Wednesday, March 15, 2006

*Changes to blog: Part One*

For the very very observant, she would see that the title of my blog has changed once again. The reason is very simple. I made a misspelling that I was loath to change because most of the other blogs that link to mine have the misspelling. And in case you still haven't figured it out, it was meant to be ERGO not EGRO.

What the title of the blog refers to is actually a logical fallacy. "After it, therefore because of it". It refers to the mistaken notion that just because B occurred after A, therefore A caused B. Coincidence and happenstance occurs and one should not be too quick to draw a purported causal link on the simple basis of linear time.

What is does is to remind me that rarely are cause and effect obvious or inevitable. But more than that there are very particular things that debate and logic has taught me to watch out for. But be wary of the fallacy fallacy. Just because an argument is based on a fallacy DOES NOT mean the argument is necessarily wrong though it often is. But here are the some examples:
1. Reverse causality. So instead of A causing B, it actual is B causing A. So one of the most commonly cited statistics is that most liberal democratic nations are the richest in the world and therefore democracy creates wealth. However, without further elaborate, one could well also argue that wealth creates democracy. I personally think it's a mixture of the two but for a 'deeper' analysis of this issue, just search for democracy or Asian democracy with the google search tool above.

2. Correlation not causality. The most obvious and ridiculous example I could think of is how since the majority of hardcore criminals eat rice, therefore rice causes violent crime. Another example is the whole pornography causes crime bit. Considering how mainstream porn is in most society, that's just a whole load of bunk. By the way, you CANNOT prove a negative, so the fact that most studies are inconclusive or do not show a positive effect by pornography on crime is a good indication of the converse.

3. Confounding factors. This is the real pain in the arse when you try to extract the effects individual factors have on a particular effect. It CAN be done, it's just an insane pain and very very difficult methodologically. So we know lots of things cause an increase crime rate but which is the most important? This is of massive import because sometimes governments and politicians take the easy way out and the most politically populist and expedient without actually solving the root cause.

So for example, it is the act of talking on your handphone that is the major factor in car crashes not just the fact that one of your hands is off the wheel. So yes, forcing hands-free kit will mitigate the problem but not to the extent of eradicating it. Interestingly enough, it seems that older drivers (and not just experienced ones) suffer less from this problem. *Shrugg*

And in the forthcoming posts, I hope to demonstrate them. I've decided to parcel them out in the event I don't have the time to blog.




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