The Argument of The Converse Hypothetical
I was listening to a WBEN the other day, a local Buffalo news and talk show radio station, when I heard a clip from the morning show hosted by Tom Bowerly. It immediately struck me as insanely illogical.
Bowerly, a typical radio conservative talk show host, sticks to his anti-Democrat, anti-Obama talking points. In this particular clip, Bowerly was commenting on Barak Obama’s Super Bowl Sunday interview, in which he jokingly mused how he was bumped off the cover of a celebrity magazine, and replaced by an overweight Jessica Simpson.
Bowerly railed against Obama’s humour, going so far as to accuse him of being insensitive. The main point of evidence being that if George Bush has made mention of Simpson’s weight issues, the media would have castigated him.
It is not the tired argument of media bias that is even remotely interesting, but rather the use of the converse hypothetical – the supposition of one scenario supplanted upon another individual presuming reversed reactions with the purpose of producing evidence of hypocrisy. Here, Bowerly is taking the scenario of Obama and supplanting it on Bush with the intent to convey duplicity on the part of the media’s response to both.
The unreasonableness in the converse hypothetical should be glaringly obvious. In one instance, there is the actual empirical manifestation of an event. On the other, a subjective, presumptive response to an imagined incident. Obama commenting on Jessica Simpson, and the subsequent media reply, stands as a tangible example as to the correlative relationship between the two. The media response to the same editorial uttered by Bush remains an abstract condition.
Aside from the purely whimsical element in predicting the reaction to that which is unsaid, the primary problem with employing the converse hypothetical is that the hypothetical itself suffers from it’s inability to be falsified. This is where the converse hypothetical strays from logic.
The user of the converse hypothetical will exploit logic by incurring an instance of verification. Bowerly might cherry pick an incident in which Bush received bad press on a comment he once made. It would be equally easy for his opponent to relay a point of nonchalance on the part of the media to a seemingly offensive comment Bush made.
There is considerable ease in subverting the logical process by preselecting isolated events that appear as verification of one’s argument. It stands as a weapon for both proponent and opponent. The summation for both ultimately ends in a prejudiced bias. No differential weight can be given to either unrelated verifications. Both are equally invalid.
This is a property of non-occurrence of an event. In order for the converse hypothetical to carry logical punching power, Bush would have had to actually have repeated the same comment Obama did. Then one could sufficiently be given evidence as to the falsifiability in the media’s response, and the converse hypothetical would cease to be hypothetical at all.
A person that chooses to utilize the converse hypothetical builds an impenetrable contention that cannot possibly be falisfied. But it is with extreme irrationality that one would feel confident in the rationality in the converse hypothetical.