There’s a lot of nuts out there with conspiracy theories about the recent attacks on Israel by Hamas and other terror groups. Many of them claim to be using logic, but after reviewing some of what they are saying the best of the theories have huge logic problems.
For instance, Peggy Hall with the handle of The Healthy American in an article online titled Hamas “Attack” On Israel (implying that it was no attack) just outdoes herself with so many logical fallacies I’m tempted to say maybe it’s because she’s female and has a lot of trouble with logic in the first place. That might be labeled sexist but it fits right in with her irrational assumptions. Just because something is labeled sexist doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I’ll list here the major fallacies and illustrate what I’m talking about.
She does a lot of groundwork to bias the reader in the direction she wants to go (we can’t trust anything). The title first, then a series of statements leading to a conclusion that we can’t trust the media. They might be lying and probably are, she says. The logical fallacy here is that because many people in the media lie, then all of what we see or read are lies. She wants you to believe that the lies from some organizations means that all are lies. This is what we call a “false equivalency.” If one presentation is a lie, she says, then all are lies. Not necessarily. We have to look at the source and the motivations. There are news sources that do a great job of checking and confirming information. We can also cross-check between organizations, because some facts may be missing in one presentation that are present in another trusted source. So her analysis is skewed from the start.
Another logical fallacy is when she questions the Israeli intelligence agencies. She says they are very, very good, so how could they have missed the preparations for this attack? Not a very bright question, actually. It’s not the gathering of information that’s the problem. It’s the interpreting. Just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in World War 2, the U. S. intelligence apparatus at the time also got some hints of something. But what? In our present case, just because some Egyptian intelligence people said there was “something big” happening in Gaza, so what? What the hell does that mean anyway? With 20/20 hindsight of the armchair quarterback of course we know now what it is. NOW. But how in the world do we interpret “something big” when we cannot define “big?”
One big reason that the surprise of this attack was so prevalent is that Israel had become complacent. A majority were really thinking that all their enemies were eschewing hatred and the desire to wipe them out. In fact, they were in the process of becoming very liberal which is to say very stupid. There are a lot of people in Israel they did not grow up during World War 2, did not see the Yom Kippur war, and probably listened to people like the Healthy American who said, “Don’t trust the accounts of yesteryear coming from the old people; those events were just staged to get a reaction out of you so they could get some money from the U. S.” Stupidity is a very good reason for being taken by surprise and failing to interpret a military buildup properly.
She spends a lot of time on numbers, as if the repetition of numbers she chooses as “odd” or indicative of some ulterior motive is proof of evil intent. Never mind that many other numbers than the ones she chooses are used too. Never mind that her choice of numbers seems rather arbitrary. Never mind that people have a tendency to round numbers because the situation is very fluid. Just pick some numbers and then find a “coincidental” occurrence of the numbers.
When we get right down to it, she has nothing but supposition and bias to “prove” her theory. There are other explanations than what she chooses to see through her somewhat blurry lenses. As she wraps up her article she posits a few more suppositions for why this happened. She is obviously reasoning “after the fact” from her armchair. For instance, is it reasonable to think that the politicians would allow this kind of bloodshed that could easily blow back on them (like blaming Netanyahu for intelligence failures, as is already happening)? Logically, is it possible to falsify an attack like this in such a way that hundreds of people agree and not one (including reporters on the ground there) says that broken legs and raped women with blood in the crotches of their clothes was staged? Is it reasonable or logical to believe that terrorist organizations would never do anything like this?
So then we are left with a big question raised by her about her account of the event. Can we trust her?