TheGrio Daily

Everything that exists has something to do with Black people

Episode 123

“What does reparations have to do with white people?” People love to use the post hoc fallacy against Black people and Michael Harriot explains why the assumption that one event preceded another event, so they must be related makes it easy to believe in racist policies.


[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:05] You know, ever since Black people went out and protested the death of George Floyd, murders have skyrocketed. Or, you know, because Black people kill people in Chicago, we can’t get voting rights. I really don’t know how it works, but that’s why I want to welcome you to theGrio Daily, the only podcast that can explain how everything that exists has something to do with Black people. So today I want to talk to you about this concept. Right. And I’m sure you’ve encountered it before. Right. Whenever you bring up, for instance, Black Lives Matter, they’ll say, but what about Chicago? Or when you think about gun control, they’ll say, but they say, well, what about Chicago then. Or when you bring up voting rights, okay, they say, but what about Chicago a lot. But you know how they bring up Black on Black crime or “But the Democrats was the KKK.” Whenever you brought it up race, they’ll bring up something that has nothing to do with what you’re talking about, but somehow they’ll tie it together. Well, that concept is called the post hoc fallacy, right? 

Michael Harriot [00:01:23] You know, the longer definition or the longer phrase is the post hoc, ergo propter hoc, which means in Latin in that like, you know, like, like not Ricky Martin Latin, but like old Roman, madam. It means “after this, therefore, because of this” and what it means is like, for instance, if you’re talking about Black Lives Matter, they’ll say, Well, Black people kill Black people. Therefore, because of that, we shouldn’t do anything about police reform. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s a trick called the post hoc fallacy or the post hoc fallacy does, right, is basically take two random things and links them together. And even though they have that arbitrary connection, like dumb people will say, Oh, they’re in a sentence right next to each other, so they must have something to do with it. And the post hoc fallacy is really effective when dumb people don’t know what people are talking about, right? So they’ll say, if you argue that, well, we should equalize school funding, right? Because it leads to disparities in the education system, They’ll say, well, why don’t Black people value the education system? And if you say, well, Black people do value the education system, they’ll say, well, why is Black dropout rate higher? Or why don’t the Black kids study? Or or why are there so many fights in school? But those sentences are right next door to each other, so they must be connected. Right? But they’re not. That’s how the post hoc fallacy works. And it’s kind of a variation of a strawman argument, but it’s really effective among white people. So here are some examples, like, for instance, Donald Trump says he won the election. I can point to two times where there was voter fraud, therefore there was widespread voter fraud. So, you know, Donald Trump won the election. Or his is a good one, right? Well, we don’t need to enact meaningful gun reform because if only criminals have guns, then they’ll shoot people. See, those sentences are right next to each other. 

Michael Harriot [00:03:42] Oh, here’s a good one that you hear all of the time, right? We need voter I.D. because some people try to cheat in elections. Well, the fact is that almost every time they get someone cheating an election, it’s a Republican or a conservative voter trying to get their candidate to win. Now, there is no widespread voter fraud, but if you put those two things next to each other, it kind of seems like it’s doing something. What kind of seem like voter ID stops voter fraud? If you put police in a sentence next to criminals, then everybody starts to think that police stop crime. Now, we’ve covered that on this podcast before. We know it’s not true, but police are like three words away from crime in most sentences. So the post hoc fallacy makes people believe that police have something to do with crime or that graduation rates has something to do with school funding. I don’t know how that works, but if you put them right there in a sentence next to each other, people will believe it. And you wouldn’t believe how often people who don’t use critical thinking believe in the post hoc fallacy. 

Michael Harriot [00:05:04] So here’s how you can defeat it, right? All you have to do is separate the sentences. Take this sentence, for example. Right? We need to do something about police reform. But what about Black crime separating two services? What do we need to do about police reform? Well, we can have stronger legislation to give stuff like no knock warrants. We get better police training, we can get cameras, we can have citizen review boards. Now, take all of those things that I just said or any idea that you have about how to reform police and why, you know, police unions separate them, make them pay for police abuse. You could have a national database. There’s a bunch of ideas on police reform. Now, explain this to me. How does any of those ideas affect Black on Black crime? Right. Like, if you make police unions pay for brutality cases, it won’t decrease Black on Black crime. There’s just be a whole separate thing, Right? How do you affect Black on Black crime? Well, you can talk to Black people who commit crimes. Not me, because I ain’t committing no crime, right? I just want police reform. I don’t know why they want me to do something about Black on Black crime. Maybe I’d look like Batman. I don’t know. Or you can have, you know, some kind of social programs or some afterschool education programs. You can use fraternities, sororities, grassroots groups to help talk about it in neighborhoods. You can do anything like talk about legislation. You can talk about education, because we know education affects crime. Right? You know, we can even do stuff like white people want. Right? Like talk about how hip hop music kind of influences people to think a certain way about Black people. Right? We could do all of that, but none of that will affect police. None of that will lessen the authority of police. None of that would decrease their ability to investigate crime or to stop people from speeding or protect people. None of that will affect anything that has to do with law enforcement. So all you have to do is separate sentence and you see how stupid the idea is. 

Michael Harriot [00:07:22] Here’s another one. Here’s a good one. Why can’t we enact meaningful gun reform? Well, the Second Amendment gives us the right to own guns. See, they’re right there in that sentence. And they kind of seems like it makes sense, except most proponents of gun reform don’t argue that they want to get rid of the Second Amendment right, like no legitimate politician or activist says, like we should just throw away everybody’s right to own guns. What they say is we should put the same kinds of restrictions on guns that we do with every other human right. Like you have the right to free speech, but you can’t slander anybody. You can’t libel anybody. You got the right vote, but you got to register. If you live in Missouri, you can’t go vote in California because there are residency restrictions. Right. I mean, you have to prove who you are to vote. Right. You have to be a certain age to vote. All of that is called meaningful voting legislation. And we could do the same thing with gun reform. We can have meaningful gun legislation without destroying the Second Amendment. But because the NRA, because Republicans put them in sentences right next to each other, we think they are somehow connected here. 

Michael Harriot [00:08:39] Here’s another good one. Reparations. We can’t pay reparations because it happened so long ago and that all white people own slaves. Wait, wait, wait. What does reparations have to do with white people? Because, you know, like, if the government pays reparations, Black people will be paying those taxes. If the government pays reparations, it doesn’t decrease or increase the length of time. Right. If the government pays reparations, it will just be a thing that happens. And none of it has to do with white people or the length of time since slavery or anything else, because time does not decrease the need for reparations. Stupid people see them in a sentence next to each other and make the association. So there you have the post-hoc fails and that’s why you need to subscribe to this podcast. That’s why you need to tell your friend about it. That’s why you need to download theGrio app. Now, those three things have nothing to do with each other, but they will help us grow. They will help this podcast and they will help us end, as we always do, with a saying from Black America. And today saying, “If white people weren’t so racist, maybe Black people couldn fly.” I know it doesn’t make sense, but does anything? We’ll see you next time on theGrio Daily. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio and subscribe to the show and to share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcast at theGrio dot com. 

[00:10:23] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast network Black Culture Amplified. 

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[00:10:37] Being Black: The 80s is a podcast docu series hosted by me, Touré. Looking at the most important issues of the eighties through the songs of the decade. 

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Touré [00:11:16] This is the funkiest history class you’ll ever take. Join me, Touré for Being Black: The 80s on theGrio Black Podcast Network, or wherever you listen to podcasts.