Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Aaron Lee Wudrick beatdown: Part 2.

(OK, I lied, I haven't left yet.)

OK, let us return to dissecting the illogical rantings of one Aaron Lee Wudrick, specifically this piece in which Mr. Wudrick demonstrates that he has no clue as to how logic or analogies actually work.

In debating whether one can legitimately accuse George W. Chimpster of technically "lying," Mr. Wudrick writes:

Let me see if I can analogize.

Yes, Mr. Wudrick, let's see if you can. (For those who can't handle suspense, the answer, sadly, is no.)

Mr. Wudrick analogizes thusly:

Let's say I'm in a sealed room with no windows, but information I receive from a reliable source convinces me that it's raining outside. I therefore insist to everyone that it's raining outside.

Once I get outside, I find it's not raining. Does that make me a liar? You might argue that it was, in the sense that something was represented as a truth that I didn't know for sure. But that's completely different than knowing what I was saying was definitely untrue. Naturally, folks like Cynic probably won't give Bush the benefit of the doubt: they don't trust him, so they're more likely to assume he knew all along. But to misrepresent a probability as a fact is a much lesser sin.

This analogy is so hopelessly inappropriate, it's hard to know where to begin, so let's take this one step at a time and work up to the actual solution.

First, let's go with Mr. Wudrick's sealed room idea and imagine that you work in a department, all of whose offices are several floors underground so that you have no direct exposure to the outdoors. Because of that, you really have no idea what the weather is like outside at any time.

You're working away one day when co-worker John, as he passes by, says, "Hey, how's it going, it's raining outside." OK, you think, you're not sure what possessed John to dump that brief weather report on you but you shrug your shoulders and get back to work.

Only moments later, co-worker Mary pops in, hands you some papers you've been waiting for and says, "I wonder if it's raining outside." Remembering what John just told you, you say, "Yes." "Shit!", exclaims Mary, "I left my car windows open!", and off she dashes to run up the several flights of stairs to the ground floor to get to the parking lot.

Minutes later, Mary is back looking a bit peeved. "It wasn't raining," she says in an annoyed tone of voice, "there's not a cloud in the sky. You lied to me." Did you? Personally, I don't think so.

In this situation, you happened to be passing along, in good faith, information you heard casually from what you would normally consider a reliable source. You weren't deliberately trying to mislead anyone, you were answering the question the most honest way you knew how. So I think we can all agree that, even though what you said was entirely incorrect, you certainly weren't "lying".

And why not? Because most of us equate "lying" with deliberately telling a falsehood -- saying something that we know isn't true which, in the above, lets you off the hook. But let's change the scenario just a little and see what happens.

Let's say that, just as John is telling you it's raining, Fred happens to be passing by, overhears this and says, "Raining? What do you mean? I was just outside and there's not a cloud in the sky." At this point, you have now been presented with two conflicting claims, neither of which you can verify for yourself so you have no way of knowing who's telling the truth.

Mary stops by later, asks the same question, you give the same answer, she dashes upstairs, comes back pissed off and accuses you of lying. Did you this time? Again, probably not since you still had no way of knowing what the weather was but, at the very least, if Mary finds out you were told two different stories, she can at least accuse you of acting irresponsibly. That is, you were told two different things and, when asked about it, you chose, for no reason whatsoever, to ignore one of them and go with the other. Technically, I still don't think it's "lying" but, at a minimum, it's irresponsible and misleading to not have acknowledged that you were in possession of alternate information. So let's push this further.

Same opening scenario but, this time, as Fred starts to say, "Raining? What do you mean? I was just outside and there's not ...," you savagely cut him off, holding your hands over your ears, singing, "LA LA LA LA, it's raining, that's what it's doing, not interested in hearing anything else, LA LA LA LA!!!" What does this situation represent?

Again, I think that, technically, when you later tell Mary that it's raining, you're still not "lying" but, this time, she really does have the right to be angry since, not only did you not factor in conflicting information, you absolutely even refused to hear it. You heard one story, you seized on that story and you were in no mood to even listen to an alternative scenario. At this point, you're being a real jackass but, in my opinion, still not a "liar." Which brings us to the last scenario.

Having been told, with no supporting evidence but based only on hearsay, that it's raining outside, you now start to tell people, "It's raining outside. There's no doubt about that, I can assure you with absolute and total certainty that it's raining."

Now you're lying.

And what's so different about this last scenario? The difference is that, given that there's no way you can know what the weather actually is, you insist on claiming that you have full knowledge of it, and that's the lie. You're not saying what you think the weather is, or what you believe the weather is, you're professing absolute certainty when you just don't have that certainty. And that, right there, is the lie. Are you with me so far? Because we're not done yet.

Let's say that someone calls you on your last claim. They know you've been working away for the last several hours and, because of that, there's no way you could know what the weather is, and they quite logically accuse you of lying.

"All right," you say, "let's all head upstairs and check it out." And off you go and, sure enough, when you get to the ground floor, it just happens to be raining. "See," you say, turning to your co-workers, "I've been vindicated."

No, you haven't. You still lied, for the simple reason that, when you made your claim, you had no way of knowing what the weather was. Once you lie like that, you can't be vindicated after the fact by lucking out. In short, once you lie, that lie can't be undone by lucky circumstances later.

Given that Mr. Wudrick is a law student, it might help to use a legal analogy here. Let's say you're an OPP officer and you pull over someone based solely on, say, their ethnicity, who was driving perfectly legally and safely, and do an unwarranted search of their vehicle and find, say, cocaine. The last time I looked, because there was no probable cause for the stop and the search, that person can't be charged with possession.

To compare this to the rain analogy above, you were wrong to stop and search that car, and finding drugs in it afterwards doesn't vindicate you, and it's painful to think I actually have to explain this to a law student but these things happen. Now, how does all this apply to Commander Chimpy?

Recall that George W. and his minions didn't just state that they believed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. They didn't just say that they thought he had such weapons. No, they stated quite publicly that they had absolute, irrefutable, incontrovertible proof that Saddam had such weapons, even going so far as to say they knew where they were (emphasis added):

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, weapons of mass destruction. Key goal of the military campaign is finding those weapons of mass destruction. None have been found yet. There was a raid on the Answar Al-Islam Camp up in the north last night. A lot of people expected to find ricin there. None was found. How big of a problem is that? And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Not at all. If you think -- let me take that, both pieces -- the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

This claim was, of course, total bullshit. It was also a lie, as I have explained above. But that's not even the best part.

As I have already explained, once you lie, that lie can't be vindicated after the fact by your being lucky. If you recall, after the U.S. troops had control of Iraq, they started looking for those elusive WMDs and kept coming up empty. At that point, it should have been obvious that the Bush administration lied. They claimed that they absolutely knew there were WMDs and where they were, and that was simply false. But they kept looking. Why?

Simple. They (incorrectly) believed that finding them after the fact would vindicate the lie. That is, of course, totally false, in the same way (Are you paying attention, Mr. Wudrick?) that stopping a car for no reason, searching it and finding drugs wouldn't vindicate the original, illegal stop. It doesn't work that way, Mr. Wudrick, and I really wouldn't want you to try that defense if you ever pass the bar. Trust me on that one.

So, in closing, yes, George lied. The instant he claimed to have absolute, unshakeable evidence of WMDs in Iraq, he lied.

And, no, we're still not done with Mr. Wudrick. His idiocy is almost endless but, as I said, I'm a patient man.

1 comment:

Whetam Knauckweirst said...

BushCo are fiendish liars, top to bottom. Their waning number of adherents have less and less of a leg to stand on. Argue, if you will, with the sloppy analogies of Mr. Wudrick, but your consider talents are better spent elsewhere.

This pitiful bloodbath occurring in Iraq in the name of Jesus Christ and Halliburton is all the proof people with eyes to see and minds to think require to see that George W. Bush is a global cancer.