The curtain rises, showing six nerds in a house, all shivering and breath visibly coming out of their nostrils.
BEN: While you clowns were sitting around yapping away, I alone had the courage to push the thermostat all the way up to 80–as high as it would go. Furthermore, our utility bill this month will be higher than all previous utility bills combined. I clearly did as much as could be expected of me, and the house is indeed getting warmer, we just need to give it some more time to heat up.
PAUL: Yes, good job Ben. There’s no one I would have preferred to be manning the thermostat. However, you really were dealt a bad hand, because it is just so darn frigid outside. As you note, the thermostat is only capable of being pushed up to 80. But since my thermometer says it’s 43 degrees in here, ideally what we’d like is to set the thermostat to about 95, to really get that furnace blasting for a few hours and warm this place up. But for now, we just have to grin and bear it, because for technical reasons we simply can’t push the thermostat above 80. I just wish we erroneously thought someone was trying to break into the house–then we’d all run around, checking that the windows and doors were locked. The exercise would warm us up so that the thermostat being set at 80 would actually work out fine.
BOB and SCOTT: Riiiiiight.
JOHN: I’m thinking maybe you guys are making a huge mistake here. Doesn’t it seem weird to you that the one time in the history of this house that we’ve got the thermostat pushed all the way up, we also are shivering like crazy? Maybe there’s some weird mechanism where the furnace is bouncing around so violently that it knocked open a hole outside and all the heat is escaping–?
PAUL and SCOTT: Riiiight.
PAUL: Yeah that’s cute John, but everybody knows that Ben has done what he could. Look at how high he’s pushed up the thermostat. That’s a heating policy if ever there were one–not one that could be responsible for the freezing house.
SCOTT: Whoa whoa whoa, let’s not reason from a thermostat change. As a general rule, a high thermostat setting means that the owner has engaged in a cold policy.
JEFF: Good point Scott. So guys, this policy is clearly not working. We’re running up huge utility bills, and I’m concerned that we’re doing permanent damage to the furnace. So let’s turn the thermostat down a notch–
SCOTT: Whoa! That would be a disaster! Why would we suddenly implement a cooling policy?
BOB: Huh? Didn’t you just tell us to never reason from a thermostat change?
SCOTT: *sigh* Obviously any given turn down of the thermostat makes things cooler than they otherwise would be.
BOB: Right, and every HVAC guy thinks the same thing. So why do you keep lecturing us on committing some type of fallacy?
SCOTT: Because you guys think that the thermostat being set to 80 somehow indicates “a heating policy.” No it doesn’t, if anything it indicates that the thermostat policy has been incredibly cold.
BOB: That’s a really weird way of looking at it. In any event, shouldn’t your lecture then be, “Never reason from the level of the thermostat,” rather than “a thermostat change”?
SCOTT: I can’t continue with this basic stuff. Go brush up on a Lee manual.
BOB: *sputtering* I was studying Lee before it was cool!
PAUL: Hey hotshot, what do *you* think we ought to do with the thermostat? You seem to have all the answers.
BOB: Well I don’t know; nobody can know what single temperature is right for millions of people in the house. I think you should let people go live in their own houses, and set their own thermostats.
PAUL, SCOTT, BEN, JOHN, and JEFF: Riiiiiiight.