With today’s Comment of the Day, Jim Hodgson weighs in on bad analogies as well as related matters. Bad analogies are a frequent topic here, and The Great Stupid may represent the zenith of bad analogies in our culture—at least I hope and pray it is.
My father, who, like me, was a lawyer who seldom practiced law, maintained that “everyone” should get a law degree, because the kind of critical thinking that law school teaches is no longer available in most colleges. (Once it was taught in grade school). One concept legal arguments rely on constantly are analogies. This is why I found Ruth Marcus employing such a wretched and irredeemable one in the Washington Post so depressing and infuriating. Striking down a vaccine mandate not supported by the law is inconsistent with the Court running its own operations with requirements that those who come into contact with the mostly high-risk Justices have to take very precaution is hypocritical? How? Why? Marcus is a Harvard Law School grad: she was taught better reasoning than that.
I see terrible analogies everywhere. Comparing Donald Trump to Hitler was ridiculous, but comparing the January 6 riot ( when “our government was almost overthrown last year by a guy wearing a Viking hat and speedos,” as Marco Rubio deftly put it) to Pearl Harbor was more ridiculous still, and the Vice President did that, more than once. Was making that idiotic analogy worse than the President calling limits on mail-in balloting the equivalent of Jim Crow laws? Or worse than claiming that enforcing the nation’s borders is “racism”? Actually, this might be a fun parlor game: “The Worst Analogy.”
Here is Jim Hodgson’s Comment of the Day on the post, “More From The Bulging “It Isn’t What It Is” File! Unethical Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus”…
Misleading analogies and false equivalencies are among the favored tools of today’s “journalists.” The Progressive Left and the media (but I repeat myself) have a clear agenda and it isn’t good for the republic. Forty years ago, I railed against the (comparatively mild) bias of news anchors; nowadays they look almost Fox News-ish by comparison.
Marcus and her ilk aren’t really trying to convince “searchers for the truth,” they are merely reinforcing the beliefs and attitudes of those in the “woke bubble” and reaching out only to the easily swayed. I spend a few hours most days reading a variety of news sources online, trying to get an accurate and more complete view of national and world events and issues than I find from any single source. I know not everyone makes this effort, and I regularly refer friends and family to articles and sources (including E.A.) that I think will improve their understanding of issues and events.
I sincerely hope that today’s so-called journalism does not stand uncorrected to become tomorrow’s history. As a student of American history, I realized a number of years ago that many “historians” and history authors do not go back to contemporary, original sources in their published works. It is common for some to cite a source that, when researched, is found to be wrongly quoted, taken out of context or in some cases actually contradictory to the point it was cited to support. I initially caught on to this when I read two texts on the same subject that cited the same source material to support opposing opposed positions. Going back to the source material I saw that one author had taken a few lines out of context while the other had used the full context of the cited work. I began looking for such errors and found that once some historian has written a “definitive” work on some historical subject, later writers will often cite the same footnotes in their own works in support of the same points, regardless of how inaccurately the source material was used in the first book. Obviously a good-faith effort at original research could have disclosed the problem. The more times a source document is used incorrectly or on pretext, the more entrenched the erroneous version becomes.
It is possible in some cases to trace the poor research repeated from one book to the next over a period of years. In effect “John” cites “Joe,” who cites “Tom,” who cites “Bill,” who cites “Sam” who got it wrong in the first place. With many of today’s journalists apparently reading from the same approved script, I fear that today’s journalistic misinformation and misdirection will evolve into an accepted but false history of today’s events.