From reader R:
I like your posts on statistics.
But your posts on marriage equality, gun violence, climate change, diversity etc. are incoherent rants. It sounds like you start with the conclusion and work backwards – and the conclusion *always* align with the same ideological bias (everything seems “pure” by right wing ideological standards). Too much agreement with a particular ideological strain makes it hard to take you seriously as an “independent” thinker. You know, like when all your data falls neatly along a line – hard to trust.
I can follow you on technical arguments (i.e. when you talk about statistics and probabilities) but you completely lost me on the rest. And this is coming from someone reading a variety of opinions, including my beloved professor **.
My immediate reply was “Well, you have to admit the price is right. Thanks for reading…and Merry Christmas!” I had to have a joke. Here is a more thoughtful response.
You cannot in 750 words develop a full theory beginning with the principle of non-contradiction and come to a conclusion that, for instance, affirmative-action-like programs will exacerbate the problems they seek to fix. Every complete argument-to-conclusion would require a book, or more. Assumptions are thus necessary; assumptions which, in many cases, do assume as true the conclusion.
All that can be done in the space provided is to show, as for instance was attempted in the linked zampolit article, the absurdity of some new twist on an old error. It’s true that readers inclined to like affirmative action would leave dissatisfied, seeing only the “bias.” It’s also true few who didn’t already believe the full argument against affirmative-action-like programs would come to the conclusion that these programs cause more problems than they fix.
But then this and many articles do not stand in isolation, at least on this site. I have written basic, start-from-scratch articles on, say, the evils and destructive nature of Equality, and one of the assumptions I must make is that these have been read and remembered. That way, the shorter pieces make sense and fit into a pattern.
Take so-called same-sex marriage, or “gay” marriage, a.k.a. government-marriage or gmarriage. I have expended thousands of words on the subject, arguing against the position from first principles and (I claim) proving the absurdity that two men can be married (to each other). This included a vigorous to-and-fro in the comment section, led (I thank God) by such people as Ye Olde Statistician.
It’s the same story, though. When new things arise on the subject, there isn’t time to repeat all the basics, which must be accepted as premises. Articles can seem arbitrary and biased.
Now on climatology, I am an expert and you are not. Even better, I am a certified expert, which is all the rage. I was a past Associate editor of a major atmospheric science journal. I was a past member of the American Meteorological Society’s Probability & Statistics Committee. I have published many professional peer-reviewed articles in the field, and I’ve reviewed these papers on the site. If you don’t follow the blog assiduously, you can easily miss these summaries. My opinion on the dismal state of the science is educated and, even better, my criticisms are correct.
But this must seem so much blah blah blah to you, yes? Your complaint is not going to go away so easily. How do I better point back to fundamental material on controversial topics?
I do have a Classic Posts page, in which I am woefully behind updating (well over a year now), which is very badly organized, and which could stand a better ratio of wheat to chaff. I could and should link to that more often. But I need to fix those other problems. Check it out now, though, to see how it stands. Let me know what you think.
I could also just shut up. But that approach has been tried—and it has failed. I told this story before: I was in, what, first grade and the teacher had to move me because I was talking to my friend and disrupting class and not paying attention. So she moved me away from my friend and put me next to somebody else. I talked to her. And so she put my right up front by her desk. But then I talked to her. So back I went to where I started. And here we are today.