The correlation implies causation fallacy (also called cum hoc ergo propter hoc: “with this, therefore because of this”) is an assumption that one thing caused the other, because there is a connection between them.
We covered some of the basics of this in Fallacy #3, the questionable cause. Nonetheless, confusing correlation with causation is very common, and so I want to give it some space of its own.
Most typically, correlation implying causation is used to shill for governments or other organs of a long standing (status quo) system. The typical argument goes something like this:
Bob: Our democracy is not something to be worshiped. I’m not sure I want to support it at all.
Alice: So, you want to go back to the old days, when babies were lucky to survive four years!?
Continue reading “Fallacy #12: Correlation Implies Causation”
19th Century America
If we wish to grasp American life in the 19th century, it’s probably best to start by understanding that when America was young, it had no myth. Once we really understand that, the rest falls into place fairly easily. Here’s how Alexis de Tocqueville (in National Character of Americans) described it in the 1830s:
Born often under another sky, placed in the middle of an always moving scene, himself driven by the irresistible torrent which draws all about him, the American has no time to tie himself to anything, he grows accustomed only to change, and ends by regarding it as the natural state of man. He feels the need of it, more he loves it; for the instability; instead of meaning disaster to him, seems to give birth only to miracles all about him.
Continue reading “The West That Was, Part 3”
I’ll be teaching a webinar on Cryptocurrency & Cybersecurity Tuesday evening. The key points will be:
- What is cryptocurrency & why cybersecurity is critically important
- How to make secure investments with your crypto & what to look out for from hackers
- Ownership & investment opportunities available now with cryptocurrency.
Please join us if you’re interested.
I had a very pleasant and far-ranging conversation yesterday with Doug Casey and Matt Smith. Interestingly, we went into depth on rebellion and violence a couple of hours before the mayhem broke out in DC.
Gaslighting may or may not be a proper fallacy of logic, depending upon how you look at it, but it is clearly a tool used to win arguments. And among the fallacies we’ve covered, this is clearly the worst psychological trick. It is, in fact, a very nasty weapon.
To gaslight someone is to get them to doubt themselves… to make them question their own memory, perception and judgment; even to question their own sanity. So, this is a very nasty, malicious trick. But sadly, it often works. So, we need to understand this and to be prepared for it. Continue reading “Fallacy #11: Gaslighting”
1910 was well before my own time, of course, but I knew at least ten people who lived through it as adults, and discussed the era at some length with one of them, my great uncle Dave. And so this is an era I feel I can still reach out and touch.
One of the more interesting things about this era regards our separation from it. The great event that forged this divide was World War I, which is greatly under-appreciated in modern discourse. Schools cover World War II in great depth, but run through World War I fairly quickly. World War I, however – “The Great War” – changed human affairs and human consciousness far more than World War II did. The world before and the world afterward were very different places. Continue reading “The West That Was, Part 2”
The thought-terminating cliché (also called thought-stopper or bumper sticker logic) is more purely a verbal weapon than the rest of the fallacies we’ve covered. But it is very common.
The thought-terminating cliché is a common phrase, usually catchy and sharp, used to end a discussion. The purpose of the cliché is not to make a rational point, but rather to escape a rational discussion. It’s the kind of schoolyard foolishness we’d like people to grow out of by ten years old: Continue reading “Fallacy #10: The Thought-Terminating Cliché”
There’s a common refrain that “Bitcoin fixes this.” Sometimes it’s used well and other times less so, but I’m being very serious when I say that Bitcoin fixes society. And in this article I’ll illustrate precisely how Bitcoin is able to change the world at the largest scale.
Fundamentally, Bitcoin does this by changing the incentives that give modern society its shape. And as it happens, the world’s incentives in our time have been set primarily with money. And so if we change those incentives, we change the world overall. That process may not be fast, easy or pristine, but the principle remains true: Change the incentives, change the world.
So, let’s get directly into real-life applications of Bitcoin to large and fundamental societal operations. We’ll start with the most obvious and move on from there. Continue reading “Society: Bitcoin Fixes This”
The appeal to moderation (also called argument to moderation) is an evasion of fact-finding and analysis. It’s most common use is the old phrase, “split the difference.”
The appeal to moderation can sometimes be sensible, but often it’s part of a strategy for deception.
Reasonable uses of “splitting the difference” usually come when the thing to be split is unimportant. For example: Continue reading “Fallacy #9: The Appeal To Moderation”
A great tragedy of our era is that young people have no feeling of what Western civilization was like. In the government owned and operated schools where they sat for years, they were presented with a litany of the West’s failures, most of them exaggerated, or even imagined.
In this post, and in several that will follow, I’ll be ignoring anti-Western propaganda. To obsess on flaws is dishonest and destructive. The fact that the people of the West have been conditioned to require that viewpoint is not something I’ll indulge. All civilizations have had their failures, and our Western civilization stands out, not as the worst, but as the least bad. Continue reading “The West That Was, Part 1”