Monday Ethics Musings, 10/7/2019: Questions, Questions…


Wait, where are my clothes???

1. When will Mrs. Q make her debut as a regular contributor to Ethics Alarms? I’m working out the details. She’s ready, I’m behind, we’ll get it done. Very excited.

2. If everything is going to be done online, is it reasonable to expect those companies who force us to interact that way to be competent? Case Study: The Boston Globe just offered me a 6 month digital subscription for a buck. But an old password connected to my email address prevented me from entering the new one necessary to accept the deal. All links went to current subscription or subscribing at the regular price. It took 40 minutes of online chats with robots and a human being (who disconnected me one) to fix the problem, which was in how the Globe set up the offer acceptance page. I ended up using a password made up by “Sherry” because I couldn’t reset my password myself. This kind of thing happens all the time. I wouldn’t have a clue how to set up a website response system, but if that was my job, I would be obligated to do better than this.

3. What good are movie critics whose opinions and tastes aren’t shared by their readers? My view: not much. The job of a critic is to let readers know if readers would appreciate the movie or not. A critic who can’t or won’t do that, and most don’t, is useless. I was thinking about this when I encountered this article in The Guardian listing the films for which audience ratings and critical ratings diverged the most.

Much of the disparity today is caused by critics who allow their ideological biases to dominate their judgment: yes, bias makes them stupid. Another problem, harder to over-come, is that the judgment of people who see hundreds of movies a year and who are often steeped in the art of film-making often has no relevance to the movie average audience member at all. Yet another is the unavoidable fact that few critics are equally qualified to review all genres. Horror movies are especially frequent victims of this problem.

Incidentally, yesterday I watched a new horror movie, “A.M.I.” that exploited the inherent creepiness of online personal assistants like Siri and Alexa. It was pretty bad, but the final scene was so ridiculous (and predictable) that it almost justified the film. Almost.

4.  How can we trust hospitals when they even consider doing things like this? In April, 61-year-old Darryl Young was  in a vegetative state in  the intensive care unit of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.  He had been this way since September. His medical record stated,  “He follows no commands. He looks very encephalopathic,” meaning brain damaged. Suffering from congestive heart failure, Young, a Navy veteran and former truck driver with three children, received a heart transplant but didn’t wake up after the operation.

Cardiologist Dr. Darko Vucicevic was recorded asking about Young’s status in April, and was told  Dr. Mark Zucker, director of the hospital’s heart and lung transplant programs, that the hospital needed to keep him breathing by artificial means until June 30 “at a minimum.”  Pro Publica explains,

The recordings show that the transplant team was fixated on keeping him alive, rather than his quality of life or his family’s wishes, because of worries about the transplant program’s survival rate, the proportion of people undergoing transplants who are still alive a year after their operations. Federal regulators rely on this statistic to evaluate — and sometimes penalize — transplant programs, giving hospitals across the country a reputational and financial incentive to game it. Newark Beth Israel’s one-year survival rate for heart transplants had dipped, and if Young were to die too soon, the program’s standing and even its own survival might be in jeopardy.

June 30,  Zucker explained at the meeting, was the date of the next report by a federally funded organization that tracks transplant survival rates. “If he’s not dead in this report, even if he’s dead in the next report, it becomes an issue that moves out six more months,” he said in the recording. Zucker cautioned the staff against offering Young’s family the option of switching from aggressive treatment to palliative care, which focuses on comfort, until September, which would mark one year since his transplant.

Let’s see, how many ways is this unethical? It is deliberately failing to inform the family of its options. Presumably, it is defrauding an insurance company. It is exploiting a human life for an agenda, a pure violation of Kant’s Categorical Imperative, and it is falsifying statistics required by the federal government.

That’s all!

5. How long will the Democratic Party’s refrain that President Trump always lies survive exposure of the major lies uttered by his opponents? Here’s an example your favorite mainstream media new source is probably ignoring: in Carson City, Nevada last week, Elizabeth Warren told, not for the first time, the story about how she was  fired from her job as a special needs teacher because she was viably pregnant, saying that the “principal did what principals did.”  She’s claimed in some versions of the story that had it not been for her being fired for being pregnant that she’d still be teaching today.

Now that old bugaboo, a forgotten video, has surfaced from March 8, 2007, when Harvard professor Warren was interviewed on University of California Television (UCTV), and she told a completely different story about how she left teaching:

“I was married at nineteen and then graduated from college [at the University of Houston] after I’d married, my first year post-graduation, I worked — it was in a public school system but I worked with the children with disabilities. I did that for a year, and then that summer I actually didn’t have the education courses, so I was on an ’emergency certificate,’ it was called. I went back to graduate school and took a couple of courses in education and said, ‘I don’t think this is going to work out for me,’ I was pregnant with my first baby, so I had a baby and stayed home for a couple of years, and I was really casting about, thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’ My husband’s view of it was, ‘Stay home. We have children, we’ll have more children, you’ll love this.’ And I was very restless about it.”

It will be interesting to see how she tries to weasel out of this one. Not only has she been repeating a phony story, she also has been slandering the principal involved, whose name could be easily found.

19 thoughts on “Monday Ethics Musings, 10/7/2019: Questions, Questions…

  1. 5. The Joe Biden effect: It’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell which democrat candidates’ statements are the lies…the current statements, the earlier statements, or both ?

  2. Warren’s truth is often fiction.
    Speaking of questions why have none of the candidates established their positions on how the plan to stop China from stealing our IP or how they would prevent the DPRK or Iran from developing nuclear capabilities? How will Warren, Sanders, Biden, or Harris deal with the costs of their current open border policies or who will be tasked with dealing with MS13?

    It is easy to tell people what they plan to give people but much harder to explain what they will be forced to give up.

  3. 3) When the subject of out-of-touch movie critics comes up I can never resist telling the tale of the local critic in my neck of the woods who brutally panned the first “Lord of the Rings” movie, saying it spent all its run time setting up a huge world that never paid off and that it didn’t resolve enough plot threads to be a good ambiguous ending. As it turns out, he’d managed to see the whole thing without knowing it was part of a trilogy, and reviewed it as a standalone film.

    4) Counterpoint: Utilitarianism. One could argue that the system is flawed to the point of uselessness- by using 1-year survival as its only metric, the government incentivizes hospitals to only treat low-risk patients and guide higher-risk patients to other options, or outright refuse to give them transplants. Those who are willing to treat high-risk patients are then driven out of the transplant game by penalties. I don’t think this passes the sniff test of the hospital withholding information from the family, but it DOES raise a good-of-the-one/good-of-the-many question.

  4. 5. How long will the Democratic Party’s refrain that President Trump always lies survive exposure of the major lies uttered by his opponents?

    Here is an exercise I’m going to call Fun With Statistics.

    In a comment thread a week ago with a progressive elsewhere on the internet, the guy wrote this as part of his comment…

    “I’m thankful for Trump in a lot of ways. He’s exposed Republicans completely.”

    Part of my reply to that was this…

    “Donald Trump didn’t create the left’s hate, he didn’t create the left’s irrational aversion to truth and facts, he didn’t create the left’s anti-American and anti-Constitution ideology his intentional trolling of the political left has inspired the political left to self-reveal themselves in signature significant ways! Signature significance posits that a single act can be so remarkable that it has predictive and analytical value, and should not be dismissed as statistically insignificant. The political left has revealed so many signature significant things since 2016 that they have openly shown the people of the United States that their ideological core is anti-American and anti-Constitution and that’s not going to sell at the polls.”

    A different progressive jumped in, cherry picked out this phrase from my comment “he didn’t create the left’s irrational aversion to truth and facts” and replied with this comment…

    “Now that is funny. And oh so hypocritical. Do you pay any attention to current events? 45 is well over 10000 false statements in his 2+ years in office, and has made some really dim-witted statements ( British airports in the 1770’s ) that cannot be justified by any rational being.”

    Since this particular commenter has tossed that 10,000 lies statement out so often I finally felt a need to address that point in a way he wasn’t expecting. Of course he was parroting one of those “fact checking” site that considers almost every word that President Trumps utters to be a lie. My reply in it’s entirety to that comment is as follows…

    For argument sake let’s say that President Trump has made over 10,000 false statements since he took office. (BTW: differences of opinion are NOT a false statements.)

    Let’s have some fun with statistics and compare some numbers.

    Facts I found On The Internet:
    Daily newspapers in the USA = roughly 1,330
    TV Stations in the USA = roughly 8,900
    Active Adult Facebook Members In USA= roughly 176,000,000
    Active Adult Twitter Members In USA = roughly 68,000,000

    That’s enough sources…

    Total of those individual sources 244,010,230

    For fun let’s consider that exactly half of them are Democrats and the other half are Republicans; so half of that number of sources is 122,005,115.

    President Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017, the 20th day of the year. So two full years in office as of January 20, 2019. From the 20th of January until today October 1, 2019 it’s been 254 days, therefore President Trump has been in office for 984 days. Let’s use your 10,000 number; if you calculate the number of false statements you talked about (10,000) that averages out to roughly 10.16 false statements per day.

    Now lets calculate the number of false statements about President Trump from roughly 122,005,115 sources for the same 984 days. Lets say that only half of those sources (61,002,558) made or parroted false statements, false innuendo, or fake news about President Trump and they did it only once a week, that’s 140 weeks times 61,002,558 sources that’s 85,40,358,120 false statement over the same 984 days period of time, that averages out to 8,679,226 false statements about Trump per day.

    Comparing President Trump’s false statement average per day of 10.16 to the average of the aggregate of false statement’s about President Trump per day of 8,679,226 was fun statistical exercise, don’t you agree.

    Personally I think the number of false statements, false innuendo, or fake news about President Trump far, FAR exceeds the number I calculated above. Video media outlets repeat many of these things over and over again, by multiple people and they do it 24 hours a day, news papers print many of these things in their newspapers over and over again, social media is a wash with these kind of things over and over again. Truth be told; it appears that the political left really thinks that President Trump is the Devil incarnate and that evil must be destroyed using any and all immoral, unethical, and illegal tactics at their disposal. In the left’s anti-Trump play book, the ends justifies the means.

    When you really get down to it, if you really want to compare false statements, false innuendo, or fake news then you must do it across the board and you will see that Presidents Trump’s “false” statements are but a minuscule single drop of water in a vast torrent of false propaganda coming from the political left. The political left truly doesn’t give a damn about truth and facts, in fact since President Trump was inaugurated the political left truly has an irrational aversion to truth and facts.

    Requote, “[President Trump] has made some really dim-witted statements (British airports in the 1770’s) that cannot be justified by any rational being.”

    I’m not justifying gaffes or misinformation coming from Trump, in fact I wish he would just shut up and do his damn job. I also understand that it’s damn hard to shut up when the political left is attacking him from absolutely every direction imaginable.

    I made my point and for some reason the progressives didn’t reply to the comment.

    Sure I know how to use statistics to make a point but I still hate statistics.

    P.S. I hope I typed all the HTML tags in this comment properly.

  5. Of course, dishonesty on the part of Trump’s opponents does nothing to rebut or excuse dishonesty on the part of Trump. This is a rationalization, specifically #2, Ethics Estoppel, i.e. “They’re just as bad.”

    • DaveL,
      Reread, I’m not the one that was rationalizing in the conversation and I made it perfectly clear what I was doing up front in my comment “Let’s have some fun with statistics and compare some numbers.” I was toying with the progressive that posted his usual rationalization as a reply.

      FYI: The left considers Trump’s gaffe about British airports in the 1770’s to be a Trump lie. To be absolutely sure, there are some things that Trump has stated over the course of his presidency that he knows are lies as in an untrue statement with intent to deceive.

    • Of course, dishonesty on the part of Trump’s opponents does nothing to rebut or excuse dishonesty on the part of Trump.

      Sure. Thinking people will realize this. For the other 98% of the voting public, pointing out things like this actually holds water. Bullshit detectors will ring, and this has the possibility of backfiring on the TDS suffering Democrats badly.

  6. Re: No. 5; Warren’s Fakery Fakes them again.

    The Media won’t question Warren on these statements. Why would they? They hate Trump and they need to Get Him Out by Friday.*

    I read an article from Lee Smith from RealClearInvestigations. Smith posits that the Ukraine-Trump dust up is really a DNC ploy to dump Biden.** According to Smith, why would Trump want to kill off (politically speaking) Biden? He is a lousy candidate and would be easy to beat in November 2020. Biden, then, is seen as a DNC liability because he is likeable and may stand in the way of Warren, Harris, and VP choice Stacey Abrams. The media, then, will chase this story down to the bitter unfortunate and pointless end, which will not result in impeachment in the House because they know such a vote would fail and the Democrats will get obliterated in 2020 (see what happened to Republicans who sought to impeach Clinton). Pelosi is smart enough to know what she wants: She wants another term as Speaker of the House, so she has proposed this silly “impeachment inquiry” (which, by the way, probably violates the rules of the House, but hey, . . .) that will necessarily drag on for a few months, with the media kicking Trump, hoping the electorate will finally succumb to “Impeach Trump Fatigue” and conclude it can’t take anymore, electing Warren/Harris and Abrams as president/VP.

    That all lends itself to Warren skating on the number of whoppers she tells. She loves Big Media. Besides, she hates guns, hates mighty Wall Street Bankers (though not their cash), Big Oil, Big Home Mortgagees, Big Guns, Big Private Health, and Big Private Anything, wishing to usher in the Future Socialist Paradise guided by her bold vision and superior Plans – I mean, she has a plan for everything. She has paid no price for her Native American heritage siliness; so, why should she pay a price for slagging off her nasty School Principal who may or may not have fired her because she was in a family way? The only ones who care about that are the MAGA-Hat Wearers bitterly clinging to the individuality, guns, religion, and heteronormacly. They are irrelevant anyway so why bother with them?


    *Ed. Note: When will this commenter learn that nobody thinks his esoteric prog rock references are witty or worth taking up cyber-space? Genesis?! REALLY?! Good grief. Someone stop him!

    **Ed. Note 2: Here is a link to Smith’s piece:

  7. Regarding #2: I’ve been having a similar problem with I would love to set up an account so that I can pay my quarterly taxes online, but whenever I go through the motions to do so, carefully inputting all my information identically to the way I’ve filled out every tax form for the last 12 years, I’m told that “The information you provided does not match our records” and the process screeches to a halt, with no hint as to which piece of information may be in error, and no suggestion for how to remedy the situation. Just, “fuck you, have a nice day”. I console myself with the knowledge that this wonder of cutting-edge 1990’s technology, the IRS website, probably only cost a couple hundred million dollars to develop, so some hiccups are to be expected.

    I’m not sure if this experience should make me concerned that the IRS may not quite have the technical expertise to keep my data safe in a networked world, or if I should be relieved, because if anyone does hack the site, whatever information they’ll be able to get about me is obviously incorrect.

    • In my experience, the IRS and Social Security websites are godawful, clunky, and nigh-unusable for many functions that should be easily accommodated . Our local county and state property/revenue sites are much more technically up-to-date and easy to use.

  8. Following up on the recent NBA cowardice related to China and Hong Kong;

    Breaking News: A Hong Kongese pro-Heathstone* Player (“Blitzchung”) has been stripped of his rank (Grandmaster), had his prize pool nullified ($200,000 USD) and been banned from playing competitively for a year because during an interview, he said the “eight words”: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!”. The exchange was obviously scripted, the two interviewers asked him to say the eight words and then literally hid under their desk while Blitzchung donned a Hong-Kong protest mask and said the phrase.

    This is, in my opinion, a little more understandable than the NBA’s take on a tweet with an image in support of the protesters, but in mitigation… These are eSports. As much as companies like Blizzard have been trying to convince the world that eSports are just as serious as regular sports by supplying large prize pools and setting up infrastructure like sporting arenas, the fact is that they’ve never quite convinced the fans or participants of that, and stunts like this are more the rule than the exception, although they aren’t usually so politically on the nose.

    *Hearthstone is an online card game based on characters from the World of Warcraft franchise.

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