Fallacy: Relative Privation

by Captain Walker

Categories: Humanities, Psychology & Philosophy

As usual this is triggered by my interactions in the background, with one or two who are gluttons for punishment – with exceptionally thick callouses on their backs! ? Oh yes – the beatings over the years has caused this. Obviously they derive some ‘masochistic’ pleasure from this! Just to be clear, I do not mean anything ‘sexual’. Chryssst! ?

Right – so I’ve decided to document more what is referred to as ‘logical fallacies’ on this blog. This is about the ‘zillions’ of mistakes made in the minds of people, thought processes, failures of logic and lack of critical thinking. All posts that follow the theme of fallacies, will have a common set of tags (which is not ‘category’) – and I’m not spoon-feeding on the difference.

Relative Privation – abbreviated to RP hereafter – is a very common fallacy of thinking. Did I say ‘deprivation’? I did NOT!

I came across the scenario the other night when somebody said, “I know shite, pointless and unproductive but at least I’m not working ?” This brought back to me another similar one but more serious, when a certain anonymous young lady said, “It’s better to be an old man’s darling than a young man’s slave!” But I’ll explain the context of the latter. She was a staunch catholic – butter could not melt in her mouth! She read the bible on mornings and the last thing at night. She was of the highest moral character, around age 18, single and uncommitted. Immediately – any talk of this will send imaginations and suppositions running wild. I know – because I know how human minds work! Well, she was no relationship to me. How I knew of her is totally irrelevant. But minds will nonetheless remain distracted from the key point!

Getting back on track, suddenly and out of the blue, it was discovered that she had hooked up with a male of about 50. He was rich and had owned several big businesses. How this happened is not important. Nobody actually said anything disapproving to her. But the looks and non-verbal responses she got basically told her that they were thinking i.e. “What the hell is wrong with you?!! Have you gone mad? You stupid girl – can’t you see he is using you?!” Some will of course argue that she was not doing anything immoral  by choosing a man who could have been her father. Except that the man was married.  So in the course of some conversation with others who knew her – who were probably gently hinting this wasn’t right – she blurted out, “It’s better to be an old man’s darling than a young man’s slave!” This was when someone commented on the man’s age. Well, he did use her! I won’t go into it and what happened next. How I came to know of these facts is again, not important. Focus on the statement in terms of RP.

How it worked for her was like this:

  1. Being a young man’s slave is a very bad thing – a worst case scenario.
  2. Being an old man’s darling is a better thing than that.
  3. So I’ll take the better thing.

To be 200% clear, the above example is not a dig at anyone in a similar situation.

Much has been written on RP out there, so this is not going to be a tutorial! RP can be used to justify a course of action or thinking. It can be used to justify a self-defeating course of action, or it can be used to criticise a certain position taken. But note that the main issue is ‘justification‘ which I’ve written about before.

Relative Privation is one of the stupidest tricks the mind plays on itself. But it is not just about one individual’s mind; other people can reinforce an absurd conclusion or course of action/inaction.

In overview RP is “Trying to make a scenario appear better or worse by comparing it to the best or worst case scenario.” To continue allowing your mind to play tricks on itself, avoid clicking this. RP is also known as the ‘not as bad‘ fallacy. It is a serious thing, when it enters high-level decision-making.

Other forms of RP:

  1. It’s a start (as against not starting at all).
  2. Something is better than nothing!
  3. I prefer to die enjoying one of my vices.
  4. A funny take on RP in the COVID-19 era.??


Disclaimer & Guidance

The reading of posts on this blog is subject to the Terms & Conditions. Unpalatable truths and personal experiences may be told. Nothing posted on this blog is directed at any identified person. On occasions individuals are quoted anonymously. That does not mean that they have been identified to the world. Should any person or organisation reading this blog find something that makes them feel or know that they  are being referred to – any such perceived identification does not mean ‘identified to the world’. ‘Stupid‘ is an impish figment of my imagination who occasionally is allowed to pop up – and does not represent any known individual, individuals or groups. The treatment of  ‘Stupid‘ is not representative of the way people are treated in real life. Adverse inferences made are dismissed in advance.  

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