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Blogging: What’s Effective, What’s Not

October 26, 2011 by  

If you are not part of the solution, then you are contributing to the problem.

“Opinions,” it has been said (often and variously) are like unmentionable parts of the human anatomy: Everybody has one, and they come in different shapes and sizes. But this is the aspect of the individual opinion that is largely left unsaid: To qualify as an opinion, the idea cannot be a fact. This single defining distinction determines the quality and, therefore, the credibility of one’s opinion because it goes to how opinions are produced; and the method of production determines the species.

Opinions of the most specious kind are clearly the product of emotion simply because there are no facts to give them credence. They are products of vitriol that sound good when bleated to the high heavens at PTA or the town meeting — or, on someone’s blog — but are often incredibly invalid.

Credible opinions cannot by definition be factually wrong but may well fall prey to some species of fallacy: Red Herring, non sequitur, post hoc, bandwagon, circular reasoning, etc. A quick jaunt through any reputable grammar text (I recommend the Harbrace College Handbook) under the subtitle “Fallacies In Reasoning” should help those interested in continuing their education.

A valid conclusion — something to which all opinions should aspire — is the result of a logical syllogism, dependent on two or more facts that allow one to draw a logical conclusion. Here is one from basic geometry:

Fact: A equals B.
Fact: B equals C.
Valid conclusion: A equals C.

Called in mathematics “the transitive property of equality,” it is part and parcel to the fundamental methodology of valid conclusion drawing.

Here is a “hot-button” syllogism that falls to the fallacy known as “false proof” or “false analogy.”

Fact: Guns kill people.
Fact: One function of government is to pass laws to keep people safe.
Invalid conclusion: The government should pass a law prohibiting the ownership of guns.

Without getting into highly emotional opinions and without the lengthy discussion of why this example is too simplistic, we start from the premise that, reduced to its fundamental terms, this is precisely the syllogism of progressive gun banners. It’s a syllogism which falls to fallacy of “false proof” because the facts presented are equally useful to prove an entirely different conclusion. The proof in this example is false because it could just as well prove the government should pass a law making it illegal not to own a gun to protect yourself from the government, to keep everyone safe.

This brings us to the pastime of blogging. Most of what is posted on blogs is nothing more than opinion and is, more often than not, based largely on emotion more than fact, bringing us to the rather simplistic thesis of this article: what is and is not an effective, credible post. So what better to do than to throw out a few simple considerations that reflect the thesis?

  • Refrain from name-calling, eschew colorful euphemisms and avoid denigrating personal comments. None of these are proof or can be considered effective strategies. Unless you know someone personally, your observations are invalid to be sure — not to mention cowardly. Without proof, your opinion is invalid and useless and takes up precious space on the blog. If all you want to do is blow off steam, then find a partner your size, get two pairs of 16-ouncers (big, fat, padded boxing gloves) and go to the gym.
  • Other people are not stupid simply because they disagree with you. Other people have a different opinion for many reasons, the least of which is because they may not be as smart or as well educated as you are. They were raised differently, in different political and social milieus, for one thing; and very different experiences mean they are plugging different facts into the paradigm. Using only those facts and the same logical syllogism that you use, you may well have been compelled to draw the very same conclusion.
  • A blog or any other type of free-speech forum should be viewed as an opportunity to learn. Look at the evidence cited by others. Weigh the evidence and judge its credibility. If you are still not convinced, succinctly state in your post why it falls short. Getting emotional and being condescending rob you of the opportunity to benefit by learning and by helping to educate others.
  • Pointing out problems without solutions is of little benefit to fellow bloggers. Many of the articles posted on this blog are not meant to offer solutions but to start discussions. The repartee is obliged to offer solutions to problems, and that responsibility falls to the readers/bloggers. If you come here to post and join in the discussion, it should be incumbent upon you to offer a cogent, logical and valid solution to the problems you observe. If all you want to do is vent, revisit the solution proposed in No. 1, above.

These are some simple considerations that will make blogging here and elsewhere more meaningful and pleasant for all.

Best wishes to fellow bloggers… especially to those with whom I disagree.

–S.A. Roach

Special To Personal Liberty

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  • Henry Lovvo

    if guns kill people then eating utensils make people fat. Lets ban all eating utensils.

  • http://personalliberty.com jowolo

    ….and pencils cause spelling errors, keyboards cause grammer mistakes.

  • Bob McCormick

    Good article

    I am sooo sick of sifting through comments about Obama, he’s illegal, his birth certificate is bogus, he’s a Muslim, on and on. We get it! You don’t like him, me too, let’s try to stay on the topic.
    I don’t believe that there is anything in U.S. law that would disqualify a Muslim from becoming Pres.
    His denials if it were true would make him disingenuous of course, but if that were a crime Washington would be a ghost town. As for the other stuff, prove it, do something about it or let it go. May be he is the antichrist, I don’t know, history will tell

    • wrsrvn67

      Bob, I think the point is being made that he should not be in the White House to begin with. Truthfully, I have my doubts about his eligibility.

    • ggsully

      I think Bob’s point is Obama is there and is the president so get over it. Bringing up these points does not forward any real discussion and just clutters the comments needlessly. I too have my suspicions, but I imagine we will never know and even if we did what could we do.

      • Jay

        Then this is my point, “we do know!..and there is nothing we can do?”
        As a Christian I have reservations about merits of an others beliefs so I for my own personal discretion make evaluation. The argument regarding citizenship should be based on the status quo of Constitutionality but since that is in fact a merely convenient to mutilate and decipherable man made document written by lawyers, I think we should just return to Scriptural mode and means of operation but that of course would conflict with the Internationalists’ plans for global hegemony any ‘total control’ thereby creating the need for a bunker buster to land squarely upon the roofs all reasonable folk who favor fairness and brotherly love also being CLASSED as RESISTORS with ‘ domestic terrorists’ .

        • Jay

          Hey Jay, ever thought of using comas, and periods in your statements. Can you do me a favour? Change your moniker! Thank you!

    • metroman

      O.K. as Bob says let’s use facts. Fact, the last birth certificate that was posted on the White House Web Site was Photoshop document. Obama’s lawyer Alexandra Hill in the New Jersey agreed with arguments that the image of Obama’s birth certificate was a forgery and made the absurd claim that, therefore, it cannot be used as evidence to confirm his lack of natural born citizenship status. Therefore, she argued, it is “irrelevant to his placement on the ballot.” That is a fact, you know like A=C and C=B therefore B=A.

      A second issue is the fact that Obama’s father was a British subject and therefore Barry was a Duel Citizen when and if born in Hawaii; he does not qualify as “natural born” as both parents were not U.S. citizens. That is why Rubio will not be a V.P. candidate. Although he was born in the USA his parents were not U.S. citizens. That’s Parent with an “s”.

      I don’t know if you are aware but the definition of “natural born” has never been ruled on by the Supreme Court, I wonder why? You would think this second issue should be raised and pushed by the so called anti-Obama group. I think this is what lawyers call Prima facia.
      Is it all smoke and mirrors like 911 to get us away from the real issues like the Police State, NWO and the Federal Reserve Issues for starters. Oh, I mentioned 911, try 911justasking.com for more facts.

  • Kate8

    It’s true, bloggers can only express opinions.

    It’s also true that facts are difficult, if not impossible, to come by. So all any of us can do is operate from whatever evidence we are able to discern from available sources, which are nothing but the opinions and biases of someone else.

    Today’s media is not geared toward reporting facts but, rather, steering public opinions and perceptions. So we never know if our original premises are even valid. That goes for EVERYTHING.

    We live in a manufactured reality. This is the only thing of which I am absolutely certain. Beyond that, all we have is perception and opinion…which is all ANYONE has, regardless of their place on the informational food chain.

    What is frusrating for those of us who understand this is the marginalizing and ridiculing of those who are plugged into the collective thought machine. Of course, this is part of the steering of thought, as no one likes being seen as nutsoid. But as long as we continue to allow ourselves to be silenced out of fear of being labeled “conspiracy theorist”, we are playing right into the hands of those who enslave us, and remain part of the problem.

    • RightGunner

      Thank you Kate8. All I can say in response is that Kate ate my response.

      Oh, and one other thing dealing with facts. I think it is possible, meaning I don’t have proof, that there are people in this country who have such power under their control, that they could order the assassination of a President and get away with it. Since I don’t have the necessary facts, this assumption can still be a good basis for discussion of the possibilities.

    • metroman

      Kate8, under your assumption no one would get convicted of any crime since most of the facts we have are someone’s biased opinion. I guess you never took geometry or any higher math and cannot get the a,b,c example. The WTC was build using the abc theory. Let us consider the 911 conspiracy theory. What turns theory of conspiracy to conspiracy are facts. If you think two 110 story buildings can turn to dust and collapse at near free fall speed because of a fire you should take a course in fire protection and get some facts. Jet fuel in open burning flash point is 100 degrees and structural steel melts at 3500 degrees. Those are FACTS. Think outside the box.

  • Rob W

    In my opinion, for whatever that’s worth, there is no such thing as a right or wrong opinion. An opinion is someone’s verbalization of their belief and I, for one, am not qualified to tell anyone their belief/opinion is wrong. I do have a right to agree or disagree with their opinion but not a right to says it’s wrong.

    • oldshooter

      Rob,
      There IS such a thing as a right and wrong opinion in many cases. If someone opined that the world was flat and circled by the sun daily, you would be quite justified, given all the data available to support the heliocentric solar system theory, the absence of data to support the belief that the sun circles the earth, and the absence of items falling off the world’s edges, to call their opinion wrong. Given the absence of data to support their opinion, yours is the better (ie, “right”) opinion.
      To use a more “hot button” example: You would be justified in opining that the Theory of Evolution is the best current explanation for how modern organisms got to be the way they are now, and where they are now. If someone countered with “I believe the Biblical creation story is a better explanation,” (as someone inevitably would) they would be expressing an opinion that, although shared by many, lacks logical arguments to support it, and again, assuming that you are cognizant of the available data, your opinion would be the “right” one (based upon logical arguments). Keep in mind that this is not a question about religious beliefs, but about the nature and distribution of animals in today’s world. Evolution presents a much more logical explanation for why, for example virtually all the world’s marsupials live in Australia, and why, the armadillo clan all live in the western hemisphere and nowhere else. The Biblical creation story has no explanation for these data (and many, many, others). It would have involved thousands of miles of swimming from where the Ark landed, for example, without any of the animals stopping off somewhere else along the way. The Biblical creation opinion is basically forced to justify itself by arguing that things are the way they are now “because that’s the way God did it.” Remember the “false proof” issue above. God could just as easily have done it the other way around, so the argument is useless at best, invalid at worst. The evolutionary argument is based on what ind of animals wee alive and dominant forms at the time in the planet’s history when those continents separated making their evolution separate from that on other continents, with different selection pressures from that point onwards. This argument could NOT be used to predict other outcomes, such as marsupials only in the new world, and armidillos only in Australia. The timeframes won’t work right. So some opinions can probably be right and some can certainly be wrong, despite the fact that they may be based on “theories” rather than “facts.”

      • Rob W.

        Oldshooter, I support my opinion with my opening statement, to wit ‘there is no such thing as a right or wrong opinion.’ The only thing that is true, and by extension ‘right,’ is fact. Opinions are normally derived from the interpretation of fact. This interpretation may be erroneous but it is based on an individual’s bias and how this bias is applied to what the individual sees, hears, thinks or is conditioned to believe, whether logical or illogical. In any case, the individual is entitled to believe whatever they wish. If they want to believe that the sun is the center of the universe, so be it. Further, for whatever it is worth, I pretty much agree with everything you said, but even if I disagreed, that would be my right.

  • beacon

    A blogger should, Keep It Simple Stupid. KISS

    The multitude do not understand some of the words, perhaps because of their education. KISS

    We were born free, then learn every thing from the outside in, rather from the inside out.

    The crash, soon to come, is our pride.

    Love you
    Gord

  • s c

    Ye gods, people. Now I know why I like H L Mencken and Mark Twain so much. Please put some effort into your remarks.

  • http://Yahoo Gabe Morillo

    Yahoo is doing everything possible to erase my comments against this Marxist government!

  • cawmun cents

    Those blog,blogging,bloggers!How dare they do their blog blogging?They are such bloggers.Oh my blogging blog,how much of this blog can we blogging take?Blog!I hope those bloggers blogging,blog off,before we all go blogging blog crazy!So in response to those bloggers,blog you!
    -CC.

  • s c

    PLD,
    Limit responders to 350 words per response. Some people feel obligated to take up lots of space, and manage to include paragrpah after paragraph and say very little via all those words.
    Responders should use SpellCheck (sp.?) or proof what they plan to send in.
    PLD should rely more on suggested reading material. Some responders have no clue what some of us take for granted [i. e., when say we say conservative, we don’t mean RINOs or ‘Republicans.’ When we say Austrian economics, we don’t mean an economics system created on another planet that we use to confound progressives.
    Please, people, have something to say, and at least pretend that you’re on speaking terms with the English language. We don’t need dissertations or material that goes on and on and on. Simple is always best, and short is much appreciated.

  • Guido Volante

    9 6 12 Folks,
    I don’t have much to say about the DNC Convention. I found it impossible to stay tuned for more than a few minutes at a time…but I can sum up my opinion with two words; Demagogue caca. My rule was to listen until I heard a lie, take a 20 minute break and repeat.
    The emotions I come away with are not what I expected. I feel sad, listless…disappointed. I rationalized that not all of the people in attendance are starry eyed, uninformed, misinformed, misled, mis-led, dis-informed sycophantic liberals; innocents being led to slaughter with food stamps, free contraception and other seductive bribes, beckoning us to partake in the bonanza of new found rights we know as entitlements and are begrudgingly paying for. Some, like the Vice President and Secretary of State (not present), advisers to the president, certain trusted politicians and of course radical left wing Czars, are witnesses to the treachery, architects of the deception and part of the strategy to elect this fraudulent dictator in waiting, at any expense. I should say at our expense. They have chosen sides and the people are the pawns that are expected to provide the finances and liquidity that supports their own betrayal. A gallows properly built is an expensive contraption and the executioner dictates that the condemned pay their fair share for the materials and labor.
    Like the loving bride of a compulsive liar and wife beater the complicit left defend their leader with lies and crimes of their own, praying that if they please the master the beatings will stop. They are to be pitied yes, but it is also incumbent upon those who have knowledge to cause intervention before the victim is mourned on a cold marble slab. Such a morbid slab awaits the Republic unless full disclosure, unmitigated honesty and uncalculated exposure of the cabal is forthcoming and accepted by the masses and a united, forceful resistance is mounted in time. Willing or hapless, the abettors must be repatriated or punished; the Constitutional Republic is at stake. The marauders are in full battle regalia, issuing liberty-robbing edicts, redistributing funds, confiscating wealth, realigning our alliances, circumventing due process, denying our Judea Christian heritage, vigorously attempting to disarm the populace as quickly as possible and weakening our First Amendment Right in all of its complexities in a modern world. The defenders are rallying a reluctant, too comfortable, largely unconvinced, somewhat liberal population. We are attempting to waken a sleeping giant by belling the cat, but wake him we must.
    Nevertheless the revolution has begun in earnest and the forces of evil have wisely decided to hide behind these same innocent but duped civilians, like terrorist combatants calling for collateral damage and the death of innocent children, to gain a momentary sympathetic advantage. Their liberal sympathizers have been indoctrinated and promised great rewards for their blind loyalty. The indoctrination of the masses sympathetic to the promises and lies, forces a breach between neighbors and friends, who not unlike the Civil War families find themselves on opposing sides with strongly held convictions and differing opinions. The brainwashing techniques they have fallen victim to would have them convinced that opinion trumps fact and facts are distorted by the opposition to sway their opinions. When confronted with facts that condemn their ideology and expose their leader they respond with programmed opinion. Their argument is that they are entitled to their opinions the same as we are. Responding that we have facts that threaten the Union falls on deaf ears; or is it that they believe we deserve the fate they are handing us?
    The Conservative side simply believes that facts are indisputable and opinions are distractions which prevent unified preservation for all.
    The culprits who know or should know that the presidential edicts Obama has signed negate all of the hyperbole about budgets, jobs, foreign policy, health care or taxes are betraying a nation that allowed them to realize God given freedom. These edicts make the wars we are fighting on foreign soil futile, sinful and wasteful and a crime against American humanity. The real war is at home and if the Republic doesn’t survive our troops become lambs on a sacrificial altar with no providential salvation or reward in sight.
    Total transformation was not a mere idiom or provocative term…it is the reality of intentions actualized by an ideological, calculating cabal, intended to replace Capitalism with Socialism, the Republic with a Fascist State and liberty with dictatorship. The cabal is very satisfied with their progress as indicated by the economy, the number of edicts successfully imposed without opposition or recognition and the adoring masses that hang breathlessly on every treacherous lie they spit. If they retain power by election the deceit can go arguably undetected and supported by their victims for at least another four years; if not…who knows? It is masterfully ironic, bold and demonic; to borrow a metaphor from James Bond they are the cabal that loves us.
    Democrats and liberals who might accidentally come across and read this article may regard it as hate speech and if so it will engender hatred in return. I assure you that this is not the case. This is a love letter…love of country, love for my fellow man and love of our Creator. If you can accept that you may first have a chance to open your eyes to the reality around you. You have already lost many freedoms. All of your freedoms are at stake. The rules of engagement have changed. The enemy has set the trap and you, my dear friends and fellow Americans are the bait; the prey is the Republic we love. Put aside your liberal concerns and blind faith in promises not kept. Realize that hope and change is a metaphor for a new order with the same old prescription of ineffective, tainted medicine. They will take everything we own, everything we have created and everything we can earn going forward, run it through their sieve and leave us the sediment. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem. We will not cede our freedom without a fight. On whose side will you be?
    Remove the cabal. Disarm Obama not me. The Republic I love belongs to our children and their children. How have we preserved it for posterity…or have we let it slip through our fingers like mud in a slurry, never caring for the gold that went with it.
    Guido

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