Dai Vernon's Close-Up Non-Sequiturs Explained (was Re:

Michael M. Butler (butler@comp*lib.org)
Sun, 21 Dec 1997 21:26:50 -0800

Hag, old bean:

I feel the need to tear into this a bit more thoroughly, like one of those
magic-store vdieos that take a whole half-hour to show you one trick.
Please don't interpret this as me tearing into you, OK?

When we last saw our intrepid explorers, we heard Hag's rejoinder as

>> >and they may not be the most practical method of ensuring
>> >your own personal autonomy and freedom.
>> This, while it is arguable, is a complete non-sequitur. The "if this is so,
>> then" part of your sentence suggests a sequitur for which I find no
>> evidence in any of the rest of your post. Are you, perhaps, throwing sand
>> in the bull's eyes?
>Huh? If the aggregate external costs are greater than the aggregate
>external benefits, then firearms are not as inexpensive as the market is
>telling us because those costs are not included in the cost of
>production. If guns aren't as inexpensive as the market is telling us,
>then before we decide if they are practical we best figure out how much
>they *do* cost us. I'm using "practical" in one of its common sense
>meanings: "efficiently accomplishing the stated purpose."

_That's_ not where I have a problem. Your quote only shows the second thing
I quoted.

Please consider again what you wrote, with the two pieces glued back together.

>If this is so, then
>firearms are not as inexpensive as the market is telling us, <- That's
the first part >
>and they may not be the most practical method of ensuring <- That's
the second part >
>your own personal autonomy and freedom.

OK, let's play word pseudocode / algebra for a minute.

Assumed: Value = Cost + Benefit
(...Cost treated as a negative; non-positive value if magnitude of
benefit not greater than magnitude of cost)
Then Value - Cost = Benefit.

What you said, I read as
If PropositionP = True, then

( | TrueCostOfF | > | MarketCostOfF | )


( ValueOfF .MayNotBeEqTo. Optimum ).

You see the ringer there now? Somehow I think a card got stuck to your
hand there, pard'... :)

You never dealt with any reading of Benefit, either True OR Market. And
*then* some OPTIMUM came blackwinging in from hypertheticalspace (your
phrase was "most practical") ...as if such a thing could be determined or
was the measure that was being discussed. AND you never said anything about
the fact that without any other data, if all you've determined is that the
magnitude of your expenses is greater than the total of the checks you
registered in your checkbook, you can't tell if you're broke.

You might as well have said "Since orange juice might be more fairly priced
higher than $1.75 a quart, which is what they charge me down at the store,
orange juice may not be the perfect food."

Huh? yourself. : Until you mentioned it, I don't recall anyone talking
about the "most practical" (the "perfect food").

>> I don't want this to devolve into a kneejerking match, but let me pose the
>> same question I asked earlier in a slightly different form: what is the
>> external cost of that left-for-dead fifteen year old girl?
>It is beyond my ability to assign a monetary value to a human life.

Seems to me someone with that limitation would have a hard time evaluating
TrueMarketBenefit and TrueMarketCost, no?


I'm left with only one possible explanation for this misunderstanding: Is
it your impression that one side of (or even _any_ of) the participants in
this specific discussion think that "orange juice is the perfect food" (to
use my analogy)? Did they SAY that anywhere, or is someone doing a little
amateur mindreading here?

_I_ certainly never said that. Who did? Raise your hands, please...


>Keith M. Elis
>A/K/A Hagbard (to the initiated)


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