Tag Archives: ignorance

Morning Ethics Warm-up: 8/18/17

Good Morning, Ethics Alarms Readers!!!!

1. I am so aggravated, offended and frankly frightened over how the Charlottesville politically-correct spin has been injected into the public’s brain by the familiar unholy alliance of the free speech-hostile left, the Soviet-emulating historical air-brushers, cowardly scholars and, of course, our impulsive and inarticulate President, that it is difficult for me to focus on anything else. As Billy Bigalow sings in “Carousel,” though, “I’ll try, by God, I’ll try…”

2.  Wolf Blitzer actually asked, on the air, whether the Barcelona terror attack was inspired by James Field’s homicide-by-auto in Charlottesville. I swear, this isn’t a Charlottesville commentary but a “How incredibly stupid does a journalist have to be before the public and his employers send him off to work at a bait shop?”  commentary. Is this some sinister effort to blame Robert E. Lee for terrorism in Barcelona? There have been  eight jihadi car-ramming terror attacks this year alone! Why in the world would a Spanish terrorist look to James Field’s for inspiration? Why would Wolf Blitzer even ask such a blitheringly idiotic question? How can we respect of trust major news media when it can behave like this?

As Ann Althouse wrote last week about a Washington Post story:

This is the kind of newspaper article I’m looking for, detailing what happened in Charlottesville, and I wish I felt more confidence that The Washington Post would tell it straight. Maybe this is straight, but how can I know? What trust has been shot to hell in the last few years of journalism! I’m still reading this, because it’s the closest I’ve come to the kind of careful report I want.

For me, once a major network anchor displays the utter stupidity (or contempt for the intelligence of its viewers) that Wolf’s speculation constitutes, I have enough information to never trust that news source….not that I didn’t already have sufficient justification for that conclusion.

3. I have come to the conclusion that all polls are inherently misleading, and those who cite poll results to justify or condemn policy decisions or initiatives are themselves untrustworthy. First of all, the polls reflect apples, oranges,  mangos and walnuts but treat them as if they are the same. When a majority of the public, for example, disapproves of Congress according to a poll, what does that mean? It means that some who disapprove do so because Congress is too conservative, while others regard it as not conservative enough. Since the two components of that disapproval diametrically oppose each other’s standards, the poll provides no genuine guidance or illumination. Such polls are also misleading because there is no way of knowing  how many of those polled are informed regarding the issues and legislative matters beyond reading headlines or watching Stephen Colbert. I don’t care what ignorant people think about things they haven’t bothered to think about, and neither should the news media or elected officials.  All polls should include the category, “I really haven’t studied this issue enough to have anything but a gut-level opinion.” “Don’t know/No opinion” is not the same thing. Continue reading

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The Audacious And Everlasting Hypocrisy Of Al Gore

In June, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Al Gore about his apparent energy-use hypocrisy:

TAPPER: This is a criticism we hear from conservatives all the time when talking about people like you or Elon Musk or Leonardo DiCaprio, that you, yourself, have a large carbon footprint.

GORE: Yes. Well, I don’t have a private jet. And what carbon emissions come from my trips on Southwest Airlines are offset. I live a carbon-free lifestyle, to the maximum extent possible.

As Ann Althouse noted at the time, for  a carbon-based organism like Gore to claim to be living carbon-free is a demonstration of shocking ignorance by someone who has been making his millions as an earth-science huckster. To me, the amazing thing was that after repeatedly showing that he couldn’t pass a middle-school science test (as when he declared on national TV that the core of the Earth was “several million degrees”)

After he found himself the official guru of global warming hype, Gore should have had the sense and discipline to educate himself and really learn about the topics he was purporting to be an expert on. He obviously didn’t bother; like the similarly lazy Sarah Palin, he figured that the people who agreed with him weren’t going to be that discerning, so mastery of facts wasn’t worth the trouble.

The other infuriating aspect of Gore’s answer to Tapper  was his “offset” excuse. That just  meant “I’m rich, so I pay to for all my carbon pollution.” Gore really believes that leaving a carbon footprint the size of Godzilla is responsible conduct for a climate change shill telling the peasants that they must change their life-style, because he can “offset” it. He really believes that’s fair and honest.

In the wake of Gore’s sequel to his error and hype-filled climate change alarmist documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” the National Center For Public Policy Research, which had embarrassed Gore with its 2007 revelations after his first documentary, checked to see if Al, as he promised at the time, had addressed his own polluting ways. It checked Gore’s electricity usage information through public records requests and conversations with the Nashville Electric Service (NES), and found.. Continue reading

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File This In The Niggardly Principles Files: The Family That Helped Build Portland’s Public School System Is Condemned To Oblivion Because The Schools Are Afraid To Teach

I really hate this story, and all stories like it. I hope you do too.

In a perfect and perfectly disgraceful breach of the First Niggardly Principle, the Centennial School District in southeast Portland will be excising “Lynch” from three schools before the beginning of this school year: Lynch Meadows, Lynch Wood, and Lynch View elementary schools. The schools were named to honor the family that originally  donated land for the the  schools to be built upon over a century ago. What, however, is the obligation to appreciate and honor those who selflessly seek to assist public education, compared to the need to cater to those whose education was inadequate? Nothing, apparently.   Superintendent Paul Coakley explains that “many newer families coming into the district associate the name with America’s violent racial history.”

Well, that should settle it, then! Why burden these narrow-minded and easily-triggered products of the victim culture with facts, knowledge and perspective?

More from Coakley: “There were an increasing amount of questions and some complaints from families of color around the name…there is no connection between the Lynch family and the practice associated with the term” but the name has still “been a disruption for some students.”

Here’s a creative alternative solution: educate them. How about that? Is that too challenging for the students? For Portland’s schools? From Wordorigins.com: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, History, Race

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/20/17

Καλημέρα!

[This is pronounced “Kaliméra!,” not to be confused with “Calamari!” My father frequently got them confused when he visited Greece with my mom, the former Eleanor Coulouris, and embarrassed her by greeting the natives some mornings by cheerily saying, “Squid!]

1. The newspaper Arts section headline says, “Mayor Ties Arts Money To Diversity.”

The mayor in question is New York City’s DeBlasio, and since his own family is “diverse,” naturally every other entity has to be, or it is baaaad. This is why I oppose government funding of the arts unless it guarantees that the nation, state or city will not attempt to use its support to control the arts organizations in any way.  Of course, governments will never do that, because manipulating the arts to advance  political agendas is usually the underlying motive in arts grants. Ideologues like De Blasio—wow, he’s terrible—will constantly be grandstanding and doing everything in their power to manipulate artists and their art to ensure that they send the “right” messages—you know, like Nazi art and Communist art. It is exactly the same theory and practice: art as political indoctrination.

Quick: who thinks that De Blasio will be focusing on “diversity” in the management (or on the website) of the Dance Theater of Harlem? Even if the government doesn’t attach strings to its support, arts organizations know that there are more of them than there is tax-payer money to disperse, so there is terrible and often irrsistable pressure to distort their product to give their state funders what the artists think they want—just to be safe.

My professional theater company refused to do that, sticking to the integrity of our mission and not resorting to tokens and virtue-signalling. My now defunct professional theater company, that is.

2. Yesterday, I highlighted the head-blasting comments of New York Times film critic A.O. Scott and his alternate-universe pronouncements about the Obama presidency. To be fair to A.O., his entire profession is packed with historical and political ignoramuses who make their readers dumber with every review. I once created a theater reviewer’s code of ethics, which I mailed to a critic, who sent it back to me with a note that said, “Mind your own business.” Years ago, I published an essay that was called “Why Professional Reviewers Are Unethical,” that began,

When Variety announced that it was firing its in-house film and drama reviewers, there was much tut-tutting and garment-rending over the impending demise of professional reviewing in magazines, newspapers and TV stations. The villain, the renders cry, lies, as in the Case of the Slowly Dying Newspapers, with the web, which allows any pajama-clad viewer of bootleg videos to write film reviews, and any blogger who cares to write a review of a play. “I think it’s unfortunate that qualified reviewers are being replaced,” said one movie industry pundit, “but that’s what’s happening.”

I say, “Good. It’s about time.”

It’s not happening quickly enough, though. “Dunkirk” is opening this week, and, as I predicted, film reviewers are showing their utter historical ignorance. The Washington Examiner skewers them deftly in an essay called “Why the (True) History of Dunkirk Matters.” Highlights, or rather lowlights:

  • USA Today critic Brian Truitt complains that “the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.” He is not the only film critic to observe this.

Morons.

  • Slate.com critic Dana Stevens claims that the British Army at Dunkirk was the “last bulwark against Nazi invasion of the British mainland.”

Not even close to true. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Professions, Public Service, Race, U.S. Society, War and the Military

What Clarence Darrow’s Dayton Statue Stands For

Apparently about a third of the population of Tennessee still doesn’t buy Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study) so it should not be too much of a surprise that in Dayton, Tennessee,  site of the famous 1925 Scopes Trial, a newly erected statue of Clarence Darrow in front of the historic red brick courthouse where the trial took place was met with some protests. At a County Commission meeting in the town,  resident Ruth Ann Wilson suggested that bronze Darrow might unleash a plague or a curse. “I rise in opposition to this atheist statue, all right?” she said. “This is very serious, folks.”

No, that isn’t serious, but the persistence of ignorance both generally and about the issues battled over in 1925 are.  Another resident, Brad Putt, is quoted by the New York Times as saying,  “People around here know that if you have a court case, you have to have two sides,” referring to the fact that there has been a Williams Jennings Bryan statue standing in front of the courthouse  since 2005. “You can’t have Optimus Prime unless you have Megatron. You’ve got to have a yin to the yang.” Well, that’s not quite right either, depending on what Bryan and Darrow symbolize. If the idea is to have the most famous opposing counsel in U.S. legal history facing off, okay, that’s fair. If he is saying, as I think he is, that science and religion must counter and balance each other, that’s nonsense. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Quotes, Religion and Philosophy, Research and Scholarship, Rights, Science & Technology, U.S. Society

The Unexposed Ethics Outrage On The Edges Of The Trump Jr. Meeting Controversy

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act  allows the U.S. President to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on human rights abusers who kill, torture or violate the rights of human rights defenders, as well as government officials responsible for acts of significant corruption. The law and its various amendments that expanded its reach are at the heart of the sanctions currently being enforced against Russia. It was this law, and Russian efforts to blunt its force, that apparently was the real reason that Donald Trump Jr. was induced to meet with an indefinite number of Russians, Russian-Americans, and various individuals “connected” to the Russian government, the list of which is currently expanding like the roster of women allegedly raped by Bill Cosby.

The news media doesn’t seem to feel the Magnitsky Act is anything the public needs to know, perhaps because Donnie Jr. didn’t know much about it, if anything. The stories about his aborted meeting typically mention the Act briefly and without elaboration. They really don’t elaborate on Putin’s retaliation for the Act, which was to stop U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans. (I wrote about this indefensible conduct by Russia at the time, in 2012. The post had a grand total of eight comments. Five years was too long to wait for an update, and I’m sorry. Of course, we are supposed to have responsible and competent professional journalists to keep us informed. )Russia had been one of the primary sources of foreign adoptions by childless U.S. parents before 2012, when the Russian strong man retaliated against loving U.S. parents to show his annoyance with our government and his support of corruption at home.

It’s worse than that, though. The real victims of Putin’s retaliation are his nation’s own, innocent, most vulnerable children. There is virtually no domestic adoption in Russia, because parents can’t afford the children the have. There are lots of orphans though, because parents can give up infants they can’t care for, and the government is quick to remove children it believes are abused or neglected. Unfortunately, once these children are warehoused, there is no way out. The orphanages are underfunded and over-crowded. Once the children “age out,” they are sent to live in hospitals, clinics and other Russian institutions ill-equipped to care for them, and eventually dumped out into the street, where they often are abused or turn to crime. Continue reading

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The Good Luck Jet Engine Sabotage

China Southern Airlines Flight 380 from Shanghai to Guangzhou was held up at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport after an elderly female passenger threw coins into the plane’s engine to ensure “good luck.” An investigation into the incident is under way, the airlines says.

This bizarre story raises a serious and difficult ethics question. At what point should there be severe societal penalties for egregious life incompetence?

The elderly are obviously the most prone to this sort of thing. At some point many of them just stop paying attention, or lose the ability to keep up. In criminal law, we do not typically punish people for harm they do as a result of ignorance, but there are limits. There have to be.

I have a long delayed post on life competencies on the Ethics Alarms drawing board; it will eventually be a permanent free-standing page, like the Rationalizations List. The topic is difficult. What skills and knowledge are all of us obligated to have, if not master? If our inattention to Continuing Life Education makes us menaces to society, how should society respond? With pity? Sympathy? Compassion? Pat the fools on the head, and give them a stipend?

Being an ethical member of society mandates being able to participate in society’s activities without constantly screwing up. That, in turn, requires a level of personal responsibility. Society needs reasonable, fair, not overly harsh or intrusive ways of persuading everyone to meet this minimum requirement of citizenship. What are they?

It doesn’t have to be as ludicrous as an old lady nearly crashing a jet by throwing good luck coins into its engine, either. As we are increasingly dependent on technology, and as technology moves up a J curve, the damage that can be done by, just to take a wild example that could never happen, someone in a sensitive position using “password” as their computer password, thus enabling a foreign governments to steal confidential data and use it to set off an Ethics Trainwreck, is terrifying. How does a responsible society send a message that is sufficiently persuasive to people before they blunder into chaos ?

I don’t know the answer yet.

I’m just asking.

And now, a song!

Three coins in the engine
Each one risking air distress
Thrown by one stupid granny
How should she pay for the mess?

Three coins in the engine
Each as deadly as the first
There they lie in the engine
See the flames there as they burst!

Which will make the airplane crash?
Which will make the airplane crash?

Three coins in the fountain
Through the turbines how they shine!
Just one wish will be granted
Hope the charred corpse isn’t mine…

 

________________________

Pointer: Fred

Source: Boing Boing

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