The usual suspects in the media, i.e. both the Democrat operatives posing as “journalists” as well as anti-Trump Republican operatives posing as the same, are insisting that President Donald J. Trump has yet to supply any “proof” to substantiate his thesis that there has been voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential election race.
Before proceeding, let me put the reader on notice that I have long since stopped trying to convince partisan ideologues who lean even remotely leftward to recognize the error of their ways, to say nothing of the egregiousness of the errors of their anti-Trump biases. What follows is aimed only at those who are genuinely interested in reason, in logic, and, critically, in facts.
This column is an irrationality-free zone.
For starters, it most definitely is not just Trump and his army of lawyers who are leveling allegations of voter fraud. Approximately 73 million Americans who voted to make American history and re-elect the President in numbers both appreciably greater than had voted for him in 2016 and that had ever been achieved by any other American presidential candidate also believe that these allegations are rooted in reality.
Thus, they are convinced that their vote has been suppressed. They have been, in effect, disenfranchised.
Second, while it is undoubtedly the case that intellectual dishonesty is endemic to the media class, what accounts for this is that the latter is comprised of, at best, intellectual mediocrities, lightweights who exhibit not only little if any acquaintance with a classical—a genuine—liberal arts education, but average, or below average, intelligence. The painful lack of erudition and critical thinking ability among the talkers and scribblers explains, at least to no slight extent, the staggering ease with which they make pronouncements that could be made by only idiots and liars.
This isn’t meant as a criticism. It’s a fact that must be stated in order to grasp why it is futile to note to a journalist or a commentator, especially a Trump-hating one, that the concept of proof, like the concepts of love, hate, fairness, and any number of others, is most assuredly not a unitary one.
The now deceased Ronald Dworkin was a man of the left. He was also a lawyer and a highly adept philosopher of law who introduced in his voluminous body of work a distinction between a concept and a conception. So, to note an example around which much of Dworkin’s philosophy revolves, equality is a concept; yet it admits of various conceptions, some of which are entertained by conservatives, others entertained by liberals, etc.
Similarly, “proof” is a concept. There is no single, universally endorsed standard of proof. In fact, it is obvious that proof is and can only ever be context-specific.
Can you prove that the world really exists? Most people are like any number of my students who, upon my posing this question to them, would answer without a second’s hesitation that their senses are all of the proof that they need to know that the world is real. When, however, I ask them whether they have ever perceived things that they subsequently concluded weren’t real, it doesn’t take them long to acknowledge that they have.
Dreams, mirages, illusions, hallucinations, dreams—essential to these phenomena is a divergence between appearance and reality.
So, to say that I know that what I perceive is real because I perceive it is circular reasoning of the most vicious sort.
Epistemology is a branch of philosophy. The term translates literally as “the study of knowledge.” Epistemologists are philosophers who specialize in determining answers to questions concerning the nature and possibility of knowledge. Concepts like “opinion,” “belief,” “fact,” “knowledge,” and, yes, “proof” all fall within the jurisdiction of the epistemologist.
Skepticism, with its origins stretching back into the ancient Greek world, is the epistemological theory that knowledge (as opposed to belief or opinion) is not possible. We can know nothing. And, so, we certainly cannot know that the world exists, and certainly not know that it exists just because we perceive it (skeptics would’ve loved The Matrix). While this may sound counterintuitive to virtually everyone, the skeptic’s position becomes at least less untenable when it is borne in mind that he defines proof in terms of absolute certainty. What this means is that as long as it is logically possible (however otherwise unlikely or improbable) to question whether, say, the world that we take for granted is just a dream, as long, that is, as this idea involves no self-contradiction, then we can’t be certain that it is not true.
We can’t know that the world is not a dream.
Beginning with Plato and running throughout the millennia to the modern era of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, rationalist philosophers—those who believe that knowledge is indeed attainable but that it derives from reason, not sense-perception—have sought to show that while the skeptics were mistaken, they were nevertheless correct that knowledge must satisfy the standard of absolute certainty: To know something one must be absolutely certain that it is true or real.
The rationalists, though, would insist that knowledge is innate or self-evident; it is not grounded in the deceptive nature of the senses.
It is the empiricists, those philosophers, like John Locke and George Berkeley, who believe that knowledge is based upon experience, who reject absolute certainty (logical impossibility) as the criterion for proof. For empiricists, the senses cannot ultimately, genuinely be challenged. In any event, probability is an adequate standard of proof.
This brief overview of some of the main epistemological rivals is intended only to show the reader that for as long as philosophers have been in business (beginning, in the West, some 2,600 years ago), there have been rival conceptions of knowledge and proof. To hear those in Big Media go on about Trump’s “lack of proof” regarding voter fraud, one could easily be forgiven for thinking that they are as historically as they are philosophically ignorant.
Yet even the shallow-pated cogs in the machinery of Big Media should be able to discern in the present the truth that proof is a concept admitting of various conceptions. Jews, Christians, Muslims, as well as the adherents of other wisdom traditions from around the world and throughout time, cite their sacred scriptures as proof for their belief. All are appeals to authority, precisely the same kind of appeal that our irreligious media class make when its members refer to their “anonymous sources” to substantiate their own allegations against, say, President Trump.
In a criminal court of law, the standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil court, however, and given that no one risks going to jail or being executed, the standard is “preponderance of evidence,” which is not as rigorous as the latter (This explains why O.J. Simpson was acquitted while facing criminal charges but was found guilty of the charges leveled against him by his victims’ family members when they sued him in civil court).
There are two questions that need to be answered regarding the election of 2020:
(1) Was there election fraud?
(2) Was the fraud sufficient to hand the election to Joe Biden?
That the answer to the first question is a resounding, unequivocal “YES!” is so obvious that only the delusional, the ignorant, and the dishonest need to have it stated. Politicians, particularly the Democrats, have historically been notorious for undermining election integrity through fraud. Are those who are now scoffing at the President’s charges seriously trying to suggest that every single vote cast was legitimate, that there wasn’t any fraud at all? This is clearly rhetorical.
As to the second question, the evidence is ample to answer it too in the affirmative:
The successful night had by Congressional Republicans and state legislatures and the hugely disappointing one suffered by Democrats; thousands of sworn affidavits attesting to voter fraud; Biden’s votes’ violation of the mathematical principle known as “Benford’s Law,” as well as other analyses conducted by data analysts demonstrating the virtual statistical certainty that the Democrat challenger lost; scores of anecdotal accounts offered by eye witnesses, voters, on the ground (e.g.“SharpeeGate”); Biden’s underperformance relative to Hillary Clinton and, remarkably, Barack Obama in 2008 in just those Democrat strongholds that were already a given for any Democrat candidate, but his overperformance in only the battleground areas; the “irregularities” of the voting machines that were used in many states but for which the company that distributes them, Dominion, is widely known—the preponderance of evidence that Democrats “meddled” in the election of 2020 and stole victory from Trump is not only mounting; it eclipses astronomically the fake evidence on the basis of which Democrats in Congress and Big Media have been anchoring their charge of “Russian meddling” in the election of 2016 for the last four years.
Where’s the proof that the Democrats are guilty in spades of precisely that with which they have been incessantly (stupidly, dishonestly) charging Trump, Vladimir Putin, and “the Russians?” It is ubiquitous, comprised of numerous considerations that all with the will to see can discern for themselves.