Short Week Ethics Short Takes, 9/10/2021

What are the odds that Randy Newman’s satirical song would be attacked today as offensive and accused of making short people feel unsafe? I think pretty high in favor, don’t you?

I was thinking about this after watching “Movie 43” last night, an astounding 2013 project in which a huge, all-star cast was recruited into doing a series of sophomoric, gutter humor skits that had bad taste galore but not much humor or wit beyond “Oh my God, I can’t believe they did that!” Still, while the movie got horrible reviews (although the critics calling it “The Worst Movie Ever Made” beclowned themselves: I can name 20 worse ones off the top of my head) and bombed, I am pretty sure that it would spark boycotts and “cancellations” today for being so spectacularly politically incorrect. Watching it, I was nostalgic for the time when artists could cross lines and not have a virtual price placed on their heads. In just seven years, we have come to a place where Americans are terrified of enraging the woke. I think watching Movie 43 is good tonic for that, and also good practice for those who want to purge their inner weenie.

1. One more bit of proof that we should not trust “experts,” scientists, or academics. Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker has written several best-selling books, such as “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” (2011) and “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress” (2018) and is regarded as a public intellectual. Yet when the New York Times asked him, Do you see any irrational beliefs as useful?,” Pinker answered,

“Yeah. For example, every time the media blames a fire or a storm on climate change, it’s a dubious argument in the sense that those are events that belong to weather, not climate. You can never attribute a particular event to a trend. It’s also the case, given that there is an availability bias in human cognition, that people tend to be more influenced by images and narratives and anecdotes than trends. If a particular anecdote or event can in the public mind be equated with a trend, and the impression that people get from the flamboyant image gets them to appreciate what in reality is a trend, then I have no problem with using it that way.”

Yes, this respected intellectual believes that deceiving the public is justified if it leads them to support the “right” policies and beliefs. He, and those like him, are the real threats to democracy.

My Harvard diploma is already facing the wall; staring today, I’m going to spit at it when I pass by…

Coincidentally, today I was asked to write something for my class’s reunion book. What should I write?

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Ethics Dunce: Tucker Carlson

Fox News host Tucker Carlson reacted to the week’s news about the pause on the Johnson & Johnson Wuhan virus vaccine to suggest to his viewers that the  government may know that they don’t work but are purposely “not telling you that.” During a general rant about vaccines, Fauci and related matters, Carlson concluded,

“Experts say it is not entirely clear when it will be considered okay for people who are fully vaccinated to stop wearing masks.At some point, no one is asking this but everyone should be, what is this about? If vaccines work, why are vaccinated people still banned from living normal lives? Honestly, what’s the answer to that, it doesn’t make any sense at all! If the vaccine is effective, there’s no reason for people who’ve received a vaccine to wear masks or avoid physical contact. So maybe it doesn’t work and they’re simply not telling you that. Well, you’d hate to think that especially if you’ve gotten two shots but what’s the other potential explanation? We can’t think of one.”

Tucker’s not thinking very hard. 1) The vaccines are not 100% effective. 2) New strains may not be prevented by the current vaccines. 3) If doctors could have their way, everyone would wear masks all the time anyway, because doctors don’t care about smiles, faces, and social health. The masks have essentially prevented the seasonal flu this year, so doctors think they are wonderful. “What’s the downside?,” they think. Doctors don’t think masks making life suck is a downside, you see. This is why the government should never put public policy in the hands of doctors.

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Sunday Ethics Peeps, 3/28/21: “Hey, Everybody! Free Gym Memberships!”

Peeps

1. Speaking of useless awards shows: Here are the winners of the NAACP Image Awards, presented by Black Entertainment Television, which raises questions all by itself. Now someone explain to me how such awards are helpful, productive, and justified in the United States of America in 2021. As hard as I try, I cannot think of any words but hypocrisy, apartheid, and double standards.

I’d really appreciate an argument from an African-American reader.

2. An ethical firing at USA Today. After Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa shot up a supermarket in Boulder, Hemal Jehaveri, who held the Orwellian post of “Race and Inclusion Editor,” proved her qualifications by tweeting “It’s always an angry white man, always.” This did not go over well, for several reasons.

Race tweet

First, “it” isn’t “always” a white man. Second, this particular shooting appears to be based on religious and ethnic hate, not race. Third, for a “race and inclusion” editor to announce racial bias of her own on social media would seem to be immediately disqualifying. Fourth, as a journalist, she needs to be trusted, and not tweet out false information on a whim.

Fifth, she’s a biased idiot.

She was fired. Good. Now she’s claiming that her firing was race-based:

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin

Daddy gave you this with love….

Incidentally, we have discussed how the news media often hides the party affiliation of misbehaving Democrats, but I had to look up Bevin after CNN neglected to say what his party is. This wasn’t bias, just unprofessional journalism.

Kentucky’s  Governor, who is a Republican, revealed that he exposed  his nine children to chickenpox  so they would get the disease rather than giving them the vaccine.

What an idiot. By doing this publicly, he endorses anti-vaxxer fear-mongering, validates irresponsible parenting, and places lives in danger.

In an interview with WKCT,  Bevin said he supports parents who choose to get their children vaccinated and also those who decline to do so. Do you support public health, you reckless, pandering fool? “This is America,” he said. “The federal government should not be forcing this upon people. They just shouldn’t.” “This” means responsible behavior required to prevent the spread of communicable disease. Governments have a well-established and Supreme Court approved duty to take necessary and reasonable measures to ensure public safety.danger.

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Q: Why Is CNBC Posting Anti-Vaccination Propaganda?

A: Because its staff is lazy, inattentive and irresponsible.

Weston Price (1870-1948), Quack. His work goes on...

Weston Price (1870-1948), Quack. His work goes on…

The cable business news network posted this press release from the natural foods and nutrition huckster group, The Weston A. Price Foundation.

It isn’t news. It is poison.  The press release makes the false claim that vaccinations spread measles, as well as other diseases. This is standard anti-vaxx hysteria, and it gets children killed.  It is false. “Measles live vaccine doesn’t transmit easily at all,” said Dr. Jane Seward of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases told NBC, which apparently doesn’t communicate with its subsidiaries. “I don’t think there has ever been a secondary transmission,” she added. “There is no evidence of any transmission of measles virus from a child to household contacts.” As for the Foundation itself:

“The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets. Dr. Price’s research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats….

Yes, it is strange, like Dr. Price’s theories, and not in a benign way. Among the foundation’s other objectives is to show that vaccinations are unnecessary if you eat right, or something: when a  home page prominently displays a link that reads, COD LIVER OIL: Our Most Important Superfood, my eyes tend to gloss over, I file the group under “Nut Balls” and move on.

CNBC posted this promotional piece uncritically and without context, leaving the impression that it was actual news, thus allowing fake news to go to the top of Google searches for gullible readers.  At the bottom of the screen it says “More from CNBC” and not “More from health food hyping anti-science fanatics.Continue reading