Save Lives or Save the Rhetoric? is for those who think for themselves and follow the logic and the evidence wherever it leads. It offers an alternative to believing what others tell us through the media, the pundits, the politicians and all those partisans who benefit from their particular narratives. Whether we know it or not, we are inundated with rhetoric that is based on the numerous forms of flawed reasoning and fallacies which are discussed in this book.
The first step is to develop the skills needed to distinguish between rhetorical claims and evidence-based claims. This book provides a method to accomplish that. David H. Goldenberg presents and shows how to debug many currently relevant real world examples. Innovative discussion questions provide the reader an opportunity to practice and be actively involved.
This book is not about taking positions but about learning how to analyze and assess them using logic, evidence, data analysis, and economics—not confirmation bias. Hopefully the reader will resist the rhetoric, with its reductionism and polarization, by depoliticizing their approach to this book’s intent and content.
The goal of the examples, theory, case studies, economics, statistics, historical documents, and data analysis offered in Save Lives or Save the Rhetoric? is to provide citizens with an informed approach to examining and evaluating the issues, the rhetoric, and the evidence in order to ultimately make their own informed decisions.
The second part of the book delves into concepts and methods that any intelligent citizen may apply in order to make informed decisions about policy proposals. The objective throughout is pedagogy, not partisanship: to help the reader better understand current events, better identify the rhetoric in partisan debates, and better evaluate public policy.
David H. Goldenberg is an independent researcher experienced in detecting and correcting logical fallacies and rhetoric with evidence and data analysis. He is also the author of Derivatives Markets and the editor of Financial Derivatives.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Introduction: An Evidence-Based versus a Rhetoric-Based Approach to Understanding Public Policy
Part 1: Logic and Evidence versus Fallacies and Rhetoric
OneWhat Is an Evidence-Based Approach? Can Non-Existence be Proven?
TwoWhat Is an Evidence-Based Approach? Is Non-Proportionality Discrimination?
ThreeBasic Logic and Fallacies: Necessary versus Sufficient Conditions
FourEvidence, Economic Data, and How to Find It
SixEvidence: What it Is, What it Is Not
SevenFallacies Based on Personal Attack
Part 2: Basic Knowledge for Decision-Making and Evaluating Policy
EightMaking Good Decisions and Good Policy: Relative versus Absolute, Opportunity Costs, and Marginalism
NineCertainty versus Uncertainty: Multiple Factors, Multiple Uncertain Outcomes, Polls and Their Interpretation
TenIndividual Preferences and Opportunities, and the State’s Role: Capitalism, Communism, (Democratic) Socialism, and the Welfare State
About the Author