January 26, 2017
The burden of proof fallacy, and other formal and informal logical arguments one can use against /r/The_Donald
by Peter Clark
Hi, internet. You are a vast and wonderful thing. So large, in fact, that you have room enough in the deep bowels of your constipated server space to store the vile excrement of a place known as /r/The_Donald. I’ve known about /r/The_Donald for a while now, but many have only learned about it since this great piece from the gents at Reply All.
In short, /r/The_Donald is a forum on Reddit that is the unofficial love-spot for all things Trump. It is responsible for such fabrications as: Pizzagate, the idea that American Muslims celebrated on 9/11, and the certainty that Obama would force Syrian refugees on Republican states. It is a community in which men of insufficient Trumpitude are called “Cucks,” which is shorthand for “cuckolds” — a not-so-slight diminutive of men whose wives sleep with other men. They rally in online “brigades” that go after other forums, attack Twitter accounts with racist bile, and shut down good argument and facts with their ignorance (Exhibit A).
The internet needs to stand up to these people.
Here’s a cheat sheet of recent news that will immediately undermine their fallacious rhetoric. (Please feel free to get on /r/The_Donald and tell them that their God Emperor—actually what they call him—is crazy)
Trump believes millions of voter fraud cases
- Burden of proof fallacy: Trump is saying that he believes that there was fraud and is demanding an investigation to prove his intuition true. Thus, he is putting the burden of proof on others to prove him wrong. The burden of proof, in court and argumentation, is on the accuser.
Immigration is a mess and we need a wall and extreme vetting
- Conjunction fallacy: There are a number of logical problems with Trump’s statements on immigration, but I’m partial to calling attention to how he assumes all of his solutions will produce the outcomes he wants. In formal logic, it is more correct to assume that one cause will more probably have one effect. By assuming multiple outcomes of his immigration policies—reducing crime, creating jobs, etc.—he undermines his point by not actually drawing any direct causal links from one thing to another.
Re-do all trade deals because they are bad
- Illicit major fallacy: Trump says all current trade deals are bad. All trade deals have taken jobs from workers. So we need to redo all trade deals! Unfortunately for Trump, that’s not categorically true. The Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s Sean Randolph, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, offers a lengthy refutation of this one, but I’ll summarize him to say that you can’t make an argument where your main point isn’t reflected in your conclusion.
I think that’s enough for now. It’s exhausting standing up to all of this insanity. Please join me arguing with the people at /r/The_Donald. Couldn’t hurt to spend an hour downvoting lies and making good points.
Peter Clark is a former Melville House sales manager.