Tell me this - if she was raised in a wealthy family in Manhattan and attended ivy league schools and actually knew something about economics (but was still a socialist), would she be the political darling and media darling that she is? Would Cassandra be chuckling lovingly when Ocasio makes a political gaffe on TV if she were male and rich?
Response from Cass:
"Hold my beer while I double down on my argument fallacy!"
"If everything about Ocasio-Cortez were completely and totally different than it actually is, would other things also possibly be different and thus my argument perhaps conceivably have merit?"
Response from Prozyan:
I really have no clue what might be in the woulda-coulda-shoulda world.
Later in the same day, Cassandra:
Imagine for a moment that she were Alex Ocasio-Cortez, a heavy-set pimply young man without much personality -- but with exactly the same political views, background, and lack of knowledge on economics. Of course we can't know for sure, but I somehow doubt he'd get quite so much fawning press. Even if he were 28, he'd probably get a mention of his being the youngest congress critter ever, and certainly there would be discussion of his longshot win, but I find it hard to imagine he'd get the same level of adoration.
Could someone explain why my hypothetical is a fallacy when Cassandra's is not?
Last Edit: Jul 23, 2018 10:58:27 GMT -5 by celawson
For one, because I am not basing my argument on it.
My argument in the thread (or the one you and I are disagreeing on, at any rate) is that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez did not misrepresent her bio, certainly not in any meaningful way, and that her constituents would have voted for her knowing every fact you are clutching your pearls about (and indeed, I think most did know those facts).
I'm not using my hypothetical to defend my argument about Ms. Ocasio-Cortez in any way, or to defend her at all -- her bio or her economic expertise (the latter of which, in any case, I've conceded are weak). Not in any way. Indeed, in some ways, I'm doing the opposite. It's a derail, a side conversation in which I'm merely musing on some of the possible reasons for the media fawning, which I am agreeing is excessive and way out of proportion to her merits. (Note that in my hypothetical, the fictional Alex had the same background and presented it the same way and also won the election -- I am speculating only on whether the media would have been issuing so many adoring tributes.) It's irrelevant to my argument in the thread, and to the extent it supports any argument in the thread, it supports Opty's et al.'s that she's not a messiah deserving of all the fawning.
You, on the other hand, are using your hypothetical of a completely different, fictional Ms. Ocasio-Cortez to support your argument that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez fictionalized her bio to win support and campaign dollars, and wouldn't have received them had she not done so.
To the extent you are arguing about media fawning, you are arguing, I guess, that had she been from a wealthy background they wouldn't have fawned. Well, okay. Actually, I think she still would have received fawning for being teh youngest congress critter ever! and being pretty and vivacious, since the media does that. Since the media is still fawning, knowing every fact you claim is so deceptive, I think it's clear the fawning isn't because they're under some delusion she never lived in a two-bedroom house in Yorktown. (And since her constituents still adore her, it's clear that they don't care either.)
But we both agree (everyone agrees) that the media fawning is out of proportion to her merits, so that's really not something that's in dispute in this thread.
Taking that aside --
Certainly there are uses of hypotheticals that are completely legitimate in arguments. You are using yours in a way that is fallacious.
Last Edit: Jul 23, 2018 20:08:31 GMT -5 by Deleted: typos typos, always typos
I have to get back to work, so this is somewhat on the fly. But I'll attempt to demonstrate the difference by using an unrelated example. I'm going to use a somewhat silly one, so forgive me.
Let's say Joe and Sue were arguing over the commercial success of widgets, a pink, sparkly gizmo with smooth sides and a built-in music box. The dispute centered on whether widget manufacturers had misled the public about their product by not mentioning that shoving widgets into nostrils could cause nosebleeds. Joe took the position that yes, the failure to state this fact was misleading to the public, that they had made their decisions to buy widgets based on their belief that widgets were safe to insert in nostrils, and that had they explicitly stated this danger in their advertising, widgets would not have been such a commercial success. Sue took the position that this omission was not materially misleading, and that there was no evidence to conclude that the failure to specifically mention the nosebleed danger affected sales. She maintained that there was no reason to believe a specific label on the pink, glittery widget stating that they caused nosebleeds if inserted in the nostrils would have made a meaningful difference to the sales. She pointed to the fact that the disclosure of this information had not caused widget mania to diminish in the least.
In the course of the argument, Joe speculated that a silent widget with needles sticking out of it and a label saying "DANGER! INSERTING THIS WIDGET IN YOUR NOSTRILS MAY RESULT IN NOSEBLEEDS!" would have failed in the market.
As a side issue, both Joe and Sue agree that widgets were useless, ridiculous products that were getting far too much fawning praise in the media, and were quite likely a fad that would pall after the novelty wore off. In this regard, Sue mused that part of the reason widgets got so much attention from the media was likely because they were pink and glittery, and the media has a history of fawning on pink glittery things.
Is Sue's speculation about widgets getting media attention from being pink and glittery just like Joe's hypothetical that a needly widget with a label alerting consumers to the potential nosebleed danger would have failed in the market?
No, it is not. Joe's speculation supposed a completely different widget, one with important characteristics quite different from the actual widget, for the purpose of supporting his central argument in the dispute at issue: whether the actual widget manufacturer's failure to straight out alert consumers to the nosebleed danger was material to whether widgets are such a commercial success. In contrast, Sue's musing is merely that the pink sparkliness of the actual widget was likely one factor in all the fawning media reviews (which both Joe and Sue agree were out of proportion to the merits of widgets, and so is not part of the dispute).
(By the way, everyone else, you are welcome to opine here. Also, if you have a better example than my off-the-cuff widget one, by all means. I know mine is far from perfect, but it's time for me to do some work this afternoon. I invite any of you to put forth a better one. And of course, if you think my speculation and c.e.'s were equally fallacious in the context of our argument, I'm sure you'll say so. I obviously don't think they were, but you are welcome to try to convince me otherwise)
Last Edit: Jul 23, 2018 13:22:48 GMT -5 by Deleted
(1) My musing was not used to support my argument in the dispute at issue. Yours was. I wasn't relying on it in any way for my argument. You were.
(2) The different characteristic in my hypothetical did NOT relate to the dispute about O-C's bio -- it was about something completely different that wasn't in dispute at all. Mine gave O-C a different sex and appearance, but retained the same bio and the same representation of that bio. To note, my hypothetical assumed that the candidate still would have been supported by her future constituents, but the candidate wouldn't have been quite so fawned over by the media (which we both agree was true for the actual Ms. O-C, merely because despite his having the same background, he just wouldn't look as pretty on TV).
My speculation had squat to do with her bio, squat to do with her support in the election, and squat to do with our actual dispute.
Yours, on the other hand, was giving a completely different background (the issue in dispute) to Ms. O-C, and saying she wouldn't have had such enthusiastic support from her constituents if that were her background -- in other words, you were using it to support your contention that Ms. O-C's alleged misrepresentations had materially misled the electorate and skewed the election. It had everything to do with her background, her constituents, her support, and our argument.
It's oranges and turnips, IMO.
Last Edit: Jul 23, 2018 13:37:25 GMT -5 by Deleted
With regard to my hypothetical, I freely concede that the media may well have still fawned over my chubby, pimply male candidate. I can't say for sure what they'd do -- he'd still be the youngest congress critter ever! and he'd still have the same background. He'd still be a cinderella story -- just a bit less telegenic. He'd still play into the Big Blue Liberal Wave story. And, absolutely, I think his electorate would have liked him for the same reason they like Ms. O-C--that he's far more like them than the incumbent, they still would have liked his platform, and still would have liked his stumping door to door. It's just a question of the degree of the media fawning. She looks prettier on TV, that's all.
I'll also agree that if the real O-C had been wealthy and privileged, yet presented herself as impoverished Maria from the barrio, that WOULD have been a material misrepresentation of her background. But that's far from the case.
And I'm not at all convinced a woman from a wealthy, privileged background who didn't try to conceal that fact, but had Ms. O-C's exact same platform, stumped door to door talking to people as Ms. O-C did, and (despite her background), had been living in their neighborhood as Ms. O-C did, etc., wouldn't have also defeated the incumbent. Her ethnicity and her background were clearly hugely appealing, but they weren't the only reason she won.
I think lots of things about her appealed to her electorate -- it's hard to say what would have happened in the election if you took one of those factors and made it completely different. But what is clear, based on the fact that her voters continue to support and defend her, is that they don't give a rat's ass about the house in Yorktown. And that's what we were arguing about.
Last Edit: Jul 23, 2018 13:45:31 GMT -5 by Deleted
Another point. Let's take a look at your hypothetical in context:
If she's "a terrible candidate and in over her head" yet she's become a political darling in large part because of her 'working class' background and Bronx childhood (not) -- and you know as well as I do that identity politics is huge with the left these days -- and she gets to congress largely because of her 'working class' background and Bronx childhood (not), then what's stupid is voting for someone because of her bio. Which a lot of people are doing.
Tell me this - if she was raised in a wealthy family in Manhattan and attended ivy league schools and actually knew something about economics (but was still a socialist), would she be the political darling and media darling that she is? Would Cassandra be chuckling lovingly when Ocasio makes a political gaffe on TV if she were male and rich? IF your answer is "probably not", which mine is, then yeah, her bio is not so pointless and stupid. And if her bio is not so pointless and stupid, then criticizing her stretching truth or omitting truth in her bio might also not pointless and stupid. IMO.
In applying your hypothetical to your argument, you were not only assuming a completely different candidate than Ms. O-C (one from a wealthy, privileged background), but also assuming the truth of your arguments -- assertions that I (and others arguing my point) are very much disputing -- and indeed are at the heart of the dispute in the thread:
-- first, that "[Ms. O-C] gets to congress largely because of her 'working class' background and Bronx childhood".
No. There were a number of factors discussed in the thread that led to her victory, and that is only one. There was also her platform (which they like, though you don't), her stumping door to door, the fact that she lives right in their 'hood today, her seeming to understand their concerns, her speaking their language (literally and figuratively), her being a charming, pretty, young woman, and the general discontent with status quo. Do I think they liked her background? I do. Do I think it was the only factor? Absolutely not.
-- second, that she was "stretching truth or omitting truth in her bio" in the way she represented herself.
I and others don't think she did in any meaningful way. That's what we're arguing about to begin with. In my opinion, and in that of others in the thread, the house in Yorktown, in context, was not a truth stretch -- and, actually, it wasn't even a secret, nor was the fact that her father was an architect. Sure, you think it's a stretch and an omission, one that matters -- but we don't.
And as I keep saying, I think the evidence points the other way. Even if you assume that the Yorktown house and architect thing were somehow secrets at some point, the continuing enthusiastic support for her now, after they've been publicized and discussed left and right, defended by the very people you claim were deceived, is evidence that these fact were, as I assert, immaterial to her future constituents. Knowing her bio, they obviously accept her representation of herself as materially accurate, as do I, and continue to support her.
In short, you are assuming the truth of your (disputed) argument in the thread that her biography was materially inaccurate. You are assuming that her alleged misrepresentations were what won her the election, which is not only disputed in the thread but is refuted by the fact that her constituents continue to support her. And you are assuming that a candidate with a totally different background would have lost the election, which is not only not conceded but is not provable -- it requires you to disregard all the other factors that made Ms. O-C an appealing candidate to her electorate.
To support what you're trying to claim in your hypothetical (that a candidate just like Ms. O-C, but with a privileged background would have lost the election), you need to assume that all your disputed arguments are correct to begin with. But you are using it to prove the truth of those disputed arguments.
If you want to just spitball how a wealthy, privileged candidate who was otherwise just like Ms. O-C might have done in that district, sure, we can spitball it. But it's not only speculative, but a different conversation -- one that does not support your argument in the thread.
Last Edit: Jul 23, 2018 16:19:02 GMT -5 by Deleted
Description: Offering a poorly supported claim about what might have happened in the past or future, if (the hypothetical part) circumstances or conditions were different. The fallacy also entails treating future hypothetical situations as if they are fact.
If event X did happen, then event Y would have happened (based only on speculation).
If you took that course on CD player repair right out of high school, you would be doing well and gainfully employed right now.
Explanation: This is speculation at best, not founded on evidence, and is unfalsifiable. There are many people with far more useful talents who are unemployed, and many who are “gainfully” employed who are not doing well at all.
John, if you would have taken a shower more often, you would still be dating Tina.
Explanation: Past hypotheticals that are stated as fact are most often nothing more than one possible outcome of many. One cannot ignore probabilities when making these kinds of statements. Perhaps Tina likes the smell of man sweat. Perhaps Tina would have still preferred Renaldo over John despite John's personal hygiene because of Renaldo's enormous intellect.
Ms. O-C is certainly NOT wealthy and privileged. Nor have you proved that the only reason she won was because of her background, nor that a wealthy, privileged person just like her would have lost (nor can you prove those things). Therefore, asserting the hypothetical of the wealthy, privileged candidate is a fallacy and it does not prove the point you were trying to make.
That's not what I did. My remark about Ms. O-C's being a pretty woman probably having something to do with the media fawning was not made to prove my point in the argument in the thread (that O-C's alleged bio misrepresentations were immaterial and had nothing to do with her victory), or indeed to prove any argument. It was unconnected speculation about one factor that I believe likely played into the excessive media fawning. I don't even assert that it's the only reason she got media attention ( I noted that youth, upset victory, and humble background would likely have resulted in media attention regardless of her looks and sex). I only reflected that she very likely got more fawning attention because she is a pretty woman, people and the media being what they are. I admit I can't prove it for sure, but then, I wasn't trying to do so.
And in fact -- we both agree that the media is excessively fawning. We both agree she's young and pretty, correct? And do you actually dispute that her being young and pretty was likely a factor in the media love? I'm guessing no. There was no argument there, as far as I can see.
If I were using that speculation and the hypothetical of a pimply chubby man to prove something you were disputing, that would be another matter. If you said "you didn't prove that she got extra media fawning because she is a pretty young woman!" I have to agree -- I did not prove that. I just speculated that it might be so. But then, we weren't arguing about that.
I spent time I didn't have doing this today, which I am going to have to pay for. That being the case, I'm going to try my damndest to stay offline the rest of tonight and tomorrow at least. Whatever you say in reply, I'll get back to it when I see it.
Last Edit: Jul 23, 2018 19:16:45 GMT -5 by Deleted
As is Gary Larson - whom I once met at a book signing in Philadelphia. At a bookstore - I went to queue to get in, and there was NO ONE ELSE THERE. I got to talk with him for a while. He seemed genuinely, charmingly surprised that someone would be that thrilled to meet him. But it was 1984, so early days. </derail> I'll have to catch up on the Ocasio-Cortez thing, instead of forming my opinion on the two or three headlines I've seen. But yeah, ignorance is a very bad look, no matter which side of the aisle you sit on.
Wow! What an experience. Did he seem clever when you spoke with him? What sort of personality? I think it would be so difficult to be an author and wait at a booksigning with no one coming. You saved the day!