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 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, 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!"  "Don't you know that nuclear power creates waste that is deadly for millions of years? 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.

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