February 16, 2010
Lewis Black once said that the difference between a Democrat and a Republican is that a Democrat blows and a Republican sucks. More broadly, I think he may have been referring to the idea of liberals and conservatives. Both words carry a lot of hatred for the other side. They’re loaded words, and each side has spent years trying to reach out to people in the middle. The truth is that most of us are conservative in some issues and liberal in others. Very few people are only on one side.
However, it looks like some book-learnin’ will turn you into a damn dirty hippy:
Alright kids, pull up to the counter. It’s time for another installment of “How to Make a Bad Argument.”
Wait, did we even have a first?
Anyway, if you skipped the video, here’s the back of the DVD cover. A study conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute shows that people with a college degree are more likely to be liberal in their political and social stances, but are not receiving a proper civics education. In other words, they don’t learn the kinds of things you should learn in a middle school social studies class. Fox News is telling me that this is bad, because if you go to college and become a liberal, what’s the point?
Let’s back up. The video clip actually has three main problems with it.
1) We don’t know who was interviewed.
2) Because A follows B, B is not caused by A.
3) Fox News sucks
The first problem is not as clear as it sounds. While the anchor does ask whether or not there are problems with the study, a legitimate concern any good scientist might ask, Tucker Carlson says he doesn’t have any specifics but the results look legitimate.
…He doesn’t know how the study was conducted, but it looks good.
Let me put this another way. A guy on the street hands you a paper plate with some cooked meat. He says it’s your favorite. You don’t know what it is, but you trust him because it’s your favorite dish.
Then you die of salmonella.
Fox News is biased towards a single narrative that states that liberals are all these elitists, heartless un-Americans who want to abort babies and feed them to communists. Or something like that. We just saw… we SAW them find a report that backed up that narrative and they went with it without going into background. They saw the synopsis and are now praising the study for confirming their beliefs. I think the clip stops before they start drooling.
In the real world, you have to do a slightly more thorough job. What age group did the study target? If it was a study of college graduates from across the country and across all age groups, that’s one thing. If it only asked questions to people who graduated from college in the last five or six years, that’s another. Education in this country needs a serious overhaul, so more current graduates are more likely to fail basic civics. Our Fox News buddies make a big deal, for example, about the statistic that 18% of the participants could only name one branch of the federal government. That’s terrible, they say.
This brings us to the second part of the argument. When I get up in the morning, I go to the bathroom. However, I’m sure no one would say waking up causes me to go to the bathroom. It’s a logical fallacy called “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” which translates as “After, therefore, because of it” when you take a course in Latin.
…Or you look it up.
Basically, one thing occurs after another, which some people will see as being cause and effect. It might be true if it the world was a perfectly closed system. In science, you try to isolate variables and make sure you have as few unknown factors as possible. The same thing happens in crime scenes. When was the last time you watched CSI and someone walked into a crime scene, smoked, threw the butt away, then popped open a can of soda to drink while he or she collected evidence? It’s all based on the scientific method, one of the most important things to come out of the last several hundred years. It is, however, the basis for superstition and magical thought.
And yet, somehow, that little tidbit of analytical application is lost on our boys here.
To say that “College makes you liberal” ignores many, many, MANY factors. Without having read the report, I wonder if it makes this statement or something else Fox has taken to mean what they want. I mean, these are pretty bad numbers for people who went to college, but…
I wonder what the statistics are for people who never even went to college.
Even so, there is one more piece of information this video clip, and perhaps people who use this article for their Luddite campaigns (hey, look it up if you don’t know) will not think about or will shy away from. Is it possible, not that college makes liberals, but that liberals go to college?
It seems just as possible. Like I said, you have to factor in all variables or somehow eliminate them. Since people aren’t blank slates when they get to college, they must already have had certain world-views before arriving. They’re adults when they start, and Fox and Friends echoes the popular concern that these are innocent children, clean surfaces on which liberal professors take a squat to desecrate minds.
Oh, the children. Is there anything they don’t get into?
By the time you’re eighteen, you do have a point of view. Is it likely to change? Of course. Mine changed quite drastically between 2000 and 2002. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to your guns, but what if you’re sticking up for the wrong thing? If you’re racist, nothing gets rid of that mindset better than having to live with these people, hear them talk on everything from religion, politics, and family. Had something that irked you about gays? Hey, you gotta live in the same building as them. Turns out they’re just guys and gals like you.
Education helps you grow, usually for the better. You find out uncomfortable truths, and sometimes you change based on these experiences. If you do change… so what? You know better. You’ve grown as a person. You don’t have to be as the little children. Be an adult. Knowledge is not a sin, and the more you ignore it, the more likely you are to blow a vein in your head as reality conflicts in there.
By the way, the study interviewed 2,500 people, not 14,000 as the clip states. Whoops. Silly facts… If you want to take the quiz yourself, just click here, then check out the rundown of results.