RationalWiki's 2018 Fundraiser

There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff — we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.

If everyone seeing this today donates $5, we will meet our goal for 2018.

Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with PayPal Logo.png!

Donations so far: $2397Goal: $5000

Talk:Nirvana fallacy

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

On the form of the fallacy - does this look right?[edit]

Something along the lines of;

P1. Imperfect solutions to problem X are in fact part of problem X.
P2. Only a perfect solution actually counts as a solution to problem X.
P3. Different parallell perfect solutions to problem X cannot co-exist, only one imaginable solution is the truly perfect one.
C1. If problem X can be solved, it can thus be solved perfectly.
P4. Anything but the perfect solution Y to problem X is inherently unrealistic, as any solution but the perfect solution Y can per definition not solve problem X.
C2. "Solving problem X realistically" is thus defined to mean: only implementing the particular, perfect solution to problem X - solution Y.

There's bound to be unecessary junk in this box, and it's not at all out of the question that this is so far from the original form that it's not even this fallacy anymore. That's not a problem - I was just dicking around with the thought behind the fallacy to see what turned out. Thoughts, scathing criticisms, etc? Reverend Black Percy (talk) 16:45, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

I'm already thinking that P1 could be scratched. Hmm... Reverend Black Percy (talk) 16:47, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

Disregarding the above[edit]

Maybe one could simply phrase the whole fallacy long the lines of;

The merit of a solution is measured only by its imagined results.

Thoughts? Reverend Black Percy (talk) 16:57, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

Hm. I'll try and come up with something tomorrow; interesting thoughts, here. 32℉uzzy; 0℃atPotato (talk/stalk) 02:26, 11 April 2016 (UTC)


P1: If a solution does not solve 100% of its problem, then that solution is not a solution to that problem.
P2: Solution X does not solve 100% of its problem.
C1: Solution X is not a solution to its problem.

While the justifications for P1 that you present above are interesting (in that they provide insight into why people might think that the Nirvana fallacy applies) and should be included somewhere, they aren't strictly necessary for the syllogism. Fuzzy "Cat" Potato, Jr. (talk/stalk) 14:26, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

I always thought the best oversimplification was "Making the perfect the enemy of the good" when I express it. The problem is that it takes a brain to evaluate instead of set steps or Boolean logic. You need to make sure how much of the problem the solution fixes, evaluate the negative externalities it causes (number/size), and evaluate the cost of doing so. With a big oversimplification you have a lot of room to define the problem/solution, where the middle view of strict points/syllogisms seems like putting a vice on silly putty. In trying to define it all the nuance you tried to keep has leaked out the side. That's just my view though in too many words. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 15:04, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
I though it was of the form where the perfect solution simply does not exist but the person argues that it does and rejects the best solution as a result. For example, Solar Power. Relatively clean if manufactured right, renewable, and production is generally corellated with use. The perfect place for such plants would be a desert, with virtually no cloud cover and little environmental damages. Then you have Nancy Pelosi opposing it. Why? Well little environmental damage doesn't mean no environmental damage. The solar cells and mirrors provide shady areas for lizards and such, which would have an impact on the environment. StickySock (talk) 15:36, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
I always thought it was arguing that this wasn't a perfect solution, if it exists or not we don't know, so any "good" solution that was proposed doesn't meet the muster of being "worth it" to do until that fully formed solution to fix it all was available. Like widget Bobs Your Uncle reduces plane crashes by exploding fuel during flight by 75%, at a small increase in weight and cost, but because it's not 100%...screw doing it. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 15:58, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
Since we can't find a definition that will please everyone, we should delete the article :P. But yeah, I think we agree in general terms that it's "rejecting a good solution because it isn't perfect", we just disagree on whether it's "rejection due to erroneous belief in perfect solution existing" versus "rejection in favor of finding better unknown solution regardless of existence". Because the abstinence crowd believes that abstinence is the perfect solution even though it's not, yet fight sex education which is likely the best possible solution. StickySock (talk) 16:37, 11 April 2016 (UTC)
I think that quote from Emerald was good, though I'd toss it around to say "Making the good the enemy of the perfect". Or maybe I wouldn't, come to think of it... darn quotes. Anyhow - that, plus my 2nd definition ("The merit of a solution is measured only by its imagined results.") captures the general idea for me, I think. Basically, it's "the end justifies the means", where the "means" are meant to be "the hurdles of probability in getting this ideal solution to work realistically". One could phrase it, "the perfection justifies the incredibility" instead of "the ends justify the means", I guess. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 01:25, 13 April 2016 (UTC)