Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Malice or incompetence

Mark Regnerus was the anti-gay researcher who was declared unbelievable by the judge in the Michigan marriage equality case. He can't seem to give up, though. A recent report came out of Australia saying kids of same-sex couples do just fine. Regnerus does his best to shoot it down (which isn't much). As part of his tirade he links to a research article to prove his point. One little problem. The article actually proves the opposite of what Regnerus says it does.

In exposing Regnerus Rob Tisinai of Box Turtle Bulletin mentioned a few quotes he keeps in mind when knocking holes in our adversaries' arguments:
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
That is a variation of:
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
Those familiar with science fiction will recognize that as a riff on author Arthur C. Clarke's famous law:
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
That prompted me to leave Regnerus and his folly behind and following the link to Clarke's other laws. Here is another one:
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
And that Wikipeida page prompted me to check out the laws devised by author Larry Niven. Here is a selection:
F × S = k. The product of Freedom and Security is a constant. To gain more freedom of thought and/or action, you must give up some security, and vice versa.

Ethics change with technology. (We're finding this true with privacy laws written before the internet.)

No technique works if it isn't used.

It is a sin to waste the reader's time.
So I had better stop.

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