Single Cause Fallacy – FT#27

Single Cause Fallacy – FT#27

Show Notes

The Single Cause Fallacy is committed when the speaker assumes a complex outcome to have one cause, thereby making it easier to blame on somebody or propose a solution. The reality is that many real-world issues are caused by a combination of factors, some of which may even be too complex for us to be aware of. Oversimplifying issues does not help us to talk about them with reason and logic.

We started out with the Donald tweeting this attack on Brian Ross of ABC:

Then we talked about his groundbreaking suggestion for a rating system on films and video games following the Parkland shooting:


In Mark’s British Politics Corner, we talked about four of the parties having very clear ideas of what the results of the European Elections meant:

And here’s the Guardian on what’s really going on with the results:

Then we talked about Hillary Clinton and Nigel Farage squaring off about lies told by the Leave campaign:


In the Fallacy in the Wild, we talked about this clip from Blackadder Goes Forth:

Then we discussed this example from Friends:

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

  1. What I see is we have thousands of migrants, from Syrian and Iran — who could be ISIS, I don’t know. Maybe they don’t know either. And I see that they’re not good people, I mean, they’re bad mostly. Mostly bad. And they’re coming over to America, and trying to get in — to get across the border into America. But we can’t have ISIS coming to our shores again, and killing more of our people. So, you ask two things. Number one, how do we stop them in their tracks, before they reach our borders, and number two, we’ve got to do something about it.
  2. When I took over, Syria was loaded with ISIS. And again, when you say — and I’ve always said, who are we killing ISIS for? You know, the worst enemy of Russia, Iran, Syria, if you look at it, is ISIS. So we’re killing ISIS for people that aren’t necessarily always in agreement with us, let’s put it that way. We’ve gone into Syria, and in two years we’ve, I guess, reduced it to about 99 percent of the territorial caliphate. Now, that doesn’t mean you’re not going have somebody around. And who knows what happened and who it was, because nobody is sure. But I will say this: We’ve taken it — Syria was a mess.
  3. I went to Iraq and I met the generals and one general said, “Sir, we can do it in one week.” I said, “Wait a minute, they said two years.” They said, “That’s because we’re hitting them at a much different level.” And we did it and we now have 100 percent of the ISIS — it’s been completely obliterated. And that doesn’t mean you don’t have cells and these crazy people, I got to say it, because you saw it, you can never say, “We won,” because if you say, “We won,” and then somebody blows up a store, some crazy maniac. But we just beat the hell out of them. And we’re trying to now beat them at the Internet because there’s nobody better at the Internet than them.

Click below for the answer

Mark got it right again this week, so he’s now on 38%. Thanks to Richard ‘Thunder’ Hopkins for supplying this week’s fake Trump quote!


Then we talked about some of the Democratic Presidential candidates, after we both used to find out whose policies are closest to our own opinions.

And finally, here are the stories we really didn’t have time to talk about

  • Last week, Robert Mueller made a public statement for the first time since the release of his report. He spoke for 8 minutes, and basically just repeated what the report concluded. To be honest, at first I thought it was a confusing waste of time, but then I’ve read the Mueller Report. Conservatives who still haven’t, lost their shit at what they saw as brand new information. For example, John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post: “if Mueller didn’t intend to signal to Congress that his report could serve as the basis for an impeachment, his statement was wildly incompetent”. He DID intend that!  He intended it all over the place!
  • In a somewhat obvious attempt to frame any move away from non-fossil fuels as an infringement of liberty Steven Winberg, assistant secretary for fossil energy described Texas produced natural gas as “molecules of U.S. freedom” “With the U.S. in another year of record-setting natural gas production, I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported to the world”. Mark Menzes, the undersecretary of energy slightly less poetically and certainly less sci-fi-y added “Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world” Even here in the UK where we don’t call gastric disturbances “gas” that’s quite icky – it’s what comes of chomping on too many of those freedom fries Donny!
  • Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has fired his legal team at the point in his case where there is only the sentencing to go. The move comes after the release of a voicemail left for his lawyer by Trump attorney John Dowd, in which Dowd basically asked Flynn to give him a heads up if he was going to implicate Trump in any crimes. Nobody seems to know who Flynn has chosen to represent him or why he’s made the change, but irresponsible speculation is that he’s going to withdraw his guilty plea because he’s noticed all the other people getting away with crimes in plain sight and figures he’ll give obstructing justice a go. It’s all the rage!
  • Meanwhile in the UK the wrinkled rubbery orange angry tweeting blimp drove straight past the inflatable Trump Baby balloon and 75,000 protestors in Trafalgar Square – I know cos they’re captured in the same picture so unless he was looking at the National Portrait Gallery at the time (yeah right!) his own protestations that “oooh its fake news”… “there were tremendous crowds of well-wishers” (they were mainly the police lining the route – one deep) look to be what they are – self serving guff! Which is what they used to pump up the balloon by the way. Later in the visit he tried to lecture Leo Varadkar the Irish PM on how it’ll all be great “after you have the wall and the border” only to be told to his face by Leo “but we don’t want a wall or a border” Trump of course carried on saying what he says about walls and borders not listening to anyone or the truth or facts or the evidence in front of his eyes – Our hearts go out to you America we’re exhausted as a nation after three days of circus freakshow – you have it all the time.  
  • While in Europe, Trump attended events celebrating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and held up the opening ceremony by 14 minutes so that he could be interviewed by Laura Ingraham on Fox, against the backdrop of a French military cemetery where thousands of American soldiers are buried. Of course, he used his time to honor the fallen heroes and thank them for their sacrifice. Well, for literally 45 seconds, anyway. But because he’s a massive asshole, he spend the rest of the time talking about how much the Queen liked him, how great tariffs are, calling Chuck Schumer a jerk, Nancy Pelosi a disaster, and Robert Mueller a fool. That’s decorated military veteran Robert Mueller.  On fucking D-Day.
  • Meanwhile in the UK the protest group Led by Donkeys – a reference of course to how we all are – projected a giant red baseball cap onto the dome of Madame Tussauds in London, a cap with USS John McCain on it – consequently and quite delightfully Amazon have completely sold out of caps online – I guess they’re just trying to keep them out of sight, that’s what the Navy shoulda done with the actual USS John McCain in Japan – bung it on eBay!
  • Just a few hours ago as of this recording, Trump tweeted “for all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!” Which is either massively ignorant or incompetently worded, both of which are super fun traits for a President.  Maybe he was just thinking of that time when Kennedy said “We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is Mars”.
  • In other news – progress on my home improvement fencing work includes painting it to improve its aesthetic appearance kinda important when you want it to blend in with the rest of the garden – not so important when you are trying to keep border crossers from crossing the border fence hey! Mine cost about $40 for a drum of brown creosote and I did it myself in an afternoon with a 99 cent brush, whilst Trump favours black and Customs and Border Protection indicated the Department of Defense spent $150,000 and used 100 men for a month. Congressman Joaquin Castro chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus channelled his best Star Trek’s Dr McCoy and  said “These are soldiers, they are not painters”. If only Trump could read, there’s a Huckleberry Finn tale on this very subject…

If you’d like to come along at meet us at the Merseyside Skeptics’ 10th Anniversary event in Liverpool on July 6th, tickets are still available from (and they’re only £29)

Finally, thanks to our our newest Patrons: Loren Phillips, ‘Democracy is Zucked’, and Cat Commander. 

See you next time!

Jim Cliff

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