Empiricism vs. Ideology

If you examine evidence without pre-conceived notions your conclusions won’t fall neatly into camps but will be all over the political map.

An adherent of an ideology will approach an issue with a view to fitting the facts into a pre-determined outcome that serves the adherent’s interests. If you have no ideology but examine evidence with an open mind, the conclusions you reach would likely be all over the political map, not fitting consistently into any camp.

For instance, in an article published on Wednesday, CN columnist Patrick Lawrence looks at the decision by the Colorado Supreme Court to bar Donald Trump from the Republican primary ballot because the court says the U.S. Constitution does not allow an insurrectionist to run for public office. 

If you are an ideological Democrat, you will agree with the Colorado court because the outcome serves your interests: destroying Trump. You’ll find a way to fit the facts, no matter how much they might undermine the rule of law, into your ideology.  You hate Trump too much to be bothered with the legal niceities.  

Lawrence simply points out that Trump has not been convicted of taking part in an insurrection and it is not up to an appeals court to act as if he had. He sees this as a gross corruption of the judicial process. 

Because the entire concept of empiricism has been marginalized in these hyper-partisan times, both Republicans and Democrats would likely conclude from this that Lawrence supports Trump, but what he really supports are the facts and the law. 

Consortium News‘ viewpoints flow from study of the evidence, they do not precede it. On most issues, especially on foreign policy, our reporting and analysis are critical of all the major political parties in the West.  But sometimes we might fall into one camp or the other on a specific public matter. 

That’s why it’s hard to pin Consortium News down to an ideology. It’s because we don’t have one. If you think journalism should be free of ideology, please take this opportunity with just four days left in the 2023 tax year to make a deductible contribution today.

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18 comments for “Empiricism vs. Ideology

  1. daryl
    December 29, 2023 at 16:11

    Democratic party ideology has been our enemy for, since ever, That along with Republican ideology.
    We live in the myth of our creation.
    Myth is the food of ideology.
    we are fat with myth
    The pain of facing reality
    will be our birth.

    • Eric Weisberg
      December 30, 2023 at 13:00

      While I am uncomfortable with the Colorado Supreme court’s decision barring Donald Trump from the primary ballot and I do not know if there are valid Constitutional basis for the S.Ct. to reverse the Colorado decision, I disagree with Patrick Lawrence complaint that the decision was not empirically based but was purely the product of Democrat ideology. Empiricism requires us to deal with the district court finding that Trump engaged in insurrection and the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling as to the legal consequences of such finding as recited in its opinion before declaring that opinion counter-factual or that “the corporate press has already edited out the fact that Trump has not been found guilty of any crime.” Anderson v. Griswold ruled as follows:
      “After permitting President Trump and the Colorado Republican State
      Central Committee (“CRSCC”), collectively, “Intervenors,” to intervene in the
      action below, the district court conducted a five-day trial. The court found by clear
      and convincing evidence that President Trump engaged in insurrection as those
      terms are used in Section Three…
      …We hold as follows:

      • The Election Code allows the Electors to challenge President Trump’s
      status as a qualified candidate based on Section Three. Indeed, the
      Election Code provides the Electors their only viable means of litigating
      whether President Trump is disqualified from holding office under
      Section Three.
      • Congress does not need to pass implementing legislation for Section
      Three’s disqualification provision to attach, and Section Three is, in that
      sense, self-executing.
      • Judicial review of President Trump’s eligibility for office under Section
      Three is not precluded by the political question doctrine.
      • Section Three encompasses the office of the Presidency and someone
      who has taken an oath as President. On this point, the district court
      committed reversible error.
      • The district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting portions of
      Congress’s January 6 Report into evidence at trial.
      • The district court did not err in concluding that the events at the U.S.
      Capitol on January 6, 2021, constituted an “insurrection.”
      • The district court did not err in concluding that President Trump
      “engaged in” that insurrection through his personal actions.
      • President Trump’s speech inciting the crowd that breached the U.S.
      Capitol on January 6, 2021, was not protected by the First Amendment.
      ¶5 The sum of these parts is this: President Trump is disqualified from holding
      the office of President under Section Three; because he is disqualified, it would be
      a wrongful act under the Election Code for the Secretary to list him as a candidate
      on the presidential primary ballot.”
      Thus, we must acknowledge that there was a trial; the candidate participated; and, there was a finding by “clear and convincing evidence” (greater than “preponderance of the evidence” as in most civil proceedings) upon which the decision is based.
      While it is true that the Colorado proceeding was civil rather than criminal, it is also true that there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution requiring a criminal conviction rather than a civil finding or, even, a non-judicial finding by a state elections administrator, one or both branches of Congress,or, indeed, a state legislature.
      Therefore, the U.S. Supreme Court is faced with a Catch 22. While it may want to find an intellectually defensible basis for overturning “Anderson v. Griswold,”it may be forced to rule against Trump on the basis of the following established judicial principles:
      *for every legal wrong, there is a meaningful remedy (except in federal gerrymandering cases);
      * the Supreme Ct.’s authority is strictly appellate–i.e. it is bound by lower court findings of fact (unless they are not supported by sufficient evidence and are, thus, clearly erroneous); and,
      * federal elections are in the province of state law and courts with specific and limited Constitutional exceptions. Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000), while being the exception, noted:
      “… § 5 provides a safe harbor for States to select electors in contested elections “by judicial or other methods” established by laws prior to the election day. Section 5, like Article II, assumes the involvement of the state judiciary in interpreting state election laws and resolving election disputes under those laws. Neither § 5 nor Article II grants federal judges any special authority to substitute their views for those of the state judiciary on matters of state law…”
      It should also be noted that the challenge to Trump’s inclusion on the primary ballot was brought by Republican voters rather than Democrats. Thus, the ”ideology” and concerns motivating the action cross party lines. And, the consequences are not necessarily what any party will want. But, they may be what the law, upon application, compels.
      So, the claim that the MSM is counter-empirical in its coverage of the Colorado decision is, itself, counter empirical.

  2. JonnyJames
    December 29, 2023 at 12:55

    Speaking of ideology vs. empiricism and “external validity”: profs Radhika Desai, Steve Keen, Michael Hudson, James Galbraith, Jack Rasmus, Richard Wolff, et al. have exposed that academic economic theory: (neoclassical/neoliberal/monetarist) is nothing but self-serving, self-congratulatory ideology. The catastrophic failure of mainstream economists to predict the Great Crash of 08, should have made this clear. Only a handful of academic economists predicted this in any detail, Michael Hudson being one shining exception. Hudson even wrote a book called “J is for Junk Economics” that underlines this in a factual and tragically humorous way.

    Steve Keen debated Paul Krugman on the merits of neoclassical theory and utterly destroyed Krugman. Krugman recently wrote a piece in the NYT claiming that the Military Industrial Complex, does NOT exist, and that the US needs to spend more % of GDP on weapons and military – it’s good for business. Krugman is a poster-boy for ideological economics posing as a “science”. Economics is the study of how fallible humans produce and distribute resources. To be crude: humans are not rational and economics can never be considered a science. Just because ideologues dress up their “theory” with fancy maths, does not make it “externally valid”. These theories have failed to predict, and failed to describe empirical reality. Junk Economics is good for a tragic laugh though.

    • Robert Crosman
      December 30, 2023 at 13:03

      Krugman’s column was satiric, but it did point out that the U.S. economy is a war economy, and that capitalism requires war to keep going. Classical economics is more than propaganda, although it is that. But it is above all an ideology or belief system that makes capitalism seem necessary and inevitable, and it comes with a detailed set of instructions on how to operate a capitalist economy.

  3. Eric Foor
    December 28, 2023 at 22:39

    For the most part I agree with the viewpoints expressed in Consortium News articles. They generally fit with my paradigm of world events. That’s why I read CN and contribute comments and financial support. However I would never claim to be consistently empirically correct. I have my biases formed over my lifetime. We all have our own perspective…that’s just part of being human. Perhaps an AI machine could express ideas without a bias. The best humans can due is to join in free and open debate of competing viewpoints. Though the CN forum is not a debate stage…it does provide a great service by encouraging the readers to express their heartfelt comments. I appreciate that and I do my best to articulate my biased comments with my best constructive intentions.

    Sometimes articles are woefully incomplete…and as such can express a biased point of view. For instance, where in the US Constitution does it say “a insurrectionist cannot run for public office”? It doesn’t. If you think it does please let me know where.

    Though our Constitution does not restrict a insurrectionist from running for public office Title 18 U.S. Code 2383 does. Here’s the law:

    “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”….that last part is what’s pertinent.

    It is not necessary to take part or”incite” an insurrection to be convicted on this count. All one has to do is “assist, give aid or comfort to”. Isn’t that what Trump did when he watched the insurrection on TV and didn’t raise a finger to stop it? I am perplexed why he has not been indicted on this count. Anyone know? I’ve never heard this discussed by any media.

    To complete my circle of amateur questions…Why shouldn’t Biden should be impeached? Not for the transgressions of his son…that stuff is just common low level graft…every day political muck. No. Biden is our country’s Chief Executive Officer and is therefore charged with executing all the laws passed by Congress. So why has his Justice Dept. not charged Trump on U.S. Code 2383?

    The Biden Presidency has been a disaster. He has provoked the war in Ukraine, he is responsible for a king sized inflation & he sponsored Zionist genocide in Gaza. Trump is a buffoon that would be hilarious in a cage at a circus…if only we could keep him in that cage…now he’s quoting Hitler! But one of these guys is going to be an American President….FOR THE SECOND TIME!!! Clearly our system is broken…Obviously there are other forces at work.

    • Eric Weisberg
      December 29, 2023 at 19:45

      The Colorado S.Ct. discussed the relationship between the Constitutional (civil) disqualification and the 1994 law criminalizing that same conduct as follows:

      True, with that enactment, Congress
      criminalized the same conduct that is disqualifying under Section Three. All that
      means, however, is that a person charged and convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 2383
      would also be disqualified under Section Three. It cannot be read to mean that only
      those charged and convicted of violating that law are constitutionally disqualified
      from holding future office without assuming a great deal of meaning not present
      in the text of the law.

  4. hetro
    December 28, 2023 at 15:03

    Essentially ideology and dogma are the same thing. As indicated, a program is followed a priori. Everything must fit into the pre-determined message, or loyalty to a particular power structure. Perhaps analogy on this matter would help. We do not accept the gunman running into a school and slaughtering children and teachers when he says he was only engaging in self-defense because the real aggressors were the school and its occupants. We might say this is “delusional.” We might say no, you are a raving maniac deep into paranoid bestiality. We might say “You sound like Hitler.”

    We might also want to add (begging forgiveness) to Orwell’s prescriptions–to wit: war is peace, ignorance is strength, freedom is slavery, (and) delusion is truth.

    Now to Blinken a few days ago:

    “I hear virtually no one … demanding of Hamas that it stop hiding behind civilians, that it lay down its arms, that it surrender. This is over tomorrow if Hamas does that. How can it be that there are no demands made of the aggressor and only demands made of the victim?” he asked.

    This is the US Official Voice, the Secretary of State, in a spasm of ideological dogma. We should remember this.

  5. jon nelms
    December 28, 2023 at 14:57

    Why don’t you ever criticize patriotism despite loads of empirical evidence that the patriotic belief that our country is better than all others and deserves our unconditional loyalty is the most popular and therefor effective means of justifying U.S, imperialism?

    • JonnyJames
      December 29, 2023 at 12:14

      I don’t agree, you need to visit this site more often, and sometimes have to “read between the lines”. There is plenty of criticism of “the world’s greatest democracy”, “the most powerful nation in the history of the world”, “the exceptional, indispensable nation”

  6. CaseyG
    December 28, 2023 at 11:57

    Perhaps all those running for public office should have to pass a Constitution test. WHY? Because there seem to be a lot of scarily dumb people making scarily dumb decisions.

  7. Selina Sweet
    December 28, 2023 at 11:34

    Thank you for this reminder that commitment to law involves shedding our predilections and ideologies to serve the truth seeking justice depends on. As I read Lawrence’s piece I found myself nettled in a good way. A good way because the fact that Agent Chaos has “worked” the justice system and has not been indicted reveals that a something rotten in the 2 tiered justice system has long been letting him get away with murdering justice.

  8. Em
    December 28, 2023 at 08:48

    Does the law always align with truth?
    What then, in deed, are the facts in the Julian Assange saga, when law runs counter to empirical observation?

  9. Rebecca
    December 28, 2023 at 08:20

    If you examine evidence without knowledge and understanding of the world, your conclusions won’t fall neatly into camps but will be all over the political map. That’s not to be encouraged. Why else do socialists emphasise high quality education leading to class consciousness? Evidence is data, not information, and is always interpreted through the lens of our understanding of the world.

  10. David L
    December 27, 2023 at 17:53

    Is it just me, or is it the case that the many contradictions seen in US domestic politics and US foreign policy reflect a country that has lost its way?

    For that matter, is it possible to point to a sustained period of bi-partisan domestic politics and foreign policy spanning more than one presidential administration?

    I’m thinking out loud here, as a non-US, non-white citizen of a SE Asian friend.

    It baffles me that a country with such deep intellectual capital leaves the running of the country to people with perversely shallow intellectual and moral insight.

    It saddens me to know there are many decent, extremely talented and altruistic people capable of running the country. But internal party political processes and a money-centric political system ensure few, if any, make it to positions of any influence.

    It’s hard to imagine the country regaining its moral compass under this administration and the next, be it Republican or Democrat. Both parties appear to be deficient in the many qualities required to extricate the country from a mire of its own making.

    • J Anthony
      December 28, 2023 at 08:34

      No, it isn’t just you. Us “little people” lament everyday that it’s become clear, they will never allow people of decency and integrity anywhere near high office. As you’ve noticed, the money-changers and the war-profiteers, unscrupulous industrialists and all their underlings and minions have a firm hold on government power. We, the citizens, bear some responsibility, to be sure. Now no one knows how to alter the trajectory and get out of this mess, it’s like we’re all grasping onto the rails of a runaway train heading right towards a cliff.

      • Selina Sweet
        December 28, 2023 at 11:28

        If we citizens had the guts, we’d form a national union for the public interest and well being. We’d hire Shawn Fein to lead us in the shrewd process of getting our demands met – from forever war to universal basic income to outlawing private equity from health care and buying residential homes to free university (an educated society is a vibrant democracy) to actions required by different sectors to meet the challenge of climate catastrophe for the good of the children…when those demands are not met everybody pickets til they are. We always pull together in crises like earthquakes…we’d bring that compassionate force into daily practice.

    • floyd gardner
      December 28, 2023 at 11:08

      We like to think that “the cream rises to the top;” but, in a septic pool, the feces rise to the top.

  11. Carolyn L Zaremba
    December 27, 2023 at 17:03

    I support Consortium News financially and have also made additional donations for special events. Keep up the good work.

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