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Acknowledging Limitations


This is a conversation I had with a friend following a Facebook conversation. We talked (well, my friend talked and I listened) about the limitations of a justice system that requires proof, given that there are types of crimes which do not have conventional proof.  My commentary is at the bottom.

I got angry and lashed out at a bunch of people who wanted proof of not just the Title IX violations, but also of the assault itself. It was called a “she-said-he-said” situation. They have a legitimate point, and I should not have interpreted that as an attack. Yea, I make blunders too, it’s part of being human–more often than not, we are irrational, biased, and non-omniscient. Knowing all that doesn’t make you immune to being illogical. Knowing it means you are more likely to catch yourself at doing it, but how good you are at fixing it is variable.

There’s abbreviations and misspellings spicing up this conversation. It also flows somewhat oddly in parts due to the lag of instant messaging… Let’s be honest, few people always follow proper capitalization and punctuation. Cheers for our royal knights of grammar and language, who defend the written word; I, however, am a mercenary grammatician and capricious linguist. I figure posting quickly, given its relevancy to my other post, takes precedence over  polishing it. Let me know if it’s a problem for readibility/screen readers/comprehension/etc.

(2012-05-20 02:27:04) Friend: dont be hatin on a reasonable and honest comment bro, even if its on that shithole known as reddit

(2012-05-20 02:27:17) Me: lol

(2012-05-20 02:28:47) Friend: i’m not reading that entire thread, but that one linked comment didnt say anything out of line

(2012-05-20 02:30:23) Me: it points out a legit problem in the system

(2012-05-20 02:30:39) Me: not every crime has concrete physical proof

(2012-05-20 02:30:39) Friend: it isn’t a bug, though–it’s a feature

(2012-05-20 02:30:46) Me: not for things like this

(2012-05-20 02:31:01) Me: there is such a thing as a crime without conventional evidence.

(2012-05-20 02:31:01) Friend: it isnt just physical proof that degrades with time

(2012-05-20 02:31:10) Me: i know

(2012-05-20 02:31:13) Me: memory does too

(2012-05-20 02:31:21) Me: its’ why i kept the logs of when i first told people

(2012-05-20 02:32:08) Me: i’m not saying convict people on rumor. i’m saying this is a legit issue

(2012-05-20 02:33:30) Friend: but there is no solution. if the police are told immediately and do nothing, that is a miscarriage of justice. this still happens sometimes, and is a Bad Thing. but their options are limited when they dont find out until long after

(2012-05-20 02:34:21) Me: i know. i’m pointing out that this is a problem

(2012-05-20 02:34:31) Me: which needs a solution

(2012-05-20 02:35:15) Friend: there is no solution. that’s the thing. they dont have prosecutorial psychics, or time machines.

(2012-05-20 02:35:35) Me: there is no solution we have thought of at this time.

(2012-05-20 02:35:37) Friend: without sufficient circumstantial evidence and no physical evidence, no reasonable jury would convict

(2012-05-20 02:36:18) Me: used to be we went on people’s “word”

(2012-05-20 02:36:23) Me: that doesn’t work

(2012-05-20 02:36:31) Me: then we discovered forensics and whatnot

(2012-05-20 02:36:38) Me: so, at this time, we have no solution

(2012-05-20 02:37:03) Me: it’s interesting that all that need happen is “liar” and that’s it

(2012-05-20 02:39:38) Friend: no, there is no solution. forensics was just the application of science technology to crime. it always existed, we just have more tools available. unless the government is reading our minds, or monitoring and recording all of our options, or has a time machine, there is no solution to this specific example.

(2012-05-20 02:40:17) Me: then the system needs overhauled

(2012-05-20 02:40:27) Me: otherwise, they’ve found the perfect crime

(2012-05-20 02:42:07) Friend: there is no solution to being able to not find evidence for unreported crimes. there is no conceivable system that solves this that doesnt involve the government knowing all of our actions.

(2012-05-20 02:42:35) Me: unreported? no. that’s impossible. reported? i think there could be a way, eventually

(2012-05-20 02:43:17) Me: unreported is like that because either it’s not a big deal to the victim, or because there’s a stigma, or because there’s this problem.

(2012-05-20 02:43:41) Me: there are probably other reason but those are what comes to mind

(2012-05-20 02:44:52) Friend: there of course are ways, but they rely on the existence of other circumstantial evidence, even if it was just people reporting on someone’s behavior

(2012-05-20 02:45:05) Me: psychology and neuroscience is coming up with ways to “read” someone’s mind, such that eventually these devices could tell if someone is lying about an event having occurred

(2012-05-20 02:45:27) Friend: do you want to live in a world where the government can read your mind against your will?

(2012-05-20 02:45:43) Me: this would be used the same way lie detectors were once relied upon

(2012-05-20 02:45:47) Me: except this is actual science

(2012-05-20 02:45:54) Me: and not a placebo

(2012-05-20 02:46:01) Friend: as it stands, “lie detector” tests are essentially placebo tests that only record the stress of the person about taking the test

(2012-05-20 02:46:05) Me: i know.

(2012-05-20 02:46:08) Friend: lie detectors are not accepted as court evidence

(2012-05-20 02:46:13) Friend: and were never scientifically accepted

(2012-05-20 02:46:15) Friend: never ever

(2012-05-20 02:46:18) Me: these new things are actually based in science

(2012-05-20 02:46:27) Me: they’re extremely new

(2012-05-20 02:46:59) Me: just like the “think up” machines to talk to people with locked-in syndrome and the like

(2012-05-20 02:47:21) Friend: those are mostly made up, and the people who claim to communicate with the people are faking it

(2012-05-20 02:47:31) Me: i don’t see why they can’t exist

(2012-05-20 02:47:42) Me: the brain is basically a network

(2012-05-20 02:47:48) Me: it’s finite

(2012-05-20 02:47:49) Friend: no, no no

(2012-05-20 02:48:19) Me: right now, they don’t exist like that. i dont’ see why eventually they cannot exist

(2012-05-20 02:48:26) Friend: mapping the function of the brain on a neuronal level is way beyond “a network” due to the emergent behaviors of systems that big

(2012-05-20 02:48:35) Me: i know

(2012-05-20 02:48:45) Me: but the mind doesn’t change in a snapshot

(2012-05-20 02:48:57) Me: it does change, and that’s why memory changes

(2012-05-20 02:49:04) Friend: this is a tangent

(2012-05-20 02:49:15) Me: but to catch a memory, why not just catch a snapshot?

(2012-05-20 02:49:26) Friend: the fact that magic sci-fi technology does not exist is not a “fault” of our legal system, or a problem with it

(2012-05-20 02:49:33) Friend: that’s a logical fallacy, although i can

(2012-05-20 02:49:36) Friend: cant remember the name

(2012-05-20 02:49:40) Me: lol

(2012-05-20 02:49:59) Me: cell phones were magic once too

(2012-05-20 02:50:30) Friend: no one ever claimed that there was a problem with land-line phones because the communicators in star trek weren’t real things, though

(2012-05-20 02:50:35) Me: if this is not a fault, then this is the perfect crime.

(2012-05-20 02:50:45) Me: land line phones didn’t exist at one point either

(2012-05-20 02:51:11) Me: at what point do we call invention incremental instead of revolutionary?

(2012-05-20 02:51:25) Friend: no stop

(2012-05-20 02:51:29) Friend: you’re ignoring the point

(2012-05-20 02:51:57) Me: the problem with land lines is that you can’t walk away from them

(2012-05-20 02:52:00) Friend: a legal system can’t be faulted for not having something that doesnt exist

(2012-05-20 02:52:01) Friend: period

(2012-05-20 02:52:14) Friend: that wasn’t a “problem” before the cell phone

(2012-05-20 02:52:19) Friend: since there was no alternative

(2012-05-20 02:52:33) Me: yea, it was. you went hiking, you were screwed unless you could get help fast enough

(2012-05-20 02:52:35) Friend: it is only a problem if there is something for which that problem doesnt exist

(2012-05-20 02:52:38) Me: or weren’t hurt that badly

(2012-05-20 02:53:16) Me: and with the justice system, there is a problem that exists: there is the perfect crime that leaves no evidence.

(2012-05-20 02:53:25) Me: aggressor need only say “liar”

(2012-05-20 02:53:34) Friend: what the fuck

(2012-05-20 02:53:43) Me: what?

(2012-05-20 02:54:09) Friend: you arent bothering to try to be logically consistent: so let’s go back to the phone

(2012-05-20 02:54:40) Me: you leave no evidence when you commit a crime. in a system that requires evidence, if you leave none, you have committed the perfect crime. if anybody knows about the crime you committed, all you need to do is deny it.

(2012-05-20 02:55:03) Me: and you walk.

(2012-05-20 02:55:10) Friend: not necessarily

(2012-05-20 02:56:10) Friend: if “someone knows”, then you have one piece of debatable circumstantial evidence. if you have multiple sources of circumstantial evidence, that may constitute proof beyond a reasonable doublt

(2012-05-20 02:56:16) Friend: BUT NOW WE ARE GOING BACK TO PHONES

(2012-05-20 02:56:31) Me: okay

(2012-05-20 02:57:02) Friend: the lack of mobility of land line phones was only a “problem” retrospectively, because there was no alternative.

(2012-05-20 02:57:20) Me: i dont get why it was only retrospective

(2012-05-20 02:57:31) Me: and not….whatsis, present?

(2012-05-20 02:57:52) Friend: because posing it as a problem, instead of a physical reality, presumes that there is a solution

(2012-05-20 02:57:59) Friend: the fact that there would be mobile phones was not known

(2012-05-20 02:58:13) Me: why can’t we say, we wish this wasn’t the case, or wish this had a solution?

(2012-05-20 02:59:29) Friend: I can’t call the fact that ice cream has calories a “problem” so much as it is a reality of milk and sugar based deserts

(2012-05-20 03:00:03) Friend: we can say we wish this wasn’t the case, but we can’t label it as a problem, instead it is the reality of the current situation

(2012-05-20 03:00:48) Friend: if there is a better present alternative, feel free to point to that, and then see if that meets the definition of a solution to the problem you see.

(2012-05-20 03:02:10) Friend: All human institutions are bound to be imperfect, but ideally we go with those with the best track records

(2012-05-20 03:03:16) Me: if it’s not a problem then why work towards finding a solution?

(2012-05-20 03:03:41) Me: if you’re working towards a solution, or an alternative, then by default there must be something wrong with what exists. hence it is a problem

(2012-05-20 03:04:03) Friend: This is rejected my american internet-libertarians, who can’t comprehend the subtleties of a world where there are not stark definitions between good and bad, and as a result, use inane reductionism on everything to claim that because the “free market” , in the mythical terms they define, is better simply because their narrative paints it as simpler (in the sense that it is more natural, according to their pseudonaturalistic theology_

(2012-05-20 03:04:32) Me: or at least, if not a problem in the conventional sense, then an “i think this could be better” or a “there ought to be different ways to do this”

(2012-05-20 03:04:40) Friend: because you can’t know until after that solution has been found whether or not the solution can be found

(2012-05-20 03:05:13) Me: that doesn’t make what exists not problematic

(2012-05-20 03:06:09) Me: i can’t go to the beach without getting sunburned, no matter what i do. no solution exists, but that’s still a problem.

(2012-05-20 03:06:32) Friend: from our point of view, it seems obvious that the mobile phone would one day follow the telephone. but that leaves out the millions of people whose work and inventions led to that, and the fact that a mobile phone would ever exist could not be predicted

(2012-05-20 03:06:48) Me: i never said it was obvious it would exist

(2012-05-20 03:06:52) Friend: no, solutions do exist. you dont go to the beach

(2012-05-20 03:06:56) Me: that’s hindsight bias

(2012-05-20 03:07:09) Me: okay, so beach analogy isn’t perfect

(2012-05-20 03:07:22) Me: i can’t not exist in the world, i have to interact with it

(2012-05-20 03:07:39) Friend: from the standpoint of creating infinite free energy, the laws of thermodynamics are “a problem”, then

(2012-05-20 03:07:53) Me: no, those are facts of nature

(2012-05-20 03:08:02) Me: this here is social stuff

(2012-05-20 03:08:06) Me: it can be changed

(2012-05-20 03:08:10) Friend: i

(2012-05-20 03:08:17) Friend: no, no, stop shifting the goalposts

(2012-05-20 03:08:22) Me: ?

(2012-05-20 03:08:25) Friend: i’m still tallking about telephones

(2012-05-20 03:08:32) Friend: one thing at a time

(2012-05-20 03:08:34) Me: okay

(2012-05-20 03:11:18) Friend: let me put it a better way: the fact that phones werent mobile was a limitation, and without knowing that it was possible to create a mobile phone, you can’t reasonably call this a problem, since a problem implies that a solution is proposed

(2012-05-20 03:13:31) Me: ohhh

(2012-05-20 03:13:34) Friend: changing to another example: ray kurzweil is an idiot manchild whose existential terror has made him believe that a “technological singularity” is inevitable, so that he may rationalize the inevitability of oblivion (since he won’t experience it if the singularity makes him immortal). he treats mortality as a “problem”, even though actual philosophers and scientists take that as a fact

(2012-05-20 03:13:41) Me: the difference between a limitation and a problem.

(2012-05-20 03:14:36) Me: so then….what’s the difference between a fact and a limitation?

(2012-05-20 03:15:54) Friend: if, in fact, your issues with the legal system were due to limitations, and not actual problems, the correct statement to make would be, “___ is a current limitation of the legal system. hypothetically, if technologically allows for ____, then this limitation could be overcome. ”

(2012-05-20 03:17:18) Friend: depends on what is being discussed, and in the language used. when people say something is a “fact of life”, it isnt obviously a fact like the value of Pi, but something whose existence is taken for granted.

(2012-05-20 03:17:26) Friend: death, therefore, is a fact of life

(2012-05-20 03:17:41) Me: oh

(2012-05-20 03:18:05) Me: when would death be a limitation?

(2012-05-20 03:18:19) Me: talking about the viability of the brain?

(2012-05-20 03:18:40) Friend: same thing, in this case, but then it comes down to philosophy of defining life and death and whatever

(2012-05-20 03:18:45) Friend: which is messy, and annoying

(2012-05-20 03:18:48) Me: lol

(2012-05-20 03:19:50) Me: it seems like there is no categorical way to sort fact versus limit

(2012-05-20 03:20:34) Me: i was gonna say artificial is a limit….

(2012-05-20 03:20:49) Me: but some biology is also a limit

(2012-05-20 03:20:50) Friend: i’m sure someone has discussed the ontology of that, but im just making stuff up as i go along

(2012-05-20 03:20:57) Me: lol okay

(2012-05-20 03:21:52) Friend: like, the fact that DNA testing did not always exist was not considering a problem for determining a child’s father

(2012-05-20 03:22:07) Me: that makes sense

(2012-05-20 03:23:06) Friend: and even when people, both scientists and science fiction writers, had predicted that such a thing might oneday be possible, one would be forced to say that: we are limited by the technology of our times

(2012-05-20 03:23:57) Me: i figured that one out, i just never took it this far

(2012-05-20 03:24:00) Friend: even though that supposed that the technology may be developed, it acknowleges that the technology isnt inevitable.

(2012-05-20 03:24:32) Me: acknowledges possibility without certainty?

(2012-05-20 03:25:05) Friend: mhm. you can acknowledge your belief in something, but not base an argument that treats that belief as fact

(2012-05-20 03:27:28) Me: so, you can say “i believe x, and this is why” but you can’t turn around and say “z because x”?

(2012-05-20 03:28:20) Me: that inability to carry things forward seems like it is only limited to projective things

(2012-05-20 03:28:40) Me: ….which is why we have propogation of uncertainty. at least, the concept of it

(2012-05-20 03:30:50) Friend: lets recenter this: an actual “lie detector” may or may not be physically possible–it doesn’t help that the concepts of lying and deceit aren’t guaranteed to be physical instead of metaphysical, thus there is no guarantee that a lie has discrete and well-defined physical representation in the brain

(2012-05-20 03:33:05) Friend: for instance, MRI’s can only map course bloodflow patterns. lots of studies pop up all the time linking brain area X to Y based on MRI data. I’ve come across an article / metareview of articles published a while back on multiple occasions that reveals that most articles like this published are, in fact, statistically completely shit and meaningless, but no one in that scientific community wants to acknolwedge that fact for a whole bunch of reasons

(2012-05-20 03:34:03) Friend: so, I can’t call the lack of a lie detector a problem. the possibility one could exist is interesting for discussing the theoretical scientific and sociopolitical ramifications of its existence.

(2012-05-20 03:35:48) Friend: but it only becomes useful for discussing the real policy if the existence of a lie detector is realized, or is right-around-the-corner

(2012-05-20 03:37:58) Friend: and i know that last part seems to contradict what I’ve discussed earlier, but that’s really a value judgement based on scientific consensus. just like Intel has budgetted and made forecasts and predictions based on semiconductor processes that haven’t been fully developed, but are not physically impossible, follow the trend of past developments, and are not objected to.

(2012-05-20 03:38:25) Me: okay

(2012-05-20 03:39:00) Me: is the issue of the perfect crime, under the current system and its limitations, acknowledgable?

(2012-05-20 03:39:19) Me: as in a “this is the state of things”

(2012-05-20 03:41:09) Friend: it’s acknowledged that it exists, but that our legal system (in the most general terms) is the best we’ve come up with so far, so we should probably keep doing it that way

(2012-05-20 03:42:07) Me: the fact that latex fails under friction hasn’t stopped us from using it in condoms, but that’s still a limitation of latex. hasn’t stopped us from using it

(2012-05-20 03:42:17) Me: does perfection exist in either case? idk

(2012-05-20 03:42:25) Friend: perfection is irrelevant

(2012-05-20 03:42:25) Me: are those legit concerns? i think so

(2012-05-20 03:42:40) Friend: latex condons are used because they are much better than any alternative

(2012-05-20 03:42:52) Me: in taht “this is a limitation of the current MO”

(2012-05-20 03:43:05) Me: if there is a limitation, perfection isn’t reached

(2012-05-20 03:43:20) Me: absolute perfection is irrelevant

(2012-05-20 03:43:37) Friend: perfection is just a made-up definition, not a real quality

(2012-05-20 03:43:51) Me: it’s a useful concept

(2012-05-20 03:43:59) Me: but yes, it does not actually exist

(2012-05-20 03:44:07) Me: what is perfect for one isn’t for another

(2012-05-20 03:44:09) Friend: ok, a heat engine would be “perfect” if it was 100% efficient, right?

(2012-05-20 03:44:53) Me: depends on if hte fuel it uses is renewable

(2012-05-20 03:45:06) Me: and therein lies the nonexistence of perfection

(2012-05-20 03:45:10) Friend: nope

(2012-05-20 03:45:12) Me: no?

(2012-05-20 03:46:05) Friend: the maximum efficiency of a heat engine is limited by carnot’s theorem, and can never actually be 100%, unless thermodynamics are wrong

(2012-05-20 03:46:23) Me: well that too

(2012-05-20 03:46:28) Friend: thus, perfection is irrelevant unless it can be achieved.

(2012-05-20 03:47:11) Me: i was using “perfection” as the flip of “this has limitations, and therefore is not perfect”

(2012-05-20 03:47:47) Me: ie opposite of having limitations is perfection

(2012-05-20 03:47:58) Friend: so, we can redefine the perfect efficiency of a heat engine to that lower value given by carnot’s thm. however, in the real world, we can build a heat engine, and it’s efficiency will be lower than that. but we can’t say if one will ever be built that gets closer to that theoretical maximum of perfection, so that definition becomes somewhat irrelevant

(2012-05-20 03:48:30) Friend: well, yeah, but the search for perfection is a bad road to go down, for it is the libertarian way.

(2012-05-20 03:48:31) Me: yea, so perfection is never reached

(2012-05-20 03:48:38) Me: lol i know

(2012-05-20 03:48:58) Me: it’s not quantifiable

(2012-05-20 03:49:24) Me: well, more like it’s not black and white

(2012-05-20 03:49:34) Me: like you said, reduciable

(2012-05-20 03:49:44) Me: dammit spelling

(2012-05-20 03:50:00) Me: i will blame it on the keyboard becuase i do not konw how to spell that

(2012-05-20 03:50:29) Friend: yes. they use reductionism because it allows them to create arguments that don’t represent reality that achieve their definition of perfection.

(2012-05-20 03:51:05) Me: philosophy is not reality’

(2012-05-20 03:51:06) Friend: it stems from taking the Austrian school’s belief that empirical evidence is not only unecessary, but should be rejected

(2012-05-20 03:51:16) Me: snort

(2012-05-20 03:52:10) Friend: they say they do this because reality is too complex for math and models, but in reality its pretty clear that they do it because empircal evidence instantly makes everything gray, and ruins their irrelevant reductionisms

(2012-05-20 03:52:27) Me: ahhahaah

(2012-05-20 03:52:47) Me: they acknowledge it’s not simple and then say it’s irrelevant that it’s not simple

(2012-05-20 03:54:19) Me: “MUST BE LOGICAL”

(2012-05-20 03:54:30) Friend: yes, because empirical models can;t ever perfectly describe the behaviors of complex emergent sytems, they choose instead to make up unproven axioms to start with, and “deduce” the logical conclusions from there

(2012-05-20 03:55:14) Me: ultimate hipsters

(2012-05-20 03:55:31) Me: i need no logic to do my logic with

(2012-05-20 03:55:37) Friend: it’s this, although theyve supressed the critisms to a paragraph

(2012-05-20 03:55:37) Friend: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praxeology

(2012-05-20 03:56:04) Friend: now, let’s go all the way back to the beginning:

(2012-05-20 03:56:30) Me: i like how half the citations are in the crits

(2012-05-20 03:56:31) Me: ahah

(2012-05-20 03:57:09) Friend: 1. as it stands, there is no scientific way to tell who is lying in a situation that is pure hearsay.

(2012-05-20 03:57:26) Me: true

(2012-05-20 03:58:06) Friend: 2. however, most situations have degrees of other circumstantial evidence as well.

(2012-05-20 03:59:15) Friend: 3. the way to maximize the amount of circumstantial evidence that can be found, it must become a priority for crimes to be reported as soon as possible, and make sure that reports are always investigated barring exceptional reasons not to

(2012-05-20 04:00:12) Friend: 4. reporting of crimes can be increased if society placed no social stigma on victims of crimes

(2012-05-20 04:00:35) Me: i agree with all of that

(2012-05-20 04:01:01) Friend: 5. ironically, the easiest way to do that is if people started reporting crimes. sociological positive feedback loops are a bitch

(2012-05-20 04:01:28) Me: i know, which is why i did it

(2012-05-20 04:01:49) Me: feedback loops are fascinating

(2012-05-20 04:02:08) Me: bitchy depending on which end you’re on, but fascinating

(2012-05-20 04:03:50) Friend: there are also, i realize, problems in the language regarding fault and blame

(2012-05-20 04:04:05) Me: yep

(2012-05-20 04:05:07) Friend: it’s hard to say, “well, they may have been convicted if you spoke up sooner” without assigning blame

(2012-05-20 04:05:50) Me: sadly, yea

(2012-05-20 04:05:58) Me: it’s why wording is so important

(2012-05-20 04:06:09) Friend: i havent seen the correct language yet, at least in english, for acknowledging contributions to complex chains of events, without assigning culpabilit

(2012-05-20 04:06:11) Friend: *y

(2012-05-20 04:06:43) Me: that’s partially because english itself usually needs to have a blamed object

(2012-05-20 04:06:50) Me: there was some kinds of studies on that

(2012-05-20 04:07:06) Me: either it’s cultural or it’s inherently like that, they weren’t sure, iirc

(2012-05-20 04:07:56) Friend: it’s more than english, because people inherently assign causation on individual “things”, instead of chance

(2012-05-20 04:08:24) Me: some languages don’t do that. they’re more of a “the egg is broken” instead of “you broke the egg”

(2012-05-20 04:08:37) Me: english likes actors and receptors of those actions

(2012-05-20 04:08:54) Me: other languages like to just state what *is*

(2012-05-20 04:09:17) Me: which could be cultural or could be inherent to the structure of the language

(2012-05-20 04:09:38) Me: like with some asian languages and math, the math being easier is built right in

(2012-05-20 04:09:51) Friend: but back to stuff: it’s hard to say, “well, if you weren’t walking alone in east liberty with a fanny pack at night, you may not have been mugged” without blaming you for it, instead of pointing out that not doing would have simply lessened your chances, but the fault still lies on the mugger, as they are a person with their own agency

(2012-05-20 04:10:18) Friend: whereas if you got attacked by a mountain lion while walking in the woods alone, it can only be your fault, since the mountain lion lacks agency

(2012-05-20 04:10:30) Me: “muggers like to pick targets who appear to be easy marks”

(2012-05-20 04:11:16) Me: and if it’s the person’s fault, why then do we hunt down animals that attack people and kill them?

(2012-05-20 04:11:18) Friend: “i got mugged”
“dressed like that? you’re an easy mark!”

still comes across as blame

(2012-05-20 04:11:26) Me: true

(2012-05-20 04:12:00) Friend: because certain animals learn to hunt people specifically, and thus become a greater than usual threat for which normal precautions (such as traveling in groups) are no longer effective

(2012-05-20 04:12:25) Me: the other issue for the mugger situation is how a victim is treated

(2012-05-20 04:12:42) Me: we learn not to wave money around, but the agency is still on the mugger

(2012-05-20 04:12:46) Friend: but at no point is the animal blamed, since it doesnt have agency (or at least very little, compared to a person)

(2012-05-20 04:12:53) Friend: not quite

(2012-05-20 04:12:55) Me: ohh okay i see

(2012-05-20 04:13:15) Friend: it’s a matter of degrees

(2012-05-20 04:14:22) Friend: the example i came up with this afternoon–i live on a street with a blind corner, that locals know to drive slow around, and not to cross the street there. people from out of town arent familiar, and may not slow down

(2012-05-20 04:14:24) Me: it’s more reactionary than it is “this person looks tasty”

(2012-05-20 04:15:01) Friend: if i live in the area, am familiar with that fact, and get hit by a car while crossing the street at this blind corner, is it my fault? or is it shared?

(2012-05-20 04:15:33) Friend: what about if the car is from someone out-of-town, and they are speeding slightly? is it their fault entirely? or is the culpability shared

(2012-05-20 04:15:35) Friend: *?

(2012-05-20 04:15:59) Me: yea, things get weird

(2012-05-20 04:16:10) Friend: havent come up with a good response yet, but I’ve never actually had any formal education in these areas

(2012-05-20 04:16:22) Me: quit yer excuses

(2012-05-20 04:16:34) Me: you’re supposed to know everything

(2012-05-20 04:16:57) Friend: everything that i can derive from first principles, or from what i already know

(2012-05-20 04:18:02) Friend: the philosophy of moral angecy has been debated for a while, so all the easy arguments have been long since thought of. and many of them have been destroyed, but the rebuttals might not be quite as obvious

(2012-05-20 04:18:12) Friend: maybe I should read more Bentham…eh, boring

(2012-05-20 04:18:59) Me: i never could stomach the old type philosophies

(2012-05-20 04:19:04) Me: *ers

(2012-05-20 04:22:09) Friend: I’ m notoriously bad at making cogent ad-hoc arguments, but I hope ive helped a little

(2012-05-20 04:22:15) Me: yep

(2012-05-20 04:24:13) Me: dude, its four am

(2012-05-20 04:24:18) Me: and this was on the fly

(2012-05-20 04:24:21) Friend: i’m pretty sure i even semi-deliberately threw in some fallacies because making perfect arguments takes a lot of writing, and i didnt think you’d catch them

(2012-05-20 04:24:23) Me: i understood it

(2012-05-20 04:24:26) Me: ahahah

(2012-05-20 04:24:30) Me: i didn’t

(2012-05-20 04:24:35) Me: but that’s the point of discussion


I know that needing proof is a limitation of a justice system that otherwise works. I acknowledge that. My problem with it is that, as said in the conversation above, there are transgressions that do not have conventional proof. We don’t currently have a way to distinguish “that person is lying, I know they did this”, from “they made it up”. There is nothing on the foreseeable horizon that would enable us to distinguish those two.

So, what do we do? Do we not prosecute transgressions that, by their very nature,  have no concrete evidence? Do we not even label those crimes, do we take them off the law books?

The relevant categories to my personal experience are harassment and sexual assault, although there are far more proof-less crimes. Discrimination is one of them.

To solve a few of those, we could do two things. One is to insist that everyone stop interacting via mediums that are not recorded, and prosecute anyone who breaks that provision. This would be impossible and called a police state. A second way is to ensure all communication be recorded– audio/visual cameras, 24/7. Including private lives, every interaction. The problem with that is it also would immediately be struck down as the actions of a police state. Another problem is that it confines people to living in spaces covered by those cameras if they want to be protected–but it doesn’t prevent aggressors standing outside the camera’s eye from continuing their activities. If those aggressors are not on camera, if those cameras do not cover all possible ground, we are right back at “he-said-she-said”. We are right back at “this is faked”. Minus, of course, a lot of privacy.

Could you wear a camera on you, and only give up select clips from it? No, that would be considered possibly tainted evidence. This still puts the blame on the victim for not “being safe enough”.

With any of these camera incidents, it also means that the camera only need be disabled, and it’s yet again a proof-less crime. Plus, specific instances don’t cover all of the necessary evidence; I myself rejected my assaulter two weeks before the actual incident. Do we keep all recordings, so that we know for a fact that consent had been previously denied, no matter how long ago that conversation had taken place? No matter if it was just a single sentence or an hours-long discussion about actions that do and do not have consent?

Or do people who are victims of these proof-less crimes simply not name their aggressor, and thereby avoid the whole black hole of proof? The problem here is that the dangerous behavior itself is not addressed, and this approach *still* has the problems of “this could be faked”.

How do you unravel the perfect crime?


Every interaction, from the micro level of the one-time meeting of two people at a bus stop all the way up to the macro level of global societies, is built on trust. Trust that this the other person will be reasonable in the same way that you are reasonable, and trust that if there are differences they can be smoothed out. When that trust is broken, it’s incredibly hard to regain it, especially at a level higher than the personal. Social trust must be maintained, or all of these interactions fall apart. To accomplish anything requires passing an impossibly high bar of accreditation–would you trust the word of your friend, when anyone could lie and shift allegiance, would you trust the presentation of a college degree without checking with the college itself?


I turned immediately to anger rather than calm thought as detailed above. Why?

Think about the implications of wanting concrete, conventional proof for everything. It means that what happened to me doesn’t matter, because I have no proof of the actual assault. There never is proof of those kinds of things, and the track record with cases where there is proof isn’t reassuring. It’s incredibly easy to dismiss claims when there is no such thing as proof, when you can call the claimant crazy and be done with it. And now you know why it’s so incredibly difficult to even get attention for sex crime cases, much less have it taken to trial, let alone get a guilty verdict.

This doesn’t sit well with me because that means what happened can happen again, and nothing would be done about it. Just as nothing was done originally. Clearly the original incident still haunts me; it was not a joy ride. I wouldn’t call more of that “fun”, to put it dryly.

I acknowledge that this is a real limitation of our justice system. I acknowledge it, but I can’t accept it–because that means that this happening again would get the same kind of treatment original one. I can’t accept this happening again.

I’m lucky that I can even get to the point of acknowledging this exists. I don’t know if I could have done that a while ago, because it requires being able to see past what my mind wants to “prevent” from happening again.

I can’t prevent it. And that’s not okay.

Edit: Clarification: I do not support the police state tactics discussed above, they are presented as a solution solely to show the absurdity of how the crimes currently without proof would acquire the necessary proof.

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