Quote: “We have dealt with criticism of the campaign from adversaries, including those who advocate the legalization of drugs. And we have periodically needed to place these findings in context, especially because all major youth surveys report declining teen drug use.” John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, in the AP.
Figures of Speech: (1) The red herring fallacy. (2) Fallacy of guilt by association. (3) Post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this), or the Chanticleer fallacy.
The White House drug czar wins the Figaro Fallacy Prize for packing three logic busters in just two sentences. Fallacious props to Czar Walters!
The backstory: After spending more than a billion dollars on anti-drug ads, the administration hired a firm to study whether they worked. In 2005, the researchers concluded that the ads actually make girls and young kids more likely to experiment with drugs. The White House took immediate and decisive action: it suppressed the data. Finally, the watchdog Government Accounting Office got hold of the study and released the findings in late August of this year.
Undaunted, the czar reached into his arsenal of fallacies.
First, he set launched a red herring by ignoring government-funded research and talking about “adversaries.”
He followed up with a second fallacy, putting the GAO and White House funded scientists in league with hemp-wearing potheads.
Without taking a breath, our fallacy champ hurled number three, implying that, because drug use declined while the ads were shown, the ads caused the drop.
A fallacy trifecta! Beat that, Mr. President. Your drug guy just set the anti-logic bar pretty darn high.
Snappy Answer: “Dude, whatever you’re on, can I have some?”