Like a government in a Banana Republic or Soviet Union, they attested that they did no wrong. One must be more naive than it is possible in order to believe in that

Horowitz Fallacy

By —— Bio and Archives--June 20, 2018

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Horowitz Fallacy
Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz in his Office’s report “A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election”, DOJ, June 2018, arrived at apparently false conclusion drawn from presumably true premises. Despite all the evidence of pro-Clinton and anti-Trump bias among several chief investigators that the said report quoted extensively, it made a determination that FBI investigative decisions were “not unreasonable”. From that it concluded that there was no factual basis to conclude that the said decisions were based on “improper considerations”.


I had to read this part several times in order to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Well, I was not.

If someone derives a false statement from true premises then one thing is certain: a fallacy was involved in the underlying reasoning. So, the OIG report must have smuggled a fallacy into its apparently logical and factual rationale. It wasn’t difficult to find it, and I am going to describe it, below. I will call it the “Horowitz Fallacy” in order to commemorate its use in the IG Horowitz investigation.

The Horowitz Fallacy

Let’s take it for granted that each end every one FBI investigative decision considered by the IG separately from all other investigative decisions was not unreasonable. Furthermore, let’s take it for granted that if a decision is not unreasonable then there is not basis to conclude that it was based on improper considerations. Even though we have agreed, for the sake of this argument, that the IG Horowitz inference might have been valid for any single FBI decision, it fails when applied to the body of these decisions as a whole. And this is the very essence of the Horowitz Fallacy.

Here is a simple example of coin flipping that explains it.

Suppose you toss a presumably fair coin and heads show. Although the chance of heads is only one in two, if the above is all you know then you have no basis to claim that the coin has been rigged in that it always lands with heads up, simply because it is not unreasonable for a coin to behave like that in a single flip. In such a case, pure rationality dictates to concede that the known facts do not support the claim that the coin has been rigged.

Now, suppose that you keep tossing the same coin over and over, again, and each time you toss it heads show. Although there is nothing unreasonable for the coin to end up with heads up in each single toss, when the pattern emerges it invalidates the presumption of the legitimacy of the coin. The more times in a row heads show, the more likely if becomes that the coin has been rigged, for the chance that a fair coin would incidentally end up with heads up, say, 20 times in a row is less than one in a million. Yet the Horowitz Fallacy applied to this scenario would allow him to conclude that there is no basis to claim that the coin has been rigged just because in each toss scrutinized in separation from others there was no basis for such a conclusion.

The Horowitz Fallacy allowed him to not see the forest for the trees. From that, the false conclusion of his report followed.

That the FBI investigative decisions, and many DOJ decisions for that matter, were rigged as a whole must be obvious for an impartial and rational observer. Here are some examples that add to the pattern that IG Horowitz fallaciously refused to admit.

Hillary Clinton was the one who was investigated for negligent handling of classified information after it became publicly known that she was using her private server for official business as the Secretary of State. (She and her hubby should have been investigated for the Russian uranium scandal and fabrication of Trump’s smears, a.k.a. “Trump dossier”, in collaboration with Russians.) Not only was she “cleared” of any criminal charges, but no FBI spies were sent to watch her campaign. No one involved in mishandling of the said information was arrested or prosecuted, although it became publicly known that at least one of her associates, Huma Abedin, had passed some of it to her husband, Anthony Weiner, later investigated on charges of sexual misconduct. And none of potential witnesses of Ms. Clinton’s wrongdoing was purposefully charged with unrelated or made-up crimes in order to compel him or her to testify against Ms. Clinton. (Anthony Weiner could have been but wasn’t.)

There were no known facts that would implicate Donald Trump as a “colluder” with Russians, yet a Special Prosecutor was appointed to go after Trump and his associates. FBI spies were sent to watch Trump’s campaign. Some of his several supporters, e.g., Gen. Flynn, and associates, e.g., Paul Manafort, were charged with unrelated or made-up crimes in obvious attempts to make them testify against Mr. Trump.

Somehow, when an allegation against Trump’s campaign is made, the case is typically referred to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller who is quite aggressive in his inquisitive efforts and has sweeping subpoena powers.

But if a factually justified allegation is made against Ms. Clinton, her campaign, or FBI “improper considerations” while investigating her, then the case is typically referred by the DOJ to the Inspector General (the one who just produced a toothless report) who has limited subpoena powers and reports to the same DOJ under auspices of which some of the alleged violations took place.


The Fourth Branch vindicates itself

Some call for Mueller’s probe to be brought to an end. As much as that seems very much in order here, a larger problem needs to be addressed.

The DOJ and its agencies evolved to become de facto a Fourth Branch of the federal government. It is not accountable to the President and not accountable to the voters, so no one can correct whatever bias it may have (and it does). Lately, it has attempted to influence or even undo the results of the presidential election. The fact that the said Fourth Branch, visibly biased against Donald Trump and in favor of Hillary Clinton, produced a report officially certifying that it is not biased doesn’t have much convincing power. Like a government in a Banana Republic or Soviet Union, they attested that they did no wrong. One must be more naive than it is possible in order to believe in that.



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