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Author Topic: Changing Opinions  (Read 1809 times)

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Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2015, 07:52:09 PM »
Umm, I might come from a different planet here, because where I live (and in most places in northern Europe actually, except in Switzerland) binding referendums on a proposed new piece of criminal law is something that practically never happens. Those kinds of issues are picked up as part of the election campaign, and/or discussed in the media and in parliament. A candidate may choose to make a direct pledge to the voters that if I'm elected, I promise to do everything to get this thing banned/get the punishment scale raised on this crime etc. But for better or worse, it's ultra rare that as citizens you'd get the chance to push all the candidates to the wall with a gun and say, on election day, like, "You'll do exactly THIS, on this specific law, or you have forfeited your right to rule!".

And as ebadger pointed out, there tends to be a lot of tinkering both before and after a referendum with how to handle the proposed change and the results. Even if the referendum is seen as a binding injunction, most political systems give some reshuffling space to the lawmakers and politicians (and to legal experts who have to be called in to have a word on the legal text) to negotiate and edit what they wish to do with the demanded changes. It would be hard to have a legal procedure built on raw, unprocessed demands from what people have said in a referendum on a law, in one go, and with people perhaps casting ballots on a dozen of proposed new laws on the same day - if that is what we're talking about here.

The more general question in this thread? Well, sometimes it's plain as you read through a debate or follow it on the telly or online that some of the folks in it really have different sets of key priorities, or different definitions of some things they're talking about. Hardcore pro-lifers and pro-choice people often have different ideas on at what point in time a new life actually begins, or of how much effort one is required to put into saving a life seven or eight weeks after conception vs some other objective. like fighting domestic abuse, poverty or long-term unhealthy family conditions. Okay. people might differ on what they're after - or on what criteria they are using for something guiding their arguments - but you'll rarely see them actually admitting that in the heat of the debate.

 Or you might notice that somebody else, someone you're disagreeing with, is blinkered by their background, by what they must be used to seeing. If I see those things happening in a debate - and then it's something I have to interpret for myself, it's not something said openly by the other debaters -  I might make a mental note: "these people are not really going for the same objectives that I am, though they pretend to be, and talk as if they are, but calling them out on such a meta point isn't going to be very effective". If I see it happening five or ten times in different debates with the same guys, how they'll always push the same kind of agenda and try to appear like what they're saying is a given thing, the only reasonable angle on the matter at hand, then I might draw the conslusion: "these guys are less honest than they appear to be at first sight, or they have become completely used to brushing aside what other people are thinking".
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 08:05:24 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Tairis

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #26 on: August 07, 2015, 08:04:14 PM »
TL;DR: I am not saying that whites, or men, or white men are evil. I am asking Why do we keep ignoring, minimizing, and dismissing horrifying crimes when white men commit them?

When, exactly, are we 'dismissing and minimizing' these horrifying crimes? Last time I checked the 24 hours news cycle spent weeks on every one of these mass shooting incidents like Sandy Hook.

Offline eBadgerTopic starter

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2015, 08:18:12 PM »
Without quantifying the criminal clause in that statement, you have expanded it to mean all criminals. You did not quantify it.

You're avoiding the question through a flawed strawman argument about grammar.  You could, of course, qualify the noun in your response, and yes, I was interested to see if you would use the opportunity to extrapolate a specific scenario into a larger paradigm, and yes, I do make points by extrapolating statements into their wider applications.  I transitioned from 'fetus' to 'child' for basically the same reason.  Although I think we've moved past that debate. 

you don't get to go to the booth and say "I'll vote yes, but only with these changes". That's for the politicians to sort out beforehand, and yes possibly afterwards too.

Voting is the only way to participate in the lawmaking process?  What about influencing politicians, other voters, or forwarding ideas into the collective awareness?

Following that logic no one should bother voting, but then there will be a difference.

I recognize the complete lack of individual value of my ballot, and yet realize the social importance of a democratic process and do vote.  I am willing to accept that some things are larger than me.  My ballot isn't a major focus of my life or even my political activity, though. 

No, that is called an appeal to tradition fallacy, and is stickied at the top of this sub forum on a thread of things to avoid in debates here. If a tradition has merit, it can be justified without mentioning that it is a tradition.

No, that fallacy is stating that something is true simply because it has always been believed to be true.  An examination of past reasoning and beliefs to improve upon them and better understand our own is called history.  I don't think slavery is good.  However, I don't think dismissing the majority of human experience because they were 'plain wrong' is a productive way of constructing paradigms. 

Incidentally, this taps into another interesting unknowable: what bias and discrimination does the pro-LGBT, pro-gender and racial equality population have, that their children or grand children will witness being overcome? I have no idea, and this frustrates me.

Religion.  And no, I'm not going to take that detour in this thread. 

No I'm not, and I'm puzzled as to where you got that from. I was confused by you saying it was wrong for me to call people who disagree with me monstrous, yet freely admitting to the capability to shoot someone in the head, suggesting a hierarchy of wrongs that is at odds with societies.

I'm not sure what you mean.  Killing in self defense is not typically seen as a wrong at all.  Intolerance often leads to crimes.  Or are you confused that I'm willing to kill someone after working to understand them and failing to find another solution?
 
But all I have is your word for it.

Also a legitimate effort to examine the entire issue and consider contrary evidence.  Which is far more important than my word. 

So how do you deal with the possibility that you are making the world a worse place if you are wrong?

We've covered this ad nauseum. 

Offline LisztesFerenc

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #28 on: August 07, 2015, 10:55:10 PM »
And as ebadger pointed out, there tends to be a lot of tinkering both before and after a referendum with how to handle the proposed change and the results. Even if the referendum is seen as a binding injunction, most political systems give some reshuffling space to the lawmakers and politicians (and to legal experts who have to be called in to have a word on the legal text) to negotiate and edit what they wish to do with the demanded changes. It would be hard to have a legal procedure built on raw, unprocessed demands from what people have said in a referendum on a law, in one go, and with people perhaps casting ballots on a dozen of proposed new laws on the same day - if that is what we're talking about here.

  My point was whilst politics may be infinite shades of grey, it generally isn't in the way the common person gets to interact with it. In a democracy what matters at the end of the day is the vote count, it is the only way most people will have an influence on the political process in a quantifiable way, as oppose to talking to politicians and promoting ideas, which is all unclear on how much effect it has. You don't know what your call to your local politician did (if they kept their promise to you, you have no idea who else they made the promise to), you don't know what talking about women's rights to your friends and family did. You know what your vote did. And in a democracy, its worrying (at least it is to me) that two intelligent people can look at the same evidence and see different things.

If I see it happening five or ten times in different debates with the same guys, how they'll always push the same kind of agenda and try to appear like what they're saying is a given thing, the only reasonable angle on the matter at hand, then I might draw the conslusion: "these guys are less honest than they appear to be at first sight, or they have become completely used to brushing aside what other people are thinking".

  Problem is, to me, eBadger fits that bill. He uses fallacies (mostly strawman) and other dodgy tactics, repeatedly misrepresents my argument, and projects or deflects when I try and call him out on that. He no doubt doesn't see himself as doing that, maybe he isn't. He also feels I am the one not debating honestly, maybe he's right. Once again though, two people are looking at the sae thing and reaching different conclusions.

  @eBadger  - You seem to think this conversation is mostly finished, hence the "We've covered this ad nauseum." in response to my lead concern. It isn't, not to me, I am still left with that same certainty of being right so often, along with the knowledge that I simply cannot be all those times. Which is fine, you aren't responsible for making me feel okay about this world, and I do appreciate you taking the time to talk with me, even if we couldn't agree on that much, so thanks for putting up with me for this long.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #29 on: August 08, 2015, 12:05:01 AM »
When, exactly, are we 'dismissing and minimizing' these horrifying crimes? Last time I checked the 24 hours news cycle spent weeks on every one of these mass shooting incidents like Sandy Hook.
When we call them "isolated incidents"? When we fail to notice that, apparently, pulling a gun on people, threatening to murder them, in some cases shooting them and surviving the incident is a white privilege? When we continue to search for reasons that unarmed PoC murdered by white people must have deserved to be murdered?

Offline eBadgerTopic starter

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #30 on: August 08, 2015, 01:12:35 AM »
First off, extrapolating a specific situation into larger implications and examining broad statements as they apply to specific situations is not a strawman argument; it's a reasoned analysis.  Like a scientific thesis, the test is not whether a paradigm applies to one thing, but whether it can be tested upon others.  I think we wandered down a couple examples a bit too far, but I don't believe I ever deliberately challenged you on something that had no connection to avoid a discussion. 

@eBadger  - You seem to think this conversation is mostly finished, hence the "We've covered this ad nauseum." in response to my lead concern. It isn't, not to me, I am still left with that same certainty of being right so often, along with the knowledge that I simply cannot be all those times. Which is fine, you aren't responsible for making me feel okay about this world, and I do appreciate you taking the time to talk with me, even if we couldn't agree on that much, so thanks for putting up with me for this long.

It has become rather circular, and I don't think I've anything particularly innovative to add.  That comment, though, was specifically about your questions regarding decision making.  As I stated: understand as much as you can, make an informed opinion, and be willing to change it.  Hopefully you've experienced enough in your life to understand that we all make mistakes - we can only do our best and be satisfied that we have honestly done so.  We are not immune to regrets, but we can't let them paralyze us. 

It has been a fun conversation, and I agree with you on several points.  Hopefully I've also provided some food for thought on critical analysis.  And if you have anything new to discuss, by all means go ahead. 

First: Stats on murder in general do not speak to hate and spree murder in specific.

A valid need to justify my evidence.  The article's focus was heavily on murder and most of them were single homicides, if I recall correctly.  Hate crimes are, by definition, between one group and another (although I dislike the term; I don't feel there's a lot of violence that doesn't include hate).  Murder demographics, on the other hand, give a source of comparative analysis of who is committing violence toward whom.  I'm not clear why we'd distinguish between murder sprees and single murders; if it matters, I'd welcome a reliable source of data on the demographics of mass murder.  All you've provided is anecdotal evidence, which counts for nothing but drama and media headlines. 

Second: "Limited" is such a vague term. Exactly how many of these incidents must there be in a month and six days before it is in fact acceptable to say "There's a problem here?"

A problem?  One.  Going on all the time?  More than 1 in 4,800,000, at least.  That white male hate murders are not isolated incidents?  For the evidence to indicate that while males show a trend of targeting minorities for murder. 

The numbers, however, state otherwise.  Of 2755 murders by whites, 6.9% of those were targeted at blacks, who make up 13.2% of the population. Of course hate murders occur.  Of course they are a problem.  But implying that a white male murdering a black is typical - ie, not isolated - is demonstrably false. 

The issue was not about the commonality of murderers in the general population, but the fact that we are steadfastly ignoring a particular, privileged demographic's overrepresentation in certain particularly horrifying areas, in a way that can only possibly be construed at this point as willful.

When we call them "isolated incidents"? When we fail to notice that, apparently, pulling a gun on people, threatening to murder them, in some cases shooting them and surviving the incident is a white privilege? When we continue to search for reasons that unarmed PoC murdered by white people must have deserved to be murdered?

As Tairis states, you need to supply some actual evidence that this is occurring.  I've already spoken to the isolated incident issue.  I'm not aware of any whites getting away with mass murders.  There's certainly a lot of debate about single killings involving police and PoC, but none of those were in your examples and I personally think that speaks more to the privilege of authority than race and there is, I believe, an ongoing process of improvement - body cameras being the latest wave, notably in the DuBose shooting, where - once the issue of authority was removed - most seem quick to condemn irregardless of (or even specifically because of) his race. 

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #31 on: August 08, 2015, 02:58:44 PM »
A valid need to justify my evidence.  The article's focus was heavily on murder and most of them were single homicides, if I recall correctly.  Hate crimes are, by definition, between one group and another (although I dislike the term; I don't feel there's a lot of violence that doesn't include hate).  Murder demographics, on the other hand, give a source of comparative analysis of who is committing violence toward whom.  I'm not clear why we'd distinguish between murder sprees and single murders; if it matters, I'd welcome a reliable source of data on the demographics of mass murder.  All you've provided is anecdotal evidence, which counts for nothing but drama and media headlines.
I've demonstrated, at the very least, that the recent trend is for an incident of this sort to occur roughly once every three days, and that there is an uncomfortable pattern among perpetrators of hate violence.

A problem?  One.  Going on all the time?  More than 1 in 4,800,000, at least.  That white male hate murders are not isolated incidents?  For the evidence to indicate that while males show a trend of targeting minorities for murder.
Did I say 'going on all the time"? On your last point: We could also demonstrate that these are not isolated incidents, not by showing that white men in general have a propensity to hatred-inspired violence, but that the perpetrators of hate-based crimes have a strong tendency to be white. Again: I have not said and am not saying that all white people are prone to racist violence, and demanding that I prove that is rather silly. What I am saying, and what the evidence shows, is that these issues are predominantly a white problem, and one that tends to get fairly strongly downplayed.

The numbers, however, state otherwise.  Of 2755 murders by whites, 6.9% of those were targeted at blacks, who make up 13.2% of the population. Of course hate murders occur.  Of course they are a problem.  But implying that a white male murdering a black is typical - ie, not isolated - is demonstrably false.
"Typical" is not the antonym of "isolated". Clever try, though.

As Tairis states, you need to supply some actual evidence that this is occurring.  I've already spoken to the isolated incident issue.  I'm not aware of any whites getting away with mass murders.  There's certainly a lot of debate about single killings involving police and PoC, but none of those were in your examples and I personally think that speaks more to the privilege of authority than race and there is, I believe, an ongoing process of improvement - body cameras being the latest wave, notably in the DuBose shooting, where - once the issue of authority was removed - most seem quick to condemn irregardless of (or even specifically because of) his race.
Look at that article again. Note how many of them were brought in peacefully. Compare that to the treatment of, say, a black kid with a toy gun, or a black man who tries to buy a pellet gun - neither of whom are actually violent offenders or presenting any threat to anyone at all.

Exactly how obvious must the pattern be before we acknowledge that there is in fact a pattern?

Offline consortium11

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #32 on: August 08, 2015, 06:54:16 PM »
I've demonstrated, at the very least, that the recent trend is for an incident of this sort to occur roughly once every three days, and that there is an uncomfortable pattern among perpetrators of hate violence.

The 11 cases demonstrate that in slightly over a month there were 11 incidents involving American white males across the entire world which may (it's not clear in all the cases and in some its not the case unless we want to render the term meaningless) have a hate-crime element to them. Because the piece doesn't look at hate crimes in general (hell, as above it doesn't even limit itself to hate crimes unless we want to render the term meaningless) but only those where there was a white perpetrator it doesn't tell us anything about a pattern in perpetrators. For example, one of the cases used was of an attempted rape where it appeared the person in question may well have committed a number of prior rapes (and possibly murders). Yet this example from Detroit takes place in the same period the list covers and is pretty damn horrific but doesn't make the cut. Nor does this rape.

If the list of 11 examples was a list of all the hate crimes over that period (and again to call some of the examples used a hate crime devalues the term) then you may be correct in saying that there is a pattern (albeit with a very small sample size). But it's not. It's 11 examples cherry picked out to make a point and thus holds no weight beyond that. If I dug out 11 examples of rapes where the offender was black from the same period and then said they demonstrated an uncomfortable pattern among rapists I'd be rightfully dismissed within moments.

On your last point: We could also demonstrate that these are not isolated incidents, not by showing that white men in general have a propensity to hatred-inspired violence, but that the perpetrators of hate-based crimes have a strong tendency to be white. Again: I have not said and am not saying that all white people are prone to racist violence, and demanding that I prove that is rather silly. What I am saying, and what the evidence shows, is that these issues are predominantly a white problem, and one that tends to get fairly strongly downplayed.

The perpetrators of hate-based crimes have a strong tendency to be white because white people make up a majority of the US population. But that doesn't really tell us anything in and of itself and as such is a really, really reductive way to look at things. To look at tendencies in a meaningful way you have to compare the percentage of the population with the percentage of the hate crimes which committed by that section of the population. For example if one group accounted for 90% of the population and committed 60% of the hate crimes then despite that group commuting the majority of hate crimes they actually commit less then you'd expect by population. In contrast if a different group made up 5% of the population but committed 20% of the hate crimes they'd be massively over-represented.

The non-Hispanic white population in the US is roughly 64% (if you include white-Hispanics it rises to around 72%). The stats you link to say that white people account for 62.4% of hate crimes... which seemingly indicates whites are either represented at about the rate you'd expect as hate crime perpetrators or possibly even under-represented. In contrast Black or African American people make up just over 12% of the population and going by the figures you linked to account for 18.5% of the hate crimes... i.e they commit a disproportionate amount. There's a certain amount of wiggle room in the figures; in around 10% of the cases the offenders race was not known and in 7.3% the offenders were part of a group of various races but even taking that into account they don't really paint the picture you suggest they do.

Now, I'm not saying that the UCR figures here are necessarily correct or that black and/or African American people are committing a disproportionately high number of hate crimes and as such there's a serious tendency within the black and/or African American to commit hate crimes; I haven't really looked into the figures and there are other issues that may account for the high rate. But you do appear to support the numbers (hence why you linked to it)... although they suggest a rather different pattern and tendency to the one you suggest.

Look at that article again. Note how many of them were brought in peacefully. Compare that to the treatment of, say, a black kid with a toy gun, or a black man who tries to buy a pellet gun - neither of whom are actually violent offenders or presenting any threat to anyone at all.

Exactly how obvious must the pattern be before we acknowledge that there is in fact a pattern?

There may well be patterns with regards to those killed by police... other evidence certainly suggests there are some. While we have to be careful of reading too much into incomplete (and these are very, very incomplete) statistics some clear trends emerge; men are overwhelmingly more likely to be killed by the police than women even when accounting for the rate they commit criminal acts as are young black men and white middle-age and older men compared to their peers. We certainly should investigate those trends and the additional media attention on the killing of young people of colour by the police should be welcomed.

As a quick example of the difficulties when analyzing the data; as the table in the Vox article linked to shows black people made up around 12-13% of the US population in 2014 but around 31% of those killed by the police according to the FBI statistics which appears massively disproportionate... especially when compared to white people making up 63% of the population but only 52% of those killed by police. But the FBI statistics also indicate that black people accounted for 28% of arrests that year which makes the 31% look more proportionate... but that again struggles with the fact that the white population made up around 70% of the arrests but only 52% of those killed by the police which appears even more disproportionately low in comparison. Even if we took the 28% and 31% at face value and said that it demonstrates that the number of police killings is roughly proportionate that still doesn't give a clear answer as one could argue that the same racism, stereotyping and sense of superiority (whether explicit or implicit, conscious or subconscious) that is frequently suggested as the reason so many black people are killed by police is why so many black people are arrested to begin with. I'd also note that there's some issues comparing the two data sets; the figures Vox have appear to include Hispanics as a separate group while the public FBI figures don't and instead appear to bundle them into the "white" category which may distort the figures somewhat. In short, it's a statistical minefield.

But the 11 examples from the article you listed don't demonstrate a pattern let alone make it obvious. It just lists 11 examples while ignoring other similar cases.

However the stats you linked to above do illustrate a pattern. The pattern they illustrate is that white people commit about the number of hate crimes you'd expect, Asian-Americans commit far fewer and black people commit a disproportionately high number. Again, I'm not attesting to the numbers or their authenticity but as you linked to them to support your argument I assume you are.

Offline eBadgerTopic starter

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #33 on: August 10, 2015, 01:09:45 PM »
I've demonstrated, at the very least, that the recent trend is for an incident of this sort to occur roughly once every three days,

Which isn't thrilling, no, but I've demonstrated that once every three days among a population the size the US is actually very, very rare (again, 1 in 10,000,000).  The numbers are obviously open to interpretation but in my opinion it's anecdotal evidence designed to pull at emotions rather than document social trends. 

and that there is an uncomfortable pattern among perpetrators of hate violence.

This is what I'm taking issue with.  If you want to establish a pattern, you need to show a demonstrable pattern.  As I've shown with the numbers, the pattern is the opposite of what you're trying to claim: whites kill blacks less often than if they were choosing randomly. 

Did I say 'going on all the time"?

I paraphrased - thus my lack of quotes - but yes.   

Quote from: Ephiral
2. These killings happen all the damn time (seriously, those examples were from just over one month.)

On your last point: We could also demonstrate that these are not isolated incidents, not by showing that white men in general have a propensity to hatred-inspired violence, but that the perpetrators of hate-based crimes have a strong tendency to be white. Again: I have not said and am not saying that all white people are prone to racist violence, and demanding that I prove that is rather silly. What I am saying, and what the evidence shows, is that these issues are predominantly a white problem, and one that tends to get fairly strongly downplayed.

No need to prove all whites are prone to violence; either misread or I phrased something badly.  I'm looking purely at trends and statistics of groups.  Looking at yours-

Quote from: From you link
By race

In 2009, the racial breakdown of the 6,225 known hate crime offenders was as follows:

    62.4 percent were white.
    18.5 percent were black.

As Consortium says, in a population that is 77.7% white, 13.2% black, these numbers actually demonstrate that while whites commit more hate crimes, blacks are heavily over represented and individually more likely to commit them. 

Nor do I agree that white on black violence is downplayed.  Recent issues with police violence have repeatedly been headline news, and the Charleston shooting was a media frenzy resulting in presidential press conferences and controversial new flag policies from state governors to Amazon.com. 

To be clear, and leading into my own view on racial issues, I don't think the acute attention to a long term problem is necessarily bad.  Obviously there are ton of socioeconomic issues surrounding race in America (the statistics on black v. white jail populations alone is enough to shock).  And of course racism is bad and needs to be a constant concern. 

However, representing racial hate killings as normal, everyday occurrences when they are not is also bad, because it misrepresents the behavior as typical and acceptable.  Racists often hold a paradigm that the 'silent majority' supports them, that despite an active 'liberal media' or administration many other people feel and think as they do, which is a logical conclusion if these events are 'going on all the damn time'.  That mindset results in the conclusion that hate crimes will make them heroes - admired and accepted for their behavior as individuals willing to 'fight back', and that presents a huge amount of appeal to someone who is socially awkward and outcast. 

Media practices - left, right, or in between - like to build from one major event to another, harnessing the smoldering emotion of one event to sell coverage on the next.  Representing issues as discrete and covering them based only on their own merit doesn't have the same effect.  Thus, Americans are concerned about constant terrorist attacks by foreign muslims, even though such events are insanely rare within our borders, and a white officer being arrested and charged almost immediately for the wrongful murder of a black man he pulled over somehow represents white privilege. 

"Typical" is not the antonym of "isolated". Clever try, though.

Eyeroll.  "Linked" is, which is what I assume you were getting at.  You never gave evidence of any link except frequency.  To be a trend it would have to occur more often than expected.  It occurs significantly less than random, so there is no link there.  The numbers you gave are not higher than usual, so no link there.  Therefore, a white on black murder being not typical is indeed a counter to your claim they are not isolated.  Unless you're trying to give some other type of link; if so, by all means lay it out in a clear statement. 

Exactly how obvious must the pattern be before we acknowledge that there is in fact a pattern?

Pattern is a vague term.  Yes, it is an ongoing issue that repeats itself, but that's inevitable in such a large sampling.  No, it is not typical behavior nor a typical form of violence.  Yes, any at all is too much.  Yes, it is widely acknowledged (as I said before, I think too widely due to public misconceptions of typical behavior).  No, I don't see any whites performing mass killings and escaping punishment. 
« Last Edit: August 10, 2015, 01:10:47 PM by eBadger »

Offline Al Terego

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #34 on: August 11, 2015, 04:20:00 PM »
  Ofcourse I'm fixated on a ballot, that's how the everyday person tends to change society. I never said unchanging, that's you adding stuff again, just that when you're voting, you don't get to go to the booth and say "I'll vote yes, but only with these changes". That's for the politicians to sort out beforehand, and yes possibly afterwards too.

Apologies for the drive-by commenting, but this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, so do not begrudge me this little rant.

One requirement for democracy to work is a rational, informed and involved populace, which I submit we do not have.  The majority of voters are not familiar with the issues, do not understand the issues, vote by gut reactions -- often against their own (and society's at large) interests -- and are easily manipulated.

This is compounded by the horrible "first past the post" method which gives the "winner" disproportional representation; the two-party system (in the US) which, combined with the propensity of the parties/candidates to frame the political discourse in terms of superficial and minor but highly polarizing differences, distills the involvement into a single "Kang vs. Kodos" vote; the lack of repercussions for not keeping campaign promises (allowing parties/candidates to give contradictory promises to appeal to all voters); and campaign financing laws that (in the US at least) effectively enshrine the "one dollar, one vote" principle, which leads me to conclude that what we have is a "democracy theater" rather than a real "government of the people, by the people, for the people."

Not to mention majority governments, like the one we currently have in Canada, are effectively single-person dictatorships.

  Following that logic no one should bother voting, but then there will be a difference.

A single vote changes nothing.  In order to effect change one must convince a critical mass of the electorate to endorse their ideas.  However, given that access to media is not equal and larger capital equates to a bigger bullhorn, I have little cause for optimism.

I also feel that people who disagree with me on the abortion issue are similarly using fear and illogic vs. my rational thinking, yet here you disagree with me.

FUD has time and again proven to be a most effective tactic.

It would be much better, in my personal opinion, to amend the suffrage laws and base voting rights not on a person's age but on their ability to pass a critical thinking test.

So how do you deal with the possibility that you are making the world a worse place if you are wrong?

Can't speak for the person you asked, but personally I try to make sure I understand all the arguments of the opposing side and either have good refutations or am strongly convinced that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.  And if it turns out I was wrong, I will endeavour to fix that mistake.


We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Offline LisztesFerenc

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #35 on: August 11, 2015, 04:27:38 PM »
It would be much better, in my personal opinion, to amend the suffrage laws and base voting rights not on a person's age but on their ability to pass a critical thinking test.

  Tempting idea sure, but who writes, and more importantly, grades the test? You're just giving them the power to decide who votes. Plus in the USA at least it would be unconstitutional, which would make it hard to implement. Poll tax I believe is the term.

Can't speak for the person you asked, but personally I try to make sure I understand all the arguments of the opposing side and either have good refutations or am strongly convinced that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.  And if it turns out I was wrong, I will endeavour to fix that mistake.

  As good an answer as any, but likely everyone thinks this is true of themselves. Few people will think they are not offering good refutation to arguments that oppose their opinions. For those that do admit they weren't, they may conclude (possibly quite reasonably) that rather than being wrong, they are simply bad at debating.

Offline Al Terego

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #36 on: August 11, 2015, 11:33:12 PM »
Tempting idea sure, but who writes, and more importantly, grades the test? You're just giving them the power to decide who votes.

There are existing critical thinking tests that are used today for various purposes.  Critical reasoning is a part of GMAT, and a quick google search turned out a lot of links.  See for example here and here.

As for the grading, in the era of double-blind and triple-blind studies, this is a solved problem.

Plus in the USA at least it would be unconstitutional, which would make it hard to implement. Poll tax I believe is the term.

Firstly, the USA already restricts voting in federal elections by age, ostensibly because it believes that people under 18 years of age lack the capacity to decide how to cast their vote.  I advocate for a finer tool.

Secondly, the USA has already changed it's constitution several times with regards to voting.  I direct you to the 15th, 19th and the 26th amendments.

Thirdly, the comparison with the poll tax is bogus.  A poll tax is used to disenfranchise members of a lower socioeconomic class, what I propose is akin to a driver's licence.

And finally, I am well aware that such a measure has no chance of passing, mainly because it goes against established interests.

Offline LisztesFerenc

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #37 on: August 12, 2015, 04:33:30 AM »
There are existing critical thinking tests that are used today for various purposes.  Critical reasoning is a part of GMAT, and a quick google search turned out a lot of links.  See for example here and here.

As for the grading, in the era of double-blind and triple-blind studies, this is a solved problem.

  I don't quite follow. How is the answer key made here?

Secondly, the USA has already changed it's constitution several times with regards to voting.  I direct you to the 15th, 19th and the 26th amendments.

  Sure, but changing the constitution is more of a hassle. That's why (at least ass far as I understand it), its still not illegal to name a rape victim in US, whilst it is in Europe. Whenever its proposed in the US, people point to the first amendment.

Thirdly, the comparison with the poll tax is bogus.  A poll tax is used to disenfranchise members of a lower socioeconomic class, what I propose is akin to a driver's licence.

  So working class people won't find it more difficult to pass this test that middle and upper class?

Offline Al Terego

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #38 on: August 12, 2015, 08:43:51 AM »
  I don't quite follow. How is the answer key made here?

I would assume the same way it is made for the existing ones.

  So working class people won't find it more difficult to pass this test that middle and upper class?

Perhaps.  But then, they also find it more difficult to pass a driving test.

Socioeconomic inequality is something that needs to be improved.  Unfortunately, since the vast majority of people in the legislative and judicial branches are upper class, fixing the problem goes against their self interest.  But that is a different subject.

I never said that this idea was perfect,  It has its drawbacks, some of them can be mitigated or worked around, some can't but are probably worth it.  That said, it is just a thought exercise that highlights the problems with the current system and draws attention to them.

Offline eBadgerTopic starter

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #39 on: August 12, 2015, 10:27:00 AM »
Socioeconomic inequality is something that needs to be improved. 

Do you feel it would be by disenfranchising the less educated? 

What is the specific point in critical thinking at which people are able understand their own interests?  At what point are they able to understand everyone else's interests?

How does your proposal improve on the notion of republican government, in which individuals who are presumably more informed and capable than their peers are selected to represent others?  Wouldn't your system simply transfer that selection process from the general citizenry to a small group of test makers?  How would such representatives be held accountable to the general populace?

Offline Al Terego

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #40 on: August 12, 2015, 02:00:03 PM »
Do you feel it would be by disenfranchising the less educated?

No need to conflate two different topics by selective quoting.  What I said was: "Socioeconomic inequality is something that needs to be improved.  [...]  But that is a different subject."  The bolded part is important, the two points that I made are unrelated.

(OK, not entirely unrelated since improving free public education will lower the education gap, but again, this is an aside)

Nobody argued for "disenfranchising the less educated" (emphasis mine).  I can say that disenfranchising people devoid of critical thinking skills is arguably better than doing it based on arbitrary age or a criminal record.

(Wikipedia: In the US, the constitution implicitly permits the states to adopt rules about disenfranchisement "for participation in rebellion, or other crime" (emphasis mine) , by the fourteenth amendment, section 2. It is up to the states to decide which crimes could be ground for disenfranchisement, and they are not formally bound to restrict this to felonies; however, in most cases, they do.)

What is the specific point in critical thinking at which people are able understand their own interests?  At what point are they able to understand everyone else's interests?

Don't know.  I am not a subject matter expert.  Also see below.

How does your proposal improve on the notion of republican government, in which individuals who are presumably more informed and capable than their peers are selected to represent others?  Wouldn't your system simply transfer that selection process from the general citizenry to a small group of test makers?  How would such representatives be held accountable to the general populace?

First of all, that was not a proposal but an opinion, as was clearly stated in my post.  Not the main one, I must say, but regrettably the only one that got picked.

Secondly, you could equally argue that today the selection is in the hands of a small group of ballot counters (or programmers, in the case of computerized counting).  If potential problems with the current system can be addressed, they can be similarly addressed in the case you are arguing against.

Let me take it one step further (and in the process, get back to my original point) and claim that today the selection process is effectively in the hand of a small group of people that manipulate public opinion by controlling the media.

Finally, if I were to offer a proposal (rather than just an opinion), I would propose making critical thinking (and civics) mandatory subjects in the school curriculum.


Offline eBadgerTopic starter

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #41 on: August 12, 2015, 03:23:01 PM »
Nobody argued for "disenfranchising the less educated"

You don't feel that education has a clear relationship to critical thinking skills?

Secondly, you could equally argue that today the selection is in the hands of a small group of ballot counters (or programmers, in the case of computerized counting).  If potential problems with the current system can be addressed, they can be similarly addressed in the case you are arguing against.

Voting fraud issues revolve around fairly concrete falsifications and can be addressed with oversight, redundancy, and other methods to significantly remove the opportunity for a small group to assume control. 

In your...opinion?...concept...thing...the stated intention is to disregard those votes and limit control to a small group based on qualifications that are open to opinion and interpretation.  Therefore, while you can argue they could be similarly addressed, I don't think you'd be able to do so convincingly. 

today the selection process is effectively in the hand of a small group of people that manipulate public opinion by controlling the media.

I would certainly agree that the media has an undue and poorly regulated impact on social opinion.  The founders inexplicably seem to've assumed it would ethical, honest and unbiased and not only failed to regulate it, but made such regulation nearly impossible.  However, particularly in the modern era of mass communication, I think the claim they are effectively in control is erroneous.  Nor does it explain why disenfranchising citizens to transfer power to another small group is a better answer than addressing problems with the media. 

Offline Al Terego

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #42 on: August 12, 2015, 03:40:47 PM »
Your convenient ignoring of most of what I have written suggests to me that you are not really interested in my opinions.
I shall therefore apologize and stop wasting your time.

Have a good day.

Offline eBadgerTopic starter

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #43 on: August 12, 2015, 03:57:45 PM »
Your convenient ignoring of most of what I have written suggests to me that you are not really interested in my opinions.
I shall therefore apologize and stop wasting your time.

Have a good day.

I'm interested and have only responded to you once, addressing three different points, so I'm a bit confused about the 'ignoring' claim.  By all means, if I failed to respond to a salient issue do bring it up again. 

Otherwise, yes, have a good one!

Offline Al Terego

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #44 on: August 12, 2015, 06:56:46 PM »
Twice, but let us reset and try again.

My point here was that I feel that voting gives the illusion of participation while the system is resilient to change.  More so in the US than in other places due to the "republicrat" duopoly (but up here in Canada we have our share of problems as well).

My mistake was not clearly labelling my opinion (that it would be better not to let people who lack critical thinking skills vote) as wishful thinking since I know that it will never happen.
However, I did qualify it as such in [irl=https://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=234350.msg11539626#msg11539626]a subsequent post[/url].

It was a minor point, but somehow it got picked up upon and became the main topic of the discussion, something that I would rather did not happen.

I did try to respond to criticisms by noting that there is a big quantitative difference between "less educated" and "devoid of critical thinking skills", by suggestion the improvement in free public education should take care of the socioeconomically disadvantage in that respect and by suggesting using currently accepted tests with double-blind grading.

Furthermore, I mentioned that the current system is similar to what I described except that it uses an arbitrary age point as a (bad) predictor of mental maturity.  [[ Aside: the voting age has been lowered from 21 to 18 in many countries, and to 16 in some ]]  And I also mentioned that "felony disenfranchisement" appears to be an acceptable practice in the US (and was ruled constitutional) and that there is a proven correlation between "class" and criminal record.

Finally, I (yet again) conceded the point that this is not feasible to implement and instead suggested (this time a suggestion and not just a personal opinion) making critical thinking (and civics) mandatory subjects in the school curriculum in order to improve the situation.

My main point was that voting, in its current implementation amounts to little more than "democracy theater" (with apologies to Bruce Schneier).  If you wish to contest it, by all means do so and if you present convincing arguments I will gladly reevaluate my position in view of them.

Regardless, do have a good day; they are so much better then bad or even "meh" ones.

Cheers,
-- Al

Offline eBadgerTopic starter

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #45 on: August 13, 2015, 02:30:35 AM »
Glad to see another reply!  I don't feel I ignored any of that, but I certainly didn't respond to it all and I apologize if that came out as dismissal.  I'll try to be more complete. 

My point here was that I feel that voting gives the illusion of participation while the system is resilient to change.  More so in the US than in other places due to the "republicrat" duopoly (but up here in Canada we have our share of problems as well).

And following that link-
One requirement for democracy to work is a rational, informed and involved populace, which I submit we do not have.  The majority of voters are not familiar with the issues, do not understand the issues, vote by gut reactions -- often against their own (and society's at large) interests -- and are easily manipulated.

This is compounded by the horrible "first past the post" method which gives the "winner" disproportional representation; the two-party system (in the US) which, combined with the propensity of the parties/candidates to frame the political discourse in terms of superficial and minor but highly polarizing differences, distills the involvement into a single "Kang vs. Kodos" vote; the lack of repercussions for not keeping campaign promises (allowing parties/candidates to give contradictory promises to appeal to all voters); and campaign financing laws that (in the US at least) effectively enshrine the "one dollar, one vote" principle, which leads me to conclude that what we have is a "democracy theater" rather than a real "government of the people, by the people, for the people."

I agree to a point; "illusion of participation" implies that public opinion has no real impact, whereas I feel public opinion heavily impacts certain decisions and minimally impacts routine ones.  That is, politicians can ignore people most of the time, but not always, and not when the general population is motivated to care - particularly with the impact of the web and the ability to rapidly disseminate information to anyone interested. 

Voters do sometimes disappoint, but we are not uneducated nor so completely unaware of our own values, although individual benefit is definitely something which is deliberately obscured by politicians (it's always intriguing to see the various and widely conflicting reports on the impact of new taxes or budgets).  The oft-repeated claim that many people vote against their own interest is, however, fairly condescending, and usually assumes that the values of all voters perfectly match those of the commenter.  In particular they generally place no value on non-material benefits like social programs, long term investments or moral values, nor take into account the multi-faceted nature of campaign platforms (I routinely vote for democrats although I disagree with them regarding gun rights; it could be claimed that I'm voting against my own interest, but the reality is that I just consider the issue less important than other differences). 

My mistake was not clearly labelling my opinion (that it would be better not to let people who lack critical thinking skills vote) as wishful thinking since I know that it will never happen.
However, I did qualify it as such in a subsequent post.

It was a minor point, but somehow it got picked up upon and became the main topic of the discussion, something that I would rather did not happen.

I saw that, but didn't have much to say about it.  It feels like a distancing move; your opinion is this would be good, but you wouldn't propose we actually do it.  Ultimately, though, it's a non-issue to me in relation to the idea, which I preferred to judge on its own merits rather than your degree of support. 

I do realize it was only a part of your overall post, just as it is merely one part of this one.  However, it's the most contentious and frankly the most interesting, so it's what I talked about, rather than the long litany of "mostly agree" and "somewhat agree" responses to fairly well known issues with American politics. 

I did try to respond to criticisms by noting that there is a big quantitative difference between "less educated" and "devoid of critical thinking skills", by suggestion the improvement in free public education should take care of the socioeconomically disadvantage in that respect and by suggesting using currently accepted tests with double-blind grading.

I don't believe I ever said anyone was devoid of critical thinking skills.  I was working toward the point that lower socioeconomic status directly impacted education which directly impacted critical thinking, which you'd discussed measuring as a requirement to vote.  Ergo, requiring a higher level of critical thinking would have an over-proportional impact on the poor who I feel are already the group most victimized by our political process.  This would intensify the problem, not correct it. 

Improved schools are not a new solution (nor an ignored one, with the debate on ECAA currently raging), nor do I feel the inequality is that easy to remedy. 

Standardized testing and oversight isn't going to address the issue because the disparity isn't an extraneous variable but is, in fact, exactly what is being tested for. 

Furthermore, I mentioned that the current system is similar to what I described except that it uses an arbitrary age point as a (bad) predictor of mental maturity.  [[ Aside: the voting age has been lowered from 21 to 18 in many countries, and to 16 in some ]]  And I also mentioned that "felony disenfranchisement" appears to be an acceptable practice in the US (and was ruled constitutional) and that there is a proven correlation between "class" and criminal record.

The voting age in the US is 18; age certainly isn't a perfect indicator of mental maturity, but neither is it arbitrary.  I support lowering it to 16, the age at which citizens can be drafted, although I don't think that will have a significant influence on politics (younger people are usually less likely to vote).  Felony disenfranchisement is a thing, and a surprisingly significant one (2.5% of the population).  I'm less sure what to make of that.  As you say, there is a clear correlation with race and class there, but it is also a legitimate test of social responsibility.  Ultimately, I think the best response is to address the issues of poverty that lead to crime, and the current trend is a positive one.  Nor am I willing to equate lack of critical thinking/education with immorality as a legitimate reason to disenfranchise. 

Finally, I (yet again) conceded the point that this is not feasible to implement and instead suggested (this time a suggestion and not just a personal opinion) making critical thinking (and civics) mandatory subjects in the school curriculum in order to improve the situation.

I'd be surprised to see any curriculum that doesn't include them.  That said, attempts to standardize (such as No Child Left Behind) and an economy-driven emphasis on the sciences have negatively impacted social sciences programs. 

My main point was that voting, in its current implementation amounts to little more than "democracy theater" (with apologies to Bruce Schneier).  If you wish to contest it, by all means do so and if you present convincing arguments I will gladly reevaluate my position in view of them.

Regardless, do have a good day; they are so much better then bad or even "meh" ones.

Cheers,
-- Al

The sheer quantity of effort, expense and attention given to elections indicate two things to me: first, that votes do matter.  $6 billion spent on election propaganda indicates a massive use of resources with no return other than ballots, which are ultimately a choice.  Secondly, it indicates to me that propaganda influences voters, or again it wouldn't be spent.  This, however, is softened by the notion that there isn't a direct correlation: democrats have only out-spent republicans in one election cycle of the last 13.  Money buys elections, but it requires substance to back it up as well.  It's imperfect, but not broken. 

Offline Al Terego

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #46 on: August 14, 2015, 06:43:25 PM »
Hello eBadger,

Apologies for the late reply, life sometimes demands attention.
I took the liberty to rearrange your long and thoughtful post to group related subjects together to make my response more structured.

I agree to a point; "illusion of participation" implies that public opinion has no real impact, whereas I feel public opinion heavily impacts certain decisions and minimally impacts routine ones.  That is, politicians can ignore people most of the time, but not always, and not when the general population is motivated to care - particularly with the impact of the web and the ability to rapidly disseminate information to anyone interested.

Voters do sometimes disappoint, but we are not uneducated nor so completely unaware of our own values, although individual benefit is definitely something which is deliberately obscured by politicians (it's always intriguing to see the various and widely conflicting reports on the impact of new taxes or budgets).  The oft-repeated claim that many people vote against their own interest is, however, fairly condescending, and usually assumes that the values of all voters perfectly match those of the commenter.  In particular they generally place no value on non-material benefits like social programs, long term investments or moral values, nor take into account the multi-faceted nature of campaign platforms (I routinely vote for democrats although I disagree with them regarding gun rights; it could be claimed that I'm voting against my own interest, but the reality is that I just consider the issue less important than other differences).

The sheer quantity of effort, expense and attention given to elections indicate two things to me: first, that votes do matter.  $6 billion spent on election propaganda indicates a massive use of resources with no return other than ballots, which are ultimately a choice.  Secondly, it indicates to me that propaganda influences voters, or again it wouldn't be spent.  This, however, is softened by the notion that there isn't a direct correlation: democrats have only out-spent republicans in one election cycle of the last 13.  Money buys elections, but it requires substance to back it up as well.  It's imperfect, but not broken.

My claim is that an individual vote does not matter but a mass voting shift can.  Therefore, in order to have a chance to influence the outcome, one needs to control many votes.  If all you do is vote, you aren't really participating in the democratic process as it is currently set up; at the least, you should try to convince others.

That said, traditional media is still the best way to reach and influence voters.  The sheer size of the accessible electronic data leads to information overload and people eventually gravitate to more simple choices.  Do I really have the time and energy to peruse the thousands of sites to form an opinion on an issue?  The average person will give up after three, on a good day.  So the majority of the electorate consumes their info from big established sites whose interests lie mostly in keeping themselves big and established rather than benefiting society in any form.

The $6B you mention is spent by two groups fighting for a place closer to the trough, but at the end of the day, there is little difference to the average person.  The differences between the two parties are mostly talking points.  Take for example the current administration: it promised "hope and change" and ended up continuing (and even expanding) most of the policies of the previous one.  Mind you, I am not singling them out, I am just saying that leveraging tribal instincts to keep people bickering over the relative merits of Ds and Rs, prevents them from realizing that they are both bunches of self-serving lying bastards (to put it mildly).

The main purpose of democratic systems of governments is not to empower the average joe, but to allow for changing the government without resorting to bloody revolutions, which is good for the elite since they get to keep their heads even when they lose their seats and get to try again after four or five years.

But what happens when you only have two choices who don't really differ that much?  Being able to choose between Kang and Kodos, or between a douche bag and a turd sandwich, is not the purpose and when it the only real choice, I would say that yes, the system /is/ broken.  This is especially true given the structure of the elections that we have: consider the situation with two dominant parties having the votes more-or-less evenly split between them (the situation here is a bit more complex, with three big national parties and the PQ, but the principle still stands).  Then a popular movement arises that miraculously manages to garner some 20% support.  I would say that this is definitely worthy of representation in the legislature, but given the FPTP system, there's a good chance of them being kept up.  Meanwhile, the other two parties can work together to prevent them from gaining momentum by legal, semi-legal, illegal and only-legal-because-we-legalized-it means.

The late Douglas Adams pretty much hit the nail on the head in this piece from "So long and thanks for all the fish".

I saw that, but didn't have much to say about it.  It feels like a distancing move; your opinion is this would be good, but you wouldn't propose we actually do it.  Ultimately, though, it's a non-issue to me in relation to the idea, which I preferred to judge on its own merits rather than your degree of support.

Not really.  Its the difference between saying "they should all be lined up and shot" (for any given value of "they") and actually suggesting this as a solution.

I do realize it was only a part of your overall post, just as it is merely one part of this one.  However, it's the most contentious and frankly the most interesting, so it's what I talked about, rather than the long litany of "mostly agree" and "somewhat agree" responses to fairly well known issues with American politics.

Point taken.  But since I did not intend to advocate for it, I haven't done the necessary research so my responses would be lacking.

I don't believe I ever said anyone was devoid of critical thinking skills.

No, you didn't.  I was saying that the bar for disenfranchising, (if you still want to discuss that point) should be set very high, much closer to "devoid of critical thinking skills" than to "less educated".

I was working toward the point that lower socioeconomic status directly impacted education which directly impacted critical thinking, which you'd discussed measuring as a requirement to vote.  Ergo, requiring a higher level of critical thinking would have an over-proportional impact on the poor who I feel are already the group most victimized by our political process.  This would intensify the problem, not correct it.

To which I replied suggesting better (and free) education, particularly in those subjects, with the idea that it has the potential to raise the general level to the point where everybody will be "good enough".

Improved schools are not a new solution (nor an ignored one, with the debate on ECAA currently raging), nor do I feel the inequality is that easy to remedy.

I assume that problems that are easy to solve would have been solved by now.

Standardized testing and oversight isn't going to address the issue because the disparity isn't an extraneous variable but is, in fact, exactly what is being tested for.

Those were meant to ensure the impartiality of the tests and the testers, no more than that.

The voting age in the US is 18; age certainly isn't a perfect indicator of mental maturity, but neither is it arbitrary.

It was set to 21 up until 1971.  Now it's 18.  There are talks of lowering it to 16 (several countries already have).  If the excuse is mental maturity I submit that there are much better ways of assessing it.

I support lowering it to 16, the age at which citizens can be drafted, although I don't think that will have a significant influence on politics (younger people are usually less likely to vote).

And the question that begs to be asked is "why is that?"


Damn, that was way longer than I intended it to be.

Offline eBadgerTopic starter

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #47 on: August 15, 2015, 02:09:33 AM »
Heh, things tend to get long quickly during interesting discussions.  I'm going back to picking out key points - poke me if I miss anything you feel should have had a response  ;)

My claim is that an individual vote does not matter but a mass voting shift can.  Therefore, in order to have a chance to influence the outcome, one needs to control many votes.  If all you do is vote, you aren't really participating in the democratic process as it is currently set up; at the least, you should try to convince others.

Voting is participating; it's just not influencing the outcome.  It's a fine difference, I realize.  A good quote I heard once was "No drop of water believes it is to blame for the flood."  Similarly, a single vote doesn't matter, but it is part of a social force that could not exist without it.  This is what I mentioned before, about realizing that something is bigger than I am and accepting that. 

It's also, frankly, a recognition that I have priorities that don't involve politics.  I have a preference in who's in the white house, but it's not worth a great deal of my time to influence it.  Like most people throughout the world and history, I have better stuff to do than deal with great happenings. 

So the majority of the electorate consumes their info from big established sites whose interests lie mostly in keeping themselves big and established rather than benefiting society in any form.

One of the two great failings of the Constitution is the naive belief of the founders in the benevolence of the media.  Nor can I really explain the oversight much, considering how freaking cleverboots they were about most other things; perhaps it was just because many of them were personally involved in the press and unable to see past their their own ethics.  But yes, the influence of a small number of massive outlets that are disturbingly free of regulation is a problem.  From yellow journalism to trial by media, the press seems intent upon forcing the issue until they find a breaking point. 

The differences between the two parties are mostly talking points.

I agree, but would define that as a sign of stability and not just of a lack of choice.  Your Kang and Kodos represent a bad v. bad choice.  Our politics instead presents carefully balanced platforms perched within the fine variables of + or - 1% of the median.  They are not tuned for the extremes, because those don't matter; their votes are decided.  They are tuned for the small fragment of voters who can be influenced with talking points to push an election past the midpoint.  In other words, they conform so drastically to compromise and inoffensiveness that they lack the decisive determination we want to associate with heroes and leaders. 

The main purpose of democratic systems of governments is not to empower the average joe, but to allow for changing the government without resorting to bloody revolutions

Well...we're republican, not democratic.  The founders saw enough of that in the French Revolution to distrust it greatly and typically avoided it (it's notable that the entirety of our nation doesn't vote directly on anything ever).  And the main purpose was to keep ultimate authority with the people and reflect their changing will while avoiding rash behavior and sudden change. 

I did not intend to advocate for it, I haven't done the necessary research so my responses would be lacking.

Fair enough, I'll stop poking at it, then  ;D

I was saying that the bar for disenfranchising, (if you still want to discuss that point) should be set very high, much closer to "devoid of critical thinking skills" than to "less educated".

I think at any level you set it - except at the most basic point of screening for the mentally impaired, which I can't imagine influence politics much - the over proportional impact on the poor, as a result of inequal education, will still exist. 

Offline Al Terego

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #48 on: August 17, 2015, 05:19:14 PM »
Voting is participating; it's just not influencing the outcome.

Whatever does not influence the outcome is a useless exercise.

It's a fine difference, I realize.  A good quote I heard once was "No drop of water believes it is to blame for the flood."  Similarly, a single vote doesn't matter, but it is part of a social force that could not exist without it.  This is what I mentioned before, about realizing that something is bigger than I am and accepting that.

That only works if most of the drops fall in the same direction (down), which is not the case here.  A "social force" becomes a "force" only when it attains a critical mass of supporters,  I have given examples that show that the current system is designed to make it all but unfeasible.

It's also, frankly, a recognition that I have priorities that don't involve politics.  I have a preference in who's in the white house, but it's not worth a great deal of my time to influence it.  Like most people throughout the world and history, I have better stuff to do than deal with great happenings.

Until the "great happenings" begin to affect you directly.  Civil asset forfeiture, constitution-free zones, NSA spying, secret no-fly lists, indefinite detentions, increased militarization of police...  But it only happens to other people, right?  We all know that first they came for the socialists.

I agree, but would define that as a sign of stability and not just of a lack of choice.  Your Kang and Kodos represent a bad v. bad choice.  Our politics instead presents carefully balanced platforms perched within the fine variables of + or - 1% of the median.

I strongly disagree.  President Obama campaigned on a "hope and change" platform, acknowledging that a large segment of the US population disagreed with the policies of his predecessor.  Yet, when elected, he continued and even expanded most of them.  People were disillusioned (to say the least) enough to start the Occupy movement, which incidentally was monitored by the Joint Terrorism Task Force (fun read).

I was born in the Soviet Union, so I have a strong mistrust of propaganda.  I tend to ignore grandstanding and only consider actual actions.

Well...we're republican, not democratic.

<sigh> Oh please, not that again!

Please describe the differences between the American "republic" and other "representative democracies" that are important enough to justify your statement.
Do note that I specifically exclude "direct democracies" from this discussion since I am not aware of any that are practised at the state level other than Switzerland.

Not to mention that there is published research to support the point that in practice, the US is more of an oligarchy than a democracy/republic (report here, publication here).

My personal favourite is the political contributions of corporate actors like The National Assn of Realtors, AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and many more, who donate tens of millions to both political parties, with a close to an even split.  I cannot think of a reason for it other than corruption.

I think at any level you set it - except at the most basic point of screening for the mentally impaired, which I can't imagine influence politics much - the over proportional impact on the poor, as a result of inequal education, will still exist.

I get the suspicion that you are trying to eat your cake and have it too.  On one hand, you support screening by age as a (wildly inaccurate) predictor for mental maturity, but then you turn around and claim that any screening is wrong.  Please make up your mind.

Cheers,
-- Al.

Offline eBadgerTopic starter

Re: Changing Opinions
« Reply #49 on: August 18, 2015, 12:37:00 AM »
Whatever does not influence the outcome is a useless exercise.

Does a figurehead create a movement, or simply provide a point for it to coalesce?  Do great men make their times, or are they made by them?  I'll chalk this one up to differences in our opinion of what influences an outcome.

I strongly disagree.  President Obama campaigned on a "hope and change" platform, acknowledging that a large segment of the US population disagreed with the policies of his predecessor.  Yet, when elected, he continued and even expanded most of them. 

Hmm.  I'd say he's made many changes: we have an openly gay military, an end to the Iraq occupation, the first steps toward national health care, a treaty with Iran, an end to the Cuban embargo, just off the top of my head...Bush never would have done any of those things.  Nor has Obama had success in everything he's attempted (Guatanamo Bay, for instance) - he's the president, but our government is carefully arranged to check his authority and a huge amount of his political capital was wasted in the health care debacle, from which I don't feel his presidency ever really recovered.  However, yes, the 99% of American government that isn't at the top of the headlines has gone relatively unchanged.  I'm not sure how that counters the notion of a stable system based around two very similar parties who generally struggle to edge just past ambivalence. 

I get the suspicion that you are trying to eat your cake and have it too.  On one hand, you support screening by age as a (wildly inaccurate) predictor for mental maturity, but then you turn around and claim that any screening is wrong.  Please make up your mind.

I don't believe I've ever claimed that any screening was wrong.  Beyond age, I've been open to disenfranchisement based on criminal acts and mental impairment.  The first concerns me because in practice it is heavily over represented in one group, and the second I just don't think has enough impact to warrant the logistics, oversight and potential for abuse. 

Age, on the other hand, I would define as an imperfect but not wildly inaccurate predictor of mental maturity.  I doubt many toddlers can form a cohesive opinion on the political parties, for instance.  The under 18 population is definitely a large enough to be worth excluding for valid reasons (23.3%).  There is scientific evidence demonstrating that our brains are still developing until the mid-20's

The exact voting age is open to discussion, yes, but basing it on the typical completion of public education and the age of majority - at which they are legally responsible for their actions and decisions - is not entirely arbitrary.  Age provides a concrete measurement rarely open to much interpretation, unlike your notion of tests on critical thinking (or a test on mental maturity).  It also disenfranchises all social, political, economic, racial, and other classes equally and none of them permanently. 

I applied those same standards before, and found them lacking.  But if you can propose another screening that is 1) Necessary and beneficial to the public good, 2) based on concrete standards, and 3) applies to all groups equally then I am at hand with the frosting.