It Ain’t Necessarily So

It Ain’t Necessarily So” is a song from the musical “Porgy and Bess“. The song’s first verse is:

It ain’t necessarily so
It ain’t necessarily so
The t’ings dat yo’ li’ble
To read in de Bible,
It ain’t necessarily so.

The things that you’re liable to read in the Bible aren’t the only ideas we hear that have questionable validity. Here are some others: [1]

January 2019
  • Tariffs are taxes on the country that sells the product.
    A tariff is a customs duty or border tax. It’s the buyer; not the seller who pays the tariff. Tariffs are paid by the “importer of record” … the person or company buying the product. If the tariff isn’t too high, the importer … or, occasionally, even the exporter … might absorb the additional cost. If the importer cannot afford to absorb the tariff, he passes it on to the consumer.
November 4, 2016
  • Half of the people in the United States are below average intelligence.
    For 42 seasons, Garrison Keillor said:
    Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong,
    all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above
    The real America is not Lake Wobegon. If intelligence was normally distributed and could be accurately measured, the bulleted statement would be true. Does the collective intelligence of all Americans meet these criteria?
    Most naturally-occurring traits … like intelligence … are normally distributed across a population. A sufficiently large sample taken from such a population will also be normally distributed. The commonly used intelligence tests (Intelligence Quotient or, more simply, IQ tests) are based on extremely large populations and have been shown to be statistically valid. There’s no problem with the statistics. The problem is with the measurement. Do IQ tests measure intelligence?
    IQ tests measure some, but not all, aspects of what most people think of as intelligence. In the past, there has been a cultural bias as well. A lot of effort has gone into eliminating that bias. IQ scores are not precise measurements. Someone with an IQ of 110 is not 10% smarter than someone with an IQ of 100. The distribution of scores is, at best, a rough approximation of what may be an essentially unmeasurable quality.
    Even a rough approximation can be useful. This picture shows how psychometricians and other social scientists view normally distributed traits.
    normal-distribution-5The Mean used for IQ tests is 100. The most commonly used IQ tests are the Wechsler with a standard deviation of 15 and the Stanford-Binet with a standard deviation of 16. If these tests were precise measurements, everybody with an IQ less than 100 would be “below average”. In practice, everyone between -1 s.d. and +1 s.d. is considered to be average. That’s the yellow area of the picture. 68.3% of us are average, but even that isn’t absolute. Someone in one of the gray areas might seem noticeably more are less intellectually competent than someone in the yellow area. Someone in the white areas might not.
    When it comes to intelligence, this quote (commonly but, perhaps not accurately, attributed to Abraham Lincoln) says it best:
    ….God must love the common man, he made so many of them.
  • What Donald Trump and Billy Bush said on the bus during a 2005  “Access Hollywood” interview is not “locker room talk“.
    Vice President Joe Biden said, “I don’t ever remember that kind of locker room talk, never.” Joe is only a few years older than I. As I recall my high school and college days, I never heard it in a locker room either. Derogatory talk in locker rooms was usually directed at others in the locker room. (That’s one reason I have tried to avoid those places since the time when I was no longer required to participate in “physical education“.)
    I did hear that sort of language in college dormitories. (I didn’t like hearing it then; I don’t like hearing it now.) It usually came from those who felt “entitled” but lacked traits that would actually be appealing to women. Perhaps Donald was one of those.
    On the Dr. Oz show, when asked what he saw when he looked in a mirror, Donald, now 70, replied, “I would say I see a person who is 35 years old.” (If he has access to that sort of “magic” mirror, I’m surprised that he isn’t selling them.) Donald sees a 35 year-old because he looks like an 18 year-old’s image of someone in the middle of his third decade. Donald thinks what he and Billy Bush were saying 11 years ago was just “locker room talk” because Donald has the emotional maturity of an “entitled” 18 year-old.
    Just for the record, the disgusting banter on that “Access Hollywood” bus didn’t go unpunished. NBC fired Billy Bush for his part in it.
  • Not paying taxes is a crime.
    Not paying taxes is a crime if and only if you owe taxes. If the Federal tax code allowed Donald Trump to use a $916 million loss to offset many years of future taxes, he’d have been a fool not to do so. It’s not his fault that the law was written that way. Do you pay taxes that you don’t owe in order to show your patriotism? A loss of $916 million doesn’t say much for Donald’s business acumen, but it doesn’t make him a criminal nor prove him to be unpatriotic.
  • Politicians should be role models.
    Why? Does one’s job make one a role model for anything other than doing that job? If you want a role model for living a good life, pick someone who lives a good life (whatever that means to you). Being good at politics … or sports … or business … or science … or anything else doesn’t mean you’re a good person. It doesn’t exclude you from being a good person either.
    A politician should have integrity with regards to her or his civic duties … just as a sports figure should have athletic ability related to his or her sport. If these people do their jobs properly AND live exemplary personal lives, you’re relatively safe in treating them as role models. If their personal lives are not to your liking, BUT in no way interfere with their job performance, mind your own business. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
  • The 2016 Presidential campaign is the most divisive in history.
    George Washington was elected to be our first President with little or no opposition. He was the hero of the Revolution. He probably could have been President for life, but wisely chose to step down after his second term. He had barely uttered his decision before John Adams and Thomas Jefferson initiated our history of campaign nastiness. The 1860 election literally tore the country apart. Soon after the winner was sworn in, 11 states left to try to form a new country. After the deadliest war in U.S. history, that President was murdered.
    Click here for a list of 10 of our most contentious Presidential campaigns.
  • A President (or individual Senator) can change the law.
    One changes a law by passing a new law. Before the President even sees the law, Congress must pass a bill. Congress is the Legislative branch of our Federal government. Congress is composed of two houses … the Senate and the House of Representatives. An individual Senator can introduce a bill, but it takes a majority of both houses of Congress to pass it. Then and only then, the bill goes to the President. The President can sign the bill into law, veto the bill (which Congress can override), or ignore the bill until it’s too late for Congress to do anything about it (pocket veto).
    Therefore, neither the President nor an individual Senator can change the law unilaterally. Maybe this will help to clarify the process:

    If you still don’t understand, you may be more than one standard deviation below the mean (see above).
  • Donald Trump is the only presidential candidate who rates women numerically.
    At the Al Smith Dinner, Hillary Clinton “discussed” Donald’s numbering system and recommended 45 as a good number for a woman.

    I think I know who she believes to be deserving of that number.
  • Washington is in collusion with Wall Street.
    My less than humble opinion is that much of Washington is too splintered, incompetent, and afraid of losing their jobs to collude with anyone … and Wall Street is sufficiently skilled in chicanery to manipulate rather than collude with Washington. Here’s what Donna Borak and Henry Williams wrote about the Presidential candidates’ views for (the web site of the Wall Street Journal).
  • Wives are responsible for the misbehavior of their husbands.
    “It ain’t necessarily so.” Regardless of what the innuendos of certain “talking heads” may imply:
    ||||||||Bill Clinton is not running for President.
    ||||||||Huma Abedin works for Hillary Clinton; not Anthony Weiner.
    ||||||||Fortunately for her, Melania Trump is not responsible for
    ||||||||what her husband says and does.
    The only thing any husband’s misbehavior says about his wife is that there’s no accounting for taste … and women are sometimes more loyal than men deserve.


[ Main Menu ]


End Notes
  1. Not surprisingly, these earliest entries in the list are inspired by the 2016 Presidential campaign.
    Return to Point of Reference



[ Main Menu ]

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