Is MIMS Affirming the Consequent?

More

Brendan Nyhan accuses Mike Huckabee of a logical fallacy:

Mr. Huckabee, for his part, responded with trademark humor. “The Air Force has a saying that says if you’re not catching flak, you’re not over the target,” he said. “I’m catching the flak; I must be over the target.”

This is basically a form of affirming the consequent. If you're over the target, you'll catch flak and Huckabee is catching flak "therefore" he must be over the target. Nyhan says that MIMS makes the same error in "This is Why I'm Hot":



In particular, he thinks "I'm hot 'cause I'm fly / You ain't [hot] 'cause you're not [fly]" is an example of the fallacy. I disagree. Nyhan's reading depends on construing MIMS as trying to make a logical inference with "'cause" as a material conditional but there's no need to do that. Interpretive charity suggest that we should understand MIMS to be making two logically independent causal claims: (1) he's hot because he's fly and (2) you're not hot because you're not fly. Perhaps MIMS believes that x is hot if and only if x is fly, or perhaps he doesn't. I don't, however, see a fallacy here.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?

How to avoid working through lunch, and diseases related to social isolation.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In