August 29, 2009
August 15, 2009
*The actual numbers for the breakdown are only available for premium members.
August 12, 2009
...the president recounted a story he said Kennedy sometimes tells about a little boy who sees an old man collecting stranded starfish on the beach and throwing them back into the sea.
"'There are so many', asks the boy. 'What difference can your efforts possibly make?'" Obama said, recounting the story. "The old man studies the starfish in his hand and tosses it to safety, saying, 'It makes a difference to that one.'
I have my own little story to tell. Maybe it'll catch on.
A young boy sees the President of the United States adding to his list of candidates to receive the highest of civilian honors. "Why would you add him?" asks the the boy. "While drunk, he drove his car off a bridge and left his young date in the car to drown."
"But in his career he has done so much for so many others," the president responds. "What difference is one life in comparison to the many he has helped?"
The young boy turns in disgust and walks away, muttering "It makes a difference to that one."
August 06, 2009
"Suppose that you go to your doctor for a strep throat. And he or she prescribes an antibiotic. Sometime after you get the prescription and maybe even after you've taken the first pill, your fever spikes. Do you decide that the medicine is useless? Do you conclude that the antibiotic caused the infection to get worse? Surely not. You probably conclude that the illness was more serious than you and the doctor thought and are very glad you saw the doctor and started taking the medicine when you did."I wish people would stop trying to use logic when they don't know what they're doing. What we have here is a mixture of two fallacies: a false analogy and begging the question. A false analogy results when you attempt to compare two things that have only a superficial similarity. Here, Romer tries to compare a prescription's effect on an illness to the stimulus's effect on the economy. To be fair, I suppose the analogy is not so much false, as it is incomplete. After all, if we really want to examine the analogy, we might point out that there are a number of reasons your fever might spike after taking a pill. The medicine might have some serious side effects (some of which might be worse than the original illness). The patient might also be allergic to the medication, in which case the patient would certainly have been better off not taking it in the first place. A good doctor might take those possibilities into account.
The bigger problem is the "begging the question" falacy, which results when one assumes that the very point being argued has already been proved. For example, arguing that women should not be allowed into men's clubs because they're for men only. Isn't the question being argued whether or not the clubs should be for men only? And that's essentially what Romer does. You'll notice she says the doctor prescribes "an antibiotic." Since we all know that antibiotics are an accepted and effective treatment for strep throat, of course we might not conclude that the antibiotic is useless or harmful (barring the conditions in the previous paragraph). But isn't the question at hand whether or not the antibiotic (the stimulus) is an effective treatment for the strep throat (bad economy)? To initially equate the stimulus with an acknowledged successful treatment is a clear "begging the question" fallacy. A more accurate analogy would have been to compare a doctor giving a patient a prescription that is untested, or that other doctors have speculated to be potentially harmful. In that case, I think a fever spike after taking that first pill would have caused our patient a great deal of alarm, and in fact may have been the result of the medication. In that case, a good doctor might very well take the patient off of that medication and try another one. I only hope others out there can spot the flaws in her logic.
One last thought: If I took a pill and afterwards my fever spiked, or any other symptom showed up, I very well might be justified in thinking the pill is the cause. I certainly wouldn't dismiss the idea as "surely" as Romer does because I care about my health. Perhaps Romer's flawed medical analogy should actually give us important insight into the administration's views on health care...
August 03, 2009
It's not perfect. Since the first several movies you rank create your list, I've found it tough to get some of them off your top 20. Dumb and Dumber was in my top 20 for a loooong time. For the most part, though, it does a fairly accurate job, especially the more choices you go through. For example, I've got just over 1000 decisions, and here's the makeup of my top 20:
- The Wrestler
- The Professional
- Midnight Run
- Spider Man
- Dark City
- Spider Man 2
- Young Sherlock Holmes
- The Sixth Sense
- The Bourne Identity
- Live Free or Die Hard
- Sharky's Machine
- Die Hard
- Mission Impossible III
- Batman Begins
- Terminator 2: Judgement Day
- Boogie Nights
Some of them should be higher (Jaws, Die Hard) and some lower (The Wrestler, Deliverance), and some are missing (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars), but if these twenty were at a film festival? I'd never leave my seat.
You can create your own profile at www.flickchart.com, but I understand the waiting list could be a couple of weeks. I, however, have a few invites that I might be enticed into giving away. Make me an offer I can't refuse...