Tuesday, June 22, 2010

RANT: Presenting opinions as facts

The MPAA's "Copy Protection Awareness Ico...Image via Wikipedia
When presenting information, it is VERY important not to present opinions as facts. It ruins the presenter's credibility otherwise. Yet you see people everything failing to separate facts from opinion, and tries to prove an opinion with more opinions. Here is one example:
"No. A [no]CD crack is not illegal. It's just a simpler way to play your games if the game requires you to have the CD in the drive every time you play. If the disk is scratched and isn't working properly, then it would be highly unfair to need to purchase the game all over again. [no]CD cracks just bypass a ridiculous, unneeded, annoying process.

CD cracks are available LEGALLY at gamecopyworld.com"
-- larry.riverside, on Yahoo!Answers, in response to "Are no-CD cracks illegal?"
The problem here is out of the five sentences, there are no less than FOUR opinions, or hypothesis, when there should be only one, the hypothesis that the subsequent facts are supposed to prove or support. You can't prove an opinion with more opinions.

  • "CD cracks is not illegal" is the hypothesis and an opinion. That is what he's trying to prove.
  • "CD cracks makes your life simpler, so you don't have to insert the media every time" is a fact. 
  • "If you damage your CD media, you should not have to buy the media again" is an opinion. "Should" indicates an opinion.
  • "CD Crack just bypass an annoying process [copy protection]" is an opinion. If he had written "CD crack bypasses copy protection", that would be a fact.
  • "CD cracks are available legally at gamecopyworld.com" is an opinion. If he had written "CD cracks are available at gamecopyworld.com" that would be a fact.
The only fact presented, "CD crack makes your life simpler", does NOT support "CD cracks are not illegal". The two are not relevant. The fact does not prove the opinion. There is no "A, therefore B" causality.

In fact, if you rewrite the last two opinions as facts, by taking out the editorial adverbs, they do not support the hypothesis either.

"CD crack bypasses copy protection" does not prove "CD cracks are not illegal".

"CD cracks are available at gamecopyworld.com" does not prove "CD cracks are not illegal".

Thus, the entire argument is a big FAIL.

I have to make one thing clear: this is NOT about the morality of noCD cracks. This is about LEGALITY of noCD cracks. The fact are simple: noCD cracks are in fact illegal, as they violate the "anti-circumvention" provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. I think there are some circumstances where noCD cracks are justified, but that is an opinion, not a fact.

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