Skeptical Thinking: How to Avoid Falling Victim to Baloney
In this article Sagan has presented many tools for identifying fact from fiction. He provides guidelines on what we should look for as we determine the validity of an argument. In this essay I will focus on examples of how the United States government has made decisions not succumb to public opinion but instead to use facts in determining its course of action.
The home mortgage crisis, which became an economic fiasco for many, sparked extreme criticism and debate amongst all. It is fair for the government, and in essence all taxpayers, to bail out everyone, help no one or determine who really needs and deserves help?
To take action to help all homeowners who found themselves underwater in their mortgages when the real estate bubble burst would not have been in the best interest of our economy. A closer look at this issue identifies roughly three classes of homeowners: those who purchased homes at prices clearly above their means, those who were financially responsible and purchased what they could afford and those who may not have faced an extreme hardship in meeting their obligations but may have been looking for an opportunity to get out of a financially unfavorable situation.
While the sharp downturn in home values could not have been predicted, I believe that the government took the appropriate approach in handling the situation. Favoring any one of these classes of homeowners would have placed our economy in a perilous situation and labeled our government as an enabler. The governments’ answer to this situation was to design various programs to help most classes of homeowners (e.g. FHA Back to Work Program, USDA, and Making Home Affordable). Federally mandated and monitored mortgage qualification rules are now in place. Homeowners adversely affected by a loss in value have opportunities to refinance and homeowners are required to prove their ability to afford the mortgage requested. This approach does not bail out everyone, it does provide relief based on the homeowners needs and does not serve as a blanket solution for all. As a result over the last 5-6 years the housing market has effectively begun to correct itself.
President Barack Obama faced harsh criticism during his presidential campaign. Attacks against his character, citizenship and loyalty to America were abundant. Forced to prove his American citizenship, President Obama produced a certified long and short version of his birth certificate.
Immediately critics, also known as “birthers,” charged that both documents were entirely forged and fabricated. Since first released in 2008, his birth certificate has been the subject of many conspiracy theories and reviewed by many document experts. Legitimate news outlets (e.g. CBS News, Fox News) have reported numerous stories about the fallacy of the documents. Independent analysis has been done by private citizens, various local governments at the state level...