Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Right For The Wrong Reasons

See, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum. And one night, they decide they don't like living in the asylum anymore. They decide they're going to escape! So, like, they get up onto the roof, and there, just across this narrow gap, they see the rooftops of the town, stretching away into the moonlight. Stretching away to freedom. Now, the first guy, he jumps right across with no problem. But his friend, his friend daren't make the leap. Y'see... y'see, he's afraid of falling. So then the first guy has an idea... He says, "Hey, I have a flashlight with me! I'll shine it across the gap between the buildings. You can walk across the beam and join me!" But the second guy just shakes his head. He suh-says... he says "Wh-what do you think I am? Crazy? You'd turn it off when I was halfway across!"

Someone makes a conclusion based on what he perceives are facts. His conclusion is correct, his logic is (usually) fine, but the facts themselves are wrong.

The Gettier Problem  is a well-known issue in epistemology that basically uses this scenario to mount an attack on the definition of "knowledge" as "justified, true belief" — a conclusion reached this way is justified and true, but intuitively we wouldn't call it knowledge.

Compare and contrast Framing the Guilty Party, where the facts are KNOWN to be false, but the conclusion is still correct. Also compare Conviction by Counterfactual Clue. Can sometimes overlap with Accidentally Accuratewhen it happens on a meta-level. Dismissing the conclusion because of erroneous facts would be the Fallacy Fallacy. When the premises and the conclusion are correct, but the logic connecting them is completely insane, you have a Bat Deduction. For the direct inverse, where the logic and premises are perfectly sound, but the conclusion isn't, see Entertainingly Wrong. May be a reason for Don't Shoot the Message.