Prizes for 2014 – congratulations Tony Abbott and Catherine Burn!

Yes, we come to that time of the year, where we announce our prizewinners.

This year being the first year of our blog’s operation, there are only two prizes, and the winners have the honour of being the inaugural winners, whose names shall adorn the prizes hereafter. 

First, we have the Prize for ‘No true Scotsman’, given to the person who most egregiously shifts the goalposts in favour of the conclusion of his or her argument. Leading contestants are Australian economist Judith Sloan, for this contribution from October:

Then there is the issue of picking winners. To tell you the truth, I thought this topic was pretty much settled among economists. No sensible economist advocates government policies that involve handing out special favours to particular firms or industries in the mistaken belief that this approach will create more jobs or produce higher economic growth.

US economist Craig Pirrong, for this contribution from November:

Obama has now blown through three SecDefs. Two of those-Gates and Panetta-have blasted Obama for his micromanagement exercised through the White House/NSC staff. Hagel was supposedly similarly frustrated. And indeed, the very limited nature of the campaign in Iraq and Syria provides compelling evidence of that. No serious military person would carry out this campaign in this way.

and British all-rounder Matt Ridley, who contributed this entry in December:

[L]ast week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a supposedly scientific body, issued a press release stating that this is likely to be the warmest year in a century or more, based on surface temperatures. Yet this predicted record would be only one hundredth of a degree above 2010 and two hundredths of a degree above 2005 — with an error range of one tenth of a degree. True scientists would have said: this year is unlikely to be significantly warmer than 2010 or 2005 and left it at that.

However, their efforts all pale into insignificance next to the goalpost shifting of the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who made this sterling contribution in a radio interview in December:

CHRIS UHLMANN: But you’re constantly saying the attack had nothing to do with Islam. Surely they do? These people define themselves by that.

TONY ABBOTT: Well they certainly claim to be acting in the name of God. They claim to be acting in the name of religion. But there is no serious religious leader who is defending this.

And, if you take the ISIL death cult in the Middle East, it has been roundly condemned by all of the leading Sunni scholars. It’s been roundly condemned, I think there’s been fatwa after fatwa pronounced against it.

And the phrase I like to quote is my friend prime minister Najib of Malaysia who is a devout Muslim, but he says that the ISIL movement is against God, against Islam, and it’s against our common humanity.

Well, yes, of course it is. Why should I believe my lying eyes when so many vested interests are telling me it ain’t so??

Yes, the Prime Minister himself has deigned to grace our humble ‘No true Scotsman’ prize with his name. Congratulations, Anthony Abbott – winner of the inaugural ‘Tony Abbott Memorial Prize for the ‘No True Scotsman’ Fallacy’ for 2014.

And now to our second prize, the ‘Slothful Induction’ prize for the moron who most egregiously refuses to put two and two together.

As you will have learnt, from reading this blog, this was a hotly contested field. And today, we had a late entry from suburban accountant and economics writer Ross Gittins, who made a strong bid for the prize with this contribution (which also manages to include a typo and a false dichotomy):

From the moment the gunman (Man Haron Monis) produced his black flag it became possible to jump to the conclusion the siege was a terrorist attack, as almost everyone did … so invested in the spurious link to terrorism had so many indviduals and organisations become than (sic) many sought to keep the terrorism theme going. Somehow a common criminal was still a terrorist.

However, the outstanding contribution comes from NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn. In response to a self-identified Islamic State jihadi taking 15 people hostage in a Sydney cafe in mid-December, and after said jihadi had forced the hostages to hold an islamic battle standard in the cafe’s window, claiming his actions were an attack by Islamic State on Australia, and proclaiming his frustration at the media and the political class deliberately misrepresenting his motives, at 4pm that day Deputy Commissioner Burn told assembled media types

We still don’t know what the motivation might be.

Yes, dear reader, the slothful induction in this one is so mind-meltingly strong that Catherine Burn was the clear winner of this prize. Congratulations, Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn, winner of the inaugural ‘Catherine Burn Memorial Prize for Slothful Induction’ for 2014.


About Stebbing Heuer

A person interested in exploring human perception, reasoning, judgement and deciding, and in promoting clear, effective thinking and the making of good decisions.
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