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Soapbox time: Univariate thinking is stupid.

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  • Soapbox time: Univariate thinking is stupid.

    Reality check:
    The real world is complicated. An outcome in the real world is rarely, if ever, driven by one single factor. Too many times I see this board settle into arguments that revolve around univariate thinking.

    Most often this is because someone doesn't like a statement that says "X has a positive/negative impact on Y". They tend to often drag out a bad counter example. "A has a bigger X than B, yet their Y is counter to what you said, therefore you are wrong."

    This argument is dumb, and is actually a fallacy. It's best to remember that "X has a positive/negative impact on Y" has an unspoken caveat in the real world. That caveat is "All other things being equal..." Meaning that if everything was the same, the one with the larger X would have the stated impact on Y.

    For a more concrete example:

    The more miles driven by Americans the more automobile deaths we will have. (X has a positive numerical impact on Y)
    This should make sense. After all, the more you are on the road, the more likley you are to be in a deadly accident.


    The counter argument is very simple to make:
    In the past we drove alot less, but the deaths per mile were higher, here's a chart:

    And that seems to be a very convincing argument. In fact, the two trends are essentially opposite to each other.

    Of course, the problem is that deaths in automobiles are not driven (pun intended) by miles on the road alone. Remember that unspoken caveat? All things being equal? That applies very easily to cars. Safety features in chars have changed dramatically over the last near century. Seatbelts, air bags, crumple zones, improved road and highway design, breakaway road signs, safety glass, etc. have all been designed and implemented in order to save lives in accidents. https://www.bts.gov/archive/publicat...16/tables/half



    At the end of the day arguing against a single variable in isolation tends to end up going nowhere. The word doesn't revolve around one single thing. That one variable can be true, but then in certain cases be counteracted by the impact of other variables. Finding a counter-example without taking those other things into account doesn't do anything except show how little you know of how the world works.

  • #2
    Obviously you are wrong and I am always right.


    Comment


    • #3
      Interesting. I would think fatalities were relatively less prior to 1960, because cars didn't move as fast early on, and then they became virtual tanks by the late 1930s It's difficult to be crushed in a tank.

      Must be the advent of those safety features.
      "You should just assume going forward that if I am ever wrong it is a typo" - Backup
      "
      Reality simply does not change based upon consensus or desire." - rogue

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Ronson View Post
        Interesting. I would think fatalities were relatively less prior to 1960, because cars didn't move as fast early on, and then they became virtual tanks by the late 1930s It's difficult to be crushed in a tank.

        Must be the advent of those safety features.
        The rigid bodies of those tanks had the unfortunate side effect of transferring alot of energy from those crashes into the squishy bodies inside. The car would survive, but the passengers inside not as much. Thats why these days it's easier to "total" a car, as the car is designed to crumple and dissipate engery from a wreck before it transfers to the passengers.

        (Think hitting a metal pole with a metal vs a wooden baseball bat)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post

          The rigid bodies of those tanks had the unfortunate side effect of transferring alot of energy from those crashes into the squishy bodies inside. The car would survive, but the passengers inside not as much. Thats why these days it's easier to "total" a car, as the car is designed to crumple and dissipate engery from a wreck before it transfers to the passengers.

          (Think hitting a metal pole with a metal vs a wooden baseball bat)
          Granted, I've never studied the subject. It just seemed to me that most people killed in car wrecks were crushed somehow (assuming they were ejected through the windshield). Yeah, bouncing around in a iron can would do some serious damage.
          "You should just assume going forward that if I am ever wrong it is a typo" - Backup
          "
          Reality simply does not change based upon consensus or desire." - rogue

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ronson View Post

            Granted, I've never studied the subject. It just seemed to me that most people killed in car wrecks were crushed somehow (assuming they were ejected through the windshield). Yeah, bouncing around in a iron can would do some serious damage.
            Here's a good little writeup:
            https://www.automotiveplastics.com/b...nd-save-lives/

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Ronson View Post
              Interesting. I would think fatalities were relatively less prior to 1960, because cars didn't move as fast early on, and then they became virtual tanks by the late 1930s It's difficult to be crushed in a tank.

              Must be the advent of those safety features.
              I had a '53 Oldsmobile that was a TANK -- I got rear-ended by a Mustang - DESTROYED that guy's car, but it only broke one of my "cone" tail lights.
              The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

              Comment


              • #8

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
                  Reality check:
                  The real world is complicated. An outcome in the real world is rarely, if ever, driven by one single factor. Too many times I see this board settle into arguments that revolve around univariate thinking.

                  Most often this is because someone doesn't like a statement that says "X has a positive/negative impact on Y". They tend to often drag out a bad counter example. "A has a bigger X than B, yet their Y is counter to what you said, therefore you are wrong."

                  This argument is dumb, and is actually a fallacy. It's best to remember that "X has a positive/negative impact on Y" has an unspoken caveat in the real world. That caveat is "All other things being equal..." Meaning that if everything was the same, the one with the larger X would have the stated impact on Y.

                  For a more concrete example:

                  The more miles driven by Americans the more automobile deaths we will have. (X has a positive numerical impact on Y)
                  This should make sense. After all, the more you are on the road, the more likley you are to be in a deadly accident.




                  The counter argument is very simple to make:
                  In the past we drove alot less, but the deaths per mile were higher, here's a chart:



                  And that seems to be a very convincing argument. In fact, the two trends are essentially opposite to each other.

                  Of course, the problem is that deaths in automobiles are not driven (pun intended) by miles on the road alone. Remember that unspoken caveat? All things being equal? That applies very easily to cars. Safety features in chars have changed dramatically over the last near century. Seatbelts, air bags, crumple zones, improved road and highway design, breakaway road signs, safety glass, etc. have all been designed and implemented in order to save lives in accidents. https://www.bts.gov/archive/publicat...16/tables/half



                  At the end of the day arguing against a single variable in isolation tends to end up going nowhere. The word doesn't revolve around one single thing. That one variable can be true, but then in certain cases be counteracted by the impact of other variables. Finding a counter-example without taking those other things into account doesn't do anything except show how little you know of how the world works.
                  Please, if you can, give an example of a univariate argument presented here. Since this is the place you’ve seen it used so often, I’d like to see its dismantling.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by whag View Post

                    Please, if you can, give an example of a univariate argument presented here. Since this is the place you’ve seen it used so often, I’d like to see its dismantling.
                    See Gond and Hypatias "discussion" on "Single biggest factor".

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      So, it turns out that when you're sleepy and read the Subject in haste, you see "Urinate tinkling is stupid."
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                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by NorrinRadd View Post
                        So, it turns out that when you're sleepy and read the Subject in haste, you see "Urinate tinkling is stupid."
                        Been there done that. (Though not with urinate tinkling).

                        Comment

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