A joke about faulty inductive logic is:
“Monday, Joe got drunk on gin and soda water. Tuesday, Joe got drunk on bourbon and soda water. Wednesday, Joe got drunk on vodka and soda water. Conclusion: soda water causes drunkenness.”
The joke was cited in the book Handbook of the History of Logic: Volume 10—Inductive Logic (2004).
Handbook of the History of Logic:
Volume 10—Inductive Logic
Edited by Dov M. Gabbay, Stephan Hartmann and John Woods
Oxford: North Holland
A philosopher goes to a bar on Monday and drinks whiskey and soda water all night. The next day he drinks vodka and soda. The following night, gin and soda, and then the night after that, bourbon and soda. Finally, on Friday, he comes into the bar and claims that he’s been too inebriated for the past week to get much work done, so tonight he’s going to drink whiskey without the soda. The philosopher has used Mill’s the method of agreement to observe that the only common thread in the four times he’s been inebriated is that he’s been drinking soda water. Therefore, soda water causes inebriation. So much the worse for simple inductive rules mindlessly applied.
Modern Marketing Research:
Concepts, Methods, and Cases
By Fred M. Feinberg, Thomas Kinnear and James R. Taylor
Mason, OH: Cengage Learning
Consider the case of a befuddled scientist who formulated a hypothesis that soda water causes intoxication. To test this hypothesis, the scientist gave, to a randomly selected group of participants, soda water mixed with one of these substances: scotch, gin, vodka, or pure ethanol. Intoxication was observed in each case. The scientist then reasoned: “I have observed concomitant variation between soda consumption and intoxication. Also, the proper time order of events to infer causality is present. My hypothesis is, therefore, correct.”
Creative Evolution—Baloney Detector (September 24, 2012)
On Tuesday, Joe got drunk on vodka and soda water. On Wednesday, Joe got drunk on ale and soda water. Conclusion: soda water causes drunkenness.
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Part of the misdiagnosis problem came from a common statistical error, illustrated by an old joke: “Monday, Joe got drunk on gin and soda water. Tuesday, Joe got drunk on bourbon and soda water. Wednesday, Joe got drunk on vodka and soda water. Conclusion: soda water causes drunkenness.” The mistake could have been prevented by comparing Joe to people who drank soda water alone or added it to non-alcoholic drinks.