Question Fallacy

The settled question fallacy is when we behave as if there is broad-based consensus on answers to important and controversial questions, when those questions aren’t actually settled. Often this comes up when there is evidence available to support competing answers to a question, or when a claim is nearly impossible to prove or disprove. A particularly pernicious form of the settled-question fallacy appears when one side of the political spectrum asserts that a question is no longer up for debate.

For more information, see America by Gaslight.

The Fallacy of Known Intent

The fallacy of known intent is, just as it sounds, the assumption that we know with a degree of certainty someone’s intent when they say or do something we find offensive or objectionable. We can make this mistake for events occurring at the current moment or projecting in the past. 

The Fallacy of Equal Knowledge

The fallacy of equal knowledge is usually offered by one side as a charitable way to understand why someone on the other side doesn’t agree with a particular position on a controversial issue. Often this relates to topics that are tied to identity, fairness, or equality. The fallacy of equal knowledge is the underlying assumption that, on these topics, if everyone had the same information, they’d all agree. 

For more information, see The Fallacy of Equal Knowledge.