The shell game (also known as Thimblerig, Three shells and a pea, the old army game) is portrayed as a gambling game, but in reality, when a wager for money is made, it is a confidence trick used to perpetrate fraud. In confidence trick slang, this swindle is referred to as a short-con because it is quick and easy to pull off.Another variation on the swindle is Three-card Monte. Jay Smooth:
As you probably know, every Three-card Monte setup has a Ringer. The Ringer's job is to pretend they're an objective, outside observer commenting on the game, when they're actually a part of the hustle who's there to help bamboozle the public into thinking this game is legitimate. So naturally if we stand next to the game and start telling everyone that the game is rigged, the Ringer is going to flip on us and start doing everything they can to make sure nobody listens to us. They're going to tell everyone that we're a bunch of losers who are just hatin' because we don't know how to play the game. We're a bunch of cardgame-hating socialists. They're going to try everything they can to discredit us so they can protect that game that they're so invested in.You've heard of banks that are too big to fail. Well, here's the swindle that's too big to bust. It's a real swindle of money -- stealing pensions from elderly ladies and old gents -- not just an intellectual shell game. But the intellectual shell game plays a crucial role. Here is how it works. Pay close attention.
1. Person M supports Policy X.
2. Person M believes B. (unsubstantiated allegation)
3. Person M supports Policy X because of belief B.
4. Belief B is false. (red herring)
5. Therefore policy X is false. (ignoratio elenchi)
6. Therefore policy Y is true. (either/or fallacy)
The above sequence involves not one but two logical fallacies and an evidence defect. The proposition in step 4 is moot. Whether B is true or false has no bearing on the truth of the allegation in step 2 or the logical fallacies in steps 5 and 6. It is the "red herring" that characterizes the most common form of the ignoratio elenchi fallacy. When challenged, the ringer will doggedly maneuver the debate back to step 4 and ask, pointedly, "what makes you think B is true?"
Actually, whether person M believes in B or not is also irrelevant to the fallacious conclusions of step 5 and 6. Even if B is false and even if M believes B, it doesn't follow that X is false or that Y is true. The fact that the ringer relies on a red herring is not itself proof that X is true or that Y is false.