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 3)
on Sep 04, 2004
Really? I don't know how the system works in the US,


Nah, here all you gotta do is have the dime and put in the time. (Or get the Cracker Jack box with the "Peanut PhD.")

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???)


Mitch,

Obviously you've never met a dittohead if you don't think there are a LOT of people that believe everything that comes out of Limbaugh's mouth. Extreme right wing conspiracy groups have gotten a lot of mileage off of Limbaugh.

Maybe you don't live in an area where you encounter a good deal of the people who believe everything that comes out of Limbaugh's mouth, but then, I don't live in an area where I encounter a good deal of people who believe everything that comes out of MOORE'S mouth either...in fact, the Democratic Party of our county is actually smaller than the Libertarian Party, believe it or not. And socialists are virtually nonexistent here.
on Sep 05, 2004
Gideon -

You've usually got your head screwed on straight and I like most of what I hear from you, but you must have a bad head cold or something. You quite specifically wrote that Rush accused Clinton of murdering Vince Foster and Ron Brown. Emphasis is obviously mine. When asked for evidence to back this up, this is what you offer:

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)

There is nothing in that quote that accuses Clinton of anything.

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.

Once again, nothing in that quote that accuses Clinton of anything.

And how in the world does playing a video of Clinton laughing at Ron Brown's funeral constitute an accusation of murder?

Is someone impersonating you? If not, time for that retraction, my friend.

Cheers,
Daiwa
on Sep 05, 2004
Oh, and, I forgot to thank you for going to the trouble of finding those references, despite my disagreement with your conclusions based on them, Gideon - meant to do that.

Cheers,
Daiwa
on Sep 05, 2004
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


Well, if you want a Ph.D. or other degree from a *good* school you've got to go through a rigorous application process, and pass qualifying exams and other exams, and do excellent research while there. I'm sure that your "average" Harvard PhD is far more intelligent, by any reasonable measure, than the "average" American.

But there are a lot of not-so-strong schools out there too, and this doesn't apply so much to them--they don't have hordes of students trying to get in, so they can't be as choosy.

One thing a PhD does prove is that you're intellectually interested by some topic, and that does, in my opinion, correlate with intelligence.
on Sep 06, 2004
Brad,
to move discussion back to your article

on point (a), I happily concede that many Ph.D.'s are NOT more intelligent than others, just more academically focussed. Just felt the data previously posted by you showed the highest educated group voted with the lowest (not sure if this is for Bush or Kerry actually). It just suggested that those most highly educated people would be the very ones generating a survey, as well as best educated to understand the limitations and important facts from a survey. Therefore I found it strange that this same body would be accussed of linking as oppossed to thinking.

on point ( I only disagree with any suggestion that one side of a debate is more likely than another to manipulate facts. The way they manipulate may change, but everyone manipulates facts by providing selected data, or broadening the scope of surveys, of making generalisations, or failing to acknowledge issues with the data. I see both sides linking and thinking to suit their arguements.

on point (c) I totally agree. Ph.D. does not necessarily mean intelligence, only knowledge. Admittedly the US does seem to have a problem here in that in most of Europe (not the UK though) a PhD requires 3 things, significant knowledge in a broad spectrum, significant unique contribution to the field of knowledge, usefulness of newly generated knowledge. This make's Ph.D's outside of science research fairly rare. Masters are more common though as they only require greater knowledge. This of course is not on topic for your artcile though.

paul.
on Sep 06, 2004
*post recanted*
on Sep 06, 2004
Uh, Gid?

Hello, Gid?

Shall I post the retraction for you?

Cheers,
Daiwa
on Sep 07, 2004
Another good article.. Draginol! All of yours are good but left wingers? There is a huge right wing movement in this country but the liberal stuff is not valid in my eyes. Where are the liberals? Not many in the DEMS Party I do not consider myself one unless others label me that way. I for one want ANYONE BUT BUSH! He is a failure and if re-elected will destroy this country for the next 10-20 years. I just popped in to mention this once again. It is fun to post messages about each party etc. Fact is this is a very serious and maybe the most important election in recent times.

Watch CSPAN if you want accurate news. This is how I am not easily going to provide links for my information. Finding the info I heard and watched on a CSPAN program is not easy but it is all there. Nice discussion about how Bush used to like to sneak in back when on duty to do a line of cocaine. Kerry never did these things in his military career. Just an example of how this president really is like.
on Sep 07, 2004
Watch CSPAN if you want accurate news. This is how I am not easily going to provide links for my information. Finding the info I heard and watched on a CSPAN program is not easy but it is all there. Nice discussion about how Bush used to like to sneak in back when on duty to do a line of cocaine. Kerry never did these things in his military career. Just an example of how this president really is like.


Are you kidding? CSPAN is about "the" most biased news program out there! But I guess if your just a "Bush-basher" then it's fine.
on Aug 28, 2006

Bumping this because it came up today.

But I was thinking of another example:

Every time there's an election, you'll hear some Democratic consultant come on and say things like "54 economists have signed on this this plan." or "55 former Nobel prize winners have signed a petition supporting this.." But it always boils down to the same argument of "Look, these smart experts -- smarter than you -- think we should do this so shut up and do what we say."

I don't think I've ever seen a Republican presidential candidate try to win an argument by alluding to a bunch of "experts" that agree with them.  Present the facts and let us decide for themselves.  That's why the global warming debacle annoys me because the "everyone knows it's true" is really mostly a matter of having repeated the same conclusion without a lot of evidence over and over.  It doesn't mean that the earth isn't getting warmer. But there's little evidence -- as in REAL evidence -- that we know specifically the cause.  More CO2 in the atmosphere? That's a pretty iffy hypothesis.  I'd be just as quick to blame deforestation or increased urban areas reflecting sunlight or increased solar radiation or the coming out of the last ice age as reasons.

 

on Aug 29, 2006
I'm all up for critical thinking and analysis Draginol, but now that some of these facts

*Don't you know that nuclear power creates waste that is deadly for millions of years?

*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?

..are starting to sink in with the public and are documented I would suggest deleting or editing this article instead of bumping it up to save you some embarrassment.
on Aug 29, 2006
*Don't you know that the US sold Saddam his WMDs?


Sorry Def but this is flat wrong. There is no proof to back this up. And please do not use another blog site to bolster this. Although we did supply some of the initial technology.


"Nobody denies that Saddam Hussein did have a WMD program. The United States knows that, we have the receipts, we supplied some of the initial technology," Schechter said.


WWW Link
on Aug 29, 2006

I'm all up for critical thinking and analysis Draginol, but now that some of these facts

*Don't you know that nuclear power creates waste that is deadly for millions of years?

*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?

..are starting to sink in with the public and are documented I would suggest deleting or editing this article instead of bumping it up to save you some embarrassment.

No, those aren't "facts".

1) Nuclear power plants (modern ones) create relatively little waste.

2) No, I don't think Bush "lied". There is no evidence that he lied.

3) The US sold no WMDs to Saddam.

4) The US did not train Bin Laden.

5) No, the US did not put Saddam in the first place.

I think you should read this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Disinformation-22-Media/dp/0895260069/sr=8-1/qid=1156895566/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-6596590-1498533?ie=UTF8

It's called Disfinromation and it debunks most of those myths. Not with citings to various "experts" but by providing all the information and allowing people to come to their own conclusions.  But it sounds like you have really bought into nearly every major myth out there.

Some of the things you mentioned are debunked on Scopes.  Heck, I'm not sure you're even being serious because you mention some of the most infamous myths that have been the most thorougly debrunked.

on Aug 30, 2006
I'm going to check out the book, I'm always up for new material to compare / contrast - it always give one a better view the more sources one has.