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Overcome the Propaganda

July 6, 2010

I was at the Monument 4th of July Parade Saturday collecting signatures for the Right to Health Care Choice petition (Initiative 45) when a leftist Democrat came up to he booth looking for a fight. He picked the wrong rattler to step on.

The difficulty in talking to these people–besides the fact that they are true believers for whom no logic will ever work–is the sheer amount of lies that come rushing out. It is hard to catch them all; it’s as if they come from an alternate universe. For example, in describing the benefits of the free market system I told him that the great advances in medicine had some from this country. His reply was that all of modern medicine stemmed from two discoveries, germ theory and vaccines, which were discovered by two Frenchmen, Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk. Oops. Germ theory wasn’t discovered by Pasteur, although he certainly had a role in developing that theory, and of course Salk was American. All of those advances occurred in free-market capitalist systems but before you can prove it, they’ve shifted the argument.

You can’t call it “socialized medicine” he said, because the government doesn’t own it and run it. That’s the definition of socialized medicine. That may be true as far as it goes. When it comes to single payer it will be full-fledged, European-style socialized medicine and it is clear that’s where this government wants to take it. It was the second time I’ve heard that argument from widely divergent sources, so I’m guessing those are OFA talking points. So I concede the point: it’s really not socialized medicine, it’s fascism. In fascism, the state allows private industry to exist in a tightly controlled form. Think Fascist Italy, Krupp Industries under the Nazis or even China today. They don’t like being called fascists any better, but they do like the “China model.”

Then there was the argument that Canada has a better healthcare system because seniors go to Canada to buy their drugs more cheaply. Of course: Canadian drugs are subsidized by Canadian taxpayers and we are free to buy them (today). Here a specific fact is used to prove a general statement: a feat of inductive reasoning that doesn’t work. And he said cancer survival rates in Canada and Europe are higher than in the U.S.–easily and demonstrably false. In fact, survival rates are, in some cases, dramatically better in the U.S.

The fact is, you can’t pin these people down. They’re slippery creatures, sure of their conclusions and willing to trot out any argument, no matter how fanciful, to prove their point. They are eager to score debating points and quite frankly that’s all they are. They seek to overwhelm you, Alinsky-style, with a mountain of supposed facts, assuming that if you don’t counter each and every one they must be right.

There’s an old saying: Never wrestle with a pig: the pig loves it and you just get dirty. They’re not pigs, of course, but Aristotle did know who they were: Sophists. All argument and no truth. All style and no substance. Yet the Sophists were able to convince the Athenian masses to poison Socrates.

This is a full-fledged culture war and we have a lot of work to do if we are to avoid our dose of poison. Bill Whittle, always great, is never better than in this recent video on PJTV, telling us how bankrupt their ideas are and how we need to forge ahead.

This week I’ll be posting more on their plans, methods, and how to counter them.

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