Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Law of the Stupid Argument and the "Gotta Find the Genes"

When someone makes a particularly stupid argument it implies that they don't have a convincing case without this argument.  If the argument is stupid enough it demonstrates that according to the facts they are aware of they are wrong.  This might not mean they are actually wrong, merely that they have lost the argument due to ignorance.

Take for example the claim that USA's higher homicide rates demonstrate that loose gun control laws result in higher homicide rates.  This is a bad argument because it's a post hoc promptier hoc fallacy.  The USA might have higher homicide rates for any number of reasons, including more slavery, self-selection amoung non-slave settleres etc.  Clearly a better argument would be "Since other countries implemented tighter gun laws their homicide rates declined" because that would deal with the societal differences between the USA and other societies.  That this argument isn't made means that it can't be made, at least not by the arguer, because they don't have the evidence this is true.

Another example is the Gotta Find the Genes argument against racial differences in IQ.  You do not need to find the genes responsible for a different probability of a trait to know they exist.  That is obvious when you consider that genetic factors have qualities that non-genetic ones do not, and therefore you can test for these factors independent of testing for the actual genes.  Colour blindness follows a pattern of occurrence that is obviously genetic, and any statistical analysis of who displays it shows this.  This was suspected when it was originally found in two brothers.  Of course this was an insufficient sample, but now that we have results from millions of people and can compare the probability of someone getting it depending on various relatives having it we can conclude that it is indeed an   X-linked genetic disease.  Compare this to malaria, which affects people who are exposed to mosquitoes carrying plasmodium parasites.  It does not show the statistical patterns which a genetic disease would.  Therefore we can conclude that color blindness is genetic and malaria isn't.  Of course certain families display a lower likelihood of getting malaria in environments where it is likely and THAT has been shown to be genetic.  If someone says that you have to find the genes to show that IQ differences or anything else is genetic, then tell them they know so little science they don't know the difference between malaria and color blindness.  They know literally less than medieval doctors who although they were wrong about the cause of malaria certainly knew it was environmental not inherited.