Results tagged “logic” from onegoodmove

Industry Friendly

The term "industry friendly," or "pro-industry," is often used as an insult, a term of derision, it is commonly heard these days in response to appeals to authority, and sometimes it's justified. It is reasonable to consider that those with a financial interest, or some other personal interest may be biased, and because of that bias, dishonest.

T Edward Damer author of Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments adds a caveat:

In determining whether an authority is biased, you should be careful not to disqualify a source too quickly by claiming that he or she is prejudiced. Unfortunately, it is all too common a practice to find or fabricate some reason why the judgment of almost any authority might be biased. Such a charge should be registered against an authority who is otherwise qualified only when the possibility of bias is clear and might impede the discovery of the truth. If you suspect that an authority may have a conflict of interest, you might point out the presence of that possible conflict, without in any way accusing the authority of either bias or dishonesty. That will at least get the issue out on the table so that it can be directly addressed. p. 104 Attacking Faulty Reasoning- Damer

Merrilee Salmon in the book Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking says:

It is reasonable to take the word of an authority if

(i) the authority is an expert on the matter under consideration, and

(ii) there is agreement among experts in the area of knowledge under consideration.

It is also worth remembering that even though an argument is made by an authority, an expert in a field, the argument may very well stand entirely on its own. If the form is correct and the evidence provided is verifiable and supports the conclusion, then it's not an appeal to authority. The fact that the argument is made by an authority is irrelevant, and so to is any possible bias.

There are entire PR organizations with their troop of advisors who contribute daily to the flood of misinformation, distortion, and half-truths. It happens on both sides of almost any question, but simply making the charge "industry friendly," or "tree-hugger," is not enough, one still needs to consider the argument.

There are some who think that any connection, however remote, however insignificant, and with no evidence that the claimed bias results in any dishonesty, is grounds for leveling the "industry friendly" charge as if that should be the end of the conversation. I'm not sure they'd even be satisfied with six degrees of separation.

I recently received an email from a reader charging Pam Ronald, with being "industry friendly," as a term of derision, he wrote:

Pam Ronald, who, according to the about-the-author blurb on the back of Tomorrow's Table, works for something called the Joint Bioenergy Institute, which is a research division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which, in turn, receives research grants from the DOE, which, in turn, has a history of carrying water for big oil, nuclear and coal companies.

The implication seems clear, she too carries water for big oil, nuclear and coal companies. He provides no evidence of such complicity, he doesn't demonstrate her bias by citing anything she's written, nor does he provide evidence that anything she'd said demonstrated the bias, for him it was enough that she had any connection to industry however remote. Contrast that with Orac who accused the ACSH of having a distinct pro-industry bias. He spelled it out and he gave examples of the bias in action.

I asked Pam Ronald for a response to my readers charge, she wrote:

Well, if we exclude non-profit government agencies (NSF, NIH, USDA and DOE) from funding scientific research in non-profit institutions then who will fund basic research in the US?

If we exclude these agencies (that have made US science the best and most envied in the world) then the only groups left to fund scientific research are for-profit corporations (eg big Oil and monsanto) and non-profits like Bill Gates.

Here is a recent piece that appeared in the New York Times by Pam Ronald and James E. McWilliams, does it sound like they're carrying water for industry? It doesn't to me, It sounds like a well-balanced article on an important topic.

Remember all arguments need to be evaluated independently of their source, since even a biased source may be correct.

Cognitive Bias Song

Bill O'Reilly is Still an Idiot


"Has anyone noted that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher than the USA?"

"Well Peter, that's to be expected, we have ten times as many people as you do!"




(Thanks to Media Matters.)

To The Point


"Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true" —Francis Bacon

Motivated Reasoning, ( devaluing criticism and overvaluing arguments in favor of of a position we wish to believe is true) it is a sort of flip side of Confirmation Bias ( looking only at the evidence that supports a specific point of view). Motivated reasoning is what many Obama supporters are now engaging in on the issue of telecom immunity, and also on his flip-flop on public financing..

There are certainly reasons for the positions he now holds but they come at the expense of promises he's made and in my opinion are not good enough. I do however have more sympathy for the reasons given to spurn public financing than I do for his apparent intention to vote for the telecom bill. Are these reasons to vote for his opponent, hell no, but if you value rational thinking you might want to ask yourself if you are engaging in such fuzzy thinking.

I hate being duped by appeals to emotion. It is part of the reason I've been so skeptical when it comes to the hope and change message. We can hope for change, and sometimes we are even rewarded by the real thing, more often though, we are disappointed. Many voted for George W. Bush because they thought he shared their values and that he was the type of guy you could sit down and enjoy having a beer with; we know how that turned out. And although Barack will be much better than McCain, don't lose your skepticism.

The point, the debate in the senate starts tomorrow, do what you can to encourage Obama to keep his word, and stop telecom immunity. Don't buy in to the weak arguments for why it is okay for him to support the bill.


The Antidote is Skepticism

The Political Brain: Scientific American: “The Political Brain

A recent brain-imaging study shows that our political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias By Michael Shermer

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion ... draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises ... in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate. --Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, 1620

Pace Will Rogers, I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a libertarian. As a fiscal conservative and social liberal, I have found at least something to like about each Republican or Democrat I have met. I have close friends in both camps, in which I have observed the following: no matter the issue under discussion, both sides are equally convinced that the evidence overwhelmingly supports their position.”

A Book For You

I've read it, I enjoyed it, would you like it? The book is The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods by Julian Baggini and Peter S.Ford

This is a book that I wouldn't give away but I misplaced it and believing it lost purchased a second copy. It was only a few days later that I found what was lost, and so . . .

And the winner is Jill Bryant.

I'll take all requests for the book left in the comments during the next 24 hours, or so, and then use a random number generator to determine the winner. I'll then ship the book at my expense to the winner. The offer is limited to residents of the U.S. and Canada. My apologies to my good friends in other countries but the cost of shipments to other destinations is simply too high.

Note:The offer is open only to registered comments others will be ignored. Please make it clear if you want to be considered for the book or are just commenting.

To The Point, Rational Discussion

The principle of charity is something we all need to do a lot better job of following, and I include myself in the all.

If a participant's argument is reformulated by an opponent, it should be expressed in the strongest possible version that is consistent with the original intention of the arguer. If there is any question about that intention or about implicit parts of the argument, the arguer should be given the benefit of any doubt in the reformulation.

Attacking Faulty Reasoning T. Edward Damer p.5

The World's Worst Person

Bronze is "Red State"
The runner up is Glenn Beck
The winner is Roger Ailes




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Countdown w/Keith Olbermann