Broken Clock Fallacy

I had a terrible bout of flu in November. In fact, my wife said she’d never known me so ill. I had a fever that went up and down, aching joints, a prolonged dry cough and found it hard to breath when laying down at night. I have an oxometer which occasionally dipped below 90% accompanied by light-headedness bordering on delirium. Do the symptoms sound familiar?

I’ve spoken to a number of people who had a similar illness around the same time and there are now suggestions Covid-19 reached the UK earlier than first reported. I understand why some think this, and the possibility that my November illness was Covid-19 had crossed my mind. Furthermore, if I was a betting man, I’d put money on several people reading this blog thinking the same thing. There is however, a major problem with this assertion because there’s no evidence for it. It’s more likely November and December experienced another flu-like outbreak, certainly unpleasant but not on the scale of Covid-19.

I shouldn’t be too certain however, because if there’s one thing we know about this virus, it’s there’s a lot we don’t know about this virus. As time goes by, and our knowledge grows, the arrival of Covid-19 to the UK at the end of 2019 cannot be ruled out entirely. If this happens, there will be those shouting, “I knew it all along,” and “I told you so.”  And then we get into another problem, that of the logical fallacy.

Logical fallacies have some great names such as, there’s no such thing as a Scotsman, Texas sharpshooter and the nirvana fallacy to name just three. If you’re interested, then you’ll find a lot of them here. The fallacy covering the, “I told you so,” if Covid-19 did arrive early, is called the broken clock. Those making the claim had no basis or evidence for it at all, but can claim they were right after the event on the basis even a broken clock is right twice a day. Fallacy spotting can be fun, but also very frustrating at times. 

2 thoughts on “Broken Clock Fallacy

  1. um nah – it’s simply called being right. the only logical fallcy here is invoking thebroken clock analogy which is false equivalence. LOL


    1. The definition of the broken clock fallacy is that you claim something without evidence at the time, which then later turns out to be true. There was – and still is – no convincing evidence that Covid-19 was outside China in November 2019.


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