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knowledge, evidence, and proof

Garbanza
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10/30/2014 7:39:59 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
This is a discussion that was started on a debate, but has moved here.

http://www.debate.org...

The debate was about corporal punishment. Bladerunner has argued that my position was fallacious, and I am trying to understand exactly how. I appreciate his patience in explaining it.

To summarize. The resolution was: on balance, corporal punishment by parents is beneficial to the child.

The way I see it, there are three basic levels of opinion on the existence of benefits.

1. The child. In the debate, both sides were happy to ignore the child's opinion. If a child is spanked for running around after bedtime and as a consequence goes straight to sleep, everyone seems happy to ignore the child's opinion that it would be more beneficial to run around. Children don't know what's good for them.

2. The parent. I gave evidence that most parents around the world use corporal punishment and that they approve of its use.

3. Some higher authority. Bsh1 argued that EXPERTS have shown that corporal punishment is wrong. Bsh and bladerunner argue that the experts' opinion is more convincing than the parents' because parents can be wrong. There are plenty of examples where people have generally and falsely believed something to be true, and this could be one of them.

I disagree because - and I think I showed convincingly - that the studies the experts' opinions were based on did not contain convincing evidence about the evils of CP. Causality was not established, the participant group was nowhere near representative, and there was very strong evidence of cultural differences in the reported associations. Further, almost all the studies were based on parental report, and any correlations between CP and outcome measures reflected cultural and associated circumstances rather than anything related to CP.

Nevertheless, there is strong expert opinion that CP is bad for children. But then, why are these experts EXPERTS rather than just random people with opinions? It's because of their research credentials, and their practice of comprehensively detailing their methodology and processes, including the limitations of their research. In other words, their opinions shouldn't matter over and above the evidence of their studies. Perhaps, it could be argued that they have a lot of experience working with children and parents and so their intuition may be better formed than other people; however, their combined experience is much less than millions of parents who are working with their children every day.

The fallacy

So I argued that given the evidence for - the parents - and the evidence against - the authorities (biased and extremely weak), that on balance, it comes down on the side of PRO, if only just. It's not a strong result, obviously, but all things considered, it's PROBABLY pro. But this is, according to bladerunner, a fallacy, because people can get it wrong.

I agree, that of course they can. However, to be wrong implies that there's some objective knowledge that exists and that parents don't have access to.

Bladerunner wrote:
There are drugs we used to use for cadiac arrest events. We used them for years and years--and when they actually did the studies on them, they found that those drugs did not at all affect the outcome of resuscitation. So we stopped using them. Now, the only reason we did, was because of STUDIES and general trends. And the overall outcomes have improved. Some people fought it, actually, saying "That's dumb, this drug does X, Y, Z". XYZ was true, but nonetheless, those things didn't help in the case of cardiac arrest.

This is a great example of something that does have an objective outcome measure - incidence of cardiac arrest events. It's definitely possible to manipulate some independent variable and look at the difference in cardiac arrests as an outcome. Further, there's no ambiguity about the desirability of the outcome measure. In this case, people can definitely get it wrong if they think x approach reduces the risk of cardiac arrest when it can be shown that it doesn't.

However, this is not the case at all when looking at "benefit to children". An often cited association with CP is increased aggression and a failure to "internalize morality". Who chooses "internalizing morality" as a benefit to the child? The child doesn't. The parents may or may not. Instead, some expert authority has decided that increased aggression and failure to internalize morality do not benefit the child. Based on what, exactly? They don't know the child or the circumstances. I showed that in China, for instance, the vast majority of parents use CP. Are we to dismiss an entire culture based on findings of aggression and a different way of conceiving morality?
Garbanza
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10/30/2014 8:35:54 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Bladerunner wrote:
There are drugs we used to use for cadiac arrest events. We used them for years and years--and when they actually did the studies on them, they found that those drugs did not at all affect the outcome of resuscitation. So we stopped using them. Now, the only reason we did, was because of STUDIES and general trends. And the overall outcomes have improved. Some people fought it, actually, saying "That's dumb, this drug does X, Y, Z". XYZ was true, but nonetheless, those things didn't help in the case of cardiac arrest.

Sorry, I misread this. You're talking about resuscitation not incidence of cardiac arrest. Still, it's the same thing - there's no ambiguity about the outcome, and it can be objectively measured.

With benefit to child, to measure it objectively you have to pick specific outcomes as desirable, and that's a subjective process.
bladerunner060
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10/31/2014 1:03:29 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
@Garbanza:

You ask about whether parents want their kids to "internalize morality".

Internalizing morality means to understand morality--to "get" a moral system and agree with it. As opposed to "following" a moral system simply because of threats of violence.

I do not think it plausible that most parents would say, if given the option:

"Do you want kids to be obedient because A, they have internalized the morality, and agree that X behavior is wrong, or B, only because they don't want to get whipped?"

That they would honestly prefer Option B.

Further, X behavior is something they shouldn't be doing even in circumstances where they won't get caught, right? Yet, if they haven't internalized the morality, they--knowing or thinking they won't get caught--are going to be considerably more likely to do it, as a direct consequence of not having internalized it.

A lot of this comes back to what I was saying about rigor. You can't show that these parents are approaching the question "Should I use CP" with any rigor whatsoever. Meanwhile, we CAN see exactly how much rigor the "experts" are approaching it with. I note the lopsidedness of your parentheticals--you say "the parents" and then "the experts (biased and extremely weak)". The parentheticals, I would argue, should more properly be "the parents (biased, weak, and lacking rigor of any kind)" vs. "the experts (possibly nonrepresentative, using metrics that could potentially be non-universally agreed upon)".

The main difference is that the experts can show how they got to their decision. You're just assuming the parents got to their decision with a measure of rigor--when that's just not present whatsoever and, I would argue, is more likely than not simply not present. Anecdotally, I have yet to meet a single CP parent who has done any research or even approached their own kid with a measure of rigor--in my experience, it's been a "tradition" issue.

And the thing about tradition is, it calls to mind the old joke:

"Start with a cage containing five monkeys. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey will make an attempt with the same response -- all of the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Keep this up for several days.

Turn off the cold water. If, later, another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them.

Now, remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Replace the third original monkey with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.

Why not?

"Because that's the way it's always been done around here.""

Tradition may no longer apply--as is the case with this old joke, or may have been wrong in the first place.

If parents WERE approaching the situation with rigor, I'd expect you to be able to find evidence of that. What you seemed to want to do was just "take their word" on CP as being the best thing, because it's the thing they're doing. But even with a charitable interpretation of motive (that they're doing it for the best interest of the child) doesn't make it right. Motives do not affect the truth value of a proposition.

Experts can be wrong, certainly and of course. But, because they've approached the question with rigor, we have an easier time finding out WHY or HOW they're wrong (for example, the problems you argued for in the studies), as opposed to it just being flatly asserted that they're right, which is what you wanted to do with CP. How, you argued, did we know there was a benefit? Because parents are motivated to do what's best, parents do it, therefore there must be a benefit. But that's just false.

Researchers are motivated to find the best answer and, I would argue, are motivated because of children too--and you wanted to argue that that should be discounted for problems of rigor that are magnified 1000x in the case of parents, who have a small representative sample size and lack the perspective of an objective study. There's a reason they say of lawyers that the man who represents himself has a fool for a client. There's a reason that hypochondriacs wind up self-diagnosing a myriad of nonexistent ailments. Because we are easily biased and blinded as a species.
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Garbanza
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10/31/2014 7:31:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/31/2014 1:03:29 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Haha love the monkey joke.

Monkey parents have to decide - do they want their child to learn that he will get beaten up if he tries to climb the stairs or do they want him to internalize the morality that climbing the stairs is wrong? Of course, if they choose the latter, the more fanatically the child will guard the steps to prevent other monkeys from climbing.

You can't have it both ways. If parents are biased and blinded, then why is internalizing their morality so desirable? And if they're not, maybe we can accept their judgment about how to discipline their own children.

In the analogy, the monkeys who beat the others up are the parents using CP. However, see the dilemma - if the parents don't stop the child from trying to climb the stairs, she'll get beaten up by the other monkeys. It's reasonable for a parent not to want that.

So what bsh1 and UNICEF are arguing is that ALL the monkeys should stop beating each other up. It's nothing short of cultural revolution!

How unfortunate - given the history of the world - that in your analogy it's all the non-white cultures that get to be the crazy monkeys, and the Western experts who get to lead the way to reason and bananas.

A lot of this comes back to what I was saying about rigor. You can't show that these parents are approaching the question "Should I use CP" with any rigor whatsoever. Meanwhile, we CAN see exactly how much rigor the "experts" are approaching it with. I note the lopsidedness of your parentheticals--you say "the parents" and then "the experts (biased and extremely weak)". The parentheticals, I would argue, should more properly be "the parents (biased, weak, and lacking rigor of any kind)" vs. "the experts (possibly nonrepresentative, using metrics that could potentially be non-universally agreed upon)".

Suppose there was a study that showed an association between reported headaches and taking aspirin. It's just a correlation so we can't PROVE that aspirin causes headaches. But there IS an association...numerous peer-reviewed studies show that...scientific rigor. OK, there's some limitations listed in the methods section, but we can be reasonably certain that aspirin will give you a headache, right?

No! Of course we can't be. This is not an issue about "non-universally agreed upon" metrics. It's an issue about what studies can and can't establish. If causality isn't established, then it isn't established. Period. People may opine about mechanisms over and above that, but it's only speculation.

If we have "experts" speculating without the basis of robust evidence, then their opinions hold a lot less weight than the opinions of parents who actually KNOW their children and the circumstances of their lives.
bladerunner060
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10/31/2014 9:01:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/31/2014 1:03:29 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Monkey parents have to decide - do they want their child to learn that he will get beaten up if he tries to climb the stairs or do they want him to internalize the morality that climbing the stairs is wrong? Of course, if they choose the latter, the more fanatically the child will guard the steps to prevent other monkeys from climbing.

There's a difference, here, though. In the case of the stairs, the internalizing would address why, that is, why they're afraid of the water.

You can't have it both ways. If parents are biased and blinded, then why is internalizing their morality so desirable? And if they're not, maybe we can accept their judgment about how to discipline their own children.

It's desirable for the parents, yes. Morality is philosophy. CP is a practical application with a practical goal. The question is whether it serves to further that goal. The research indicates it does not.

In the analogy, the monkeys who beat the others up are the parents using CP. However, see the dilemma - if the parents don't stop the child from trying to climb the stairs, she'll get beaten up by the other monkeys. It's reasonable for a parent not to want that.

You're mixing up the analogy at that point, though. They're the parents AND the other monkeys? It doesn't really make sense.

So what bsh1 and UNICEF are arguing is that ALL the monkeys should stop beating each other up. It's nothing short of cultural revolution!

How unfortunate - given the history of the world - that in your analogy it's all the non-white cultures that get to be the crazy monkeys, and the Western experts who get to lead the way to reason and bananas.

Oh, goodness gracious. It's downright racist of you to assert this.

The point is the data. The culture is irrelevant if it's wrong based on the data, or if it hasn't even bothered looking at the data. It doesnt' matter what color their skin is--what matters is the DATA. To argue otherwise is to argue for a racist viewpoint, a particularly paternalistic one, IMHO.

A lot of this comes back to what I was saying about rigor. You can't show that these parents are approaching the question "Should I use CP" with any rigor whatsoever. Meanwhile, we CAN see exactly how much rigor the "experts" are approaching it with. I note the lopsidedness of your parentheticals--you say "the parents" and then "the experts (biased and extremely weak)". The parentheticals, I would argue, should more properly be "the parents (biased, weak, and lacking rigor of any kind)" vs. "the experts (possibly nonrepresentative, using metrics that could potentially be non-universally agreed upon)".

Suppose there was a study that showed an association between reported headaches and taking aspirin. It's just a correlation so we can't PROVE that aspirin causes headaches. But there IS an association...numerous peer-reviewed studies show that...scientific rigor. OK, there's some limitations listed in the methods section, but we can be reasonably certain that aspirin will give you a headache, right?

No, we can't, since the flaw we're finding is one of inverse temporality. That's a pretty huge error, and would make the conclusions immediately suspect. Which we can find, because they outline the research. That's an actual error. It's not one you could show in the data that was presented. The closest you came was arguing that other cultures might respond differently, which is a valid point, requiring evidence to support it.

In terms of medicine, this is as opposed to folk remedies, which don't have any supporting evidence. The notion that we should just assume there's value there is utterly absurd. What we should assume is people think there's value, and we should see whether it exists. In the case of CP, no studies show it to be valuable--at least, no studies you've presented.

No! Of course we can't be. This is not an issue about "non-universally agreed upon" metrics. It's an issue about what studies can and can't establish. If causality isn't established, then it isn't established. Period. People may opine about mechanisms over and above that, but it's only speculation.

Sociology has methods of finding causality with varying degrees of confidence. "Causation is a belief that events occur in predictable ways and that one event leads to another. If the relationship between the variables is non-spurious (there is not a third variable causing the effect), the temporal order is in line (cause before effect), and the study is longitudinal, it may be deduced that it is a causal relationship."

It's worth noting that even the studies you faulted noted the basic problem of definitively establishing causality. But you were tasked with showing an on-balance benefit, and you were unable to show any except short-term compliance. We could just as well apply the critcism to the short-term compliance, so that once again just hurts your own case.

If you're arguing that it's impossible to be certain on causality, then the parents are hitting their kids with no reason, and no WAY to get a reason, to think it's going to have any effect--if I believed that was reasonable, I would think they were terrible. I don't, actually, think that's reasonable. Instead, I think it's reasonable to conclude that, if they do a longitudinal study that controls for confounding variables and is temporally correct, that it's most likely casual. Because that's usually how we determine causality.

If we have "experts" speculating without the basis of robust evidence, then their opinions hold a lot less weight than the opinions of parents who actually KNOW their children and the circumstances of their lives.

Not in the slightest. Again, you're assuming parents have some secret knowledge, and that's fallacious and absurd.

What we have here is experts making a judgement on limited evidence that they've approached with some measure of rigor, vice parents who are not approcahing it with any rigor whatsoever. And you wanting to assume that there must be a benefit, yet being unable to show one. Benefit may be nebulous, but it is real--if it's present.
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bladerunner060
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10/31/2014 9:07:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/31/2014 7:31:42 PM, Garbanza wrote:

But, lest we get too bound up in reply and counter reply, let's look at it this way:

You want us to presume there's a benefit. If there were a benefit, it would be demonstrable. It is a mistake to assume a benefit without it being demonstrated.

That's how folks remedies keep getting used, despite having no efficacy.
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Garbanza
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11/1/2014 12:17:46 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/31/2014 9:07:14 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
You want us to presume there's a benefit. If there were a benefit, it would be demonstrable. It is a mistake to assume a benefit without it being demonstrated.

Yes, this is the part I wanted to ask you about in the first place.

For the sake of argument, let's ignore the expert opinion part for a moment and suppose it just came down to my basic argument: the vast majority of parents around the world use CP. Does the argument hold up just with that?

See, I think it must. Because of course the parents could be wrong, but every source of knowledge is fallable. For instance, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable and yet we still deem that it has SOME weight.

Suppose it were an occupation other than parenting. Suppose we knew that 90 percent of accountants use procedure X for preparing tax returns. In the absense of all other information, I think it's fair to conclude that procedure X is useful for tax returns. It MIGHT not be, sure, but it more likely is than isn't.

I think to give people's judgement ZERO weight is taking it too far.

That's how folks remedies keep getting used, despite having no efficacy.

In addition to the placebo effect you mean. But actually, the placebo effect is often enough for a folk remedy to be beneficial, which means it often makes complete sense to use them.
Garbanza
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11/1/2014 4:32:40 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/31/2014 9:01:33 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 10/31/2014 1:03:29 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Monkey parents have to decide - do they want their child to learn that he will get beaten up if he tries to climb the stairs or do they want him to internalize the morality that climbing the stairs is wrong? Of course, if they choose the latter, the more fanatically the child will guard the steps to prevent other monkeys from climbing.

There's a difference, here, though. In the case of the stairs, the internalizing would address why, that is, why they're afraid of the water.

No, I'm talking about the last generation of monkeys. They would internalize the morality of not climbing the stairs, and the reason would not have to do with water, probably there'd be some other justification. The whole point is that they'd not climb the stairs even if they were alone and unobserved, because they'd believe it to be wrong.

You can't have it both ways. If parents are biased and blinded, then why is internalizing their morality so desirable? And if they're not, maybe we can accept their judgment about how to discipline their own children.

It's desirable for the parents, yes. Morality is philosophy. CP is a practical application with a practical goal. The question is whether it serves to further that goal. The research indicates it does not.

What goal do you mean?

In the analogy, the monkeys who beat the others up are the parents using CP. However, see the dilemma - if the parents don't stop the child from trying to climb the stairs, she'll get beaten up by the other monkeys. It's reasonable for a parent not to want that.

You're mixing up the analogy at that point, though. They're the parents AND the other monkeys? It doesn't really make sense.

In the joke, any monkey that tried to climb the stairs would be beaten up by all the other monkeys. I think this really sums up the issue of parenting under discussion - parents need to raise their children for the society they live in. If a family lives in a culture where people get beaten up for trying to climb stairs, then it's really important that parents teach their children not to climb stairs. They can do that by teaching using CP, in which case, the child learns to avoid stair climbing when observed, or they can do it by imposing a morality, in which case the child learns to avoid stair climbing at all times, and also to disapprove when other people climb stairs. In the monkey example, the CP punishment is more likely to give the child a chance of getting the bananas without getting beaten up by the monkey society. It's clearly more beneficial for the child, in my opinion.

So what bsh1 and UNICEF are arguing is that ALL the monkeys should stop beating each other up. It's nothing short of cultural revolution!

How unfortunate - given the history of the world - that in your analogy it's all the non-white cultures that get to be the crazy monkeys, and the Western experts who get to lead the way to reason and bananas.

Oh, goodness gracious. It's downright racist of you to assert this.

The point is the data. The culture is irrelevant if it's wrong based on the data, or if it hasn't even bothered looking at the data. It doesnt' matter what color their skin is--what matters is the DATA. To argue otherwise is to argue for a racist viewpoint, a particularly paternalistic one, IMHO.

Eh what? It's not racist to object to the implicit racism in someone else's argument.

I pointed all this out in the debate. White middle-class people tend not to use corporal punishment and don't approve of it. On the other hand, CP is the norm in China, Kenya, Thailand, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, and The Philippines - I showed that in the debate - and many times more likely to be used by black than by white American parents. Further, I cited a comprehensive review of culture and CP that showed that in those cultures where CP is mainstream, the negative associations don't exist anywhere near the extent they do in Western society, which is not a surprise because if it's not normal to use CP (or report doing so), then its occurrence (or reporting of it) is likely to be associated with extreme or unusual circumstances and negative outcomes.

Therefore, if you're going to draw an analogy between THIS, the topic of the debate, and a bunch of crazy monkeys behaving irrationally who need to be educated out of their ignorance in order to "climb the stairs" and reach the bananas, well, forgive me if I question the appropriateness of that analogy.

If you're arguing that it's impossible to be certain on causality, then the parents are hitting their kids with no reason, and no WAY to get a reason, to think it's going to have any effect--if I believed that was reasonable, I would think they were terrible. I don't, actually, think that's reasonable. Instead, I think it's reasonable to conclude that, if they do a longitudinal study that controls for confounding variables and is temporally correct, that it's most likely casual. Because that's usually how we determine causality.

No, we usually determine causality through experimental studies. When they're impossible, then personally, I think the next best way is through a good theoretical model that can be supported in various ways. In this case, the theoretical models are weak and based on prejudice more than anything else.

Very few of the studies bsh1 cited were longitudinal. They were almost entirely cross-sectional and self-report, so it's not all that relevant a point anyway. Even so, I don't think you're right about "temporal correctness". To go back to the headache example. The sorts of people who get headaches at one point in time are probably the same sorts of people who will get headaches at another point in time. There will be a correlation anyway, because some people never get them and some people are prone to them. Therefore, if you measure aspirin- taking behavior at time 1, and headache reporting at time 2, there will be an association.

Of course it's bad science and can be done better! I'm not trying to argue otherwise. But the studies cited by bsh1 never went beyond this in sophistication, and that's my point.

If we have "experts" speculating without the basis of robust evidence, then their opinions hold a lot less weight than the opinions of parents who actually KNOW their children and the circumstances of their lives.

Not in the slightest. Again, you're assuming parents have some secret knowledge, and that's fallacious and absurd.

No, I'm really not. It's more like observing that pandas eat bamboo and assuming that it's in the panda's best interests to do so, because all animals act to sustain themselves and reproduce in a competitive environment and so when you observe a behavior reproduced so faithfully by individuals throughout the species and in all kinds of environments, you assume it's adaptive. It might not be, of course, but it likely is.

What we have here is experts making a judgement on limited evidence that they've approached with some measure of rigor, vice parents who are not approcahing it with any rigor whatsoever. And you wanting to assume that there must be a benefit, yet being unable to show one. Benefit may be nebulous, but it is real--if it's present.

Well, if the studies had measured benefit as defined by parents, or by the children themselves, allowing for variation by culture, circumstance, and individual, then maybe. But they didn't.
bladerunner060
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11/1/2014 11:24:54 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/1/2014 12:17:46 AM, Garbanza wrote:
At 10/31/2014 9:07:14 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
You want us to presume there's a benefit. If there were a benefit, it would be demonstrable. It is a mistake to assume a benefit without it being demonstrated.

Yes, this is the part I wanted to ask you about in the first place.

For the sake of argument, let's ignore the expert opinion part for a moment and suppose it just came down to my basic argument: the vast majority of parents around the world use CP. Does the argument hold up just with that?

No. Because we have no reason to presume that they're actually weighing the merits of the systems or approaching it with any rigor.

See, I think it must. Because of course the parents could be wrong, but every source of knowledge is fallable. For instance, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable and yet we still deem that it has SOME weight.

I don't think those analogize properly.

Suppose it were an occupation other than parenting. Suppose we knew that 90 percent of accountants use procedure X for preparing tax returns. In the absense of all other information, I think it's fair to conclude that procedure X is useful for tax returns. It MIGHT not be, sure, but it more likely is than isn't.

The objective metric there is nigh-instant, successful acceptance of a tax return. But does 90% of tax preparers using a method mean that method is least likely to result in an audit? We assume that it would be because they're experts who study the field. Remember that they have to be trained. And remember that parents do not.

I think to give people's judgement ZERO weight is taking it too far.

Again, it's a rigor issue. If we see a scientific study with zero rigor, we discard it. Parents have 0 rigor--or at least, you couldn't show any in the debate. That doesn't make it wrong, could be true, but it means the data is not useful to establish that.

That's how folks remedies keep getting used, despite having no efficacy.

In addition to the placebo effect you mean. But actually, the placebo effect is often enough for a folk remedy to be beneficial, which means it often makes complete sense to use them.

The placebo effect only works on subjective complaints--you "think" you feel better. It doesn't actually affect anything objective, nor is it sufficient to make "complete sense" to use them, particularly since they're not sold or used on the basis of the placebo effect. If you're having an asthma attack, a folk remedy whose only efficacy is the placebo effect is not going to actually help you.

http://www.nih.gov...
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bladerunner060
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11/1/2014 11:44:52 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/1/2014 4:32:40 AM, Garbanza wrote:
At 10/31/2014 9:01:33 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 10/31/2014 1:03:29 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Monkey parents have to decide - do they want their child to learn that he will get beaten up if he tries to climb the stairs or do they want him to internalize the morality that climbing the stairs is wrong? Of course, if they choose the latter, the more fanatically the child will guard the steps to prevent other monkeys from climbing.

There's a difference, here, though. In the case of the stairs, the internalizing would address why, that is, why they're afraid of the water.

No, I'm talking about the last generation of monkeys. They would internalize the morality of not climbing the stairs, and the reason would not have to do with water, probably there'd be some other justification. The whole point is that they'd not climb the stairs even if they were alone and unobserved, because they'd believe it to be wrong.

Or they might take that reason and decide it's not sufficient, and d it anyway. You can't presume it would necessarily be considered "moral". The point is that they'd be using their minds to assess, rather than responding solely because of fear.

It's desirable for the parents, yes. Morality is philosophy. CP is a practical application with a practical goal. The question is whether it serves to further that goal. The research indicates it does not.

What goal do you mean?

Getting kids "raised right"--to be moral, to be upstanding citizens.

You're mixing up the analogy at that point, though. They're the parents AND the other monkeys? It doesn't really make sense.

In the joke, any monkey that tried to climb the stairs would be beaten up by all the other monkeys. I think this really sums up the issue of parenting under discussion - parents need to raise their children for the society they live in. If a family lives in a culture where people get beaten up for trying to climb stairs, then it's really important that parents teach their children not to climb stairs.

Okay.

They can do that by teaching using CP, in which case, the child learns to avoid stair climbing when observed, or they can do it by imposing a morality, in which case the child learns to avoid stair climbing at all times, and also to disapprove when other people climb stairs. In the monkey example, the CP punishment is more likely to give the child a chance of getting the bananas without getting beaten up by the monkey society. It's clearly more beneficial for the child, in my opinion.

No, because all it teaches is that if someone goes up, violence ensues. Not everything is necessarily a moral issue--parents can get kids to understand not to do things for non-moral things, too, though I'm not aware of any specific studies on it. Again, the difference is whether you've taught them through reason, or violence.

Which is not to preclude the usefulness of violence, except inasmuch as it hasn't been shown to be beneficial.

How could you analogize the monkey/banana thing to society? Give a specific similar example, because I don't want to get lost in monkeys.

Eh what? It's not racist to object to the implicit racism in someone else's argument.

It's racist to assert that there must be implicit racism because they're white people.

The data shows that CP is not useful. The race involved doesn't matter. You want to dismiss the data because they're white. Which is pretty racist.

I pointed all this out in the debate. White middle-class people tend not to use corporal punishment and don't approve of it. On the other hand, CP is the norm in China, Kenya, Thailand, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, and The Philippines

It used to be the norm among white middle-class people, to.

- I showed that in the debate - and many times more likely to be used by black than by white American parents. Further, I cited a comprehensive review of culture and CP that showed that in those cultures where CP is mainstream, the negative associations don't exist anywhere near the extent they do in Western society, which is not a surprise because if it's not normal to use CP (or report doing so), then its occurrence (or reporting of it) is likely to be associated with extreme or unusual circumstances and negative outcomes.

But you couldn't give a study that showed benefit.

Therefore, if you're going to draw an analogy between THIS, the topic of the debate, and a bunch of crazy monkeys behaving irrationally who need to be educated out of their ignorance in order to "climb the stairs" and reach the bananas, well, forgive me if I question the appropriateness of that analogy.

Fair enough. That's why it's a "joke", which I said. I didn't actually intend for you to take it as a straight analogy.

If you're arguing that it's impossible to be certain on causality, then the parents are hitting their kids with no reason, and no WAY to get a reason, to think it's going to have any effect--if I believed that was reasonable, I would think they were terrible. I don't, actually, think that's reasonable. Instead, I think it's reasonable to conclude that, if they do a longitudinal study that controls for confounding variables and is temporally correct, that it's most likely casual. Because that's usually how we determine causality.

No, we usually determine causality through experimental studies. When they're impossible, then personally, I think the next best way is through a good theoretical model that can be supported in various ways. In this case, the theoretical models are weak and based on prejudice more than anything else.

You're reading prejudice in because you're assuming prejudice.

Very few of the studies bsh1 cited were longitudinal. They were almost entirely cross-sectional and self-report, so it's not all that relevant a point anyway. Even so, I don't think you're right about "temporal correctness". To go back to the headache example. The sorts of people who get headaches at one point in time are probably the same sorts of people who will get headaches at another point in time. There will be a correlation anyway, because some people never get them and some people are prone to them. Therefore, if you measure aspirin- taking behavior at time 1, and headache reporting at time 2, there will be an association.

It will always be behind the taking of aspirin. The correlation will be reversed in time. This analogy just doesn't work for your purposes--I think it would be best if you found a different one.

Of course it's bad science and can be done better! I'm not trying to argue otherwise. But the studies cited by bsh1 never went beyond this in sophistication, and that's my point.

And my point is there's no studies that you could present showing benefit. Your burden in that debate was to establish benefit.

No, I'm really not. It's more like observing that pandas eat bamboo and assuming that it's in the panda's best interests to do so, because all animals act to sustain themselves and reproduce in a competitive environment and so when you observe a behavior reproduced so faithfully by individuals throughout the species and in all kinds of environments, you assume it's adaptive. It might not be, of course, but it likely is.

That's because animals can't examine and modify their environment in the same way people can. Do you assume that since fast food is eaten by a majority of americans, that it's in their best interests to do so?
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bladerunner060
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11/1/2014 11:47:57 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/1/2014 4:32:40 AM, Garbanza wrote:
What we have here is experts making a judgement on limited evidence that they've approached with some measure of rigor, vice parents who are not approcahing it with any rigor whatsoever. And you wanting to assume that there must be a benefit, yet being unable to show one. Benefit may be nebulous, but it is real--if it's present.

Well, if the studies had measured benefit as defined by parents, or by the children themselves, allowing for variation by culture, circumstance, and individual, then maybe. But they didn't.

It was your job to present a study showing that benefit, though. If it exists, there could be a study on it. And if there's any rigor to the approach of CP--if folks using it want to know it works, there should be such studies. That there aren't rather demonstrates that there's no rigor to its use.

I'm not asserting, myself, that CP has no benefits. I'm asserting that none have been shown. That's combated by showing them.

Because what if they ARE wrong? You can't prove they aren't, you just want us to assume they aren't, appealing to incredulity. Doing so is a subset of arguing from ignorance:

http://en.wikipedia.org...
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Garbanza
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11/2/2014 4:09:56 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/1/2014 11:24:54 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 11/1/2014 12:17:46 AM, Garbanza wrote:
At 10/31/2014 9:07:14 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
You want us to presume there's a benefit. If there were a benefit, it would be demonstrable. It is a mistake to assume a benefit without it being demonstrated.

Yes, this is the part I wanted to ask you about in the first place.

For the sake of argument, let's ignore the expert opinion part for a moment and suppose it just came down to my basic argument: the vast majority of parents around the world use CP. Does the argument hold up just with that?

No. Because we have no reason to presume that they're actually weighing the merits of the systems or approaching it with any rigor.

See, I think it must. Because of course the parents could be wrong, but every source of knowledge is fallable. For instance, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable and yet we still deem that it has SOME weight.

I don't think those analogize properly.

Suppose it were an occupation other than parenting. Suppose we knew that 90 percent of accountants use procedure X for preparing tax returns. In the absense of all other information, I think it's fair to conclude that procedure X is useful for tax returns. It MIGHT not be, sure, but it more likely is than isn't.

The objective metric there is nigh-instant, successful acceptance of a tax return. But does 90% of tax preparers using a method mean that method is least likely to result in an audit? We assume that it would be because they're experts who study the field. Remember that they have to be trained. And remember that parents do not.

I think to give people's judgement ZERO weight is taking it too far.

Again, it's a rigor issue. If we see a scientific study with zero rigor, we discard it. Parents have 0 rigor--or at least, you couldn't show any in the debate. That doesn't make it wrong, could be true, but it means the data is not useful to establish that.

Could you please talk me through this idea a bit more, because I'm really not getting it.

I'm going to explain to you what I don't understand - I'm not putting these ideas forward as arguments against, just to explain why I'm confused by this.

Suppose there was a mother who said she sang lullabies to her baby because it helped him go to sleep. Why would we doubt that she's right? Surely, she has knowledge about her child and her interaction with her child. That knowledge would be fallable, of course, but she knows enough for opinion to have some kind of weight. Nobody will ever do scientific experiments on her child's sleep habits, but I don't see that if follows that nobody can ever know anything about those sleep habits.

Or maybe we accept her opinion because her lullaby explanation accords with what we know about babies and sleep. Maybe if she said she feeds her child coke (coca cola) to make him sleep we would doubt her knowledge because we know that caffeine usually acts to keep people awake. But suppose we found out that 90% of the world's parents feed their children coke to make them sleep and believe that it works. Personally, I think if I learned that, it would challenge my existing belief about caffeine. I would think, hey, maybe it works differently for babies, or maybe its effects are more complex than I thought, or maybe there's some kind of interaction with the bubbles and the sugar that makes babies sleepy. In other words, the opinion of 90% of the world's parents holds some weight for me. It's not zero.

I think for it to be zero implies that the only knowledge we can pay attention to is knowledge derived scientifically, but this really makes no sense because most of our day-to-day knowledge is not derived in that way and yet we rely on it, and we are right to do so.

This reminds me a lot of political elections. I've seen this effect in a few different countries now - people say that lower classes are voting against their own best interests. It's interesting that it's always the lower classes that are accused of doing this. Anyway. The idea is that these people are too ignorant to know what they really want. But my experience is (please remember, I'm explaining why I'm uneasy about your argument - this is not a proper opposition to it) that people really do know, and that they are weighing different factors in their decision to the people who are saying they are ignorant, and that is why they vote differently to the way those people expect them to. If we accept your argument that people don't know, that there's no rigor etc., then why bother with elections at all? May as well save time and money and just toss a coin to elect a leader.

That's how folks remedies keep getting used, despite having no efficacy.

In addition to the placebo effect you mean. But actually, the placebo effect is often enough for a folk remedy to be beneficial, which means it often makes complete sense to use them.

The placebo effect only works on subjective complaints--you "think" you feel better. It doesn't actually affect anything objective, nor is it sufficient to make "complete sense" to use them, particularly since they're not sold or used on the basis of the placebo effect. If you're having an asthma attack, a folk remedy whose only efficacy is the placebo effect is not going to actually help you.

http://www.nih.gov...

Well sure, okay, but feeling better is a benefit, right? Who wouldn't want that?
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11/2/2014 5:09:44 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/1/2014 11:44:52 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
Or they might take that reason and decide it's not sufficient, and d it anyway. You can't presume it would necessarily be considered "moral". The point is that they'd be using their minds to assess, rather than responding solely because of fear.

I think we may be considering "internalized morality" in different ways. According to the Gerschoff paper, it's defined as "taking over the values and attitudes of society as one's own so that socially acceptable behavior is motivated not by anticipation of external consequences but by intrinsic or internal factors."

Getting kids "raised right"--to be moral, to be upstanding citizens.

Yes, moral internalization means this. But you're assuming that it's in children's best interests to become so, and it might not be.

As an alternative to the monkey analogy, let's consider a society where it's considered immoral for women and girls to go about in public with bare arms for reasons of decency and purity etc. A girl could cover herself in public because she is afraid of the consequences of not doing so, or she could cover herself because she really believes it to be wrong to expose herself in that way, that she is somehow defiling her own and her family's honor by exposing her arms.

Can we assume that it's in the children's best interests to internalize that morality rather than just comply with the rules?

But, to take the analogy further. Suppose there were some parents who DID let their daughters go about with bare arms, despite it being against the morality of the culture. Those parents would be extremists in some ways, making a political statement, or maybe extremely poor and disadvantaged, or mentally ill to the point that they couldn't clothe their daughters properly. If we did a study, we would probably find a correlation between daughters going about with bare arms and generally bad outcomes years later. But there's no reason to assume it's the bare arms so much as growing up in a household that for whatever reason is incapable of sustaining basic cultural norms.

Then, to extend this argument to OTHER cultures, to say that it's wrong for ANY girl around the world to go in the street with bare arms would be absurd. The same relationship between bare arms and bad outcomes doesn't exist in cultures where bare arms are normal.

But that's exactly what's happening with this corporal punishment thing.

No, because all it teaches is that if someone goes up, violence ensues. Not everything is necessarily a moral issue--parents can get kids to understand not to do things for non-moral things, too, though I'm not aware of any specific studies on it. Again, the difference is whether you've taught them through reason, or violence.

I don't think you can assume that the alternative to corporal punishment is persuading a child with reason. You could threaten them with stories of monsters or child abandonment, isolate them, take toys away, bribe them, shame them, distract them. All those disciplinary techniques could have negative consequences too.

But one of the disadvantages reported of CP is that morailty is not internalized. However, as I've shown, it COULD be to a child's benefit to not internalize morality. Similarly with aggression. It's easy to imagine circumstances where aggression could be to a child's benefit.

Eh what? It's not racist to object to the implicit racism in someone else's argument.

It's racist to assert that there must be implicit racism because they're white people.

The data shows that CP is not useful. The race involved doesn't matter. You want to dismiss the data because they're white. Which is pretty racist.

Nooo. I'm not saying the researchers are wrong because they're white. I'm saying they're wrong because they have only done studies among white, western populations and those studies do not extend to other cultures. Yes, it's true, that they made that error probably because they themselves are white, but that's neither here nor there. They could have been of any ethnic group and made the same mistake, in theory anyway.

I pointed all this out in the debate. White middle-class people tend not to use corporal punishment and don't approve of it. On the other hand, CP is the norm in China, Kenya, Thailand, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, and The Philippines

It used to be the norm among white middle-class people, to.

- I showed that in the debate - and many times more likely to be used by black than by white American parents. Further, I cited a comprehensive review of culture and CP that showed that in those cultures where CP is mainstream, the negative associations don't exist anywhere near the extent they do in Western society, which is not a surprise because if it's not normal to use CP (or report doing so), then its occurrence (or reporting of it) is likely to be associated with extreme or unusual circumstances and negative outcomes.

But you couldn't give a study that showed benefit.

But yes. Compliance.

Very few of the studies bsh1 cited were longitudinal. They were almost entirely cross-sectional and self-report, so it's not all that relevant a point anyway. Even so, I don't think you're right about "temporal correctness". To go back to the headache example. The sorts of people who get headaches at one point in time are probably the same sorts of people who will get headaches at another point in time. There will be a correlation anyway, because some people never get them and some people are prone to them. Therefore, if you measure aspirin- taking behavior at time 1, and headache reporting at time 2, there will be an association.

It will always be behind the taking of aspirin. The correlation will be reversed in time. This analogy just doesn't work for your purposes--I think it would be best if you found a different one.

It's a bit silly because that's not how we assess the efficacy of pharmaceuticals - we do randomized controlled trials. That's the whole point.

That's because animals can't examine and modify their environment in the same way people can. Do you assume that since fast food is eaten by a majority of americans, that it's in their best interests to do so?

Yes, I think so as long as it's infrequent, say, once or twice a month. It's not harmful if it's infrequent and it has other potential benefits such as being fun, convenient and social. So you could say that junk food has benefits. Also, people need to eat to survive and junk food is better than no food.

But yeah, I see what you mean. But I've already conceded that human judgment is fallable. On the other hand, I don't think you'd get 90% of parents to agree that it's okay for children to eat junk food at every meal.
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11/3/2014 11:08:32 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/2/2014 4:09:56 AM, Garbanza wrote:
At 11/1/2014 11:24:54 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 11/1/2014 12:17:46 AM, Garbanza wrote:
At 10/31/2014 9:07:14 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
You want us to presume there's a benefit. If there were a benefit, it would be demonstrable. It is a mistake to assume a benefit without it being demonstrated.

Yes, this is the part I wanted to ask you about in the first place.

For the sake of argument, let's ignore the expert opinion part for a moment and suppose it just came down to my basic argument: the vast majority of parents around the world use CP. Does the argument hold up just with that?

No. Because we have no reason to presume that they're actually weighing the merits of the systems or approaching it with any rigor.

See, I think it must. Because of course the parents could be wrong, but every source of knowledge is fallable. For instance, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable and yet we still deem that it has SOME weight.

I don't think those analogize properly.

Suppose it were an occupation other than parenting. Suppose we knew that 90 percent of accountants use procedure X for preparing tax returns. In the absense of all other information, I think it's fair to conclude that procedure X is useful for tax returns. It MIGHT not be, sure, but it more likely is than isn't.

The objective metric there is nigh-instant, successful acceptance of a tax return. But does 90% of tax preparers using a method mean that method is least likely to result in an audit? We assume that it would be because they're experts who study the field. Remember that they have to be trained. And remember that parents do not.

I think to give people's judgement ZERO weight is taking it too far.

Again, it's a rigor issue. If we see a scientific study with zero rigor, we discard it. Parents have 0 rigor--or at least, you couldn't show any in the debate. That doesn't make it wrong, could be true, but it means the data is not useful to establish that.

Could you please talk me through this idea a bit more, because I'm really not getting it.

I'm going to explain to you what I don't understand - I'm not putting these ideas forward as arguments against, just to explain why I'm confused by this.

Suppose there was a mother who said she sang lullabies to her baby because it helped him go to sleep. Why would we doubt that she's right? Surely, she has knowledge about her child and her interaction with her child. That knowledge would be fallable, of course, but she knows enough for opinion to have some kind of weight. Nobody will ever do scientific experiments on her child's sleep habits, but I don't see that if follows that nobody can ever know anything about those sleep habits.

Or maybe we accept her opinion because her lullaby explanation accords with what we know about babies and sleep.

Yes. Further, lullabies and sleep are directly causally linked--it's something you "know" works within the day, as opposed to child-rearing philosophies that take place over months or years. That which "appears" to work on day 1, may not actually work for the overall purpose.

Maybe if she said she feeds her child coke (coca cola) to make him sleep we would doubt her knowledge because we know that caffeine usually acts to keep people awake. But suppose we found out that 90% of the world's parents feed their children coke to make them sleep and believe that it works. Personally, I think if I learned that, it would challenge my existing belief about caffeine. I would think, hey, maybe it works differently for babies, or maybe its effects are more complex than I thought, or maybe there's some kind of interaction with the bubbles and the sugar that makes babies sleepy. In other words, the opinion of 90% of the world's parents holds some weight for me. It's not zero.

It's the "Maybe". What you propose give us reason to think there MIGHT be benefit, not reason to think there definitely is.

Caffeine's a good example. We understand that, in general, it's going to keep you awake. Even if 90% of people gave it to kids to help them sleep, I would go with the actual evidence we have (that it doesn't) over presuming they're right, just because it's popular.

That's the argumentum ad populum--it's a logical fallacy. That it's popular doesn't make it true. And that's what your entire argument seems to boil down to, the notion that if it's popular, that makes it more likely true. And without some grounds (such as the rigor inherent in what "experts" do), it's an informal logical fallacy.

I think for it to be zero implies that the only knowledge we can pay attention to is knowledge derived scientifically, but this really makes no sense because most of our day-to-day knowledge is not derived in that way and yet we rely on it, and we are right to do so.

I challenge this assertion--I believe it to be false. Knowledge is a subset of belief. I don't think that any of the things we say we "know" we do on the basis of "other ways of knowing". Can you explain further what you mean?

This reminds me a lot of political elections. I've seen this effect in a few different countries now - people say that lower classes are voting against their own best interests. It's interesting that it's always the lower classes that are accused of doing this. Anyway. The idea is that these people are too ignorant to know what they really want. But my experience is (please remember, I'm explaining why I'm uneasy about your argument - this is not a proper opposition to it) that people really do know, and that they are weighing different factors in their decision to the people who are saying they are ignorant, and that is why they vote differently to the way those people expect them to. If we accept your argument that people don't know, that there's no rigor etc., then why bother with elections at all? May as well save time and money and just toss a coin to elect a leader.

I'm not saying there's NEVER rigor. And people have the right to self-determination. That said, we KNOW people are easily swayed, as a general rule, by demagogues.

That said, the dialogue of people voting against their best interests is flawed because it ignores philosophy. I remember once I advocated for a clause in our union contract benefiting gay couples, and it shocked the other side of the table when they realized that I was not gay myself, and so was advocating that hard on an issue that did not directly affect me. "It's called having principles", I said, or something to that effect. Politics is not always about "What can I get out of this".

Well sure, okay, but feeling better is a benefit, right? Who wouldn't want that?

There's nothing about the folk remedies that makes them give that benefit. Anything can have the placebo affect. And, really, when it's based on a dishonesty...
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bladerunner060
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11/3/2014 11:37:06 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/2/2014 5:09:44 AM, Garbanza wrote:

...let's consider a society where it's considered immoral for women and girls to go about in public with bare arms for reasons of decency and purity etc. A girl could cover herself in public because she is afraid of the consequences of not doing so, or she could cover herself because she really believes it to be wrong to expose herself in that way, that she is somehow defiling her own and her family's honor by exposing her arms.

And what do you think is the parents's goal for their children?

Is it their goal that the child only do that because of fear of punishment from the parents, or because they've internalized it?

Because you objected to the metric of internalizing morality, as though that wasn't their goal. So, do you think that's not their goal?

Can we assume that it's in the children's best interests to internalize that morality rather than just comply with the rules?

The issue here is WHY parents are doing what they're doing, and whether doing X for Y reason actually works.

You can say that you're against internalizing morality because of hypotheticals where doing so is wrong--but we're looking at parents actions, and the goals of said actions, and whether them doing their action actually fulfills that goal.

But, to take the analogy further. Suppose there were some parents who DID let their daughters go about with bare arms, despite it being against the morality of the culture. Those parents would be extremists in some ways, making a political statement, or maybe extremely poor and disadvantaged, or mentally ill to the point that they couldn't clothe their daughters properly. If we did a study, we would probably find a correlation between daughters going about with bare arms and generally bad outcomes years later. But there's no reason to assume it's the bare arms so much as growing up in a household that for whatever reason is incapable of sustaining basic cultural norms.

There might be--it depends on how the study controls for confounding variables. Which we know, because part of the rigor of the study is the explain how they did so if they did so.

Then, to extend this argument to OTHER cultures, to say that it's wrong for ANY girl around the world to go in the street with bare arms would be absurd. The same relationship between bare arms and bad outcomes doesn't exist in cultures where bare arms are normal.

Right. And we'd have reason to know why.

But that's exactly what's happening with this corporal punishment thing.

It really isn't--or at least, you haven't shown that it is. For example, to differentiate the other cultures, you have to provide the variable that's confounding things (the social acceptance of covered arms). You'd have to support similarly th differences with corporal punishment. Mere acceptance societally of CP doesn't really make the grade, since children don't necessarily have the means to know what's socially acceptabl in a broader scope, nor is there a direct link to why, even if they did, that might change outcomes.

And actually, that example's a good one for another reason. We know that treating half your population like crap has negative effects. That those effects are magnified when you aren't the dominant system in place--that the negative effects of treating one gender badly might be magnified by the fact that the society DOESN'T treat them that badly--doesn't invalidate the harms caused in societies where it's the norm--you still have to look at that society.

And remember that the burden wasn't on your opponent to show NO benefits--it was on you to show on balance that there were some. There's a burden of proof there. If the burden of proof were assigned differently ,then it's possible the debate would go differently.

You had the burden of proof, and your best support of it was a common informal fallacy--I don't think you can reasonably argue that fulfills the BoP.

I don't think you can assume that the alternative to corporal punishment is persuading a child with reason...

Very true! But irrelevant to the larger point regarding benefits to CP. In fact, you could have run a case of "supervision (with CP) vs. no supervision at all" to show benefits. That might have been an interesting tack, and hten you could argue that whether another system is even better than CP was irrelevant. But that wasn't the tack you took. (And I think I know his response--but it definitely would have been a different debate).

it COULD be to a child's benefit to not internalize morality. Similarly with aggression. It's easy to imagine circumstances where aggression could be to a child's benefit.

It's easy to imagine lots of things. That doesn't mean you've shown them to be true. Your job was to show they were true.

I'm saying they're wrong because they have only done studies among white, western populations and those studies do not extend to other cultures.

Why not? Show the confounding variable, and how it affects the outcome.

Yes, it's true, that they made that error probably because they themselves are white, but that's neither here nor there. They could have been of any ethnic group and made the same mistake, in theory anyway.

They're also mostly in the US, as well, which limits their ability to perform studies. But even failures on their part do not inherently make the "opposition" right. Where are the studies from those other countries showing the benefit of CP? Is it the researchers jobs to look at all possible cultures, or else the opposite is assumed? Is it racist not to go worldwide with a limited budget?

If they were ignoring opposing research, that would be racist. That they use the tools to hand and generally extrapolate because there's no specific reason not to doesn't seem racist to me. Give some studies showing the benefit that's asserted, and then we'll know it's not just an imaginary benefit.

But yes. Compliance.

Short-term compliance only--and that was correlatd, per your own source, thusly:

"Parental corporal punishment was associated with all child constructs, including higher levels of immediate compliance and aggression and lower levels of moral internalization and mental health."

Remember that it was an "on-balance" resolution. So you didn't provide an on-balance benefit--its' like saying chopping off your foot gives the benefit of weight loss. While true--there is less weight, it rather ignores the context of the information provided.

It's a bit silly because that's not how we assess the efficacy of pharmaceuticals - we do randomized controlled trials. That's the whole point.

And we can do the best we can to find the efficacy of CP, as well. The way you're arguing is that there's no way to know at all, therefore the parents must know--and that seems absurd.

Yes, I think so as long as it's infrequent, say, once or twice a month. It's not harmful

"It's not harmful" is not the same thing as "in your best interests".

if it's infrequent and it has other potential benefits such as being fun, ... Also, people need to eat to survive and junk food is better than no food.

The dichotomy is never between junk food and no food. That's a canard. Junk food is more expensive than grocery food.

You're right, though, that the harms of occasional junk food are outweighed by the benefits of ease or enjoyment. There's an easy "on balance" there. But you haven't shown an on balance for CP.

But yeah, I see what you mean. But I've already conceded that human judgment is fallable. On the other hand, I don't think you'd get 90% of parents to agree that it's okay for children to eat junk food at every meal.

But let's say their parents did it, and told them it was the best way to eat. And let's say that number reached 90%--would we then say there MUST be something there?
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Garbanza
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11/5/2014 1:27:56 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/3/2014 11:08:32 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Yes, it's like, on both sides there is evidence, and on both sides it's inconclusive and weak.

For example, suppose you did an observational experiment on people taking a drug, to see how they felt half an hour later, and found that their headache was diminished. And suppose that was the ONLY information you had. Does that mean the drug works or not? Because maybe headaches are temporary and would diminish anyway. Or maybe, people are motivated to take drugs when their headache is unusually bad, and it would diminish afterwards because of the regression to the mean effect. Or maybe it's just the placebo effect. OR maybe the drug works.

It's information of a kind. You could say that there's some likelihood that the drug works, but I don't think that's true either, because you have no knowledge or way of assessing probability of the drug having an effect, whereas to use words of probability such as "likelihood" implies that there's a chance that you've assessed (like the chance of tossing heads) when you haven't.

On the other hand, the evidence does indicate an effect, you just don't know what weight to give it. Zero, or some weight.

Anyway, I think that's true for the evidence on both sides in this debate. Neither side has conclusive evidence, but both sides have SOME evidence of indefinite weight.

I'm actually kind of fascinated at the way you, me and bsh1 have weighed up and prioritized that evidence, because I'm beginning to think that none of us has philosophical justification for preferring one side to another. In a sense, it's a political decision or perhaps a decision based on experience and/or prejudice.

I'm particularly interested in this problem because I am doing research in this sort of area - related to social science and government policy - and it seems to me that ALL the evidence is of this nature (in the field I'm studying). It could be worth zero or it could be worth something, but it's not definite, and there's no objective way of weighing it that I know of.

But I do think that people are WAY too easily influenced by inconclusive "scientific" studies where the authors finish by indicating some mostly unsubstantiated opinion. As has happened here.

So maybe I could put my argument this way. When the evidence is inconclusive on both sides, it makes POLITICAL sense to choose the people over the "experts". That's my political view, related to self-determination perhaps.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
You gave the example of parents refusing cancer treatment for their child, and the conflict between the parental responsibility, and society's duty of care. Yes, it's true, that society steps in when parents are failing in their duty to their parents, and I think society reserves the right to decide what's failure and what isn't.

It doesn't really apply to this argument though because I've shown that in many countries, physical punishment is normal. If 90% of parents use it, then that IS society approving of it as well as the parents. There's no conflict. The only conflict is between one society and another, which is a different kind of question.
bladerunner060
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11/5/2014 10:54:30 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I would still argue that your "evidence" is fallacy, that of the argument of popularity, against actual evidence though. Whether there's a political reason to ignore that seems irrelevant to honest discourse (not that you're dishonest, but that politics often is)
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Garbanza
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11/5/2014 11:48:03 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/5/2014 10:54:30 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
I would still argue that your "evidence" is fallacy, that of the argument of popularity, against actual evidence though. Whether there's a political reason to ignore that seems irrelevant to honest discourse (not that you're dishonest, but that politics often is)

Yeah but ad populum isn't a fallacy when the knowledge is derived from direct experience. For instance, it would be enough evidence to show that 90 percent of mothers say childbirth hurts to know it hurts. If 90 percent of people say online bank statements are convenient, then again, it's enough evidence that they are. It's only a fallacy for knowledge that's derived from another source, like, how much of the brain is grey matter or the distance to the moon. Most people just read or hear that somewhere and accept it.

I just mentioned politics for situations where there's evidence but no objective way of weighing it vs other evidence. Then, for rational decision-making, you have to consider other factors. One of my sources did exactly that. She decided that the evidence against CP was biased, but then argued that the policy of banning it is consistent with the rest of UN policy.

It doesn't affect the debate exactly, I just mentioned it because I have a general interest in the ways people respond to information is all.
bladerunner060
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11/6/2014 7:12:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/5/2014 11:48:03 PM, Garbanza wrote:
At 11/5/2014 10:54:30 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
I would still argue that your "evidence" is fallacy, that of the argument of popularity, against actual evidence though. Whether there's a political reason to ignore that seems irrelevant to honest discourse (not that you're dishonest, but that politics often is)

Yeah but ad populum isn't a fallacy when the knowledge is derived from direct experience. For instance, it would be enough evidence to show that 90 percent of mothers say childbirth hurts to know it hurts.

"Hurts" is subjective. We would know that, individually, the pain is real simply by virtue of them saying so, and could make the statistical argument that it generally hurts because of that.

If 90 percent of people say online bank statements are convenient, then again, it's enough evidence that they are. It's only a fallacy for knowledge that's derived from another source, like, how much of the brain is grey matter or the distance to the moon. Most people just read or hear that somewhere and accept it.

You are mistaken. It's a fallacy in general. What you're talking about is something else entirely, and isn't--ignoring the popularity issue--a fallacy. Perhaps ipse dixit--that is, they accept a flat assertion. It's not argumentam ad populum. Moreover, there's also the point that my point is that without having approached it with any rigor, most parents are accepting it--they've "heard it" somewhere (probably their own parents) and accepted it. Without assessing it. Which is my point.

But fundamentally, that's an explanation of WHY Popularity is =/= truth.

But to get to your example, with things like pain: What hurts for one person may NOT hurt for another. So we can't make universal declarations, even if we can get to a pretty high degree of confidence. That said, it's not an argumentum ad populum to take the primary data from these people--if they say it hurts, we accept that it hurts because pain is entirely subjective.

Benefiting children is NOT entirely subjective--there's SOMETHING you're trying to accomplish. The question is: ARE You accomplishing it? The data indicates the answer is no. The data is not overwhelming, to be sure, in the sense that broader, better studies can and should be done. But I have yet to see any evidence of long-term benefit, and the short-term benefit is both weak at best and is NOT the benefit that parents use to justify their behavior.

Remember the source that said that they wanted to beat their kids so their kids wouldn't get beaten by the police. That's the goal--yet it hasn't been shown to be effective (and, given race relations with the police, I think we can conclude it has almost certainly been INeffective) towards that goal.

No parent admits "I hit him because I wanted him to stop right then, and I don't care about the long term effects"--which would HAVE to be the position they'd take if, based on the data, you're arguing there's a benefit.

I just mentioned politics for situations where there's evidence but no objective way of weighing it vs other evidence. Then, for rational decision-making, you have to consider other factors. One of my sources did exactly that. She decided that the evidence against CP was biased, but then argued that the policy of banning it is consistent with the rest of UN policy.

It doesn't affect the debate exactly, I just mentioned it because I have a general interest in the ways people respond to information is all.

I, too, am interested in the ways people respond to information--and, at the risk of seeming overly negative which is not my intention, the lengths some people will go in attempts to defend a fallacy.
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Garbanza
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11/7/2014 4:19:52 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/6/2014 7:12:42 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
I, too, am interested in the ways people respond to information--and, at the risk of seeming overly negative which is not my intention, the lengths some people will go in attempts to defend a fallacy.

Actually, I wasn't trying to defend my "fallacy" as much as understand why you called it one. I know you're good at philosophy and at the beginning your argument didn't make sense and I assumed that i was being obtuse and that I would learn something if you explained it.

That hasn't really happened, but thank you for discussing it anyway.
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11/7/2014 10:34:34 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/7/2014 4:19:52 AM, Garbanza wrote:

I get the impression that I did not successfully convey my point. I really wasn't trying to find fault with you, but I think there was no good way to say what I was trying to say. So my apologies--I really wasn't intending it as an attack on you at all, it really was a more general thing, but I didn't phrase it well.

That said:

The issue here seems to be that you do see the fallacy of ad populum--you just only see it as a fallacy when there's a specific metric to apply--when you can prove that the majority is not looking at the evidence properly. Am I correct in that? The example you gave was of an objective fact, that people arent' assessing for themselves but rather taking as received wisdom, so that's the impression I'm getting as to your idea of how the fallacy works.

If I'm right--and if I'm not, correct me--that's not what the ad populum fallacy is about, and I think it's the part that's been problematic to you. Maybe I'm wrong; if so, well, crap. But assuming that my assessment of your view of the fallacy is correct, and that it's why you're not accepting "X% does Y, therefore Y has benefit" as fallacious, I think it might (maybe) help to explain it a little further, if it's not too annoying to you. I do like getting to the heart of a disagreement, so if I'm right I'm happy that I think I finally "get" what the problem is.

So this is gonna be a long response (it'll be 2 forum posts). And I'm aware that you already know most of this, but I think some of it is necessary to go over to fully explicate the point. So bear with and forgive me for the wall-o-text.

The basics are, of course, easy:
http://en.wikipedia.org...

An example there even seems specifically relevant:

"Nine out of ten of my constituents oppose the bill, therefore it is a bad idea."

(Now, to be clear, that's "Bad idea" in the sense of "bad law"--a politician bowing to the popular opinion may be because it's the popular opinion, that is, he should represent what most people want even if they're wrong, but the example is talking about the notion of "90% of people think X law is bad, therefore it's a bad law", not "90% of my constituents think that it's a bad law, therefore I should vote against it")

Now, in the case of CP, we are talking about actual benefits. What those benefits are, or should be, is a fluid notion that we can discuss. But nonetheless, clearly, any form of child-rearing/child-discipline is intended to have outcome X (where X may vary). So, to be clear, the benefit is not subjective, although what the benefit IS may be subjective. So we can't, like we do with pain, just accept their proverbial word for it, that what they're doing is working for the purpose they're working towards.

So Action A is intended to do result X.

That 90% of people DO Action A is in no way proof that Action A results in X, variability in X or no variability. Individuals can be wrong, so the mere fact of a majority does not mean that they're right, logically.

Why do expert opinions matter more than opinions of the layperson? A few reasons, mostly related to training, and more specifically to the OUTCOME of that training. Experts can be wrong. The classic example (from the wikipedia page on Arguments from Authority, http://en.wikipedia.org...):

In 1923, leading American zoologist Theophilus Painter declared based on his findings that humans had 24 pairs of chromosomes. From the 1920s to the 1950s, this continued to be held based on Painter's authority, despite subsequent counts totaling the correct number of 23. Even textbooks with photos clearly showing 23 pairs incorrectly declared the number to be 24 based on the authority of the then-consensus of 24 pairs.

As Robert Matthews said of the event, "Scientists had preferred to bow to authority rather than believe the evidence of their own eyes". As such, their reasoning was an appeal to authority.

(all emphasis mine and citations elided)

The issue there, and the reason it was an appeal to authority and logically fallacious, was because the mere authority fact was used to dismiss contradictory evidence without addressing it. The fallacy was: "This result must be wrong, because an expert said the result should be something else".
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bladerunner060
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11/7/2014 10:35:36 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
With scientists and experts, there is a reasonable expectation of rigor. That's why it's fine to defer to them in the absence of contradictory evidence.

But those two parts are key: Reasonable expectation of rigor, and absence of contradictory evidence.

When laypeople think something, there is NO expectation of rigor. There may, or may not be, rigor--we have no idea. It could be that everyone who does CP does so just because their parents taught them to (the received wisdom you noted). It could be that they're just wrong (like with the rise of so-called "alternative medicines", such as my particular hated hobby-horse, the Burzynski Clinic). It could be any number of things, and we don't have any reasonable basis to conclude WHICH thing it is. It could be that that 90% of parents are the "real" scientists approaching with rigor--but we would need to see EVIDENCE of that, like what we see when experts put out their findings. Their findings can be picked apart for flaws and inconsistencies, and they've spelled out how their rigor worked.

So we have a majority of people, thinking a thing for unknown reasons, acting on that thing they think. We can reasonably conclude that they think it's in the best interests of what they want for the child. But can we reasonably conclude that it is, in fact, in the best interests of the child?

Every major advancement I can think of has come from the application of rigor to the situation. Medicine has advanced because we started actually LOOKING at folk remedies, to figure out whether they were real or not. Willowbark is real--it's the origin of aspirin. Homeopathy is not real, it's quite literally water that someone smacked, in its fully traditional form (and forgive me for repeating myself because I think I already mentioned this, but homeopathy is distinct form home remedies. I just have encountered so many people who don't realize that, which is fine that they don't know, it just means I'm itchy to clarify). Rigor WORKS, and it finds the truth. It's by no means perfect, because achieving perfect rigor is difficult. But findings that have some rigor behind them are more accepted than those that don't because findings with rigor behind them have more reasonable basis to be true.

Let's look at an example.

Smoking used to be a majority activity. Now, there are many reasons people might/can/do smoke, it's true. But back when people didn't know the risks, it would have seemed reasonable to say "Well, people have the most interest in their own health, therefore smoking must be good, because so many people do it". In light of the evidence we have, however, that is clearly false. It would have been fallacious to accept that reasoning at the time--now, why, specifically, it is actually false is clear. It might have been good for people--the point is that it's popularity was irrelevant to whether it was good for people, or bad for people, in terms of their health. It's a good example, too, of how you can use the fallacy of the argument from popularity to shield BAD information, since people are more inclined to believe what they already, or want, to believe. I acutally have an old ad that my wife bought me: "More Doctors smoke Camels, than any other brand". (It's this ad, incidentally, though there were dozens of the type: http://171.67.24.121/tobacco_web/images/tobacco_ads/doctors_smoking/more_doctors_smoke_camels/medium/camels_doctors_whiteshirt.jpg ) Doctors aren't renowned for having better taste than the average person, so the only reason to use them in the ad was to imply that since it was popular with doctors, it must be healthier (note the emphasized M and D).

Similarly, we have lots of people doing CP. We have a reasonable basis to guess at most of their motives--we presume they're acting in good faith, intending their actions to be for the best interests of the child. But we can't then extent our assumptions further, to assuming it must therefore actually BE good for the child. Because that's a bridge too far, that's assuming facts not in evidence, and that's contradicted by experience, which shows that without rigor, we wind up with wrong ideas.

The ad populum can be reversed, of course...I like to call it the "Hipster Fallacy", the notion that because most people think X is true, it must be false. The point is that the popularity, divorced from any reasonable expectation of rigor, is irrelevant.

So the fact that 90% of people may use CP is irrelevant to the larger discussion. What IS relevant, though, is data obtained with rigor: the studies. The studies showed 1 benefit, and a host of harms. The studies also weren't perfect, in ways we can actually assess. I think you raise a good and interesting cultural point. The problem is that, since the BoP rested on you, you couldn't merely point out the flaws in the data, and then appeal to popularity. You had to actually show the benefit. You showed A benefit, but I certainly don't think that it rose to the level of fulfilling the "on balance" requirement, and I also find it implausible that most parents would see that as their "goal" with CP. So we have counterfactual evidence which, while not perfect, appearas to be the only real evidence available, which is why it at least appears that not only is CP not beneficial, but that it's harmful. We may get more, and better, studies in the future, and then it would be important to understand that data and take it into account. In the meantime, though, accepting that people do it, therefore there must be something there is a fallacy. It's a compelling fallacy, because we're social animals and we like to think that what most people do must be right. But it's still an error.

Does what I'm saying make sense now?
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Garbanza
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11/9/2014 3:54:23 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/7/2014 10:34:34 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Thanks no it's fine - sometimes I do argue with people who vote, or in the forums just for the joy of arguing. But this conversation isn't like that for me. I only want to clarify the issues because it is genuinely important to me to understand this, and I'll be delighted to "lose" if I can understand why. So I really do appreciate this conversation although I am mostly disagreeing with you. :)

The issue here seems to be that you do see the fallacy of ad populum--you just only see it as a fallacy when there's a specific metric to apply--when you can prove that the majority is not looking at the evidence properly. Am I correct in that? The example you gave was of an objective fact, that people arent' assessing for themselves but rather taking as received wisdom, so that's the impression I'm getting as to your idea of how the fallacy works.

Sort of, yes. I wasn't saying it very well. I've done some reading on the fallacy since then, and it seems that one of the important elements is relevance of the opinions to the fact. So, for example, popular opinion is a fallacy if we're talking about distance to the moon, because people's opinions are irrelevant to that fact. However, if we're talking about an election outcome, then people's opinions ARE relevant, and so it wouldn't necessarily be a fallacy to refer to them.

On this site, they give some more examples of when ad populum is NOT a fallacy:

http://philosophy.lander.edu...

"B. If an elite group of people are in a position to know of what they speak, their authority is relevant and should not automatically be discounted. E.g., Is is a legitimate appeal and no fallacy to argue that most physicians believe that a high fat diet is unhealthy, and therefore a high fat diet is unhealthy...

D. Other examples of where an ad populum appeal would not be fallacious include the "the wisdom of crowds," "swarm intelligence," and "crowd sourcing" because these instruments are often more reliable than other inductive methods."


To me these examples seem very similar to parents knowing about corporal punishment. In B, we shouldn't immediately discount the idea that physicians know about unhealthy diets. Nor should we immediately discount the idea that parents know what disciplinary techniques are beneficial for their own children. In both cases, the people in question could be wrong, but their opinion is relevant and so it's not a fallacy to consider it.

In D, they're talking about crowd sourcing and the wisdom of crowds, which is again very interesting, and is similar to this idea that the population of the world has knowledge. It is capable of error again, of course, but it should not be immediately dismissed as it should be if it were a fallacy.

I really think parents' opinions based on their direct experience falls into this category of non-fallacious ad populum. That doesn't mean that it's necessarily true, only that it doesn't deserve to be immediately dismissed as fallacious.

Now, in the case of CP, we are talking about actual benefits. What those benefits are, or should be, is a fluid notion that we can discuss. But nonetheless, clearly, any form of child-rearing/child-discipline is intended to have outcome X (where X may vary). So, to be clear, the benefit is not subjective, although what the benefit IS may be subjective. So we can't, like we do with pain, just accept their proverbial word for it, that what they're doing is working for the purpose they're working towards.

It's not so much about subjective as about WHO gets to define the benefit. Even defining health benefits is problematic, and that has the advantage of being anchored in fairly obvious outcome measures such as years of life lived and freedom from actual diseases. However, behavioral benefit is way less obvious to define. Is it beneficial to a child to be passive and obedient, for example, or to face conflict in a more assertive way? Is it better to devote your spare hours on formal education or on friendships? You can say it's subjective, and it is, but more than that, who has the RIGHT to choose? See, to me, that right is firmly and squarely in the hands of families. You seem to think so too, from your comments further down. I'll point them out when I get to them.

This means that if researchers are going to do studies on the benefits of various discipline techniques, then those benefits must be the ones defined by families within the contexts of their particular circumstances. Given that those studies have not even attempted to measure such a thing, they only information we have that speaks to benefits as they should be defined is the opinion of parents.

So Action A is intended to do result X.

That 90% of people DO Action A is in no way proof that Action A results in X, variability in X or no variability. Individuals can be wrong, so the mere fact of a majority does not mean that they're right, logically.

That's right. But it doesn't make it a fallacy to consider that information. Otherwise we would have to dismiss all sources of information, because they ALL have the possibility of error.

Why do expert opinions matter more than opinions of the layperson? A few reasons, mostly related to training, and more specifically to the OUTCOME of that training.
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11/9/2014 4:36:43 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/7/2014 10:35:36 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
With scientists and experts, there is a reasonable expectation of rigor. That's why it's fine to defer to them in the absence of contradictory evidence.

I agree, that you can defer to scientists if you have a reasonable expectation of rigor. I do not have an expectation of rigor when it comes to the social and behavioral sciences, though, particularly when the findings are being reported and interpreted by a lay person. That's because the methodological limitations are often described deep within the paper and not even referred to in the abstract. Someone trained in the field knows enough to be cautious in interpreting the findings, but people without training read the abstract, see that there's an association with CP and crime (for example) and jump to the conclusion that CP leads to crime, even though there's not a shred of evidence to back up that conclusion. Worse, because they "got" the information from a peer-reviewed academic paper, they think that their conclusion is backed up by rigorous research, when of course it isn't. Behavioral and social sciences are much more prone to this than many of the other sciences because they are seemingly more accessible. Most of the technical terms have parallels in ordinary language, and though the latter usually are much more loosely defined, and sometimes have different meanings altogether, untrained people don't know that.

By "lay" persons, I mean even skilled professionals in other disciplines. Even biomedical scientists make mistakes when they read papers in the social sciences, because they're used to a different system of analysis and different methods. Fact is, behavior is not as easily measured and predicted as stuff like enzyme levels and lipid saturation (I'm making up those biomedical terms. They may not mean anything).

When laypeople think something, there is NO expectation of rigor. There may, or may not be, rigor--we have no idea. It could be that everyone who does CP does so just because their parents taught them to (the received wisdom you noted). It could be that they're just wrong (like with the rise of so-called "alternative medicines", such as my particular hated hobby-horse, the Burzynski Clinic). It could be any number of things, and we don't have any reasonable basis to conclude WHICH thing it is. It could be that that 90% of parents are the "real" scientists approaching with rigor--but we would need to see EVIDENCE of that, like what we see when experts put out their findings. Their findings can be picked apart for flaws and inconsistencies, and they've spelled out how their rigor worked.

So we have a majority of people, thinking a thing for unknown reasons, acting on that thing they think. We can reasonably conclude that they think it's in the best interests of what they want for the child. But can we reasonably conclude that it is, in fact, in the best interests of the child?

Wisdom of crowds works better in certain circumstances.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Again, it's related to the ad populum fallacy. Are people's opinions relevant and independent? When it comes to understanding their own children, I think that they are. You could hardly argue otherwise when we're talking about the majority of people in most countries around the world.

Every major advancement I can think of has come from the application of rigor to the situation. Medicine has advanced because we started actually LOOKING at folk remedies, to figure out whether they were real or not.

If you hadn't had those folk remedies to look at in the first place, medicine wouldn't have advanced as rapidly as it has. Just saying.

Rigor WORKS, and it finds the truth. It's by no means perfect, because achieving perfect rigor is difficult. But findings that have some rigor behind them are more accepted than those that don't because findings with rigor behind them have more reasonable basis to be true.

Rigor works in medicine, it's true. But that's just one kind of problem. Rigor defined in that way is not even possible in the behavioral sciences. Take this CP problem as an example. You can't have random controlled trials, as you can in medicine. You don't have a measurable, defined objective outcome (benefit to child) as you do in pharmaceutical trials. That means we have to be a lot more circumspect about interpreting any findings. Therefore, journal articles in the behavioral sciences simply don't automatically carry more weight than other sources of knowledge. A particularly well-designed study might, but it's case by case. In the case of CP, the studies are particularly limited, as I pointed out.

Smoking used to be a majority activity. Now, there are many reasons people might/can/do smoke, it's true. But back when people didn't know the risks, it would have seemed reasonable to say "Well, people have the most interest in their own health, therefore smoking must be good, because so many people do it". In light of the evidence we have, however, that is clearly false. http://171.67.24.121/tobacco_web/images/tobacco_ads/doctors_smoking/more_doctors_smoke_camels/medium/camels_doctors_whiteshirt.jpg ) Doctors aren't renowned for having better taste than the average person, so the only reason to use them in the ad was to imply that since it was popular with doctors, it must be healthier (note the emphasized M and D).

Well sure, they were wrong, but I don't think it's fallacious to think that doctors know about what's healthy and what isn't. Similarly, it's not fallacious to think that people generally act in their own best interests. The fact that this method of reasoning sometimes leads to errors does not mean that it's without value.

Similarly, we have lots of people doing CP. We have a reasonable basis to guess at most of their motives--we presume they're acting in good faith, intending their actions to be for the best interests of the child. But we can't then extent our assumptions further, to assuming it must therefore actually BE good for the child. Because that's a bridge too far, that's assuming facts not in evidence, and that's contradicted by experience, which shows that without rigor, we wind up with wrong ideas.

I agree that we can't be certain that it's good for children, but we can take it as evidence that it is good for children. Even if I had 20 studies that clearly showed the benefits of CP I couldn't claim any more, because it would never be 100% that those studies were not just due to chance or that they could be generalized. Of course, with the best design and large number of subjects we can reduce the likelihood of those sorts of errors, but we can never eliminate it entirely. Therefore, as I said before, if you take certainty as your standard, then all knowledge should be discarded.

You showed A benefit, but I certainly don't think that it rose to the level of fulfilling the "on balance" requirement, and I also find it implausible that most parents would see that as their "goal" with CP.

^Here's where you imply that families have the right to define benefit.

So we have counterfactual evidence which, while not perfect, appearas to be the only real evidence available, which is why it at least appears that not only is CP not beneficial, but that it's harmful. We may get more, and better, studies in the future, and then it would be important to understand that data and take it into account. In the meantime, though, accepting that people do it, therefore there must be something there is a fallacy.

I see it the opposite way. Those studies are not generalizable and cannot establish cause and so should not influence our final opinion, which leaves us with the opinions of parents, the only real evidence available
bladerunner060
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11/10/2014 12:55:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/9/2014 3:54:23 AM, Garbanza wrote:

The issue here seems to be that you do see the fallacy of ad populum--you just only see it as a fallacy when there's a specific metric to apply--when you can prove that the majority is not looking at the evidence properly.

Sort of, yes. I wasn't saying it very well. I've done some reading on the fallacy since then, and it seems that one of the important elements is relevance of the opinions to the fact. So, for example, popular opinion is a fallacy if we're talking about distance to the moon, because people's opinions are irrelevant to that fact. However, if we're talking about an election outcome, then people's opinions ARE relevant, and so it wouldn't necessarily be a fallacy to refer to them.

Well, hold on a minute or so, there in that last example. Who people think will win is irrelevant in terms of popularity--unless the argument is that they think Candidate X will win, because they want him to win, therefore they're voting for him, therefore if a majority say that, a majority is voting for him, therefore he'll win.

JUST that most people think X will win doesn't relate to whether she'll win, without that extension. (Think "Dewey Defeats Truman").

On this site, they give some more examples of when ad populum is NOT a fallacy:

http://philosophy.lander.edu...

"B. If an elite group of people are in a position to know of what they speak, their authority is relevant and should not automatically be discounted. E.g., Is is a legitimate appeal and no fallacy to argue that most physicians believe that a high fat diet is unhealthy, and therefore a high fat diet is unhealthy...

D. Other examples of where an ad populum appeal would not be fallacious include the "the wisdom of crowds," "swarm intelligence," and "crowd sourcing" because these instruments are often more reliable than other inductive methods."


To me these examples seem very similar to parents knowing about corporal punishment. In B, we shouldn't immediately discount the idea that physicians know about unhealthy diets.

Because they have authority, though

Nor should we immediately discount the idea that parents know what disciplinary techniques are beneficial for their own children. In both cases, the people in question could be wrong, but their opinion is relevant and so it's not a fallacy to consider it.

No, because parents have no authority, in the sense being meant. Doctors have to receive training and go to school to get the title. They have to have rigor, and the example has a lack of contradicting evidence. For CP, both things are present--both a lack of rigor, AND contradicting evidence.

In D, they're talking about crowd sourcing and the wisdom of crowds, which is again very interesting, and is similar to this idea that the population of the world has knowledge. It is capable of error again, of course, but it should not be immediately dismissed as it should be if it were a fallacy.

The wisdom of crowds and crowdsourcing stuff is a bit of a rabbithole, I would argue. They're useful when there's no evidence, and/or when there's no such thing as an expert, neither of which apply here. You wouldn't crowdsource psychiatric care.

I really think parents' opinions based on their direct experience falls into this category of non-fallacious ad populum. That doesn't mean that it's necessarily true, only that it doesn't deserve to be immediately dismissed as fallacious.

It's fallacious because you've yet to show any kind of rigor to the parent's behavior. As such, it can be seen as "random", and the fact that X thing is done by a majority as arbitrary.

Now, in the case of CP, we are talking about actual benefits. What those benefits are, or should be, is a fluid notion that we can discuss. But nonetheless, clearly, any form of child-rearing/child-discipline is intended to have outcome X (where X may vary). So, to be clear, the benefit is not subjective, although what the benefit IS may be subjective. So we can't, like we do with pain, just accept their proverbial word for it, that what they're doing is working for the purpose they're working towards.

It's not so much about subjective as about WHO gets to define the benefit. Even defining health benefits is problematic, and that has the advantage of being anchored in fairly obvious outcome measures such as years of life lived and freedom from actual diseases. However, behavioral benefit is way less obvious to define. Is it beneficial to a child to be passive and obedient, for example, or to face conflict in a more assertive way? Is it better to devote your spare hours on formal education or on friendships? You can say it's subjective, and it is, but more than that, who has the RIGHT to choose? See, to me, that right is firmly and squarely in the hands of families. You seem to think so too, from your comments further down. I'll point them out when I get to them.

I do agree that they get to determine what their goal is. But the question is: Are they actually ACHIEVING that goal with their actions?

This means that if researchers are going to do studies on the benefits of various discipline techniques, then those benefits must be the ones defined by families within the contexts of their particular circumstances. Given that those studies have not even attempted to measure such a thing, they only information we have that speaks to benefits as they should be defined is the opinion of parents.

No--this is false. Because you're allowing the benefit to go undefined by the parents, and therefore "taking their word" that there's a benefit.

The researchers attempted to find generally agreeable metrics--similar to with health studies, although arguably less agreed-upon.

But again, let's return to your own example that you used in the debate: Parents beating their kids so that those kids don't get beaten by police. Does it work? No evidence was presented that it did.

So Action A is intended to do result X.

That 90% of people DO Action A is in no way proof that Action A results in X, variability in X or no variability. Individuals can be wrong, so the mere fact of a majority does not mean that they're right, logically.

That's right. But it doesn't make it a fallacy to consider that information. Otherwise we would have to dismiss all sources of information, because they ALL have the possibility of error.

The popularity of it is irrelevant. All methods DO have the possibility of error--so the question is, how likely is it? Given that parents have no training, and approach it with no demonstrated rigor, their results tell us nothing. Much like performing a medical experiment without a control group. It's null. I'm not saying they're wrong because it's popular, I'm saying the popularity is irrelevant.
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bladerunner060
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11/10/2014 1:27:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/9/2014 4:36:43 AM, Garbanza wrote:

... I do not have an expectation of rigor when it comes to the social and behavioral sciences,

Well, I hate to be flatly argumentative, but you are wrong. There may not be enough rigor. The gap between "hard" sciences and social sciences in terms of rigor may be so broad as to make the social sciences laughable. But claiming there's no rigor is demonstrably false.

... when the findings are being reported and interpreted by a lay person... because the methodological limitations are often described deep within the paper .... there's not a shred of evidence to back up that conclusion.

The way you'd argue against that, is by showing where the error was--by pointing out the flaw in the paper.

Most of us are laypersons, and we're using expert papers to support our cases. You're totally right that it cna be misinterpreted, but you can't just handwave it away as "maybe it was misinterpreted". You have to SHOW how it was misinterpreted.

Worse, because they "got" the information from a peer-reviewed academic paper, they think that their conclusion is backed up by rigorous research...

And that's great. But between two untrained people, the person who has the peer-reviewed article, and makes a case using that article, is rightly going to win out over the person who tries to just dismiss it out of hand. You have to show the errors in reasoning, if that's your case, you can't just presume they're there.

So we have a majority of people, thinking a thing for unknown reasons, acting on that thing they think. We can reasonably conclude that they think it's in the best interests of what they want for the child. But can we reasonably conclude that it is, in fact, in the best interests of the child?

Wisdom of crowds works better in certain circumstances.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Certain circumstances--how would it apply here?

You haven't demonstrated independence.
You've argued that the diversity of opinion is actually not present (90%, remember)
You haven't shown that they've specialized--or that they've actually drawn on local knowledge
And there is no "collective decision"--we're talking about a lot of individual decisions.

I believe you to be oversimplifying the wisdom of crowds notion. The wisdom of crowds is used in an averaging sense to get to "good guesses". But it only has a limited range of applicability, and it's pretty contentious. Further down, there are a list of criticisms of the notion, including that it works best when:

"1. it isn't defining its own questions,
2. the goodness of an answer can be evaluated by a simple result (such as a single numeric value), and
3. the information system which informs the collective is filtered by a quality control mechanism that relies on individuals to a high degree."

Here, all of that is lacking.

Are people's opinions relevant and independent? When it comes to understanding their own children, I think that they are.

I don't. I think most people raise their kids very similarly to how their parents raised them, barring distinct things to turn away from. The most common refrain I've heard in defense of CP has always been "My parents whupped me, and I turned out fine".

They may be "relevant", but I don't think you've ever established that they're informed, or independent.

You could hardly argue otherwise when we're talking about the majority of people in most countries around the world.

Yes I can.

If you hadn't had those folk remedies to look at in the first place, medicine wouldn't have advanced as rapidly as it has. Just saying.

And I'm just saying that's likely false. Most folk remedies don't work. They're dead ends. Sacrificing a chicken does not make it rain, as it were. Witches do not cause seizures. We cannot know where we'd be without folk remedies, but claiming that medicine has advanced more rapidly because of them seems flatly absurd--indefensible, since we can't really know, but from a common-sense perspective, the centuries we spent doing things that didn't work were wasted time.

Rigor WORKS...

Rigor works in medicine, it's true. ...journal articles in the behavioral sciences simply don't automatically carry more weight than other sources of knowledge.

I disagree. Because these "other sources of knowledge" are just people making things up, without reference to their truth value. And the way you'd show that that wasn't the case was via rigor. That it's more difficult to reach a high level of rigor in social sciences does not invalidate them whole cloth, nor does it make arbitrary decisions somehow more valuable.

I really, really dislike the language of "other sources of knowledge"--that's not a fault on you, since it's common. But how is this a separate source of knowledge? What makes it better than people who are at least trying to approach with rigor?

A particularly well-designed study might, but it's case by case. In the case of CP, the studies are particularly limited, as I pointed out.

Limited, yes, but still they have more rigor than parents--and thus carry more weight.

Smoking used to be a majority activity....Doctors aren't renowned for having better taste than the average person, so the only reason to use them in the ad was to imply that since it was popular with doctors, it must be healthier (note the emphasized M and D).

Well sure, they were wrong, but I don't think it's fallacious to think that doctors know about what's healthy and what isn't....

The ad didn't say that the doctors thought smoking was HEALTHY. It just said the brand they prefer--I think my point was unclear. There was a false implication in the ad.

I agree that we can't be certain that it's good for children, but we can take it as evidence that it is good for children.

No, we cannot. We can take it as evidence that 90% of people THINK it's good for children. That doesn't make them right. There's no expectation of rigor. It isn't the wisdom of crowds. There's literally no reason to think they're right, except that it's the popular decision.

Let's simplify this: Do you think motive to be right is sufficient to assume someone is right? If not, and I think not, then there is nothing BUT the "majority" argument.

...if you take certainty as your standard, then all knowledge should be discarded.

There's no such thing as absolute certainty. That doesn't mean that we just make things up to suit us.

You showed A benefit, but I certainly don't think that it rose to the level of fulfilling the "on balance" requirement, and I also find it implausible that most parents would see that as their "goal" with CP.

^Here's where you imply that families have the right to define benefit.

I feel like I have explicitly said it--but if it was only implicit, let me be explicit now:

YES, they have the right to define benefit. But then their actions have to be looked at in light of that benefit. To return, again, to the example of "beatings so they don't get beat by police", have you shown any reason to think that's the case? Nowhere in your case was that supported.

So we have counterfactual evidence which, while not perfect, appearas to be the only real evidence available...

I see it the opposite way.... which leaves us with the opinions of parents, the only real evidence available

Parents opinion =/= truth--it's not evidence of the truth of their proposition. Arguing it is is arguing that it's true because it's popular, which is exactly the ad populum fallacy.

Benefit X is defineable by parents. But that it's defineable by them doesn't mean action Y achieves benefit X--or that it should be assumed to
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Garbanza
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11/12/2014 12:41:45 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/10/2014 12:55:19 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
On this site, they give some more examples of when ad populum is NOT a fallacy:

http://philosophy.lander.edu...

"B. If an elite group of people are in a position to know of what they speak, their authority is relevant and should not automatically be discounted. E.g., Is is a legitimate appeal and no fallacy to argue that most physicians believe that a high fat diet is unhealthy, and therefore a high fat diet is unhealthy...

D. Other examples of where an ad populum appeal would not be fallacious include the "the wisdom of crowds," "swarm intelligence," and "crowd sourcing" because these instruments are often more reliable than other inductive methods."


To me these examples seem very similar to parents knowing about corporal punishment. In B, we shouldn't immediately discount the idea that physicians know about unhealthy diets.

Because they have authority, though

Yeah...lol...you and authority, Mr President...

Nor should we immediately discount the idea that parents know what disciplinary techniques are beneficial for their own children. In both cases, the people in question could be wrong, but their opinion is relevant and so it's not a fallacy to consider it.

No, because parents have no authority, in the sense being meant. Doctors have to receive training and go to school to get the title. They have to have rigor, and the example has a lack of contradicting evidence. For CP, both things are present--both a lack of rigor, AND contradicting evidence.

You don't have to have an official title to be an authority on something. For example, I'm an authority on what food I like to eat, without holding any kind of official title. You're an authority on the experience of being President of a debating site, without having any kind of training in it. Of course parents are an authority on what works and is beneficial for their own children.

What do you even mean by "lack of rigor"? do you mean that it's not published in an academic journal? But actually, it is. I got the rates and opinions of parents in relation to CP from an article in a respected journal. You know that your "rigorous" studies are almost entirely based on parental self-report, right? That means that researchers go and ask parents their opinions and observations about this and that and write it up. How is that more rigorous than asking for their opinions and actions outright? Seriously.

The wisdom of crowds and crowdsourcing stuff is a bit of a rabbithole, I would argue. They're useful when there's no evidence, and/or when there's no such thing as an expert, neither of which apply here. You wouldn't crowdsource psychiatric care.

Right. Crowdsourcing isn't useful for everything, but sometimes it is BETTER than other sources, that's my only point. You can't automatically dismiss aggregate population knowledge, as you are doing here in relation to parental knowledge.

I really think parents' opinions based on their direct experience falls into this category of non-fallacious ad populum. That doesn't mean that it's necessarily true, only that it doesn't deserve to be immediately dismissed as fallacious.

It's fallacious because you've yet to show any kind of rigor to the parent's behavior. As such, it can be seen as "random", and the fact that X thing is done by a majority as arbitrary.

No. Are you really arguing that people act in random ways, that they are not influenced by, say, survival instincts and self-interest? Can you really infer nothing by watching people's behavior? Where do you think your rigorous authorities get their information from?

It's not so much about subjective as about WHO gets to define the benefit. Even defining health benefits is problematic, and that has the advantage of being anchored in fairly obvious outcome measures such as years of life lived and freedom from actual diseases. However, behavioral benefit is way less obvious to define. Is it beneficial to a child to be passive and obedient, for example, or to face conflict in a more assertive way? Is it better to devote your spare hours on formal education or on friendships? You can say it's subjective, and it is, but more than that, who has the RIGHT to choose? See, to me, that right is firmly and squarely in the hands of families. You seem to think so too, from your comments further down. I'll point them out when I get to them.

I do agree that they get to determine what their goal is. But the question is: Are they actually ACHIEVING that goal with their actions?

And what goal is that? As far as I'm aware, that information has never been recorded by your authorities.

This means that if researchers are going to do studies on the benefits of various discipline techniques, then those benefits must be the ones defined by families within the contexts of their particular circumstances. Given that those studies have not even attempted to measure such a thing, they only information we have that speaks to benefits as they should be defined is the opinion of parents.

No--this is false. Because you're allowing the benefit to go undefined by the parents, and therefore "taking their word" that there's a benefit.

The researchers attempted to find generally agreeable metrics--similar to with health studies, although arguably less agreed-upon.

So you're arguing that parents get to define the goal, but when authorities in other countries can't be bothered finding out what those goals are, it's okay for them to write their own goals and then draw conclusions about those parents' behavior based on these other goals.

The problem is that those authorities could so easily get it wrong. For instance, if they decide that a proper goal for the world's parents would be that children learn not to be aggressive and learn to internalize Western morality, then make judgments about parents in other countries and cultures who fail to match up to those goals. The thing is, parents might have quite different goals for their children.

But again, let's return to your own example that you used in the debate: Parents beating their kids so that those kids don't get beaten by police. Does it work? No evidence was presented that it did.

That was just an example to show that parents are likely to have different goals to those picked by the authorities. I wasn't trying to imply that all parents have this goal.

The popularity of it is irrelevant. All methods DO have the possibility of error--so the question is, how likely is it? Given that parents have no training, and approach it with no demonstrated rigor, their results tell us nothing. Much like performing a medical experiment without a control group. It's null. I'm not saying they're wrong because it's popular, I'm saying the popularity is irrelevant.

To say that parents opinions are irrelevant when it comes to the best ways of raising children is really amazing. Do you really think experience counts for nothing? Because it's not just parents' experience, but information they gain from their communities, from grandparents and friends. Is it really worth nothing, in your opinion? Do you really believe that some 21 year old with a degree in child psychology can somehow compete with a whole society of knowledge? I'm finding it difficult to respond to that, because it's just so profoundly different from the way I see the world.
Garbanza
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11/12/2014 1:20:46 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/10/2014 1:27:00 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
... I do not have an expectation of rigor when it comes to the social and behavioral sciences,

Well, I hate to be flatly argumentative, but you are wrong. There may not be enough rigor. The gap between "hard" sciences and social sciences in terms of rigor may be so broad as to make the social sciences laughable. But claiming there's no rigor is demonstrably false.

No, and that's not what I said (not what I meant, anyway). What I meant was that I don't ASSUME (expect) rigor just because someone is referencing a journal article in the behavioral sciences. It has to be shown to be rigorous. Of course you're right, that there are some excellent studies, but certainly not all of them are.

I'm not really sure exactly what you mean by "rigor" though.

Most of us are laypersons, and we're using expert papers to support our cases. You're totally right that it cna be misinterpreted, but you can't just handwave it away as "maybe it was misinterpreted". You have to SHOW how it was misinterpreted.

I thought I did in the debate. I'm happy to go through them one by one but it will take a long time, and I'm nervous about boring you. The main problems are the same in any case: No causality established (for different reasons, but mostly because these are observational studies). Cannot be generalized. Culturally biased framework of benefit. Mostly self-report measures (which means, for example, that people who care about impression management are likely to rate everything highly, giving a false association between "good" parenting practices and "good" outcomes).

I believe you to be oversimplifying the wisdom of crowds notion.

Yes, it's possible. This actually the first time I've come across it, and it's not essential to my argument so it's probably best to drop it. The only point I was trying to make is that you can't automatically assume that people don't know anything, and that authorities know better. Really. It's funny - we must have had completely different lives and experiences, because it really feels strange to even have to argue this, because I just see it as fundamentally and obviously true. I don't have the same respect for authority that you do, obviously. :)

I don't. I think most people raise their kids very similarly to how their parents raised them, barring distinct things to turn away from. The most common refrain I've heard in defense of CP has always been "My parents whupped me, and I turned out fine".

People are not obliged to explain their private actions, I suppose. Just because they don't elaborate on their reasons doesn't mean they're ignorant.

They may be "relevant", but I don't think you've ever established that they're informed, or independent.

Informed by whom though? You just gave an example of parents being informed by THEIR parents, and you dismissed it as ignorant. I suppose you mean informed by "authorities". But why should people ignore the information in their families and communities and respond only to experts from another country?

You can't have it both ways about independence. If all parents were trained, then their knowledge wouldn't be independent, but if they learn from their families, local communities and own experiences, then their knowledge IS more independent.

Rigor works in medicine, it's true. ...journal articles in the behavioral sciences simply don't automatically carry more weight than other sources of knowledge.

I disagree. Because these "other sources of knowledge" are just people making things up, without reference to their truth value. And the way you'd show that that wasn't the case was via rigor. That it's more difficult to reach a high level of rigor in social sciences does not invalidate them whole cloth, nor does it make arbitrary decisions somehow more valuable.

I don't think parents drawing conclusions from their own lives, experiences, observations with their own children etc. is "arbitrary". Why shouldn't people learn from experience? The idea that they need some kind of officially sanctioned "training" to be deemed to have ANY knowledge at all is an idea that's so alien to me. Who ARE these officials who get to say what IS knowledge and what ISN'T, and why do they have that power in your opinion?

I really, really dislike the language of "other sources of knowledge"--that's not a fault on you, since it's common. But how is this a separate source of knowledge? What makes it better than people who are at least trying to approach with rigor?

I don't know about this "rigor". It must have magical properties if it can make "authorities" from country A know better than parents in country B how to raise their children, without ever having set foot in that country or having met a single child there.

Limited, yes, but still they have more rigor than parents--and thus carry more weight.

It would really help if you can describe this rigor in relation to any of the studies bsh1 cited.

I agree that we can't be certain that it's good for children, but we can take it as evidence that it is good for children.

No, we cannot. We can take it as evidence that 90% of people THINK it's good for children. That doesn't make them right. There's no expectation of rigor. It isn't the wisdom of crowds. There's literally no reason to think they're right, except that it's the popular decision.

Let's simplify this: Do you think motive to be right is sufficient to assume someone is right? If not, and I think not, then there is nothing BUT the "majority" argument.

I think it's a pretty good indication. For example, if we showed that 90% of people go on vacation to the beach, we might conclude that vacations at the beach are enjoyable. Of course, it might be wrong, but it's evidence in favor of the enjoyability of beach holidays. If we find out that 90% of parents with income over a certain level enroll their children into private schools, then we might conclude that private schools are beneficial to children in rich families. Of course, it might be wrong, but it's evidence in favor of that.

...if you take certainty as your standard, then all knowledge should be discarded.

There's no such thing as absolute certainty. That doesn't mean that we just make things up to suit us.

What things have I made up?

You showed A benefit, but I certainly don't think that it rose to the level of fulfilling the "on balance" requirement, and I also find it implausible that most parents would see that as their "goal" with CP.

^Here's where you imply that families have the right to define benefit.

I feel like I have explicitly said it--but if it was only implicit, let me be explicit now:

YES, they have the right to define benefit. But then their actions have to be looked at in light of that benefit. To return, again, to the example of "beatings so they don't get beat by police", have you shown any reason to think that's the case? Nowhere in your case was that supported.

No, that was just an example, as I said before. I was just trying to show that parental goals are likely to be different from authorities' goals, when those authorities belong to a different cultural group, and that - in particular - if parents have distrust of authority, they may not want their children to "internalize" the morality of that authority.

Parents opinion =/= truth--it's not evidence of the truth of their proposition. Arguing it is is arguing that it's true because it's popular, which is exactly the ad populum fallacy.

Yeah, but it's only a fallacy if popular opinion is irrelevant, but when each parent is an authority in relation to the benefit for their own children, then it's no longer irrelevant and it's not a fallacy.
wrichcirw
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11/12/2014 7:44:10 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/30/2014 7:39:59 PM, Garbanza wrote:
This is a discussion that was started on a debate, but has moved here.

http://www.debate.org...

The debate was about corporal punishment. Bladerunner has argued that my position was fallacious, and I am trying to understand exactly how. I appreciate his patience in explaining it.

To summarize. The resolution was: on balance, corporal punishment by parents is beneficial to the child.

The way I see it, there are three basic levels of opinion on the existence of benefits.

1. The child. In the debate, both sides were happy to ignore the child's opinion. If a child is spanked for running around after bedtime and as a consequence goes straight to sleep, everyone seems happy to ignore the child's opinion that it would be more beneficial to run around. Children don't know what's good for them.

2. The parent. I gave evidence that most parents around the world use corporal punishment and that they approve of its use.

3. Some higher authority. Bsh1 argued that EXPERTS have shown that corporal punishment is wrong. Bsh and bladerunner argue that the experts' opinion is more convincing than the parents' because parents can be wrong. There are plenty of examples where people have generally and falsely believed something to be true, and this could be one of them.

I disagree because - and I think I showed convincingly - that the studies the experts' opinions were based on did not contain convincing evidence about the evils of CP. Causality was not established, the participant group was nowhere near representative, and there was very strong evidence of cultural differences in the reported associations. Further, almost all the studies were based on parental report, and any correlations between CP and outcome measures reflected cultural and associated circumstances rather than anything related to CP.

Nevertheless, there is strong expert opinion that CP is bad for children. But then, why are these experts EXPERTS rather than just random people with opinions? It's because of their research credentials, and their practice of comprehensively detailing their methodology and processes, including the limitations of their research. In other words, their opinions shouldn't matter over and above the evidence of their studies. Perhaps, it could be argued that they have a lot of experience working with children and parents and so their intuition may be better formed than other people; however, their combined experience is much less than millions of parents who are working with their children every day.

The fallacy

So I argued that given the evidence for - the parents - and the evidence against - the authorities (biased and extremely weak), that on balance, it comes down on the side of PRO, if only just. It's not a strong result, obviously, but all things considered, it's PROBABLY pro. But this is, according to bladerunner, a fallacy, because people can get it wrong.

I agree, that of course they can. However, to be wrong implies that there's some objective knowledge that exists and that parents don't have access to.

Bladerunner wrote:
There are drugs we used to use for cadiac arrest events. We used them for years and years--and when they actually did the studies on them, they found that those drugs did not at all affect the outcome of resuscitation. So we stopped using them. Now, the only reason we did, was because of STUDIES and general trends. And the overall outcomes have improved. Some people fought it, actually, saying "That's dumb, this drug does X, Y, Z". XYZ was true, but nonetheless, those things didn't help in the case of cardiac arrest.

This is a great example of something that does have an objective outcome measure - incidence of cardiac arrest events. It's definitely possible to manipulate some independent variable and look at the difference in cardiac arrests as an outcome. Further, there's no ambiguity about the desirability of the outcome measure. In this case, people can definitely get it wrong if they think x approach reduces the risk of cardiac arrest when it can be shown that it doesn't.

However, this is not the case at all when looking at "benefit to children". An often cited association with CP is increased aggression and a failure to "internalize morality". Who chooses "internalizing morality" as a benefit to the child? The child doesn't. The parents may or may not. Instead, some expert authority has decided that increased aggression and failure to internalize morality do not benefit the child. Based on what, exactly? They don't know the child or the circumstances. I showed that in China, for instance, the vast majority of parents use CP. Are we to dismiss an entire culture based on findings of aggression and a different way of conceiving morality?

I have not read the debate and my input is only based upon what I read above.

What it seems to come down to is that you question the veracity of an expert opinion, but do not proffer an expert opinion of your own as evidence. Instead, what you have essentially amounts to anecdotal evidence from parents who happen to advocate your line of reasoning.

Based upon strength of evidence I'd have to side with the flawed expert opinion. I would think that if you were correct in your criticism of your opponent's expert opinion, that it would not be too difficult for you to find and proffer expert opinion advocating your line of reasoning. Absent such, well...
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?