Monday, 1 October 2018

When reason fails: Mitchell's damning report; media bias; and disillusionment

I really hate to write another piece on the Kavanaugh saga, as I really do not wish to unduly politicise this blog. However, this is entirely a non-partisan issue for me (I don't even particularly like Kavanaugh - he is too conservative for my tastes), and the situation is simply so important, and so instructive about so many things, that I have been unable to contain a minor obsession with the issue over the past several days, and believe some of these insights need to be shared. And it's not really a story about Kavanaugh, Ford, and #metoo. It is instead fundamentally a story about the failure of both human reason, as well as our media institutions/journalistic traditions, which we rely on to sustain the health of our democracy.

Yesterday, Rachel Mitchell released a report to Senators on her assessment of the merits of Christina Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh. Mitchell is a female prosecutor (not defense lawyer) of sexual assault and related crimes, with 25 years of experience assessing the credibility of, and prosecuting, sexual assault cases. In other words, she is one of the world's foremost and most experienced experts in the field of assessing the merits of sexual assault allegations. She was chosen by the Republicans to ask questions of Ford in the recent Senate hearing, but she is a non-partisan figure.

Her report on the veracity of Ford's allegations is utterly damning. She notes that 'he said, she said' situations are always difficult to prove, but in the present case, Ford's allegations are in fact much weaker than that, as Ford's testimony contains no corroboration; all witnesses dispute her claims; and there are a large number of material inconsistencies in her story, as well as suspicious omissions. She goes on to provide five full pages of bullet points with specific examples of major irregularities with Ford's testimony, of exactly the sort you would expect to emerge under cross-examination if a witness were lying. She concludes with a tremendous understatement: "I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee". I encourage anyone with an interest in this issue to read the report in its entirety.

Now let's think about this for a moment. Here we have one of the world's foremost experts in assessing the merits of sexual assault claims, who is more informed on the specifics of this case than virtually anyone else in the world, expressing serious doubts about the integrity of Ford's allegations, and yet every single mainstream media source I have seen, with the exception of Fox News, has been absolutely convinced and committed to the idea Kavanaugh is guilty, and has been determined to utterly destroy his reputation and convict him in the court of public opinion.

Every single line of Kavanaugh's testimony has been scrutinized up and down by the media, looking for the most minor of potential infractions, with the worst possible out-of-context interpretation ascribed to anything he said. And when he became understandably emotional about the effect these false allegations have had on his family and daughters, he was callously condemned with the utmost cruelty as an 'angry man' whose tirade demonstrated he was completely unfit for public office.

Furthermore, even outside the mainstream media, the vast majority of people I usually regard as independent free-thinkers and bulwarks against the biased mainstream media, such as Sam Harris, as well as many other well-known commentators such as Nate Silver and Paul Krugman, have also all been extremely active in the Twittersphere busily condemning Kavanaugh and sharing any and all articles putatively proving Kavanaugh lied in the hearings. Often, these claims use some of the most spurious and tortured logic I have ever seen, as well as some of the most heroic of assumptions. The standard of proof being applied to Kavanaugh is not 'is this likely to have happened?', but 'is there any conceivable scenario, however unlikely, where this could have happened?'*

Meanwhile, there has been almost no scrutiny at all of Ford's claims by the mainstream media, who have been prepared to overlook the most extraordinary of inconsistencies that strain credulity to the breaking point. Such inconsistencies include claiming the event initially happened when she was 18 (by which point she had already left school), and then changing her story to say it occurred when she was 15 (and still in school); and claiming to have 'forgot' whether she gave her therapist notes to journalists merely a few months ago (which contain many statements that contradict her current story, including that there were four offenders, not two), while deliberately withholding the notes from the committee. I would encourage people to read Mitchell's report for a full list of the cumulative irregularities. I would add, separately, that when giving her testimony, Ford also did not roll her eyes upwards when asked to recall memories. This is a sign that a different part of the brain is being activited, and is regarded by body language experts as a very reliable sign of dishonesty.

So how is it that, on the one hand, we have a testimony from Ford littered with obvious irregularities, such that one of the most experienced prosecutors in the world on these matters - and perhaps the most knowledgeable person on this specific case (who is also a woman) - believes the case would be summarily thrown out, while virtually the entirety of the world's media and non-mainstream intelligentsia feels entitled to ignore the evidence and reach the completely opposite conclusion, and self-righteously destroy Kavanaugh's career, reputation, and life?

This is a sad story of the complete failure of human reason. It's a story of biased, motivated reasoning, and the inability of people to think rationally in an environment of heightened emotion, and the errors in judgment and terrible injustices that can sometimes result from these shortcomings. On my reading of the evidence currently available, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that there is an insufficient basis to believe these allegations are true, and therefore that the reasonable and fair course of action is to proceed on the assumption they did not. That does not mean we can be 100% sure - we can be 100% sure of very little in life - but there is currently no reasonable basis to believe the alleged incident ever happened, and yet the mainstream media narrative is the exact opposite.**

It is also a striking indictment on the lack of journalistic impartiality and ethics that currently exist, along with the degree to which PC authoritarianism has overrun Western society (such that people are exercising self-censorship, in failing to question Ford's account). Because there is such widespread Democrat opposition to Kavanaugh's appointment, there has been every motive to capitalise on these allegations for political advantage, and this is a big part of why Kavanaugh has been treated so unfairly, in my opinion. That politicans would act in such a ruthlessly opportunistic way is outrageous but does not surprise me, but it ought to be the job of our journalistic/media institutions to call out these sorts of political shenanigans, not actively facilitate them. It should not be rouge bloggers such as myself having to do this sort of thing (the only reason I am is that so few others are). However, the anti-Kavanaugh rebuke has gone well beyond the mainstream media, and I can only conclude from this that widespread societal prejudice (men always lie, women are always honest) has also been a contributing factor, and/or a toxic penchant for virtue signalling. It's a sad state of affairs.**

I'm used to being a contrarian, independent thinker, and standing apart from the crowd. However, the degree of irrationality on this issue has been so extreme that even I have never - ever - felt to the extent I do now, that either I or the whole world must be going completely and utterly insane. And I must say, I don't think I have ever quite had this degree of distrust in the power of human reason, or such distrust in the ethics of journalists or human beings in general. I am thoroughly disillusioned and appalled (or, perhaps, insane).


LT3000


*For example, it has been asserted as proof Kavanaugh lied that he said he 'never went to a gathering like the one Ford described', because it was a small gathering and Kavanaugh would have gone to gatherings like that, and there is no way he could have remembered all of them. So he must be lying. But he denied it on the basis of the event's location, which was outside the area where he usually socialised at the time, and on the basis of his diaries. And he also appears to have a much better memory than average. These factors do not prove that he is telling the truth, but to assert that this is smoking-gun proof he is lying is completely ridiculous. Yet otherwise very smart people have been quite willing to accept this logic as satisfactory (e.g. Krugman). 

Much has also been made of his penchant for beer (which he has not denied, but attempted to downplay). That has been seized upon as further proof of dishonesty - he didn't voluntarily offer up details of getting drunk and throwing up when in school, ergo he is lying on the stand, and must have been blind drunk at the time and not remembered the incident. Again, anything is possible, but it's not at all likely if there is absolutely no other corroborating evidence. And who, really, is proud of their worst drunken school-boy moments, and wants to volunteer them up to a global audience? He was evasive in answering these questions likely precisely because he did not want to lie. 



**Since publication, these two paragraphs have been substituted for the original paragraph written below, which I believe in hindsight was poorly written and too strongly worded. In the interests of maintaining fair disclosure, however, the have preserved the original text below: 

It is also a striking indictment on the lack of journalistic impartiality and ethics that currently exist, along with the degree to which PC authoritarianism has overrun Western society (such that people are exercising self-censorship). The attacks on Kavanaugh are almost certainly a politically-motivated smear, aimed not just at blocking his nomination, but discrediting Republicans ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. That politicans would do such a thing is outrageous but does not surprise me, but it ought to be the job of our journalistic/media institutions to call out this sort of political corruption, not actively facilitate it. It should not be rouge bloggers such as myself having to do this sort of thing (the only reason I am is that so few others are). But it has gone even further than the above, as even many independent free-thinkers outside of traditional media have also joined into the anti-Kavanaugh chorus. I can only ascribe this to widespread societal prejudice (men always lie, women are always honest), and/or a toxic penchant for virtue signalling.



Important afterword

One anecdote I regrettably forgot to include in the original article was that it was reported that at the Harvard Law School, when Kavanaugh was giving his live testimony and discussing how the allegations had impacted his life, and mentioned it could mean that he could never teach law at Yale again (which he as been doing part time for 10 years), a cheer apparently erupted in the hall.

Learning this concerned me more than anything else. Here we have some of the smartest people in the country, who ought to be the most knowledgeable of all about the importance of due process and the presumption of innocence, exhibiting some of the most heinous prejudice I have ever seen. If even Harvard law students have become this corrupted, what hope is there for the future of civil society?






33 comments:

  1. To continue our conversation from the previous thread, I share your view here that the world is going insane, but have to disagree again on a number of your central points:

    1. Andrew Mitchel is not "one of the world's foremost and experienced experts" in the field. She is an long-time local prosecutor in Arizona who was plucked out of obscurity and hand-picked by the Republican majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee. She applied necessary scrutiny to Dr. Ford's testimony, but was not allowed to interview the defendant (Kavanaugh) or any other of the witnesses. The whole process is a total sham.

    2. You are right that she raises some important questions about inconsistencies in Ford's testimony (and by the way these type of inconsistencies are common in cases like this - memory is a tricky thing). And yes, she's likely right that no prosecutor would bring this case in a criminal court. But that is not the standard here, and arguing this is a bait and switch. We are talking about whether Kavanaugh is fit to assume a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. In this respect it astounds me that Kavanaugh supporters are so OK with his casual lying under oath. There is no rule that says if you feel unjustly accused it's OK to tell lies about small things to the FBI or the Senate. Yes, it's embarrassing to reveal to the country that you were a sloppy drunk in high school. But why lie about it?
    3. On what basis do you assert that this is almost certainly a politically motivated smear? This is easily disproven by the fact that Ford first raised the allegations about Kavanaugh before he had even been nominated. She raised them when he was just one of the many people on the short-list for the position, out of what she describes as a sense of "civic duty." She was literally happy for any other person on that list to be nominated. As a related point, Neil Gorsuch sailed through the confirmation process last year without the slightest hint of scandal, even though Democrats arguably had even more reason to bring him down - since he was taking the "stolen" seat that should have been Merrick Garland's. These complaints are highly specific to Kavanaugh, not some kind of nefarious George Soros driven plot to keep another conservative judge from joining the court.
    4. Accusing those who tend to believe Ford of "virtue signalling" or "PC authoritarianism" is falling into the same trap that you accuse the other side of falling into. Amazing as it may seem, some of us believe that a) Despite inconsistencies in her testimony, Ford deserves to be heard -- and a genuine investigation is the only way to get to the bottom of this. b) Kavanaugh's response to the allegations should be disqualifying. Not just the mistruths under oath, but his belligerance and highly partisan behavior. I have no doubt some are opposing him for political reasons, but for myself and literally everybody I know who is on the same type of the fence, it is that we have serious reservations about Brent Kavanaugh's character and ability/williningess to bring the type of impartiality that is needed for a Supreme Court Judge.

    I do hope to comment on your investment-focused posts in the future and assume we will have more basis for agreement :)

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    1. By the way, I completely share your views on the dangers of mob justice, trial by media, the risk of "me too" going to far, and so on.

      My main point is that many -- if not most -- of the people questioning Kavanaugh's fitness are doing so in good faith. Many of them have genuine concerns about his character. And -- despite the inconsistencies in her statements -- many believe Ford at a minimum raises issues that deserve a full investigation, not a show trial run by a prosecutor hand-picked by the Republican majority who is only allowed to pick holes in one key witness. Again, these are genuine concerns. When you make blanket accusions that anybody holding such concerns is a political stooge or engaging in PC nonsense, you fall into the same kind of irrationality that consumes those who automatically assume Kavanaugh is guilty (I don't).

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    2. Zen,

      As for the way all of this pertains to investment-focused posts, I think LT3000 makes the case pretty well in his previous Kavanaugh post that these might be taken to be "investment-focused posts" to the extent that they bear on our ability to think clearly and effectively about reality. It will be a question of empirical reality about whether your ability to think clearly and effectively about one of your investments will rise above or fall below your ability to think clearly and effectively about this Ford's allegations or your assessment of Kavanaugh's fitness – they are after all substantially different domains, with substantially different incentives, rewards, penalties, etc. – but please consider the way you may (and I stress "may") even now be conflating "questioning Kavanaugh's fitness" with the specific question of how the merits of Ford's allegations can possibly bear on this questioning, especially if (and I stress "if") the objective merits of the allegations are found to be lacking or suspect.

      Similarly, one might consider the extent to which an ability to see all the ways that Kavanaugh might NOT be "lying under oath," at least not to the abject degree you seem to believe he has, will have parallels in investing – e.g., seeing all the ways a company might NOT fail even when we are rightly concerned about all the ways it might fail. Take the drinking. I knew lots of brilliant, fun, and good people who liked to party far in excess of the level I was able to party at in high school and college, never mind the even lower level at which I found it enjoyable. In my experience, this category of people did not automatically coincide with the category of "sloppy drunks," and in fact, far from it. In fact, to assert that he so obviously must have been a "sloppy drunk" reminds me of the charges that he has so obviously lied about "blacking out." Yes, perhaps he did lie, even brazenly so, and yet having been stupid enough to drink to the point of "blacking out" on two separate occasions myself, my experience has been that I have been the outlier in my social circles, not a typical case. Drinking heavily, finding oneself finally in a comfortable place to rest, and falling asleep, that was the more typical behavior, and consistent with Kavanaugh's sworn testimony. Also, I can attest to the worlds of difference between the two. Perhaps someone of his intelligence is the kind of person who does NOT end up with what is effectively alcohol poisoning, as I mentioned I was stupid enough to do on two occasions. Note, in neither case that I engaged in such behavior was I treated like the person behaving typically amongst the people I was socializing with. I make these arguments here not because I want to take a strong position on his drinking or veracity under oath, but merely in an attempt to demonstrate a fuller range of reasoning, perhaps with the benefit of a wider range of personal experiences, but a habit of thought that might have bearing on getting to the range of possible of outcomes and weighting them probabilistically, presumably as one would want to do when making an investment.
      (contd.)

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    3. And again, if (and I stress "if") you fail to see the true extent to which such questions on drinking bear on assessing the merits of the allegation, then I believe there are further parallels to the extent to which we as investors have to assess the bearing of certain factors on certain other factors in establishing certain truths about a company or an investment. That is how I understand these recent posts, incidentally, not as an attack on people questioning Kavanaugh's fitness in good faith, but an attack on people who, even in good faith, might be coming up woefully short in their assessment of certain questions, including the extent to which certain questions really bear on the specific allegations made, the merits of the allegations as we understand them (and political ramifications aside, it is good that we will have an investigation to the extent that we will understand those merits even more clearly), and the extent to which they really bear on his fitness or not.

      I say all this, by the way, knowing full well that you might be the superior investor to me by a factor of 10, correct in your every assessment of Kavanaugh's character and true fitness, and yet I feel justified in raising merely the question about whether we are rising to our very highest abilities in reasoning critically about all of these issues.*

      * Acknowledging separately that politics will produce a result no matter how well or poorly any of us bothers to reason through these questions.

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    4. To LT and Zen,

      Upon one last round of reflection, I believe I have discovered the thing that was bothering me a bit about these posts. My final quibble with these posts and their broader thesis, quite apart from any particulars, might be the way in which a double standard or an inherent contradiction may have slipped in. I have been most impressed by this blog for the picture it presents of a world where not only most, but the vast majority people are destined to be mediocre to poor investors. One of the most interesting features of investing is the distinctive way in which the distribution of performance appears to fall out for its participants. It is easy to work out a model in which this distribution not only fails to be normal, but fails spectacularly so, where the vast majority manage somehow to underperform what seems like it should be the "average." That is finally becoming the conventional wisdom, as well, as much as people continue to behave in defiance of it. I could cite reams of evidence, present scads of argument, but to at least give some flavor of it, I will merely allude to the performance of investors with Peter Lynch during his legendary run at Magellan. They are reported not to have done very well themselves, I've even heard it said that "average investor" managed to lose money(!), and even if apocryphal, with a little thought, one can at least imagine how it could be the case.

      At any rate, in a world where it is only the rare individual who rises above the normal human limitations, biases, and applies themselves beyond the usual degrees of exertion to succeed at investing – the Lynch, the Buffett, perhaps if he can keep it up, the Lyall Taylor – it is perhaps unfair when we set our sights on a different domain – one perhaps even more apt to stoke emotions and with far more perverse or, at least, selfish incentives – that of politics, and there expect to find something other than what we see in investing. Instead, once again, we might expect not just the average person but even the vast majority of people to perform poorly. To invert the direction in which we might try to draw a lesson, starting from the field of investing, we might have very low expectations indeed for what we would find in the fields of politics and public discourse. Whether one should characterize it as a double standard or self-contradiction to maintain at the same time that most investors stink at thinking clearly when it comes to investing but most citizens should be able to reasonably well when thinking about politics, I’ll leave that up for debate, but perhaps this illuminates another aspect of the discussion here.

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    5. Thanks all for your comments, and thank you in particular Anonymous - you've absolutely nailed it here and understood exactly the point I am trying to make, and how it relates to investment.

      My posts are not really about Kavanaugh. I don't particularly like him, and if someone wants to argue he is unfit for office for some unrelated reason, then that is a different debate to have.

      My point here is about how the Ford allegations specifically have been treated, and the absolute lack of peoples' ability to analyse the issues logically, rationally, and in an unbiased fashion, in an emotionally-charged atmosphere.

      This has prevented people from exercising any reasonable judgment about what is most likely to be true. Given the evidence that currently exists (and if new evidence emerges to the contrary, I will change my mind), by far the most likely outcome is that these allegations are false, and yet the media 'narrative' is the exact opposite. This is exactly the sort of emotionally-charged gap between facts and beliefs that sometimes emerges in stock markets as well, and the psychological fallacies that are driving it likely have some similar human causes.

      This is a textbook case in how human reason fails. In the stock market, it just means great opportunities to profit. In the real world, it can mean real and serious injustices, and even the wholesale undermining of democracy. It has been the 'sinking in' of these later implications that has most depressed me.

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    6. Zen Investor,

      On your specific points (numbers in parity with yours).

      1. I'm not saying one of the foremost experts as compared with other prosecutors with sexual assault experience. I'm saying relative to journalists, the twittersphere, and other commentators on the issue. And she does have more knowledge of this specific case, than almost anyone else on the planet.

      2. You are substituting the question 'is there a sound basis to believe Ford's allegations are true' for 'is Kavanaugh fit for office given his drinking habits', or 'does Kavanaugh's less than frank discussion of his use of alcohol during school render him unfit for office'.

      Also, you assert he 'casually lied under oath'. But I gave a couple of examples (and there are many more) about how the case for him lying under oath is far from made, and make many assumptions, including 'he must have drunk to the point of blacking out, so by denying it he must be lying'. This sort of reasoning makes no sense at all.

      3. This assertion rests on circumstantial evidence. Ford may have named Kavanaugh when he was merely one nominee, but that is probably because Kavanaugh is the only person she could plausibly argue to have crossed paths with. And after Kavanaugh was nominated, potential allegations against other nominees by other people would have disappeared into irrelevance. So you need to account for the 'self-selection' dynamics here. Ford deleted all her social media before reporting the allegations (possibly to disguise strident partisanship, although I'm only speculating here), and the timing of these allegations and the timing of their release & handling by the democrats suggest that political motivations likely have influenced the treatment of this case. Democrats have also shown no willingness to assess this case on its merits or treat Kavanaugh fairly, which is what you would expect if this was politically motivated.

      4. My point on PC authoritarianism is that it may have resulted in the situation where most people holding a view similar to my own have not been able to express it for fear of losing their jobs, and that this may partly account for the uniformity of condemnation against Kavanaugh in the popular press, despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary.

      Lastly, as a separate point, people have been extremely charitable to Ford, claiming that she may have merely mistakenly substituted Kavanaugh into an unrelated event. If you study the psychology of sexual assault claims for famous people, this is very common. People's memories are fallable and malliable.

      However, in Ford's case, she is a psychologist, so would be well aware of these issues and limitations, and yet she has decided to ignore them and declare 100% certitude it was Kavanaugh, despite her recollection of events not being corroborated by her friend & other putative witnesses.

      She also provably lied about her aversion to flying, and also avoided long-form discussions which she would have known, as a psychologist, were more conducive to recalling details of lost memories from traumatic events. That she both denied knowledge of that and refused to participate in a long-form dialogue like that suggest to me that she had no interest in really recalling information.

      To me, this, along with other factors, including her body language, the nature of her claims, and other circumstantial evidence, paint a prima facie case (at least) of deliberate falsehood. Given the serious consequences of this, as well as the significant evidence that exists that this is potentially what happened, it is alarming no one is scrutinizing her testimony at all.

      LT

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    7. Thanks Lyall. Appreciate the detailed response. We clearly differ on the strength of the evidence, the believability of the witnesses and the credibility of the Mitchell report. Reasonable people can disagree, and there’s probably not much to be gained in debating the details further.

      One quick aside about memory. A couple of decades ago I was assaulted by a drunken guy at a party. A friend of a friend. I think I can tell you what year it was, but I’m not exactly sure. I could name a few other people who were there, but don’t remember the others. What I do remember very clearly is the face and name of the guy who punched me. This type of thing is really common. The fact that there are gaps or inconsistencies in Ford’s memory is not necessarily disqualifying. In fact, if you listen to people who do such prosecutions for a living, they’ll say it’s exactly for this reason that any investigation cannot be a “he said, she said,” affair – it needs to include interviews of all related parties and potential witnesses. That’s why the Mitchell report is at best incomplete, at worst is a farce.

      But let me try to get a bit closer to the heart of the disagreement – and why I reacted to your initial post – and try to tie this back to investing.

      The theme of your posts on this has been irrationality. I found that to be discordant with your assertion that many of those opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination were guilty of “PC authoritarianism”, “virtue signaling”, “SJW narratives”, or the idea that white men are “lying, power-abusing scumbags.” I believe these excesses apply to just a small minority of those opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination. Is it rational to pain the other side of the debate in this way?

      Back to investing. Let’s say the equity market falls 15% next month. You’re not sure why. Is it just an irrational panic that you should by into? Has everybody lost their mind and are you the only rational person left in the universe? Or is the fact that the entire market is moving against you signaling something important that you may be missing? That’s always a tough call. Ie. Is it March 2008, when some people thought it was a great idea to start buying banks – and blew themselves up? Or is it the taper tantrum or mid-2015 selloff, when you were supposed to buy into the weakness? Sometimes the crowd really has gone mad. But history suggests it is good to have some humility about this, because frequently there is some wisdom that we are missing out on. At least that has been the case for me.

      As an aside, I am a big Sam Harris fan, and I suspect you are too? As much as I love the guy, here is what I consider his one weakness. On certain topics (particularly anything with a whiff of “identity politics”) he becomes intellectually closed off and convinced that anybody who disagrees with him must be either operating in bad faith, consumed by tribalism, or acting completely irrationally. Yet he seems unaware that on such topics he is prone to exactly the same kind of biases. We all are.

      Lastly, I loved your post on the Aussie housing market. It crystalized a number of thoughts I have been chewing on for years now, but have not been able to articulate so brilliantly. So well done.

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    8. Zen Investor,

      Thanks for your follow up comments. Some further thoughts:

      I'm well aware that memories can fade over time and that certain specific details can be forgotten. However, there are many things in Ford's testimonies that go much further than that, and this argument is being used as a 'catch all' that is going much too far, for eg.

      Unlike you, she didn't say from the start and with consistency she wasn't sure when it happened. She initially said in the mid 1985s, then early 1980s, then summer of 1982, and at no point was able to explain how she narrowed the date. And to claim one couldn't remember if you were still in school at the time or not, for me strains credulity to breaking point. It's one thing to not remember the exact time and place; it's quite another to completely change your story and what you do recollect.

      Secondly, there are also a lot of claims about not being able to remember that pertain not to the incident itself, but to recent events. She claims she can't remember if she took the polygraph on the same day as her grandfather's funeral, and can't remember if she gave her therapist notes to journalists. This is much harder to stomach. In addition, other signs of dishonesty have appeared - it appears she lied about her fear of flying, and also lied about the reason for the 2012 couple's therapy, claiming it was a row over an installation of a second door needed to relieve her PTSD and fear of convinced spaces, when building records show it was installed many years prior.

      Nothing in isolation proves anything. But we do not merely have a situation here of vagueness in memory of the details of the incident itself. We have (1) selective & alterable claims to failing to remember, rather than consistency; (2) implausible claims to not remembering recent events; and (3) evidence of dishonesty with respect to recent events. In addition, the body language issue I mentioned is another important point, and there is no other source of corroboration. No one has said they dropped her off, picked her up, or heard her talk about it at the time, and none of the identified witnesses say they have any knowledge of the event.

      Viewing the evidence in totality, I think it is more likely than not that Ford's account is not believable. I'm not saying I'm 100% sure. I'm saying there is not sufficient evidence available to reasonably believe it happened, imo.

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    9. On your other points, if markets are crashing, the answer is, look at the facts and evidence as rationally as you can, instead of relying on secondary media sources and narratives, just like in this case. I didn't assume Kavanaugh to be innocent. I looked at the evidence and listened to arguments on all sides before rendering judgment. The same approach ought to be taken in markets.

      On Sam Harris, generally I like him. But his virulently anti-Trump stance has, I think, created some bias/blindspots for him. He seems to think the Republicans and Trump have a monopoly on unconscionable conduct at the moment, and is not looking uncritically at both sides of the debate. You can see that much of his views on Trump are coloured by soundbites he has heard in the mainstream media, for eg, rather than listening to Trump's full speech to understand what he really said. This is quite common. He is definitely unaware of his own biases.

      The best cure to one's own biases is to listen to the other side of the argument, from the other side's own mouth, instead of relying on secondary sources. As Munger has said, if you're going to disagree with someone, you ought to be able to state their argument better than they can state it themselves.

      I think we have more common ground than disagreement. I don't mind people reaching an alternative conclusion on the Ford/Kavanaugh case, so long as they are actually looking at the evidence and thinking about it critically. I think we have a reasonable disagreement here, rather than an unreasonable one.

      Thanks!
      Lyall

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    10. Hey Lyall. Thanks for your responses. I really appreciate the way you engage with commenters. Totally agree that the best way to cure one's own biases is to listen to the other side of the argument, as difficult as that can be at times.

      Also totally agree with you on the importance of going straight to the primary source. I reached my view on Kavanaugh after watching the entire day of testimony (including Ford's). I think reasonable people can disagree on questions like whether or not his combative tone was appropriate or not.

      I'm still relatively agnostic on whether he's innocent or not - to be honest my concerns are more about his judicial philosophy and views on executive power.

      Keep up the good work.

      Cheers,

      Zen

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  2. I likewise have been disgusted and, it is not pleasant to admit, even tormented by this case. After scrolling through the Reuters headlines this morning and seeing "Four in 10 believe allegations against Kavanaugh," this after seeing the story about the Mitchell memo, I allowed myself a few minutes to try to comprehend the state of the world. I concluded that sadly it may simply be the fate of the "contrarian, independent thinker... apart from the crowd" to be precisely that, apart from the crowd. Society changes, hence societal needs change, hence societal norms and ideologies change, and yet perhaps types of people change much less so or more slowly. Hence the "heretic" type – Socrates, Galileo, etc. – who cannot seem to behave in the interests of society when to do so conflicts with their concept of right or justice. Note that I cite Socrates and Galileo not because all "heretics" are brilliant or heroic, just that due to their merits, they are the accounts that have survived down through history that I would be familiar with, and because they demonstrate that the identifiable type persisted at least across the 2,000 years that separated them. While a certain type of person romanticizes "objective truth," which is yet another thing we can now know with empirical certainty thanks to the wonders of the Internet, should we concede that reality is not necessarily going to be kind to such a person? Do we have thorough accounts, thanks to certain philosophers, of how all values are likely of a less than objective nature, such that a majority of people can easily come to place certain socially "beneficial" values above the value of, say, truth ("beneficial" in the sense of helping a society continue working in the way that it has come to work)? I can at least then comprehend how, time and again throughout history, socially valued ideologies have found their way into and encroached on nearly every aspect of a person's existence, and how time and again, it has driven certain people to denounce and defy this aspect of society. Perhaps we should not be surprised if our time is no different, even if we are dismayed when the condition feels particularly acute. As you can see, it is not really about Kavanaugh for me either, but what does that say about our position relative to a society that appears to function only on the premise that this is everything to do with Kavanaugh but only in all the ways that push questions of truth and justice to the periphery.

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    1. Absolutely agree.

      Separately, four in 10 believe the allegations, but another 3 in 10 think he 'maybe' did it. So only 30% of the country believes he did not do it, when the fact suggest that that is by far the most likely outcome, and the most reasonable course of belief, based on the facts as they are currently known. Thanks to our media - the supposed defenders of democracy - more than two thirds of the country now believe a potential supreme court judge with a lifetime of service is or may be an attempted rapist, on bad evidence.

      I think the depressing lesson from all this, and from all the long and tortured history you mention, is simply that human beings are not rational. They just aren't, and especially in large numbers. The small number of highly intelligent people that can exercise rationality are no match for an irrational mob.

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  3. I trade political prediction and betting markets, and I've been doing so for several years now. I agree with you that this particular situation seems particularly irrational.

    Typically these partisan fueled highly unlikely theories (and certainly conservatives do this as well -- perhaps even more than liberals) tend to fizzle out once it becomes clear that the evidence doesn't match the hype.

    Unfortunately, I think that once a story gets critical mass, the lack of evidence only makes it stronger. After all, the partisan signal you send off by supporting a story without evidence is much stronger than supporting a story with evidence (No doubt, even very conservative people would balk at hard evidence of a rape!).

    As for the facts of the case, I think you are wrong to say that Ford is necessarily a political actor (although she is certainly being used by some!). Even if she is wrong, it is depressingly common for rape victims to be 100% sure that someone did the crime only to later be proven wrong by DNA evidence (And these are people that were definitely raped -- so no doubt they have strong incentive to name the actual person that attacked them). Our memories are very fallible and Ford obviously remembers very few details from the event in question (if it did take place).

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    1. Thanks - interesting comments. You confirmation that this case is unusual in the degree of irrationality is comforting - that, I believe, is why it has captured my interest.

      One of the challenges for the Kavanaugh camp has been that he as actually provided real evidence. It is easier to analyse and pick holes in real evidence than it is in a statement 'I don't remember'. Ford said sometime 1980-1985. Kavanaugh provides his whole calendar with minute details. So then people pick through his calendar to try to find any conceivable dates where the event 'could' have happened, instead of questioning why Ford has been unable to exhibit consistency on one of the most obvious of all facts - how old she was when it happened.

      As to Ford's motivations, that's unclear. I don't think it is purely political partisanship, but that has likely contributed. She may have such vitriolic hatred of white men, Trump, and sex abusers, that she has convinced herself that the ends justify the means. But there are other possible motives also. She has raised US$1m through crowd-funding despite her lawyers working pro bono, and in a world characterised by something akin to a 'Victim Olympics', she stands to reap considerable sympathy dividends and forever be seen as a champion for women's rights. That sort of fame and recognition could be very seductive to some people.

      My suspicions are heightened exactly due to the fact that our memories are fallible and malleable, because Ford is a psychologist and will be well aware of that fact, and yet steadfastly denies that's possibly impacting the robustness of her own testimony, and her body language is damning. Any of these things alone would not persuade me. In combination, coupled with the significant inconsistencies that have emerged under cross-examination, including very clear evidence of lying about recent events (such as her fear of flying, and whether she turned over her therapist notes to jouranlists), I am convinced that actual malevolence is involved.

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  4. By the way, I have just included the following afterword in the blog piece, which I forgot to include:

    "One anecdote I regrettably forgot to include in the original article was that it was reported that at the Harvard Law School, when Kavanaugh was giving his live testimony and discussing how the allegations had impacted his life, and mentioned it could mean that he could never teach law at Yale again (which he as been doing part time for 10 years), a cheer apparently erupted in the hall.

    Learning this concerned me more than anything else. Here we have some of the smartest people in the country, who ought to be the most knowledgeable of all about the importance of due process and the presumption of innocence, exhibiting some of the most heinous prejudice I have ever seen. If even Harvard law students have become this corrupted, what hope is there for the future of civil society?"

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    1. For what it's worth, I think this is where you are on much firmer ground. Completely agree that this is dangerous. I would add to this the fact that Dr. Ford's family has been receiving death threats and was forced into hiding. This kind of tribalism on both sides is incredibly toxic.

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  5. Hi Lyall, I’ve found these two blogs and the comments very thought provoking. As an Australian I’m surprised by the extent of the debate in the US, which I think partially reflects the difference in our legal system and the absence of the high court ‘job interview’. I think media sensationalism is even more apparent in the states. I also very much enjoy this forum for intelligent debate rather than name calling and hystryonics.

    I usually can’t help but nod at almost all your thoughts, but from my perspective there are a few little holes in a couple of the arguments here, I believe. I certainly agree with your sentiment though, that society should think rationally rather than based on emotion but maybe that is too much to wish for. Admittedly I say this as someone who identifies as someone at the true centre, although my wife would say I’m hard right! I vehmently disagree with anyone trying to label someone 'defending' BK as a pro rapist, obviously.

    Firstly I think it’s a crucial distinction here that this isn’t a criminal case. One could argue that the repercussions for BK are as significant or more significant than a criminal case, but the repercussions for the USA society and democracy are significantly higher at a broader level. This was a job interview for BK and from my reading of it he failed it. From my perspectives his answers were not as genuine as I would hope for someone who is potential being appointed to one of the most important positions in the country. Whether he lied, or distorted the truth, if it were me making the decision I would not be comfortable with his answers. His behaviour at high school/frat houses by the sounds of things was clearly not particularly mature or responsible, but I could look past this (obviously not rape but that’s a separate issue) if he showed maturity at the senate hearing. Clearly it’s an emotional and highly charged affair, and he doesn't want to admit to this previous behavior due to the fear of being guilty by association.* But if the country is electing someone to such an incredible position, I would expect them to be behave now in a way that is above reproach. If he didn't do it, he needed to be honest and forthright, and if the guilt by association to his actions causes the nomination to fall over, then so be it. We are not talking about how the average person would act, this is about how a supreme court justice would act.

    With respect to Ford. I think it's just as presumptious for people to say that she could be fabricating this story, as it is for people to suggest that BK commited the assault. To suggest that she would be deliberately destroying two men's lives, is an horrific and disgusting accusation if false as well.
    The other bit of the analysis one would need to do is consider why she 'made up' a story that involved a friend of BK. That would be moronic and she doesn't seem to be a moron, albeit she clearly doesn't remember the specific details and doesn't want to lie about what she does remember.

    *clearly his behavious as a teenager and as a young adult, does affect the baysenian analysis and increases the chance that he did infact commit the assault, from above that of the average male who wasn't known for his 'drinking prowess'.

    I'm certainly no saint and if I were being put up for this position I would almost expect some of my youth to come back and bite me, but thats something I would have to live with.

    All these points are made without reference to the chance, or whether in fact I think, BK committed the assualt. I just think the evidence he didn't do it, is far from as strong as you are making out imo (but we all have differing opinions).

    Anyway I hope these points don't detract from the point about rational thinking, logic, and certainly the story about the yale crowd shouting is extremely depressing to me.

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    1. Simon,

      When a person says, "I respect your opinion," they too often mean in the generic sense of respecting everyone's opinions – it is sheer politeness, perhaps even the right thing to believe. But whenever such a sentiment applies to everyone, it might as well apply to no one, as far as drawing useful distinctions are concerned. All too often, it becomes nothing more than lip service. To say that "we all have differing opinions" amounts to much the same thing, and I think the object of this entire exercise is not to demonstrate that we have opinions, but to show how they are grounded in facts, analysis, and logic. There are many issues I have with your comment, but you even indict yourself when you say: "The other bit of the analysis one would need to do is consider why she 'made up' a story that involved a friend of BK." Quite right! One should do the analysis! That's what we are ostensibly here for, after all. But since I infer from your own words that you have left your opinions grounded on something that appears to fall short of, among other things, this analysis, I will provide some for you - her story doesn't merely include a friend of Kavanaugh, it includes the one friend from his entire life that has published a book replete with details and innuendos that have the power to cast the nominee in a bad light, both by direct and indirect association, and which has provided at least one point on which Ford chose to hinge part of her story and her argument, that there should be an FBI investigation to establish a connection to her "recollection" of seeing Judge at his job Safeway six to eight weeks after the incident, which job happens to be one that he writes about in his book. It is true that everyone will then have to do some meta-analysis to incorporate these facts to consider possibilities where Ford is nevertheless telling the truth and cases where she is not – this is a really hard problem and so in some sense you were bound to be right that differences of opinion will emerge, but the point is that these differences will only be respectable to the extent that they are grounded on roughly equivalent degrees of thoroughness, intelligence, objectivity, and integrity. (contd.)

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    2. Similarly, when you say you appreciate the forum here for "intelligent debate" and would like to participate, that too can veer into the realm of lip service. Everyone agrees intelligent debate is good, but that will not distinguish those capable of intelligent debate from those incapable. Therefore, I would only suggest that when you invoke Bayesian analysis, which in your mind "increases the chance that he did in fact commit the assault," that you would do so in the most intelligent way possible and articulate more precisely how you see the chances increase. All other things equal, it makes a dramatic difference if you are harboring the belief that Bayesian analysis is increasing a probability from 20% to 50% or from 1% to 2%, therefore it is essential for intelligent debate that you do a better job of making this clear. There are also more subjective and more objective ways to apply Bayesian concepts, but your account leaves no way for anyone to assess from which direction you are coming and the problems it might raise. As I said, there are other problems I have with your comment, but I am sufficiently confident that I have conveyed the spirit of my criticism, which is that it is both difficult to accept and to challenge opinions and assertions that have not been shown to be better grounded than yours. My sense is that you have a very reasonable opinion as far as it goes, but that it only goes as far as a relatively limited look into the facts of the case and all their myriad potential implications.

      I anticipate two reactions apart from those that might take up the substance of what I have written. First, you rightly object to ad hominem attacks and histrionics, but good criticism is apt to be pointed criticism, and so it becomes personal to the extent that it attacks a person's arguments. I would be glad if you didn't "take this personally," though, where it is natural to conflate attacks on a person and attacks on a person's ideas – I only know that my own natural instincts are to do it all the time. Second, you might wonder why I don't put forth my own ideas so that they might be open to criticism, and yet I have commented widely on both of this blog’s Kavanaugh posts and have yet to have any of my ideas taken up seriously by anyone other than Mr. Taylor. They are there to be criticized if you wish, and I would welcome the chance to reconsider any of them.

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    3. I think it’s fair to call out ‘lip service’ as not contributing to this particular debate. When I re-read my post (which I must apologise was slightly tangential and had a few spelling errors which I put down to a long day of work and then, ironically, a few pints and several glasses of wine!) I presume you’re referring to the following 3 comments:
      “I’ve found these blogs thought provoking”, and ”that I enjoy intelligent debate”, which is an acknowledgment of LT’s efforts here as well as yours, lyalls and zen’s posts particularly and the effort and time people have gone to, to articulate their thoughts for others to consider. We are social creatures, and I personally think it is a positive part of our custom to acknowledge something we enjoy provided to us by the efforts of others. Did you find this comment unhelpful? In my opinion, as a self purported rational thinker, I would prefer to debate the real content of the post rather than a line designed to acknowledge the contribution of others. The irony isn’t lost on me that I’m now debating possibly an equally trivial part of you post – but I think if one is going to criticise others, they should be very well grounded, as opposed to a compliment which I think it's fair to say can be slightly more flippant.
      I didn’t actually say I respect your opinion or we all have differing opinions, I said that I felt there were ‘holes in the argument, I believe’ which I subsequently attempted to articulate. Again does that comment seem worthy of calling out? I didn’t say this with reference to 'éveyone’ but rather to LT’s post. I found this criticism somewhat of a straw man argument.
      Whether I’ve positively contributed to the intelligent debate, is for you to decide, and acknowledge if appropriate. Positive comments about others also have the subconscious but deliberate effect to increase the chance that your own opinions are considered rationally rather than with emotion due to the otherwise mechanical process of reason. Even if we try our best to remove emotion, it’s a very difficult thing to completely do. I say that as I’m trying to articulate a post based on reason rather than emotion, or to ‘take it personally’.
      tbc

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    4. (cont) With regard to my comment about the chance that BK actually committed the crime and the exact percentage for which the probability increased, which I’m guessing was what you wanted when you say you want me to do a better job of making this clear, my point as I said wasn’t to give you an exact number but to show that there was a hole in the initial analyses. Unless I missed it, I didn’t see your prior posts on the previous related subject mention the fact that BK was a bit of a jack the lad at high school, and that changes yours and LTs Bayesian assessment – clearly towards him being more likely to have committed the crime. Whether that is from a 1 to a 2% chance or a 10 to a 20% chance is somewhat irrelevant. I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel with extra arbitrary numbers, but to highlight something I believed others missed. Also the probability assessment of BF was also skewed and superficial in my view as we aren’t judging her as any random woman, but as a woman we know to be successful and wealthy, and therefore the chance she’s doing this for money from a magazine or to write a book is much less likely than a prostitute trying to extort a powerful white male. She also wanted to be anonymous (one could argue this was all a charade of course), and wanted to get out of the spotlight as quickly as possible from my viewing. This isn’t likely to be a woman seeking fame.

      Also just on your last points, I think its important that people can contribute to debate with facts and analysis without necessarily having every fact. I deliberately didn’t say whether I think BK is guilty or not, as I genuinely don’t know, but again my point was that the chance being portrayed by yourself and LT might be missing a few relevant bits of info. There may be relevant info making the chances less likely too that I’m omitting, because I haven’t had the time to look at every bit of info, my analysis wasn’t meant to be a complete analysis, merely to contribute to the groups knowledge and rationale. I think your post could have the effect of driving off other contributors if your standards are too high. Perfect is the enemy of good.

      Your statement "[my] opinion is only a relatively limited look into the facts of the case and all their myriad potential implications." is very appropriate, I'm not pretending to know all the facts, merely to point out some have been missed, or not appropriately acknowledge in my reading of the posts.

      I apologise for not having the time currently to try to pick any other holes in your arguments (if indeed there are) but I hope you don't take offense to my participation none the less.
      Cheers,
      Simon

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    5. Thanks, Simon. No offense at all. I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

      "We all have differing opinions" was a quote I lifted directly from your original comment. If all you meant in your response is that you were merely saying that in the way that people tend to do, as a kind of linguistic or social convention, then yes, I suppose that is precisely what I was protesting, since such conventions are unlikely to add substance to the debate.

      As for what was substantial in your comment, I try to remember that perhaps we are all guilty of what I've known Steven Pinker to call "the curse of knowledge." It goes like this. Perhaps I have a brilliant argument in my head and I am trying to convey it to you. The "curse" is the difficulty humans tend to have in seeing just how little of the argument is being conveyed due to the limitations in a person's ability to communicate and in the communication channel itself, whereas failure is often attributed to a lack of comprehension on the part of the recipient rather than lack of intelligibility on the part of the communicator. In this case, perhaps you have a brilliant argument in your head, and I just haven't been able to see all of it. Yet, if I'm pressed to identify the matters of substance in your comment that actually pertain to Ford's allegations – which is what LT's posts have been about – again, I find only two meaningfully substantive points: (1) that there is significance in the fact that Ford's account puts Mark Judge in the room with Kavanaugh, and this despite Mark Judge having been Kavanaugh's friend; and (2) that Kavanaugh's drinking in high school and college places him in a population of men who might be expected to commit the kind of crime he is accused of at a rate that is higher than the general population. I tried to point out the weaknesses in these points the best I could. You make lots of other points, but none, as I can see, that have bearing on the veracity of Ford's allegation. I'd be glad to have one or two more pointed out, but even still, the sum total will not be very much on which to debate or assess an opinion. As I tried to say, from what you presented, your opinion seems understandable and reasonable enough, but not when I consider everything else I know about this case. I'm not trying to change your mind, incidentally, but only pointing out that you would have to give me lots more before you could change mine.

      By the way, I think I understand the general gist of your attitude regarding positive comments about others, and I suppose I am a little anti-social to the extent that I consider them irrelevant to the mission of uncovering and illuminating objective truth. But to the extent that there is a social component to this back and forth, your criticism is probably very fair and well taken. I am already thinking about how to strike a better balance in the future.

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    6. Since the last thing I want is to be obscure after putting in all this time and effort – and because I probably didn't really try "the best I could" to point out the weaknesses in the two points I cited above – I will add a couple relevant notes.

      (1) When I begin to type "Mark Judge" into my Google search bar, this story and link is presented as THREE of the six autocomplete options:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/27/mark-judges-book-validates-christine-fords-timeline-alleged-kavanaugh-assault/?utm_term=.2b986d90652f

      To conclude that the inclusion of Mark Judge has presented more of a hurdle than a help to Ford's account (to say nothing of what Ford and Democrats are both avowedly trying to accomplish) is simply preposterous. In fact, when you suggested as much, it did more damage than anything else you said to your credibility, in my eyes, at least.

      (2) When you brought in a statistical concept to bolster your argument, I did not mean to leave you with the impression that I required exact percentages before I would grant those concepts any weight. But it's very relevant to assessing the soundness of your position to have a rough idea of what you have in mind. At a minimum, I might want to know at what rate, roughly, you imagine high school and college binge-drinkers to be sex offenders of the sort that Kavanaugh has been accused of being?

      By the way, to help you answer that question, you might consider what percentage of high school aged boys were binge drinkers around the time Kavanaugh purportedly committed the crime. You can understand why the statistics at this link – https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/binge-drinking – have been the subject of debate and discussion over the past week or so, as survey data from the time put the rate at as high as 40% of the population.

      You might also consider at what rate the overall population of men is constituted of sex offenders, again, of the type Kavanaugh is accused of being. The object of the exercise would be to determine, not exactly (now that is a straw man), but at least roughly how much these parameters should increase what would be our prior estimates of the likelihood that Kavanaugh committed the alleged crime if we didn't also know that he liked to drank "skis," a lot, in high school.

      As I've said elsewhere in the comments, I think estimates of a statistical nature should also cut both ways. In fact, you might find that the prior probability you estimate for the rate at which "people like Judge Kavanaugh" have committed offenses in the past is a quantity that pales in comparison to the prior probability you estimate for the rate at which someone was likely to come forward with a false allegation against Kavanaugh that reached the perceived credibility that Dr. Ford's has at some point during his nomination process.

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    7. Hi Simon,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I've heard this argument made - this wasn't a trial but a job interview, and his conduct was unacceptable in this regard. Some points on this:

      *Yes it's not a trial, but our criminal justice system is based on universal principles of fairness. Furthermore, no one is applying the standard of 'beyond reasonable doubt here' - the standard being applied is 'is there a reasonable possibility this could have happened', if not less. The idea that Kavanaugh needs to prove his innocence even in the absence of virtually no hard evidence this happened, including zero corroboration and inconsistencies in Ford's testimony, is extremely unfair in my view.

      *Secondly, the issue of his drinking and conduct in the senate hearing being unbecoming of a judge, are entirely separate issues, and yet they are being taken as evidence the Ford allegations might be true. That's a non sequitur.

      *Thirdly, I've watched Kavanaugh's opening statement and questioning with senators in full, and I can't help but wonder if your assessment of his performance is being based on secondary media sources rather than watching it yourself.

      I would have been surprised if he was not angry and emotional, tbh, and I though he was actually very measured given that he had also been accused of multiple druggings and gang rapes over many years in days prior to the hearing (now discredited). He let his frustration get the better of him her and there, but who wouldn't. Overall, his testimony was well delivered and controlled in my assessment.

      I would recommend actually watching his testimony in full before deciding.

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  6. Just wanted to say this is the single best piece I've read (of many) on the situation here, and as a fellow possibly insane person it was nice to see at least one other investor that reached the same conclusion I did. So, thanks a lot for writing it.

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    1. Thanks AMJ - appreciated. It's been a lonely experience that's for sure, and not a very successful one so far as persuasion goes either. So appreciate your feedback.

      Best,
      LT

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  7. Hi Lyall and Anon,

    Thanks for the responses.
    Yes I have watched the testimony. Maybe my expectation for a candidate for the Supreme Court is too high, and although I'm also trying to be unbiased (particularly as I too am extremely frustrated with the radical left and the state of todays media and the vast majority of people), maybe I'm letting my impressions of BK, which in many ways are irrelevant to the debate here, effect my judgement. I too don't want to see a man falsely accused of anything let alone sexual assault. But unfortunately my impression of BK do effect my opinion of whether or not this event did occur.
    Clearly my own personal experiences effect my thinking here as well, but if I truly had to bet on what I think happened 40 years ago, I would bet on BK and an indeterminate number of his friends harassing and frightening Ford as a stupid drunken thing to do, without any intention of committing rape, instead they may well have been trying to see if she was interested in a consensual sexual act. Again my impression of him even now, and certainly based on some of his answers and how genuine I take him to be, effect my judgement here (hopefully this answers anon's question).

    I realise its a catch 22 here, because although I certainly don't think he deserves what has occurred, and I don't think even my impression of what might have happened should stop BK being a supreme justice, I still don't think his testimony was good enough in my opinion for a Supreme Court justice. I also realise if he gave the type of response I would have liked he probably would have been lynched. Does this make sense? Unfortunately life is full of luck - and sometimes shit happens.

    The idea of the job interview, is more to illustrate, that surely there is another candidate for such an immense position who isn't going to be flustered, emotional and angered by such a hearing, but again maybe my expectations are too high and that would be truly superhuman...

    Anyway sorry to go on and on, the whole episode is certainly only really of interest to me because of the ridiculous radical left response which I'm equally frustrated by.
    Cheers,
    Simon
    p.s. I'm not sure if its just me but I've had to rewrite this response twice as it wiped my first response when I hit publish, which has happened to me a few times on this blog when I'm on my phone, and as is always the case my subsequent recollection of my response wasn't half as well written as the first attempt (easy for me to say I know!)

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    1. What was your objection to his failed 'job interview'. He had been accused of gang rape in the national press and was emotional and angry about it - I would have been surprised if he wasn't.

      People claim, yes, but he lied on the stand and that is a disqualifier. No one has proved he has lied on the stand - people have merely asserted it. Even with respect to his yearbook, several people have come forward that went to school with him, saying that was also their understanding of the slang terms (and let's be honest - the same slang terms can have different meanings). See below. How do we know he lied? We don't. The below testimony also noted that Kavanaugh had a weak stomach and would throw up after drinking a level of alcohol most people could easily keep down. This may be why he had a reputation as a big drinker, for all we know.

      https://twitter.com/senjudiciary/status/1047976188285734912/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1047976188285734912&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2Fentry%2Fbrett-kavanaugh-boofing-devils-triangle_us_5bb6998ce4b028e1f

      The other thing people say is a disqualifier is his assertion that this was a political hit job. And yet, it's very likely it was. All the evidence we have point to these allegations being very likely to be untrue.

      Here is a guy who has worked diligently his whole life towards this career apex, and now he is being dragged through the world press as a gang rapist, has to explain to his 10 year old daughters why he is not a rapist like everyone says, and has to suffer the indignity of explaining flatulence jokes on his yearbook page and having his high-school drinking antics debated on national TV. It is no wonder he was upset - who wouldn't be?

      Furthermore, people who know very little about Brett Kavanaugh have been happy to buy into this 'frat boy' image based on a few media soundbites. And yet, literally hundreds of women have come forward, who have known him his entire life, saying that this image is false. This includes 2 former ex girlfriends. It says a lot about how biased people are that they would completely ignore this information.

      Look, I don't know what actually happened. I don't know BK either. But I am pretty good at looking through emotional media narratives, and looking at facts in an environment of incomplete information, to assess what is most likely to be true - that is what one does in the stock market every day. And to my mind, the idea that it is more likely than not that something like this event happened is irrational based on the information we actually have, and this is not even mentioning the fact that the other two allegations that emerged have quickly gone quiet as their veracity has proven highly suspect.

      LT

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    2. MY óbjection to the job interview? I thought it was reasonable for a celebrity, but for a supossedly nonpartisan judge, I thought he came across as someone who was far too emotional, and clearly now carries a lot of baggage (again as one would expect), and unfortauntely in my view that makes him far from ideal and not the person I would want to be on the supereme court if I were american. The 'democratic senators' that he was referring to have acted terribly, and deserve being called out, they have turned this into a hit job, but that doesnt change my assesment of whether BK had an incident with BF or not.

      With respect to the çlaims of gang rape and other sexual assualt claims that have emerged, well I completely agree that this is a near certainty to be complete rubbish, and not unexpected unfortunately, and in my opinion those other claims weaken Fords claim in the eyes of the average observer (excluding left wing radicals or biased democrates with a low iq) rather than the other way around.
      Just as these claims have zero weight in my assessment of the situation, so does the fact that a few ex girlfriends and 100's of others females who know BK, have come out in support. I certainly don't think he's a serial gang rapist, but if what I suspect did in fact happen on a one off when he was a teen, this certainly doesn't preclude him from being a charismatic and popular person since.
      I agree that the media has almost certainly over blown his frat boy image.
      Again is my logical flawed here? I bet even a proper deviant, who is rich intellegient powerful and charismatic would have a horde of genuine supporters (i remember when the first rumours of jimmy saville came out in the UK there were many friends rubbishing the claims in the media). I'm surprised you would think that public support from his friends gives any significant evidence against Fords claims.

      Also the fact the guy has worked hard and had a successful career to me would be the bare minimum one should seek when trying to appoint a new supreme court justice.

      I too think I'm reasonable at looking through an emotional media hit job, but yet my opinion of what likely happened is different to yours... must just show how personal expereince has a big effect on our thought process.
      Even though it might be contrversial, if what I think happened, did occur, I don't think BK and his family deserve this to have occured now. He probably should have had a serious talking to/police involvement at the time of the incident but for it to come out now is pretty rough.
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    3. Fair enough. I think a more reasonable debate can be had about Kavanaugh's fitness for the Supreme court for a variety of reasons other than the merit of Ford's allegations. My posts were primarily about the Ford allegations alone. The comments about Kavanaugh's demeanour on the stand were really just my own opinion, and I can see how others might reach a different conclusions.

      I do think people are holding him to a super human standard, however. I would have inferred more guilt also if he wasn't angry than if he was. If he was claim about it that would seem suspicious to me. But reasonable people can disagree with that, and I based my primary views in the article on the evidence, not subjective assessments of demeanour.

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    4. Regarding the "super human" standard, since I keep hearing this argument in various places I have given a bit of thought as to how I would have responded in a similar situation if I was innocent. I'm not implying that Kavanaugh is guilty, but I do think the smart way to respond would have been something like this:

      "I was not involved in the alleged incident. I'm sorry to hear of Dr Ford's experience, but I believe this must be a case of mistaken identity. I condemn all forms of sexual violence. And since it is important to me to clear my name, I welcome a full FBI investigation and will cooperate in any way necessary. As regards reports about my drinking in high school, it is true that I sometimes drank to excess, like many high school students. I believe I have matured as an adult, and that my conduct as a judge and father to two daughters are evidence of this."

      Now, I am sure that a statement like this would have done little to quell the more radical opponents to Kavanaugh's nomination (after all many of the objections are rooted in his judicial philosophy and so on), but I do think this would have taken some of the heat out of proceedings.

      Instead, he chose to take a highly combative approach, invoke Fox News-style conspiracy theories about the Clintons, and accuse all his opponents of bad faith.

      I don't think these are impossible standards for an aspiring Supreme Court judge to live up to (although I'll repeat, reasonable people can disagree on the issue of his tone.)

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