Project 313 – Post No. 130

“These other people agree with me.”
“More people agree with me than disagree with me.”

Let me resort to Latin as that seems to bring a measure of legitimacy to almost anything one wants to say . . . Argumentum ad populum.

That’s what those claims are and — unfortunately for them who make them — the claims per se say nothing about whether one is right or wrong. At best, it says there are others who are also either right or wrong.

And yet, you’ll hear the intellectually lazy make that claim. When I hear something along those lines, here’s what I immediately assume:

The person making the claim has no good argument in support of their position. I win! 

I say that because if someone has a good argument, they would use it. People are naturally tuned toward listening to good arguments. Admittedly, “others agree with me” sounds like it’s an argument but just a moment’s reflection would dispell that notion. 

If you’re a parent, you’ve heard it a 1000 times:

“Bob’s {or enter another name} parents let him smoke and cavort with priests!”

As a parent, you immediately recognize the sentence offers no argument; it’s just a statement of fact (maybe . . . I don’t know many people these days who would let their kids cavort with priests).

If you listen to the news (don’t; I mean it, don’t; you’ll be better off) you’ve heard something along these lines:

“53.5% of Americans believe in something we’re trying to convince you to believe in.”

Those kinds of claims are meaningless for a number of reasons.

One, we rarely know what was asked. Let me give you an example: say I ask 1000 people whether Bob should stop beating his wife. Well, I can then report a few different things. I could say 85.4% of the people think Bob beats his wife. Or, I could report 12.3% of the people think Bob’s wife should be beaten. Or, I could report 2.3% of the people don’t care whether Bob beat his wife or not. 

Two, we don’t know the sampling. We are told they were scientifically chosen, but what does that mean? What kind of people were these? Did the pollsters get an answer from the person who works three jobs and has no time to take surveys? Did they speak for 20 minutes to Uncle Bob on his break from cleaning lint from his belly button? Did they reach someone who was angry or happy or drunk or sick or {enter humorous circumstance here}? We don’t know. We do know a large percentage of the population refuses to take surveys. We know another large percentage loves to take surveys because it makes them feel important. Which group did we get?

Three, we don’t know if the respondents lied. Few people admit to what they perceive might be unpopular views. Many people express very different opinions in private than they do in public. Someone calls you at home (they know where you live and who you are) and ask if you beat your wife (or husband) . . . I’ll bet the answers will be close to 100% negative but the violence statistics say otherwise. Same for any other difficult question. 

But, most of all, what does it matter? Opinions don’t counter facts, data, logic, and all the other metrics we use to navigate the discovery and advancement of knowledge. If anything, it’s amply proven opinions hamper human advancement, human progress, scientific discoveries. 

When used between a few individuals, the “argument” is mostly harmless (you just discount the pseudo-argument as worthless) but there are two arenas — politics and religion — where this kind of superficial claim is used most often and used successfully, at that. Used successfully because — sadly — people are intellectually lazy. 

I wrote about it being used in deciding which religion to follow (HERE) and we are living in the area where numbers play a big part in lending credence to political agendas. Yes, by all sides. Yes, every day. 

The funny thing is most people recognize the stupidity of the argument when used against them . . . but then jump at the chance to claim the same spurious validity to their side of the story.

And now, the photo:

Project 313 130

67% of the people think that’s an impressive use of watermarks . . . the rest are wrong; obviously.

Some people might know — and others might not — this year I’m 65 years old. I’m sure some consider that young. Certainly, I feel young. I mean, I look like shit, but I feel young. 

Which makes me a bit ambivalent when someone hears my age and acts all surprised. On the one hand, it’s reassuring if they thought I was younger; it means bits haven’t started to fall off and nothing has started to rot. On the other hand, it worries me if they thought I was younger; it sounds as if I’m at the age when bits are falling off and things are rotting away. So, like, yeah, not looking that bad on the outside, but what’s happening on the inside? Why are people surprised I’m still ambulatory? What do they know that I don’t know?

I won’t even dignify a thought to people who thought I was older. They just don’t know what they are talking about, right?

. . . maybe I should take a poll and ask a scientifically chosen number of people the status of my health. 

Of course, I could choose a sample that will make me feel good about myself (I’ll ask people who are 75-year-old and older) or chose a sample that will have me wondering if I’m at the end of my days (I’ll ask people who are 20-year-old and younger). Or, I could do both and mix and match the answers to support what I believe in the first place. 

. . . meanwhile . . . 

. . . well, it done did went and happened! . . . Plastic Multicolor Worm Monument Melted Beyond Repair During Latest Heatwave.

Plastic Multicolor Worm Monument Melted Beyond Repair During Latest Heatwave

And . . . that’s it

Some of these posts will likely be longer as the mood hits me, but most will be thus; short, uninteresting, bland, and relentless.

You can read about Project 313 HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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