Author Topic: Ignore the facts, believe the story  (Read 830 times)

Online Hydra009

Ignore the facts, believe the story
« on: August 29, 2018, 03:34:12 PM »
There's a particular logical fallacy that I see people influenced by all the time but few people seem to recognize it or understand why it's a bad way of thinking.

It's called You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login (aka the anecdote argument)

Here's how it works:  someone tells a dramatic and gripping story, usually about something horrible happening to someone.  The story is usually true.  The audience fallaciously assumes this is more common than it really is, so the audience take-away is that this is a real problem and something must to be done about it!  (for the children)

Politicians love stories.  Preachers love stories.  And the media especially loves stories.  Every week, they run a piece very similar to the one I'm going to give you now.

Here's my example.  This is completely fictional, just off the top of my head.

Fred was a kindly old man who regularly fed squirrels.  The squirrels would follow him around all the time, eating the nuts he throws on the grass.  One day, a particularly aggressive squirrel crawls on his hand and eats right from his hand.  It eats and eats, nibbling more and more roughly.  Then it bites him, drawing blood.  Fred tries to shake the squirrel off, but it holds on tight.  The other squirrels follow suit and Fred is overpowered in a swarm of squirrels frenzied by the taste of blood.  The next day, a horrified jogger discovers Fred's skeleton.  Think about that the next time you feed squirrels!

The problem with this story, even if it were true, is that this is not a common occurrence.  It's not even an uncommon occurrence.  It's rare af.  If you feed the squirrels, they're very, very, very unlikely to harm you.

But the cautionary tale about Fred is still somewhat convincing.  Why?  Because you can picture it happening.

Because it introduces that sliver of doubt that something bad might happen.  Because it likely has happened.  You weigh the possibility of nothing happening and something terrible happening a lot more equally than they should be weighed because all you have to go on are your own experiences and tales of other people's experiences.  And it's one of those tough arguments to defend against because to resist it you seemingly have to call Fred's widow a liar.

Now let me tell you about some teens who committed suicide because of a satanic rock album.  Or the shark attack that happened right near the beach you're planning on going to.  Or that teen who played video games 23 hours a day for weeks and died from a heart attack.  Or that guy who got licked by a few dogs and ended up having his legs and hands amputated.

Can you imagine?  You likely can and are.

Isn't the world so fraught with peril?  Aren't you scared?  Well, you shouldn't be.  Because you're on Scare Tactics.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2018, 04:03:52 PM by Hydra009 »

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2018, 03:43:57 PM »
My amygdala isn't working overtime, so no, not scared. ;-)
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"Thinking, analyzing, inventing are not anomalous acts; they are the normal respiration of the intelligence."
Jorge Louis Borges, in Pierre Menard

Offline aitm

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2018, 07:15:50 PM »
This is a very common type of stories among the religious. Making up a story that is somewhat credible but only relates to one out of a billion and therefore suggests that it happens far more often if only you believed.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Offline Baruch

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2018, 07:28:20 PM »
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This is a very common type of stories among the religious. Making up a story that is somewhat credible but only relates to one out of a billion and therefore suggests that it happens far more often if only you believed.

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Y'all are just Egyptians worshipping false gods ;-)

The real event ...

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« Last Edit: August 29, 2018, 07:44:47 PM by Baruch »
πŽπŽœπŽœπŽŸπŽŒπŽ€πŽπŽŽπŽ€πŽ€πŽšπŽ€πŽŸπŽπŽœπŽœπŽŸπŽπŽ€πŽπŽ‰πŽ€πŽ€πŽšπŽ€
luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2018, 01:36:56 PM »
Well, Hydra, I don't know................I mean, yeah, it is probably not true.....................but, well, I mean, I've seen that story, and several like it, on TV, on the net, twitter, and well, lots of other places.  It could be true......................., I mean, squirrels are animals after all.  And I've seen it so many places and it does have a ring of truth in it.  And it does not hurt to be cautious and all.  I'm just going to play it safe and kick all the squirrels I see from now on.  That's getting kind of close--throw rocks instead I think. 
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2018, 01:41:31 PM »
Ha! Kicking a squirrel is like trying to catch a hummingbird with your bare hands - they're just too fast! Either that, or they'll chew your leg off...
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"Thinking, analyzing, inventing are not anomalous acts; they are the normal respiration of the intelligence."
Jorge Louis Borges, in Pierre Menard

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2018, 01:45:21 PM »
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Ha! Kicking a squirrel is like trying to catch a hummingbird with your bare hands - they're just too fast! Either that, or they'll chew your leg off...
It's the latter I'm worried about.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline SGOS

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2018, 07:46:45 PM »
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Well, Hydra, I don't know................I mean, yeah, it is probably not true.....................but, well, I mean, I've seen that story, and several like it, on TV, on the net, twitter, and well, lots of other places.  It could be true......................., I mean, squirrels are animals after all.  And I've seen it so many places and it does have a ring of truth in it.  And it does not hurt to be cautious and all.  I'm just going to play it safe and kick all the squirrels I see from now on.  That's getting kind of close--throw rocks instead I think. 
I watched a neighbor's cat chase a squirrel.  A squirrel and cat are evenly matched in speed, it seems.  They tore around another neighbor's house and out of sight at full speed.  Then I heard the cat screaming.  I don't know if it was a fear scream or an attack scream, but it sounded real bad for one of them.

Offline Baruch

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2018, 07:53:47 PM »
Sharpest teeth I have encountered was from my mother's pet ferret.  Like a furry piraΓ±a.
πŽπŽœπŽœπŽŸπŽŒπŽ€πŽπŽŽπŽ€πŽ€πŽšπŽ€πŽŸπŽπŽœπŽœπŽŸπŽπŽ€πŽπŽ‰πŽ€πŽ€πŽšπŽ€
luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Cavebear

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2018, 04:47:38 AM »
Stories, true or not once, have a way of becoming generally true and common among Really Stupid People.  And they seem (to me) to be the generally religious sort.  Simple of mind, easily bewildered, likely to believe anything told to them by GODLY fable-spinners, fearful of death and the Hell that surely awaits them if they so much as sneeze in church, watchful for demonic neighbors, etc, etc, etc...
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2018, 03:27:56 PM »
I bet most church-goers don't really believe, but they feel they must be seen to believe or be ostracized from their community.
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
"Thinking, analyzing, inventing are not anomalous acts; they are the normal respiration of the intelligence."
Jorge Louis Borges, in Pierre Menard

Offline Cavebear

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2018, 03:58:05 PM »
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I bet most church-goers don't really believe, but they feel they must be seen to believe or be ostracized from their community.

That might actually be the very thing that disturbs my nightmares.  That almost no one actually believes that crap and so few will admit it. 

"The emperor has no clothes", the child shouted...,
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline SGOS

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2018, 04:04:05 PM »
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I bet most church-goers don't really believe, but they feel they must be seen to believe or be ostracized from their community.
I've suspected the same thing, but that might be from my personal experience with religion.  I would add that being ostracized was minimal in my case.  I really did want to believe, and I could regurgitate the catechism, and make a good showing, but the big problem was that I couldn't believe.  I said I did, but that was more because I didn't want to disappoint.  Going with the flow just seemed right.  I questioned things, even to my pastor, but the answers were always lacking.  I found nothing definitive in them.  Going with the flow might be a fear of being ostracized, but I was never obstinate enough to warrant that.  It's a fine line between lying about my deeper ruminations and fudging, I suppose.  But I couldn't get over the hump.  I don't have faith in anything and that is the key.  I don't even have faith in science.  I believe much of that which has solid evidence, but some parts of quantum mechanics and theoretical physics, I'm not so sure about.  I have a feeling the big science guys are on the right track, but that's not faith.  At best, it's only the best bet.

Offline SGOS

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2018, 04:09:14 PM »
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That might actually be the very thing that disturbs my nightmares.  That almost no one actually believes that crap and so few will admit it. 

"The emperor has no clothes", the child shouted...,
When I was little, that story was either read to me in class or was one of the stories in our reader.  My first and lasting impression was that this story was about religion.  To me it was the perfect metaphor, even though at the time, I had never heard of a metaphor.  Just like the story, I thought religion was all about fooling ourselves.  Now, I might concede that the metaphor was about the power of peer pressure.  But it's the same thing.

Offline trdsf

Re: Ignore the facts, believe the story
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2018, 06:26:37 PM »
Hey, You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login... I can personally vouch for this story, I well remember the local news coverage when it charged a Westerville police officer, who shot it three times.  It kept coming after the first two shots.  When a vet did a post-mortem on it, there was no trace of rabies or any other gross physical defect.  The final diagnosis was "That was just one mean squirrel."
Sir Terry Pratchett, on being told about the theory that the universe is a computer simulation: "If we all get out and in again, would it start to work properly this time?"

 

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