Res ipsa loquitur

By skepticlawyer

This biological parent is most assuredly not a father.

[Without disclosing the source of this document, I am happy to confirm that it is authentic.]

34 Comments

  1. Posted August 8, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    [email protected], the trouble I have with the libertarian viewpoint is that on the basis I stated, I find the belief that society can do without institutions it currently has as flawed as the belief that it needs to keep the ones it has (conservatism) or needs a whole set of new ones (progressivism).

  2. JC
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    JC, you only have to look at the plasticity of the mind in the context of BDSM culture to realise that even the most basic of instincts, that of pain, can be subverted by a whole range (psychiatric, environmental, social, etc) of factors to result in the complete opposite effect.

    Is it plasticity or simply because people’s brains are wired a little differently?

    We can’t just assume that biological systems that evolved in an environment vastly different to modern society will behave how we would predict they would behave in the environment they evolved in (and that’s assuming our predictions are even close to being correct).

    I’m not actually. I’m suggesting that making predictions is foolhardy is lots of ways. Some are easier than others like sticking a kettle on a stove will most likely cause boil at a certain temp. Other forms of predictions are just crap which is why I found your earlier comment ironic as you didn’t seem to be aware of what you were signing up to.

    Human’s don’t have a ‘sex drive’ as such. There’s a complex set of chemical and psychological processes that result in desire to have sex. Given the chaotic nature of these systems it’d only take a subtle change in environment (physical or social) to result in the outcome of those processes being different.

    Sure.. like the one thing some people are noticing but seem unable to want to openly discuss is that in nearly all these cases of mass slaughter they are being committed by sexual loser males…. total losers.

    John H

    No JC, the evolutionary imperative is to have kids, sex is the pleasure that drives us there.

    Ya think. Then explain gay sex, oral sex and other forms of sexual satisfaction, sex by the very young. The hidden imperative may be procreation, but the prime motivator manifests itself as a desire to have sex or gratification. It’s nothing really more than that.

  3. JC
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    [email protected], the trouble I have with the libertarian viewpoint is that on the basis I stated, I find the belief that society can do without institutions it currently has as flawed

    I don’t think the “viewpoint” is saying that at all. Certainly it’s saying that a large number of institutions and intervention are either redundant or foolhardly and unlikely to achieve real objectives. But most libertarians don’t ascribe to an anarchist system. There is a need for the state to provide judiciary, taking care of the very few that can’t and have no hope of doing getting others to, the military and police services. Friedman suggested the take should be around 10% and he said this at the time of the Cold War, which today would likely mean around 6%(ish) of GDP.

    Just as importantly it was Hayek who suggested it was impossible to be able to figure the motivation going into millions and millions of transactions by consumers in a day and attempting to manage that while trying to calculate such things as price/ demand and supply.

  4. Posted August 8, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Is it plasticity or simply because people’s brains are wired a little differently?

    It is a level of plasticity that we are only beginning to appreciate. I have just returned from reading a book looking at a number of studies on this. For eg. Meditation produces very clear changes in brain structure. Human brain structure is highly variable, both across individuals and within individuals. Some studies indicate that severe depression can result in a 20% decrease in the hippocampus, which can rebound from such a huge loss. There is even the suggestion the key biomarker for depression remission is the recommencement of neurogenesis. Interesting because the hippocampus is the primary recipient of one of two key areas of neurogenesis in the brain.

    I have read, and deeply doubt, studies on antipsychotics which claim that in 24 hours you will see huge changes in the basal ganglia region. I think that is an imaging error but most don’t.

    Brains are not “wired”. If you look at synaptic transmission you don’t see these neat and tidy pathways. When a messenger travels across a synapse it can modulate hundreds if not thousands of neighbouring synapses, even on non-target cells. Nitric oxide is rapidly diffused in the brain and is critical for processes yet can impact on vast numbers of neurons. This is nothing like “wiring” or “information processing”. It is something we have very little idea. As Matt Jones states on his website, “information” is a bugbear when it comes to the brain. I think the reason for that is because people think brains shunt information around. I think this is completely wrong. Brains respond, perhaps they process information, but primarily they respond to contingencies. That is plasticity.

    If you think I am over rating plasticity then look up “constraint induced movement therapy”. Or you could try reading “The brain that changes itself”.

  5. Posted August 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Also how many sterile offspring are sent to Coventry by their parents? Plus the disappointed grandparent argument ignores the fact that SSCs do have children and would be even more likely to do so if this was facilitated by law.

    This is one of the reasons that I don’t think it’s the procreative aspect that’s actually the central ISHOO. The other is that one of the few other places where you tend see parents who disown their children with such viciousness is when they “marry out” which is an issue culturally or racially (or extra-tribally on the subcontinent or in Africa) as much as a religious one. I tend to identify that with cultures where the children are expected to live at the service of their family rather than have properly independent choices.

  6. JC
    Posted August 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    JohnH

    I used to believe genes were pretty much the arbiter of all when it comes to intelligence, but I’ve changed my mind I think I may have mentioned to you recently studies show that Hispanics, Jews, Southern Europeans, even Anglos in the US… you name it…. had higher IQ’s than from their countries of origin.

    It seems that living in an urban setting where pretty much what you do during the day are mini IQ questions has raises IQ by a significant amount.

    nature and nurture is possibly as high as 50% for significant changes.

    Pretty damning if true leaving Aboriginals on welfare in remote settings to raise kids.

  7. Posted August 9, 2012 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    John H, I enjoyed the book you recommended but am afraid I didn’t find it convincing. We attribute neuroplasticity to the brain’s ability to generate new nerve structures every time we learn, even into old age, but this doesn’t happen in our extended nervous systems which are chemically made of the same stuff.

    It seems that living in an urban setting where pretty much what you do during the day are mini IQ questions has raises IQ by a significant amount.

    As does living in a country where one is subjected to actual IQ questions repeatedly as part of the education and employment process. We know one of the best ways to raise your IQ results is to sit more IQ tests so perhaps we just need to teach more remote communities to do SATs. Simples! 😉

  8. JC
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    We know one of the best ways to raise your IQ results is to sit more IQ tests so perhaps we just need to teach more remote communities to do SATs. Simples! 😉

    You really think that getting a bunch of kids in their low to mid teens to sit lots of SATs would raise their IQs from 65 / 70 , which is where it’s been measured at times in remoteareas, to average or higher?

    Urban life is complex most minutes of the day when not resting. In other words it’s a lifetime thing, not sitting SATs at the age of 16 and hoping to raise it from there.

    Life complexity in an urban setting is no comparison to the outback.

    Perhaps high IQ level is not the be all and end all depending on how people want to live. However we shouldn’t be under any delusions and neither should the parents. We should also possibly not subsidize it hoping to achieve results that will be impossible to reach.

  9. Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Yes I do, JC. Improving your test-taking skills by repeatedly doing IQ tests does improve your score. Won’t do much to change your actual intelligence but you’ll get very good at taking the tests.

  10. Posted August 9, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    [email protected],

    Certainly it’s saying that a large number of institutions and intervention are either redundant or foolhardly and unlikely to achieve real objectives.

    There’s a distinct difference between accepting uncertainty about whether an institution will achieve its formal goals, and assumptions about its net negative impact on society. There’s a significant possibility that (government, or otherwise) institutions and intervention will have a significant positive impact on society in ways we don’t even begin to understand.

  11. JC
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Desi

    So if I’m reading you right, you’re now suggesting that even if we have no idea whehter intervention and spending will produce the desired results we should continue doing so anyway because we may luck out and get a good set of results by fluke.

    How’s that working out with the present government? Let’s see

  12. Posted August 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    We attribute neuroplasticity to the brain’s ability to generate new nerve structures every time we learn

    Bit more than that Dem. Look at constraint induced movement therapy. That therapy suggests that when the motor cortex is damaged, either lower brain regions, or the contra-lateral motor cortex, picks up the task of moving the previously immobile limb.

    I used to believe genes were pretty much the arbiter of all when it comes to intelligence, but I’ve changed my mind I think I may have mentioned to you recently studies show that Hispanics, Jews, Southern Europeans, even Anglos in the US… you name it…. had higher IQ’s than from their countries of origin.

    Yes JC I remember. But sadly I forgot to grab that link. I could use that in relation to some aboriginal issues re cognitive development that I am exploring so if you can post it please do.

  13. Mel
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Since survival of the fittest no longer operates other than at the margins, I wonder if IQ will eventually trend down. If so, eugenics may once again become fashionable.

    Spooky thought.

  14. Posted August 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if IQ will eventually trend down.

    The Flynn Effect appears to have stalled and in some cases has gone into reverse. One researcher stated this happened in Australia as early as the 1980’s. Studies in other countries also indicate a distinct downward trend since at least 2000. Something weird going on here. I have my suspicions, ranging from statistical skewing due to increased survival rates post childbirth to environmental contaminants(eg. just today read about Harvard study showing a distinct correlation between lowered iq and developmental issues arising from water flouridation.)

    Eugenics won’t solve this problem. If you want to start increasing intelligence that way you will also start increasing psycho-pathology. There are clear relationships between depression and artistic creativity, psychosis and intellectual creativity. Go figure, very confusing except to suggest that intelligence is generally very weakly subject to selection pressure.

    Look at the world Mel, the smartest people on the planet are typically not the most highly paid. If that were true Freeman Dyson would own half the planet. Wealth, unlike iq, does not fit a normal distribution.

  15. Posted August 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and I just downloaded this paper. I have no idea why UCP2, which down regulates AtP production, should impact on cog. development. If anything I would expect the opposite but perhaps I should first read the paper!

    Natural birth — but not C-section — triggers brain-boosting proteins

  16. Mel
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    John H.

    “The Flynn Effect appears to have stalled and in some cases has gone into reverse. One researcher stated this happened in Australia as early as the 1980?s. Studies in other countries also indicate a distinct downward trend since at least 2000. ”

    Wow. Thanks for that, John. I read IQ research docs from time to time but I didn’t know that.

    I seriously hope the research on fluoride is wrong because if it isn’t nutty fringe groups like the John Birch Society will gain extra credibility. The Victorian Greens also sent its anti-fluoride activists packing a few years back.

    Sorry SL for getting so off topic.

  17. Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    JC,

    No, you’re not reading me right. You seem to be missing my point about uncertainty entirely. I’ll try to express it a bit more clearly.

    Uncertainty (at least how I’m using it) means a lack of information or understanding (or some other element) that is required to use reason to drawn a conclusion. If we accept the premise that society is so complex that there is uncertainty about the impact any particular (government) institution (or policy), then we cannot use reason to drawn conclusions regarding that institution, at least not conclusions that themselves are free from uncertainty. I see this concept as undermining ideologies across the spectrum whether they conclude that government needs to be added to, changed, kept the same or reduced.

    So how do we deal with uncertainty if we can’t base our conclusions on reason*? To start with I think we need to consider the philosophical implications of uncertainty. There are three general implications that I’ve observed:
    1. we need to acknowledge that in the face of uncertainty any conclusions we make are arbitrary, intuitive and not founded in reason (although may be influenced by reason).
    2. we need to acknowledge the ability of further information to increase the extent that our conclusions can be appropriately influenced by reason as well as increase the quality of our intuition.
    3. we need to be open minded and willing to not just refine our understanding in light of new information, but also be willing to completely reformulate it.
    The conclusion I draw from this is that we need adaptive systems to deal with uncertainty, not ones based on deterministic ideologies. If we look to nature we see a number of adaptive systems (e.g. genetic evolution, the brain) that have proven apt at dealing with uncertainty.** Likewise there are a number of human institutions that have proven themselves (e.g. science, common law, democracy, and yes the capitalist market). To tie this back to the post for a moment, this is why I see devotion to rigid and dogmatic belief systems as full of arrogance and deeply unwise (whether it’s theological or ideological belief).

    As for your comment about political suggestions, I see a basis for respecting institutions that have evolved through democracy as much as I see a basis for respecting the institutions that have evolved through the market. That’s not to say that these institutions ought to be considered beyond criticism, or that we shouldn’t push for change. Indeed it’s important to realise that these adaptive systems are flawed in that they each have the potential to impede good adaptations or cause maladaptations. I tend to think the best way forward is to use adaptive systems to compliment each other by limiting the impact of the others’ flaws and limitations, rather than attempting to choose one system over the other.

    In terms of judging any particular institution I think we need consider any change in a way that minimises uncertainty (at least relative to evidenced potential gain). While ideological reasoning can provide useful insight and a framework with which to understand or analyse, we get far more information (and therefore less uncertainty) if you base understanding and proposed solutions on reality as we can observe it. The one thing we do know is the current system produces the current output in the current circumstances. The further we get from that starting point, the more uncertainty in our conclusions there is. The end point is to focus on change that is evidence based, relative to the status quo (or at least recent history) and measured by balanced judgement, not change that is founded on some radical hypothetical that incorporates (inevitably flawed) ideological presumptions about how the world works.

    * – It’s probably important to note we can still reason about the concept of uncertainty, it is things about which we are uncertain that we should consider alternatives to reason. We are not necessarily uncertain about the concept of uncertainty.

    ** – It’s also important to acknowledge the limitations of such adaptive systems; it’s human reasoning, not genetic evolution that is able to get a rover to Mars, cure certain diseases, etc.

  18. kvd
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] you’re basically restating something called fuzzy logic. And I’m willing to bet both JC and Mel are more than comfortable, more than familiar, with that concept.

    That aside, I’d like to compliment yourselves, and JohnH for some really very interesting commentary. From my limited exposure to blogs and how they die, this has been a remarkable exception.

  19. Bruce McGlory
    Posted August 9, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    The cruelty of christians knows no bounds. Absolutely heartbreaking, but that son is infinitely better off without such an evil piece of shit in his life.

  20. Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Just pointing out that this post has been Pharangylated, so there are likely to be some new people popping up.

  21. Posted August 9, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    *offers a cordial, clenched tentacle salute to skepticlawyer*

  22. Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Xanthë: thanks; feel free to poke around – we think we have a pretty good blog.

    I’m now off to run the dog and then puddle around with some tax law. DeusExMacintosh will be blogwrangling in my absence 🙂

  23. Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    {waves one handed, while desperately racing to complete an epic length Olympic Games Souvenir Funnie and fold laundry with the other}

  24. Posted August 9, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Tim: “The opposite of what a Christian should do.” Agreed. If “Dad” had been following his Wholly Babble he’d have taken his son out in public and stoned him for being a “sodomite.”

    JC: “You have kids so they can have kids (something you understand as the kids get older)… It’s unnatural for parents not to have, say a perfect image of their kids in terms of where they see them in the future (and it’s usually in a settled state), with a wife/hubby, a couple of kids and a good job.”

    I’m childfree. I’m really glad my parents never put such expectations/pressure on me. Parents who think they get to control what their kids do or not do with their adult lives are selfish.

    “I’m guessing analysis of a similar poll would suggest the suicide rate is higher among the well to do when the left gets on one of it class warfare rackets and begins attacking the rich… ”

    My heart bleeds for them, really. Must be hard, to be able to afford everything in life you want while other people can’t afford rent or healthcare.

    “It was explained that part of the young male youth culture has turned out a whole bunch of feminized men who aren’t in the least gay, However females steer clear of them as they don’t see them as worthy partners.”

    “Females,” as you put it, have a wide variety of tastes in men. Ever hear of “yaoi”?

  25. sean
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    FWIW, homosexual behavior is EXTREMELY natural. It is highly common in a plethora of animal species.

    Religion is often synonymous with ignorance

  26. JC
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    I’m childfree. I’m really glad my parents never put such expectations/pressure on me. Parents who think they get to control what their kids do or not do with their adult lives are selfish.

    I’m a little confused with your above comment, Daisy. I believe you think I was suggesting kids should be pressured to an unrealistic set of expectations by parents. I wasn’t. Most parents do hope their kids turn out well and have certain expectations. In other words they want the best for their kids and will make sacrifices towards that end. Disappointment is a common occurrence for parents, but it’s how you deal with it that is important.

    You think it would be better to have very low expectations then? Really?

    “I’m guessing analysis of a similar poll would suggest the suicide rate is higher among the well to do when the left gets on one of it class warfare rackets and begins attacking the rich… ”

    My heart bleeds for them, really. Must be hard, to be able to afford everything in life you want while other people can’t afford rent or healthcare.

    I think you’re again confused with what I said. Your heart doesn’t have to bleed for the well to do. All you need to do is leave them alone and don’t abuse them by characterizing them, as “cheats”, “liars”, saying you don’t like them if you’re a well-known politician, or that they aren’t paying their fair share when they are. They’re also a minority and if we’re going to have hate speech laws etc. they also should be protected too 😉 There’s an unpleasant history of wiping such groups in the 20th century. Let’s hope it isn’t repeated.

    “Females,” as you put it, have a wide variety of tastes in men. Ever hear of “yaoi”?

    Never heard of yaoi. You can get a flavour of female taste in men by the current A grade actors in the film industry. They don’t appear to me to resemble the sooky, wimpy, lacking ambition type of hetro-males that JohnH suggested was infesting the Japanese landscape. If you consider that type to be an attractive virile male then more power to you. But I’m guessing other females wouldn’t and I reckon I’m right. I’m not in any way critical or judgmental in your taste in men. If that’s the case, in terms of the type you like, more power to you. However I think you’d be in a minority there.

  27. Posted August 10, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Okay, I’m back on deck as DEM has other things to do. She tells me she’s had to bin a couple of really nasty anti-Christianity comments, so just a couple of things for the new people:

    1. Please read the FAQ (top of the blog).

    2. There are four regular writers and one occasional writer. We all have different politics: two broadly left, two broadly right, one impossible to categorise (see the ‘About’ page for more). One of our writers is religious.

    3. Two of us are lawyers in British/Commonwealth jurisdictions, so are required for professional purposes to be polite, regardless of what we really think. What is often called ‘tone policing’ on other blogs will get done to you here on the basis that we have practicing certificates to worry about.

    4. Please bear with me if your first comment doesn’t appear for a minute or two; all first comments go into moderation and have to be manually released (by one of the admins). After that, you can comment freely. We want to be sure about who (or what) we’re letting in. I’ll be keeping an eye on the blog this evening but I am attending to a nice matter of tax law (which is, you know, my day job) at the same time 🙂

  28. Nanue
    Posted August 12, 2012 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    meta? … don’t get it!
    ___________________________

    Whats bothered me by this post is the premise that a father is infallible. This ideal of infallibilty is more common in “sky fairy” belief (the source of much derision).
    The note I read was that of a troubled father who had an antipathetic reaction to something to which he had no understanding and had probably given little or no thought to before. If you combine the lack of thought with instilled beliefs or values then of course it speaks for itself, but not as to whether an adult requires futher nurturing from a parent.
    That been said, one would hope that both learn that human sexuality isn’t the main definer of our humanity. I’ve always found it a good starting point when presented with homophobia to raise companionship as a point of mutual understanding rather than jumping straight into the bedroom. Of coarse some don’t get the satire of Little Britain.

  29. Nanuestalker
    Posted August 12, 2012 at 3:35 am | Permalink

    meta? … don’t get it!
    ___________________________

    Whats bothered me by this post is the premise that a father is infallible. This ideal of infallibilty is more common in “sky fairy” belief (the source of much derision).
    The note I read was that of a troubled father who had an antipathetic reaction to something to which he had no understanding and had probably given little or no thought to before. If you combine the lack of thought with instilled beliefs or values then of course it speaks for itself, but not as to whether an adult requires futher nurturing from a parent.
    That been said, one would hope that both learn that human sexuality isn’t the main definer of our humanity. I’ve always found it a good starting point when presented with homophobia to raise companionship as a point of mutual understanding rather than jumping straight into the bedroom. Of coarse some don’t get the satire of Little Britain.

    [trapped in moderation}

  30. Nanuestalker
    Posted August 12, 2012 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    My bad …. didn’t fill out name properly!

  31. Posted August 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    There may be hope for the human race, afterall…

  32. Posted August 13, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    [email protected] The issue is not infallibility, the issue is decency. Clearly, the father has thought enough about the issues to completely cut off his own son from his life. That is an immense step and an extraordinarily hostile one.

  33. Nanuestalker
    Posted August 14, 2012 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Never liked that word ‘decency’. Those who define it create moral codes of their definition (probably out of some belief in their own infallibility).
    Think about it, the father is probably being lead by his moral conviction “though wrong it may be” [to use his own words to his son back at him]

  34. Posted August 14, 2012 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Yes, bigots always claim to be defending moral decency, but that does not mean they are. I am sure the father does so claim, but he is not doing so.

    Basic humanity? Elementary consideration? Whatever, he is not showing it and that is the point, not infallibility.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] …that love is unconditional. There’s nothing you can do that would make me write a letter like this. […]

  2. By For the Record | Under the Maple Canopy on August 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    […] Our love for all three of our children is unconditional.  There is absolutely nothing that one of my kids could do that would ever (in a million, kajillion years) make me write a letter like this one to them. […]

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