The Liberal Modus Ponens versus The Republican Modus Tollens

Not all problematic arguments are created equal
Opinion • Views: 33,257

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In my previous post, “The Republican Modus Tollens”, I pointed out that arguments apparently having the valid form

  1. If P then Q
  2. Not-Q
  3. So Not-P

allow for serious irrationality when P represents a matter of well-confirmed scientific theory and Q represents a prescriptive policy preference or a tenet of religious faith. So, to use one of the examples from my previous post, we have arguments about climate change that seem to be guided by the following pattern of thought:

  1. If climate change is occurring, then we should regulate CO2.
  2. We shouldn’t regulate CO2.
  3. So climate change isn’t actually occurring.

Of course, probably no opponent of climate change has ever explicitly made just this argument. My point is that the arguments they do make are at least partly motivated by some such pattern of thought. Representing the pattern this way makes clear that they are often reasonable enough to recognize that if climate change were occurring, then we (perhaps) should regulate CO2. The problem is that they also very strongly desire not to regulate CO2 (perhaps for quite defensible reasons, such as worrying about the economic effects of such regulation), and this very strong desire against a possible policy choice, along with the normally valid modus tollens pattern of thought, leads them irrationally to deny a well-confirmed theory. In order to do so, they must massively over-weigh evidence contrary to climate change, sometimes fantasize about global conspiracies of scientists, and so on. It is this last move - the irrational denial of a scientific theory - that indicates they are being guided, at bottom, by strongly held policy positions and this modus tollens pattern of thought, or something similar to it.

Psychological explanations for why people argue like this aside, I suggested that the main logical problem with such arguments is located in their conditional (‘If P, then Q’) premises. This problem arises whenever P describes a putative matter of fact and Q expresses a prescription of some sort (often signaled by the inclusion of ‘should’ or ‘ought’). In such cases, the conditional statement can be viewed in one of two ways. If we view it as the sort of statement that actually belongs in a modus tollens argument (what logicians call a ‘material conditional’), then it can be criticized as being false on purely logical grounds. Famously, ‘is’ does not materially imply ‘ought’ - descriptive language does not materially imply prescriptive language. That does not mean that facts are irrelevant to policy choices, of course. As I put it in my previous post, facts can certainly bear on policies; it’s just that they never logically necessitate policies. On the other hand, if we view the conditional premises as mere recommendations, then they don’t belong in a modus tollens form of argument at all, the argument form is only superficially similar to modus tollens, and the conclusion does not validly follow from the premises.

Now, almost as famous as “‘is’ does not imply ‘ought’” is another philosophical saying: “One person’s modus tollens is another person’s modus ponens”. Modus ponens is, like modus tollens, a valid form of argument that starts from a conditional premise. But in its second premise, instead of denying the conditional’s consequent (the statement that follows ‘then’), it affirms its antecedent (the statement that follows the ‘if’), and instead of deducing the conditional’s denied antecedent, it deduces its affirmed consequent. This sounds a lot more complicated than it is, as this sketch of the form shows:

  1. If P then Q
  2. P
  3. So Q

Starting from the conditional premise in the previous argument, we arrive at an argument that is commonly asserted by liberals:

  1. If climate change is occurring, then we should regulate CO2.
  2. Climate change is occurring.
  3. So we should regulate CO2.

“When conservatives deny the antecedent because they deny the consequent, they are allowing their policy preferences to influence their view of the facts… when liberals affirm the consequent because they affirm the antecedent, they are merely allowing their view of the facts to influence their policy choice.”A conservative upset with my prior post might try to turn the tables, observing that if the conditional premise is a problem in the modus tollens argument, then it is equally a problem in this modus ponens argument. I would reply that yes indeed, it is a problem, but not quite equally one. This is because in the cases that concern us, the antecedent is descriptive and the consequent is prescriptive, rather than the other way around. It is still true that the conditional statement is either false or not a material conditional (because it is a mere recommendation). But the difference is that when conservatives deny the antecedent because they deny the consequent, they are allowing their policy preferences to influence their view of the facts. On the other hand, when liberals affirm the consequent because they affirm the antecedent, they are merely allowing their view of the facts to influence their policy choice: precisely the rational thing to do. Even if both arguments are unsound or invalid from a purely logical viewpoint, in these cases the modus tollens sort of argument is irrational in a way that the modus ponens sort of argument is not.

But couldn’t the Republican arguments be expressed in a modus ponens form? Certainly. For instance:

  1. If climate change is not occurring, then we should not regulate CO2.
  2. Climate change is not occurring.
  3. So we should not regulate CO2.

The problem is that this way of representing their pattern of thought leaves the conspiracy theories and evidential biases that they rely upon to justify premise (2) totally unexplained. The same can be said for the other two arguments I discussed in the last post, in which premise (2) (of the modus ponens versions) would deny evolution and the safety of the HPV vaccine, respectively. Admittedly, some who deny evolution sometimes do so by promoting the notion of intelligent design, but the arguments for intelligent design are at least as weak as the arguments for the denial of climate change. The modus tollens representations help to explain why Republicans make such arguments (namely, because they are passionately against certain policies that they think might follow from acceptance of the facts); the modus ponens ones don’t.

By the way, some readers might have noticed an asymmetry in the title of this post versus that of the previous post: here I used ‘liberal’ instead of ‘Democratic’, whereas there I used ‘Republican’ instead of ‘conservative’. That is because, if the behavior of the House of Representatives and the current crop of Republican presidential candidates is any indication, the Republican party really has morphed into a purely conservative party. For better or for worse, thanks at least to the “blue dog” contingent, the Democratic party has not yet made a similar transformation into a purely liberal party.

Finally, it’s perhaps worth emphasizing that although the sort of irrationality I’ve sketched out above currently seems more common on the Right than on the Left, liberals are certainly not immune to it. The more passionately one holds a policy position, the more likely one is to fall into this style of thinking, and liberals can be just as passionate as conservatives. The answer, of course, isn’t to be less passionate. It’s simply to be more mindful of how those passions might influence one’s thinking.

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90 comments
1 Almost Killed by Space Hookers  Sun, Sep 25, 2011 2:36:11pm

I really like these posts. Keep them up.

2 wiffersnapper  Sun, Sep 25, 2011 3:03:06pm

Very cool!

3 Hal_10000  Sun, Sep 25, 2011 6:52:28pm

My problem is that you're taking logic on a specific issue and broad stroking it to a specific world view which you label as conservative, with the implication conservative thought is tollens and liberal thought is ponens. It's yet more of the "only liberals are rational" viewpoint that conservatives find so maddening. While this may apply to the specific issue of climate change, there are other issues where the thinkings modes are reversed for the political ideologies. And, in fact, even conservative ideology is more complex and varied than your simple algorithm. No one has a monopoly on logical thought.

4 moderatelyradicalliberal  Sun, Sep 25, 2011 8:45:30pm

re: #3 Hal_10000

My problem is that you're taking logic on a specific issue and broad stroking it to a specific world view which you label as conservative, with the implication conservative thought is tollens and liberal thought is ponens. It's yet more of the "only liberals are rational" viewpoint that conservatives find so maddening. While this may apply to the specific issue of climate change, there are other issues where the thinkings modes are reversed for the political ideologies. And, in fact, even conservative ideology is more complex and varied than your simple algorithm. No one has a monopoly on logical thought.

It's true that no one has a monopoly on logical thought, but not too long ago the prevailing wisdom was that liberals were driven by emotion and conservatives were driven by logic, thus the term "bleeding heart liberal". I don't recall conservatives complaining back then.

5 Romantic Heretic  Sun, Sep 25, 2011 8:57:38pm

I have a strong respect for logic, but it has a problem. This problem was best illustrated by this little blurb that started an episode of Andromeda.

"Worlds governed by artificial intelligence often learned a hard lesson: Logic Doesn't Care."
Yin-Man Wei
"This Present Darkness: A History of the Interregnum"
CY 11956

6 (I Stand By What I Said Whatever It Was)  Sun, Sep 25, 2011 11:44:56pm

Still think that this applies, especially as concerns the is-ought problem referenced: [Link: plato.stanford.edu...]

7 Larry A. Herzberg  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 2:59:23pm

re: #3 Hal_10000

My problem is that you're taking logic on a specific issue and broad stroking it to a specific world view which you label as conservative, with the implication conservative thought is tollens and liberal thought is ponens. It's yet more of the "only liberals are rational" viewpoint that conservatives find so maddening. While this may apply to the specific issue of climate change, there are other issues where the thinkings modes are reversed for the political ideologies. And, in fact, even conservative ideology is more complex and varied than your simple algorithm. No one has a monopoly on logical thought.

It might surprise you that I agree with you entirely, and modified the post at the end to reflect your thought, even before I read your comment. Take a look at the modification and let me know what you think.

8 Charles Johnson  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:45:45pm

Yes, more logic on the LGF front page. Don't be afraid -- you'll just feel a little pinch in your cerebral cortex.

See? That wasn't so bad, was it?

9 austin_blue  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:47:07pm

If the posts are both true and logical, you should keep posting them.

The posts are both true and logical.

So...

10 Kragar  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:48:34pm

My problem is this means your opponent is using logic, even if faulty. What about when they don't even attempt logic?

Case in point

Obama not taking our guns is a plan to take our guns

11 Decatur Deb  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:49:29pm

I was told there'd be no logic.

12 darthstar  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:51:07pm

re: #10 Kragar (Proud to be Kafir)

My problem is this means your opponent is using logic, even if faulty. What about when they don't even attempt logic?

Case in point

Obama not taking our guns is a plan to take our guns

That one's easy. Keep Obama as the enemy, and people will keep giving more money to the NRA to keep them relevant.

13 jaunte  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:52:42pm

I was just trying to apply the modus tollens to a recent Santorum statement, but it put too much of a pinch in my cortex.

Santorum isn’t waiting or the next debate. His spokesman Hogan Gidley emails me in response to Mark Miners comments: “Senator Santorum is certainly an advocate for states’ rights, but he believes as Abraham Lincoln – that states do not have the right to legalize moral wrongs. The Senator has been clear and consistent - and he believes that marriage is and can only be: between one man and one woman.” [Link: www.washingtonpost.com...]

14 Targetpractice  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:54:47pm

re: #13 jaunte

I was just trying to apply the modus tollens to a recent Santorum statement, but it put too much of a pinch in my cortex.

So gay marriage qualifies as a "moral wrong"? Lord, what a moron.

15 Digital Display  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:54:54pm

re: #8 Charles

Yes, more logic on the LGF front page. Don't be afraid -- you'll just feel a little pinch in your cerebral cortex.

See? That wasn't so bad, was it?

I dunno..I'm kind of feeling like Pascal living on K Street. :)
Now once we mix logic with emotion.. Then the true American political equation comes to light..
/

16 Killgore Trout  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:57:29pm

I'm kind of missing the central partisan point here. I can follow the misuse of logic and Republicans certainly have a very serious problem. This argument can be easily applied to liberal thinking as well. It wasn't long ago that fear of the fascist Bush regime and the draconian patriot act led many liberals to entertain 9-11 conspiracy theories. I also find that liberal's aversion to no-colonialism to embrace leftist dictators like Chavez, theocracies like Iran and terrorist organizations like Hamas. I think the impulse for faulty logic is a human instinct and shared by conservatives and liberals.
Am I missing something?

17 Kragar  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 5:57:33pm

re: #13 jaunte

I was just trying to apply the modus tollens to a recent Santorum statement, but it put too much of a pinch in my cortex.

A few decades ago, interracial marriages were morally wrong. We adapted.

18 darthstar  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:00:53pm

Yay! Rachel's starting with another of her "John Boehner is bad at his job hypothesis" rants...I love these.

19 CuriousLurker  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:01:49pm

re: #8 Charles

Yes, more logic on the LGF front page. Don't be afraid -- you'll just feel a little pinch in your cerebral cortex.

See? That wasn't so bad, was it?

Larry's explanation was great, but it would help if the arguments didn't have scary Latin names that sound like diseases, and if Wikipedia wouldn't represent them them in a way that makes them look like math. // *shudder*

20 mr.fusion  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:03:10pm

re: #16 Killgore Trout

I'm kind of missing the central partisan point here. I can follow the misuse of logic and Republicans certainly have a very serious problem. This argument can be easily applied to liberal thinking as well. It wasn't long ago that fear of the fascist Bush regime and the draconian patriot act led many liberals to entertain 9-11 conspiracy theories. I also find that liberal's aversion to no-colonialism to embrace leftist dictators like Chavez, theocracies like Iran and terrorist organizations like Hamas. I think the impulse for faulty logic is a human instinct and shared by conservatives and liberals.
Am I missing something?

Why yes...yes you are

This is the way liberals handle the extreme element.

Liberal leaders have pushed to the side the most extreme elements of their party while conservatives have embraced, encouraged and to a certain degree instituted litmus tests based on the whims of the most extreme element of their party.

21 The Ghost of a Flea  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:04:40pm

re: #19 CuriousLurker

Larry's explanation was great, but it would help if the arguments didn't have scary Latin names that sound like diseases, and if Wikipedia wouldn't represent them them in a way that makes them look like math. // *shudder*

Don't be dissing the Begriffsschrift.

22 CuriousLurker  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:08:29pm

re: #21 The Ghost of a Flea

Don't be dissing the Begriffsschrift.

Gah! See how you are?? You made me go look up another new term. ;)

23 reine.de.tout  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:12:05pm

re: #16 Killgore Trout

I'm kind of missing the central partisan point here. I can follow the misuse of logic and Republicans certainly have a very serious problem. This argument can be easily applied to liberal thinking as well. It wasn't long ago that fear of the fascist Bush regime and the draconian patriot act led many liberals to entertain 9-11 conspiracy theories. I also find that liberal's aversion to no-colonialism to embrace leftist dictators like Chavez, theocracies like Iran and terrorist organizations like Hamas. I think the impulse for faulty logic is a human instinct and shared by conservatives and liberals.
Am I missing something?

I don't think you're missing anything. I agree the impulse for faulty logic CAN be a human frailty and shared by folks of all persuasions. I do think, also, that it becomes particularly obnoxious problem for people when their "side" is not the one holding the office of the Presidency (power). They go overboard trying to distance themselves from whatever is being done by the current occupant of the White House, even when the things being done are logical or necessary. Not that I think EVERYTHING that Obama has done has been logical or necessary (nor did I think that of Bush either, so don't anybody jump on me here, I'm not in the mood for it).

24 The Ghost of a Flea  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:16:14pm

re: #22 CuriousLurker

Gah! See how you are?? You made me go look up another new term. ;)

I know these things because I do very exacting research...for my D&D campaigns....

25 CuriousLurker  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:18:24pm

Okay, this made my brain hurt. Especially the last part:

But in its second premise, instead of denying the conditional’s consequent (the statement that follows ‘then’), it affirms its antecedent (the statement that follows the ‘if’), and instead of deducing the conditional’s denied antecedent, it deduces its affirmed consequent.

Good thing it was followed up with a real world example or I would've given up in despair.

26 William Barnett-Lewis  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:18:39pm

re: #22 CuriousLurker

Gah! See how you are?? You made me go look up another new term. ;)

Be good, or I'll start quoting the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

//

27 Kragar  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:19:15pm

re: #24 The Ghost of a Flea

I know these things because I do very exacting research...for my D&D campaigns...

The secret to any campaign is knowing the DM's reading list.

28 William Barnett-Lewis  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:20:05pm

re: #27 Kragar (Proud to be Kafir)

The secret to any campaign is knowing the DM's reading list.

Double Plus 1 on that!

29 CuriousLurker  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:23:18pm

re: #24 The Ghost of a Flea

I know these things because I do very exacting research...for my D&D campaigns...

LOL!

re: #26 wlewisiii

Be good, or I'll start quoting the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

//

I can't believe anyone ever actually spoke Latin. Sheesh.

re: #23 reine.de.tout

I wanna know how Catholics survived all those centuries of Latin masses without losing their ever loving minds.

30 b_sharp  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:25:33pm

The syllogism;

If climate change is occurring, then we should regulate CO2.
We shouldn’t regulate CO2.
So climate change isn’t actually occurring.

is missing a condition, is it not?

Isn't it necessary for P to be true if and only if Q is true?
In the above case, climate change can be true even if we should not regulate CO2

31 engineer cat  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:28:05pm

re: #26 wlewisiii

Be good, or I'll start quoting the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

//

tractati non carborundum

32 reine.de.tout  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:29:12pm

re: #29 CuriousLurker

re: #23 reine.de.tout

I wanna know how Catholics survived all those centuries of Latin masses without losing their ever loving minds.

ROFL! Who says we didn't?

33 Decatur Deb  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:33:24pm

re: #29 CuriousLurker

LOL!

re: #26 wlewisiii

I can't believe anyone ever actually spoke Latin. Sheesh.

re: #23 reine.de.tout

I wanna know how Catholics survived all those centuries of Latin masses without losing their ever loving minds.

A kid in my dorm room talked in his sleep in Latin.

34 engineer cat  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:36:12pm

re: #30 b_sharp

The syllogism;

is missing a condition, is it not?

Isn't it necessary for P to be true if and only if Q is true?
In the above case, climate change can be true even if we should not regulate CO2

yes - modus tollens is used fallaciously when the consequent, in this case "co2 should be regulated", is a statement of something that should or might happen rather than what will happen or always happens. in this case, the if - then - relationship cannot be used in the same way as when the consequent is phrased as a statement of fact, as for example if you said "if global warming is true, al gore will lose 40 pounds by christmas 2011". in this case, if al gore is still fat by christmas, you can legitimately deny the if clause, "global warming is true"

35 b_sharp  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:42:05pm

re: #34 engineer dog

yes - modus tollens is used fallaciously when the consequent, in this case "co2 should be regulated", is a statement of something that should or might happen rather than what will happen or always happens. in this case, the if - then - relationship cannot be used in the same way as when the consequent is phrased as a statement of fact, as for example if you said "if global warming is true, al gore will lose 40 pounds by christmas 2011". in this case, if al gore is still fat by christmas, you can legitimately deny the if clause, "global warming is true"

It's been 30 years since my last logic class, but I thought something was weird about it.

36 CuriousLurker  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:45:29pm

re: #33 Decatur Deb

E gad! O_o

37 Decatur Deb  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:46:28pm

re: #36 CuriousLurker

E gad! O_o

It's OK, it was before Vatican II.

38 wee fury  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:51:41pm

Latin is a romance language.

39 Decatur Deb  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:53:18pm

re: #38 wee fury

Latin is a romance language.

Not in the seminary.

40 Larry A. Herzberg  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:55:10pm

re: #16 Killgore Trout

I'm kind of missing the central partisan point here. I can follow the misuse of logic and Republicans certainly have a very serious problem. This argument can be easily applied to liberal thinking as well. It wasn't long ago that fear of the fascist Bush regime and the draconian patriot act led many liberals to entertain 9-11 conspiracy theories. I also find that liberal's aversion to no-colonialism to embrace leftist dictators like Chavez, theocracies like Iran and terrorist organizations like Hamas. I think the impulse for faulty logic is a human instinct and shared by conservatives and liberals.
Am I missing something?

I think the point you've missed is made in the last paragraph of the post... isn't it?

41 Hal_10000  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 6:56:02pm

re: #7 Avram

Thanks!

42 reine.de.tout  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 7:27:39pm

re: #39 Decatur Deb

Not in the seminary.

ummmmmmmm . . .

43 Killgore Trout  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 7:32:56pm

re: #40 Avram

I think the point you've missed is made in the last paragraph of the post... isn't it?

Sort of. The distinction isn't really a divide of conservative vs. liberal. It's passion over reason. I would guess this is more a product of impotence and a feeling of powerlessness.

44 Larry A. Herzberg  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 7:40:20pm

re: #43 Killgore Trout

That's a charitable diagnosis.

45 Killgore Trout  Mon, Sep 26, 2011 8:05:19pm

re: #44 Avram

That's a charitable diagnosis.

Hmm, I was going for "extra shitty" and ended up "charitable". I guess that's a fail.

46 Steroid  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 3:14:40am

I like this post, and I have expressed the climate change argument (I'm against the regulation of CO2) in the modus tollens form you described. First, I think that conditionals like this do apply. In politics, perception can be reality. Phrase the conditional like this: if there is general concession that AGW (or ACC I guess we should say) is occurring, then the political ministrations are going to work such that it will be very likely that we will get CO2 regulation. Then the modus tollens works: we shouldn't regulate CO2, therefore there shouldn't be a general concession of AGW.

It's a similar logic that applies to evolution. You may be able to conceive of both evolution as true and a god that overlooks the world and is the judge of morality, but many cannot. It's either continue to defend creationism, or concede that there is no universal justice and that jungle law controls.

Now, as a hedonistic libertarian, I think that we should allow individual people to pursue their own ends no matter how counterintuitive they seem. If a greedy boss is paying his workers pennies a day, well, they agreed to it. And if he's dumping sludge into a lake, well, he owns it. Philosophically speaking, we have no in-born obligations to nature, god, or our fellow man. But, if I say that publicly, the likely consequence is that my positions will be worked against by those who disagree, whereas if I sugar-coat it in happier terms--economic freedom is more important than mere egalitarianism!--it sells better.

And I think everyone does this. All positions have negative consequences, even purely rational liberalism (if such a thing there be), but pointing out your own negatives is counterproductive, particularly when the other side isn't going to do that.

So, if the goal is truly to understand the mentality, don't query the logic; ask what it accomplishes. If the goal is to subvert the accomplishments, then prepare for the same tactic to be used against you.

47 Obdicut  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 3:30:40am

re: #46 Steroid

No, not everyone is as cynical as you.

Sheesh, that was depressing to read.

48 Lord Baron Viscount Duke Earl Count Planckton  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 3:54:01am

re: #47 Obdicut

No, not everyone is as cynical as you.

Sheesh, that was depressing to read.

Heh. Cynical, but I upding for honesty about him/herself.

49 Obdicut  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 4:00:38am

re: #48 Sergey Romanov

Well, I also think he's just wrong. I don't think most of the glibertarian lunatics reasoning backwards are doing it out of canny political effectiveness, but simply because they believe their own stuff axiomatically and so it fucks up their logical process.

The people who craft the arguments in the first place and the people who parrot them are rather different. The extent to which the crafters are cynically lying in Steroid's above fashion is debatable; I think some of them are True Believers too.

50 Talking Point Detective  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 4:36:37am

These are an interesting couple of posts - but they leave out the arguments that I often see from climate change "skeptics" and conservatives - arguments that they believe characterize "liberal" logic on climate change, HPV, and evolution:

1. If climate change is occurring, we should regulate CO2.
2. Scientists are statists and want to regulate everything and they are
libz whoa re socialists that want to destroy capitalism
3. Therefore, climate change is occurring.

or

1. If the HPV vaccine is safe, then government should encourage its use.
2. Scientists are libz thus are statists who want government to control
our lives in every way.
3. So the HPV vaccine is safe.

Or, finally:

1. If evolutionary theory is true, then the biblical story of creation should
be denied.
2. Scientists are liberals who must find ways to rationalize their hatred of
religion.
3. The biblical story of creation must be denied.

51 iossarian  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 4:51:33am

re: #46 Steroid

If a greedy boss is paying his workers pennies a day, well, they agreed to it.

Stopped reading at this point.

52 (I Stand By What I Said Whatever It Was)  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 4:59:20am

re: #51 iossarian

Stopped reading at this point.

Typical glibertarian fallacy of assuming everyone to be equally and absolutely free in regards to forming contracts all the time.

Always results in:

Well, the poor consented to being ripped off, didn't they?!

53 Talking Point Detective  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 5:04:05am

re: #50 Talking Point Detective

I should clarify the concluding statements of each set:

1. If climate change is occurring, we should regulate CO2.
2. Scientists are statists and want to regulate everything and they are
libz whoa re socialists that want to destroy capitalism
3. Therefore, scientists claim that climate change is occurring.

or

1. If the HPV vaccine is safe, then government should encourage its use.
2. Scientists are libz thus are statists who want government to control
our lives in every way.
3. So scientists claim that the HPV vaccine is safe.

Or, finally:

1. If evolutionary theory is true, then the biblical story of creation should
be denied.
2. Scientists are liberals who must find ways to rationalize their hatred of
religion.
3. So scientists claim that intelligent design is not a valid scientific theory.

54 (I Stand By What I Said Whatever It Was)  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 5:04:54am

re: #52 000G

Btw, this is also very often a resentment found in Christian circles. I supsect this to be informed at least partially by an over-emphasis of the concepts of free will (kinda like the opposite of hard determinists) and original sin ("everyone deserves to be born as being condemned to hell because of Adam having eaten an apple").

55 Talking Point Detective  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 5:07:22am

re: #52 000G

Typical glibertarian fallacy of assuming everyone to be equally and absolutely free in regards to forming contracts all the time.

Always results in:

People who lost there homes were greedy and didn't read their mortgages carefully enough.

Therefore, they (along with lib politicians who encouraged home ownership) are to blame for the financial crisis, and we should ignore the impact of financiers for massive financial institutions deciding to leverage 40 to 1 to buy massive amounts of bad debt.

56 Talking Point Detective  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 5:09:34am

re: #55 Talking Point Detective

Ugh - "their" homes.

Time for some coffee.

57 Steroid  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 1:12:09pm

re: #52 000G

Typical glibertarian fallacy of assuming everyone to be equally and absolutely free in regards to forming contracts all the time.

Always results in:

Well, if the inequality is based on someone interfering with them, then that is a legitimate use of government, according to libertarianism. But if the inequality is based on the fact that you have to enter into a disadvantageous contract because you're starving or homeless, don't come whining to me about it, and don't use the government to force me to care, because I don't. Take it up with god or the evolution of your stomach.

TPD gets it, even if he's being sarcastic.

58 (I Stand By What I Said Whatever It Was)  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 1:32:24pm

re: #57 Steroid

if the inequality is based on the fact that you have to enter into a disadvantageous contract because you're starving or homeless, don't come whining to me about it, and don't use the government to force me to care, because I don't. Take it up with god or the evolution of your stomach.

And this bragging display of your personal apathy and lack of ethics contributes exactly what to political discourse?

In other words: Why should anyone care that you do not care?

59 Steroid  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 2:08:00pm

Well, if the general theme of the blog is that one should be liberal and not conservative or libertarian, and if such caring is an essential part of liberalism and isn't of conservatism and libertarianism, shouldn't you?

60 wrenchwench  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 2:16:04pm

re: #59 Steroid

if the general theme of the blog is that one should be liberal and not conservative or libertarian,

It's not...

and if such caring is an essential part of liberalism and isn't of conservatism and libertarianism

Is it?

61 (I Stand By What I Said Whatever It Was)  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 2:20:09pm

re: #59 Steroid

Well, if the general theme of the blog is that one should be liberal and not conservative or libertarian, and if such caring is an essential part of liberalism and isn't of conservatism and libertarianism, shouldn't you?

Dude, even if your assumptions were true (they are not), there would be no reason to care that you supposedly do not care.

62 tshinkle  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 7:16:36pm

Your liberal examples are disingenuous. I would frame a couple like this:

1. If AGW is occurring we should legislate CO2 use
2. We should legislate CO2 use
3. AGW is occurring


Or this one is classic modern day liberal (left) ism

1. Republicans don't want a black president
2. Republicans vote for Herman Cain
3. Herman Cain isn't truly black


Not sure what the Latin term is, but we see these every day.

63 Charles Johnson  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 7:41:56pm

re: #62 tshinkle

Of course you realize that, in your overweening smugness, you've completely missed the point again, don't you?

Who am I kidding. Of course you don't. You're just parroting the things you've been told to say.

64 jamesfirecat  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 8:23:23pm

re: #62 tshinkle

Your liberal examples are disingenuous. I would frame a couple like this:

1. If AGW is occurring we should legislate CO2 use
2. We should legislate CO2 use
3. AGW is occurring

Or this one is classic modern day liberal (left) ism

1. Republicans don't want a black president
2. Republicans vote for Herman Cain
3. Herman Cain isn't truly black

Not sure what the Latin term is, but we see these every day.

Find me one example of someone using that second example.

It should be easy given that it's a "classic" after all, because I've never heard anyone saying Herman Cain isn't black....

65 tshinkle  Tue, Sep 27, 2011 10:33:29pm

re: #64 jamesfirecat

Well first, it's called satire. My point was either Republicans aren't a racist as gets portrayed by the left or Herman Cain isn't black...I'm trying to figure out how those statements aren't mutually exclusive.

Second, there are plenty of examples of Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice, Walter Williams, and Thomas Sowell being called "inauthentic".

Finally, I'm not trying to offend anyone here, just trying to be a little provocative while providing another point of view.

66 WINDUPBIRD DISEASE [S.K.U.M.M.]  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 3:24:29am

re: #65 tshinkle

man you're just like Rush Limbaugh, the noted brilliant satirist

67 WINDUPBIRD DISEASE [S.K.U.M.M.]  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 3:26:36am

re: #46 Steroid


it's funny, because your soul is dead

68 jamesfirecat  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 6:20:28am

re: #65 tshinkle

Well first, it's called satire. My point was either Republicans aren't a racist as gets portrayed by the left or Herman Cain isn't black...I'm trying to figure out how those statements aren't mutually exclusive.

Second, there are plenty of examples of Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice, Walter Williams, and Thomas Sowell being called "inauthentic".

Finally, I'm not trying to offend anyone here, just trying to be a little provocative while providing another point of view.

Given that Herman Cain himself is openly bigoted against Muslims, the fact that he's doing well does not paint the GOP as a party of tolerance.

Also for curiosities sake, what would it take to convince you that AGW is taking place?

69 Lord Baron Viscount Duke Earl Count Planckton  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 6:43:27am

re: #68 jamesfirecat

Given that Herman Cain himself is openly bigoted against Muslims, the fact that he's doing well does not paint the GOP as a party of tolerance.

Also for curiosities sake, what would it take to convince you that AGW is taking place?

I thought Cain got better on the Muslim issue.

70 tshinkle  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 8:08:50pm

re: #68 jamesfirecat

Given that Herman Cain himself is openly bigoted against Muslims, the fact that he's doing well does not paint the GOP as a party of tolerance.

Also for curiosities sake, what would it take to convince you that AGW is taking place?

I don't think the GOP wants to paint itself as a party of tolerance (particularly of damaging behavior); they're more interested in being a party of standards.

If we can agree that AGW is three things:
1. The world is warming
2. The warming is predominantly manmade
3. The warming is catastrophic

And if we agree the solution is to damage the economy of the country that has been the greatest force for good in world history.

Then i would want empirical evidence that the world is actually warming (including taking into account for the urban effect). I would want empirical evidence that oceans are actually rising. I would want empirical evidence that arctic ice is continuing to disappear

My understanding is the world hasn't warmed in a decade, oceans have receded in the past two years, and arctic ice has grown my more than 200,000 square miles since 2007. There wasn't on computer model that predicted any of the three.

The amount of bad that happens in the world has an inverse relationship to the strength of the US, so I would want us to be extremely careful to make sure the science is truly settled before dramatic changes are made.

I'll ask you the same. What would it take to convince you that AGW may be the same as past hysterical reactions such as the Population Bomb, the coming Ice Age, the impending Heterosexual Aids epidemic, the disappearing ozone layer, etc....you might understand why I'm a little skeptical.

71 freetoken  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 8:13:56pm

re: #70 tshinkle

Trying to get in the last word, eh?

72 Mocking Jay  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 8:22:57pm

re: #70 tshinkle

My understanding is the world hasn't warmed in a decade

Your understanding is wrong.

73 garhighway  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 8:22:57pm

re: #70 tshinkle

If we can agree that AGW is three things:
1. The world is warming
2. The warming is predominantly manmade
3. The warming is catastrophic

And if we agree the solution is to damage the economy of the country that has been the greatest force for good in world history.

Then i would want empirical evidence that the world is actually warming (including taking into account for the urban effect). It's out there. All you have to do is look for it. I would want empirical evidence that oceans are actually rising. That effect is pretty modest so far. I would want empirical evidence that arctic ice is continuing to disappear It is.

My understanding is the world hasn't warmed in a decade, oceans have receded in the past two years, and arctic ice has grown my more than 200,000 square miles since 2007. There wasn't on computer model that predicted any of the three. All false.

The amount of bad that happens in the world has an inverse relationship to the strength of the US, Got a cite for that assertion? so I would want us to be extremely careful to make sure the science is truly settled before dramatic changes are made. It is.

I'll ask you the same. What would it take to convince you that AGW may be the same as past hysterical reactions such as the Population Bomb, the coming Ice Age, the impending Heterosexual Aids epidemic, the disappearing ozone layer, etc...you might understand why I'm a little skeptical.

Friend, if you are getting you science from the NY Post, you may very well believe this stuff. You owe it to yourself to check out something authoritative. Try, as a start, Realclimate.org. The science there is a little heavy, but for a smart guy like you...

74 BongCrodny  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 8:26:55pm

re: #73 garhighway

Friend, if you are getting you science from the NY Post, you may very well believe this stuff. You owe it to yourself to check out something authoritative. Try, as a start, Realclimate.org. The science there is a little heavy, but for a smart guy like you...

Here, I think you dropped these:

//

75 garhighway  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 8:32:40pm

re: #74 BongCrodny

Here, I think you dropped these:

//

I do that a lot. I think I have a hole in my keyboard.

76 jaunte  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 8:40:06pm

re: #70 tshinkle

1. The world is warming
2. The warming is predominantly manmade
3. The warming is catastrophic

And if we agree the solution is to damage the economy of the country that has been the greatest force for good in world history.

This is not good logic, since trying to solve AGW does not mean automatically that we damage the economy. If we are using a finite resource (burning carbon) to generate power, what would benefit our economy long-term is a shift to sustainable power sources. Some governmental help is necessary to get that started in the short term. China is already getting ahead of us in solar technology, and it would be worse for our economy to give up on that competition.

77 Charles Johnson  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 9:07:17pm

re: #70 tshinkle

Your "understanding" is nothing more than pathetic right wing talking points. It's sad; you have no understanding at all of these issues, but just regurgitate the nonsense you've been fed.

78 Interesting Times  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 9:10:27pm

re: #70 tshinkle

Arctic sea ice, then and now.

Higher-than-average temps vs lower-than-average temps, and record highs vs record lows

Accurate scientific rebuttal to every other lame talking point you spewed.

Oh, and another epic critical thinking fail on your part: the reason the Malthusian population bomb didn't occur was because we learned to make extra nitrogen for fertilizer. If it hadn't been for that discovery, yes, there would have been mass starvation. And the ozone hole? It shrank after Ronald Reagan restricted the chemicals that were destroying it. If it hadn't been for those restrictions, the hole would have continued to grow. And heterosexual AIDS is an enormous problem in Africa, where there are all kinds of barriers to safe sex education that don't exist here (at least, not in places that don't rely on abstinence-only idiocy).

Do you understand this? That if action is taken to mitigate an impending disaster, the disaster doesn't occur?

As for this bit of derpitude:

The amount of bad that happens in the world has an inverse relationship to the strength of the US, so I would want us to be extremely careful to make sure the science is truly settled before dramatic changes are made

I'm so glad, for America's sake, that the US military is smarter and more forward-thinking that you.

79 tshinkle  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 10:02:44pm

re: #78 publicityStunted

Sea Level Stats

WaPo Reports Sea Level Drop

Sea Ice 2011 vs 2007

Not saying I'm right, just saying that it's pretty complicated out there and a lot of guys that are a whole lot smarter than any of us are questioning AGW. And as Deep Throat said, "follow the money".

80 Charles Johnson  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 10:04:37pm

re: #79 tshinkle

Sea Level Stats

WaPo Reports Sea Level Drop

Sea Ice 2011 vs 2007

Not saying I'm right, just saying that it's pretty complicated out there and a lot of guys that are a whole lot smarter than any of us are questioning AGW. And as Deep Throat said, "follow the money".

This is complete crap. Why are you trying to spread this bullshit propaganda at my site?

81 Charles Johnson  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 10:10:53pm

Seriously - do right wingers like you know how to do anything but lie? You certainly must know that the VAST majority of climate scientists do NOT question the fact that human-generated CO2 is causing the Earth's atmosphere to warm up, rapidly and dangerously.

But you're just lying about it, apparently because you think people here are dumb enough to take your lies at face value.

82 freetoken  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 10:28:35pm

re: #79 tshinkle

Sea Level Stats

WaPo Reports Sea Level Drop

Sea Ice 2011 vs 2007

Not saying I'm right, just saying that it's pretty complicated out there and a lot of guys that are a whole lot smarter than any of us are questioning AGW. And as Deep Throat said, "follow the money".

You're throwing up links to things you don't even understand nor are you reporting what those links contain accurately.

Did you even read the WaPo piece?

I know full well how complicated climatology is... which is why I know that you are clueless and just trying the argument from authority (" a lot of guys that are a whole lot smarter than any of us".) I don't know to whom you are referring to a "lot of guys" but if you mean the usual crowd over at WUWT then you are wrong - they are not "smarter" than some of us here, but they are more duplicitous.

83 SanFranciscoZionist  Wed, Sep 28, 2011 11:34:09pm

re: #79 tshinkle

Sea Level Stats

WaPo Reports Sea Level Drop

Sea Ice 2011 vs 2007

Not saying I'm right, just saying that it's pretty complicated out there and a lot of guys that are a whole lot smarter than any of us are questioning AGW. And as Deep Throat said, "follow the money".

A rather greater number of guys who are a whole lot smarter than, well, you and me, say, are saying that AGW is wretchedly, unfortunately, happening.

84 Obdicut  Thu, Sep 29, 2011 2:57:32am

re: #79 tshinkle

The money is big oil and coal.

And yes, they fund a lot of the anti-AGW crap.

85 Interesting Times  Thu, Sep 29, 2011 5:49:37am

re: #79 tshinkle

And as Deep Throat said, "follow the money".

Sure!

Denier Cash Machine Swells: Pollutocrat Koch Brothers Now Worth $50 Billion, Poised to Become Richest Men in America

Congratulations on doing their dirty work for free 9_9

86 jamesfirecat  Thu, Sep 29, 2011 11:15:52am

re: #70 tshinkle

I don't think the GOP wants to paint itself as a party of tolerance (particularly of damaging behavior); they're more interested in being a party of standards.

If we can agree that AGW is three things:
1. The world is warming
2. The warming is predominantly manmade
3. The warming is catastrophic

And if we agree the solution is to damage the economy of the country that has been the greatest force for good in world history.

Then i would want empirical evidence that the world is actually warming (including taking into account for the urban effect). I would want empirical evidence that oceans are actually rising. I would want empirical evidence that arctic ice is continuing to disappear

My understanding is the world hasn't warmed in a decade, oceans have receded in the past two years, and arctic ice has grown my more than 200,000 square miles since 2007. There wasn't on computer model that predicted any of the three.

The amount of bad that happens in the world has an inverse relationship to the strength of the US, so I would want us to be extremely careful to make sure the science is truly settled before dramatic changes are made.

I'll ask you the same. What would it take to convince you that AGW may be the same as past hysterical reactions such as the Population Bomb, the coming Ice Age, the impending Heterosexual Aids epidemic, the disappearing ozone layer, etc...you might understand why I'm a little skeptical.

To convince me that AGW isn't happening you need to convince me that either

1) CO2 is not a green house gas (a gas that traps heat from the sun's rays in Earth's atmosphere rather than letting it escape out into space)

Or

2) The amount of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere is decreasing.

In my book so long as CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas, and we're increasing the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere, then AGW is inevitable and will inevitably get worse and worse...

87 tshinkle  Thu, Sep 29, 2011 6:32:13pm

I don’t mean to offend and annoy the group, which I’m obviously doing, so this will be my last post on this thread. Since several posts were directed at me, and since silence is as good as agreement:

freetoken: I do understand the links…they are simply saying two things. Sea level has in fact dropped recently and Sea Ice has increased since the same date in 2007. I did read the WaPo piece and they simply confirmed the sea level drop since the stats are confusing. Maybe there is a reason why this is happening in opposition to computer models; I didn’t comment.

Partial List of Skeptical Scientists

SanFranciscoZionist: Yes I understand the number scientists who say AGW is happening is greater than the skeptics…probably by 25:1 or more. My only comments are, it used to be closer to 1,000:1 and I stand by my comment of “follow the money”.

Obdicut: The money big oil, coal, and the Koch’s have put towards this argument is a pittance compared to the research grants distributed to those who are on the “correct” side of this conundrum.


peace

88 Charles Johnson  Thu, Sep 29, 2011 6:48:14pm

re: #87 tshinkle

This is absolute bullshit, again. Still you continue to lie. The energy industry lobby has pumped untold millions of dollars into the campaign to mislead the public about global warming, and they simply don't care about the truth.

You're their representative at LGF, parroting nonsense to deceive the gullible. And you're not fooling anyone.

89 Interesting Times  Thu, Sep 29, 2011 7:12:08pm

Fascinating how, whenever I point out the US military's support for renewable energy and other efforts to mitigate climate change, the deniers completely ignore it.

90 Kronocide  Thu, Sep 29, 2011 7:24:19pm

re: #87 tshinkle

Obdicut: The money big oil, coal, and the Koch’s have put towards this argument is a pittance compared to the research grants distributed to those who are on the “correct” side of this conundrum.

You are equivocating money spent on actual science to money spent on questioning and deliberately misinterpreting science. That's a major flaw in thinking.

It also implies both 'sides' are pursuing their goals and agendas.

The difference is 'one side' is pursuing truth, facts, and information so as to best act upon these results.

The other side is merely challenging the first group using rhetoric and propaganda: meaning, not science, not presenting an alternate objective viewpoint supported by study and research.

But there is really not 'sides' here. It's the scientific community presenting the results of their objective research against a tiny cadre of industry funded PR specialists driven by ideology. Either you can't tell the difference, you've been duped by the second group, or you are part of the second group.


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