FactsPlusLogic
A Careful Look at Issues

As a true-believing ideologue, Maddow might be expected to dismiss contrary evidence as a pack of lies. “Of course Hayden denies it. What would you expect?” “Only $1 million? That’s not what we hear.” It is the stock and trade of conspiracy theorists to dismiss contrary evidence as “obvious lies.” They are pronounced lies because they contradict the theory. … Maddow went beyond that. Maddow’s concealing the contrary evidence entirely crosses the line between errant analysis and outright propaganda.

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Liberals argue that the conventional definition of "news source" used in studies of journalism should be broadened to include opinion programs, so that conservative talk radio and Fox News commentary will be counted. If that definition is adopted, the bias is still overwhelmingly liberal. For example, the viewership of the liberal-biased network evening news is by itself more than all of Fox News and conservative talk radio combined, and when everything is totaled there is more than three times as much liberal slant in media as conservative.

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There is a religious doctrine of Young Earth Creationism (YEC), whereby some people believe that the Bible says that the earth was literally created about 6,000 years ago. I am not arguing that that doctrine is necessarily false. I am arguing that if it is true, then when God created the earth he put in place a vast amount of evidence that the earth is many millions of years old. Moreover, the evidence is well coordinated, in that diverse evidence points to a consistent time line for events in the earth’s history. The evidence cannot be explained by scientists having made just a few key mistakes.

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My method in building the spread sheet was to begin each year with the balance from the previous year, adjust the balance with investment gains or losses, and finally add the contributions for the year. … The stock market provided more excitement than Treasury Bills. The $216K in contributions grew steadily to be worth $613K at the start of 2009. The stock investments lost a heart-stopping plunge from $1,740K last year, but nonetheless still had $1,093 at year end. So despite the worst market year in the 45 year period, the stock investment was still 78% ahead of Treasuries.

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Today, House Speaker Pelosi gave her fifth version of what she knew and when she new it with respect to disclosure of enhanced interrogation techniques. Her various accounts have been contradicted by other members of Congress and by the records of the meetings. She has consistently claimed that she was told by the Bush Administration that they had determined that specified enhanced interrogation techniques were legal, but that she was not told that they were actually used. Other members of Congress maintain that it was clear they were being used. Moreover, a later briefing disclosed information obtained from Abu Zubaydah through concurrently acknowledged use of waterboarding.

It is nonetheless not clear that Speaker Pelosi is lying. It may well be that what she is saying is just how she remembers it. …

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If the values of two observations tend to rise and fall together over time, the observations are correlated. For example, the rise of violent crime in American society in the 1960’s and 1970’s matched the rise in violence on television. That lead to speculation that violence on television caused the increase. It is fair for correlation to raise such suspicions, but the correlation falls short of proof. Measures of violence on television continued to rise in recent decades, but crime rates have fallen. Young people commit more crimes, and the baby boomer population surge reaching maturity was the more likely cause of the the rise and fall.

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Why is religion so widespread? Freud thought is had to do with a search for a father figure. Others claim that there is a very specific human instinct. I contend that there is a broad “religious instinct” which covers substantially more behavior than religious behavior. Every religion is a manifestation of the religious instinct, but not every manifestation is a religion.

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Is the current financial crisis the result of too little regulation? People asking that question often seem to suppose the total quantity of regulation at issue. If more regulation were always better, then North Korea should have one of the best economies in the world, because surely it is among the most regulated. If it is not that the maximum amount of regulation is best, then it may be that an intermediate quantity produces an optimum. Perhaps too little regulation allows chaos and too much produces strangulation, so that in between there is just the right amount.

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The main objection to developing the oil resources in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is the potential impact on the Porcupine Caribou herd that migrates through the area. The arguments are made in terms of broad generalities, along the lines of “caribou are in the same area, so they are threatened.” If one tries to quantify the threat, is turns out that perhaps 1% of the herd might be impacted in some way, but the actual reduction in the herd size is probably a good deal less.

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“Look at that! Things like that don’t just happen. There must be something behind it, and I’ll tell you what it is.” This type of argument is called the Argument from Incredulity. This type of argument may be valid for provoking a further look, but it is never conclusive. Often a further look reveals fundamental errors in supposing just how unlikely the event actual is.

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