Sunday, November 8, 2009

CRITICAL THINKING IN ACTION!!!


I blather on about Critical Thinking all the time but what does that mean specifically? Recently, someone sent me an article in reference to my post entitled Going Gault. Thanks for the article. I love all comments. Please write me. (Really, I’m so lonely.)

I agree with most of what the commenter said, but this article that he sent is another matter. It’s a piece of crap. But the article is useful in one way. It is great to analyze for CRITICAL THINKING IN ACTION!!! (For future referencing to this post please note that three exclamation points after the title are always required)

Basically the article says that between 2000 and 2008 people left New York in droves because of high taxes, and now the state’s tax base is hurting. The lesson - if you tax the rich, you’ll be sorry.

First, this piece is from the tabloid paper, The New York Post. According to a 2004 survey by Pace University, The Post was rated the least-credible major news outlet in New York. The article quotes a study by the “Empire Center for New York State Policy.” It isn’t mentioned until the end of the article, that the Empire Center is part of the Neo-Conservative think tank, The Manhattan Institute. The author should have stated this at the top of the article.

Neither of these facts gives us the right to dismiss the article offhand. If we did we would be committing a logical fallacy called, “Ad Hominem” (attacking the source of the information instead of the information itself). I recall even the National Enquirer breaking legitimate news stories on at least two occasions. So we can’t call “bullshit” yet, but it is ok for us to get out our galoshes.

Now, to analyze the content of the article itself using CRITICAL THINKING IN ACTION!!!

I don’t question the assertion that New York had a large exodus between the years 2000 to 2008 (especially from Manhattan, as the article states). But, what does the Empire Center offer as the reasons for this large population move? They say high taxes are the culprit, but offer no proof. If they could show that taxes went up greatly in NY during that same time period this would support their assertion. The Post commits the fallacy of incomplete comparison.

If they then showed other examples of states loosing there population because of raising taxes then this would also help support their conclusion, but they do not. This could be considered cherry picking results. On top of that, if they showed that the exodus from Manhattan was different from the movement of populations of other cities in the US during the same time period, then they might really be on to something. For all we know, NY’s declining population might just be part of a larger national trend of Americans moving to the suburbs. In this case The Post’s sampling group is too small (basically one).

Also, maybe I am wrong, but wasn’t the city of New York governed by a Republican mayor for most of that time period? Aren’t Republicans supposed to be known for their ability to lower taxes? (Inconsistent comparison)

Lastly, is there some other event that occurred between 2000 and 2008 (other than rising taxes) that might also help explain the reason people would want to flee the city of New York in droves? Maybe something that happened in the city of New York around September of 2001, perhaps? The article blatantly commits the fallacy of assuming single cause.

Is it any wonder no one writes me?

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