July 14, 2017

Predictions with multiple components-- if one part fails, overall prediction may still seem true

Nate Silver will make predictions that have multiple components, so that if one part fails, the overall prediction will seem to have come true, even if its coming true had no relation to the reasons Silver originally offered.

See, e.g., "It's a tight race. Clinton's the favorite but close enough that Trump would probably pull ahead if he 'wins' debate." Silver can look back and say "I saw that Trump could pull ahead."

But what he actually predicted was that Trump could pull ahead based on debate performance. If he pulls ahead for some other reason, Silver is completely wrong (because he had excluded that other possibility), yet he seems right.


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March 28, 2017

Projecting Trump

Projecting what you don't like about Trump, onto Trump supporters, a masterclass of normalization by Chris Brecheen, writer about writing.

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March 25, 2017

No time to study to be competent to judge many questions, then no time to believe.

Who among us has not shared posts without fact-checking them? Unfortunately, that doesn't make it right. Almost everything that we encounter online is being presented to us by for-profit algorithms, and by us, post by post, tweet by tweet. That fact, even more than the spread of fake news, can be its own sort of shell game, one that we are pulling on ourselves.

As the late-19th-century mathematician W. K. Clifford noted in his famous essay, "The Ethics of Belief," ambivalence about objective evidence is an attitude corrosive of democracy. Clifford ends the essay by imagining someone who has "no time for the long course of study" that would make him competent to judge many questions. Clifford's response is withering: "Then he should have no time to believe."

-- Michael P. Lynch, a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, is the author of the "Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data." Twitter: @Plural_truth.

January 19, 2017

Hacking the news is social engineering: Clint Watts

The media is getting played, too

"The American press has focused a disproportionate amount of attention on Russian hacking and cyberattacks, and the reporting itself has only muddied the truth for most in the audience:

-- says Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent and Executive Officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, in an interview with CJR. Watts is now a senior fellow at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, where he analyzes social bots, trolls, and websites that intelligence agencies say are the foot soldiers of Russia's information war.

"The hacking generates information, which promotes Russia's influence campaign, but the end objective is to convince people to choose a candidate based on Russia's preference. This is getting confused, because people hear 'hack' and they think their votes are being changed."

It's a classic page from the Cold War playbook, says Watts, adding that Putin has brought new meaning to the Soviet-Era doctrine of using "the force of politics" rather than "the politics of force."

"The main success of this campaign is not that it took place, but the panic we are in now," Meister adds. "We've lost our self-confidence in our system, in our democracy, in our elections and in our media. That's the biggest success of the Russian campaign."

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March 10, 2015

I would have to be looking for a way to wear down or tear down their No into a Fine, I Won't Stop You.

I would have to be looking for a way to wear down or tear down their No into a Fine, I Won't Stop You.

December 31, 2014

A guide for discussing research you don't agree with

Obviously, these arguments are often correct. Experimental studies really are better than quasi-experimental studies which really are better than regression analyses which are certainly better than nothing. Big, broadly representative samples really are better than narrow ones and it is important to have multiple studies back up a conclusion. But given that people tend to read what they want to read in research, these points tend to be used more as bludgeons than as good faith critiques.


Economists do it with models, via Dylan Matthews at the Washington Post:
: just for fun: a handy guide for discussing research you don't agree with.

February 28, 2014

Rhetoric of economics, marketplace is society

"We don't control what they do. We do support them.

We do support broadly what they are trying to do in the marketplace
-- in society maybe is a better way to say it."

"We are a commercial organization trying to bring health care treatments to patients.
I think, on balance, we are helping people."

-- Tom Casola, the Shire vice president who oversees the A.D.H.D. division.

Mrs. Parry still has the pamphlet given to her by the school psychologist, which states: "Parents should be aware that these medicines do not 'drug' or 'alter' the brain of the child. They make the child 'normal.' " She and her husband, Michael, put Andy on Ritalin. The Parrys later noticed that on the back of the pamphlet, in small type, was the logo of Ciba-Geigy. A school official told them in a letter, which they provided to The Times, that the materials had been given to the district by a Ciba representative.

"They couldn't advertise to the general public yet," said Michael Parry, adding that his son never had A.D.H.D. and after three years was taken off Ritalin because of sleep problems and heart palpitations. "But somebody came up with this idea, which was genius. I definitely felt seduced and enticed. I'd say baited."

December 14, 2013

Skew as a normative descriptor

Among the significant problems that aren't getting resolved is the site's skewed coverage: its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive, but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy. Authoritative entries remain elusive.

Of the 1,000 articles that the project's own volunteers have tagged as forming the core of a good encyclopedia, most don't earn even Wikipedia's own middle-­ranking quality scores.

November 15, 2013

Arts ok to have opinions, but not science or government ?

One concern about any NPR reporter appearing in another news outlet is whether she or he is put in a potentially compromising position. As NPR's ethics handbook says:

...[W]e refrain from appearing on television discussion shows where the format is designed to produce heated, highly political debates. We go on TV to talk about our reporting and the news of the day, not to offer opinions (with the obvious exceptions of our music, arts and books critics -- and, if any are hired, news commentators). If asked to offer opinions when on the air, we rely on our reporting and offer context -- citing, for example, what public opinion polls signal about how an issue is playing rather than our personal opinions.

October 27, 2013

How to argue: twitter gently cautions its readers before offending them

Another field has a telling name: "possibly_sensitive." It's set to either true or false. The field indicates whether a tweet links to potentially offensive things such as "nudity, violence, or medical procedures." (If ever you wanted a snapshot of our world's anxieties in three terms, there you have it.) As a user you can check a box on your profile so that the media you link to is automatically flagged this way. If you don't, you risk having your pictures of your medical procedure marked as objectionable by an offended reader and thus put "in review," the Twitter version of limbo.

A field like this indicates the inherent difficulty of managing an enormous platform like Twitter. The only way the company survives is if it can safely ignore most of what's said on Twitter. If it had to use employees to monitor tweets, it wouldn't last a day. But in order to attract as many users as possible, it must find ways to avoid horrifying them.

There's a great deal of hedging in both the words "possibly" and "sensitive." The end result is that Twitter is putting the moral burden on the user. One person's art is another person's smut, and Twitter is not going to decide which is which--nor is it going to force you to look at the stuff. This position is both somewhat noble for its acceptance of the range of human expression and also highly expedient, putting the responsibility back on the user: We told you the picture was "possibly sensitive," so why did you look at it?

July 15, 2013

Do what you like

f full acknowledgment of desires, which can be a really vulnerable experience, and one of the things I argue in the book is that so much of the training that young women and young men have had in terms of how to be successful and get what you want and go out and get a degree and get a career, are all very much about being agentic in the world, and they're not necessarily about knowing desires that make you feel vulnerable.

Although, arguably, striving for success is a vulnerable thing too, it's exposing -- but we don't really have a way of describing ambition or desire as something that is vulnerable. I'd sort of like the term "vulnerability" to come to be one that people understand as showing strength, as opposed to weakness.

-- Tracy Clark-Flory

June 15, 2013

Making it real

Revelations, captivating as they are, have been partial --they primarily focus on one government agency and on the surveillance end of intelligence work, purportedly done in the interest of national security. What has received less attention is the fact that most intelligence work today is not carried out by government agencies but by private intelligence firms and that much of that work involves another common aspect of intelligence work: deception. That is, it is involved not just with the concealment of reality, but with the manufacture of it.

In a more contemporary sense, we should also think of the efforts to operate in total secrecy and engage in the creation of false impressions and realities as a problem area in epistemology -- the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of knowledge. And philosophers interested in optimizing our knowledge should consider such surveillance and deception not just fodder for the next "Matrix" movie, but as real sort of epistemic warfare.

The hack also revealed evidence that Team Themis was developing a "persona management" system -- a program, developed at the specific request of the United States Air Force, that allowed one user to control multiple online identities ("sock puppets") for commenting in social media spaces, thus giving the appearance of grass roots support. The contract was eventually awarded to another private intelligence firm.

This may sound like nothing so much as a "Matrix"-like fantasy, but it is distinctly real, and resembles in some ways the employment of "Psyops" (psychological operations), which as most students of recent American history know, have been part of the nation's military strategy for decades. The military's "Unconventional Warfare Training Manual" defines Psyops as "planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals." In other words, it is sometimes more effective to deceive a population into a false reality than it is to impose its will with force or conventional weapons. Of course this could also apply to one's own population if you chose to view it as an "enemy" whose "motives, reasoning, and behavior" needed to be controlled.

Continue reading "Making it real" »

May 24, 2013

Metaphors and stories: threat or menace to explanations ?

The central role of metaphor and narrative in human thought. Professor Cowen HERE, is only the latest to build on this theme although importantly, he concentrates on the negative, blinding aspects of the tendency. Nowhere is this more clear than in the "stories" that surround investments.

Choosing a metaphor presupposes a conclusion. For instance, there's no way to hear "the Chinese economy is a bubble" without unconsciously associating the country's outlook with fragility and inevitable disappearance of a soap bubble. If we describe China's GDP as similar to a hot air balloon on the other hand, our subconscious will immediately become more suceptible to the argument that upcoming government stimulus will right the economic ship. (You see what I did there - the use of the word "ship" is insidious.)

Good metaphors are a double-edged sword and their ubiquity in stock pitches suggests investors remain on their guard, never accepting one outright no matter how successfully it seems to communicates the situation.

Via Interloping.

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January 25, 2013

Douthat abortion counter

Ross Douthat abortion counter:

    2013 January


    But a tentative and ambiguous pro-choice trend in public opinion after a long period of pro-life gains does not mean that liberals have won the abortion wars, especially given that the main policy shift of the Obama era has been an uptick in state-level abortion restriction.


    Stereotypes link the anti-abortion cause to traditionalist ideas about gender roles -- to the belief that a woman's place is in the home, or at least that her primary identity should be maternal rather than professional. Writing in the Reagan era, the sociologist Kristin Luker argued that this dimension of the debate trumped the question of whether unborn human life has rights: "While on the surface it is the embryo's fate that seems to be at stake, the abortion debate is actually about the meaning of women's lives."

November 2, 2012

BREAKING (Cleveland): The Jews are good at disputation

Mandel has also been playing the Israel card in pursuit of the Jewish vote, despite the fact his opponent, the Democrat incumbent Sherrod Brown, co-sponsored the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, legislation that deepens defense cooperation.

Among those troubled by Mandel's campaign is Austin Ratner, a novelist and the son of James Ratner. Mandel is related by marriage to the Ratner family. Austin Ratner wrote a piece this month in the Jewish Daily Forward arguing that family and tribal Jewish loyalty were misplaced in the political sphere, where reason must prevail.

He quoted his aunt, Deborah Ratner, a major Democratic fund-raiser, telling Mandel at a family gathering: "I don't want this to be awkward, but you represent everything I've spent my life working against." He also said some Democrat relatives "have supported Mandel's campaign out of family loyalty" -- a form of loyalty, he suggested, that "leads deeper into the darkness."

The Jews of Cleveland are arguing at high volume. They are good at disputation. In this case the argument could change the course of things far beyond Cleveland.

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October 10, 2012

Trust the government in Washington to do what's right ?

The American National Election Study has long included a question about how much people "trust the government in Washington to do what's right," with the possible answers being "just about always," "most of the time," or "only some of the time." In the third graph we plot the responses to this question from 1964 on, when the A.N.E.S. first started to ask the question regularly. The graph shows three major features.


The graph shows that Republicans don't trust government less than Democrats do, historically. The real difference is that Republicans are more sensitive to who controls the White House. When their man is in, they trust government more than Democrats do. When their man is out, they trust it less. Democrats hold steadier; they seem to identify "government" less with the presidency than Republicans do.

Jonathan Haidt is a professor of business ethics at the NYU-Stern School of Business and the author of "The Righteous Mind." Marc J. Hetherington is a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University and the author of "Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics." They both write for Civil

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October 9, 2012

the 47 percent

Here's what Obama said:

"...our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's no evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, a lot -- like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they've gone through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate, and they have not. It's not surprising, then, that they get bitter, and they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations. At least in some communities, anyway."

Here's Romney:

"All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what...These are people who pay no income tax."

Continue reading "the 47 percent" »

September 23, 2012

Repartee and riposte of gamers: fat ugly or slutty ? documents the banter of gaming enthusiasts.

Jesting and joshing, in online raillery, the language is documented.

September 20, 2012

Breaking: Krugman opposes Republican economic plan

Mr. Ryan, as you may recall, has positioned himself as an icon of truth-telling and fiscal responsibility, while offering policy proposals that are neither honest nor responsible. He calls for huge tax cuts, while proposing specific spending cuts that, while inflicting immense hardship on our most vulnerable citizens, would fall far short of making up for the revenue loss. His claims to reduce the deficit therefore rely on assertions that he would make up for the lost revenue by closing loopholes that he refuses to specify, and achieve further huge spending cuts in ways that he also refuses to specify.

But didn't the Congressional Budget Office evaluate Mr. Ryan's plan and conclude that it would indeed reduce the deficit? I'm glad you asked that. You see, the budget office didn't actually evaluate his plan, because there weren't enough details. Instead, it let Mr. Ryan specify paths for future spending and revenue, while noting -- in what sounds to me like a hint of snark -- that "No proposals were specified that would generate that path."

So Mr. Ryan basically told the budget office to assume that his plan would slash the deficit, then claimed the resulting report as vindication of his deficit-slashing claims. Sorry, but that's the policy equivalent of sneaking into a marathon near the finish line, then claiming victory.

-- Krugman

August 20, 2012

We need a 21st century man to fix a 19th century system

Barack Obama stands for the old order. If Mitt Romney chooses to stand for the new one--for American principles, drive, and ingenuity applied to our novel circumstances--America's anxious electorate might just stand with him.

-- Yuval Levin, a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, Hertog fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and editor of National Affairs.

June 17, 2012

Too busy to save a week's wages ?

For Javaid Tariq, a taxi driver in New York City who sends money monthly to his family in Pakistan, the exchange rate is particularly infuriating because of how much money he loses. When he sent $300 to his family in April, he received 89.2 rupees for every dollar, less than the 91.2 exchange rate that he checks each morning, he said. For his family, that means 599 fewer rupees, or more than a week's salary in Lahore.

Immigrant advocates argue that many people do not have time to shop for better rates.

"These are people working who are often working minimum wage jobs with very little savvy or time about where to price-shop," said Francis Calpotura, the founder and director of the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research and Action in Oakland, Calif.

April 8, 2012

Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney

The basic concepts behind this model are:

Complementarity. In much the same way that light is both a particle and a wave, Mitt Romney is both a moderate and a conservative, depending on the situation (Fig. 1). It is not that he is one or the other; it is not that he is one and then the other. He is both at the same time.

Probability. Mitt Romney's political viewpoints can be expressed only in terms of likelihood, not certainty. While some views are obviously far less likely than others, no view can be thought of as absolutely impossible. Thus, for instance, there is at any given moment a nonzero chance that Mitt Romney supports child slavery.

Uncertainty. Frustrating as it may be, the rules of quantum campaigning dictate that no human being can ever simultaneously know both what Mitt Romney's current position is and where that position will be at some future date. This is known as the "principle uncertainty principle."

Entanglement. It doesn't matter whether it's a proton, neutron or Mormon: the act of observing cannot be separated from the outcome of the observation. By asking Mitt Romney how he feels about an issue, you unavoidably affect how he feels about it. More precisely, Mitt Romney will feel every possible way about an issue until the moment he is asked about it, at which point the many feelings decohere into the single answer most likely to please the asker.

Noncausality. The Romney campaign often violates, and even reverses, the law of cause and effect. For example, ordinarily the cause of getting the most votes leads to the effect of being considered the most electable candidate. But in the case of Mitt Romney, the cause of being considered the most electable candidate actually produces the effect of getting the most votes.

Duality. Many conservatives believe the existence of Mitt Romney allows for the possibility of the spontaneous creation of an "anti-Romney" (Fig. 2) that leaps into existence and annihilates Mitt Romney. (However, the science behind this is somewhat suspect, as it is financed by Rick Santorum, for whom science itself is suspect.)

What does all this bode for the general election? By this point it won't surprise you to learn the answer is, "We don't know." Because according to the latest theories, the "Mitt Romney" who seems poised to be the Republican nominee is but one of countless Mitt Romneys, each occupying his own cosmos, each supporting a different platform, each being compared to a different beloved children's toy but all of them equally real, all of them equally valid and all of them running for president at the same time, in their own alternative Romnealities, somewhere in the vast Romniverse.

And all of them losing to Barack Obama.

David Javerbaum is the author of "The Last Testament: A Memoir by God."

Continue reading "Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney" »

July 13, 2011

Argueing: are true facts enough ?

The Stone is featuring occasional posts by Gary Gutting, a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, that apply critical thinking to information and events that have appeared in the news.

In trying to cut through the passion and rhetoric of political debates, one important move is to focus on the facts relevant to the issue in dispute. This, however, is not as easy as it might seem. To make the issues concrete, consider an example from current discussions of the federal budget.

Even a strong argument from purely factual premises is open to refutation unless it takes into account all relevant facts.
John Taylor, a distinguished economist at Stanford, recently wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal in which he offered a "fact-based" critique of President Obama's budget proposal. The centerpiece of his argument was a chart showing the amount of federal government expenditures from 2000 to the present, along with projections of what Obama proposes to spend from now through 2021. According to the chart, in 2000 spending was 18.2 percent of our gross domestic product and has steadily increased, reaching 19.6 percent in 2007, and averaging 24.4 percent for the last three years. Obama's budget slightly reduces this rate to about 23 percent over its first few years, but then gradually increases it, ending with a rate of over 24 percent in 2021.

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March 5, 2011

Dogmatic disputes, not deep philosophical and political differences

The Post referred to disputes among policymakers on how best to structure regulation of the financial sector told readers that:
"there are also deep philosophical and political differences as to what the government should do to prevent future crises."

The people who are making the decisions about regulating the financial sector are politicians. They get and keep their jobs by appealing to powerful interest groups who can finance election campaigns. Few, if any, of these people are known for their contributions to political philosophy. There is no obvious reason to believe that philosophy is a major factor in determining their approach to this issue and the Post certainly does not give us one.

-- Dean Barker on argument.

September 16, 2010

How to debate: tea party synopsis

This doesn't mean that the Tea Party influence will be positive for Republicans over the long haul. The movement carries viruses that may infect the G.O.P. in the years ahead. Its members seek traditional, conservative ends, but they use radical means. Along the way, the movement has picked up some of the worst excesses of modern American culture: a narcissistic sense of victimization, an egomaniacal belief in one's own rightness and purity, a willingness to distort the truth so that every conflict becomes a contest of pure good versus pure evil.

-- David Brooks

An inability to pay one's college tuition bills or a struggle with taxes is a rare sign of moral turpitude:

One thing that Christine O'Donnell is going to have answer is her own checkered background . . . . These serious questions: how does she make her living? Why did she mislead voters about her college education? How come it took nearly two decades to pay her college tuition? How does she make a living? Why did she sue a well-known conservative think tank? . . . . questions about why she had a problem for five years paying her federal income taxes, why her house was foreclosed and put up for a sheriff's sale, why it took 16 years for her to settle her college debt and get her diploma after she went around for years claiming she was a college graduate. . . . when it turns out she just got her degree because she had unpaid college bills that they had to sue her over.

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July 30, 2010

BP concerns dominated by perception, publicity, reputation, not actual damage

BP's board is expected on Monday to name an American, Robert Dudley, as its chief executive, replacing Tony Hayward, whose repeated stumbles during the company's three-month oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico alienated federal and state officials as well as residents of the Gulf Coast.

keep in mind that this isn't exactly a model example of accountability. Hayward isn't being canned because of BP's poor safety record, which had been established long before the disaster in the Gulf.

Instead, Hayward is being canned because BP thinks he wasn't a good spokesman. In other words, BP thinks their problems have more to do with the nationality of their CEO than the consequences of their corporate policies. And with their new pick, selecting a long-time BP insider to replace Hayward, BP is signaling that they have no real intention of changing anything about how they do business. The only thing they want to change is the accent. But even if this move does end up helping BP's shareholders in the short-term, it won't make anybody safer or more secure, and it won't help stop their next disaster. It's an image move, having nothing to do with substance.

-- Jed Lewison

July 25, 2010

Justice Elena Kagan: a reasonable person pursuing reasonable purposes reasonably ?

The most interesting question about the Kagan nomination remains this: Why did Barack Obama nominate someone with largely unknown legal and political views to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court? Under the circumstances we can do little more than guess, but I would venture that three inter-related factors were crucial. First, Obama himself, as a former president of the Harvard Law Review and University of Chicago law professor, has been immersed in cultural context -- elite legal academia -- which puts a great deal of stock in the belief that being a good Supreme Court justice is largely a matter of technical competence. Legal academia is (quite literally) invested in the idea that being a "good" judge means accepting "good" legal arguments and rejecting "bad" ones, with good and bad defined as the correct and incorrect application of legal rules. This belief is absurd - any case that reaches the Supreme Court can't be resolved merely through the application of legal rules - but its persistence signals how important it still is to American law schools, which remain committed, against all intellectual odds, to maintaining a sharp distinction between "law" and "politics."

Continue reading "Justice Elena Kagan: a reasonable person pursuing reasonable purposes reasonably ?" »

April 17, 2010

How to argue: opposing the government and powerful business to interests to 'help the financial productivity of the state'.

And after students at a state-financed law school clinic at Rutgers University in New Jersey sued to stop a developer's plans for a strip mall in Franklin Township, the developer filed suit against the clinic under the open-records law seeking copies of internal documents, saying he planned to expose how the clinic used taxpayer money to discourage investment in the state.

Back in Maryland, Rena Steinzor, a law professor at the University of Maryland and a former director of the environmental law clinic there, rejected the idea that law clinics in her state or elsewhere were trying to harm industry. "The clinics represent people or groups that can't otherwise afford lawyers and by definition, this work often puts the clinics on the opposite side of the government or powerful interests," she said.

"If Maryland has a clean environment, a fair legal system and an unpolluted bay," she added, "doesn't that help the financial productivity of the state?"

Continue reading "How to argue: opposing the government and powerful business to interests to 'help the financial productivity of the state'." »

December 26, 2009

How to argue 6: not 'connecting the dots', by Hoekstra

Language skill of the day: Accuse your opponent of not 'connecting the dots':

Speculation about terrorist plots based on limited information is a fool's game. We know very little about Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempts on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 yesterday, though there are some pretty obvious questions about how he got materials on board, how dangerous they were, and what his associations may be.

Responsible federal officials will wait to get a more detailed picture before popping off in the media, making reckless accusations. Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R) of Michigan, inexplicably the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, has not yet been briefed on yesterday's incident, but that hasn't stopped him from trying to exploit the Abdulmutallab matter to score some cheap partisan points.

"It's not surprising," U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, a Holland Republican, said of the alleged terrorist attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight in Detroit. ... "People have got to start connecting the dots here and maybe this is the thing that will connect the dots for the Obama administration," Hoekstra said.

#6 in the language series, How to argue (when facts and logic are against you)

Continue reading "How to argue 6: not 'connecting the dots', by Hoekstra" »

June 22, 2008

How to argue part 3: complaining means losing

"When you are crying foul in a presidential campaign, it usually
means you are losing."

-- Mr. Chris Lehane, the Democratic operative, pronounced himself
that the McCain campaign was feeling victimized.

How to argue (without facts or logic), the series.

March 3, 2007

How to argue, part 2: My view

You are doing what you accuse older feminists of doing
-- declaring your views unassailable simply because you
have them.

They say,"You weren't there,"
You say, "You aren't here."

Okay, but you still have to make your case -- plenty of
young women, including young feminists, don't share
your POV. Your real beef with Ariel Levy, for example,
is not that she's too old and out of it to understand
young women (she's only in her early thirties).

It's that you don't agree with her view that today's
sexual culture (girls gone wild, hooking up etc) is
basically exploitation and exhibitionism packaged
as feminism. I'm not saying she's right or wrong,
I'm just saying that "Female Chauvinist Pigs" presents
an actual argument, not a mindless ignorant diss
of young women by some old fussbudget who
knows little about them.

Katha Pollitt, in response to The Feminist Sorority.

How to argue (without facts or logic), the series.

July 31, 2006

How to argue, part 1

How to argue without facts or logic:

The Casey campaign has portrayed Mr. Santorum as far
too close to the K Street lobbying community and far
too devoted to a national conservative agenda.

Too close: how is this measured ?
K street: what is this, why is it 'bad' ?

"At some point, he began to spend a lot more time on
Washington politics and Republican Party politics and
ideology than on Pennsylvania's priorities," Mr. Casey
said. "In a nutshell, he's gone Washington."

Washington politics. How are these irrelevant ?
National issues. How are these issues not material ?
Ideology. Why is his ideology bad ?

Continue reading "How to argue, part 1" »