Ignoratio Elenchi – FT#24

Ignoratio Elenchi – FT#24

Show Notes

This fallacy, sometimes called ‘Missing the Point’, is committed when someone provides evidence refuting or proving a point which is irrelevant to the issue at hand. This can often be a quite effective distraction, but as it does not address the real question, it remains fallacious.

We started out with this from the Donald:

Then we talked about his fear of impeachment:


In Mark’s British Politics Corner, we talked about Theresa May avoiding questions about NHS funding:

And then we talked about Michael Howard avoiding a question on prisons from Jeremy Paxman:


In the Fallacy in the Wild, we talked about this clip from The Simpsons:

Then we discussed this tweet about CO2:

And we talked about this powerful scene from Judgement at Nuremberg:


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

1. [What does Easter mean to you?]
Well, it really means something very special. I’m going to church in an hour from now and it’s going to be — it’s a beautiful church. I’m in Florida. And it’s just a very special time for me. And it really represents family and get-together and — and something, you know, if you’re a — a _Christian, it’s just a very important day.

2. [Could you specify the ways you discussed to advance denuclearization with Chairman Kim?]
We discussed many ways. And the denuclearization is a very important — it’s a very important word. Become a very well used word. And a lot of people don’t know what it means, but to me it’s pretty obvious: We have to get rid of the nukes.

3. [Do you plan to withdraw ground troops from Syria?]
The thing with Syria, we’ve done an incredible job — we’ve totally, or almost totally, put a control on ISIS. We have to make sure we don’t have the same problems we had in other parts of the middle east. People maybe didn’t know — or didn’t try to stop it. But I think nobody could have done what we’ve done.

Click below for the answer

Mark got it wrong this week, so he’s now on 35%.


We played a promo for the excellent Genuine Chit Chat podcast


Then we discussed the Mueller Report, and found out what Barr was covering up with his cherry-picked quotes.  You can find the searchable pdf of the report here.


And finally, here are the stories we really didn’t have time to talk about, because there’s been such a lot of news!

  • Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter posted a video to Facebook and Twitter last week showing how easy it is to cross the Mexican border into Arizona. In the video, Hunter stepped over a waist-high fence, saying “This is what we expect to stop people, transnational terrorists, families, all illegal aliens from coming across the border. This is it.” But, it wasn’t. What he crossed was a vehicle barrier located in the US, about 100 feet from the actual border. But he did have a good reason for faking it.  If Hunter’s name sounds familiar, it might be because in episode 7 we talked about his indictment for using $250,000 of campaign funds for personal purchases and then blaming it on his wife, so if he had in fact stepped into Mexico to make the video, he would have been in violation of his bail.
  • Okay so you know that thing we had a problem with when Bush and Blair interfered in a foreign power on foreign soil – and were strongly advised that it was illegal to do so by lots of professionals – what are they called – oh yeah lawyers, well Trump’s actual attorney-at-law – Rudy ”Just-hold-the-line-a-minute-whilst-I-cover-my-arse” Giuliani on CNN’s “State of the Union.“, said “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” I think he’s understandably confusing asking for directions on the St Petersburg metro with say, treason! When asked if he would have taken information from a foreign source, Giuliani said, “I probably wouldn’t.”, adding “I wasn’t asked,” and “I would have advised, just out of excess of caution, don’t do it.” Hmmm much to unpack there – but mostly the complete absence of objectivity around the RULE OF LAW – which we’d take up with him if we weren’t being deafened by the sound of him metaphorically running in the opposite direction away from Trump…
  • Former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has described Trump as ‘highly biblical’, adding “we will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetime”. I actually agree, assuming of course that she’s talking about Old Testament God, who Richard Dawkins once described as “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”.  I think ‘filicidal’ is probably going a bit far, but the rest is surprisingly apropos.
  • Good Ol’ Smokey the Bear and Thunderbird 2 pilot Donal le Troumpf graced.. sorry bludgeoned his way onto the international stage with his forest-conflagration-raking wisdom when he advised dropping tons of water from a great height to extinguish the burning Notre Dame Cathedral. Parisian firefighters were red-faced when they realised it turns out the monument is on a lone hill, by an airstrip miles from people, tall buildings or electrically powered metropolises and made of a solid lump of metal – so that’d work perfectly, rather than what they had thought for longer than America has actually existed; that it is an ancient, mostly delicately filigreed limestone, latticed wood and fragile multifaceted glass structure filled with irreplaceable textile and paper-based artifacts 2 feet from a river!
  • This week, Trump said this to reporters: “I have been the most transparent president and administration in the history of our country by far” Meanwhile, in literally the same exchange, he announced he would be “fighting all the subpoenas” coming from House committees. Just this week, the White House has refused to allow evil Pee Wee Herman Stephen Miller to testify about immigration policies, and instructed Carl Kline, John Gore and Don McGahn to ignore subpoenas to testify about security clearances, citizenship questions and the Mueller report respectively. Steve Mnuchin is refusing to release Trump’s tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee, and Trump is suing his own accountants to prevent the House Oversight Committee seeing his financial documents.  To be fair, the motivation behind all this is pretty transparent.
  • Humanitarian-Nobel prize-winner-in-waiting-surely former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen apparently had been making it a priority for the White House to take more serious steps to prepare for further interference from Russia in the 2020 election. Whilst this may be a “I did try to do some good things but was thwarted” report we warned against last episode, it does make for good reading that whilst Homeland Security have observed continued attempts by the Russians to interfere with our electoral process in 2018 and beyond.
  • White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney warned Kirstjen not to bring these plans up to the president himself. Mick he believes (as do we all) that Trump still sees public discussion of Russian interference as questioning the legitimacy of his victory in 2016. Mulvaney apparently said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.” Such constant roadblocks put up by Mulvaney and others eventually led Nielsen to give up on the meeting despite the DHS’s cybersecurity responsibilities. Ah well bless her she tried, what a trooper – thanks Kirst!
  • Remember that weird poll we discussed in episode 18 where 2% of people said they’d never heard of Donald Trump?  Well, there’s a new one out, and it’s a lot worse for Mike Pence.  Turns out 12% of people are completely unaware of his existence, including 6% of people who identify themselves as Republicans, and 11% of Conservatives.  Let’s just take a moment and imagine how great it would be to be one of those people who had never heard of Mike Pence. Nope. I can’t cope with the level of stupid that inevitably comes with that.
  • As a society we probably collectively embrace Twitter’s stirling efforts to algorithmically weed out ISIS and other terrorist postings on their platform, and accept that in starving extremists of the oxygen of publicity that might mean taking down some legitimate reporting from Al Jazeera and other genuine arabic language organisations, indeed this view was expressed in an all-staff meeting by Twitter executives. But in the same meeting Vice News reports one Twitter employee saying the site “hasn’t taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians,” (who knew!) The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda, he argued. Er… which bit of society – the bit that has two accounts, tweets peevishly at 4am, to over 100 million followers on pages that carry adverts part of society? Is it?

See you all next time!

Jim Cliff

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