2

votes

Is there a name for the argument "It worked for , so it must be good"?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 13, 2011 at 8:01 PM

Not that it's terribly important, but I was having a conversation about feeding my 6 month old son his first solid foods, and when I mentioned I was starting with egg yokes, they said "we started with rice cereal and my kids turned out just fine"

I hear this line of reasoning all the time when it comes to any sort of suggested change. If some common behavior or practice was used by someone that "turned out okay", they then believe their "turning out okay" is evidence of that behavior's effectiveness.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on December 13, 2011
at 11:55 PM

I run into this phenomenon. It's why I rarely tell real life acquaintances and even casual friends about my blog; I am paranoid that they'll read it, freak out about how different it is, and label me weird/food judgmental, thus writing me off without ever getting to know me more.

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on December 13, 2011
at 11:18 PM

that's what I was thinking. Seems like when Paleos do it, it's applauded as a brilliant n=1 analysis, but when others do it, it's anecdotal...

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on December 13, 2011
at 10:08 PM

This. Absolutely. If you talk about a method or practice that goes counter to another person's, then they take it as 'my way good, your way bad.' As if by doing something different from them, you cast judgment on their methods.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:57 PM

BTW, I've been guilty of this approach. I gave my son child-rearing advice based on what did/didn't work for me. And I give eating advice in a similar fashion. I still don't call it logic, though, and only people who already agree with me will listen.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:55 PM

It's evidence that it's possible to "do X" and achieve a good outcome ("turn out ok"), but there's no causal relation ascribed.

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10 Answers

8
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on December 13, 2011
at 09:33 PM

When relatives have said this kind of thing to me, I've realized that they feel that by my making different choices than they did, that I am attacking them, saying that what they did was wrong, or not good enough, and so I would call this a "**defense mechanism".

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on December 13, 2011
at 11:55 PM

I run into this phenomenon. It's why I rarely tell real life acquaintances and even casual friends about my blog; I am paranoid that they'll read it, freak out about how different it is, and label me weird/food judgmental, thus writing me off without ever getting to know me more.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on December 13, 2011
at 10:08 PM

This. Absolutely. If you talk about a method or practice that goes counter to another person's, then they take it as 'my way good, your way bad.' As if by doing something different from them, you cast judgment on their methods.

6
Medium avatar

on December 13, 2011
at 09:22 PM

"Post hoc ergo propter hoc."

Latin for "after this, therefore because of this." This familiar logical fallacy states, "Event XYZ followed event ABC, therefore, event ABC caused event XYZ."

Similar to the fallacy of association or correlation. The mere association of two events (key word "mere") reveals no causal relationship. Though a causal relationship may in fact exist in the association/correlation. Or in the first example, the preceding event may actually be the cause of the succeeding event.

In the two cases, eating egg yolks and eating rice cereal simply preceded "turns out fine."

I had salmon for lunch yesterday. Things turned out OK today.

Phew. Close call. I think I'll live dangerously. Tomorrow, tuna.

6
306aa57660d911781231f8090c2a5619

(3808)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:54 PM

Anecdotal evidence.

Also, sometimes people will say "I did X and it worked just fine for me" when really it didn't - the person in question is actually 100lbs overweight, and suffering from multiple dietary-related health problems. But they aren't dead yet, so obviously it "worked just fine".

6
7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:36 PM

I'd say it's an association fallacy They're saying "A did X" and "A felt great", therefore "doing X is associated with feeling great".

For more possibilities, wikipedia has a nice list of fallacies.

2
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on December 13, 2011
at 11:49 PM

I agree with Jess: it's an anecdote.

Not that you were asking for a response, but the only one I can think of to such a funny assertion is "Imagine how well they would have turned out if you hadn't!"

But I also agree with Rogue that it's a defense mechanism, and therefore a strong indicator to change tactics if you want to be heard.

1
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on December 13, 2011
at 09:33 PM

I'd call that an n=1 experiment. :)

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on December 13, 2011
at 11:18 PM

that's what I was thinking. Seems like when Paleos do it, it's applauded as a brilliant n=1 analysis, but when others do it, it's anecdotal...

1
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:35 PM

The problem here is that you're looking for logic that will overrule people who aren't using logic in the first place. That probably won't work out too well for you.

You could, I suppose, point out that 40 years ago you were supposed to start with cereal very early and now they say wait a while. Back then, you were supposed to put the baby on its stomach and now they say put him/her on their backs.

So even conventional wisdom changes from year to year. You're doing what seems best based on what you now know.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 13, 2011
at 08:57 PM

BTW, I've been guilty of this approach. I gave my son child-rearing advice based on what did/didn't work for me. And I give eating advice in a similar fashion. I still don't call it logic, though, and only people who already agree with me will listen.

0
E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on December 13, 2011
at 10:31 PM

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0
A7a64fa9c162bb774d8765bedb147623

on December 13, 2011
at 08:57 PM

I usually just ignore it, or gently begin on the research behind why I do what I do, and let them choose. I know that is how I changed my views on food - researched, sound nutritional information from a variety of people and sources. If it gets them thinking, you're doing a good job, even if they still insist xyz food is the best.

I rarely go into things expecting to change minds, but a little dialog back and forth can be immensely helpful.

-2
F2323a673c2d8a97a77c1eb66abef327

on December 13, 2011
at 08:47 PM

That person is evidence of the effectiveness. Have you created this topic so that people will support your decision to do something different? Have you posted for the purpose of rallying Paleo support against convention?

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