Why do we have a tendency to reach faulty conclusions? The reasons are varied and numerous. They include faulty information, incomplete information, preconceived ideas, taking too little time to analyze the information well, and poor skills in logic, among many others. In math classes we have the opportunity to develop logical thinking, but as shown in the picture above, we still often reach illogical conclusions.
Today's post looks at several examples of faulty conclusions. The first is is very short:
A woman reported, "The bishop came to our church today, but I don't think he was a real bishop. He never once moved diagonally."
Recently a colleague and I were talking about how quickly well-known campus personalities become unknowns, once they leave the classroom. He told about the reaction he got after mentioning the name of a teacher who had been familiar to all students in our university for at least four decades. My colleague's students looked at him blankly, as if he had mentioned the name of stranger from his home state!
I received the following by e-mail that not only reminds me of that conversation, but also illustrates a faulty conclusion. I am posting it, after verifying and then correcting several inaccuracies.
In 1923, who was...
1. the president of one of the largest steel companies, Bethlehem Steel?
2. the president of the largest gas company, the Associated Gas and Electric Company?
3. the president of the New York Stock Exchange?
4. the greatest wheat speculator?
5. the "Great Bear" of Wall Street?
These men were considered some of the world's most successful businessmen in their day. Now, 90 years later, most of us wouldn't recognize the names, let alone be able to come up with them. Here are the names of those once-famous men and what ultimately became of each of them.
1. The president of one of the largest steel companies, Bethlehem Steel, Charles M. Schwab, lived his final years on borrowed money.
2. The president of the largest gas company, the Associated Gas and Electric Company, Howard Hopson, died in a sanitarium struggling with psychological problems.
3. The president of the NYSE, Richard Whitney, did time in prison for grand larceny.
4. The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died before all the various charges of tax evasion came to trial.
5. The "Great Bear" of Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, committed suicide.
However, in that same year, 1923, the PGA Champion was Gene Sarazen.
And, what became of him?
He played golf until he was 92, and died in 1999 at the ripe old age of 97! He was very financially secure at the time of his death.
THE CONCLUSION: Forget work. Play golf!
The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans.
Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans.
Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans.
Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans.
Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and other fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans.
THE CONCLUSION: It's not what you eat or drink — it's speaking English that kills you!
I hope you got a chuckle from these faulty conclusions. If you're interested in learning more about avoiding faulty conclusions, you can check out this page at the Erie Community College website.
"When a girl marries, she exchanges the attention of many men for the inattention of one." — Helen Rowland
Give a man a fish and he'll ask for a lemon. Teach a man to fish and he'll leave work early on Fridays.
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