Posted by: quiscus | June 14, 2010

June 14, 2010

1.  “Why experts are usually wrong

You might expect that other, more rigorous scientists would catch these sorts of shenanigans, but they often don’t, and in fact the vast majority of published research isn’t even verified. And even when bad research is outed, hardly anyone notices — we’ve all long since moved on to the next exciting finding.

Not that there isn’t some minority of expert advice that’s good, and even critically important. Most people just don’t know how to pick it out from the constant stream of flawed and conflicting findings — the housing market is recovering, the housing market is getting worse, video games deaden children’s brains, video games boost rapid thinking.

That’s why much of the public has simply stopped listening to experts, and sometimes with potentially catastrophic results, as when parents don’t get their children recommended vaccines and treatments, or believe they can eat whatever they want, or invest their savings in whatever stocks seem exciting.

The rest of us often trust experts blindly, because we’re programmed to do so practically from birth. Call it the “Wizard of Oz” effect: first with our parents, then our teachers, and then on to the authoritative voices in our textbooks and on TV news, we’re brought up to believe there are always people whose knowledge and judgment should be taken over our own. Experiments suggest that our brains’ decision-making capabilities get put on hold when we’re presented with what we think is expert advice, regardless of how bad the advice is.

Fortunately, just being aware of the extent to which even gold-plated expert advice tends to go wrong is a big first step towards being able to filter out the worst of it.”

2.  “Israeli Deputy FM: 75 al-Qaeda Mercenaries on Aid Ship

In either case Israel’s claims don’t hold up to even casual scrutiny, as neither the assault rifles nor the arms, nor the Turkish soldiers nor the al-Qaeda members, were found on board the ship.

In fact Israel has already released every single person who was on board the aid ship, and none was charged with a single crime. One would imagine Israel, which styles itself as the central front in the war on terror, would have had the presence of mind to detain 75 members of al-Qaeda if indeed their military had captured them.”

3.  “Don’t single out Helen Thomas

Mainstream politicians, civic leaders, university presidents and others in this country routinely express their support for Israel as a Jewish state, despite the fact that such a state only could have been created in a multicultural land by ethnically cleansing it of as many non-Jews as possible. Today, Israel is only able to maintain its Jewish identity because it has established an apartheid regime, both in the occupied territories and within its own borders, and because it continues to reject the Palestinian right of return.

Where is the outrage about that?

Where was the outrage in 1983 when Israeli Gen. Rafael Eitan looked forward to the day that Jews had fully settled the land, because then “all the Arabs will be able to do about it is scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle”? Or when Alan Dershowitz suggested in 2002 that Israel summarily empty and then bulldoze an entire Palestinian village as a punitive measure each time it was attacked? Or when New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman claimed in 2006 to have discovered a “pathology” that caused some Arabs to “hate others more than they love their own kids”? Or when Avigdor Lieberman (who now serves as Israel’s foreign minister) said in 2004 that Palestinian citizens of Israel should “take their bundles and get lost”? Or when Israeli professor Arnon Sofer, one of the country’s leading demographic alarmists, said that to preserve the Jewish state, Israel should pull out of Gaza, though that would require Israel to remain at the border and “kill, and kill, and kill, all day, every day”?

An endless deluge of statements of support for the actual, calculated, methodical dehumanization of Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular goes without comment; whereas a single offhand comment by an 89-year-old journalist, whose long and distinguished record of principled commitment and challenges to state power entitles her to respect — and the benefit of the doubt — causes her to be publicly pilloried.

To accept this appalling hypocrisy is to be complicit in the racism of our age.”

4.  “Public Prosecutors in Germany: German Members of Parliament File War Crimes Complaints against Israel”

5.  “The U.S. wins the right to abduct innocent people with impunity

So congratulations to the U.S. for winning the right to wrongfully abduct people and send them to their torture with total impunity.  What a ringing statement about our country’s willingness to right the wrongs it commits and to provide access to our courts to those whose lives we devastate with our behavior.  Andrew Sullivan today referred to “the cult of the inerrant leader”:  the inability and refusal of our political class to acknowledge wrongdoing, apologize for it, and be held accountable.  The Maher Arar case is a pathological illustration of that syndrome.”

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