Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

Cut to the Source

One of the responsibilities of a skeptical thinker is to get to the source of information as best you can.  When someone makes a statement or claim, its you job to query them about sources and how the data was obtained. A friend of mine, with a diametrically opposing world view to me told me this recently:

I just refinanced my house to protect myself from what seems to be the inevitable hyper inflation that is coming. It was interesting talking to the guy. The bank is XXX and I asked him if they took any bailout money. He went on to tell me that they didn’t need or want it but were forced to take the minimum of about $55M. They were/are in good shape and hold their own loans. So should this bank now be beholden to King Obama?

Sounded weird to hear that they were forced to take a loan. Other banks that are still in existence didn't have to take part in that bailout, why should his bank? Then I realized that this was just some dude at the bank, prone to every logical fallacy and bit of gossip that everyone else is prone to. So I asked if my friend actually pressed him on where this information came from… He responded with:

Ok he lied to me you know everything. All bankers are evil.

Which is of course not what I was implying or even said. It’s just that whether people mean to or not, information gets screwed up.

By now you have probably read many reviews of the Obama Stimulus plan. Conservatives have certainly printed their opinions about it. Here is a skeptic that has also. But its not easy to find the source, much less the most recent one: All of those opinions are based on old versions of the stimulus package, a bill that was in constant flux since it was first introduced in the House. So, here, read the latest full summary for yourself. Where did I get this summary? I know someone that knows someone.

Check out the end, do you see something wrong? LOL.

Debt Limit Increase. The bill increases the statutory limit on the public debt by $789 billion, from $11.315 billion to $12.104 billion.

I think they need a T.

Can someone link me to the actual bill itself? I tried to get the link at the senate, but as of today, its jammed up.


On 2/15/09, 9:24 AM , Skeptico said...

I did see the BofA chairman on 60 minutes some months ago saying that Paulson had insisted it was his and all bank's duty to participate:

"Now explain, why was it so important to the government that everybody agreed, that the nine largest banks are ALL in this?" Stahl asked.

"If you have a bank in that group that really, really needed the capital, you don’t want to expose that bank," Lewis said.

"In other words, stigmatize it."

"Right, exactly."

"So everybody knows that they’re not as good as somebody else."


- source CBS:

So your guy may not be wrong.

On 2/15/09, 10:06 AM , Techskeptic said...

He may not be, but this bank is not one of the nine largest, not even top 25. But the point was that he just took the information as god's word, without even bothering to ask about the veracity of the statement.

On 2/15/09, 10:49 AM , Skeptico said...

Well, you wrote "Sounded weird to hear that they were forced to take a loan..." - and yet it does appear that some banks were indeed forced to take loans.

On 2/15/09, 12:33 PM , Techskeptic said...

true enough. Still sounds weird.