1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Unbiased writing / Health care ruling by way of example

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Steerpike, Dec 13, 2010.

    After the decision ruling the individual mandate of the Obama admin's health care legislation Unconstitutional, I saw a lot of chatter around the net. Most of it fairly low-brow, as you might imagine. Most of it was biased to one view or another. But even articles that I didn't find to be biased where being flamed in comments sections for being biased because the commenter didn't like the ultimate conclusion.

    Question - is it possible to present a political piece, in the current climate, in a way that isn't going to engender flaming? If so, how would you go about it.

    Using the health care law as an example, I agree that the mandate has a big problem in terms of the U.S. Constitution. I like other aspects of the law. In writing an article on my viewpoint, I expect that no matter how rational the piece was, or how unbiased in presentation, that final conclusion would generate some feelings on one side or another. Is it possible to write it so that it comes across as a thoughtful analysis and even those who disagree will see merit in it? Seems like it should be, but my experience tells me that it is not.

    Anyway, I am working on something to that effect, though it is more for a talk. What do you guys think? I intend to present both sides of the argument in a respectful manner but I ultimately come down against Constitutionality. Could be a great springboard for discussion if people don't get ugly about it.
     
  2. Midnight Pete
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    Midnight Pete Member

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    Expect it to get ugly. Political discussions quickly become debates, and after that they become closed threads.
     
  3. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    simple answer? no

    there are three things you cant not have a fight over

    Politics religion and sports


    they will fight does not mater how you put it


    Even on this forum it gets closed

    every one seems to think they are mature enough to talk about it and then one guy says soemthing and the mods come in with their riot gear
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    One thing we were taught as history students is there is no such thing as an unbiased piece of writing. Anything written will in someway reflect its author.

    There was a group of historians late 1800s/early 1900s called the scientific historians and that was the only time in the history of historians that attempted to present facts with no bias. You can't even find them on google :)
     
  5. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    and even then i bet you they failed
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Consider something like Wikileaks, which is basically raw, unbiased journalism: the unadulterated release of information. Even though they have no political, national or religious affiliation, they still tend to get thrown into the liberal camp just because that's how people perceive them. So even if your writing itself was unbiased, it doesn't mean it would be perceived that way.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which is why I said attempted :D I am unusual in that I like reading them - some of them have a dry wit that I picked up. They did do a pretty good job but they were not completely unbiased.
     
  8. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    um they Arr biased notice how they pick on governments and make them always look like the bad guy?
    I don't read them so this could be not true

    they also believe the government dose not have a right to keep things form you


    which in of ti self is biased

    plus most of the things they revled they don't tell you why it was "hiding"
    much like parents sometimes their is a reason for it
    other times there are not
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I don't believe that there can be any such thing as true objectivity. Everyone has their own biases, and I think the best thing you can do is be aware of yours.

    And writing an article on something like this, it's not just whether you're unbiased regarding the subject matter, but also whether the readers are. Those people who start flaming the articles you read, are they rational and unbiased? I doubt it.
     
  10. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I was involved in journalism, I learned that bias runs deep and is everywhere. Even if an article was completely objective (which I still consider to be impossible), there's still bias in the article's location--is it on the front page or at the bottom of the front page or is it buried in section E8?; length, whether there are photos accompanying it and, if so, the quality of those photos; the topic of the article (does this particular newspaper only cover a certain political party's activity when it is negative --such as the riot over student tuition fees in England, for example?); and even the author's diction --screaming and cheering are essentially the same thing, but one has negative and the other has positive connotations.)

    Aside from articles and just speech in general, I agree with Banzai in the belief that there is no true objectivity in anything. And even if there were, the people you speak to or write for aren't always going to see it that way. How one perceives things is one's own reality. It's just human nature.

    So I think it's a rule of thumb to keep your opinions on touchy subjects to yourself, unless you know you are in like-minded company. And even then, you're on thin ice.
     
  11. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Post your article and then disable user comments. Voila, no more flaming!
     
  12. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    This.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    True.

    I suppose it isn't quite accurate to say my talk will be unbiased. My viewpoint and "take" on the ruling will be presented. But I want it to be viewed as a fair discussion of the issue, with consideration giving to both sides, their strengths and faults, rather than something that merely gets flamed for the final conclusion.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, you guys make good points.

    It won't be unbiased. I'll be clear about my view. But I want it to be fair, as I said above to Elgaisma.

    But I wonder whether a fair, reasonable talk will be received in kind, or whether people will just get over-wrought due to their own feelings on the subject.
     
  15. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Pure mathematics are the only thing free from bias. Not the application of Mathematics, but pure math.
     
  16. Midnight Pete
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    Midnight Pete Member

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    Everybody is rational and unbiased until you make them angry. ;)
     
  17. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ha, I like your thinking :D
     
  18. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Actually, even this isn't true. Seemingly simple and universal concepts like counting and numbering are culturally constructed. Mathematicians take great joy in the mathematical beauty of the universe, but this beauty is never expressed mathematically in nature, it's inferred later by man according to his culture.

    The same claim is often made of music, but things like rhythm, harmony and beauty are just as subject to cultural parameters as maths (and politics, gender, etc).

    But of all the human constructs that exist, mathematics probably comes pretty close to being the most free from bias.
     
  19. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    true if we go to another alien race or something and they count
    one three four
    are we wrong or them?
     
  20. Capt Bob
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    Capt Bob Senior Member

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    Do you believe our bias derives from our biological preference for symmetry?.

    If so how would you apply it to the 4 fundamental forces? Example 1-Gravity.
     
  21. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    You don't have to leave Earth to find alternative counting systems...the field of ethnomathematics has been expanding since the 1960s or so, and some of its findings have been pretty interesting to say the least (some cultures, for instance, only distinguish between 'one' and 'more than one', where we have an infinite scale for counting individual objects).

    And it isn't about right or wrong, since both of them will be defined by the parameters of their culture--which is what this thread is essentially about. Questioning whether it is possible to create something in culture that is itself without culture.
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    But things like counting systems are more implementations of "mathematics" (of a sort) rather than the pure math that was referenced above.

    No matter where you go, 1+1=2 is a true statement (given the mathematical quantities represented by the digits), whether it is culturally relevant in a given locale or not.
     
  23. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I read the ruling with great interest, both because I studied a lot of Constitutional Law in college and grad school and because I spent my first ten years out of college in the group health insurance business and learned quite a bit about it.

    To begin with, I disagree with the ruling (even though, as a matter of policy, I have trouble with the health care legislation as a whole). Congress and the federal executive branch regulate people's buying decisions on a regular basis, especially in the area of car purchases: CAFE standards and seat-belt requirements are just two that spring to mind. What's more, even if the law does have the potential to "invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers", the principle of judicial restraint would seem to require the courts to wait until the issue is "ripe" (i.e. until federal police powers have actually been abused). Since the law hasn't even taken effect, yet, that's not possible at this time.

    As it happens, the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision is absolutely necessary as long as there is a law prohibiting denial of coverage for a pre-existing condition (and there is). The reason insurance companies have always protected themselves (usually in the first two years of coverage) from pre-existing conditions is that otherwise, people would tend not to buy health insurance until they had something seriously wrong with them (this is called anti-selection). But group health insurance can only be affordable if the group has a normal distribution of healthy and unhealthy people, because, in effect, the healthy people subsidize the unhealthy ones.

    The opponents of the health care legislation know this. And they know that if the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision goes down, the whole structure collapses.
     
  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree regarding the Constitutionality. In areas such as CAFE standards, equipping cars with seat belts, etc. you are dealing with companies that inject products directly into the stream of interstate commerce. There's little room to argue that the federal power under the Commerce Clause is too narrow to allow this. With the insurance mandate, the idea is to force people to purchase a product that they may not wish to purchase. I don't believe that the Commerce Clause stretches that far. In truth, if the Commerce Clause stretches that far, then there is really no limit to it, and I think that result makes little sense because the Clause was clearly intended as a limited grant of Federal power. The trend since the mid-1990s has been for the Supreme Court to finally begin looking askance at legislation purportedly passed under the Commerce Clause power, and to actually look into whether the power stretches to cover any given legislation.

    I don't think the ripeness argument works either. The Supreme Court has upheld review of administrative rules and law prior to enforcement when there is substantial hardship presented by not allowing pre-enforcement review. In the case of the health care law, the costs and resources required by the States (and private and public money is already being spent) to me makes a strong argument that the ripeness doctrine does not preclude the action. Allowing states and private entities to go forward over the next few years spending large sums of money on compliance, only to then mount a challenge to the law, seems to me to be bad policy.

    As for the Minimum Essential Coverage component being necessary to the overall system, I don't see that as being relevant. If it is a necessary component of the system but cannot pass Constitutional muster, then the system relies on an Unconstitutional exercise of federal power and should be revised so that it does not.

    Those are my thoughts, at any rate.
     
  25. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If your argument is that CAFE standards and safety requirements are okay because cars are sold across state lines, then so is health insurance (regardless of where the particular agency happens to be). I don't think you can reasonably say that insurance is not interstate commerce (in fact, in recent years, some companies have been arguing for federal insurance chartering because they realize that federal regulation is usually more lax than state regulation). Moreover, the judge's ruling said, "notwithstanding the relation to interstate commerce". Hence, mu criticism.

    As for the ripeness argument, review of regulations is one thing, legislation passed by Congress is quite another. Haven't read up on that in a long time, but that's what I remember.

    My comments on the minimum coverage requirement were simply to show why that, in particular, is the target.
     

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