Argument from Authority – FT#16

Argument from Authority – FT#16

Show Notes

This is more accurately called the Argument from Improper or False Authority. After all, it’s entirely valid to support your argument by invoking a relevant authority like, say, climate scientists opinions on climate change.

However, when the authority you invoke is not an authority on the subject at hand, or objectively not reliable or trustworthy, you are committing a fallacy. A very common form of this is the Appeal to Celebrity, which is why adverts constantly try to get us to associate products with famous people we like. But even if Kendall Jenner did drink Pepsi, would that make it a superior soft drink?

The examples used in this episode will be coming soon.

Here are the links to the stories we talked about

Christmas is not a logical fallacy:

And finally, some things we really didn’t have time to talk about:


  • Trump shut down the federal government for the third time this year just before Christmas, presumably based on the assumption that the Mueller investigation will have to stop while the shutdown is in effect. He seems pretty happy to take the credit for 800,000 federal workers going without pay over Christmas, telling Chuck Schumer earlier in the month that he was ‘proud’ to shut down the government, claiming many federal workers are telling him they want him to hold out, and boasting on Twitter that it’s mostly democrats that aren’t getting paid anyway.
  • The Most Altruistic Charity In The History Of Charities™   the Trump Foundation is no more. The New York State Attorney General signed a stipulation dissolving the Trump Foundation and argues that the individual Trumps failed to ever hold a board meeting or take board minutes; didn’t review foundation assets, liabilities, revenues, and disbursements; and neglected to oversee the foundation and/or supervise accounting staff. Most damning of all for the president, he solicited funds directly for the foundation then gave his presidential campaign control over those funds, which it then used to attempt to influence the election. As the Barbara Underwood version of the Good Book says: “And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is justice.”
  • For the first time in his presidency, Trump visited US troops overseas on Christmas Day, as he and Melania took an unannounced trip to Iraq. After accidentally revealing the classified whereabouts of covert special ops unit SEAL team 5, Trump went on to brag about how he personally arranged the military’s recent huge pay raise. (Narrator voice: “He did not”.)
  • This past weekend, Trump administration ghoul and noted balding person Stephen Miller appeared on Face the Nation to talk about some (presumably pretty racist) stuff and show off a fancy new zombie hairline, and because nobody ever watches his appearances with the sound up noone failed to notice that he looked like he’d been inserted inside that magnetic iron filings facial hair toy Woolly Willy.  Actually the pubic head triangle was the only alive-looking thing in his chair!
  • Another in the Happy Families set of Dictators, that nice Turkish Mr Erdogan, told Donald on the phone that he’s got ISIS covered now in Syria, so why is Trump’s army still there? “Righto” says Donald “let’s go boys…!” No correlation of course with the fact that the state department later said it had approved the sale of Patriot ground-to-air missiles to Turkey. Even in the face of committing this so-called Obama-like mistake, a senior administration official said, “It was the president’s decision to make and he made it,”, “He gets to do that. That’s his prerogative.” How many times do we have to spell it out – Just because you’re in charge, doesn’t make you right!!
  • London-based eco-friendly construction company EnviroBuild who feel very strongly that everyone should do everything they can to leave the world in a better way than they found it, bid $25,000 for the right to name a newly-found type of Panamanian amphibian – the Caecilian (seh-SILL-yen). Caecilians are tropical amphibians that look like large worms or slick snakes. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which end is the head and which is the tail – or arse if you will! Their shiny skin is ringed with drooping skin folds – very pleasingly called annuli, it is a vulnerable creature at risk as a result of the US govt’s current position on climate change.  They have called it Dermophis donaldtrumpi
  • All Michael Flynn had to do last week was go into the courtroom and accept a light sentence with possibly no jail time, which both his lawyers and Mueller’s team had agreed to, based on his cooperation as a witness. But of course, he had to spend a couple of days beforehand saying the FBI had entrapped him, talked to him without his lawyer present, and the mean old agents hadn’t told him it was illegal to lie to the FBI.  Judge Emmet Sullivan wasn’t happy. So he asked Flynn if he had in fact been entrapped. Flynn’s lawyer said no. Sullivan asked if Flynn did in fact know that lying to the FBI was a crime. Flynn said yes. And Sullivan asked if Flynn wanted to recant his guilty plea. Flynn said no. So Sullivan basically told him to go away and think about how he could be more helpful.  He offered to sentence Flynn there and then, but said he couldn’t promise there wouldn’t be jail time and pointed out that Flynn had basically sold out his country. The sentencing has been postponed.
  • Fit-for-service draft-dodging military-service-jacket-wearing man-chicken’s family owned the building in Jamaica Queen’s where podiatrist Larry Braunstein had his surgical office. Following a letter he wrote confirming that Donald had the feet skeletons of Foghorn Leghorn, Braunstein’s daughter said her father received preferential treatment from his landlord. “If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got.” Seems that back in the day being The Godfather (who was after all a seh-sill-yen!), a tenement janitor and a cartoon Rhode Island Red was all part of a day’s work for the apprentice Liar-in-Chief!  (Clip Foghorn Leghorn quote)
  • Because he doesn’t understand how to be a normal human, Trump shouldn’t talk to children. On Christmas eve, a 7 year old kid called Norad, the government organisation that helps kids track Santa when they’re not detecting incoming missiles.  As a fun publicity stunt, the kid was put through to the White House to talk to Trump, who proceeded to ask the kid if she still believed in Santa, ()following this up by saying “because at 7 it’s kind of marginal, right?” Look, you can put kids in cages, take healthcare away from millions of Americans and threaten nuclear capable dictators with itchy trigger fingers, but NEVER question a 7 year old’s belief in Santa.
  • In what must be the most perfectly executed back-handed insult; “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours… I believe it is right for me to step down from my position”, Jim Mattis joined recent escaping adults John Kelly and Rex Tillerson in an exact reversal of the Christmas Story. The three wise men have gazed upon the mewling, puking, swaddled satsuma man-baby, taken their gifts and high-tailed it from the West Wing, in the sure and certain knowledge that no-one will have any faith in it – even if it ever grows up.


Jim Cliff

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