Ignoring facts isn’t the answer

July 11, 2010


A scene from the near future:

Augustus Merryweather IV glanced up at the tapping on his office door. Harvey Carbunkle stood there in bow tie and shirt sleeves, smiling eagerly from behind horn-rimmed glasses.

Augustus sighed. He hated this part of the job. It was never fun to let people go.

He waved the young man to a seat, spoke without preamble. “Harvey, I’m afraid it’s not working out.”

The eager face fell like a refrigerator from a moving truck. “You’re firing me?”

“I have no choice. Your work, well ... it hasn’t been up to the standard we expect for an editor at Merryweather Publishing. Frankly, I’m surprised. When I saw that you were a graduate of BU, I couldn’t wait to hire you. Boston University turns out some great students.”

“I didn’t go to Boston University,” Harvey said.

“Baylor, then. Still a great school.”

“I didn’t go to Baylor.”

“But your resume says you graduated BU.”

A proud smile. “Yes, sir. That’s Beck University.”

Augustus was confused. “I’ve never heard of ...”

“Beck University!” said Harvey, the smile widening. “You know, Glenn Beck? He has that show on CNN. Also, that novel, that other book, that radio program, that standup act, that line of athletic shoes and that cologne. He founded an online university back in 2010 so people could learn the real truth they don’t get in your so-called ‘universities.’” He made air quotes.

“So, when you rejected that Martin Luther King biography because it didn’t mention how white conservatives started the civil rights movement ...”

A sharp nod. “I learned that at Beck U.”

“And when you told the author of that book on religion that ‘pinko commie’ is the preferred term for preachers who talk about social and economic justice ...”

“Beck U.”

“And when you asked why there was no reference to Nazi death panels euthanizing children in that book on health-care reform ...”

“Yes, sir! Beck U.”

Augustus sank back into his chair. “Beck me,” he muttered.

“Beg pardon?”

Augustus regarded the man who perched before him. “Harvey,” he said after a moment, “you can’t believe all that garbage they filled your head with. None of that stuff is true! It’s just the rantings of a paranoid nutjob living in an alternate reality. The facts …”

Harvey shrank back, looking horrified. “No, sir!” he shouted. “No, sir! Professor Beck warned us about people like you. He said you’d try to confuse us with all your ‘facts’ and your ‘logic’ and your ‘reason.’ Well, Harvey Walter Carbunkle is on to your game!”

All at once, Augustus felt tired. He felt old. “Very well,” he said. “Believe what you want. But we’ve still got to let you go. You’re not qualified.”

Harvey appeared to contemplate this. He shrugged. “That’s OK,” he said. “Now I’ll have time to pursue my graduate work at the U of L.”

Augustus sat up straight. “Louisiana?”


“Of course,” said Augustus, dropping back into the chair.

Harvey’s expression was pitying. “I wish I could help you see how wrong you are. You think the world is about ‘facts’ and ‘knowledge’ and ‘information’ you can ‘prove.’ The lamestream media has you fooled and you don’t even know it.” Abruptly he turned away, gnawing a knuckle.

“Well,” said Augustus, “I suppose we’ll just have to agree to …” He stopped, alarmed. “My God, man, are you crying?”

Harvey’s eyes were glistening. His voice wobbled like a toddler. “I’m sorry,” he gasped. “It’s just ...” His voice tore. He bit his lip, lifted his palm, took a steadying breath, then tried again. “It’s just that I love my country so much and I’m frightened for her future.”

Augustus shook his head. “I know just how you feel,” he said.

— Leonard Pitts Jr.,winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. each Wednesday at www.MiamiHerald.com. lpitts@miamiherald.com


Tom Shewmon 7 years, 10 months ago

Here I am. Talk about living in an "alternate reality"---- Pitts does. I'll err on the side of Beck. For too long the corrupt liberal media and the elite liberal establishment have been acting as historical revisionists. Beck is merely challenging their dishonesty and incompetence and their agenda. Pitts should start writing dimestore novels----or do some self-publishing on lulu.com, huh beoB?

geekyhost 7 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for financially supporting all the liberal hippies in Lawrence, Kansas by showing up on our forums and generating ad dollars with your commentary and the responses it attracts. We'll spend all the tax dollars you create here on social services and pizza.

Jim Phillips 7 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, and Obama and Gore won the Nobel. Gore"s "documnetary" also won two Oscars. So what?

Michael Throop 7 years, 10 months ago

and the Nobel poohbahs also considered convicted felon,Illinois Governor George Ryan for a Nobel Peace Prize,, yep, means a lot..

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

LOL. Obama has nobel peace prize he didn't earn as well.

aa469285 7 years, 10 months ago

And this is same group that nominated the National Equirer, so at least he's in good company.

aa469285 7 years, 10 months ago

Yep he actually won the Pulitzer. Only great journalists are nominated for that prize. Great ones like the National Enquirer.

esteshawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Journalists can nominate themselves for a Pulitzer, so that means absolutely nothing.

aa469285 7 years, 10 months ago

The Pulitzer Prize? The same one that a journalist from the National Enquirer was nominated for?

Corey Williams 7 years, 10 months ago

"When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining." –"The Glenn Beck Program," Sept. 9, 2005

"You know, we all have our inner demons. I, for one – I can't speak for you, but I'm on the verge of moral collapse at any time. It can happen by the end of the show." –"The Glenn Beck Program," Nov. 6, 2006

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 10 months ago

If he has a moral collapse the thunderous sound of it will be heard in the next cube. Maybe.

ksjayhawk74 7 years, 10 months ago

He's had a guest that suggested it would be a good thing if terrorists made another big attack on the United States and Beck agreed with him.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 10 months ago

YOU can obviously spin the bottle of racism and manage to sling its contents onto Pitts along with the rest of the holy circle, jerky chew boy. Piece of cake... THEN you may proceed to give your darling Beck a peck on the cheeks when the bottle points directly at that ho ho ass!~) BUT!!! You canNOT fail to appear as anything but a t(r)ootful neocon clown with your claim that Pitts is "envious of Beck and Limbaugh's wild popularity and success." Wow. You attempts to join the holy circle jerky boys is coming closer to fuition!~) You're dried meat is now salted with the milk of human unkindness.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

Pitts is at best a 4th rate race pimp. You give him too much credit.

thebigspoon 7 years, 10 months ago

Citation, Citation, Citation!!! Where do you get all this drivel, Tom? Have you ever heard that simply posting rumors and unverifiable stuff does not make them FACTS? Gosh, it'd be wonderful to have a meaningful dialogue with you, but that can never happen until you quit making things up just to fit your view of things.

Corey Williams 7 years, 10 months ago

Satire is wishing that the families of 9/11 victims would shut up? Is that entertainment for you? Is 9/11 now available for use in comedy? Has it lost it's importance to you? Is it now just another day?

Oh, and for a bonus question, how long did the "1/2 hour news hour" last?

"...you're not to sharp"

Corey Williams 7 years, 10 months ago

Hell, at least I have something, old man. Why do you hate America?

rbwaa 7 years, 10 months ago

which only re-emphasizes the fact he is an entertainer not a legitimate news reporter or responsible commentator

jaywalker 7 years, 10 months ago

Which I believe he has acknowledged himself.

pfeifer 7 years, 10 months ago

reminds me a lot of our president. entertains too much.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 10 months ago

Here's a piece of reality that the MSM is mostly ignoring: http://minx.cc/?post=303497

Corey Williams 7 years, 10 months ago

So it's alright when Beck calls the president racist, or pretends he is poisoning Pelosi because it's "humor"? Oh Tom. I'm glad you didn't leave this little discussion group. You have some of the funniest posts on here. Oh, wait...you were being serious?

"...I'm quite sure your extracted from..."

A little early for you, Tom?

jaywalker 7 years, 10 months ago

"So it's alright when Beck calls the president racist,..."

Of course that's a crock. But no more so than the knee-jerks on these boards that do the same thing daily if someone dares criticize the President.

mom_of_three 7 years, 10 months ago

You think the left only takes quotes out of context and from far left sources? The right wingers, teabaggers and repubs do it, too. And your reference to the "looney" left? It's getting old. Now its the militant left? Just because they don't agree with Beck's "humor?' Now, as you know, I have repub relatives and they were really upset about the election of Obama. (not sure if that is the repub or racist side coming out, but anyways). It's getting to the point of ridiculous, because every email they send about Obama or everything they hear can be proven to be false by simple research from reputable sources. They were upset Obama went to Hawaii, when they forget Bush was criticized for the number of days he took of vacation. And one of them thinks the moon landing was faked. Do I judge all repubs based on my relatives? No. And I am not sure why anyone lumps all liberals together either.

independant1 7 years, 10 months ago

When newspapers knock a man a lot, there is sure to be a lot of good in him. (Will Rogers)

ConcernedCynic 7 years, 10 months ago

I thought GB was going to move to Chile or Colombia or some south/central American country like that after the health care bill passed...too bad he didn't.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I think that was Rush Limbaugh.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I think that was Rush Limbaugh.

jaywalker 7 years, 10 months ago

Beck's the worst of the bunch, and that's saying something with Hannity out there. Seems to me to be quite a waste of time, however, dedicating a column to him. I'd like to think a Pulitzer winner could come up with better material to opine upon.

jaywalker 7 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, Tom, but no thanks. I believe Lewis Black said it best when he ridiculed Beck for getting defensive for the left likening the Arizona law to Nazi Germany: "This is a man who runs more Nazi dailies than the History Channel."
He may have some good points, but I'm not gonna wade through all the garbage to hear one salient point or two. I do watch O'Reilly sometimes 'cuz he'll rip either side and has no problem admitting positive aspects of liberal viewpoints. But Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh....bupkiss. To them, absolutely everything from the left is evil, stupid, ignorant blah blah blah. The old axiom holds true: if you can't say something good about someone.............well then you have no credibility, at least in my opinion.

Scott Kaiser 7 years, 10 months ago

Pulitzer winner, eh? Too bad he doesn't check his facts closer...Beck is not on CNN, he's on Fox.

By the way, it's OK for people to disagree. As long as civility rules!

Scott Kaiser 7 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps Pitts is disparaging "Harvey"....

Kirk Larson 7 years, 10 months ago

Beck used to be on CNN, but they wisely booted him. The column refers to the near future. CNN has been trying to FOXify. Maybe the implication is that they pick him up again in the future. Bad move if you ask me.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for posting that. It illustrates quite well how sick this guy is. And the remarks in this last paragraph show his unabashed racism. To paraphrase--"So what if NO bore the brunt of the storm!! It's mostly just a black city. What about all those white people in Alabama and Mississippi?"

independant1 7 years, 10 months ago

If by some divine act of providence we could get rid of both parties and hire some good men, like any other good business does, that would be sitting pretty. (Will Rogers)

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

Victim mentality? Oh whites are so oppressed. Oh the Christian church is so oppressed. I hear this all the time now from you guys. Why do you have a problems sharing the earth with people of other religions and color? You tell us how wonderful you and your wife are doing, so what is your problem? Poor victim.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

I wondered that too.

From his reports, TS owns a valuable home, send his children to private schools, and works from home while his wife works a more traditional job.

He lives in Linwood, a very nice suburb.

I'm not at all sure where his upsets come from, given that he's doing quite well for himself.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

How is your propaganda that it's all the Democrats fault any different from what you claim they are doing?

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 10 months ago

YOU are one of the privates on the "victim mentality" army and the "handiest tool" of "The extension" as a "party of NO...Republican's fault". Don't you feel done...YET? We're ready for s'mores. The weenies are all roasted.

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

Leonard is a Pulitzer prize winning opinionator from the Miami Herald.

This one won't win a second award.

It is childish and petty.

"It’s just the rantings of a paranoid nutjob living in an alternate reality. The facts …”" he says. What are the facts regarding conservatives and Dr. King? What are the facts regarding Nazis death panels and the euthanizing of children? And what does a term used to characterize a preacher have to do with facts?

So, Mr Pitts you disagree with the right wing characterization of things. Fine. They disagree with you. Setting up a straw dog (Harvey) and knocking him down is easy isn't it?

Weak, Mr. Pitts, weak.

Brian Laird 7 years, 10 months ago

so you really think that the current health care plans include Nazi-like euthanasia of children?

Here is an excerpt from a Nov 14. 2006 Glenn Beck segment...

BECK: Once he [Hitler] was through with the babies, the elderly were next. As it has been said over and over again with tragedies regarding the Holocaust: never again. So, when you see politicians making statements like this one yesterday --

CLINTON [video clip]: But the whole issue of health care is coming back. That may be a bad dream for some, but for others, it's a very welcome possibility, because we are on an unsustainable course. I think that we have to come up with a uniquely American solution.

BECK: OK. When you see statements like that, be afraid. Be very, very afraid. It's not a bad dream for me; it is a nightmare. Hillary, thanks, but no thanks. 1993 wasn't that long ago. I remember all too well that confused, nonsensical mess you tried to make of the greatest health care system in the world.

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

This is all pretty vague. Hitler killed babies that didn't conform to his eugenic philosophy. He killed people who were not the type that he wanted.
Hitler wanted to clear out old folks, gypsies, deformed babies, Jews, and anybody that wasn't a clear member of his perception of the master race.

Hitler was culling the herd. So Beck is warning that when politicians say that health care as we know it is on an unsustainable course....be afraid. When politicians are making decisions regarding your life, be concerned.

Who will be the people who are rationed health care? How will the rationing be done. Be wary. Be afraid. Don't trust the government.

What is wrong with his warning, boltzman? And how is Beck wrong to bring up the specter of government decisions regarding who gets to live and who doesn't?

Do you trust the government so much that you will allow the government to take your deformed baby or your infirm mom and decide to let them die?

Pitts didn't include the quote that you provided. He engaged in only the Hitler part. Pitts is sloppy and engaged in just the same thing as Limbaugh and Beck. Stirring up the rabble. Stupidly.

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

Paranoid much? We don't live in a dictatorship like Germany did. You would condemn others by not providing them with health care. Your total disregard for people scares me more.

Matt Torres 7 years, 10 months ago

If only Harvey actually WERE a straw dog...

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

oh, monheim...since Augustus is fictitious, I take Harvey as an amalgam composite, representative soul as well.

Fiction, monheim. That which is invented to represent a figure in a narrative which is used to tell a tale. In Harvey's case, a character in a Pitt's novella intended to be knocked down by the righteous Augustus.

A straw man.

independant1 7 years, 10 months ago

as I recall, Dr. King was a registered republican

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

Not all Republicans are bad. Just the lunatic fringe who have taken over the party.

independant1 7 years, 10 months ago

If a man wants to stand well socially, he can’t afford to be seen with either the Democrats or the Republicans. (Will Rogers)

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

I wonder if Pitts sat down and thought and discussed with colleagues and came to the conclusion that somebody (might as well be him) needs to enter the fray with conservative commentators? The stretched "facts" and rants from Beck and Limbaugh are intended to stir up the masses against "social and economic justice" as defined by Obama, Pelosi and Reid. So Pitts writes a column intended to stir ire toward Beck and Limbaugh against their idea of social and economic justice.

Its the same thing, Leonard. You're doin' the same thing they are. If they are wrong, so are you. Ah, but the goal is different. Therefore the petty narrative is justified.
Weak, Mr. Pitts, below your standards.

Brian Laird 7 years, 10 months ago

So you don't have a problem with spreading lies and misinformation as long as it "stirs the masses" in political directions that you agree with. That is pretty intellectually dishonest.

Also, by Pitts calling Beck and Limbaugh out for their lies and misinformation, he is somehow "doin' the same thing they are". Wow.

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

So long as one calls it what it is: Opinion, not facts, then you are free to say what your opinion is. I know that headlines are written by local editors. But Pitts refers to: "None of that stuff is true! It’s just the rantings of a paranoid nutjob living in an alternate reality. The facts …”

And leaves the sentence hanging. No facts. You fleshed out the Beck statement regarding Hitler and the health care issue. Assuming you got Beck's statements correct, what he said is to watch out for people in the government making life and death decisions for you. Is Beck's reference to Hitler too much. References to Hitler are almost always too much.

But Pitts doesn't include the quote. He doesn't address the issue. He gives a vague reference to a Beck statement that gives the impression, that gives a nuanced, sideways glance at what Beck said......

This type of rhetoric is straight out of the Beck and Limbaugh handbook of oversimplification and disingenuous, rabble rousing.

And you support Pitts for the same reason that teapartiers support Beck. Instead of demanding clarity, you enjoy the digs, gouges, and taunts.
Stupid baiting of the rabble.

Brian Laird 7 years, 10 months ago

He didn't have to include the quote because it can be easily found by 2 seconds using Google. That "none of this stuff is true" is a fact. Perhaps it would be better if Pitts included some footnotes to back it up, but that does not make it less than a fact.

I don't enjoy the "digs, gouges and taunts". It distresses me that political discourse has come to this. You don't know me, so don't make unfounded assumptions. If you can't see the difference between Beck's deliberate misinformation and Pitts calling him out on it, then I don't know what else to say.

I don't doubt that Pitts has probably made some unfounded statements of his own. I don't follow his column that closely. That doesn't make him wrong on this occasion.

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

boltzmann, you have entered the world of opinion and fact mixup. Facts are rare and usually trivial. History and rewrites of history are an example of how "facts" about wars and such are defined by the victors.

There are many examples in history, science, engineering and all human endeavors that are subject to interpretation and redefinition. Things that appear simple at first blush often turn out way more complicated.....like the temperature of the planet. Way more complicated than a few thousand thermometers placed around the globe at 5 foot heights.

"That "none of this stuff is true" is a fact" is false on its face because: 1) stuff is ill-defined and you would be hard pressed to define it. 2) Truth is just as nebulous as facts. 3) Even if you agree with the sentiments of the statement, you are certainly not able to support such a broad statement as "none".

Beck, Limbaugh, Pitts, are all engaged in entertainment and use rhetorical fallacy to claim fact. What does make Mr. Pitts wrong on this occasion is his satire that isn't illustrative, but instead is just as stupid as Beck. That is, Pitts' satire is poorly constructed. On one hand he makes stupid statements regarding facts, then portrays Augustus as a sympathetic character: "Augustus shook his head. “I know just how you feel,” he said." Is Augustus a wise counterpoint to Harvey? Or is he engaged in similar assertion-without-reference arguments

I takes the bite outta the satire.

Your excerpt from Beck 2006 above shows that Beck's warning regarding government decisions in your life are plausible. False? No. True? Not that either. But to warn people about what government can do when it is misguided is not false. Can do, boltzmann, not will do.
Rationing of health care is on the table, boltzmann. Who makes the decisions? Take heed, said Beck. I agree with that. So Beck's error was including Hitler. Usually is. But that doesn't make the statements false, just over the top.....entertainment :

kantubek 7 years, 10 months ago

Exactly. If you need somebody to commentate over everything happening in the world, you must have some problem looking at things as they really are to depend on anyone else's point of view.

Freethinkers unite!

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

Entertaining column.

We must remember that Beck, Limbaugh et al. are entertainers. As entertainers, they stretch the truth and yes, lie, for laughs, just like any other entertainer.

This is an example of Pitts mimicking the entertainment style of beck and Limbaugh.

Beck and Limbaugh make more money when they say entertaining and outrageous things.

The trouble starts when they stop smelling their own BS and start taking themselves seriously. The trouble is multiplied when masses of "conservatives" start treating Beck et al. not as entertainers but as newsmen and reporters.

I think Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry the Cable Guy, and PJ O'Rourke are hilarious. I do not base my political views on their entertaining routines.

It is sad commentary that a political "movement" in this country has a basis in the comic routines of the entertainers Beck, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and others.

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

This begs the questions: On what basis do you form political opinions? What guides you to form an opinion? Is there a philosophy, a principle, an author? Does it have a name, or an institution associated with it?

I ask these questions not because I want to bag you. I just wonder when you espouse liberal opinions, yet lament the error of ancient hippie lore and the unfettered freedom that was so devoid of principle.

So you must have some principles. And you imply that they are reasoned and not influenced by entertainment. Here's a chance to cut loose and try to 'splain some things.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

The answer to all of your questions is:

-Reason based on facts assembled through observation and the scientific method.

-These facts and reasoned judgments in the context of the principles laid forth in the Constitution and other historical documents that undergird modern society (including religion, but most of these can be disregarded because of their irrational base).

-These two combined with common humanity and empathy for all humans and other living things. Compassion.

All of these in the context of preserving and advancing civilization and the long-term progress and benefit of humankind.

You call me liberal with liberal opinions and yet marvel about how I can "lament ancient hippie lore".

Maybe my "liberal opinions" are actually not that, but rather opinions formed in the crucible of empiricism and reasoned compassion that I describe above.

Your turn.

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

Very good, nightmare. I agree, so where do we part ways? I think it is the definitions of facts, and empiricism.

As an engineer, I find the concept of "fact" to be used far too often and far too loosely. You see it in Pitts' column here, Becks, Limbaugh, and many of the entries in this blog.

boltzmann said to me earlier: "That "none of this stuff is true" is a fact"

None of what stuff? How is the various "stuff" defined and "none of it" is a statement that is so broad that it is easily discounted as overwrought.

We disagree on the basis of empiricism. Gathering information and developing knowledge by interpretation is not sufficient for me. Computer models are not tests, for example.
Finding lots of empirical data and producing a plausible narrative to espouse some global "truth" is not my idea of science or it's method.

Without actually doing the thing, the thing remains an observation and the narrative just another human hubris. The greater the quantity of the tests and the greater the quality of the tests, the closer one comes to the truth. The closer one can approach a fact, but you never really get there.

But we live in a post-modern world where the goal and need to achieve political power trumps the test. It doesn't matter to politicians that welfare is failed, or military intervention in backwater countries like Afghanistan are failures. It matters only that the politicians retain power. Their rhetoric and deeds are vacuous and deceitful. Beck calls them out on it. Pitts calls Beck out on it.

So, nightmare, my philosophy was scientific, until the term was changed. So call me an experimentalist. I'm fine with all kinds of ideas. I just need to see some tests, a pilot project, a ramping up of production, the whole time being skeptical of the process.

Thus, I find most of what goes as science, empiricism, and especially facts to be manipulation of people's feelings and just flat wrong.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

But you have no problem defending Beck. And why do you defend him? is it because he makes well-reasoned arguments based on verifiable facts?

No, it's because he has the same ideological biases as you do, and despite all your self-praise for your thorough objectiveness as an "engineer," you're really nothing more than an angry ideologue, just like Beck.

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

What did I say that defended Beck? I read boltzmann's rendition of the excerpt from the Beck show to which Pitts refers. I read it differently than Pitts did. I pointed out that my opinion was different than that of Mr. Pitts.

It is Mr. Pitts and boltzmann who use the term facts regarding opinions. It is the stance they take that they hold the facts and Beck does not.

I claim that neither holds facts and that both are opinions. To that extent I defend Beck from being called a lier by a columnist who builds a fictitious coupla characters and cuts down the straw man of the two. Big man L. Pitts. Able to create a character and cut him down with a narrative of Pitts' own creation.

Vacuous and trivial. Just like all other fiction. I don't read fiction. Mr. Pitts' statements are of fiction. They are of characters invented by him.

There are no facts and your use of the term continues the problem. It is hubris, bozo. It is the conflation of opinion with fact. Beck's opinions are not facts and I won't defend them as such.

An angry ideologue, just like Beck? I demand consistent, careful, analysis of statements made by all involved. I abhor the use of the term facts, since that term carries with it demagoguery. I don't know the truth, bozo. I don't claim to hold the truth, bozo.

But the combatants in Pitts' story do. You and boltzmann and a whole lot of other entrants to these blogs claim to have it. Angry, yes. Insistent on clarity, consistency, yes. Willing to discuss different opinions, yes.

But not if they are presented as facts.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

"All...fiction is vacuous and trivial".

Would that be an opinion or a fact there?

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

What you are describing is engineering, not science.

As you know, empiricism is how new facts are generated. I define empiricism as experiment and observation, not the philosophy that is often confused with it. Let's call it the scientific method.

A scientist thrives on the unknown and the possibility of explaining through the scientific method.

An engineer fears and loathes the unknown because the unknown can interfere with an engineer's systems.

In this regard, I understand your point of view, although I disagree with your narrow definition, in that science is a dynamic process that changes ideas and concepts as it advances.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

Also, with regard to facts and political discourse, this of course is dicey. Both sides have problems with sticking to the truth.

Yes, politicians lie to keep their jobs. What truly worries and repulses me from modern "conservatives" is the impunity with which they disregard facts, science, and education, and indeed base entire political movements on plain lies and untruths.

They are vehement in their denial of facts and science, which for many masks as truth itself.

Modern conservatives and the GOP have been taken over by anti-intellectual demagogues who lie plainly to support ideology. While democrats also do this, it is less prevalent, and most democratic positions tend to be based on research and facts.

I cannot and will not support any movement that is anti-intellectual and uses lies and demagoguery as their mainstay. This is the modern GOP.

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

You better believe "its dicey". Not only do both sides have trouble sticking to the truth, we all have trouble defining the truth.

"...the impunity with which they disregard facts, science, and education..." and: "They are vehement in their denial of facts and science, which for many masks as truth itself"

"It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion." Joseph Goebbels

So, denial of facts. Is that like the denial of state opinion? Is it kinda like disregard for education and "science"?

No, I and my fellow soothsayers are good apostles of the truth, right nightmare? We define science, truth, and educate the people. We are good.

"Conservatives" are bad.

You redefine science as observation and pontification. You redefine facts to include interpretation of the facts (opinion). Then you insist that education is the road to salvation.

That you, J. Goebbels? I thought you were dead.

I didn't buy any of it. Oh, I don't buy creation, or many other narratives either, fyi. Admit it, nightmare, you don't know nearly as much as you thought you did. You are bathing in a modern culture that soothes your soul and paints a picture that portrays God (knowledge and nature) and the Devil (conservatives) as good and evil.

And you're good. And so is Leonard Pitts. And Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are the devils. Feel better now that it is in the open? Now that you have come to grips with the religion?

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

Jesus, devobrun, you have really jumped the shark here.

Comparing modern science to Goebbels and Nazi propaganda?

Whenever the Nazi references come out, the debate ends.

You, devobrun, are not worthy of engaging in debate.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

devobrun, you are simply another troll of the likes of Shewmon, penders, and others.

You make provocative posts designed to prod others, and try to hide your trolling behavior behind a false patina of science.

I once thought you held potential as worthy of debate. I was wrong.

So, continue making your smart-bomb posts, but don't expect me or anyone else to take you seriously.

devobrun 7 years, 10 months ago

The scientific method is that of Popper. Test for refutation, nothing more, nothing less. To the extent that observation is rationally explained fine, its called rational thought. Lawyers use it. Literary critics use it, rational thought is good.

But it does not constitute science. Science is separate from the rest in the ability, no insistence, on the test. The veracity of a scientific argument is not based upon the elegance of the narrative. It is based upon the quality and quantity of the test. Yes, the test for refutation. "A scientist thrives on the unknown and the possibility of explaining through the scientific method.

An engineer fears and loathes the unknown because the unknown can interfere with an engineer's systems."

Bigotry is unconvincing, nightmare. Claude Shannon just did a double flip in his grave.

So science needs not to be fruitful. Explanation is sufficient.
"science is a dynamic process that changes ideas and concepts" Sounds like the proselytizing of a preacher. Believe and you shall be saved. Is there any material change? Not important. That's engineering. Yet another way of implementing human arrogance, but with evidence.

Tell that to the people who thought a computer model of an oil well was just as good as a test of an oil well in the gulf of Mexico.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

You should read Kuhn's book "The structure of scientific revolutions", if you haven't already.

As an historian of science, he shows how science has developed over the years, and how it is much more than the simple version that you present.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

Agreed, jafs.

Devobrun's view of science is more of an ideological purity stance. He claims that science cannot advance beyond that which can be recreated in the lab and engineered.

He discounts observational science and historical science because of this.

It doesn't take long to see how silly this is. Newton's observations about mass in motion and gravity. Galileo's and Copernicus' observations about the motions of planetary and other celestial bodies. These observational scientific discoveries led directly to the ideas of gravity and the structure and dynamics of the solar system and universe.

These were observational scientific discoveries that could not be repeated and engineered in the lab.

devobrun is an engineer at best, not a scientist.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

And devobrun,

I am glad you agree with my worldview. I doubt you share it as you claim, though.

This is evidenced by the ideological basis for many of your positions, both scientific and political.

You want science to confirm what you already believe, not the other way around. The scientific mind changes and adapts as new evidence emerges.

You? You criticize science and the scientific process when new evidence emerges.

devobrun, you are not a scientist, but rather an engineer at best and an ideological science denier at worst.

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

Then why are they on news networks? Why do Republicans have to apologize to Limbaugh all the time?

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

On a larger view, this sort of nonsense is a direct result of the social upheaval of the 1960s. This upheaval brought many good things, including women's rigths and civil rights.

It also brought with it the hippy attitude that every opinion is valid and the louder and more emotional the opinion, the more valid it is.

The left are now seeing the results of their actions from the 60s, when they used every means available, including entertainment, music, media, to further their political message.

The lines were blurred by the left in the 60, and conservatives have now embraced this tactic wholeheartedly.

Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Palin, et al., are all children of the left's tactics in the 1960s, come back to haunt them.

Gareth Skarka 7 years, 10 months ago

TomShewmon is back?

I thought he had run away like the whiny little infant he is.....

ivalueamerica 7 years, 10 months ago

I generally do not like Pitts, he is too exagerated, but this hits it on the head. Fox has really done a number of Journalism in our country.

ivalueamerica 7 years, 10 months ago

repeating the catch phrase, liberal media...as you are clearly alluding to does not make it the truth.

There have been dozens of studies done that have clearly disproved that myth.

However, like Fox, the truth means little to you.

Matt Torres 7 years, 10 months ago

It's always a red flag for me whenver someone's defenders outright discount you as part of some kind of supposed "conspiracy" that the guy you're following "warned" you about. Sure, people don't use the straw-man verbage like in this column, but just check out Tom's comments. How many hyperbolic, conspiracy-fueled epithets can one person use? Militant looney leftist socialist extreme progressivist...blah blah blah. If someone tells you they disagree with you because they were warned to not listen to you, that's not someone worth debating with. And when the only other response is this childish nonsense about being jealous of how popular they are? Facts don't depend on popularity.

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

Questions for Tom, cato, LG40, etc: 1. Do you believe that white conservatives started the civil rights movement? 2. Did you really believe that there were "death panels" in the health bill? 3. Are ministers really "commie pinkos"?

Are these really facts, fiction, or opinion? I would call the first two lies, I mean fiction. The last one could be an opinion, but not one based in fact. So, Beck is an entertainer, who deals in fiction, but he's on a news channel, so really his fiction should be called lies. He's not on the Comedy channel, or making a sitcom, or doing skits like on SNL. He only passes himself off as an entertainer when he's caught in an out and out lie. Why doesn't FOX put him on one of their entertainment networks, if he is an entertainer?

Mike Ford 7 years, 10 months ago

repeat the garbage long enough and the dummies will believe them.. ancient fox secret.. go into media areas with little competetion and spread this message like facism.. I have ex-relatives in mississippi who fit this profile perfectly.. some live in the middle of nowhere Mississippi.. others live near the coast... descendants of simple Scotch and Irish lower class people.. some part Indian like my ex-relaitives.. aren't educated enough to be objective.. if it fits a simple pattern and it's easy for them to digest... it must be true... they're too obsessed with class competition and their place on the economic rung to be objective and listen and study all views of history. I do watch Fox to study idiots. I took sociology in college. I'm a son of retired clergy whose seen people in churches through fouir states over twenty five years. All of the church people I saw in Miss and LA made me an amateur sociologist. I tried to figure out what made these people so racist in the 1970's when I was young. They are motivated by fear and loss coming from lower class European immigrants. Fox plays on their fears.. Beck plays on their fears.. Limbaugh plays on their fears. Some of what I say will be called racist I'm sure. I grew up there.. I saw what I saw.. and they are what they are... stuck in Jesusland with no clue selling themselves and their natural resources to people who manipulate them and blaming minorities whose land they stole and whose free labor they used for their problems. Fear can't be overcome with reasoning.. Beck and Limbaugh know this. These people lash out by calling others what they are instead of facing what they are and evolving into something else... educated... I'm speaking of the people who've already called Pitts a racist.

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

So you believe the following?: 1. Do you believe that white conservatives started the civil rights movement? 2. Did you really believe that there were "death panels" in the health bill? 3. Are ministers really "commie pinkos"?

And worse, you think it's ok to make fun and berate people who have just miscarried their baby? What kind of low life scum are you people?

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, your hero actually made fun of people who had just lost their baby. That is scum. If you defend him for such immoral, lowlife, rude behavior, I will put you in the same category.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

I notice that you didn't answer any of the questions.

And, you can prefer anything you wish, but freedom of speech is alive and well on these forums. If you don't want people to respond to your posts, then you can simply stop making them. Other than that, too bad for your preferences.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree with your general point that we need to work together to solve problems.

If people are not being civil in their responses, you can flag the comments for removal.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

Given your feelings about working together, you might want to look and see if your posts operate in that direction or not.

Most of the ones I've seen so far exemplify exactly what you claim to be against.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

Well, I don't know what comes first - it's kind of a chicken/egg thing, I think.

One of the posters you seem to agree with quite a bit, TS, attacks the left almost constantly with a vitriolic posting style that includes many epithets. I haven't seen you criticize him for that.

"Typical lefty response" is one quote from an above post.

I'll check some of your others if you'd like.

My only point is that your basic idea that we should be engaging in higher forms of discourse than many do is absolutely correct, and it behooves those of us who feel that way to act consistently with that idea, both on the left and the right.

jaywalker 7 years, 10 months ago

beo, You have no room to talk about anyone being racist as we have sufficient evidence from these boards on your opinions of Jewish people.

jaywalker 7 years, 10 months ago

First of all, things like: "Tom, maybe we all would be a lot better off with no jews. After all, there so-called "god" is nothing more than desert tribal tales", has nothing to do with Israeli wrongs, and that's just the tip of the iceberg with you. "Better off with no jews"??!! Too bad the knee-jerk 'racist' labelers 'round these parts are too hypocritical to call you out for such despicable garbage. If a conservative poster wrote the same about anyone they'd be excoriated every time they posted, and rightfully so, yet you go virtually unscathed. Tellingly pathetic. Second, "can you (I) say the same" about what? Shocking you'd stoop to vague innuendo when you never say anything at all.
I've said it a number of times, beo, the time you post something of any substance or import whatsoever will be THE first time.

irvan moore 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't particulary like Pitts or Beck but you gotta admit IT'S FUNNY. everything doesn't have to be liberal or conservitive, somedays it's just what it is.

Ralph Reed 7 years, 10 months ago

@monheim, re: your 1238. I'm sure you've been around here enough to realize there are a few posters who will shout you down and parse comments to the comma to quote things out of context. The greatest offender was HWSNBN, whose mantel appears to have been jointly taken up by Big Prune and Tom Shewmon. To their credit, they haven't gone after people in real life (yet).

Tom uses any argument he can against Pres Obama, Congress and the "lamestream, looney-left media", with his most vehement attacks being directed towards the President. His rationale is that Pres Obama is a Democrat, a liberal, and has it out for any rich white person in the country. So, given all that, even though he makes every effort to make people mad (being successful at times), take what he says with a grain of salt..

halftime, score is nil.

kimmydarling 7 years, 10 months ago

Glenn Beck, a man who called the wife of his radio station competitor and mocked her openly on air for having a miscarriage stating that his competitor and his wife "couldn't even manage to have a kid right". A man who mocked the children of the president after making a huge deal about the fact that families were off limits.

Or..perhaps the man who, before joining Fox News, was spouting ideals diametrically opposed to his current views. He's an actor parading as a true journalist..

He's a disgusting waste of a human being who consumes oxygen better people could use. Rush Limbaugh is no different. Where good people can listen and understand that no side is 100% right or wrong, these two feed nothing but hatred, fear and ignorance.

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

He should go out and get a real job. There are too many people in this country making money by producing nothing tangible.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago


Shaking my head in wonder and bewilderment.

kimmydarling 7 years, 10 months ago

Oh, I'm not. Anyone who stans for Glenn Beck is one of those people I expect almost any moronic personal swipe from

kimmydarling 7 years, 10 months ago

Oh, I'm not. Anyone who stans for Glenn Beck is one of those people I expect almost any moronic personal swipe from

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

I take all things with a grain of salt, until I've looked at the facts. I have never followed blindly behind anyone, despite what these conservative posters would have you believe. I had never even heard of moveon, until one of the conservatives on this forum told me about it. If I get an email making political claims, especially if they are outlandish, I research it with snopes.com or factcheck. Don't let people lead you astray with stupidity. I get tired of telling people that there are no death panels in the health care legislation, and there never was anything like that. I get tired of telling people that there is proof that Obama was born in Hawaii. These are distractions from the real problems our country faces.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 10 months ago

Let us provide a little perspective here:

Glenn Beck- High School diploma. Attended one class in Christian theology at Yale but dropped out. Sean Hannity- Attended seminary after high school, but dropped out to work for radio station.

Rush Limbaugh- After High School and at his Mother’s urging he attended Southwest Missouri State University for 2 semesters and a summer. His mother said he flunked out of everything. After this, he went to work for a radio station.

I guess even Tom could figure out the pattern here and how it relates so precisely to Mr. Pitts column. Well...maybe not Tom.

independant1 7 years, 10 months ago

Villains are getting as thick as college degrees and sometimes on the same fellow. (Will Rogers)

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 10 months ago

I think any orally gifted person with a little acting ability could take the right wing hate literature and make a ton of money with it.

It is a good gig and there are a lot of people hungry for this BS.

Ralph Reed 7 years, 10 months ago

Do you realize the inuendos your post makes come to mind?

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 10 months ago

Pretty tough to see a bright future for America when you have to listen to these disgusting people all day long instead of hearing sensible and EDUCATED people work on solving the real problems of the American people.

Unfortunately, it is hard for good people to get elected anymore in this jungle of farce.

Jaylee 7 years, 10 months ago

What is the point of this one? At least wait until Pitts writes something moving one way or another to post it, geez.

Ralph Reed 7 years, 10 months ago

This may be true and according to a couple of sources cost him a lot of money. However, how does it pertain to this thread?

Paul R Getto 7 years, 10 months ago

I like the quote, "There is no history, only historians." We are taught myths in school and spend a great deal of time unlearning them. (See Mark Twain.) Beck and his ilk are reinventing another myth about the 'christian nation' and using it to justify their pursuit of issues. Nothing wrong with that, but they are, perhaps, distorting history to meet their own ends? We need to learn to live by the golden rule as a nation, but no religion and no fake history is necessary to accomplish this. "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union..." should suffice.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.