03 Aug Base Rate Fallacy – FT#55
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The Base Rate Fallacy is committed when someone offers a statistic as evidence without considering (or including) the prior probability of one or more of the factors involved.
We started out with this clip of Trump boasting that American police kill plenty of white people:
Then we looked at this clip of Trump claiming he totally rebuilt the military:
Mark’s British Politics Corner
Mark talked about Boris Johnson and Pedro Sanchez arguing about who’s more coronavirusy, the UK or Spain
Fallacy in the Wild
We talked about the 1995 real-life health scare in the UK over contraceptive pills.
And we followed that up with this clip from Letterkenny:
Finally in this section we looked at this clip from QI:
Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game:
- I can only say what I know, and that’s based on reading a lot and knowing a lot and I read all of the medical… all of them. And as far as I can tell it’s good. There’s some people that say it’s not good, but I’ve seen many good. We do know that it’s safe because — well you know as well as anybody. I don’t have to tell you. But the impact that it could have, especially in the early years is you don’t have anything to lose and the reason I think that people don’t like it is because I recommend it.
- I read a lot. They like to say I don’t read, I read a lot. I comprehend extraordinarily well. Probably better than anybody that you’ve interviewed in a long time. I read a lot. I spend a lot of time with — at meetings, usually it’s once a day or at least two or three times a week, intelligence briefs — talking about India, talking about the problems with China, talking about… so many different elements of the world. The world is a very angry place, if you look all over the world.
- They say if you’re heavy — so I say thank goodness I’m in perfect shape, thank goodness — but if you’re heavy it’s not good, it’s a… it’s a brutal, brutal thing and again I started by saying we’re going to have a vaccine soon. I said it a long time ago based on knowledge — based on knowledge. I’m meeting with these geniuses — based on knowledge, I said a long time ago. I said by the end of the year I think it’s going to be a lot sooner than that.
Click below for the answer
Mark got it wrong this week, so now he’s on 24/55, or 43.6363%.
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Person Woman Man Camera TV is not a logical fallacy
We talked about this amazing clip of Trump boasting (again) about passing an incredibly basic mental competency test:
The stories we really didn’t have time to talk about
- Trump and his administration are continuing to test the waters of just how totalitarian they can be without anyone noticing, or at least any Republicans caring. Turns out the answer isn’t ‘arrest people without telling them why and load them into unmarked vans’, but how about keeping them in a cell for a while and then include in the conditions of their release an order that they may not attend any more protests, rallies, assemblies or public gatherings in the state of Oregon. An attorney for the ACLU said this order was “Sort of hilariously unconstitutional”. And yeah, it fucking is! Especially when the Donald has been invoking the first amendment this week while defending the Confederate flag. In his defense, I’m not sure he knows exactly how much of a hypocrite he’s being, since he’s definitely never read the Constitution.
- Just when you thought you could breathe a sigh of relief for all those malaria and lupus sufferers cos the supply of hydroxychloroquine was no longer endangered by Trump’s misguided endorsement, along comes Trump’s latest expert Stella Immanuel – which let’s face it is a name you’d invent for a character with a penchant for mixing the astral with the religious – and hey you’d be right. Trump has retweeted video of Stella from the steps of the Supreme Court saying “no need for masks, there’s a cure” – hydroxychloroquine – which of course Facebook promptly took down as misinformation – oddly the same word Trump used about it but not before retweeting it several times. (Can I just remind you he IS the president of the USA and that he’s doing this!) – AND he did also call Stella “impressive” praps it wasn’t the hydroxychloroquine that impressed him but her belief that the government is run by lizards, and the Illuminati who are making medicines using alien DNA to vaccinate you against religion oh and that in dreams demons and/or witches actually are having sex with you like for real,and that the Magic 8 Ball is a psychic. Yes we’re in QAnon territory and yet next to Trump she sounds a completely sensible and level-headed physician, look out Fauci there’s a vacancy at the briefings since Donald stopped you coming!
- Mask refuser and serial desk tapping Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert has contracted COVID-19. Here on Fallacious Trump we aren’t the kind of people to celebrate someone getting ill, even if it’s someone as repugnant and mind crushingly stupid as Louie. A man who so easily personifies stupid that the Urban Dictionary defines a ‘gohmert’ as ‘Any stupid, foolish or obtuse public official.’ A man so stupid he is now claiming that the most likely reason he’s contracted COVID now is that he recently started wearing a mask, and maybe some of the virus got on the mask. Fresh off his decades of spreading bullshit around the halls of Congress, he now seems determined to spread the virus as well, making sure to go into his congressional office to tell his staff in person that he tested positive. His staff, by the way, are all in the office because he was one of several GOP members who forced his staff to come into work instead of working remotely. So, just to reiterate, it’s very sad that this asshole is now ill.
- When politicians use the phrase “I have the fullest confidence in them” about a fellow politician you know they’re for the chop shortly. Similarly Ghislaine Maxwell, is in jail, holding a brimming receptacle of beans about Jeffrey Epstein and underage girls and powerful people and sex trafficking, which frankly could spill any moment. When asked about her, Trump said casually “I don’t know – I haven’t really been following it too much. ” – yeah right we’ve seen the moving images of you and Jeff and her and are still trying to disinfect the backs of our eyeballs – so you should be! If’n you aren’t! Or maybe it’s like a TV show you don’t need to follow cos you were in it! Literally balls deep!! And then he added, equally casually – “I just wish her well, frankly.” Which of course as self-respecting followers of mafiosi kingpin types in the White House we decoded straight away as “keep your mouth shut Ghis, wouldn’t want ill to befall you” which is also code for “Yeah lookit how poor old Jeff didn’t make it” – The trial is set for next July, and I’m sure Joe Biden will be glued to the Oval Office TV along with the rest of us. Is that why Trump’s toned down his hair colour? So it doesn’t clash with the orange jumpsuit?
- Remember that thing I said a few minutes ago about Trump testing the fascist waters? Of course you do, because you’re cognitively…there. Hell, you’re just a memory genius, you could probably remember a few simple words in the right order. Anyway, back to the fascist stuff. Last month former Trump attorney and Soprano’s extra Michael Cohen was taken from his home confinement and put back in prison, and it sure seemed like it was retaliation for the fact that he was writing a tell-all book about Trump, who by this point must surely be the subject of more tell-all books than anyone in history. Well, now a federal judge has ruled that yes, that was exactly why he was locked up again the day before Trump commuted the sentence of a felon who didn’t testify against him. Since that’s illegal, due to that irritatingly persistent First Amendment, Cohen will now be released back into home confinement where he will serve out the rest of his sentence and finish his book, which is due out a month or so before the election.
- Remember that bit in the original Time Machine movie? when in the future the hero punches an evil Morlock who cracks his head on the wall, and then our hero jumps in the machine and presses forward by mistake and the Morlock ages and the skin falls away and begins to reveal an embittered bony substrate entwined with hatred beneath – if you pause that face 37 fames in – Kellyanne Conway Counselor to the President! In a breathtaking display of shameless gaslighting last week, she accused those states plagued with skyrocketing COVID-19 cases of being too hasty with reopening their economies – you know, the thing President Donald Trump desperately pushed them to do for months, like when he threatened to “take very strong action” against states that didn’t reopen quickly enough to his liking and falsely claimed that he had the “total” authority to do so. And like when right-wingers in Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia were protesting their governors’ stay-at-home orders — often while armed with military-grade weapons — Trump called on the demonstrators to “LIBERATE” their states. So nothing to do with Trump and his eye on the elections and being blame-free at all nooooo, and nothing to do with laying the ground for Trump’s crusade to pressure states into reopening their schools in the fall despite health experts’ warning that doing so puts students, teachers and their families at serious risk, and remain blameless. Say what you like, Kellyanne’s adoration continues to imbue him with the status of a religious figure after all – Pontius Pilate!
- We say a lot of negative things about Trump on the podcast, but you have to give credit where credit is due and on Thursday, with a single tweet, he achieved something that I genuinely didn’t think was possible. With three question marks in a row, to show he really is just asking questions and definitely not proposing anything, he proposed delaying the 2020 election due to the inevitable fraud that would be caused by mail-in voting. And with that single tweet, Donald Trump found the legal line that Republicans are not prepared to cross. I mean it’s still only hours since the tweet as we record this podcast, so there’s plenty of time for them to do a U turn and decide that actually that makes a ton of sense, but thankfully, due to the fact that, as we discussed, Trump has never read the constitution, he has no idea that even if he did manage to break the laws that require the election to be held, he would automatically stop being President at noon on January 20th. Episode 370 of the Opening Arguments podcast discussed whether the President would then be Nancy Pelosi or Pat Leahy, back when this was just a cute hypothetical question, but maybe it’s worth a quick re-listen.
- Britpol – Boris claims a massive success on coronavirus – which is par for the course for someone who has been reprimanded by the Office of Statistical Regulation for misleading parliament – whilst the north of England goes back into lockdown – Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire – basically the constituencies that the Tories won from Labour in the last election. The Health Secretary Matt Haoncok sees the coronavirus not as a threat but an opportunity though few share his vision in the Office of National Statistics who announce that the UK has the highest number of excess deaths in Europe, which is a little bit threatening. Maybe Matt looks upon euthanasia or tsunamis or being struck by a meteor with the same opportunistic glee as the government does Brexit. We are being urged as always to show some grit, get the virus on the backfoot and maintain a stiff upper lip, as only we self-effacing, self-entitled, self-annihilating plucky Brits standing up to an implacable foe can. Spoiler alert Boris and chums, this isn’t a comic, there is no happy ending, people have died, voters have been betrayed, there is no sunset for you to ride off into. But cheer up the Tories will change the constitutional powers of government so they can do what they like without being accountable to parliament and can’t be removed from office and then they’ll cancel the next election cos of the coronavirus and pardon themselves whilst pocketing the nation’s wealth. Thank god we’re not in the US hey!?
That’s all for this week, thanks for listening, and thanks also to our newest Patrons, Mark Reiche and Janet Yuetter!