Prosecutor’s Fallacy – FT#61

Prosecutor’s Fallacy – FT#61

Show Notes

The Prosecutor’s Fallacy is committed when someone mixes up the conditionals when stating a probability or doesn’t factor the conditionals in at all.



We started out with this clip of Trump misrepresenting a CDC study on coronavirus and masks:


Mark’s British Politics Corner

Mark talked about this exchange between Will Self and Mark Francois and how it relates to Bayes Theorem:

And then we looked at this Telegraph article explaining why false positives mean that even when the coronavirus goes away, it might seem like it’s still hanging around.


Fallacy in the Wild

We talked about People v. Collins (1968)

We followed that up with the Sally Clark case from 1999

And finally we talked about the Boy or Girl Paradox


Fake News

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

  1. I spoke to Netenyahu the other day. He’s a great… they call him Bibi. Bibi. I don’t know why, he likes it I guess. But you know I’ve met a lot of great people since I’ve been… I’ve met a lot of not so great people too, let me tell you. Some of the not so great people, I don’t even want to say names, some of them you might be surprised by, some of them had very important jobs, but they don’t now.
  2. That’s all I hear about, now. That’s all I hear. Turn on television, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID. A plane goes down, 500 people dead. They don’t talk about it. COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID. By the way, on November 4th you won’t hear about it any more. It’s true. COVID, COVID, please don’t go and vote, COVID. Please do not, under any cir… You can not go out and vote.
  3. I said, first lady, am I the most handsome President ever? Yes, absolutely. I said who could top me? Well, she said, well, JFK was good looking, but nothing like you, nothing like you, darling. Now you go home and you see this crazy CNN. Fortunately, their ratings are terrible, which is great, but you’ll see them say, Donald Trump said he’s better looking than JFK. You’ll see, they’re sick people.

Click below for the answer

Mark got it wrong again this week, so now he’s on 26/61, or 42%.


“But his emails…” is not a logical fallacy, it’s a Hail Mary

We talked about the last ditch, desperate attempt to smear Biden by claiming that almost nothing happened, on the basis of very sketchy evidence.


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

  • After refusing to take part in a virtual second debate because he really wanted to try to infect Biden, Trump instead opted for a town hall on NBC at the exact same time as Biden’s town hall on ABC. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie asked some questions, which the right wing media described as ‘ambushing’ Trump, including asking him why he retweeted a conspiracy theory about Obama and Biden having Seal Team 6 killed to cover up for the fact that they didn’t really kill Osama Bin Laden.  He claimed that since it was only a retweet, it was fine, and Guthrie told him “You’re the President, you’re not someone’s crazy uncle who can retweet whatever.”  Mary Trump would like a word. The following week, the third, or is it technically the second debate, happened, and Trump showed us all what it’s like when he lies more quietly.  The simple fact he didn’t have to be physically restrained meant that much of the media applauded his new tone for the god knows how manyeth time but the lies came so thick and fast that CNN fact checker Daniel Dale said fact checking Trump was like I Love Lucy in the chocolate factory.  Keen to make sure his lies also had just enough racism in to please his base, Trump claimed that catching and releasing at the border meant that only the 1% of immigrants with the lowest IQ showed up to their court dates. It’s very on-brand of Trump to assume the only reason people would follow the rules is if they’re stupid, and equally on brand to be about as wrong as you can be.  According to data from the Transactional Records Clearing House, 99% of asylum seekers show up to their court dates, and 75% of immigrants overall.
  • In the run up to Christmas 1969 a billboard was rented in Times Square that declared “War is Over, If you want it – Happy Xmas from John and Yoko”. Charming in it’s naivete it still managed to stir the ire of the then Republican administration to begin a 6 year campaign thru the FBI to deport Lennon from America cos he was intimately connected with the hearts and minds of the young and active voting populace and thus seen to be dangerous to the incumbent leader. 50-odd years on Trump’s own horrible John and Yoko mashup Jarvanka have been shown how they are not at all in touch with any people except themselves, maybe each other? Nah probably not. The Lincoln Project took out possibly even the very same billboard emblazoned with Ivanka doing a game show host reveal of the magic numbers of New Yorkers and Americans dead from Trump’s non-handling of the virus, and Jared standing beside body bags and his own words “[New Yorkers] are gonna suffer and that’s their problem.” And to exacerbate the entitled white-privilege message the two petulant toddlers then threatened to sue the Lincoln Project with ‘really big things cos it’s not fair’ and “never you mind that he did say that and that those numbers are correct or that pesky First Amendment we’re  so fond of referring to when we’re being offensive, just you wait and see”. One feels the power of wait till I tell my Dad – who turns out isn’t the mafia don he thinks we think he is at all after all – fails to carry the weight they think it does; “Go right ahead” the Lincoln Project said Tweeting “Jared and Ivanka have always been entitled, out-of-touch bullies who have never given the slightest indication they have any regard for the American people. We plan on showing them the same level of respect.” and so do we – [raspberry]
  • Trump keeps making the mistake of sitting down for interviews with actual journalists, and then being amazed when it doesn’t go well for him. Last week it was Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes’ turn, and she opened up by asking Trump if he was ready for some tough questions. He said he was not, and thus the tone was set for the interview. Stahl kicked off with a really tough one that Trump couldn’t possibly have prepared for: “Why do you want to be reelected?”  Around thirty minutes in, Trump decided to end the interview early, but what Lesley Stahl and her team didn’t know, was that Trump the genius had a plan. The four dimensional chess master outsmarted everyone at 60 Minutes by releasing the full video of him whining like a little bitch about how he can’t cope with tough questions on his twitter account, a few days before it would air on CBS.  
  • Just in case you were worried that your worry that this world has been completely fucked up – and in no small part due to the Idiocracy of Naranja J Trump and his Vaudeville Circus-Dictator act, let the calm rock-steady conservatism of the Grand Ol’ Pardy reassure you that your fears of being delusional are completely unfounded. Its official it we are living on planet FUBAR, cos they have announced in all seriousness that the top two policies for looking out for YOU in their next term in office are:  *Establish Permanent Manned Presence on The Moon *Send the 1st Manned Mission to Mars. Yep can’t do anything about whoever failed to make America Great Again this time round – let’s get off the planet – and fuck up another one. Whilst calling to mind Douglas Adams’ idea to send all the useless people off to another world under the misapprehension that they are going ahead of everyone else to establish working governments, hairdressing salons and artisanal coffee bars – “way ya go Donny you first, you can be the king of a whole globe” it goes on to list *Build World’s Greatest Infrastructure System and *Establish National High-Speed Wireless Internet Network”. So yeah no hint of tackling a)the virus crisis, b)the dismantling of representational democracy, c)the tanking economy and d) the plight of out of work steelworkers and farmers thru ignorant trade deals – nope nuffin’. Still it could be worse the UK Government could be calling their track and trace system similarly “a moonshot mission” hahahahaha… oh no wait!
  • Reporters noticed last week that Mitch McConnell seems to be rotting from the inside out, with horribly discolored, band-aid adorned hands, and bruises on his face. Like normal humans, they asked if he was OK, and like Mitch McConnell, he lied that there was nothing wrong and no concerns about his health.  Mitch is definitely that guy in the zombie movies who claims he hasn’t been bitten just so he doesn’t get left behind even though he knows he’s about to turn into a soulless monster who destroys everybody’s lives by refusing to even take a vote on hundreds of bills that have been passed by the House and ramming through a Supreme Court nominee… wait, what was I talking about?  Oh yes, he’s also a zombie, probably.
  • Those bastions of public order and stability in Fresno California; the baptist church, the Fresno County Republican Party headquarters, and the local gun shops ferchrissake, have all been proving that voter fraud is real by attempting to commit voter fraud. These locations are listed by the local republican party headquarters as secure drop off points for ballots, aaaaannnddd… they’re not. So sure are they that people who vote will vote Democrat that they are putting apparently officially sanctioned boxes where law-abiding, god-fearing, gun-toting voters go to, presumably take them, once full, to the nearest GOP-sanctioned drop-off-box incineration facility. The Californian state Republican Party has not responded officially to questions about the boxes, but it has been defending its position on Twitter. “If a congregation/business or other group provides the option to its parishioners/associates/ or colleagues to drop off their ballot in a safe location, with people they trust, rather than handing it over to a stranger who knocks on their door — what is wrong with that?”. If you can’t see why it is wrong nor indeed see that you’ve committed the fallacy of a false dilemma, then you are not fit to be in charge of the process of voting, nor indeed in office both of which are enforceable by law apparently. In invoking Will Self I just know that those stupid enough to use the fake boxes will all be Republican voters anyway.
  • OK, I know this is going to sound weird, but I’ve got some good news.  San Francisco legislators have passed a hate crime bill giving people the right to sue anyone who makes a 911 call to target people of color basically living while black.  That’s pretty good, but the best part is that it’s called the Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, but it’s better known by its acronym, the CAREN act.
  • Britpol – In another week of a peculiarly British armageddon a soccer player is talking more sense than a politician about the need to provide free school meals during the school holidays now that half the country is closed so no-one’s in work and can’t afford to shop nor go anywhere to eat cos half the country’s closed. Minister’s voted with some relish (ironically a foodstuff in the UK) to deny an increasing population of food-insecure children a free meal in a throwback to the joys of a traditional Dickensian Christmas. The first time that no-one’s actually complaining about how much money footballers actually earn in a week compared with say, I don’t know, health-workers, teachers or foodbank staff! Boris got arsey with the European’s after they said “okay then we’ll do what you ask and compromise on some things so we can get back round the table to talk over this deal of yours you promised us when the UK voted you in last December that hasn’t appeared yet”, saying they didn’t agree fast enough, ignoring that they didn’t know they had to until he’d flounced out from the talks previously cos they asked some hard questions like “where’s the fucking deal the UK voted you in for last December” etc etc. And just when the rule of six got augmented with 3 tiers only weeks after we’d got used to the three Medium, High and Very High levels; rather than fix anything like say the £12billion subscription to Office 365, Boris is considering introducing Tier 4 to help explain it all. Just like he didn’t when he couldn’t give any details about how long these local lockdowns that aren’t a national lockdown just every county in the country is in an interlocking set of individual lockdowns might last. Hurry up with the rocket ships Elon the queues are building!

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

Jim Cliff

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