Monday, June 20, 2005

Downing Street: A "Rather-esque" Hoax?

For an eye-opening article on the Downing Street Memo leak, read the AP link below. I've also included an exerpt.


Here we go again. Still, another superb example of shoddy induction. Remember, the particulars that you use to build your generalization must be clear, concise, truthful and authentic. No slanting of the figures is allowed. Even then, the inductive method produces a highly probable generalization at best. AP writer Thomas Wagner reports about how the memos were leaked. See below what happened and YOU answer the question about credibility and authenticity:

"The eight memos — all labeled "secret" or "confidential" — were first obtained by British reporter Michael Smith, who has written about them in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times.
Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.
The AP obtained copies of six of the memos (the other two have circulated widely). A senior British official who reviewed the copies said their content appeared authentic. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secret nature of the material."

Sorry, Bush haters, you may have your rhetoric down and your emotions at a fever pitch, but to a logician who looks at the particulars, you've got a really shakey foundation. Problem is, you're going at it all wrong. First, you hate President Bush; second, you look for anything that will bring him down; third, when it doesn't stick, you get angrier; fourth, you hate Bush more; fifth, you look for something that will bring him down; sixth, when it doesn't stick, you get angrier yet; seventh, you hate Bush even more; eighth, you then look for something that will bring him down; ninth, when it doesn't stick, you get even angrier yet; tenth, you hate Bush even more than before; eleventh,...

For more information, also click on the "Captain's Quarters" in my link list to the right. This is the same weblog that broke the Dan Rather "Memo-gate" fiasco.


At 5:32 PM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...


I had not heard that. If the memos were not retained in their originality, then it is obviously very possible, even probable, that it is a hoax.

In the interest of fairness and honesty, I will have to retract everything I said elsewhere, and direct them to your blog.

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Tabasamu said...

Underground Logician, can you tell me where I could see this article for myself? If you're right, then you and Saur are correct, it could be faked.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Click on the "Memos" link at the top of the post. This is an AP story.

At 6:02 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

This is simply another example of people hearing only what they want to hear. Memos appear that say exactly what you "know," in your heart of hearts, is "true," and you rejoice at being proven right. Never mind that 1) the memos represent the perceptions of a single British foreign-affairs official, 2) they don't quite say what you think they say, and 3) not even photocopies of the originals survive.

"Ratheresque" is right on the money. One of the CBS producers supposedly said, "Wow, that’s exactly what we heard happened" when presented with Burkett's "memos." And critical thinking flies out the window...understandable in the general public, inexcusible in the media.

At 7:05 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Just as in the CBS memo "misunderstanding" this situation will be spun continuously. It will be bloggers like us that will have to bust it loose! Already, as I sit here listening to the Katie and Matt variety show, the big stories are Jennifer Willbanks, runaway bride and Michael Jackson's mom speaks out! Oooooo, Big News! Oh, and Democrats block Bolton once again. They are really good at blocking things.

Well, work calls me. Have a great day!

At 11:22 AM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

not only have at least 10 different news organizations verified the authenticity of these memos, virtually nobody to whom they were addressed or cc'd is denying they received them. If there was any chance these were fake, Tony Blair would be screaming at the top of his lungs that these were forgeries..he is not. The article mentioned is simply a red herring designed to create doubt where none should exist. It is spin in it's most classic form.

Incidentally, the political insider blogs have been predicting this would be how memogate would be spun for about a week now.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

In fact, too many people saw these memos to give Blair any chance of deniability.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

GWB: This post is a matter of understanding sloppy tendencies of inductive reasoning; arguing from particulars to a generalization. If your particulars are suspect, the probability of your conclusion being true is low. If your particulars do not give basis of your conclusion, you are committing any one of many different fallacies (See my post on "Manure in neat little piles...").

As to your mentioning the ten plus news's irrelevant. You could have 500 news organizations all saying the same thing. Both Bush an Blair denied what the memos said and implied; they fixed intelligence around their plans for war in Iraq. Not denying the authenticity gives little basis to say that the memos are authentic. That is an argument from silence, a fallacy, my friend.

My point in all of this is that if you don't have the original memos, but a retyped version of them, in inductive reasoning, GWB, this particular is SUSPECT. And then, with a cooperative leftist media with liberal politicians with an axe to grind, the generalization formed will not have a high probability of truth. This is a matter of logic.

And particularly the memo itself, is a commentary of a British operative; you don't have facts. So simply from a logical standpoint, the conclusion formed is suspect. That's life in the inductive universe.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Please see my post with the actual article there, along with some provocative questions.

At 9:38 PM, Anonymous fuentes said...

See my shameless plug...

At 10:55 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

UL.. your usually scintillating logic is flawed in one very major sense. Virtually nobody is denying their existence,, or their accuracy. Verification is simple enough. Get out the rolodex, call politicians A, B, C, and ask, "hey did you get this memo? Is this wording accurate?' "You did. It is... thanks for your time". Tony Blair can hem and haw all he wants, but the memos are there for all to see. And since virtually no one is denying their existence or their accuracy, there is no real controversy. Spin is spin, and you are riding a driedel.

There is nothing sloppy in the reporting or the reasoning of the press on this issue. If twenty people receive a memo, and when confronted with it, confirm it's existence and accuracy, or fail to deny its existence and accuracy, it is reasonable to conclude that the memo is indeed accurate. It would be irrational to conclude otherwise.

At 11:20 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

In inductive reasoning, the strength or weakness in the truthfulness, authenticity, credibility, etc. of the particulars will affect the degree of probability of truthfulness of the generalization. I have been saying all along that since the memos were typed and the originals were destroyed that the memos are SUSPECT. It is not a strong argument. Simply put. That's it. You can try to strengthen the particulars with phone calls to politians, etc., but if this were in a court of law, it would NOT be an open and shut case. Since they are not on government letterhead, without authenticating signatures, etc. they lose their power to support the conclusion.

You are making more of these memos than what they really are. Compared to the originals, they don't carry much weight.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

In a court of law. if a prosecuter got the author and recipients of a memo to say, yes I wrote/recieved this, and yes, those were the contents of it, you would have a slam dunk.

The memos are what they are, and you can spin them as you wish, but there is no doubt in any serious persons mind they are legitimate.

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Admit it, having the original evidence is stronger than having a man say, "Yeah, those are like the originals." This isn't spin, this is calling it what it is, questionable evidence. And we all know human nature, people will be tempted to say anything that will benefit their side of the argument, no matter if they're liberal or conservative. The original evidence is always the strongest.

Let me put it a different way. If someone handed you the original memos for proof that shows malfeasance on the part of a government official, and then asked if you'd be interested in typed copies instead, would you trade, thinking that they were just as credible? My guess wouldn't.

At 9:45 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Face it. If these were less than credible, every member of Blairs cabinet would be screaming foul at the top of their lungs. They are not.

This is little more than a feeble attempt to draw attention away from the real story, the evidence that Bush lied about his war plans, and the fact he was busy manipulating intelligence to justify it. Judging by his dismal poll numbers, and the fact that even his own party is abndoning him on his agenda, I'd say it's not working.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

This is not strong evidence. It is wishful thinking. Your reasoning is circular and I think I need to sit down.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Scott said...

I have read through the memos and I am willing to accept them as true. In fact many people in the Bush camp accept them as conveying the thinking at the time.

The only point the left can latch onto in these memos is the word "Fixed". In the queen's english the word fixed can mean "organized". As we all know us and the brits speak english, but in different ways.

If you take the memo and replace "Fixed" with "Organized" the whole criticism goes out the window.

John Kerry was screaming impeachment 2 weeks ago. Now he is quiet. I think because this revelation has come to light.

There is some fishy circumstances surrounding this reporters obtaining of the memos, but even so I think they are all bark and no bite.

At 12:03 AM, Blogger Underground Logician said...

Thank you for your definition of terms!


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