Yesterday I pointed out that antisemitic hate crimes may have soared far more than the 57% increase in antisemitic incidents that the ADL reported on for 2017.
We won’t know whether my analysis is true until the FBI releases its hate crimes report for 2017.
But right now there are lots of pundits who are linking Trump with the 2017 increase in incidents. One prominent example:
I will add, though, that it is not a coincidence that the number of anti-Semitic attacks has jumped nearly 60% in 2017—the biggest one-year increase in recent history—while this administration has systematically pulled back resources from countering domestic extremism.
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) October 29, 2018
This is a classic example of a “questionable cause logical fallacy,” known as “cum hoc ergo propter hoc.” Just because Trump is president during a rise in reported antisemitic incidents does not mean that he is the cause of such a rise.
As my analysis showed, the biggest increase of antisemitic hate crimes came from a huge increase in vandalism. But the number of assaults against Jews – the most serious category the ADL tracks – went up dramatically when Obama was in office and has gone down significantly since Trump has been president.
Using the “logic” that we have been seeing since the Pittsburgh massacre, we can conclude that Obama was responsible for the huge increase in assaults against Jews in the US – if we were to make up a reason, perhaps as he tried to push the Iran deal and conservative Jews were against it.
Taking that same “logic” further, Trump must be responsible for the dramatic decrease in assaults against Jews in 2017.
These arguments are obviously absurd. But they are just as absurd as the arguments that are being accepted by the mainstream media, taking it as a given that the increase in less-violent crimes in 2017 is Trump’s fault.
The president can influence behavior, of course. But so can the news media, TV shows, hit songs and YouTube stars. Drawing conclusions based on limited information is simply wrong, and it is shameful that so many people who should know better have fallen for one of the most well known logical fallacies – correlation does not imply causation.
(I tweeted this last night.)
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