Crimes Against Logic: A Segment that i’ll be doing from time to time on the Val Leventhal Radio Show on Sundays. The concept goes like this. I’ll find someone in the media who is using a fallacious argument. We’ll find out what logical errors they are committing and we’ll explain how their argument is committing these errors and proceed to file charges against them for committing crimes against logic.
Here is the first one.
Logical Criminal : Stacy Washington , host of “Stacy On The Right” radio show and is the co chairwoman of the Project 21 National Advisory Council. She writes for numerous right wing blogs like NRA America’s First Freedom, The DailyCaller, The Federalist and Newsbusters.
On April 16th Stacy Washington was on the Thom Harmann radio show. For those who aren’t familiar Thom Hartman is a left wing radio host who frequently invites right wing pundits on his show to debate political issues. Stacy raised a long running argument that black citizens economic condition in a select few cities is a direct consequence of the democrats who they have elected into office over the years. The logical crimes being committed here is “The Sampling Error and Illusory Correlation” Before we examine this argument listen to the clip of the exchange between Thom Hartmann and Stacy so you can hear these logical crimes being committed in real time.
(The clip of the exchange starts at 1:58)
The First Logical Crime is “The Sampling Error”
The Sampling Error is committed when the characteristics of a population are estimated from a sample of that population. Since the sample does not include members of the entire population the conclusion drawn from that sample is not an accurate representation of the entire population.
The second Logical Crime is “Illusory correlation”
Illusory Correlation is committed when someone suggests a correlation exists between two variables when no such relationship exists.
How does this argument commit the sampling error ?
The argument hand picks some districts that have elected democrats as their representatives while not comparing those districts to all other districts that have also been presided over by Democrats.
How does this same argument commit to Illusory correlation?
The Argument suggests that there is a correlation between Democrats and poor economic districts while not accounting for prosperous economic districts which are presided over by Democrats.
How to attack this argument? Reconstruct it in it’s most simplistic form .
The economic conditions of a district are the direct consequences of the political party who has predominately been voted to preside over said district.
By framing it like this you now open up all districts in the United States for examination. The person presenting this argument will be forced to commit to this logic for all districts. This now means any poor district that has predominately voted republican will have the republicans to blame for their economic condition. But this also means that an upper class district that has predominately voted democratic can attribute their prosperous condition to the Democrats.
To further Illustrate the faulty reasoning in this argument present these lists.
1. The 10 Richest Black Communities in America listed by the website “Atlanta Black Star” . The median income of these communities range from 75k to close to 200K per year.
2. America’s Richest cities listed by the website 24/7 Wall street.
Provide a list of the Poorest cites, Poorest counties, poorest states , richest counties and richest states.
By doing this we are now looking at the correlation between the political parties and the economic well being of all of those districts.
This forces the peddler of this faulty argument to explain why the correlation is not consistent from district to district . The inconsistency suggests that the explanation of the economic conditions of a district is more complex than simply looking at what political party presided over the district.