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AJC's 2004 Election Politics Sites and Blogs Campaign Finance
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Young Elephant
Monday, May 3, 2004
The “Biographical Fallacy”

By Steven Taylor @ 9:11 pm

John Zimmerman, writing in the Oregonian, discusses John Kerry and the biographical fallacy of politics

So Kerry is more qualified to lead the country in its current war, right?

Wrong. Kerry might well be the better war president, but the reason has nothing to do with his own exploits in battle. By invoking his wartime heroism, Kerry’s supporters reflect one of the worst trends in modern U.S. politics: the biographical fallacy.

The fallacy goes like this: To know something you must experience it - directly, immediately and personally. So Politician A understands poverty, because he was born into it; Politician B understands business, because he succeeded in it; Politician C understands cancer, because she survived it.

And Politician D knows all about war, of course, because he fought in it.

As has been said, read the whole thing.

Filed under: 2004 Campaign

Click here to go to the main page.


  1. So can only bloggers comment on blogs?

    Comment by John Lemon — Monday, May 3, 2004 @ 10:03 pm

  2. Here’s a delightfully inane headline from

    “New Medicare drug plan confuses some seniors”

    Duh! I almost had a senior citizen hit me when they didn’t stop at an intersection today. A quick right turn with no stopping and a max speed of 20 miles per hour (in a posted 40 mph zone). New headline:

    “Stop Signs Confuse Some Seniors”

    And why stop there:

    “Grocery Checkout Lines Confuse Some Seniors”

    “ATMs Confuse Some Seniors”

    “Push Button Phones Confuse Some Seniors”

    “Sponge Bob Square Pants Confuses Some Seniors”

    Comment by John Lemon — Monday, May 3, 2004 @ 10:38 pm

  3. John, you forgot the catchall phrase:

    John Kerry confuses everyone

    Comment by Marc — Tuesday, May 4, 2004 @ 2:05 am

  4. Yea, and cocaine sniffing, drunk driving, guard duty shirking, lap of luxury living presidents are the only one’s who can be a wartime president. You want to talk about the past, I suggest you look at what GW was doing until the age of 40.

    Comment by Hal — Tuesday, May 4, 2004 @ 10:38 am

  5. I concur that Kerry’s actions of thirty years ago are superior to those of Bush’s. But that isn’t the point, nor is it the point of the column.

    Comment by Steven — Tuesday, May 4, 2004 @ 10:52 am

  6. Wow! Hal is really angry. But at least he is voting for Bush since he thinks he’s the only one right for the job. Thanks for your support Hal!

    Comment by John Lemon — Tuesday, May 4, 2004 @ 2:04 pm

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