Thursday, August 18, 2005

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

I'm really not a fan of teaching the logical fallacies. In fact, I had to look this one up in order to know its fancy latin name (which means: after this, therefore because of this). But the "our students don't read" plaint, which has also reared its ugly head locally for me, seems like a nice example of this fallacy. Our students don't read because they watch too much tv. Our students don't read, even though they useta read lots. Our students don't read because high schools are doing a bad job. On and on it goes like some kind of everlasting blame motor. And the reason it seems fitting to bring up logical fallacies in response is because it seems as though the kind of teacher who likes to teach logical fallacies is the same kind of teacher who tends toward these good ol' days arguments, which are ultimately based on fallacious reasoning. So it's oh so tempting to point this out to certain someones. But because we rarely are persuaded by being pointed out flaws in our own reasoning (I've had the whole rabies incident to help me re-learn that lesson), it seems fairly useless.

Hasty generalization? Hm. Maybe. But like I said, people rarely learn from having their logical flaws pointed out to them.

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