William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Page 153 of 541

Proposed Scottish Law To Allow 16-Year-Olds To Have “Doctors” Kill Them

“Assisted” death is not murder.

How many of you have kids? Remember when they were around the sixteen-year mark? Somewhat volatile emotionally, would you not agree? Particularly females of the species. Laughter today, bitter tears tomorrow, indifference by mid-week.

At least in this country and in these times, a sixteen-year-old is not considered to have reached adulthood. It’s not that some kids can’t think and act in a mature fashion, but we have learned that the overwhelming majority cannot. This is why we, say, restrict voting to those eighteen and over, or disallow kids from seeking without parental permission their own medical treatment.

Except for abortions, of course. That sacred right cannot be superseded by mere parental desire. Since this duty of young females to (surgically) remove impediments for leading an unburdened life cannot be questioned, I do not question it.

Instead consider instead this hypothetical. Your sixteen-year-old daughter, fresh off a breakup and therefore distraught, wanders into her GP’s office and says to him (or her!), “Doctor, I find life intolerable.” He (or she!) replies, “Intolerable is that which cannot be tolerated. Therefore, take this pill.” She does, her eyes go wide for second, and she drops dead. The doctor then picks up the corpse and props it into a corner where it, with the others, will be picked up in that evening’s disposal run.

Ha ha! Just kidding!

The doctor would never give her a pill. He’d shoot her up with an overdose of morphine instead. (And if the little girl is pregnant at the time, two birds—to use the British slang, I hope appropriately—could be killed with one stone(d).)

Or so Margo MacDonald Member Scottish Parliament would decree (pdf). She would only stipulate the person doing the killing (i.e. the “doctor”) have a medical degree (so he can know his killing worked; we’d hate to mistakenly dispose of not-yet-dead bodies) and the 16-year-old must “have either a terminal illness or a terminal condition.”

Now it’s unclear if, at least in these early days, the emotional ending of a “relationship” would be considered a “terminal condition”, but given enough time, and the present momentum in moral attitudes, smart money says it will be. Anybody recall the two Belgian brothers who killed themselves because they discovered they were going blind? Blindness wasn’t going to kill them, you see, but it would have made them sad. Therefore a “doctor” killed the pair (at their behest).

What is a “terminal illness”? A forecast, a doctor’s best guess that the course of a disease will kill the patient. However, this isn’t sufficient as a definition because everybody dies. In this sense, everybody suffers from a “terminal” illness. Thus a “real” terminal illness implies a limited time reference. What is “limited”? Six months? A year? Two years? Ten?

Since MacDonald’s proposed law doesn’t say, this trivial detail is presumably to be left to the patient and the “doctor” who would kill his (or her!) patients. Many doctors, and even “doctors”, are notoriously bad at making death-date predictions. We’ve all heard the (true) story of the patient given six months to live, but who go on for years, decades later.

What happens if—nay, when—the “doctor” who kills one of his patients, distraught from the news she has only weeks to live and therefore deciding it intolerable to linger, later discovers he read the wrong chart, or had it upside down? Oops. Well, what’s a mistakenly killed person or two against progress?

Plus, these kinds of inevitable mistakes will be a boon to the legal industry. Just wait for the first “doctor” who is discovered to be a beneficiary of his ex-“patient”. I can’t wait to see the New York Post headlines!

No law has ever stood in the way of a determined person killing herself. This action, in English, is called suicide, an obvious point which nevertheless must be made, because that word defines a singular, personal act. One cannot commit suicide except on oneself. In particular, one cannot assist in a suicide except unknowingly—say, the hardware salesman who unwittingly sells a man a plastic bag which the man later uses to asphyxiate himself.

One can hand Romeo his poison, but if one does so knowing it is poison and is reasonably sure of Romeo’s intent, then one has not provided assistance but is complicit in an act of homicide. Far better then to call “assisted suicide” laws what they really are. I suggest “doctors legally killing their patients” laws.

Update MacDonald has been kind enough to post public responses to the proposed law on her web page. The laughs start with the very first one. One Guy Johnstone wrote:

Rather than see an animal suffer, the kindest thing is to put it to sleep.
Why, therefore, should we not offer the same dignity & understanding to our loved ones…

Yes. Humans put down in the same manner as rabid dogs. Well, it’s for their own good.

New Science Fiction Recommendation

Buy yours today!

Buy yours today!

What would happen if you equipped Inspector Jacques Clouseau with a space blaster, set him up with a sultry robotic assistant, plopped him down on a purple planet located at the farthest reaches of the universe, and clothed him in intergalactic intrigue?

I won’t tell you what! You’ll have to discover it yourself in Mine Tomorrow: Polon Percival and the Political Ploy, a new old science fiction tale. I mean, just published and written in the classic style.

That is to say, it’s not ponderous and boring and long, but fun and snappy and sleek. In the Elmore Leonard style of leaving out the stuff that everybody skips.

Polon (sounds like colon, the punctuation mark or, if you prefer, the nethermost region of the human psyche) has a moustache, a mail-order diploma, and supreme confidence in his own abilities. He takes for a ride a hip robotic professor (who is putting on a play to celebrate The People), but Polon is played a patsy to evil, scheming capitalists, plotting to take over the mining moon Klayton. The plan backfires thanks to, well, thanks to blind luck.

“I doubt they will be able to injure a man of my skill and mental capabilities. Now that Lucy has turned the senors off, I’ll recruit my old friend Surprise and when Mr. Reed returns, I’ll spring my trap.”

Kidnappings! Mistaken identities! True love! Unmitigated detecting! All this for only a measly $2.99! At prices this cheap, you can’t afford not to buy! (Available only on the Kindle at this time.)

Incidentally, careful readers will notice the similarity between the author’s name and Yours Truly’s. Don’t let that put you off. This kid, unlike his sire, can write and tell a story that won’t put you to sleep.

Best Deal Going

The first 10 people who email matt@wmbriggs.com (with subject line FREE BOOK) will receive Mine Tomorrow as a gift, as long as they pledge on their honor to (1) go to Amazon’s book page within a week and rate and write a comment about the book and (2) to email at least three people telling them the good news that the book can be had by one and all.

In order to do this, in the BODY of the email (and NOT just the return address), I need the valid email you use with Amazon, so I can “Give as a gift.” If you give me the wrong email or don’t put your email in the text so I can read it simply, tough luck.

Look to this space for when to stop emailing me after I get the first 10.

Update All 10 spots have been taken! Thanks for the overwhelming response everybody. It’s very much appreciated.

The Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage, Part IV (Final)

Part III

Question 5

I have heard you say that homosexuals do not choose their “orientation” and that everybody has a right to be happy and thus has the right to marry. That accurate? My dear, nobody has a right to be happy; our government was founded on the idea that our true right (not given by but recognized by government) is the pursuit of happiness. Whether you achieve nirvana is your business, not the government’s. My advice is that before reading further, you fetch a calming drink, for we are about to enter treacherous territory. Experience shows that people are none too pleased to do so, and are apt to strike out to relieve the resultant mental pressure.

It is true that some people might not choose to whom they are attracted, but it is equally true that some people do choose. Nothing could more obvious than this, even to supporters of SSM. How do we tell the two groups apart? Well, there is no known objective error-free way: a “gay gene” has not been discovered, nor a “bisexual gene”, nor a “cross-dressing gene.” Yet even if nobody had any choice in the matter of attraction, everybody always has a choice what to do about it. A person, for example, who claims to be “oriented” as a pedophile can choose not to pursue children, and is wise not to do so. It also does not follow—it is an invalid logical argument—that because a person has no choice in attraction that he therefore can marry the object of his attraction. The point at question is whether same-sexed people can marry each other, not whether they are “oriented” to have this or that attraction. Remind yourself: many men who have claimed to be gay have married women, and vice versa.

I see your blood rising. Are you saying gays are the same as pedophiles!? No, and only a simpleton would (and will) make that claim. What’s this about pedophilia being an “orientation”? Well, isn’t it? Many academics now make that claim (yes). How do we ascertain if desiring sexual intercourse with children is purely a choice? How could we ascertain whether any person’s sexual preferences are purely a choice, or are built-in, biologically speaking? Not too easy, maybe impossible, as the search for “orientation” genes shows. What we do have are people saying they are attracted to children, that they can’t help themselves, that they are just “that way.” Do they therefore have the right to marry infants? Surely not. Yet you must claim they do have this right if you claim the right that homosexuals should marry those to whom they are sexually attracted. If you say homosexuals are somehow different, you must then say why, but you haven’t, by your own admission, anything more to offer why they are different save their self-acknowledged attraction. What of bisexuals? They claim orientation toward both sexes. Therefore, assuming fairness and equality, a bisexual must be allowed marry both a man and a woman simultaneously. Would the spare man and woman married to the bisexual also be married to each other?

Enter the acronym LGBTQA. That’s as it is of this writing. Hardly a year goes by when more letters aren’t added. What a strange society that tracks its citizens by whom (or what) they want to have sex with! I’ve lately seen “P” proposed, for polygamy, by polygamists who claim to be “oriented” that way (yes). How about when in Germany “B” for beastiality (which is currently legal). Wither the necrophiliac lobby? There has been more than one case of persons who claim to be “oriented” towards beasts and wish to marry their dogs or horses (yes). Have these folks therefore the right to marry Sparky? Surely not.

But forget all that. Let’s accept for argument’s sake everybody in the LGBTQAPBN list is just as they say they are: bound by genetics to suffer their attractions. People just are born to want to have sex with goats, or with small children, or with upholstered furniture (yes). That can’t help themselves; there is no “cure” because it is all “natural.” Well, what of it? All that we can say is that, unless these folks are willing to suppress their (non-adult-heterosexual) “orientation”, they cannot find happiness through marriage. That’s just tough luck.

Having an “orientation” different than heterosexual is a deficit when considered evolutionary (non-heterosexuals acting non-heterosexually will not transmit their genes efficiently or at all, a scientific statement). Some people are born or made blind, others are born or made deaf, and still more are born lame or lose limbs later in life. This is all sad stuff, but that does not imply that because some are blind “seeing” can be redefined—by fiat by some government—as something the blind can do too; that because some are deaf “hearing” can be re-classified as a deaf person’s activity; that because some are lame “physically able” can be legislated as applying to everybody. Because, we are assuming, some are born “questioning” or “oriented towards both sexes” or even to others of the same sex, that does not imply that “marriage” can be made into what it isn’t. Do you remember when your mother said life wasn’t fair? If there’s one thing that marks this generation, it is the belief that it can be made fair, that the impossible can happen, that all we need are new laws, more government control.

Not everybody can find happiness. Not everybody can have what they want when they want it because they want it. Not everybody can be married. Sad, yes. But that’s the way the world works.

Update The Mark Regnerus case is apropos here.


Warning Tolerance is a hallmark of those supporting same-sex marriage. Never will you find proponents employing abuse, vituperation, appeals to emotion, or angry senseless shouting. They do not label their opponents enemies, nor accuse them of being hate-filled. They instead use calm, logical, well-reasoned argument; they understand rational and sincere people may disagree on certain points. I therefore expect supporters of traditional marriage to act similarly. Comments which do not accord with ladylike or gentlemanly behavior will be ruthlessly expurgated.

The Regnerus Controversy: Children In Traditional Families Do Better Than Those Raised In Non-Traditional Settings

Originally published 24 July 2012. No changes have been made, though I’m sorely tempted to comment on the weeds descending from Regnerus’s chin.

Doubtless the nastiest phenomenon in nature is when an impassioned school of shark turn on one of their own and savagely rip their brother animal to pieces, eating him alive. Not a pretty sight and a reminder the world in its natural state is not a paradise.

Similarly, it is a nauseating sight when a school of sociologists, including amateur sociologists we call “the press,” go mad and engage in a frenzied, no-holds-barred attack on one of their own. An ugly, stomach churning business.

Poor Mark Regnerus! A professor (as of this writing) at the Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. There he was, innocently swimming along publishing papers, applying for grants, and grading exams, when the sea erupted around him! A blur of teeth, invective, insult, blood in the water—oh, the humanity?

And why? Well because Regnerus had the temerity to say things like this (if you are unused to raw, unmedia-filtered data, then I suggest you avert your eyes until after the summary):

  • 23% of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother said ‘yes’ to “Ever touched sexually by parent/adult“, versus 6% of those of families with a gay father and only 2% of those now-grown children from traditional mom-dad, Ozzie-Harriet families.
  • 31% of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother said ‘yes’ to “Ever forced to have sex against will“, versus 25% of those of families with a gay father and only 8% of those now-grown children from traditional mom-dad families.
  • 12% of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother said ‘yes’ to “Thought recently about suicide“, versus 24% of those of families with a gay father and only 5% of those now-grown children from traditional mom-dad families.
  • And perhaps the worst of all (to Regenrus’s career prospects) only 61% of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother said ‘yes’ to “Identifies as entirely heterosexual“, versus 71% of those of families with a gay father and with a full 90% of those now-grown children from traditional mom-dad families. So much for theories that acculturation plays no role!

And these are only the highlights from his peer-reviewedHow different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study” in the journal Social Science Research.

Now, I don’t buy the logistic regression p-values Regnerus displays, but the tables which summarize the raw data are intriguing. And horrifying to progressives. According to Regnerus, traditional kids vote more, are more liable to be employed, are less likely to have a sexually transmitted disease, are more likely to feel closer to their parents, are happier, are less impulsive, make more money, are in better health, use less marijuana, are less likely to get drunk, watch less TV, have far fewer sexual “partners” (there’s a progressive word for you: it means the exact opposite of what it says), and (my favorite) are less likely to have pled guilty to a non-minor offense.

Journalists and academics on the left reasoned: these results cannot be true because we don’t want them to be; therefore, they are not true. And that’s when the frenzy started. They began by pointing out what Regnerus admits in his article as a weakness: that the “lesbian” moms and “gay” fathers might not be (but also might be) full-time lesbians and gays, but have, at least once, engaged in a “same-sex” relationship, even if married to a heterosexual. This, according to progressives, invalidates the entire study, is not a “fair” comparison, is “deeply flawed” methodology, etc.

But this would only mean the conclusions would have to be re-written; e.g. “31% of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother or a mother who at least once cheated on her spouse with another woman said ‘yes’ to ‘Ever forced to have sex against will‘, versus 25% of those of families with a gay father or a father who at least once cheated on his spouse with another man and only 8% of those now-grown children from traditional mom-dad families.” I don’t see how this helps progressives.

Neither do the folks at the New Civil Rights Movement who resorted to the standard political trick, when they could not disparage the results, they attacked Regnerus: “His professional integrity was cast into doubt…” etc., etc. The New Republic said “It’s a real relief to see the takedowns pile up in response to” Regnerus. It sure is! The LA Times used the phrase “hopelessly flawed.” And there was more, much more.

So much more that a team of academics who wanted nothing more than a return to peace and quiet were forced to issue an open letter which said “Although Regnerus’s article in Social Science Research is not without its limitations, as social scientists, we think much of the public criticism Regnerus has received is unwarranted for three reasons.”

  1. “The vast majority of studies published before 2012 on this subject have relied upon small, nonrepresentative samples that do not represent children in typical gay and lesbian families in the United States.”
  2. “what his critics fail to appreciate is that Regnerus chose his categories on the basis of young adults’ characterizations of their own families growing up, and the young adults whose parents had same-sex romantic relationships also happened to have high levels of instability in their families of origin.”
  3. Newer research “comes to conclusions that parallel those of Regnerus’s study.”

Then in chimed well-tenured professor Christian Smith (who took pains to say he was not a conservative) in the (lefty) Chronicle of Higher Education. Juicy summary follows:

Whoever said inquisitions and witch hunts were things of the past?…In today’s political climate, and particularly in the discipline of sociology—dominated as it is by a progressive orthodoxy—what Regnerus did is unacceptable…a heretic, a traitor…Advocacy groups and academics who support gay marriage view Regnerus’s findings as threatening…Sociologists tend to be political and cultural liberals, leftists, and progressives…One cannot be too friendly to religion…such as researching the positive social contributions of missionary work overseas or failing to criticize evangelicals and fundamentalists…the ideological and political proclivities of some sociologists can create real problems…It is also easy for some sociologists to lose perspective on the minority status of their own views, to take for granted much that is still worth arguing about, and to fall into a kind of groupthink…The temptation to use academe to advance a political agenda is too often indulged in sociology…political attacks like those on Regnerus are contemptible and hurt everyone in the long run, including progressives.

Young scientists, in any field, can learn much from Smith’s advice. Particularly this: don’t buck the consensus. Do what everybody else does, say what everybody else says. Support the findings people want to be true and denigrate that which everybody hates. What matters is how you get along with your colleagues, not the truth.

This works equally well in, say, climatology as it does in sociology.

Update New article on acculturation.


Thanks to Micah Mattix for altering me to this story.

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