25 May Alleged Certainty – FT#50
The Alleged Certainty Fallacy is committed when someone makes a claim and then alleges that everyone knows it’s true, thereby avoiding the need to offer any evidence.
We started out with Trump being unable to name a crime that Obama committed, so claiming that it’s obvious to everyone:
And then, in honour of our 50th episode, we provided 50 more examples of things Trump says everyone knows:
Mark’s British Politics Corner
Mark talked about the government’s inability to explain the new rules around the UK’s lockdown. If you really want to see Boris fumble around, you can watch it below, but comedian Matt Lucas summarised it brilliantly in this clip:
— realmattlucas (@RealMattLucas) May 10, 2020
Fallacy in the Wild
We looked at this clip from Bee Movie:
And we followed that up with this one from Singing in the Rain:
And finally, a clip from Muppets Most Wanted:
Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game:
- Many of these people aren’t very sick but they still go down as a case so actually the number of cases… and we’re also a much bigger country than most. So when we have a lot of cases I don’t look at that as a bad thing, I look at that as — in a certain respect as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better. So if we were testing a million people instead of 14 million people we would have far few cases, right? So I view it as a badge of honor. Really it’s a badge of honor.
- When you think about it it makes sense that we have the most cases. We’re a big country, really a big — one of the biggest in terms of people, and size. Some other countries — you know South Korea is a lot smaller than us, but they’re still — Seoul is huge. 38 million people in Seoul. I didn’t know that. Did you know that? When you have that many people all in one… you can get to them very easily to test. We have some very large areas of country which makes it a lot harder and still we’ve done a phenomenal job.
- I’m probably going to show you charts of some of the countries that are really having trouble and one in particular is having a massive problem where they said “let’s go, we’re just going to keep going” well they’re — the lines that we’re famous for now some are flat and some are up — this is like a rocket ship. This country is — and they didn’t, they decided “let’s go and let’s wing it” that’s, you know, they thought it was okay but it’s… It’s a problem. It’s a big problem and there’s another couple — there’s one in particular that everybody thinks did it, but the people are staying in.
Click below for the answer
Mark got it right AGAIN this week, so now he’s on 22/50, or 44%.
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Logically Fallacious is not a logical fallacy
Jim’s guest this week was Dr Bo Bennett, creator of the fantastic website Logically Fallacious, and author of the new book The Rules of Reason: Making and Evaluating Claims, which will make you better at critical thinking even if you think you’re already amazing at it. You can find out more about Bo and his many books at his website and you can pick up a copy of the new book here.
The stories we really didn’t have time to talk about
- Trump has touted the huge numbers of people tested in the US so much that the more cynical among you could be forgiven for wondering whether he even knows what per capita means. Well, wonder no more: “When you say per capita, there’s many per capitas. It’s like per capita relative to what? But you can look at just about any category and we’re really at the top – meaning positive, on a per capita basis.” This is so fundamental right now that my first reaction was “No. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works”. But then I actually started to doubt myself. Are there multiple types of per capita? Like with different types of average? Am I the one being stupid? But no, I checked. And you’ll be relieved to know that the leader of the free world, 5 months into a global pandemic, doesn’t have the slightest idea, or interest, what per capita means. Holy fuck. And by the way, 20th in the world is not ‘at the top’, just in case that wasn’t clear either.
- Not happy with just talking up chloroquine Doogie Trump M.D. now claims to be taking the stuff, as a preventative against catching Covid-19, which does seem a bit like taking arsenic to prevent sleep problems. Apparently he says “he’s okay so far” which we all know has never been true. Trump says he asked the White House physician about it and he said “well if you’d like it”, that’s like calling Keith Richard’s dealer the band’s physician. Said White House physician Sean P. Conley wrote in a subsequent statement, “we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks” which you’ll note did not explicitly confirm that Trump is taking the drug. Where’s the evidence for those benefits? ever the home shopping channel presenter “Are you ready? Here’s my evidence—I get a lot of positive calls about it,” No you don’t, well, if any, then maybe from malaria sufferers and, oh, the manufacturer. Trump does have investments in a mutual that has holdings in pharma company Sanofi who make Plaquenil aka chloroquine, but I think he just fancied endorsing something, Shame it’s not that bleach he’s injecting hey – Clorox shareholders must be pissed! And as a bonus it’s obviously working cos apparently he was tested again on the morning of May 21st “And I tested very positively in another sense. So this morning. I tested positively toward negative, right? So no, I tested perfectly this morning. Meaning I tested negative. But that’s a way of saying it. Positively toward the negative.” – So not clear what test he’s talking about then – IQ?
- Republican Senator Richard Burr stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee following news that he is under investigation by the FBI for insider trading after he dumped a million dollars worth of stocks following a coronavirus briefing and while the government was telling everyone there was nothing to worry about. Good news, you might think – and evidence that the DOJ isn’t in Trump’s pocket if they’re willing to go after high-ranking Republicans. Well…while Burr is almost certainly a piece of shit, profiteering while Americans die, he’s not the only one, and yet there’s no news yet of an FBI investigation of Senator Kelly Loeffler who, as you’ll remember from episode 47, dumped more than $18 million of stocks under similar circumstances. Why the difference? Surely it can’t have anything to do with the fact that Burr was in the final stages of putting together a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, or that Burr subpoenaed Don Jr to testify to his committee, or that he agreed that Russia was trying to help Trump when they interfered. Nah. It’s more likely because Senator Loeffler’s husband donated a million dollars to the leading pro-Trump SuperPAC a few weeks ago. That’s alright, then.
- Our favourite bat-shit fun-factory – QAnon – and the theories it espouses have been declared a domestic terrorist threat no less by the FBI, and yet it is a go to place for ‘the information’ for insurance agent Jo Rae Perkins who beat 3 others to become the Republican nominee to represent Oregon in November’s election. She had tweeted “I stand with President Trump. I stand with Q and the team. Thank you Anons, and thank you patriots. And together, we can save our republic,” in a video posted on Tuesday, while holding up a sign with a popular QAnon slogan on it. Oddly, given who’s the current troller-in-chief, Republicans seem to be a little bit troubled over having a candidate who openly embraces baseless conspiracy theories. When asked why the Republican Party had nominated such a dodgy nut job – *cough not for the first time in their history cough* – The Oregon state Republican Party issued a lukewarm and seemingly reluctant statement saying, “By virtue of being the GOP nominee, this is what we do – support them in winning the general election.” Which is also a bit of allsorts-of-circular-fallacies-going-on-in-there too. Thankfully Jeff Merkley, the incumbent, is considered a strong favorite in the Senate race. The state has gone blue for every presidential election since 1984 and hasn’t elected a Republican governor since the 1980s. Which of course is part of the whole conspiracy goddammit you fools can’t you see?
- As everyone knows, the less you test, the less cases of coronavirus you have. But that’s not the only way to minimise coronavirus within your state. While justifying their aggressive re-opening measures, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp released a chart showing how the state had effectively beaten the virus, and if you look at the chart, it’s true. For example, Fulton County alone saw a dramatic and progressive decrease in new cases over four consecutive days. Unfortunately, those consecutive days were May 7th, April 26th, May 3rd and May 8th. It turns out that if you don’t restrict yourself to the mainstream understanding of time, you can show a decreasing curve on any graph. In the competition for stupidest/most evil Republican Governor, Kemp’s perpetual rival is Florida’s Ron De Santis. Less than a month after trying to get Florda’s medical examiners to stop publicly releasing data on coronavirus deaths, De Santis’s administration fired the Florida Department of Health’s data manager after she refused to manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen. Dr Rebekah Jones, who previously managed the online dashboard that gave Florida’s residents detailed data on testing, cases and deaths in all of Florida’s counties, emailed her subscribers to say “As a word of caution, I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months. After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it,”
- According to a study by Columbia University 54,000 fewer people would have died by the beginning of May if lockdown had been imposed on March 1st, and 34,000 fewer if it had been imposed just a week later. And that’s the same number as ALL of the deaths, so far, in the UK – which has the worst Covid-19 death rate in Europe – the whole of Europe. We are sickened enough that the lackadaisical, ah whatever, we’re better nay pluckier than the rest of the governments in Europe attitude of OUR leader could have meant more deaths than necessary, but Trump’s “I don’t give a shit about anyone but me baby” attitude needlessly cost the same number of lives as ALL of ours lost. And actually 54,000 is nearly the same as the 58,300 names of members of the U.S. armed forces who were killed or went missing in action in the Vietnam war! That’s why your tie is so red and long Donald you need a lot of red cloth to wipe those bloodied hands clean without us seeing!
- There’s an old myth that once a shark or a lion or something gets a taste for human flesh then it becomes an unstoppable maneater, because we’re just so delicious or something. Well, it seems it’s the same with Trump and Inspectors General. Way back on April 3rd, which seems like about 12 years ago, Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the IG who had the temerity to let the House Intelligence Committee know about the whistleblower. Since then, he just can’t stop himself! Next was Glenn Fine, who job used to include monitoring how the government spent the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Then it was Christi Grimm, who was fired after she reported on the shortages of medical supplies and coronavirus tests. Last week, Trump fired State Department IG Steve Linick, on the advice of Mike Pompeo, and it wasn’t long before we found out that Linick was investigating Pompeo for sidestepping Congress to arrange an arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Finally, for now at least, Trump fired Department of Transportation IG Mitch Behm, who was investigating Transport Secretary Elaine Chao, who just happens to be married to Mitch McConnell. That’s five in less than two months. Asked about it recently, Trump said “I think every president has gotten rid of probably more than I have.” So, lets see, the number of Inspectors General fired between 2000 and 2020 was… one.
- Britpol news – In Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, whilst still coming from the empty haunted castle of the House of Commons had got a few noisy screamers in to lend noise if not weight to Boris’ answers, Keir Starmer pointed out that Boris’ government had a policy to charge immigrants extra for using the NHS, which is paid for through a compulsory National Insurance payment deducted from their wages along with income tax anyway. This of course includes the very foreign-born NHS staff that saved Boris’ pox-ridden, lily-livered, oxygen-starved, flabby and sorry hide only last month. BoJo told the House of Commons that imposing the immigration health surcharge on foreign-born NHS workers was “the right way forward”, but apparently only right for one more day cos 24 hours later he scrapped it as ‘the right thing to do.’ You see that’s the advantage of having no moral compass other than ‘be popular” you just go where the wind blows to stay in power. Fortunately the opposition has a leader who knows how to trim the right sails to make sure Boris capsizes!
That’s all for this week, thanks for listening!