Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Post hoc ergo procter hoc

It just struck me today how the Bushies could keep missing the mark on everthing from Social Security to Iraq. They are operating under a logical fallacy, post hoc ergo procter hoc. In an attempt to be analytical (and sound really smart) I will explain. The phrase is Latin for "after this therefore because of this." It is attributing causality based entirely on chronology. Lost? Good. Michael Gerson, Bush's head speechwriter is fond of putting the line "The world changed on September the 11th" or some variation in his speeches. And in Suskind's article, we see the same sort of thinking: there is before and there is after 9/11. The fallacy lies in there attributing everything to the fact that 9/11 happened already so everything they do after it is because of it. We can tell now that Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror we decalared following those attacks, but the Bushies persist in believing this strained logic. Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, we see the independence of two events and the empirical evidence suggests that we may have made the war on terror harder to win because of Iraq. Al Qaida is now a diffuse, many-headed hydra which we can almost certainly never kill because for every step forward we take, we leap back two. We almost capture and kill Osama bin Laden, then we move our resources to Iraq in order to piss off the entire Muslim world and give bin laden cult status and greater recruiting power. Let me give you another Latin phrase, quid pro quo. Bush has made our nation less safe so we boot him out of office. Now that's causality.

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