Logician-in-Chief

Here’s a recent example of the ‘stable genius’ of President Trump: “If President Obama made the deals that I have made… a National Holiday would be immediately declared.”

This one is almost too easy. Anybody who’s been following the ButcherBlock should recognize immediately the failure of logic in this claim. I discussed it earlier in a post analyzing some comments by Congresswoman AOC and in an argument about abortion.

And I warned…

Trump logicthat once you learned about this fallacy, you would start seeing it everywhere (except in your own thinking, of course).

The fallacy? Hypothesis Contrary to Fact.

The quotation above also contains elements of the Tu Quoque or You, Too fallacy which tries to claim “others have done X; therefore, I can do X.” “You do the same thing you’re accusing me of doing” is heavily implied, but it isn’t the main problem here.

The main problem here is speculating about something that never happened or that is non-existent. Obama never made the deals alluded to, so it isn’t possible to know whether we should be celebrating “National Trump Greatness Day.” The quality of something that never happened is a quality that cannot exist.

In the formulation used by Trump, the dominant fallacy is the attempt to build an argument on a non-event. It should be pretty clear that you can’t use nothing as support for your case. It’s counter-factual. Alas, that description applies to many of Trump’s utterances.

It’s probably easiest to think of a hypothesis as a good guess or an ‘educated’ guess. You’ve observed something you want to explore further because you have a question about it: what is it, what is it doing, will it do that again, how does it do that, where does it come from are some of the most common questions hypotheses are built on. Just remember that a hypothesis must be built on something real in order to make any rational claims about it. Another way to put it: why are you wasting your time guessing about things that never happened? Unless you’re working on a piece of fiction.

Author: Craig Butcher

Craig Butcher is an award-winning educator who has taught critical thinking skills for more than two decades. In addition, He has worked on Capitol Hill as a congressional aide and has been a top-rated broadcaster.