April 29, 2003

Dealing With Irrational People

I snarfed this off the web back on July 24th, 2000. I was searching for something else in Tim’s archives, and found it, and decided to postify it. 


  1.  AMAZINGLY BAD ANALOGY
    • Example: You can train a dog to fetch a stick. Therefore, you can train a potato to dance.
  2. FAULTY CAUSE AND EFFECT
    • Example: On the basis of my observations, wearing huge pants makes you fat.
  3. I AM THE WORLD 
    • Example: I don’t listen to country music. Therefore, country music is not popular.
  4. IGNORING EVERYTHING SCIENCE KNOWS ABOUT THE BRAIN
    • Example: People choose to be obese/gay/alcoholic because they prefer the lifestyle.
  5. THE FEW ARE THE SAME AS THE WHOLE
    • Example: Some Elbonians are animal rights activists. Some Elbonians wear fur coats. Therefore, Elbonians are hypocrites.
  6. GENERALIZING FROM SELF
    • Example: I’m a liar. Therefore, I don’t believe what you’re saying.
  7. ARGUMENT BY BIZARRE DEFINITION 
    • Example: He’s not a criminal. He just does things that are against the law.
  8. TOTAL LOGICAL DISCONNECT
    • Example: I enjoy pasta because my house is made of bricks.
  9. JUDGING THINGS WITHOUT COMPARISON TO ALTERNATIVES
    • Example: I don’t invest in U.S. Treasury bills. There’s too much risk.
  10. ANYTHING YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND IS EASY TO DO
    • ExampIe: If you have the right tools, how hard could it be to generate nuclear fission at home?
  11. IGNORANCE OF STATISTICS
    • Example: I’m putting ALL of my money on the lottery this week because the jackpot is so big.
  12. IGNORING THE DOWNSIDE RISK
    • Example: I know that bungee jumping could kill me, but it’s three seconds of great fun!
  13. SUBSTITUTING FAMOUS QUOTES FOR COMMON SENSE
    • Example: Remember, “All things come to those who wait.” So don’t bother looking for a lob.
  14. IRRELEVANT COMPARISONS
    • Example: A hundred dollars is a good price for a toaster, compared to buying a Ferrari.
  15. CIRCULAR REASONING
    • Example: I’m correct because I’m smarter than you. And I must be smarter than you because I’m correct.
  16. INCOMPLETENESS AS PROOF OF DEFECT
    • Example: Your theory of gravity doesn’t address the question of why there are no unicorns, so it must be wrong.
  17. IGNORING THE ADVICE OF EXPERTS WITHOUT A GOOD REASON
    • Example: Sure, the experts think you shouldn’t ride a bicycle into the eye of a hurricane, but I have my own theory.
  18. FOLLOWING THE ADVICE OF KNOWN IDIOTS
    • Example: Uncle Billy says pork makes you smarter. That’s good enough for me!
  19. REACHING BIZARRE CONCLUSIONS WITHOUT ANY INFORMATION
    • Example: The car won’t start. I’m certain the spark plugs have been stolen by rogue clowns.
  20. FAULTY PATTERN RECOGNITION
    • Example: His lust six wives were murdered mysteriously. I hope to be wife number seven.
  21. FAILURE TO RECOGNIZE WHAT’S IMPORTANT
    • Example: My house is on fire! Quick, call the post office and tell them to hold my mail!
  22. UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT OF SUNK COSTS
    • Example: We’ve spent millions developing a water-powered pogo stick. We can’t stop investing now or it will all be wasted.
  23. OVERAPPLICATION OF OCCAM’S RAZOR (WHICH SAYS THE SIMPLEST EXPLANATION IS USUALLY RIGHT)
    • Example: The simplest explanation for the moon landings is that they were hoaxes.
  24. IGNORING ALL ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE
    • Example: I always get hives immediately after eating strawberries. But without a scientifically controlled experiment, it’s not reliable data. So I continue to eat strawberries every day, since I can’t tell if they cause hives.
  25. INABILITY TO UNDERSTAND THAT SOME THINGS HAVE MULTIPLE CAUSES
    • Example: The Beatles were popular for one reason only: They were good singers.
  26. JUDGING THE WHOLE BY ONE OF ITS CHARACTERISTICS
    • Example: The sun causes sunburns. Therefore, the planet would be better off without the sun.
  27. BLINDING FLASHES OF THE OBVIOUS
    • Example: If everyone had more money, we could eliminate poverty.
  28. BLAMING THE TOOL
    • Example: I bought an encyclopedia but I’m still stupid. This encyclopedia must be defective.
  29. HALLUCINATIONS OF REALITY
    • Example: I got my facts from a talking tree.
  30. TAKING THINGS TO THEIR ILLOGICAL CONCLUSION
    • ExampIe: If you let your barber cut your hair, the next thing you know he’ll be lopping off your limbs!
  31. FAILURE TO UNDERSTAND WHY RULES DON’T HAVE EXCEPTIONS
    • Example: It should be legal to shoplift, as long as you don’t take enough to hurt the company’s earnings.
  32. PROOF BY LACK OF EVIDENCE
    • Example: I’ve never seen you drunk, so you must be one of those Amish people.


From: The Joy of Work: Dilbert's Guide to Finding Happiness at the Expense of Your Co-workers. By Scott Adams

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