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Douglas Arndell

Fallacy of association or conspiracy fallacy?

This is based on recent events, but was quickly dogpiled with conspiracy theories as I saw this chat unfold in front of me:

Person A: So, this relatively well know person, with charges of running a trafficking ring, died in prison by suicide in this high security prison. Must be the prison system being so harsh he committed suicide.

Person Y: You can't blame the prison system for killing this person! Because he is famous and has connections to a trafficking ring with tons of powerful people, he must have been ordered to be killed to look like a suicide! I just wont believe the narrative that a high risk prisoner on suicide watch at a high security prison could just commit suicide!

Person A: But do you have any evidence for these assertions?

Person Y: I already know the rich and powerful could get away with everything, but this murder just confirms it!

How many fallacies are in this?
asked on Saturday, Aug 10, 2019 12:13:49 PM by Douglas Arndell

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Bo Bennett, PhD
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As of now, there is no (public) evidence whatsoever of a conspiracy, so no conspiracy is warranted until evidence (for THIS potential conspiracy, not conspiracies in general) is presented.

Person A: So, this relatively well know person, with charges of running a trafficking ring, died in prison by suicide in this high security prison. Must be the prison system being so harsh he committed suicide.



False cause. It is fairly clear why he committed suicide, and it is unlikely related to the "harshness" of the prison system.

Person Y: You can't blame the prison system for killing this person! Because he is famous and has connections to a trafficking ring with tons of powerful people, he must have been ordered to be killed to look like a suicide!



Conspiratorial thinking and False cause .

I just wont believe the narrative that a high risk prisoner on suicide watch at a high security prison could just commit suicide!



Appeal to incredulity . We don't care what this person will or will not believe. It does not affect the facts.

Person Y: I already know the rich and powerful could get away with everything, but this murder just confirms it!



Appeal to possibility. Just because rich people CAN get away with something, does not mean that they tried.
answered on Saturday, Aug 10, 2019 12:22:24 PM by Bo Bennett, PhD

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mchasewalker
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It's remarkable how fast the conspiracy theorists have pounced on this before any significant facts or evidence other than his death have been provided. It's rather telling because Conspiracy Theorists and Trumpsters don't like facts, they'd much rather exploit the GAP between their own pernicious wish-fulfillment and reality. They're already claiming that Hillary and Bill Clinton had him murdered.

Coincidentally, Psychology Today just release an articled on the Trump Supporter and the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

The Dunning-Kruger Effect May Help Explain Trump's Support
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mind-in-the-machine/201808/the-dunning-kruger-effect-may-help-explain-trumps-support?eml<>

Dunning-Kruger is not a logical fallacy, but a Cognitive Bias. I've been saying this for some time, but I do think we are now well beyond the point of a cognitive bias and full on into a mass hysteria or a viral ideological brain virus. As Robert Oxton Bolt once wrote:

A belief is not an idea the mind possesses. It is an idea that possesses the mind.

answered on Saturday, Aug 10, 2019 12:52:52 PM by mchasewalker

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Bill
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Exactly agree w/ the other comments. People who say there is a conspiracy have the burden of proof. Suspicion or mistrust does not prove a conspiracy.

Yes, powerful people CAN order assassinations. That doesn't prove that they DID.

I posted about this issue on my blog (it's free and no ads).

https://harpine.blogspot.com/2019/08/nutty-epstein-conspiracy-theories-did.html

http://harpine.blogspot.com/2016/10/speeches-about-conspiracies-how-can-we.html
answered on Saturday, Aug 10, 2019 10:34:24 PM by Bill

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David Blomstrom
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Wow, this is a can of worms. You're obviously referring to Jeffrey Epstein, which is a pretty sensational case.

Let's put this case in perspective. First, is it fair to call Jeffrey Epstein a pedophile?

Every politically astute person knows that money buys justice. When a billionaire (or a multi-millionaire at the least) winds up in prison on these kinds of charges - which Epstein fended off with the help of one of America's most famous lawyers, Alan Dershowitz, previously - you have to be a little suspicious. The corporate media are openly calling him a pedophile. I don't think any sane person doubts that he was a pedophile.

Another established fact: He had extraordinary political connections. Powerful people from Donald Trump and Bill Clinton to British royalty may deny any improprieties, but they don't deny visiting Epstein's Pedophile Island.

The suggestion that Epstein was driven to suicide by harsh prison conditions is absurd. With his money and connections, it's hard to imagine that Epstein was treated worse than other prisoners - most of whom do NOT commit suicide.

We also have to ask how he wound up in solitary confinement when he allegedly tried to commit suicide on another occasion. How does that even begin to make sense? And how did he obtain something to hang himself with? What did he hang himself from? Looking around my apartment, I can't find any solid structure that I could hang myself from. Was there a metal rod conveniently suspended in his cell in solitary confinement?

And how convenient that the incident wasn't captured on a surveillance camera! Kind of reminds me of the commercial airliner that crashed into the Pentagon without being photographed. Come to think of it, this entire incident is reminiscent of 9/11 - an entire series of wildly improbable events that are casually dismissed as irrelevant.

I don't know if the first passage qualifies as a fallacy. It could be a statement made out of simple ignorance. If it was written by a propagandist, then he appears to be manufacturing a bogus explanation. Would this qualify as a straw man?

The next passage consists of three sentences...

You can't blame the prison system for killing this person!



This sentence is a little confusing. Technically, it's possible that Epstein was murdered by someone employed by the prison system. It's hard to imagine how whatever happened could have happened without the assistance of someone within the prison system.

Because he is famous and has connections to a trafficking ring with tons of powerful people, he must have been ordered to be killed to look like a suicide!



Yes, it would be utterly stupid to ignore Epstein's fame, money and connections. However, we don't know if he was murdered. Some have suggested that he was allowed to kill himself as an alternative to spending the rest of his life in prison. I find this highly improbable, though the media claim he did try to commit suicide just a week or two ago.

Another possibility is that his murder was staged, and he was literally rescued from prison. Sounds wild and crazy, but it would not be as hard to accomplish as some would think. We know his body was removed from the prison, though we have know way of knowing if he was actually dead. It would not be hard to make up a story about the body being taken to a hospital. There was an absolutely sensational story about a retired general (the late St. John Stanford) with leukemia who escaped from a hospital here in Seattle so he could walk home to see his family - wearing nothing but a hospital gown and towing an IV tray. The media claimed he was lucid - and that the police at first thought he was stealing the IV tray!

That was an obvious conspiracy involving the hospital, the media, the police department and the Seattle School District. The icing on the cake: The media published an entirely different account the preceding day!

I just wont believe the narrative that a high risk prisoner on suicide watch at a high security prison could just commit suicide!



That's a very sensible statement.

The last statement:

I already know the rich and powerful could get away with everything, but this murder just confirms it!



I don't know if this qualifies as a fallacy, but the rich and powerful can't literally get away with everything. Nevertheless, it's common knowledge that there are effectively two justice systems - one for THEM and the other for US. If a black man gets caught selling cocaine, he may have two options: getting murdered by the police or spending a helluva long time in prison.

Compare that to the Sacklers, who have made billions of dollars off the sale of opioids, which have killed people across the country.

In summary, I can't tell you how many fallacies this conversation embraces. Person Y is the only one making sense, though some of his statements are a little awkward. Person A sounds like an individual who is either 1) ignorant, or 2) an armchair propagandist who is conveniently overlooking the obvious in his attempt to sweep the incident under the rug.

Before Epstein committed suicide, I was wondering how it was even possible for a person with his power and connections to wind up in prison and for his victims to implicate so many famous, powerful people. I couldn't imagine how Epstein could spend the rest of his life in prison and speculated that he would simply be pardoned by Donald Trump. For whatever it's worth, I read somewhere that he was likely facing a sentence of something like 45 years. Considering his age, that would amount to a life sentence, but still - isn't that kind of sentence normally given to a person caught selling cocaine?
answered on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 11:15:56 AM by David Blomstrom

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Adagio4639
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There seems to be a lot of questions regarding Epstein's alleged suicide. I think there must be an investigation as to whether it's a homicide or a suicide. There seems to be a lot of motive for a homicide to have taken place. Very powerful people would have a reason to make certain that Epstien is silenced. Epstein would have a lot of reasons to commit suicide as well, but how could he manage to do that when he was under suicide watch? And then why was he taken off suicide watch? What did he hang himself from in a cell that had nothing attached to the ceiling? What did he use for a rope? I just want some plausible explanations. A mob boss can get to a witness who's in jail. How much more powerful is the POTUS and heads of major corporations and members of royal families? How hard would it be to get somebody inside to kill Epstein? When he was taken off of suicide watch, he was checked every 4 hours. When they checked on him did they not find him hanging from the ceiling? During that time was it possible for anybody else to get to Epstein? I'm not suggesting that he was murdered, but I'm not inclined to rule it out knowing the motive that some very powerful people would have to shut him up,.
answered on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 03:30:04 PM by Adagio4639

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