Friday, May 23, 2008

On Arguments and Interests

An Associated Press report on the advice of the American Heart Association that all people with high blood pressure should own monitoring devices contained a statement that reveals the silliness of those who focus on interests rather than the content of arguments:

Outside experts strongly agreed. But some said the case would be more compelling if those pushing the monitors had no industry ties.

The argument that all people should own monitors is either compelling or not regardless of the interests -- financial or otherwise -- of those making the case. Of course, a financial interest may provide an explanation as to why someone either consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, makes a bad argument, but it does not change the validity of the argument itself.

In addition, the statement sees having "industry ties" only in a negative light. Certainly, those relationships can create an incentive to argue in favor of one's own financial interests, as the statement suggests. However, being involved in the industry can also give one a day-to-day appreciation of the value of a product or a service. Additionally, those actually in an industry have a level of expertise regarding their product or service that those outside of it do not have.

It is always wise to "follow the money" when evaluating what one is hearing. However, the existence of an interest does not devalue a valid argument. That many think that it does reveals some of the poverty of our political and social discourse.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the best arguements I have heard in a very long term.

10:09 AM  

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