EppsNet Archive: Logic

Many Have Long Known …

14 Dec 2014 /

Many in academia have long known about how the practice of student evaluations of professors is inherently biased against female professors. . . .

 
  1. Group A getting better evaluations than Group B is not evidence of bias.
  2. Asserting that something is true doesn’t mean it’s true.
  3. Asserting that many people know something to be true doesn’t mean it’s true.
  4. Most college students (i.e., the people evaluating professors) are female. What, if anything, does this fact suggest?

If Everything Goes as Intended . . .

19 Nov 2012 /

If [Affordable Care Act] implementation goes as intended and widespread utilization and automation are achieved, providers could save about $11 billion per year.

Flying pig

You really can’t dispute something as vague as that but it does raise a number of questions:

  1. What does it mean for thousands of pages of legislation affecting the entire healthcare industry as well as every man, woman and child in America to go “as intended”? It’s a circular argument. If it goes as intended, we save $11 billion. If we don’t save $11 billion, it didn’t go as intended.
  2. Is “widespread utilization and automation” part of going “as intended” or is that a separate thing?
  3. Assuming that implementation does go as intended and widespread utilization and automation are achieved, the best we can say is that providers “could” save “about” $11 billion per year? Could they save more? Less? Break even? Could they lose $11 billion? It’s meaningless speculation.
  4. Can anyone remind me of a large-scale government program that went “as intended” and saved everyone a lot of money?
  5. Why, despite all evidence to the contrary, do people continue to believe that government can successfully engineer social aspirations?

In other news, if my plan to grow wings on pigs goes as intended, it could revolutionize the way we export bacon.

These things never go as intended. They can’t possibly go as intended. There are always unintended consequences. I can’t implement a policy in my own house and have it go as intended and there’s just two people and a dog.

I asked the friend who called the NEJM article to my attention what going “as intended” means in the context of the ACA and he said, “I think it means legislators don’t muck with it too much.” What does “muck” mean? What does “too much” mean? We could go on and on . . .


Fame and Fortune Are Within Your Grasp

11 Sep 2012 /

Select a topic about which you have little information but many prejudices, such as “Whither Modern Youth?” “The Menace of Federal Encroachments on American Freedom,” “The National Association of Manufacturers: A Threat to Democracy,” “Big Unions: A Threat to Free Enterprise,” “What’s Wrong with Modern Women,” “Let’s Cut the Fads and Frills from Education,” or “The South: Yesterday and Today,” and write a one-thousand-word essay consisting solely of sweeping generalizations, broad judgments, and unfounded inferences. Use plenty of “loaded” words. Knock off five points (out of a possible 100) for each verifiable fact used. If you can consistently score 95 or better on all these and other such topics, and your grammar and spelling are plausible, leave your present job. Or quit school. Fame and fortune are within your grasp.


Extensions to Logic for Common Sense

6 Nov 2011 /
It's time to travel

From some John McCarthy lecture slides on extensions to logic for common sense.

Problem

Find the height of a building using a barometer.

Intended answer

Multiply the difference in pressures by the ratio of densities of mercury and air.

Unintended common sense answers

  1. Drop the barometer from the top of the building and measure the time before it hits the ground.
  2. Measure the height and length of the shadow of the barometer and the shadow of the building.
  3. Rappel down the building with the barometer as a yardstick.
  4. Lower the barometer on a string till it reaches the ground and measure the string.
  5. Sit on the barometer and multiply the stories by ten feet.
  6. Tell the janitor, “I’ll give you this fine barometer if you’ll tell me the height of the building.”
  7. Sell the barometer and buy a GPS.

Twitter: 2010-01-05

5 Jan 2010 /
Twitter

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

11 Mar 2009 /

Correlation