#2. The Regression Fallacy
You'll Hear it As:
"If this cock ring isn't lucky, then how come I got that new job when I was wearing it?"
How It Screws Us:
Human beings are hardwired to see patterns. Seeing links and connections between various stimuli is a big part of how people navigate complex environments. Back in the earlier days of our evolution, it helped us to hunt and find food; today it helps us deal with people, keep track of large amounts of information and figure out just what the fuck is happening on Lost.
But misfires in pattern recognition create all sorts of weirdness, particularly in the form of superstition. You're playing the slots, losing and losing, when suddenly an obese woman next to you farts. You hit the jackpot, and suddenly you're convinced her colon houses gaseous magic. You're following her around the casino the rest of the day, continually asking if she wants one of these extra burritos you happen to have lying around.
It Gets Worse...A great example of The Regression Fallacy is the alleged "Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx."
The Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx is a supposed curse where athletes who appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated will then become terrible or have a run of bad luck afterward (there's a similar belief about Madden Football). Forgetting that Michael Jordan was on the cover 49 times and never had a slump, everyone fails to realize that people are often on the cover of the magazine at the height of their careers, so they're bound to get worse. Big fluctuations are natural in an athlete's career, as is a downward level of skill.
That's why they call it the Regression Fallacy, because any trend is going to regress back to where it normally is. Crime goes way up in the city, they elect a new mayor, and crime goes down. Wow! This mayor is magic! Or maybe he's secretly Batman! Actually, the crime increase was out of the ordinary and crime was destined to fall back to its normal level. But the mayor--and countless other politicians and gurus--will make an entire career out of exploiting the Regression Fallacy.
#1. Special Pleading
You'll Hear it As:
"I know I was a heroin addict, but this is different. It's meth."
How It Screws Us:
Although it sounds like what you'll need to do to get your significant other to, just this once, try on a rubber hood and call you "Duke," Special Pleading is actually when we allow something to be an exception to a rule, for no logical reason.
In every day life, people use Special Pleading to make them feel less guilty about doing shitty things. When someone else eats the last doughnut, they're a classless motherfucker who deserves to rot in Hell; when you or a friend does it, it's because you were really hungry and you've had a bad day and you didn't get any doughnuts the last time. Special Pleading is the lettuce in mankind's hypocrisy salad.
We'll slow down with the food references, now.
It Gets Worse...
You don't need us to point out examples of hypocrisy, from cops who won't write traffic tickets to other cops, to politicians who talk about how important the public school system is while putting their own kids in a exclusive private schools.
What's interesting is how everyone excuses it in their own mind.
You can't find anyone who simply says, "The rules don't apply to us because we're awesome!" Thanks to Special Pleading, there are elaborate mental gymnastics that happen inside them that eliminate even their feelings of guilt. And the thing is, sometimes they're right; you did call your boss a motherfucker because you were having a bad day. You do have bad habits due to your childhood upbringing. You were abrupt with your girlfriend because you were running late.
But what's strange is we don't let anyone else have those excuses. The girl behind the counter at Starbucks wasn't rude because she was having a bad day. She's just a bitch. The kid at Best Buy wasn't just clueless about the return policy, he was intentionally evil and trying to steal your money. Some of us have held grudges for years, based on actions by someone else that we've forgiven ourselves for doing countless times.
They might as well call it the "This Is Why The World Seems to be Full of Dicks" fallacy.
Don't miss Michael Swaim's look at The 4 Most Impressive Wastes of Time on Record. And find out how else you continue to be your own worst enemy, in 5 Ways Your Brain Is Messing With Your Head and Sleep Jerk to Piss Shivers: 5 Body Mysteries Explained.
And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks because your brain will force you to, anyway.