Bad Probability

Bad math. If the vaccine works 0% of the time or 100% of the time, this meme is right. If it works some of the time, which is the way most things work in medicine, this meme is wrong.

Lets say that the chance of the vaccine working on a person is x.
If I meet you, I’m vaccinated, and you’re not, the chance I’m safe is x.
If I meet you, I’m vaccinated and you’re vaccinated, the chance I’m unsafe is the chance that my vaccine didn’t work (1-x) and yours didn’t work (1-x), or (1-x)^2. The chance that at least one of them worked is therefore 1-(1-x)^2.

The advantage for me in having you vaccinated is therefore
1-(1-x)^2-x = 1-(1-2x+x^2)-x = 1-1+2x-x^2-x = x-x^2.

If x=0 or x=1 then this advantage is indeed zero. But if x=0.5 (the vaccine works on half the people) the advantage is 0.5-0.5^2 = 0.25. If x=0.9 (the vaccine works on 90% of the people) the advantage is 0.9-0.81 = 0.09. Etc.

Note: I am NOT arguing that we should require vaccines. I am merely arguing that this meme is bad logic.


Wholly Misleading Half Truth: Bernie Sander’s Tax Proposal


This meme gives the impression that Bernie Sander’s plan is to tax minimum wage earners at 52%. That may be the long term effect of his policies, but his plan is to limit those high tax rates to people who earn above minimum wage.

The 52% figure probably came from Bernie Tax. But that web site claims the 52% will apply from 10M$. At 15 $/hour, that would mean a minimum wage earner would have to work 10,000,000/15 hours, which is non stop for about 76 years, to get that amount.

Bad Statistics: Gun Homicide Rates


Bad statistics. The fact that the gun homicide rate is higher is irrelevant, for two reasons:
1. Murderous Brits or Australians might just use a knife or a car. So you need to compare the total homidice rate, not specifically the gun one. 
2. Homicide isn’t always bad. If Robert the Rapist tried to rape Veronica Victim and she shot him dead, it’s justifiable homicide. It is part of the statistics. You need to look at statistics for murder and negligent homicide, not total homicide (unless you believe criminal Robert dying is a worse outcome than innocent Veronica being raped).
In addition to this, cross-country comparisons run into differences in culture as well as the exact definition and collection of statistics. A more meaningful comparison is to compare close points in time in the same country.

Quote out of Context


The quote makes it seems like he’s a gun grabber. He may be, but the quote is out of context. Here is the article where it originated.

And if you want to have a gun in your house, I think you’re pretty stupid – particularly if you have kids – but I guess you have a right to do that.

There’s a world of a difference between a politician who thinks we are stupid, and one who believes we don’t have the right to do as we see fit. I’m not saying Michael Bloomberg believes that we have a right to keep and bear arms, but this quote is not strong evidence against that.

Not One Democrat wants what some of them do

This is not accurate.
1. “Murdering babies” depends on your definition of baby. If you believe life starts at a point before birth, you also believe abortion after that point is murder.
I. “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them… ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.” U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes,” 2/5/95
II. “We must get rid of all the guns.” Sarah Brady, speaking on behalf of HCI with Sheriff Jay Printz & others on “The Phil Donahue Show” September 1994
III. Ban guns! Not just gun violence. Not just certain guns. Not just already-technically-illegal guns. All of them. ” Article in The New Republic (
IV. “We could use a President who was, like, ‘OK. Everybody turn in all your guns tomorrow by 5 p.m. After that, if I catch you with a gun then I’m sending SEAL Team Six to your house with a recent Facebook picture of you and those tanks that shoot fire that we haven’t used since Waco — Ummm — I mean since World War II.’” CNN Commentator W. Kamau Bell (
V. “If I could I would take all the guns in America, put them on big barges, and go dump them in the ocean,” says Walker in the above video from the Oregonian. “Nobody would have a gun. Not police, not security, not anybody. We should eliminate all of them.” Multnomah County Circuit (Oregon) Judge Kenneth Walker (
I agree that many Democrats want to only ban handguns (the kind useful for self-defense outside the home) and semi-automatic rifles (the kind useful for defense against multiple assailants). But it is either a mistake or gaslighting to say that NO Democrat wants a full ban.

Wholly Misleading Half Truth: Not all National Emergencies are Equal


The problem with this list is that usually a National Emergency declaration is used to justify economic sanctions on foreign persons who do something opposed to US foreign policy (see Here, it’s going around the budgetary process.

Bad Analogy: Involved vs. Uninvolved Victim


Bad analogy. Obesity kills people who choose to participate (by overeating). Gun violence kills innocent victims. Not many of them, most gun deaths are suicides and most of the rest gang warfare, but some.

Note: Vince Campanile make the important distinction that childhood obesity does involve people who haven’t made that choice for themselves.

Edit: Apparently it’s part of a more complex argument. You can see that argument here.

Bad Inference: Car Registration


The legal requirements to drive a car (license, registration, and insurance) aren’t required to drive a car. They are required to drive a car on public roads. As in, the roads that the government maintains. The government is in the position of a property owner, which has the right to charge for the use of the property and determine under which conditions that use is allowed.

If you own property where you can drive a car, for example a farm, you don’t need license, registration, or insurance to drive it. The car’s ownership is not the matter, but the license to use it on somebody else’s road.

Faulty Analogy: Pork vs. Abortion


There are two problems with this analogy.

The first is a minor problem. Judaism doesn’t teach that gentiles should abstain from pork. The Jewish belief is that pork in malum prohibitum for Jews, that it is only forbidden for Jews because God forbade Jews to eat it. But that’s a minor point. We can replace eating pork with idolatry, which Jews believe is universally forbidden, and the logic would remain the same.

The major problem can be seen from this analogous reasoning:

7. It was legal in Nazi Germany to kill people for being incurably sick

8. The Christian religion is against killing people for being incurably sick

9. Christians could not (but did) demand that the rest of Nazi Germany be against the killing of the incurably sick

Most people will reject the inference 7-9, and agree that it was morally right (if very dangerous) to protest Aktion T4. Why? What is the relevant difference between eating pork and killing people who are incurably sick?

Clearly, the difference is in the people being affected. When a person eats pork, the effects are on that person. When a person kills another, the person being killed (say, the one judged incurably sick by a Nazi doctor) suffers the effects.

Of what type is reasoning chain 4-6? That depends on whether you consider a fetus a human being with rights, or a morally meaningless clump of cells to be disposed of as the pregnant woman desires. The analogy between 1-3 and 4-6 presupposes that the fetus is a morally meaningless clump of cells that can be disposed of for any reason or none. But the entire abortion debate revolves on that specific point. To silently assume one position makes for an argument that only appears valid to those who were already holding that position.

Note: Please do not debate abortion here. That debate has been done to death and beyond, and there’s almost nothing interesting to say about it. This blog post is for debating the logical form of argumentation on display here.