Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More on Pelosi - or Not

Following up on this post.

After giving this matter some further thought, I've concluded that it isn't even about Pelosi. It's about using misinformation to incite unjustified anger and outrage, in an attempt to gain a political advantage. It merely uses Pelosi as a foil. It could just as easily have been Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, or any Democrat with high name recognition. According to Urban Legends and Myth Blaster, this pack of lies, in some variation, goes back to before the mid-term election of 2006. Clearly, the goal is to discredit Democrats, in general. As such, it is a desperate measure by a fanatic, and profoundly dishonest. When you think about why people lie, there is a simple and obvious answer that almost always fits: the truth does not serve their purpose. In this case, it becomes really unfortunate when good and intelligent people, like you on this distribution list*, fall into the trap of taking it seriously, and even passing it along to others.

When you see something like this, ask yourself a few questions. Are there any citations, or is it all naked assertions? What kind of language is used? If it is highly emotionally charged and pejorative, set your BS radar on high. Do the assertions pass a laugh test, or does it look like some kind of parody? If it is says, "You aren't going to believe this," maybe you shouldn't. At least not without doing a simple Google search.

Here is a related problem. In any debate between an honest person and a liar, the liar has the advantage. While the honest person is constrained by considerations of truth and relevance, the liar is free to make up anything, and use all sorts of misdirections and irrelevancies to muddy the water. The honest person has to clean all this up, and dispose of it before the discussion can progress. But the liar can always stay a step or two ahead.

If anyone is interested, here is an essay that goes even deeper into the liar's inherent advantages.
* Of the original e-mail that caused all this ferfluffle.

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