Near This (Russia) Therefore Know That (Foreign Policy): The Sarah Palin Logical Fallacy

For the 2008 election season, I hereby propose that a new informal fallacy be added to all college textbooks devoted to philosophy, composition, rhetoric, propaganda studies, and law:

  • “The Sarah Palin logical fallacy,” or simply “The Palin fallacy.”

It can be added to such well established and recognized fallacies as ad hominem, false dilemma, and circular reasoning.

“The Palin fallacy” can also be classified as being in the family of correlation fallacies, as in:

  • post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this), and
  • cum hoc ergo propter hoc (with this, therefore because of this)

The Palin fallacy would run formally as follows:

  • Near this, therefore know that.

Prompting this new addition to the family of logical fallacies is this ur-example:

  • My state is near Russia, therefore I know foreign policy.

Other examples of the Palin fallacy:

  • I live next door to a Pakistani couple, therefore I know Pakistan.
  • I live next door to an Italian grandma, therefore I know how Italians are.
  • I often eat Thai food at a California Thai restaurant, therefore I am qualified to be the Ambassador of Thailand.
  • At my college library I passed by a long row of books by Sigmund Freud, and devoted to Freudian study, therefore I am ready to be a sex therapist.
  • I walked past Neil Armstrong at Disneyland in Florida, therefore I’m ready to be an astronaut on America’s first trip to Mars.
  • A plane carrying Vladimir Putin to Washington passed over Alaskan air space last night, therefore I know what he and the Russians are up to.
  • At the United Nations pictures were taken of me shaking hands with a dignitary from Afghanistan, and exchanging pleasantries with him, therefore I now have diplomatic experience.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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