Last week, you smarties bravely wrestled with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reasoning for why requiring a photo ID to vote is no big deal. Governor Walker’s argument began:
There are more photo ID’s currently issued than there are registered voters in Wisconsin.
I’ve made some attempt to winnow the dozens of responses down to a few that seem rewarding/plausible to me. Since most of my claim to any legitimacy on this question comes from having attended almost all sessions of logic class in college, I welcome any and all contributions to sorting this out.
Possible names for Governor Walker’s reasoning:
The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event. Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs.
Many events follow sequential patterns without being causally related. For example, you have a cold, so you drink fluids and two weeks later your cold goes away. You have a headache so you stand on your head and six hours later your headache goes away. You put acne medication on a pimple and three weeks later the pimple goes away. You perform some task exceptionally well after forgetting to bathe, so the next time you have to perform the same task you don’t bathe. A solar eclipse occurs so you beat your drums to make the gods spit back the sun. The sun returns, proving to you the efficacy of your action.
Causation fallacy, says John Messerly:
It is not a categorical proposition, but a causation proposition. If we observe A (increase in photo IDs) can we conclude B (increase people satisfying a the goal of becoming an eligible voter). Incease in voter registrations implies B but A does not.
This is causation fallacy (Non Causa Pro Causa) of the type Cum Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
Inductive fallacy, says Stacey Herzing:
”There are more photo ID’s currently issued than there are registered voters in Wisconsin. “
A = more photo ID’s
B = registered voters
implied C = therefore WI has no voter ID problem (every registered voter has an id)
It’s a fallacy because A and B appear to support C.
It’s inductive because A and B do not completely support implied C, ie, are other explanations for same A, B:
i. 1 registered voter has 10 different photo ids and 9 registered voters have zero (each);
ii. could be many forms of photo ids issued but state will only accept a few forms, so actually less photo IDs issued than registered voters (and could still have problem (i); ie equal photo id distribution among registered voters?
Syllogism, says Mike Paganucci:
The construct of the syllogism is:
There are 1 million people who can vote
There are 2 million people with photo state ID’s (in various forms).
Therefore all voters have a photo ID.
It relies on the premise that the requirement for ID’s and voters are the same.
Specifically, that would be a categorical syllogism, adds John McCann, et al.
Ignoratio elenchi fallacy – Latin for irrelevant conclusion – says Justin Parker:
He’s basically making an irrelevant statement. Just because there are so many photo ID holders does not mean that all eligible voters, or even most eligible voters, carry photo ID’s. Thus, his statement is irrelevent to the question, and thus an ignoratio elenchi fallacy. But this is nothing new in politics, unfortunately.