CDZ Rebuttals to factual evidence that supports an opinion

Discussion in 'Clean Debate Zone' started by RandomPoster, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. RandomPoster
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    RandomPoster Member

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    Let's say Larry expresses an opinion that the kickers in football league B are more proficient at kicking extra points than those in Football League A. In response, Bob states a seemingly convincing fact that kickers in League A have a 95% success rate on extra point attempts, whereas kickers in League B have only a 65% success rate on extra point attempts. This seems to contradict Larry's claim.

    Let's examine the comparative merit of two different responses that might come from Larry.

    Response 1: That fails to take into account the fact that in League A they kick their extra points from 25 yards and in League B they kick them from 55 yards.

    Response 2: That's just because the centers in League B suck at hiking the ball for extra points!

    My gut makes me want to view the first response more credibly. However, I can't actually understand on an intellectual level why and I suspect it may have something to do with my societal upbringing. However, simply because the second response is crudely exclamatory, should that actually count against it? Am I placing too much emphasis on style and not sticking to substance in being dismissive of the second because of its crudeness? Can anyone here actually articulate not only which response they find more legitimate and convincing, except from a LOGICAL standpoint why either response is more convincing to you?
     
  2. Circe
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    Circe Silver Member

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    Suit yourself. If you like the stats, agree with that.

    It is unlikely stats reflect objective truth, however. People pull them out of the air, so we all might as well simply say what we think, however "crudely exclamatory." Take polls: they all said Britain would stay in the EU and Hillary would win the election.

    People cite stats as arguments to persuade, but they have no magic. Persuasion is impossible, as well as arrogant. There are no facts. "Facts" are just opinions labeled as facts because someone badly wants to change your mind. People will say, "Did you know [stats, news items, stats, etc.]?" and I'll say, "No, I didn't know that, and I still don't."
     
  3. Xelor
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    Xelor Gold Member

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    Personally, no; however, I can point you to research and findings by people who examined human predilection for bias confirming facts and how they inure to confirmation bias in construing various matters.
    In my mind, people gravitate to and overvalue bias confirming information because it's easier to do so -- everyone prefers a simple solution to a complex one, regardless of whether the matter is complex and likely has no simple solution -- than it is to rigorously consider a matter and challenge one's preconceived notions. Additionally, individuals who've not (for whatever reason) developed very strong critical analysis skills and habits aren't even empowered to recognize when they are succumbing to confirmation bias or, if not confirmation bias, irrationality.

    Take for example the scenario presented in the OP.
    Assuming Bob's figures are credible, well, they are what they are, facts. The fact is that the kickers in one league do score more points than do those in the other league. Does that fact alone make League A kickers more proficient? The answer depends on several things: player ability, expectations placed on kickers, actions that serve to interdict kicked footballs. Might there be reasons not noted that account for the observed performance differences?

    Then there is the matter of Larry's second response, "That's just because the centers in League B suck at hiking the ball for extra points!" Well that has to do with the skills of the persons hiking the ball to the kicker, not with the kickers' ability to kick the football through the goalposts; thus Response 2 is an absurd and irrational (non sequitur, strawman, or red herring, depending on what else Larry might say in connection with the statement) one to present.​

    How many people have obtained -- either by the "osmosis" method, self-instructed, or formal teaching -- logical analysis skills and subsequently developed the discipline to consistently apply them when discussing matters with others or in public? I don't know, but it's clear to me that no matter how many people have, far too often make remarks that suggest they have neither. And, of course, there's no denying that often enough individuals merely want to have their way and they lack the integrity to (1) "own" and admit as much, and (2) refrain from doing anything and everything they can to get their way, all other individuals and concerns be damned.

    In light of my own suppositions and the content in the papers cited above, it's my belief that the something is, in fact, not one thing but at least two: character and content. Character is surely a consequence of one's upbringing; however, with adequate and apt introspection, one can alter one's character. Content is simply the training one has obtained and in turn mastered. As Martin King stated, "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
     
  4. RandomPoster
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    RandomPoster Member

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    "Then there is the matter of Larry's second response, "That's just because the centers in League B suck at hiking the ball for extra points!" Well that has to do with the skills of the persons hiking the ball to the kicker, not with the kickers' ability to kick the football through the goalposts; thus Response 2 is an absurd and irrational (non sequitur, strawman, or red herring, depending on what else Larry might say in connection with the statement) one to present."

    The proficiency of the centers in League B at hiking the ball for extra point attempts does have a lot to do with the kicker's ability to kick the ball. If the centers actually are constantly screwing up the snap and hiking the ball six feet short of the placeholder one time and then 20 feet over everyone's head the next, it pretty much guarantees that the kicker will miss the extra point a lot. In short, I don't see it as a red herring. The only problem I see is that it is basically impossible to test his hypothesis one way or the other. Some would argue that it allows one to pull a conveniently non-testable opinion straight out of thin air, knowing that it is basically impossible for the other person to refute. I personally see it as more of a "Hypothesis Contrary to Fact" fallacy. Larry, without any verifiable facts to support his hypothesis or offering any way to objectively test it, is arguing that IF the centers in that league didn't "suck" at hiking the ball for extra point attempts, the inconvienient fact that Bob stated wouldn't be true. No actual evidence is given that the centers actually do, in fact, "suck" at hiking the ball for extra point attempts, nor can it be tested. It seems to me he's refusing to accept any burden of proof for his own claim that the centers lack skill and is trying to shift it to Bob to refute. It's obvious that Bob has no way of actually refuting his claim regarding WHY the facts say what they do and it often reduces the issue to a blustering match. I personally find that people often attempt to maneuver the conversation into non-testable areas when they find themselves faced with inconvenient facts and have no tangible evidence to offer as a rebuttal. That's the only issue I take with Larry's second hypothetical response.

    What is your opinion of Larry's first hypothetical response?

    "That fails to take into account the fact that in League A they kick their extra points from 25 yards and in League B they kick them from 55 yards."
    In my personal opinion, this is a more legitimate "more to the story" response. He is acknowledging the legitimacy of Bob's data, while arguing that there is indeed more factual evidence to be presented. The statement is at least verifiable in regards as to whether or not it is actually true. The only thing that is left to opinion is whether forcing kickers to kick from 55 yards instead of 25 yards is likely to affect their accuracy.

    As far as confirmation bias is concerned, if someone presents facts to me, even if I suspect he may have performed a biased search, his motives are technically irellevant in the sense that they do not refute his facts. I also see no basis for simply accusing him of bias and expecting him to have to prove he isn't guilty of it. I believe it is my job to go find the factual evidence that I suspect he may have overlooked. I see that as a more objective means of testing my theory that he performed a biased search than simply finger pointing without proof and disparaging his assumed motives. His facts are what matter and I do my best to interpret them and give less values to things he simply believes or tries to assert.
     
  5. Xelor
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    Xelor Gold Member

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    FWIW, you'll be more likely to get a reply from me if you use the quoting feature(s)/functionality the forum provides because when you do, I receive a notification that you have done so. I just checked back to the thread because I saw that someone else had posted in it since I had and I was curious to see the nature of other responses.

    Fine. There's no need to quibble over what fallacy it is so long as one recognizes that the line is irrational.

    I think that line of rebuttal is germane and valid though not, in and of itself, probative because it addresses only one of the assortment of factors pertinent to the original assertion about the qualitative superiority of League B kickers over League A kickers.
     
  6. RandomPoster
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    I do understand what you are saying to an extent. For example, when prospective employers ask me about my felony convictions, my OPINION as to whether or not I have been convicted of murder, rape and kidnapping is what is actually relevant.

    Perhaps we should retitle Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation as Newton's "strong opinion" of Gravitation since it's all the same considering that there is no legitimate distinction between facts and opinions. The "stats" generated during actual objective testing of the theory obviously couldn't possibly reflect objective truth. Confirmation Bias must have played a significant role.
     
  7. Circe
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    Circe Silver Member

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    You are on thin ice there: If an employer asks if you have been convicted of any felonies and you reply "No," thinking "because I didn't never do none of them," but the government took an alternative point of view and you served 14 years in the pen, it may strike the employer as lying when they find out about the convictions later, after all those cartons go missing in the warehouse.

    Go ahead and try: maybe you can retire Newton's apple. After all, Copernicus retired the Sun as the center of the universe. People still say the sun rises in the East, but many of us know that is an old-timey way of thinking about it. Darwin retired the Garden of Eden and the Flood, but he still gets some pushback from Creationists. And "evidence" is useless to him because no one has ever been convinced by the so-called evidence somebody is trying to force down his throat. People may change their minds, but not on your schedule, and not because of "evidence," which is just a way of saying you really, really, really want what you say to win.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  8. saveliberty
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    saveliberty Diamond Member

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    Some times a person is unable to see circumstances in a different way. It does not mean that way is nonexistent. Other times a person is capable, just unwilling.
     
  9. RandomPoster
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    All of that was done with factual evidence. If all Copernicus had was opinions backed up with more opinions, scientists would not care what he had to say.

    Do you really believe that the Theory of Evolution is devoid of factual evidence and they are arguing with nothing but opinions? No, they stick to the facts when it comes to proof because they are scientists.

    What I'm arguing here is that they should NEVER change their mind based on anything other than factual evidence. This is why scientists do believe in Evolution and do not believe in Creationism. They have looked at the facts and made the best decision they can based on the available evidence. They have disregarded people's opinions about the Bible. Evolution equals facts, Creationism equals opinions. I never said that you can convince every single person on the planet. In fact, I'm saying no one should be convinced of anything without sufficient factual evidence. It doesn't necessarily require 100% proof, it's simply that all opinions, other than the original hypothesis being put forward and tested should be disregarded. Doing anything else drags it down to a blustering match.

    Your base argument can be an opinion or speculation, except you can not prove it with anything except quantifiable facts. If someone tries to convince me of something, I will only pay attention to their factual data. Facts trump opinions, not the other way around. You can't counter facts with opinions, only facts. It's as simple as that. Nothing in this world means anything unless it can be measured and quantified.

    The only possible exception to this is when issues of morality are discussed. Opinions regarding morality are the only opinions that should ever sway a debate. For example, it is merely my opinion that murder, rape, and theft are wrong. However, I still attach significance to this opinion despite the fact that I can't measure it or quantify it's immorality other than the number of instances and amount in terms of theft. I still agree with society that it should fit into an ethical standard and one should refrain from engaging in these particular behaviors. My upbringing has instilled this into my internal contract with society regarding my personal behavior. This is what makes us compassionate creatures. We willingly and sometimes selflessly accept society's rules and agree to follow a sometimes inconvenient behavioral contract that may not always be in our best personal interests from a selfish standpoint.
     
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  10. Circe
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    Circe Silver Member

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    This is a nice discussion; I'm enjoying it.




    I subscribed to SCIENCE for some 25 years; stopped because they got crazy in favor of global warming, which was quickly goal-post-shifted to "climate change" so they could have it both ways. The amount of cheating on research results in all topics detailed in that quarter century in SCIENCE alone, never mind the newspapers, was quite enough to persuade me that science is like any other human pursuit: full of corruption and dishonesty and desire to get ahead and get money and power. I think we have to be most cautious of all in believing the claims of scientists, because they are so smart, they can fool us better. I agree with you that it's our best hope for improvements in life and the world, but science is not impervious to human faults.





    Nice. This is Logical Positivism, isn't it? There is a book that just came out on that reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, I think. I need to look into the title. I like definite value schemas like that, a defined process for thinking about things. One of my own is never allowing any argument that includes the future, because the future is unknowable (and in my experience, our minds run on rigid train tracks whereas reality swirls about in several dimensions like a butterfly, so we are almost always wrong).


    I'm studying the Barbara Mackinnon textbook "Ethics" right now and have no idea where I'll end up on these issues you bring up. Except that it is likely to be naturalistic -- believing that "morals" are simply hard-wired and culturally taught ways for us to compromise living successfully as individuals and as members of the human herd, at the same time.

    With respect to arguments, for instance: I think something underlies all these upsets people have about why others won't see plain sense and believe the same way they do. That something is loyalty. People choose a group, such as Christians versus atheists, or global warmers versus climate change deniers, or Trump versus Hillary and then they are loyal to that group no matter what words, words, words (as Hamlet said, dismissively) the other side throws at them. And this is good, because warring groups are inherent in human genetics; it's how we evolve, against each other. Winner takes North America. It works.
     

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