Anger At The Wrong Size: Fat Shaming, Part III

If anything, fat healthy people should be furious at the great oleaginous masses of fat unhealthy people, because it’s the latter group that turned obesity into a moral issue.  Before, being fat was more likely to be predominantly genetic.  Now it’s a choice born of processed diet and utter disinclination to hit the fucking treadmill.  And the more choice enters the equation, the more morality comes into play.

Take, for instance, the civil rights wars America has grappled with in the last half century.  The most culturally predominant are probably black rights and gay rights.

Look at how choice has factored in to collective moral disdain with each movement.  Blacks have no choice whatsoever in their skin color.


Well, for the most part.

Not only did the moral backlash to allowing blacks civil rights die off within a generation, the ensuing legal standard involved in adjudicating a claim of discrimination based on race is one of strict scrutiny – a compelling governmental interest, narrowly tailored, and the least restrictive means possible to achieve that interest.  In essence, we view it as immoral now to determine a man’s legal status based on an immutable characteristic – and have codified that belief into our highest levels of jurisprudence.1

Whether gays have the choice to be gay, on the other hand, is a divisive issue that splits the camps.  One side believes homosexuality is not a morally tinged act, and supports full integration of gay rights.  The other believes it is, casts moral opprobrium on gays, and would like to see them disappear.  This schizophrenic approach to the morality of the underlying issue has been reflected in Constitutional cases, with gay issues moving from rational basis review during the 1980s and 90s cases like Bowers and Romer to an odd unstated ethereal ground with hints of strict and intermediate scrutiny underpinnings in latter-day landmarks like Lawrence and the recent DOMA/Prop 8 decisions.

Coming back full circle to fats – the more militant of whom are actively trying to elevate fat acceptance to a civil rights issue – the underlying mutability of weight and body composition gains them no foothold in the moral battleground of the American consciousness.  If anything, we should predict “obesity discrimination” to be looked at with a jaundiced, rational basis eye, reflecting obesity’s continued place as a moral failing.  This effect should increase as America gets fatter – the more fat citizens are out there, the more must be Poor Lifestyle Fats rather than Genetic Fats.  The problem the latter faces is the impossibility of the casual observer to tell them apart from the former.  In short, a generation ago, healthy but genetically fat people were just considered physically unattractive; now they’re both physically unattractive and personally bereft on a moral level, which is why it’s called fat shaming: the shame aspect to it indicates the deep affront to the basic sense of personhood.

But how now, you shameful HAESsies?  Your shame wasn’t born of thin privilege, but from the empty carbohydrate and video-screened pores of the modern Lax Americana.  Want to kill it from the public discourse?  Go, West, to the gym.

1.  OK, so I didn’t really logically link moral acceptance, or the lack thereof, with judicial review standards.  Let’s take it on assumption for now that the standards – or, really, Constitutional law as a whole – reflect an anecdotal moral conscience of the nation.


Health At Every Size: Fat Shaming, Part II

Back to the butcher’s block.  Here’s another gem from the comments section of an HAES/fat debate.

The Post: 

Meghan Heasley

2 Fans

02:31 PM on 06/13/2013

People need to understand that weight is not necessaril a predictor of anything. I am obese, but my numbers for cholesterol, hdls, lds, blood pressure, triglycerides triglycerides and blood sugar are all OPTIMAL. And they have been for quite some time. They are even better than many off my thin counterparts. Yes, being overweight wears on your body, but it is no predictor of behavior. I hace been iverweight since grade scool and I made straight As in college and completed an Honors Thesis. I know thin people who eat just like “fat people,” supposedly do, out of control and full of fat and yet they are thin. Why? Genetics. Everyone us different. Everyone’s body processes food differentky.For some, even a sliver of cake will put weight on, others a whole cake does nothing. Another factor is STRESS and DEPRESSION, which causes people to over eat. And by BULLYING overweight peopke, you are contributing factors. Are you PERFECT in every way? NO. Sostop assuming everyone else has to be.

Fallacy One: I Am America, And So Can You

The general trend that fat is unhealthy doesn’t mean that every fat person is unhealthy.  Moreover, this argument perpetually fails to see the forest for the trees: some people have always been genetically fat, have bodies designed to be that fat, and can maintain that fat even in the absence of poor health.  There were still fatties decades ago, before the Great American Panniculus Explosion.  Those fatties then are the same people who would be fatties now, even with exercise and good diet.  It’s the other two bloated thirds of America that bucks the trend.  This is an ironic oversight, because she brings up genetic makeup as an excuse for being skinny, but misses the corollary that her position on the other end of the bell curve is similarly unrepresentative of the population as a whole.  In short, the fallacy is:

P: I am fat and healthy.
[A: The one data point of my experience is the rule, not the exception.]
SC: Fat must not be correlated with health. (stated in her conclusion, above, as “weight is not necessaril [sic] a predictor of anything.”)

The final step in the leap from her own experience to a global takeaway is insinuated, but not explicit:

C: These other fat people are healthy as well.

Fallacy Two: Implied Helplessness

“Everyone’s body processes food differentky.For some, even a sliver of cake will put weight on, others a whole cake does nothing.”

Even taking as a given that some people are genetically fat, the abdication of responsibility for body condition is misguided.  She’s attempting to minimize her own involvement in her weight by sloughing the blame on genes and food; it isn’t her choice to be fat, it’s that she can only eat a little sliver of cake.  Really, just a little sliver.

P: When I eat just a little sliver of cake, I put weight on.
[A: My body responds to all food like this.]
C: I am genetically fat, and nothing I do can ever make me skinny.

Look, if eating only a little sliver of cake makes you fat, then maybe the solution is to not eat any cake at all.  Oh, it’s delicious?  So it goes.  I have nasty food allergies that arose suddenly in my late 20s.  What I learned from that is that some foods have deleterious effects on my health in any quantity.

I stopped eating them.  It’s more expensive, and it cuts down on a lot of what I used to enjoy.  But I’m healthier.

Your choice.

Fallacy Three: Shifting The Goalpoasts

“I hace been iverweight since grade scool and I made straight As in college and completed an Honors Thesis.”

We’re talking about physical health.  Your college performance, which clearly wasn’t in a writing-heavy discipline, is entirely irrelevant to everything except your own narcissistic compensation.

P: I am getting negative attention for a trait of mine.
P: I have an entirely unrelated positive trait.
[A: These two are interchangeable, subject to offset against each other, and can be used as currency in my scheme of individual worth.]
C: I am worthy of, and shall receive, positive attention.

Health At Every Size? Fat Shaming, Part I

So the latest American Victimhood™ perversion du jour is the demand that the assorted beached whales of modern convenience be taken seriously as an intersectional Othered Out group, whatever the fuck that could possibly mean when the Plus Size Brigade makes up 2/3 of the unwashed masses.

Oh, right.  They mean I’m not allowed to say negative things about them, because Fatties are now a protected class.  Anyway, haven’t you heard that – contrary to what doctors have been telling us for generations – fat isn’t really unhealthy?

The true bottom line is that if fat was healthy, my penis would engorge itself to match the elephants stampeding around my local watering hole, because social standards of beauty reflect biological realities rather than the other way around.  Let’s conveniently ignore that for a minute and simply take a vigorous, heart-rate increasing walk through the carbohydrate-drenched dogshit arguments that HAES proponents love to serve:

Jude Lee
5 hours ago

Why do most of you assume that overweight is unhealthy? That is an ignorant attitude. I’ve been overweight most of my life, but I’ve been healthier than a lot of my skinny friends.

Two big issues with this one.

First, our corpulent commenter is committing a major categorical fallacy here by confusing the issue of her own health with the issue of health across people:

P: I’m fatter than my friends.
P: I’m healthier than my friends.
[A: I can directly compare my health to my friends’ health.]
C: Fat must be healthy.

See the problem?

Correctly identifying obesity as unhealthy (you know, like your doctor keeps telling you) is stating that an individual would be healthier at a lower weight (but not too low, you strawman!) than that individual is as a fatty fat fat.

In other words, Jude Lee, if you lost weight you would be healthier, regardless of your friends’ scale readings or health conditions.  Also, for what it’s worth, your skinny friends would be even unhealthier if they were fatter.  The correlation is between an individual’s weight and health, not between separate people of varying sizes.

Second, this greasy screed dishes up a composition fallacy in using her bloated anecdote to try to disprove data.  Here’s her argument, rendered:

P: My skinny friends are unhealthy
[A: Skinny people I know means skinny people as a whole]
C: Skinny people are less healthy.

Hit the gym, Adipussy.  You’ll see some data points refuting your assumption.

I Mimic, Therefore I Am: Democratizing Beauty and the Fallacy of Assumed Verisimilitude

I was sitting in my automobile in a major metropolitan American city experiencing another of its cyclical explosive growth spurts, ruminating on the identical swath of late twenties urban femininity jogging by me in identical Lululemon stretch pants.  As I waited for the light to turn green and lazily but predatorily watched the earnest cardioenthusiasts reduce themselves to a blurred singularity, one lycra/spandex-blended ergonomically seamed unit, I witnessed a straggler from the Pack, walking and gabbing endlessly on her social media device.   Although she wasn’t participating in the shared ritual of Health, she had likewise subsumed into the Group: Fake blonde.  Thin by today’s American standards.  One of the few minor splash-choices on an otherwise black ur-garment.  Tan high boots, makeup, sunglasses hiding the right proportion of her face.

Was she hot?  I couldn’t tell.  But she had the markers of being hot.

The markers of attractiveness are now more important than beauty itself, or at least its biological components – waist-to-hip ratio, facial structure, etc. The markers of attractiveness are socially derived from the original biological cues – a one off. Blonde hair is brighter.  Makeup hides skin flaws.  An ounce of sunglasses cover up a pound of facial structure sins.  Shaped stretchwear firms and molds curves.  Socially dictated outfits display the wearer’s ascension to a specific sexual marketplace perch.

The logic is easy.

P: I have the markers of being hot.
C: I am hot.

The assumption here, the fatal assumption, is the lack of the transitive bridge.  These mountain king snakes of women, secure in their purchasing power, are trying to trick you into assuming the missing link:

A: [marked hot –> actually hot.]

Blame Barbie.  And television.

Unattractive women tend to decry in venomous fashion the social structure behind beauty – Patriarchy!  Myth!  Irresponsible and impossible standard! – when they should be celebrating and glorifying it.  The social aspect of beauty – changing the focus from the underlying biological traits to the one-off markers – democratized beauty.  It made it accessible to otherwise ugly women. You can be hot now by acquisition.  You no longer have to be actually attractive.

Once the social aspect takes over, the standard can change. Beauty on a biological scale is what’s primally healthy and virile. Beauty as a social standard can move. We who shed tears at the parade of fatties have Barbie to blame – she showed that the trappings of attractiveness could be faked, which in turn allows us to move the goalposts.  Real women now have curves.  Your granddaughters may be prized for their hideousness.

Larry Summers and The Wrong Questions: Ad Hominem and The Perils of Searching For The Wrong Causal Conclusions

When Larry Summers was President of Fair Harvard, he dared to suggest that women just might not like math and science.
His logical process flowed something like this:

P: Women are participating in and producing scientific insights at a lower rate than men.
P: We’ve instituted programs to boost female participation that have been in place for multiple academic generations.
A: [Effects of social pressures, then, should have been largely ameliorated for girls that would have been interested in pursuing the sciences.]
C: Maybe women just hate science, or somehow aren’t biologically equipped to thrive in it.

The reaction was swift and merciless. Every response was that Larry was wrong because he was biased, and that he shouldn’t be allowed to continue spouting his hate – in essence, an ad hominem flanking maneuver designed to forestall further exploration of his conclusion.

Let’s ignore, just for a moment, whether Larry was right, and focus instead on the fallacies in the reaction. Ad hominem means “to the man,” and refers to an attack on the source of an argument rather than the merit of the argument itself.

Why, though, is ad hominem fundamentally a fallacy? Sure, it doesn’t speak to the validity of the conclusion, but why? To figure out what’s really underlying the fallacy, we need to ask a slightly reworked question:

Was Larry Summers’ conclusion correct? Notice how I didn’t ask if Larry was correct, although they admittedly coincide. We’re after the logic behind the statement, not the logic in judging the man. Ergo the reframe.

Unfortunately, the critics asked the other question: Was Larry Summers correct? And by the logic of the reaction, it doesn’t matter. Larry’s critics are following a different logical path:

P1: There are few women in science.
P2: If girls hear that they don’t like science or are innately unable to do science at the highest levels, they may not pursue science.
P3: Larry Summers told girls they might not like science or might be bad at science at the highest levels.
SC: Larry Summers’ question may have the effect of dissuading girls from science.
A: [Low female participation in math and science is BAD.]
SC: Larry Summers is causing BAD.
P4: We can stop BAD by castigating its source until it no longer has the ability to comment.
A: [Stopping BAD is GOOD.]
A: [The inverse of P2 is also true.]
C: If we silence Larry Summers, GOOD will occur, mainly because more girls may participate in science.

This reaction is problematic, in no small part because it never answers Larry’s question in the first place – which is not only the point of the academic endeavor, but also goes directly to the heart of his critics’ final assumption, and thus their ultimate conclusion. If we were to design an actual logical framework to test his conclusion, we’d do it like this:

1. Is Larry Summers’ conclusion true? In other words, are women actually less inclined towards science, or worse at it at high levels?

2a. If 1 is true, why?
2b. If 1 is true, should we attempt to raise female participation in the sciences?
2c. If 1 is true AND 2b is true, how do we best go about raising female participation in the sciences?

3a. If 1 is false, what in the data is suggesting 1 as a conclusion?
3b. If 1 is false, why else is there low female participation in the sciences?
3c. If 1 is false, how do we best go about raising female participation in the sciences?

Note that once you assume 2b, or that female participation in science is GOOD, the ultimate question converges. Aha! If the ultimate question remains the same, than Larry’s critics were right! The answer to his now-intermediate question doesn’t matter!

Wrong. Why? Because.

Because is the operative term here. Because indicates a causal conclusion. Look at 2c and 3c – our ultimate questions. Those are asking for causal conclusions: whatever factor is underlying 2a and 3b, once properly addressed, will cause a rise in female participation in the sciences. Conversely, properly dealing with the root causes can give us the necessary feedback to evaluate our conclusions, by testing our underlying assumption. Causal conclusions always have a built in assumption: this cause, and no other, is really the cause of this effect. And, to hammer a point home, we can’t properly conclude anything without showing our assumptions to be correct.
Look back once again at Larry’s critics’ reasoning above. See the real conclusion? Social messages cause girls to not participate in the sciences. Is it true? How would we ever know?
Here’s the real fallacy behind the Larry Summers ad hominem witchhunt: Larry was asking to find causal conclusions just like his critics were, but he was willing to explore all the data – questions 2a, 3a, and 3b – to find his cause. His critics, meanwhile, assumed his statements were their cause and then cut off potential inquiry into the subject, which left them no room to test the adequacy of their assumption.
Ironically, testing the robustness of a causal conclusion is, well, science. It must be excruciating to rail against a conclusion with venomous fervor, only to fail in the realization that you were strengthening it all along.[1]

[1] For those of you paying attention, which logical fallacy am I committing in this statement?

Advertising: The Logical Half-Truth

The advertiser’s mission is to blur correlation into causality. You see the image displaying and correlating to the wet dream it represents: the big house, beautiful wife, dutiful children, abundant pussy and marble countertops, electric tin openers and sexy cars, garden parties, friends, haters, trappings. The correlation is always there, just as you’ve known it. The trick is fooling you. Yes, the rich man has a Lexus and a trophy wife who poses well for snapshots in between slogging down Xanax and banging the pool boy. The correlation is there. The trick is fooling you into thinking the Lexus causes the lifestyle, the car manifests the money and the dimepiece, while the converse is just as likely. Or just as unlikely. The correlation – the image/premise you’re shown – is just the snapshot. There’s no logical validity to the resulting causal conclusion. The car doesn’t cause the snatch. The marijuana doesn’t cause the teenage rebel. No. The cool kids just happened to start smoking, like the rest of your peers. And when you’re 45 and the luster wears off both wife and car while the payments accelerate, your cool peers will be rolling joints again. But make no mistake. It’s all an illusion. A correlation. If you find yourself thinking “if only,” then you’re already lost.

So there’s the dirty secret, laid bare. Those of you smirking from atop your modern substitutes for destriers about how advertising works on the insecure are blind to the seat you’ve been sold. Insecurity is one half-truth; even the most transcendentally grounded of us enjoy luxuries. Advertising is far more insidious: it works on us because we’re logical enough to follow the hinted correlation, but too illogical to realize it has no causal validity.

Blame animal programming. Pattern recognition is so crucial to survival that we focus on the correlations, until the crocodile your hindbrain sees lurking in the primordial swamp is now indistinguishable from a Fendi handbag. Unsheath your modern survival tool and sign the oncoming merchant copy.

The sickest part is that it also works in reverse. Even when you understand the correlation doesn’t mean causality you want the underlying cause so you can show the correlation to others on the understanding that they’ll fuck it up, that they will view the snapshot and see the indicator of success as the effect. Success caused the wealth indicators, they think. No. It was want and debt finance. The more insidious link is that the wealth indicators cause them to consider you successful and so – fake it till you make it, right? – the object causes the success. And if the illusion repeats often enough, it might come real.

Cause Belli: Device and Social Media Interruptions at the Dinner Table

The problem isn’t that the devices are causing your kids to have a lower attention span.  The problem is that the devices allow your kids to be in contact with people and activities they find more interesting and more entertaining than you.  Three generations ago you were the most interesting thing to occupy their attention, so you got it.  Two generations ago it was the radio.  One generation ago it was the television, blaring out the Howdy Doody theme song you can still sing by heart as you blindly absolve your own sins.   But these kids today…

The device allows them to be physically present while still seeking an alternate form of communication – and, in fact, one that ISN’T disrupting.  The radio, television, phone line of yesteryear required auditory pollution plus physical proximity to elsewhere.  You had to go to it and listen to it.  Texting, on the other hand, is silent.  The kid sits at the dinner table.  Present, if not entirely present.

None of that, however, speaks to the underlying problem: you are not the shiniest object in their field of vision.  Their friends are, which has always been the case; it’s just that now they can interact with them at minuscule transaction costs.  The device was invented to monetize the greater relative interest in communication with the outside world.  Read that again: their lower attention span FOR YOU causes the device.  Not the other way around.  To pretend otherwise is not only logically flawed, but narcissistically so:

P: my kids used to talk to me
P: I bought them iPhones
P: now they’re sullen assholes who ignore me to text their little sullen asshole friends
A: [I can’t be any less interesting!  It’s not me!]
C: It must be the device!

This isn’t to say that removing the device can’t be a solution to the problem; as long as you’re still more entertaining than staring blankly at the wall, you’ll get their attention.


At least until dinner’s over, and they can run up to their rooms to get back to whatever attention whoring kids do these days on Facebook.

Wait!  I give them attention!
Not from the source they want.  Never from the source they want.

Sexual Marketplace Fallacies: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Comments Section

In a fit of poor judgment and time-management skills, I was once again reading an Internet comment feud between the evolutionary psych Keyboard Alpha Crew and their feminist rivals in demanding equal access to bleat egotistically for anonymous attention. [1] 

The debate centered on a repackaged regurgitation of the brutally obvious animal kingdom concept that men seek women with high reproductive value for mating purposes.  Both sides reacted predictably.  The Chateau-goers lozzolllolled and butthexed a-plenty, while the Jezzies set their snark levels to unbearable and in the process repeated a tired meme:

“Oh well since WOMEN ARE CLEARLY ALL JUST PROSTITUTES WHO ONLY EXIST FOR SEX, why not get a hooker and leave the nice girls alone?”

Ignoring that snark is an immature and functionally retarded method of argumentation – in essence, a constant reductio ad absurdum – let’s cut through the attitude and break down the underlying fallacy in what that statement was supposed to convey: if men want women for their reproductive value, that means solely for sex. 

P: men want women with high reproductive value
A: [reproductive value is exclusively equivalent to sex] 
C: OMG they just want sex! 

So why not just get a hooker and leave the nice girls alone?  Well, for one, hookers unearth the fallacies of the above argument. 

Hookers don’t actually have any reproductive value to the average man, since they show no commitment, zero fidelity, a high probability of paternity fraud, and, most importantly, zero homebuilding ability. Hookers exist to provide men sex without reproductive benefits, and yet the greatest tell than men want more than sex is the rise of GFE prostitution: the fantasy that a girl is actively willing to engage in homebuilding and consensus. That’s reproductive value to men, and it only partially includes sex.  Oh, are you surprised that those screaming an argument steeped in equivocal nonsense are mouth-shitting out an exclusivity fallacy as well?  Let’s continue. 

Reproductive value includes a shitload of other factors, mostly related to actually raising and caring for the children – communicating, building a household, nesting, consensus, nurturing, all that other shit women love to bleat on about women being better at.  The next time you can tell a woman is engaged in some A-1 doublethink is when she’ll tell you in one breath about how the modern workplace is now the arena of women, who TeamworkTM better and Solve Problems TogetherTM better regardless of the evidence right in front of your face that anything that remotely involves producing or manufacturing an actual product or innovation came from an industry which is still 95% male despite hunting salaciously for any females with a modicum of talent, and then turn around and tell you that men still only value women for their vaginas, which American women have colluded to market-dump anyway.  They’re missing the contradiction and missing the point.  One involves crowing and beatifying the traits that make up women’s reproductive value as not only innate but obvious to the entire business world, while the other involves denying, dismissing, and conveniently forgetting those same traits, or, at the very least, claiming that half the population is mistaken as to their existence.  Which is ironic, considering women continue to demand affirmative action to break into the business world on the grounds that it’s still run by men.  The logically bereft conclusions that data suggests are that (a) men can only appreciate a woman’s collaborative traits in the office, and not the home, which makes you wonder how men can see reproductive value in the office long enough to adequately support a sexual harassment claim; and (b) only powerful men can see those traits in the first place.

Except that I’m ignoring the real point, which is that now men are not only barred from making negative comments about women, but positive comments as well.  In other words, only women are allowed to voice opinions on women.  And women, of course, can voice opinions on men, too, since women are somehow simultaneously kept down by men and surpassing men, and thus either allowed to vent against their oppressors as an aggrieved class or allowed to drop pearls of noblesse oblige on the poor males to encourage their growth.

Girl power!

[1] Just like that handsome asshole who lives in my mirror.

A Quick List of Common Fallacies

1.         Ad Hominem

Attacking the speaker instead of the message.  “Senator Pinko’s ideas on crime are wrong, because he’s a Democrat.”

2.         Equivocation

Where words change meaning from premise to conclusion.  You know what equivocation is, because every dirty joke you’ve ever heard uses it.

For instance,



I want to see your peacock, cock, cock.  Your peacock, cock.

Conclusion: Gee, Katy Perry must really like birds. [1]

3.         Exclusivity

Exclusivity is an option-limiting fallacy, where people falsely believe that either one option or the other must occur, without realizing both can, or some unstated third option.  For instance, young folks often think that if they don’t get in to ______ school, their lives will be ruined.  They don’t realize that both can occur until the loan bill comes due.

4.         Absence of Evidence

I like to call this the Apple Juice argument:

Why do I only drink apple juice in the mornings?  Because OJ will break into your hotel room and rob you of sports memorabilia at gunpoint.

When I’m teaching, I always laugh and forget why I was making fun of OJ Simpson and have to look back at my notes.  The absence of evidence fallacy is “We couldn’t find enough evidence to convict OJ of murder, so he must not have done it.”  Stated more broadly, just because you have no evidence something is true does not mean it’s false.

5.         Composition

Whole to part: The characteristics of the group are falsely assigned to each member of the group.  American colleges now are 60% female, so each American college student is 60% female.  LGBTQIAXRA is going to have to add a couple more letters.

Part to whole: The characteristics of the individual are falsely assigned to the group.


The Rock is often concerned with whether people can smell what he’s cooking, so the WWE must be a nasal health organization.  Or a restaurant.

6.         Circular Reasoning

This is a perennial favorite among logic neophytes.  They all love to find circular reasoning in everything.  It’s actually pretty rare, and blatantly obvious when it occurs.  The best examples, like most other real world logic, come from rap music.


“I’m hot because I’m fly.”  Mims.

P: I’m attractive.
C: I’m attractive.

7.         Absolute numbers vs. percentages

Any link between absolute numbers and percentages is suspect.  A larger percentage of a smaller number can still be smaller than a smaller percentage of a larger number; 10% of 1000 is larger than 90% of 100.

8.         Statistical fallacies

Biased sampling and control group issues come up from time to time.  Imagine a study that purports to show that most Americans support a full-scale legalization of marijuana that was solely conducted in Northern California and Boulder.   The sample must be representative of the population it claims.

It also can’t contain any loaded questions, or those that force an assumption on the answerer.  The classic example is “have you stopped beating your wife?”  Oooh!  Double bind.

9.         Correlation vs. causation

Correlation does not imply causation.  Hospitals are full of sick people, so if you go to the hospital you will become sick.

10.       Categorical fallacies

The most common of all, categorical fallacies are anything where the scope changes categories.  These will often manifest in either past/present/future time changes – what happened vs. what will happen – or shifts in probability or prescriptive nature, like can happen vs. should happen vs. will happen.

It is currently noon where I am.  I could make a categorical fallacy argument based on that:

P: The sun is currently out where I am.
C: The sun will always continue to be out where I am.

11.       S/N or Transitive Fallacies

Assuming a sufficient condition is necessary, or vice versa, or incorrectly chaining transitive conditionals.

[1] Note this is an identical equivocal conclusion to that we could have reached from “I Kissed A Girl.”

We’re Not Just Sure, We’re Contrapositive

So I lied.  One more basics post.

We’ve dealt so far with how to conceptualize and diagram conditional statements.  Here are two special cases that come up from time to time:

No – The word no is just as logically strong as all and when, and also indicates a form of sufficiency.  Let’s say we take a break from shooting the most expensive music video ever [1] to fight Krist Novoselic backstage [2] and for some reason play a dueling-pianos duet with Sir Elton:


Why do we do it?  Because nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.  More precisely, no thing lasts forever.

How do we deal with a statement like that?  Two steps:

1.  Change the no to an all.

All things last forever, or, if it’s a thing, then it lasts forever.

T –> F

2.  Negate the necessary condition.

If it’s a thing, then it does not last forever.

T –> /F

So, no thing lasts forever becomes

T –> /F.

AND/OR contrapositives

Sometimes, you can get conditionals with conjunctions [ANDs] or disjunctions [ORs] in them.  Like this:


What does Gene Simmons do on an average night?  Two things.  He rocks and he rolls.  If it’s night, he’s rocking and rolling. [4]

N –> Rock and Roll

The contrapositive of this needs a slight tweak.  Since we know night is enough to guarantee that we both rock and roll, the absence of one or the other means it can’t be night.  

/Rock or /Roll –> /N

Simple lesson: when taking a contrapositive, just switch and to or and vice versa.

Homework example:


So ladies if the butt is round

And you wanna triple-X-throw down

Dial 1-900-MIX-A-LOT.

Kick them nasty thoughts.  Baby got back. [5]

[1] November Rain was the most expensive music video ever shot at the time, mostly due to the rotating helicopter shot of Slash outside the church.  It was eclipsed almost immediately in cost by TLC’s Waterfalls.

[2] Guns N’ Roses got into an infamous backstage scuffle with Nirvana at either the 1991 or 1992 MTV Music Video Awards.  I’m too amazed Slash is relatively sober enough to play the solos on the beat [3] to remember.

[3] Scratch that.  I just heard the outro solo.

[4] We’ll ignore for now how he also parties ev-e-ry day.

[5] Trivia time: the masterful introduction to Baby Got Back was done, in a woefully uncredited role, by Mrs. Mix-A-Lot.