Thursday, June 20, 2013

Critical Reasoning Practice For Alex - Word Against Word



Song:  Ora

Artist:  Ludovico Einaudi


During Alex's Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning practice today...
we had gone through another portion of his court trial book
(we are presently reviewing the Nuremberg Trials).

Alex had read an affidavit of one of the witnesses...
a former S.S. soldier who was being given immunity in return for his testimony
against the three top people under Hitler before, and during, the war.

(Alex played the part of the defense lawyer)

At first, Alex hadn't thought about the significance of coercion or bribery
on the perceived purity of the testimony
(not that what he was saying was necessarily not true...
just that on the principle of one word against another...it was wrong...
without further corroboration)...
I brought it up for him to think about.

Witness testimony should be used as a pointer toward discovery
of further evidence...not as evidence in of itself...not even in quantity.

To suspect the person...yes.
To convict and sentence purely on witness testimony...no.

Besides coercion and bribery...
there are mistakes...
false memory (many reasons for this)...
innumerable motives of the witness to falsify testimony...etc.


I then moved to witness testimony in the general sense
(not of the Nuremberg Trials or of any trial in particular).

I had explained to him that morally...
and in most cases...
strictly speaking...legally
 (in the U.S. ... ALL are EQUAL under the law...
although this constitutional RIGHT is frequently trodden upon (14th Amendment)...
and yes...it states that all are to be given equal protection under the law...
and for each State...not necessarily Federal.  However, to not have an 
equal voice to defend... is to have prejudicial laws against all accused from the outset...
and so, is to deny equal protection under the law)...
and so, by definition...one person's word is just as valid as another's...
an accuser's word is no better than the accused's word.

I had explained to Alex to just think of it mathematically.

A negative statement is a -1 (accuser)...
and a positive statement is a +1 (accused)...
even if there are multiple statements against...
the accused has multiple statements for...
and they cancel each other out
(absent all other corroborating evidence).

I know many feel that the many should carry more weight...
but each should be considered separately.

Why?

It is not merely a matter of possible conspiracy...
but one of possible complicity...
or mistakes happening for the same reason for the many as for the one...
any number of reasons.


A very practical reason exits to never have one person's word
count for more than another's. 

Whenever you make it easy for one person to defeat another...
one which takes very little effort on their part...
and an immense amount of effort to defend against for the accused...
it then becomes easy for those of evil to triumph.

It becomes a simple war of attrition.

The accuser can make you, either suffer the subsequent penalties of the accusations...
or spend all of your time and resources defending against them.

All they have to do is say a few words...
and force you to spend extraordinary amounts...time and again.  
They could have you chasing your own tail endlessly...
with just a point of their finger and a simple exclamation...
and all with none of their resources spent...
and with the full backing and the endless resources of a much larger ruling entity.


Common sense you say?

How many times have you been subjected to false and damaging rumors?


There are five basic steps upon hearing a testimony 
(not in the legal... but in the everyday sense):

1)  Listening carefully, critically thinking about what was said...
and what was not said 
(that which should have happened or had been said were it true)...
thinking about other possibilities that could explain it...
weighing all the supporting evidence...
questioning the accuser.


2)  Either dismissing it because of inherent contradictions... 
logical fallacies utilized...factually incorrect...
or further investigating based on merit.


3)  Suspect - you have a right to be cautious...
but not to condemn them.

4)  Convict (sure enough to take protective measures) - not necessarily sentence. 

5)  Sentence (only when guilt is undeniable) - take proactive measures.  
Factor in mitigating circumstances.


Steps 1 - 3 are self explanatory.
The separation between 4 and 5 is not so easily distinguishable.


I will use the example I had given Alex earlier today.

I said that he was in his home (as a grown up).
He had two friends over...
one in a blue shirt...
one in a red shirt.

They were in the living room talking.
Alex had then taken off his expensive watch...
placed it in a protective glass dome on the mantle...
and had then gone to use the bathroom.

Upon his return...
all three continued with their conversation...
and a few hours later...his guests had departed.

Alex had not left the room since after his bathroom visit.
After seeing his friends off from his front door (next to the living room)...
he walked over to admire his watch...only to find it missing.

---------

I asked Alex what he would have done under these circumstances.
He said that although he would have to suspect both...
he couldn't yet condemn either.

----------

After pondering the implications...
and deciding that both had to be suspected at the moment...
he called both back to his house.

Upon their arrival...
Alex explained the problem and asked the red shirted friend 
what he knew about it
(both, at this point, were provisionary friends).

The red shirted friend said that he had seen the blue shirted friend take the watch.

------------

I then asked Alex what this immediately told him.
He said he wasn't sure.  I told him that he knew that
if he had told the truth...he was, at the very least...
guilty of betraying him for not telling him of the other's betrayal.
If he had not told the truth, he was the guilty party.
The red shirted friend should then be sentenced to oblivion
(further friendship denied).

-----------

I then said that upon questioning the blue shirted friend...
he said that he had no knowledge of the watch having been missing.

Alex then questioned him as to how he could not have seen the other take the watch.
The blue shirted friend said that he had momentarily gone back to his car...
and at this time, the red shirted friend could have taken the watch
 without having been seen.

--------------

I told Alex that it meant the blue shirted friend was
either guilty of stealing it or completely innocent of it
(barring complicated scenarios).

I then asked Alex what he would do.

Alex said there was not enough evidence to convict him...
but the possibility of him having been the thief still existed.
Alex was unsure as to how to proceed from there.

I said the point was moot...
and that he should be treated as if he were innocent.

I told him that even if he were guilty...
he knew that he could never get away with it again in the future...
and so he would be on his best behavior from that point forward.

If he were innocent...
 to treat him with unfair suspicion would be to 
condemn a possibly innocent man.


This, of course, implies any number of adages:

It is better to free a guilty man...
than to condemn an innocent one.

It is better to be betrayed...
than to be the betrayer
(for good people).

Treat others as you would have them treat you.

--------------

And for an oldie but goodie
(although it doesn't necessarily apply)....

Treat me well...
I will treat you better.

Treat me poorly...
I will treat you worse  :)


Sorry...
I just love that one  :)
















No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to comment on this article.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...