Furthest Right

Racism: a Converse Fallacy of Accident

From the mouth of The People’s favorite font of wisdom, here’s a logical fallacy you see all the time:

  • Converse Fallacy of Accident: argues from a special case to a general rule
    • Example

      Argument: Every swan I have seen is white, so it must be true that all swans are white.

      Problem: What one has seen is a special case. One can not have seen all swans.

    • Also called reverse accident, destroying the exception, a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter

Argumentum ad sphincter

Some might call it the tail wagging the dog. Instead of observing the whole of the situation, we observe an instance and abstract to the whole. This inductive fallacy confuses us to no end; like deduction, induction works only when non-linear and factors of design, construction and relation to the whole are considered. But those terms aren’t “scientific” enough for our brave, literalist, linear thinkers!

There’s a parallel to this in cause and effect. Every cause has infinite potential effects; every effect has one cause, by the nature of time — after an event has occurred, we can track down its definitive cause. Some people like to reverse this, and suggest that for any cause there is always a single effect, which translates into whenever you see the effect assume that the same cause that occurred in one instance is always the cause of that effect. We get fooled by some things, like the cause of the sun rising — always the same — but can be fooled by others, like looking at any situation where a black person doesn’t come out on top as “racism.”

Some popular downtown entertainment businesses and a shopping mall are considering closing or have already decided to close for the weekend during the Texas Relays track and field event, a move one civil rights leader says makes black visitors feel unwelcome.

The Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays at the University of Texas bring high school and college track athletes to town, and there are also numerous private parties at hotels, restaurants that attract mostly black attendees. Police have said the event does not draw any more crime than other large events here.

Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, said that for years Texas Relays participants have said blacks feel shut out.

Houston Chronicle

Presumed cause: black people are not being treated well, and sometimes the cause is racism, so this is racism.

Actuality: the crowd of people who come to these relays, who are presumably a subset of all people and a subset of African-Americans, do not buy products at these stores and also cause the normal problems of a large group, per Austin PD.

So what a business owner faces is: fewer sales, and the usual damage caused by large crowds. They’ll face that damage if sales also go up, but if not, board up and shut down.

There are other possibilities, but they are not important here.

Here’s another:

When the restaurant, Royal Fried Chicken on Rutland Road in Brownsville, changed its name last week to Obama Fried Chicken, the reaction was swift.

Competition might have played some role in the new name. Crown Fried Chicken is across the street, owned by Osman Mohibi, 47, an Afghan immigrant. He keeps pictures of Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. taped to the plexiglass divider by the cash register.

Mr. Mohibi said his competitor’s misstep was winning new customers for Crown Fried Chicken. “He used the name,” Mr. Mohibi said of the owner. “He used black people.”


I’ve cut this article to bloody pieces to show the raw story.

Presumed cause: restaurant is named “Obama Fried Chicken” to appeal to negative stereotypes about African-Americans eating more fried chicken than other ethnic groups.

Actuality: two Asian immigrants, owning competing stores in the ghetto, are trying to pander to their clientele, albeit clumsily.

Here’s the heartbreaker:

Mr. Jabbar said he did not really understand the pressure to bring down the sign, since everyone who came in the store seemed to like the idea. And he was concerned about what would happen if the community advocates returned.

“I’m new to this country,” he said. “I don’t really know what they could do.”

They might lynch you, dude. Watch out!


Share on FacebookShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn