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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Contradictions in Math-bad, in Political Pundits- Standard

(This is not a partisan post. I am using a Republican example since it illustates the point so well.)

In most (all?) serious fields of academia it is not acceptable to directly contradict yourself. No so in the field of political pundits. Karl Rove (and others) recently did this as the following clip illustrates. My question is, why do they get away with it? Some thoughts.
  1. I only saw this on The Daily Show. No other media seems to have picked up on it. (Some blogs did.) Karl Rove will not be challenged on this. FOX NEWS will not call him into their office and ask him how he could say contrary things.
  2. Rove is only talking to fellow conservatives. Its like Cold Fusion worskhop or a Parapsychology conference or an Intelligent design journal or a Bush Rally- your audience is pre-picked.
  3. People think (perhaps correctly) that all pundits do it, so nobody is particularly criticized if they do it. (I've seen this reasoning used to defend negative ads.)
  4. If Karl Rove was challenged he might say The Daily Show ran that piece because they are part of the liberal media elite.
  5. Most people have not had a course in basic logic to tell them when two statements are clearly contradictory. (Though common sense should suffice.)
  6. There is an end justifies the means mentality. If Karl Rove helps get McCain elected, then that is all that matters.
  7. Is there any serious field of academia where people can make contrary statements and not be called on it?

9 comments:

  1. Hmm, after seeing this clip, I think that (just maybe) essentially all these major party candidates (and their pocketed pundits) are venal, self-serving morons.

    Not a solution: But for every office you vote for, vote the incumbent out. And if there is a random 3rd party in the race - then vote for that slug, just for giggles.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You made a contrary statement too. At the beginning you wrote: "This is not a partisan post." And then you write a partisan post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Gee, I guess I'm part
    of the problem instead
    of being part of the solution:-)

    No, seriously, my intent was to use this as an
    EXAMPLE of the issue.
    Karl Rove just happened
    to present a very good example that I had access to.

    I certaintly welcome posts from commenters that
    give examples from
    Democrats or other parties.

    ReplyDelete
  4. These people are not pundits. They are paid plants whose job is to carry the water for the party of their choice. They are not defending deeply held positions, but simply repeating party lines from the campaign room. There was a time when doing so openly and unashamedly was enough to get you the boot from the media. Today it earns you a column on the OpEd page of the New York Times (ask Billy Kristol).

    To be clear, the problem is not that they hold views which might be different than mine. The problem is that they hold no positions, they are simply a paid advertisement from whomever party the happen to belong to.

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  5. Cold fusion conferences are not at all the way you imagine. The audience is not hand-picked and participants often disagree, to say the least.

    Cold fusion is controversial, so only senior, distinguished professors with lots of clout can do experiments. They include Nobel laureates, the former head of the Atomic Energy Commission in India and in France, the editors of the leading journals of plasma physics, Fellows of the Royal Society and so on. They have strong opinions and they tend to think that everyone else is wrong. I have never seen one hesitate to criticize other people's work, or even tear it to pieces.

    You will see this if your read their papers. They have published roughly a thousand peer-reviewed papers in major journals, and 2000 others. You can read many examples here:

    http://lenr-canr.org

    - Jed Rothwell

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  6. "I only saw this on The Daily Show. No other media seems to have picked up on it. (Some blogs did.) Karl Rove will not be challenged on this. FOX NEWS will not call him into their office and ask him how he could say contrary things."

    Good grief, man, you're making yourself look pretty naive: this kind of brazen bullshitting by Republicans has been going on at least since Nixon. The only thing notable about this example is that a basic cable comedy show happened to point it out.

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  7. Good grief, man, don't "they all" do this stuff? Didn't Obama go from thinking that union money was "special interest" money when he wasn't getting it to unions (and their money) were "representatives of working people" when he started to get it?

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  8. "Is there any serious field of academia where people can make contrary statements and not be called on it?"

    Psychology?
    Sociology?
    Law?
    Business?
    Philosophy?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think the problem is the soft stance on logical fallacies. Despite the inconsistence and contradictions, the individual is never branded a liar or something simple and decisive, something that would perhaps be significant enough to offset the benefit of having a consistent (but logically fallible) higher ground in all arguments.

    As it is, even if the speaker was pointed out to have made a contradiction, the generic citizen would not believe this is particularly bad. If the speaker was called a liar, however, then that might be derogatory enough to have an effect on the generic citizen opinion.

    ReplyDelete