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Post hoc v. propter hoc

Just because one thing happened before another doesn’t mean that the first caused the second. Such an inference is called the “post hoc” fallacy. Nevertheless, precedence can be suggestive and at least create possibilities.

SSCard_redacted_poorlyIn this case I’m referring to the appearance of President Obama’s social-security number in public records and associated dates. The first event I want to discuss is the appearance of Obama’s social-security number on the Internet. While it may have been available earlier, I was able to locate a copy of Obama’s SSN (badly redacted) in ECF document 84-2 filed by Orly Taitz in the Barnett v. Obama case in California federal court on October 11, 2009. Obot1 commented on this document on October 16, 2009, indicating that the badly redacted number was “out there” by that time.

The second event was the appearance of a public record linking the name “Harrison J. Bounel” to that xxx-xx-4425 social-security number. The date on the public record, according to Mr. Hendershot at “the Obama Shuffle” web site is November, 2009.

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That is, the public record linking Bounel (who no one seems to be able to find) with the SSN did not appear until after the SSN was made public. This leaves the obvious possibility that the public record was derived from a fraudulent use of the public number. The fact that Barack Obama’s address in Chicago is also associated with the record is strong additional reason to think that the record is bogus.

The other thing that birthers associate with the Obama SSN is the date 1890, and they have generally linked the Bounel name with that date of birth. If that is indeed so, then a 119-year-old Bounel did something in 2009 to create a public record of his social-security record at Barack Obama’s house.

This is what the birthers base their beliefs on? :roll:

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41 Responses to Post hoc v. propter hoc

  1. avatar
    gorefan January 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Another scenario is that roughly 10 months after becoming President, Barack Obama went out an bought a 63 inch flat screen TV for the Lincoln Bedroom and used a fake name to purchase it.

  2. avatar
    misha marinsky January 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    gorefan: Another scenario is that roughly 10 months after becoming President, Barack Obama went out an bought a 63 inch flat screen TV for the Lincoln Bedroom and used a fake name to purchase it.

    That’s true. He used my name and credit card. I’ll swear out an affidavit.

  3. avatar
    justlw January 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    “propter” — unless we’re accusing the president of pawning one of his teleprompters. (It’s funny because politician using teleprompter! And he golfs!)

  4. avatar
    American Mzungu January 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    justlw: “propter” — unless we’re accusing the president of pawning one of his teleprompters.

    I think Doc was playing with words. “Nevertheless, precedence can be suggestive and at least create possibilities.” I think he is suggesting that the response may have been prompted by the earlier event. I like it.

  5. avatar
    SluggoJD January 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    misha marinsky: That’s true. He used my name and credit card. I’ll swear out an affidavit.

    Ummm, well if that’s true, what happened to the illegal TV gift I sent to the White House?

  6. avatar
    gringo unchained January 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    don’t trust the prez, but i don’t trust that 11/2009 “evidence” yet either.
    way to go, Doctor!

  7. avatar
    Lucas D. Smith January 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    I’ve been informed by my friend Bruce Steadman that public database search records which interface Barack Obama with SSN XXX-XX-4425 (and the year 1890) go back at least as far as the year 1994.

    See page three (3) of this PDF:

    http://theobamahustle.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/new_obama_documents1.pdf

    Record Date – 10/01/1994
    Name – Barack Hussein Obama
    DOB – 1890
    SSN – XXX-XX-4425

  8. avatar
    aesthetocyst January 23, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    I know nothing about vital records databases, and am completely uninterested in the SSN-strain of birferism. I did however just notice the gender listed as “U” (‘unknown’?) What have birfers made of that? Seems the prudish wingers would have made something of it.

    And the clip … no mention of O thumbing his nose at him? I wonder what Boehner was saying. It’s a caption contest waiting to happen!

  9. avatar
    Lucas D. Smith January 23, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    Dear readers and associates of the Obama Conspiracy Theories website,

    Please take a few minutes to review my new report in response to Dr. Conspiracy’s new post from today.

    I was on the stool tonight and I thought of Dr Conspiracy and his reprehensible and foul-smelling website.

    http://www.wasobamaborninkenya.com/blog/barrack-obama-eligibility/i-was-on-the-stool-tonight-and-i-thought-of-dr-conspiracy-and-his-reprehensible-and-foul-smelling-website/

  10. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 23, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    I’ve been told that he said something about needing to go out to have a smoke.

    aesthetocyst: And the clip … no mention of O thumbing his nose at him? I wonder what Boehner was saying. It’s a caption contest waiting to happen!

  11. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 23, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    Thanks, Lucas. The 1994 date actually makes a lot of sense to me.

    Lucas D. Smith: I’ve been informed by my friend Bruce Steadman that public database search records which interface Barack Obama with SSN XXX-XX-4425 (and the year 1890) go back at least as far as the year 1994.

  12. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 23, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your title so much that I don’t think that I’ll spoil it by reading the article.

    Lucas D. Smith: “I was on the stool tonight and I thought of Dr Conspiracy and his reprehensible and foul-smelling website.”

  13. avatar
    gorefan January 23, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Lucas D. Smith: I’ve been informed by my friend Bruce Steadman that public database search records which interface Barack Obama with SSN XXX-XX-4425 (and the year 1890) go back at least as far as the year 1994.

    And the 1990 DOB goes back as far as 1988.

  14. avatar
    Lucas D. Smith January 23, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I enjoyed reading your title so much that I don’t think that I’ll spoil it by reading the article.

    Please, Sir, take no offense. You should be honored!

  15. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 23, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    I wish. In reality it was faulty memory. Ergo sum, wiki, wiki, wiki.

    American Mzungu: I think Doc was playing with words.

  16. avatar
    Lucas D. Smith January 24, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    Dear Dr C.,

    I have been in moderation on this blog for going on, I believe, almost two (2) years now.

    Can you take me out of moderation? I believe that I can contribute here, once in a while, in a university style debate.

    I post level headed comments but they are typically buried, aside from tonight’s, under several comments before they are approved and at that time they are, for the most part, ‘lost’.

    Thank you.

  17. avatar
    SluggoJD January 24, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    Lucas D. Smith: Please, Sir, take no offense.You should be honored!

    Considering how full of it you are, I’m sure you were there for a very long time.

  18. avatar
    Rickey January 24, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    Lucas D. Smith:
    I’ve been informed by my friend Bruce Steadman that public database search records which interface Barack Obama with SSN XXX-XX-4425 (and the year 1890) go back at least as far as the year 1994.

    And how many people are associated with the SSN? Oh yeah, one. He doesn’t look like he was born in 1890.

    It’s time to once again post the disclaimer which is at the heading of every LexisNexis report:

    Important: The Public Records and commercially available data sources used on reports have errors. Data is sometimes entered poorly, processed incorrectly and is generally not free from defect. This system should not be relied upon as definitively accurate. Before relying on any data this system supplies, it should be independently verified.

  19. avatar
    Lucas D. Smith January 24, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    Rickey:It’s time to once again post the disclaimer which is at the heading of every LexisNexis report:

    Important: The Public Records and commercially available data sources used on reports have errors.Data is sometimes entered poorly, processed incorrectly and is generally not free from defect.This system should not be relied upon as definitively accurate.Before relying on any data this system supplies, it should be independently verified.

    I agree with the disclaimer, as a matter of fact I just wrote this myself this morning (01.23.2013) at my InspectorSmith Forum:

    “In the past, up until today when I read your post here regarding the Obama SSN enigma, I always thought it best for me to stay away from this SSN factor and other factors not directly related to the birth certificate. I’ve often thought that SSN enigma and controversy surrounding it was over abundantly based on online pay to search programs and other online databases which are overflowing and jampacked with erroneous data.

    “It’s not that I don’t support online detective work, it’s just that I wholeheartedly believe that data marshaled from such an investigation must also be supported with tangible evidence obtained in the physical world. A gumshoe may be required!

    “Now that I’ve read the linked report at TheObamaHustle blog and seen the scanned copy of the tangible 11.16.2012 Social Security letter from the Freedom of Information Officer, I am, at very least, open to the idea that Obama might (probably) be using the SSN of a dead man.

    “I look forward to learning more and I will now add TheObamaHustle to our the ‘related sites’ on the WOBIK blog.”

    http://www.wasobamaborninkenya.com/InspectorSmith/showthread.php/3758-SSA-FOIA-Response-Confirms-Barack-Obama-Stole-Harry-Bounel-s-Social-Security-Number?p=4864&viewfull=1#post4864

  20. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 24, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    I’ll give it a try.

    Lucas D. Smith: Can you take me out of moderation? I believe that I can contribute here, once in a while, in a university style debate.

  21. avatar
    Lucas D. Smith January 24, 2013 at 1:39 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I’ll give it a try.

    Thank you.

  22. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 24, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    I think that when reading that letter, it is important to keep in mind what was being requested, and that was specifically Obama’s SSN plus the 1890 date and Brunel’s name. There’s never been any rational explanation for why Obama would have gotten a fake SSN as a teenager, even if he had been born in Kenya, so it is reasonable to presume that Obama belongs to that SSN. If this is true than the SSA will never release any record with that SSN on it because it belongs to a living person. However, they can’t say that without disclosing something from the record.

    I don’t know whether the birthers intentionally made a request they knew couldn’t be honored just to keep the bad smell alive, or whether they believed so firmly that the SSN belonged to Bounel that they didn’t realize what if it would mean for their request if they were wrong.

    Lucas D. Smith: “Now that I’ve read the linked report at TheObamaHustle blog and seen the scanned copy of the tangible 11.16.2012 Social Security letter from the Freedom of Information Officer, I am, at very least, open to the idea that Obama might (probably) be using the SSN of a dead man.

  23. avatar
    Lucas D. Smith January 24, 2013 at 2:00 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I think that when reading that letter, it is important to keep in mind what was being requested, and that was specifically Obama’s SSN plus the 1890 date and Brunel’s name. There’s never been any rational explanation for why Obama would have gotten a fake SSN as a teenager, even if he had been born in Kenya, so it is reasonable to presume that Obama belongs to that SSN. If this is true than the SSA will never release any record with that SSN on it because it belongs to a living person. However, they can’t say that without disclosing something from the record.

    I don’t know whether the birthers intentionally made a request they knew couldn’t be honored just to keep the bad smell alive, or whether they believed so firmly that the SSN belonged to Bounel that they didn’t realize what if it would mean for their request if they were wrong.

    What you’ve said here is rational and I did have some very similar thoughts when I read the letter. However, I am going to keep an open mind from here on out. As I stated earlier this morning on the InspectorSmith Forum I have avoided (I don’t think I’ve ever wrote or talked about it much, if at all) the Obama SSN factor/enigma from the outset but now, after reading the tangible SS letter and reviewing Susan Daniel’s online detective work, I am not going to rule anything out, including the possibility that Obama is using the SSN of a dead man.

  24. avatar
    ZixiOfIx January 24, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    Lucas D. Smith: I’ve been informed by my friend Bruce Steadman that public database search records which interface Barack Obama with SSN XXX-XX-4425 (and the year 1890) go back at least as far as the year 1994.

    Did your friend Bruce remind you that you still haven’t shown a copy of your passport with a stamp from Kenya? The one you’d have, if you ever actually went to Kenya, like you’ve claimed on numerous occasions?

  25. avatar
    The Magic M January 24, 2013 at 4:59 am #

    Lucas D. Smith: I am not going to rule anything out, including the possibility that Obama is using the SSN of a dead man.

    How about some common sense?

    1. It makes no sense to use somebody else’s SSN with your own name. This sets off all kinds of alarms with the SSA, the IRS and basically any government agency where you ever file anything.
    2. Therefore, in birther logic, the SSA/IRS/… must be “in on it”, i.e. realize Obama is using somebody else’s SSN but keep quiet about it.
    3. However, if the SSA/IRS/… are all “in on it”, the SSA could just have issued Obama a new SSN with no traces to any previous owner (because there was none).

    So I can’t figure out a rational explanation why the “big conspiracy” gave Obama the SSN of somebody else when they had all the power and authority to give him a “clean” new one while simply ignoring that he was born in Kenya (the son of an ebil Marksist, a gay Muslim urrsurrpurr-to-be etc.).

    The entire birther SSN theory mixes two incompatible versions of birther lore:

    1. The “old lore” that Obama (and maybe one or two co-conspirators) somehow “tricked the system”. (That’s the “he had to take somebody else’s SSN” part.)

    2. The “new lore” (developed when the “old lore” was no longer reconcilable with the facts, e.g. that nobody in Congress or the courts does anything against him) that there is a vast conspiracy spanning 50+ years to get a Kenyan into office. (That’s the “nobody said anything about the stolen SSN because they are all part of the conspiracy” part.)

    I think that about closes the case, even for those who always claim “if we only had all the evidence, it would still be possible”.

    All that birthers now have left is their Hail Mary explanation “they did it to rub it in our faces”.

  26. avatar
    Northland10 January 24, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Lucas D. Smith: I am not going to rule anything out, including the possibility that Obama is using the SSN of a dead man.

    Even if I might disagree, it is perfectly understandable for somebody with doubts to not automatically close the door. With Orly, as your personal experience with her has likely show, not ruling anything out skips quickly to absolute truth, despite the lack of evidence connecting the dots. She gets the smallest “glitch” and turns that into a great national security threat without any sort of due diligence.

    For the record, as you mentioned, the DOB that are the oddest are from 1994 or before. It really does make me suspect that the service being used by a organization in the Harvard area either had issues on their database setup, or bad data entry causing things like 1890 to show up (and 1990, for that matter). These were on the Susan Daniels list. Mr. Bounel’s name did not show up until 2009 (after the Daniels list was created).

    I would suggest, Mr. Smith, that you be careful of projection. You may find thinking about and possibly using forged documents as very natural. As such, you may be projecting that thinking onto others, such as the President. Do not let the projection of you thinking leap in front of the actual evidence that exists.

  27. avatar
    Reality Check January 24, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    I think we can rule out the possibility that Lucas Smith ever went to Kenya,

    Smith is just trolling here to get a few readers at his blog that only four or five people seem to read. He also probably wants you to comment there so he can glean your IP address. That is why I will not go there among other reasons. I have better things to do than engaging in a conversation with a convicted criminal.

    Lucas D. Smith: I am not going to rule anything out, including the possibility that Obama is using the SSN of a dead man.

  28. avatar
    Bovril January 24, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    And again, ITS NOT A DOB, it’s a 4 digit random number.

    All the other DOB’s are mm/dd/yyyy ergo 1890 is not an actual DOB

  29. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 24, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    Speaking of Smith’s readers, he sends me an email when he posts a new article on his site and doesn’t use the BCC feature for the recipient list, so I have email addresses for some of the birther crew now (and nothing to do with it). BCC is a basic Internet safety step that I always use unless I know that the recipients already know each other and their addresses.

    Reality Check: Smith is just trolling here to get a few readers at his blog that only four or five people seem to read.

  30. avatar
    Majority Will January 24, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Reality Check:
    I think we can rule out the possibility that Lucas Smith ever went to Kenya,

    Smith is just trolling here to get a few readers at his blog that only four or five people seem to read. He also probably wants you to comment there so he can glean your IP address. That is why I will not go there among other reasons.I have better things to do than engaging in a conversation with a convicted criminal.

    Hear, hear.

  31. avatar
    Whatever4 January 24, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Here’s what thefogbow.com analysis says (which I wrote):

    In the detailed report on pages 6-13, we can see where the 1890 date comes from. From 1988 to 1991, Barack Obama attended Harvard Law School and lived in a basement apartment at 365 Broadway in Somerville, MA.There are NINE entries for this Somerville address. All are the SSN number ending in 4425. DOB: 4 are 8/4/1961, 1 for 4/8/1961, 2 have no DOB, 1 has 1990, 1 has 1890. [note — pre-Y2K most dates in the US were written as MM/DD/YY. The Y2K conversion forced older data to conform to MM/DD/YYYY. It’s easy to see how 1890 and 1990 could be the same number

    This is a prime example of why these databases are merely the starting point for an investigation. A rational person might look at those entries and conclude that 4/8/1961 is an entry error and the two incomplete entries are bad data given the strong correlation between the 8/4/1961 and the SSN in other entries. They would move on to the next set of addresses.Birthers, however, see the same data and conclude the number was stolen from a guy born in 1890.

  32. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 24, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    While this is possible, I think it unlikely. While most dates in legacy databases were stored without a century, birth dates were typically stored with a century because those systems were developed at a time when the population had dates of birth in the 1800′s and the 1900′s. (In my career I went through Y2K remediation and I converted all sorts of legacy databases.) I suppose there could have been a bug in a Y2K conversion program, but this does not go to the basic issue of why there is no month and day.

    Whatever4: The Y2K conversion forced older data to conform to MM/DD/YYYY. It’s easy to see how 1890 and 1990 could be the same number

  33. avatar
    Whatever4 January 24, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    While this is possible, I think it unlikely. While most dates in legacy databases were stored without a century, birth dates were typically stored with a century becausethose systems were developed at a time when the population had dates of birth in the 1800′s and the 1900′s. I suppose there could have been a bug in a Y2K conversion program, but this does not go to the basic issue of why there is no month and day.

    I suspect the business that originally reported the data put the DOB in the wrong field and it didn’t get picked up.

  34. avatar
    The Magic M January 24, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Whatever4: Birthers, however, see the same data and conclude the number was stolen from a guy born in 1890.

    If the outlier date in that database had been 1990, birthers would’ve claimed he had started using the SSN in 1990, or taken the SSN of somebody whose data were messed up in the SSN database.

    If there had been no outlier date but just the two 4/8 and 8/4 dates, birthers would’ve claimed Obama (born August 4th) took the SSN of somebody born April 8th the same year.

    If there had been only his real birth date, birthers would’ve claimed Obama had “scrubbed” all evidence of SSN fraud.

    We all know the drill, don’t we?

    And after all that, it took birthers (in this case Orly) FIVE YEARS to come up with the claim that Obama stole the identity of *another* Barack Obama? That was my pseudo-birther claim in 2009 already! I suppose they never actually *replace* one of their theories but always try to fit new data into the existing theory. I shudder to think how modern physics would look if they were physicists. (Though that would probably have just one formula, “God did it all and still does”.)

  35. avatar
    The Magic M January 24, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: While most dates in legacy databases were stored without a century, birth dates were typically stored with a century

    My company database stores users with unknown birthdate as “1.1.1900″. Not actually the best way to do it (because every stats package running against it must be told that these people are not actually 113 years old), but it’s kinda legacy, too. ;)

  36. avatar
    ZixiOfIx January 24, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Bovril:
    And again, ITS NOT A DOB, it’s a 4 digit random number.

    All the other DOB’s are mm/dd/yyyy ergo 1890 is not an actual DOB

    Why couldn’t it be a birth year? A fair number of people born before the turn of the 20th century could only make a wild guess at their own birth dates. One of my grandparents was surprised to find that his birth date was wrong, and that his name was incomplete – he never knew that he’d been given a middle name.

    This was apparently not uncommon: Some immigrants didn’t even know their birthdays, since they came from provinces that kept no birth records, or because their birth certificates were left behind or lost during passage.

    From the book, Ellis Island Interviews, by Peter M. Coan.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=O6MPfrG61SEC&pg=PP29&dq=Some+immigrants+didn't+even+know+their+birthdays&hl=en&sa=X&ei=RkQBUe6QJsbjrQHC34CABg&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA

  37. avatar
    Thomas Brown January 24, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Whatever4: A rational person might look at those entries…

    Don’t forget the Birfistan Rules:

    1) No information is reliable if it shows the President is eligible.
    2) Any information is credible if it suggests that he isn’t.

  38. avatar
    Northland10 January 24, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Bovril:
    And again, ITS NOT A DOB, it’s a 4 digit random number.

    All the other DOB’s are mm/dd/yyyy ergo 1890 is not an actual DOB

    When I use the term DOB, I am referring to the DOB field. I am not saying that 1890 is an actual birth date or even year. It is simply a number showing up in a DOB field. Since it does not match any standard format, I figure it is just dirty data.

  39. avatar
    Paul Pieniezny January 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    While this is possible, I think it unlikely. While most dates in legacy databases were stored without a century, birth dates were typically stored with a century becausethose systems were developed at a time when the population had dates of birth in the 1800′s and the 1900′s. (In my career I went through Y2K remediation and I converted all sorts of legacy databases.) I suppose there could have been a bug in a Y2K conversion program, but this does not go to the basic issue of why there is no month and day.

    I repeat what I have said before. It could be a year of birth. It is funny to see both 1890 and 1990 associated with a place where Obama lived in 1990.

    Obama could have purchased a product or service where he was asked for his SSN and his year of birth. That would have meant searching for his card, going though his wallets … finally finding the card, carefully copying the number and then quickly writing the year of birth – and making the common mistake of writing today’s year. For all we know, the business owner may have entered that data, and then challenged Obama for the correct year and edited it, but the 1990 got stored somewhere, like in a history report.

    Later, some conversion programme “knowing” that no newly-born buys a TV set, might have assumed that this was a 2K entry error, and changed it into 1890.

    But as others have said here, birfers will always prove that people can be dumber than computer programs and assume what is by far the least likely explanation, provided it “proves” something negative about Obama. So, it does not even matter whether this is real data or not.

  40. avatar
    Greenfinches January 24, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    Thomas Brown: Don’t forget the Birfistan Rules:

    1) No information is reliable if it shows the President is eligible.
    2) Any information is credible if it suggests that he isn’t.

    spot on – and don’t forget, this is also the test for credibility of witnesses!

  41. avatar
    RoadScholar January 24, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    Greenfinches: spot on – and don’t forget, this is also the test for credibility of witnesses!

    For them Orly has ordered a Dunking Stool from Museum Reproductions.

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