Hysterical Sources March 2

This is my weekly contribution re things we have talked about lately. I recommend the Pew Research on attitudes toward the environment among Democrats and Republicans. The article on the UN’s Guantanamo folly gives us a deeper understanding of what most of us know already and everyone will be interested in the Hilary versus Condi opinion piece. Finally, check out why men rule at the bottom of the page.

My disclaimer: these are things I think are interesting. They are not meant to be a cross section of anything and I am not trying to be fair and balanced (like Fox News).

Author David Kline Will Discuss Effect of Blogs

Both Blue and Red go Green on Energy (Pew)

Condoleeza Rice Giving Hilary a Run for Her Money

Guide to the President’s Visit to South Asia

Most Indians Believe Iran is Trying to Develop Nuclear Weapons

Online Political Videos in the 2004 Election

Port Security: The Administration Misses an Opportunity

Rationing Healthcare

UN's Guantanamo Folly: Why the United Nations Report is Not Credible

U.N. Resolution on Human Rights Council Does Not Deserve U.S. Support

Why Men Rule and Conservatives Will Inherit the Earth

Posted by Jack at March 2, 2006 4:01 PM
Comments
Comment #130857

Also interesting

Posted by: Dave at March 2, 2006 5:03 PM
Comment #130861

Jack,
Re: Guantanamo propoganda
The Heritage Foundation is not a reliable source for news. It is a right-wing biased group who claim to be conservative yet support a president that weakens our military,(expensive government contracts to friends,supporters and associates does not count)has expanded government, eliminated government accountability and transparency and has shown no sign of fiscal responsibliity.
How is the Republican party conservative?
Corruption and cronyism are not “true” conservative values.
Ignoring environmental issues in favor of large corporate donations and greed is being conservative?
Come on, I know true conservatives.
Blaming those in need is not conservative, evaluating the structure that perpetuates the needs and changing the structure ex. Education and the financial disparity in this country are both liberal and “true” conservative priorities.
Those in office now who claim to be conservative are criminals, not conservatives.
The conservative name is being used by people who want to further their own agendas and by the wealthy who realized that the Republican party are in the pockets of the Military contractors, big oil and energy, the pharmaceutical companies and large corporations. They brought the right-winged kooks who hide their prejudices behind religion along for the ride.
The Heritage Foundation and alot of “conservatives” might want to look into what it means to be a “true conservative.”

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at March 2, 2006 5:29 PM
Comment #130863

Andre

Ad hominem.

If you don’t agree with article, mention reasons, but attacking the source is a logical fallacy.

BTW - I think these articles are interesting and useful. I don’t say everything in them is 100% accurate. But I think the article on Guantanamo is pretty good.

Posted by: Jack at March 2, 2006 5:44 PM
Comment #130879

Not to engage in this topic yet again, but “ad hominem” seems to be Jack’s pet refutation and it is overused in general, so I feel that this is regrettably necessary.

Andre’s comment is not an ad hominem argument. An ad hominem fallacy obtains only when it is applied to a deductive argument, not evidence presented by a party. It is perfectly OK to doubt the credibility of a source.

In case you don’t believe me, from Wikipedia:

“Ad hominem is fallacious when applied to deduction, and not the evidence (or premise) of an argument. Evidence may be doubted or rejected based on the source for reasons of credibility, but to doubt or reject a deduction based on the source is the ad hominem fallacy.”

Continue.

Posted by: Yossarian at March 2, 2006 7:29 PM
Comment #130894

Jack -

I think I have sensed a new, proactive, forward leaning “Ad Hominem” paradigm. As I see it, this success friendly, future driven dialog with destiny has the leverage to energize our base and create self-empowered, profit maximizing, team optimized ladders to world-class domination.

Posted by: tony at March 2, 2006 8:31 PM
Comment #130897

Yosarrian

Andre addressed none of the evidence presented and rejected it all because of the source. We could trade definitions of ad hominem. Most don’t include the deduction but merely concern rejecting an argument because of its source.

For example, rejecting the fact that 2+2=4 because an evil person says it is true is an ad hominem argument by most definition, although not by yours.

Anyway, he didn’t give evidence against the source except to call it names. Even by your narrow definition, you would have to discredit the source before you could reject the facts. You might also be embarassed when a fact turned out to be true.

Andre (and Your) argument is essentially that everything anyone says is a lie if he doesn’t like the source. I think that qualifies as ad hominem even under your definition.

I know liberals tend to be more dogmatic about such things, but you must see the danger of this sort of position.

If not, it is even worse. Why engage in any debate at all if you can reject serious arguments based on the fact that you reject the source.

So if Andre says it is dark at night, I could just say, that can’t be true because he is untrustworthy. Is that the kind of debate you want?

Posted by: Jack at March 2, 2006 8:38 PM
Comment #130909

Jack -

So - this all sounds very similar the crap put out against Plame… to discredit her husband? (Yea - he went there because his wife got the job for him… so how can you trust what he had to say… something like that.

Yea - I’d call that kind of crap… crap.

Posted by: tony at March 2, 2006 9:28 PM
Comment #130920

jack

when assessing the validity of a knowledge claim, it is always justifiable and judicious to consider the source… this even applies to deductions, as they may rely on underlying false information. when a source has a history of presenting misinformation or disinformation, then it becomes a waste of one’s time to consider arguments or claims originating therefrom. we learn from experience, after all… and that is why i tend to dismiss everything you say, a priori.

Posted by: diogenes at March 2, 2006 9:57 PM
Comment #130926

“I am not trying to be fair and balanced (like Fox News).”

…for instance, it sounds as though even you recognize the biased nature of the (mis)information in these articles… so where is the incentive to read them?

Posted by: diogenes at March 2, 2006 10:02 PM
Comment #130931

for clarity’s sake,

i am not suggesting that calling into question the reliability of a source effectivly refutes the claims made therein, but rather, it may very well preclude even the consideration of said claims.

Posted by: diogenes at March 2, 2006 10:09 PM
Comment #130937

Jack

Ad hominem. If you don’t agree with article, mention reasons, but attacking the source is a logical fallacy.
It may be a logical fallacy, but it’s also a pretty standard Wrong-wing tactic.

Posted by: ElliottBay at March 2, 2006 10:48 PM
Comment #130948

Diogenes

If you believe nothing I say, I wonder why you bother reading anything I write.

Nobody has to read or believe any of the things I include. I just think they are interesting.

I know a lot of people like to practice mental hygiene and not expose themselves to conflicting ideas.

I usually read things from the other side. I can usually find flaw without attacking the source.

Posted by: Jack at March 2, 2006 11:15 PM
Comment #130953

BTW

I have articles from Pew, Foreign Policy, U of Maryland, Brookings, CSIS. If you think all these are right wing, you really do fall far to the left.

But as a good conservative, I am more broad minded than the PC crowd.

Posted by: Jack at March 2, 2006 11:28 PM
Comment #130955

Jack

Your example is bafflingly off base. “2+2=4” is not a product of empirical reasoning, but rather an equation capable of mathematical proof. Moreover, in the situation you name, my definition would say that the argument you create is, in fact, an ad hominem fallacy.

“Andre (and Your) argument is essentially that everything anyone says is a lie if he doesn’t like the source. I think that qualifies as ad hominem even under your definition.”

What an amazing mischaracterization! What I said amounts to the relatively uncontroversial idea (one, I may add, that is substantiated by the ACTUAL MEANING OF THE CONCEPT) that only when a person attacks a piece of deductive reasoning based on who offered it, is it an ad hominem fallacy; merely stating that empirical evidence is suspect based upon the credibility of the person offering it is not. That’s not to say that such an assertion would be correct, but it isn’t fallacious, and can’t be dismissed as such.

If you conflate that defintion with the proposition “that everything anyone says is a lie if he doesn’t like the source”, that’s just a matter of you not being distinguish the difference.

And there is no “trading definitions”. There is *A* definition, and you just happen to be wrong about it right here.

The right wing war on empirically verifiable fact and fixed definitions plods ever, ever on…

Posted by: Yossarian at March 2, 2006 11:31 PM
Comment #130957

When I studied logic in college, ad hominem was defined as refuting an argument by attacking the person making the argument. It is also defined as an argument that appeals to emotion rather than reason. Andre is guilty of ad hominem by the second definition.
Calling into question the validity or reliability of a source isn’t ad hominem, but the arguments he puts forth to do so are.

Posted by: steve at March 2, 2006 11:40 PM
Comment #130959

your insinuation is entirely specious, as expected. obviously, as i stated, in order for me to dismiss a person’s claims outright, i must first have sufficient experience with their past claims to recognize that they are consistently and substantially erroneous.

“when a source has a history of presenting misinformation or disinformation, then it becomes a waste of one’s time to consider arguments or claims originating therefrom. we learn from experience, after all”

…necessitating past consideration of their claims.

“I usually read things from the other side. I can usually find flaw without attacking the source.”

ahh, i see - so you read actively looking for fault, and under the pretense of being open-minded? how very noble. perhaps you should try seeking truth, instead of mere reassurance of your preconceived misapprehensions.

- such semantic games can be fun, but they often lack any real value or truth.

Posted by: diogenes at March 2, 2006 11:46 PM
Comment #130963

Reading the responses to Jack’s original “ad hominem” response I see a lot of ad hominem with a little utter nonsense thrown in for laughs.
In my experience, the two definitions I put forth are the standard method of lefty argumentation.My oh my, but it is fun to watch.
Jack, you don’t read actively looking for fault, do you? I don’t know about you, but I find getting slapped in the face with a dead fish kind of hard to miss.

Posted by: steve at March 3, 2006 12:02 AM
Comment #130968

“I don’t know about you, but I find getting slapped in the face with a dead fish kind of hard to miss.”

dead fish you say? good point. a very articulate and intelligible argument. hard to argue that kind of logic.

it appears that you utterly missed the point of that statement, steve, as i have failed to recognize any semblance of a point in your own - assuming there was one, of course.


Posted by: diogenes at March 3, 2006 12:23 AM
Comment #130972

… speaking of utter nonsense …

Posted by: diogenes at March 3, 2006 12:28 AM
Comment #130977

You guys do know that if Steve and Eric Simonson were held for two years without trial in a foriegn country, Jack would be whining his head off about due process, International Law and Human Rights.

Posted by: Aldous at March 3, 2006 12:50 AM
Comment #131000

what was the topic of this blog i forgot?

Posted by: rodney brown at March 3, 2006 2:54 AM
Comment #131019

rodney,

There was NO subject, does that mean the whole thing is ad hominem? Or perhaps ad homeny? ad Hominy? ad hormone?

Posted by: Marysdude at March 3, 2006 7:35 AM
Comment #131020

diogenes,
Two concepts you might want to explore- metaphor and humor. There was no argument there. I just threw that in as an experiment to see what kind of silly, emotional response it would elicit. You and Aldous proved my point.

rodney,
We are a bit off track, aren’t we? I’ve read a couple of the links and I agree with Jack that they are interesting. Tonight I’ll read more and post some comments. Let the ad hominem fly!

Posted by: steve at March 3, 2006 7:39 AM
Comment #131023

Jack,

Maybe I’m missing the point here, but should I read sources identified as hysterical? Actually you seem to kind of fixated on the word “hysterical”. Have you discussed this with your therapist?*

*Not an ad hominem attack, but a little joke. The concept of hysteria was introduced by Freud. It is related to the word “uterus”.

Posted by: Woody Mena at March 3, 2006 8:11 AM
Comment #131029

My dear Woody,

“Hysteria” actually far predates Freud. From Wikipedia:

“The term originates with the Greek medical term, hysterikos. This referred to a supposed medical condition, peculiar to women, caused by disturbances of the uterus, hystera in Greek. The term hysteria was coined by Hippocrates, who thought that the cause of hysteria was irregular movement of blood from the uterus to the brain.”

And unrelatedly, I think Jack deliberately misinterprets ad hominem because he knows it gets a rise out of people. It makes me a liitle sad, too, because when he wants to be, Jack is an engaging, thoughtful writer with a lot to say.

Posted by: Arr-squared at March 3, 2006 9:21 AM
Comment #131060

>>And unrelatedly, I think Jack deliberately misinterprets ad hominem because he knows it gets a rise out of people. It makes me a liitle sad, too, because when he wants to be, Jack is an engaging, thoughtful writer with a lot to say.

Posted by: Arr-squared at March 3, 2006 09:21 AM

Arr,

Perhaps it’s because Jack has had an irregular movement of blood…???

Posted by: Marysdude at March 3, 2006 11:03 AM
Comment #131061

Speaking as a professional librarian, if your source material is skewed, your arguments are also skewed…the source of material is extremely important and one of the functions of a librarian is to evaluate sources to see if they are free of bias/prejudice and based on reliable facts…how reliable is a “government source” than actually stating the name of the person who was the source for a piece of information???

Unfortunately, in today’s media and political climate, unskewed sources are nigh well impossible to obtain.

Posted by: Lynne at March 3, 2006 11:05 AM
Comment #131064
when he wants to be, Jack is an engaging, thoughtful writer with a lot to say.

I’ve found that Jack ‘wants to be’ most of the time. People try to pick at his comments, but his points are very salient. Andre discarded what the Heritage Foundation said in its entirety, simply because its the Heritage Foundation. The factual content of Andre’s argument was “The Heritage Foundation is not a reliable source for news. It is a right-wing biased group who claim to be conservative yet support a president that weakens our military…”

That is to say that the factual content of Andre’s argument wasn’t factual at all. It was simply his opinion. I don’t know the term ‘ad hominem’ and I personally don’t care what it really means—that’s just semantics. What I do know is that Andre presented his opinion of what he thinks the Heritage Foundation is, which really doesn’t tell anyone anything necessarily true about the Heritage Foundation. It also tells us nothing about what he thinks about Gitmo, which was the topic of the article from the Heritage Foundation.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 3, 2006 11:19 AM
Comment #131090

Ah, “semantics”… I could go on about how that term gets fundamentally mis- and overused, also.

This is just silly. This posting stated no position and presented no argument. There was no “salient” point, in fact no point at all, and that’s not a knock on Jack, it’s just stating that this article was only offering some stuff to read. Andre attacked no deductive argument, nor made one of his own that was predicated on an ad hominem fallacy. Therefore, his claims can’t simply be dismissed as fallacious, which is what Jack attempted to do.

Andre’s claim is actually pretty well-founded. Most “foundations” and “institutes” are partisan groups (usually right-wing, but perhaps not always) designed to spew PR-as-fact, that give themselves fancy names to masquerade as real, objective fact-seekers or present themselves as places where legitimate study occurs.

Posted by: Yossarian at March 3, 2006 12:19 PM
Comment #131102

Yossarian:

I know you are a lawyer—you’ve said so. I’m sure there’s some benefit in quibbling over whether the phrase ‘ad hominem’ is used properly or not, or whether the word ‘semantic’ fits (it does).

You seem to have missed my point. I agreed that Jack is an ‘engaging, thoughtful writer” and I stated that his points are very salient. In doing so, I referred to all of Jack’s posts, not just this thread. I find them insightful and informative. This thread is just expressing some of his interests.

My point about Andre was that he provided nothing that could be evaluated in his post. He brought up Guantanamo, but didn’t discuss it. He could have discussed WHY he felt the Heritage article was incorrect, and specified where he disagreed with it. He chose not to, instead attacking the Heritage Foundation itself without discussing Gitmo at all. Its self-evident that he disagreed with their article, since he labeled it “Guantanamo propoganda”, but he gives no reason for his disdain for the article other than its author.

In a court of law, you can suggest that a witness is not a truthful person. But if that person has facts that cannot be impugned, then their testimony can still be reliable. You’ve possibly used such people. The fact that a person has a criminal history does not destroy the credibility of their information. It can suggest to the jury that they need to evaluate the credibility of the witness, but that’s all.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 3, 2006 12:51 PM
Comment #131105
most “foundations” and “institutes” are partisan groups (mostly right wing….

The same can be said for most of the media from which we get our “facts”. They are mostly left-wing groups like the NY Times Foundation or the San Francisco Chronicle Institute. Does that mean that I can just dismiss the next suicide bombing story in the Times because I consider them left wing?

Posted by: Duano at March 3, 2006 1:05 PM
Comment #131116

>Most “foundations” and “institutes” are partisan groups (usually right-wing, but perhaps not always), designed to spew PR-as-fact>

Really?!? I spent 15 minutes listing 10 “institutes or foundations” that came to mind. After reviewing their websites, 8 of them are liberal-leaning. The problem with my method is that the foundations I listed are ones I can recall from reading/watching the news media.

If you are correct, Yoss, then there is anicdotal evidence that the media dis-proportionatly “spews” liberal “PR as fact”.

If one cared to take that a step further, one could observe that, in the name of free speech, there is more weight given to minority opinions and subliminal attempts to limit the same free speech of the majority. Although this applies to both ends of the ideological spectrum, It is most visible on the left.

One example of this is how an incredibly small minority can claim that “one nation under God” is unconstitutional and is actively attempting to prohibit the (95% or more) of us who WANT to acknowledge God’s influence in our lives and culture from doing so.

Another is declaring that the “Fellowship of Christian Atheletes” (voluntary “membership”) can not meet on school grounds - violation of the establishment clause.

etc, etc.

Posted by: Rich at March 3, 2006 1:26 PM
Comment #131122

“I just threw that in as an experiment to see what kind of silly, emotional response it would elicit. You and Aldous proved my point.”

i see. so long as you realize the total insignificance of anything and everything you have said, feel free to amuse yourself at the expense of others. i have borne no loss myself, except perhaps the loss of respect you may have otherwise been able to elicit from me - and i shall now proceed to relegate you to the list of unreliable resources whom i will ignore. good job.

joe,

the credibility of the ‘facts’ that a witness relates are contingent on the credibility of the witness that provides them. facts must be corroberated.
again, basing one’s entire rebuttal on the credibility of a source is insufficient, in my estimation. however, only a fool would accept a ‘fact’ without considering from whence it came. thus, the credibility of a source is always important. that is exactly why the claim that the media is liberally biased matters.

Posted by: diogenes at March 3, 2006 1:52 PM
Comment #131128

Jack,

Why do you always have to chuck a zinger out there? On some level I feel certain you don’t ACTUALLY think Fax News is either FAIR or BALANCED, you just couldn’t resist the shot.

There’s an awful lot there to comment on from this…just thought I just send this observation first.

RGF

Posted by: RGF at March 3, 2006 2:09 PM
Comment #131129

You know, Jack’s “Hysterical” series is rather interesting.
It gives us a much clearer view of where conservatives
get their news from, rather than the stereotype that
conservatives all just get their information from Fox News.
This is information that we really can’t ignore. Jack has
done us a great service by beginning this series. I look
forward to hearing more news sources that Jack finds
interesting enough to recommend to us, whether he agrees
with them or not, if only to see what he is reading and
thereby gain a window into the basis of the conservative
mindset.

We need more articles like Jack’s. The “Hysterical” one
is undeniably one of the best series of articles here on
the conservative side of the site. I think we should all
thank Jack. Is partisan feeling on this site so prevalent
that nobody else recognizes the benefit of this series?
Why is it that everyone seems to just be thinking that
this is “just another republican propaganda piece?”

Posted by: Jarandhel at March 3, 2006 2:12 PM
Comment #131141

JBOD,

I don’t think we’re really in disagreement here. Your analogy to a court of law demonstrates that you understanding of how things work in there is a mixed bag, but so is that of most people. Other than that, I have no problem with what Jack wrote, until he was dismissive of Andre on incorrect grounds in his later comment.

For the record, you’re also correct about Andre: he made an unsupported, bald statement. He happens to be right, but he didn’t prove it.

Duano,

I’m certain that you do dismiss the “left-wing” media quite regularly, and when it suits you. If I am wrong, I apologize.

There are manifold distinctions to draw between an objective journalism and PR projects directly funded by the Republican party, but I know that argument will inevitably devolve into you equating the two incorrectly, so I won’t bother.

Rich,

I’m going to struggle to be brief:

1) Your points regarding free speech are irrelevant.

2) That being said, if the incredibly small minority is correct that “under God” is unconstitutional, it doesn’t matter how many people want it in the pledge of allegiance. The amount of people who want something is irrelevant to its constitutionality.

3) However, I do concede that the media have fallen on their asses in recent years. Journalism has regressed from an investigative discipline that seeks objectively verifiable fact on its own, to a service that conveys the dueling publicity statements of both sides, none of which are completely factual. That isn’t objectivity, it’s just laziness.

This certainly has ranged far afield since my attempt to correct a relatively minor point. I find Jack’s article itself interesting. I like to see where the Right gets its “news”. It was his response to Andre, predicated on a common misunderstanding of an overused concept that happens to be in vogue right now, that drew my attention.

Posted by: Yossarian at March 3, 2006 2:45 PM
Comment #131143

Jack,

How’s this argument:

We have tortured and mistreated prisoners, but not at Guantanamo.Therefore we have not mistreated and tortured prisoners.
In you face liberals!

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at March 3, 2006 2:49 PM
Comment #131154

Yossarian,

I was intrigued about your definition of ad hominem, so I started doing the research. Wikipedia which you quoted offered broader definitions beyond the small version which you qouted above. In particular from the usage section,

“Merely insulting another person in the middle of otherwise rational discourse does not necessarily constitute an ad hominem fallacy. It must be clear that the purpose of the characterization is to discredit the person offering the argument, and, specifically, to invite others to discount his arguments.

It appears that the bolded section above could be applied to Andre’s comments regarding the Heritage Foundation. They also list “poisoning the well” as a sub-type of an ad hominem that appears to be directly in line with Andre’s attack on the Heritage Foundation.

Could you let me know why this doesn’t make sense?

Posted by: Rob at March 3, 2006 4:01 PM
Comment #131163

Rob,

Sure, to the best of my understanding.

I quoted the part I did because it stated a universal exclusion from what qualifies as ad hominem.

Moreover, the part you bolded is completely consistent with what I said: you must be inviting someone to discount another party’s deductive arguments. If so, that’s an argumentum ad hominem.

Discounting evidence or empirical results put forth by another party based upon the identity of that party, as that info pertains to credibility or other such issues, is not ad hominem.

Andre said NEWS from the Heritage Foundation was unreliable, due to that group’s ideological slant. News is not predicated upon deductive arguments; it is based on empiricism, observed phenomena and fact. Doubting facts set forth by a party based on the identity of the party is not an ad hominem fallacy, as it doesn’t even pertain to deductive reasoning. It might be ad hominem in a more conversational sense, in that it is attacking a person, but using it that way means you are no longer using the term in a “strict rules of logic” sense, and therefore can’t assert that it is a logical fallacy.

If they put forth an argument based on deduction, and Andre asked you to disregard their deduction, i.e. the validity of a piece of deductive reasoning, based on who the party making the argument was, that would be ad hominem.

The same thing applies to “poisoning the well”, and you are correct if you were saying that that is what Jack was accusing Andre of. Now, the Wikipedia definition does say that that notion applies more generally, but notice that it is saying that for the purposes of general, conversational and rhetorical usage, and is no longer talking about a true logical fallacy.

I wanted to avoid getting quite this technical. It’s terribly abstract, and it’s a fine point, but I’m awfully tired of people calling critiques “ad hominem” and trying to preclude the possibility of debate based on a conception they are mis-applying.

Generally, it is better to support things you say with information that isn’t prejudicial to the party you’re arguing against. But failing to do so doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re engaged in fallacious argumentation.

The problem with casual reading of the definition of the term is that you have to be careful to notice when the defintion has stopped talking about strict rules of logic, and is instead discussing general, conversational usage.

Let’s please drop it. I wish I’d never said anything. I just hate it when people get careless with terminology. I’m a word nerd.

Posted by: Yossarian at March 3, 2006 5:00 PM
Comment #131173

diogenes:

You said that “only a fool would accept a ‘fact’ without considering from whence it came. thus, the credibility of a source is always important.”

Which is precisely why I stated the
need to evaluate the credibility of the witness. What I also said, though, was the other side of the issue: that you don’t automatically throw out what a witness says simply because of who or what they are.

For instance, a drug-addicted prostitute gets raped. Should the jury ignore her claims because she gets paid to have sex, she is a drug addict, she has a criminal record etc.? Of course not, though those are certainly factors to help the jury assess whether she is believable.

Andre dismissed the Heritage Foundation article solely based on who said it, rather than any other factor. In the analogy, he’d have also dismissed the prostitute’s claims based solely on who she was. THAT is the problem with his logic.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 3, 2006 6:07 PM
Comment #131174

Guys

I probably will continue to misapply the term ad hominem in the technical way. This kind of thing is beyond my ability to understand. It makes my brain hurt and I will have to accept your word for it. But you will have to accept that I will not change my behavior, because I am stubborn and refuse to do anything unless I understand why. You can call me on it each time if you want. I believe in judging information by whether or not it is useful.

I don’t believe that it is useful to dismiss a whole set of arguments backed by data and information based only on the source. If the arguments are wrong, you should be able to show it in other ways. If my worst enemy told me it was raining, I might look out the window to check, but I would not just disregard his statement.

Heritage has a point of view that they state before each lecture at their place. But they are very good about following sources and checking facts. If they misstate facts, you should do more than say na-na-na-Heritage sucks.

Sometimes it is just a matter of values. As I wrote in my article about the environment below, sometimes we actually are not arguing facts. We can often agree on the facts of the case and still disagree on their significance or meaning because we are coming from a different set of values.

I don’t like it when either left or right attributes bad motives to the other side when they disagree. My belief about the difference between left and right in the U.S. has to do with freedom and justice. Both are good things, but sometime expanding one lessens the other. I don’t think it is zero sum. There is a place where you can have an optimal amount of both, but it does trade off. The right tends to be more concerned with freedom and the left with justice.

Posted by: Jack at March 3, 2006 6:07 PM
Comment #131179

Jack,

Fine by me.

I think a good, simple rule of thumb everybody should go by is, “Don’t invoke strict logical rules outside an honors thesis paper.”

JBOD,

In your example, those qualities of the prostitute (getting paid to have sex, using drugs, etc.) are completely irrelevant to the elements of the crime of rape, which is why they shouldn’t be brought up.

In this case, whether or not the American Heritage Foundation is funded by a group that has a vested interest in having its views vindicated by the Foundation’s findings (which they are), is terribly relevant in evaluating their ability to act impartially in finding fact.

Very different situations.

Posted by: Yossarian at March 3, 2006 7:06 PM
Comment #131181

Jack,
you didn’t misapply “ad hominem”. It’s a simple concept, easy to apply. If you attack your opponents character or appeal to emotion or prejudice rather than reason you have committed the logical fallacy called ad hominem.(sourced from my college logic textbook and two dictionaries)

Posted by: steve at March 3, 2006 7:48 PM
Comment #131189

Is anyone going to talk about the AP video that shows Bush being informed of the possible damage Katrina could cause, how the astrodome was 14 feet below sea level and how the levees were not guaranteed to hold? The video that specifically contradicts his statement that he no one could foresee the catastrophe?

Posted by: Matt at March 3, 2006 8:38 PM
Comment #131198

Accusing someone of an ad-hominem attack for questioning the validity of a source ITSELF qualifies as an ad-hominem attack.

Posted by: ElliottBay at March 3, 2006 10:32 PM
Comment #131211

joe,

your right. sorry, i was in a rush.

Posted by: diogenes at March 3, 2006 11:17 PM
Comment #131253

Whew!!! I’m glad we got THAT srttled…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 4, 2006 2:09 AM
Comment #132092

Has anyone suggested to the United Nations that the Guantanimo Bay detainment facility is not even the worst prison on the island of Cuba?

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at March 8, 2006 10:28 AM
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