March 23, 2005


Bush Is a Loser at Logic but a Winner in D.C. (Arianna Huffington, LA Times)

I just got back from a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. Didn’t ride the teacups, though, because I wasn’t in Disneyland, but in Washington, D.C., where everyone is walking on air, swept away by the Beltway’s latest consensus: President Bush was right on Iraq. And, as a result, Tomorrowland in the Middle East will feature an e-ticket ride on the Matterhorn of freedom and democracy.

The political and cultural establishment has gone positively Goofy over this notion. In the corridors of power, Republicans are high-fiving, and Democrats are nodding in agreement and patting themselves on the back for how graciously they’ve been able to accept the fact that they were wrong.

The groupthink in the nation’s capital would be the envy of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il.

How did this cozy unanimity come to pass? Is it something in the water, I wondered, perhaps as a result of Bush gutting the EPA? But then I thought back to my time at Cambridge, when I took a course in elementary logic, and studied the Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle.

For those of you in need of a refresher on the concept, here’s an example: “All oaks are trees. All elms are trees. Therefore, all oaks are elms.’’

See how easily you can go from point A to point Z, jumping over all the important steps between?

So: We invaded Iraq. Change is afoot in the Middle East. Therefore, the Middle East is changing because we invaded Iraq.

See how simple it is? And how illogical?

I get why she disagrees, but how is it illogical?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2005 11:52 PM

She disagrees with that concept. She disagrees with things that are illogical. Ergo, that concept is illogical. See how simple that was?

Posted by: Timothy at March 23, 2005 11:56 PM

The Maureen Dowd of the Left Coast, with a funny accent.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 24, 2005 12:10 AM

Kind of makes you understand why Michael Huffington did what he did, doesn't it?

Posted by: John at March 24, 2005 12:36 AM


Thanks for posting.

Hey everyone, please note how the "Mideast democracy has nothing to do with Bush" argument is catching on. Professors everywhere will be squawking this line like parrots before you know it.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 24, 2005 12:41 AM

whenever i see ms. huffington on tv, i imagine all the filthy things she has learned along the way. not quite sure what that has to do with anything, but then again i'm not sure why anyone lets this ding dong waste bandwidth.

i didn't read the article (see above) so can anyone tell me what the huffer presents by way of a theory regarding the changes going on in the middle east ? or does she believe it all just happened to happen ?

Posted by: cjm at March 24, 2005 1:23 AM

If you want a great insight into what this Balkan Road Company Zsa Zsa Gabor is really like, read Ed Rollins' book in which he describes the Huffington for Senate campaign. Calling her reptilian would be an insult to reptiles.

Let me see if I have the logic right. Bush invades Iraq, sets up a free election which produces a government more or less representative of all the disparate factions of the country. The populations of the region, seeing this occur, decide that they want to have a chance to select their own leaders because all of the excuses for not letting them do so proved false by the Iraq example. The Iraqi election would not have happened but for the Bush intervention. And therefore all the movement towards democracy in the Arab world has nothing to do with Bush.

No wonder any decent British mathematician flees here to do grad study.

Posted by: bart at March 24, 2005 9:48 AM

It is obvious Ms. Huffington learned nothing in her elementary logic course except a few terms she could throw around. Her assertion is not a fallacy of the undistributed middle, because there is no middle term in either statement. She might have cricized it as a post-hoc fallacy (post hoc, ergo propter hoc), but this is refuted by the admitted connections between the Iraq invasion and what is happening in the rest of the Middle East.

Posted by: jd watson at March 24, 2005 10:29 AM

Her problem is that she can't seduce Arnold.

Kind of like Dowdy in that respect, eh?

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 24, 2005 10:50 AM

jd watson:

Thanks...I was thinking basically the same thing but didn't have the terminology down.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 24, 2005 12:26 PM