Tuesday, April 12, 2016

FMB: Lonely for rational people

I'm not talking about rationalists, who can be real asses, but a basic level of reason-based interaction with the world.

Epsom salts are NOT absorbed through the skin.  Think about it for a minute!  When you sweat does it get absorbed back in?  If you sit in the tub does your body absorb water into the bloodstream?  Of course not.

GMOs are not inherently bad or dangerous.  Natural is not inherently good.  Extracts that kill things in cell culture are not automatically good cancer treatments.  Essential oils don't do anything except smell nice.

The water is tested yearly and they send us the report.  Three cases of cancer on one street are not a cluster, and probably not due to arsenic.  Almost nothing has a 100% penetrance on cancer causing.* In fact, almost nothing has 100% penetrance on anything, aside from some nasty genetic diseases.

Basic logic is a thing.  Proof by counterexample.  Reasoning from principles.  The difference between necessary and sufficient conditions. Whyyyy are people so bad at basic logic?

(This post is brought to you by a record number of people I wanted to shake this week.)

* High dose radiation but less than the lethal dose, possibly.   Maybe drinking some really bad chemicals.  Asbestos? 


  1. Anonymous8:46 AM

    "Whyyyy are people so bad at basic logic?"

    Because they are not required to learn it or they are taught it by someone who is not any good at teaching it.

    I am SO SO GLAD that yesterday I found out I've been given 100% control of the 1st year intro logic course starting from next year, not the year after. There was dancing around the room when I got the email. Intro logic is far and away my favorite class to teach, and it's been years since I've been able to. I cannot wait.

    1. I would think people would pick up basic principles of reasoning from... having a lot of education, like a PhD... but the counterexamples would indicate that I am mistaken. Now I wonder about the logic-education of humanities people. At least in science they DO explicitly teach you to reason from from principles and to look at effects critically.

      You will be SO great at intro logic!!! You will increase the number of rational people in the world!

  2. Even educated people may not have taken a science course that introduced basic logic and evaluation of evidence. I have had a college-educated person suggest essential oil treatment for my genetic bone growths in my feet. Gah!

    On the other hand, when I suggested essential oils for your mastitis, that was totally logical...

  3. Well, MY field will tell you that humans are not rational. So when you take all the heuristics and biases and combine them with bad education... You know the spurious correlations website? I dare you to choose one and try to propagate it among these people you resist shaking.

    1. Don't tempt me. Whole foods and autism remains a personal favorite.

  4. Essential oils are VOCs, so they might do something not so good. Tea tree oil isn't good for little boys and their boy parts.

    I have lots of educated colleagues. They push essential oils, weird cleaning products, or even weird weight loss wraps (no, they don't work!) as a side gig. I've gotten good practice at politely saying no.

    1. Well, I meant 'anything useful'; they all give ME a rash.

      My NO is in fine form but whyyyyy are people like this. Why.

  5. Anonymous5:57 AM

    "Natural is not inherently good."
    I think this one got lost for a surprising number of people. Sigh.


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