By this time hundreds of thousands of words will have been written on the ECJ ruling about gender discrimination in insurance and pensions. So I won’t rehash what you can find elsewhere, although it is interesting that on twitter, along with #ECJ, the other trending hashtag was #bonkers. Dizzee Rascal would approve.
Anyway, I read the ruling. All the way through. And a bit of it caught my eye. Justice McGillicuddy or whatever his name was, said in the Opinion of 30/09/2010 that preceded the judgement today:
I can, however, see nothing that may convincingly be said in favour of allowing life insurance premiums and benefits which are contingent upon a person’s sex. As regards life insurance, the predicted life expectancy of the insured person is a central risk factor. I have already explained… that in that regard it is not permissible for the purposes of risk assessment to take into account wholesale differences between male and female insured persons that are merely statistically verifiable.
Let’s look at that last phrase, ‘merely statistically verifiable’. I think we’re onto something here.
Now Judge McGrudge is, I think, nodding at the principle of ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’, which as any West Wing fan kno means ‘after it, therefore because of it’. It’s the correlation/causation fallacy – because two facts are correlated doesn’t mean one caused the other.
So that’s good. But now that we’ve enshrined in weapons-grade EU law the principle that you can’t just trust stuff that’s statistically viable, I intend to take this to its logical conclusion. It’s statistically verifiable that my credit card balance contains a range of numbers, few of which are zero. However, I choose to think of this as ‘merely’ statistically verifiable, and reject the premise that the twin facts of my purchase of a whizzy iPad 2 (soon) and a rising credit card balance contain anything more than a tangential relationship. So I’m not paying it. Beezer.