Randoms

- A good long article about the suicide of a census worker that the lefties tried to gin up into a right-wing violence story.

- The price of progress is truth

- Bryan Caplan discusses how minorities vote. Hilarity ensues: “Indians vote Democratic because they correctly sense that Democrats respect them more.”

- A apostate on libertarianism.

- IQ variance.

- “The agenda of Outside in is to cajole the new reaction into philosophical exertion.”

- The student loan crisis is way overblown.

- A glimpse of the future (thanks to a reader).

- Do humans yearn to be free:

You begin to see that when life becomes unsettled, when there are dangers, especially that people cannot understand. It’s then that human beings tend to look at solutions to these problems that typically involve restricting freedoms. In other words: when life gets rough, the need for freedom, or the impulse for freedom, which is real —it’s part of the human constitution you might say— tends very commonly to be eclipsed by other needs. These can simply be for security, or they can be darker needs to bolster up an identity to attack, marginalize, or even exterminate others. These are all classic human responses. The idea that humans are by nature free is one of the most harmful fictions that’s ever been promoted anywhere.

- New Kipling poems.

- It’s probably gauche to link to someone linking to me, but whatever.

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9 Responses to Randoms

  1. Louise says:

    Not sure if you are aware of this but many people on the Indian subcontinent wanted to retain the ‘Raj’. When I tell Americans this their eyes nearly pop out.

    Are security and freedom incompatible?

  2. Louise says:

    Or could it be that there really is, as the Greeks put it, ‘ a Golden Mean.?’

  3. in re: the whole suicide thing, it’s a tiny bit unfair to say “the lefties tried to gin” it into a smear on the right wing. The suicide himself set it up to look that way; they were gullible, and eager, to be sure.

  4. Federico says:

    I have to disagree about the jury link. The Daily Mail is a rabble-rousing rag with no journalistic integrity. A byword for inanity. Stick to the Guardian, Times and Telegraph.

    On Tuesday, the jurors had presented him with a list of ten questions which revealed that they simply did not have a clue about what they had heard as evidence, what they had been told by himself or indeed what they were supposed to be doing there at all.

    For example, they asked for a definition of reaching a verdict ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

    This was despite the fact that the judge had already given them guidance on this in writing.

    Mr Justice Sweeney effectively threw up his hands in despair, saying that these were ‘ordinary English words’ that he could not define any further.

    Rubbish. He could give examples. He could give a probability. Ninety-five percent? Eighty percent?

    Moreover, it’s a very difficult question because legal evidence is different to rational evidence. The jurors are supposed to throw away a lot of prior evidence (e.g. statistics, reputation, race, sex) which influences a Bayesian estimate of the accused’s guilt.

    Bafflingly, they asked whether a wife’s religious conviction would make her feel that she had no option but to obey her husband. But since Vicky Pryce’s religious beliefs had not even been mentioned, this was clearly totally irrelevant to the case.

    “Marital coercion” is at the heart of the case, so this is not an extravagant question. It may not have been mentioned in court, but along with sex and age it’s one of the most pertinent character traits.

    The Mail recently made a fuss about human rights law allegedly scuppering the government’s welfare-to-work scheme. In fact the human rights claim was dismissed out of hand, but the court ruled against the government for technical reasons concerning regulation of the scheme.

    The factual distortion in this article is probably similar.

    Also note that highly intelligent people, in juries and as pundits, have been prominently (and miserably) wrong about court cases.

  5. Federico says:

    Mr Justice Sweeney effectively threw up his hands in despair

    What a superb weasel word. Is there a school for this?

  6. James James says:

    It’s not that Mr Justice Sweeney could not define “reasonable”, it’s that he refused to do so. And a very good thing too. The whole point of laws which use the word “reasonable” is to leave the interpretation up to juries. Mr Justice Sweeney was telling the jury to think for themselves. I don’t think the jury should be expected to know that they were allowed to define “reasonable” themselves; now they do know. Vincible ignorance is not a crime.

  7. Jehu says:

    Federico,
    Nobody in the court system wants to give a black and white definition on ‘reasonable doubt’, because encouraging actual thought will cause people to realize that they can nullify whenever they damn well please, simply by raising the implicit threshold to arbitrary levels. My take is the jury wanted to acquit the woman, for who…whom reasons. White people need to do likewise, for who…whom reasons.

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