We take exception; it’s not the rule

July 26th, 2012 · No Comments · Blog, Featured Home Page Post

Frank Bruni

Oh Frank, ye of the fallacy of the converse accident*

Open letter to The New York Times submitted last week:

The premise of Frank Bruni’s Individualism in Overdrive (July 17, Op-Ed) might be accurate, but his example of Social Security beneficiaries “bilking the government” is way off the mark.  Disability requirements are stringent – most people are denied – and many eligible people must go through several levels of appeal before they are awarded benefits. Factors contributing to increasing enrollment are complex and multifaceted. Our nonprofit works with people seeking SSI and SSDI. Their medical impairments are real, and their struggles are great, even after they become eligible.  Unfortunately, rhetoric like this paints a misleading impression of who relies on public benefits, like the ‘welfare queen with a Cadillac’ or ‘food stamp recipient on her iPhone in line at the grocery store.’ These sensational images play right into the narrative of those that seek to dismantle our important public safety net.

John Coburn, Health & Disability Advocates

*also called reverse accident, destroying the exception, or a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter is an informal fallacy that can occur in a statistical syllogism when an exception to a generalization is wrongly excluded, and the generalization wrongly called for as applying to all cases (h/t Wikipedia)

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