‘Wishful thinking‘ is a fallacy or, more appropriately, a cognitive bias that puts people in the radar of the skeptics (…and me ☺). According to the Skeptics Dictionary:
Wishful thinking is interpreting facts, reports, events, perceptions, etc., according to what one would like to be the case rather than according to the actual evidence.
It is basically the fallacy of wishing something to be true, so therefore it must be true. The blog Logically Fallacious, by Bo Bennett defines it as:
When the desire for something to be true is used in place of/or as evidence for the truthfulness of the claim. Wishful thinking, more as a cognitive bias than a logical fallacy, can also cause one to evaluate evidence very differently based on the desired outcome.
Wishful thinking is a common fallacy that is used in running related books, articles and blogs – it is simply stating something as though its a fact and just wishing it is true and hoping the gullible fall for it. Without a grounding in science and an understanding of the nature of ‘evidence’ and an awareness of the argumentative fallacies, they are easy to fall for. I have already written about a number of examples of wishful thinking, and there will be a lot more to come. I mentioned it in the context of:
- wishing that calcaneal stress fractures are due to heel striking (when we are seeing increasing reports that midfoot and forefoot strikers are getting them).
- wishing that footwear interferes with the windlass mechanism as it fits into the arguments that are being made (when it is easy to demonstrate that this is not the case).
- wishing that Severs Disease in kids is due to heel striking (when in reality no one has any idea if it is or not).
- wishing that minimalism is the best approach for plantar fasciitis (when there is no rationale and no evidence for it).
- Barefoot Science Inc wishing that their insoles strengthen the foot muscles (when there is no evidence or rationale for it).
As always: I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise, and hopefully I never engage in ‘wishful thinking’. Going with the evidence is how to avoid wishful thinking. If I do engage in it, please point it out to me as it would never be done intentionally.