SIGN REASONING “Judging a book by its cover” Sign Reasoning Assumes one thing or event is a reliable indicator of another thing or event the presence of one thing signifies the other, but does not cause the other. a flag at half mast signs can be: status symbols, economic indicators, political actions, physiological symptoms, or other indices. effect-to-cause reasoning is one form of sign reasoning example: an MD relies on symptoms (fever, sore throat) to make a preliminary diagnosis examples of sign reasoning • “It has been 50,000 miles since your car was last serviced. You need a major tune-up.” • “That guy‟s pants are „saggin‟ and he‟s wearing a Raiders jacket, so I‟ll bet he‟s a gang member.” • “The last two times I ate at Coco‟s, the same waitress took my order. I think she digs me.” • “Naomi didn‟t pick up when I called her, so I guess she‟s not home.” illustration of sign reasoning Grounds: leaves are Claim: Winter is falling, birds are approaching flying south, squirrels are gathering nuts Warrant: These characteristics are associated with the advent of Winter real-life examples of sign reasoning • Signs your significant other is fooling around • Warning signs of suicide. • Signs that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons rather than commercial nuclear technology. • Does the location of U.S. aircraft carriers signal the likelihood of military action? • Do economic signs suggest the economy has hit bottom? • inferring things about a person‟s values or lifestyle from the person‟s appearance. Al Gore uses sign reasoning to prove global warming is occurring • Gore cites circumstantial evidence, such as the fact that the warmest years on record have all occurred since 1990, as evidence of global warming • Melting glaciers and more severe hurricanes are signs of warming a sign that it is time to replace your tires • place a US penny into a groove between tread, with Lincoln's head down. If the tread is at or beyond the top of Lincoln's head you have at least 3/32-inch of tread left, a satisfactory level. • if you can see above Lincoln's head or any of the "In God We Trust" letters above his head, then you are ready for a new tire. Poker tells: can you tell a player’s hand from nonverbal cues? • Glancing at chips: “if a player immediately glances down at his chips as soon as he sees his cards, it almost always means that a player's hole cards are strong (from AskMen.com) • Sitting up straight, leaning forward: A player who has been slouching suddenly seems to take interest in the game and leans forward is usually holding a strong hand (from AskMen.com) • Splashy bet: If a player makes a large bet by throwing his chips into the pot in a grand, exaggerated fashion, he is trying to bluff you out of the pot (from AskMen.com) You are what you own: Material goods as status symbols • Consumption and materialism often function as status symbols in society • Rolex watches, Tiffany jewelry • Hummers and other luxury cars as urban status symbols • “trophy” wives • designer clothing (Armani, Gucci, etc.) • state of the art technology (plasma TVs, wireless laptops, GPS devices, cell-phones, Blackberry) • platinum credit cards • membership in country clubs signs of steroid use and eating disorders • If an athlete bulks up suddenly, is it a sign he is on steroids? • If an actress loses weight is it a sign she has an eating disorder? Barry Bonds Jason Giambi Angelina Jolie Lindsay Lohan Is the purple Teletubby gay? • The Rev. Jerry Falwell charged that Tinky Winky was gay because “He is purple -- the gay-pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle -- the gay-pride symbol". Gay? handwriting analysis as sign reasoning • Handwriting experts analyzed the letters containing anthrax for clues about their sender “Circumstantial evidence” is based on sign reasoning • Circumstantial evidence: inferring • Sherlock Holmes in one fact from another. the Boscombe Valley • Direct evidence: a witness Mystery: testifies that he saw a "Circumstantial defendant shoot a person, and evidence is a very the person subsequently died tricky thing. It may of a gunshot wound. The seem to point very witness would be providing straight to one thing, direct evidence of a material but if you shift your fact in the case. own point of view a • Indirect evidence little, you may find it (circumstantial): a witness pointing in an equally testifies that he heard a shot uncompromising and when he arrived on the manner to something scene he saw the defendant entirely different." standing over the body with a smoking gun in his hand. damning circumstantial evidence • Laci Peterson's body washed up a few miles away from where Scott Peterson said he was fishing alone months earlier. • He returned to the location three more times before her body was discovered. • Could it be just a coincidence? increased “chatter”: as a sign of terrorist activity? • May 20, 2003: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said there is no "credible, specific information" about targets or method of attack, but he says increased “chatter” suggests attacks on U.S. soil may be forthcoming. applications of sign reasoning • in business: economic indicators, inflation rate, consumer confidence, housing starts, unemployment rate • in advertising: associating products with status, prestige, elitism • in medicine: symptoms, fever, dizziness, blood pressure • in religion: 666, biblical signs of the apocalypse • in law: circumstantial evidence • in tabloids: if two celebrities are seen together, it is taken as a sign they are having an affair, or if they are not seen together it is taken as a sign of a breakup. fallible versus infallible signs • fallible: nonverbal correlates of deception. • fallible: Where there is smoke, there is fire. • infallible: genetic markers as proof of identity. • infallible: a shadow signifies the presence of a physical body • Note: infallible signs are much more common in the natural sciences tests of sign reasoning • Does one fact or event allow one to reasonably infer another fact or event? • How reliable or consistent is the sign? • Is the sign fallible or infallible? • Is the sign ambiguous (could it signify something else?) • Is the sign relevant (could it signify nothing?) • Are there a sufficient number of signs? • Are there negative or contradictory signs?
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