The non-partisan website FactCheck.org is regarded as a ‘consumer advocate for voters. Most of its content consists of rebuttals to what it considers inaccurate, misleading, or false claims by politicians. This is what they had to say about the 2008 supporters of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) in the article “Introduction to Logic” by Joe Miller.
Recently, we’ve received a barrage of e-mail containing variations on this theme: “Am I to assume that by making no mention of Rep. Ron Paul in your synopses of GOP candidates, you found his statements meritorious?” The similarities between the messages led to a bit of searching, and we found what we suspect is the cause: A post at DailyPaul.com alleges that because the author found no instances where we called out Paul for misstatements, “FactCheck.org shows that Ron Paul is truthful.”
We realize that DailyPaul.com is not officially affiliated with Paul’s campaign. But the error is egregious enough that it merits discussion. Here’s the basic argument from DailyPaul:
If FactCheck.org writes about a candidate, then that candidate makes some inaccurate claims.
FactCheck.org has not written about Ron Paul.
Therefore Ron Paul does not make inaccurate claims.
That argument might sound appealing, but, in fact, it is a logical fallacy (philosophers call this one “denying the antecedent”). Consider a different argument that has exactly the same logical structure:
If it is Thursday, then I have to go to work.
It is not Thursday.
Therefore I do not have to go to work.
We wouldn’t recommend trying that argument out on your boss – unless, of course, you have a job that requires you to work only on Thursdays. And that’s the problem with the DailyPaul.com argument. It works only to the extent that you assume that we write about every single inaccurate claim uttered by every single political candidate. We don’t. We just hadn’t gotten around to mentioning many Ron Paul flubs. We’ve corrected that oversight now.
The loyalty of his followers is impressive. They boosted his slim The Revolution: A Manifesto to the number one spot on The New York Times nonfiction bestseller list in May 2008. This was followed by End the Fed which made the Times top 10 in 2009. His most recent book, Liberty Defined, is an attack on the Bush wing of the Republican Party, and it hardly mentions President Obama. Jim Morgan of Indianapolis made the following observations:
“1. Not all Paul followers are isolationists.
2. Not all Paul followers are secessionists.
3. Not all Paul followers are Anti-Semites.
4. Not all Paul followers are Chem-Trailers.
5. Not all Paul followers are Lost Causers from the Civil War.
6. Not all Paul followers are against the Civil Rights Act.
7. Not all Paul followers are 9/11 Truthers.
8. Not all Paul followers are Birthers.
9. Not all Paul followers are conspiracy theory advocates.
“However all of the above seem to follow Paul. I have never once heard Congressman Paul chastise these people or correct them. I have heard him defend them and give credence to their beliefs. Paul exploits the ill educated and ill informed.
“Working with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) to cut $1 trillion from the Pentagon cuts and legalize drugs is not conservative. Being the only GOP Member of Congress who refused to support the Republican presidential nominee is not conservative.”