Newt’s Shop of Horrors

Reader RichardH pointed me to The New York Times blog story, Newt’s Shop of Horrors.

Speaking of Newt Gingrich’s relationship to the Citizens Untied Supreme Court decision that visited all these horrors upon Newt, the article said:

Earlier, he’d sent out a video plea, saying, “Please join Citizens United and me in our fight for the First Amendment rights of every American.”

Yes, because every lone citizen’s voice is roughly equal to, say, the $3 million or so in negative advertising spent in Iowa to crush Gingrich. Those citizens who worked at corporations, or founded super PACs, were somehow denied their First Amendment rights, in the reasoning of the court and Gingrich. Money is speech, one and the same, in their world.

If Gingrich had any guts, or lasting principles, he would now sound alarms about the absurdity of a court decision equating the Norman Rockwell citizen standing at town hall to the anonymous millions that can kill a candidate in less than month. In Gingrich’s case, he fell 20 points in 20 days.

As I have pointed out before:

The logic behind corporations being people is based on a syllogism. If the Supreme Court and other Courts knew anything about logic, (gee should justice have anything to do with logic), they would be very wary of reasoning from a syllogism. It is fraught with the ease of coming to faulty conclusions

Here are some definitions of syllogism from the Free Dictionary:


1. Logic, A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion; for example, All humans are mortal, the major premise, I am a human, the minor premise, therefore, I am mortal, the conclusion.

2. Reasoning from the general to the specific; deduction.

3. A subtle or specious piece of reasoning.

Perhaps the questioning of prospective judges, especially Supreme Court Justices, should always include the question, “Do you know what a syllogism is, and do you understand its pitfalls?”

By the way, definition 1 above uses an example syllogism that leads to a correct conclusion.

In The Philosophy of Socrates: Syllogisms, the authoer says:

At the simplest level, the syllogism consists of a deductive process involving two declarative statements and a conclusion. Three simple terms are used and these are combined with each other in the form AB, BC, therefore BC (or negative terms might be used). For example: all apples are fruit; no apples are vegetables, therefore no fruit is a vegetable. The conclusion cannot be challenged without contradicting one or both of the premises. This is the basis of much logical deduction up to the present day.

How about the statement that not all fruits are apples?  There may be a fruit that is also a vegetable.  All we know from the statements presented is that it won’t be an apple.

The article about Socrates goes on to say:

Socrates, however, used the syllogistic process in a somewhat different way. Indeed, his approach was one that caused many of his enemies or at least indifferent observers to label him as ‘sly’

Calling Socrates sly in a freshman college paper got me a D on that paper.  The professor did not understand the down side of syllogisms.  This was in a Humanities course at MIT.  I doubt I would have run into that problem if the course had been given in the Math department.

See my previous post The Corporate Pledge Of Allegiance for another discussion of  the Citizens United decision and syllogisms.


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