Posts tagged ‘PEOPLE’

"Slander" Is Anything Bad Said About Me

Richard Cohen wrote in the Washington Post

"[p]eople with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children,"

Apparently people responded to the article by saying that Cohen was as a minimum deeply out of touch and perhaps a tad bigoted himself.  Of course, since this is the Internet age, some folks said these things in juvenile and deeply unproductive ways.

I am not going to comment much on his original statement.  I think the article is far more revealing of Mr. Cohen's mental outlook than that of anyone in Iowa, particularly since he brought no facts to the table, but a lot of people have already pointed that out.  I wanted to comment on his follow-up statement

I don’t understand it …. What I was doing was expressing not my own views but those of extreme right-wing Republican tea party people. I don’t have a problem with interracial marriage or same-sex marriage. In fact, I exult in them. It’s a slander…

Seriously?  So people's opinions about actual statements made by Richard Cohen in writing are slander, but ugly accusations made about Republicans or Tea Partiers he has not even met are not?  At least his critics are working with his actual statements, rather than offering an opinion of a large, inhomogeneous group's state of mind as fact.

He added, “I think it’s reprehensible to say that because you disagree with something that you should fire me. That’s what totalitarians do.”

Yeah, because totalitarians never broad brush vilify whole groups who constitute their political opponents.

This is a great example of how ad hominem argumentation works.  The Left has spent a lot of time attempting to vilify the Tea Party as flat-out BAD PEOPLE, in a similar way to how we climate skeptics have been vilified.  Once one is successful at this, then all the rules of discourse don't apply.   You don't have to engage them or treat them seriously because they are BAD PEOPLE.   We good liberal-minded folks would never stereotype large groups, except of course the Tea Party but that is OK because they are BAD PEOPLE.  And everyone knows that the rule of law, much less the rules of normal discourse, do not apply to BAD PEOPLE.

Statistical Insanity

Congrats to Peter Austin for making a great point about medical research, particularly the advocacy-driven risk research we see in the media every day:

PEOPLE born under the astrological sign of Leo are 15% more likely
to be admitted to hospital with gastric bleeding than those born under
the other 11 signs. Sagittarians are 38% more likely than others to
land up there because of a broken arm. Those are the conclusions that
many medical researchers would be forced to make from a set of data
presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science by
Peter Austin of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in
Toronto. At least, they would be forced to draw them if they applied
the lax statistical methods of their own work to the records of
hospital admissions in Ontario, Canada, used by Dr Austin.

Dr Austin, of course, does not draw those conclusions. His point was
to shock medical researchers into using better statistics, because the
ones they routinely employ today run the risk of identifying
relationships when, in fact, there are none. He also wanted to explain
why so many health claims that look important when they are first made
are not substantiated in later studies.

Thanks again to TJIC for the link