Logical boomerangs

October 20, 2006

Unfunny but interesting Tate Britain Lecture given by Armando Iannucci. He quotes a couple of “stunning reversals of all logic”. First George Bush’s remark made last year about the constant attacks on US troops in Iraq: “The insurgents are being defeated; that’s why they’re continuing to fight.”
Secondly, ‘an even stranger utterance from Tony Blair at Labour’s 2004 Conference when he defended his actions by saying: “Judgments aren’t the same as facts. Instinct is not science. I only know what I believe.” I only know what I believe. I find that one of the most chilling statements uttered by a seemingly rational politician. Apart from the fact that it overturns about 16 centuries of western philosophy and questions the entire principle of scientific inquiry, it’s also, surely, how the Taliban get through their day.’

To his credit, Blair also included this sentence in the same passage:
‘I’m like any other human being, as fallible and as capable of being wrong.’ The trouble is Mr Blair seems to fall back on these overtly humble admissions whilst at the same time justifying his decisions in terms of faith rather than reason.
One or two other choice reversals of logic from my collection:
– Nelba Blandon, of the Nicaragua Interior Ministry: “They [La Prensa] accused us of suppressing freedom of expression. This was a lie and we could not let them publish it.”

– A spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Tasnim Aslam : “Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.”

– Councillor Priestley, Mayor of Lincoln c. 1958 “There is no homlessness problem in Lincoln. This is just a rumour put about by people who have nowhere to live.”

– “Outside of the killings, [Washington] has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.” — Marion Barry, Mayor of Washington, D.C.

– I want the Nobel Peace Prize and I’m going to fight for it. — Ronaldinho

– Finally, in a different vein, the unnamed doctor’s receptionist the last time I tried to register for a doctor in the UK. ‘Are you in good health?’, she asked ‘because if you’re not, we can’t take you on’.


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