Observations On The Rasmussen Poll Showing Trump Crushing Biden If The Election Were Held Today

First of all, polls.

The one in question is Rasmussen, which is the among the few polling organizations that do not have a perpetual left-wing bias, and that may have a conservative political bias. It is also worth noting that the election will not be held today, or even this year. Thus it is in the category of fake news that Ethics Alarms calls “future news.”

Many doubt, with some justification, that Joe Biden will last as President until 2024. He’s 79, and before this year is out will turn 80, what my father called the threshold to “the red zone,” when anyone that ancient or older faces a not insubstantial daily risk of dropping dead with little or no warning. Dad made it to 89 before dying—unexpectedly—during a nap, but he looked and seemed a lot healthier and less on the decline than Joe these days. Comedian Bob Saget was just 65 when his time ran out last week, also without warning, and he wasn’t even in the yellow zone.

Trump is no spring chicken either. He’ll be 76 this Spring: would you want to bet the farm that he’ll make 78 sufficiently hale and hearty to run a vigorous campaign, hold chatty rallies, and insult everyone who disagrees with him daily? The life expectancy of a 78-year-old male now is less than 10 years. That’s cutting it close. I’ll keep that farm, thanks.

Oh yeah, about the poll. A new Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey concluded that if the election were held today, 40% of likely U.S. voters would vote for President Biden, and 46% would vote for the previous POTUS, a large advantage.  10% say they would choose some other candidate in a Biden-Trump rematch, which doesn’t mean much: nobody knows who those other candidates might be, or if there will be any worthy of attention. If the also-rans are no better than the pathetic alternatives who were on the 2016 ballot, 10% is a highly inflated number.

Trump would get 81% support from GOP voters—that’s against Biden, remember: he’d get almost 100% when if he ran against, say, a piece of cheese. Biden would get 75% of Democrats, which is low for a party’s incumbent President.  With  independent voters, however, Trump would win today by a 16-point margin,  45% to Biden’s 29%.

Other observations that flow from this data… Continue reading

Most Damning Poll Results Yet: Only 43% Of Registered Voters Have Minimally Adequate Knowledge Of The Constitution, Law, Democracy, and Reality [Bad Link Fixed!]

This is even more depressing than the number of people who think Joe Biden is doing a just dandy job as President.

43% of those asked in a Morning Consult- Politico poll responded that the 2020 election should definitely not be overturned. That means that 57% are not certain that the election shouldn’t be overturned. Some think it probably shouldn’t be overturned—12%. 35% responded that the election results should definitely or probably be overturned. Morons. Since the election can’t possibly be overturned under any law imaginable or any sequence of events, and since even attempting such a thing would cause total chaos, the only answer that indicates that a respondent was taught civics by a fully functioning primate is: “Of course the 2020 election shouldn’t be overturned. What are you, nuts? Why are we wasting time even discussing this? Why don’t you ask if “Imagine” should come true?”

Continue reading

Week-Launching Ethics Warm-Up, 10/4/2021: A Happy Ending To A Pit Bull Saga, A Congressional Leader Makes My Head Explode, And More [Updated]

launch

Singer Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose on October 4, 1970. The anniversary prompts me to make an unkind observation that I was tempted to make after reading all of the tributes and expansive rhetoric praising “The Wire” actor Michael K. Williams after he died of an overdose of fentanyl and heroin on September 6. For at least a hundred years, anyone who takes heroin does so knowing that it is addictive and frequently fatal. My attitude toward Joplin, Williams, John Belushi, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Holliday, and many other artists who have killed themselves this way involves more anger than sympathy. The world was robbed of their gifts because they were reckless. In the case of black artists, they endanger their admirers by creating a romantic aura for what is, in the final analysis, stupid and irresponsible conduct. How hard can it be not to start using an addictive substance that you know might kill you? The fact that the drug is illegal should be a big clue.

1. And speaking of the joys of recreational drugs...In a new study published in Psychological Medicine, researchers in the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Mental Health and the Institute of Applied Health Research found a strong link between “general practice recorded cannabis use” and mental ill health. Senior author Dr. Clara Humpston said: “Cannabis is often considered to be one of the ‘safer’ drugs and has also shown promise in medical therapies, leading to calls for it be legalized globally. Although we are unable to establish a direct causal relationship, our findings suggest we should continue to exercise caution since the notion of cannabis being a safe drug may well be mistaken.”

Continue to exercise caution? Who’s exercising caution? Popular culture and upper-middle class whites have been issuing pro-pot propaganda for half a century, while mocking government efforts to discourage widespread use and acceptance of another destructive recreational drug. Now nearly every state is on a path to legalize it, especially because they smell tax revenue.

Continue reading

I Trusted The Science, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!

Idiot T-Shirt

For more than a decade, I told incoming members of the D.C. Bar as part of their mandatory ethics training that such sessions as mine were essential to making their ethics alarms ring. To support that thesis, I related the finding of research performed by behavioral economist Dan Ariely when he was at M.I.T. Ariely created an experiment that was the most publicized part of his best-selling book “Predictably Irrational,” giving Harvard Business School students a test that had an obvious way to cheat built into it and offering a cash reward for the students who got the highest scores. He tracked how many students, with that incentive to be unethical, cheated. He also varied the experiment by asking some students to do simple tasks before they took the test: name five baseball teams, or state capitals, or U.S. Presidents.

None of these pre-test questions had any effect on the students’ likelihood of cheating, except for one question, which had a dramatic effect.  He discovered that students who were asked to recite a few of the Ten Commandments, unlike any of the other groups, never cheated at all. Never. None of them. Ariely told an NPR interviewer that he had periodically repeated the experiment elsewhere, with the same results. No individual who was asked to search his memory for a few of the Ten Commandments has ever cheated on Ariely’s test, though the percentage of cheaters among the rest of the testees is consistently in double figures. This result has held true, he said, regardless of the individual’s faith, ethnic background, or even whether they could name one Commandment correctly.

The classic moral rules, he concluded, reminded the students to consider right and wrong. It wasn’t the content of the Commandments that affected them, but what they represent: being good, or one culture’s formula for doing good. The phenomenon is called priming, and Ariely’s research eventually made me decide to start “The Ethics Scoreboard” and later this ethics blog.

Priming is a superb way to make sure your ethics alarms are turned on and in working order. All of us go through life focused on what ethicist call “non-ethical considerations,” the human motivations, emotions, needs and desires that drive us in everything they do—love, lust, greed, ambition, fear, ego, anger, passion…wanting that promotion, the new car, the compliment, fame, power. Good people do bad things because at the moment they are unethical, they aren’t thinking about ethics. If they were, they wouldn’t engage in the misconduct, because they would be “primed” and their ethics alarms would sound in time to stop them.

I still believe that the priming theory is sound, but it looks like Ariely’s alleged proof of the phenomenon can’t be trusted, because he can’t be trusted. Last week, an in-depth statistical analysis showed that a data set from one of the professor’s 2012 papers was fraudulent. That study had apparently demonstrated that people were more honest about how much mileage on their car if they had to sign a statement pledging that the number was accurate before they reported the mileage, rather than signing at the bottom of the page. Oops! No such study had ever been done,, and the “data” was produced using a random number generator.

Continue reading

Now Featured In The Left’s Attack On Freedom Of Speech: Doctors Censoring Doctors

Gee, why would officious authoritarian egomaniacs who think they are God try to do something like that?

The New York Times reports that medical groups are agitating for state boards to discipline physicians spreading “misinformation.” The Federation of State Medical Boards, which represents the groups that license and discipline doctors, recommended last month that states consider suspending or revoking medical licenses of doctors who share false medical claims.

The American Medical Association says spreading misinformation violates the code of ethics that licensed doctors agree to follow. “”Misinformation” is defined by Ethics Alarms as opinions that do not comport with the majority opinion in the profession, with the added qualification that such non-conforming opinions are considered especially worthy of censorship if they offend the political Left, which is where the AMA hangs its metaphorical hat.

The medical association, like its allies, are increasingly unashamed aspiring totalitarians. In this post from April, I wrote about how the AMA issued a statement that it was “deeply disturbed” and “angered” by a recent Journal of the American Medical Association podcast that “questioned the existence of structural racism.” Though JAMA supposedly has editorial independence from the AMA, the association forced JAMA Editor-in-Chief Howard Bauchner to ask for the resignation of podcast host and deputy editor Dr. Edward Livingston because his statements and tweets were “inconsistent with the policies and views of AMA” and “structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it.”

“Structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it” is what the medical profession now calls a “fact.” What the medical profession’s censors are really after is lockstep ideological conformity, using the power to take away the means of contrarians to earn a living as a bludgeon. The Times article would be amusing it it wasn’t so ominous. How can a doctor or a journalist call anything said about the Wuhan virus and its friends “mis-” or “dis-” information, when so many “facts” have been promoted to the public by health experts and then been retracted, reversed, qualified or otherwise contradicted? Dr. Fauci admitted that he deliberately lied to the public about whether masks protected the public from infection. Do you think any state broad will try to take his license away? No, because he’s one of the good doctors, and his misinformation is a means to a just end.

I am pretty certain that any effort to silence medical professionals who espouse controversial opinions will be struck down even by liberal judges, and that the medical groups advocating censorship know it. What they are really trying to accomplish is prior restraint, intimidating non-conforming doctors into keeping quiet by raising the specter of discipline. It’s the ethical equivalent of extortion.

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘….Suicide Ethics’”

Head in the oven

Let’s get away from metaphorical national suicide for the nonce and back to more pleasant topics, like actual suicide. Rich in CT posted an excellent comment last week in the discussion, sometimes heated, of the appropriate societal attitude toward suicide and those who indulge in it.

I ended up banning a particularly obnoxious new commenter in the threads on this topic, and this is as good a place as any to point out some things. First, as is almost always the case, I should have seen what kind of participant I was letting into the fray when I let his first comment out of moderation. This is the kind of mistake you make when you are obsessing over getting more diverse commenters, and it was all my fault. Second, it was clear from the beginning that the commenter never bothered to read the comment guidelines. That’s a bad sign. Third, like so many who are moved to comment on a single issue, never to be heard from again, this commenter was ignorant of basic ethical principles and analysis, and, as with the comment guidelines, didn’t feel it necessary to educate himself on the topic of the blog before issuing his opinion in emphatic terms. Finally, his string of comments were all about how the feelings of suicidal people justified their destructive actions. That statement is signature significance for an ethics dolt. Feelings are based on emotions, and emotions don’t factor in to ethical decision-making. In Reciprocity analysis, the feelings of others may need to be considered, but the process of being ethical requires rational and objective reasoning, and this requires recognizes feelings as impediments to the process. Maybe I haven’t been sufficiently clear on this: one of the mains reasons public discourse on so many topics spins away from ethics is that ascendant view that feelings justify conduct.

But I digress! Here is Rich in CT’s Comment of the Day on David C’s Comment of the Day on the post, Sunday Ethics Picnic, 8/15/2021: Afghanistan Accountability And Suicide.

***

“And yes, as far as I know there is research that suggests that if people are fixated for whatever reason on a certain means of suicide, they will not turn to another method if access to that method is removed.”

It took me a few days to get around to addressing this point for the original post. I’ll include the comment here instead.

“Or is the goal to just make sure they give up and go home to swallow sleeping pills?”

Studies have shown this is not the case. Rather, suicide is an impulsive choice at the intersection of desperation and a particular opportunity. The ideation is often linked to a particular method (jump off bridge, pills, etc). Suicidal individuals don’t systematically engage in various methods until they are successful; rather they fixate, as David C says, on a particular method as the solution; they are at most danger when they are at a low point and their preferred method is readily available.

A famous example occurred in England, the trope of sticking one’s head into the oven to suffocate. Prior to the 1970’s, the island used primarily “town gas” for ovens (as opposed to natural gas or propane). Town gas was extracted from coal in a gasworks plant at the edge of town (hence town gas), and piped to each house. As a byproduct of the extraction process, carbon monoxide was produced, and piped directly to each home along with the hydrocarbons.

Carbon monoxide produces a painless death; one loses conscious quickly prior to suffocation. Carbon monoxide is also nearly 100% effective at causing death. Plugging up the vents in the kitchen, blowing out the pilot light, and turning up the gas became an extremely popular method of suicide between the 1800’s and 1970’s, accounting for about half of all successful suicide deaths in England (I believe these statistics hold up elsewhere, too).

Continue reading

Facts Don’t Matter: Charles Blow Says Vaccination Resistance Is Donald Trump’s Fault

Chart vaccine

The New York Times has a lot of Trump Deranged op-ed writers, a lot of jackasses, and quite a few race-baiters in the mix as well. None scores as high in all three categories as the arrogant Charles M. Blow. His continued presence on the Times opinion pages is a continuing insult to black pundits everywhere. Blow obviously only has his job because he is black, and if this is the best the most prestigious paper in the country could do in seeking “diversity,” “The Bell Curve” was more accurate than we thought. But Blow isn’t the best, or even one of the best, black pundits the Times could employ, and he’s unbearably pompous to boot.

Yesterday Blow’s column was titled “Anti-Vax Insanity.” I have not read a Blow column for more than a year, but this made me think, “Gee, a column from Blow that doesn’t involve foaming at the mouth over Donald Trump!” Silly me. Here is how it starts:

“Nothing better exemplifies the gaping political divide in this country than our embarrassing and asinine vaccine response. Donald Trump’s scorched earth political strategy has fooled millions of Americans into flirting with death. And now thousands are once again dying for it.”

Later he writes,

Why were Americans turning away a vaccine that many people in other parts of the world were literally dying for? Many did so because of their fidelity to the lie and their fidelity to the liar. They did it because they were — and still are — slavishly devoted to Trump, and because many politicians and conservative commentators helped Trump propagate his lies.”

Blow managed to find one poll —you know, polls—that kind of backed his thesis if you squint hard and aren’t thinking clearly, except that it doesn’t mention Donald Trump at all. That’s a pretty big “except.” What the poll shows is that more Republicans than Democrats distrust the vaccine and object to the government telling them they have to take the shots. Well, that would have been the result if Donald Trump had never been born, and whether the vaccine was deadly or conveyed immortality.

Continue reading

Observations On The “567 True-False Question Multiphasic Personality Inventory”

Scoring test

The first observation is that I am amazed that I never heard of this thing before very recently. I am pretty certain that I never encountered it in my psychology course in college, nor in my criminal law courses in law school, nor in the ridiculous number of movies and TV shows I have watched that would seem to be natural places for the test to be referenced. The large and seemingly random holes in our knowledge of the world makes each or us less competent to deal with life, and ethics, to a great extent, is a matter of life competence. I should have learned about this a long time ago, and I don’t know why I didn’t.

The 567 True-False Question Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), for those of you who don’t know already, is apparently the most widely used and researched clinical assessment tool used by mental health professionals to help diagnose mental health disorders (above is an excerpt from list of problems it is designed to flag and the number of questions that allegedly identify them). It has been used since the late 1930s, and has been revised and updated several times to improve its validity.

As you review its details here, you will immediately see the relevance to ethics. There are many scales used to evaluate the responses to the test, which takes 30-50 minutes to complete and involves the subject answering “true” or “false” to each of 567 questions. The survey may be used to assess hypochondria, psychosis, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hysteria, sexual identities, paranoia, schizophrenia, introversion, and to identify psychopaths. There are also sub-scales that measure “the test taker’s belief in human goodness, serenity, contentment with life, patience/denial of irritability, and denial of moral flaws.”

I don’t have a lot to say about the test, which more or less speaks for itself. It reminds me of several things, like those trick questions they used to ask you when you checked your luggage at airports before 9/11: “Did anyone pack your suitcase for you? Did you accept anything from a stranger before you came here? Are you carrying any explosives or weapons?” How inept a hijacker did someone have to be to answer “Yes! I mean no! Damn, you caught me!” to that last one? A lot of the questions are like that. They are a bit cleverer, in that the whole reason there are so many questions is that the incriminating ones are randomly hidden among benign and distracting True-False assertions like ” I think I would enjoy the work of a librarian” and “I like poetry.” You’re rolling along for half the test and getting bored and suddenly you get hit with “It does not bother me particularly to see animals suffer.” Dingdingdingdingding!

The MMPI also reminded me of a bad Elvis Presley movie called “Follow the Dream” that has its climax in a courtroom where Elvis and his con artist father are fighting to keep custody of two twin boys the family adopted. In court, a suspicious psychiatrist gives Elvis’s father a “word association test” to prove whether he would be a fit parent, and the doctor interprets everything he says in the worst context imaginable.

And the test reminds me of what failures the fields of psychiatry and psychology have been since Sigmund Freud was going to save the world a century ago with his new science. If this list is a “primary tool” for metal health professionals, then I have a better understanding of how a Yale psychiatrist could go on MSNBC and insist that Donald Trump should be removed from office based on her assessment of his statements. It also explains how Woody Allen could spend decades in analysis and still be, you know, like Woody Allen.

One final observation, before I leave the rest to you, is that the list suggests that the current “antiracism”/Critical Race Theory/ Black Lives Matters assault on U.S. society and culture may be making African-Americans mentally ill. For example,#71 states, “These days I find it hard not to give up hope of amounting to something.” Being angry is also obviously a marker in the test.

At least now you’ll know about the 567 questions. Here they are:

Continue reading

Gallup’s Institutional Trust Poll

who-can-you-trust

Gallup has another of its yearly trust polls out, this one covering institutions. It should surprise no one that virtually every institution covered showed a decline in public trust. This is a long-term trend, and for a democracy, an existential threat that our leaders in all of those institutions have not been taking sufficiently seriously. The one surprise in the survey is that the only institution that showed a rise in public trust since last year: the police!

Here is the list:

Continue reading

Baseball Says It Wants More American Blacks In The Game, But Chooses To Ignore A Likely Reason Why There Are Not

The 2021 All-Star Game was played in Denver last night because Major league Baseball allowed race-huckster Stacy Abrams to bluff the sport into punishing Atlanta and Georgia for passing a completely reasonable law shoring up the integrity of elections—a matter MLB has exactly no business involving itself in whatsoever. The day before, MLB announced that it was committing up to $150 million to the Players Alliance, a nonprofit organization formed last year and composed of active and former major league players “aiming to build more equitable systems in baseball and increase Black representation throughout the sport.”

This is more flashy virtue-signalling with a dubious nexus to the issue at hand. The money will go toward various programs, including those to support baseball in public and city schools as well as educational grants, scholarships and additional services to the Black community. Other programs will be aimed at increasing black youth participation in baseball as well as funding leagues, equipment, tournaments, clinics and other playground activities, and that’s all, as they say, well and good.

But the precipitous decline in African American participation in the National Pastime, as first discussed here in this post on the same day as MLB’s announcement, like a lot of alleged “inequities,” may have its roots in the culture of black America rather than any “systemic” biases. To quote myself: “[B]aseball is the most diverse of the professional sports, but the number of black players has declined significantly. African American participation in the majors peaked at 19% in 1986, but on opening day 2021 the figure was just 7.6%.” I foolishly passed along the conventional (or official) wisdom about why this might be so: baseball is more expensive than the other major sports to start playing because of the equipment, and colleges hand out far more scholarship money for football and basketball.

Continue reading