Articles to 2015-01-08

Zum Seitenende      Übersicht Artikel      Home & Impressum

First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

I don’t understand the article by Couzin-Frankel at all. She’s been an experienced science journalist for years and ought to be at home in quantitative thinking. Personally I am grossly overweight, have hated and eschewed all kinds of physical exercise at least since age three, and run a partly treated high blood pressure. All those are large and well known risk factors. Other people smoke, drink, or engage in sports (to my observation the highest risk factor by far for all kinds of accidents and injury). Are any of those reduced to gibbering idiots by their fears, going on and on at their psychiatrists and hairdressers? What is there to make abstract and invisible, yet measurable risk factors any different? But then the upper Rhine valley in southern Germany is, apparently, a pronounced tsunami risk area. There is not a single known casualty from passive smoking, or (not counting site workers) from atomic energy, but they ran into the double digits in Germany in a single year from organic food alone. “And I’ve concluded that it’s not a scientific world.” [Richard Feynman]

As coincidence has it (or perhaps Jungian synchronicity or Divine preordination), on the same day I read Berman on Warfare and Violence in Deuteronomy the current issue of BAR arrived with a letter from Friedman: “Not overlooked, the dispossession of the Canaanites is discussed in the article. As noted there, it never happened. The command to destroy the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 7, and its fulfilment in Joshua, are typical ancient Near Eastern claims in such accounts: The first two archaeological mentions of Israel, in the Egyptian Merneptah and Moabite Mesha inscriptions, claim that they destroyed Israel! Likewise, Israel’s claim to have destroyed a Canaanite population was a one-time, never happened account about the past. They had no commandment ever to do that again. Thus the passage in Deuteronomy 20 distinguishes between those original conquered cities and all other wars. In future wars Israel must offer the other side a chance to make peace and become tributary first—no genocide, no slavery, no land grab. Even the captured females from a city that declines to make peace can’t be treated as slaves.”

Anyone with a love of culture and a sense for the thrill of archaeology will share the agony about the wholesale looting and wanton destruction going on in the Near East. But that alone is not enough to join in the crocodile tears reported by Lawler and the vapid hope of rebuilding museums for the broken crumbs left over. In their beginning the IS were aided, abetted, outfitted, and armed by the United States and the CIA as the freedom-loving, liberal opposition to Assad in Syria. Of course those arms were given to an ineffectual sub-faction of students and not the islamistic faction, but that’s whom they ended up with. All American archaeologists are citizens and voters too and for me and the G"d I believe in, it is not vacuous intentions that count, but outcomes affecting real people.[1] When fanatic hooligans roamed the streets of Tunisia and Egypt, the media hallucinated an Arab spring. Besides all its problems Libya had exceptional health care and social security. Are people there better off now than before or worse? The Taliban were invented and created from scratch by America as an ally against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Besides all their evil, they did stop and prevent the opium cultivation and trade. It is the disenfranchised opium barons who became the warlords and democratic allies American and German soldiers died for. What is the bigger threat to the ordinary American at home, drug crime or terrorism? Now all hope and assistance is piled onto the Kurds, who, until yesterday, used to be illegal terrorists.[2] Yes, neither Mubarak nor Assad conformed to our ideal of a democratic and liberal president, but Mubarak did not arm Gaza and under Assad religious and ethnic minorities were safe and Syria used to be the quietest and safest of all Israel’s borders. The hope, that just smashing something old and established apart suffices to make it miraculously self-assemble into something better, is shared by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Khomeini, Ceausescu, Bush II, and Obama. So far it hasn’t worked for any of them.

As Heller clearly states herself, her result contradicts more than a dozen previous ones. She also tells us what’s different in her case, it is the personal coaching and help with social skills and fitting in at the workplace. So let’s ignore the jobs as such and the self-awareness training, that has proved useless anyway, and concentrate on that. Then let’s look at what they measure as result, it is not the number of violent offences but the rate of arrest for those. Disadvantaged male youth are not only the main offenders but also the main victims of violent crime and especially in disadvantaged areas it goes hugely under-reported. So who gets arrested? There is no doubt that the individual response to being stopped in the street and asked a few polite questions varies widely, ask any policeman. Does anyone doubt, that social skills play a role here? Also violent crime is the least demanding one, other property crime is greatly aided by a polite exterior and, while less important than on Fifth Avenue, salesman’s skills won’t hurt in the drug trade either. Is it possible that the statistically insignificant rise in both is a composite of a large rise compensated by a slightly smaller fall in detection? The cumulative curve too is instructive. If there were a fixed advantage conferred it should level out. To the contrary, after a slight hiatus from 10 to 14 months it begins falling steeply again. So whatever it was, those youths learnt in the intervention, they keep on learning and at an accelerating rate. Is it possible, that all that was achieved was making them more successful criminals? Unless confirmed by follow ups this singular study in conflict with many others has to be seen as highly dubious.

Let those, whose G"d tells them otherwise, ask themselves this: What has their G"d given them their extraordinary human brain for, if their morality precludes them from using it?     Zurück
Yes, again it is only the good Kurds that get armed and not the PKK, but do they all stick to that distinction themselves?     Zurück

Zum Anfang      Übersicht Artikel      Home & Impressum

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License Viewable With Any Browser Valid HTML 4.01! Valid CSS!