I had a little fun on Twitter this morning. From @UnixToolTip I said
Some of the best programmers use Emacs. Therefore, if you use Emacs, you’ll be a great programmer. #cargocultlogic
and from @CompSciFact I said
Some of the best programmers have beards. Therefore, growing a beard will make you a better programmer. #cargocultlogic
The serious implication behind the joke is that mimicking the superficial characteristics of a good programmer will not make you a good programmer.
Apparently most people thought these were funny, but as usual, some people got bent out of shape. They didn’t realize these were meant to be funny, or at least intentionally illogical, despite the cargo cult hash tag. They thought I was slamming vi(m) or being sexist.
Those who were offended by my humorous logic were not being logical.
Pretend for a moment that the statements above were meant seriously. If I said that using Emacs makes you a great programmer, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a good programmer unless you use Emacs. Maybe using vi(m) makes you a better programmer too. And if I really believed that growing a beard makes you a better programmer, that doesn’t imply that people who do not grow beards are doomed to mediocrity. Maybe childbirth also makes you a better programmer, even though that option is not available to some. In logic symbols, the statement p ⇒ q does not imply !p ⇒ !q.
I have two suggestions for the Twittersphere:
- Lighten up. Don’t take everything so seriously.
- If you’re going to play the logic card, be consistent.