[FoRK] Rules of thumb
jbone at place.org
Tue Apr 7 06:24:32 PDT 2009
On Apr 6, 2009, at 5:33 PM, Stephen Williams wrote:
> It seemed to me that a lot of the discussion was a push to overrun-
I'm sorry that's how it seemed to you. This is an unfortunately
common response, not an accurate assessment of intent.
>>> All kinds of misleading statements were coming out of the right;
Yes, but I am not "the right" nor was I recapitulating "their"
points. And once again, be careful about source filtering. Just
because somebody or some group is wrong 99% of the time, that does not
imply that the occasional 1% of the time their correct the point is
trivial and should be discarded with the rest. Further, don't assume
that just because somebody A agrees with somebody B about some thing
or other, that they therefore agree with them about anything else or
belong in the same "category."
I am completely appalled to find myself in agreement from time to time
lately with those very right-wingnut demagogues that I've been railing
against for years. Yet data is data; and for matters of objective
value and quantity this can generally be easily discerned. In this
case, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend, but that doesn't make
them wrong either.
> No, not really. I'm pretty sure we only had a gap in relaying all
> of the explanation in the jumps of conclusion needed to understand
> certain points.
> Some references to certain predicting pundits on the left and right
> fit that description. That's what I was talking about.
Ah, but see, you were only objecting to those on the right; this has
the effect of appearing to implicitly agree with the counterpoints
provided by the left --- which then, as now, are extremely pollyanna,
non-quantitative, and diverged (less now than in the fall, though)
from the harsh economic reality we face.
I offered both in several cases in order to "bound" the ranges of the
particular estimations. To whatever extent I may have provided more
of this from the right than the balancing left point-of-view, it is
only because in such estimations you generally want to emphasize the
worst-case scenario; extraordinary risks requiring extraordinary
caution and all that.
In any case this was a small part of the argument. Most of the de
novo estimation and cross-check relied on clearly non-partisan data.
> We all have biases about how we extrapolate from past evidence.
True, but not particularly helpful. Given that any observer cannot
know what the nature and impact of any given bias is in somebody
else's reasoning, it's poor analysis to assume things about this kind
of skew. Far better to simply validate the numbers and the ways they
> A comparison to the more extreme right-wing dire warnings about
> Obama, compared to the recent evidence, seems to favor the optimists
> much more in this case.
Haven't seen that at all. So far, if anything, his performance seems
to me significantly worse than I'd expected, and I expected about what
the more moderate right-leaning non-GOP voices were saying in the
debate. (Re: economics, at least. The rest is noise to a large
extent, we haven't made it that far yet, but we're only two and a half
>> I am asserting the generality of the rule-of-thumb by showing you
>> another case where it applies.
> OK. But it seemed kind of A) like guilt-by-opposite-association and
> B) apples and oranges.
See, this is a great example of you over-interpreting my intent.
I'm attempting to show you that the rule-of-thumb I offered, while it
is only a rule-of-thumb, can reasonably be applied in a variety of
situations. That's independent of whether or not it *should* be used
in any given situation, and isn't particularly in reference to the
validity of its application in the prior circumstance.
> Not to sink back into that mess, however this restates the position
> that seems a misinterpretation of what was actually promised: the
> platform said something like "offered healthcare with the same terms
> as government employees". It didn't appear to actually overpromise,
> unless you _heard_ "provide free health care to everyone not
> currently covered". That's not what they promised, even if many
> people thought they heard that.
*THIS* is a legitimate argument. I'm not particularly interested in
reengaging it, *but* --- you are being quite selective about your
interpretation. Three facts are indisputable: (1) that Obama and
apparatchik repeatedly bemoaned the specific numbers of "uninsured
Americans" throughout the campaign; (2) that the terms "universal
health care" and "health care coverage for every American" were
specifically used as well, if not in the context of the specific
position statement on the website, and (3) that "universal health
care" meaning insurance coverage of all Americans is an explicit,
stated goal of the Democratic party and party policy-thinkers (and
others) going back decades. Thus the extrapolation from "offered
health care on the same terms as government employees" (to whom?)
justifies an interpretation that we're talking about, at minimum,
those who do not have private health care presently.
>> Yet the amount necessary to accomplish the goal of "universal"
>> health care (insurance) is not an unknowable quantity; we can
>> simply back into it by applying the kind of Fermi bottoms-up
>> estimation that I offered. You can offer an alternative
>> estimation, but as I recall you did not despite repeated attempts
>> to encourage you to do so. The closest thing you got was the kind
>> of sophomoric rhetorical snow-job you attempt again, above.
> Snow job? I don't see it that way. I looked at the exact platform
> statement, researched what it was talking about and the
> Congressional analysis of that program, and compared that to the
> estimated number of people along with my own rule of thumbs. I did
> offer specific numbers and estimations of the relevant population
> distribution over coverage needs. Perhaps you didn't read that?
I was out by that point; regardless, you can't refuse some argument A
by "proving" some other, different, orthogonal argument B. If your
issue was in the interpretation of what the ultimate health care
policy goal of Obama was, and you believed that it was not (and is
not) to provide coverage for most or all of those presently uncovered,
then *that's* the argument to conclusively have first; to the extent
that you ever attempted to quantify costs for coverage of your
(presumably smaller) subset, that analysis can't be compared with what
I was illustrating, namely that you *cannot* provide "average"
coverage all uninsured Americans on anything less than a multiple ---
perhaps large --- of the only budgetary allocation for health care
that was proposed. Thus the point I was attempting to illustrate
remains true and has been proven already through SCHIP and the
budgetary process: Obama's statements about his planned spend in
health care were necessarily either (a) intentionally understated and
misleading, or (b) irresponsibly vacuous and incomplete.
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