Monday, September 25, 2017

Argumentum ad populum

THIS should certainly have got the academics into hot water. I mean, 'Vox Populi, Vox Dei' (The voice of the people is the voice of God) after all and these guys have the gall to say that to consider something correct because it is the popular belief is a logical fallacy? Come on, did anyone bother to get their brains examined?

They really need to be reminded of Galileo. Everyone KNEW that the Earth was the center of the universe, so obviously it was true. And, yet, that chappie persisted in putting the Sun at the center of the solar system and look what happened to him. It is a different thing that, once everyone started believing that the Earth was NOT the center of the Universe, God changed things around to make THAT true. After all, Vox Populi Vox Dei...or, in this case, the action of Dei.

Never mind, though. God still has human beings as the center of the Universe...everyone says so. And THAT shall BE true till such time as everyone starts believing otherwise. As though we would. Anyone who dares say that we are NOT the center of the Universe will be hounded out of life, unless an alien species conquers us.

To more mundane things...Everyone KNOWS that we shall ALL benefit as long as we all pursue our own goals to the exclusion of everyone else's. THAT is what keeps the wheels of commerce running and that is absolutely important for the world to keep spinning on its axis. Till some day the wheels come off...

What beats me though is that, nowadays, people do not all seem to believe in the same things. But, never mind, we have what are called 'echo chambers'. Everyone who believes otherwise than we do is cast away into the outer darkness viz blocked, unfriended, whatever, and we are surrounded by people of whom we can say 'Everyone believes as I do'. That is, indeed, the ideal world to live in...and some day we shall enter the outer darkness and exterminate those vermin.

It is surprising though that people say that this is a logical fallacy - that to believe that what everyone 'knows' is necessarily true - and that they have proof that will Trump our belief. As though any proof ever can! Vox Populi IS Vox Dei, after all, and even God cannot make us believe otherwise!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Survivorship bias

You know, there are some things that seem so apparent when someone says it but never as clear when it happens in real life. Take this 'survivorship bias' for example. It is a widely prevalent logical fallacy. Like all logical fallacies, this too is one of those things which you nod wisely when you hear of it while going about committing it with gay abandon.

"You know I think that jumping off the sixth floor is not at all fatal"
"Why do you say so?"
"Well, everyone I have met, who has jumped, is still alive"

I was flabbergasted. I mean, come on, faced by something like that too many questions jostle your mind for you to be coherent. How many such people could he have met? How did he meet even one? AND how on Earth did he expect to meet someone who had NOT survived?

THAT is the easiest example of the 'Survivorship Bias". If the only people you meet after something like that are the ones who survived, how can you draw a conclusion from that?

By now, you are all nodding and finding it funny that ANYONE could draw a conclusion like that. Let us try another one on you.

"I think you can easily make money playing on the stock markets."
"Yup! I met some twenty people in a stock market seminar who knew nothing about it before and have been making money on it for the past five years."

Nice. You are the next Warren Buffet. But...if 80 other people had also started off at the same time and become bankrupt do you expect to meet them at a seminar on the stock markets? Obviously, you did not also pursue your research with the beggars at the traffic lights. (Exaggeration, of course, but then separating a writer and exaggeration IS tough!) Could it be survivorship bias...those who survived and thrived DESPITE not knowing anything about the stock markets?

"Bill Gates is a school drop-out and look at him. I think your chances of being hugely successful is better without education."

Really? AND how many school dropouts have you studied other than Gates?

"To become a successful writer you do not need to know good English. Or even be a reader..."

Ye Gods! Now, go back to the first example and STOP laughing at THAT guy!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Argumentum ad baculum

Academics are such spoilsports. If you find an easy way to do things, they find a way to tell you why it is wrong and why you should not be allowed to do it. Of course, not that what they say stops you from doing what you really want to do know, it is sort of nice to also have people applauding you for doing things and these guys get in the way of that.

"I think this movie is the best that we have ever seen."
"Because I will smash your face in if you do not agree."

How nice to get your way without long dissertations about the stone face of the actor, the mumbled dialogues and all the rest of it. But no...they call it a logical fallacy...'argumentum ad baculum' is the phrase they use. AND, as you know, someone throws a word like that you are too flummoxed by the phrase to even come back at them. Of course, they do it from the safety of THEIR homes, else you could bash some sense into them.

Argumentum ad baculum apparently means an appeal to force...that a conclusion has to be accepted because the consequences of not accepting will be...err...detrimental to your health. Though, yes, it could also mean detrimental to you in some manner other than health, as well.

Not always is it that straightforward. There is this prevalent anti-Muslim rhetoric that has a hold in the hinterlands of India.

"These people are dangerous. We need to impose population control on them."
"Why so?"
"They have this plan of producing so many children that they will become the majority and again rule over us."

Conspiracy theories of this sort are always an appeal to force. Accept this conclusion and work accordingly or the consequences will be horrendous.

Then, of course, every single blind believer is fed on a pure diet of 'argumentum ad baculum': Allow women to wear this and that is the death of our culture; Allow people to do that, and that is the end of our Nation...

Such a useful philosophy for the leaders of the world. AND the academics HAVE to get in the way.

Never mind them, though...NOW they are being taught to understand that argumentum ad baculum can be used on THEM as well. So, yes, soon you can expect to see this mentioned, not as a logical fallacy, but in the list of supremely logical methods of debate!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Tu quoque

(There seems to be a promo by Amazon of my book "A Dog eat Dog-food World" which has been made available at about 25% of the list price. So, for a princely sum of Rs. 29/= you can possess and read the ebook. Click on the yellow book-cover to the right)

Have you wondered why common things tend to have uncommon names? Or get referred to by uncommon, rather hifalutin terms? Must be because telling it in an everyday manner makes it sound so...ordinary...that saying it does not get you those oh-what-a-genius looks. AND, of course, really being a genius is sort of beyond you.

Take this one for example. Sounds like a logical fallacy that only an expert would come across or understand, right. 'Tu Quoque'...roll it round your tongue. Feels important, does it not?

THEN, consider this...

"You better buckle down and study every day, sonny! Life is competitive and the earlier you learn that the better."

"But, Grandpa said you never opened a book through school except when forced to..."

There are times when you wonder why your parents never get off your case. Just as you thought that, at last, they had lost their hold on your life...

Now, if sonny thought that studying every day COULD help him in life but YOU were preaching what you yourself did not practice - somewhat like knowing that a controlled diet is important for good health even while laughing at the fact that the guy who was preaching it was known to have a meal every hour on the hour - well, if sonny thought THAT, then you do not get to roll that 'Tu Quoque' off your tongue. For there is no flaw in his logic in calling you a hypocrite...though, yes, you would get back with "Do as I say, do not do as I do".

The problem is when he decides that the advice is incorrect because YOU did not practice it. In other words, if the chap who is putting forth a point is hypocritical enough not to apply it in HIS life it does not necessarily invalidate the point. To consider that the hypocrisy of the one who proposes a course of action necessarily invalidates the correctness of that course of action is the 'Tu Quoque' fallacy.

Of course you could simply say, "Just because the preacher is a hypocrite, you cannot consider what he preaches to be wrong". But then, that sounds only like common-sense. Say 'Tu Quoque' THAT practically shrieks of Wisdom!