Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Thing I Know #93. People tend to change the way they think when they’re in groups. Generally, an idea generated in a group is worth a lot less than an idea someone thinks up on their own.
Thing I Know #110. Everyone’s willing to bet an unlimited measure of resources from a company, corporation, committee, council, organization or club, that the “smartest guy in the room” really is the smartest guy in the room. Because of that, the smartest guy’s ideas usually go unopposed. I have noticed it’s extremely rare that anyone, anywhere, would bet one dime of their personal fortune that he’s really that smart. This may explain why some of the best decisions I’ve seen, were made outside of conference rooms.
From third to fifth grades, I remember some experiences in which my classes did some exercises in voting. From that, we learned fundamental principles in democracy. We learned what happens when you take more than one vote about the same thing, and we learned how a vote can be split. We learned how, and why, people settle things in groups. I remember that by the time I started middle school, these things were all crystal-clear to me.
The years have done unkind things to this sense of clarity. I’m suffering, now, from a “one more time, why was this thought to be a good idea again?” kind of a thing, with regard to settling things in groups. As a species of thinking creatures, we seem to lack the ability to hold this activity aloft as some of our finest decision-making work.
The American Psychological Association is doing a great job of showing what I’m talking about. Last year, the APA enacted a policy about the work of professional psychologists assisting in military interrogations, clarifying the boundary of what is to be permitted in such a practice. This didn’t go over well with much of the membership, who apparently look upon assistance to one’s own country in wartime as something disfavorable.
The unrest stems from an APA policy, issued last year, that says that while psychologists should not get involved in torture or other degrading treatment, it is ethical for them to act as consultants to interrogation and information-gathering for national security purposes.
That stand troubles some members of the organization in light of the reported abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.
“The issue is being couched as psychologists helping out with national security at the same time that psychologists are opposed to the issue of torture,” said Chicago psychologist William Gorman, an APA member who signed the petition and works with refugee survivors of torture. “That stance in the present context appears to me incongruous.”
News reports have said that mental health specialists who are helping U.S. military interrogators have helped create coercive techniques, including sleep deprivation and playing on detainees’ phobias, to extract information.
The American Medical Association last month adopted what many view as a stronger stand against physician involvement in prisoner interrogation, echoing a position held by the American Psychiatric Association, whose members are medical doctors. The U.S. military has indicated it will therefore favor using psychologists, who are not medical doctors and are not bound by the other groups’ policies.
The Physicians for Human Rights, a Cambridge, Massachusetts.-based advocacy group, issued a statement Wednesday urging APA leaders to “explicitly prohibit psychologists from participating in interrogations.”
Some professionals, including [APA member Steven] Reisner, a faculty member at Columbia University’s International Trauma Studies program and at New York University’s medical school, want the 150,000-member organization to rewrite the group’s ethics code to bar psychologists from any involvement in detainee interrogation.
Problem: There’s no call for a group, be it a decision-making panel or a far-flung association of professionals, to make moral decisions. Moral decisions are personal by nature, and anyway, groups bollix them up all the time. They always have.
Second problem: The group setting is being used to establish a moral equivalency between the kind of thing that went on at Abu Ghraib, and sleep deprivation. The “bridge” between these two extremes is the semantic term, “torture.” It’s no secret to anyone who has been paying attention that the name “Abu Ghraib” has been highly politicized, and it appears we’re in danger of losing track of what exactly happened there. Hint: It wasn’t just sleep deprivation.
Third problem: It’s a perversion of science. Suppose I’m an APA member. If the APA revises the policy on assistance to the military during interrogations, and the new policy sharply contradicts my personal moral outlook on it, as a thinking psychological scientist-type guy I should have the confidence that the group has handed down a decision that is worthwhile. If I don’t have this confidence, the group has demeaned itself by forcing me to conclude “I know this is right, but the group has voted it wrong, so they’re all messed up” — or, “I know this is wrong, but the group has voted it right, so they don’t know what they’re talking about.” The point is, it’s not human nature to surrender moral decision-making to a group. It’s human nature to expect everyone else in the group to do it, but for ourselves, we never do it. And so, the group is going to wrestle with weighty moral implications, over which it has no real authority because nobody’s going to really surrender their moral cognitions to the group. In so doing, it will not only reveal, but highlight, what everyone already knows to be true: Decisions will be made not based on rational arguments, but based on which faction within the group screams the loudest. Well, that isn’t how you decide what’s right and what’s wrong.
And last but not least, the fourth problem is that there are consequences for making the wrong decision, and they’re not confined to the ethereal realm of the merely theoretical. If we interrogate someone and fail to extract something, people might die. Is the APA doing something to take that into account as they vote on what’s right and what’s wrong? I see nothing in the CNN article to indicate such a thing. Allowing evil to happen, by inaction, would in itself be morally questionable to say the very least, right?
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