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Jan 12, 2008

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Ged Maheux

In a perfect world, the person who reports or bring the facts to light shouldn't matter. But you need look no further than the Climate Crisis to know this isn't the case. Even when backed by the majority of scientists around the world, certain people can't get past the fact that the issue's spokesman is Albert Gore. They may also argue, in regards to global warming, that all the facts are not in and so they don't have to pay attention. But this is just a crutch in disguise. Another excuse to ignore the messenger.

Sadly this happens every day of the week and instead of focusing on the issues at hand, we end up in a wheel of circular accusations. As you said, who reported it doesn't make one bit of difference if the facts hold up. I don't see this changing any time soon though. Sad.

anglico

Shooting messengers is America's past-time.

Good post.

Ian McDowell

These are all good points. I've already had (more than) my say about what I consider the idiocy of the "you just hate Bush" argument. But a conservative might scoff, with some justification, that we're only citing examples of conservatives blaming a liberal messenger. Surely it plays both ways.

Speaking as someone who heartily dislikes Bush and considers him a near-disastrous president, I still find OTHER denunciations of Dubya more compelling when they come from moderates and disillusioned conservatives (like the former Pentagon general who used to kick my ass at chess) and those who at least attempt to see the value of what he was TRYING to do, than I do when I hear the anti-Bush tirades of my most liberal friends, who strike me as scarcely more nuanced in their politics than the drooling yahoos who call the "The Sound of the Beep", even if they're more grammatical.

Jim Rosenberg

The cost of progress on this issue is a willingness to ignore and/or exclude constant offenders from the conversation. Will you pay it?

Ed Cone

The global warming issue gets to some of the nuance here. Challenges to prevailing theories of climate science should be considered on their merits, even if funded by industry...but if that work comes up short, and a pattern emerges wherein industry-funded challenges consistently come up short, then it makes sense to note the source. But if you are serious about pursuing the truth, you keep an open mind. The point is not to be naive, or to ignore motivations, but to spend more time on substance and less on presumptions and projections.

IM, I guess "denunciations" of Bush are more compelling when they come from one-time or would-be Bush supporters. I'm more interested here in analysis of policy -- the facts and results tell the story, the gloss on reality is secondary. Noting in 2003 that we faced an insurgency was not a denunciation of Bush, it was a statement of fact.

Ian McDowell

I completely agree. It's just that facts are generally marshaled in support of one persuasive point or another, and those are informed by our own biases. Speaking as somebody who will probably vote for Obama unless his opponent is McCain (then it's a toss-up), I'm going to be more persuaded by "facts" that suggest character flaws or unsavory political allegiances if those facts are cited in The New York Times or The New Republic rather than The National Review. But yeah, I hope I'd consider what The National Review had to say on the matter, and not dismiss them out of hand. Not sure I'd be so open-minded if it was O'Reilly.

Ed Cone

National Review and O'Reilly are opinion outlets, I'm not in general a big fan of their opinions. The NYT news reporting, like the WSJ, should be differentiated from their opinion pages. That said...if O'Reilly showed me video of a tornado headed my way, I'd head for the basement (metaphorically, as I do not have a basement...)

So, yeah -- if the NRO says Obama sux, I'm not interested. If the NYT opinion page says Huck sux, ditto. But if either one produces a verifiable document, it's a verifiable document.

Spag

Wow. Talk about selective, especially from someone who is fond of quoting Paul Krugman, a man who never mixes bias with facts, and the same someone who is fond only of citing facts that support his own position, and ignoring them when they don't. A good example might be pointing out all of the failures in Iraq and then going completely silent about the success of the Surge. Bias effects how the facts are presented, to claim otherwise is naive.

A good mention might also be the way messengers who present contrary facts to a central point of discussion are routinely shot on certain blogs.

I think Ian has it mostly correct. Most people would like to have an honest discussion of the facts, but then the bias comes in and it all breaks down. The only remedy is for bloggers to set rules of engagement and apply them equally to all players.

I would also point out that the bias of a person is always an issue in every debate or argument when determining facts. Our courts have recognized this:

"A successful showing of bias on the part of a witness would have a tendency to make the facts to which he testified less probable in the eyes of the jury than it would be without such testimony." U.S. v. Abel, 469 U.S. 45 (1984).

"Any incentive a witness may have to falsify his testimony, commonly referred to as bias, is relevant to the witness's credibility and the resulting weight the jury should accord to the witness's testimony." U.S. v. Leslie, 759 F2d. 356 (5th Cir. 1985).

In other words, the credibility and/or bias of a person making a claim is always a relevant area of inquiry when determining whether to accept the facts they purport to offer.

The facts are what they are, but in order to determine if you are getting them straight, the bias of the person making the claim is a fair inquiry.

Additionally, for a person to have credibility, they must be consistent. A person who is not consistent in their positions is a fair target for criticism for the reasons previously explained. Nobody should trust anyone who is only interested in presenting one side of the story, and those people who only present one side of the story shouldn't get upset and lash out when others point their bias out.

John D. Young

I guess I am too accepting of the multiple points of view, however, I learn from folks in the different corners and appreciate their different perspectives. I know that Jerry Bledsoe has worked long and hard to create his series and I think few can honestly say that his story and analysis around the Wray Fray has not added to our community's understanding. I likewise appreciate Jordan Green's entry that is also adding to our understanding. Certainly the blogging community has improved our knowledge of the Wray Fray. Gradually we are getting a clearer picture.

I believe that one of the important roles of our local papers is to help assists us with -- checking and clarifying the facts about very important community events. Their different positions, analysis and facts will be shaped by a number of social, historical and ideological factors.

I wish all three papers had become more involved and engaged in the Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation process. Far more fact checking and critical analysis in the midst of the commission's work could have provided more balance, knowledge and community engagement. I like newspapers not only to report the general story about very important local events like the Wray Fray or the GTRC but to get down in the ditches and struggle with the hard details. Thanks to all of those who get dirty and invest the time and energy to improve our understanding.

Percy Walker

Pointing out that a witness is married to the plaintiff and thus stands to gain if the jury believes his testimony that the light was green is, of course, appropriate, but lets not pretend that that is the problem here. The problem here is that people will argue until they are blue in the face over whether the witness was indeed married to the plaintiff and, upon it being shown that the plaintiff isn't married to the witness, they'll argue over whether they were friends. And so on. And so on.

Spag's arguing style is actually much worse than that, though. Spag doesn't argue bias to call into question the veracity of a statement of fact, he argues bias for the utterly irrelevant purpose of establishing that an opinion isn't sincerely held.

Doubt me? Why just the other day Ed linked to an article about criticism of Fox for excluding Paul but not Thompson from the Republican debate. Spag was the second person to comment. Did he address the validity of the criticism? Nope. He equated Fox's treatment of Paul to ABC's treatment of Kucinich, never mind that there was an apples-to-apples comparison between Fox and ABC over how they each treated Paul. The mere fact that Paul participated in the ABC debate would seem to leave room for a person to have an honest and reasonable opinion -- yes, opinion! that Fox was wrong and ABC wasn't. But not according to Spag! Such a person had to suffer from Fox Derangement Syndrome.

Ed Cone

JDY -- I agree that Jerry has contributed much to our understanding of the workings of the GPD and the City, and that there is room for pushback, analysis, and reporting from additional sources.

Which raises another common fallacy one sees in blogs and comments -- the idea that a single aha! revelation will magically confirm or destroy a complex story.

Sam, as noted, it may be important to understand bias and motivations. The point is that ignoring facts or refusing to address them on that basis, rather than subjecting them to scrutiny, does nothing to advance the truth, and is tiresome as well.

Spag

"Spag doesn't argue bias to call into question the veracity of a statement of fact, he argues bias for the utterly irrelevant purpose of establishing that an opinion isn't sincerely held."

That is about the stupidest thing you have ever written, Percy.

Not only is it not true with regard to why I question veracity, but the supposition is simply ignorant. How can you rely on the veracity of a statement if you can't rely on the veracity of the proponent of the statement? If I say George Allen should not be president because he said "macacca" and later when someone I like does the same thing and I excuse it, does it validate my original argument or detract from it? At that point, is it really about "macacca" or something else, and if it is something else, my argument that "macacca" disqualifies one from being president is no longer valid, is it?

Or if I say the war in Iraq is going badly, and you point out a list of good things that are happening in Iraq that I ignored, is it not fair to question why I chose to ignore them and how they effect the validity of my thesis about the war going badly?

That an opinion isn't sincerely held is always relevant. If Hillary Clinton gives a speech about what she believes and it turns out that what she said isn't sincere, that is relevant in assessing her character and the motives behind what she is saying and whether you should trust anything she says at all.

You can never get to the truth if you are dealing with people who's viewpoints are relative because they demonstrate by their duplicity that they aren't interested in the truth, only advancing their cause or opinion.

C'mon. I thought you were smarter than that.

Ed, I get what you are saying and I agree. I think sometimes the difficulty here is that often it seems there is this idea that both cannot coexist. That is that if at any point you challenge the credibility of the declarant you have foreclosed any substantive debate. It shouldn't be that way. There is nothing wrong with saying "You're not shooting straight on this because the last time you said X and now you are saying Y" or "You come across as insincere because your outrage is selective and hypocritical" and then going on to discuss the substance of the post.

"Don't point out my contradictions or motives, just stick to my point" seems like an odd debate paradigm to me. The validity of your point as well as the quality of your character is indivisible from your motives. There are good facts and bad facts, Iraq is a case in point. But to say someone is going foul by saying "why do you refuse to point out the good facts as well?" is to cut off half of the debate unless the debate exists only to reinforce your thesis to the exclusion of all dissenters.

David Hoggard

Agreed, Ed, on the "aha" moments and how, in some commenters' minds, they will 'magically confirm or destroy a complex story'.

As for me, when I read J. Green's first installment of his exploration of Bledsoe's series pointing out some specific problems with how Jerry recounted some things, it doesn't negate Bledsoe's entire body of work on the subject in my mind. Not by a long shot.

Jerry has provided an exhaustive, informative and important addition to the understanding of the whole Wray saga. It is obvious, however, at least to me, that he is forwarding his story from a particular point of view. Nothing wrong with that as long as the reader knows it.

What galls me are those who don't, or won't recognize a writer's point of view (bias if you wish) when it knocks them upside the head. And I'm not just talking about Jerry... every one has their points of view that needs to be recognized.

Green's "aha" particulars don't cause me to even consider that "Cops in B&W" as a work of fiction as it might to others who have now dismissed it out-of-hand as a fabrication. To me, such "aha's" merely confirm that even a well-written work containing important information can deliver that information with a few mistakes and a point-of-view which is rife with bias but still be quite informative.

Percy Walker

Spag, I could argue that invading Iraq was a good idea and in the next breath that it was a bad idea. Each argument would stand or fall on its own merits. If both George Allen and Jim Webb used the word macacca in identical circumstances but I attack Webb and defend Allen, then yes, I'm applying double standards. Each argument still stands or falls on its own, however.

Things are, of course, never that simple. Webb's mother may be French Algerian and Allen's mother not or there may be some other way distinguish the two. You would devote absurd amounts of time arguing two situations are the same instead of saying, for instance, "Hey, you're wrong to attack Webb. Here's why: . . . ."

Deal with the jugular and stop dwelling on the capillary stuff.

Spag

"Each argument still stands or falls on its own, however."

That is true, but this is valid as well: "You may be right to attack Jim Webb, but considering you refused to attack X for doing the same thing, you look silly and really have no basis to complain, nor should anyone assign much weight to your position on this issue."

Spag

This whole thread is largely about the credibility and/or duality of YES!, Green, Bledsoe, the Rhino, the N&R, etc. Green essentially claims that the "facts" in the Rhino were selective based on Jerry's bias, don't tell the whole story, and standards weren't evenly applied. Jerry has said the same about the N&R and Mitch Johnson. This demonstrates once again that credibility and consistency are inseparable from efforts to find the truth.

Why should that be any different on a blog?

Bubba

"This whole thread is largely about the credibility and/or duality of YES!, Green, Bledsoe, the Rhino, the N&R, etc."

Are you sure, Sam?

I think it's all about not shooting the messenger........unless you can use some sort of tortured logic to support the messenger you like while simultaneously shooting the messenger you don't like because of the way the message is delivered, or because the actual content is undermining your cherished viewpoint.

Don't Percy's posts bear that out?

Ged Maheux

I'm sure some people will discount the importance of this story published today simply because it comes from the NY Times. Sad.

David Hoggard

So, Sam, from this point forward; in order for all of us to keep from coming off as "silly", all blog posts and all comments that are critical of an issue, idea, person or position are required to end with the following 'boiler plate' disclaimer.

Note: The above listed transgression could have just as easily been attributed to others with an opposing viewpoint because, in recent history, they have probably engaged in a similar transgression. Others will codify such instances below so I was wrong to bring it up in the first place."

Objectivity is a rare commodity in the blogosphere and has always been so. I learned years ago that to get a more rounded picture of an issue I have to visit more than one website or blog. I kind of like it that way.

Ed Cone

Read the first example in my post -- "I am sure that Matt has his reasons. I wonder what they are."

It is about as pure as statement of the issue I'm raising as I could find.

Krugman, mentioned in this thread, is a good case. Here he presents and documents an argument -- and the response is keyed not to the documented argument, but to its author. That's not to say Krugman is never tendentious, or that his opinion column often contains opinion, or even that his factual assertions should be taken as holy writ, of course -- just that sneering at the author doesn't do much to rebut his case.

Jim Rosenberg

You are not going to change baseline behavior in public forums through the force of reason. You can set a standard, clearly and consistently declare it, and ruthlessly enforce it. Not discuss it: enforce it. I wish you'd do that more here, even though it may be an imperfect solution for which you'll take flack. For me, the comment threads at EdCone.com have become more and more about sifting through a Middle School testosterone haze of posturing and pretension. It's been discussed endlessly. If you agree it's a serious problem, let us know what the standard is by making some calls. If not, no problem -- the posts are still much appreciated.

Spag

Jim, set the standard- apply it to yourself and everyone else and consistently, and many of the problems will go away.

That said, the credibility of a declarant is always relevant which is why Hoggard's disclaimer would not work. Making a general disclaimer that could apply to anyone as opposed to the particular declarant making the statement/assertion being discussed makes no sense.

What I am getting the sense of is that we think it is a fair discussion to examine the motives of others (hence, the YES!/Rhino discussions), but somehow think it is foul to discuss our own motives or people we agree with. When that happens, we just want people to stick to the facts. As the Church Lady would say "how conveeenient".

Jim Rosenberg

There will never be a consensus here or anywhere else on "THE standard" or "THE facts." The standard for discourse at EdCone.com ought to be what Ed Cone says it is. I'm suggesting Ed say it louder and more often by warning, deleting, and banning -- without publicly debating the action. That will define the standard and the forum better than endlessly debating it, dissenting manifestos notwithstanding.

Spag

But Jim, shouldn't he have to apply it evenly- including to himself? That is the biggest complaint of many.

Jim Rosenberg

Sam - No. Beyond calling black white, there's a hellish Zone Of Ambiguity you enter in a public forum where you are doomed to endless, pointless debate if everyone is doing battle with a sword sharpened by only their own perspective. To escape that fate, you need a mutual commitment to politeness, respect, and just giving each other a break. There will always be instances and individuals which cross that line. I wish Ed would more often call it out loud when he thinks that line has been crossed. Whoever disagrees with the call, too bad -- tell Mommy.

Ian McDowell

I believe that was Xeni Jardin's point.

Admittedly, your "garden," unlike hers, probably isn't in danger of being choked with "weeds" because people think you're sexy. Except maybe in Bubba's case.

Ged Maheux

Ian, that post by Xeni pretty much mirrors how I've felt about Ed's blog at certain points in the past. This bit hits the nail on the head:

"But then, the audience grew. Fast. And with that, grew the number of antisocial actors, "drive-by trolls," people for whom dialogue wasn't the point. It doesn't take many of them to ruin the experience for much larger numbers of participants acting in good faith."

Although there have been only a few times when I've seen Ed take action (once even against me), when he did, the thread, and the site, was better for it. Some people have no interest in having an honest discussion about a topic. They are not open to seeing the other side no matter what and the conversation degrades pretty quickly to the disappointment of everyone around. Hopefully things will be better this year (I myself am going to make a personal effort to stay on topic and refrain from "playing along"), but I'm not going to hold my breath that others will do the same.

Spag

That's all good and well, but I hope we can agree if we are to be consistent that a challenge to someone's credibility or pointing out that they have taken a contrary position on a given matter in the past, or are selectively reporting facts is not a personal attack.

meblogin

In the real world most folks can simply agree to disagree. I see that happen at some blogs... My guess is the more popular the blog the more repetitive disagreeing that takes place.

Like some have said...at the end of the day who really cares what some other blogger thinks? Was it worth the time?

Spag

That could translate just as easily to "Who cares what Jordan Green thinks? or who cares what Jerry Bledsoe thinks? What they think and whether they are approaching a subject from a biased point of view isn't relevant to the facts they espouse."

Of course, that is utter nonsense and is at the heart of much of the discussion since the Rhino series began and again in light of the YES! story. Why blogs and their authors/commenters should be treated any differently escapes me.

Ed Cone

Just a reminder: the actual subject of the post was that that a lot of conversations get sidetracked without ever addressing or even considering the substance of the original argument.

See first example (Paul/Welch) for a straightforward instance of the phenomenon.

Spag

Proof that the bias of the proponent is important when dealing with "facts".

Ed Cone

You have it backwards, Sam. If the report is false, then it casts a bad light on Soros, and a if pattern of inaccurate reporting in Soros-funded reports emerges, then such reports would deserve to be met with increasing skepticism. But a Soros-funded report that is accurate would still be accurate.

Also, see the AHA! fallacy mentioned above.

And, for the last time, please read the initial example in my post, and consider the point I was actually trying to make.

Dave Dobson

Sam, that is so not proof. Soros' dollars aren't proof of anything, especially the important stuff, i.e. that their methodology was wrong, or that they incorrectly applied it. That doesn't even get in to whether the funding came first or whether the study did; even if you want to see bias, there's a big chicken and egg problem if they developed the study first and got it funded by Soros later.

I'd think as a lawyer your standards of proof would be more highly refined.

Anthony

"I'd think as a lawyer your standards of proof would be more highly refined."

Not necessarily. The goal of a lawyer isn't necessarily to get at the truth - it's to win the case for their client, and to undermine the case of their opponent. Your comment is probably more applicable to judges than to lawyers.

Spag

"And, for the last time, please read the initial example in my post, and consider the point I was actually trying to make."

Of course that was directed at me and only me despite the other commenters on this thread discussing the same topic. Off we go already.

Regarding Soros, Ed that was clever but wrong- it doesn't cast doubt on Soros. Nobody was trying to assert "Soros" as a fact- it casts doubt on the REPORT. Only you could nonsensically turn it around. This was a Soros funded report that was NOT accurate. You either missed that point or ignored it on purpose.

I suppose it makes sense to some that Soros' funding of the study is not relevant to determining the truth of the matters asserted in the report, and therefore shouldn't even be discussed. Even though we have two serious credibility problems at hand. One, Soros is a vocal anti-war advocate; and two, apparently the "facts" from the study that would support Soros' anti-war position, were way off. But no worries, don't raise any red flags there. Credibility and bias aren't important when dealing with facts....

Bubba

"But no worries, don't raise any red flags there. Credibility and bias aren't important when dealing with facts...."

Again, just standard operating procedure, as well we know.

Reading the hand-wringing piety here is is a hoot.

More, please........

Dave Dobson

Way off how, Sam? You put up an article that cast doubt merely because Soros funded it, not one that criticized it on the merits.

And I've had enough oil-company-funded think tanks and WSJ editorials thrown at me with regard to global warming to think your concern here isn't just about even-handed assessment of bias.

Spag

Dave, you obviously didn't read the article. The article pointed out that the Soros study overestimated deaths by a factor of 4.

Ged Maheux

Sam, he did read the article. He asked where was the evidence that suggested the study was flawed. The link you provided only criticized on the basis of who funded, not the methodology, how they arrived at the result, etc. Simply "saying" that the result is incorrect means nothing. Where is the data to back that result up?

As much as you want it to be true, just because Soros funded the study doesn't make the methods or the result automatically wrong. I admit it means you have to carefully study the result and verify it because it comes from a position of bias, but again, if the facts bare out, then it doesn't matter who wrote the checks. I think this is the original point of the thread.

Ed Cone

Sam, my response was directed to you because it was in fact a direct response to your comment claiming that you had somehow proved that the check-the-message point was incorrect. If someone else had made the same claim, my response would have been directed to them. Relax, man.

The reason I refer you back to the first example in my post is that it seems fairly neutral and straightforward, without local or personal politics invovled -- here's an extensively-documented piece of reporting in response to a candidate's claim, and a commenter is asking about the reporter's motivation instead of the extensively-documented reporting.

I understood your point about the Soros report, I just disagree with it. The fact that Soros funded the report doesn't make the report inaccurate, or prove that questioning the source is a substitute for examining the data. If, in fact, a pattern emerges in which Soros-funded reports are shown to be flawed, then the reputation of Soros-funded reports should suffer. Reputation matters. But facts matter more.

Look at your response linked above to my post about the new counterintelligence manual and one of its coauthors. It was the first time I had heard the name David Petraeus, and it introduced me (and I would guess some readers) to the strategy behind the surge and the post-Rumsfeld direction of the Iraq war. But you were so intent on the messenger and your assumptions of motive that you didn't pay attention to the message, or spend 2 minutes on Google to find out that the man you derided actually is a star in his field. An interesting conversation was thus avoided.

As I've written in similar threads, it would be easier in such instances to just stipulate my awfulness as a blogger as precondition of further debate, and get on with the substance.

Bubba

"But facts matter more."


Especially if you can take them out of context, misinterpret them, and selectively use them to prop up some weak assertion, as is the Standard Operating Procedure as mentioned above.

Thanks guys.

More, please!

Spag

So I assume that a study from the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, NCPA, etc would be viewed with equal objectivity as to the content around here as opposed to the source.

Somehow, I find that hard to believe especially considering how anything related to Rupert Murdoch is automatically discredited by the usual crowd.

Ed, perhaps the Kilcullen piece would not have generated such an early criticism had it not been the latest (at the time) in a pattern of yours of linking to every article critical of the Bush war strategy that came down the pike- regardless of consistency. Applying the same standard you just invoked about patterns regarding Soros to your own actions seems to justify the response.

You're not an awful blogger, you just refuse to admit your bias and get bent out of shape when someone points out the duality of your treatment of events dependent on the ideology of the subject matter. If you think it is bad when X does Y, you imply that Y must be a bad thing. Therefore, if Z also does Y, you should also find it important to get on Z's case. But you don't. You'd rather confine the topic to X doing Y, which really means your premise isn't that Y is bad, but that X is, and X is always someone from the Right. If the topic is that Y is a bad thing, then why is it off limits to include everyone who has done Y as part of the discussion?

Ged

God, I hate math.

Ed Cone

Sam, the Kilcullen piece didn't generate early criticism -- that's the problem. The substance of the piece was ignored in favor of an ill-informed attack on its subject and an irrelevant focus on the motives behind the post.

Spag

Nice dodge, Ed. Motives are irrelevant until they are relevant. Everybody hear that? No more questioning Jerry Bledsoe, Jordan Green or FOX News. The motivations of the person giving you the "facts" is irrelevant...

Ed Cone

Sam, I don't think motivations or reputation are always irrelevant or easily ignored.

I do think it is often productive to address the facts of an argument rather than dismissing the argument out of hand or changing the subject based on the identity of the person making or presenting the argument.

I am not saying, "No more questioning Jerry Bledsoe, Jordan Green or FOX News." I'm saying, question their reporting, don't just write off their reporting based on their alleged motivations and biases.

If, over time, you determine a pattern of inaccuracy in their reporting, you will learn to question their work all the more closely.

But if they present you with important facts and you ignore the facts without trying to verify or disprove them first, you may be missing something that matters.

You are conflating reputation, motive, and accuracy in a way that devalues the importance of accuracy. Reputation may be a shortcut at times to judging the probability of accuracy, but it is not a substitute for fact-checking. Blind squirrels and nuts, etc.

I used this example earlier: If the person who turns you in for a murder you committed is your sworn enemy, you still go to jail. If the evidence is in place, it doesn't matter who drops the dime.

I'm not trying to dodge anything or shift standards, and I'm not holding myself up as a flawless paragon of the virtues I profess. I'm trying to have a straightforward conversation about improving the quality of comment threads and other forums.

I've pointed to the example of Welch's reporting on Ron Paul, and the commenter's reaction to it. It seemed like a good place to begin this discussion, and, pending any fresh arguments, a good place for me to check out as well.

Percy Walker

Spag, there is nothing wrong with pointing out that the source of a fact has a reason to lie or has a history of being wrong. That information tells us to approach things with a healthier dose of skepticism. Doses of skepticism obviously will vary from person to person. Big deal. Point out the reason to be skeptical and move on. If you can also establish that the assertion you are skeptical of is wholly lacking in corroboration or contrary to more reliable evidence, then good for you, you've manage to deal with the issue substantively for a change.

Bubba

"If you can also establish that the assertion you are skeptical of is wholly lacking in corroboration or contrary to more reliable evidence, then good for you, you've manage to deal with the issue substantively for a change."

That's obviously not a true statement if you're on this blog (and many others) whenever there's any discussion about the "scientific consensus" on "anthropogenic global warming".

Dave Dobson

Speaking of climate change and the messenger...

Suppose that climate change is not real, and all we do adopt green technologies, which our economy and our technology is perfectly capable of. Then all we've done is given our kids a cleaner world. But suppose they are wrong. Suppose they are wrong, and climate change is real, and we've done nothing. What kind of a planet are we going to pass on to the next generation of Americans? It's real. We've got to address it. We can do it with technology, with cap-and- trade, with capitalist and free enterprise motivation. And I'm confident that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren a cleaner, better world.

-- John McCain

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