Two plus two equals five.
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four” George Orwell wrote.
We know that it is indeed the sum of the equation, that two plus two equals four, but do we know why? Ponder that and we will come back to it momentarily.
The Post-Intelligencer provides a spectrum, a menagerie if you will, of opinions, advice, commentaries, reports and ideas on the opinion page of our daily paper.
The columns are written by writers, journalists, legislators, financial advisors, counselors, business owners and average Joes like me.
And perhaps unbeknownst to the contributors, they all rely on theorems put forth by Aristotle centuries ago, that we try to persuade or inform others by using ethos, logos or pathos as means to that end.
Ethos, or an ethical appeal — The writers, subtly or adamantly, suppose they are credible, have character, accomplishments and may mention their pedigrees, all done with hopes that these will persuade you to see, or at least consider, their points of view.
Pathos, or an emotional appeal — The tactics being deployed are to draw sympathy or anger or any number of emotions. They want us to experience what they are feeling.
Logos, or a logical appeal — The mechanisms that support logic and reasoning- facts, statistics and& quotes from authorities, citing their numerous studies.
The evidence is to be so overwhelming that the reader or listener is quickly exhausted and must conclude that the argument presented is “prima facie;” it is taken at face value; no attack could penetrate the obvious facts, no speculation could cast doubt on the case presented; the jury must come to this conclusion presented by the bearer of the proposition.
Why does two plus two equal four? Because we have agreed on it.
As we look back over the past year’s commentaries in The P-I, all of which I’ve kept in my study, we see most of these types of arguments used.
“Argument” is not a negative word; my college debate coach would tell us that no good bill or regulation or rule was ever implemented without good argument or debate.
Facts, in debate, are presented. They are either refuted and then discarded or they stand unattested. The P-I has been very kind to me and allowed me to share not only my opinions, based on my emotions (pathos) and on my character (ethos), but also hopefully on the facts, statistics and irrefutable studies, logos.
You will find this type of presentation in the writings of Raina Fisher, Art Smith and Rep. Bruce Griffey, among others.
Now, for me to respond to Dan Jackson would be a waste of valuable space allowed me by the editor. He uses no logic; instead he shames those who dare disagree with him.
He uses condescending descriptions with vulgar terms. In debate, it is called “reducing to the absurd,” and always indicates the position has no factual basis, such as Jackson’s most recent column claiming the Nashville bomber was a Trump supporter.
That ridiculous assertion was easily debunked. He asserts “most people” are not wearing masks, with no studies or numbers to support his theory. “Lockdowns will work,” with not one shred of scientific studies upon which to base that theory, either.
The situation was similar with a former P-I contributor, who, when presented with Trump’s record-breaking employment numbers among minorities, numbers composed by non-partisan agencies, told me I should “grow up.” Ouch! That type of rebuttal usually ends with, “I never did like your mother!” — emotional, but not very persuasive in the long run.
And so it goes with all the stats that could be repeated here regarding the Trump administration’s accomplishments; they are simply able to stand on their own, regardless of what you may feel about him emotionally.
Tony Kendall is cut from a separate piece of fabric. He speaks with plenty of passion, based on his views of prejudice and discrimination, of which I’m sure his family, at least his parents and grandparents, have experienced first-hand.
However, he cannot take the liberties to parlay that emotion as fact of systemic racism. Of the 11 countries that list themselves as “socialist,” there is not one example of socialism being successful.
But this did not keep him from purporting that these “civilized nations,” North Korea among them, are providing their citizens more guarantees of relief.
Most all have a tremendous rate of poverty, with Bangladesh showing 91.6% living in extreme poverty. The smaller nations have no defense budget, relying on larger nations for security.
The collapse of Venezuela speaks volumes. The safety “nets” that Tony refers to are provided by the money taken from the very citizens who are recipients of the “relief!”
“The government cannot give to you anything it has not already taken from you,” Winston Churchill said.
To say Trump “mishandled” the virus response, is again, a relative term. It is at best ambiguous with no statistical support whatsoever.
And I have cited verifiable proof of Biden’s statement of “redirecting funds” for the police and Nancy Pelosi’s statements from Chinatown.
The conditions of Atlanta and Baltimore under long-term Democratic leadership.
That evidence is irrefutable, as is the history of the relief assistance provided by the New Deal to the elderly and disabled; originally a temporary offer that was to be repaid.
We have digressed far from that concept that began four generations ago; look at the stats.
That is not the case in public opinion polls. I can acquire the numbers I am projecting by using a number of scenarios: demographics that include age, sex and income.
Polling the factory employees, as opposed to a college campus, will predetermine my results.
The very wording of the questions influence my desired results: “Mr. Smith, do you still beat your wife?” “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”
Bottom line, polls are taken with a grain of salt and are suspect.
I cannot give you a factual count of the most recent presidential election, and neither can anyone else. That is flawed, and it should shake the resolve of every American citizen.
As a nation, we have been casting ballots for centuries, and if we cannot, with total assurance, know that our vote counted, then what can we rely on in the future?
Is the time on the clock accurate, or just off by a little bit? Are the milligrams of my medicine correct, or just close to being what the doctor ordered?
And even though I am unable to give a number of illegal votes cast, I can look at the videos that show me, indeed scream at me, that something went terribly wrong!
Poll workers were not being allowed to monitor, boxes pulled from underneath desks after the closing of the poll and many other examples. This is taken at face value, or at least, should be.
Finally, I was once asked, “Who gives a flip about numbers … ?” Well, does two plus two equal four or doesn’t it?
If it does not, if we cannot agree on that principal, then we will remain divided, totally unable to come to an understanding, much less a solution to our complexities.
TONY N. BOYD’s address is P.O. Box 97, 65 W. College St., Henry. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.