Did I get the title wrong – isn’t this Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc:
The Post Hoc fallacy derives its name from the Latin phrase “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.” This has been traditionally interpreted as “After this, therefore because of this.” This fallacy is committed when it is concluded that one event causes another simply because the proposed cause occurred before the proposed effect. More formally, the fallacy involves concluding that A causes or caused B because A occurs before B and there is not sufficient evidence to actually warrant such a claim. It is evident in many cases that the mere fact that A occurs before B in no way indicates a causal relationship.
The good folks at Talking Points Memo are having fun with this:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain says Democrat Barack Obama is wrong about the Iraq war. But Obama’s campaign says McCain was wrong about the war’s timeline during a nationally televised interview Tuesday. Asked about Obama’s contention that a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida combined with the addition of thousands of U.S. combat troops that were sent to Iraq contributed to the improved security situation there, McCain scoffed. “I don’t know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened,” McCain told “CBS Evening News,” adding that Col. Sean MacFarland was contacted by a major Sunni sheik. “Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening,” McCain said, referring to the U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Anbar province. “I mean, that’s just a matter of history.” The problem with McCain’s statement — as Obama’s campaign quickly noted — was that the awakening got under way before President Bush announced in January 2007 his decision to flood Iraq with tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to help combat violence.
So what if the Anbar Awakening occurred before The Surge? Couldn’t the subsequent surge still have been the cause of this Sunni revolt against Al Qaida under this Pre Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fuzzy logic being employed by John McCain? After all – under similar fuzzy logic, more defense spending and less tax revenues is the recipe to reduce the deficit!
Update: (rdan here: