Beyoncé Logic

Implicitly, Alex was arguing, “If you are an independent, then you have a mind of your own.”

From which she concludes, “Conversely, if you are not an independent,” then you do not have a mind of your own.

Alex, I think, is making both a mistake in English usage and a mistake in logic.

Her mistake in usage is that she should have said “inversely” instead of “conversely.” The converse of “If p, then q” is “If q, then p.” But the last frame concerns an inverse: “If not p, then not q.” An interesting empirical study would look to see how often newspapers or academics misuse these adverbs (I'm sure I have).

For Better Sex, You Probably Need More Than Correlation

I finally got around to viewing the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) ad that NBC decided to ban from its Super Bowl coverage. I had imagined a rather sordid broccoli-loaded affair. But it turns out it was just like a Victoria’s Secret spot, only a bit more nutritious. The point of the […]

Is Happiness Contagious?

If those riding intellectual fads are sometimes guilty of sloppy reasoning, imagine what happens when two fads collide. That’s what happened when the British Medical Journal elected to publish a study analyzing 1) happiness in 2) social networks. The study, by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis, concludes that happiness is contagious within social networks. According […]

Have Economic Debates Changed Since 1977?

I recently happened upon one of George Stigler‘s humorous asides in the 1977 Journal of Political Economy — “The Conference Handbook.” In order to make discussions of research papers more efficient, Stigler suggested that one should simply interrupt the speaker by shouting the numbered objection, rather than the usual, overly long interjection. And as a […]

Progress May Not Be Lethal After All

After much protest and anxiety, an Ikea opens in Brooklyn and turns out to not be so horrible. Every person in America protests Rupert Murdoch‘s purchase of the Wall Street Journal, but it’s actually looking pretty good. Back in 1966, Time magazine predicted that “remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop — because women like […]

There’s No Free Lunch, or Money

Lord knows most people are not as financially literate as they should be. But that doesn’t mean we have to see financial illiteracy even when it doesn’t exist. In Britain, the price-comparison website moneysupermarket.com hired people to stand on the sidewalk offering to give anyone who asked a free £5 note, with no obligations or […]

How Much Would You Pay for a $50 Target Gift Card?

If your eBay user name is lpinok, then the answer is $55.71. This seems to defy all logic. The item description is: “Just a $50 gift card to Target … .” Why would anyone pay more than face value? (Hat tip: David Hansen)

The FREAK-est Links

Man who “sold his soul” on e-Bay speaks out. (Earlier) Baby named “Wrigley Fields” by Cub fan parents. (Earlier) Low on pork, China opens its strategic pig reserves. Can 25 divided by 5 equal 14? Spot the faulty logic.

Please buy gas!

This e-mail reprinted below, which is circulating incredibly widely, may represent a new low in economic thinking. It declares September 1st “No Gas Day.” I got three copies today. Still, I wasn’t going to blog about it, until I went on the web-search engine technorati and saw that all sorts of bloggers seem to be […]