Eff's Rambles (Archive)

9/20/2005

Where is credit due?

Here is a hypothetical to consider. I am interested in knowing how much acknowledgement and accolade this person deserves.

Suppose that someone predicts an outcome, and it comes to be. But suppose that his predictions were, at the time they were made, speculations stemming from limited knowledge and sources of dubious quality. Also suppose that his logic was highly flawed, and that he was presumptive and ignorant of, or choosing to ignore, the nuances which could be used to counter at least one, or more, of his contentions.

Does it matter if his arguments were weak in their bases? Should he be forgiven for at least some errors if his understanding was sincerely developed and without intent to be unfair? In fairness, I doubt most people have the time, let alone the commitment, to look into all aspects of any issue, and I believe people are influenced by majority commentary, so I am not sure how much some errors in factual understanding should undermine that person's right to credit when he is correct about an outcome which he hypothesized. But if the argument was inadequately formed, should its poor quality be ignored only because it happened to turn out to be right?

And, since some might require it, here is a reality based example of what I mean, with conclusions which might not be accurate, but, for the sake of the example, let us please assume that they are.

Some argued that because of religious animosities [supposed to whatever degree] between Shi'i and Sunnie muslims, and Saddam's poor treatment of the Shi'i muslims, and the Iran-Iraq war, along with many other unknown reasons that I am sure exist, Saddam Hussein would not ally with such groups as al-Qaeda and those with al-Qaeda connections, if only in proclaimed association. While the known evidence appears to support that conclusion, and I would agree that it is the most probable one, I find it difficult to agree with the characterization of it as an absolute, even if absent evidence to the contrary. The basis for that contention seems to be historical discord, but I do not think that would preclude consideration of the concept of acting in self interest. Whether or not Saddam would be acting in his self interest or against it to work with al-Qaeda is another matter that I do not intend to be dismissive of, but I do wonder if it can be rejected because of moral and philosophical disagreements. I think that the old adage, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," is not sufficiently defeated by hatred alone. I would doubt that Saddam would be the first to ally with someone that was a former enemy. To me, being correct about a non al-Qaeda connection to Saddam, with hatred as the sole predicate and premise, is not quite as impressive as the person that made it might think.

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