buxiebuxing (buxiebuxing) wrote,

People only do valuable things when you compel them 棍棒下出人才谬论

This is a pernicious and horrible fallacy. It's particularly prevalent in education, of course, but it's also an important feature in lots of "golden age" arguments. A common format for golden age arguments is: "In my day we were much more creative/disciplined/fit/etc. because we didn't have computer games, so we *had to* go out to play."

Here's an example from Manyul Im's philosophy blog manyulim.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/agency-versus-freedom/. He quotes a guy called Crawford saying: "People play musical instruments a lot less than they used to; now we listen to the stereo or iPod. An instrument is “arduous to master and limited in its range,” whereas a stereo is undemanding and makes every sort of music instantly available..."

I'm pretty dubious about the "fact" in this quote. Do people actually play musical instruments less than they used to? What time period is he comparing against? Ten seconds on Google finds me this report from 2000 www.berksmusic.com/whymusic/whymusicgallupsurvey2000.html: "50 percent of households have one person age five or older who currently plays a musical instrument". I don't believe for a minute there's ever been much higher percentages than that.

So this is an example of where a guy's basically invented a "fact" to try to confirm his assumption, which is that people make an effort (to learn a musical instrument) only under compulsion, or through lack of alternatives. We see the strength of the myth from the source of the quote. This guy Crawford is apparently a philosopher who chucked in the academic life to become a craftsman! He obviously made the choice to go and learn a craft (being a motorcycle mechanic) without any compulsion at all. Perhaps he wants to claim that most people don't do this in order to make himself seem more unique. Whatever the the motivation, his point is gibber.


Manyul Im的哲学博客最近有这么一个实例manyulim.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/agency-versus-freedom/。他评论一本哲学书,作家曾经是美国学界的红人,后来放弃自己的华盛顿精英生活去做工人,修理摩托车。但作家不相信别人与自己一样愿意投入学习新的东西。他说「现在的人不如以前那么爱自己弹乐器,而比较喜欢放碟,听mp3等,因为与艰苦的乐器学习过程来比,听mp3更加方便,而且什么音乐都可以听。」

首先,我怀疑这作家的说法没有依据,他凭什么说现在的人不奏乐器呢?在谷歌搜一搜两下攻夫,就可以找到这样的数据:「美国家庭中,家里有人弹乐器的家庭占50%。」www.berksmusic.com/whymusic/whymusicgallupsurvey2000.html 难以致信往年的数据会更高。


Tags: fallacy, 谬论

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