Today’s Untrustworthy and Unethical Social Media Platform: LinkedIn

From 2015 to 2019, LinkedIn randomly varied the proportion of weak and strong contacts suggested to users by its “People You May Know” algorithm, the company’s  system for recommending new connections to “link” to. Researchers at LinkedIn, M.I.T., Stanford and Harvard Business School then analyzed aggregate data from the tests in a study published this month in the “Science.”

In other words, users were used as virtual lab rats, subjected to changes in how the platform served their job-hunting and networking interests without their knowledge or consent. It would have been easy and ethical to alert users to this experiment and allow them to out out, but no. The New York Times, ethically inert as usual, writes, “Experts who study the societal impacts of computing said conducting long, large-scale experiments on people that could affect their job prospects, in ways that are invisible to them, raised questions about industry transparency and research oversight.”

Raised questions? What questions? Such secret experimenting is wrong, manipulative, arrogant, irresponsible and unethical. There is no uncertainty on that point. In a statement, LinkedIn now claims that it has “acted consistently with” the company’s user agreement, privacy policy and member settings. The privacy policy, while stating that LinkedIn uses members’ personal data for research purposes, does not reveal that the company will secretly play with  user’s contacts in ways that might result in career or life course changes. The company also, naturally, engaged in the now compulsory “It isn’t what it is” blather,  saying it used the latest, “non-invasive” social science techniques to answer important research questions “without any experimentation on members.”

Of course it was “experimentation on members.”

LinkedIn’s policy for outside researchers seeking to analyze company data states that those researchers will not be able to “experiment or perform tests on our members,” but no policy statement explicitly informs consumers that LinkedIn itself can experiment or perform tests on its members. “During the tests, people who clicked on the ‘People You May Know’ tool and looked at recommendations were assigned to different algorithmic paths,” the New York Times explains. ” Some of those ‘treatment variants,’ as the study called them, caused LinkedIn users to form more connections to people with whom they had only weak social ties. Other tweaks caused people to form fewer connections with weak ties.”

Then the Times adds, disingenuously, “Whether most LinkedIn members understand that they could be subject to experiments that may affect their job opportunities is unknown.” No, it’s just impossible to prove they didn’t know. LinkedIn knew damn well they didn’t know. I didn’t know, for example, not that I rely upon or trust LinkedIn in any way.

None of the social media platforms are trustworthy, and anyone who participates in them should just assume that they will abuse their power while deceiving users whenever they see profit in it. These are unethical Big Tech entities run by unethical, dishonest people. Interact with them accordingly, if you have to interact with them at all.

Trusting Science: Oh Yeah, THIS Plan Sounds Promising…

Remember “Snowpiercer”? It was a nearly unwatchably grim movie about a climate change solution that goes horribly wrong, reducing the Earth to a frozen, deadly wasteland populated only by the passengers of a single train doomed to circle the globe forever. It became a cable series on TNT for three years because anything can become a cable series for three years now.

Well, now in an example of real life threatening to imitate bad fiction, Wake Smith, who teaches “a world-leading undergraduate course on climate intervention” and is a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School specializing in “solar geoengineering” has written a paper, published this week, that lays out his plan to have jets flying at high altitude  inject microscopic sulfur dioxide particles into the atmosphere above the North and South Poles. This, see, will reflect sunlight back into space and slightly shade the surface below, retarding the warming of the poles that threaten to extinguish all life, or so the current government of the United States seems to believe. The scheme would be extremely expensive, require international cooperation, and even at best would only “buy some time” until a better and more lasting solution could be developed.

Or it might doom the world to a frozen apocalypse. As the old saying goes, “Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice.” Continue reading

Baseball Ethics: MLB Changes The Rules Because Its Players Can’t Compete Under The Old Ones

I feel like I can’t let baseball off the hook while I’m being hard on the NFL today.

Of course, football’s ethical problem (well, one of the many) is that it allows too many players on the field who are killers, rapists and thugs, while baseball’s ethical problem is that it habitually changes the rules of the game rather than make the players accept the consequences of their own flaws.

You know, like Democrats…

Beginning in 2023, Major League Baseball will enforce a set of restrictions it claims “will return the game to a more traditional aesthetic” by outlawing extreme defensive shifts. The goal is to encourage batters to put more balls in play rather than swing for the fences, a trend that has led to record numbers of strikeouts. The theory is that once they feel they have a better chance of getting a hit without knocking the ball out of the park, batter will try to make contact and thus hit more ground balls and line-drives,  giving players in the field more opportunities to showcase their athleticism. The changes are: Continue reading

Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle Rebuts The “Pro Choice” Argument With A Single Word

“Foyle’s War” is one of the very best British TV dramas. A period detective show set during and shortly after WWII, often in the city of Hastings, it was created by screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz and commissioned by ITV, then ran from 2002 to 2015. “It “Foyle’s War” starred the excellent British actor Michael Kitchens playing Christopher Foyle, a sharp, understated, rye and blunt police detective solving cases often based on historical incidents.

In an especially excellent episode in the second season called “Among the Few,” Foyle, already investigating a petrol-stealing scheme, must solve the murder of a young pregnant woman found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs. All of the suspects are RAF pilots. Foyle interviews the doctor who told the young woman she was four months pregnant (she had no idea) shortly before she died. Learning of her death, the elderly physician expresses sorrow that a young life had ended so prematurely.

“Two,” Foyle says curtly, correcting the doctor.

Be Proud, Mainstream Media And Health “Experts”! This Is Your Doing…

That is poor Vanessa Sun above, an obviously intelligent young woman (even though she does include her pronouns in her social media profiles) who has been turned into a mad phobic by years of pandemic hysteria, political manipulation and fearmongering. She writes on Twitter, “The universities said we are doing the personal responsibility approach so now I will be lugging this large air purifier to my classes 2x a week.”

Vanessa is an MIT geochemistry PhD student, and has been reduced to this.

Where is the accountability for turning millions of U.S. citizens into whatever this is?

Ethics Quiz: A.I. Cheating In The Art Competition?

Once again, Artificial Intelligence raises its ugly virtual head.

The Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition rewards artistic excellence prizes in painting, quilting, and sculpture, with several sub-categories in each. Jason M. Allen got his blue ribbon with the artwork above, which he created it using Midjourney, a program that turns lines of text into graphics. His “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” won the blue ribbon in the fair’s contest for emerging digital artists.

He’s being called a cheater. Just this year, new artificial intelligence tools have become available that make it possible for anyone to create complex abstract or realistic artworks by simply by typing words into a text box. The competition wasn’t paying attention, and in the era of rapidly moving technology, that’s always dangerous. Nothing in the rules prohibited entering a “painting” that was made using AI. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Strict Pilot

This is a new one on me.

A Southwest Airlines pilot threatened to turn the plane around and return to the departure gate after one of the passengers on board received nude photos via AirDrop and reported the incident to airline staff.

He told the plane,

“So here’s the deal. If this continues while we’re on the ground, I’m going to have to pull back to the gate, everybody’s going to have to get off, we’re going to have to get security involved, and [your] vacation is going to be ruined. Whatever that AirDrop thing is — quit sending naked pictures, let’s get yourself to Cabo.”

Southwest Airlines defended the pilot, saying that the safety, security, and wellbeing of customers and employees was its “highest priority at all times…
When made aware of a potential problem, our employees address issues to support the comfort of those traveling with us.”

And will, therefore, even punish everybody to support that comfort…

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Was the pilot’s threat responsible, fair and competent?

Continue reading

“So here’s the deal. If this continues while we’re on the ground, I’m going to have to pull back to the gate, everybody’s going to have to get off, we’re going to have to get security involved, and [your] vacation is going to be ruined. Whatever that AirDrop thing is — quit sending naked pictures, let’s get yourself to Cabo.”

Southwest Airlines defended the pilot, saying that the safety, security, and wellbeing of customers and employees was its “highest priority at all times…
When made aware of a potential problem, our employees address issues to support the comfort of those traveling with us.”

And will, therefore, even punish everybody to support that comfort…

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Was the pilot’s threat responsible, fair and competent?

Continue reading

Ethics News Flash: There Is Admirable Ethics News From New York!

New York is the East Coast dead ethics twin of California, one of the most damaging ethics corrupters among the states, and a constant anchor on any efforts to keep the culture from rotting. With one unethical mayor elected in New York City after another, the depressing Andrew Cuomo to Kathy Hochul hand-off in the State House, the corrupt and irresponsible state legislature, two habitually unethical U.S. Senators and the state’s determination to defy U.S. immigration law and the U.S. Constitution (I don’t have time to get into the rest, like the New York Times, Broadway and the Yankees), the entire Empire State has become on ongoing bad ethics pageant. Thus it is a shock, a relief, and a glimmer of hope that the it finally has generated a significant positive ethics development that should prompt the rest of the country to follow its lead.

Continue reading

Electric Cars And The “Following The Science” Lie

Policy-makers often use science, or perhaps more accurately “science” as dishonest justification for the policies they want to inflict for ideological motives. Climate change is perhaps the most glaring example, though the handling of the Wuhan virus runs a close second. Most government experts allow their political biases to slant their application of science in their advice and recommendations, and few elected officials comprehend science and relevant research sufficiently to make competent policy consistent with the nuances of the scientific matters involved.

Let’s look at electric vehicles, for example, which are currently being encouraged by tax credits.

Ashley Nunes, Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program fellow, has pointed out that a gas guzzler may, in some circumstance, actually be better for the environment than an electric vehicle. When did you hear anyone in the Biden administration admit that?

Nunes found that many owners of electric vehicles (EVs for short), usually wealthy Americans who take advantage of  federal tax credits to purchase one as a second car, are harming the environmental because they aren’t driving enough.

Manufacturers of electric cars need lithium, and finding and mining lithium  takes a lot of energy, with more still required to make a functional car battery out of it. Creating a clean-burning EV battery creates twice as much greenhouse gases as making an internal combustion engine.
Because, as Nunes explains, “an electric car is almost always cleaner to drive per mile compared to a gasoline-powered one, you can burn off the emissions associated with manufacturing the car.” Still, it takes 28,069 miles of driving, or about 2.73 years, for the EV to overcome its initial polluting disadvantage to gain a “green lead” on a gas-powered car with its low per-mile emissions. Paradoxically, you need to get people to drive more in order to get an emissions advantage…and all of the climate change propaganda is aimed at getting Americans to drive less. And since EV purchasers tend to be wealthier people who use them as a second cars, it takes about a decade for the electric cars to produce any emissions benefit. How many wealthy household hold on to a car of any kind for ten years?

Thus, Nunes has concluded, some people are “better off driving a gas-powered car if they care about the environment.” EV owners tend to sell the vehicle before it’s reached the green break-even point in miles. 

But wait—there’s more.  Nunes’  research indicates that people who own both gas  and electric-powered vehicles choose to drive the gas-powered one most of the time. It is the  people who buy EVs secondhand, the poorer households that drive them for many miles and years as their primary vehicle, who achieve  the emissions reductions that electric vehicles are supposed to provide. But government subsidies miss this group entirely! The federal government tax credit of up to $7,500 only accrues to those who purchase new electric vehicles. Even with some states like California offering additional rebates on top of that, new electric vehicles often cost more than the average American earns in a year.

“If you’re a poor American and all you can afford is a $10,000 car, this rebate isn’t going to matter to you,” Nunes concludes. “And by and large, we find that, guess what, the person buying a $120,000 [electric vehicle] would have still gone out and bought the car without a $7,500 subsidy.” 

Policymakers’ EV hype is self-defeating, and doesn’t “follow the science,” because the politicians have a shallow understanding, to the extent that they have any at all, of al the relevant factors. 

The policies are wasteful and ineffective, no matter how smug and certain the climate-change scolds are about them. The electrical car advocates are assuming expertise and scientific justifications they simply don’t have.

It’s incompetence seasoned with dishonesty, abusing science rather than using it properly.

From The “Res Ipsa Loquitur” Files: “Fact Check: Chihuahuas Are Dogs, Not Rats.”

USA Today really did print a “fact check” of a gag social media claim that chihuahuas are not dogs but rodents. The article by agriculture and business reporter Laura Peters shows no hint of humor or irony: USA Today treats this as if there is a substantial likelihood that a significant number of its readers might be deceived by the claim that “DNA study finds chihuahuas aren’t dogs …Among other findings the analysis determined that Chihuahua is actually a type of large rodent, selectively bred for centuries to resemble a canine.”

Peters also cites Scopes as an authority, because those fools also did a fact check the last time someone posted this idiocy. “According to Snopes, the claim was just a “bit of satirical fun,” Peters informs us.

What the USA Today article actually informs us about—the headline alone is enough— is the degree to which USA Today has sunk beneath Weekly Reader and World News Daily status. Why would anyone possessing more than two  neurons firing trust anything reported by a rag with editors and reporters who think it is necessary to show that chihuahuas aren’t rats?

There is almost nothing substantive in USA Today’s print editions any more; the thin paper is mostly ads, photos, and local news snippets. With all of the important news being buried or ignored by most of the news media, the once handy Gannett paper could at least fill in some blanks–how about those Cassidy Hutchinson texts? No, what USA Today’s editors think its readers have a right to know is that dogs aren’t rats. Are the editors the morons? Peters? Or do they just think anyone who reads USA Today must be a moron?

On that, they have a point.