I'm astonished that apparently not one person in the media... reporter, columnist, editor or pundit... has any formal training in logic. Not one MediaPerson has mentioned the fatal flaw in TheirSide's argument. By TheNumbers... I would think that at least a few on MySide recognized the flaw. To make matters worse... nobody on MySide... with wide-spread exposure has done anything about it either.
Here's the story... accurately told by a Venn diagram. You'll notice that it takes an awful lot of words to describe the construction and interpretation of the Venn diagram... which clearly illustrates it's usefulness - it actually takes only a few minutes to draw.
Suppose the BlueCircle represents "all intelligence about terrorists and Iraq accumulated by all assorted agencies"... the RedCircle represents "all intelligence about terrorists and Iraq accumulated by the BushAdministration"... and the GreenCircle represents "all intelligence about terrorists and Iraq accumulated by Congress".
Before you get your panties in a bunch... I know that the agencies have more intelligence than the BushAdministration... which has more than Congress. I made all the circles the same size because I could... without affecting the result.
What's the relationship between the three? We do know for sure that all three collections contained common elements. What venn? (Sorry... I couldn't resist.) The following Venn diagram illustrates all possible relationships between these three collections of intelligence.
Surprised? Did you expect to see all three circle sitting right on top of each other? Well... that would happen only if the three collections were identical... and we know that's not true. Section-by-section... here's what this Venn diagram shows...
These are all the sharing of information relationships that are possible. But for the case at hand... there are some constraints that must be taken into account. There are certain things that we know for sure...
Now... with these contraints in mind... let's look at each numbered section to determine whether or not it's empty...
Let's now gray-out the areas we know to be empty...
The remaining white areas all lie within the RedCircle and represents the total collection of intelligence that was available to the BushAdministration. Notice that some of that white area (sections 2 and 3) is outside the GreenCircle (which represents the collection of intelligence that was made available to Congress).
When TheirSide says we looked at the same intelligence as they did... that's an accurate statement. Yet the Venn diagram shows that it is possible that they could have had intelligence that MySide didn't have. Is there any way we can know the truth about this?
Actually... no. There is no way we can know with certainty. However... there is good reason to believe that section 3 (intelligence known only to the BushAdministration) is not empty: TheirSide never uses the word all. It's a pretty sneaky trick which is probably why nobody (with a voice) has caught it: same does not mean all... and TheirSide never says all.
So... while it's true that we looked at the same intelligence they did... that does not mean that we got to look at all the intelligence they had.
Without question...there is a reason why TheirSide never say all when they talk about the sharing of intelligence with Congress... or perhaps... just their opposition . Now you know that reason. It should be noted that this particular instance is not unique. If you pay attention... TheirSide uses it often.
It's a SnowJob... I really wish someone would get this factoid to MySide.
There is a BigLesson in this discussion...
Pay attention to quantifiers
|© 2004 Vito Caputo
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