Basic Training

Here’s this one again. I’ve pointed it out before, but it’s a mistake that crops up all the time, so it bears repeating. This one is via the drink-soaked Trotskyist popinjays quoting Christopher Hitchens.

RR: I guess because I listen to the 9/11 Commission, and read their report, and they said that Saddam Hussein was not exporting terror. I suppose that’s how, Christopher…

CH; Well, I’m not sure that they actually did say that. What they did say was they didn’t know of any actual operational connection…which was the Iraqi Baath Party and…excuse me…and Al Qaeda. A direct operational connection. Now, that’s because they don’t know. They don’t say there isn’t one. They say they couldn’t find one.

There. It’s a really basic point – right up there with the distinction between proof and evidence. Saying you haven’t found something is not, repeat not, repeat not the same thing as saying that the something is not there. News flash – something can be there even if no one has found it yet. Especially if the search area is, instead of being the size of, say, your living room, the size of, say, Iraq.

Two of the other times I’ve pointed this out were: 1) a journalist interviewing a military journalist: mj said investigators have found no WMD, j said ‘You say there are no WMD,’ mj interrupted to say with suppressed fury, ‘No I didn’t say that, I said investigators hadn’t found any,’ j said ‘What’s the difference?’ !!?!! 2) a different journalist interviewing Hans Blix, who said ‘We haven’t found any WMD,’ j said ‘Can you tell us for certain that there are no WMD?’ Blix answered with exasperation, ‘No, of course we can’t.’ Journalist said ‘Why not?’ !!?!!

Really basic.

[Just to make clear – I can’t boast. Someone did a very basic ‘are you paying attention?’ test on me a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t. To put it mildly (and rude Someone did a lot of rude laughing at me as a result). Of course I didn’t know I was being tested, I thought I was just confirming that a message had been sent – but that’s the point. I guess. Anyway, I can’t boast. Not that I would anyway. I’m tremendously modest.]

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