Saturday, October 03, 2009

But are they right?

The internet has made it possible to find articles on any topic detailing both the pro-liberty and anti-liberty side of any position. That has ultimately been a good thing for the pro-liberty side as traditional sources can be bypassed for accurate material.

It often happens in internet debate that libertarians will find a relevant article on LRC or Cato or Reason (or dozens of other libertarian sites) and link to it in a debate. The reaction from those who oppose liberty is invariably "the author is biased" or "the website is biased".

Usually this successfully derails the debate. From that point onward the discussion center around the bias of the article or the bias of the hosting site.

Although it may be irksome, the best way to get the discussion back on track is to simply respond with "yes, but are they right?" Conceed any allegation of bais while simultaneously engaging the content of the article. This isn't just agreeing with the bias. Proving bias usually subsitutes for refuting an article, and "Yes, but are they right?" puts the onus back on the other person to go in and investigate the content in order to answer that question. Instead of declaring victory due to an accusation of bias the other person must either get back to the topic or conceed that the article was right.

This is also useful in reverse, The report on California's regulatory mess was posted on a government website. Libertarians are confronted with "but it's a government website you don't like government." The proper response is "yes, but are they right?" It forms a useful defense against accusations of hypocrisy with regards to using a government website - the important feature isn't if the article is from the government but is the content.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want to comment on Alan Greenspan, I believe you are right, he is responsible. Ayn R Key, do you know Rand's pet name for him? She called him "The Undertaker" because he dressed in dark clothes.
Judging by your name you know a few things about Rand, she was lifelong friends with Greenspan and he helped proofread her book. Do you think he would just give up his ideals?
What if she called him Undertaker not because of his clothes, or maybe it had a dual meaning, maybe he has undertaken the greatest feat in human history, maybe he has worked for years to free us?
Now he is telling the government to raise taxes, exactly the kind of thing we shouldn't be doing, but government will follow only advice that will enable them to do the things they want. There is so much to say but keep the faith, someday we will be free, now more than ever I believe it.