Amazon.com Widgets

« Cassin's Finch - Backyard Birds | Main | A Driverless Car »

Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

Coffee Cup

Here are two fun ways that numbers can be distorted for political purposes. Stop me if I'm boring you, but each of them feels oddly poetic, in its ability to smear or stifle.

The first is simple: you can conflate two different things into one number, either to inflate a problem, or confuse it. Last weekend, a few hundred thousand people marched in London against the cuts. On the same day, there was some violent disturbance, windows smashed, policemen injured, and drunkeness.

One of the defining attributes of scientific skepticism is so-called metacognition - we think about thinking. Psychologists have amassed a large body of evidence about how people think - the most common patterns that we tend to fall into. It's unfortunate that this knowledge is not put to more frequent use.

Just one nugget of such metacognitive knowledge is the so-called fundamental attribution error - we tend to attribute other people's behavior to internal factors while ignoring or downplaying external or situational factors. At the same time, we happily excuse our own behavior with situational factors. The textbook example is that if we see someone walking down the sidewalk and tripping, we will tend to think that they are clumsy. If we trip, then we blame the crack in the sidewalk.


 

Comments

re: what does it take to blame religion?-

the list the author "lays at religions feet" is interesting, both for what it includes and what it doesn't include, and for the false interchangeability of "religion" and "faith" common to such arguments.

1st, he includes the sexual abuse of young boys by members of the catholic clergy.

i'm no big fan of the catholic clergy, and certainly not sexual abuse of any kind, but what is this doing on the list? it is not sanctioned by either the religion or the faith of catholics. you might make a case that the celibacy requirement for priests invites such behaviour, but you'd be on pretty thin ground, since the real culprit here would be human nature and not any principles of faith or the catholic religion.

2nd, he DOESN'T include something he mentions in his preamble- the holocaust.

luther, the father of lutheranism, the major religion of nazi germany, was a renowned anti semite and his anti-semitic teachings certainly influenced the dehumanization of the jews as practiced by the nazis and "their willing executioners". these principles were presented as articles of faith. why does the author here leave this off the "list"?

scholars, be careful with your words.

what is this doing on the list? it is not sanctioned by either the religion or the faith of catholics.

It is covered up by the religious institution and ignored by man y of the faithful. And I think you could also list a number of beliefs within catholicism that are partial causes. Including celebacy, and the infalability of the pope/Priest worship.

It is covered up by the religious institution and ignored by man y of the faithful.

again: defending catholicism is not my job. but go find me ONE member of the faithful- including the guilty priests themselves- who will defend sodomy, non-marital sex, sex of any kind by priests, or sex of any kind with minors as being sanctioned in any way by church doctrine. you can't. you don't have a case. this, just logically speaking, shouldn't be on the list with the rest of them.

the last thing i mentioned might be ok by mormons and muslims. but not modern catholics, for sure.

being against religion is fine. blaming religion for the actions of people who go against the principles of their own religions is just...desperate and pathetic and unworthy of the freethinking intellectual tradition.

but go find me ONE member of the faithful- including the guilty priests themselves- who will defend sodomy, non-marital sex, sex of any kind by priests, or sex of any kind with minors as being sanctioned in any way by church doctrine.

Straw man. I can find people though who say the pedophile thing is overblown and the cover-up was justified (see: Pope). I can find people who blamed the victims and not the priests.

So you don't think that the fact that the catholic church is a prominent religious institution had anything to do with those things? Obstruction of justice by the higher-ups just being plain overlooked? The thought of bringing that little asshole pope to trial, being such a "ridiculous" silly thing?

In this case it's not what any particular religion dictates directly, it's what people get away with by proclaiming religion.

Some religions of course do say crazy shit directly. But if religion wasn't seen as somehow off-limits to be ridiculed by most people, particular religions wouldn't get away with saying much ridiculous shit to begin with.

I can find people though who say the pedophile thing is overblown and the cover-up was justified (see: Pope). I can find people who blamed the victims and not the priests.

no, THIS argument is the true strawman. again, i also can find people who make these rationalizations and justifications. what i CAN'T find are people who make them based on church doctrine, or religion, or faith. and you can't either.

hey, fuck the catholic church, ok? is that what you want to hear? i'm a jew, i have no love for the catholic church. but i do love a logical argument, and your's, and red's, and the author of this article's, and all the other people who have made this point as an argument against religion itself- a soft target, btw, especially regarding the catholic church- are just embarassing yourselves in public. it's the same argument that says that because some israeli soldiers as individuals ignored the policy of their leaders and commited war crimes that therefore the idf is guilty of war crimes. something many here no doubt still believe, even after goldstone's retractions. and still, they consider themselves "believers" in logic and reason.

listen: the idf policy is NOT to kill civilians if at all possible. the catholic church's policy is NOT to commit sodomy if at all possible. any israeli soldier who kills civilians intentionally is in breach, as is any catholic who practices sodomy intentionally. whether unintentional sodomy is even possible i'll leave for further discussion, but logic and a basic knowledge of human nature won't rule it out entirely.

when blaming religion ( the point of this article) isn't it fair to limit this blame to the actual principles of the religion in question? what's so hard about this? it's not as if, by doing so, you don't have enough targets to shoot at. you have to bring individual behaviour into the mix, and confuse coverup with sanction? use your brain. individual actions, and official coverups (also actions of individuals) are not reflections on POLICY- which is why "investigations are ongoing", and your objections are logically pointless.

in your favor: yes it is the policy of the catholic church and the idf and any organization including and especially atheists to protect wrongdoers among their ranks- insofar as it is possible without shaming the organization itself, at which point it becomes a pile-on of accusation. this is because the actual policy of organizations is sacrosanct, and not the individual. this is the nature of organizations, for better or worse. this doesn't negate anything i've said, and it doesn't speak well of organizations (for which i have no love) but i hope it will help you to see how your point, and red's, and that of the author of this article, is simply illogical, in spite of this fact of "loyalty of the org. to the individual member as an ass-covering maneuver", which is a red herring indeed.

if you, like me, are against "loyalty to the org. over all", than go for the throat, don't waste time attacking those individuals who actually aren't practicing it, or the org. for protecting them (up to a point) in order to protect itself. these things are just what individuals DO, and what orgs DO.

rather, go after the stated principles of the org, as the author of this article claims to be doing but fails by including this item.

Religion is a philosophy from a book, No religion is what a people believe, No religion is not what some crzy person believes its the offical beliefs as set by the church policy, No Religion is not church policy but the faith of its believers.....

God is a man on a cloud that can see you in the bathroom, No.....

Blah blah blah...

Circles circles. circles.

Define something or go home.

hey, fuck the catholic church, ok? is that what you want to hear?

Yes, but...

i'm a jew,

...not from you. From all catholics, mainly. What prevents them? Religion.

I would settle for a "fuck judaism" from you, though.

ok, fuck judaism. happy now? it's mine. i can do what i want with it. it's not like i've never felt like saying that before, and it's not like i'm forbidden by my religion from saying it.

ah, freedom. where's an israeli flag i can burn?

you say "question authority". i say "don't tell me what to do."

Some religions of course do say crazy shit directly.

ALL religions/ideologies say crazy shit directly. the question, as always, is: how do they deal with challenges to their authority? do they cover up? kill the challengers? or engage them and, if merited, incorporate their ideas? science and, imo, judaism, fall into the second group. atheism (see my response to tim below), not so much.

i know, atheism isn't an ideology, rather a lack of a particular form of it. blah, blah. the longer we keep talking about it, the less true this becomes.

find me ONE member of the faithful- including the guilty priests themselves- who will defend sodomy

Of course there are many that have downplayed its importance or covered it up.

Find a war criminal that will tell you war crimes are a good thing.

They all will tell you that bad things happen and for the better good of the war (or church) they covered it up and really we should all look the other way.

I am sure the perps themselves had some deluded rational at the time. But that has no berring on the arguement of the church's practices contributed to the rape of small children.

Its clear they did.

jonathan, You're more serious about your religion than I had previously thought.

link

Avtalyon would say: Scholars, be careful with your words. For you may be exiled to a place inhabited by evil elements [who will distort your words to suit their negative purposes]. The disciples who come after you will then drink of these evil waters and be destroyed, and the Name of Heaven will be desecrated.

yeah, "ethics of the fathers" is my fave. NOT part of the "revelation at sinai". :)

Then you should be careful about exchanging thoughts with me here on 1gm

And do not engage in excessive conversation with a woman. This is said even regarding one's own wife--how much more so regarding the wife of another. Hence, the sages said: One who excessively converses with a woman causes evil to himself, neglects the study of Torah, and, in the end, inherits purgatory.

yeah, that wouldn't be the only "injunction" there that i'm not so careful about. if you read carefully, it it only really applies if both of us are married (to other people) and somehow i don't think this is the case, since you've never mentioned a husband and you know i'm divorced. still, if you read it in it's broadest connotation i still think it's probably good advice, just "not currently applicable" because of the general stupidity of the modern male. :)

(pssst: it's basically advising against any practice that may lead to adultery or improper sexual contact- "improper" meaning in this case, any in which a woman may be "used and thrown away"- morality, you know, and the neglect of studies etc., and "purgatory". don't make me get into what that means to the jews. it's not the same as "eternal hellfire".) read it again if you need to.)

but, thanks for your concern. i make my own choices. it's part of being a jew, as far as i'm concerned, though i certainly don't begrudge this freedom to anyone else.

JB - I'm sorry, but I think you're just wrong here. The Catholic church heirarchy has indeed shielded clergy who havo obstructed justice - as I'm sure you would acknowledge. What you are overlooking are the internal justifications the church uses to do this: canon law trumps civil authority...and that point of view predominates the Catholic church from top to bottom.

tim, thanks for the source material, but i'm afraid you're proving my point. i know i use too many words and it takes me awhile sometimes to get around to "the simplified version" but here's the latest one:

if such "damage control/image protection" is in fact a matter of church doctrine- even secretly- than the blame for this particular coverup may be "laid at the feet of religion". one might even say that a priest's knowledge of such a policy might encourage his wrongdoing. but you'd have to admit that a. it IS wrongdoing according to that same church policy, and b. that such coverup behaviour, and even policy, are neither exclusive or necessary to religion, but, as i said above, typical of most organizations of any kind.

the author of this article did not blame religion for the coverup policy, rather he blamed religion for the sexual offences themselves, and in this i still say he was wrong.

most corporations will try to hush up any kind of sex (or other) scandal, and most corporate worker bees know this, and may try to exploit it toward their nefarious ends. however, those ends are THEIRS and not the corporations, as shown by the very fact that the corporation will try to cover their asses. this is not specifically a religious problem, nor is religion to blame for it in any way, and it shouldn't be "on the list".

You're giving us way too little credit, not even the godless heathens around here think the goal of the catholic church is F&^%king young boys, as much as that seems to be the purpose of the church. I think Jerry Coyne thinks the problem of religion is that it demands and gets special authority and special immunity from the scrutiny to which almost everyone else is subject. Even corporations, who work tirelessly to establish themselves as exempt from scrutiny and prosecution, haven't yet pulled off the trick of posing as literally "holier than thou" at the same time (Randian acolytes excepted).

this is all true, but not what the article in question says about the issue. if this was the issue:

the problem of religion is that it demands and gets special authority and special immunity from the scrutiny to which almost everyone else is subject.

you'd be right, as you always have been about this. but this is NOT the point of putting sexual abuse of young boys on the list of things to be "laid at religions feet" as the author does here, and which has been the subject of this discussion, i think.

your argument, like those of others here, is actually an example of the very kind of misdirection/ass-covering behaviour of groups and organizations that i've been talking about.

the author presents a long list, to which i object to only one point, and everyone piles on in a desperate and failed attempt to protect their atheist cohort from, god forbid, being wrong (in public). the blindness...hurts my eyes!

So how would you have the charge against religion read? It now reads, "

I lay the following “modern” evils at the feet of faith—things that wouldn’t have happened without religion: ...The sexual molestation of children by Catholic priests...

How about,

...The creation and sustenance of a deeply corrupt system in which the systematic sexual molestation of children by Catholic priests was allowed to persist for decades [centuries?], irreparably damaging the lives of thousands, misappropriating the billions of dollars in parishners donations to pay bribes in a largely successful effort to deny justice, and by shielding and harboring perpetrators, facilitating child rapists as they repeatedly committed their crimes...

Anybody on this thread want to 'fess up to misdirection/ass-covering and agree this modified charge instead? JB insists, after all.

i could work with that- if everyone would fess up to being wrong about the actual point and admit that they are now totally changing it. :) not likely, i know. but your formulation of this (different) point will meet with no opposition from me.

oh jeez, i just went back to the original article (to check your quote) and only now realized it's actually coyne himself. duh. why doesn't he put his name on it, why should i have to go to "about the author" to find out? all my references to "the author of the article" seem kind of silly now. thanks, jerry.

You can't trust those Jewish atheists.

oh, no, coyne is jewish TOO? wish you hadn't told me that. i guess the cat's out of the bag now. :)

So, You believe that yale as a social institution has no responsibility in that matter, of course. I mean, its not like its in their handbook and find me one administration official that thinks this sort of thing is a good idea.

JB wins another argument by defeating himself.

You believe that yale as a social institution has no responsibility in that matter, of course. I mean, its not like its in their handbook

just to put another nail in the coffin of yer cranky, nasty ass here, red:

you see any difference between yale, the social institution and the catholic church, the social institution, and their respective obligations to avoid the actions in question?

they've both been around for a long time, of course. the catholic church has been, and continues to be, against homosexual behaviour from the very beginning. this is definitely part of their "handbook" and was not imposed upon them from the outside.

yale, on the other hand, like other universities of it's vintage, didn't even start accepting women until fairly recently. rules about "misogyny" and "egalitarianism" and "sexual harassment" were imposed upon it from without and, rather begrudgingly i suppose, added to their" handbook." these things take time to take hold, and sometimes a scandal of this nature can help speed the process. so, yes, i do think yale, as a social institution- one that has deep roots in sexism and misogyny- has some responsibility here for the actions of it's staff and students.

the same cannot be said re: the church vis-a-vis homosexuality/sodomy/sex of any kind involving priests. in their case, there was never any question that the priest's behaviour was wrong. their decision to cover it up, while certainly not laudable, was not rooted in religion in any way, but, as i've stated repeatedly, part of the nature of organizations. the SUCCESS of their coverup, and why it lasted so long was, as tim points out, a result of the "untouchable" status of religion- a status i fully agree with everyone here is both undeserved and harmful to society.

Funny, I've known some Japanese people who speak Spanish, and on my years living here in LA, I worked with Japanese people who speak English. It's always seemed clear to me and kind of obvious that given the differences, it's harder for a Japanese person to learn English than it is for a Spanish-speaking person.

The Japanese can understand and be understood as easy as anyone, but it seems harder for them to get (for instance) verb conjugations correctly and some uses of language like English humor. If you know a little Japanese one can understand why, they almost don't do it. Their language is largely symbolic too. Many times I've asked "what does this word mean?", only to be asked back how it's written in Japanese characters.

With Spanish, they can probably pronounce it better, but conjugation and grammar is harder (rules are stricter) and they not only have to get the conjugations right, they have to get the gender of every noun right (generally words that end with "a" are feminine, with "o" masculine, but there are plenty of exceptions).

jonathan said

it's the same argument that says that because some israeli soldiers as individuals ignored the policy of their leaders and commited war crimes that therefore the idf is guilty of war crimes. something many here no doubt still believe, even after goldstone's retractions. and still, they consider themselves "believers" in logic and reason.

Interesting article by Richard Cohen.

Will this article by Cohen change what you believe about the idf? Is what you believe just a matter of logic and reason, or are you willing to admit that a lot of what you believe is guided by emotion?

Goldstone expresses confidence that the Israeli officer responsible for the killing of 29 members of the al-Samouni family will be properly punished. Yet the McGowan Davis report is critical of this investigation and notes that “no decision had been made as to whether or not the officer would stand trial.”

It also notes that more than a third of the 36 Gaza incidents identified in the Goldstone Report “are still unresolved or unclear.” There have been just two convictions — and the one for credit card theft brought a more severe sentence than use of a Palestinian child as a human shield! And this gives Goldstone confidence?

Israel is celebrating what it calls a vindication. It is preparing to welcome Goldstone. It is demanding nullification of the report, even though Goldstone is only one of its four authors. Meanwhile the facts remain: the 1,400 plus Palestinian dead, the 13 Israelis killed, the devastation, the Hamas rockets — and the need for credible investigation of what all evidence suggests were large-scale, indiscriminate, unlawful Israeli attacks in Gaza, as well as Hamas’ crimes against civilians.

Will this article by Cohen change what you believe about the idf?

no. cohen is a dickhead, and the idf is an organazation like any other.

as an army, i "believe" it's better than other armies in many ways, but this is like saying i "believe" that one mafia family, or one corporation, is better than the others. i don't like armies. even less do i like the need for them. and even less than this do i like the proliferation of unneeded armies in the world.

if there's such a thing as an "ideal army", in my view, it's a citizen army of draftees called up only in dire need who return to their citizen pursuits when said need has been addressed. not professional armies of people who actually make their livings as paid warriors for whatever cause their employers/governments choose. insofar as the idf contains some elements of this (after 60+ years of a "state of emergency") i'm against it. but it cannot be compared to the professional armies of america and europe.

compared to these things, my dislike for dickhead journalists is not a big part of what keeps me up at night.

i know this is o.t. but since i brought it up as an example in the discussion, and you now focus on it as a separate issue-

does this article:

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=215709

change what you "believe" about the idf, or the goldstone report? i suspect not, in spite of of the fact (imo) that, "dry" as it is, it contains more facts and references than the cohen article. "belief" is not exclusive to religious people.

have you read the article in the w. post in question? i have. and yet, neither of us links or refers to it directly. it's not a topic of discussion here, no one is interested in any source material that may confound their "beliefs" or loyalties, except maybe me. and you...?

have you read the article in the w. post in question? i have. and yet, neither of us links or refers to it directly.

Yes, I have. Here Now one of us has linked to it directly.

While I welcome Israel’s investigations into allegations, I share the concerns reflected in the McGowan Davis report that few of Israel’s inquiries have been concluded and believe that the proceedings should have been held in a public forum. Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.

I also read this article

Despite Goldstone's misleading wording in the article, he is referring not to an Israeli order to intentionally murder civilians but a policy in which indiscriminate attacks were undertaken with a disregard to likely casualties among civilians.

Strangely, he appears to base his revised opinion on Israel's own military investigations, even though no evidence from them has yet been made public.

My conclusion thus far: The IDF did not intentionally target civilians. They did however attack with insufficent regard re civilian casualties. This is similar to what the U.S. does, so I'm not just disgusted with Israel's actions. Also, the IDF investigating itself does not come across as all that reliable to me.

I also read all of the comments on PuffHo where a rather contentious debate is taking place.

By the way. The only reason that I was even aware of the Goldstone report was because a U.S. marine brought it up on a French blog. Turns out that neither the marine nor the Frenchman had all that much interest in the topic and it has now faded into dustbin..

Navigation

Support this site

Google Ads


Powered by Movable Type Pro

Copyright © 2002-2017 Norman Jenson

Contact


Commenting Policy

note: non-authenticated comments are moderated, you can avoid the delay by registering.

Random Quotation

Individual Archives

Monthly Archives