Tag Archives: Hillsborough

Wings Over Scotland: The fallacy files #1 Dicto simpliciter – Hillsborough

IT WOULD appear that Nationalist Front blackshirt, Stuart Campbell, of Wings Over Scotland is ‘splitting’ the navel gazing online Yes campaign. One of the most frequently heard defenses of the Wings blog is that it “is accurate and cites sources” – a logical fallacy known as argumentum ab auctoritate. Forgive AhDinnaeKen’s laughter as we use this mini-series of features to demonstrate why the cabal of ever increasing Wings supporters are being sold a pup. In this post, we* take a look at a common fallacy exploited mercilessly by Campbell when ‘proving’ his alleged analysis – Dicto simpliciter:

Paranoia, grievance and conspiracy all rolled into one Tweet. Well done Jeff. We salute you McIndefatigability.

Paranoia, grievance and conspiracy all rolled into one Tweet. Well done Jeff. We salute your MacIndefatigability.

By Longshanker aka @ergasiophobe

JOAN MCALPINE MSP’s, Twitter feed, alerted us to this little Twitter spat.

It’s worth reading through the whole thread. Several relatively prominent online Yes Tweeters engaged in a wee stooshie about the merits or demerits of Wings Over Scotland.

AhDinnaeKen became interested because 1) The Firstminster of Scotland’s speechwriter and ‘special’ aide took the time out of her busy parliamentary day in the run up to Sep 18, to ReTweet it and 2) one of the comments by Jeff ‘Nelson Salmondella’ Breslin, regarding Hillsborough, needed further analysis.

Jeff attempted to defend Wings by stating that he saw “nothing particularly offensive” in Stuart Campbell’s post on Hillsborough.

You don't need to read them forensically. All you have to do is take on board what you're actually reading. Logical fallacy a-go-go.

You don’t need to monitor them forensically. All you have to do is take on board what you’re actually reading. Logical fallacy a-go-go.

AhDinnaeKen has covered Campbell’s Hillsborough treatise twice: here and here (warning – they’re a bit long). The second one is worth looking at in terms of relevance to the above Twitter thread.

The Hillsborough piece by Campbell, ironically entitled, ‘No Justice for the 96‘ is typical of posts in Wings Over Scotland in terms of its narrative style and structure: it’s well written, fairly comprehensive in its selective facts and conclusions – and it’s completely fallacious. So fallacious, in fact, that it undermines itself and is offensive in that it feigns authority in order to falsely legitimise Campbell’s tribal, bigoted hatred against Liverpool fans.

The crux of the piece and the ‘trenchant’ insight into Campbell’s pathology of hate is encapsulated in the following statement written within the piece:

“At Hillsborough, EVERYONE pushing their way into the tunnel KNEW perfectly well that it opened into an enclosed area with no exits, hemmed in by overhanging steel fences, which minutes before kick-off was likely to already be crammed with people, and which took the inherently-hazardous form of a stairway.”

[Our* Emphasis]

The phrase “everyone” combined with “knew” is a lie. It commits the logical fallacy of Dicto simpliciter, or sweeping generalisation as it is commonly known.

Dicto simpliciter is frequently used to fit people into stereotypical moulds e.g. Frenchman are great lovers or short men have an aggressive chip on their shoulder or the average Scot is a drunk – everyone knows that.

In Campbell’s case, he appeals to the stereotype of the time – which was also the prevailing Thatcherite belief – that Liverpool fans were mindless, murderous, thugs. The implication being, despite the reams and reams of contradictory evidence, that the Liverpool fans knew they were killing fellow fans. Such a belief isn’t just stupid, it’s pathologically mind numbingly stupid.

Campbell went further in his hate piece. Having built a case predicated on a lie, he then further blamed Liverpool fans for the enclosed fences at Hillsborough being there in the first place:

“Hillsborough could have happened at almost any ground in the country in the late 1980s, but Liverpool’s fans must shoulder a disproportionate share of the blame for the existence of the fateful fences, which in part arose from their murderous actions at Heysel Stadium four years earlier.”

Another lie appealing to incomplete knowledge and relying, instead, on bigoted uninformed sentiment to fill in the cracks.

The Dicto simpliciter logical fallacy is routinely relied upon in order to appeal to generally accepted truisms. It’s a godsend fallacy for those harbouring grievances against other groups. Put into crude terms, the majority of Wings Over Scotland’s posts tediously and relentlessly build upon the following stereotypes: media bias is bad, Tories are heartless and bad, Labour are sellouts and bad, Better Together are “anti-Scottish” and bad – you get the tedious stereotypical idea.

Garve 01 Cites Sources

A good example of argumentum ab auctoritate – the logical fallacy of the appeal to authority. Wings cites sources and is accurate therefore it is true and authoritative. Forgive the smirk Garve, do you still believe that the earth is flat? There are some accurate and well cited sources out there to reinforce that long discredited belief.

AhDinnaeKen has covered Campbell’s Hillsborough lies before. We’re going to cover more of his lies and falsehoods, and the logical fallacies used to deliver them to his credulous readership. We*’re tired of intelligent apologists such as Garve Scott-Lodge or Jeff Breslin or Joan McAlpine attempting to excuse Campbell’s belligerent blackshirted bigotry.

It’s a stereotype associated with Nationalism that advocates of its creed – such as Campbell and his ‘alert readers’ – are prepared to turn a blind eye to its potential atrocities.

Campbell’s writings are mostly atrocious. They rely on buying into Nationalist stereotypes and cliches for them to be believed. It’s all a part of the groupthink mindset relying on ‘othering’ which has paved the way for Campbell’s, so far, limited success in gaining publicity and financial reward for himself.

In the Twitter spat linked to above, Garve Scott-Lodge also claimed that quotes used against Campbell are taken out of context in order to impugn Campbell. We* invite him to correct AhDinnaeKen on quotes taken out of context in this piece.

In future posts, AhDinnaeKen is going to highlight some of Campbell’s more cliched fallacies, selectively, without sentiment and as temperately as possible, given the tedious nature of the material being dealt with.

Be there!

[ * tired overly used joke based on pluralis majestatis which is as relentlessly tiresome as any Wings post ]

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Attention all idiot Wings Over Scotland fans – Hillsborough

Justice will soon be achieved for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster. It’s now only a matter of time. AhDinnaeKen investigates one sadly deluded individual who doesn’t even know what justice or compassion means:

'Civic' debate Nationalist Front style. Weel din inhumane sark!

‘Civic’ debate Nationalist Front style. Weel din inhumanity sark!

By Longshanker aka @ergasiophobe

YET AGAIN the individual responsible for Wings Over Scotland has demonstrated a complete and utter lack of humanity or ability to judge facts regarding the Hillsborough disaster.

Last night’s train wreck of a Twitter feed in which Stuart Campbell, editor of Wings Over Scotland, argued black is white with the sister of a Hillsborough victim is one of the most breathtakingly shocking exchanges AhDinnaeKen has ever read in relation to Wings Over Scotland.

Some idiots actually believe that Stuart Campbell’s blog entitled “No Justice for the 96” is ‘forensic’ in detail over the causes and effects of the fatal crushing of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

That they believe so isn’t out and out stupidity, it’s merely an example of being duped by style over substance – Campbell, for all his faults, sometimes writes stylishly.

That his No Justice for the 96 piece has convinced undiscerning people of its alleged truth isn’t therefore totally surprising.

Most of Campbell’s piece is correct in its summary of the events leading up to the fateful tragedy. But the whole argument is underpinned by some basic schoolboy errors and lack of understanding of physics – it’s the Embassies and Consulates syndrome all over again.

Campbell’s pathology is such that, once he goes out on a limb over a subject, nothing can or will change his mind. It’s the psychology of the frothing bigot who doesn’t let facts get in the way of his own prejudice.

FUNDAMENTAL ERRORS
Consider the fundamental premise upon which the whole piece is predicated:

“The pressure that caused that crush didn’t come out of nowhere. It wasn’t an act of God, it wasn’t a freak gravity storm. It came from behind them, and every ounce of it came from human beings.”

This is fundamentally and mostly untrue. The pressure came from all around them and from themselves – they were simultaneously part of the crushing forces while also being part of the crushed. The pressure coming from behind via the tunnel only helped sustain the unrelenting pressure which resulted in the tragic deaths.

Crowd crush fatalities and injuries occur when you reach critical, well documented, crowd densities. In this instance the densities are measured in bodies per square foot.

According to John J Fruin, a world expert in crowd dynamics:

“In waiting areas, 20 square feet per patron will allow relatively free movement; 10 square feet, movement on an “excuse me” basis; and 5 square feet, standing without touching others-but with little ability to move freely. This is about the occupancy level that you see in most normal waiting situations, such as approaches to a busy escalator or stair. At approximately 3 square feet per person, involuntary touching and brushing against others will occur, a psychological threshold that should generally be avoided in most public situations. Below 2 square feet per person, potentially dangerous crowd forces and psychological stresses may begin to develop.”

That is what occurred at Hillsborough. Once you go over the 2 square feet per person threshhold people will die. Campbell, however, insists in repeating the assertion that it was pressure from the back that caused the fatalities:

“Neither the FA, Sheffield Wednesday, the police commanders, the officers on duty, the players on the pitch or the ambulance crews exerted the fatal pressure on the back of the crowd, which built and built until crash barriers gave way and the mass of bodies in the central pen forced the air from the lungs of the unfortunate people at the front.”

The pressure from the back merely ensured that there was no outlet or release for the fatal 2 square foot per person threshhold. It’s worth repeating that this density was already in place, the pressure from the back merely maintained that pressure.

And it wasn’t just at the front where people died, they died in the tunnel also.

POLICE COMPETENCE VERSUS POLICE INCOMPETECE
As was amply demonstrated in the 1981 FA cup semi-final at Hillsborough between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers, competent policing could have prevented fatalities.

In that incident the pressure built up in the Leppings Lane pens in the same manner as happened later with Liverpool fans in 1989.

Only this time, according to Tottenham fans and contemporary records, fatalities did not occur because:

“Unlike their counterparts in 1989 the police commanders in charge in 1981 were not in charge of their first match, were not ignorant and incompetent, and were seemingly not predisposed to assume all problems were the result of violent scum on the terraces who deserved everything they got.

“Instead those in charge acted sensibly on the feedback of officers on the frontline. As a result they ordered the closure of the gates leading to the most crowded pens, and then directed incoming fans to safer areas. They acted somewhat late, but they did act. And many fans were helped out of the crowded spaces by fellow fans and police alike. They then sat along the edge of the pitch to watch the game unfold.”

The police, on that day, also opened the gate at the front of the pens, further releasing the pressure and relieving the crowd of the dangerous 2 square feet per person density threshhold.

There were still some serious injuries; breathing problems, crushed ribs, broken bones, but nothing like the carnage which ensued at Hillsborough. Thankfully, there were no fatalities.

Campbell further indulges in some trite about Barrowlands crowds and implies that people as sensible as him could have somehow have escaped the crush, if only they had “jabbed” their “elbows and heels” behind them.

AHEM, ‘PROFESSIONAL’ JOURNALISM ALERT
The most telling example, however, of Campbell’s prejudice against Liverpool fans is the following statement:

“At Hillsborough, EVERYONE pushing their way into the tunnel KNEW perfectly well that it opened into an enclosed area with no exits, hemmed in by overhanging steel fences, which minutes before kick-off was likely to already be crammed with people, and which took the inherently-hazardous form of a stairway.”

[Our* Emphasis]

The scandalously false assertion that “everyone knew” betrays Campbell’s lack of journalistic skills and credibility. He is saying that everyone contributing to the crowd crush density did so knowing what they were doing ie killing people at the front, but persisted anyway.

Notably absent is one quote, one eye witness account, or any form of  third party evidence to back the hateful assertion up. It’s this statement, singled out from all the others, which betrays the source of Campbell’s bigoted prejudice.

This pic brought from archive world. Since last night Mr Campbell's old forum boards are no longer available. Hurrah for freedom of expression and not covering anything up.

This pic brought from archive world. Since last night Mr Campbell’s old forum boards are no longer available. Hurrah for freedom of expression and not covering anything up.

According to Campbell, who refers to the ‘knowing’ crowd as “murderous” and “lethally stupid“, the crowd must take responsibility for their actions on an individual and collective basis.

Such assertions demonstrate a willful ignorance bordering on pathological stupidity of crowd dynamics and psychology.

Crowd dynamic expert John J Fruin views crowd behaviour somewhat differently.

He said: “Psychologists have likened a crowd to a series of intermeshing behavioral cells. Each cell is comprised of a small group of surrounding people, with limited communication between them. Cell members do not have a broad view of what is occurring in the crowd.”

It is why front to back management of crowds is so important. The people at the back and in the Leppings Lane tunnel had no idea what was happening up ahead in the pens. How could they?

Yet according to Campbell “everyone knew” what they were doing and persisted anyway.

The pitch side police who were watching the tragedy unfold in front of their very own eyes didn’t know what was happening. They lined up in the middle of the pitch thinking they were facing a hostile crowd and a potential pitch invasion. Some policemen even threw people climbing over the fences back into the killing pens.

What chance of knowing what was happening did the people at the back trying to get into the tunnel to the Leppings Lane pen have?

The answer, of course, is they had no chance of knowing? They didn’t have X-ray eyes and they most certainly weren’t trained in the recognition of of hazardous crowd dynamics.

If Campbell’s piece is ‘forensic’ then I’m CSI Ayrshire. All the No Justice for the 96 piece proves is that Campbell is as much of an embarrassment to journalism as he is to the Independence campaign.

He needs to come clean. He started with the bombastically pretentious premise that he was somehow telling a truth that needed to be told. He ended up exposing himself as a nasty wee bigot with an unpleasant obsession with Liverpool fans because of the Heysel disaster.

He said: “Hillsborough could have happened at almost any ground in the country in the late 1980s, but Liverpool’s fans must shoulder a disproportionate share of the blame for the existence of the fateful fences, which in part arose from their murderous actions at Heysel Stadium four years earlier.”

One wee bigoted man and one huge bigoted ego combined to create one of the most shockingly evidence free and inaccurate hate polemics disguised as ahem, ‘professional journalism’ since the original smears against Liverpool fans were published by the Sun.

REAL EVIDENCE ANALYSED BY PROFESSIONALS
The Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP) painstakingly adjudicated on the amassed evidence of the Hillsborough tragedy and concluded:

…the SYP Police Federation, supported informally by the SYP chief constable, sought to develop and publicise a version of events that focused on several police officers’ allegations of drunkenness, ticketlessness and violence among a large number of Liverpool fans. This extended beyond the media to Parliament.

“Yet, from the mass of documents, television and CCTV coverage disclosed to the panel there is NO EVIDENCE to support these allegations other than a few isolated examples of aggressive or verbally abusive behaviour clearly reflecting frustration and desperation.”

Did Campbell produce one piece of evidence other than self opinionated NO EVIDENCE to back up his conclusions?

Aside from his deluded Wings Nuts, we all know the answer to that.

New evidence. Liverpool fans rammed tunnel. I wonder why the HIP never mentioned it?

New evidence. Liverpool fans rammed wall of human beings. I wonder why the HIP never mentioned it? Perhaps some corroboration for the assertion from Mr Campbell?

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