Six Ethics Lessons As Bill James Falls Into His Own Research Trap

Baseball philosopher, iconoclast and analyst Bill James is one of my heroes for his amazing ability to look past conventional wisdom with an open mind. Beginning as essentially a self-published pamphleteer writing out of his basement, James’ counter-traditional explorations of baseball statistics eventually changed how baseball was watched, assessed, scouted and played, simply on the strength of Bill’s  ideas and his facility in explaining them.

His talents could be used in many other fields–James has recently branched out into examining famous unsolved murders—but it is also true that many of the ideas he has developed in relation to baseball have wider applications. For example, James was the source of the concept of “signature significance,” which is a staple here at Ethics Alarms.

His writing also taught me that bias makes us stupid, and about the insidious power of rationalizations.  Many of James’s observations seemed intrinsically obvious once he made and explained them, and the fact that  baseball executives, writers and players could have been so wrong about their own game for so long seemed incomprehensible. But the reasons were what they always are, in all fields. People are biased toward what they have always believed —confirmation bias–and the “It’s always been this way” variation on the most powerful rationalization of them all, “Everybody does it”  breeds blindness and  intellectual laziness. Continue reading

Friday Evening Ethics Nightcap, 1/24/2020: Special Dim Bulb Edition

 

Good evening.

1. You know, Chris, keep doing things like this and “Fredo” likely to stick. Incredibly, CNN dim-bulb himbo Chris Cuomo tweeted,

What a stupid and unethical tweet! 1) The term “Trumper” is per se evidence of bias, in the same category as calling Republicans “Repugs.” 2) The tweet endorses the cynical and unethical progressive practice of recruiting children to be your mouthpieces (if anyone can find an example of Republicans doing this, please alert me), so you can attack any criticism as punching down at a child. Thunberg has presented her self as entitled to insult and impugn adults in adult fora, like the U.N. She has waived any special consideration, ethically and logically.

Best of all, however, Cuomo’s employer, CNN, just paid a legal settlement for falsely attacking teenager Nick Sandmann, as many Twitter users gleefully reminded him.

Surely he knew this.

Maybe Chris just didn’t understand it.

2. Speaking of idiots...Are the Democrats really going to nominate someone who says things like this out loud? Heeeere’s JOE!…speaking about “Dreamers” at a campaign event. Continue reading

Are Elizabeth Warren Supporters Really OK With Her Constant Lying? Why Is That?

In a moment that should define her cynical, dishonest, demagoguery-driven campaign for President, Senator Elizabeth Warren really and truly said yesterday, while campaigning in Iowa, “How could the American people want someone who lies to them?” This belongs in some kind of self-indicting Hall of Fame along with Hillary Clinton’s statement that all female accusers had a right to be believed. Even if one ignores Warren’s career-long misrepresentation of herself as being of Native American ancestry, her list of lies is material, long, and growing.

She falsely claimed that her children only attended private school. She falsely claimed she was fired from a teaching job because she was pregnant. The New Jersey bar had to correct her after she claimed to be the first woman to take the New Jersey Bar while breastfeeding.  In another effort to pander to women, Warren has said that she faced a #MeToo moment when she was a young law professor who was “chased around a desk” by her predator, harassing superior….who, it turned out, had polio, and couldn’t chase anyone. He was also a friend and mentor whom Warren eulogized at his funeral, but apparently was fair game for her to slander for her own purposes once he was dead and couldn’t defend himself.

But on second thought, why would you ignore her amazing “I’m an Indian too!” charade (Pop culture quiz: What Broadway musical is that line from?)? Here’s a neat summary from the Federalist: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/10/2020: Clean Up On Aisle Ethics!

Good morning.

1. Poll report! In the “just what is Pete Buttigieg?” poll, “panderer” and my personal favorite, “asshole,” are running neck and neck:

The previous poll on fat-shaming isn’t close, with about 90% siding with fitness guru Jillian Michaels

The poll asking which idiotic statement about the U.S. blowing up the Iranian terror chief produced a landslide for Rep. Omar:

2. Baseball Hall of Fame Ethics. MLB’s sportswriters who made public their votes for the Hall of Fame (the results of the election will be announced Jan. 21) all voted for #1 steroid cheat Barry Bonds and almost certain cheat Roger Clemens. This depressing revelation reflects the fact that they are young, and also that they have the ethical analysis skills of marmots. Chris Haft, for example, wrote, “I initially refused to vote for Bonds or Clemens, but they are guilty for their alleged wrongdoings only in the court of public opinion. That’s not damning enough not to vote for a guy.” I don’t even know what he thinks that means. That there wasn’t a trial? Former Washington Post writer Richard Justice wrote, “I weigh the ethical questions of the so-called “Steroid Era” every year. My essential position has not changed. Unless a player has been suspended by MLB for PED use, I give him full consideration.” In other words, if he wasn’t caught he should continue to get away with it all the way into the Hall. There is absolutely no question that Bonds played the last half of his career so loaded with PED that they were coming out of his ears. This is like saying that you are convinced that O.J was innocent because he got away with it.

3. One “Arrgh! World War III!’ note...Stephen Kruiser, a conservative blogger, commented on the Democrats apparent disappointment that the President de-escalated after Iran’s symbolic attack on U.S. facilities, saying,

If you’re wondering whether I am implying that Democrats wouldn’t care if American troops were in harm’s way if it would help them defeat Trump in November, I am not. I’m saying it outright.

Then there was this telling piece in The Root, which was somehow posted with approval by an African American Facebook friend, proving State 4 Trump Derangement. The headline: The President of the United States Just Publicly Went Out Like a Bitch. And That’s Fine by Us.

Got that? If the President is bellicose, he’s a dangerous madman. If he is diplomatic and works to defuse the situation, he  (quoting here): “completely bitched out. In fact, before the president stepped to the podium, Managing Editor Genetta Adams called it, noting that the president ain’t about that life. “He’s going to pussy out like he did with [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi and the [government] shutdown. He’s really a chicken when someone punches back.”

It literally doesn’t matter what the President does to the Deranged. It must be wrong. Continue reading

Observations (And A Poll!) On The Lizzo-Jillian Michaels Bodyshaming Controversy

“The Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels was being interviewed on the Buzzfeed series “AM to DM” when she opined, “We should always be inclusive, but, you cannot glorify obesity. It’s dangerous. It kills people.”

Well, of course she believes that. She’s a trainer. Her business is fitness, so it would be hypocritical if she said that it didn’t matter if people aren’t fit.

Interviewer Alex Berg , however, cited the  example of African American singer Lizzo, who is unquestionably obese and who flaunts her fat.  Michaels was unimpressed, saying,

“Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause it isn’t going to be awesome if she gets diabetes,” Michaels said. “I’m just being honest. I love her music, like my kid loves her music, but there’s never a moment when I’m like, ‘I’m so glad she’s overweight.’ Why do I even care? Why is it my job to care about her weight?”

Berg later tweeted,

What I was going to say here is that Lizzo has been incredibly important in giving so many of us a possibility model for accepting our bodies as we are and celebrating bodies that are normally ridiculed. Had to restrain myself from defending Lizzo’s honor!

Now Michaels is being flamed on social media as a fat-shaming bigot. Oh–and a racist of course, because she is white and Lizzo is black. I’m not even going to address that, as there is no question in my mind that if Berg had mentioned an overweight white singer like Wynonna Judd or Adele, Michaels would have said the same thing.

I will observe, however… Continue reading

Poll: The Worst Responses To The Killing Of Suleimani

 

Nobody seriously disputes the fact that Iran has been waging an undeclared war against the U.S. for many years, depending on American aversion to the short and long term results of a military response, particularly among the Left’s permanent anti-military lobby in the U.S. The apotheosis of this strategy was Obama’s virtual capitulation in 2015, in which Iran received seized assets  and secret “pallets full of cash,” while the U.S. received hostages illegally held by Iran and a dubious promise not to prepare to nuke Israel for a while.  Iran has been playing the role of a small child abusing a larger, stronger rival, confident that any retaliation would be seen as bullying.

The United States and the world is always safest when the man in the White House is deemed capable of using the arsenal within his command as the deterrent it was built to be. This is one reason why Ronald Reagan was able to win the Cold War. For all the Left’s criticism of the war in Afghanistan, the alternative to forcefully retaliating for the attacks of 2001 would have been confirmation that the United States was a “toothless tiger,” weak, and cowardly, unwilling to defend itself and its citizens. Such a perception would have been dangerous, encouraging more terrorism, and more attacks.

As General Petraeus explained,

“Suleimani was …responsible for providing explosives, projectiles, and arms and other munitions that killed well over 600 American soldiers and many more of our coalition and Iraqi partners just in Iraq, as well as in many other countries such as Syria…. [Trump’s] reasoning seems to be to show in the most significant way possible that the U.S. is just not going to allow the continued violence—the rocketing of our bases, the killing of an American contractor, the attacks on shipping, on unarmed drones—without a very significant response.”

Why yes, I’d say that’s a reasonable interpretation of what happened, and hallelulia for that! Iran has responded in a manner that reveals its essential madness and barbarism, putting a bounty on President Trump’s head, and doing its familiar “American Satan” routine that we have been treated to since President Jimmy Carter cowered inertly in the White House after Iran kidnapped 52 of our diplomats and embassy personnel more than 40 years ago. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/27/2019: Two Bingos, Two Drag Shows, and Poop

Good morning!

1. Is it me, or is this TV commercial indefensibly gross, and signals the impending end of civilization?

2.  Reasons not to duck the New York Times op-ed pages…Yale student Kathryn Hu contributed a sane and thoughtful essay on the topic of classic operas with characters and plot elements that seem sexist or racist to today’s more enlightened audiences. As we know, today’s “woke” censors of the arts and arbiters of what we are allowed to watch and hear have their own solution: never do the piece again, despite its obvious virtues, or interpret and rewrite it out of existance or into nausea, like John Legend injecting “It’s your body and your choice” into the lyrics of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” I had to suppress my gorge from rising while reading this article, for example, that described the current production of  J.M Barry’s 1904 classic “Peter Pan” in Washington D.C:

In [Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s] version now playing at Shakespeare Theatre Company (retitled Peter Pan and Wendy…), the character of Tiger Lily has been completely reconceived. No more the helpless princess in distress, Tiger Lily is now a spirited and fearless Native rights activist whose people thrived in Neverland long before Captain Hook’s pirate ship dropped anchor and Peter showed up with the Lost Boys.

Because as we know, there were so many Native American activists in 1904. To anyone with brain cells and cultural perspective that haven’t been woked to death, it is obvious that Barry’s Neverland is a child’s fanciful impression of Indians, pirates, and friendly wild animals. It has nothing to do with reality , so imposing current day adult political views on the and characters is neither fair nor necessary.

Hu’s solution to the supposed horrors of 19th Century biases and social mores in opera: Continue reading