Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hasty Generalization about an Unrepresentative Sample

It appears I committed two Logical Fallacies last week in my posting titled "The Chair Mystery." If you recall, I had eliminated deer as a possible suspect in the daily disappearance of the corn, as I had a couple of videos showing deer walking right by the chair.

To illustrate my error, say you went shopping at a large supermarket and saw 5 kids as you traveled the aisles--two with black hair, one with dark brown hair and two with red hair. You notice that the two red-headed kids are either grabbing things off the shelves, running around the store, or screaming in tears when denied a candy bar, while the other three kids are much better behaved, and you conclude that all red-headed kids have more behavior problems while shopping than do kids with other colors of hair.

I watched videos showing at least 5 deer walking past the chair and concluded that NO deer were eating the corn.

Yesterday's video showed a raccoon sniffing around the chair, but not eating off of it. What I intentionally didn't point out is that by the time the raccoon appeared at the chair, the corn had already been eaten by the deer. I'm guessing that again it would be a Hasty Generalization to assume raccoons won't eat off the chair; perhaps it's simply a case of the Early Bird Gets the Worm!

Finally, the recent ice and wind storms have made a real mess of the woods, but at the same time provided some new and interesting spots to place a camera. I set a cam on one such spot - and lo and behold, Ms. Hopper drops by to let us know she's still doing fine.

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