Friday, April 27, 2007

Dishonest Debate Tactics - Shifting the Burden

Now that I'm taking all the political stuff outta here (Have you seen the spiffy new blog, Wingnuts & Moonbats?), I figure I can focus on other things, here...

Today, I'm thinkin' about using language and debating, & specifically about folks who want you to disprove their points or statements.

Some of the following examples will be real. Some will not be real. Either way, I'm not interested in discussing the veracity of the statements, but only their value in confrontational conversation.

You suck. Go on, prove you don't.

The anti-war movement is anti-American.

You stole my sandwich.

Conservatives hate free speech.

Anarchists and Liberals share the same basic political philosophy. They're Nazis.

These statements (& every other affirmative statement under the sun) all share a similar feature. The onus is on the person making it to prove his/her statement is true, by offering evidence. That's the way it's supposed to work, and we have every right to expect that proof, rather than just accepting the veracity of the statement. In it's absence, one has every right to flat out dismiss the statement as being without merit.

Sometimes, that's where the trouble starts...

Sometimes, the party making the statement tries to turn it around, and requires YOU to prove what THEY said is untrue. They're not proving anything... Instead, they're trying to shift the burden of proof to you. And, they're asking you to prove a negative, which, if you really think about it, is just about impossible.

There is no conclusive evidence I could ever offer that I didn't steal something. I could produce people who saw me somewhere else, but the accuser says, "So you didn't steal it at that time... But prove you didn't steal it, at all." A search of my property reveals no stolen item. "Maybe you hid it. Proves nothing." No physical evidence on my person. "You were careful, wore gloves, and showered. You still could've done it." No matter what I said, I could never ever prove I didn't do it.

That's why legally, ethically, & logically, the onus for providing proof always falls on the original speaker. Don't get trapped, and don't accept the claim that you're only "playing word games, or semantics," which often indicates that they know the jig is up; you recognize their "word game," of shifting the burden of proof for their words onto you. Make them keep the burden they came into the conversation with. Make 'em prove what they say is true.

If a person is unwilling or unable to prove the statement s/he's making is true, you are under no obligation to accept it is true, and can therefore reject it as unproven, & therefore untrue.

If you still don't believe me, just try to prove you don't suck.

(When you can't, it won't mean you do suck. or that you don't suck. or anything else, at all. And that is the point.)

Some of those statements above have other problems, like being sweeping generalizations, as well. Perhaps I'll hit that one next time.

Wingnut X-Post: Free Speech, Imus, & the Free Market

Wingnuts & Moonbats: Free Speech, Imus, & the Free Market

My thinkin' on Imus & free speech, and my discussion with 2 Cons about it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wingnuts & Moonbats

Wingnuts & Moonbats

My new happy place. Seemed like the thing to do at the time... 8>)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mike's America: Trying to fit in (my words)

Mike would prefer that I keep the wordage down over at his blog. (I can appreciate his concern. I do likes to ramble...) I tried to reply to each of his points in one or two short sentences... ...and failed miserably. It's not in my nature. I always feel like I'm leaving the best part or most salient point out. So, I brought my wordy ass here. I'll give Mike a link, and he can pick & choose the points he wants to address, here or there.

Mike sez:
First, just a minor point, but you criticize Rummy for meeting Saddam with a "cheesy grin...looking like he was having such a good time with [Saddam]"

Have you blogged on the Pelosi photos of her smiling with Assad and wearing the veil?

Just looking for consistency here.
Keep in mind I'm responding to several comments on your blog, Mike. My mention of Rummy's trip was in furtherance of the conversation between Freedom Now & Art, and was meant to point out to you that Saddam was evil for a very long time before we finally acted. I asked you why you thought that was... (A question to which you did not reply, by the way...)

Were it not for the folks at your blog I was responding to, I would not bring up Rummy's trip, at all... While I thought it was a mistake for Reagan to send him, the only thing about which I disapproved as far as Rummy was concerned was the smile.

That said, I have never spoken in any forum about Pelosi's trip. (This is also the first appearance of Rummy, in any way, shape or form, on my blog.)
Mike: Second, I'm assuming you attend these ANSWER events? On behalf of what group do you attend? Or what cause? If you want to give more details (considering the limitations of space) feel free.
I attend peace events on behalf of promoting peace, of course. My UU fellowship has a group, and some folks in my old neighborhood started another, which meets at the local library. I have attended ANSWER events with one or the other of those groups, and I've gone to one (or maybe 2) on my own. I was ambivalent about our involvement in Afghanistan (I could appreciate both points of view), so I neither protested nor spoke in favor of our actions there. I am opposed to our actions in Iraq, as you know. I have written letters & whatnot about other conflicts (Darfur, Israel/Palestine) but never attended a demo about them.

Mike: Third: "It is not that our environmental, peace, and social justice orgs are focusing on US issues to the exclusion of others. It is that they are not focusing on the worst problems in the fields they claim to care about, wherever they may be. Have I got it, now?"

Nyet! It is because these groups are focusing on relatively minor and trivial actions by the U.S. yet ignoring the REAL EVIL which is of much greater magnitude than anything the U.S. is doing.
First first off... The distinction between what I said and what you said seems to be whether the actions are those of the US or not. Let's review:

I said "...not focusing on the worst problems..."
You said "...ignoring the REAL EVIL which is of much greater magnitude..."

I said: (or failed to say, but pretty obviously implied) "they are focusing on lesser problems"
You said "...are focusing on relatively minor and trivial actions..."

To me, they are VERY SIMILAR sentiments. Here is the difference:

I said "...wherever they may be."
You said "...focusing on by the U.S." "...ignoring much greater magnitude than anything the U.S. is doing."

If I'm mistaken, I guess I'm going to need more words from you.
Back to my rebuttal...

First off, "minor & trivial" & "REAL EVIL" are in the minds of the beholder. Second, I still think one does & should have more influence with one's own people & government, and should focus one's actions where they are most likely to affect change. Finally, should deal with the splinter in one's own eye, first. In some cases, you appear to agree. Without going back into the Imus issue, read how you end your blog post on the subject:

"Start by holding yourselves accountable to the same standard of conduct you daily demand of others."

It doesn’t say start with the most evil, or the least trivial... ...or even whether or not the US is involved. It says start at home.
I agree.
Finally, your last point: It may well be that some of these groups do object to abuses elsewhere. But they seem to reserve their ire for the United States. It wouldn't be too difficult to find examples of where they expressed environmental, human rights or peace concerns for the actions of U.S. allies either.

Harder though to find them protesting, if at all, U.S. enemies.
I think you're moving the goalposts here, Mike.

We already established that it is more difficult to find interest groups from the right or left protesting against the actions of other countries. One might say that the Minutemen are protesting the actions of Mexico, but then Mexico is not an enemy of the US, either. (That would be a group on the right protesting against an ally of the US.) The few other groups I can think of on the right primarily deal with social issues here in the US. It remains to be seen whether the Eagles will march for other country's soldiers, or against America's enemies. If they do, they will be among the first.

I say American interest groups protest the actions/inactions of our American government because they are the ones most likely to care & perhaps change. (We vote here, we donate here, we educate & therefore affect the attitudes of our fellow citizens here...) That's what I believe, and I think they are wise to do so.

I cannot help that you don't agree with my reasoning, or believe that US interest groups should focus on the issues that you (& yours) find MOST EVIL/least trivial/furthest from criticizing US policies and allies, and "back burner" the issues you (& yours) find least evil/MOST TRIVIAL/closest to criticizing US policies and allies (in whatever combination most suits you). We disagree, and it's possible we always shall.

You have mentioned the plight of the Marsh Arabs in Iraq several times. You obviously care about this issue very deeply. So, what actions did you take to help them? Did you go there? Did you form a group &/or attend a protest on their behalf? Did you write any letters to Saddam? Did you ask your government to intervene on their behalf? Aside using the issue now to club liberals, what did you do to change it?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Too much death

Dan Bern - Kid's Prayer - Song Lyrics

Dan Bern wrote this song after Columbine. The words ring true...

Nerd Score (Do nerds score?)