Sunday, February 26, 2017

Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

We've all heard about Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy who were both presidents of the United States, right? Well, want to hear something crazy? Lincoln was elected into Congress 1846, Kennedy 1946. Lincoln was elected president 1860, Kennedy 1960. They both contain seven letters. Both wives lost their children while living in the White House. Both were shot in the head on a Friday. Both were assassinated by Southerners and succeeded by Southerners. Lincoln was shot by a man, John Wilkes Booth, who was born in 1839 and was known by his three names which contained 15 letter. Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald who was born in 1939 and known for his three names which also contained 15 letters. A month before Lincoln was assassinated he was in Monroe, Maryland and a month before Kennedy was assassinated he was in Marilyn Monroe.

This, my friends, is an example of the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy. The Texas Sharpshooter fallacy got its name from a Texas cowboy shooting at the side of a barn and then going over to the area he shot up and drawing a target to make it appear he shot a bulls-eye. Now to anyone who passes it makes the cowboy look like he’s dangerous with a gun.

This fallacy happens when someone jumps to the conclusion that a cluster in some kind of data must be the result of some crazy cause. Now there are many reasons this not always correct, take for instance sometimes things happen with no cause and a cluster in data will happen by chance with no real cause. Even if there was a cluster and it was not the result of chance it was probably basis and not for a causal conclusion. You seem to get stuck on random mutations of data without any further testing. We marvel at the similarities between Kennedy and Lincoln, but once you start to pick apart the differences, you notice the similarities seem minute.

Take for instance a dating website, they match Jim and Jill together because they both like long walks on the beach, mustard on their hot dogs and want to be crazy cat people, but they don't take into consideration the 567 differences they have. It's never a good idea to ignore the differences and only focus on the similarities. For all, we know Jim could be gay, but that's not a similarity, so it doesn't show.

Here's a great link to check out:

No comments:

Post a Comment