Passing Bull 234– An inarticulate premise


Last week I asked if I were a mere statistic.  Well, I may be.  The basis of our logic is a syllogism.  You have a major premise (All men are equal), a minor premise (Socrates is a man) from which the conclusion (Therefore Socrates is mortal) follows ineluctably. You quite often see arguments where a premise is not articulated.  That is not necessarily sinister.  Take an example.  ‘The team consists of fat players.  Therefore it will lose.’  The unstated premise is something like ‘Fat players are not as good as players of normal weight.’

In reporting in the press on the deaths caused by the virus, there may be unconsciously a related thinking process.  We see reports of deaths in one country regularly exceeding one thousand in a day.  That is roughly the equivalent of deaths caused by four major airline crashes, or about half the total fatalities of the attacks on the twin towers.  Any of those would get screaming headlines day after day.  How did we get so blasé about all this death?

There are I think at least two factors.  One is that it is not happening to us.  (And, on a bad day, it is happening in places where life is cheap.  You will hear hardly anything of the toll in Africa.)  The other is I think an unexpressed sentiment.  Most of these deaths are among the old and decrepit who were on their way out anyway.

On behalf of the old and decrepit who might be said to be on the way out, I protest!

News cycles are funny.  We all know the line about tomorrow’s fish and chips.  Until about six weeks ago, the unrest in Hong Kong was near the top of the BBC news every evening.  Since then – nothing.  Et praeterea nihil.  Why?  It is hard to imagine that the unleashing of the virus has endeared the regime to the youth of Hong Kong.  Have they all just drifted into acquiescence?


The government’s massive fiscal intervention in the Australian economy, entirely justified by the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis, will change centre-right politics in this country forever…

A strong government to build a strong nation need not mean anything like socialism.

But that is a danger.

Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 1 April., 2020

What might the word ‘socialism’ mean there?  Mandatory affordable health care, or some other demon of American wasteland?  Is that dangerous?

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