What do these people have in common? They're both named Charles Taylor.

What do they not have in common? The guy on the left is "president" of Liberia and has been indicted for all sorts of war crimes. The guy on the right is my population genetics professor at UCLA who I hope to have on my PhD dissertation committee, and has not been indicted for even a single war crime. Both have worked in Africa, but the guy on the left spends his time brutally oppressing an entire country, while the guy on the right applies artificial life simulations to important humanitarian causes, like controlling malaria.

By digging beneath the surface, it's often possible to make this kind of astounding differentiation, despite initial similarities. Even though both men are named "Charles Taylor", one is a vicious killer and the other is a brilliant scientist. Sometimes certain groups will try to "sex up" surface similarities because they don't want you to recognize the underlying differences; it's important to carefully examine claims that two people or groups are equivalent.

Homework: Can anyone think of any real-world examples of this sort of deception, perhaps relating to American politics or international relations?

Class dismissed.



Email blogmasterofnoneATgmailDOTcom for text link and key word rates.

Site Info