Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Facts" and Logic

In Internet as well as in regular debate, the process runs on facts and reason. The logical flaws get most of the attention, but for this post I would like to categorize the types of facts which are used to bolster an argument. First some definitions though:

--True, will have its commonplace meaning. The statement is in accord with how things actually are. For instance, car tires in the USA are normally black and made mostly of rubber.

--False, will mean things which are not true. For instance, the planet Mars is almost exactly the same size as the Earth. This is false because Mars has only around 1/10th the mass of the Earth and is around 1/2 the diameter.

Relevant/Not Relevant

Again, the common meaning is used here but is a subject all its own. Usually the level of irrelevance is not immediately apparent to all, though upon reflection it is nonetheless total in most actual cases.

So, here are the categories finally!

True AND Relevant--The side that comes up with the most of these should win.

False AND Relevant--This happens all the time, but with internet fact-checking it is a rather foolish thing to try. It kind of works when the facts are in dispute, but an argument is considerably weakened by controversial claims.

True BUT Not Relevant--These claims usually have some superficial relationship to the thing being argued, but when looked at closely, really proves nothing.

False And Not Relevant--Why bother wasting your time with people like this?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Chores

Throw together some spaghetti sauce.

Go to the liquor store and stock-up on wine. Why stock-up? Here in Massachusetts, they do not sell wine, or beer for that matter, in grocery stores. Since I have to make a special trip to a special store, I want to have to do this as little as possible. Also, you get a big discount when you purchase large volumes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Guess I'm Going to be running For Another Year

Having just purchased 5 new pair of running shoes and all.

Having just purchased 5 new pair of running shoes and all.

Join With Me In Bravely Pointing-Out The Obvious

Not one, but two smart and sensible friends had the following Facebook posting yesterday:

like Being Muslim does NOT mean you are a terrorist. . . like if you agree.

Perhaps I am over-analyzing this, but I see a subtext here. What is the point of the FB entry unless they think there's a lot of Americans out there who think that every Muslim is a terrorist. Liking such a statement is not just agreeing with it, but also lending support to what I think is a pernicious assumption: That substantial numbers of their own fellow countrymen are benighted and in need of correction.

I think the opposite is true. Sure, in a country of some 300 Million people, there are bound to be plenty of wackos like the one who thinks McDonald's responsible for more murders than terrorists are. For my part, I think our country has treated Muslims in an exemplary fashion. If anything, we have been mau-maued into being too trusting. How else to explain the situation of Major Hassan? It was only after he murdered 13 and wounded many more of his fellow soldiers that anybody noticed his obvious radicalism.