Zero Sum Fallacy – FT#128

Zero Sum Fallacy – FT#128

Show Notes

The Zero Sum fallacy occurs when someone assumes gains and losses in a specific situation are directly balanced when in fact they are not.


We started out by discussing this clip of Trump getting trade wrong again:

Then we talked about this clip of Trump throwing a bit of anti-BLM red meat to the crowd:

And we followed that up with this excerpt from the oral arguments in the affirmative action case at the Supreme Court:

Mark’s British Politics Corner

Mark talked about these examples of Rishi Sunak and Oliver Dowden’s views on trade:

And he followed that up with this example of Rishi trashing ‘useless’ University courses:

Fallacy in the Wild

In the Fallacy in the Wild we looked at this clip from House MD:

Then we discussed this clip from Northern Exposure:

And we finished by talking about this clip from This Giant Beast that is The Global Economy:


Fake News

Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game:

  1. (On Governor Reynolds) You know I helped her a lot, she was losing big time and she came to me begging. She was begging “Please sir, is there anything you can do for me?” Honestly I felt sorry for her and I endorsed her and she won in a landslide. Now she says she’s neutral. She goes to DeSanctis… DeSanctimonius’s events. She’s not invited to mine.
  2. When I return to office, the travel ban is coming back even bigger than before and much stronger than before. We don’t want people blowing up our shopping centers. We don’t want people blowing up our cities and we don’t want people stealing our farms. So it’s not gonna happen.
  3. (Answering “How are you going to help us in Iowa save our farms from the CO2 pipeline?”) Well, you know we’re working on that, and you know we had a plan to totally… uh… it’s such a ridiculous situation, isn’t it? But we had a plan and we would have instituted that plan, and it was all ready. But we will get it – if we win, that’s going to be taken care of. That will be one of the easy things we do.

Mark got it wrong this week, and is still on 47%


A Target Letter is not a logical fallacy

We talked about the target letter Jack Smith sent to Trump this week.


The stories we really didn’t have time to talk about

  • Republicans like Lauren Boebert and Thomas Massie often talk about getting rid of the Department of Education, which is obviously batshit, but based on recent events, maybe it’s something we should look at on a state by state basis, starting with Florida. Newly approved African American HIstory standards in Florida will require middle school teachers to teach that some black people benefited from being slaves because they were taught skills. Right wing pundits like Fox’s Jesse Watters might complain about the way I described the standards, saying as he did on Friday, “No one is arguing slaves benefited from slavery. No one is saying that. It’s not true”, but two of the people who spent months drafting the standards are saying exactly that, defending their plans with a statement which read in part “The intent of this particular benchmark clarification is to show that some slaves developed highly specialized trades from which they benefited. This is factual and well documented.” Of course, they wouldn’t expect us to take this on faith, so they provided a number of examples, namely: “blacksmiths like Ned Cobb, Henry Blair, Lewis Latimer and John Henry; shoemakers like James Forten, Paul Cuffe and Betty Washington Lewis; fishing and shipping industry workers like Jupiter Hammon, John Chavis, William Whipper and Crispus Attucks; tailors like Elizabeth Keckley, James Thomas and Marietta Carter; and teachers like Betsey Stockton and Booker T. Washington.” Which is great, except, of those 16 names, at least one might be fictional, at least 8 were never slaves, 9 of them did not work in the industry the statement claims, only one of them actually learned their skills due to slavery, and one, and I genuinely don’t know how it’s possible to get this so fucking wrong, was George Washington’s slave-owning white sister! It’s almost like the people who get to tell teachers what to teach about African American History, don’t give a fuck about African American history.
  • You know whenever Mike Lindell gets mentioned we all want to run and pull the covers over our heads and stuff pillows in our ears, well it’s gonna be a bit harder now – Walmart amongst other retailers have dropped his product line as a result of his continuing to peddle the stolen election myths on behalf of Trump. Lindell is calling “a massive, massive cancellation,” in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We lost $100 million from attacks by the box stores, the shopping networks, the shopping channels, all of them did cancel culture on us.” Weeee-eeell not so much cancel culture as maybe just good old-fashioned consequences. As a consequence his rage against the machines – Dominion and Smartmatic who’s machines he maintains rigged the election – is leading him to selling off his own machinery at his Minneapolis factory. And it’s not just others’ “fault” – he’s still got to pay the guy who did Prove Mike Wrong in the competition Mike ran to prove that the data he held didn’t show Trump had won – ‘course it didn’t and one guy proved Mike wrong. Lindell predictably refused to pay and got sued and now has to cough up the 5 Million dollars, oh and Smartmatic and Dominion are suing him for defamation too – $4 billion – and don’t forget Dominion were successful in their defamation claim against Fox News. Yeah for all your sleepy-time relaxing product line Mikey – nothing but waking nightmares from now on!
  • Elon Musk’s continual destruction of Twitter appears so deliberate that the only explanation I can come up with is that he is involved in some kind of Brewster’s Millions type deal where if he loses all his money within a couple of years he somehow ends up richer at the end of it, but he’s not allowed to tell anyone that’s what he’s doing. His latest attempt at dropping his hellscape site down a full inferno level is to monetise hate. Sure, the internet’s been working on this for a while, and social media is one of its biggest successes so far in this endeavor, but Elon has decided just to start handing tens of thousands of dollars to hand-picked high-engagement Twitter users who have paid for verification. Of course, hand-picked means the worst possible people, like Andrew Tate, the underwhelming asshole who is currently under indictment for rape and human trafficking in Romania, a country he once claimed he moved to because of their more relaxed sexual assault laws. It seems that in order to be gifted large sums of money, being a right-wing asshole is not enough – you also have to express your admiration for Elon, which is why various hate-mongers who have criticised Musk in the past are now complaining that they aren’t getting paid, despite being just as awful and dangerous as those who are. There are two inevitable conclusions to this situation. One is that right-wing shit-posting designed to promote anger and therefore engagement will increase exponentially, as people compete to out-outrage each other. The other is that Twitter will continue to lose money. Shockingly, advertisers for major companies are becoming a bit uneasy about seeing their products associated with racism, homophobia and hate speech, and ad revenue has dropped by half since Musk took over. It’s not like they can afford to give this money away anyway, as Twitter is in so much debt Bloomberg estimates the interest alone will cost $300 million this year.
  • A father of seven children and a loving husband” a description that immediately puts you on alert, no not cos it’s about Boris but there’s something probably a bit dodgy about it when the description came from Trump’s white house in the thick of pardons being doled out left, right and centre during the dying days of that administration. One Eli Weinstein was 8 years into a 24 year sentence for two separate investment fraud schemes – in 2013, to a real estate Ponzi scheme, and in 2015, to wire fraud whilst on trial for the Ponzi scheme! So just the kind of guy that Alan Dershowitz, who represented Mr Trump at his first impeachment, and lobbyist Nick Muzin, a long-time ally of Mr Trump’s chief of staff should have his release petitioned for, with the lawyer team arguing that Mr Weinstein had not received a fair trial, despite the fact that Weinstein had pleaded guilty. Trump pardoned him, commuting the sentence to time served and he was released the same day. Grateful, humbled and a changed man, Weinstein went straight back and started another scheme defrauding investors with “lucrative deals involving, among other things, Covid-19 masks, scarce baby formula, and first-aid kits bound for Ukraine”. Brazen and sophisticated crimes that will cost them up to 25 years in prison, they’ll probably meet up with Trump again!! 
  • Like all right thinking people, I rushed out on Friday to catch a double bill of Oppenheimer and Barbie. Both are amazing, but honestly, I enjoyed Barbie more. Ben Shapiro did NOT feel the same way. Please bear with me for a moment while I come to Ben Shapiro’s defense. A lot of people on the left are mocking Ben for making a 43 minute video about how much he hated Barbie, and as someone who is currently 9 hours into a series of patron only shows about how bad Michael Flatley’s Blackbird is, I think this is very unfair. And that’s the end of my defense, because Blackbird is very bad, and Barbie is amazing, and Ben Shapiro is a little shit whose wife told him a wet vagina is a disease. In his review Ben starts by deciding that the film is aimed at 9 year old girls and then spends the rest of the time questioning why they would include so many intelligent references to old movies, Supreme Court cases, existentialism, the patriarchy and feminism in a film aimed at 9 year old girls. At no point does he consider the fact that it’s actually aimed at all awesome people, and not fragile little shits who say that since Greta Gerwig got to direct a movie she should shut up about how hard things are for women. Ben isn’t the only snowflake who can’t cope with being told men are sometimes not great. Fox News claimed that the film has a trans agenda, because it had the audacity to cast one single trans woman in a minor role, and Ted Cruz has repeatedly accused the film (which he hasn’t seen) of being Chinese Communist propaganda due to a map in the film which he claims depicts the “nine dash line” which signifies China’s disputed claim over the South China Sea. Aside from the fact that the map in Barbie is deliberately drawn like a child’s crayon drawing, has dashes and weird symbols all over the place, the line coming out of Asia is in the wrong place and it only has eight dashes, I don’t know what Ted’s worried about. How many 9 year old girls are going to get that reference?
  • In a brilliant tweet simply containing “I approve this message” Biden’s social media team has addressed the criticism often levelled at the Democrats for not hitting back against their opponents quickly and effectively enough, by making a 30-second video highlighting all Biden accomplishments in social, health, and education infrastructure improvements, continuing and expanding on that which  FDR and LBJ began. Yeah and…? Well the brilliant bit is that the narrative voice over is Marjorie Taylor Greene’s lifted verbatim from what was meant to be a vitriolic takedown criticism of Biden’s government. But with Greene mentioning the vast range of programs Biden is working on, from education and medical care to urban problems, rural poverty, transportation, Medicare, Medicaid, and labour unions over footage of the initiatives at work,  even some Republicans have grudgingly admitted the video’s skillful and hilarious appeal, and I suspect, like Starmer, they are realising there’s something to be learned in using the same language of faint praise, take out the faint bit and its still praise! At 42.4million views the tweet has hailed a new era of cross-party consensus on the effectiveness of Biden’s New Deal har har har!!
  • As we know, elections have consequences. And very occasionally, attempts to overturn elections have consequences, too. One such case is in Michigan, which Attorney General Dana Nessel got fed up with waiting for Federal Authorities to file charges against the 16 randos who signed certificates claiming they had the authority to say Trump had won Michigan and decided to indict them herself. The group of fake electors who decided what they wanted was more important than the actual election result, and who look exactly like you would expect that kind of person to look like:are being charged with eight felony counts each. Their response to the news has been mixed, with ringleader Meshawn Maddock doubling down and claiming she was a duly elected Trump elector, despite definitely not being that, and Michele Lundgren telling her local NBC affiliate that she thought she was signing an attendance sheet for a meeting. And saying “I didn’t even know what an elector was, let alone a fake elector.” Yes, Michele, who ran for a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives in 2022 is going with the Don Jr defense of “Me? I’m too stupid to crime”. It’s troubling that for so many Republicans that’s just so believable. So fingers crossed these people get punished heavily enough that others like them will think twice before pulling the exact same shit in 2024. But I’m not holding my breath.
  • Thankfully I have been not in Britain for the last several weeks so have grasped snatches of news of the UK like I imagine the court of Versailles did – a messenger here bringing news of the rostbif eating neighbours across La Manche struggling to snatch defeat from the jaws of cricket victory against a far distant colony, and representatives of la pays de mère doing well in the lawn tennis championships. But I did play close attention to what was effectively a dress rehearsal for the next general election, three seats holding by-elections for new MPs following Boris’s ignominious departure in Uxbridge, a blue wall MP taking umbrage at not getting a knighthood in disgraced Boris’ resignation honours list and an MP in Frome being struck off for sexual misconduct – yep the whole of Tory life represented. Starmer was all gung-ho for all three wins, but forgot that apart from being not-the-tories he is also Keir Starmer so not guaranteed a win. Labour did pull off a stunning victory in the midlands with a massive 23.7 percentage point swing from the Conservatives – greater than anything since 1997, but the Lib Dems won in Somerset and Frome, and Labour had to be satisfied with having reduced a 7,000 vote majority to 495 when the Tories still took Boris’s old Uxbridge constituency. Starmer says lessons are to be learned, yeah you need to be more than just not-the-Tories, plus you needed to have not backed London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s initiative to extend the clean air zone out to Uxbridge and also backed the Labour candidate for Uxbridge who opposed it! Try being a bit bolder perhaps – a vote for the Tories is a vote for lung problems for your children or some such? Don’t make the mistake that the England cricket team did on the first day of the first test and declare that you’ve enough runs only to get trounced by the opposition, never miscount the possibility that there are still voters who think Boris put Uxbridge on the map when he didn’t turn up to any community things whatsoever! People are stupid Keir and they also have the vote! Don’t get caught out!

That’s all for this week, thanks for listening!

Jim Cliff

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