A rebuttal is not a refutation

But a CNN headline-writer can’t tell the difference.

To “rebut” an argument is to offer a counter-argument.

To “refute” an argument is to disprove it.

So the CNN headline-writer who wrote the headine:

Blackwater chief refutes “negative and baseless allegations”

was in error.

This has been another message from your friendly local Language Police.

Update The CNN headline now reads “disputes” rather than “refutes,” though it’s still “refutes” when you do a Google search. Good to know that the LP has moles in some of the big news organizations.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com