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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » What do you think you know and how do you think you know it? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: What do you think you know and how do you think you know it?
Stone_Wolf_
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Not a post about rationalism.

I have no idea what sources to listen to. From what little I have heard, NPR is supposed to be decent?

Mostly I choose not to watch the news, as I have little time and less trust that the information being presented is not biased or simply wrong.

I do tend to stay out of politics, A) I'm a big hearted, hot head and B) I only believe in three kinds of politicians, corrupt, incompetent or outnumbered.

However when I read what Elison is saying about police corruption being a growing national problem, it makes me want to say "No it's not!" with more to back me up than what the Lord saw fit to bestow at birth.

Obviously some issues you can't just Google. Police corruption being one of them. Lot's of controversial issues are like that. Either there is a whole garbage truck load of totally contradictory, polarized talking points, weird pdfs of raw data or a whole lot of bubkis.

So how the heck does one stay informed without the constant bombardment of negativity & doom or partisan jack assery & self righteousness?

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Samprimary
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avoid:
no television news, ever, of any sort. the 24/7 news cycle is vacuous in practice and is going increasingly rancid as television's spine disintegrates under cord-cutting demographic changes, and was already in pretty shoddy shape. no actual echo chambers or places of increasingly strict sensitivity or intersectionality based engagement protocol. no schlock. no tabloid. no daily mail or any equivalent gawkerdom. no opinions pages with special guest stars schlepped in from the think tanks that pay either party's bill for the afterparty at the primaries.

acquire:
Subscribed to Harper's, New Yorker, Economist, Atlantic Monthly, in actual physical form, and I actually sit down and take some time out of the day to actually, legitimately, seriously read them, and contrast the opposing but generally intellectually equanimous positions and composed interpretation of modern American or international affairs. Like sit down at some point and make sure i'm not just skimming these articles.

disadvantages:
feeds an already noticeably present significant partisanship of my own vis a vis the current American left-right political divide, with plenty of noteworthy indulgences of my potential or actual confirmation bias that generally strongly fights the ideology, socioeconomic theory, and actual practiced aims of american conservatism as the primary and overwhelming obstacle to progress in this country.

advantages:
when all is said and done, their commentary is vindicated and fails to fall under the general house of cards reasonings that implode the general intellectual credibility of other ideologies in this country

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Stone_Wolf_
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Ouch...that's more homework than I expected.

Time is not a commodity I am not flush in.

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GaalDornick
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Something about having your cake and eating it too.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Truly, however there must be a few meta sources who are trust worthy. A monthly wrap up perhaps?
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Samprimary
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A truncated analysis will only give you a truncated understanding of complex sociopolitical issues.

let us take as a specific example the question of police corruption, the issue of wanting to have enough information to be able to have a significant understanding of the issue and to comment on it in a significantly informed way. I can already just from immediate recollection reference a New Yorker article I read in 2013 on the subject which you should absolutely read in full, not as part of a monthly wrap up, and see how it already has started to inform you of a specific issue of endemic corruption in police districts across the country that exemplifies the incentives and attitudes that govern so many of our police districts and lead to obvious inequity in the distribution of their efforts and intents.

Taken.

Read that whole thing. Imagine what your perspective on the police would be if similarly grim (and substantiable) revelations on the status quo had informed your perspective for years running. But just start with this one article.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I am reading it as fast as my schedule allows. (I've been quite sick today) Very good article.

How does one vette a source tho? The New Yorker is well established, well known, etc., but for that matter so is Fox news. How can tell the shite from the shinola.

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Stone_Wolf_
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That article had a lot of meat in it...so I have no idea why the author had such an annoying habit of providing unnecessary detail and streach what could have been a hard hitting piece into a groan to get through.
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kmbboots
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NPR (TAL)is doing a great series on policing. Check it out. www.thisamericanlife.org
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Orincoro
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SW, You can vet sources in exactly this way: ask smart, well informed people who and what they trust, and why. Fox News is "established," but doesn't go a week without seriously undermining itself as a source of reliable information, viz, "no go zones." A network that will air blatant, obvious, laughably ridiculous lies like they is not to be trusted in any way. Fox also maintains a cozy relationship with "pundits," who periodically flirt with running for president. That is not, in any way, appropriate or acceptable behavior for a news organization.
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777
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I browse a lot. /r/news and /r/worldnews are both helpful, as is /r/nottheonion when I'm feeling a bit more humorous. I value both the actual articles linked to on those pages, as well as the commentary, in order to get the general vibe of the public reaction to the issues at hand. Then I can try to sort through the mess of what is true and what is merely rhetorical.

If I need a greater aggregation of sources, I'll work through Google News, but that usually takes more initiative and time, because--as noted by other posts--most sources are biased toward one side or another. So I have to browse more in order to form a cohesive opinion.

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Samprimary
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Vet an article primarily through the publication that will permit it, as a cheap but fairly reliable method.

What garbage gets passed through fox and outed later? What challenges to the veracity of Harpers happens at all? How different are they? So on.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Thank you all for your replies.

Boots...I'm reading the article you linked to...will comment when finished [Smile]

777...I'm not familiar with the "/r/" tag...what does it do?

Hey, let's compile a list by voting of most and least trustworthy news sources...

Anyone can vote as much as they like (one vote per person per news source) and we have two main categorizes, Trustworthy (+), Untrustworthy (-) and Contested for when a news agency receives both.

+ NPR
+ New Yorker

- Fox News
- Daily Show (they freely admit making stuff up...it is comedy)

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Samprimary
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If we're talking veracity of info, a poll of a forum isn't a great means to it tbh, it's more likely to just represent a very selective pool of biases
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Stone_Wolf_
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As an end all be all I agree...since it's just info I'm requesting...it's better than next to nothing.

But you don't have to play ifin ya don't wanna.

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777
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Sorry about that, Stone_Wolf_. The "/r/" tag refers to a subreddit, or a subcategory on Reddit.com.

For instance, the /r/news subreddit would be typed in as www.reddit.com/r/news, and so forth.

Like I said, I browse a lot. My apologies for assuming familiarity.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Ahh...no worries. I have never checked out reedit. I'm a busy guy. [Smile]
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kmbboots
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I would consider both the BBC and Al Jazeera to be credible news sources. Moreso than any of the US television news. They don't have to be commercial, so they don't need to grab viewers by over-sensationalizing the facts or worrying that unpopular facts will alienate their viewers. At least, not quite as much.
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Samprimary
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AJ has as I have mentioned before had some worrying undercurrents but I will withhold further judgment until there can be a more dramatic demonstration of corrupted output.

BBC is fairly ace, as is, so far, NPR.

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GaalDornick
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This is a great and educational article about a pretty hot topic in the news these days.
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Stone_Wolf_
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I am so gunna read that!
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Stone_Wolf_
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...you kno...after HPMOR
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Lyrhawn
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I read the Atlantic every other day. The New Yorker once a week. The Economist when their website will let me. I listen to NPR on my way to and from work and I've never really had a problem with them. Their funding is almost entirely private, and they have tons of great shows with great information.

If I,m ever in the mood for TV news, I'll watch Al Jazeera America. I find their style much more in tune with my preferences. It's 24 hour news, but they lean on documentaries and investigative news stories to fill in the gaps instead of manufacturing controversy.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Thank you to all for contributing to attempted reduction of my ignorance!
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Stone_Wolf_
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I have another question...I want to sponser a child (maybe two, one for each of my children)...anyone kno the cheapest & best one? UNICEF? I am also not willing to support folks that use horrific images, black mailing emotional bullschitte.
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Lyrhawn
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UNICEF seems to do more with less. They say that they provide vaccines for just pennies, food and other care for mere dollars. I have serious doubts as to their claims though. I have several friends working on aid projects in Africa, and getting anything done there for the pennies their talking about is incredibly difficult. Even well-funded projects have trouble really getting to kids in need. You'd be surprised - and probably angry - if you found out just how much aid money ends up in the pockets of some pretty bad, greedy, a-holes in governments looking to line their own pockets before they help their people.

But as far as cheapness goes, UNICEF might be your best bet.

If you want to sponsor the education of a high school student in Detroit, I know a perfect non-profit for you. [Smile]

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Stone_Wolf_
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Cheapest AND best...or to make it clearer, of the good ones, which is cheapest. I have to budget aggressively, but I feel moved to help in some way...that is feeding & getting meds to kids. Sorry bout Detroit...but people can just move to a different city or state, where as famine is....I admit to almost no actual knowledge...my heart is just more moved by starving kids.
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Samprimary
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another example of an article which one can

1. read in full,
2. complain about the length of the article as a 'groan to get through,' but still by virtue of the sheer inquisitive detail in it, learn something about many things, chiefly some of the principles behind disavowal of the death penalty as an acceptable practice

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/09/07/trial-by-fire

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Lyrhawn
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Jesus that was depressing. But I couldn't put it down.

Thanks for the link. Sometimes I skip the long ones, but that deserved to be read.

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GaalDornick
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Wow. That was a powerful read.

After getting the gist of what it was going to be about, I was planning on writing something here on how it argues against capital punishment because it might be used against an innocent person, but that argument doesn't cover why it can't be used against a person who is guilty with absolute evidence. But I'm so blown away by that story that I don't even want to get into that.

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GaalDornick
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I'm planning on telling this story next time I'm talking with my anti-vaccine somewhat-anti-science pro-anecdotal-evidence brother-in-law. I can use this to make a case to

1) show the issues with using people's stories as evidence. The way the witnesses started by saying how Willingham was so frantic about his children's safety and getting them out of the house when all they thought was happening was a man whose children were dying and then when they found out he was the prime suspect of the cause of the fire to intentionally kill his children, suddenly they didn't see him as frantic, they saw him as overacting and definitely thought something was fishy at the time, including the indisputable evidence known as a "gut feeling".

2) The issue with investigators who use their 'experience' and intuition over the unbiased scientific method. I'll try to tie this into explaining the elusive concept known as "confirmation bias" with the story of Vasquez thinking he was always right and learning the wrong lessons from his experiences.

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scifibum
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Great article.

The important thing that it shows is that we are not good at knowing when the evidence of guilt is incontrovertible. There will always be exceptions, but if we decide on a case by case basis? We're going to get some wrong.

It's not the kind of thing we should be OK with getting wrong sometimes.

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Rakeesh
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The reason it can't be used against someone guilty with 'absolute evidence' is that society thinks it is much, much better at establishing 'absolute evidence' than it actually is. And that frankly, the safeguards necessary to even start approaching 'absolute evidence' with utter reliability are so stringent they would never be agreed to by people invested in seeing capital punishment continue.

Just a couple of examples: no ordinary public defender should ever have been in charge of a case that yields the death penalty. Anytime an expert such as Hurst has doubts and does experiments and casts enormous skepticism on key evidence in such a trial, the same boards (and eventually Governor Perry, that loathsome hypocrite) that are allowed to view it in secret and aren't obliged to comment to anyone...

Well. Anyway, guilt by 'absolute evidence' is not so unlike a math problem that ends with 'assume no friction'. Useful as a teaching device and a rhetorical construct, but when you get out into the real world it's a lot less useful than it seems.

Anyway, I'm sorry, Gaal. There's a good bit of anger by association in my reply, I know. But every time I hear about endorsements of capital punishment even in some unlikely hypothetical such as 'absolute evidence' guilt, still less as the practice is done in the US today, I want to shout a question in their faces: how many innocent people is it acceptable to torture and murder for years or decades, in order to ensure other guilty people are executed?

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GaalDornick
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I didn't elaborate in my post on what I meant because I was still absorbing that article, but I didn't meant to say that I support capital punishment nor did I mean that absolute evidence is an often realistic situation. I meant that the argument this article presents wouldn't hold weight against the execution of someone who just committed a public shooting who was caught walking away with the smoking gun and openly admits "I did it". That's what I meant by absolute evidence. Cases like McVeigh, where there isn't a shred of doubt he is guilty and no one, including him, is even disputing it.
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scifibum
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Right, sometimes we really are sure. There's no point in arguing that we can never be sure that someone did something monstrous. But we can't draw an objective line that makes it impossible for us to make a mistake. The only way to avoid putting innocent people to death is to not put guilty people to death.
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Rakeesh
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Really, I think the article does offer some weight to hold against even 'incontrovertible guilt' arguments. In order to decide just when someone is absolutely guilty, somewhere, sometime there will be a person or group of people making the determination 'this person is absolutely guilty and there is no point in disputing it'.

But sometimes, the people we trust to make those determinations, such as arson investigators, in the moment we think we are sure. Then twenty years later better informed people apply better analysis to it and discover they were largely full of crap.

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GaalDornick
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I agree with everything both of you said.

quote:
The only way to avoid putting innocent people to death is to not put guilty people to death.
That's a great way of putting it.
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Samprimary
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I think after all I've read about the death penalty, I feel it is one of those practices that becomes, at a certain threshold of real knowledge about it, impossible to excuse, even if you are inclined to desire the death of guilty people.
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scifibum
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I think there's a certain brand of belief in retributive justice that could even permit some rate of false positives and still feel OK about itself. But generally I think people who are in favor put a lot of faith in the system to not screw up.
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Samprimary
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http://dignitas.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341f704253ef01901e8cc22a970b-pi

It's easy to think the system is just when you're not the person the system likes to feed on. It's also easy to think the death penalty is used acceptably if you're removed from the sorts of identities most likely to have it be used unacceptably on; to you, it is a punishment deserving.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I think there's a certain brand of belief in retributive justice that could even permit some rate of false positives and still feel OK about itself. But generally I think people who are in favor put a lot of faith in the system to not screw up.

There absolutely is, and sometimes-such as when you point out scores and scores of people proven innocent on death row, with the clear implication of many more-it will be admitted openly. Often in scoffs about how rare it is, and sometimes in references to the fabric of society and such. But I agree, the usual first recourse is 'we do so much' and 'best criminal justice system in the world'.

Which is tolerable among those unfamiliar with the facts of capital punishment in the US, but frankly appalling when it exists in someone exposed to, say, the Innocence Project for example. I don't mean victims' families-in spite of how dangerous their grief and status can be to sometimes innocent people, well, they're grieving often horrific crimes beyond the pale of most human imagination. It's unkind and silly to expect rational thinking from them. But there are also many who will admit that hundreds of people have been wrongfully executed in our nation, and yet still support capital punishment. For them? Contempt.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
another example of an article which one can

1. read in full,
2. complain about the length of the article as a 'groan to get through,' but still by virtue of the sheer inquisitive detail in it, learn something about many things, chiefly some of the principles behind disavowal of the death penalty as an acceptable practice

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/09/07/trial-by-fire

Great article, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is a shame he was executed based on shoddy evidence. It sounds like some of the people that got it wrong don't feel guilty at all, which is horrible.

I am opposed to the death penalty in about 99% of cases. The only time I think it is MAY be appropriate is those whose crimes were on a massive scale and extremely public, such as the Tsarnaev brothers.

I think the argument for overpopulation of prisons as a point for executions is a poor one. It isn't cost effective.

What would you all think of optional death sentences? If someone was stuck with 3 life sentences and didn't want to live the rest of his life in prison? Would you support assisted suicide for that prisoner?

My CEO brought this up one day while we were having lunch. (Strange topic right?) He mentioned taking a few years that the state would pay to house the prisoner to either give to those who the prisoner wronged or the family of the prisoner.

I don't know how I would feel about it. There are moral implications to it but I can see the possible benefits to the state, the people, and the prisoner.

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Lyrhawn
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only if you accept the premise that th current state of our prisons is moral.

Suggesting that death is a better way out because we've made life so awful for inmates is pretty abominable if you ask me.

In other news, the state of Louisiana is refusing to pay the family of a man who was wrongly imprisoned on death row for 30 years and was recently exonerated. His lung cancer went undiagnosed in prison, so he only has months to live after his entire life was taken from him. But the state refuses to pay him (as they are required to under state law) on the grounds that he pawned stolen goods 30 years ago.

Yeah Louisiana, you're a real hero.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:


I am opposed to the death penalty in about 99% of cases. The only time I think it is MAY be appropriate is those whose crimes were on a massive scale and extremely public, such as the Tsarnaev brothers.


Why? Isn't this just a shift in the goalposts for an acceptable abundance of surety? Execution, as a practice, is unacceptable on philosophical grounds- not just practical ones. The practical arguments are extremely convincing *on their own* but they are necessarily based in the philosophical contradiction of state capital punishment: that a just society, in order to violate its own definition of just treatment, must expend enormous emotional, and financial resources in order to accomplish this goal- and for no gain in the public good.

What exactly is the difference, to society or to an individual victim, between a person who commits 1 murder, and a person who commits 100? What practical effect could capital punishment possibly have on mass murder? IF anything, you would think that the practical arguments against it would be even *more* powerful.

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Rakeesh
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If it were not coming at the hands of the state, which I think can be fairly labelled a tyrant towards at least Ford, I would almost admire the chutzpah behind reasoning like 'he pawned stolen goods 30 years ago, so we don't have to pay anything for those decades'. If memory serves, in the statement about the non-payment, the LA AG even said something like 'evidence has shown Ford's involvement was not as serious as we thought'. That's a helluva goddammed thing to say, to even be lumpint those two things in. It's Louisiana too, so it's a fair bet that their AG is some shade of holy roller praising Jesus every chance he gets, conveniently scoring political capital in the process.

--------

Geraine.

I agree the overpopulation argument is silly, but not for reasons of cost effectiveness. Our prisons are overpopulated (to much higher rates, by the way, than any other nation in the developed world) for a simple, well known reason: our stupid, corrupt, and wasteful War on Drugs. This bit isnt directed at you, Geraine, but anyone who wants to whine about costs of prisons has to answer a lot of serious questions about just how many non-violent drug offenders we lock up every year. Maybe then we can worry about the small change we're spending on death row inmates.

As for your CEO's idea, it sounds good on the surface perhaps, but my chief problem with it is this: it seems geared entirely towards washing our collective hands as society of the shame of the way we practice capital punishment. Families of victims or even families of inmates on death row could be compensated in other ways such as rebates and tax credits, and we would achieve the same goal more efficiently. But then we wouldn't have to put their deaths on our own ledgers.

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Samprimary
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i can be sympathetic to the idea that there is a small fraction of crimes so clearly evidenced as to be doubt-free and perhaps acceptably and persuasively worth execution.

the problem would then come at two levels

1. the cost of maintaining such a system for such a small number of executions, and

2. how the high standard of proof required for executions will seemingly invariably bleed down back to much the same sort of bullshit we see today, especially for minorities

quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
only if you accept the premise that th current state of our prisons is moral.

they are not, and have not been for quite a long time
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GaalDornick
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Audible has a sale on Great Courses.
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Elison R. Salazar
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Didn't we kind of have this conversation before about how to be informed enough to vote?
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GaalDornick
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An extension of the topic in Samp's article: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/06/clayton-lockett-execution/392069/
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Samprimary
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the worst part about that bloody, surreal mess is the countless hundreds of millions of dollars it takes out of the pockets of taxpayers just to fail at doing anything for the public good, even when done 'correctly'
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