Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rep Gary Sherman on the Georgia Thompson issue

I've told some of our Wood County Delegation that I admire the Assemblyman from the 74th District (Ashland, Bayfiled, Douglas Counties) for his courage and insight....his recent press release from the Wheeler Report is a good example of his intelligence...here are some snippets:

Post hoc ergo prompter hoc: Latin for "after this, therefore because of
this," is a logical fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) which
assumes or asserts that if one event happens after another, then the first
must be the cause of the second.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the low quality of public discourse is the
prevalence of faulty reasoning. At the top of my list is the ubiquitous application of the
post hoc ergo prompter hoc fallacy. Hardly a day goes by without some questionable
conclusion being drawn on the basis of this form of sloppy thinking.

Most of what we now call superstition arises from post hoc reasoning. A black cat
crosses your path and afterward you become ill. You break a mirror and the stock
market falls. You step on a crack . . . well, maybe that is too farfetched to consider.

and so just how does this apply to Georgia Thompson? Read on:

A recent example involves the case of Georgia Thompson, a state employee found guilty
of fixing the bidding of a state contract. The evidence was that she awarded a contract
to a particular travel agency despite the opposition of other people on the panel
considering the contract. Later, there was a substantial campaign contribution given to
the Governor’s campaign.

Is it a reasonable inference that the two events are causally related? Although many
people are predisposed to believe all substantial campaign contributions are given for
corrupt purposes, in the absence of more evidence, the conclusion is unreasonable.

For example, it would seem to be essential to know if Ms. Thompson knew that the
campaign contribution was going to occur. Without that knowledge, the causal
relationship could not possibly exist. The contribution simply could have been an
expression of spontaneous gratitude. Or, it could have been the result of corrupt intent
unknown to Ms. Thompson. Or it could have been a reflection of the donors’ sincerely
held political support for the Governor.

Sherman does a great job of instructing us on how our political :reasoning, or what passes these days for political reasoning is often mistaken. He's a "thinker".....we need more of those.

1 comment:

LoLo said...

Breaking related news! The Senate Judiciary Committee has just sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding all records related to Georgia Thompson's predicament, the role of U.S.A. Biskupic in the matter, and all correspondence related to "voter fraud" matters during the '04 election in WI. (Actually, the list of required documents covered much more than this.) For the full story, see DailyKos in a blog posted by "Robert in Wisconsin".