If you have been watching Trump’s press briefings for the last two weeks there are three logical fallacies at work that you may have not noticed.
The first is what’s called a False Contrast and Trump does it all the time. He picks numbers which can’t be substantiated, like 2.2 million dead and then He says if ONLY 100,000 die then he’s doing a super job. It’s a mechanism for him to use the worst case scenario to make his failures look better than they are. It is also meant to precondition people to believe that 100,000 to 200,000 are acceptable or inevitable when they aren’t.
Trump also claims a false legitimacy and diffuse blame by saying his experts gave him those numbers, so that makes him look like he’s just the messenger when he’s intentionally misrepresented or misstating numbers to make him look better.
Trump has also been rolling out more and more people for each press conference, having them speak on his behalf. A lot of those people have dubious qualifications, but they are all there to praise Trump for his actions. So you have people like Esper, Carson, Jared, Kudlow, Navarro and others commenting on things they have no expertise in. This is an example of a second logical fallacy called Appeal To Authority because Trump is trying to use their titles to lend himself legitimacy by their presence Trump’s message is look I have these smart people behind me, so what they say must be legitimate because it matches what I say, so I must be doing something right. When the reality is you don’t ask an economist to comment on epidemiology.
The third is what’s called an Appeal To Majority. By increasing the number of people involved in each briefing it implies that there’s a level of organization, competency and credibility, which doesn’t actually exist. It’s obvious when you hear them talk that they are completely out of their depth and they are there as a sign of unity and as a distraction.
By involving more people each time Trump is attempting to diffuse criticism of his actions by making it look like there’s consultation, cooperation, collaboration and unanimity in their words and actions when in reality Trump is just stage managing them, and they are just repeating what he has told them to say.
They are there as a distraction to help Trump conceal just how far apart Trump’s opinions are from those of professionals like Azar, Brix and Fauci. So Trump is trying to lessen Azar, Brix and Fauci’s impact by marginalizing them because they won’t tell him what he wants to hear. Trump’s message is look I have all of these important people behind me, so what I say must be true. So Azar, Brix and Fauci are overruled by these more numerous people with dubious titles that are telling me I’m right. Birx and Fauci are in a catch 22.
Basically they have to play along with Trump’s BS in order to help people. However, the problem with them playing along is they look like stooges and sycophants in the process. They could have walked away or taken a hard line against Trump and left with their reputations intact but they chose to stay and try to help people despite Trump’s best efforts. However, you can be sure Cult 45 will desperately try to pin all of Trump’s failures on them to protect their golden calf.
James Hershberger Sr.