TCS Daily


Two Strategies for Avoiding Truth

By Arnold Kling - January 5, 2007 12:00 AM

"Physicists do it...Psychologists do it...Even political scientists do it...Research findings confirming a hypothesis are accepted more or less at face value, but when confronted with contrary evidence, we become "motivated skeptics" ... picking apart possible flaws in the study, recoding variables, and only when all the counterarguing fails do we rethink our beliefs...

But what about ordinary citizens?...On reading a balanced set of pro and con arguments about affirmative action or gun control, we find that rather than moderating or simply maintaining their original attitudes, citizens - especially those who feel the strongest about the issue and are the most sophisticated - strengthen their attitudes in ways not warranted by the evidence."

-- Charles S. Taber and Milton Lodge, Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs

I am going to suggest that democratic politics is a very poor information-processing mechanism. The great mass of people form their political beliefs with little regard for facts or logic. However, the elites also have a strategy for avoiding truth. Elites form their political beliefs dogmatically, using their cleverness to organize facts to fit preconceived prejudices. The masses' strategy for avoiding truth is to make a low investment in understanding; the elites' strategy is to make a large investment in selectively choosing which facts and arguments to emphasize or ignore.

This essay represents a distillation of some ideas contained in a voluminous issue of a journal called Critical Review. I was particularly influenced by Jeffrey Friedman's introduction and by Gregory J. Wawro's "The Rationalizing Public?" Readers who are willing to plow through the rest of my essay will also enjoy Critical Review, as well as a new blog called overcoming bias, which is about dealing with psychological obstacles to objective analysis.

The Critical Review issue is built around a 1964 essay by public opinion researcher Philip E. Converse, called "The Nature of Belief Systems of Mass Publics." Converse suggested that the political beliefs of roughly 90 percent of the population are incoherent. Most voters lack elementary knowledge of our political system, they hold views that are ideologically jumbled and logically inconsistent, and their opinions change over time in ways that suggest almost random behavior. He suggested that there is a relative sharp fall-off in the coherence of opinions as one goes from the most highly-involved segment of the voting public. Hence, although it is likely that citizens' level of information falls along a continuum, it is a reasonable approximation to speak in terms of elite and mass.

Ignorance is Blissfully Cost-Effective

The general public follows what I would call a "low-investment" strategy for avoiding the truth. They do not know the names of their representatives. They do not know the difference between a Sunni and a Shia. They do not know the approximate size of the Budget deficit or its outlook. And so on.

Ilya Somin, in his contribution to the Critical Review volume, points out that there is no particular reason for citizens to make a large investment in learning facts or forming coherent beliefs about political issues. The low probability that your vote will make a difference makes for an adverse cost-benefit calculation from obtaining information. Bryan Caplan, in this essay based on his forthcoming book, Myth of the Rational Voter, makes a similar point.

The authors in the Critical Review volume give a number of illustrations of public ignorance. For instance, Wawro writes,

One of my favorite examples...In February 2003, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 72 percent of those surveyed believed that it was "likely" that "Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks."

...Self-identified Republicans were (and still are) far more likely to think there was a connection than were Democrats.

Somin points out that

a 2002 Gallup Survey of public opinion in Arab and Muslim nations found large majorities denying that the September 11 attacks were carried out by "groups of Arabs." ... A 2002 survey conducted by the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram found that 39 percent of Egyptian respondents blamed the September 11 attacks on "Israeli intelligence/the Mossad," while only 19 percent said that "Al-Qa'eda or other Islamic militants" were responsible.

Micro Ignorance, Macro Wisdom?

Some theorists have tried to put a positive spin on the fact that most people make very little investment in developing logical coherence or factual underpinnings for their political beliefs. As Wawro puts it,

But all is not lost, according to many public-opinion researchers. They claim that neither factual knowledge of American government and politics, nor well-formed political opinions, are essential to making "good" political choices. The typical citizen can get by pretty well by using various cues that are easily and cheaply accessible. Furthermore, although things may look problematic at the individual level, the aggregation of choices and opinions eliminates the pernicious effects of ignorance and apathy, making the public as a whole appear "rational" or competent.

These are two arguments that are commonly made to suggest that in spite of the individual ignorance of the typical voter, the overall decisions of the political process are sound. The political process gives us the wisdom of crowds, as it were.

The argument for macro wisdom is that ignorant individuals either take their cues from informed elites or vote randomly. In either case, the elites become the decisive actors, and the ignorance of the masses has little impact.

Converse himself strongly rejects the view that mass ignorance is unimportant. In his 1964 article, he pointed out how the voters who gave the Nazi party a plurality in 1930 "represented one of the more unrelievedly ill-informed clienteles that a major party has assembled in a modern state." He argued that that the peasants and first-time voters who gave the Nazis their victory could have easily been captured by the Communists or some other political party, with very different historical results.

Moreover, if the general public is ignorant, then elites are free to act against the interest of the general public. Converse sees this from a left-leaning perspective, leading to policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Somin sees it from a right-leaning perspective, leading to government power that is excessive and unchecked. He writes,

Rationally ignorant voters are unable to keep track of more than a tiny fraction of all this government activity. Indeed, they probably would be unable to do so even with considerably greater knowledge than most of them currently possess. Other things equal, the greater the size and complexity of government, the greater the likelihood that many of its activities will escape meaningful democratic control.

Shaping and Slicing

In May, 2005, the ombudsman or "public editor" for the New York Times, Dan Okrent, wrote

Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.

Krugman uses what I call a high-investment strategy for avoiding truth. He puts considerable effort into emphasizing facts and arguments that support his overall position, while ignoring conflicting evidence. However, in this regard, he is far from atypical as an opinion leader. As Jeffrey Friedman puts it,

To liberal ears, a Rush Limbaugh or a Sean Hannity, while well informed about which policies are advocated by conservatives and liberals, will seem appallingly ignorant of the arguments and evidence for liberal positions. The same goes in reverse for a Frank Rich or a Paul Krugman

Rush Limbaugh and Paul Krugman clearly fall within the elite, according to the standards set by Converse and other opinion researchers. They know the facts about the structure of the American political system and the identities of major office-holders. They understand the connections between various beliefs. They maintain consistent positions, and their opinions are highly predictable, unlike the unstable, random positions that show up in polling of the mass public.

Limbaugh and Krugman may not necessarily be wrong (although it is hard for both of them to be right). However, both follow strategies that are designed to reinforce prior beliefs of conservatives and liberals, respectively. They highlight information and arguments that support their prior beliefs. When they encounter contrary evidence, they engage in "motivated skepticism," seeking to undermine the credibility or minimize the significance of the adverse information.

In fact, one could argue that Limbaugh and Krugman do not have wisdom that exceeds that of the ignorant public. However, while the typical individual's rationalizations of his or her beliefs are illogical and ill-informed, Limbaugh's and Krugman's rationalizations are clever and erudite.

Of Politics and Markets

One of my strongly-held beliefs, for which I tend to attract supporting evidence and repel contrary arguments, is that markets process information more effectively than does the political process. Perhaps it as an exaggeration to refer to the market as the "world of truth," as Tim Harford does in The Undercover Economist. However, it strikes me that it is easier for market forces to drive a bad firm out of business than it is for political forces to extinguish a policy that fails to meet the objectives that purportedly drive its enactment.

Those who believe in the wisdom of the political process might argue that the competition between political elites--between Democrats and Republicans or between Krugman and Limbaugh--promotes reasonable outcomes. However, I suspect that the net result of this competition is to lead to greater accretion of government power, giving the elites more to fight over. Politics ultimately becomes a competition to promise the undeliverable, whether it be better public education, inexpensive health care, or government suppression of drug abuse or sexual immorality.

I believe in democracy because I distrust the elites. I distrust the elites because I believe that self-deception is widespread, and the elites are particularly skilled at it. Accordingly, I believe that it is important for those in power to have the humility of knowing that they may be voted out of office.

Others believe in democracy because they are hoping to see the triumph of a particular elite. Many liberals want to see sympathetic technocrats manipulating the levers of government, nominally for the greater good. I see government technocrats as inevitably embedded in a political system that inefficiently processes information. The more they attempt, the more damage they are likely to do. Many conservatives want to see government used for "conservative ends." However, I believe that the more that government tries to correct the flaws of families, the more flawed families will become.

As Taber and Lodge observe in the quotation with which this essay began, in all of our intellectual pursuits we tend to follow strategies for avoiding truth. The more knowledgable we are, the more we follow a high-investment strategy of selectively accepting evidence that favors our outlook while discounting contrary information. In science, this process ultimately is checked by the methods of experimentation, prediction, and falsification. In markets, it is checked by the process of profit and loss. In politics, the checks are less powerful. Our political beliefs are likely to be especially unreliable, regardless of which strategy we use to avoid truth.


Categories:

314 Comments

"appallingly ignorant"
"To liberal ears, a Rush Limbaugh or a Sean Hannity, while well informed about which policies are advocated by conservatives and liberals, will seem appallingly ignorant of the arguments and evidence for liberal positions. The same goes in reverse for a Frank Rich or a Paul Krugman."

That weasely "seem" aside, the naked claim that Limbaugh, Hannity, Rich and Krugman are "appallingly ignorant" is entirely unsupported: from what I've seen, all those folks are entirely capable of "holding their own" in debates on the issues they concentrate on.

But in their articles and commentary do polemicists have to genuflect before the opinions of those whose core principles they disagree with? Do they have to concede this or that point, before making their own case, which they believe is much stronger?

I don't think so. Politics ain't beanbag, nor is it a forum for "fair and balanced" debate. Partisans do not approach political issues in a balanced manner. Instead they are engaged in "sharpening the issues", thereby exposing the otherwise "ill-informed" public to competing choices, values, and trade-offs.

This is a good thing. If the authors of this article can offer an alternative to the cacophonous and confrontational "marketplace of ideas", they should enlighten us proles and groundlings as to how it would operate.

Developing good study habits
As a tool for evaluating one's subjective determinations of what is truth and what is error, this article breaks tremendously important ground.

The author suggests something I've noted here in the forum-- the tendency for people to speed-read information according to a single criterion: whether it confirms or denies their core beliefs.

Upon finding a high score in the "confirm" category, they read and imbibe the contents avidly. And upon having read some dozens or hundreds of such articles they feel themselves well informed.

On encountering statements that deny their core beliefs, they consign the material (and its author) to a large, amorphous stack labelled "suspicious", or "distorted" views. Later, any material encountered from such a source can be discounted and written off without even being scanned. The pattern recognition software in their brains allows them to delete such ideas without actually having ever evaluated them.

This kind of information bubble world gives rise to faulty decision making. When it is the method of operation of, say, the president of the world's sole superpower, it can be disastrous to that president's undertakings. Typically such a person can say, with gusto, "I only get my information from trusted sources".

How much better, it would seem to me, to develop the skill of critical evaluation, whereby all available information could be processed into two piles-- "fact" and "opinion". And the "opinion" pile could then be set aside for the moment while the "fact" pile was subjected to critical evaluation.

The ability to recognize alleged facts and to check them for accuracy is not so arcane or difficult that it could not be taught in the secondary school system. Currently this skill can mostly just be found in journalism classes. Or at Wikipedia.

Written comments should stimulate curiosity-- not just ring one of two bells... "truth" or "error". When one submits to the drive to only reinforce beliefs already held, the door to knowledge has already closed.

funny
Coming from one of the most dogmatic posters in these forums. But, I'm sure you think it is everyone else who is being dogmatic. Anyway, thanks for the morning chuckle.

I wonder when Roy will begin to apply this theory to himself
This from the guy who declares that he knows nothing about finance, doesn't want to know anything about finance, yet wants us to take his opinions on finance as gospel.

How about strategies for idenfitying lies?
We have enterprises like the Swift Boat effort that are systematically dedicated to spreading misinformation, deliberately, about important public issues. The ongoing efforts right here on TCS to avoid acknowledgement of the state of science on climate change is another longstanding example. Or creation science.

Media feel constrained to cover debates on a on-the-one-hand-this, on the other hand that give both sides a chance to express views, which gives the appearance of non-partisanship, but can obscure and confuse debate. The fact is, lots of money and power is at stake, and huge benefits can accrue from floating lies.

Regarding masses and elites - yes, most people don't have either the time or the qualifications to delve into the specifcs of (for example) atmospheric chemistry. So they are vulnerable to misrepresentation, particularly well-funded misrepresentation. And deliberate misrepresentation over the past 10 years have come, overwhelmingly, from the right, over and over.

Plato wasn't all wrong?
Maybe there's something to Plato's critque of democracy after all. If in a democracy we're all ruled by our appetites (desires), we tend to eschew wisdom - unless what goes by the name wisdom backs up our desires.

We could start by highlighting any of your posts
The Swift Boat Veterens told the truth, as has been proven over and over again.

The only ones here trying to avoid acknowledging the state of science on climate change has been you and roy.

Please stop lying
The Swift boat veteran charges were investigated in detail. They were false. There isn't any wiggle room on this: one after another. But you don't want to even look. Likewise with your utterly baseless noises about atmospheric science. You aren't an expert: you have no back up, but you just continue to spout fiction.

Perception is reality
As much as I disagree with that concept, perception is reality, there is some actual physics based theory to support that.

As for democracy and markets, as long as the government doesn't do something that really fires up the masses, they can get away with it. Recall how fast Congress responded to the telemarketer's 'do not call' list.

Elites may not agree that the masses spend their money the way they are supposed to, if natural selection plays in the marketplace, people will spend their resources in their best interests.

The danger I see with too many layers of government protection is people are not punished for their stupidity or are protected from reality.

Why don't the media show people jumping from the WTC? Or why didn't they show Saddam's hanging?
Not too many years ago people died at home with their families, including children, around them. Now they die alone in hospitals.
People used to hunt animals. Now parents don't want their children to see deer that have been shot.

Too much government, desired by the elites for their purposes, can insulate people from the the real world.

Our current civilization has a very thin veneer as we witnessed in New Orleans.

One EMP pulse over the USA will significantly challege people's perception of reality.

Why don't you start?
Let's see you cite some objective sources to support our assertions.

The only one spouting fiction on this issue is you
You are a perfect example of those who digest only what agrees with his pre-concieved notions. You post things and say the NAS (or any one of number of other organizations) has said what you post. Upon reading the statement by the scientific group, any dunderhead can see your statements and theirs do not agree. Yet you insist they do no matter how much information to the contrary is presented to you. This is either a lack of reading comprehension on your part or a total disregard for the truth.

Yet here you are spouting about how others lie and mis-represent the truth.

LOL! This is good comedy to start the new year!

Sure. The NAS is just another group of online losers
Please stop making this up:

>. Upon reading the statement by the scientific group, any dunderhead can see your statements and theirs do not agree.

Except you have never been able to show this by quotes. You just keep asserting it.

> Yet you insist they do no matter how much information to the contrary is presented to you

Make me a liar. Try presenting information instead of statements that you have presented information.

>This is either a lack of reading comprehension on your part or a total disregard for the truth.

I am very much able to read the sentence "you're wrong." The problem is, you won't present proof.

>LOL! This is good comedy to start the new year!

And you look great in the floppy shoes, red nose and bald wig with the hair around the side. Watch out: those big buttons may get in the way of your typing.

Hello??
>Let's see you cite some objective sources to support our assertions.

why dont you support your assertions and I'll support mine.

As always, confused and dazed
I know, a few months was a long time ago and it is tough to remember yesterday, let alone anything much further back. But this is just pure lying in any case.

I tried to take you through a NAS statement you posted word by word to show you where it disagreed with your statement. You twisted, tried to use other non-relavent sources and generally used every means you could contrive to aviod toe naked truth right in front of you.

I did not keep asserting anything, I simply pointed out to you where the NAS position was not what you claimed, using your own NAS reference and your own statement.

As for ever doing it again, no way!! Once was enough, and we've been there twice. That was twice too much for any lifetime!!

The fact is, you are either so deep into your dogma on this issue that you refuse to see anything (weather neutral or contrary to your beliefs) that isn't as far out there as you are.

I've proven you a liar twice, using your own references. The joke is that you claim it either didn't happen or you can't remember. LOLOLOLOL.

BTW - Thank you, I like the clown suit as well!! I will watch out for the big buttons!

Perhaps, perhaps not
"Dogmatic" in this instance just means representing a contrasting point of view. But in any event, consider the advice on its own merits. Don't just malign the source.

paragraph two
I've heard of butt naked, but toe naked is a new one. ;*)

Your recollections don't coincide with mine
>I did not keep asserting anything, I simply pointed out to you where the NAS position was not what you claimed, using your own NAS reference and your own statement.

And I showed you in detail that it did. If you want to dig out the thread, we can go over this again. I can understand why you don't want to get specific.

>The fact is, you are either so deep into your dogma on this issue that you refuse to see anything (weather neutral or contrary to your beliefs) that isn't as far out there as you are.

If you think the NAS and AGW are "out there," god bless you.

> I like the clown suit as well!! I will watch out for the big buttons!

It suits you and adds much to your credibility.

Democracy and its discontents
There's no problem with the idea of democracy, per se. We should have as good an approximation as we can of a just and equitable government, if everyone is franchised, they all vote their own best interests and there is some order built into the system to protect minority rights.

Of course even granting that, democracy can be subverted in a number of imaginative ways. One is to rule that money is speech. Because then those with more money get to exercise louder speech, drowning out all those with no money.

Another way is to co-opt the system by turning it into a duopoly-- a system dominated by two players who agree between themselves to keep everyone else out. They can then alternate their rule in some gentlemanly fashion. :)

I'm sure if we put our minds to it we can find lots of other neat ways to undermine democracy. And believe me, plenty are doing just that with their free time. Honest men have to work to stay ahead of them.

A non sequitur
The thread is not about finance. It is about distinguishing truth from fiction, and identifying bias.

Your comments on the actual subject at hand would be graciously anticipated.

split infinitive
"But you don't want even to look."

Jeez, if you're going to make such an appallingly tendentious and false claim, at least have the good graces to use proper English.

Well put
But more than that, you have to recognize "facts" even when they don't agree with your world views. No matter how well informed, you can't recognize the "truth" until you recognize all the facts.

LOLOL ;)
You just have to love incidental typos like that one!

Lets, shall we
Dig out the thread buddy, It would take me a while to find it, but I'm more than willing. You were not representing the NAS position then and haven't since. I have no trouble getting specific, and I never said the NAS was "out there", just that you are.

Thank you, the clown suit is popular with my children and all with 9-year-old mentalities.

Sorry, you were the one who said so; you dig it out
Or say how I misrepresented the NAS here, by quote, not parapharse.
Or is that big red nose stopping you?

unplit infinitive
a split infinitive (pretty much a dead issue, by the way) would be "But you don't want to even look."

silliest objection in recent memory
It is hard with this kind of lame pedantry up with to put.

The Gag: Progress
Here's something for you to ponder, rb: How can democratic gubmint serve as the primary agent of human progress if (1) the masses are willfully ignorant, intellectually apathetic and led too easily around by their noses by (2) elites who employ their impressive intellects to deceive themselves and the masses?

Answer: Democratic gubmint can't, which is why the best part of King's article reads: “Other things equal, the greater the size and complexity of government, the greater the likelihood that many of its activities will escape meaningful democratic control.”

See, only a gubmint that escapes meaningful democratic control can evade the barriers that willful ignorance, self-deception and periodic voting throw in the way of a continuous, gubmint instituted progress according to a rational and just plan. This means you progressive types must either give up democracy or give up your dreams of gubmint driven human progress to utopia. Or?

You made the claim they were wrong.
Defend your assertion.

I assert you are wrong.

Increasing the minimum wage
Dear Anonymous Poster:

You will recall, in connection with the question of raising the minimum wage, that I agreed with the suggestion made by Tim Worstall, in his excellent article right here at TCS. In said article he proffered that the superior way to address inadequate incomes would not be to force the employer to pay, but rather to adjust the Earned Income Credit portion of the tax code to in effect become a negative tax schedule, by setting a floor for earned income below which a person fully employed would be able to enter a negative tax bracket, and get a check directly from Uncle.

I was open to new suggestions. I read Tim's. I liked Tim's. And I made it my own.

Why do you suppose I follow this site? I read and consider many of the articles that appear here. And I disagree with more than I agree with, yes. But they all prompt me to do further research, making me better informed about the issues than I was before the articles appeared. So I find this to be a valuable resource, one promoting further study on important issues.

Would that everyone could read the articles posted here and elsewhere on the web in that same spirit!

Depreciation
Your memory may be a little foggy on the details. I'm actually a big fan of depreciation. If an oil company makes money on the oil coming out of a whole in the ground, it makes a weird sort of sense that they pay less in taxes on their profits, the more that hole becomes depleted.

What I believe I stated was that ordinary wage eanrers should have access to that same principle. Because as they proceed through their working lives, aren't they depleting the one asset they have to offer-- their usable remaining work life?

A depreciation schedule could easily be worked out for working people according to existing actuarial data. And I think it would be a very fair adjustment.

I'm sure I couldn't say
The manner in which you've posed your question makes any sensible answer impossible. It's one of those artful "when did you stop beating your wife" questions.

You're very good at setting up tautologies.

Caring about any of the sides
Very well put, Joanie. In fact if there is any bias in my own reading habits it's that I rarely bother to read anything that reflects my own point of view. For instance I've never listened to Air America even once.

Why would I? The only thing I could say on finishing would be "I agree. There's nothing you've added to my understanding, but thank you."

Here I find provocative pieces presented from a perspective I haven't considered before. And once in a while I am convinced. But in any case I profit from the debate, and from the extra reading it prompts.

I am concerned about single minded zealots, of course. But I think I am more concerned about that far greater number of people who are cynical and unmotivated to engage in our politics. Their inertia is what prevents meaningful change. They never question, and so long as they remain such a large entity in our public life, politicians feel they can do what they want with us-- we won't care.

More people can name the contestants on American Idol than can name their own congress person. It has been said that every nation gets the government it deserves. And I think the proof of that is in Washington.

Intolerance as a Virtue - A time to stick to your guns!
I'm sorry, but the idea that one should form opinions by taking a weighted average of a selected sample of others opinions is also a form of close-mindedness.

There are times when we simply have to disregard opinions that are ignorant, immature or biased. Are you going to listen to your kids about the nutritional value of an all ice cream breakfast, should they propose it or are you going to summarily dismiss it? (Granted life isn't always that simple and we are rarely that sure).

However, even in the real world-there are times when intolerance is called for-David Duke doesn't get a minute of my time, nor does Louis Farrakhn. Life is to short for me to sift through the piles of debris that are contained in their rants, to give them some benefit of doubt if I find some insignificant pearl of truth in their copius mountains of trash. When the Dukester

Radical conciliarism was the modus operandi of Neville Chamberlain-but it was Churchill who properly ascertained the nature of the *****, their intent and capacity. Ultimately, the situation called for one of two courses of action and one was wrong.

Nor is this confined to politics and culture. Should Einstein have listened to caucaphony that arose in favor of Newtonian mechanics when he first formulated the theory of relativity? Read about how Pasteur was treated as a pariah when he first began to propose that infection was the manifestation of microbes (then visit a civil war museum that depicts the "surgery" of that time-unsanitary, no anasthesia, etc. As bad as that was, it was nothing compared to the "medicine" that was parodied by Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live.

To the extent being open-minded allows one to collect information and evidence-its a good thing, but when its time to make a decision-you often have to follow a path that will not get you plaudits from others.

To thine own self be true.


Typical dodge
You say I proved nothing, you say that digging up the string will prove it, then you say I should dig up the string to prove it.

As I've said several times since the last time I went through that circular nonsense with you, NO. I will not do it again.

If you are so sure of yourself, you dig up the string; but make sure it is the entire string with both sides involved.

I've already shown how you misrepresented the NAS and the IPCC (I believe). I don't have to do it again amd won't.

EIC - Worstall
The first modification to the "earned income credit" should be to rename it. Since its not based on earned income and is NOT a credit against taxes due- it should be called what it is - a gift from taxpayers. I propose calling it "IRS Welfare"-funny how the IRS browbeats people to seek this out.

Mr. Worstall is a prolific, provocative and usually informed writer. In this case, he's recycling an old marxist proposal, one that creates dependency, provides a gratutitious gift to some and does nothing to solve the proplem of low wages- which would chiefly be youth, inexperience, a lack of skills, criminal past, bad credit, poor work history, etc.

Before you congratulate yourself on your open-mindedness, its not about metaphorically choosing a new flavor of candy-its not about being a grownup and considering broccoli.



at least he knows how to spell it, if not how to apply it
The subject is about distinguishing truth from fiction, the example of finance reveals just how you refuse to do that.

The comments were wholy apropos. Your just upset because you got caught telling whoppers again.

It's your assetion you back it up
But I see you can't.
You look a little silly yelling with that red nose bobbing up and down..

>I've already shown how you misrepresented the NAS and the IPCC (I believe).

Repeat it a few more times. It still won't wash.

I remember the debate exactly the anon states it.
Though I'm not surprised that you are trying to distance yourself from your earlier errors.

They reconcile completely with mine
...

Sure. Here's a rundown of the Swift Boat stuff
http://www.factcheck.org/article231.html

this is from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. If you see any specific assertion they make that you believe is incorrect, by all means bring it forward here, and also report it to them. If you just want to say that they are biased, that does not count. Even assuming they are biased, you also have to show that they are wrong.

Defend your reputation or shut up eric
You are the one who claimed the string would prove I did nothing but assert, with no proof.

Bring it!

But you will not as even you are not that stupid.

And I like the red nose, it matches my shoes and bow-tie!

they should, you were a part of it if I remember correctly
I believe you were in on the NAS thread and added a few points I missed.

Wriggle, wriggle wriggle
Look, here were my exact words to start this thread:

>Make me a liar. Try presenting information instead of statements that you have presented information.

And you refused. And still refuse. You don't have to present the whole string; you just have to present a quote showing me misrepresenting (say) the NAS.

Note that I cannot prove a negative: nothing I can post here will definitely show that I never contradicted the NAS. But if you say I did, it's on you to show it.

The red nose also matches the rest of your face.

Biased in presentation, but proves little
This is certainly baised in Kerry's favor, but much of it is tit-for-tat with no empirical evidence that either side is right or wrong. This is especially true and telling on the issue of Kerry's Bronze Star and third Purple Heart. In fact, it would appear, that Kerry's own statements back up the assertation he did not deserve the third PH.

You have names of witnesses and quotes from official records
that flatly contradict swiftboat assertions. the vast majority of the evidence backs Kerry, with even themost dubious elements having some support, while statement after statement by Swiftboaters is shown to be completely groundless. And you say this "proves little???"

Minimum wage
While I oppose redistribution in general there is one strong difference in the approach you stated vs the minimum wage. I have argued, futile as it seems, to point out that minimum wage increases cause inflation to the point that after the wage market correction takes place the wage increase is null and you have in effect created a placebo effect. Now creating a negative tax schedule would likely place real dollars (I have not researched this) in the hands of people. As stated I am opposed to wealth redistribution but if we are going to tinkering with market forces then at least lets place real dollars in the hands of people. The downside is that from a political perspective the minimum wage has more political impact than a tax break. Minimum wage workers are not likely to be interested in economic debates.

Agreed
Yes, all this is really wealth redistribution with the exception of the minimum wage which is a placebo. Without rehashing my ongoing arguments with certain posters about the myth of the minimum wage at least with a IRS welfare perhaps the handouts are real dollars? Since we are saddled with a generation, or two, that insist on continuing the failures of the social welfare state I am beginning to think that it is futile.

Neither are you
Anything about a democrat must be false right? Kerry could not possibly be what they said. However, if it had been Bush it would be gospel. Same with Global Warming. Perhaps there is some but is it automatic catalysium? One reason I am sooo skeptical is all my life the left has spouted doom and gloom and it never comes true. I have noticed that with you anything you disagree with is pure fiction. Are we also avoiding the truth?

Leeming
Yeah, I have argued with him for days. You can point to any number of arguments and theories and he will still tow the poliburo line. Then after I tire of going in the same circle he declares victory. It would be funny if so many others didn't live in the same state of denial.

Leeming
Please do not confuse him with any facts. His mind is made up. I often wonder would the Swift Vets been taken seriously if Bush had been the subject instead of Kerry. Of that I am quite sure.

TCS Daily Archives