The original phrase, in Latin, is post hoc, ergo propter hoc which, directly translated means â€œafter, therefore because ofâ€. It’s a warning against a mistake in logic and conclusion that many peopleâ€”myself includedâ€”have made, do make, will continue to make. A more accessible translation for the warning is: just because one event happened before a second event does not mean it caused the second event.
For example, just because we’re here to wonder about the existence of a god does not mean that a god must have created us. I suppose it’s entirely possible, but as you know, I’m a bigger fan of invisible pink unicorns.
Most of us look at the universe in terms of cause and effect, which is fine for most things, just as Euclidean geometry works for most local phenomenon. Beyond that, mapping Euclidean concepts (a point, a line, a plane) onto something like a globe will bake your noodle. A straight line becomes an arc, flat land is really a spherical cap. The wheels come off the wagon pretty quickly.
The same is true with cause and effect: look what it does to politicians! Do they resemble any of the everyday humanity in any of their behavior, their speeches? Maybe that’s why W. was so popular: he aped the ordinary, fooling enough people. He never was real human, just a boy in his daddy’s bubble.
But I digress.
So the translation of this entry’s title is a bastardized one: After bullshit, therefore because of bullshit; put another way, the bullshit of the past is not necessarily the cause of the bullshit of the present.
Bullshit I know. I’ve had an email account since my freshman year at Carnegie Mellon, which means come this August I will have been doing email for 24 years. So I know how to handle myself online versus onlife. CMU’s campus wasn’t that large; if you hurled invectives at someone in email, chances were good that you’d run into them in a class or on the quad or in the Kiltie Cafe.
So you learn pretty quickly that email is just another way of conducting yourself with other human beings. The web happened too quickly, was too far-flung. Many people never learned that one shouldn’t really accept the mantle of anonymity, much less use the anonymity as a shield behind which they can fly arrows to everyone and expect no return-fire (mostly? metaphors do mix).
You end up with the Dog’s Knot. Or you end up with cracker-ass-crazy Texans calling everyone a bigot by using bigoted statements. You end up with invented personalities. You end up with imbuing mental disorders with a trait they priorly lacked: contagiousness. You pull people into alternate realities. But Cookie Man, you say, doesn’t a movie do the same thing?
Well, sure it does, but the houselights come up at the end of the flick, or the DVD returns to the droning of the DVD main menu’s music. No such luck in an ongoing portrayal online.
Martians have invaded from the North, and we’re all gullible enough to run from our radios in a mass panic in the streets.
There was a blogger deception last year that everyone talked about, but no one would expose! What’s up with that? Even close friends of mine wouldn’t give me the URL to the offending blogger, even as they blogged about how awful it felt to be deceived!
I’m in the same position right now. And unless any of you all can give me a solid reason for not going public with a solid demonstration of deception, it’ll happen soon. Very soon.