Wednesday, October 12, 2016

It must be tough to be Kellyanne Conway

Inconsistency is a fallacy in which your conclusion contradicts your premise, or your premise contradicts another premise in the argument. The following clip, which features an interview between the journalist Anderson Cooper and Donald Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.



In the clip Conway argues that the fact that Bill Clinton settled a sexual harassment lawsuit is evidence that he was guilty. Basically she seems to be implying that if he were innocent he wouldn't have settled, so the fact that he settled is proof of his guilt. This claim is clearly false, and it is an additional example of how the Trump campaign completely misunderstands the US legal system and the Constitution. Anderson Cooper, however provides a different response bringing up the fact that Donald Trump, Conway's employer and the person she is defending, has a long history of settling a variety of lawsuits. Cooper then presses Conway on whether this is evidence of Trump's own guilt in the lawsuits that he settled. In effect, Cooper is pointing out an enormous inconsistency in Conway's argument, and Conway really can't respond other than by trying to change the subject (a good example of a Red Herring). To his credit, Cooper is quite aggressive in holding Conway's feet to the fire, a tactic I wish more journalists employed.

h/t to Natalie Thongrit and someone on Facebook

Lisa, I want to buy your rock!

This is one of the best examples of the Post Hoc fallacy out there. For a long time, a clip of this was unavailable on the internet (I don't know why), but today I finally came across one, and here it is:


The key here is Homer's confusion about the rock. If we reconstruct his argument it goes like this:

  1. Lisa has a rock.
  2. There are no tigers.
  3. Therefore, the rock kept the tigers away.
It is the assumption that the rock caused the tigers to stay away which is the Post Hoc fallacy.