Tag Archives: idiots

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/12/18: The Media’s Cognitive Dissonance Scale Debacle

Good morning!

It’s  a Cognitive Dissonance Scale (CDS) fiasco! I know I’ve been flogging the scale recently, but it’s not my fault widespread ignorance of Dr. Festinger’s invention is running amuck. Here is the scale (again)…

Remember, the theory, born out daily in practice, is that we subconsciously move people, things and ideas up and down the preference scale according to their connections to other people, things and ideas with strong positive or negative scale scores. This was the theory behind Ram Trucks using Martin Luther King Jr. as a pitch man in the much-reviled Super Bowl ad, which we discussed in the post From The Scary Tales Of The Cognitive Dissonance Scale Files: The Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial.  [Incidentally, those Ram ad writers weren’t quite as dumb as I thought. While the response to the ad over-all indicated that the Mad Men miscalculated regarding the Scale, some data showed that they were right about the black audience, just not right enough. A Morning Consult survey of 1,579 U.S. adults who viewed the ad indicated that 48%  of African-Americans said the ad gave them a more favorable view of Ram, while 17% said it gave them a less favorable view of the bran,  and 30% said it made no difference. That means that MLK was so high on the African-American scale that his positive value even overcame the negative value of shameless exploitation, and that attaching King to the trucks did, in fact, elevate the product’s scale value.]

Looking again at the scale, let us assume that most rational Americans place North Korea very low. How low? How low can can you go? The poverty-stricken Asian nation is dragged down by the fact that it was (and technically still is) a hostile enemy of the U.S. in the Korean War It is a Communist nation, a dictatorship, a brutal dictatorship, a human rights criminal, and most Americans have “being threatened with nuclear weapons” quite low on their personal scales as well.

For the sake of argument, let’s say North Korea’s CDS value is -100. (Imagine there is a zero after all of the numbers on the scale; the N/S is really of infinite length in both directions.)

Now, what would you say is the scale’s value for the U.S. news media? Journalists are under the delusion that their positive numbers are high. They should be high, and they have always been high before, but the last several years of blatant bias and incompetence have lowered them considerably. For me, the news media is in negative numbers already, but just for the sake of the exercise, let’s say that the news media has a faintly positive public scale score of +20.

How about the Olympics? For some reason the Olympics still have a positive rating on the scale, though nowhere near where it once was. That positive rating is why NBC paid a fortune for the broadcasting rights, hoping for big viewer ratings, but also assuming that the high Olympics Cognitive Dissonance Scale score would yank the network’s own score up the scale.

I’ll peg the Olympics scale rating at +50. I don’t really believe it’s that high, especially the Winter version.

Finally, the last ingredient of this complex Cognitive Dissonance Scale excursion is President Trump. There is no way that the President of the United Sates is in scale negative numbers, which are distinct from poll approval ratings.  If he were a Pet Rock, the office, the history, and the symbolic nature of his role would take any President over the mid-line.  If the Olympics audience were entirely made up of “the resistance,” this would be another matter, but it is not. If anything, I would guess, though I don’t know, that the 30% or so  bitter Trump-haters among the public would tend to be less interested in the national pride orgy the Olympics typically presents than the less-deranged portion of the public. Again, for the sake of the exercise, I’ll put President Trump at -0-, neutral territory.

What has happened since the Olympics began is that the mainstream media has been gushing approval over the North Koreans–their athletes, their creepy cheerleading squad, and most of all, Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong–all propaganda tools— while sneering disapproval at the President’s representative at the Games, Mike Pence. As some wags on social media have pointed out, this is roughly the equivalent of swooning over Eva Braun during the 1936 Munich Olympics. Wrote the Daily Caller, fairly and accurately, Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/11/2018: Of Slave Cheerleading, Fake Degrees, And The Death of Pebbles

Good Morning!

(That’s the Kentucky All-State Choir serenading the hotel where they were staying last night, in observation of an annual tradition. I’m sure guests were kneeling everywhere in protest….)

1 Winter Olympics Ethics: You are all going to have to help me keep up with this, since I regard the whole enterprise as corrupt and cynical. How many of the competitors are doping? How many little girls are being molested by their coaches? How much gauging by local businesses is going on? Why are American citizens marching under flags of foreign nations? How many athletes are going to exploit the opportunity for political grandstanding? I’m dedicated to following cultural ethics, but as my terse and eloquent friend is prone to say in such situations, “There is some shit I won’t eat.”

So far, I note…

  • Vice President Mike Pence is getting roundly criticized for not being properly diplomatic regarding the North Koreans, refusing to shake hands with officials, and not standing when the unified Korean team entered the stadium during opening ceremonies. I would not criticized the Veep if he had behaved otherwise, but I won’t fault Pence for his choice, which I  assume were signed off on  by the President. Cognitive dissonance—my, this has been relevant lately!—applies. North Korea is a brutal regime that savages its people, spends money on weaponry while the public is malnourished, and has devoted a year threatening to nuke us.

They and their leader have earned contempt, not respect. The degree of criticism Pence is receiving from the news media shows how many journalists viscerally prefer North Korea to the Trump Presidency.

  • On that score, the gushing of NBC, ABC and CNN over the North Korean synchronized cheerleading squad is bizarre, dumb and tasteless. The 200+ team is propaganda for totalitarianism, and the less praise it receives from useful idiots, the better.  At one point, NBC tweeted “This is so satisfying” with a video of the beaming slave squad, then quickly deleted the tweet after a faint ethics alarm sounded.

This is one of those times we should be grateful for social media, as the Twitter assassins had their knives out, and appropriately so. My favorite of the many appropriate tweets collected here,

“Look happy or your little sister gets fed to a pack of dogs.”

  • And speaking of idiots, NBC Sports had to apologize after Asian correspondent Joshua Cooper Ramo told the Opening Ceremony TV audience  that “every Korean” respected Japan. This demonstrates astounding ignorance of culture and history, and stunning incompetence by NBC in preparing its broadcasters for covering an international event in South Korea.

2. Animal Ethics: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/7/2018: Something In This Post Is Guaranteed To Send You Screaming Into The Streets

Good Morning!

1 Oh no! Not my permanent record! My wife gave a small contribution to Mitt  Romney’s campaign, and has been hounded by RNC robocalls and mailings ever since. GOP fundraising started getting really slimy under the indefensible Michael Steele’s leadership, and continued to use unethical methods after Steele went on to job at a bait shop or something. Last week my wife got an envelope in the mail with a block red DELINQUENCY NOTICE! printed on it. A lie, straight up: there was no delinquency, just a my wife’s decision that she would rather burn a C-note than give it to the fools and knaves running the Republican Party. She registered an official complaint with the RNC, and received this response from Dana Klein, NRCC Deputy Finance Director:

“My job as the Deputy Finance Director is to communicate with supporters to let them know the status of their NRCC Sustaining Membership. Unfortunately, I have bad news for you. As of right now, you have a delinquency mark on your record for your failure to renew your membership. But, I have some good news. You can remove this delinquency mark if you renew by the FEC deadline on Wednesday.”

Both my wife and I were professional fundraisers for many years. This is deceptive and coercive fundraising, and anyone who voluntarily supports an organization that uses such tactics is a victim or an idiot.

Or, I suppose, a Republican.

2. Another one…This is another one of the statements that I am pledged to expose every time I read or hear it: a Maryland legislator, enthusing over the likelihood that a ballot initiative will result in legalizing pot in the state, ran off the usual invalid, disingenuous and foolish rationalizations for supporting measure. (Don’t worry, pot-lovers: I’m resigned to this happening, not just in Maryland, but nation wide. As with the state lotteries, our elected officials will trade the public health and welfare for easy revenue every time. Minorities and the poor will be the most hurt, and the brie and pot set couldn’t care less.) Only one of his familiar bad arguments triggered my mandatory response pledge: ” to legalize a drug that is less harmful than alcohol.”

This is the bottom of the rationalization barrel, “it’s not the worst thing.” Alcohol is a scourge of society, killing thousands upon thousands every year, ruining families and lives, wrecking businesses, costing the economy millions of dollars. Just yesterday there was a report that fetal alcohol syndrome was far more common that previously believed. There is no question, none, that U.S. society would be healthier and safer without this poison accepted in the culture: unfortunately, it was too deeply embedded before serious efforts were made to remove it. Now pot advocates want to inflict another damaging recreational drug on society, using the argument that it’s not as terrible as the ones we’re already stuck with. Stipulated: it’s not as harmful as alcohol. It’s not as harmful as Russian Roulette or eating Tidepods either. I have a bias against taking seriously advocates who use arguments like this; it means they re either liars, and know their logic is absurd, or idiots, and don’t.

3. Riddle me this: What do you get when you cross casting ethics, weak and lazy school administrators, political-correctness bullies-in-training with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”?

Answer: a cancelled high school musical, and per se racism supported by the school.

New York’s Ithaca High School was beginning production of the Disney film-based musical “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” but made the unforgivable error, in the eyes of student activists,  of casting of a white student as a Romani heroine Esmeralda, played in the classic film by that gypsy wench, Maureen O’Hara, and in the Disney version by a Toon.  Several students quit the show in protest,  and formed an activist group to reverse the decision. It sent a letter calling the casting “cultural appropriation” and “whitewashing,” calling the student the “epitome of whiteness.” The letter admitted that she was also “a stellar actor, singer and dancer” that any stage would be “lucky to have,” but what is the talent, skill and competence required for a role compared to what really matters, her skin color? The students demanded that the school either choose a different show or recast Esmeralda a black and brown actress. Continue reading

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Meet The Passionate Ethics Dunce Confronting Public Figures With Their Immigrant Histories As If It Proves Anything [UPDATED]

What are the worst arguments supporting the proposition that the United States should tolerate illegal immigration? There are no good ones. I have been searching for years. Even otherwise intelligent commentators resort to logical fallacies, emotion, rationalization, nonsense and absurdity when trying to explain why laws protecting our sovereignty and borders, should, unique among all laws not pronounced dead letters, be shrugged, winked and waved away depending on the assessment of the needs and desires of the law-breakers. At the end of this post, I’ll include a poll asking for votes regarding the worst of the “justifications.”

First, however, let’s examine one of the worst, the supposed hypocrisy of opposing illegal immigration because all such advocates for the rule of law and sovereignty have an immigrant somewhere in their gene pool. Never mind that the same pureed-brain argument exists for most occupants of every nation and that it would, carried to its logical-illogical extreme, mean that no borders should be enforced worldwide. For some reason only the U.S. is saddled with this weird theory on an ongoing basis.

The website A Beautiful Perspective’s ironically titled “Ideas” section recently extolled a woman named Jennifer Mendelsohn in an article called “Meet the woman confronting public figures with their immigrant histories.” Mendelsohn uses census records and ship manifests to” put anti-immigrant hypocrisy on blast with #resistancegenealogy.” Yes, she’s an idiot, as her quotes make abundantly clear, though the “Ideas” writer seems to have no inkling of her disability, perhaps because she shares it: Continue reading

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Al Green (D-Tex)

I’ve been neglecting the category, which is especially inexcusable since there are so, so many of them. Rep. Al Green, however, made his distinction easy, thanks to the most ridiculous impeachment theory yet.

 Representative Al Green burnished his credentials as an anti-Trump clown  by announcing that the President’s alleged, unproven and unprovable reference to “shithole–or was it “shithouse”?— countries” is  grounds for impeachment as a clear example of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Green drafted up new articles of impeachment on the theory that “the president’s hateful comments can impact policy.” ( This time 66 fellow Democrats voted for them: Every one of the 66 qualifies as an Incompetent Elected Official. Be proud, progressives! This is your party!) Actually, that better be about how the President’s hateful comments can impact policy if they are unethically publicized by double-crossing Democrats.

What a great theory Green has! All that is needed to impeach a President is for a member of the opposing party to come out and claim that a President said something that “can impact policy” in a private meeting. Then the news media chimes in with, “Sure sounds like something he would say!, CNN obsesses about it for days, ” there’s an impeachment and a conviction, and in just a few more easy steps, according to a Harvard Law professor, so this can’t be a crackpot theory, Hillary Clinton is President!

And they say Trump has mental problems…

There are many plausible explanations for Rep. Green’s nonsense:

…He’s never read the Constitution.

…He has read it, but doesn’t understand it.

…He understands it, but he doesn’t agree with it.

…He’s been hanging out too much with fellow Congressional Black Caucus member—Does this group have a function other than to embarrass African-Americans?—Maxine Waters, who is on record as believing that just being Donald Trump is grounds for impeachment.

…He’s been listening to Chris Cuomo and believes that speech he doesn’t like is criminal.

…He has some kind of weird vendetta against Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, and wants to be humiliated it for graduating someone like him—yes, Green is a lawyer. No, he really is. I’m not kidding! He is! I wouldn’t lie to you! ( Kaboom.)

…Somehow, the wrong Al Green got into the House. This isn’t the lawyer and former judge, who presumably knows something about law and government! This the soul legend “Reverend” Al Green! Sing, Al!

…He’s grandstanding for the increasingly reason-challenged Democratic base, which doesn’t care about law or facts when the President’s impeachment is involved. It’s the thought that counts.

…He’s an idiot.

Rep Green has vowed to continue to keep coming up with impeachment articles: “I plan to do this as long as the President continues to make bigoted statements that are harmful to American society.”
________________________

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Comment Of The Day (6): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay…”

The  Comment Of The Day Weekend concludes with a short but trenchant installment by Still Spartan. It does the metaphorical heart of old Ethics Alarms good to see such spirited and unequivocal defenses of free speech here in response to a shocking flirtation by a major news network with the idea of banning “hate speech,”  publishing  Noah Berlatsky’s juvenile opinion piece.

(Believe it or not, there are two more Comments of the Day waiting from the same post.)

Does this confirm the frequent accusation that the blog is over-subscribed by conservatives? Perhaps. Nobody here seems to be defending Berlatsky, and of late, I can’t recall any conservatives or Republicans claiming that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the Bill of Rights. Just people like Berlatsky, his two confused law professors, CNN star Chris Cuomo, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (guess what party?) former DNC Chair and Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Black Lives Matter, the Democratic mayor of Portland, Vox, indoctrinated college students, professors like Berkeley leftist George Lakoff, and college presidents.

Are there any votes for Donald Trump in that group? Never mind Trump: Mitt Romney? Any Bush? John McCain? James Madison? Voltaire?

Here is Still Spartan channels Voltaire in her  Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…

I have liberal friends who think counter-protesting or banning certain speakers on college campuses truly is the way to a more peaceful and enlightened society. I have conservative friends who are outraged/disgusted at gay pride parades, and quite frankly would be more comfortable going back to the days where gay men hid in heterosexual marriages or became that special uncle who remained a life-long bachelor. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day (1): “An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods…”

While I was away talking about legal ethics with some extremely lively and ethically astute D.C. lawyers, I challenged the Ethics Alarms regulars to identify the rationalizations, logical fallacies, falsehoods and outright errors in this risible essay by Noah Berlatsky, who presented a terrible case for suspending the First Amendment in the case of “Nazis” (not that there is a good case available) that was somehow deemed worthy of publication on the NBC website, in a section called “Think,” of all places. To be fair, NBC does not have a section called “Brain Dead,” so that wasn’t an option.

A brief sample of Noah’s reasoning:

“This doesn’t mean that the First Amendment is useless, clearly. Hopefully it will play a part in helping the protesters, known widely as the J20 defendants, go free. But it also isn’t a cure for all social ills. Hate speech hurts marginalized people, and the First Amendment doesn’t always and invariably protect them. Free speech advocates say that hate speech “is a price ‘we’ pay for living in a free society,” Delgado told me, but they never stop “to add up the two accounts” or look “to see on whom the price is imposed.”

“I’m expecting some Comments of the Day when I get back from my seminar,” I wrote.

I got them. First up is this masterful effort by Mrs. Q. As of this moment, Mrs. Q holds the Ethics Alarms record for the best Comment of the Day- per-comments-made-ratio (min. 25 comments or more). This COTD is also notable for its rare format, the satirical parody.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, An Ethics Alarms Holiday Challenge! Identify The Rationalizations, Logical Fallacies, Falsehoods And Outright Errors In This Essay Advocating Limits On Speech…:

Hi. My name is Noah. I’m Jewish so I can tell you all about what black people go through. Also I just fuckin’ hate Nazi’s for the obvious reasons. So anyway I’m mostly going to refer to one book by two authors as my jumping off point. I know that’s rather limited in making a coherent case but hey, free speech right?

First off I want you to know I’m woke. You know this because even though my fellow liberals are becoming more anti-Semitic thanks to Black Lives Matter collaborating with BDS, I’m still being published on NBC news which you know, is super down, which means I’m super down too. Continue reading

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