Category Archives: Argument Analysis

A catch all category for posts which analyze arguments without diagnosing specific failures of logic.

Ron Paul’s analogical reasoning

In the comments on the previous post, NashvilleBrian suggested we take a look at Ron Paul's argument that the SEAL raid to kill OBL was 'absolutely not necessary.'  It all sounded very much like the Ron Paul who impressed me back in '08 — insisting that we respect national boundaries for sovereignty, cooperate with other governments, and so on.  Of course, the folks at FOX News are going nuts about it.  I was curious, and I took a look.

In an interview with Simon Conway (the excerpt posted here), Paul made two arguments for pursuing OBL in Pakistan in a different way. 

The first argument was that Pakistan is an ally and a sovereign country.  It is a serious breach of international law to show up with a military force inside of another country without their knowledge — even if we are subsidizing their military.  Paul makes this point with an analogy:

I think respect for the rule of law and world law and international law. What if he'd been in a hotel in London?

This seems reasonable, if only to show that, assuming we'd balk at sending choppers into the outskirts of London, the trouble is to say what's the relevant difference.  Excepting the thought that folks have been expressing concerns that Pakistan hadn't really been pursuing OBL. (I'll come to that at the end of the post.) And of course, if we had the intel and gave it to the Pakistanis and ran backup, that'd done the job, right?  Again, I don't know, but it's on those who are reacting so strongly to Paul to explain why that's a bad plan.  Not to just go crazy and say he's not fit for the presidency.   Another thing to address is Paul's second analogy — that between the pursuit of OBL and KSM.  With Kalid Sheikh Mohammed, we relied on the Pakistanis to apprehend him.  They got him just fine. Here's Paul:

I think things could have been done somewhat differently.  I would suggest the way they got Khalid [Sheikh] Mohammed. We went and cooperated with Pakistan. They arrested him, actually, and turned him over to us, and he's been in prison. Why can't we work with the government?

In that case, Pakistan showed themselves to be a reliable ally and capable terrorist-hunting government.  So what gives?  Have the facts on the ground changed in a significant way since then?  Perhaps they have — KSM was caught on Musharraf's watch, and there is now a very different government.  But is that relevant?  Again, I don't know, but isn't it the job of those criticizing Paul to explain where the error is?  Instead we get stuff like this:

"If there is any doubt that Ron Paul should not even get near the Oval Office, even on a tour of the White House, he has just revealed it," Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips said on his website. "For a Congressman to say the raid to kill the man who is one of the greatest mass murderers of Americans in history was, 'not necessary,' is simply nuts."

Well, at least it is clear that Phillips disagrees with Paul.  Not at all clear why.  Sigh.

Now, a point about Paul's last analogy.  I'm not convinced by it.  Pakistan was cooperative with KSM, but that was still pretty close in time to 9/11, and they haven't exactly been cooperative before.  And especially with OBL. As noted by Ed Morrisey at Hot Air, the Pakistani Intelligence Service provided the intel for Bill Clinton's strike on OBL, but they also tipped him that it was coming.  Oh, and it's not like they've done a bang-up job chasing him down in the meantime.  Again, that's not a reason to not respect their sovereignty, but it does weaken the reasons for Paul's confidence that cooperation would have worked.

I strongly assert

I was recently at a conference.  I attended one paper where the presenter kept using the expression, "I strongly assert…" as a means of premise-introduction.  Once, it was used in the context of disagreement.  And so:  "Some say not-p, but I strongly assert p."  I found this locution and its use jarring.  It seems exceedingly dogmatic, and moreover, what exactly does 'strongly' mean, anyhow?  Confidently, loudly, as though in ALLCAPS? 

A question for the NS readership: What is the most charitable reading of this locution?

Here's my shot.  In the event of a conference paper, you can't give an argument for every premise or every case where there's a disagreement.  Conference papers require tight focus, and so the point is to argue where it is most important, and everything else is left to either bald assertion or apologetic bracketing.  That's the art of academic essays.  And so 'I strongly assert' stands as a proof-surrogate in these contexts.  Now, I think it's a pretty awkward proof surrogate (as one can just as well, and less contentiously, say 'let's assume p, here'), but it at least isn't a major breach of argumentative practice.

That reading is my most charitable, but it still doesn't sit well with me.  Any help from those more familiar with this phrase?

A circular argument against begging the question

A puzzle for the readers of the NonSequitur

Colin, John and I will be attending the upcoming Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation (OSSA) conference in the coming weeks.  We're presenting a version of the Subjunctive Tu Quoque argument (Colin blazed the trail here). 

To the point, I'm slated to comment on a paper with the thesis that there are virtuous circular arguments.  I've posed a challenge to the author, with the following argument:

P1: There are no virtuous circular arguments.

C: Therefore, there are no virtuous circular arguments.

The challenge is to explain, if there are virtuous circular arguments, what is wrong with P1 being used to support C. Of course, the author doesn't get to say that P1 begs the question.

Is this out of bounds?  Moreover, if the challenge can't be met, what follows?

Give me more absurdum on that reductio!

The philosophical lexicon is an old and funny web resource, and one of the most famous entries on it is the rhetorical strategy of "outsmarting" a dialectical opponent:

outsmart, v. To embrace the conclusion of one's opponent's reductio ad absurdum argument. "They thought they had me, but I outsmarted them. I agreed that it was sometimes just to hang an innocent man."

It's in reference to J.J.C. Smart's famous concession that Utilitarianism does entail that consequence, and so it should be just to do so.  In my department, we regularly make reference to the move.  Your view about perceptual justification entails external world skepticism?  Embrace skepticism – you never really know anything!  This view about justice requires that some people can be made slaves?  Embrace slavery as just – of course there are natural slaves!  Congratulations, you just outsmarted your critics.

A new case of outsmarting was just sent along to me by a colleague.  It goes like this.  Suppose that an asteroid is heading toward earth, surely to destroy it.  Does libertarianism make room for the use of tax money to be used to destroy the asteroid and save the world?  Or would that be excessively paternalistic about how we want to meet our end?  Or would it be theft, nevertheless? The Onion did a spoof on how Republicans would reject the plan on the basis of how the government's actions would get in the way of a free enterprise solution.  That was parody, but Sasha Volokh, over at the Volokh Conspiracy, has a different sort of reason, but of the same spirit and leading to the same conclusion:

I don’t speak for all libertarians, but I think there’s a good case to be made that taxing people to protect the Earth from an asteroid, while within Congress’s powers, is an illegitimate function of government from a moral perspective. I think it’s O.K. to violate people’s rights (e.g. through taxation) if the result is that you protect people’s rights to some greater extent (e.g. through police, courts, the military). But it’s not obvious to me that the Earth being hit by an asteroid (or, say, someone being hit by lightning or a falling tree) violates anyone’s rights; if that’s so, then I’m not sure I can justify preventing it through taxation.

Crooked Timber's already made the Poe's Law observation about this (too bad, because Poe's my thing these days), but this does seem the sort of reduction to absurdity that should make the full-bore libertarian hesitate.  Even J.J. Smart has a moment "which makes [him] wonder whether after all [he] really is a utilitarian."  Volokh, too, notes that "this does make me uncomfortable."   Yeah, me too. 

Arguments from Fidelity

Previously on the NonSequitur, I'd reconstructed the core arguments of Steve Gimbel's innovative and rhetorically powerful "Open Letter to Students."  Overall, there are three arguments not to plagiarize: (1) the moral argument: it's theft, it's lying; (2) the practical argument: it's a bad gamble; and (3) the argument from fidelity: in plagiarizing, the student breaks a bond of trust with the teacher (and one the teacher has upheld).

The trouble is that arguments from fidelity are considered fallacy forms.  They may either be a sub-class of arguments from pity or at least they are considered in the same family as arguments from pity and the other emotive-expressive argument forms that generally fail relevance tests.  (E.g., arguments from outrage, wishful thinking, arguments from envy, etc.)  Additionally, arguments from fidelity also work on a person's self-identification as a member of some group or other, and so they rely on the similar forms of reasoning as ad populum arguments.  The rough class of affections these arguments key on are: the desire to belong, the desire to see oneself as loyal and constant, the desire to be proud of one's ties.  Some examples:

A1: You're a Titans fan. How could  you criticize Jeff Fisher like that?

A2: Your job in this organization is to off the snitches, so you owe it to us to nail anyone who's squealing.

The trouble with both A1 and A2 are that the fidelity the person addressed by them has to these organizations underdetermines what that person's supposed to do.  With A1, anyone familiar with the NFL knows that being a fan of a team means that you find yourself having more critical things to say about your own coach than you do about other teams' coaches.  A2 works on loyalty a little differently, as here deviating would be breaking the bond with the organization.  But that is the right thing to do (the problem, of course is that someone will fill your position and likely come to murder you, but that's a different issue).  The point is that A1 and A2 show two different ways that arguments from loyalty can fail. Here's a basic schema for the arguments:

P1: You are a member of X

P2: If you are a member of X, you have an obligation do A (as an expression of your loyal membership in X)

Therefore, you should do A

The problem with A1 is that P2 is false in its case.  The problem with A2 is that even though P2 is true, the obligation to A does not trump the moral reasons not to A (in this case, A=murder).  So the conclusion does not follow. 

Back to Gimbel's argument.  Here's the reconstruction:

P1: You (student) are a member of this student-teacher relationship.

P2: If you are a (student) member of this relationship, you have an obligation to turn in non-plagiarized work. (or: refrain from plagiarizing…)

C; Therefore, you should not plagiarize. Plagairizing is a failure of loyalty to this relationship.

Two ways arguments from fidelity can fail are, I think, in A1 and A2 fashion.  I think Steve's argument passes these tests.  It passes the A1 test, because P2 is true in Steve's case.  Syllabi, honor codes, and things like that make it so it's clear what a student's role is.  It passes the A2 test, because there are no moral reasons that trump the transmission of obligations of group membership to what one ought to do.  In fact, because of the moral argument against plagiarizing, the support for the conclusion is strengthened, not weakened (as with A2).

Arguments from loyalty place a prima facie obligation on others, and we can recognize those obligations in the shame we'd feel were we not to live up to those obligations.  That's what make these emotional arguments.  But their emotionality need not make them fallacious.  They are fallacies when they either proceed from false presumptions about what one's obligations are as a loyal X or from the thougth that even if one has prima facie obligations to X to do A, they are always ultima facie oblligations to do A.  In Gimbel's case, he's made neither error.  His case, then, aggregative.  The moral, practical, and fiduciary arguments converge on the same conclusion. 

Stop calling us stupid bigots, you arrogant leftist elitists!

Ah, nothing warms my heart like someone pointing out fallacies.  But pointing out ad hominem abusive is, really, just a little too easy.  And people, especially because they often take criticism of their views to also be criticism of them personally, over-report instances of this fallacy.  (Easy way to see this: imagine someone's just told you, in the midst of an argument, "think about it" — what's the implication but that you've not thought about it yet?)

The Professional Right has been put off by how often what they've seen as the ad hominem abusive gets used against them.  Ann Coulter, if you'll remember, had a whole book cataloging all the names conservatives have been called.  Carol Platt Liebau (over at has weighed in on the issue, and she's against being called a stupid bigot.  And so with the (ahem) Ground Zero Mosque debate:

The recent debate about an imam’s plans to locate a large mosque at Ground Zero has highlighted, as never before, the liberal elite’s utter contempt for the sensibilities of regular Americans. From the President on down, those in favor of the mosque’s construction at Ground Zero have characterized the opponents as ruled only by emotion – especially animus toward all Muslims.

And on the recent California gay marriage case:

Recently, an unelected federal judge struck down a state constitutional amendment passed by a solid majority of Californians – and supported by a majority of Americans generally – that defined marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. He did so by concluding that there was no rational basis for the measure he had overturned; its only conceivable purpose, according to the judge, was to “enshrine in the California Constitution” an assertion that “opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.” In other words, Judge Vaughn Walker characterized every single American who has reservations about changing the age-old institution of marriage as irrational bigots.

She sees these liberal types as taking the argumentative situation as one with utter dopes and fools:

Given that the President, Vaughn Walker, and much of the commentariat in favor of the Ground Zero mosque are part of the supposed intellectual and cultural “elite” in this country, the arrogance – and paucity of their moral imagination – is breathtaking. In their formulation, stupidity, ignorance and bigotry are the only conceivable reasons for opposition to anything they deem moral or just.

I am very much sympathetic to Liebau's point — it's best to have as one's defaults that one's argumentative opponents are reasonable, moral humans.  That not only prevents escalation, but it also will likely make it so that both sides will actually work together on finding an acceptable solution to the disagreement.  (I've actually got some research with Robert Talisse  in the works on what we call the "no reasonable alternatives" mindset that all too often takes over when one enters into clear argumentative contexts — more later on that.)  One of the ways to keep from feeding argumentative escalation is to keep the ad hominem temptation down — just because they're wrong about some matter of moral significance needn't mean that they are benighted, stupid, or evil.  It just means they're wrong.  And so now Liebau is going to show us how to do disagreement respectfully? Right? …  Right?

Their intellectual and personal disrespect for those who disagree with them is breathtaking – and it is unleavened by even the slightest dash of humility. . . . The irony, of course, is that in its eagerness to denounce the intolerance and shortsightedness of the masses, the liberal elite reveals itself to be shortsighted and intolerant. . . .  Increasingly, that kind of contempt emanates from those who consider themselves the meritocracy’s crowning glory.  To put it in terms they can understand, it’s hypocritical to claim solidarity with “the common man” while despising everything he holds dear.

Oh well.  Glad to see that someone's good at least good at recognizing abusive language in others.  It's a start.  Of sorts.

I will politicize free will!

Another addition to the evaluation of rock and roll argumentation.  Last time, Jem suggested a discussion of Rush's "Free Will."  Here goes. (Lyrics here)

I remember back in high school when someone told me that Rush was 'thinking man's music.'  I heard some of the songs, and I wasn't really sure what what my friend was getting at.  In fact, it was "Free Will" that he played for me, and my opinion now is pretty much the same.  Geddy Lee/Neil Peart are just confused about the whole metaphysical issue, and this confusion leads them to some pretty harsh judgments of the downtrodden. 

In a nutshell, "Free Will" is the following set of commitments. #1: If you are committed to fatalism or determinism, you are looking to lay the responsibility for your life's failings on anyone or anything but yourself. (Fate, the gods, and perhaps social conditions).  #2. Laying the responsibility for one's life (and its failings) outside oneself leads one to inaction.  #3. If you are committed to free will, you hold yourself responsible for your life.  #4. If you hold yourself responsible for your life, you are more active in that life.

The first two commitments are the ones that get the most attention, and so the majority of the song is out to cast the poor as people who rationalize their poverty as a consequence of fate, when it actually is because of their own inaction.

There are those who think that they were dealt a losing hand,
The cards were stacked against them; they weren't born in Lotusland.

The implication of 'Lotusland' is that the only benefits that some people appreciate are those of sloth.  Alternately, the case for #3 and #4 is made but briefly:

I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill.

In a way, the Rush strategy is akin to the old pragmatist reconstructions of metaphysical views.  In this case, determinism/fatalism is pragmatically a form of passivity and irresponsibility, and libertarianism is a form of activity and responsibility.  So choosing a metaphysics is equivalent to choosing what kind of person you will be (and  the consequences of being that person). 

The implication is that if you help others (especially because you see them as mere victims of fate), you consequently encourage their further dependence. 

You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill

The conclusions (suppressed of course) are that: C1: One ought to choose the active and responsible life. C2: So one should choose free will as a metaphysics.  C3: Those who live the passive and irresponsible life (and suffer the poverty and ills that come with it) are nevertheless responsible for that life, because "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice".  (And so: the poor have, really, chosen to be that way!)  Finally, because treating the poor as though they are victims of fate promotes their conception of themselves as passive and not responsible for their lives, C4: We ought not even help the poor (as, again, that would be "kindness that can kill").

I will limit myself to three criticisms.  First, the fact of moral luck seems perfectly obvious.  No matter how active a farmer you are, you can't use  your free will to choose that your crops not be eaten by locusts or withered by a drought.  Your choosing free will has no impact on whether you are part of your company's downsizing, that you get brain cancer, or develop a psychosis.  (This song will set you straight on that.) No matter how free will-ist you are, if you're born to a family with little money, no interest in education or social improvement, and a proclivity to violence, it doesn't take much figuring to lay odds on your coming life.  So sometimes it's a reasonable attitude to blame the fates.

Second, there is nothing in the argument that shows that it is true that there is free will, only that believing that you have free will makes you more active.  So far, a Hellenistic fatalist could accept that.  In fact, the old fatalists like Euripides had a term for the thought that their fates were in their own hands — hubris.    Unless it is false that the gods control the world, Rush's suggestions here put his listeners in danger of one of the greatest errors mortals could make, that is, taking themselves to be like gods.  I presume that Rush has taken it for granted that the gods aren't in control, but that makes their whole argument from consequences superfluous.  In fact, it makes the whole song (as an argument) beg the question.

Third, and finally, the two rhetorically most powerful moments in the song key on the fact that one has "chosen" one of the options between freedom and fatalism/determinism.  The first is that if you go with fatalism, "you still have made a choice," and the second is that Geddy/Neil "will choose free will."   But the free will – determinism issue can be recast to  bear on whether the choice in either of these cases is determined.  So the determinist maybe could say: Sure, you choose free will.  That's exactly the kind of person you are — you're a stridently independent, anti-authoritarian, rock and roller.  That's what they all choose.  The fact that you choose free will just goes to show how determined you are.   As a consequence, this choice business, despite the fact that it's the rhetorical peak of the song, is an utter argumentative failure.

Oh, and the guitar solo is a noodly mess, too.

An Exercise in Scarequoting

Classic downplaying is the strategy of making something look less important or significant.  You can do this with euphemisms, so you can call a pay cut "salary compression," or you can call the victims of indiscriminate use of lethal force "collateral damage."  Another strategy is to employ the terms of regular use, but use scare quotes around the terms.  This method of downplaying at once both acknowledges that some use the term to describe the case, but it also registers your objection to it.  No reasons are given, but it's a clear wink to one's preferred audience, a kind of code to let them know that it's a larger cultural battle in the works. But also note that scarequoting just communicates this challenge to the naming, but not its grounds or even what the alternatives are.  It is a particularly weak and lazy form of criticism, one that effectively relies on the audience to supply their own arguments.

In the wake of the leaked Katie Couric tape, with Couric laughing at Sara Palin's kids names, Douglas MacKinnon re-opens the case that Sara Palin was treated unfairly by the media in '08.  He thinks her performances in the Gibson interview (when she couldn't define the Bush Doctrine) and Couric interview (when, she couldn't name a single news magazine) were because of the treachery of the liberals who ran the interviews.  But the real fault lays with the McCain campaign for not protecting her from these ambushes.  That's weird, as it seems that these questions were hardly surprises and could have easily been turned into cases for Palin to showcase her knowledge of politics and foreign affairs, had she done any homework.  Regardless, MacKinnon has the perfect downplayer setup for his case in his opening paragraph:

As the video popped-up this week of far-left, ultra wealthy, and privileged CBS “News” anchor Katie Couric going after then Governor Sarah Palin while mocking the names of her children, it reminded me all over again how much Palin is owed an apology from the “leadership” of the McCain campaign.

That paragraph without the scare quotes still gets the point across — McCain's campaign advisers should have known that liberals would try to take down their witless VP candidate, and they should have stayed with only Sean Hannity and Greta Van Sustren interviewing her.  But with the addition, really, of no more words but a few extra marks (eight little apostrophes), MacKinnon communicates so much more and expresses (and encourages) real hostility to his opponents.

Here, let me show you.  I'll re-write my last paragraph with the addition of scare quotes.

That paragraph without the scare quotes still gets the "point" across — McCain's campaign advisers should have known that liberals would try to take down their witless VP candidate, and they should have stayed with only Sean Hannity and Greta Van Sustren "interviewing" her.  But with the addition, really, of no more words but a few extra marks (eight little apostrophes), MacKinnon "communicates" so much more and expresses (and encourages) real hostility to his opponents.

See?  It's easy to sound much more outraged by and better informed than your opponents with just a few scare quotes.  No wonder a lazy mind like MacKinnon uses them so… liberally.

Tool Quoque

The Non Sequitur is supposed to be a blog about political media, I know.  But I can't let this pass.  I was converting some old CD's to MP3 format this evening, and I set about to listening to an old Tool album, Aenima.  I'd forgotten how brooding they were and that the lyrics were intermittently profound and stupid.  And then I came to "Hooker with a Penis."  Here are the lyrics, if you need to read along, but here is the core of the song: it's an argument that you can't blame Tool for being sellouts.  The background story is that Maynard, the lead singer, is approached by some kid who accuses him of being a sellout with the latest album, and that the earlier stuff is more authentic:

And in between sips of Coke
He told me that he thought
We were sellin' out
Layin' down
Suckin' up
To the man.

Maynard responds with two separate arguments.  The first is simple garbage talk: that he, Maynard, is actually THE MAN.  So he can't sell out to the man, because he's already the man.  And furthermore, since that's the case, our accuser is ALSO the man.  
Before you point your finger
You should know that
I'm the man
If I'm the man,
Then you're the man
And He's the man as well
So you can
Point that fuckin' finger up your ass.
I suppose that this is a fine argument for people who are heavy-duty Tool-heads, since a good deal of Tool stuff is mystical mumbo-jumbo.  But, for sure, by this sort of reasoning, then Maynard is the accuser, too.  And then, consequently, he ends up telling HIMSELF to point that finger up his OWN ass.  (Logic hint: identity is a transitive relation.)  Not much of a defense, in the end.  The lesson of the first argument: mystical nonsense may be really impressive to badly dressed kids in soda shops, but it makes for crazily bad arguments. 
The second argument is a little more interesting, and given our recent spate of discussions about tu quoque arguments, it caught my eye.  The argument has two prongs. The first is basically that Tool had already sold out before their first record, and so the accuser has no legitimate basis to say that the later album is a sellout compared to the first album. The first album was a sellout album, too!   The second line of argument is that the accuser, regardless of the accusations, nevertheless BOUGHT THE RECORDS!

All you know about me is what I've sold you,
Dumb fuck
I sold out long before you ever even heard my name.
I sold my soul to make a record,
Dip shit
And then you bought one.

I see both lines of the second argument out to show that the accuser, regardless of the issue of whether Tool have sold out, actually likes sellout music.  The first line is that since Tool sold out before the first record, and the accuser likes the first record, the accuser likes sellout music.  The second line is that since the accuser BUYS records he admittedly sees as sellout music, he must thereby like sellout music.  Therefore, he has no standing to accuse Tool of being sellouts.
Again, I'm sympathetic with many tu quoque arguments, as I think they can show double standards, dishonesty in criticism, and even sometimes actually show that some cases are likely true.  But I'm not sympathetic here.  The first problem is that even if Tool sold out before the first album, that doesn't mean that their second (or later) albums are of the same quality.  Here might be a reasonable response from the accuser: Sure, you may have sold out before the first record, but it didn't start really showing until the second.  I thought you had some shred of dignity and integrity, but I suppose I was wrong about that.  Thanks for setting me straight about the fact that you've always been a sellout.
The second problem with the line of argument is the fact that the accuser bought the album hardly means that he has no standing to complain about its quality.  I have many, many CD's collecting dust in the basement  that stink.  The only way to find out if they stink, back then, was to buy them and listen to them.   It was $15 to find out that, for example, Queensryche peaked with Operation Mindcrime.  Or consider any other commodity — if I say that the Big Mac is a terrible hamburger, I'd have had to have tried it.  Which means I'd have had to have bought one.  Would my standing to criticize a Big Mac be undermined by the fact that I bought one?  What would be the only way to sample them, then, without this charge?  Steal them?
The third problem with the argument is that even if Maynard has shown the accuser to like sellout music, and even if Maynard has shown that the accuser, THE MAN, and Maynard are all the same, it has not yet mounted much of a defense for sellout music.  If there's something wrong with "sucking up to THE MAN," then showing that we're all THE MAN or that some people like sucking up to the man doesn't do much in the way of defense. 
Toolheads, I remember, took this song pretty seriously.  They still do, if you peruse the comments under the YouTube videos for the song. They thought that it showed Maynard at his best, defending himself and his music.  It may show Maynard at his best, but it's hardly a defense.  You know, when you shout a bad argument, even with distorted guitars and heavy base in the background, it doesn't get any better. 

A couple of items

In case one is interested in how philosophers have reacted to David Brooks' piece (mentioned here yesterday), then they can go over to the Leiter Reports and comment.

In case one is interested in bad arguments in general–as we are–then one can go to practice identifying them.  Have fun.

Finally, if one has been following George F. Will's scientific escapades (discussed by us here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here), one might be interested in the following article published in yesterday's Washington Post.  Here's a critical passage:

The new evidence — including satellite data showing that the average multiyear wintertime sea ice cover in the Arctic in 2005 and 2006 was nine feet thick, a significant decline from the 1980s — contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.

If only the article were distributed as widely as Will's various factually and logically challenged op-eds.  Here's Tom Toles (of the Washington Post!) on George Will: