Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Posted at 01:18 PM | Permalink
Thursday, August 26, 2010
New Home Sales Set a New Record Low in July
New Home Sales Set a New Record Low in July
August 25, 2010
by Asha Bangalore
Sales of new single-family homes fell 12.4% to an annual rate of 276,000 in July, a new record low in the history of series which begin in 1963. The first-time home buyer credit program lifted sales in April, May, and June 2010. Sales of new homes dropped in all four regions of the nation, with West recording the largest decline (-25.4%), followed by smaller drops in the Northeast (-13.9%), South (-8.7%), and Midwest (-8.3%).
The six-month moving average of home sales tempers the temporary impact of the first-time home buyer program (see chart 2) but the message of "weak home sales" remains intact. Sales of new homes have fallen 80.1% from their peak in July 2005.
The median price of a new single-family home fell 6.0% to $204,000 in July compared with the prior month. On a year-to-year basis, the median price of a new single-family home has declined 4.8% (see chart 3). The median price of new single-family home is down 22.3% from the peak in March 2005 ($262,600).
The supply of unsold new homes increased to the 9.1-month mark during July from 8.0 months in June and the median duration to sell a new home moved down to 11.3 months vs. 12.3 months in June. The large inventory of unsold homes is not supportive of firm prices in the near term.
Sales of new and existing homes have declined to an annual rate of 3.646 million in July from a peak of 7.629 million in July 2005. In other words, the pace of home sales has dropped 52% from its peak. Although homes are affordable and mortgage rates are at historical lows, the soft labor market and tight underwriting standards for mortgages held back home sales. The latest Senior Loan Officer Survey results indicate less stringent standards for mortgage loans. But, this per se is inadequate to move sales without firms increasing payrolls.
Orders of durable goods rose 0.3% in July vs. a 0.1% drop in the prior month. The 76% jump in aircraft orders and 5.3% gain in bookings of motor vehicles lifted overall orders of durable goods. Excluding transportation, orders of durable goods fell 3.8% in July vs. 0.2% increase in the prior month. Orders of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft declined 8.0%, while shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft moved down 1.5%. The important aspect to note about this report is that orders and shipments of durable goods have grown during the past year but there is a noticeable moderation in the pace of gains in July compared with the readings of the first-half of the year (see chart 6).
Posted at 05:41 PM | Permalink
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Posted at 03:32 PM | Permalink
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Kulula Airlines....Check out their new livery!
Posted at 05:03 PM | Permalink
Kulula Airlines....Check out their new livery!
Posted at 05:03 PM | Permalink
From the cockpit on KULULA.COM- South Africa 's Budget Airline
WHAT A PITY KULULA DOESN'T FLY INTERNATIONALLY - WE SHOULD SUPPORT THEM IF ONLY FOR THEIR HUMOUR - SO TYPICALLY SOUTH AFRICAN.
Kulula is an Airline with head office situated in Johannesburg . Kulula airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:
------------------------------------------------------------------On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!" ---o0o---
On another flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants." ----o0o---On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings.. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have."
"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."
"Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business
as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride." ---o0o---
As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"
---o0o---After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo , a flight attendant on a flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."
---o0o--->From a Kulula employee: " Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth . To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised." ---o0o---"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite." ---o0o---Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines."
"Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."
---o0o---"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.."
And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!" ---o0o---Heard on Kulula 255 just after a very hard landing in Cape Town : The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."
Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town , on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!" ---o0o---
Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."
---o0o---An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline. He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment.
Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Why, no Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"
After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg , the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.."
Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today.. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of Kulula Airways."
---o0o---Heard on a Kulula flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing.. If you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."
---o0o---A plane was taking off from Durban Airport . After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from Durban to Cape Town , The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight.. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOD!!!!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!"
A passenger then yelled, "That's nothing. You should see the back of mine!"
Posted at 05:00 PM | Permalink
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
When cars had personality
1956 Ford Thunderbird
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible
1960 Plymouth Fury
1959 Chevrolet Impala 2Dr hardtop
1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria
1958 Cadillac Series 62 Sedan
1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V Four Door Landau
1957 Buick Roadmaster 2 Door Hardtop
1957 Lincoln Premiere four-door Landau
1959 Buick 2 Door Convertible
1959 Edsel Citation
Ford lost $350 million ($1.55 billion in 2009 dollars) on the venture.
1958 De Soto
1959 Mercury Colony Park Country Cruiser
1958 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special
1958 Dodge Custom Sierra
1949 Oldsmobile 88
1959 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
1949 Kaiser Virginian
1960 Imperial Crown Convertible
1953 Studebaker Commander
1949 Pontiac Four Door
1960 Chevrolet Impala Four Door Hardtop
1959 Mercury Four Door Hardtop
1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 Two-Door Sedan
1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser
1954 Mercury Sun Valley
1960 Chrysler Valiant
1960 De Soto Fireflite
1960 Chevrolet Corvair
My Grandfather had this, the same year only in a tan color…
1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
1960 Mercury Colony Park Country Cruiser
1956 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville
1957 Dodge Royal Lancer
1960 Dodge Dart Pioneer
1957 Lincoln Premiere
What a trip down memory lane…
Be sure to share with all your old friends!
Posted at 11:01 AM | Permalink
When cars had personality
Posted at 10:26 AM | Permalink
Monday, August 23, 2010
50 Best Finance-Related Movie Quotes of All Time
1. Wall Street (1987)
"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." -Gordon Gekko
2. Trading Places (1983)
"I had the most absurd nightmare. I was poor and no one liked me." -Louis Winthorpe III
3. Rogue Trader (1999)
"I, Nicholas Leeson, have just lost 50 million quid, in one day!" -Nick Leeson
4. Risky Business (1983)
"My name is Joel Goodsen. I deal in human fulfillment. I grossed over eight thousand dollars in one night." -Joel Goodsen
5. Brewster's Millions (1985)
"I'm gonna teach you to hate spending money. I'm gonna make you so sick of spending money that the mere sight of it will make you wanna throw up!" -Rupert Horn
6. Scarface (1983)
"In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women. " -Tony Montana
7. Rain Man (1988)
"That will be $1.5 million please. I'll take it in cash, check or a transfer. I'm not greedy. I just want my half. " -Charlie Babbitt
8. Boiler Room (2000)
"Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesnt f***ing have any." -Jim Young
9. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
"A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing." -Blake
10. American Psycho (2000)
"I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust." -Patrick Bateman
11. Pretty Woman (1990)
"You and I are such similar creatures, Vivian. We both screw people for money." -Edward Lewis
12. A Perfect Murder (1998)
"Rich people, they're different from you and me. Well, for one thing, they've got a lot more money..." -Bobby Fain
13. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Martin Frohm: "What would you say if man walked in here with no shirt, and I hired him?"
Christopher Gardner: "He must have had on some really nice pants."
14. Indecent Proposal (1993)
"Suppose... I were to offer you one million dollars for one night with your wife. " -John Gage
15. Fight Club (1999)
"You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world." -Tyler Durden
16. The Bank Job (2008)
Terry Leather [on radio]: " We can smell the money, over."
Eddie Burton [on radio]: "Look, money may be your god but it ain't mine, alright? I want a warm bath and a cup of tea, over."
17. Ruthless People (1986)
"If you can't afford it, F***ING FINANCE IT!" -Ken Kessler
18. The Color of Money (1986)
"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned." -Fast Eddie Felson
19. Office Space (1999)
Lawrence: "What would you do [if you had a million dollars]?"
Peter Gibbons: "I would relax... I would sit on my ass all day... I would do nothing."
Lawrence: "Well, you don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin--he's broke, don't do s***."
20. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
"I'll tell you one thing, Fred, darling... I'd marry you for your money in a minute." -Holly Golightly
21. 21 (2008)
"You are only ever as good to me as the money you make!" -Micky
22. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Danny: "Theres a 95 pound Chinese man with a 160 million dollars behind this door."
Linus: "Lets get him out."
23. Can't Buy Me Love (1987)
"Didn't you take economics? You could have had me for $49.95." -transfer student to Ronald Miller
24. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Paula Abagnale: "Just tell me how much he owes and I'll pay you back."
Carl Hanratty: "So far, it's about 1.3 million dollars."
25. Mad Money (2008)
"They say money can't buy happiness but it sure as hell buys everything else." -Bob Truman
26. Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
"They didn't even need any money. They had magic cards." -Rebecca Bloomwood
27. It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)
"I'll wager you anything you like that if American women stopped wearing brassieres, your whole national economy would collapse overnight." -J. Algernon Hawthorne
28. Sex and the City (2008)
"I like my money where I can see it, hanging in my closet." -Carrie Bradshaw
29. Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)
"I wouldn't sell my bike for all the money in the world. Not for a hundred million, trillion, billion dollars!" -Pee-wee Herman
30. American Gangster (2007)
Dominic: "How you feel about monopolies?"
Frank Lucas: "What, the game?"
31. Tootsie (1982)
"OK, I know this is going to disgust you, Michael, but a lot of people are in this business to make money." -George Fields
32. The Breakfast Club (1985)
"Did you work for the money to buy those earrings? Or did your Daddy buy those for you?" -John Bender
33. Three Amigos! (1986)
"No dough, no show." -Lucky Day
34. The Money Pit (1986)
"All you want to talk about is money, let's talk about love, and sex... forget love, let's just talk about sex." -Max Beissart (the Maestro)
35. Fun with Dick and Jane (2005)
"Hooked up with a new company. Great benefits. They trade energy. It's called Enron!" -Garth
36. The Secret of my Succe$s (1987)
Brantley Foster: "How do I get to Litchfield?"
Barney Rattigan: "You'll find it. Just follow the smell of money."
37. Repo Man (1984)
"I DO want your money, because god wants your money. " -Reverend Larry
38. Barbarians at the Gate (1993)
"We've spent three-hundred-and-fifty million dollars, and we've come up with a turd with a tip?" -F. Ross Johnson
39. Other People's Money (1991)
"I love money more than the things it can buy... but what I love more than money is other people's money." -Lawrence Garfield
40. Coming to America (1988)
"And, baby, when I tell ya the boy has got his own money, I mean the boy has got his own MONEY!" -Cleo
41. Casino (1995)
"Running a casino is like robbing a bank with no cops around. For guys like me, Las Vegas washes away your sins. It's like a morality car wash." -Ace Rothstein
42. The Godfather (1972)
"I understand. You found paradise in America. You had a good trade, you made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. So you didn't need a friend like me. Now you come and say 'Don Corleone, give me justice.' But you don't ask with respect. You don't offer friendship. You don't even think to call me 'Godfather.' You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder--for money." -Don Corleone
43. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
"The country club will have his old time cards. Records, W-2s with his name on them. Sir, if I ever get out, I'd never mention what happens here. I'd be just as indictable as you for laundering that money. " -Andy Dufresne
44. There Will Be Blood (2007)
"There are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking. I want to earn enough money that I can get away from everyone." -Plainview
45. The Sting (1973)
Doyle Lonnegan: "I put it all on Lucky Dan; half a million dollars to win."
Kid Twist: "To win? I said place! 'Place hit on Lucky D' That horse is gonna run second!"
Doyle Lonnegan: "There's been a mistake! Gimme my money back!"
46. Changing Lanes (2002)
"Money. You you think I want money? What I want is my morning back. I need you to give my time back to me. Can you give me back my time? Can you give my time back to me? Huh? Can you?" -Doyle Gipson
47. The Karate Kid (1984)
Daniel: "Hey, what kind of belt do you have?"
Miyagi: "Canvas. JC Penney, $3.98. You like?"
48. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
"Napoleon, you know we can't afford the fun pack. What, do you think money grows on trees in this family? Take it back! And get some Pampers for you and your brother while you're at it."
49. The Family Man (2000)
"That's because I'm a heartless bastard who only cares about money." -Lassiter
50. Jerry Maguire (1996)
"Show me the MONEY!!!" -Jerry Maguire
Posted at 11:36 AM | Permalink
Sunday, August 22, 2010
The Fine Art of Baloney Detection
◦ Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the "facts."
◦ Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
◦ Arguments from authority carry little weight -- "authorities" have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.
◦ Spin more than one hypothesis. If there's something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among "multiple working hypotheses," has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.*
* NOTE: This is a problem that affects jury trials. Retrospective studies show that some jurors make up their minds very early -- perhaps during opening arguments -- and then retain the evidence that seems to support their initial impressions and reject the contrary evidence. The method of alternative working hypotheses is not running in their heads. ◦ Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it's yours. It's only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don't, others will.
◦ Quantify. If whatever it is you're explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you'll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.
◦ If there's a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) -- not just most of them.
◦ Occam's Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.
◦ Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle -- an electron, say -- in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result. The reliance on carefully designed and controlled experiments is key, as I tried to stress earlier. We will not learn much from mere contemplation. It is tempting to rest content with the first candidate explanation we can think of. One is much better than none. But what happens if we can invent several? How do we decide among them? We don't. We let experiment do it. Francis Bacon provided the classic reason:Argumentation cannot suffice for the discovery of new work, since the subtlety of Nature is greater many times than the subtlety of argument.Control experiments are essential. If, for example, a new medicine is alleged to cure a disease 20 percent of the time, we must make sure that a control population, taking a dummy sugar pill which as far as the subjects know might be the new drug, does not also experience spontaneous remission of the disease 20 percent of the time.Variables must be separated. Suppose you're seasick, and given both an acupressure bracelet and 50 milligrams of meclizine. You find the unpleasantness vanishes. What did it -- the bracelet or the pill? You can tell only if you take the one without the other, next time you're seasick. Now imagine that you're not so dedicated to science as to be willing to be seasick. Then you won't separate the variables. You'll take both remedies again. You've achieved the desired practical result; further knowledge, you might say, is not worth the discomfort of attaining it.Often the experiment must be done "double-blind," so that those hoping for a certain finding are not in the potentially compromising position of evaluating the results. In testing a new medicine, for example, you might want the physicians who determine which patients' symptoms are relieved not to know which patients have been given the new drug. The knowledge might influence their decision, even if only unconsciously. Instead the list of those who experienced remission of symptoms can be compared with the list of those who got the new drug, each independently ascertained. Then you can determine what correlation exists. Or in conducting a police lineup or photo identification, the officer in charge should not know who the prime suspect is, so as not consciously or unconsciously to influence the witness.
In addition to teaching us what to do when evaluating a claim to knowledge, any good baloney detection kit must also teach us what not to do. It helps us recognize the most common and perilous fallacies of logic and rhetoric. Many good examples can be found in religion and politics, because their practitioners are so often obliged to justify two contradictory propositions. Among these fallacies are:
◦ ad hominem -- Latin for "to the man," attacking the arguer and not the argument (e.g., The Reverend Dr. Smith is a known Biblical fundamentalist, so her objections to evolution need not be taken seriously);
◦ argument from authority (e.g., President Richard Nixon should be re-elected because he has a secret plan to end the war in Southeast Asia -- but because it was secret, there was no way for the electorate to evaluate it on its merits; the argument amounted to trusting him because he was President: a mistake, as it turned out);
◦ argument from adverse consequences (e.g., A God meting out punishment and reward must exist, because if He didn't, society would be much more lawless and dangerous -- perhaps even ungovernable.* Or: The defendant in a widely publicized murder trial must be found guilty; otherwise, it will be an encouragement for other men to murder their wives);
* NOTE: A more cynical formulation by the Roman historian Polybius: Since the masses of the people are inconstant, full of unruly desires, passionate, and reckless of consequences, they must be filled with fears to keep them in order. The ancients did well, therefore, to invent gods, and the belief in punishment after death. ◦ appeal to ignorance -- the claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true, and vice versa (e.g., There is no compelling evidence that UFOs are not visiting the Earth; therefore UFOs exist -- and there is intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. Or: There may be seventy kazillion other worlds, but not one is known to have the moral advancement of the Earth, so we're still central to the Universe.) This impatience with ambiguity can be criticized in the phrase: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
◦ special pleading, often to rescue a proposition in deep rhetorical trouble (e.g., How can a merciful God condemn future generations to torment because, against orders, one woman induced one man to eat an apple? Special plead: you don't understand the subtle Doctrine of Free Will. Or: How can there be an equally godlike Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the same Person? Special plead: You don't understand the Divine Mystery of the Trinity. Or: How could God permit the followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- each in their own way enjoined to heroic measures of loving kindness and compassion -- to have perpetrated so much cruelty for so long? Special plead: You don't understand Free Will again. And anyway, God moves in mysterious ways.)
◦ begging the question, also called assuming the answer (e.g., We must institute the death penalty to discourage violent crime. But does the violent crime rate in fact fall when the death penalty is imposed? Or: The stock market fell yesterday because of a technical adjustment and profit-taking by investors -- but is there any independent evidence for the causal role of "adjustment" and profit-taking; have we learned anything at all from this purported explanation?);
◦ observational selection, also called the enumeration of favorable circumstances, or as the philosopher Francis Bacon described it, counting the hits and forgetting the misses (e.g., A state boasts of the Presidents it has produced, but is silent on its serial killers); * * NOTE: A My favorite example is this story, told about the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, newly arrived on American shores, enlisted in the Manhattan nuclear weapons Project, and brought face-to-face in the midst of World War II with U.S. flag officers. So-and-so is a great general, he was told. What is the definition of a great general? Fermi characteristically asked. I guess it's a general who's won many consecutive battles. How many? After some back and forth, they settled on five. What fraction of American generals are great? After some more back and forth, they settled on a few percent.But imagine, Fermi rejoined, that there is no such thing as a great general, that all armies are equally matched, and that winning a battle is purely a matter of chance. Then the chance of winning one battle is one out of two, or 1/2, two battles l/4, three l/8, four l/16, and five consecutive battles 1/32 -- which is about 3 percent. You would expect a few percent of American generals to win five consecutive battles -- purely by chance. Now, has any of them won ten consecutive battles ...?
◦ statistics of small numbers -- a close relative of observational selection (e.g., "They say 1 out of every 5 people is Chinese. How is this possible? I know hundreds of people, and none of them is Chinese. Yours truly." Or: "I've thrown three sevens in a row. Tonight I can't lose.");
◦ misunderstanding of the nature of statistics (e.g., President Dwight Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence);
◦ inconsistency (e.g., Prudently plan for the worst of which a potential military adversary is capable, but thriftily ignore scientific projections on environmental dangers because they're not "proved." Or: Attribute the declining life expectancy in the former Soviet Union to the failures of communism many years ago, but never attribute the high infant mortality rate in the United States (now highest of the major industrial nations) to the failures of capitalism. Or: Consider it reasonable for the Universe to continue to exist forever into the future, but judge absurd the possibility that it has infinite duration into the past);
◦ non sequitur -- Latin for "It doesn't follow" (e.g., Our nation will prevail because God is great. But nearly every nation pretends this to be true; the German formulation was "Gott mit uns"). Often those falling into the non sequitur fallacy have simply failed to recognize alternative possibilities;
◦ post hoc, ergo propter hoc -- Latin for "It happened after, so it was caused by" (e.g., Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila: "I know of ... a 26-year-old who looks 60 because she takes [contraceptive] pills." Or: Before women got the vote, there were no nuclear weapons);
◦ excluded middle, or false dichotomy -- considering only the two extremes in a continuum of intermediate possibilities (e.g., "Sure, take his side; my husband's perfect; I'm always wrong." Or: "Either you love your country or you hate it." Or: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem");
◦ short-term vs. long-term -- a subset of the excluded middle, but so important I've pulled it out for special attention (e.g., We can't afford programs to feed malnourished children and educate pre-school kids. We need to urgently deal with crime on the streets. Or: Why explore space or pursue fundamental science when we have so huge a budget deficit?);
◦ slippery slope, related to excluded middle (e.g., If we allow abortion in the first weeks of pregnancy, it will be impossible to prevent the killing of a full-term infant. Or, conversely: If the state prohibits abortion even in the ninth month, it will soon be telling us what to do with our bodies around the time of conception);
◦ confusion of correlation and causation (e.g., A survey shows that more college graduates are homosexual than those with lesser education; therefore education makes people gay. Or: Andean earthquakes are correlated with closest approaches of the planet Uranus; therefore -- despite the absence of any such correlation for the nearer, more massive planet Jupiter -- the latter causes the former); *
* NOTE: Children who watch violent TV programs tend to be more violent when they grow up. But did the TV cause the violence, or do violent children preferentially enjoy watching violent programs? Very likely both are true. Commercial defenders of TV violence argue that anyone can distinguish between television and reality. But Saturday morning children's programs now average 25 acts of violence per hour. At the very least this desensitizes young children to aggression and random cruelty. And if impressionable adults can have false memories implanted in their brains, what are we implanting in our children when we expose them to some 100,000 acts of violence before they graduate from elementary school? Knowing the existence of such logical and rhetorical fallacies rounds out our toolkit. Like all tools, the baloney detection kit can be misused, applied out of context, or even employed as a rote alternative to thinking. But applied judiciously, it can make all the difference in the world -- not least in evaluating our own arguments before we present them to others.
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