10 Nov Ambiguity Fallacy – FT#62
The Ambiguity Fallacy is committed when someone is deliberately vague or ambiguous to make their point or avoid answering a question.
We started out with this clip of Trump vaguely promising that COVID will just go away at some point:
Then we talked about this tweet from Don Jr which uses ‘turnout’ in an ambiguous way:
I’m calling bullshit. https://t.co/wp2xGmyL9f
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 4, 2020
And finally, we looked at this Charlie Kirk tweet in which he pretends he doesn’t understand the difference between reducing danger and eliminating it:
If masks work, why are states forcing some businesses to stay closed?
If masks don’t work, why are states forcing people to wear them?
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) May 24, 2020
Mark’s British Politics Corner
Mark is having to take a few weeks off from the podcast due to work, so Jim talked about this clip of Boris Johnson at the G7 being very vague about whether he was planning on paying the EU the £39 billion the UK promised them:
Fallacy in the Wild
We talked about this clip of Lionel Hutz using an ambiguously punctuated ad to get people into his law office:
We followed that up with this clip from No Country For Old Men, where an old man is vague about what time his gas station closes because Javier Bardem is making him uncomfortable:
Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game:
- If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. If you count the votes that came in late… we’re looking at them very strongly… but a lot of votes came in late. I’ve already decisively won many critical states including massive victories in Florid, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio to name just a few. We won these and many other victories despite historic election interference from big media, big money, and big tech.
- The level of fraud is unprecedented. I’ve been saying it for weeks that mail-in ballots are just awful for fraud and lo and behold, all the mail-in ballots magically have Joe Biden’s name on them. It’s so one-sided and there’s no explanation for it at all. The Democrats knew they couldn’t win this election honestly so they’ve done everything they could to steal it from us, but we’re not going to let it happen. We have some very smart lawyers working on it.
- We were winning in all the key locations, by a lot actually, and then our numbers started miraculously getting whittled away in secret, and they wouldn’t allow legally permissible observers. We went to court in a couple of instances and we were able to get the observers put in and when the observers got there they wanted them 60, 70 feet away, 80 feet, 100 feet away or outside the building to observe people inside the building and we won a case. A big case.
Click below for the answer
Our guest host Rachel got it right this week, so she’s now technically in the lead (tied with Caplin and Massiah) with 100%.
The Politics Guys
We took a moment to tell you about a podcast we recommend called The Politics Guys, which is an intelligent bipartisan look at the week’s political news. Check it out!
The election was not a logical fallacy
We talked about an election that’s been in the news a bit this week including the simply amazing moment that Trump’s lawyer and his team held a press conference outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping because someone fucked up and called them instead of the actual Four Seasons in Philadelphia. It inspired us to make this t-shirt, which you can now buy in our Teepublic store!
The stories we really didn’t have time to talk about
- Sometimes it’s nice when people just say what they mean, and it’s even nicer when they do it accidentally while also committing a False Dilemma fallacy. Conservative activist Candace Owens – you know, the one who said Hitler’s problem was that he was a globalist – appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show the other day. You remember Tucker, he’s the one who, thanks to a recent court case, you are required by law not to take seriously. Anyway, Candace said this: “You are either on the side of mob rule, or you are on the side of law and order. And I am on the side of mob rule. Tomorrow, I will be casting my ballot for Donald J. Trump,” Nice to know where she stands, and that Tucker backs her up.
- To confirm that numbers can be apolitical (or not) and Stanford university economists concluded that Trump rallies might have caused 30,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and up to 700 deaths. They worked this out by comparing the number of COVID cases in surrounding areas that did hold rallies to demographically similar areas that didn’t. Subsequently, and according to the New York Times, the findings from 18 events produced, and I quote, “increases in confirmed cases of more than 250 per 100,000 residents.” extrapolating that to 18 rallies equates to 30,000 cases of COVID at least. The White House, without irony, turned numbers into politics saying the study was “a politically driven model based on flawed assumptions and meant to shame Trump supporters.” If only they’d said ‘had you considered taking psychometric confounders into account’ lead author and chair of Stanford’s economics department B. Douglas Bernheim may have listened instead of having to point out that this was motivated “by a debate that is raging about the trade-off between the economic consequences of restrictions and the health consequences of transmission. And as an economist, I take that debate to be both important and appropriate” – sheesh 30,000 people – hmm Trump could’ve done with those being well enough to get to the polls in Wisconsin – or PA or Nevada or … !
- It’s really quite impressive that Trump has done so well in the election, especially given his repeated efforts to kill his supporters. Yes, he got a few with the rallies, and who knows how many died because he convinced them masks were a communist plot. One man died from drinking aquarium cleaner because the ingredients included the word ‘chloroquine’, and the suggestion to inject bleach must have taken out a few. In the dying days of his campaign, though, Trump tried a new tactic. Hypothermia, mixed with good old fashioned neglect.After his rally in Omaha, Nebraska, last week, Trump flew away in Air Force One, and his supporters stood for hours in the freezing cold waiting for the shuttle buses back to their cars, three miles away. For some reason, despite the fact that it took 10 hours to ferry the 25,000 strong crowd to the rally from the car park, nobody had really thought about what to do afterwards, or that people might not want to wait 10 more hours to get back to their Ford Pickups, or whatever Nebraskan Trump supporters drive. 30 people received medical attention, and 7 went to hospital, and when thousands of rally goers decided to walk back instead, they clogged up the roads, causing even more delays and disruption. Never one to learn from a disaster, the exact same thing happened again after his rallies in Pennsylvania and Georgia at the weekend.
- Well maybe the deal is that it really doesn’t matter what you say or how you behave – as long as you’re a Republican you can achieve high office. Worked for El Naranja, and it appears that whilst you may not believe in Republican rallies spreading COVID, you can still catch it and die like David Andahl did, and even then you can still get voted in in North Dakota. Andahl, having beaten the GOP incumbent in a June primary, is now expected to win one of two State House seats from among four candidates in the race for North Dakota’s 8th district, despite being dead. He received about 35.5% of the total votes, according to unofficial results from the state. Andahl’s death in October had prompted questions about what would happen were he to win the election in November. Now he has – Republicans will simply replace him with another one apparently. Winning a seat posthumously – though not as unique as it might appear – Dennis Hof, the Nevada brothel owner and self-proclaimed pimp, the “Trump from Pahrump”, won a race for the state legislature in the 2018 midterm elections about three weeks after he died – is something not even Kevin Phillips Bong (Slightly Silly Party) dreamed of achieving.
- If there were awards for shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, entries would probably only be accepted if they missed the official deadline. A strong contender for this year’s top prize would be Deborah Birx, the scarf-clad coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, who issued a stern warning in an internal memo that, among other things, large campaign events should be avoided. The memo, which she distributed on November fucking 2nd, directly contradicts Trump’s claims that we’re ‘rounding the turn’, instead warning that the US is entering ‘the most deadly phase of the pandemic’, and that ‘much more aggressive action’ is needed by the administration. Lest Trump thinks that means he should threaten the virus with the size of his button, she clarified the absolute necessity of asking the American people to wear masks, physically distance and avoid gatherings. Yeah, maybe if you’d said that back in March, instead of sycophantically praising Trump’s attention to the scientific literature, but I don’t see it making a difference now. If anything, Trump is probably going to spend his lame duck period making sure everything is as fucked as possible before Biden takes over. You know, even more than he has been up to now.
- Right then, Qanonsense has it that the deep state is in control of everything and Trump is the God King Messiah sent to sort it all out , don’t be a sheeple, do your own research, oh and don’t mention the arrests that haven’t happened yet; Q moves in mysterious ways his batshittery to perform. Anyway a couple of Q believing Republicans are now in office; Marjorie Taylor Greene, who in 2017, said – “There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it,”, won a House seat in Georgia, and Lauren Boebert a House seat in Colorado. This is where the moebius strip of mind-bendiness turns in on itself and probably causes a rupture in the spacetime continuum – or in my spleen. Two conspiracy theorists join the conspiracy that prominent Democrats are the source of deep-rooted corruption and criminal activity – and yet and yet – insert expostulation about voter suppression here….It has truly come to pass – online beings, from the darkest corners of what used to be dark web forums, have moved IRL (into real life). I reckon a job as Republican Party Press Secretary beckons for the both of them as only they will have the naivete and convincing mental gymnastics to keep Trump’s imminent downfall, subsequent arrest and excommunication in canon. Gah! Marty McFly is never gonna fix this one. And where’s Picard to battle with Q when you need him. Make it so.
- I’ll bet you think that we’re a partisan podcast that only ever points out Republican’s mistakes. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. And to prove it, here’s a story out of Oregon that has nothing to do with Trump. It seems someone in the Oregon Health Authority thought it was a good idea to combine their regular Covid update video, with some public information about celebrating Halloween safely. And since they’re talking about Halloween, why not make it fun, by dressing one of the doctors up as a clown, and the other as Totoro. Which is how Dr Claire Poche ended up, in full clown makeup, reporting three new Covid deaths, which took the state’s total to 608. I’ll link the video in the show notes, because it is seriously fucking amazing, and simultaneously horrifying. If you think Curb Your Enthusiasm is cringe-worthy, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
- This week in Britpol – I am speaking to you from the confines of the vehemently denied existence of, yet inevitably forecast, Lockdown 2.0. Last Friday Number 10 leaked, possibly in a bottle thrown overboard with “help me I’m being held captive by a personal advisor with dodgy eyesight” etched into the glass, that we were all going into lockdown again. After months of arguing with scientists and local government leaders and Keir Starmer that it was ridiculous, unnecessary and dangerous – “no no no not til the last breath in my body will I let that happen I tell you… oh alright then yes.” it happened. So we waited for a 4pm press conference at 5:30 that would start at 6:45, where Boris immediately failed to apologise for being 2 and three quarter hours … and 4 months … late and just as quickly handed over to the scientists who showed us lots of graphs that equally failed to explain where the test, track and trace system was, why studies show that the Eat Out to Help Out campaign contributed substantially to the acceleration of the second wave, why Keir Starmer and the Labour Party had been right all along and howcumzit Boris is still actually in a job. After 7 months of countless sloganeering adjustments he grudgingly revived Stay Home Protect the NHS and Save Lives .. before being cut off. We locked down today Thursday 5th November possibly to avoid a successful rerun of Guy Fawkes’ exploits, but not before students defied guidance and Barnard Castled it home to avoid being cooped up in halls of residence over Christmas for the bargain price of £9,000 a year. Stay face everyone, eat in, protect and wash a mask and avoid shielding your sixes. See you on the R numberth of December.
That’s all for this week, thanks for listening!