QUESTION TEXT: Attorney: I ask you to find Mr. Smith…
QUESTION TYPE: Flawed Reasoning
CONCLUSION: Mr. Smith is guilty of assaulting Mr. Jackson.
REASONING: Ms. Lopez testified that Mr. Smith is violent. Mr. Smith never disagreed.
ANALYSIS: There are a couple of problems. First, even if Ms. Lopez is correct, we don’t have any evidence that Smith assaulted Jackson. Lots of people have violent tempers yet do not assault people.
Second, we don’t know if Ms. Lopez was telling the truth or correct that Smith generally has a violent temper. He may just have been angry with her on one occasion.
A witness isn’t obliged to refute testimony. Silence doesn’t prove guilt.
- If Lopez was telling the truth, then Smith’s behavior was beyond aggressive. Shouting loud threats is pretty close to actual violence.
- The attorney didn’t mention any testimony by Smith.
- CORRECT. Lopez could simply be lying. We don’t have anyone to confirm Lopez’s testimony.
- The attorney didn’t mention whether Lopez was also loud and aggressive, or not.
- Having a violent character is definitely associated with committing violent crimes. People with a violent character are probably more likely to be violent. It’s only true that having a violent character isn’t a guarantee that any particular aggressive person will commit violent crimes.
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