A SERIES OF EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS

Posted in Rants on July 9th, 2015 by Ed

This is important enough to preempt NPF, although I'll try to post something more Fun as well before Monday.

So remember a few months ago when a number of women like Beverly Johnson went public with stories bearing titles like "Bill Cosby Drugged Me"? Remember how they were all called opportunists, publicity hounds, victimhood addicts, skanks, and bandwagon jumping liars? It's important to remember those things now that Cosby admitted under oath to obtaining sedatives to give to women he wanted to have sex with (although it's not entirely clear to me whether he admitted to giving anyone the drugs or merely to obtaining them – I suspect that distinction will be important in court). Turns out "Bill Cosby Drugged Me" is not so far-fetched an idea after all.

This whole ordeal provides an excellent example of how people use motivated reasoning and tortured logic when they don't want to give up on someone who appears to have done some terrible things – friends, relatives, beloved public figures, or ideological allies in the Culture Wars. There is no other explanation, once we account for the gender biases inherent in public discourse on sex crimes, for staying in Cosby's corner for this long. I see these situations as a matter of probability, logically speaking. We have two options of what to believe. One is that Bill Cosby does or did in fact give women drugs without their consent. The other is that a large number of women with no apparent connection to one another engaging in a coordinated conspiracy to ruin Bill Cosby by coming forward nearly simultaneously to tell remarkably similar stories about their alleged encounters with him. Which of those two seems more likely?

Are there accusers who are piling on Cosby in the hopes of getting attention or money? Maybe. Probably not, since there is are high non-monetary costs to coming forward. It's possible, but even if it happens the core of the accusations against Cosby were so remarkably similar that rejecting them out of hand would be like betting on 00 in roulette versus betting on Even or Odd. Both are gambles, since people like us never have all of the facts and it's possible that what we believe (in either direction) could turn out to be wrong. But they're not equally likely to be wrong.

This is one of those things a lot of people could learn from; while accusations cannot automatically be presumed factual, it makes even less sense to presume them false. Of course we will learn nothing, though, and go through this all over again next time. As long as we refuse to update the way we think, there will always be a next time.

NEEDS

Posted in Quick Hits on July 9th, 2015 by Ed

I'd like to thank Brother Kenneth Mehn, Order of Saint Augustine, who taught me about Maslow when I was a 14 year old high school freshman. What I'm saying is, this is partially his fault.

Maslow