Re: Wading into the fray

1

I suppose the answer is that one side resonates emotionally, and then you seek out evidence to confirm your choice.

Yeah, pretty much. I think politics is largely a tribal matter, and find it harder and harder to take ideas and debates seriously.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:19 AM
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Start with reliable sources that are not daily news but longer and slower summaries on those topics that matter to you; Wikipedia and primary sources it refers to are easy starts. Reports, book chapters. Ignore everything people in power say and pay attention only to what they do (how they allocate resources, for instance).

Ignoring the daily news is IMO the first move to making sense of any one piece of it.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:24 AM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:28 AM
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I just came from teaching a class on The Apology, where I had the students write about a time when they came to realize that a person they were dealing with actually had no idea what they were talking about. The students were asked to focus on how they came to know that the person was full of it. What tipped you off?

A common theme was seeing the bullshitter finally have to resort to something the student knew couldn't possibly be true. They were being fed a series of increasingly implausible statements, and finally one of them went over the edge, and after that, every other thing they were told by the bullshitter was suspect.

I think this can also match a lot of people's experience with the Republicans. Unfortunately, it can also bring down a lot of democrats, too.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:37 AM
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That's a really great assignment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:48 AM
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I did send him a couple fact-checker sites, as well, on one of the many follow-up emails that I can't stop sending.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:49 AM
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I kind of hate fact-checker sites generally; they all seem to make really screwed up judgment calls while claiming to be impartial. I like my news analysis openly biased but well-sourced: claims of impartiality put my teeth on edge.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:53 AM
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5: it would cause hurt feelings if we all tried it here, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:53 AM
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7: False. We make only accurate judgment calls.


Posted by: Opinionated Fact Checker | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:55 AM
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I don't like them either, because I suspect fact-checking sites of holding liberals to a much higher standard so that they don't look absurdly biased. But I think that in Student's position, they may seem like a port in a storm.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:57 AM
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And I'm not "opinionated" except by local convention.


Posted by: Opinionated Fact Checker | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 11:58 AM
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a time when they came to realize that a person they were dealing with actually had no idea what they were talking about. The students were asked to focus on how they came to know that the person was full of it. What tipped you off?

My most vivid: second semester of grad school, in Complex Analysis with one of the "super-smart" kids. I asked him about his answer to #5, because I found it really hard. He said "I just did A, B, and C." I said "But what about situation D?" He said "I didn't worry about that!"

A, B, and C were the elementary, obvious cases, and case D was the entire point of the problem. That was when I saw the first crack of light that he might be utterly full of shit.

Now he's an Asst prof at a decent private university. So he got his just desserts, or something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:02 PM
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I suspect fact-checking sites of holding liberals to a much higher standard so that they don't look absurdly biased.

But they also sometimes play "gotchas" on people who just misspoke, or willfully misunderstand what someone meant. Not just fact-checker sites, but sometimes articles on ThinkProgress and whatnot. I'm all for calling politicians out on their bullshit, but sometimes they jump on little missteps in a way that seems really counterproductive.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:03 PM
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He may have been a devious bastard who knew the answer but was acting to prevent competition on the job market.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:04 PM
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14 to 12.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:05 PM
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Speaking of moronic fact checking: This is fucking ridiculous.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:07 PM
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14 - He was the type of kid who liked to have stacks and stacks of math books in his office and throw around wildly difficult vocabulary from 12 different contexts that made no sense. Except for most of my first year, I thought that I was the only person who couldn't follow what he was saying.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:07 PM
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16 is amazingly stupid.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:08 PM
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17: Wheels within wheels.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:10 PM
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One of the things I've gotten out of the current fact-checker craze is that fact-checker writers have some trouble understanding the concept of fact. Maybe they just need to pad their articles with more items, but they often point to stuff that's really interpretation or argument and the dispute is more on what facts support which argument. This is not to say that there isn't any outright lying/wrongness, just that self-anointed fact-checkers don't seem to restrict themselves to that.

Also, there's the idiotic literalism of Medicare is anything named Medicare, so there.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:12 PM
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And I'm not "opinionated" except by local convention.

Or an unfortunately persistent misappropriation of a once-funny local joke.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:15 PM
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False. Steve Martin once said, "the key to comedy is repitition."


Posted by: Opinionated Fact Checker | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:18 PM
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20.1: Exactly this.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:19 PM
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Steve Martin once said, "the key to comedy is repitition."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:22 PM
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The OP is great, and it's a hugely important question. I sometimes think that the most important subject-matter for people to learn, especially citizens in a democracy, is social epistemology, well leavened with sociology of science, and some exposure to social-scientific explanations of institutions. Screw math and science--social epistemology, from kindergarten on up.

(Which is part of why I find the obsession with drawing a line in the sand about teaching evolution, and not teaching "ID", so frustrating; it's far more important for people to understand why the "Discovery Institute" is untrustworthy, and "creation scientists" are not reliable sources of knowledge, than it is to actually know evolutionary theory. "Teach the controversy," if done right, is actually the right answer.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:22 PM
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it's far more important for people to understand why the "Discovery Institute" is untrustworthy, and "creation scientists" are not reliable sources of knowledge, than it is to actually know evolutionary theory

Can the fact checker weigh in, here?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:25 PM
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In a statistical sense, creation scientists would probably be very reliable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 12:34 PM
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I get all my political news from Chuck Norris. I've purchased one of those miner's head lamps so I'll have an edge over the unprepared during the coming thousand years of darkness.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:01 PM
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Relevant:

I believe in laboratories, looking at ways to conduct electricity with -- with cold fusion, if we can come up with it. It was the University of Utah that solved that. We somehow can't figure out how to duplicate it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:01 PM
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29: Oh dear.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:25 PM
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As a teenager I started out as one of those people always hoping to be crucified by the P.C. police. I loved the works of P.J. O'Rourke and Christina Hoff Sommers and that black guy who has been writing the same anti-affirmative action column for the last 40 years. I heard about the book "Not Out Of Africa" in a newspaper and actually got it through interlibrary loan, I was so joyful to see the .

But this was all tenuous, because it came out of the basic instincts to A) root for the underdog and B) think you are the underdog. And though I started out thinking P.J. O'Rourke and I were underdogs, it became obvious that we weren't.

Probably if my parents were always telling me about Big Government sob stories or had been programmed by talk radio to have an innate revulsion to concepts like "Islam" and "Donna Shalala", it would have been harder to stop.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:30 PM
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I heard about the book "Not Out Of Africa" in a newspaper

That book gives me hives. (Not because I'm MB's most devoted acolyte or something, but OMG the *sneering.*)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:43 PM
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Oh, I forgot to end that sentence. "I was so joyful to see the PC police get their comeuppance".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:45 PM
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Yeah, I had a similar trajectory to Ned, though in my case it was mostly a way to rebel against my standard-issue-MA-liberal parents.

It's hard to say exactly what changed things for me, and I still identify more with the anarchist left than with the Democrats. Partly I became disgusted by how little impact the wars and the Bush years had on the conservative/libertarian fusionist alliance (and I'd never identified as a conservative). But if I'm honest, it can probably be explained by the fact that once I finished undergrad in '03 (and was no longer, f'rex, hanging out at the Ant/ient and Hono/urable Edm/und Bur/ke Society), I just wasn't hanging out with any smart conservatives or even all that many right-libertarians anymore. Social influences are hugely powerful, even if only in a subtle way and over time.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 1:57 PM
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16: that's probably the best of the lot for humor value, but really the AP should be ashamed to have published every one of the "fact checks" in that embarrassment of an article. Here's another fun one:

CLINTON: "When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, cooperation works better. ...Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn't see it that way. They think government is the enemy and compromise is weakness. One of the main reasons America should re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation."
THE FACTS: From Clinton's speech, voters would have no idea that the inflexibility of both parties is to blame for much of the gridlock. Right from the beginning Obama brought in as his first chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, a man known for his getting his way, not for getting along.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:00 PM
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Another good example of factual objectivity:

CLINTON: "I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. ... I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working but most people didn't feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history."
THE FACTS: Clinton is counting on voters to recall the 1990s wistfully and to cast a vote for Obama in hopes of replicating those days in a second term. But Clinton leaves out the abrupt downward turn the economy took near the end of his own second term and the role his policies played in the setting the stage for the historic financial meltdown of 2008.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:02 PM
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God, that's all just so awful.

CLINTON: "It takes a lot of brass..."

THE FACTS: There is no evidence that Rep. Ryan has any significant holdings of brass.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:09 PM
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29: Holy shit!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:19 PM
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It's the fact that he name-drops University of Utah (holla out to my LDS peeps!) that adds the pathos.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:20 PM
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Fact-checking, as a discipline, sucks.

As for the original post, sorry, but I don't have any helpful advice. There's a quote from Jonathan Swift I like: "It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into." I'd suggest trying not to care too much about the ideological positioning of people.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:21 PM
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This all reminds me of (blast from the blogopast) "Write like Nerda Pickler day"

Pickler was an AP reporter.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:22 PM
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12: Either that, or the problem was poorly worded and you weren't actually supposed to deal with D.

I've done that sometimes - spent forever proving something that I was supposed to either (a) assume or (b) ignore.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:24 PM
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Nedra. Nedra Pickler. Still sounds like an email spam name.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:25 PM
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Matt Apuzzo is usually a better reporter than this.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:35 PM
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Probably going to skip BHO tonight. I'll watch BS, though, if I can find out when he's going. And someone should tell Emerson that Scarlett Johansson is said to be speaking tonight.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 2:43 PM
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44 is right. He co-wrote the AP series on NYPD surveillance of Muslim community, did some crucial investigative pieces on CIA prisons, etc. I am hoping the explanation is some combo of phoning it in to meet deadline and an attempt to never get assigned convention coverage again--like a kid deliberately breaking a dish to get out of chores. That, or CW is so pervasive that it instantly mushes reporters' brains when they do Beltway coverage.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 3:01 PM
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45: Probably going to skip BHO tonight. I'll watch BS, though, if I can find out when he's going. And someone should tell Emerson that Scarlett Johansson is said to be speaking tonight.

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM (LOCAL (Eastern))
Remarks
Caroline Kennedy
The Honorable Xavier Becerra
The Honorable Jennifer Granholm
Eva Longoria
The Honorable Brian Schweitzer
The Honorable Charlie Crist, Jr.
The Honorable John Kerry

9:00 PM - 10:00 PM (LOCAL)
Video: Veterans
Remarks
Admiral John B. Nathman
Introductory Remarks
Angie Flores
Remarks
Dr. Jill Biden
Vice President Joe Biden Video
Remarks
The Honorable Joe Biden

10:00 PM - 11:00 PM (LOCAL)
Video and Remarks
The Honorable Dick Durbin

President Barack Obama Video

Remarks
Barack Obama
President of the United States

Celebration

Benediction
His Eminence Timothy Dolan
Roman Catholic Cardinal and Archbishop of New York


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 3:29 PM
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Thanks, Bill. So 8:45 eastern maybe. Folks remember him from last time, I hope. Always fun. He's apparently told reporters that he'll be going from a prepared text, which is unusual for BS.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 3:33 PM
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Eva Longoria? Washington is lame but that's dipping weirdly down into the C list.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 3:35 PM
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And who is Angie Flores?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 3:38 PM
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44,46: I wonder if the double byline means someone stepped in and said "not enough fake fact checking, get me re-write!"


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 3:43 PM
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51 -- Matt defended the story on Twitter last night. Did not convince anyone at all, I'm sure.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 3:48 PM
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49: no, Langoria is actually a surprisingly active Latina activist. She does a lot.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 4:38 PM
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And she's only 20 years younger than Janice Dickinson!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 4:59 PM
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rob, that's an awesome assignment.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 5:10 PM
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On fact checkers, I think Drum's viewpoint is useful: We Should Focus on Deception, Not Lying.


Posted by: MooseKing | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 7:54 PM
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I can't figure out how you make sense of the news cycle if you don't have such an anchor. If you don't have years of paying attention, then how do you know who is telling the truth? ...

When it comes to political partisans you should just figure it's all spin.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 6-12 8:03 PM
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For the OP, I suspect the short answer, given your previous description of the student's position, is that he doesn't make sense of the news cycle. It's just a bunch of he said/she said washing over him. That said, I don't think you necessarily need a belief anchor, at least not one anywhere specific on the ideological spectrum. You just treat the news, as Shearer said (gulp) skeptically. Always question what the source of the information is, and whether that source is reliable. I mean, isn't that the sort of thing that students are taught in, say, history class?

"Teach the controversy," if done right, is actually the right answer.)

Well, indeed, though "done right" is a big problem in practice. I've often argued that the best way to maintain separation of church and state would be to teach comparative religion in school. "Done right", of course.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 2:28 AM
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58

... Always question what the source of the information is, and whether that source is reliable. ...

And reliability has several aspects. Whether the source is in a position to know, is honest, is competent, has an axe to grind. And these questions also apply to any intermediaries, like reporters, that the information is filtered through.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 5:49 AM
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I've demoted various news sources when they reported on something I personally knew about and I found them wrong on simple facts. The NYT couldn't get the PNW right for love nor money in my teens; got Reed and Evergreen mixed up regularly, couldn't keep track of where the energy came from or which parts were dry, etc.. Then they got a stringer on the island I went to high school on, and I could recognize the social biases; some, anyway.

The Economist is wierder, as they tend to be one-sided in all the obvious parts of ecological or social articles, and then put in a penultimate paragraph admitting the counterevidence but in ways you're not likely to recognize if you don't already know what they're talking about.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 12:29 PM
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Langoria is actually a surprisingly active Latina activist. She does a lot.

And it's not all nicey-nice charity stuff. She's on the board of MALDEF. She's also a bundler for Obama, which is why she spoke at the convention.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09- 7-12 12:38 PM
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