Under Henry VII, John Morton was made archbishop of Canterbury in 1486 and Lord Chancellor in 1487. He raised taxation funds for his king by holding that someone living modestly must be saving money and, therefore, could afford taxes, whereas someone living extravagantly obviously was rich and, therefore, could afford taxes. Morton's Fork may have been invented by another of Henry's supporters, Richard Foxe.
In some instances, such as Morton's original use of the fallacy, it may be that one of the two observations is probably valid, but the other is pure sophistry: evidence of possessing wealth may be genuinely irrelevant to having a source of taxable income.
In other cases, it may be that neither observation may be relied upon to support the conclusion properly. For example, asserting that a person suspected of a crime who is acting nervously must have something to feel guilty about, while a person who acts calmly and confidently must be practised or skilled at hiding guilt. Either observation therefore has little, if any, probative value, as each could equally be evidence for the opposite conclusion.
- "Morton's Fork". Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
- Morton's Fork. Oxford English Dictionary.
- S. B. Chrimes, Henry VII, p. 203.
- Frey et al. (1976). The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, p. 295. ISBN 0-517-52724-3.
- Gray, Robert. The Bridge World, March 1973