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When Terrorism and Counterterrorism Clash: The War on Terror and the Transformation ...

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When Terrorism and Counterterrorism Clash:


The positions of policy commentators often span a spectrum. At one end are positions based on ideology and at the other end are positions based on data and evidence. A given position along this spectrum could be measured by an ideology/evidence index, which is the ratio between accepting a proposition based on its correspondence with one’s belief-value system (ideology) versus accepting the proposition based on the results of a systematic, rigorous test of its validity (evidence).

Some policy analysts rely more on ideology than on evidence. In these instances commentators often seek evidence to confirm their cherished ideological views (verification). At the same time, they may turn a blind eye to evidence that would disconfirm their beliefs (falsification). Perhaps never has this been more prevalent than since the atrocities of September 11, 2001, and the Bush administration’s response in the form of the global war on terror. At times, an emphasis on ideology has even led to a “rhetoric-reality” disconnect where, for example, President Bush announces “the end of major combat operations in Iraq” with a “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln even as combat operations continued.