Saturday, August 23, 2008

Your Chance

Lately, but not only so, I have been accused of basically having no thoughts of my own, having never educated myself on political philosophy, of relying on sources that agree with me only, of relying on biased sources that spew lies and distortions. Naturally these accusations come from those who don't quite agree with my take on things. Apparently there is a wealth of knowledge heretofor unknown to me that will illuminate my mind and guide me to the realm left of center, and this knowledge base is comprised of solid truth, facts and common sense.

Thus, I invite my left of center friends to use this thread to inform me of just where I can find this totally reliable font that will generate the paradigm shift necessary for me to be as, uh, enlightened as are they. This could be books, periodicals, TV/radio shows, whatever. But, and this is an important "but", you must demonstrate in some way why I should believe that such sources are worthy of any faith.

Right wingers are welcome to do the same.

Just so everyone knows, I will not be offering any myself. I don't need to. I haven't made such accusations. The gauntlet of challenge is thrown. Good luck. I can't wait.

49 comments:

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

You know, opinions are funny things. The old joke about them being as ubiquitous as a certain orifice is both true and irrelevant. They are deeply personal, very often a response to events even we do not fully understand, and (for the most part) impervious to any "logical" or "reasoned" discussion. I am a rare individual, I think, because I do not think it necessary to challenge a particular ideological stance. The world is far more colorful and interesting because different people think, believe, and live, well, differently. Two people can look at the same situation and come to diametrically opposed opinions concerning that situation, and that's OK with me.

What I do find troubling, and I am not speaking of you in particular, Marshall, because you do try to inform yourself concerning basic facts, is the more than occasional resort to fabuluism. It is one thing to look at the political careers of John McCain and Barack Obama, and to have different people reach different conclusions. It is another thing for people to look at the political careers of John McCain and Barack Obama and say (and here I am reaching out to the wider American audience for examples of the kind of crap that's out there) that the former is a liberal in disguise, quite prepared to destroy the conservative brand; that Obama is a closet Muslim intent on bringing Shari'a law to the US. Indeed, one of the silliest fabricated stories is the on-going fuss over, of all things, Obama's birth certificate. What's ironic about this particular bit of funny is the effort to prove Obama wasn't even born in the US could backfire on . . . John McCain. You see, the elderly Senator from Arizona was actually not born in the US, but in the Panama Canal Zone. According to the US Constitution, he is ineligible to run for and hold the office of President. Now, I doubt that a court challenge to his candidacy on these grounds would last very long, but it does prove that some people are paying attention to the Constitution.

I know people who hold different political opinions from me based on all sorts of reasons. I know people who hold similar political opinions to mine for all sorts of reasons. No one, so far as I know, has access to factual information that differs from anyone else's. The simplest way to determine whether something someone says is factually true is to check other sources. To use an ideologically charged example for a moment to try and prove my case, consider Media Matters for America. Billing itself as a progressive media watchdog group MMFA routinely puts up transcripts from television and radio broadcasts of the words of various people, pointing out possibly racially or otherwise generally insensitive remarks. They do not say, "Rush Limbaugh is a racist!" or "Michael Savage is a crazy person!". They put up the words and allow readers to form their own conclusions based on actual content. In their analytical work - the recent takedown of Jerome Corsi's lying tome about Barack Obama is a great example - they did not attack him for being a right-wing hack, or for having ties to racist groups (although they have highlighted those to put his attack on Obama in some kind of context). They did so by relying on publicly available information to show that many if not most of the factual claims in Corsi's book are inaccurate.

The simplest way to determine if any source, regardless of ideological position, is reliable, is to check out the information for oneself. Is it accurate? Do the claims made by person X stand up to public scrutiny? It isn't about objectivity versus subjectivity, or other nonsense like that. It is simply a case of checking out information and seeing if it is accurate. What one does with that information is a totally different story.

Ron said...

Marshal, While I am sure we would come to conclusions that would usually vary 180 degrees I would agree with your basic substance here...I also largely agree with what gks wrote.

Anonymous said...

Oh, balogna! Some people's bias won't let them see an elephant in the room. (This refers to gks and ron.) mom2

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Sure, Mom2, some people are so blinded by ideology or devotion to some Idea that they cannot see the reality in front of them. What of it? Best to ignore such folks.

Dan Trabue said...

I invite my left of center friends to use this thread to inform me of just where I can find this totally reliable font that will generate the paradigm shift necessary for me to be as, uh, enlightened as are they.

Not that I'm claiming to be especially enlightened, but I'll bite:

The Bible (but viewing it with fresh eyes, not through the filter of human traditions)

Human traditions (but not blindly)

The writings/teachings of...

Jesus
Wendell Berry
Mother Teresa
Gandhi
Gene Logsdon
Mark Twain
Will Rogers
Thoreau
Emerson
Sojourner Truth
Helen Keller
Woody Guthrie
Martin Luther King, Jr
Homer Simpson
Hank Hill
Eduardo Galeano
John Muir
Monty Python
Dorothy Day

I'd suggest that's a great starter list.

However, since we can learn from pretty near just about anyone, who we listen to perhaps isn't quite as important as who we don't listen to, or at least who we are wary of.

I'd further suggest staying away from dogmatic types - the ones who sound a bit too confident in suggesting "I know the Way absolutely. Heed what I say only."

Of course, no one comes right out and says that (and it's a good thing), but many do suggest that with their attitudes.

Dan Trabue said...

Some wise words from some of my favorite thinkers...

The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.

~Dorothy Day

Learn to do common things uncommonly well; we must always keep in mind that anything that helps fill the dinner pail is valuable.

~George Washington Carver

It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space... I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.

~Edward Abbey

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

~A. A. Milne

Who are the oppressors? The few: the king, the capitalist and a handful of other overseers and superintendents. Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat.

~Mark Twain

Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff.

~Sojourner Truth

Wander a whole summer if you can. Thousands of God's blessings will search you and soak you as if you were a sponge, and the big days will go by uncounted. If you are business-tangled and so burdened by duty that only weeks can be got out of the heavy laden year, give a month at least. The time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal.

~John Muir

All kings is mostly rapscallions.

~Huck Finn

Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax and all of his friends
can come back.


~Dr. Seuss

When you are right, you cannot be too radical; When you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

When someone steals another's clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.

~Basil the Great

What's the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?

~Henry David Thoreau

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you...

...woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort...

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal...

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?


~Jesus

======
Great stuff. We all ought to dig deep into the great wealth of wisdom out there with wise and open minds.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

To which I would add this Brazilian proverb:

When shit becomes valuable, the poor will be born without assholes.

No truer statement has ever been quipped.

Marshall Art said...

Thanks for the irrelevant crap, Dan. Next time you bite, try biting on what was put on your plate.

Marshall Art said...

GKS,

Regarding your first post, I wouldn't necessarily disagree with the sentiment. But as I said, I'm often accused of using only biased sources without an example of a better source offered. You yourself say I don't try to inform myself of the facts and you say this without either proof or a source you think would provide such facts. But I do try to inform myself and frankly, I look to this very blog and the various commenters to add to that with sources of their own. How can I hope to check out what supposedly is wrong when my opponents won't provide where they get their info in order to make the necessary comparisons? Yeah, I go looking to the various sites as I can, like even Wikipedia (just to see if what I just read had been properly reported---assumptions are often made that aren't quite implied even in Wiki's articles) and I Google the crap out of most things you guys purport are true (it's one of the ways I find Dan to be so off base).

So if you'll be so kind as to humor me, your factual sources, your fonts of knowledge, whatever you use to find counter arguments to YOUR opponents, I would appreciate.

As an aside, I would say that there is a flaw in your thinking regarding challenging a particular ideological stance. Why would you not attempt to demonstrate the faults of that stance if it is blatantly wrong in your eyes? Might you not learn something yourself as it is explained in more detail to you? Might you not help the other as you point out problems that did not occur to him? I don't understand the idea of letting someone continue to be wrong? It's true that at the end nothing changes, but you can't know until to challenge.

Ron said...

Marshall, the facts are that we most often grow up with different things that effect our lives and our diecisions. A wealthy individual is going to think about many issues far differently than a poor person. A person that has worked and works hard and still hasn't "made it" may see things differently than the person who was immediately successful. From what I've seen its a crapshoot and who you know more than how hard you work. Your life experience may tell you differently.
A person whos life is based on faith may see things other than religon in that light too. While a person who was not raise in such a black and white enviroment may see things as more nuanced. The truth is things are better now for some. The truth is also that things are not better for some. That your needs and goals are different from mine or what worked for you doesn't work for me and vis versa is not a profound statement in the least. This is the reason that most often we don't come to agreement on things. We have different challenges and different goals overall, even in what our life means to us. I agree that reasoned debate inevediably makes us both stronger and wiser.

Marshall Art said...

Point taken, Ron, but that doesn't address the challenge, either. It's not about what one believes here, it's about the credibility of sources. Mine are apparently all crap. I seek those unfailing sources used by my opponents that allegedly confirm that.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

My sources are a library full of books on everything from theology to really good modern and classic novels to histories and biographies. Of course, philosophy and theology goes without saying. My library of American history stretches from studies of colonial New England through our contemporary life, on Europe from the Middle Ages through the Second World War, and biographies of people as varied as Peter the Great and Mozart to William Ewart Gladstone, Charles de Gaulle, Francisco Franco, Adolf Hitler, and several biographies of Winston Churchill. Also Ezra Pound, the fascist poet!

I have classics - like William Lueuchtenberg's studies on the 1920's and on the New Deal - and more obscure works, such as a study on the role of the characters of Napolean III and Bismark and the run-up to the Franco-Prussian war.

On a day-to-day level, when I read a story in the newspaper, and my BS detector starts to beep, I usually keep relevant facts in mind and check the story out elsewhere; Google is a wonderful way of figuring out if a story is true, because, with the internet, there are all sorts of sources, from dedicated niche websites to debunkers of urban legends that can be used.

An example is McCain's recent recitation of a story of a North Vietnamese tracing a cross in the dirt. Since he didn't tell the story in his autobiographical notes after his release in the mid-1970's, or in his memoirs published in 1999, it is important to have a level of skepticism about such things. Of course, one cannot prove a negative so it is impossible to say with certainty the even did not take place. Yet, its absence in previous recollections certainly should be telling.

Of course, may people traced it to the recently deceased Alexander Solzhenytsin. This, too, turned out to be erroneous. I don't recall the story from my reading og Gulag, and it turns out it isn't in there. Yet, Billy Graham and others seemed to create it out of whole cloth, reciting it from pulpits. It sson became part of a pat speech. I even recall hearing it at some time or other and always assumed it was something that Solzhenytsin said after he came to the US. Except, he never did.

How do I know? A person who has spent his life reading and studying Solzhenytsin and his life and works has said it was a story never uttered by the reticent Russian emigre. I trust this source for the simple reason there is no reason not to.

Again, none of this means McCain is making up the story. Yet, its presence as a kind of "mark of hope" among those imprisoned certainly does make one question it. Coupled with McCain's consistent rejection of previously held positions, and his recent tendency to prevarications and statements of dubious truthfulness, one has to wonder.

That is why the role of context is so important. It is not just that one should consider any statement in and for itself. One should always take in to account who is speaking, when/where, and any why. These are all necessary analytical tools one should use not just when approaching public statements, but anything.

As for challenging an ideological stance - I do not think any particular social, political, or religious ideology is "right" or "wrong", because I don't think those kinds of terms are relevant. Surely I believe that my web of beliefs and desires (to borrow terminology from my favorite American philosopher, Richard Rorty) are more in tune with the way things are. Yet, I cannot take another ideology to task for being "wrong" because there is no neutral vocabulary available that can judge between my own point-of-view and that of others. I believe it is possible to judge the usefulness of a political ideology by seeing how those who hold its views fare when in power. Do they achieve the goals they set for themselves? Do their statements jibe with their policies? Do their policies benefit the commonweal? These are hardly huge, monumental questions only a dedicated few can ask and answer.

Sure, I prefer my own beliefs and desires to those of others, and I hold them tenaciously, looking for any scrap of evidence that bolsters my belief they work. I do not see how that makes them different from others. I do not pretend they are inherently superior; I do not pretend I am inherently superior (despite the comments of Mark and some others to the contrary). I may have read a book or two, and take the time to check out a story that doesn't - quite - pass the smell test, but that hardly makes me superhuman.

Vinny said...

Apparently there is a wealth of knowledge heretofor unknown to me that will illuminate my mind and guide me to the realm left of center, and this knowledge base is comprised of solid truth, facts and common sense.

There is no reason that knowledge of the facts should necessarily lead you to the left of center. I know many conservatives who are both well read and well informed. Their intellectual curiosity and their intellectual integrity compels them to test their ideas against the best that the other side has to offer. They aren't content to accept everything they hear from conservative sources just because it lines up with what they already believe. They don't wait for others to demonstrate anything to them.

Marshall Art said...

So far, it seems all I'm getting here is that there IS no font of wisdom from which my opponents glean their wisdom, but only their opinion against mine. That's fine. More often than not, it is opinion against which I debate, and not irrelevant items such as whether or not McCain is the Second Coming.

Instead, it appears as though my first inclination was correct, that my opponents accuse me not from a superior source without flaw, but due to their own prejudices that conflict with what I have presented. Accusations are made, and it seems that's all they are. "AmericanThinker is racist!" Yeah? Prove it. Give me something when such statements are made that I can look at and then have a starting point for research. Why should I listen to Glen Greenwald, for example, (pardon if the name is not quite right). He has been used to refute the articles of others, yet there's nothing to suggest that HE'S got it right, only that he IS right because he's not the other dude.

Check it out. I can take being wrong. I'm not the kind of guy that HAS to be right, only one who tries to get it right. But to be told that my sources, or the articles I present are false, outright lies or distortions, and leave it at that, well, don't freakin' waste my time. The only legitimate response is, "Sez you."

Case in point: Vinny recently presented Richard Clarke's book as a source to make a point or refute mine (I don't recall which and it's not important at this time). Why should I take Richard Clarke's version of events? What makes Richard Clarke the epitomy of objectivity in relating events? You guys obviously feel content that you've got it right, so why is it so hard to back it up?

Keep this in mind: I'm more concerned with political philosophy than I am in a given politician. I think it's pretty obvious, even to the less well read folks like myself (not that I don't read at all, but I haven't the unrelated and irrelevant tomes in my history as have you guys---unrelated to this challenge, that is) that what I've put across in most of my posts are true and factual regarding how we look at the world and how it works.

I don't deny my sources are often biased. That doesn't make them false or liars. Bias forces one to look for facts because the other guy made a charge that doesn't fly. To say that writers at a given conservative blog don't research is totally without foundation and a reflexive reaction to what is presented. If you disagree, fine, but don't pretend you KNOW the writer's a liar when you don't present proof. This is all I've ever been saying in regards to attacks on the pieces I've presented. Is that asking too much?

side note:

Geoffrey,

Your shyness in "correcting" opinions of others is, to me, akin to those that didn't help the guy on the side of the road until the Samaritin showed up. Wrong opinions and perspectives do indeed exist. Allow them to fester is harmful to the one who holds that opinion and to anyone who might buy into it. To the best of our ability, I think we have a duty to present what we feel is a better way, and if the other proves us wrong, then we are helped. If we can show the other why he is wrong, then we have helped him. One of your friends might have a world view that includes getting hammered every night. Is that world view as good as yours? Unless you get hammered every night as well, I would think you'd see a bad end for the guy. I would think you'd present reasons why. The decision is ultimately up to the other, and not all "wrong" views are as obvious or easy to refute, but to allow the other to proceed with absolutely no warning doesn't seem to be a very cool way to be. That's all I'm sayin'.

Vinny said...

So far, it seems all I'm getting here is that there IS no font of wisdom from which my opponents glean their wisdom, but only their opinion against mine.

You are so close to getting it and yet so far.

There is no font of wisdom!

There is no magic book that contains incontrovertible truth!

All sources must be examined, tested, and compared!

I told you that I did not consider Richard Clarke to be the epitome of objectivity in relating events. I told you that I considered him to be someone who was in a position to know what was going on. You should not take his version of events as gospel. You should compare his version of events to other versions of events. You should see where they agree and where they disagree.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

That's fine. But if his words aren't beyond dispute, why bother using him? You certainly used him to trump what was being said at the time. You used him as if what was said is therefor crap because Clarke said otherwise. Don't go acting now as if it was just another point of view equal to what provoked your posting of it.

Erudite Redneck said...

Thought you were serious until this: "Thanks for the irrelevant crap, Dan. Next time you bite, try biting on what was put on your plate." You was just looking for a different kind of fight, I reckon. Carry on.

Marshall Art said...

Oh really, ER? Take another look at the list Dan provided and from there, tell me which of those provide a source that might reveal facts that might trump an article by an Ann Coulter, a Thomas Sowell, anything at the supposedly racist AmericanThinker.com or a Human Events or any conservative pundit or opinion piece. Or perhaps you just didn't get the jist of this thread?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall said:

Thanks for the irrelevant crap, Dan. Next time you bite, try biting on what was put on your plate.

You know, I started to ask for you to clarify exactly what you meant, since your original post was so vague. What exactly are you asking for?

Those sources are among my font of wisdoms. Are you asking what NEWS source for best obtaining current data on which to form opinions? I'm not clear what you're asking for.

For NEWS sources (which you never mentioned in your original post), you would do well to begin with NPR and BBC, add to that a mix of a variety of sources.

You can listen to other more opinionated sources (Limbaugh, etc) if you wish, just as long as you realize that it's not the best source of facts.

I'd avoid sources that have a history of acting like news sources but which have published verifiably unfactual "news" (WND springs to mind).

Vinny said...

But if his words aren't beyond dispute, why bother using him?

AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

NO ONE IS BEYOND DISPUTE!

Let me suggest a baby step for you: The Economist. It is a pro-business conservative British magazine that supported both the war in Iraq and the surge. Nevertheless, it deals forthrightly with the mistakes that conservatives make and recognizes the legitimate points that liberals make.

Marshall Art said...

Vinny,

I'm aware of the mistakes made in the war.

But for both you and especially for Dan, he of the poor understanding, this whole thing, as plainly stated in the original post, has been provoked by the constant claims that I don't deal with accurate sources, that the articles and columns to which I link are frought with lies and falsehoods as if the writers are just making shit up without any research at all, but that behind it all I'm never given reason to believe or proofs that counter arguments are any more fact based.

For example, Dan continues to question that which Rush puts forth without any examples of outright lies or falsehoods. Why should I believe Dan (or any other anti-Rush commenter) when they don't back up their stuff? This is especially grating since Rush corrects his mistakes as they come to light at the start of the next show. I've heard him do it several times. He, too, isn't afraid of being wrong. He's far more imformed than anyone I've had take the opposite side here.

But that's just one guy. One guy that even I don't consider infallible in the least.

Dan,

Is this still hard to understand for you? Should I use smaller words? I think my original post was pretty clear. Perhaps you need to sound out the words. Perhaps I need to be more boringly plain in my prose if the true meaning of my words consistently eludes you.

Marty said...

Marshall,

I don't have a bone to pick with you. You have been extremely respectful to me. You seem very well informed and intelligent. Much more so than I am. I don't agree with you on a lot of things, but I'm listening. I am always open to new ideas that I've not heard before, but I doubt you will ever make a conservative out of me and vise versa. But we can still have conversation.

For news and current events I like to listen/watch DemocracyNow hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales. For printed material I like Common Dreams. They carry a wide variety of articles. There is also another website Information Clearing House. It can be a bit radical even for me, but I do get some interesting food for thought there.

Rush Limbaugh, to me, is very arrogant and full of himself. Plus he is disprectful to those with whom he disagrees. If I'm going to listen to talk radio I prefer Thom Hartmann. His book Unequal Protection is an must read for every American. He is a Christian and treats his guests and callers with the respect they deserve, no matter their views. I enjoy his radio program very much.

My views of Iraq, naturally, have been greatly influenced by my son's letters home from Baghdad and my conversations with him. Also from information I receive from other military families that I know personally and trust to tell me the truth. Right now I am in contact with a soldier in Iraq who is filming his deployment, Casey J. Porter. I do prefer to get my info from grunts.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

"Wrong opinions"? I do not believe there is such a thing. If you are a conservative, I have no problem with that. If you use biased sources and resources (as do I, which is why it is important to check facts, and deal with their interpretation at another time), then at least you are honest enough to admit it. As am I.

You asked me where I got my information, yet, when I give a pretty full accounting (do you want the titles of all the books in my library? I've got close to five hundred, so it may take a while), you turn around and say, in effect, "sheesh, is that all?" "Font of wisdom"? I'm not even sure what that means. You labor under the false idea that liberals assume we have the corner on wisdom and knowledge and intellectual honesty and integrity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are liberals who couldn't find the United States on a world map if it was the only country labeled. There are conservatives who are better educated, more subtle in their use of reasoning, and far more widely read and thoughtful than most people I know. Political philosophy comes down to what resonates with what we believe to be true, and cannot be reduced to sources outside one's own life. I do not think it possible to change political philosophy based on evidence, no matter how compelling. I do not think it is possible to find the sources of one's adherence to a particular political philosophy through some kind of archaeological dig (to use Nietzsche's famous analogy). In the end, all we have is our beliefs, and the evidence we choose to use to sustain them.

And that's OK.

What's not OK is to claim that one person's sources are biased, simply because that person lives and believes differently than one's own sense of the way things are or should be. Just because I use, say, Media Matters for America as a source for my conclusion that a certain claim by conservatives is wrong or misguided or morally or politically offensive does not mean either my claim or the original statement in question is inherently wrong. If the words being quoted are accurate - and MMFA is scrupulous about assuring that transcripts are checked and double checked - then it is not the source that is biased, but the interpretation that is the issue. You may or may not agree with the conclusion that, for example, Michael Savages recent tirade against autism and autistic children is not only insensitive, but offensive, but it is impossible to deny the fact that the words in question were used.

After re-reading your further clarification as to what you were looking for, and the offers made by Vinny and others, may I say that it is important to read even the most favored sources of news with one eye on the possibility that they are full of it. If a quote is used, who said it and why. If the quote is unattributed, it might be important to consider why that is so.

Many conservatives love the National Review, and in many respects it is a good journal. At the same time, its long history and the out-front personality of its editor and founder, William F. Buckley, managed to keep many controversial stances before the public long after the controversies themselves had passed in to oblivion. Buckley was an early and fervent supporter of Joe McCarthy, partly because the late junior Senator from Wisconsin was a Roman Catholic and earnest if sometimes drunken in his pursuit of communism. Many of the stories and editorials in the NR during the hey-day of the Civil Rights era came down four-square against the movement for equality, often-times with a barely-covered racist bias. They may or may not be so inclined today, but the history, and the words, are still there (especially since, like so many other long-lived publications, they have put their archives on line).

Vinny is right. There is no such thing as an indisputable source for unvarnished truth. You pick what works for you, and either take your lumps from those who would criticize it or at least be willing to defend it. We all do the best we can do, and that's all we can do.

Marshall Art said...

Marty,

You seem to be the only one who got it on the first try. Kudos (I almost typed "judos"). Thanks.

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

If what you say is true, then why disparage the articles I present? Dispute them if you like, but an actual rebuttal with some type of link in support wouldn't hurt. Lately, all I've been getting is crap about the journalistic abilities of the author as if that's enough to counter the point being made.

As to wrong opinions, of course they exist! It might be difficult to convince the holder of the opinion, but it is illogical to say that all opinions can be equally correct.

Now, keep in mind, when I use the term "opinions", I'm not just referring to something personal as in "It's cold in my opinion." while the next person says, "I think it's kinda warm." That's not the same as a political opinion when the opinion is based on perceptions that can be affected by unknown data or misrepresented data (knowingly or otherwise). Thus, a "wrong" opinion can be harmful or detrimental to the one who holds that opinion. When I encounter a non-believer, for example, my initial thought is one of wondering what that person has really done or not done to come to that conclusion. So challenging the stance of another with whom there is disagreement might bring to light things not before imagined. At the same time, we might also be educated to possibilities that never occurred to us. The point is that engaging with one of differing opinions is a good thing for both sides. You might help or be helped. There's no downside unless one forces the issue.

Marty said...

"So challenging the stance of another with whom there is disagreement might bring to light things not before imagined. At the same time, we might also be educated to possibilities that never occurred to us."

That's why I keep coming back to read here. You challenge me to think from a different angle and get me out of my comfort zone.

I just wish things were a little more civil at times with you guys.

Marshall Art said...

Aw, that would get too boring. Sure, we could reign it in a bit, but boys will be boys.

Ben said...

Not to rain on the Marshall parade of absolutes but....
An "Opinion" is defined as "a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty". Geoffrey is not arguing that opinions are "equally correct". To define an opinion as "correct" in any terms would be well.. wrong. Perhaps Marshall can "challenge" himself and approach this from a "different angle" on this one.

Marshall Art said...

Yes, Ben, but opinions are not generally held in that manner. Most people regard their opinions as absolutes more than just possibilities. But that fact doesn't matter. Some opinions are plainly stupid, such as the opinion of a KKK member about the equality of black people. Are you going to try and say such an opinion has equal value to it's 180 degree opposite? It's flat out wrong and not supportable. Other opinions are as such even if not to the same degree.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Marshall, you say that "most people regard their opinions as absolutes". Well, I'm not most people, and I specifically said I do not so regard my opinions, or those of others, as absolutes. Furthermore, I do not regard all opinions as equally valid. There seems to be this really silly and wrong idea that just because I refuse to say that there are absolutes in this world, that I therefore cannot make a criticism of anything. I'm not even sure how that follows. Since I am quite clear in stating that my opinions matter to me just as much as yours do to you without me having to pretend that my opinions are universally valid, I'm not even sure how you can rebut what I'm saying.

Unless you just don't get it.

Ben said...

"Yes"
Just stop while your ahead.

"but.."
By definition you are wrong.

"But that fact.."
An opinion is not a fact. Its ok. We can get through this together.

"Some opinions are plainly stupid"
YES!! We agree!

"opinion has equal value"
Value has nothing to do with opinion. That box your living in.. try to think outside it.

"It's flat out wrong and not supportable."
YES!! I think you may be getting it! Lets review what an opinion is. An "Opinion" is defined as "a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty".

Marshall Art said...

Despite what you say, Geoffrey, and ignoring Ben's new attempt at cleverness, people act based on their opinions and people vote based on their opinions and as such, the ramifications of a stupid opinion can be great. Once again, I'm not saying that one must be a pest, but to say that no attempt whatsoever to demonstrate why the other's opinion is goofy is to deny them a level of enlightenment that may be beneficial, and to allow them to suffer from the ramifications of their misunderstanding. It's almost like seeing someone about to walk in front of a moving care and allowing them to do so without lifting a finger. He may not move in time, you might not be able to get to him to move him, but to simply allow him to get hit without so much as a "LOOK OUT!" is to express an uncaring attitude toward one's fellow man. The same goes for opinions.

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "Oh really, ER?"

Really. Dan's list is quotations from others who came before him who had some hint at ways to get to the truth -- that's something I might have done.

Because, while there is Truth, no one, and certainly no one writing it, ever, has gotten to it.

Only close.

Yer close.

I'm close from other sides.

Neither of us -- no one of us, no, not one -- is RIGHT!

How arrogant to think oneself is. How foolish to think any other one is.

And that is probably the actual source of all such bickering!

Yer WRONG, dude. About EVERYTHIBG.

I AM, TOO.

But, on any given subject, one of is closer to the truth than the other. Closer. Not "right."

This BS faux need for "certainty" and "exactitude" and such is part of the Devil's lie. Beware of it. Where mere human "facts" are is NO FAITH.

Bah!

Marshall Art said...

ER,

If I concede your point, there still exists the little problem of my linked articles being disparaged without any evidenciary support. This is the point of this thread, that those who consistently do this provide me with their own sources in order to make the comparisons they accuse me of not making. They insist everything I put forth is crap, basically, without demonstrating why that is so. It's getting rather tiresome, to say the least. I doubt it will end. Frankly, until they do, I have to assume they are full of crap and that they are simply wetting themselves in the face of that which I put forth.

Vinny said...

I have seen several sources of information suggested in the comments.

Erudite Redneck said...

Some sources, and some alternative ways of thinking, as well.

MA, you want "facts" when, at best, there are only "hunches" in most cases.

And hey, there are lefty versions of the righty sources you steep yourself in. I think part of the objection might be that you virtually never cite any source that isn't pop-culture righty. If you do rely on other sources, I've just missed 'em.

For what it's worth, I'd say American Thinker is about equal in weight to Daily Kos or Huffington or something. Just rightward, not leftward.

Marshall Art said...

Well, there you go. Comparing AT to those other sites can be no more than a personal opinion, but definitely apples and oranges in my opinion, or rather, apples and brussel sprouts with AT being the former. AT gets crapped on by my lefty friends with nothing to substantiate the claim. It would be more honest to just say that one disagrees, but instead I get nonsense about racism and poor journalistic attributes. Nothing, however regarding the point being made, that is, if the point is understood, which often it isn't. Or, saying the info presented is a lie or otherwise not factual without anything to support the claim.

Yeah, I want facts when what is presented as factual or even just likely is charged as lies and distortions. Why bother coming here to level such charges without anything to back it up? Methinks the truth hurts and to discredit the messenger is good enough for 'em. Not good enough for me, however.

Ben said...

Hmm.. I'm not really being clever. Unless you count looking up the definition of a word clever?

"people act based on their opinions"
Yes? Whats the problem? We vote for all sorts of reasons (if we are lucky enough to even vote). This year, I'm voting for Obama because you don't like him. Really, thats my only reason. Really.

And, nobody ever asked you to "concede" anything. Jeesshh.. its not about that. I really wish you could read what ER wrote with a clear mind. Perhaps you wouldn't get so hung up on this.

Marshall Art said...

You're not required to respond, Ben, if you don't like the topic. Feel free to sit one out if it makes you feel better.

I'm confident I read ER's comments clearly. Not so much that you have.

blamin said...

There are so many sources to choose from, but for both your left and right leaning readers I suggest George Will’s “The Pursuit of Virtue & Other Tory Notions”.

It covers several hundred columns he wrote in the late 70’s to early 80’s, it’s relevant to what we’re experiencing today, and addresses many issues debated on this blog.

He addresses the serious (as well as inane) points raised by his opposition, and he’s got an excellent grounding in world history as well as political philosophy.

Your lefty readers will be pleasantly surprised by some of his views. Your right leaning readers will find solid information to support their views. Both will probably re-examine some beliefs.

One of your readers suggested reading the “Economist”. Don’t waste your time, I subscribed for several years, until I could no longer in good conscience allow myself to be counted as subscriber. The economic information is still good, but you can get the same info from other sources. They’ve allowed more and more space become devoted to editorials, often disguised as factual stories (Think the AP, and the alphabet television news shows). They’re masters at presenting, often misguided, opinion as fact.

Marshall Art said...

This is off topic, but I felt compelled to amuse myself:

"When someone steals another's clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.

~Basil the Great"


By the above, I would expect that Dan has no clothes but what he's wearing at the time (or in the Walden Pond-type picture that graces each of his comments), that there is never more than one meal's worth of food in his cupboard, and that he carries only the money he needs for the day in which he lives.

Naturally, this would be silly to expect. Yet, he speaks as if he lives this sentiment with his "living simply" preaching. The question is, does he make tons of dough, spend it on tons of stuff and give away all excess, or does he only make enough to get by with no excess to give to the needy?

If you have a link available to explain this lifestyle choice in more detail, Dan, I would sincerely appreciate it and would eagerly take a look. I mean this.

Now to our regular programming:

Marshall Art said...

Marty and Blamin have gotten the jist of this challenge. To be fair, and I'm nothing if not fair, Vinny has in past slugfests presented sources to back up his arguments.

Now, part two of the game: why do you feel your sources are credible showstoppers that in your mind should end the discussion and bring me or others to lean more in your direction.

For my part, I simply, for one thing, haven't seen that my sources are looking to put forth falsehoods. For another thing, what they report, for as far as I can tell, accurately reflect what I see going on in the world. Of course, much of this is based on the point being made and therein lies the problem in most debates and discussions in which I participate. Too often, the point is missed.

Other times, of course, it's just straight up "Oh yeah?" "Yeah!" until someone offers something that can be checked and hopefully another counter source is offered. But of course it is in these exchanges that the charges of deceit and lies comes in, but without anything to back that up. Getting confusing, now, isn't it?

So just a bit of an explanation for why one relies on the sources upon which one relies would be nice. For example, why does Dan rely on the Simpsons as a source of info in these debates. I'm really keen on finding out why that is.

Ben said...

"I'm nothing if not fair"
hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Your sources.. jeesh.. Ann Coulter and Thomas Sowell.. the AT.. are sources of OPINION. They tell you what to think. Then support it with dubious "facts". My only suggestion? Perhaps its even a challange!! Create a post and support it with multiple sources. Perhaps use a few newspapers or a liberal rag for support. You can thank me for the "clever" idea later.

Marshall Art said...

That's not how it works, Benny-boy. This is how: A lib comes here and craps on the opinion and points presented by the articles I post, but they do it without any substantial counter sources (with some exceptions, of course). YOU have been amongst the worst of these. Don't tell me Sowell is full of shit. Tell me why and back it up. Why are their facts "dubious"? Prove they're dubious. If you can't, present some kind of case that suggests why they might be.

And this crap about being told what to think? Kiss my ass if you expect me to believe that your alleged sources do any different than mine, with the notable exception of being stupidly liberal.

Vinny offers something even without telling my I should buy his goods over mine. Geoffrey offers a fleshed out opinion, even if I think it's full of crap, so he gets props for that. YOU? You talk smack. And it's baseless, unsupported and not to put too fine a point on it, totally devoid of a point.

Of course I do enjoy making fun of you, so feel free to carry on.

Ron said...

This is a quite interesting conversation. Marshal, you infered I was off the point a little but the later conversation is precisely what I was talking about. Both sides have their "facts" and sources of opinions. The same fact can be true and false. If you have a huge tax load then the fact that huge tax loads are a burden is indisputable to you. If you are struggling to make it or go to school doing minimum wage then your tax burden that exceeds their yearly income may be a bit more inconsequential. We are shaped by the experiences and the world we live IN. Those thing are necessarily our truths. While the case remains it may not be true for others. I know your conservative training will rebel and slam the giant iron door shut on this but ...truth can be relative. Whether you can accept this our not on a personal basis, if you can understand this is how many people on the left understand the world then you will be miles ahead.

Marshall Art said...

Ron,

Opinion is relative, truth and facts are not. Because people deny truths does not support your argument. However, it is important to state what one believes is a truth or fact and go from there. Someone may state a position as a truth, but a closer look reveals it to be opinion. Truths and facts can be disputed, dissected, discussed, but the real truth or fact will emerge and then it's a matter of acceptance.

Ben said...

"YOU have been amongst the worst of these."

Right back atcha kid-o.

Ben said...

Marshall, we've been down this road before. I've given you sources in the past. From the NY Times to the WSJ.. so.. whats the point. What is the point of giving you any source? It never seems to register with you on any level. It has been a cold day in hell when you have offered up anything outside a regurgitated right wing talking point. Come on Marshall, this whole time its been "Your Chance".

Marshall Art said...

Ben,

A "source" is a linked piece or an address or even the freakin' issue of a magazine if I care to track it down at the library. You do not provide any of the above and I can't recall that you ever have here. Saying you've read something in the WSJ is worthless if the attendant issue or web address is not included.