From: Platt Holden (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Jul 08 2005 - 13:18:17 BST
I just got in my e-mail a post from you that consisted of nothing more
than my post of 7/7. Was there a message there that I missed?
> Fair point. But I'm not talking about telling others "what's best for
> them". I'm saying that people are easily manipulated through rewards and
> fear to act in ways they might normally NOT act. Why do you think
> advertising and speech-making are such powerful tools?
> The underlying point is that people think "through language" not simply
> "with language". It is, generally speaking, not until someone experience
> cross-cultural tensions does one realize that one's culture predisposes
> them to think in a certain way, about certain things.
> We have a very consumerist, materialist culture. Advertising and the
> dwindling savings of most Americans bears out the truth that we are
> spending more and saving less. I certainly wouldn't begin to tell someone
> what they can and can't spend, but I can certainly work towards showing
> them potential outcomes of their decisions, and ask them to consider
> whether they are spending (or not) to create a placeholder for true
> socio-political leverage.
> In the end, they must decide for themselves. But that is no reason not to
> illuminate the dialogue.
No objections. I would only add that we must defend freedom to decide and
act on our values for ourselves.
> If you say that there is no study that can prove, or disprove, this
> statement, all you are doing is saying "its his (and yours) patriotically
> clung to opinion". Which is fine, if you'd be honest about it.
You keep accusing me of saying that I intended to offer proof, undeniable
facts and "the truth" about my beliefs concerning the values of the U.S.
Honestly, did I ever claim that? You also keep asking for statistics and
"studies" as proof, as if those were the only legitimate tools for
ascertaining the validity of one's beliefs. Maybe what we should really be
discussing is what constitutes reliable sources for establishing
reasonable opinions. If we could agree on that, we might find more common
ground. What do you think?
> Or, perhaps, you can inform me how his "opinion" is "educated" and mine is
In citing educated opinion one looks for credentials such as degrees
earned, books written, length of experience in a particular field, awards
received, etc. I'm not a lawyer but I gather there are number of criteria
along those lines for establishing someone as an expert witness.
> D'Souza offers no more support of this second point than of the first. But
> if you'd reread my post, I do mention this. I also criticize it for being
> nothing more than opinion. It was you who responded to this by showing me
> how America ranks 38th in lifespan, not 46th. So his first point (living
> longer) is disproven. Do you have any proof other than "opinion" that his
> second is true?
See above about the question of "proof" vs. "opinion."
> What constitues "credentials"? Being "conservative"? Seems like that's the
> only credential you look for.
> > No. We can claim, based on the MOQ, that a country that is democratic
> > and guarantees it's citizens certain inalienable rights such as
> > freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, trial
> > by jury, etc. is better than countries which do not. Further, we can
> > claim, based on educated opinion and our own direct experience, that
> > some countries are better than others.
> So, since Denmark has these things, you'd say there is no measure to
> compare the two? And again, what makes one opinion "educated" and another
> "not"? Whether or not it trumpets "conservativism"?
I think Denmark is a better country than, say, Saudi Arabia. As for
"educated opinion," see above.
> > Appealing to such statistics reveals the mindset of a central planner,
> > someone who believes the government is responsible for curing all social
> > problems.
> No, Platt. It reveals compassion. Caring about something more than my
> personal little wealth stockpile.
Yes, I know. You want to be admired for your compassion and caring. Maybe
we should initiate a study of who is more compassionate, you or me. :-)
> But let me ask you, are the "poor" responsible for their poverty?
In many cases in the U.S., yes.
> > If you read the Declaration of Independence which described the
> > the low social quality that the Founders risked their lives to overcome,
> > you'll not find a single statistic to "prove" their point.
> Ah, yes. The last appeal of the Limbaughians is to "the Founders". I can
> almost hear the Stars and Stripes playing in the background. The founders,
> however, we very specific in drafting documents that clearly indicate what
> "low Quality" they were combatting. Taxation without representation, for
> example. Indeed, in their opening they state "a decent respect to the
> opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which
> impel them to the separation". When they say "Governments are instituted
> among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"
> they are very openly stating that they were rejecting as low Quality the
> idea of monarchy and non-representative government. The DoI continues with
> a long list of direct and open complaints as to specific actions which can
> be historically documented and examined.
Well, feel free to bash the Founders if you wish. They (and the
Continental Army and the millions who have died to defend this country
since) assured you of that right. My point was that their "truths" were
not established by references to studies and statistics that you seem
believe are always necessary and always reliable..
> Really? Dusenberry rejected contemporary wealth and chose to live among a
> minority peoples so as to better understand them and their culture. And you
> feel you're like Dusenberry?
Well, I don't go quite that far. :-)
> No one, lest of all me, places absolute credence in statistics. However,
> when you present something as "truth" as you tried to pass D'Souza off as,
> requires some appeal to something other than opinion. If I said that I
> believed the majority of Canadians to be better off than we are, wouldn't
> the first thing out of your keyboard be "on what do base that?" If I said
> "opinion". You'd likely say "fine", but you'd laugh at my attempts to pass
> it off as undeniable fact.
As noted above, I'm not claiming my beliefs are the absolute truth or
undeniable fact. Do you claim that yours are?
Let's discuss reliable sources. Perhaps we can start by agreeing that
Wikipedia should be our basic reference encyclopedia and that Merriam-
Webster our dictionary since both are readily accessed on the Web.
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