On many occasions "difficult to explain" turns out to be a hint for "not actually true".

Is this actually an useful heuristic? It seems to me that most things in the world are very difficult to explain truthfully, but especially this case.

We can probably agree that wearing a puffy shirt would be a bad idea, but can anyone really easily explain why?

Perhaps someone could explain why some specific item of clothing is not fashionable, and I am at fault to some extent here, because I have not studied the psychology of fashion in enough depth to eloquently explain this. I am not aware of many people who have attempted to explain specific fashions in a manner that could withstand rational analysis, however.

In earlier centuries, costume rules were a matter not merely of following fashion but of obeying the law of the land. No knight under the rank of lord was permitted to wear a tunic that failed to cover his buttocks.

If the explanation for the original point was: "You can't wear t-shirts with slogans because the King has decreed it against the law", would that be a much more satisfying answer? If so, then the answer you're looking for is that these days fashion is slightly more democratic, but the rules of costume are still mainly decreed by the people with the highest social status, and they have judged t-shirts with slogans on them unfashionable for anyone below a specific rank.

There are better explanations for fashion certainly, but those require intricate knowledge of immensely complex systems, with the system in this case being the synergistic combination of all human animals - all of human society. It is only my opinion, and someone could easily prove me wrong by doing it, but it seems to me that truly explaining a particular fashion in a holistic sense would be a task that well deserves the description — "difficult".

Desmond Morris writes well about the subject in his book "Peoplewatching". I found it to be one of the better written and argued writings in the field.

Simply as a matter of empirical counter-example, let me point you to the many online tee stores that make an apparently healthy business of selling (among other things) tee-shirts with slogans on them.

Puffy shirts are also worn with beneficial effects by many women - and, if we looked hard enough, a few men as well.

It's not so much what you wear, I suspect, as how and when you wear it that matters; the various communities that one moves in have codes, and there are relatively predictable consequences of going against those codes. For instance, if you work ... (read more)

Rationality witticisms suitable for t-shirts or bumper stickers

by evand 1 min read15th Jun 201385 comments


What are your best short witticisms, suitable for use on a t-shirt, bumper sticker, or similar location? Ideally something that might make someone reading it think, or get curious enough to ask about it. Simple in-group identification is fine too, though.

For context, therufs is spending today at the NC Maker Faire making t-shirts, and asked me for suggestions this morning. As I was still mostly asleep, I wasn't very helpful.