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A Swede in Germany

Archive for July 2010

Comment censorship and comment policies IVa: Free space for comments on censored page

with 4 comments

(Note: This entry will mostly interest German speakers. No translations are provided, even if the main text is kept in English.)

Unfortunately, as suspected, the blog by Antje Schrupp discussed in the previous entry does apply a comment policy that I cannot but consider illegitimate (from an ethical POV).

After one of my own comments have now been blocked, I belatedly note that I been blocked from the discussion as a whole on grounds that have to be considered flimsy at best, and consist in both a high degree of arbitrariness and a misinterpretation (whether deliberate or not) of my actions and intentions.

For this reason, I publish my comment here, in addition:

@Zoe

Diese Einlage war im Kern wirklich gut, denn sie hat tatsächlich auf einige denkbare Gründe gezeigt, worauf es sonst schwierig zu kommen gewesen wäre (und auch nicht von dem ursprunglichen Beitrag Antjes so hervorgehen).

Wenn wir aber eine bessere Analogie suchen wollen, für den öffentlichen Raum: Sagen wir, dass jemand eine öffentlich zugängliche Diskussionrunde (vielleicht auf dem Marktplatz, vielleicht bei einem offenen Stammtisch) startet und anschliessend die abweichenden Meinungen mockiert, beleidigt, zensiert—sicher wäre dies keine gute Sitte. Wenn man die Diskussion „unter den richtigen Leuten“ halten möchte, würde man anders vorgehen, etwa in dem man sich privat trifft. Auf die selbe Art und Weise kann man durch Blogs mit entsprechenden „Privacy settings“, private Mailinglisten, oder gleich durch Email, „die Falschen“ schon im Voraus ausschliessen—bis zu dem Punkt, dass sie die Beiträge gar nicht bekommen. Potentielle Interessenten, die nicht schon zu dem Kreis hören, kann man immerhin auf unterschiedliche Wege einladen. Wenn jemand tatsächlich nur Kirschen verkauft, dann ist das natürlich eine völlig andere Sache.

(Nebenbei scheinen leider einige von den sonst angesprochenen Problemen auch bei Dir durch, z.B. in „Sie diskutieren hegemonial und unterschwellig beleidigend“, „Deswegen bleiben die interessanten Leute schnell weg,“ oder „die kein Bock auf die Beleidigung, die Unfreundlichkeiten “—hier wird erneut, und in Umkehrung zu dem was ich beobachtet habe, die Nicht-Feministen als beleidigend betrachtet, während die Interessanten letzten Endes die Zustimmenden sind.)

In addition, I declare this page a free zone for those whose comments are censored on on Antje’s blog entrye. (Considering the late stage of the discussion, there may well be none; but this still makes sense as a statement of principle.) The one constraint in addition to my normal comment policy: For reasons of symmetry, I reserve the right to selectively censor any pro-feminist entries.

I already have two follow-ups to my original post in the workings (mostly focusing on why Antje’s policy is misguided and destructive; respectively on one particular sub-discussion that would have turned into an external debate, had not the feminist participant backed down rather suddenlye), but have postponed their completion for a few days, having felt a need to take a break from the topic. The new events calls for further treatment, which may be another follow-up or be baked in with the planned discussion. There may be some time, however, before these several follow-ups are published, because there are some thoughts that I need to straighten out for myself first.

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Written by michaeleriksson

July 31, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Comment censorship and comment policies IV: A German feminist’s take on comments

with 7 comments

Today, I stumbled upon an entry where a German feminist expressed her opinions on comment moderatione. Her statements included:

Auch an dieser Stelle waren die besserwisserischen Männerkommentare in feministischen Blogs ja schon häufiger Thema, ebenso wie das Phänomen der Trolle.

(Here too, the besser-wissery man-comments on feminist blogs has been a topic, just like the phenomenon of trolls.)

Apart from the overall connection and formulation being less-than-polite, my own experiences indicate that this is an opinion that feminist bloggers tend to have about any and all comments by men that are not positively “sucking up”. In particular, the whole besser-wisser issue is basically their explanation for the presumption of pointing to actual errors in reasoning, statistics that do not agree with The Official Feminist Truth, and similar. Cf. also the earlier discussion of “mansplaining”.

Dass es sich für feministische Blogs empfiehlt, eine relativ strikte Kommentarmoderation zu haben, hat sich inzwischen herauskristallisiert.

[…]

Sondern es ist wichtig, um den Raum der Diskussion frei zu halten für die wirklich interessanten Debatten und attraktiv für diejenigen, die gerne konstruktiv mitdiskutieren wollen, aber keine Lust auf langweilige oder sich im Ton vergreifende Diskussionsstile haben.

(It has turned out [original idiom untranslatable] that it is recommendable for feminist blogs to be relatively strict about comment moderation.

[…]

Instead, it is important to keep the room of discussion free for the really interesting debates, and attractive to those who want to participate in the discussion, but have no wish for boredom or discussion styles that are off in tone [ambiguous phrasing].)

This is a similar distortion of the “only those who agree are constructive” kind. See also the comment I submitted to the actual post (below).

Eine weitere Unsitte, wie ich finde, ist es, das eigene Anliegen bei jedem neuen Thema erneut vorzubringen. Also zum Beispiel die Meinung, dass es heutzutage gar nicht die Frauen, sondern die Männer sind, die benachteiligt werden, oder dass feministische Analysen nur dann Relevanz und Bedeutung haben, wenn es gelingt, Männer von ihrer Richtigkeit zu überzeugen.

(Another deplorable behaviour, in my finding [opinion], is to bring out an own agenda [pet issue?] again with every new topic. For instance, the opinion that, in today’s world, it is not the women, but the men, who are disadvantaged, or that feminist analyses only have relevance and meaning [or importance], when it is possible to convince men about their correctness.)

And again, dissenters have no right to speak. Superficially, it may seem that it is wrong to bring up such issues again and again, but the point is that these issues are of fundamental importance to the discussion—and the turn-around in male and female fortunes will also undermine very many feminist arguments and discussions. Ignoring these arguments (and if they were not ignored, there would be no need to restate them) is tantamount to discussing biology in a Creationist framework.

Und allen, die dann „Zensur“ rufen, sage ich: Das Internet ist ja zum Glück groß. Ihr könnt also jederzeit ein eigenes Blog aufmachen. Hier aber entscheide ich.

(And to all, who call “censorship, I say: The Internet is, fortunately, large. You can start your own blog anytime. Here, however, I make the calls.)

This dictatorial take has already been discussed in previous entries.

The comment I left there, in full:

Ich kann jetzt nicht spezifisch für Deinen Blog sprechen (noch werde ich verleugnen, dass es auch unter den anti-feministen schlechte Kommentatoren gibt).

Gegen den Grundsatz muss ich mich allerdings mit Nachdruck wenden:

Was ich immer und immer wieder sehe, ist dass feministische Blogs eine selektive Moderation, Personenangriffe, o.ä. benutzen um Andersdenke zum Schweigen zu bringen. Ich habe gar Aussagen gesehen, die in der Richtung „Deine Ansichten stimmen nicht mit der Majorität der Leser überrein, so verzieh Dich.“ gegangen sind.

Eine „interessante Diskussion“ ist dann öfters auf ein gegenseitiges Zustimmen beschränkt, während eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit Sachargumenten, eine gegenseitige Erleuchtung über den tatsächlichen Inhalt unterschiedlicher Standpunkte, usw, nicht stattfindet.

(Im Übrigen habe ich selbst erhebliche Zweifel an die ethische Seite von dieser Art von gezielter Moderation/Zenzur.)

S. auch (auf Englisch) https://michaeleriksson.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/unfair-argumentation-methods-iii-intermezzo-on-rape-debates/ für ein Beispiel von den Methoden, die einige Blogs benutzen.

(I cannot speak specifically for your blog (nor will I deny that there are bad commenters among the anti-feminists too).

I must turn [dissent/object] against the principle [of the post], however:

What I see, time and time again, is that feminist blogs use selective moderation, personal attacks, and similar, to silence dissenters. I have even seen statements in the direction of “Your opinions do not correspond with the majority of the readers, so take a hike.”.

An “interesting discussion” is then often reduced to mutual affirmation, while a critical examination with arguments ad rem, a mutual enlightenment about the actual contents of different views, etc., does not take place.

(In addition, I have strong concerns [lit. “doubts”] about the ethical side of this type of targeted moderation/censorship.)

S. also (in English) https://michaeleriksson.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/unfair-argumentation-methods-iii-intermezzo-on-rape-debates/ for an example of the methods some blogs use.)

I will also distill a spot on comment by another commentere:

  1. The interesting thing with blogs is the exchange of information and the possibility to find weakness in ones own opinion.

  2. Feminist blogs tend to strike exactly those comments that disagree with the underlying opinions of the authors.

  3. Those arguments that tend to convince non-feminists (listed are fellow party-members, co-workers, and family) are those that are deleted.

  4. By this feminism becomes a question of faith.

Finally, a quote by yet another commenter:

Biologische Argumentationen, sachlich vorgetragen und durchaus von einer Mehrheit der jeweiligen biologischen Fachrichtung vertreten, führen auf feministischen Blogs sehr schnell dazu, dass Kommentare nicht mehr freigeschaltet oder gelöscht werden.

(Biological arguments, [even when] brought in a factual manner and supported by a majority of the respective [sub-field of Biology], have the speedy consequence that comments are not approved or are deleted.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 27, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Comment censorship and comment policies III: Nordic Dervish’s comment policy

with 6 comments

Another recent encounter is Nordic Dervish’se comment policy, which contains some other common entries that trouble me. (Most of the policy, however, is reasonable.)

A particular issue is the implicit assumption that the reader has read the comment policy (reflected in several entries below), which is only valid to a part. While this may seem a reasonable assumption (possibly even eliciting a “Duh!” from the reader), it is rarely true, and any unusual rules and consequences should put to the commenters explicit attention in connection with the comment field. By analogy, a country can make whatever laws it wants, but if those laws are unexpected (say, jay-walking being punishable with a minimum of six months imprisonment), it really should explicitly inform tourists at the border—not rely on the tourists to grab a book of law and reading up.

Examples (retrieved 2010-07-27):

Kommentera inlägget. Allt som är off-topic raderas – oavsett hur intressant.

(Comment the post. Everything that is off-topic will be deleted—no matter how interesting.)

Apart from often being a disservice to other visitors (and quite possibly a time waster for the commenter), this is another highly arbitrary regulation. Notably, the border between on- and off-topic can be hard to define, sometimes it is necessary to go off topic to correctly answer concerns raised by another commenter, etc.

In contrast, “Try to stay on topic. Comments that stray too far from the topic at hand may be wholly or partially deleted.” would have been perfectly OK, if combined with sound judgement.

Håll kommentaren så kort som det är möjligt. ”Noveller” kommer att raderas.

(Keep your comment as short as possible. “Novels” [lit., in an odd twist, “short-stories”] will be deleted.

The principle is sound, but the same objections, m.m., as above can be raised.

Rasistiska eller främlingsfientliga kommentarer/formuleringar raderas.

(Racist or xenophobic comments/formulations are deleted.)

The same old problem again that I have raised in several previous entries. (Admittedly, this instance was followed by a disclaimer that some amount of dissent may be allowed.) However, this is nothing compared to:

Är Khomeini/Ahmadinejad dina idoler? Om du skriver publiceras ditt inlägg MED emailadress och IP-nr samt en uppmaning till dig att utföra passionerat fellatio på ett avgasrör.

(Are Khomeini/Ahmadinejad your idols? If you write [presumably “comment”], your input will be published WITH email address and IP-nr, together with a suggestion for you to perform passioned fellatio on an exhaust pipe.)

Publishing email and IP of a commenter without his consent is inexcusable (barring some special cases, say DOS attacks, but certainly not the described one). This applies even if the commenter happen to be an Iranian Islamist, a German Nazi, or a Satanist (in all three cases, assuming that his one crime in context is expressing a dissenting opinion). Further, WordPress assures posters, with regard to the technical implementation, that this information will only be made available to the blog owner(s), which makes a manual publication the more unethical.

The latter part of the quote could be construed as a suggestion to commit suicide…

Written by michaeleriksson

July 27, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Comment censorship and comment policies II: Jotamar’s comment policy

with 3 comments

I recently encountered a comment policye that I found highly dangerous (I have, I stress, not made observations of how it is actually applied. The general attitude, which is representative for many blogs, is my target. It may be beneficial too consider this a discussion based on the policy, rather than a discussion of the policy.)

A few quotes (retrieved 2010-07-27) with my analysis:

If you come to my blog and post a comment that does not engage with my post, or with the comment thread in general, I will consider you a troll.

This is a misrepresentation of what a troll is (in short someone who is deliberately out to provoke a fight or otherwise disturb the discussion)—as the recurring reader will know, use of a word with strong negative connotations (arising from a very specific meaning) in a much wider meaning is one of my pet peeves—be the misuse out of ignorance, carelessness, or deliberation.

Further, the applied standards are extremely arbitrary and vulnerable to misunderstandings, with the implication that even constructive and “good faith” comments can fall victim.

Notably, while I have not myself been censored on this blog during my one (?) involvement, both my intentions and what I said was misunderstoode in a highly annoying and mutually time-consuming manner.

After [what amounts to a first warning], I may delete your comments or disemvowel them, depending on my mood.

Deleting comments is one thing, disemvowelling (.g. smthng lk ths) is another matter entirely: Other peoples words should not be distorted unless it is manifestly clear that a distortion has taken place (e.g. by a marker like “[Admin: …]”. Notably, there are a few people out there (usually considered idiots by others), who deliberately disemvowel their own texts, and the commenter might be taken for one of them.

If you write a condescending comment – especially if you start with a condescending phrase – or if you mansplain (or equivalent) at me, I will probably treat you as a troll.

Condescension too is highly subjective, and many are over-sensitive to it or imagine it where it is not present. This tends to apply in particular to people who use the word “mansplain”: There are two main situations in which I have seen this word used:

  1. A man tries to explain more-or-less anything to a woman who is also a men-are-out-to-get-us feminist; in particular, when she actually is wrong in the underlying issue.

  2. A man tries to explain something to a woman who is also stupid or highly uninformed, and his dumbing-down is interpreted as “You talk to me like that because I am woman!”, instead of the correct “You talk to me like that because I am stupid/uninformed!”. Notably, the amount of dumbing down need not even be so large that an independent observer would consider it condescending, but rather an attempt to be helpful. (When push comes to shove, Einstein would have discussed physics with a layman in a very different manner than with another Nobel-Prize winning physicist—this is in the best interest of all parties, and not in anyway disrespectful or condescending.)

    Corollary: If you constantly find that other people are condescending towards you, the reason might actually rest with you, not them.

As an additional complication, some incorrectly interpret a factual way of writing as condescending, which can be a major obstacle to a fair discussion when combined with a “no condescension” rule. Similarly, even statements that correctly point out that a particular belief is wrong or naive are often taken as condescending. (Depending on the details, this need not be incorrect; however, there is a world of difference between e.g. “That it is common beginner’s error, which does not consider that X.”, even when condescending, and “Do not trouble your pretty little head with that. We do not want it to over-heat, do we?”—there is condescension and there is condescension.)

Finally, it is important to bear in mind that we are all imperfect: Should someone, when faced with an unusual amount of stupidity, eventually become condescending, then that is something very different from someone who is constantly condescending to everyone he meets.

Language which is offensive because it is ableist [presumably, referring to having or not having certain abilities, e.g. sight], sexist, misogynistic, racist, homophobic or anything else of that calibre is not acceptable.

Again, a much too subjective criterion—and one that is very, very often abused to exclude those who dissent in opinion, or that is over-extended in an inappropriate manner. (Cf. e.g. Hypocritical media or Abuse of “racism” (and issues relating to racism).)

If you think this policy is unfair, you are more than welcome to go and comment on some other blog.

While this may seem reasonable at a first glance, this attitude can also be dangerous—in particular, when the censorship starts during a discussion, when one debater’s opinions are left misstated, misrepresented, or when others attacks or arguments are left unanswered. An additional danger is that a good faith post which has cost the author a non-trivial amount of time, e.g. to dig up a few references, is not published.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 27, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Comment censorship and comment policies I: Preliminaries

leave a comment »

I have previously written on the danger of censorship, including pointing to the possibility that freedom of speech may need to be radically extended. (More posts can be found by a search.)

Recently, I have seen a number of relevant posts. To deal with some cases and observations, I am writing a new article series. Currently, having had busy day, I have four articles (including this one) that I will publish in short time-span, after some minor polishing; in addition, a fifth article is planned, but may yet be canceled, depending on developments.

While I will leave most of the discussion to the individual case discussions, a few remarks:

  1. Just like unfair moderation can lead to problems, so can e.g. alterations of comments. This, in particular, considering how easy it is to discredit someone even with an out-of-context quote he has made. Even an accidental distortion can have disastrous effect. Deliberate forgeries and distortions, OTOH, are bound to be rare—but the potential for abuse is large. (Notably, this is a particular concern for those who occasionally post on the blogs run by the-end-justifies-the-means fanatics.)

  2. If you, as a blog-owner, decides to block a particular comment or commenter, it is usually a good idea to explicitly contact him with an explanation. There are blogs that have a too large inflow of comments, and there are commenters who simply are obvious idiots (or have built their status as idiots for quite some time); however, in most cases, a notification is appropriate and courteous. In particular, beware of the risk of a misinterpretation influencing your decision to block.

  3. Everyone must have the right to defend and clarify his position, meet attacks directed against him, etc. If you do cut someone off, do so in a manner that does not make him a defenseless victim of an opponent.

  4. Be especially careful with the people you disagree with: The greater the disagreement, the greater the risk that you are being biased and unfair—and the greater the benefit of the doubt you should extend.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

On correlation, causality, and related issues

with 2 comments

The previous entry touched upon the question of fallacies. Recently, I have been involved in a Swedish discussion of povertye, which has put emphasis on some of my concerns.

Notably, there seems to be a considerable lack of understanding of questions such as causality vs. correlation, how scientific studies work, and similar. Annoyingly, this problem is very common, even among journalists and politicians (who should know better as a professional requirement)—and, horrifyingly, even the odd scientist.

Let us first look at the concepts of causality and correlation:

Correlation implies that there is a connection of some kind between two phenomena, personal characteristics, or similar—but is says nothing about how the connection works. In particular, it does not say that the one is the cause of the other, or the reverse; and it is quite common that a third something is the cause of both, or that they are partially mutually causing each other. (Technical use of “predicts” is similar: It too is not a causality, but unlike a correlation it can be a one-way street. If I pick out a random person on the street here in Cologne, there is a fair chance that he is German—the first predicts the second, with a high probability of correctness. On the other hand, picking a random German, the chance that he is on a street in Cologne is comparatively small—the second does not predict the first.)

Causality, OTOH, catches just this causing.

To take a few examples of how these concepts can work (and easily be misunderstood):

  1. Height and weight are reasonably strongly correlated. However, which is the cause of the other? An increase in height does (on average—a qualifier that I will leave out below) cause an increase in weight, because there is more body present. However, an increase in weight can also often cause an increase in height: Lack of nutrition can stunt growth and those who eat more are likely to both gain weight through fat/muscle gain and to gain height through a lesser risk/degree of malnutrition. In addition, entirely other factors can cause both weight and height gains (e.g., strictly hypothetically, that those genetically predisposed to tallness are also predisposed to obesity).

    Here we see a complex interaction of factors. We can further note that, although height and weight are correlated, the correlation is imperfect: An obese 5-footer can be heavier than skinny 7-footer. Correlations only rarely allow for predictions about individuals, and instead find their use where aggregates are concerned.

  2. Assume that we consider a large sample of men and women, with and without bikes (and that sex and the possession of a bike are independent of each other). Looking specifically at the three subsets women (X), bike-owners (Y), and female bike-owners (Z), we find that membership of X and membership of Z correlate: Being a woman increases the chance of being a female bike-owner and being a female bike-owner necessitates being a woman. In the same way, membership in Y and membership in Z correlate.

    It would now seem plausible to assume that since both X–Z and Z–Y correlate, then we would also have a correlation X–Y. That, however, is not true! There is (in this model) no connection whatsoever between X (being a woman) and Y (owning a bike).

    Here we see the risk of “chaining” correlations.

  3. Consider the set X of all Finns and the set of Y all people with Finnish as their native language. Clearly, X and Y have a strong correlation. It would now, on a too casual glance, seem plausible that the same applies to any subset of X. However, there are specific subsets which have no or even a negative correlation—notably, the large minority of Swedish descent.

    What is true for a set is not (necessarily) true for all subsets. (Including, obviously, individual cases, which can be mapped to sets with one member.)

  4. Consider a school class with blond and brown-haired children. The teacher (for reasons of his own) gives the blond children an apple and a chocolate bar, while the brown-haired are given an orange and bag of wine-gummy.

    Assuming that no other edibles are present (and that the children are not extremely voracious…), there are perfect correlations among the children between owning an apple and owning a chocolate bar, an orange and wine-gummy, being blond and owning an apple, and so on. There are also perfect negative correlations between e.g. apple-owning and orange-owning (not all correlations need indicate a connection of X -> Y, but they can also be of the X -> not-Y kind).

    However, there is no causation between apples and chocolate bars or between oranges and wine-gummy. (One of the main rules of science: Correlation does not imply causation.)

    Looking at e.g. being blond and owning an apple, we land in a complicated situation: On the one hand, we could argue that the blond hair did cause possession of the apple; on the other, this could be seen as a spurious thought because the actual cause behind the correlations is the teacher. (What is a causation and what not is often a far from clear decision, and care must be taken when basing decisions on ambiguous causations. In a similar vein, there are often causes and underlying causes.)

  5. Assume the same setting as the previous example, when a second teacher rushes in, confiscates all candies and replaces them with fruit (the bastard!), so that all children have exactly one apple and one orange.

    Here we see an oddity: Causation does not need to imply correlation.

    The first teachers actions did cause the students to be given candies, but the actions of the second nullified that effect. Similarly, the first teacher did cause the children to be given fruit according to a certain pattern, but this pattern (in the sample at hand) disappeared with the actions of the second teacher (without nullifying the actions of the first teacher).

  6. A (hypothetical) study of the NBA is made, with the result that the correlation between height and prowess (by some measures) is low, zero, or even negative.

    Does this imply that height has no effect on prowess? No–here we have the classic issue of a pre-filtered sample. Studying NBA players reduces the variation of ability to a very high degree (compared to the overall population) and the variation of height (to some degree). This makes the sample flawed (for many purposes) and the conclusion invalid.

    Repeating the same study on the overall population, without this pre-filtering, will show a large positive correlation.

    A correlation is only as good as the samples used (in general) and using samples which are “top heavy” (in particular) can hide correlations that actually are present.

  7. Similar to the above, other variations of highly flawed conclusions based on flawed samples can be constructed, e.g. by creating statistics on car accidents for the overall population based on a sample of hospital visitors; by using a conclusion which is true for one population, but not for another; or by making comparisons between samples that may be inherently unequal, e.g. by trying to measure a difference in hockey-ability between Swedes and Canadians by comparing random samples of NHL players. (The entry barrier to the NHL will be lower for a Canadian, which means that the Swedish sample will have undergone a stronger pre-filtering.)

An important conclusion from the above is that if a scientific study claims that “X and Y correlate” (or “X predicts Y”), great care should be taken before assuming a causation or suggesting new policy. In fact, even if the study actually does make claims about causality, great care should be taken: The scientist(s) may be sloppy, driven by ideological motivation or research grants, or seeing what the result “should” be (rather than what it is)—scientists are only human.

The last point is one of importance: Many non-scientists have a somewhat superstitious take on scientists, and assume that they master all complexities in they encounter, take all aspects of a problem into consideration, and so on. This is simply not a correct estimate: Even when a scientist is aware of all aspects (unlikely, bordering on a tautological impossibility), he will still be forced to make simplifications. A social-science study, e.g., may pick out a handful of variables of relevance, try to catch any remaining issues in a generic error term—and then proceed to test these on a sample that is too small, picked with imperfect randomness, or otherwise deviating from the ideals. (This not to mention the many other complications that can occur with flawed measurements, leading questionnaires, whatnot.)


Addendum:

As has subsequently occurred to me, the above examples can be somewhat misleading in that they are mostly “binary” (someone has/is something—or not). This was a deliberate choice to have simple and easy to understand examples; however, it is important to bear in mind that the typical practical case will be of a different character. The first item, dealing with height and weight, is a good example: There is no binary “tall implies heavy”, “short implies light”, but a a gradual increase of expected/average weight as height increases (and vice versa).

This is particularly important when I speak of “negative correlation” above: This should not really be seen as the presense of X implying the absense of Y, but as a decrease of Y as X increases. A good example is speed and travel time: If a vehicle goes faster (all other factors equal) the time taken for it to reach its destination decreases.


Written by michaeleriksson

July 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Reply to another post

with 2 comments

I am trying to reply to a post on an other blog, which just swallows my comment without any error message. To work around this, I instead post the comment here.

> The blame for the Duke Lacross team is the prosecutor.

The prosecutor used a false allegation raised by the woman—a woman, who saw the negative effects she was causing and did not back down from her fraudulent claims.

> Nor can one hold up one case & say this is why we can argue “do not believe
> women.”

That is the entire point of the example! You provide a single case and incorrectly argue that we should “Believe women”. I point to the absurdity of such reasoning by providing an opposite case.

> Women’s lack of credibility has a very long history and still continues to
this day.

Women may have lacked credibility in the past, but for at least several decades they have been given too much blanket credibility.

> In family court, for example, women’s allegations are often
> considered to be “vindictive” while research (see
> http://www.leadershipcouncil.org for research citations) proves most
> allegations are based on good faith.
> Moreover, research (see: Bala & Schumann) find men make more false
> allegations in family court – but notice the difference stereotypes have in
> comparison to research/facts.

(Please provide links to your sources—and specific links.)

I assume that you refer to the page

http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/ap.html

Even looking at just [Bala, N. & Schuman, J. (2000). Allegations of sexual abuse when parents have separated. Canadian Family Law Quarterly, 17, 191-241.], which on a cursory inspection appears to be the entry most favourable to your statements, a different story is told.

Yes, intentionally false allegations is considered a minority—but it also says that only 23 % of the allegations are both true and sufficiently well-proved, with a full 30 % of the remaining being based on false accusations. Notably, the majority of the overall number of false accusations (irrespective of good/bad faith) did come from the mothers—and did so with a considerable margin. (Even if every single accusation by someone else was faulty, an extremely unlikely assumption, this would amount to 29 % of 196 ~ 57 cases, to be compared with 89 outright faulty cases overall and an additional 61 potentially faulty cases.)

Most importantly, this study is useless to test the correctness of court decisions, because it has simply gathered the court decisions themselves. Obviously, this entirely undermines the point you try to make: If courts find that only 1.3 % of false accusations by women are in bad faith, compared to 21 % by men, then that is, if anything, a clear indication of pro-woman bias in the courts.

> I’m familiar with many cases involving the family court, but look at Katie
> Tagle for one. She was denied a restraining order 3 TIMES – 3rd judge (Lemkau)
> called her a liar (transcript on Internet). Ex took 9-month-old baby and
> killed him and himself.

You cannot argue based on individual cases: Just like with your original story, it is a trivial exercise to find an opposing case. Aggegrate numbers are what matter.

> For further proof, look at the Innocence Project, a respected organization
> fighting for wrongly imprisoned individuals. On their top 7 list on their
> web site it does NOT list false allegations.

(Please provide links to your sources.)

The absense of false allegations on their top 7 list is not proof of anything.

> Not believing women’s allegations – even when they have proof – leads to
> injuries and deaths.

While that is, at least potentially, true, you make no real connection between proof and believe. On the contrary, the statements in your original post sound more like the sometime feminists claims “A woman would never lie about rape!” or “A woman would never lie about her children being abused!”—claims which are both patently wrong.

> The “rules about credibility” are NOT the same for everyone – that’s the
> problem. She has less credibility.

Again, quite the contrary: Courts do have a long history of believing women even without sufficient proof.

A few links that you should read:

http://peterzohrab.tripod.com/5chdabus.html

http://www.wesh.com/news/23991233/detail.html

http://www.marylandfathers.org/FAQ2.html

http://www.fathermag.com/808/GenderBias.shtml

http://www.tigweb.org/express/panorama/article.html?ContentID=4309

(Note: I normally make references to http://www.mens-links.net/, which contains large collections of articles on various related issues. Unfortunately, this site appears to be down at the moment. The above links have been googled together as a sub-optimal replacement—and will understate the case.)

Written by michaeleriksson

July 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized