The Nowcast Fallacy

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Lance Kennedy
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The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:10 pm

I will begin by admitting that this kind of fallacy is something I have dreamed up. It is not on the list of recognised fallacy types, but I think it is nevertheless real. I am writing this in response to an article by Michael Shermer in the latest skeptic magazine, in which he argues that no super intelligent artificial thinker or computer will ever arise. I think his 'logic ' is based on this fallacy.

To illustrate what a Nowcast Fallacy is, let me give an example. The classic is Dr Paul Ehrlich's book "The Population Bomb ", published in 1968. He based the book on the growth in global population that was the case at that time. His basic theme was global famine. He predicted that by the late 1970's there would be widespread global famine, due to too many people and not enough food. He predicted deaths by the hundreds of millions, or billions.

It never happened. Why not ?

The reason his prediction failed is that he did not take into account the growth in farming technology, and particularly new high production hybrid crops. In fact, by the late 1970's, people were better fed, rather than starving. So a Nowcast Fallacy is when someone makes predictions based on existing trends, but fails to take into account possible future trends. For Ehrlich, it was a trend in population growth, but ignoring a growth in agricultural capability.

In the case of the Shermer article, I think he is basing his conclusions on what is currently true about computers, and computer technology growth, but is failing to consider future trends that will be different. It seems to me that, over the next 50 years, there will be many new developments in computer science and some will not be predicted by Shermer, making his conclusions very suspect indeed.

Do you know of other predictions, well publicised, that may fail due to this fallacy.?

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:15 pm

I think the point of a logical fallacy is that you can see it RIGHT NOW in what is written. You don't have to wait for unidentified unknowns to make it better or worse.

(sarc/on) You may be suffering from the "I said it First" fallacy. (sarc/off)
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:04 pm

Bobbo

The Nowcast Fallacy becomes clear when you see it. A little smart thinking, and you realise that the writer is offering current trends only, and not taking into account that things will change.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:21 pm

Predictions based on trends is like that. Like any other variable in an analysis. EG: "If you heat ice above 32F... it will melt." That is not a fallacy just because if you change 32 to -15 the outcome changes. Don't quibble.

To be a fallacy.....you have to read the trend lines presented and then specifically identify the counter trend that will alter the outcome. To make a general critique that "things will change" doesn't address the "if==then" analysis AT ALL.

In fact, Ehrlich was right. The If was just negated.

Simple.
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:33 pm

It is always a fallacy to assume nothing changes except what you are projecting.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:39 pm

Ha, ha.........thats not what a fallacy is. Read what has already been posted.

..........but I doubt you will move on the subject, so I withdraw.
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:09 am

I looked it up in the dictionary.

A fallacy is an error in reasoning that renders an argument invalid.

By that definition, reasoning without taking into account other factors is an error, and renders the argument invalid. Thus, the Nowcast Fallacy.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:13 am

No. Reasoning is EXACTLY not that. The logic of "if-then" analysis ((what is the better word for that process?)) only tells you if the conclusion drawn is LOGICAL. Doesn't tell you at all if it is true or accurate. Contra: all true conclusion are logically correct as well......assuming you don't fudge the manipulate.

EVERY statement made excludes variables. A fallacy that applies to every statement made......is worthless.
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:39 am

If a fallacy is clear, it is a fallacy. Ehrlich based his fallacy on population growth but ignored growth in agricultural technology. Shermer based his argument on current limitation to computer technology, but ignored the rather obvious point that such limitations will be a lot less in the future.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:25 am

Now address what I said, rather than repeat what you already said and is boneheaded obvious to begin with.
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby ElectricMonk » Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:31 am

It's not a fallacy if the reasoning is done with the best data currently available.
The argument can be sound and still turn out to be wrong.

Future predictions can have a larger or smaller error bar, but they can't be "false" until the predicted event has failed to happen.
Most cases of extrapolating trends will be wrong, but that is due to the fact that predictions are 2nd order chaotic problems: just by making the prediction you change how people react to related events.
So no, this is not a fallacy - if people had stopped innovating food production methods and eliminated birth control, we probably would have had an overpopulation/famine problem by now.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:19 am

By your reasoning, EM, when Archbishop Ussher calculated that the Earth was created in 4004 BC, that was not a fallacy.

Yeah, riiiight!

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby ElectricMonk » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:57 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:By your reasoning, EM, when Archbishop Ussher calculated that the Earth was created in 4004 BC, that was not a fallacy.

Yeah, riiiight!


Strawman.

He didn't have the data to make that calculation.

But I would accept Lord Kelvin's calculation of the age of the sun (assuming it was made of coal) as a non-fallacy, since he could not have known about nuclear fusion.

http://zapatopi.net/kelvin/papers/on_th ... _heat.html
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:04 am

EM
You said it was not a fallacy if done with the best data available.
Usher used the best data available, and it was a load of cobblers.

A fallacy is a fallacy even if you use the best data available.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby ElectricMonk » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:11 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:EM
You said it was not a fallacy if done with the best data available.
Usher used the best data available, and it was a load of cobblers.

A fallacy is a fallacy even if you use the best data available.



If you consider the Bible as a scientific book, then I guess you are right: it was the best data available.
I think he could have used other sources, but, fair is fair, everyone at the time believe the Bible to be fact.

So yes, it wasn't a fallacy but the result of bad data of the used source.
Garbage in - Garbage out doesn't mean the process is wrong.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:45 pm

GIGO is in itself a fallacy.
In rational reasoning, it is vital we check our inputs.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:02 pm

GIGO is not a fallacy. Its just an aphorism as it happens so often. I make some quite delicious fruit smoothies out of garbage.
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:55 pm

Like most aphorisms, it contains truth. We are supposed to be skeptics, meaning rational thinking and critical thinking people. Not fools.
Any rational thought includes the process of looking at our assumptions and weeding out garbage.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:12 pm

Lance.........are you agreeing gigo is not a fallacy?
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:18 am

Let me put it this way.

Failing to eliminate the garbage in leads to fallacy

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:59 am

No it doesn't. You are conflating/interpreting in error that "fallacy" means the same thing as "wrong."

It doesn't.

buy and use a dictionary.
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:01 am

I think, Bobbo, you are arguing for the sake of arguing.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:31 am

But YOU aren't arguing at all............as in actually responding to what is said.

No.........I don't argue for the sake of it. That being true, I'm on the edge of not responding constantly with you, because a worthwhile argument does require two people.
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:59 am

This argument has gone silly.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby ElectricMonk » Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:15 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:This argument has gone silly.


You had no argument to begin with.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby OlegTheBatty » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:15 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Bobbo

The Nowcast Fallacy becomes clear when you see it. A little smart thinking, and you realise that the writer is offering current trends only, and not taking into account that things will change.


Where is there a fallacy? the argument is "If trends continue the way they are, suchandsuch will result." The major premise is conditional.

Your contention is that if trends do not continue the way they are, the argument is false. It isn't. The conclusion becomes false because the conditional premise changes, not because the argument is fallacious.
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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby Poodle » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:42 pm

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:GIGO is not a fallacy. Its just an aphorism as it happens so often. I make some quite delicious fruit smoothies out of garbage.


I challenge that statement. I think.

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Re: The Nowcast Fallacy

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:23 pm

Poodle: Good. Show Lance how to argue rationally.

"Garbage In, Garbage Out"==show the fallacy. ie: name it.
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