Punchinello’s Chronicles

Expert Credentials: The Liberal Argument

Modern philosophy and political ideology are a type of court case. At issue is the nature of reality. Each particular area of discussion has both a prosecutor and a defense. The prosecutor is the person making a statement: “This is exactly what’s going on!”

The defense team says, “That’s not true at all.” It isn’t necessary for the defense to provide an alternate theory of what’s going on, only to cast doubt on what the prosecutor claims. However; a more sophisticated defense attorney will provide an alternate theory of the case. “Not only is what the other side says wrong, here is a more likely explanation of what’s going on.”

The jury is the public, acting in their capacity as voters or students, or anyone else who has a special interest or who might influence the outcome of the argument.

But who is the judge? Better; what method is used to make judgements?

Let’s say that a liberal and a conservative get into an argument. The issue is whether or not the United States can win a war in Iraq. The conservative initiates the argument, telling the public that there’s no question a war exists and will continue to exist. The US has a direct interest in that war, and will continue to have an interest in that war.

The liberal happens to then be in the defense or opposition corner. What tactics or strategy can the liberal use? One option is to question whether or not Iraq exists. Another is to question whether or not a war is taking place or should take place. Yet another is to question what interest has the United States in such a war, should it turn out to exist in the first place.

If the conservative loses sight of the original position, he or she suddenly finds themselves on the defensive. They’re struggling to respond to each charge by the liberals, first proving the existence of a country, then the interests, and so forth.

Either way, both sides are attempting to “convince” a jury (the public) that the proposition and all its subsidiary propositions are a true fact. Or; to convince the public that the propositions and all following propostions are total fantasy. To accomplish this, both sides will point to “expert witnesses.”

Bring in the Experts

High-stakes trials almost always include expert witnesses. These are people the attorneys for the prosecution and defense introduce for two basic reasons. The first is that an expert witness tries to sway jury opinion toward a conviction. The second is that such a witness may be able to cast doubt on the theory of the crime. Expert witnesses usually can be found that will contradict the opposing side’s testimony.

At the heart of the problem lies the concept of conviction. In everyday life, we act upon beliefs or faith, both of which have no real facts at their foundation. But another motivating driver is conviction, In a legal court only facts are allowed, jurors must be convinced (conviction), and beliefs, feelings and faith aren’t accepted.

There’s an argument over the existence and cause of a crime, and the prosecuting side wants the jury or judge to be convinced. They want conviction, based on proof with proof being based on facts of evidence.

The problem with expert witnesses is that they so often contradict each other. When something is a true fact, founded in reality and understood through science, then how can it be contradicted? The answer is that expert witnesses fall into two categories. The one is pure (hard) science, the other is what’s often called soft science.

Hard science deals with information that’s validated by methods as objective as possible, hopefully machines and instruments, and is not subject to interpretation. Soft science, such as psychological profiling, leaves room for interpretation. It’s within this interpretation that experts can contradict each other.

Take blood spatter patterns, for example. An expert can examine the shapes and distribution of actual drops of blood and conclude that these drops do indeed have a shape and distribution: they exist. They can prove the substance is indeed blood, and prove that gravity functions exactly the same way without fail.

Examining these patterns, the expert then draws a conclusion, perhaps that a striking object was to the left of a standing person. This conclusion is actually an interpretation of the “hard” evidence, and that’s where the opposing side can attack. They won’t ordinarily argue the meaning of left or right. Instead, they’ll question whether or not the so-called expert can absolutely prove the existence of “left” or “right.”

Another option is to argue that although a blow of some sort “likely” or “may have” come from the so-called expert’s “sense” of left or right, nobody can absolutely say for sure that such a blow took place. Nobody saw it who can testify to that “fact.”

Truth, Facts and Interpretations

The problem this time lies in picking and choosing what to call truth and evidence. For no particular reason, if a human witness sees something and promises to tell the truth about it, their experience is considered to be true. It’s their experience, after all: they saw what they saw. But if an expert witness testifies as to what “must have happened,” based on circumstantial evidence, it’s only an opinion. No “actual” human being (with senses of perception) saw what took place. It’s “merely” circumstantial evidence and “opinion.”

At issue is whether or not human senses are more accurate than logical arguments. And this descends to one of the fundamental arguments in philosophy, known as the Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy. Which is more “real,” what we see with our own eyes or logic?

Liberals are highly skilled at moving back and forth across that line. When conservatives argue empiric evidence (what we can see), liberals switch to logic. When conservativs argue a logical conclusion, liberals demonstrate that countless “real” exceptions exist to that logic.

An expert witness testifies that the only possible way for a fatal wound to be caused would be from a height of 6 feet, plus or minus an inch. We’ll further say that the person being accused of administering that blow is 4′ 5″ tall. Finally, we’ll say that it’s the defense position that because their client is far below the minimum height, they could not possibly have struck the killing blow.

How does the opposing counsel respond?

Both sides will basically agree that numbers are numbers, and won’t call into question whether 6 is exactly the same as 4 (although even that’s changing these days). What remains is the interpretation of the evidence, and the credibility of the testifying expert. On what basis does the witness claim to be an expert? What’s their background, their experience, and how does that background prove that they’re telling the truth?

Modern liberalism, also known as progressive thinking, is founded on several very deep philosophic arguments. In order to advance their social agendas, liberals have reached out into many areas in order to redefine the basic premises and foundations of existence. One such area is the concept of truth. Another is the idea of facts.

Under the philosophies of existentialism and nihilism, there is no such thing as absolute truth. No mind can apprehend actual reality, therefore all opinions formed about reality are subjective. Each of us forms our own opinion of reality, and each opinion is equally valid (and untrue) at the same time. No objective and absolute reality exists, therefore nobody can absolutely state that something is true or even that it exists.

When nothing is absolutely true, neither is anything absolutely false. Any and all evidence used to support an opinion would be called facts. Given that nothing can be absolutely true or false, neither can facts be accurately determined or even called such things as facts. Nothing at all is absolute, including the supposed supporting facts and evidence.

This is wonderful when it comes to providing a basis for any and all action, thought, belief, or ethics. With no absolutes, anything anyone wants to do is true. But there’s the rub: How can it be true if there’s no such thing as truth? How can a conservative be wrong if nothing is absolutely wrong? Nobody knows, philosophers shrug their shoulders, and it’s all a mystery.

On an academic, philosophic level, these discussions are interesting at a certain age, but as many people get older, they feel that philosophy has no bearing on the real world of everyday life. Unfortunately, given enough general consensus, such philosophies begin to work their way into daily life, and even into the last remaining arena of real philosophy, the legal system.

In society at large, the general public is the jury waiting to be swayed one way or another. By calling into question the very foundation of expertise, knowledge, science, and evidence, liberals can propose that everything is merely an interpretation of an opinion. Where reality itself would ordinarily be called the judge, liberals have removed all certainty that reality even exists at all.

Within the legal system, the theory of a trial by jury carries with it the proposition that the jury is composed of the defendant’s peers. Even so, each juror must form an opinion about the reality of the situation based on facts. If there can be no absolutes and everything is a matter of opinion, then how does a jury create an informed opinion, versus just a feeling or a guess? More and more, they can’t.

Liberals know all this (many of them took majors in philosophy in college). Conservatives have generally abdicated the entire field of philosophy, believing that it doesn’t matter, means nothing, and is just a senseless blather of noise.

Pragmatism: If it Isn’t Useful, it Doesn’t Exist

Modern conservatism grew out of pragmatism, leading to a basic flaw in the argumentative process. Pragmatism states that if something is useful, it exists; otherwise, it doesn’t exist. Liberals have taken over the field of philosophy, knowing full well that without a philosophic foundation, the conservatives can’t even present an argument. It’s a simple matter to demonstrate that anything can be useless to a large group of people, therefore it doesn’t exist. Except in the addled minds of conservative pragmatists.

In fact, by feeding the conservative feeling that philosophy serves no real purpose, liberals have blinded those conservatives to the very idea of argument. The reason so many conservatives fail to press home powerfully argumentative points in a debate is because those points rest on basic philosophic premises. If the conservative can’t even see philosophy, why or how can they argue?

The reason conservatives find themselves almost always on the defense is that liberals routinely call into question not only every single proposition, but also the credentials (thereby the credibility) of anyone at all who makes any sort of statement about propositions.

For the liberal, the very first line of attack, almost always successful, is to question the credentials of the “expert witness.” We see this time and again, whenever a conservative nominee is presented. First, anyone who makes any statement at all is rapidly elevated to the status of an “expert” by the surrounding liberals. Conservatives don’t even see the next blow coming.

Once elevated to expert status, it’s a simple thing to attack the credibility of the so-called expert. Generally, it only takes a single contradiction by the so-called expert to wipe out any further credibility. But who said that the conservative making the statement is an expert in the first place? An opinion isn’t necessarily the same thing as expert testimony!

The real attack here is to wipe out opinion of any kind, especially opposing opinion. But public debate is the foundation of the entire governance process in the United States. If there is not and cannot be opposing opinion, then we’re not in some theoretical class exercise! We’re dealing with the absolute nature and existence of the entire social structure.

Winning the Argument

To overcome this attack, conservatives must understand what’s being targeted. It isn’t the statements and arguments, evidence and facts of a case or value system. It’s the core structure of reality, evidence, facts, and logic that are being torn apart.

Liberals have a fundamental and absolutely basic internal contradiction. In order to attack the credibility of a statement, they must first argue that it is a false statement. To do so means they must also accept that whatever conservatives say is absolutely false and cannot be true.

However; if there cannot be absolutes, then neither can there be absolute falsehoods. Any opinion must be equally valid, therefore a conservative opinion must be as valid as a liberal opinion. The only question is how many jurors (the public) will agree with which “guess.” To sway the mass of consensus, many times only takes louder shouting and repeated slogans. He who gets heard is more truthful than he who gets drowned out.

This is why liberals increasing need to remove the electoral college from US elections. Only with a general consensus (popular vote) can personal opinion provide a binding result. By casting doubt on any and all conservative opinions (including factual statements), liberals are experts at swaying public consensus away from conservative evidence. If they simply turn a fact of logic into an opinion, it then can be easily called into question, brought into doubt, and removed from the discussion.

It isn’t necessary to prove a liberal case or develop a convincing argument in the public’s mind. All that’s necessary is to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. Sadly, while in a court case the jurors must have a “reasonable” doubt, in the court of public opinion, reason itself has been argued out of existence. Just a general feeling that maybe things aren’t what they seem is sufficient.

The 2008 presidential election is a perfect case study. Sarah Palin, Republican nominee for Vice President has many opinions formed from poorly articulated philosophic values. The values and philosophy are completely defined and solid, it’s only that Gov. Palin isn’t skilled at philosophic debate. As such, neither she nor the Republican party understand that she’s being elevate to the level of an expert, in preparation of destroying her credibility as an expert.

Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, is NOT being produced as an expert. All that’s necessary is that Mr. Obama be seen as the better and other choice, someone with a different theory of reality. Rather than demonstrate that alternate theory, the key is to discredit the “expert” theory of the Republicans. It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, just as in most court cases, it only matters how many people believe which side of the argument.

And that’s the saddest part of all this tragedy. Right and wrong do matter, very deeply and very seriously. It may be that justice fails or wins in a court case involving a few people, but when we apply that same principle to the future of the United States, we’re dealing with irrevocable decisions. Conservatives must come to understand the nature of the liberal argument, otherwise there isn’t even a contest.

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