Konubinix' opinionated web of thoughts

Pros and Cons Fallacy


pros and cons fallacy

When people believe that writing down a table of pros and cons is enough to make a choice.

To me, pros and cons are useful only if there is a table per objective (how to make multi criteria choices?) and if they are used to feed another method that takes into account weights between pros and cons.

Using a pros and cons table, one can generally conclude anything, as long as they put enough green checkboxes in the pros column and few in the cons column.

I actually think that pros and cons are not only useful, but also needed in a choice making method. I think it becomes a fallacy though when they become the final objective of the method.

method becoming a final objective fallacy

Also, in a pros and cons method, people are generally heavily biased into comparing the solutions and forget to write ALL the pros and cons and only write stuff about the difference between solutions.

This is what generally happen, one has a pros and cons table that looks like this.

How to dig a hole for setting up a swimming pool?

Solutions Use a spoon Hire a contractor
Pros Cheap Faster
Cons Expensive

Then, during the conversation, one says that using a spoon is unrealistic. They all agree and decide to hire a contractor. Like in this example, I feel like in general the final decision is sensible, but the effort presenting a pros and cons table was not. The need for a separate discussion with new pieces of information shows that this method did not appropriately capture what is needed to make a choice.

Notes linking here