I Would Suck

Posted on March 23, 2011


I would make a lousy media pundit.


I can’t ignore what other people say. I have to listen, consider, and make my own decision. If I want them to be open to my persuasion, it’s only right that I listen to theirs. I won’t enter an argument or discussion unless I have a position that I’m willing to defend, but I am prepared to change my mind once I have more information. I know the difference between an opinion and a fact, too. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I know everything and am therefore 100% right, and you’re stupid not to agree.


I can shout over other people. It’s rude, but I can do it. Usually I do it when someone won’t let me speak at all, or when I’ve let them have as much time as they gave me. Then it’s my turn again. I see no reason to energize my opposition or competition by being rude to them. Courtesy creates win-win situations. Boorishness might get you a win in the short run, but you’ll have to keep fighting every time you need the same person’s support or agreement.


If you’re reading this, know that I respect you. I make an effort to write well, because everyone who takes the time to read deserves good writing. I ask for comments because I respect you, and accept that you might know more about a subject than I do. I try to focus the blog on subjects that I do know about, but you might be able to expand my expertise. I can’t spew out some weapons-grade balognium and shout down any challengers, and that alone disqualifies me as a media pundit.


Yelling is not rhetoric. Contradiction is not reasoning. Arguing is not persuasion. If I’m trying to argue a point, I come prepared with facts. I’m ready to cite studies and bring forward my evidence (but I’m willing to accept that my research could be incomplete, see previous points). I’m perfectly capable of selling my idea on an emotional basis. I’m just more comfortable doing so after I’ve prepared a logical foundation.


I have too much education to say some of the things that pundits say. I could never say something like, “Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that.” I know that tides are influenced by the moon’s gravity, the wind, and the Earth’s rotation. I also have too much shame.

Now, if I were using the “mystery” of the tides to justify my belief in God (pssst – if you could rationally argue for it, it wouldn’t be faith*), then I would have ended with, “How do you explain that?” When my guest explained about the factors influencing tides, I would keep asking “how” and “why” questions until we reached an irreducible point.

Religion and Politics

I served my country in uniform and in time of war. I have some ribbons to wear on my chest for getting shot at. I think that the ideals of the USA are some of the best ever used to found a nation. The first and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States guarantee every citizen’s freedom of speech and religious belief, and protect against discrimination. I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, so I’m not going to shout you down in any media forum for having beliefs different from mine. If you have them, and are willing to defend them, then good for you!


Honestly, I think I have too big a sense of shame to ever make a good media pundit. I couldn’t be arrogant, rude, disrespectful, irrational, unprepared (honestly – how do you go on your own show and argue with experts unprepared, when you have an entire staff to support you?), uneducated, or dismissive of Constitutional rights enough to work as a pundit.


But we can always talk about it. 🙂

*Yes, I am familiar with Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal did not concoct the wager as a rational argument for any spiritual belief. He merely pointed out that living life as though God exists was preferable to the alternative, because you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. He also noted that some people do not have a capacity for belief. More importantly, the wager was important to probability theory, the concept of infinity, use of decision theory, and anticipated pragmatism and voluntarism. Seriously, if a 300+ year old wager was going to convince atheists, there would hardly be any left now. Respect their philosophy. Live and let live.