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Bloggingheads 01-15-2011 09:50 AM

Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 

Ocean 01-15-2011 01:07 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Another friendly Saturday morning with John and George.

Good thing that George is joining the blogosphere. We need more good people with reliable articles, information, thoughts or informal communications to make a presence and share with others. And even at our age we are all caving in to new forms of communication and social networking.

John was passionate about gun control and seemed to have vented about it in one of his articles. There's never too much of that, especially when supported by facts, as long as we live in a violent society which is aided by weapons.

Of course guns alone will not make people more violent. The problem is that we live in a society with violent tendencies which is made more lethal by easy access to guns. The comparison with Switzerland is unhelpful, since their gun possession is related to how their government has structured their Armed Forces with heavy (95%) civilian/militia involvement. They have a history of neutrality with no participation in wars which allows them to dispense of more organized military forces.

The US, however, with its internal heterogeneity, growing income gap, racial disparities, drugs, and a culture pro-violence, is not a good place to have easy access to firearms. That's the only way of looking at it: violent tendencies + easy access to massive amounts of firearms. Peaceful people don't get inspired by access to guns. It's violent ones that do.

There was a brief discussion about the experience of soldiers at war and the thrill that some of them may have while in active duty and the thrill of killing others. John seemed to reject the idea as repugnant. George tried to interpret it as a posteriori reconstruction with some kind of embellishment and justification. I thought that John was making reference to a much more primitive feeling. The adrenaline rush that comes with high danger, high stimulation situations that require immediate intense action. The immediacy of threat produces a heightened state of anxiety which gets immediate relief and possibly euphoria when the threat (the enemy) is removed. As crude as it may seem, I can imagine that there are people that can engage in that psychological state, or perhaps, can't avoid it. It's probably genetically programmed to some degree. It's not surprising that this would be a source of guilt afterwords, especially if this is not validated by others, and accepted as a natural, albeit primitive and somewhat repugnant, response.

Towards the end, the inevitable issue of the Tucson shooting was brought up. It's true that it has been mined for political gain at times beyond levels of reasonableness. The range of opinion about the link between the shooter and the violent right wing rhetoric has been very wide. Roughly the range can be divided in: 1. some (very few) have suggested a direct link (with the implication of direct causation and responsibility) to political figures and others, and 2. some (most) have placed indirect links to the same, with statements that suggest a contribution to a more general narrative that legitimizes use of violence for political action. It appears that many opinionators, commentators and even commenters in this forum are not able to distinguish between those two possibilities. They go around blaming those who find proposition 2. to have some merit and worth discussing, as being strong proponents of proposition 1. There are efforts to explain repeatedly that there's a big difference between those two positions, but it seems that for many, here, and in the rest of the country, it's impossible to process that information.

Once again, one has to wonder whether there's a cognitive deficit that impedes being able to discern between the two positions, or it's just partisan dishonesty by which said recalcitrant people refuse to admit what's obvious to the rest of us. Some of those go around this forum accusing others of foolishness when they make themselves even more idiotic by insisting on showing their own limited capacity to understand rather basic differences. No wonder dialog gets shut off. It's just exhausting.

But going back to what's more interesting, it's well known that people who have difficulties inhibiting violent impulses are going to be more vulnerable to the influence of violent rhetoric. People who develop paranoid ideas or delusions, may be able to contain their behavior when they're in a calming stabilizing environment. However, if they are in an environment that has become toxic by the propagation of conspiracy theories, suspiciousness, mistrust of the government, and instigation to using violence as a legitimate course of action, further validated by the fact that such rhetoric is coming from important public figures (politicians, radio or television hosts, etc.) there is an effect of confirmation, validation, that makes the consideration of violent action much more likely. The same degree of rhetoric may not affect someone who doesn't have a predisposition, but it certainly does on someone who is crossing into delusional paranoia.

Even a sad tragedy as the one in Tucson, may at least have one positive aspect if it indeed, invites some reflection about how violence occurs, the political context that fuels it, and the possible dreadful consequences that could follow.

Thanks to both John and George for an interesting discussion.

nw111 01-15-2011 01:56 PM

Guns in the home.
 
This is a bit of a tangent but it's something I've long wondered about and was curious if anyone could help. John mentions the "houses with guns are more likely to have gun violence" statistic. I don't doubt it, but I've always wondered if we might be confusing cause and effect. It seems to me that a non-insignificant amount of gun owners might have them for a particular reason that might heighten their possibility of suffering violence even if they didn't own a gun. i.e. A violent/drug abusing/unpredictable spouse or other family member, living in a bad neighborhood, etc.

Has anyone done a study controlling for these factors and giving us a statistic only for families that would otherwise be generally untouched by violence? For instance: a study of households with a minimum $60,000 income, that contain no household members or immediate family with felony conviction, etc.

I am not trying to make any pro- or anti-gun argument here, but I've never heard anyone address this possibility and it kind of irks me since it seems so obvious.

ohreally 01-15-2011 02:02 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 194824)
Even a sad tragedy as the one in Tucson, may at least have one positive aspect if it indeed, invites some reflection about how violence occurs, the political context that fuels it, and the possible dreadful consequences that could follow.

Except that, Brady bill aside, it never does.

That's why Obama's speech was such manipulative crap. Indulging our desire to emote and tear up but not the courage to do anything about it. There is a hypocritical cult of impotence at play here. The narrative is, "There's nothing we can do about it. It's just in the American DNA. So let's be civil and emote together and rejoice in our heroism, blah blah." Why hypocritical? Because when it comes to helping Wall Street, all that impotence magically disappears.

Silver~Guy 01-15-2011 02:28 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Why was this episode called Science Saturday? It sounded like two liberal women complaining.

It was more like Sighing Saturday to be honest... How about drinking a coffee and talking about actual science next time? It would be preferable to personal experiences, opinions, and anecdotes.

I'm SO awesome! 01-15-2011 05:23 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
very good discussion. it'd be nice if there were no guns but that ain't gonna happen is this country. you could shoot every last southernor and you'd still see "We needed more guns." on their gravestones. though, it's interesting to note the amount of knife crime in the UK and China fwiw.
as for the cause it's the classic equation of what your genetic makeup is combined with what environment you're thrust into. generally - the darker your skin is the lower average group IQ you have. not a good combo with poverty (although they inevitably go hand in hand):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ_and_...and_QHC_values

Richard from Amherst 01-15-2011 05:32 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
I found this to be a very disappointing Science Saturday.
John went off on a tangent discussing a subject which judging from what he says in the he knows almost nothing about. Not unlike his excursion on commercial Nuclear power a few episodes ago.

I think we would be better served by John and George (who I generally really enjoy listening to) if they stuck to subjects that are within their areas of expertise and that they have researched.

For now I'm off to Nature Magazine Podcast for some real science.

Tara Davis 01-15-2011 05:37 PM

Re: Guns in the home.
 
I agree. It's pretty damn lazy statistical analysis for a show called "Science Saturday."

"Post hoc ergo propter hoc" is the sort of thing that first-year high school students are taught, or it least it certainly ought to be.

AemJeff 01-15-2011 06:15 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Silver~Guy (Post 194835)
Why was this episode called Science Saturday? It sounded like two liberal women complaining.

It was more like Sighing Saturday to be honest... How about drinking a coffee and talking about actual science next time? It would be preferable to personal experiences, opinions, and anecdotes.

You're not from around here, are ya, partner?

SkepticDoc 01-15-2011 06:28 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
I'll have my pitchfork and torch ready, or should we get the tar and feathers?

AemJeff 01-15-2011 06:31 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SkepticDoc (Post 194864)
I'll have my pitchfork and torch ready, or should we get the tar and feathers?

Clown costumes and a bicycle horn.

ohreally 01-15-2011 07:35 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by I'm SO awesome! (Post 194854)
the darker your skin is the lower average group IQ you have.

Oh no, our resident low-IQ expert is back. (Feel free to parse this sentence both ways.)

bjkeefe 01-15-2011 08:36 PM

Uh-oh
 
Wait'll johnmarzan hears about this.

sapeye 01-15-2011 09:29 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Bill Hicks's perspective on George's comments about facebook advertising.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDW_Hj2K0wo

bjkeefe 01-15-2011 09:34 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Okay, finally finished listening.

Great to hear you'll be blogging, George! Looking forward to the first picture of your cat!

;^)

Regarding your worries about putting ideas out there before they get into your book, especially as it concerns hurting sales, I'd recommend talking to Cory Doctorow. John Scalzi and B'head Siva Vaidhyanathan would probably also have some things to say that you'd find useful. Thomas Levenson, John Quiggin of Crooked Timber, and Charlie Stross are three other people I know of who, recently, blogged while writing books. I don't expect these six would be unanimous about all aspects, but you might distill some wisdom from averaging, or pick out some nuggets, as the case may be. I'll say as a reader that reading about a book in progress would make me far more likely to buy the book when it came out, all else being equal.

Regarding ads while you're surfing: I wish you good luck in developing filters. And I predict you'll develop them pretty quickly. Yes, they're annoying even after you get used to them, especially in principle, but they do support almost all of what's good about the Web, from the Facebook aspect to the NY Times. But good on you for wanting to keep them off your own blog.

Meantime, I've found that adding Flashblock to Firefox helps a great deal. (I choose not to use full ad-blocking browser add-ons, in the spirit expressed in the previous paragraph. I think ads should have a chance to attract my attention, but they shouldn't be permitted to dance all over the page while doing so. When we come up with a way to return to the good old days of Netscape 2.0, so that I can make animated GIFs stop with a quick right-click, I will be completely happy.)

Final thought on this area, and this goes for John, too: even if you think Twitter is just too much for you ever to want to get involved with, I urge you both to create accounts solely as a way to announce new blog posts. Many people, myself included, use Twitter as a way to augment RSS feeds -- when one subscribes to enough feeds, it's nice to have a service that lets one know about the newest stuff from the people one cares about most. Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong are two people who I follow this way, who seem to have virtually nothing else to tweet.

Using Twitter to announce your new blog posts can be automated. It's brain-dead easy and free. I use dlvr.it, and there are other services out there that appear just as good. Sign up for an account, spend five minutes doing a set it and forget it process, and you're done. And then another chunk of your fans will be that much happier.

bjkeefe 01-15-2011 09:41 PM

Also: props to one of my favorite curmudgeons
 
I, too, still feel twinges using friend and blog as verbs, but I never thought about like before.

To one of my other FCs: If you hope to stay in George's league, John, you're gonna have to up your game!

bjkeefe 01-15-2011 09:58 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 194824)
[...]

Great post, Ocean.

bjkeefe 01-15-2011 10:16 PM

Re: Guns in the home.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nw111 (Post 194829)
This is a bit of a tangent but it's something I've long wondered about and was curious if anyone could help. John mentions the "houses with guns are more likely to have gun violence" statistic. I don't doubt it, but I've always wondered if we might be confusing cause and effect. It seems to me that a non-insignificant amount of gun owners might have them for a particular reason that might heighten their possibility of suffering violence even if they didn't own a gun. i.e. A violent/drug abusing/unpredictable spouse or other family member, living in a bad neighborhood, etc.

Has anyone done a study controlling for these factors and giving us a statistic only for families that would otherwise be generally untouched by violence? For instance: a study of households with a minimum $60,000 income, that contain no household members or immediate family with felony conviction, etc.

I am not trying to make any pro- or anti-gun argument here, but I've never heard anyone address this possibility and it kind of irks me since it seems so obvious.

I am not one for participating in this debate, but I just came across what looks like a good place for you to start, if you want to look into it some more: "Gun Violence: Guns in the Home." It's on the Brady Campaign's website, which probably should be kept in mind, but I have a sense they're credible even if leaning in an obvious direction.

(h/t: RM)

Wonderment 01-15-2011 10:34 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

It sounded like two liberal women complaining.
When at an utter loss for anything intelligent to say, try to resist playing the boorish sexist card; it only makes matters worse.

Cain 01-16-2011 12:28 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
It really does seem there are liberals who think a gun works like a talisman out of a Stephen King novel: it will summon you in the middle of the night to "shoot the dog." I think Will Wilkinson said something across those lines on a bloggingheads installment. Then I read about research suggesting that simply having a gun in a room causes people to exhibit more aggressive behavior.

I'm not sure why we can't have a reasonable discussion about reasonable controls, perhaps because it sounds all too reasonable. Why does anyone need a 30+ capacity magazine? Doesn't the NRA say that hojillians of criminals are deterred simply by flashing a firearm? So why the fuck do you need to fire that many bullets?

Let's just admit that people like guns because they're way fun. As Homer Simpson observed, "Marge, you don't understand. I felt this incredible power holding a gun. The kind of power God must feel when He's holding a gun."

As for confounding variables, the social science is always going to be ridiculously complicated. Gun control people can argue that D.C. banned guns as a reaction to rising crime (and anyone can travel down to Virginia to buy one).

Just have laws on licensing and training. If we're going to be a nation of gun owners, then why not a nation of responsible gun owners?

chiwhisoxx 01-16-2011 12:53 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cain (Post 194879)
It really does seem there are liberals who think a gun works like a talisman out of a Stephen King novel: it will summon you in the middle of the night to "shoot the dog." I think Will Wilkinson said something across those lines on a bloggingheads installment. Then I read about research suggesting that simply having a gun in a room causes people to exhibit more aggressive behavior.

I'm not sure why we can't have a reasonable discussion about reasonable controls, perhaps because it sounds all too reasonable. Why does anyone need a 30+ capacity magazine? Doesn't the NRA say that hojillians of criminals are deterred simply by flashing a firearm? So why the fuck do you need to fire that many bullets?

Let's just admit that people like guns because they're way fun. As Homer Simpson observed, "Marge, you don't understand. I felt this incredible power holding a gun. The kind of power God must feel when He's holding a gun."

As for confounding variables, the social science is always going to be ridiculously complicated. Gun control people can argue that D.C. banned guns as a reaction to rising crime (and anyone can travel down to Virginia to buy one).

Just have laws on licensing and training. If we're going to be a nation of gun owners, then why not a nation of responsible gun owners?

Reminds me of a scene from the West Wing, where the gun control debate boils down to some people just liking guns, and some people just disliking the people who like guns.

I agree with the thrust of that though. I don't see adherence to the second amendment as mutually exclusive with extensive background checks, waiting periods, restrictions on ridiculous guns with ridiculous magazines, and in general doing a better job of keeping track of who gets guns.

sapeye 01-16-2011 12:59 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Remember when John was on with the nuclear submarine officer and by the end of the hour John had shifted from being dead set against nuclear energy to being semi-supportive of the idea. I wonder what would happen if John mixed it up with a smart, articulate NRA debater. Might be an interesting diavlog.

I'm SO awesome! 01-16-2011 01:27 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
it's ok, my dad's uncle was 1/16 Samoan so i can criticize minorities.

nw111 01-16-2011 01:46 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cain (Post 194879)

I'm not sure why we can't have a reasonable discussion about reasonable controls, perhaps because it sounds all too reasonable. Why does anyone need a 30+ capacity magazine? Doesn't the NRA say that hojillians of criminals are deterred simply by flashing a firearm? So why the fuck do you need to fire that many bullets?

Let's just admit that people like guns because they're way fun. As Homer Simpson observed, "Marge, you don't understand. I felt this incredible power holding a gun. The kind of power God must feel when He's holding a gun."

If we're going to have that reasonable discussion we also need to admit to ourselves that the Second Amendment isn't really about hunting or protecting yourself from criminals, but about ensuring there is an armed citizenry that can overthrow the government. The only people willing to even mention this now are pretty nutty extremists. Everyone else just dances around it. The NRA is fascinated with self defense, probably because only nuts talk about "Second Amendment solutions", and gun controllers won't even pretend to think about the issue. I think it's entirely reasonable to say "We are past this, the troubles caused by large scale firearm ownership vastly outweigh the theoretical advantages of a citizen revolution to tyranny." (After all, we have already made that decision with regard to nuclear weapons, rocket launchers, and other heavy weaponry.)

We will never have an honest debate about gun control until we can acknowledge the actual reasons for the pro-gun tilt of the founding documents.

Florian 01-16-2011 02:44 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nw111 (Post 194885)
If we're going to have that reasonable discussion we also need to admit to ourselves that the Second Amendment isn't really about hunting or protecting yourself from criminals, but about ensuring there is an armed citizenry that can overthrow the government. The only people willing to even mention this now are pretty nutty extremists. Everyone else just dances around it. The NRA is fascinated with self defense, probably because only nuts talk about "Second Amendment solutions", and gun controllers won't even pretend to think about the issue. I think it's entirely reasonable to say "We are past this, the troubles caused by large scale firearm ownership vastly outweigh the theoretical advantages of a citizen revolution to tyranny." (After all, we have already made that decision with regard to nuclear weapons, rocket launchers, and other heavy weaponry.)

We will never have an honest debate about gun control until we can acknowledge the actual reasons for the pro-gun tilt of the founding documents.

You are right that the second amendment had nothing to do with protection against criminals (or hunting), but it had nothing to do with "overthrowing the government" either. That is a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of an armed militia, as the idea was understood in the 18th century. Citizens were to have the right to bear arms in order to preserve their freedom against external enemies. In a country without a "standing army" on the continental European model, a militia of citizen soldiers was seen as a necessity. The idea came directly from Britain....

If I may quote myself from another exchange: No constitution has ever given citizens the right the overthrow the government, whatever the form of government. A constitution provides the legal and institutional framework in which citizens may exercise their civil and other rights. A constitution that granted citizens the right to overthrow the government would be a self-annulling constitution.

Olavus 01-16-2011 07:40 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
The modern version of William Tell seems to have an assault rifle (SIG SG 550) at his home.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_pol...in_Switzerland

nw111 01-16-2011 10:48 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
a) I dunno, the Maryland State Constitution for instance:
IV. That all persons invested with the legislative or executive powers of government are the trustees of the public, and, as such, accountable for their conduct; wherefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought, to reform the old or establish a new government. The doctrine of non-resistance, against arbitrary power and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

I ain't an expert on colonial legal language but that seems to give the people the right to overthrow the government. It doesn't lay out a framework for this overthrow, so far as I can see. This phrase, or similar ones are repeated in a number of state constitutions.

b) But, whatever, I'll restate my larger point since I could certainly be convinced the second Amendment is not at all about armed revolt: Until we can have an honest conversation about the actual meaning of the second amendment and stop being obsessed with hunting and crime we won't be having an honest conversation about gun control.

Florian 01-16-2011 11:20 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nw111 (Post 194904)
a) I dunno, the Maryland State Constitution for instance:
IV. That all persons invested with the legislative or executive powers of government are the trustees of the public, and, as such, accountable for their conduct; wherefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought, to reform the old or establish a new government. The doctrine of non-resistance, against arbitrary power and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

I ain't an expert on colonial legal language but that seems to give the people the right to overthrow the government. It doesn't lay out a framework for this overthrow, so far as I can see. This phrase, or similar ones are repeated in a number of state constitutions..


That's interesting, but the Federal Constitution has no such language as far as I know. Even the Maryland Constitution says nothing about a "right" to overthrow the state government. To say that the people "may and of right ought, to reform" etc. is just legal rigamarole for saying that if the people of Maryland are so disposed it CAN overthrow a "perverted" government---whatever that means. Well, duh. Surely, no legitimatedly elected government, however perverted, is ever likely to grant permission (=the right) to be overthrown.


Quote:

b) But, whatever, I'll restate my larger point since I could certainly be convinced the second Amendment is not at all about armed revolt: Until we can have an honest conversation about the actual meaning of the second amendment and stop being obsessed with hunting and crime we won't be having an honest conversation about gun control.
I fully agree. You can consult any American historian or constitutional scholar (but probably not a Supreme Court Justice.....) if you want to understand the historical meaning of the Bill of Rights and the second amendment. There was an article by the historian Gary Wills in the NYR of Books a few years on the whole question of the second amendment, militias and gun laws. But all you have to do is read the Constitution itself: Where, in the body of the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, or in subsequent amendments, is it said that the people, either as individuals or as members of militias, have the right to rebel against or overthrow their legitimately elected government?

Americans generally consider the founding fathers to be men of transcendent wisdom etc. etc. etc. True or false, they were certainly not idiots. The Bill of Rights spells out the rights of Americans. If the right to bear arms in a well-regulated militia means the right to resist or overthrow tyrannical ("perverted") government, they would have said so, don't you think?

Cain 01-16-2011 11:30 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Conservatives are in perpetual awe of the holy intentions of the Founding Fathers, and think the Constitution is this supremely moral document built on grand moral principles. (In fact, a bunch of lawyers and other over-educated rich people made a series of political compromises at the time: where does 3/5ths figure into the grand moral calculus, the "Great Compromise" which has given us the RIDICULOUSLY antiquated Senate).

A lot of people are clueless when it comes to the Bill of Rights, a compromise between the Federalists and the anti-Federalists. The anti-Federalists feared a tyrannical centralized government. At the time of the nation's founding, and Justice Thomas likes to point this out, we did have states with established churches. The First Amendment restricts only the FEDERAL govt. from establishing a national church. States could have their own official religions, restrict speech, and so on. The country underwent a second founding in 1865, which then started to become realized in the 20s and 30s with incorporation theory and cooperative federalism.

Putting everything into context, the Second Amendment IS intended to prevent domestic tyranny, but on the central/Washington D.C. level. Gun control people mention "well-regulated militia" and conservatives invariably cite "shall not be infringed," but the key phrase, I contend, is "necessary to the security of a Free State." People just pass over that like it means nothing.

But honestly, who gives a shit what the Founders believed? They could have explicitly said that we should be allowed to own any weapons we please. Fuck, they said we should be allowed to own slaves. It's this ridiculous ancestor-worship that rivals religious fundamentalism in stupidity.

Florian 01-16-2011 11:54 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cain (Post 194908)
Putting everything into context, the Second Amendment IS intended to prevent domestic tyranny, but on the central/Washington D.C. level. Gun control people mention "well-regulated militia" and conservatives invariably cite "shall not be infringed," but the key phrase, I contend, is "necessary to the security of a Free State." People just pass over that like it means nothing. .

I agree that this is purely academic question. "Necessary to the security of a free state" means necessary for protection against potential external threats, i.e. enemies, of which there were plenty in the late 18th century: Britain, Spain, France were considerably more powerful than the puny 13 colonies. The Bill of Rights was intended for Americans of all states, not only for the District of Columbia.

Quote:

But honestly, who gives a shit what the Founders believed? They could have explicitly said that we should be allowed to own any weapons we please. Fuck, they said we should be allowed to own slaves. It's this ridiculous ancestor-worship that rivals religious fundamentalism in stupidity.
Try telling the justices of the Supreme Court that they are stupid.

nw111 01-16-2011 12:03 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 194906)
That's interesting, but the Federal Constitution has no such language as far as I know. Even the Maryland Constitution says nothing about a "right" to overthrow the state government. To say that the people "may and of right ought, to reform" etc. is just legal rigamarole for saying that if the people of Maryland are so disposed it CAN overthrow a "perverted" government---whatever that means. Well, duh. Surely, no legitimatedly elected government, however perverted, is ever likely to grant permission (=the right) to be overthrown.


Americans generally consider the founding fathers to be men of transcendent wisdom etc. etc. etc. True or false, they were certainly not idiots. The Bill of Rights spells out the rights of Americans. If the right to bear arms in a well-regulated militia means the right to resist or overthrow tyrannical ("perverted") government, they would have said so, don't you think?

This shall be my last word on the subject since I am no expert and we agree on my main point that the current gun control debate is obsessed with side issues.

a) I think you're pushing it a little to say that that quote just mentions that a revolution "can" happen. Lot's of things "can" happen in a polity but this is the one they bother to mention with rather suggestive language. I have to think that since that statement is #4 in a section called " A Statement of Rights" that it refers to a right (not to mention that it includes the words "right" and even "ought"). Just because the "peverted" government at the time doesn't recognize that right doesn't mean it's not a right given by the document. A government may, at some point, not recognize the right to free speech but that doesn't mean that it isn't a right enumerated to us in the First Amendment.

b) In re: the right to overthrow in the federal constitution -
Would they have said so in so many words? I'm not so sure. In a volatile time for a new country I can definitely see them wanting to ensure the right of the citizens to revolt against tyranny but not give some troublemakers enough rhetorical room to justify violent revolt right then. Enshrining the right for a "real" tyranny, if you will. After these are the people who fell all over themselves to find euphemisms to avoid the mention of the word "slavery".

TwinSwords 01-16-2011 12:07 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nw111 (Post 194910)
...

If you haven't seen it, there's an old diavlog on the second amendment (recorded in reaction to the Heller decision) that you might find interesting, here:

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/12562

bjkeefe 01-16-2011 02:12 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 194906)
That's interesting, but the Federal Constitution has no such language as far as I know.

Except that it spells out a clear procedure for changing itself, which offers a path to achieve the end of the Maryland language ("... the people may, and of right ought, to reform the old or establish a new government.")

Three real-life examples: the 17th Amendment, changing how Senators are elected, the 20th, changing the date for when a new government assumes power, and the 22nd, term-limiting the president.

bjkeefe 01-16-2011 02:32 PM

Re: Also: props to one of my favorite curmudgeons
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 194871)
I, too, still feel twinges using friend and blog as verbs, but I never thought about like before.

To one of my other FCs: If you hope to stay in George's league, John, you're gonna have to up your game!

On a related note, budding curmudgeon Carl Zimmer has posted some guidelines for science writers (which I think are more widely applicable) in "Death to Obfuscation!" And during the delivery, he reminds us of his "Index of Banned Words (The Continually Updated Edition)."

bjkeefe 01-16-2011 02:41 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Olavus (Post 194899)
The modern version of William Tell seems to have an assault rifle (SIG SG 550) at his home.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_pol...in_Switzerland

I'd recommend John McPhee's La Place de la Concorde Suisse to anyone who wants an up-close look at how the well-regulated militias of Switzerland work.

And of course, since it's McPhee, to anyone who wants any sort of great read.

[Added] Short NYT book review.

T.G.G.P 01-16-2011 10:26 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
The statistic about the majority of guns in Mexico I've heard generally refers to those guns that are successfully traced. And many of the American weaponry is stuff we gave to the Mexican government (the easiest way in Mexico to obtain a firearm is apparently through a police officer). Still more are leftovers from conflicts the U.S supplied during the Cold War. So, in addition to the war on drugs, those are some more reasons for them to resent gringos.

I recently read Mark Kleiman's excellent book "When Brute Force Fails", and one of the last chapters is on gun policy. He thinks that dramatically reducing the number of guns could be effective, but given the amount of existing guns in the U.S (plus that pesky second amendment) it's not really feasible. Concealed carry laws appear to have no effect on crime rates, so he thinks we might as well adopt nation-wide shall-issue permissions in exchange for having a gun registry system decentralized with dealers. Jared Loughner was kicked out of community college, but as far as I'm aware had no official record as mentally incompetent, so I don't know what laws would have stopped him. Restrictions on magazine capacity could have been effective. The bystander who had a gun seems to prove nothing at all: he didn't use it for good or ill. Supposedly, bystanders have a better track record than police with guns, but they have the option of not doing anything if they aren't completely confident.

John says houses with guns are more likely to have suicides like it's a bad thing (see also, The Onion). There is also the risk of accidents, though from what I've heard they're less dangerous than pools. But people want to own guns because they like having & shooting them, even if they don't need to defend themselves.

In addition to Switzerland, another common European example of a high gun-ownership society is Finland. They apparently have a higher-than-average homicide rate, but oddly enough these are generally not shootings. I believe Israel also has a high rate of gun-ownership resulting from conscription.

Does anyone have info on what the homicide rate was in Russia under communism? You'd hope that a police state would at least be able to bring that down, though Daniel Treman thinks that hasn't worked in Putin's Russia.

George's story reminded me of how dangerous cars are (pretty sure they kill more people than guns) and lax we are in letting people own/operate them. Part of the reason for our car issues may be that people feel inner cities are safe enough, so they move out to the suburbs where they need cars to get around. Kleiman considers those usually unaccounted for costs one of the major reasons why we need to reduce crime.

I haven't read "War" but Randall Collins' "Violence: A Microsociological Theory" is an excellent book which has a good discussion on violence specialists, who can easily become war heroes.

I don't know if tv is a catharsis, but it is a time-waster. See Steve Landsburg on internet porn reducing rape.

I agree with Cain that the bill of rights is only supposed to apply at the federal level. The "incorporation doctrine" is a (relatively) newfangled confabulation. Lots of law professors acknowledge that the actual history of "partial incorporation" through "substantive due process" is flawed, but they often think it should have been through "privileges and immunities" instead. I disagree with Florian that the amendment is about external enemies. The ability of the people to revolt against tyrannical internal government was a major motivation. The ability of the states to resist the federal government with their militia is probably more specifically the intention, but intentions are not laws and the state militia have been replaced with a national guard that fights foreign wars rather than defending the nation.

Florian 01-17-2011 05:32 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by T.G.G.P (Post 194947)
I disagree with Florian that the amendment is about external enemies. The ability of the people to revolt against tyrannical internal government was a major motivation. The ability of the states to resist the federal government with their militia is probably more specifically the intention, but intentions are not laws and the state militia have been replaced with a national guard that fights foreign wars rather than defending the nation.

The federal constitution substitutes the right of judicial review for the right of resistance, the "right" to overthrow the government, a right which is nowhere stated in the federal constitution. That may not have been absolutely clear in 1787, but it was by 1803, in Justice Marshall's famous decision Marbury v Madison.

The idea of constitutional government (or constitutionalism as it is sometimes called) was a novel idea in the 18th century as it developed in Britain, the 13 colonies and France. It is too bad that so many Americans in the 21st century have not yet grasped it.

You are simply historically wrong on the question of militias. The term had a precise meaning in the 18th century. I have no interest in debating this with you, however. It is utterly irrelevant to contemporary America.

badhatharry 01-17-2011 10:11 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 194824)
Towards the end, the inevitable issue of the Tucson shooting was brought up. It's true that it has been mined for political gain at times beyond levels of reasonableness. The range of opinion about the link between the shooter and the violent right wing rhetoric has been very wide. Roughly the range can be divided in: 1. some (very few) have suggested a direct link (with the implication of direct causation and responsibility) to political figures and others, and 2. some (most) have placed indirect links to the same, with statements that suggest a contribution to a more general narrative that legitimizes use of violence for political action. It appears that many opinionators, commentators and even commenters in this forum are not able to distinguish between those two possibilities. They go around blaming those who find proposition 2. to have some merit and worth discussing, as being strong proponents of proposition 1. There are efforts to explain repeatedly that there's a big difference between those two positions, but it seems that for many, here, and in the rest of the country, it's impossible to process that information.

And there is another opinion (3) which says that there is no link between the political rhetoric which has been mentioned (Angle,Palin, Beck and Limbaugh) and the shooting.

That people don't like ugly political rhetoric is another matter altogether. I think the thing that galls those on the right is that the left has no awareness of the ugliness and offensiveness of their rhetoric but jump at the opportunity to point out the ugliness on the right. Until both sides are simultaneously willing to lay down their rhetorical guns, things will pretty much remain the way they are currently.

badhatharry 01-17-2011 10:21 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 194824)
Once again, one has to wonder whether there's a cognitive deficit that impedes being able to discern between the two positions, or it's just partisan dishonesty by which said recalcitrant people refuse to admit what's obvious to the rest of us. Some of those go around this forum accusing others of foolishness when they make themselves even more idiotic by insisting on showing their own limited capacity to understand rather basic differences. No wonder dialog gets shut off. It's just exhausting.

Well, yes, the condition is commonly known around here to be wingnuttery.

And what would the cognitive condition be that would cause people to write something like this?..."it's just partisan dishonesty by which said recalcitrant people refuse to admit what's obvious to the rest of us...". This kind of talk is what is called a logical fallacy. You want recalicitrant people to agree with you because the point you are making is obvious to you and to your buddies. Then you conclude that it's exhausting to have 'dialog' with such people. Back at you!

And then we get a dose of "social science". (hat tip to John)

Quote:

But going back to what's more interesting, it's well known that people who have difficulties inhibiting violent impulses are going to be more vulnerable to the influence of violent rhetoric. People who develop paranoid ideas or delusions, may be able to contain their behavior when they're in a calming stabilizing environment. However, if they are in an environment that has become toxic by the propagation of conspiracy theories, suspiciousness, mistrust of the government, and instigation to using violence as a legitimate course of action, further validated by the fact that such rhetoric is coming from important public figures (politicians, radio or television hosts, etc.) there is an effect of confirmation, validation, that makes the consideration of violent action much more likely.
No evidence, just pontification.

badhatharry 01-17-2011 10:42 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Taking the Plunge
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Silver~Guy (Post 194835)
Why was this episode called Science Saturday? It sounded like two liberal women complaining.

It was more like Sighing Saturday to be honest... How about drinking a coffee and talking about actual science next time? It would be preferable to personal experiences, opinions, and anecdotes.

We currently have in custody several people who have commited the kinds of mass killings which occured in Tucson. I wonder why there hasn't been a concerted effort to use these people to figure out why they were drawn to kill in such a heinous manner. It seems this would be an opportunity to gather real information instead of engaging in the kind of speculation which is currently going around.

It also seems this would be a real way science could be helpful. For instance, there has been some mention about the fact that what is considered a rather benign drug, marijuana, can be linked to heightening paranoid imaginings in the mentally ill.


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