The Veeck Effect

Once upon a time, I wrote about the Veeck effect of the first kind.

I suppose that I owe the world an essay on the Veeck effect of the second kind, which corresponds to putting a midget up to bat.  I’ll think on it.


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21 Responses to The Veeck Effect

  1. Cloudswrest says:

    Isn’t the Veeck Effect (first kind) the same as No True Scotsman?

  2. ziel says:

    Eddie Gaedel

    Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP
    1951 26 SLB AL 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000

  3. Peter Connor says:

    To be followed by Veeck encounters of the Third Kind?

  4. georgesdelatour says:

    I’m not sure I’ve fully understood what you mean by the Veeck effect. Is it when people demand an impossibly high standard of evidence for something they don’t want to be true?

    Would Cordelia Fine’s “Delusions Of Gender” qualify as Veeck style argumentation? Here is Simon Baron Cohen’s review:

    And here is Fine’s reply:

    • 420blazeitfgt says:

      It’s when a theory that works fine suddenly fails to predict something accurately and instead of discarding the theory, its supporters change the standards of evidence to force it to work.

      IIRC Simon Baron-Cohen’s idea is that girls are designed to navigate the social world and are better with people, and that boys are designed to figure out things and theoretical systems and are worse with people. I think in that book she just criticizes the evidence of sex differences he uses.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Yes, it seems to be a case of changing the goal posts.

        However, Greg’s example of Phlogiston does not seem to fit because they did change the theory to claim that Phlogiston had negative weight, although I don’t know the details so it might be that they claimed that only in the case of magnesium did Phlogiston have negative weight.

    • As far as I know, she hasn’t tried to replicate Baron-Cohen main finding on newborns, where a negative result would be the strongest possible refutation of his finding of early sex differences.

    • gcochran9 says:

      To your question: yes.

      If she thinks that there aren’t any innate sex differences in the mind and brain, she’s an utter loon. I haven’t said much about feminists and feminism, have I? Have to correct that omission sometime.

  5. dearieme says:

    It’s partly to do with time. When I was a laddy we were cheerfully told that our Ancient Briton ancestors had been head-hunters and cannibals. So when did it set in, this sentimental tripe about there being no cannibals? And where did this and your other items of intellectual ordure originate?

  6. mindfuldrone says:

    Apparently Eddie Gaedel, the midget in question, was also a hunchback. Thus his strike zone (between armpits and knees when in natural position) was 1 1/2 inches wide.

  7. It is a trait reasonable in moderation, hanging on to an attractive idea in the face of contrary evidence. The contrary evidence may be what proves ephemeral. The base idea may need only modification, not rejection. If an evil dictator signs a noble and generous treaty against all expectation, it doesn’t mean we shut down Parris Island.

    We don’t, and shouldn’t, reinvent our entire intellectual and philosophical framework every morning. We wouldn’t have time to make a sandwich, let alone research anything new. Those who are enthusiasts for each new theory supported by random scraps of evidence are also an impediment to cultural advance. There are many in the general public, and even some in the sciences, who are happy to abandon ideas too quickly. I think Education attracts this type, actually – folks who tout the theory du jour much like Bullwinkle “This time for sure!”

    The problem with such loyalty to ideas arises pretty quickly. In the best of all possible worlds, we should all be happy to toss over our favorites at about the third go-round of disproof. As we are social beings, however, we have a lot to lose and little to gain by abandoning the ideas shared by our Chosen Peer Group. (Peer pressure is actually worse in adulthood, because we are in a self-selected rather than random population.) Similarly, there was fascinating discussion over at the Volokh Conspiracy on the utility of choosing one’s politics from one’s surroundings. Votes have small effect, after all, and we have to eat and find mates and protect resources in the real world. It sounds morally shoddy, but it has gotten us where we are.

    As for the midget – one must ask the right question first: was Veeck’s aim to field a player who could draw walks indefinitely, or to get people to come look at his entertainments? The understanding shifts as clearly as his fences. There is overlap and ambiguity. Goethe’s Three Questions are apropos here.

  8. Richard Sharpe says:

    Altitude adaptation in Tibetans came from Denisovans?

    That would seem to suggest that there must be more Denisovan remains to be found.

    • Richard Sharpe says:

      Our findings illustrate that admixture with other hominin species has provided genetic variation that helped humans to adapt to new environments.

      I think someone else said that as well.

  9. Space Ghost says:

    My interpretation:

    Step 1) Choose a wildly improbable null hypothesis e.g. average cognitive ability of all races is equal.

    Step 2) Refuse to allow your opponent to use any evidence that would weigh against this null hypothesis, because said evidence is the product of discrimination / the patriarchy / oppression and not reflective of true underlying facts.

    Step 3) Given the limitations from step 2, demand that your opponent supply enough evidence to reject the null hypothesis.

    Step 4) Given your opponent’s inability to do step 3, declare that your null hypothesis is correct.

  10. east hunter says:

    The Veeck theory feels like a restatement of Popper’s falsification. If that’s accurate, I nonetheless find your version more accessible and impactful. I never tire of the colorful posts on this blog. Keep it up!

  11. ziel says:

    Getting back to the Veeck Effect of the Second Kind, that can be characterized as taking the most insignificant/incompetent/ungainly/laughable entity and harnessing it to achieve remarkable public relations success.

    An example might be the Abecedarian Project, an isolated, not very well designed and controlled “experiment” in early childhood education from the early 70’s which has been trumpeted ever since as demonstrating the guaranteed, double-digit returns on investment from high quality pre-school programs, despite the ubiquity of all the real-world evidence against such a claim.

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