Logic Abuse

To the surprise of no one, some number of our right-of-center Congressmen continue to insist that the approval of a 90-day extension of the FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page was “politically motivated”, thus the process is irretrievably broken.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has approved more than 33,000 FISA warrants since its founding in 1978. It doesn’t matter whether the Carter Page warrant was “warranted” or not; the claim that the process is broken because a single error was made is, from a rhetorical standpoint, exactly like saying:

  • Charles Dickens was a hack because he got one bad review; or
  • Tom Brady is a second-rate quarterback because a wide receiver dropped one of his 8,805 passes; or
  • Honda makes unreliable vehicles because one of the 1.6 million they sold in the US in 2017 had a broken dome light.

We could go on, but you get the picture. All of the above are examples of a rhetorical fallacy called “generalization from the particular.” Simply put: “If one of many is x, then all are x.”

Generalization from the particular is a tool frequently used by politicians of all stripes because it’s invisible to the ears of millions of gullible Americans. If we on The Other Side had our druthers (as if), at least one of the 3,000 pundits appearing daily on national TV would have used the trumped-up FISA controversy as a teaching moment so that fewer voters would be hoodwinked by this egregiously fallacious device.

To our knowledge none of them did, and the midterms are just around the corner. Since we’re worried, everyone should be worried.

Notes:

1) Some of our esteemed Congressmen have complained that all three warrants to surveil Carter Page shouldn’t have been granted because he hadn’t been proven guilty. Forgetting for the moment that a warrant is issued when a person of interest is suspected of committing a crime, the same logic applies to the plural, e.g.: “My pumpkins are ripe, so all pumpkins must be ripe.”

2) As of this writing, Carter Page has not been indicted for any crime, either foreign or domestic. Four of his cohorts have been charged, three have pled guilty, and the Mueller “Which Hunt” continues.

3) The discerning reader will have noticed that we mixed a metaphor. That does not mean that we mix all metaphors.

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