Counterfactual Fallacy – FT#37

Counterfactual Fallacy – FT#37

Show Notes

The Counterfactual fallacy is often committed when someone speculates on the specifics of how things would be different in different circumstances, or in the future if a particular thing happens. Where the arguer purports to have more certainty of the hypothetical situation, or their speculation goes against evidence, they are more likely to be committing the fallacy.

We started out with Trump’s claims of inevitable war and financial collapse had he not been elected:

Then we talked about this predictive Tweet:

In Mark’s British Politics Corner, we talked about Boris’s claim about what would happen “If Parliament had its way”:

Then we talked about David Cameron saying a very similar thing some time ago:

In the Fallacy in the Wild, we looked at this Friends clip:

Then we discussed Steven Spielberg’s idea of what would have happened had Jaws been a failure:

We also talked about Pete Townshend’s theories about if the Beatles were still together:

Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game, which were sent in by listener Chris Cole (thanks Chris!):

  1. I don’t understand what Nike was thinking — they have this guy, he’s not a good guy, he disrespects our flag, our beautiful, beautiful national anthem, our country and they make him the star. And we don’t like that. It’s not smart business and everyone knows I’m a very smart businessman.
  2. To me, the NFL situation is a very important situation. I’ve heard that before about was I preoccupied. Not at all. Not at all. I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work. And to be honest with you, that’s an important function of working. It’s called respect for our country
  3. I watched for a couple of minutes and two guys just really a beautiful tackle, boom, 15 yards. The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him, they’re ruining the game. Right? They’re ruining the game. Hey, look, that’s what they want to do, they want to hit, OK? They want to hit.

Click below for the answer

Mark got it right this week (bad luck Chris), and now he’s on 15/36, or roughly 42%.


We then talked about the televised impeachment hearings and what happens next.


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

  • It’s good news, bad news for Trump associate Roger Stone this week.  The good news is, the gag order on him talking about his court case is no longer in effect.  The bad news is that’s because he’s been found guilty on all counts of obstruction of justice, witness tampering and making false statements to the House Intelligence Committee and faces up to 50 years in prison. It’s not a huge surprise, since the prosecution provided a huge amount of documentary evidence and specifically mentioned that he has a tattoo of Richard Nixon’s face on his back, while his defence rested without calling a single witness.  Some say Stone is holding out hope that Trump will pardon him, but he picked a bad week to be convicted. Trump’s got more important things on his mind right now. So I guess it was good news, bad news, really bad news.
  • Previously vowing never to settle the case, charitable philanthropist…sorry philanderer Donald J Trump has been ordered to fork over $2 Million dollars to resolve a case brought by the state of New York into Trump – et famille – using the Trump Foundation and the funds donated thereto for a “shocking pattern of illegality,” including “unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign” and “repeated and willful self-dealing” well as the saying goes “do what you know best”. Oh and also “charity begins at home” – as does having to pay the sins of the father even unto the next generation. Faith, Hope and Charity and the greatest of these is comeuppance!
  • When Giuliani associates and Ukrainian Cabbage Patch Kids, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested trying to flee the country, Trump pulled his usual trick of disavowing any knowledge of them, like his entire leadership style is based on the voice on the tape at the beginning of Mission Impossible. Apparently Trump saying “I don’t know those gentlemen” hurt poor Lev’s feelings, as he’s now fired his lawyer, John Dowd, who you might remember from formerly being Trump’s lawyer, and agreed to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Parnas says, on Giuliani’s instructions, he and Fruman met with President Zelensky’s aide and told him that unless they agreed to announce an investigation into the Bidens, the military aid would not be released and, even worse, Mike Pence wouldn’t come to his inauguration party.
  • Adopting the somewhat familiar tone of trying to shake down an ally as part of a scheme that resembles a protection racket. “Our friends are uncomfortable with our demands, so we decided to stop talking to them until they agreed to pay us billions of dollars.” Trump, who’s never understood the value of having a US presence hmmm 7 seconds from North Korea’s nascent nuclear missile arsenal, is demanding a fivefold increase in the price to South Korea for the pleasure of having the US station troops there. Whilst they currently pay 1 billion dollars for the privilege, he apparently plucked 4.7 billion out of thin air, and when the South Koreans not surprisingly expressed a little reluctance to having to find another 4 or so billion from their national economy, the Americans walked away from the table. Meanwhile, north of the DMZ Little Rocket man is not convinced that the US is wholly ending it’s hostile policy towards North Korea when cancelling joint military exercises with South Korea. Way to go Donny pissing off the good witch of the South and the Wicked Witch of the North in one go, good thing he’s got good relations with the East and the West or he’d have no friends on earth at all – ah no hang on.. 
  • Don Jr’s book, Triggered, was released last week and while some are saying Jr isn’t smart enough to write a book, I think that’s unfair. Mostly because you don’t have to be smart to write something like this about your visit to Arlington National Cemetery: “As we drove past the rows of white grave markers, in the gravity of the moment, I had a deep sense of the importance of the presidency and a love of our country. In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make to help my father succeed”.  The narcissistic shit really doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Jr has appeared on prime time TV multiple times to promote his book about how the left are silencing him, not to mention his nationwide book tour which included on event where he was booed off the stage by Trump supporters for not being enough of a bigoted asshole.  He can take some comfort in hitting number 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list, but it’s cold comfort, thanks to the dagger shaped asterisk next to the title that tells everyone it’s only at the top thanks to ‘bulk’ purchases from as yet unknown sources.  I would have said it was Trump senior, but there’s no way he cares enough about any of his children to spend that kind of money. Well, maybe Ivanka. But no, it turns out the RNC, which gave away a signed copy for ever $50 donation, spent almost $100,000 on copies of little Donny’s scribbles
  • Trump Press secretary number 257 Stephanie Grisham declared “why is everyone so sensitive” when she had to backtrack over lies she’d told about there being notes left behind that said ‘You will fail’, ‘You aren’t going to make it’,” and that “In the press office, there was a big note taped to a door that said that ‘You will fail’. Members of the Obama administration rebutted her “bald-face lies” and took to twitter to share copies of what nice things they actually said to the incoming administration… In preparing us for laying the blame for the failure of the entire Trump saga at Obama’s feet too what Grisham has perhaps inadvertently revealed is the clairvoyance of those working for Obama, who thereby even now continue to bring the Audacity of Hope in a Trumpian dystopia!  
  • Stephanie’s had a busy week since last Saturday when she released a statement about Trump’s totally normal, run of the mill, last minute unscheduled trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  Grisham claimed that the trip, which pool reporters were told not to announce until the President had arrived at the hospital, was just Donald taking advantage of a slow weekend to get a head start on some portions of his routine annual physical exam.  You know how sometimes you’re at home on a Saturday and you think “Hey, it’s been eight months since I had my last annual checkup, why don’t I head over to the hospital and do part of next year’s now, to get it out of the way.” Never ones to see the value of consistency in a lie, the White House then release a memo from Trump’s doctor calling the visit a “routine, planned, interim checkup”, despite the fact that it was, unlike all other such checkups, not on his schedule.  There has been some speculation that Trump is laying the groundwork for resigning on medical grounds, but I say how dare people suggest that Trump plans ahead for something. 
  • You remember the fence I built the summer before last which cost a billionth the price of Trump’s mexican border wall? Turns out that not only could a girl scout scale mine just as easily as his, but that cutting through it with an electric power saw – which I had to do replace a panel recently – not cos of the girl scout getting her head stuck – we used a hammer for that – but cos a car damaged one of them – cutting through that is just as easy as cutting through Trump’s. Smugglers have been down to Home Depot and bought a cordless jigsaw and passed goods through the resultant hole. Undaunted Ol’ Double-Down Donald now says “We have a very powerful wall, But no matter how powerful, you can cut through anything, in all fairness. But we have a lot of people watching.” So why bother with the wall at all – just have the people who watch? – or do the people crossing the border need to be spending some time, drilling or climbing, so that the people watching can actually see them? Don’t anyone tell Trump diamonds are really difficult to cut or congress will be shut down again negotiating a new budget! 
  • Presumably reasoning that 24 hour cable news plus the occasional butt-diallled phone call doesn’t give him enough opportunities to confess to crimes, Trump’s personal attorney and Hallowe’en potato, Rudy Giuliani, has announced that he’s thinking about starting a podcast to talk about the impeachment hearings.  Back off Rudy, we and 17,000 other people were here first.  Actually, I take that back – please Rudy, do it! If only for the possibility – let’s face it, likelihood – that you’ll accidentally upload some incriminating phone calls between you and Trump!
  • Boris ah Boris, they seek him here they seek him there, a period of sporadic appearances by the damned elusive blond Pimpernel has ensued recently. We are now in full electioneering mode, and also winter flooding hitting the north of England, because of which Boris was invited after 5 days of non-appearance to declare a national emergency by Jeremy Corbyn and invoke national bodies to respond. Turning up in the affected zones the grateful and relieved general public asked ‘where have you been Boris” and one old woman described him as an “asshole” on national TV. After appearing, on time, on a TV debate with Corbyn, he turned down the follow up debate on another TV channel and even failed to turn up to the hustings in his own constituency, remember that’s the one where he was called a “toe-rag” by another old woman. Meanwhile his party has been pretending not to be the Conservative party, appearing to be an independent fact checking service instead when they changed the Tory party’s own Twitter account into an account called FactcheckUK in order to trash Corbyn’s statements during the said tv debate by spouting Tory propaganda as fact! And as we have heard earlier they also bought the domain to further appear to be more things that they’re not. So even if people do vote for him and he does get in you can guarantee that he will continue to not really be what he appears to be – except the uncaring self-serving power-crazed amoral twat he’s always been – ah he really does appear to be Trump.

Before we signed off, there was just time to let everyone know about the pre-Christmas sales in our TeePublic store, where you can get all manner of awesome pro-good stuff, anti-bad stuff type T shirts.

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

Jim Cliff

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