Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time to Raise the Bar: A New Standard for a New Year

Fear and Loathing in the Blogosphere is 1 year old.

You may notice that the blog has gone on a diet for its birthday.

This blog started as more or less writing exercise, but I have always exhibited a good deal of sloppy and/or inconsistent reasoning (at least to my standards) on subjects that ranging from Juno to the 2008 presidential race.

Instead of rewriting, I exported the posts to my HD (I can still read them to remember what I was thinking in 2007) but, because I no longer feel they represent my best work, they will no longer be public. The posts that remain are those that I feel were strong and within the scope of my studies as a student of social science (one post is a paper from a sociology class) and history.

Some changes:


International Relations
National Security/Military
Foreign Policy
Domestic Politics
Pop Culture
A Strategy of Consent(aka: My Undergraduate Thesis)
Academic Work
Logical Fallacies

I'm going to try very hard to keep my topics to the above list.


Under my old system, I would yank any old article out of any old major newspaper and comment it any way I damn well pleased.

That was then.

This is now.

If I post an article for comment, I'm going to try to structure my criticism in a more disciplined way. I believe most poorly reasoned political arguments will commit at least one of two major logical fallacies:

1. The assumption of bad faith on the part of the policy maker

I had a professor last spring who held a job with the state government. This particular professor spent most of the semester railing against the budget cuts going on at the State House (especially the department the PIQ (professor in question) worked for). Each class, the students were treated to at a 15 minute screed on why these budget cuts were stupid, bad for the economy and bad for the state. The PIQ even agreed with a student who argued that he "didn't believe in economics" because "even if the private sector fails there will still be a public sector".

The point of this story is this: The PIQ never once presented the other side of the argument. Every critique of the state policy makers was predicated on the assumption that those in charge had little knowledge of public policy or of the needs of state agencies. No attempt was made to try to get inside the minds of the policy makers who had made the cuts and to understand their rational (in my opinion, the department in question seemed top heavy; and that was based on the biased view of the PIQ). The PIQ assumed that presenting the other side was unnecessary, because the policy makers had made the decisions in bad faith.

This is dangerous. The bad faith fallacy in the first step towards believing in conspiracies. In my analysis, I will attempt at all times to assume good faith on the part of a policy maker (i.e. I will begin with the assumption that he or she believes in his or her soul that the policy in question is truly beneficial to society). Furthermore, I will attempt to expose those in the MSM who commit the bad faith fallacy in their commentary.

Policy choices that appear incorrect in hindsight will never be assumed to have been made in bad faith.

#2.Garden-Stateism:Remembering a place that never existed

This could also be known as the "When I was your age" argument.

Remember that scene in Garden State when Natalie Portman and Zach Braff are in the pool and he starts talking to her about family and he says, "Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place."

Garden-Stateism occurs when one's argument is based on the idea that society is somehow declining and that everything used to be so much better.

I think I'll find it quit frequently in commentary made in the MSM. Any argument that is predicated on "in my day, things were so much easier" is probably guilty of Garden-Stateism. Another term that indicate the existence of "Garden-Stateism" is "These days", as "these day's it's hard to feed a family of 12 on a burger flipper's salary".

People who long for a return to either WWII, the Great Depression or a low skilled, industrial economy shall be known as Garden-Stateists.

1 comment:

Purpleslog said...

"The assumption of bad faith on the part of the policy maker"

This is a hard one. It is easy as a blogger to assume that. Heck the mainstream Medias (TV, Magazines, newspapers) often do.

Some policy makers will be acting in bad faith.

Most just are re-acting to bad/incomplete information and bad incentives.