No True Scotsman

The “No True Scotsman” is a logical fallacy. It was named by British philosopher Anthony Flew. It works something like this:

Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sits down to breakfast with his morning newspaper. He reads a report of the actions of a terrible criminal in Brighton who has not yet been identified by the police. Hamish declares, “No Scotsman would do such a thing!”

The next day, he reads another news report of a different criminal whose ghastly crimes far exceed those of the attacker in Brighton. Police have caught the villain, who turns out to be a Scotsman. When confronted with this fact, Hamish declares, “No true Scotsman would do such a thing!”

The fallacy is that Hamish has made an inaccurate generalization. When faced with a counterexample, he declares that counterexample invalid and that his generalization is unfalsifiable.

Zach Weinersmith, the cartoonist behind Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (and whose books are on sale in the NeatoShop), points out Hamish is being far too optimistic about his compatriots.


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As a True Scotsman©, I can confirm this. And it doesn't take gallons, couple of pints and it's on!

Btw, thanks for introducing me to SMBC, love it almost as much as Cyanide and Happiness.
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