Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘witch-hunts

Blogroll update

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A few months ago, I encountered a twelve-part article series on the medieval witch hunts.e Being swamped with other things, I only read the first few parts at the time. Having now completed the reading, I would like to belatedly recommend it to others. Particular value is found in giving detailed information on the Catholic Church’s actual position on witches, who the typical perpetrators where, etc. Most of us have probably already learned in history class that the stereotypical image of a persecuting church is exaggerated and outdated (numbers of victims rivaling the Holocaust is certainly a fringe view), but the detailed treatment gives a noticeably deeper understanding. In other areas some more surprising pieces of information is found.

Obviously, reading about the witch hunts is also valuable with an eye on somewhat similar modern phenomena concerning e.g. child-porn or satanistic child abuse.

While recommending the series, I also raise a warning that the site (bibleapologetics.wordpress.come) is likely to be partial, which may or may not be reflected in some of the articles (e.g. when comparing Church and Science).

By the FIFO principle, Mansförtryck och kvinnovälde [pdf]e is removed. That entry was first discussed here.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 8, 2011 at 4:56 am

The dire menace of child porn—and other sex-related myths

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A regular occurrence nowadays is hysteria over child porn—often coupled with cries for increased policing, reduced civil rights, Internet blocks, or similar. A disturbing case was the FAQ of the Cologne policee, which dealt at length and almost exclusively with child porn when I visited it about a year ago—at the moment, the contents are far more appropriate and helpful (just possibly because of the email I sent to complain). Even everyday citizens without agendas are obviously influenced by the bogeyman-propaganda. (Cf. e.g. a post where I recently commentede.) This entry is written partially to have an easy link to give to these people.

The scope of the problem is often exaggerated by several orders of magnitude. A previous article of mine puts the absurd claim that there would be 14 million (!) child-porn sites under the loupe of basic reasoning—I have later seen numbers that indicate a true figure somewhere between one and two thousand. (That article discusses several other issues, including the dangers of counting IP addresses as individual people, and the problems caused by an ever expanding definition of what is considered “evil”.)

A highly illuminating external sourcee investigates and debunks a number of common claims, including a 200,000-websites (let alone 14 million…), a 20,000-images-per-week, and a $3-billion-a-year claim. (A number of other interesting articles are linked to from there.) In particular, it makes the very important point that a “hit” is not the same thing as an access attempt or a page view: Each image (including those used in the page design), JavaScript file, CSS file, whatnot, on a page causes a separate hit; for a page with pornographic contents, several dozen hits per page is on the low side. This fundamental distinction is rarely made in the discourse (be it out of ignorance or out of a deliberate wish to use exaggerated numbers), resulting in claims that are dozens, possibly even hundreds of times too large.

A very disturbing tale is that of Operation Orew. (For more information on the miscarriage-of-justice/witch-hunt issues see e.g. [1]e, [2]e, [3]e, [4]e, [5]e)

(As an aside, looking at Operation Ore, digital evidence is not only so easy for the layman to misinterpret, but so exceedingly easy to plant that I would personally recommend strong limitations to its use in courts—including entirely disallowing computers/hard-drives that have been confiscated by the police.)

An issue recurring repeatedly (at least in Sweden and Germany) in recent times is that of Internet blocks, e.g. that ISPs become legally obliged to filter out pages on a governmental blacklist—this despite expert statements and practical experiences indicating that this is an inefficient and intrusive approach. (Source in Germane.)

Generally, there is a lot of FUDw, exaggeration, and fear-mongering going on in the area of sex and sex-related crimes. Consider e.g. traffickinge, pimpse, satanistic child-abusee, and campus rapese.

Say no to abuse of children—and to exaggerated, unfounded, and destructive claims around child-porn.

Written by michaeleriksson

September 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm