- Oct 26, 2004
First we need to break down both what he is saying and what he is implying to draw a conclusion as to the strength of the argument."Coincidence"? No. I believe the phrase you're looking for is either "non sequitur" or "red herring". I'm not sure which is most appropriate given that both involve connecting unrelated things. Perhaps a Liberal Arts major can provide a ruling from the field.Werepossum said:When ACORN was caught registering thousands of imaginary people, proggies said it didn't matter because imaginary people don't vote. Now those same proggies are fighting tooth and manicured nail against voter ID. Coincidence?
P1) "Proggies" support ACORN which registered some imaginary people to vote.
P2) "Proggies" oppose voter ID laws which would (supposedly) stop imaginary people from voting.
Now, the conclusion is not stated explicitly, but is clearly implied:
C) "Proggies" support imaginary people voting.
With the argument clearly stated we can determine the level of merit it holds. Bowfinger has leveled two specific charges in terms of the argument being fallacious, red herring and non sequitur; let's look at them first.
The red herring fallacy is introducing irrelevancies into an argument to strengthen a counterclaim by obfuscating or changing the topic. The topic of this thread is whether the Pennsylvania ID law disenfranchises voters and effectively prevents voter fraud. Whether or not the left supported ACORN in spite of some individuals making up voters in order to get paid by volume has nothing to do with this, that much is certain. The only way it becomes relevant is if you can find examples of the made up people voting as a means to strengthen the case for needing measures to prevent voter fraud. However, since no such link has been introduced and the only connection provided is a common set of people, without more evidence it is indeed a red herring.
The non sequitur simply means literally "does not follow", that the premises of an argument do not lead to the conclusion of the argument, or, at least, do not lead only there. Applied to this case specifically, two problems immediately emerge. First, the argument itself doesn't work because, as has been pointed out ad nauseum, you don't need an ID to vote absentee which is how people actually interested in voter fraud would do it short of just flat out replacing the card in the voting machine which is way more effective anyway. Secondly, and more pertinent to the cited fallacy, there are other explanations for the premises that follow just as neatly and so the truth of the premises does not guarantee nor even make likely the truth of the conclusion. More likely is Democrats support a looser set of regulations on voting to ensure more people are given the opportunity to vote, both in registration and actually voting, because the amount of grey it produces is essentially negligible but the number of people it enables is enormous (what was it, 750K I think I heard in Penn. alone? Extrapolate that nationwide and we are talking millions of eligible voters). That the left supports and organization that registered people to vote, as well as a few figments of people's imaginations when some of their workers got too lazy to actually go door to door, and that they oppose efforts by the Republican party to limit the right to vote through enacting voter ID law, does not in fact get you in and of itself to the conclusion that he wants people to draw which is that the Democrats support creating fake voters to fill the roles and oppose the ID laws because they could then actually vote and couldn't with them. It is in fact a non sequitur as well as a red herring.
Both fallacies are apt. Beyond that, however, more fallacies seem to be present.
Touching briefly on these, the first is an appeal to fear fallacy, that what the "Proggies" are doing something that is scary and so are wrong. This one isn't as strong as some of the others, but still worth mentioning. The second one, touched on above, is the false cause fallacy. It assumes that the desire to have illicit voting based on just the two pieces of information presented, the fake registrations and the voter ID opposition, without looking into a third explanation for both of them, a desire to ensure all eligible voters are able to vote. Cherry picking is obviously present, Werepossum completely and flagrantly ignores every rationale for why the left has supported ACORN such as the huge number of actual voters, or opposes voter ID laws, the effective suppression of hundreds of thousands of voters. You could make a good case this is a spotlight fallacy as well, focusing only on the aspects of an event that get media attention with ACORN, for example, and ignoring all of the more common, and more mundane events. Finally, I would contend it is a loaded question fallacy because the "coincidence?' reasserts the truth of the premises which are of questionable accuracy to begin with.
So, put another way, Werepossum's remarks were one big argumentum ad excrement.