Friday, April 23, 2010

cum hoc ergo propter hoc

fal·la·cy   /ˈfæləsi/

1.a deceptive, misleading, or false notion, belief, etc.: That the world is flat was at one time a popular fallacy.
2.a misleading or unsound argument.
3.deceptive, misleading, or false nature; erroneousness.
4.Logic. any of various types of erroneous reasoning that render arguments logically unsound.
5.Obsolete. deception.

Most of the things I learned in high school seemed like a waste of time and many have long-since disappeared from my overloaded mind. Ask me to name the elements on the periodic table or how to calculate derivatives or what ecozones Canada is made up of and you will get a blank stare every time! But one topic I remember, because even as a 16 year-old I saw how applicable it was to everyday life. The day our English teacher told us we would be discussing fallacies and logic I was probably just as confused as the rest of the class. But, once I realized that learning this would allow me to poke holes in other people's arguments thereby helping me WIN every argument I was hooked! Ever since high school I have enjoyed pointing out to people -usually right in the middle of a heated discussion- the fundamental logical flaws on which the premise of their argument is based.
Well imagine my excitement and joy when I opened the paper yesterday and read an article about an Iranian cleric who has boldy claimed that the cause of earthquakes is "women who do not dress modestly". I am used to religious fanatics (among others) who find ways to blame the ills of society on women- such as myself- who for some (CRAZY) reason think that we have the same rights as our male counterparts. But this is new. Now, not only is it our fault that men cheat but this in turn leads to natural disasters!?!
I was excited to rip this argument to shreds...just because two things happen simultaneously it doesn't mean one of those things caused the other (cum hoc ergo propter hoc). But, while causality had not been established I realized that my argument was illogical too. Just because no one has shown that women dressing provocatively causes earthquakes doesn't mean it's not true. How could I argue this point when nothing had ever been done to prove that women dressing provocatively DOES NOT cause earthquakes?!?
Luckily, US student Jennifer McCreight must have thought the same thing. Jennifer (jokingly) challenged the cleric's statement and declared that on Monday April 26th she would "wear the most cleavage-showing shirt" she owns and has asked women around the world to join her in testing this new theory. On her blog Jennifer mentions that this started as a joke and is not to be some sort of feminist demonstration. Well, I (and over 30, 000 other women who have signed up via facebook and twitter) will be joining Jennifer by dressing "immodestly" on Monday. I plan to look as immodest as possible :)
Feminist demonstartion or not, on Monday we will do our best to prove that women are not to blame for earthquakes. And hey, if the cleric IS right all that immodesty will surely lead to the early demise of our planet...and we might as well look our best for the end of the world, right?
Check out "Boobquake" for details :)

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