Tucker Carlson Strikes Again

Here’s a prime example of why I can’t watch Tucker Carlson. It’s not his personality or his politics, or his faux outrage or smug condescension. What bothers me most is his assault on good reasoning. Take for example his most recent barrage of fallacious arguments:

So let’s look at the myriad of ways this commentary/arguments fails:

  1. The non-sequitur: It doesn’t follow from the fact that tech billionaires care about illegal immigrants, that they don’t care about homeless drug addicts (or vice versa). It is in fact possible that they don’t care about either, or only care about immigrants to the extent they are good programmers. Additionally, there also seems to be an implicit false dilemma: you can care about one group or the other, but clearly there is a third option, namely, that you concerned about both.
  2. The hasty generalization: Carlson implies that because there is no obvious involvement by “tech chieftains” in this one BART station, that there is no involvement by these individuals anywhere in San Francisco. While that may be true, there is no evidence to support such a conclusion.
  3. The fallacy of the single cause: Carlson implies in his short commentary that the cause of the problem in the BART station is due to the lack of interest by the tech community. The fallacy of the single cause occurs when it is assumed that there is a single, simple causal explanation for something, when in fact the situation actually admits of several causes. In this case a cursory Google search reveals that there are a number of contributing factors to the homeless individuals using the BART station as a place to get high. In fact, some of these causes could legitimately be linked to the tech industry. Restrictive zoning laws that artificially inflate the cost and availability of affordable housing in the Bay area; lack of treatment programs; underfunding of public transportation and consequently the size of the BART police force; all exacerbate the problems seen in the video.
  4. Finally, it is not clear why “tech chieftains” are responsible for this issue. Have they failed to pay their fair share of taxes towards city services? Do they owe more of their hard earned money to the poor? Are they required to advocate for social problems that primarily affect American citizens before they are permitted to have an opinion on issues that primarily affect non-citizens? If such obligations or restrictions exist, Carlson clearly hasn’t made the case for them.

These are just a few of the problems I have with this particular opinion piece, though I have come across similar problems with other commentaries. Carlson’s scattershot of fallacious arguments are not an assault on my politics, they are an assault on good reasoning—something we see too little of these days.


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