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July 30, 2005

Comments

Katie Bartleby

It’s not as if there is an open, national exam in classical and Bayesian statistics and cognitive psychology, with important decision-making roles being assigned to the people with the best scores, is it?

Erm, that's the French education system, basically. So, even if we did have one, evidence suggests the country would still be run by amibitious mediocrities. Just really really jumped-up amibitious mediocrities.

Paddy Carter

I find this a tricky issue. Clearly we don't want to say that civic luminaries are above criticism, or that the only people capable of making a criticism are those with direct experience of the matter, but there is something that sticks in my craw about people who know nothing of what it is like having to make important decisions being so ready to issue such harsh pronouncements on those who do. You’re one for cognitive errors – is being a self-righteous know-it-all listed in Kahneman and Tversky? I think I’m with Brownie – the twerp who called the police executioners deserves contempt, not because he or she doesn’t take decisions and is criticising someone who does, but because he or she is making an absurd criticism that they are in no position to make. Perhaps Brownie was just trying to get at that with the ipod reference.

jamie

No, the point about a shoot to kill policy is that it takes the decision making process out of the killing process precisely because the decision might be wrong. That's why it's a policy. If a person who is evaluated as a suicide bomber behaves in a certain way, then that person dies. The cop who kills him or her therefore acts as an executioner whether the execution is justified or not.

In this case either the policy was wrongly enforced or the evaluation process it was based on was seriously flawed, as a result of which an innocent man was executed. In neither case does this make us any safer from the terrorists and we have aright to know what went wrong and who was responsible.

Paddy Carter

ah - well, my fault for commenting on something third hand. I hadn't realised the chap who called policmen "executioners" meant "people genuinely trying to prevent mass murder of innocents", which if I have read you correctly Jamie is what you think a shoot to kill policy is about, and therefore what its agents are trying to do.

Paddy Carter

No, the point about a shoot to kill policy is that it takes the decision making process out of the killing process precisely because the decision might be wrong.

isn't that just sophistry? the policeman still has to decide whether the person is a probable suicide bomber (we are all possible suicide bombers) so how does a poliy take decision making out of the process?

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