Slippery-Slope Logic vs. Health Care Law – Economic View – NYTimes.com

A great opinion piece by Richard Thaler (one of the pioneers on thinking and economics), on the common reasoning fallacy of ‘slippery-slope’ arguments, without any solid evidence (hence their popularity in the economic domain). Quote on broccoli and healthcare SCOTUS hearings:

Please stop! The very fact that a slippery slope is being cited as grounds for declaring the law unconstitutional — despite that “significant deference” usually given to laws passed by Congress — tells you all that you need to know about the argument’s validity. Can anyone imagine Congress passing a broccoli mandate law, much less the court allowing it to take effect?

The irony is that Justices Roberts and Scalia are warning of a risk that they and their colleagues have the power to prevent. Surely, the justices have the conceptual resources to draw a distinction between the health care market and the market for broccoli. And even if they don’t, then all the briefs, the zillions of blog posts and a generation’s worth of economic literature can help them.

More generally, we would be better off as a society if we could collectively agree to ignore all slippery-slope arguments that aren’t accompanied by evidence that said slope exists. If you are opposed to a policy, state your case based on the merits — not on the imagined risk of what else might happen down the road. The path of that road is so unpredictable that it may even produce a U-turn.

Slippery-Slope Logic vs. Health Care Law – Economic View – NYTimes.com.

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