10-6-12 Hodgepodge

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Morality Behind "Tough Luck"

I enjoyed Don Watkins's recent post at Laissez Faire regarding the common debating tactic of anti-capitalists peppering pro-capitalists with questions based in part on the (true) premise that there are no guarantees in life -- and in part on the (false) premse that there is no selfish motivation on anyone's part to mitigate that fact.

Weekend Reading

"Opinions, by their nature, are not bad. The issue is whether they are grounded in fact and reason, and whether they can be proven." -- Michael Hurd, in "What's Your Opinion?" at DrHurd.com

"Just as we would never assume that someone possessing a state driver's license is necessarily a safe driver, patients should never assume that someone possessing a state medical license is necessarily a competent physician." -- Paul Hsieh, in "How Medical Licensing Laws Harm Patients and Trap Doctors" at PJ Media

My Two Cents

I have become a big fan of Michael Hurd over the past few years and the column linked above is a good demonstration of why. I already knew that "opinionated" shouldn't be a pejorative description, and why. But I improved my understanding of what that means on several levels by reading his piece.

For example, Hurd discusses ranking both one's certainty and the importance of airing one's opinion before speaking. I think I usually end up doing this, but until reading his column, I'd never explicitly thought about the issue of ranking. Hurd draws out some of the implications of such tests with some examples. I can see that his discussion is going to help me improve my own performance on this score, not to mention become less likely to be annoyed when I hear others who don't do this uttering their opinions.


Greg Ross recounts a vignette from World War II:

Australian Nancy Wake fought fearlessly for the Allies in World War II, first for the French resistance and later as a spy for Britain's Special Operations Executive.

Parachuted into the Auvergne in April 1944, she was hanging from a tree when a resistance fighter told her, "I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year."

She said, "Don't give me that French shit."
Photo at the above link, and more about Nancy Wake here.



Anonymous said...


My GP has often asked the following:

"What do you call a medical student who has graduated at the bottom of his class?"


In regard to being opinionated, I was once treated to the following after an argument.

"You really think you're right, don't you!?"

My reply was, "Are you in the habit of embracing positions you know to be wrong?"

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


That's a nice comeback to that kind of argument, and introduces the idea of objective, factually-based opinions to anyone you are debating with, not to mention, anyone who might be listening in/reading.