In the classic film, Back To the Future, Marty McFly walks into Lou’s cafe and orders a Pepsi Free. Two aspects of this make me laugh. First, the brand “Pepsi Free” is a caffeine-free relic from the 80’s that lasted just 5 years (1982-87). Second, Marty, a time-traveler from 1985, was ordering in 1955. The guy behind the counter, clearly confused, replied, “You want a Pepsi, pal, you’re gonna pay for it.” This is an anachronism, which is “a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other.” Sometimes, anachronisms make us laugh or entertain us, as with the Society for … Continue reading The McFly Fallacy
Here’s how the legend began: Ezekiel Bulver, at the tender age of five, once heard two people having a dispute. (I’ve modernized the story a bit.) The first person insisted that the sum of two sides of any triangle will always be greater than the length of the third side. The second person argued that the first person only believed that because he was a socialist. “At that moment”, Ezekiel Bulver assures us, “there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and explain his error, … Continue reading The Legend of Ezekiel Bulver
Since I know very little about political issues and immigration, I tend to stay out of debates. But what I do know is good debate. So, I won’t often weigh in on one side, but I will comment on the quality of the arguments. In the recent brew-ha-ha over separating children from parents at the border, people used whatever tactics they could to “win the argument.” But there was quite a bit of “tu quoque” (Latin for “you too”) going on. Using this tactic doesn’t get us any closer to knowing what’s true or right. “You too” happens when side … Continue reading You Too!
I don’t like shots, in fact, I avoid them. Ironically, I visited my doctor yesterday, and left with a band-aid on my arm. I didn’t plan to get a flu shot, in fact I’ve never had one and never wanted one, but he talked me into it. I thought the whole dialectic was interesting, so I’ll share it with you. I think it illustrates some valuable principles of rationality and good belief formation. (The doctor actually said some of these things, and some of them I said to myself during the conversation.) The Conversation “Have you considered getting a flu … Continue reading The Rationality of a Flu Shot