Why Facts Fail - Brendan Nyhan

December 17, 2010

Host: Chris Mooney

Ever been in an argument with someone and felt massively frustrated, because nothing you can say seems to change the person's mind?

Maybe that's what you should expect to happen. Maybe you should get used to it.

According to University of Michigan political scientist Brendan Nyhan, that's how our minds work-and it's not just that. When it comes to politics, people who believe incorrect things tend to be strongly convinced that they're right, and moreover, often become stronger in that conviction when they're refuted.

It's a pretty alarming aspect of human nature-but in this interview, Nyhan explains how we know what we do about people's intransigent clinging to misperceptions, and how we can work to change that.

Brendan Nyhan is a political scientist and Robert Wood Johnson scholar in health policy research at the University of Michigan. He was previously a co-author of the political debunking website Spinsanity.com, and co-author of the New York Times bestselling book All The President's Spin. He blogs at www.brendan-nyhan.com.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

The human capacity for inquiry, people’s responses to states of uncertainty, and their reactions to novel information are topics of longstanding interest to me.  I have found the following two lines of study very helpful in understanding why people’s reactions to information are so often recalcitrant.

Dewey, John (1929), The Quest for Certainty : A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action, Minton, Balch, and Company, New York, NY. Reprinted, pp. 1–254 in John Dewey, The Later Works, 1925–1953, Volume 4 : 1929, Jo Ann Boydston (ed.), Harriet Furst Simon (text. ed.), Stephen Toulmin (intro.), Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL, 1984.

Sorrentino, Richard M., and Roney, Christopher J.R. (2000), The Uncertain Mind : Individual Differences in Facing the Unknown, (Essays in Social Psychology, Miles Hewstone (ed.)), Taylor and Francis, Philadelphia, PA.

Jon Awbrey

Posted on Dec 17, 2010 at 9:44pm by Jon Awbrey Comment #1

OK, I get to ask the smartest and most rational liberals in the world a question. What do you actually mean when you say, “there will be no death panels”? It seems to me, in principle you can keep pouring money into a patient infinitely and thereby keep extending his life by seconds then fractions of a second without limit – unless there is a limit somehow to the money available. Has it ever occurred to any Democrat that there might be a limit to the money somehow for the tax payer or for any source? If the government is providing the money for a dying patient, I would think the government might be the entity that decides when to shut off the money and therefore when the patient dies. But I’m just a conservative. What is the real (liberal) answer?
    And Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction? Well chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. He used them on the Kurds. We all saw the pictures. I saw them. Liberals (most of them conveniently after the fact) claimed he had got rid of them. I reasoned that liberals lie more often than dictators disarm. That led me to the wrong conclusion that time. But I still think it is smart to bet with the odds.

Posted on Dec 19, 2010 at 8:36am by rg21 Comment #2

rg21, your mistake is in thinking that there is a coherent “liberal” group that you can petition.

Posted on Dec 19, 2010 at 3:07pm by TromboneAndrew Comment #3

I was in a gathering of friends at a restaurant. It was my birthday, making me eligible for a free piece of pie. One woman, a good friend I never lied to, refused to believe that day actually was my birthday. She finally demanded to see my driver’s license. Having nothing to hide, I produced it at once then turned to enjoy my pie.
  Now I’m looking for a Democratic woman. I’ll lie to her all year, starting with my age. Women say men do that. Well, maybe for good measure I’ll also say I was born in Hawaii. I’m betting the other friends the piece of pie she will believe me and never ask to see my license. She might even curse the Republican woman for having asked. But if she does ask, I’m not going to show it to her and she’ll love me for that. Democrats are funny that way. One more reason they are so adorable.

Posted on Dec 19, 2010 at 3:50pm by rg21 Comment #4

Oh my.

Posted on Dec 20, 2010 at 10:12am by eplommer Comment #5

I was in a gathering of friends at a restaurant. It was my birthday, making me eligible for a free piece of pie. One woman, a good friend I never lied to, refused to believe that day actually was my birthday. She finally demanded to see my driver’s license. Having nothing to hide, I produced it at once then turned to enjoy my pie.
  Now I’m looking for a Democratic woman. I’ll lie to her all year, starting with my age. Women say men do that. Well, maybe for good measure I’ll also say I was born in Hawaii. I’m betting the other friends the piece of pie she will believe me and never ask to see my license. She might even curse the Republican woman for having asked. But if she does ask, I’m not going to show it to her and she’ll love me for that. Democrats are funny that way. One more reason they are so adorable.

  But oh… let’s say that crazy woman kept insisting after she saw your ID that it couldn’t have possibly been your birthday. No matter how many people you brought in as witness she still didn’t believe you.

I think I’d just go with an independant, those girls are freaky.

Posted on Dec 20, 2010 at 11:28am by ShadowSot Comment #6

I dabble in genealogy. Genealogists are always seeking people’s birth records and other documents of personal lives. When records for an individual are scarce or hard to find relative to others in the same time and place, it sometimes means someone had something to hide. Presidents and presidential candidates are favorite subjects of professional genealogists. Why is so little known about Obama? Why hasn’t he made detailed birth records and other records U. S. Presidents have customarily made public immediately available? Why haven’t the American news media that could find every grade school reprimand for Joe the Plumber in 36 hours even shown curiosity about Obama?

Posted on Dec 20, 2010 at 5:56pm by rg21 Comment #7

I dabble in genealogy. Genealogists are always seeking people’s birth records and other documents of personal lives. When records for an individual are scarce or hard to find relative to others in the same time and place, it sometimes means someone had something to hide. Presidents and presidential candidates are favorite subjects of professional genealogists. Why is so little known about Obama? Why hasn’t he made detailed birth records and other records U. S. Presidents have customarily made public immediately available? Why haven’t the American news media that could find every grade school reprimand for Joe the Plumber in 36 hours even shown curiosity about Obama?

We know WHERE he was born, we have SEEN his birth certificate, we know HOW he is related to about 10 other presidents and the queen of England. We KNOW where he attended elementary school, secondary school and university.
http://www.wargs.com/political/obama.html Here is his genealogy, I hope you can sleep better at night now!

Posted on Dec 20, 2010 at 9:31pm by asanta Comment #8

1.  In the United States, the insurance companies operate the death panels.
2.  Of course Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction—he got them from us.

Posted on Dec 21, 2010 at 12:07am by doncopler Comment #9

Why is so little known about Obama? Why hasn’t he made detailed birth records and other records U. S. Presidents have customarily made public immediately available? Why haven’t the American news media that could find every grade school reprimand for Joe the Plumber in 36 hours even shown curiosity about Obama?

Obama is an alien.  Get over it.

They decided it was cheaper than invading.  They just had to slip some alien code into our computerized voting machine and voila.  Alien for president.

:lol:

psik

Posted on Dec 21, 2010 at 12:42am by psikeyhackr Comment #10

Ever been in an argument with someone and felt massively frustrated, because nothing you can say seems to change the person’s mind?
Maybe that’s what you should expect to happen. Maybe you should get used to it.

Interesting podcast.
I think there is a balance in the discussion between focusing on very topical points which will make the book look current now, but dated in a few years, and a broader perspective. Chris tends to push to topical.

Is this like the “love is blind” aphroism—is the point that ‘belief is blind’?

How come religious belief doesn’t come up here?

Or the ‘mote in his eye—beam in your eye’ saying?
  How do Nyhan and Mooney know that they don’t suffer from the same problem?
  When was the last time either of them changed their mind about something?

Good podcast—gets you thinking…

Posted on Dec 21, 2010 at 4:09am by Jackson Comment #11

Yes, I’ve seen the genealogy at that link. In fact, that’s why I raised the question – the contrast to other Presidential genealogies along with the tardiness and reluctance to publicize that are unique to this President. And why so much don’t ask, don’t tell as compared to Joe the Plumber, for example. We all know why. It’s political correctness. Political correctness is a mongrel and monstrous species, but a major element is dishonesty. I have a have a habit of skepticism, but I notice a lot of other people who make that claim try to make liberalism serve them like a religion and political correctness is part of their ritual. The stronger the dissonance between evidence and faith, the more virtuous the believer who adheres to the faith. Where they suspend their skepticism, mine grows more vigilant.

Posted on Dec 21, 2010 at 5:07am by rg21 Comment #12

Yes, I’ve seen the genealogy at that link. In fact, that’s why I raised the question – the contrast to other Presidential genealogies along with the tardiness and reluctance to publicize that are unique to this President. And why so much don’t ask, don’t tell as compared to Joe the Plumber, for example. We all know why. It’s political correctness. Political correctness is a mongrel and monstrous species, but a major element is dishonesty. I have a have a habit of skepticism, but I notice a lot of other people who make that claim try to make liberalism serve them like a religion and political correctness is part of their ritual. The stronger the dissonance between evidence and faith, the more virtuous the believer who adheres to the faith. Where they suspend their skepticism, mine grows more vigilant.

Ummm, no. You. are.wrong. I take that back, you are so far off base, you aren’t even wrong..

Posted on Dec 21, 2010 at 9:18am by asanta Comment #13

Ok, Elites…

I’ve referred to them as Opinion Makers in previous posts. The real question I think is which Elites a particular person listens to and why.

Elites need not be more knowledgeable or accurate then Joe the Plummer yet they influence the opinion of thousands.

I think they play to peoples fears and doubts. If you are afraid of government control because of some bad experience with government I suspect your are more likely to listen to Elites on the right-side of the political spectrum. If your are afraid of corporations destroying natural resources you are more likely to listen to Elites on the left.

The more people start listening to Elites, the more they start to make sense to the individual because they build on past misconceptions that has already been accepted by the listener. So if you trying to correct a current misconception you fail to correct the previous misconception and never address the initial fear/doubts that drove the individual to accepting the authority of the particular Elite in the first place.

The truth is, no Elite is above questioning. However regardless of one’s view people are more likely to accept misinformation that supports what they already want to believe, I suspect based mostly on what they fear.

I think if you want to correct people’s misconceptions you are going to have to address the fundamentals that strongly motivate people’s beliefs, their fears. keeping in mind fear is usually very irrational and so very hard to reason with.

People fear Muslims, fear Obama, fear Democrats, fear government control. That’s very strong motivation to listen and be influenced to a political Elite on the right.

Posted on Dec 21, 2010 at 2:53pm by Gnostikosis Comment #14

Okay, this is funny.  All the people pretending to be conservatives rushing in to prove Poe’s law.  “Obama’s not an American!”  “Sadam did have weapons of mass destruction, because he had them before, and before and now mean the same thing!”  “Obama raised our taxes!”

Hilarious!!!  I mean, you guys sound just like a bunch of brain dead inbred Bush worshipers.  Dead on accurate tone, but you took it just a tad too far.  Not even the conservatives could be so stupid.  I mean, death panels by lack of eternal life?  That is far too much a stretch even for Glen Beck.  Sorry, just not buying that you are that stupid.  Funny, though, you are.  I laughed, after an initial face palm thinking you might be serious.

Here’s a way to see if you’re one of the ignorant fools that is thinking the wrong thing and digging in, fighting to retain your ignorance: look at the facts.  Obama has records proving his American birth.  No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, proving Sadam was innocent of those charges (only those charges) that led to war.  The public option did not have death panels, and ending life support would have remained the same for the government as it is for private insurance.  Obama reduced our taxes.  These are all easily verifiable facts, not matters of opinion.  You don’t get to argue about these.  Not even democracies get to vote on gravity.  If you need to make up conspiracy charges to explain the facts presented, that’s you digging in to defend your personal stupidity.  Sorry, that’s how we determine reality from make believe.  I don’t want to call you stupid, but you are.

The “Elite” title was a nice touch, too.  Conservatives are the only ones calling out “smart,” “educated,” “well spoken,” “learned,” and “diplomatic” as insults.  You know you’ve been losing brain cells when you admit proudly to being stupid.  “Dis ere’ cuntry goan git ruled by weez lowr’n'avrige folk!”  Yeah, what a battle cry.

Posted on Dec 21, 2010 at 8:08pm by KingofNH Comment #15

I’m just a newbie here (and an always suspect Kanuck at that) but I’m confused at how we got from the well-known phenomenon of cognitive dissonance (which is inherently interesting ) to polarized politics in a city second. Am I missing something?

The former occurs in many situations in life, the latter appears in the U.S. and has to do with how people from a two-party system stereotype those not of their political stripe.

Hmmm.

Pelagic

Posted on Dec 23, 2010 at 9:04pm by pelagic Comment #16

I’m just a newbie here (and an always suspect Kanuck at that) but I’m confused at how we got from the well-known phenomenon of cognitive dissonance (which is inherently interesting ) to polarized politics in a city second. Am I missing something?

The former occurs in many situations in life, the latter appears in the U.S. and has to do with how people from a two-party system stereotype those not of their political stripe.

Hmmm.

Pelagic

Perhaps cognitive dissonance might be found in the different interpretations by the ruling parties in the US, on what is good for a country (or a city).
In the US, the Republicans traditionally “were” the party on the economic side of our social/economic system. The Democrats traditionally are more socially progressive.
Thus there can be a socio/economic problem in a nation and each political side views this problem from a different perspective.

Posted on Dec 23, 2010 at 11:10pm by Write4U Comment #17

I’m just a newbie here (and an always suspect Kanuck at that) but I’m confused at how we got from the well-known phenomenon of cognitive dissonance (which is inherently interesting ) to polarized politics in a city second. Am I missing something?

The former occurs in many situations in life, the latter appears in the U.S. and has to do with how people from a two-party system stereotype those not of their political stripe.

Hmmm.

Pelagic

Quoted from Wikipedia….

Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

I think the US two party political system is a prime example of this.

Posted on Dec 24, 2010 at 12:13am by Gnostikosis Comment #18

I’m just a newbie here (and an always suspect Kanuck at that) but I’m confused at how we got from the well-known phenomenon of cognitive dissonance (which is inherently interesting ) to polarized politics in a city second. Am I missing something?

The former occurs in many situations in life, the latter appears in the U.S. and has to do with how people from a two-party system stereotype those not of their political stripe.

Hmmm.

Pelagic

Quoted from Wikipedia….

Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying. It is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

I think the US two party political system is a prime example of this.

For the past 2 years, true. But if you see what the Obama government actually has accomplished despite the rancor, it gives one hope that eventually our democratic system will correct itself.
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/rulings/promise-kept/

Posted on Dec 24, 2010 at 1:26am by Write4U Comment #19

This will probably sound off the wall but isn’t the definition of a democracy a government *by* the people? If this is truly the case, then what I’m reading is more like…two countries, if you see what I mean. If there are such diametrically opposed veiw points, than the government ( i.e. the people of the country) is not *one* democracy and country -  but two.

(just trying to understand, here)

Posted on Dec 24, 2010 at 2:25am by pelagic Comment #20

Yes, but we are actually a Republic… ;-P

Posted on Dec 24, 2010 at 2:27am by asanta Comment #21

This will probably sound off the wall but isn’t the definition of a democracy a government *by* the people? If this is truly the case, then what I’m reading is more like…two countries, if you see what I mean. If there are such diametrically opposed veiw points, than the government ( i.e. the people of the country) is not *one* democracy and country -  but two.

(just trying to understand, here)

Opposed viewpoints by who? You mentioned the government (i.e. the people of the country), but who is the opposing group? Also the country?

It is part of the overall democratic operating system of “checks and balances”.
Actually the lawmaking and enforcement mechanism in the US is a very sophisticated system with many build-in safe guards. A federal law must pass 4 tests, which may involve vigorous debate. But if a law is just and good for the country as a whole it is almost always adopted with bipartisan support. But as with many very large and complicated organizations and services, there is opportunity for abuse of government powers. But few can avoid public exposure and possible legal action when that occurs.
Most politicians (from either party) are indeed honest and effective representatives of their state and local constituents. Many remain honest and continue to be examples of democratic representation. Then there are some who forget their oath of service.

Nationally, there is a natural ebb and flow of focus on economic or social or constitunional problems which require adjustments. It is a constant back and forth of priorities. This is what makes our system so flexible and dynamic (at a “measured” pace).

But there can certainly be dissonance of viewpoints. Freedom of speech is best method for bringing things out into the daylight.
And daylight is a powerful incentive to resolve those cognitive dissonances…. :cheese:

Posted on Dec 24, 2010 at 3:10am by Write4U Comment #22

Yes, I agree. That is why I don’t understand when I read the depiction of Democrats by Republicans and visa versa how these very opposed ideas of what kind of people should be the ‘stuff’ of the U.S. can exist at the same time yet rule effectively for all. I do understand that I am at the mercy of various U.S. and world news media and the people I personally know for my view points, but it seems there exist some very unpassable bridges.

I DO hope that what you say about ‘checks and balances’ is so yet it seems hard to reconcile such things as religion ruling government versus seperation of church and state .

Or the car dealership in Florida that was giving away AKA47 assault rifles with every truck sold. Thank you lord.

Please understand I come from a different culture and I *don’t* want to believe the things I read and hear. Yet someone from the U.S. told me the other day that the reason the Canadians have a medicare system is that all medical facilities and doctors just book off for two months a year. And she really…believed that. I just laughed and said well yeah, we cull the population that way - it’s cheaper. But they took me seriously.

It’s difficult to say just what I mean ( piss off, T.S., I’m posting here!) . I was greatly heartened when Obama was elected. Yet I was listening to a ‘Birther’ - and he was a Senator! who would not believe your president was born there. It’s difficult for me to understand when such respectable representatives speak for large numbers of people.

Ebb and flow I understand. Two groups talking about the other as if they were from another planet and depict everyone who doesn’t believe what they do to be dark traitors is another thing.

It just seems like two different worlds. Again, I do hope what you say is true. It was heartening to see the bills that have been passed down there in the last week and I hope it can continue.  For surely a decomcracy which represents the very best interests of it’s people will proceed to tend to their well-being. 

Thanks for your answers.

Pelagic

Posted on Dec 24, 2010 at 3:30am by pelagic Comment #23

Yes, I agree. It just seems like two different worlds. Again, I do hope what you say is true. It was heartening to see the bills that have been passed down there in the last week and I hope it can continue.  For surely a decomcracy which represents the very best interests of it’s people will proceed to tend to their well-being. 

Thanks for your answers.

Pelagic

You are welcome pelagic.

I can point to an issue which is truly controversial. Strangely it is a disagreement between the country (people) and the Supreme Court. It recently ruled that corporations can contribute unlimited funds to a candidate’s campaign. It ruled that a corporation has equal status as a person and “money” (campaign donation) is a form of speech and as such cannot be restricted.
Personally, I have a great cognitive dissonance with the Court on that. That may well pose a great danger to a true democracy.
I’d hate to see the US become a plutocracy.

Posted on Dec 24, 2010 at 3:46am by Write4U Comment #24

Way back in the 80’s one of my first online discussions related to the idea the US was founded as a Christian country.  I pointed to the Treaty of Tripoli, to letters by the founding fathers, to memoirs of the people who were involved in the process, and none of that seemed to matter.

Nearly thirty years later I still hear the same arguments, sometimes made by famous pundits on TV.  Now, I can excuse “regular” people for sometimes not taking the time to look up stuff.  But those guys have vast research departments at their disposal (or maybe it’s just Mildred, down on the third floor).  Heck, these days it takes less than 10 seconds to pull up quotes, scans of actual letters, etc. etc.  In these cases I don’t think people are “resisting” so much as out-right lying. 

I believe they operate under the idea that if you repeat something long enough, it will gain merit, import, and slowly turn into the truth. 

Sadly, I gave up arguing the matter of a Christian Nation.  Now I am arguing against the very people who, according to what I hear on the show, are not prone to the same denyalism as them lousy conservatives.

I argue about gun ownership, or more specific, carry permits.  In the past 10 years or so all but a few states went from “may issue” to “shall issue” laws.  In every instance, as the proposed change in laws were debated, dire predictions of bloodbaths, and people running amok, floated in the media by organizations and people who are adamantly against my right to carry a gun (I do, in case anyone wonders).  None of those predictions have come true.  As a rule, people who carry have very few brushes with the law, much less than the national average (probably because they are screened and vetted, and have to pass tests, etc).  Here in El Paso county, Colorado, 6 people had their licenses revoked . . . out of 16,772 (0.034%), (http://www.gazette.com/news/permits-110591-concealed-carry.html) most only because they were drunk while a gun was in the car; they did not actually use it.  By the way, in Colorado it’s legal to have a loaded weapon in the car, even without a permit. 

Mooney asks what one can do when facts will not sway people from their erroneous beliefs.  I sure would like to know, because mountains of data apparently have no effect on either the Right or Left when it comes to their own “Darling Issues”.

Although some people seem adamant in wanting to paint only one side with the “stupid” brush.

Posted on Jan 06, 2011 at 9:23pm by ejdalise Comment #25

Sadly, I gave up arguing the matter of a Christian Nation.  Now I am arguing against the very people who, according to what I hear on the show, are not prone to the same denyalism as them lousy conservatives.

I argue about gun ownership, or more specific, carry permits.  In the past 10 years or so all but a few states went from “may issue” to “shall issue” laws.  In every instance, as the proposed change in laws were debated, dire predictions of bloodbaths, and people running amok, floated in the media by organizations and people who are adamantly against my right to carry a gun (I do, in case anyone wonders).  None of those predictions have come true.  As a rule, people who carry have very few brushes with the law, much less than the national average (probably because they are screened and vetted, and have to pass tests, etc).  Here in El Paso county, Colorado, 6 people had their licenses revoked . . . out of 16,772 (0.034%), (http://www.gazette.com/news/permits-110591-concealed-carry.html) most only because they were drunk while a gun was in the car; they did not actually use it.  By the way, in Colorado it’s legal to have a loaded weapon in the car, even without a permit. 

Mooney asks what one can do when facts will not sway people from their erroneous beliefs.  I sure would like to know, because mountains of data apparently have no effect on either the Right or Left when it comes to their own “Darling Issues”.

Although some people seem adamant in wanting to paint only one side with the “stupid” brush.

I understand your point. Allow me a few observations.
First, I consider myself a social liberal, but a fiscal conservative. Thus I am a little of this and a little of that. When I debate a specific idea, I try not to label the other party conservative or liberal, but address the issue as a concerned human being exploring the merits of the ideas presented by another concerned human being. I wager, most here are of the same stripe in that regard.
I have heard many adjectives in discussions, but never got the impression that “conservatism” is a dirty word in and of itself.
Science is a very conservative endeavor, not subject to liberal interpretations.
btw. I live in Idaho, also a very “conservative” state with very “liberal” gun laws. I can see justification for owning and carrying a gun in states where you may wake up and find a grizzly in your back yard, trying to come through a window as was the case with a friend of mine. I have had to kill several skunks which tried to make their home under my log cabin or were raiding the chicken coop. The necessity of protection from natural predators is accepted by most all reasonable people.
However when a person, instead of a shotgun, buys a assault weapon which is designed to kill people, and is not very practical on the “farm”, it worries me. I wager, as a responsible person, the gun you carry is not an assault rifle.
But when we get to large metropolitan areas, it is a different situation. People there carry guns for protection from human predators. As a result we do have what may be called a blood bath in the cities. I believe the US is ranked high in violent crime. Strangely most deaths occur from accidental or emotional shootings. This is to be expected when you have millions of guns floating around.
So we have a cunundrum, protect yourself from crime by having a gun, or reducing the availability of guns to minimize accidental or emotional shootings.
IMO, a happy medium can be arrived at. First, I agree with the concept of a permit, which registers the gun and owner. Second, outlaw assault weapons or any weapon which has a specific military use, other than hunting or self protection. Third, pass a test in gun safety and care, similar to a driver’s test. Fourth, severe penalties for crimes involving guns. Fifth, if you belong to a (well regulated) militia and wish to buy a military weapon; signing a declaration of the organization’s name, purpose and by-laws.
I hope we have common ground on those issues, without having to resort to terms like “conservative’ or “liberal”.

Posted on Jan 06, 2011 at 11:28pm by Write4U Comment #26

My intent was to point out the propensity for ignoring data on both sides of the political spectrum, not necessary to engage a gun debate.

That said, the bloodbath you point to is mainly drug and gang related.  And I might mention that swords can be assault weapons if used in such a way. 

But you can also look at raw and filtered FBI statistics related to “assault weapon” usage in the commission of crimes, and determine if they are indeed as severe a problem as you seem to think they are.  Then you might consider the definition of assault weapon itself. 

The point I am trying to make is that at the root of it it boils down to your perception versus mine as to what constitutes something the public should be allowed to have access to.  If we were to sit down and debate the issue, which will not happen here, you would have to come up with data to 1) back up what you say, and 2) counter my arguments. 

I can tell you that like arguing against religion, debating against arguments to ban guns comes down to arguing against an ideological belief, and consequently it does not matter how much data you bring to bear on the discussion.  The unfortunate result is that at the end it boils down to people telling me what I can and cannot do not based on what I might do, or have actually done, but rather on their fear of what I might do.

To me, that is the antithesis of a free society.  Apparently not all agree.

Posted on Jan 07, 2011 at 7:34am by ejdalise Comment #27