Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

But we're not talking about "psychology, as a whole" we're talking about the hypothesis that sex with children harms them. Saying that some areas of psychology have bad studies is irrelevant. I pointed to a specific study. You seem to have some rigor problems with this study, but the sort of errors you point out are not indicative of an unscientific mentality by the practitioners. I argued that many studies like the one I cited exist, and they can combine to produce a scientific conclusion despite the (unavoidable) defects in rigor you may have found.

With a subject as emotional as this, and given the state of psychology, you can't expect any other result. Any other studies (likely bad science too) that reach a different conclusion would be criticized out of existence, and have been. Those studies don't say what people want to hear, and that may be why. Or it may not be.

Ohhh, it's a conspiracy to silence people who agree with you; that's why the theory I'm arguing for hasn't been falsified. Here I thought we were discussing what level of rigor was appropriate in experiment design.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

So, then, if interviews can be used ("It's plainly obvious that they can be used"), and assumptions coming between measurements and conclusions is okay ("...pretend as if I'm saying psychology needs to be perfect", in response to "Did they seriously forget to control for the strength of magnetic field when testing which energy levels resulted in those reactions"), in what way is physics qualitiatively more scientific than the sort of psychology that contains this study, rather than just in shades of rigor. Both have underlying, coherent theories which purport mechanisms and make predictions. Those predictions are falsifiable by experiment, and rival theories make different predictions. Real experiements are then designed to test these predictions and distinguish the theories, taking care to eliminate as much background noise as possible in any given experiment. Practitioners then advise and inform the public on those theories which have been shown to resist falsification. This process is science, and vague lectures about rigor are insufficient to claim otherwise.

The hypothesis that sex with children harms those children has been around for a while, and has resisted attempts to falsify it by a variety of different experiments, designed and run by different groups. These attempts could have falsified it. No competing hypothesis has proven nearly so robust. It is our duty as science-minded people to act as though that hypothesis is true.

Comment Re:Safety vs Law (Score 1) 475

If I'm going 90MPH and I bump someone going 89MPH we'll be fine and have minimal damage to our cars. If I'm going 45 and bump someone going 44 it's the same. But bumping someone who's going 45 when you're going 90 will result in a major accident.

Maybe if you'd said 65 instead of 90, you'd be right. But any bump at 90 has a respectable chance of leading to loss of control by one or both vehicles; typical cars just don't maneuver at those speeds with unless it's very gradual.

Also, you characterized someone going 90 bumping someone going 45 with the fault being on the "difference in speed." I don't care if the car in front of you is stopped, you are always responsible for maintaining a safe slow-down distance, checking mirrors during lane change, and paying attention. Even if the car going 45 gets a ticket for "failure to maintain minimum speed," it's the one in the rear who has to pay the bills.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

You've convinced me. You've convinced me so well that I think hitting people in the head with baseball bats, causing concussions, should be legal, because otherwise that would infringe on people's freedoms. Measurements of mental capacity after severe concussions are subjective. Any conclusion that being hit with a baseball bat is painful is unscientific, also, because that would rely on patients self reporting their pain level. If you say "medical bills," the bills used to justify this had better not include any pain treatment or physical therapy. If you say "harm is objective, because of brain scans," I'll ask how you know the brain scan is actually related to pain or diminished mental capacity.

If the only illegal acts were those shown to be harmful at the level of rigor found in a good experimental physics article, I don't think anything at all would actually be illegal.

P.S. Yes, interviews can be used in science. ("Interview," here, often means asking a series of quantitative or yes/no questions with scripting wording.) Also, if you think that particle physics experiments set up a cause and directly measure effect, without numerous intervening assumptions, then you should read more about them. (Did they seriously forget to control for the strength of magnetic field when testing which energy levels resulted in those reactions?!)

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

If I wanted to account for that issue, I would attempt to compare harm to CSA victims across national and cultural boundaries. The study I cited used Australian subjects only. A quick search didn't turn up a study specifically about this, but that doesn't mean there isn't one (I'm not an expert in the field). If there hasn't been one, one should be performed.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

It is, however, significantly more prone to bias than other fields (like physics) with actual scientific rigor.

How should we? I don't know, but that's irrelevant. Bad science is bad science. Accepting bad science just because we don't know anything else is ridiculous.

Two points. First, I think you overstate your argument about the rigor of modern psychology. Imperfection, and failing to have the same level of rigor as physics (when such rigor would be impossible), does not automatically make bad science. The study in question uses twins, focusing on situations where one twin reports that they were abused and the other does not. It then asks these twins separately, in interviews, a variety of questions about things like alcohol use and suicide attempts. The researchers performed statistical analysis to ensure the data truly does show correlation. True, there are other explanations for the correlation than the mechanism suggested, but this is true of many physics results as well. Your objection seems to be based on the fact that there is "subjective" assessment involved, such as concluding that reporting "I tried to kill myself last year" is related to actual attempts. "Subjective" methods like this are used well beyond psychology and other "pseudosciences." Do you think we shouldn't give morphine to patients in pain because effectiveness of pain remedies is primarily measured by asking patients "how much pain are you in?"

Second, you assert that because the data isn't perfect, we can't draw any conclusions from it. People, including legislators, must often make decisions based on imperfect data. They shouldn't outright ignore everything available simply because causation wasn't shown directly in a double blind, 8-sigma trial, with results measured directly by devices without human intervention. My claim that sex with children harms them significantly is justified given available evidence, and banning such sex is prudent as a result.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

Why is it subjective? True, if I try to list a complete deductive argument, there will be assertions like "condemnation without justification is erroneous" (for the first) and "you should, in the absensce of other concerns, avoid actions which cause significant harm," and I won't have deductive reasons for them. However, since, as far as I can tell, these broad claims impress themselves upon me from my core construction as a human being, and since other human beings seem to share many core aspects in common, I have a reasonable expectation of universality. So I ask, why do you think claims like this are subjective?

As a side note, I dare someone to find me an example of a person who simultaneously holds that homosexuality is wrong and that ethical systems are subjective. Seriously.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

I'm sorry I don't have a citation for the effects of child abuse in a physics journal (*eyeroll*). I cited a specific paper (it looks like it is actually paywalled, but a web search for the title should find you the full text). Do you have a problem with their methodology? Do you have anything even remotely approaching their level of rigor claiming the opposite? Do you have annecdotes or opinions of therapists claiming the opposite? Do you have armchair reasoning about why their conclusion must be false? How should we debate whether sex with children harms them, enlightened one? Put up or shut up.

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

So, who gets it? That is the government's decision. Judges decide this very issue many times a day. In our universe, the rule is "if they're married, the spouse; otherwise, the sibling." Marriage is how you blanket declare this sort of wish to the state. Take that away, and the state has no reasonable basis for a decision, as you pointed out: you'll instead have a nasty court battle with the sibling arguing "they hated each other" and the partner arguing "we loved each other."

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

I guess we haven't really met each other's points directly. Why I'm commenting here is because, in post 47702397, the parent of my original post, there was the claim "not liking a group of people is a perfectly okay position to take," with the "group" being homosexuals. My whole argument is that, no, that's not an okay position to take, for the reason that it sits at he intersection of misguided and harmful. Again, just to be clear, I mean "not okay" in the sense of "you shouldn't do it," not "I should stop you."

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 1) 748

Just for sake of argument, let's say government gets completely out of marriage, civil or otherwise. Say you've lived with the same person romantically for the past 3 years. You have a sibling. You die without a will. Who gets your money? Do you see why the state has an interest in defining this relationship?

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 2) 748

In post 47703383, an ancestor of your post, I wrote

...for example, being fired for a political opinion and being fired for being gay. Both are generally wrong, but they are not the same.

You can see my confusion when you write things like

you think you have the moral authority to say people should be fired for their political beliefs

I'm not arguing from an appeal to authority. I'm not arguing from an appeal to emotion. My argument, as I've made it in this discussion, is

  1. The belief that homosexuality is wrong is incorrect. I haven't supported this claim much (doesn't mean I can't) because, if you pay close attention, no one has actually really challenged it. All I've heard in response is "I disagree and am entitled to my opinion." We did start to have something going, though, with the discussion about pedophilia, where my point was that pedophilic behavior is wrong because because it harms children, implicitly claiming that homosexuality does not suffer from that or similar defects.
  2. The widespread expression of this belief is harmful to homosexuals. Again, no one has actually raised an argument against this, just "I disagree with you, so I don't care."
  3. (Implicit: expressing a wrong belief, when that expression is harmful, is wrong. Once again, no counterargument detected.)
  4. Therefore, expressing the belief that homosexuality is wrong is itself wrong. This follows by pure deduction from the first points.
  5. Furthermore, a relevant internet forum thread is an acceptable time and place to have this discussion. This is the only one I actually hear objections to, although those objections are not stated as such. They mostly come in such loaded terms as "I have a right to my opinion" that I doubt the writer actually knows that this is what they are trying to argue against.

I'm not trying to censor anyone, or claim any authority. My argument is about what people should do. In particular, it's about what you shouldn't do, not about what I should or shouldn't do to stop you. There is no implied suppression of your rights to free speech.

Slashdot Top Deals

"We shall reach greater and greater platitudes of achievement." -- Richard J. Daley