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Author Topic: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."  (Read 16922 times)

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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I think that continues to be the greatest category of misunderstanding/obfuscation offered by the "typical" naysayer, i.e, that because THEY would certainly say, do, or understand a certain thing, that AE/FN obviously MUST also have.   There must be a name for the application of such a fallacy...Marty?

I don't have a good grip on that "fallacy," if it even is a fallacy in the strict sense of the word.

I read through the "List of fallacies" on Wikipedia, and saw several candidates.  My hesitation about calling it a strict fallacy is that sometimes our sense of what people would do might correspond to what they actually did do.  It isn't necessarily wrong every time to reason that:
  • All humans share a common nature.
  • Reason inclines us to affirm the true, the beautiful, and the good.
  • What one rational person would affirm in a given set of circumstances should resemble what other rational thinkers would do.
This is not "pure logic."  It is existentialism, or something like existentialism, I suppose.  I'm not sure that we can live without this kind of analogous thinking--"They must have done some of the things I would have done, if I were them"--even if it is very weak reasoning.

I'm going to split this out of the "Betty's Notebook" thread as soon as I'm done with this post.  Someone else may be able to classify the argument better than I can.   ::)
LTM,

           Marty
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Dave Potratz

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2012, 09:21:27 AM »

Thanks much for your reasoned reponse, Marty.

I realize that I coulda/shoulda consulted that Wiki list myself (quite comprehensive), but I knew that you would be able to add further value to my understanding.  I'm here to learn more than to express, and am delighted for the opportunity to do both. 

dp
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2012, 09:31:06 AM »

I realize that I coulda/shoulda consulted that Wiki list myself (quite comprehensive) ...

It's the first time I looked at it myself, but it is packed with good stuff.

The "If by 'whiskey'" argument is a new one by me.  That's the best laugh I've had this week!  ;D
LTM,

           Marty
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pilotart

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2012, 10:02:01 AM »

"woulda coulda shoulda" came to mind:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-woulda-coulda-shoulda-mean.htm

There were just so many 'obvious to us' courses of action that could have prevented this tragedy.

It's just that those two were so intelligent, capable and experienced, but perhaps after such a long flight at possibly the recommended 10k altitude, they were impaired by hypoxia.

Symptoms are not obvious to the sufferer, but Navigation Performance Skills vanish.

Just one that glares out would be after experiencing apparently the First Reception (after switching to the 'Loop' antenna) just tuning down the dial from that HF frequency to the LF Band (where I trust Itaska was also transmitting 'A's) would have provided the 'Null' needed to steer them to Howland Island Airfield.

As an aviator, I look at an air tragedy with the eye of why and how it could have been prevented more so than what happened to them after they were down...
Art Johnson
 
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2012, 04:44:50 PM »

Commander Thompson on the Itasca seems to have based his decision to search NW of Howland on "I would have..." and "they must have" reasoning.  In the absence of sufficient data, it seems to be a very typical response to mysteries.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Anthony Allen Roach

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2012, 07:36:55 PM »

I'm torn between the "appeal to probability" fallacy and the "appeal to common practice" fallacy.
"Six the Hard Way."
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2012, 10:21:52 PM »

I'm torn between the "appeal to probability" fallacy and the "appeal to common practice" fallacy.

I skipped right over that first one.  But reading that page leads to the Van Gogh Fallacy.  That has "nothing to do with the case" (Gilbert and Sullivan, The Mikado), but it does make me laugh.   :)

The appeal to common practice (or appeal to tradition) makes me realize that sometimes we are guilty of anachronism, which means assuming that something extant or true in our present age must have been extant or true in previous ages.  I was guilty of anachronism when I interpreted the Luke Field testimony about "landing mats" as referring to pierced-steel plates or Marsden matting. 

LTM,

           Marty
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Anthony Allen Roach

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2012, 11:11:09 PM »

"I was guilty of anachronism when I interpreted the Luke Field testimony about 'landing mats' as referring to pierced-steel plates or Marsden matting."

I've tried to be very careful about not making any comments about appealing to common practice, but it is incredibly tempting.  In the discussion threads about whether Amelia would choose to land on a reef rather than ditch in the lagoon, I was tempted to point out that my friends who all flew would try to avoid ditching at all costs.  I recall a scene in the "Bridges of Toko Ri" where William Holden's character is asked  if he wants to land and risk missing the arresting wire and hitting "Tilly" the aircraft crane, or ditching.  He says no thanks to ditching, and he will come aboard.  (Great tense scene with awesome view of carrier operations.)  He echoes what I understand from naval aviators, who all would prefer landing on something rather than ditching.  But then I have to catch myself, because I can't place Amelia in that position.  I have to remind myself that just because so many would not ditch if they could avoid it, does not mean that she did choose to avoid ditching.

But then I do wonder if such thoughts are inherent in any search operation, from Commander Thompson's thoughts, to the thoughts of whoever it was that organized the Colorado search.
"Six the Hard Way."
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2012, 07:32:08 AM »

But then I do wonder if such thoughts are inherent in any search operation, from Commander Thompson's thoughts, to the thoughts of whoever it was that organized the Colorado search.

I would think so.   ::)

It seems necessary to me that we start by imagining other people to be like us, and then start subtracting (as you did with your example about carrier pilots, who are a very bizarre and specialized group of pilots!).
LTM,

           Marty
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Dave Potratz

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2012, 12:23:00 PM »

Marty wrote:
Quote
The appeal to common practice (or appeal to tradition) makes me realize that sometimes we are guilty of anachronism, which means assuming that something extant or true in our present age must have been extant or true in previous ages.

IMO, this one is also exemplified in threads about the apparent lack of success of the aerial search of Gardner Island on 9 July 1937.   It is perhaps too easy from a modern-day perspective to initially arrive at the notion that the Colorado aircraft/pilots "would have" engaged in SAR techniques equivilant to today's. 

Following thhat, we of course quite naturally wish to believe that today's SAR is most effective and would save ourselves or our loved-ones if an apt tragedy struck. 

It would seem natural to aply this wish to the case of our Tragic Heroes, and for some to become somewhat incredulous when confronted with the information that the Lambrecht team apparently failed, because....well...."how could they?"

VERY interesting.
dp

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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2012, 12:52:24 PM »

It would seem natural to aply this wish to the case of our Tragic Heroes, and for some to become somewhat incredulous when confronted with the information that the Lambrecht team apparently failed, because....well...."how could they?"

Dave, you've struck a chord that has resonated with me for quite some time.  We can all go out on those various current media postings that allow reader comments and see beastly denigrating comments about the Colorado's aviators who searched the Phoenix Islands.  I wince when I encounter those.

In both the current and archived Earhart Forum postings, we can find similar sentiments, but subsequent posters will usually respond with some kind word that reminds the original poster that today's SAR practices and techniques were not in existence back in 1937. 

My fervent hope is that TIGHAR already has planned for countering any swell of such unkind remarks and conclusions if and when conclusive evidence emerges that AE and FN ended up on Niku.
LTM,

Bruce
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2012, 01:11:02 PM »

Let us not limit ourselves to concerns about the Lambrecht search over Niku.  "The failure to spot AE" might just as well apply to the Itasca search NW of Howland, and also the Colorado search of some very large area of open ocean, plus more recent expeditions that also looked for signs of the splashed-and-sank Electra.  If remains of the Electra are found adjacent to the Niku reef, then people may blame Lambrecht.  If remains of the Electra are discovered on the ocean bottom in an area searched by the Colorado and other areas searched by other ships, then they will be blamed for their "failure".  Don't denigrate any search that might have overlooked AE/FN bobbing among the waves or missed in an aerial survay.  As someone already mentioned, 'it's a big ocean', and those searchers did the best they could.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Dave Potratz

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2012, 01:17:57 PM »

Bruce wrote:
Quote
My fervent hope is that TIGHAR already has planned for countering any swell of such unkind remarks and conclusions if and when conclusive evidence emerges that AE and FN ended up on Niku.


Bruce, it occurs to me that, once again thanks to TIGHAR, these exchanges on understanding the underpinnings of the "fallacies of logic" that sometimes assert themselves here & there is a boon to our ability to counter them with measured response, be it to a "sound-bite" media, or perhaps an over-zealous "naysayer".  :'(

This to me is consistent with the much appreciated TIGHAR zest for logic as applied to the Niku Hypothesis.


LTM, who taught her son to think logically, and act with reason.
dp
« Last Edit: July 13, 2012, 01:27:32 PM by Dave Potratz »
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Anthony Allen Roach

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2012, 01:31:04 PM »

I don't blame those naval aviators at all.  This was the era of the Great Depression, and the Navy wanted to curry as much favor with FDR as possible.  The Navy knew that Amelia Earhart was popular with the Roosevelts.  FDR loved the Navy, and used to go on fishing retreats on Navy cruisers.  (Can you imagine the public outcry today?)  Those aviators would have jumped at the chance to find Amelia Earhart.  I imagine they did the best they could, but as we all know, sometimes your best isn't good enough.

If Amelia was alive on July 9th on Gardner Island, she probably wasn't expecting Navy scout planes launched from a battleship to come zipping over.  She was probably expecting the Itasca to come moseying over the horizon.
"Six the Hard Way."
 
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Dave Potratz

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Re: Analogous reasoning: from "I would have ..." to "they must have ..."
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2012, 01:40:37 PM »

Quote
I imagine they did the best they could, but as we all know, sometimes your best isn't good enough.

Exactly, Anthony, the Lambrecht team did the best they could with the best they had, under the directive they were given.

And, yup, though we often wish to hear of the victories, history is replete with examples of the latter part of your statement.

dp
« Last Edit: July 13, 2012, 01:49:22 PM by Dave Potratz »
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