A moo point, basically …

Arbit/ Random

Numbnut fallacy

with one comment

It is astonishing how easy it is to sell someone an idea or a concept just by giving it a fancy name.

You try explaining how the media ends up over-reporting the sensational, thereby making the mundane seem not-so-mundane and vice-versa, and you are met with a general ho-hum response, or a classic blank/bored stare. But say something like ‘Oh it is a classic case of Man-bites-dog‘ and you suddenly have everyone’s attention.

People write an entire book explaining the obvious (Exhibit A: The Black Swan*), and it is applauded because it tells you what you already know – that there is a lot that you don’t know. You are however supposed to be feel happy because you now know exactly what you don’t know and are empowered to talk (in great detail) about your lack of knowledge and your sheer helplessness vis-a-vis dealing with random events which will end up affecting your life way, way more than the impact your usual, controlled environment can ever have. The only consolation is that your vocabulary now consists of awesome words like confirmation bias, outcome bias, base rate fallacy and whatnot. Some go a step further and use Latin words, because English apparently isn’t sufficient to fully describe our ignorance.

This craving to label everything is quite perplexing. I like to call it the Numbnut fallacy.


* – I must point out that I am only halfway through the book right now, and I do not (dare not) dispute anything the writer has to say. But it seems to be (so far) too elaborate an exercise at proving something that we already knew but never bothered to jot down for debates/discussions.


Written by sujaybedekar

June 30, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. “tells you what you already know” – is a huge assumption! a large percentage of the reading public probably don’t already know!

    you cant fool all the people all the time and all that 😉


    July 10, 2009 at 12:35 pm

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