I'm totally opposed to using taxpayer dollars to fund propaganda. 
Private dollars?   None at all. 
"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions 

which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical."  - Thomas Jefferson, 1779

Whether your arguments about a particular issue are valid or not does NOT logically depend on whether you are supported by issue advocates or partisans or not.  Your arguments are either valid or invalid, period.
The "Who funded it?" (or the "Who paid you?") Fallacy
by Rick Gaber

  People such as those at factcheck.org who are otherwise usually wise and thoughtful have expressed dismay, and even shock and horror, about whoever it was that financed the swift boat veterans against Kerry or the 527's against Bush as if their identities could serve as a reason to discount the message. 

    It reminds me of all the pundits and politicians who wanted to discount the Bush administration's energy plan or the Clinton administrations' healthcare federalization proposals based upon who participated in the secret meetings to formulate them rather than on the obvious horrors the plans themselves embodied.

    I have never understood why so many otherwise responsible people can fall for the well-known red herring fallacy of trashing a plan or an argument based on who funded it, or the ad hominem fallacy, attacking the people instead of  the ideas. These are basic, well-known logical fallacies, so their very use calls into question the users' motivations for employing them instead of addressing the ideas, information or arguments themselves. 

    If the initiators of an information-dissemination project are the producers of the funding, are we supposed to believe that the recipients of their money changed their views to get it?  Since finding experts who already share the producers' views is NOT difficult for competent people, I always think the accusers are projecting their own ethical failings and lack of principles onto their targets.  In other words, since THEY would change THEIR views if they were paid enough, they assume anyone else would.

    Those who know damn well they would never change their positions on a matter of principle, nomatter how much they're offered, have no problem imagining how others can be just like themselves.  Likewise, those who know damn well they would, not only have no problem imagining how others can be just like themselves, they often have psychological defense mechanisms against imagining how anyone else could actually stand on principle(!). Thus partisans on this issue are almost always the personal embodiments, the living manifestations, of their positions, and those who believe people could or would change their positions if they were paid enough money are those who would do so themselves.

    On the other hand, if the prime movers of an information-dissemination project are the ones with the information, rather than the ones with the financing, are we supposed to believe that honesty demands they finance their project by locating, and actually talking money out of, someone who disagrees with them, or who at least is indifferent?  Give me a break!  Rational people know damn well it would be natural for them to approach people whose viewpoints were similar and who might even become enthusiastic enough about the project to cough up some dough (duh).

    Or else are we supposed to assume that only commercials filmed on a shoestring can possibly be truthful (which would be based on yet another group of logical fallacies)? 

    Fundamentally, all these attacks are absurd.

    Arguments about issues should stick to the facts, as attacks on the people involved are not only irrelevant, but betray a lack of confidence on the parts of the attackers in their ability to persuade anyone on the basis of facts and logic.  Such attacks may even be a sign that they know damn well they're wrong.  Instead of accepting their charges at face value, I instantly suspect those who attack people -- instead of their arguments -- of fraud or incompetence (or both), and I encourage you to do the same.

"It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic." -- Thomas Sowell, HERE

"Policy advocates who cannot understand, or are unwilling to believe, that holders of opposing viewpoints can do so for good reasons and virtuous motives, have usually NOT done enough of their OWN homework on all the relevant aspects of the issue at hand.  Sometimes they even have really stupid reasons or malevolent motives for their own viewpoints as well." -- Bert Rand

"A person who indulges in ad hominem attacks instead of addressing another's ideas, has in effect conceded intellectual defeat."-- Bevin Chu, antiwar.com, Oct. 22, 1999

 "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." -- Socrates

"It's far easier to support people who agree with you than to bribe people to do your bidding." --  Brian Doherty, ReasonOnline, May 6, 2003.

"When you don't want to assess whether an attack is true or false, just say that asking the question is crappy politics."  -- Tim Graham, NRO, Aug. 11, 2004

"Research shows that while people underestimate the influence of self-interest on their own judgments and decisions, they overestimate its influence on others." -- Daniel Gilbert, PhD

 “The conspiracy theory is the bastion of shadows and little or no evidence. It explains a famous or known event by appealing to the leftist dictum of  'follow the money' or 'look who benefits' as if actual evidence is irrelevant and personal ethics are just a farcical way for the rich and powerful to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone else.” -- Alexander Marriott

"Those who insist on 'following the money' ALWAYS imply that EVERYONE takes a position on something based upon whether he is paid or not.  Guess what THAT means about THEM -- they who work so hard to avoid discussing the existence of people who act on principle alone?  Go ahead, guess!  I DARE YOU!" -- Bert Rand

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock." 
-- Thomas Jefferson

Also see: 

Shocking News: Donations Follow Opinions - Who Knew?

Kneejerk Objection No. 8b
Responses to charges of "extremism"
and:  About Campaign Finance "reform"

Did YOU know that people who give money to Republican causes tend to be Republicans? ?
That people who give to Democratic causes tend to be Democrats? ?
That fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests??? 

Aren't you shocked, SHOCKED?????

Now, if any "who paid you?" fallacy is at all valid, consider this:
"Too many voters are already bought -- not by corporate campaign donors, but by the government itself." -- Joseph Sobran.

"The government is the biggest special-interest group there is." -- Randy Richards
"Big government is a special interest, and President Obama is its chief lobbyist." - Rep. Thaddeus McCotter
"Occam's Razor": translated variously as "What can be explained on fewer principles is explained needlessly by more," "What can be done with fewer assumptions is done in vain with more," "The simplest explanation is usually the right explanation," and "Occam's Razor [is] the scientific principle that explanations should be concise and literal."-- Robert Hessen.  Actually, what William of Ockham (1288-1347) wrote was in Latin, "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate," or "plurality should not be posited without necessity."
"'So and so is only saying that because he was paid to say that' is usually NOT the simplest explanation for someone's political advocacy except in reference to a politician advancing a local interest from his own constituency.  The simplest explanation for any other political advocacy is that, if someone is paying to support it, it's because he's found an advocate who already passionately agrees with him.  The simplest explanation for FOCUSING on whether someone is paid or not is usually a sign of an inability to counter his arguments." -- Rick Gaber
"Observe, first of all, that in equating unselfishness with morality, the implication is that self-interested actions are either immoral or nonmoral. ... This doctrine takes for granted as self-evident a clash between self-interest and morality: We can pursue our self-interest or we can be moral, but we can't be both. ... In this doctrine, selfishness is presumed to be narrow, petty, small-minded, materialistic, immature, narcissistic, anti-social, exploitative, mean-spirited, arrogant, ruthless, indifferent, cruel, and potentially murderous. These traits are evidently regarded as being to one's self-interest, since they are labeled as expressions of selfishness. It is interesting to speculate about the psychology of those who believe this." -- Dr. Nathaniel Branden, here
Do principled people move -- or copy -- their principles to another part of their brains?  
"Brain images show personal values that people refuse to disavow—even when offered cash to do so—are processed differently than values that are willingly sold." --
Emory University
"Instead of addressing the point at issue -- whether Presidential candidate John Kerry is a serial liar -- the Times devoted its vast investigative resources to digging up dirt on the Swift Boat Vets, and came to this blockbuster conclusion: some of the people supporting the Vets are Republicans! Tomorrow, we'll expect to see a similar investigation of Americans Coming Together and MoveOn.org. What do you want to bet some of their contributors are Democrats? I'll bet some of them have even met people who have served in Democratic administrations. What an exposé!" -- John Hinderaker, here.

"I have been mildly amused to watch the Bush-hating left's reaction to the Swift Vet's story. First it was shock. Then it was angry denunciation and ridicule. ... The latest attempt has been by the increasingly laughingstock New York Times, which today finally broke its silence on the story with the shocking, stunning revelation that some of the Swift Boat Vets for Truth have long hated John Kerry (oooh! aaaah!) and that after the Democratic Convention was over, some big-money Republicans gave them money to fund an ad. ... Which anyone who's actually read the Swift Boat Vets for Truth web site already knows." -- Dean Esmay, here.

Click for an 8 1/2 x 11 size to print out.


page publisher