Monday, April 05, 2010

Impossible Burden of Proof

Alan Colmes, the former Elmer Fudd of Fox News, interviewed Dr. Jack Cassell, the Orlando urologist who told his Obama-loving patients to go elsewhere, and guess what: Colmes discovered that Dr. Cassell doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. 

When Colmes corrected a claim that Dr. Cassell made regarding healthcare reform, the doctor admitted his ignorance and had the gall to blame proponents of the bill for this, giving us this exchange:
Colmes: If you can’t tell us exactly what the deal is, why are you opposing it and fighting against it?

Cassell: I’m not the guy who wrote the plan.

Colmes: But if you don’t know what the deal is why are you speaking out against something you don’t know what the deal is?

Cassell: What I get online, just like any other American. What I’m supposed to understand about the bill should be available to me.
Indeed.  It's as if only proponents of something have to know what they're talking about, while opponents are given free rein to say whatever the hell they want, until they're satisfied that the proponents have explained things well enough.  And of course, the bar is set so high that you'd need a time machine to show them what healthcare will look like in twenty years before they'll even begin to contemplate that they may have been mistaken.  Merely quoting the bill, explaining what it means, and citing experts will never suffice.

Opponents Oppose, Always

And this is the same oddball claim that I heard repeatedly from opponents of the bill, on both the right and left.  Apparently, they fail to understand that the burden of proof lies with anyone making a claim, not just the supporter of the thing under discussion.  And if you can't prove your claim, you don't get to make one.  Ignorance isn't an excuse for just making shit up.

And I got the same thing from commenter Tlaloc at Washington Monthly, who imagined that I had to explain exactly how the insurance exchanges will work to his satisfaction before he'd stop insisting that proponents were lying for saying they'd work.  I kept telling the guy that I wasn't an expert and suggested he research this stuff himself, but he insisted that because I was the proponent that I had to do all the research and he wouldn't do my homework for me.  Even now, he still insists that the exchanges can't possibly work, simply because he doesn't know anything about them.

But no, if you make a claim, you have to support that claim.  And if you don't know enough to support your claim, you shouldn't be making it.  That's just how it works.  There's nothing wrong with ignorance.  It's only wrong when you insist your ignorance is knowledge and attack anyone for disagreeing.

2 comments:

ex DLB said...

They're all waiting for Obama to give them a personal briefing.

Doctor Biobrain said...

If only it were so simply. I'm sure God himself could patiently explain the bill to these people for a full week and they'd STILL insist that we're all doomed and Obama is out to get us.

It's not about understanding the bill. It's about finding some rationale for opposing it.