The New York Times has published yet another scare mongering article about the Zika virus. But its claims are based on logical fallacies.
A claim that the Zika virus infection causes mental illness later in life is supported by no evidence or long term research. It is based on an inference about Zika from what is known of similiar infections.
“Even infants who appear normal at birth may be at higher risk for mental illnesses later in life if their mothers were infected during pregnancy, many researchers fear,” writes The New York Times.
“The Zika virus, they say, closely resembles some infectious agents that have been linked to the development of autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.”
But just because the Zika virus is like other viruses in one or more respects, that does not necessarily mean it is like the viruses in as far as it shares the property of causing mental illness later in life.
The New York Times uses a logical fallacy called a faulty analogy.
“This fallacy consists in assuming that because two things are alike in one or more respects, they are necessarily alike in some other respect.”
The same article then goes on to admit that the claim that viral infectious cause mental illness later in life is false, i.e. is the logical fallacy of questionable or false cause.
“Schizophrenia and other debilitating mental illnesses have no single cause, experts emphasized in interviews. The conditions are thought to arise from a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition and traumas later in life, such as sexual or physical abuse, abandonment or heavy drug use.”