Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Some people find it easier to link than to think...
Published on September 3, 2004 By Draginol In Politics

Left-Wing and Right-Wing zealots on the Internet have a problem. Actually, two problems - a different one for each side.

Bear with a generalization for a moment:  people who are left of center politically tend not to be quite as analytical as the general population. You don't find too many engineers, for example, arguing for liberal causes.  And you don't find too many artists arguing for conservative causes. There are exceptions of course but as a generalization, I think you'd agree this is true.

This creates an interesting set of diverse behaviors.  Liberals tend to rely very heavily on third party data analysis.  In other words, they don't tend to look at the actual data and then form their own conclusion. Instead, they just repeat the analysis of someone else. I think this is one of the reasons why left of center people are more prone to being sucked in by propaganda.

Disagree? Consider this: Communism and Nazism were both equally monstrous. But which one sounds more evil or menacing?  Communism got a lot of support from the left worldwide and in the United States. It was supposed to be based on secular, scientific reasoning. Look closer at communism, at the actual concept and anyone thinking analytically would realize that it was a hopeless political philosophy.  But still, a lot of people on the left got sucked into being sympathetic to it. And that's still with us today. Being called a "Commie" doesn't have nearly the sting of being called a "Nazi".

In on-line discussions, liberals are much more likely to cite analysis of data as a "source".  There is no Michael Moore of the right because conservatives wouldn't put up with the manipulation of facts like liberals do.  But liberals don't tend to look for the underlying facts. The analysis, for them, is good enough.

One good example of this is when I see people argue that FoxNews is "GOP TV" or some other such nonsense. I'll ask for specifics and get none. Eventually I'll simply ask "Do YOU watch Fox News?" to which I inevitably get an answer "No way, I'm not going to watch that right wing crap!". So how do they know Fox News is "GOP TV"? Because they read it from someone else (who probably read that from somewhere else).  (DWL: I am not arguing that Fox News doesn't have an editiorial opinion that slants a certain way to a degree, but if you think it is GOP TV then you need to quit reading MoveOn.org and watch it for a day or two).

Time and time again I'll read the same talking points from some left winger on the net that has been thoroughly debunked. Effort will be made to link to the actual data that proves them wrong -- i.e. the actual original data in question and not some analysis -- only to be brushed off.  Sometimes it'll get brushed off with a statement such as "Statistics can be manipulated!" (without a trace of irony in their words).

Often times it'll come down to dueling analysis. Some things are simply too complex for the lay person to really deduce on their own.:

Global Warming is a good example.  We have three facts: The temperature has gone up 1 degree in the past 100 years and that CO2, in parts per million, has gone up by a factor of 3 in the past 250 years.  CO2 is a green house gas.

And from there the dueling analysis of "respected scientists" begins.  I look at this and say: "CO2 is a green house gas. Its increase could increase global temperatures."  But no one knows how much CO2 affects temperature.  No one knows if CO2 has gone up because of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels or deforestation or some other unknown cause. 

Similarly, we also know that the Earth's mean temperature has gone up and down a great deal in the past 10,000 years. It's been a lot warmer than it is today and it's been colder as well.  So I tend not to be one to jump to conclusions on this. I've looked at the data to the limits of my own intellectual capacity as an engineer. I don't pretend to be an expert. But I do know enough that anyone making definitive statements on "global warming" at this point probably has some agenda. I'm not saying there isn't global warming btw. I'm just saying that the issue is far more complex than simply "CO2 bad, temperatures going up." CO2 in the atmosphere is far higher today than it was 100 years ago. FAR higher. Yet the mean global temperature has barely changed. Point being, people need to reserve judgment until we know a little more. Going around saying "It's irrefutable" is nonsense. If it was irrefutable, they'd have a climate model that has predicted temperatures over the past 100 years.

But in the global warming debate, like others, the left is much more likely to rely on analysis than the right is (though again, both sides tend to use analysis on that particular issue because it is quite complex).

And it goes on and on and on.  I had one person the other day claim that PBS was a "conservative" news station. How? Because they could link to a liberal media "watch dog" group report.  I asked if he listened to PBS on a daily basis (I do).  Answer: No.  Did it occur to him that maybe, just maybe, a liberal media group might have some agenda? Apparently not.

So what I see a lot of from the left are people who don't really do a lot of thinking on the actual facts. When they do link, they link to analysis. They rarely bother to try to look at the information and come to their own conclusion. They apparently would rather have other people make that decision for them and then go out and repeat it loudly and shrilly.  Which, I suppose, makes sense since they tend to be the ones who would prefer the government do more and more of our thinking and doing for us.

But let's not let the right wingers get off the hook either. If we're going to offend people, let's be equal opportunity offenders. There's a reason that the term "Right wing kook" exists.

Conservatives, particularly very conservative people, are much more inclined to not trust the "liberal media establishment". So often they'll dig into data that is really out of their league to understand.  So they'll look at the data and come up with bizarre conclusions.

That's how the "Clinton murdered Vince Foster" nonsense got started. And mind you, conservatives will regurgitate things too. But at the core of the belief will be some facts that some conservative has looked at and deducted a crazy sounding explanation.

And if there is no readily available explanation, then it's a conspiracy. Yes yes, I know, left wingers get into conspiracies too but right wingers are the ones more apt to form militias and what not based on their conviction that the government or some other entity (the UN?) is going to come after them RSN (real soon now).

And if you get into a religious discusison, look out. Since some conservatives consider the bible to be fully factual (dwl, I don't want to debate that issue) you can get into some surreal discussions with the bible itself as the factual source.

But I don't find the far right conservatives nearly as annoying because they're much more easy to ignore. Their claims will be so obviously nutty that one doesn't tend to have to respond to them.  The far right posters on JoeUser.com, for instance, I have no problem just ignoring. I just don't participate. What's the point? Few people are going to be convinced by their lone arguments.

By contrast, the far left liberals will smugly insist that they are correct because they can point to a left wing website that has an article that says they're right. "Don't you know that the rich pay hardly any taxes? Look at this chart on MoveOn.org!"  "Don't you know that nuclear power creates waste that is deadly for millions of years? StopNuclearPower.org says so!" "Don't you know Bush lied? Don't you know that the US sold Saddam his WMDs? Don't you know that the US trained Bin Laden? Don't you know the CIA put Saddam in place in the first place? I know all these things because I heard a celebrity on TV make that claim and if you disagree, it's only because you've bought into Cheney and his Halliburton's propaganda! (even though I have no idea what Halliburton does nor any real idea why they're evil other than Cheney used to run it)"

So to you far left wingers: Sometimes you should actually look at the original facts yourself and think for yourself before you start writing acid-tongued arguments on-line.

And to you far right wingers: Sometimes you should look at the analysis by others to make sure that the conclusion you drew from looking at the facts isn't nutty.

Sometimes it's better to think than to link.


Comments (Page 2)
on Sep 03, 2004
Def - pullleeez. Not even close.


Daiwa,

I disagree. Rush Limbaugh, among other things, accused Bill Clinton of murdering Vince Foster and Ron Brown. To say he's "not even close" to Michael Moore of the right is to not examine his statements objectively.
on Sep 03, 2004
most reasonable people would draw the same conclusions.


This is like a mantra for the left. "Obviously if you don't agree with me you are mentally deficient." The left thinks they have a corner on the "reason" market.

Ugh.
on Sep 03, 2004
Indeed. Last night on MSNBC Jenine Garofolo (however you spell it) said to someone "You seem like a pretty intelligent person, how can you support Bush?"  You get that a lot from the left. They seem genuinely bemused that anyone who is intelligent could possibly have different political views than themselves.
on Sep 03, 2004
"I think therefore I am"
on Sep 04, 2004
Rush Limbaugh, among other things, accused Bill Clinton of murdering Vince Foster and Ron Brown.


OK, give us the references.

Cheers,
Daiwa
on Sep 04, 2004
Daiwa,

well, wouldn't you know it, I didn't archive every Rush Limbaugh show ever produced. But I don't retract my statement, I KNOW for a FACT what I heard him say on his radio show. I will make an attempt to find the dates which he said these things, but I make no promises.
on Sep 04, 2004
OK, I couldn't find as much on Ron Brown except for the funeral video he showed of Clinton that showed Clinton laughing, then crying, according to his critics because he spied the camera. This video is easy to obtain if you have a fast enough computer from Limbaugh's own website.

As for the Vince Foster murder allegations, here is a quote from a Limbaugh "ABC" about Clinton:

V is for Vince Foster, the former Hillary Clinton law partner who became a White House lawyer and was found dead, an apparent suicide with a gunshot wound to the head. He apparently was a central figure in Travelgate and Filegate and handled Whitewater matters for the Clintons. Starr is examining his death and has yet to confirm former prober Bob Fiske's conclusion that it was a suicide in the park where Foster was found (Rushonline.com)

And here is the exact quote from Limbaugh's show regarding Foster:

OK, folks, I think I got enough information here to tell you about the contents of this fax that I got. Brace yourselves. This fax contains information that I have just been told will appear in a newsletter to Morgan Stanley sales personnel this afternoon.... What it is is a bit of news which says...there's a Washington consulting firm that has scheduled the release of a report that will appear, it will be published, that claims that Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton, and the body was then taken to Fort Marcy Park.

Limbaugh's "information" was from an internal newsletter put out by a DC law firm. Although the newsletter article had no apparent basis in fact, Limbaugh had no compunction about airing this "information" without verifying it. He was later asked about it by Ted Koppel, and claimed he never said Vince Foster was murdered (which is technically true, although he did a mighty good job of implying it).

Do you need more information regarding the assertion of Limbaugh as the Michael Moore of the right, Daiwa? Because, I assure you, I can produce it (although, if you require it, I will continue it on a separate thread).
on Sep 04, 2004
Indeed. Last night on MSNBC Jenine Garofolo (however you spell it) said to someone "You seem like a pretty intelligent person, how can you support Bush?" You get that a lot from the left. They seem genuinely bemused that anyone who is intelligent could possibly have different political views than themselves.


I'm definitely guilty of that. It took a long time for me to realise that you could be a right-winger and not be an amoral bastard or an ignorant yokel. I'm still coming to terms with it. There should be a 12-step program.
on Sep 04, 2004
As a non American who doesn't waste too much time following the hilarious left/right US political debates I have a few comments on the article.

a) Did I not see you post data a while back showing that in the US the most intelligent people on average (Ph.D educations) actually voted with the poorest in the last election? Surely this totally destroys the generalisation made? The Ph.D level would surely be the best at analysing data themselves. More importantly they would be very very good at looking at other people's data and seeing the strengths and weaknesses of the analysis.

I disagree with the statement
conservatives wouldn't put up with the manipulation of facts like liberals do.
What a joke. The number of times I've seen careful selection of 'facts' or reports from people on this site for BOTH sides of the spectrum. You yourself frequently use data to argue your points, and often end up having to narrow the spectrum of the discussion as your 'facts' don't support the generalisations initially made. That in my book is manipulation of facts, and we're all guilty of it at times, whether right or left.

c) In general on this site no side is innoncent of manipulation of facts. The reason is that most people are VERY biased. The major posters on political topics are almost all extremely entrenched in their beliefs and views. That makes for excellent discussions, but leaves all interpretations of data as suspicious. I would not trust ANY American to interpret US political data. There is no middle ground anymore. Everyone is biased!
Paul.

on Sep 04, 2004
I'm biased vs biased people.
Left-wing, right-wing, even the dark-wing ducks of the political spectrum are human enough to show the same characteristics as their opponents..and even react in the same fashion when their opinions are "attacked"..they just tend to think their side is better because, obviously, it's the side they are on!

on Sep 04, 2004

Solitair:

a) No. Most PhDs are liberal arts degrees.

The more time one is in school, the less experience they likely have dealing with the real world. It's pretty easy to think socialism is a "good idea" if you are insulated in the ivory tower.  The poor, by contrast, want more programs because they would benefit them.  I have more respect for the poor voting for their self interest than for PhDs who vote out of naivete.

c) I think you owuld be hard pressed to prove that the average PhD is any more intelligent than the average bachelor's degree holder. The most common advanced degree holders in the United States are lawyers and psychologists. And neither has shown any budding intelligence level beyond the ordinary in my experience.

on Sep 04, 2004
Solitair - everyone is based, I agree.  However, in on-line debates the conservatives are much MUCH more likely to link to the actual data and do their own analsys and liberals are much MUCH more likely to link to an article that does the analysis for them.  This isn't a close call either and frnakly I'm surprised anyone would argue that this isn't the case as it doesn't take too much time reading debates here to notice this.
on Sep 04, 2004
Gideon- A major difference between Limbaugh and Moore is that there are countless people who believe, word for word, everything that comes out of Moore's mouth. One of the reasons for this is stated by Draginal several times: "liberals are much MUCH more likely to link to an article that does the analysis for them". (using your example- how many people actually believed Clinton murdered those people???)
on Sep 04, 2004
c) I think you owuld be hard pressed to prove that the average PhD is any more intelligent than the average bachelor's degree holder. The most common advanced degree holders in the United States are lawyers and psychologists. And neither has shown any budding intelligence level beyond the ordinary in my experience.


Really? I don't know how the system works in the US, but in Australia to qualify for the Masters and PhD programs you have to a) have worked in the area for a significant amount of time and be able to demonstrate knowledge or qualify in the top 10% of students in your Bachelor's program. Unless there's an intelligence inversion between finishing the Bachelor's and doing a PhD, this suggests that only the most intelligent do PhDs. And of course in Australia to qualify for even a bachelor's in law or psychology you need a university entrance score that's amongst the highest 10% in the entire country. If this means that Liberal Arts PhD students aren't more intelligent on the whole than other graduates then so be it.
on Sep 04, 2004
Book Smarts! Versus Common Sense! and their affairs with their redneck siblings on the next Jerry Springer