Sunday, October 07, 2018

I Stand Corrected

I had written in "Rationality" that there was something at least partly sensible, because of the statistical probability that men will lie in defense of accusations of assault more often than women will falsely accuse, to start from a slightly uneven place in deciding for oneself who to believe.  I qualified that this was about the starting point, and hedged that in the absence of solid information this was going to be about perception, but I did put that forward as a non-insane argument.

Senator Collins's speech convinces me I was wrong about that. As far as we can make our minds be objective and cast out demons of prejudice, we should do that, and hold others to the same standard.  I would now say that while I understand how people come to that less-than-even starting point, it is still wrong, not only in criminal matters, not only in background checks and agency investigations, but even in the informal evaluations that all of us do about such matters.

As I thought about it, I saw that it would be analogous to a black/white situation.  Because African-Americans have approximately ten times the rate of violent crime as whites, following my original logic it would be okay to initially assume the black girl was as fault if she got into a fight with a white girl.  That is of course insane, and it is easy to see how damaging applying the idea would be. I didn't think it through to the ruddy end, and got it wrong.

Thank you, Senator, for clear thinking and expression.


Grim said...

She was striking and impressive on a very difficult occasion.

Boxty said...

That's fine for a court of law but on the streets it may get you killed.

Grim said...

Well, we have to do both things. But we can.

Texan99 said...

The sorting mechanisms we employ on the street under time pressure in a physical emergency are not at all what we have to do in court. The whole point of a court is to slow things down and formalize them so we can safely apply dispassionate rules of fairness and logic. In real life, we'd never dream of discounting a person's history of past crimes, but we do in court. A Senate confirmation hearing is somewhere in between. We don't apply the "beyond all reasonable doubt standard," and we let more kinds of information in, but we can still discipline ourselves not to engage in primitive blame-shifting.

I'm reading more and more Facebook posts arguing that we have to believe any woman's testimony, because it's the only way to address the injustice that in the past many women weren't believed and many men got away with it. How a grownup can espouse such a thing I can't understand.