Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Impomeni Post Breakdown: Counting the blogger's fallacies to assess his intention to bullshit

Mark Impomeni of RedState has posted a kind of analysis of President Obama's speech last night. The post is entitled, "Obama Speech Breakdown: Counting the president's words to assess his priorities."

According to Impomeni, Obama used 345 words to blame Bush for lax regulation, 418 words to discuss the spill's effect on the Gulf, 778 words on "the oilspill and cleanup efforts," and 863 words on his"'green energy' agenda."

Impomeni infers that the speech was actually an advertisement for green energy:
Clearly, the president’s number one priority in making this speech was to make the case for his high tax, command and control, lifestyle changing, carbon regulating energy plan.

Moreover, Obama placed his 863 words on “green energy” at the end of his address. In so doing, the president orgnized the speech on the principles of inductive logic - in which the bad news comes first in order to soften the impact of the proposed solution. Everything which comes before his pitch for “green energy” is properly seen, then, as support for Obama’s proposal. The crisis, the impact, the lives of those affected, all props in Obama’s drive to remake the nation’s energy policy.

Last night, Obama revealed himself to be nothing more than a snake-oil salesman. He knows that the public does not want his energy-limiting scheme, but he is determined to force it on America using the worst environmental tragedy in the nation’s history as the hook. Never let a crisis go to waste. 
So, what's wrong with Impomeni's analysis?

Impomeni has as much knowledge of the principles of inductive knowledge as I have of the oil industry. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
An inductive logic is a system of reasoning that extends deductive logic to less-than-certain inferences. In a valid deductive argument the premises logically entail the conclusion, where such entailment means that the truth of the premises provides a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion. Similarly, in a good inductive argument the premises should provide some degree of support for the conclusion, where such support means that the truth of the premises indicates with some degree of strength that the conclusion is true.
What we currently know about the catastrophe in the Gulf may provide an inductive argument for the need to shift to green energy. (Is there something wrong with presenting inductive arguments?) But softening the impact of the solution to a problem by presenting it after bad news about the problem is not a legitimate means of argumentative support: it is an emotional means of persuasion and is therefore fallacious. When Impomeni describes this means of persuasion as being in agreement with an inductive principle of logic, then, he clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.

Let's agree that the speech was a way for Obama to make the case for green energy. What exactly is wrong with that? One way to prevent future oil spills is to stop using so much damn oil. We have a problem; Obama is proposing a solution. Isn't that what he should be doing? This is another sleazy Republican strategy: cast the discussion in such a way that the opponent cannot win. Had Obama proposed no solution, Impomeni would have complained about that. Obama proposed a solution, and Impomeni is complaining about that. No matter what Obama does, Impomeni will claim that Obama has failed somehow. And this is as good a marker as any of a blogger's intention to bullshit.

Impomeni claims that "the public does not want his energy-limiting scheme." What evidence does he have for that assertion? If we are not to be concerned with evidence, I suppose I could say that Impomeni is a goat-fucking child molester, even though I have no evidence whatsoever for that claim. Right? Why not? Impomeni is a goat-fucking child molester! I can't believe that RedState would be associated with him, you know, since he has sexual relations with goats and molests children. Anyway, according to The Pew Research Center,
Despite the growing damage from the Gulf oil leak, the public generally favors continuing to drill for oil and gas in U.S. waters. And in setting priorities for energy legislation in Congress, fully 68% favor expanding exploration and development of coal, oil and gas in the United States.

Yet there also is broad support for limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. And as an overall goal for U.S. energy policy, 56% say it is more important to protect the environment, while 37% say it is more important to keep energy prices low.
That doesn't exactly square with Impomeni's claim.

Finally, Impomeni ends his little post by saying, "Never let a crisis go to waste." This idea appears to have gained traction among conservatives. You see, when Republican presidents respond to crises, it's not because they don't want to let a crisis go to waste: rather, they are selflessly doing their jobs out of love for country. But when a Democrat is president, a crisis is an opportunity to destroy the country or gain a political advantage. Remember what Rush Limbaugh had to say about Obama's response to the earthquake in Haiti?
Yes, I think in the Haiti earthquake, ladies and gentlemen -- in the words of Rahm Emanuel -- we have another crisis simply too good to waste. This will play right into Obama's hands. He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, "credibility" with the black community -- in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made-to-order for them. That's why he couldn't wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.
As I've said, this is an example of the Republican strategy I mentioned earlier. If Obama responds to the earthquake, it's because he's evil, and if he does not respond to the earthquake, it's because he's evil. No matter what, then, Obama is evil.

The truth of the matter is that the only evil people in this situation are the bullshitters, e.g., Limbaugh and Impomeni, among others. When an intelligent debate about our energy future is needed, all these goat-fucking child molesters can offer is a virtually endless supply of bullshit.

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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson