It’s true. This extremely scientific graph proves it:
You can see that as the number of pirates in the world has decreased over the past 130 years, global warming has gotten steadily worse. In fact, this makes it entirely clear that if you truly want to stop global warming, the most impactful thing to do is — become a pirate.
Hope you’re laughing. My husband told me this wonderful premise a few months ago, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you, for a very specific reason. I’m fascinated by why it’s so funny. I believe it’s because it’s an only slightly more extreme version of the fake logic we hear every day — the conclusions that pass for critical thinking in these days of completely unleashed 24-7 communication. For example:
- Someone who has cancer drinks gallons of lemon water and their cancer goes into remission: they create a website to talk about how lemon water cures cancer.
- A business is doing badly and they move to a new building and things start to pick up: the CEO writes a book about how changing your environment is the key to success.
- Statistics show that people who leave their jobs after less than a year are more likely to smoke: someone starts a campaign to reduce smoking by encouraging people to stay at their jobs longer.
My older sister, a very wise and smart woman who is a political scientist at Syracuse University, teaches a statistics class to freshmen, where she endeavors to teach them critical thinking. She talks about this as being the most common error in logic: confusing simultaneity with causality. In other words, assuming that because two things are happening at the same time, they exist in a cause and effect relationship with each other.
Because anyone can say anything anywhere these days (pretty much), there’s a lot of fuzzy thinking floating around that seems more legitimate than it would have in former times because it’s in print. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge proponent of free speech. I just feel we all have to be more discriminating than ever before about what we believe. Not cynical or negative: discriminating.
So, when someone proposes a cause and effect relationship between two things – reduction in pirates causing global warming; Obama creating the global economic crisis; young people ruining American business – ask for the data that shows they’re related, rather than simply that they’re happening at the same time.
But if you’re dead set on becoming a pirate, I’m not going to stop you.
Scientists at the PEAR laboratories noticed something odd during their work with coincidence: Some humans seemed to influence random numbers with nothing but their thoughts. Could this be pseudoscience, or a scientific breakthrough?