Post hoc ergo propter hoc

Great display of logical fallacy available from an op-ed piece at the Wall Street Journal, currently being pimped by Drudge. The thrust of the piece is that Roe v. Wade is the cause of the rise in out-of-wedlock births, and the decline of shotgun weddings, that has taken place since the 1970’s. I’ll give the author this: he can’t be accused of under simplifying. To distill sweeping changes in the availability of contraception, views on family and the role of women, the changing state of marriage, and several generational shifts down into ‘legal abortion == more illegitimacy’ takes a real feat of reductive logic.

The author of this magnum opus is John R. Lott Jr., who, as the cover of his book subtly reminds us, has a Ph.D, the author of “Freedomnomics”, the right-wing version of “Freakonomics”. Now, most of you probably weren’t aware that there was a “left-wing” version of Freakonomics. Apparently, what most of us in the world took to be a collection of semi-amusing or momentarily thought provoking anecdotes about possible statistical underpinnings of various aspects of modern life has been correctly identified by Lott as an attack on the free market system, and an attempt to put forward a godless liberal agenda that will lead us, inexorably, towards living in caves and quoting Chairman Mao. Lott is also the author of “More Guns, Less Crime”, whose title is as apt a distillation of the nuances of NRA thought as I’ve ever seen put to print.

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