30 Mar Hedging – FT#46
The Hedging Fallacy is committed when someone changes their story or point of view and then acts like nothing has changed and they always thought like that.
We started out with this clip of Trump answering a journalist who asked him why his tone shifted and he started taking the coronavirus seriously:
Then we looked at this clip of Trump claiming Google had substantiated his claims about their coronavirus website:
The real story is here: https://www.factcheck.org/2020/03/trump-misrepresents-google-coronavirus-website/
Mark’s British Politics Corner
Mark talked about this compilation of clips of Tories lying about the £350 million promised to the NHS:
And then we talked about Priti Patel’s shifting story on the importance of ‘low-skilled’ workers:
Fallacy in the Wild
We looked at these two clips from When Harry Met Sally…:
Finally, we discussed the season 9 finale of Dallas, where a not dead Bobby Ewing emerged from the shower despite dying at the end of season 8, and the implications for the ongoing storylines of both Dallas and the spinoff show Knot’s Landing.
Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game:
- Some countries you see are not doing so good. Others are doing good. We’re doing excellent, we’re really — we’re doing an excellent job and I think a lot of that is down to the great doctors and the great — the great everybody who is doing such a good job. If we didn’t have the people we have it would be a very different story. And not a good story.
- The 15 people likewise, we have them down to a much lower number — they’re in good shape. Most of them are in really good shape. One of the people is — I wouldn’t say not doing well but is very very sick but she’s hopefully getting better but we’re at the same number we’ve only — so essentially we’ve only had 15 and a lot of that’s because I called it early
- We’ll just keep doing a good job. We’re ordering a lot of supplies we’re ordering a lot of — a lot of elements frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this but we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical. We are working on cures and we’re getting some very good results.
Click below for the answer
Mark got it right AGAIN this week, so now he’s on 19/46, or 41.3%.
This week’s sponsor was Escape the Crate, a subscription box where you can do an escape room in your own home! Click here to sign up!
Misinformation is not a logical fallacy
Then we talked about misinformation about the coronavirus, apologised for our credulous reporting of the ultimately false notion that 38% of Americans won’t drink Corona beer because of the coronavirus, and then marvelled at the nutjobbery of Liz Crokin:
The stories we really didn’t have time to talk about
- After a bit of pressure from the media, Trump finally agreed to take the coronavirus test, which is basically a quite deep nasal swab, and when asked about how it was gave a totally normal answer that a person who definitely took the test would have given: “Not, not uh — something I want to do everyday…you know, it’s a little bit of a — it’s a little bit of — good doctors in the White House, but it’s a test. It’s a test. It’s a medical test. Nothing pleasant about it”. So yeah, he didn’t take the test. The White House doctor claims Trump tested negative, but then that’s the same guy who said Trump was 6’3” and 243 pounds, and predicted he would remain healthy “for the remainder of his Presidency and beyond”, so… Given that he’s in his 70s, generally unhealthy and can’t stop shaking people’s hands, Trump really should take the test. You may speculate, as some have, that Trump is paranoid about his DNA falling into the wrong hands due to the fact that one of the women accusing Trump of rape has requested his DNA to help prove her case. But given that he’s afraid of stairs, Mexicans, germs, exercise, Hillary, combat zones, strong women, women of color, strong women of color, and medium rare steaks, chances are you can just add Q-Tips to that list.
- As ever, why use your staff to protect and serve the increasingly sickening American people when you can get them to find someone to blame for what’s happening that isn’t you, your administration and your patent incompetence to run a bath let alone a country. Well old frail and vulnerable upcoming-election-sufferer Donald T has got Mike Pompeo to do some of the shit stirring at the G7 conference – where having at first refused to talk about the virus – like this isn’t the biggest thing threatening the 7 biggest Global economies – finally giving in – Mike insisted on calling it the Wuhan Virus – despite the rest of the entire planet calling it Covid-19 to rhyme with Gove (notwithstanding Michael Gove calling it Covid-19 not to rhyme with Gove!) Intent on pointing a non-hand-sanitised finger away from the orange pustule Pompeo insisted at the meeting that china deliberately concealed evidence of the virus – wee-eeell he should know – azzackly what Trump’s been up to! Okay I’m gonna do the same thing – you know all those deaths and infections that are affecting millions of the poor and unemployed in America that’s not cos of China its cos of the arrogance and vanity of your President not china’s yours.
- Nine days ago as of this recording, Trump activated the Defense Production Act, which gives him the right to compel companies to produce items such as ventilators and PPE. Since everyone has basically too many ventilators and hospital masks at the moment, and no healthcare professionals are forced to wear swimming goggles when treating patients, Trump has held of on actually invoking those powers, because he’s a fucking wuss and doesn’t want to upset the CEOs who pretend to like him. Today, however, he tweeted:
As usual with “this” General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, “very quickly”. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke “P”.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
In a later tweet he clarified that ‘Invoke P’ means the Defense Production Act. I mean, there’s a P in it, I suppose. What’s still not clear is whether Trump thought tweeting ‘Invoke P’ would actually have some effect, like Michael Scott shouting ‘I declare bankruptcy’. Anyway, some people who understand it better than he does probably explained it to him, because the White House later released a statement saying Trump had signed a Presidential Memorandum to that effect.
- So what’s worse than any virus? Ignorance and mis- and dis- information. Lupus, motor neurone and malaria are recognised, pretty bad but treatable things, treatable by tested, science-based solutions using Cloroquine and Hydroxichloroquine, they are very effective for the 1.5 million lupus sufferers and thousands of malaria suffers who now face a shortage of the drug cos Trump says it works against coronavirus. He’s not a doctor, hell he’s barely human – but he’s a businessman with an eye on re-election. If he can blame Science itself for not seeing the link between an old available drug that won’t take years to test and curing this thing in time for the Dow to reopen on Monday – then he’s not responsible. Meanwhile the man who is responsible; the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci says “there is no substantive proof, at least yet, that either drug works in the battle against the deadly pandemic The information you’re referring to specifically is anecdotal” Yeah Trump’s anecdote – he’s pitching himself i.e the people – against Science – he’s making science into the guys that will let more people die before they make it available to use. Okay what about the people with lupus who’s lungs will fill with water, and die without it – and them’s the facts, they ain’t gonna vote for ya when they’re drowned!
- Well, the Republicans have finally reached their logical conclusion and started calling for old people to be sacrificed to save the stock market. Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick was first to volunteer as tribute on Tucker Carlson, saying “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” But if they had? “If that is the exchange, I’m all in,” Dan Patrick doesn’t seem to be an outlier in the pro-life party, with Fox’s Brit Hume calling Patrick’s suggestion “An entirely reasonable viewpoint and writers on The Federalist and right wing Christian site First Things, echoing similar views. But hey, is it really patriotic enough, just to let the old people die to save the economy? Unemployment is up by over three million and it’s getting worse by the day. Time is of the essence Republicans, start leaving the gas on in your grandparents houses today. On advice from our lawyers, please don’t take grandparent killing advice from a podcast.
- In another reference to Victor Kayam, ever oblivious to just how hideously self-serving he is, Trump tried to buy the company developing a coronavirus vaccine. Not invest in, not add solvency to Tübingen-based company CureVac, in an act of altruism for the world, an act let’s face it that would have guaranteed re-election for such a selfless, outward-looking global-facing example of humanity at its best, but no course not – the German government confirms the Trump administration offered “large sums of money” to move the whole research wing of the outfit to the US to make the vaccine – get this – purely for America – yep. Okay up til now its been horrid but laughable cos it only (only!) affects the USA that he’s a short-sighted short-tempered, short-little-attention-span moral-pygmy, but this is actually a potential crime against humanity – it’s Hague material for Chrissake! – to block access to research findings and cures to the whole of the planet just so he looks good at election time. Look upon your work America and despair!
- Well, it’s finally happened. In a world that has never seemed more divided, a politician has come along who has united key figures on the right and the left in truly bipartisan agreement over what a fucking asshole Kentucky Republican Congressman, Thomas Massie is. After both parties had agreed on a $2.2 trillion stimulus package in response to the coronavirus, the House had planned to confirm it with a voice vote on Friday morning, which simply needs a majority of those present to say Aye, and which could be done with hundreds of congress people staying home to avoid unnecessary travel and risk of spreading or contracting the virus. Massie, however, indicated that he might request a recorded vote, which would delay passage of the bill and require at least 216 members to be physically present. Congresspeople raced back to Washington, spending at least $200,000 of taxpayer money, and defeated Massie’s attempt, passing the bill. The best of many excoriating attacks on Massie came from former Secretary of State John Kerry, who tweeted “Breaking news: Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity.”
- Over here in the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty, and now, in the spirit of the oft-repeated slogan “doing the right thing at the right time”, (suppress those cheers) Boris himself have all tested positive for Coronavirus, which surely raises the question how come they got to be tested when testing of front line NHS health staff has apparently been so hard to achieve? Meanwhile in a week when Jeremy Corbyn faced Boris at Prime Minister’s Questions for probably the last time as leader of the Labour Party, the UK has got a government based pretty much on the socialist principles he’s so long espoused and had such a hard time getting voted for. The government is basically paying everyone’s wages, it’s effectively nationalised the railways, it’s massively funded the NHS, and elevated the manual worker to the level of Vera Mukhina’s monument that towered over the 1937 Paris exposition, even joining in with the nationwide Clap for Carers public applause on Thursday night. Corbyn is careful not to gloat too much but continues to remind the Tories to make sure they do what they have promised to do and right now, and that those high-skilled high-falutin’ bankers and financial service wallahs beloved of the Conservatives since Thatcher’s 80s yuppies, are having to rely on the essential services of the so-called low-skilled checkout girl and humble postman to survive. As Karl Marx recommended – the workers are finally being seen to be the owners of the means of production after all.
That’s all for this week, thanks for listening, and thanks to our newest Patron, Schmootz!