Is MIMS Affirming the Consequent?

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.

Presented by

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

Pittsburgh: 'It's Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

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

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

More in Politics

Just In