Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Utterly insufficient data, insight, and thought

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One of the largest problems today is that too many, including many politicians, make decisions based on utterly insufficient data, insight, and thought. All to often, there is not even the slightest awareness that data, insight, and thought are utterly insufficient. To make matters worse, they can make quite far-going commitments or take extreme actions based on this utterly insufficient data, insight, and thought.

A favorite example of mine is a young* girl from my own school in Sweden: she had become a member of the Social-Democrat’s youth organization and was sufficiently dedicated that she was interviewed in the local paper on the matter. Why had she landed with the Social-Democrats? Well, someone had given her a pamphlet and she had liked what she read …

*I do not remember exactly when this was, but we were likely somewhere in the range 15 through 17, i.e. roughly thirty years ago.

But: if we grab a pamphlet from a wide range of parties, chances are that we would like what we read, for reasons like there being a simplistic focus on issues with broad support, that more controversial opinions are not mentioned, that practical issues (financing, notably) are swept under the carpet, and that other parties have no possibility to make a counter-statement in that very pamphlet. Indeed, pamphlets often border on sloganeering, with claims like “we fight for a fairer society” and “we want to save the environment”. As can be seen, these claims are often not even very party specific. That they often mean different things by the same words, e.g. “fair”, makes the matter even trickier.

A pamphlet can be no basis for joining a party. Even more extensive information, like a party program, might well fall short. Indeed, one of the reasons why this particular story has remained with me over the years is the extreme contrast to my own* choice of party, at roughly the same time: I read the actual party program of all the seven (?) parties in parliament, Communists included, a considerable amount of other information, and even after joining the one side, I read much of what “the other side” wrote.

*At the time, Moderaterna, broadly a Conservative/Libertarian party. They have changed for the worse over the years. (And I have not been affiliated with any party since I left Sweden.)

A current example, and one (again!) demonstrating the danger of a too one-sided press and a too one-sided propaganda, is the cause of death in the George-Floyd case.

Before I continue, let me stress that I am not saying that main-stream opinions about cause of death are wrong—merely that they are too unfounded to be “right for a good reason”. They might (as I suspect) or might not also be wrong, but I do not pass final judgment on that matter, because I have not done the leg-work to come to a firm own conclusion. However, I do point to e.g. the Zimmerman–Martin tragedy for a situation where the main-stream opinion was almost certainly severely wrong and where I have done the leg-work. Also see the Mavi Marmara incident for a similar case of how the situation can change when a reader moves beyond the simplistic message of incompetent and, very often, partisan journalists.

Now, the cause of death seems to be almost universally described as the knee* on the neck, including even in German news reporting, where I today saw the claim that Floyd died after having pleaded for his life a dozen-or-so times (!!!!with video evidence!!!!). However, there appears to be considerable doubt on this point when we move behind the scenes, as described e.g. in several recent articles on UNZ, including [1]. Among the issues often discussed we have that Floyd had taken a very large, possibly life-threatening, dose of fentanyl before the events and that he had severe prior heart and other health problems. This while the (apparently, and contrary to media claims, sole) autopsy rules out e.g. suffocation through the knee on the neck. Certainly, if he did plea for his life a dozen-or-so times, that speaks against suffocation. (“How art thou out of breath, when thou hast breath / To say to me that thou art out of breath?” as Juliet protested.) A few pleas, possibly, but here it seems much more likely that Floyd experienced a lack of oxygen (or some other symptom) for a reason not immediately related to air flow to the lungs. In [1], there are even claims (which I have not verified) that point to breathing problems prior to the alleged murder and that Floyd might have wanted to rest on the ground.

*Something, incidentally, that makes the whole “taking a knee” thing seem quite tasteless to me, its prior history notwithstanding.

From what I* know at this stage, it is possible that even a drugged and unhealthy Floyd would have survived without the knee, but it is also possible that he would have died anyway. Remove the knee, and he might or might not have lived. Remove the drugs, and he might or might not have lived. Remove his health problems, and he might or might not have lived.

*I am a medical layman. Others might do better, but the typical journalist and the typical protester are not among them.

On the outside, it seems extremely likely that Chauvin, the “knee”, had no intention of causing death or permanent harm. Indeed, if he did, he would have to be Darwin-Award level stupid to do what he did on camera and in front of witnesses. Certainly, I have not seen one shred of proof that the event was motivated by racism. (Also see an earlier text on this situation.)

In a sane society, we might right now have an objective debate about what police methods are or are not safe, demeaning*, whatnot. What we do have are near-blanket condemnations of “racist murder”, “institutional racism”, “racist police”, etc.—not to mention riots and looting.

*If someone kneed on my neck, I would raise hell afterwards, even if the method was medically safe.

I am going to go as far as to say that, unless further evidence appears and provided that the trial is fair, Chauvin will ultimately be acquitted of any murder charge, simply because there is next to no possibility to gain “beyond reasonable doubt” if even half of the “off screen” claims are true. There might or might not be room for a manslaughter conviction or some relatively lesser crime (reckless endangerment?), but not murder.*

*I have not attempted to verify exactly what charges might apply in what jurisdiction and how they differ in detailed meaning, but my general intent should be clear. (Here too, I am a layman.)

Of course, if he is acquitted, we can cue the next round of riots … (“Racist jury!”, “Racist justice system!”, etc.)

A few quotes from [1] that are highly relevant to the main topic and which well match my own concerns in the abstract*:

*I do not vouch for the details, e.g. what goes on with specifically “The Minneapolis Star Tribune”, and I do not agree with e.g. the over-generalization implied by “None” in the first quote.

None of the people watching the video had any awareness of any of the facts. And the media made sure they still have no awareness of the facts.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is no doubt afraid of (1) having all advertising pulled by businesses afraid that they will be burned out, (2) afraid of being burned down itself, and (3) afraid of being called racist by its employees which always has more force than when it comes from outside, and (4) the editors are afraid of being fired for being racist.

And then there are the many readers for whom it is of the utmost emotional importance that Floyd was murdered by white police for racist reasons. These readers are immune to all facts. One told me that fentanyl is not toxic. Another told me that it is not possible to overdose on fentanyl. Yet another told me that the medical examiner is white and his report is a racist report. Another asked me when did I become a racist.

What we are dealing with is not only the brainwashing of white students as to the evil origin of their country and their inherited guilt, but also their inability to think rationally and to make an objective conclusion from evidence. This was once the purpose of education, but no more. Today students are taught that their emotions are what is true, and their emotions are manipulated by the lies that they are taught.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 9, 2020 at 9:32 pm

7 Responses

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  1. […] This problem (and this wasted opportunity) is by no means restricted to epidemics. Consider e.g. the current heavily distorted U.S. reporting on alleged racism, including an often highly incomplete picture of the George-Floyd case. […]

  2. […] This problem (and this wasted opportunity) is by no means restricted to epidemics. Consider e.g. the current heavily distorted U.S. reporting on alleged racism, including an often highly incomplete picture of the George-Floyd case. […]

  3. […] Utterly insufficient data, insight, and thought […]

  4. […] Excursion on pre-accusations and distortions: I have a strong impression that this type of pre-accusations and distortions do not merely arise out of incompetence, sensationalism, or another “traditional” weakness of journalists, but as outright manipulation attempts. Consider similarly the pre-accusation that Trump would not concede the election, no matter the result—there was not one shred of proof that he would refuse to concede a legitimate and uncontroversial loss, but now, when he has very legitimate reasons to not concede an apparent loss, these legitimate reasons are ignored in favor of “we told you so”. Similarly, news reporting around various race-related court cases is often heavily distorted, creating an impression that there is a very clear case, that the accused did have certain motivations, or similar—and if a court, even quite legitimately, finds the opposite later, well, then cries of scandal, racist jurors/judges, and whatnot ensues. And then comes the riots … For an example, the same Swedish news source referred to Kyle Rittenhouse as a right-wing extremist, which is (a) disputable, (b) irrelevant in what currently appears to be a clear-cut self-defense case. But, no, the reader is to think “evil Nazi” and ascribe a motive of hate and malevolence. Also see some earlier, more detailed, discussions of similar topics, e.g. texts around George Floyd (at least, [1], [2]). […]

  5. […] my past writings, there have been several mentions, probably most notably in [1], more than nine months […]

  6. […] this trial is that just looking at the video evidence gives a simplistic view of events. Indeed, in [1] I discussed lack of insight and thought as a society wide problem and exemplified it with the (long […]


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