Friday, October 8, 2010

A Logic 101 Lesson for the Tea Party

The tea party has been lying, claiming that Phil Hare said that the U.S. deficit is a myth. You can see an example of their lies clearly here, although the story has also been reported on Gateway Pundit and Hot Air:

What Phil Hare said was, "Every minute I have here is going to be spent on trying to debunk the myth that this country's in debt and we just can't spend."

So, what was the myth, according to Hare? It was "This country's in debt AND we just can't spend." Now, the word AND means that this statement is a conjunction. In order for a conjunction to be true, the propositions on both sides of the AND need to be true. So the statement "puppies are mammals and Obama was born in Hawaii" is TRUE because both propositions are true. On the other hand, the statement "puppies are mammals and communists are in control of the U.S. government" is FALSE because the proposition "communists are in control of the U.S. government" is false. Note that it is still false even though the first proposition "puppies are mammals" is true.

So, what Phil Hare said is that the conjunction was a myth. This commits him only to saying that at least one of the propositions was false. Obviously, what he was saying is that he thinks it's not true that we "can't spend." We can spend as long as there are ways of bringing in revenue, like, I dunno, letting the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans expire. So his claim that "this country's in debt AND we just can't spend" is a myth is correct, or at least is defensible. Just like a claim that "unicorns have horns and live in Australia" is a myth NOT because the first part of conjunction is false, but because the later part of the conjunction is false.

And while we're on the topic, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the claim "tea partiers are smart enough to understand this post and honest enough to admit they were wrong," is also a myth. I challenge them to prove me wrong.

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