Formal Fallacy, Principle of Charity and The Media: Did Trump Really Say We Should All Be Injected With Disinfectant?

“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realise what you heard is not what I meant” – Alan Greenspan, Former Chair of The Federal Reserve of the United States. Today, I found this quote in an old school booklet from 1996. Immediately, it reminded me of […]

“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realise what you heard is not what I meant” – Alan Greenspan, Former Chair of The Federal Reserve of the United States.

Today, I found this quote in an old school booklet from 1996. Immediately, it reminded me of Trump and the very recent and Disinfectant-gate.

At secondary school we would spend one morning a week, reading, contemplating then answering questions on prose or quotes with historical importance.

It was one of my favourite times of the week as it gave me an opportunity to understand myself, my values and my principles better.

I guess these days we would call it mindfulness or journaling. Back then it was part of Personal Social Health Education.

This weekly activity meant at the age of 14, I was already understood the importance of introspection, enquiry, learning from the past and the ability to put one’s self in the shoes of another to really understand their point of view and challenge what I thought I knew as fact.

Developing these skills made me a pretty good debater because I understood that most people fell into the trap of relying on fallacies to back up their arguments rather than facts.

The best advice I received from my English teacher on how to win a debate was, to prepare by imagining I agreed with the stance of the opposition, examine the facts then look for the holes.

I now believe that it was his way of teaching bright eyed 14 year olds, the Principle of Charity – considering the strongest interpretation of an oppositions argument and assuming my opponent had the best intentions with the argument.

Which brings me back to Trump who made headlines when he told the world they needed to be injected by disinfectant, looking expectantly towards a presumed scientific specialist for back up.

Here’s a (partial) transcript of what Trump said verbatim:-

“….Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether its ULTRAVIOLET or just very powerful light, and I think you said, that hasn’t been checked but you’re gonna test it…

And then I said, supposing it brought the light inside the body, which you can either do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you’re gonna test that too, sounds interesting.

And I then I see the DISINFECTANT, where it knocks it out in one minute, and is there a way you can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning.

Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that. So you’re going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me, so we’ll see.

But the whole concept of the light, the way it goes in one minute, that’s pretty powerful.”

Note I’ve highlighted the words ultraviolet and disinfectant…

Rather than jump on the global bandwagon and media circus, laughing at the crazy president with the permatan I decided to reserve judgement.

Employing the principle of charity and acknowledging the fact that Trump looked to his right for back up from his team, gave me a slight inkling that he sole purpose of being on that podium was not to live in front of the nation and mass media to make himself look like a buffoon.

Two quick Google searches later on UV for treatment of viruses and disinfectant in the use of vaccines, guess what I discovered?

🌞 UV light has been successfully used in the past to treat cancer and viruses. A layman friendly article below talks about one of the most famous hospitals in the world researching this further.…/uv-light-therapy-coronavirus-covid19/

💉 Thimerosal has been used for decades in vaccines to minimise the risk of bacterial growth when the syringe enters the vaccine vial.…/concerns/thimerosal/index.html

Check out what PubMed had to say about Thimerosal:-

Thimerosal is an alkylmercury compound (approximately 49% mercury by weight) used as an antiseptic and antifungal agent. It has a role as a DISINFECTANT, an antifungal drug, an antiseptic drug and a drug allergen. It contains an ethylmercurithiosalicylate.

Further investigation revealed that disinfecting the blood to tackle disease is actually a thing.

Who knew? 😉

Ozone therapy and Intravenous Vitamin C are another two methods used in medicine to disinfect the blood.

As Vitamin C breaks down in the body it generates hydrogen peroxide which is a form of… you guessed it! Disinfectant.

Unfortunately for Trump, he clearly didn’t fully understand the science he was relaying to the public and I imagine his advisors explained the potential treatments in layman’s terms.

Now Trump has never been my favourite person, for numerous reasons, but if I made the fallacy of ignoring everything that someone said based on whether or not I liked them, I would be shutting myself off to learning more about the world and my place in it.

Trumps crime, on this occasion, wasn’t advising the public to do anything, he intimated he’d been informed that scientists were going to test the effects of both treatments on Covid 19.

It was possibly, not preparing sufficiently to deliver that infamous briefing, resulting in delivering a speech that became what’s known in debating terms as a formal fallacy.

Funnily enough it’s the only time I can recall a politician making a formal fallacy rather than a logical one.

What’s most worrying about this scenario is not the public gaffe made but the media circus that followed, running with the fear-based narrative that the US is doomed under the Trump’s leadership as an irresponsible, stupid man, inciting dangerous behaviour, rather than take 5 minutes out to do what journalists should be doing before pressing publish, which is some basic research.

Equally worrying, is the number of individuals who took to social media, incensed that they were being ‘advised by a world leader to have disinfectant injected into themselves’, further promulgating the half-baked narrative as fact.

Many of whom are campaigning for a vaccine that contains the very same agent they are protesting against.

This is not about whether we do or don’t agree with Trump or vaccines. It’s about having the agency to do our own research backed with fact before sharing our opinions as truth.

In my opinion the art of quality debate has deteriorated over time. Solid fact based theory has given way to logical fallacy in mainstream media, public debate and our governments.

Feelings aren’t facts.

Just because we are emotionally attached to a theory doesn’t make it right.

If we really want to stop being frightened by what we hear or read from mainstream media, we have to be prepared not to take everything we ingest at face value.

As a publicist it’s my job to craft narratives which are based on emotion in order to sell my clients.

Conversely, I’m also aware of how easy it is to use the same device to tear public figures down.

Because of this I’m able to help clients prepare for and deal with the very real threat of being attacked or trolled in the media.

This is why all clients go through my Fame PR process to develop emotional stamina for the media which focuses on developing a strong sense of self awareness and purpose in addition to understanding how mass media works.

Later this week I’ll be on a livestream with Rosanna Kalliabetsos to discuss how we can discern Fake News or hyperbole from genuine fact so you dont have to avoid mass media to maintain your sanity.

Drop me a gif below if you want to be notified 😘

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