Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The "Absence Of Evidence" Logic Trap

By Cernig

Did Dick Cheney ever do Logic 101 in college? He keeps banging the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" drum over Iran's nuclear program.


Vice President Dick Cheney retained his tough stance against Iran on Wednesday and said the U.S. is uncertain if Tehran has restarted the nuclear weaponization program that a U.S. intelligence report says it halted in 2003.

..."What it (the NIE) says is that they have definitely had in the past a program to develop a nuclear warhead; that it would appear that they stopped that weaponization process in 2003. We don't know whether or not they've restarted," he said.

"What we do know is that they had then, and have now, a process by which they're trying to enrich uranium, which is the key obstacle they've got to overcome in order to have a nuclear weapon," he added. "They've been working at it for years."
It's also a key obstacle to having an indeginous nuclear power industry that the great powers can't turn off or on at will by controlling fuel supplies, Dick. Sometime a cigar is just a cigar.

Cheney must surely know by now - if he was paying any attention at all in the last five years of Iraqi invasion and occupation - that one cannot prove a negative. One can show it to be highly likely, sure, but there are still wingnuts who insist that Saddam sent all his WMD by FedEx to a postal box in Damascus and it's this little logical law that lets them do so. Cheney's probably one of them. And so he continues his push to waste yet more hundreds of thousands of lives, along with another $3 trillion and more, on yet another idiotic snark hunt.

Let's be clear - the "Cheney 1% Doctrine" is not logical or good foreign policy - it is paranoid sociopathy at its worse. In personal terms it's as if I decided to wade into my neighbour's house with gun blazing because he can't prove he has no anthrax and I've seen him using white powder (to make bread). My insanity plea in defense of murder charges would probably be accepted by the court.