The longest lasting and the most pernicious fallacy in modern America is the court-imposed doctrine of “disparate (or disproportionate) impact” used as proof of discrimination by government policies and by some big employers. Let me give you an example.
California’s criminal code contains some provisions that make the death penalty available for serial murderers (and for a handful of other capital crimes; most homicides don’t qualify). As a result of this policy, on an average day, all of the people on California’s Death Row for serial murder are white men. Of course, this proves that California law discriminates against whites and against men.
You don’t believe this, of course. Where is the defect in the above analysis?
Now on to other matters. The laws regulating lending and also the bank policies regarding lending used to result in a lower percentage of black applicants obtaining mortgage loans than white applicants.
And yes, I m also talking about the recent lamentable events where police officers have killed unarmed suspects and the ensuing protests against alleged racism.
Getting a new lease on life in 2014 (within the framework of an imaginary “War on Women” allegedly conducted by the Republican Party):
American women earn only 70 cents on the average (75, 80?) when men earn one dollar, also on the average.
That’s probably true. It’s unequal pay for unequal work. It’s not the result of discrimination. Employers want the best qualified workers at a given rate of pay. If there were pay discrimination against women, all wages would tend to fall toward the lower pay of women. The disparity would disappear or tend to. It ‘s not doing this. Other factors than sex discrimination account for the difference in average pay between female works and male workers. See my detailed posting on this issue.
Also getting a new lease on life because of the desperation of the Obama Administration:
Economic inequality in the US is greater than before.
1 If it were true, after six years, wouldn’t it be evidence of the incompetence or deviousness of the left-wing, supposedly egalitarian Obama administration?
2 Neither worry nor rejoice; it’s not true or it’s not meaningful. There is no period of history since governments have been gathering the relevant data where a moderately adept number-cruncher could not find proof of growing inequality. Since it is never the case that all imaginable segments of any society improve their economic take at exactly the same rate, there exists an infinity of ways to prove “growing inequality.” It’s a matter of just picking cherries a little intelligently. Incidentally, by and large, the faster the growth of the national economy, in general, the greater the disparity in the speed with which different groups and/or segments improve their lot.
3 There is a tenacious perception among regular people (including nearly all of my undergraduates for thirty years, and 90% of French adults**) that growing inequality means that the poor become poorer as the rich become richer. Among the moderates who are also conceptually confused, there is the substitute belief that growing inequality means that the rich get richer while the poor remain poor, see no change in their condition. Both perceptions are mathematically wrong and empirically mostly incorrect. The most common case of growing inequality is one where some triple their income over a period, for example, while others only double theirs during the same period. You may still think that’s unjust but much wind will fail your sails if you don’t fall for either of the two fallacies above.
By the way: Same with global warming. If you can’t find something or other that was warmer in 2014 than at any time ever, you are a klutz with numbers.
A new, inspiring fallacy in 2014:
There is an epidemic of rapes on American campuses.
Fancy, trivial and absurd definitions of sexual assault notwithstanding, in spite of the several fabricated reports to hit the news recently, such an epidemic cannot exist. It cannot for the simple reason that American women, even young American women, are neither so stupid nor so driven by their inflamed senses that they would not respond rationally to the first signs of such an epidemic. They would be the first ones to know. Rumors are such on campuses that they would even be the first ones to know if nothing at all happened. They would respond by simply avoiding situations propitious to rape. They might even foreswear the company of men altogether in general, or of a male college students in particular. To say otherwise is to affirm the stupidity of American women students.
And, by the way, why are university authorities involved at all in this matter? Does not this involvement alone make you suspicious? In all states, rape is a serious felony. Conviction will get you ten to fifteen years if you are lucky. What good can academic bureaucrats do in this respect aside from depriving the accused of his constitutional right to legal defense? Or aside from shielding the attacker from consequences? Or aside from shielding the university itself from bad publicity? Academic bureaucrats’ duty in case of a rape accusation is the same as that of any other citizen: Call the police. Cooperate with the investigation. Get out of the way.
The imaginary rape epidemic may be one of the vicious dying gasps of a feminist movement at the end of its roll. In spite of forty years of straight propaganda and tortuous lies, the average American woman perversely persists in liking her oppressors. In fact most American women still want to own one. (See the figures of on-line dating sites and the continuing dazzling commercial success of Victoria’s Secret, a company dedicated to the proposition that women want to be sex objects.)
Incidentally, a related matter: Some universities have promulgated an “affirmative consent” rule: Don’t do it unless s/he has said YES! The only sure thing is to have it in writing, of course. I have advised my wife that a rule is a rule, that I won’ ever touch her again unless she begs me in writing. She argues that this would kill spontaneity. Well, I am sorry; I don’t make the rules!
A brand new, 2014 shameless lie. (Guess by whom.)
Islamist terrorism is fading.
N. S. !
In spite of the familiar nature of these fallacies, I am fairly optimistic for the year 2015. I am really hoping that the new Republican majorities in both houses of Congress will find the intestinal fortitude to act according to the wishes of those who elected them. And that they will allow the dead-duck president to veto to his broken, raging little heart’s content. I wouldn’t even be surprised if, in 2015, some liberals in politics came up with the courage to say “Oops, we screwed up,” and rolled back their past, adolescent bad choices. Yes, I am an optimist. What can I say?
* For my overseas readers: These initials stand for a noun designating bovine excreta. A weak synonym would be “nonsense.”
** OK, I may have made this percentage up. I mean a very large number, very large.