What are some specific examples of Donald Trump using logical fallacies?

Quinn Rusnell

Quinn Rusnell, travaille chez Self-Employment

Répondu il y a 55w · L'auteur dispose de réponses 1.1k et de vues de réponses 907.1k

That would be an interesting project, for sure. I’ve never sat down and gone through the text of any of Trump’s significant speeches to find out. Fortunately, for me, I’m not American, and I’m not inundated with news about Trump and Trump speeches. When I do see him talk, it’s usually sound bytes from comedy talk shows, which are themselves biased to make him look silly.

Aside from that, what I have seen where it isn’t a representation, I suspect it’s very difficult to find formal logical fallacies in Trump’s speeches because he doesn’t typically present arguments. He doesn’t often seem to even string together full sentences (I would love to see some statistical analysis of what percentage of his words are contained a full grammatical sentence). He often seems to string together sometimes not obviously connected sentence fragments.

Where you could muster together something resembling an argument, I would agree with Jim Davis that the most common fallacy might be Questionable Premise. This is an sophisme informel, however, not a logical (formal) one. Formal fallacies would be very difficult to find if there is no formal argument structure to analyze. I’m sure you could find a great many informal fallacies, however.

During the election campaign, I recall, one of his favourites, as within any political campaign, would be ad hominem. It’s sometimes questionable whether or not this is actually a fallacy in an election campaign because it depends how much the character of the candidate actually matters. It did seem to me, however, that while Hillary seemed to for the most part stick to topics and policies, Trump spent much more time personally attacking character than addressing issues and policies. He seemed to use anti-Hillary sentiment as a uniting topic among diverse conservative and right wing groups with differing agendas and policies. While great for a campaign, the strategy seems to have backfired in the actual running of government where uniting on policies, not against someone’s character, is the only way to pass legislation.

On the issue of climate change, and Trump’s removal of the US from the Paris Climate Accord, we might find a bit of an argument. We might represent it as follows:

  1. I was elected by Americans to work on behalf of Americans.
  2. The Paris Climate Accord is not good for Americans.
  3. So I will not renew the US commitment to the Paris Climate Accord.

There is nothing particularly fallacious in this argument, except perhaps, as Jim Davis noted, a questionable premise in 2 (and maybe even 1 if you push an argument for popular vote against the US electoral system). If global warming is true, and it is to any significant degree caused by human activity, then, if the agreements made in the Paris Climate Accord are harm reductive at all, then it is good for everyone in the world, including Americans.

For the most part, it seems to me that climate change deniers, like Trump and many of his supporters, defend 2 based on claims varying from a deep state or global corporate conspiracy, to just ad hominem attacks again of those who maintain that it is real and human caused. Media, scientists, and liberals are grouped together as “libtards” or something to that effect. The anti-PC humour is a rallying call which does nothing in the end to address the facts of the case.

Last night, I saw another example of what might be a fragment of an argument which, in the end, illustrated another probably common informal fallacy used by Trump and Trump supporters. When sitting with the president of Palestine, Trump presents something like the following argument:

  1. The president of Israel is working hard for peace in the middle east.
  2. The president of Saudi Arabia is working hard for peace in the middle east.
  3. We (Trump) would like peace in the middle east.
  4. We don’t know what is possible (crazier things have happened).
  5. So I think we can achieve peace in the middle easts.

Aside from whether or not the first three premises are questionable (they are), they are obviously insufficient to derive the conclusion. What’s essential for this argument is the appeal to our ignorance, making this an example of an argument from ignoranceou argumentum ad ignorantiam if you prefer the Latin. Since we don’t know what is possible, anything is possible. And if anything is possible, then peace in the middle east is possible.

Again, there is nothing formally wrong with this argument. Informally, however, it’s not very satisfying because we could draw the contrary conclusion that peace in the middle east is not possible. If anything is possible, so is war in the middle east. Like many informal fallacies, it’s a question of relevance. The possibilities are not as relevant in this case as what is likely and what policies (not just principles) are being agreed on to achieve the desired goal. Just as with Trump’s home agenda, like “repeal and replace”, just like in his campaign, he seems entirely ignorant of the relevant policies needed to achieve his goals.

Going back to climate change, I’ve also noticed that the more conservative climate change deniers, ie., those who wouldn’t even call themselves “deniers” (maybe “skeptics” or “agnostic”), typically also argue from ignorance. I don’t mean here that they are ignorant of the real facts, but that they use aspects we don’t know to argue that we can’t know anything. I saw an interview of Bill Nye by Tucker Carlson where Tucker wanted to Bill to tell him exactly what percentage of global warming scientists think is caused by humans. Scientists can’t tell us this exactly because there are too many unknown variables. So Tucker concludes that we can’t really know whether climate change is caused by humans at all. Unfortunately, Bill Nye didn’t have a very good response and Tucker succeeded in making him look quite foolish, especially to those who are already biased to the conservative opinion of climate change. I think Trump easily buys into these sorts of arguments from ignorance as well because he is himself extremely ignorant, easily persuaded, and not very intelligent.

Eric Husher

Eric Husher, former Senior Balkan Intelligence Analyst (1992-1996)

Répondu il y a 36w · L'auteur dispose de réponses 910 et de vues de réponses 210.3k

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The examples are legion. One thing to note is that the traditional list of fallacies has been used to create the ’25 rules of disinformation,’ which Trump and his supporters use on a daily basis. For instance, how many times have you heard Trump and his supporters, when accused of some questionable activity, immediately try to ‘change the subject’ by accusing ‘Hillary,’ or ‘Obama’ of some kind of criminal activity, but presenting absolutely no evidence to support it? This is in fact ‘rule 17.’ Have a look at the rest of the list and see how many of these you see from the ‘Trump camp’ on a daily basis!

From Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth: The Rules of Disinformation (Includes The 8 Traits of A Disinformationalist) by H. Michael Sweeney. These 25 rules are everywhere in media, from political debates, to television shows, to comments on a blog.

1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don’t discuss it — especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it’s not reported, it didn’t happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.

2. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the “How dare you!” gambit.

3. Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. Other derogatory terms mutually exclusive of truth may work as well. This method works especially well with a silent press, because the only way the public can learn of the facts are through such “arguable rumors”. If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a “wild rumor” which can have no basis in fact.

4. Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.

5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary attack the messenger ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as “kooks”, “right-wing”, “liberal”, “left-wing”, “terrorists”, “conspiracy buffs”, “radicals”, “militia”, “racists”, “religious fanatics”, “sexual deviates”, and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.

6. Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer. This works extremely well in Internet and letters-to-the-editor environments where a steady stream of new identities can be called upon without having to explain criticism reasoning — simply make an accusation or other attack, never discussing issues, and never answering any subsequent response, for that would dignify the opponent’s viewpoint.

7. Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact which could so taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.

8. Invoke authority. Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough “jargon” and “minutiae” to illustrate you are “one who knows”, and simply say it isn’t so without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.

9. Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues with denial they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.

10. Associate opponent charges with old news. A derivative of the straw man usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with. Where it can be foreseen, have your own side raise a straw man issue and have it dealt with early on as part of the initial contingency plans. Subsequent charges, regardless of validity or new ground uncovered, can usually have them be associated with the original charge and dismissed as simply being a rehash without need to address current issues — so much the better where the opponent is or was involved with the original source.

11. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions. Using a minor matter or element of the facts, take the “high road” and “confess” with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made — but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion and imply greater criminalities which, “just isn’t so.” Others can reinforce this on your behalf, later. Done properly, this can garner sympathy and respect for “coming clean” and “owning up” to your mistakes without addressing more serious issues.

12. Enigmas have no solution. Drawing upon the overall umbrella of events surrounding the crime and the multitude of players and events, paint the entire affair as too complex to solve. This causes those otherwise following the matter to begin to lose interest more quickly without having to address the actual issues.

13. Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards with an apparent deductive logic in a way that forbears any actual material fact.

14. Demand complete solutions. Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime at hand completely, a ploy which works best for items qualifying for rule 10.

15. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions. This requires creative thinking unless the crime was planned with contingency conclusions in place.

16. Vanishing evidence and witnesses. If it does not exist, it is not fact, and you won’t have to address the issue.

17. Change the subject. Usually in connection with one of the other ploys listed here, find a way to side-track the discussion with abrasive or controversial comments in hopes of turning attention to a new, more manageable topic. This works especially well with companions who can “argue” with you over the new topic and polarize the discussion arena in order to avoid discussing more key issues.

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18. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents. If you can’t do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents and draw them into emotional responses which will tend to make them look foolish and overly motivated, and generally render their material somewhat less coherent. Not only will you avoid discussing the issues in the first instance, but even if their emotional response addresses the issue, you can further avoid the issues by then focusing on how “sensitive they are to criticism”.

19. Ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs. This is perhaps a variant of the “play dumb” rule. Regardless of what material may be presented by an opponent in public forums, claim the material irrelevant and demand proof that is impossible for the opponent to come by (it may exist, but not be at his disposal, or it may be something which is known to be safely destroyed or withheld, such as a murder weapon). In order to completely avoid discussing issues may require you to categorically deny and be critical of media or books as valid sources, deny that witnesses are acceptable, or even deny that statements made by government or other authorities have any meaning or relevance.

20. False evidence. Whenever possible, introduce new facts or clues designed and manufactured to conflict with opponent presentations as useful tools to neutralize sensitive issues or impede resolution. This works best when the crime was designed with contingencies for the purpose, and the facts cannot be easily separated from the fabrications.

21. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body. Subvert the (process) to your benefit and effectively neutralize all sensitive issues without open discussion. Once convened, the evidence and testimony are required to be secret when properly handled. For instance, if you own the prosecuting attorney, it can insure a Grand Jury hears no useful evidence and that the evidence is sealed an unavailable to subsequent investigators. Once a favorable verdict (usually, this technique is applied to find the guilty innocent, but it can also be used to obtain charges when seeking to frame a victim) is achieved, the matter can be considered officially closed.

22. Manufacture a new truth. Create your own expert(s), group(s), author(s), leader(s) or influence existing ones willing to forge new ground via scientific, investigative, or social research or testimony which concludes favorably. In this way, if you must actually address issues, you can do so authoritatively.

23. Create bigger distractions. If the above does not seem to be working to distract from sensitive issues, or to prevent unwanted media coverage of unstoppable events such as trials, create bigger news stories (or treat them as such) to distract the multitudes.

24. Silence critics. If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive solution so that the need to address issues is removed entirely. This can be by their death, arrest and detention, blackmail or destruction of their character by release of blackmail information, or merely by proper intimidation with blackmail or other threats.

25. Vanish. If you are a key holder of secrets or otherwise overly illuminated and you think the heat is getting too hot, to avoid the issues, vacate the kitchen.

Eight Traits of a disinformationalist:

by H. Michael Sweeney <

[email protected]>

copyright (c) 1997, 2000 All rights reserved

1) Avoidance. They never actually discuss issues head-on or provide constructive input, generally avoiding citation of references or credentials. Rather, they merely imply this, that, and the other. Virtually everything about their presentation implies their authority and expert knowledge in the matter without any further justification for credibility.

2) Selectivity. They tend to pick and choose opponents carefully, either applying the hit-and-run approach against mere commentators supportive of opponents, or focusing heavier attacks on key opponents who are known to directly address issues. Should a commentator become argumentative with any success, the focus will shift to include the commentator as well.

3) Coincidental. They tend to surface suddenly and somewhat coincidentally with a new controversial topic with no clear prior record of participation in general discussions in the particular public arena involved. They likewise tend to vanish once the topic is no longer of general concern. They were likely directed or elected to be there for a reason, and vanish with the reason.

4) Teamwork. They tend to operate in self-congratulatory and complementary packs or teams. Of course, this can happen naturally in any public forum, but there will likely be an ongoing pattern of frequent exchanges of this sort where professionals are involved. Sometimes one of the players will infiltrate the opponent camp to become a source for straw man or other tactics designed to dilute opponent presentation strength.

5) Anti-conspiratorial. They almost always have disdain for 'conspiracy theorists' and, usually, for those who in any way believe JFK was not killed by LHO. Ask yourself why, if they hold such disdain for conspiracy theorists, do they focus on defending a single topic discussed in a NG focusing on conspiracies? One might think they would either be trying to make fools of everyone on every topic, or simply ignore the group they hold in such disdain, or, one might more rightly conclude they have an ulterior motive for their actions in going out of their way to focus as they do.

6) Artificial Emotions. An odd kind of 'artificial' emotionalism and an unusually thick skin -- an ability to persevere and persist even in the face of overwhelming criticism and unacceptance. This likely stems from intelligence community training that, no matter how condemning the evidence, deny everything, and never become emotionally involved or reactive. The net result for a disinfo artist is that emotions can seem artificial. Most people, if responding in anger, for instance, will express their animosity throughout their rebuttal. But disinfo types usually have trouble maintaining the 'image' and are hot and cold with respect to pretended emotions and their usually more calm or unemotional communications style. It's just a job, and they often seem unable to 'act their role in character' as well in a communications medium as they might be able in a real face-to-face conversation/confrontation. You might have outright rage and indignation one moment, ho-hum the next, and more anger later -- an emotional yo-yo. With respect to being thick-skinned, no amount of criticism will deter them from doing their job, and they will generally continue their old disinfo patterns without any adjustments to criticisms of how obvious it is that they play that game -- where a more rational individual who truly cares what others think might seek to improve their communications style, substance, and so forth, or simply give up.

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7) Inconsistent. There is also a tendency to make mistakes which betray their true self/motives. This may stem from not really knowing their topic, or it may be somewhat 'freudian', so to speak, in that perhaps they really root for the side of truth deep within.

I have noted that often, they will simply cite contradictory information which neutralizes itself and the author. For instance, one such player claimed to be a Navy pilot, but blamed his poor communicating skills (spelling, grammar, incoherent style) on having only a grade-school education. I'm not aware of too many Navy pilots who don't have a college degree. Another claimed no knowledge of a particular topic/situation but later claimed first-hand knowledge of it.

8) BONUS TRAIT: Time Constant. Recently discovered, with respect to News Groups, is the response time factor. There are three ways this can be seen to work, especially when the government or other empowered player is involved in a cover up operation:

1) ANY NG posting by a targeted proponent for truth can result in an IMMEDIATE response. The government and other empowered players can afford to pay people to sit there and watch for an opportunity to do some damage. SINCE DISINFO IN A NG ONLY WORKS IF THE READER SEES IT - FAST RESPONSE IS CALLED FOR, or the visitor may be swayed towards truth.

2) When dealing in more direct ways with a disinformationalist, such as email, DELAY IS CALLED FOR - there will usually be a minimum of a 48-72 hour delay. This allows a sit-down team discussion on response strategy for best effect, and even enough time to 'get permission' or instruction from a formal chain of command.

3) In the NG example 1) above, it will often ALSO be seen that bigger guns are drawn and fired after the same 48-72 hours delay - the team approach in play. This is especially true when the targeted truth seeker or their comments are considered more important with respect to potential to reveal truth. Thus, a serious truth sayer will be attacked twice for the same sin.

I close with the first paragraph of the introduction to my unpublished book, Fatal Rebirth:

Truth cannot live on a diet of secrets, withering within entangled lies. Freedom cannot live on a diet of lies, surrendering to the veil of oppression. The human spirit cannot live on a diet of oppression, becoming subservient in the end to the will of evil. God, as truth incarnate, will not long let stand a world devoted to such evil. Therefore, let us have the truth and freedom our spirits require... or let us die seeking these things, for without them, we shall surely and justly perish in an evil world.

Seth Jackson

Seth Jackson, studied at Brown University

Répondu il y a 31w · L'auteur dispose de réponses 798 et de vues de réponses 336.1k

Trump uses all kinds of logical fallacies on a regular basis, but the two that crop up most often are:

  1. Whataboutery. Whenever Trump is cornered, his knee-jerk response is ButClinton! ButObama! His followers do this as well.
  2. Straw man. Trump loves to shoot down what “some people say”. Which people? Doesn’t matter. It’s easy to “win” an argument against nobody in particular when you’ve invented their side of the story.

Jim Davis

Jim Davis, A close follower of the race.

Répondu il y a 56w · L'auteur dispose de réponses 5.2k et de vues de réponses 3.4m

Donald Trump told at least 836 clear lies in his first 181 days in office, and they are all listed in the 7/21/17 editions of Washington Post et Le New York Times, rendering the Questionable Premise to be his favorite rhetorical sin, and one he commits with breathtaking abandon.

Analysis | President Trump’s first six months: The fact-check tally

President Trump’s Lies, the Definitive List

Peter G Adely Sr

Peter G Adely Sr, former Electrical Engineer. Field Service Electronic Toll

Répondu il y a 55w · L'auteur dispose de réponses 767 et de vues de réponses 148.9k

Kim Jon U.N. is Rocket man.

Global warming is fake news.

Trump is perfectly suited as a Politician.

Trump is straight shooter. Never tells fibs.

Trump says “You are teriffic” but doesn’t mean it.

Putin is very scared of Trump.

Chris Davies

Chris Davies, Software Entrepeneur

Répondu il y a 36w · L'auteur dispose de réponses 68 et de vues de réponses 30.2k

I’m totally vindicated by the memo.

If you read the memo, there is nothing that vindicates anything or any one, #PresidentLoco relies on the fact that 90% of people don’t read documents, how many of “The Base” that fall in line with his narrative have read the memo? I’d be surprised if you could find any.

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