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Rachel Heslin
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How would you address those situations which produce extremely consistent patterns of results (ie. statistical reliability) with uncertain validity due to, for example, being unable to identify what factors impact those results? I don't think I'm framing my question well. Essentially, do you see a value in non-contextual reliability if it is used as a tool to help discover validity (eg. helping understand what the results mean or actually indicate)?
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Regarding a discussion of culpability, I believe that there should be some leeway in degree of consequences that takes into account intent and the ability to comprehend the severity of one's actions. However, I also believe that there should be standard consequences for behavior. I don't care whether or not someone is physiologically (for whatever constellation of factors) capable of empathizing with another human being. Our society says that you don't kill other people, and if you do, there are harsh consequences for having done so.
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On a tangential note (related to the concerns about determinism above), here is an article citing evidence of how environmental factors appear to affect the expression of genetic markers without altering the DNA itself: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111019/full/news.2011.602.html
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Collecting biological evidence that correlates with behavioral tendencies is not determinism, because that implies that awareness of physiological factors gives one leave to ignore any and all other factors that affect choice and human behavior. The problem is when you correlate data with The Answer, as opposed to opening up another line of inquiry. In this case, if there are certain physiological factors which impact one's sociological makeup, how can these factors be affected to encourage choices that improve the life of the individual and society as a whole? I've seen one suggestion which involved "training" the brain to associate helping people with positive feelings, giving positive reinforcement whenever the person reacted in sociologically positive ways. Perhaps diet and nutritional supplements could affect one's tendencies, as well as methods such as meditation, which have been shown to impact how the brain processes information.
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If you narrowly define the term "corruption" as "paying money to elected officials in return for specific policy creation or support," I can see Kennedy's position. However, if you define the term as "allowing those with money to have outsized influence on policy creation because the money allows them to whisper their own version of truth more times and in more places than anyone else, insinuating their self-serving perspective into the national and political consciousness," then Kennedy needs to be smacked upside the head with a large tuna.
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Oct 27, 2011