Dafydd ab Hugh has a fascinating dissection of a New York Times piece today regarding the Navy’s plan to shoot down a failing and falling US spy satellite. As the ever-worthy Dafydd notes, it’s a wonderful example of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” arguing: if the missile fails, then the whole idea of missile defense is worthless; if it succeeds, it doesn’t prove anything.
I’m not going to recap Dafydd’s arguments — they stand just fine on their own, without my “improving” on them — but while I was reading it, I felt the urge to apply the same sort of reasoning to a few causes that the New York Times traditionally champions:
Education: successes with vouchers, private schools, charter schools, and other reforms championed by conservatives mean nothing; the consistent failures of the public school system mean that enough money has not yet been thrown at the problem.
Gun control: no matter how the murder rate tends to rise with tighter gun controls, no matter how many people die in mass shootings in “gun-free zones,” the solution to gun violence is always to take guns away from everyone. Naturally, the plans call for starting with the law-abiding gun owners first. I’m not quite sure how that will make people safer, but that always seems to be the first step.
Global warming: every single climatic event is proof of global warming. Nastier winters, milder winters, high hurricane season, low hurricane season, warmer summers, cooler summers, increased rainfall, decreased rainfall, average wing-beat velocity of migrating swallows, groundhog shadow perception — everything. If you ever want to have some fun with a believer in global warming, ask them to cite something that would cause them to doubt that the phenomenon exists. They’re like the worst of the religious zealots — EVERYTHING reinforces their faith, and absolutely NOTHING can challenge it.
I can see why the New York Times is taking that approach to the upcoming missile test. Life is so much easier if you start with your conclusion, then work backwards to make everything support it. It’s kind of like the conspiracy nuts who fixate over the Kennedy assassination or the 9/11 attacks, but couched in slightly less crazy packaging.