Activism Recap

 Posted by on 31 July 2011 at 1:00 pm  Activism Recap
Jul 312011

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine):

This week on Politics without God, the blog of the Coalition for Secular Government:

This week on Mother of Exiles:

This week on the blog of Modern Paleo:

Open Thread #287

 Posted by on 31 July 2011 at 11:00 am  Open Thread
Jul 312011

Ocean and sky

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

NoodleFood’s Wednesday and Sunday Open Threads feature creative commons photographs from Flickr that I find interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!

Ancestral Health Symposium

 Posted by on 30 July 2011 at 7:00 am  Food, Health
Jul 302011

Next week — August 5th and 6th — I’ll be attending the Ancestral Health Symposium in Los Angeles. The schedule looks awesome but grueling. If you think that you might want to attend… too bad for you, because tickets sold out months ago!

Who else will be there?

Police Interrogations

 Posted by on 29 July 2011 at 7:00 am  Crime, Law, Psychology
Jul 292011

In preparation for Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast question on whether police should be allowed to lie to suspects in the course of a criminal investigation, I’ve been researching the standard practices and legal limits of police interrogation. I’ve found that extremely interesting, so I thought I’d share some links before the webcast itself.

First, How Police Interrogation Works from “How Stuff Works.” Basically, police interrogations are designed to exert as much psychological pressure on the victim as the courts allow. This article explains those techniques.

Second, What can the police lie about while conducting an interrogation? from “The Straight Dope.” This article is a fascinating summary of what kind of facts the police are permitted to misrepresent in dealings with suspects — because some and only some kinds of lies violate the suspect’s rights. The basic distinction is between “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” falsehoods. The article says:

Attempting to reconcile [various] rulings [by the Supreme Court], state courts and lower federal courts have come to draw a distinction between two kinds of lying to suspects: intrinsic misrepresentations, or those lies that relate to a suspect’s connection to the crime; and extrinsic misrepresentations, or those that have nothing to do with the suspect’s connection to the crime but attempt to distort his ability to make a rational choice about confessing.

That’s the critical issue here, I think. Police should be able to lie to suspects, but some kinds of lies — such as “you don’t have the right to an attorney” or “we can hold you indefinitely” constitute a kind of fraud, whereas others like “your fingerprints were found at the scene of the murder” and “a witness saw you enter the store” don’t. However, I’m not yet fully clear on the distinction, and I need to do more reading, this time from genuine law sources.


Greg blogged about this video back in 2008, but I didn’t watch it at the time. Now that I have, I can agree with Greg’s summary and conclusions:

[James Duane] is speaking to law students, explaining why he uniformly advises his clients (and everyone) that they should they never, ever, under any circumstances, talk with the police — guilty or innocent, a suspect or not, even if they are smarter than Aristotle and Newton combined, articulate as all get out, an expert in the law, and pure as the wind-driven snow. Never. …

He explains how talking to the police can’t ever help, and will in all likelihood hurt even innocents. This last is the part that really stood out: even the most innocuous statements by the most innocent of people could put them in jeopardy — it depends on context they don’t control. An officer misremembering an answer could bring a conviction; so could misremembering the question. Taping interviews is no guarantee, either: even some fuzziness in the contextual information that floated by before the interview could be disastrous!

Fourth, “Don’t Talk to the Police” by Officer George Bruch

In this follow-up lecture, George Bruch completely agreed with James Duane: a person should not speak to the police without his lawyer present.

Video: Why Carry a Concealed Firearm

 Posted by on 28 July 2011 at 1:00 pm  Ethics, Firearms, Law, Videocast
Jul 282011

In Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast, I discussed the moral and practical reasons for carrying a concealed firearm. Here’s the 11-minute video, now posted to YouTube:

Objectivist Roundup

 Posted by on 28 July 2011 at 12:00 pm  Objectivist Roundup
Jul 282011

The Objectivist Roundup is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

Parenting Is… hosted this week’s Objectivist Roundup. Go take a look!

You can submit your blog article to the next edition of The Objectivist Roundup using this submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found here. If you’re an Objectivist blogger, you can get weekly reminders to submit to the carnival by subscribing to OBloggers @


 Posted by on 28 July 2011 at 7:00 am  Abortion, Coalition for Secular Government, Funny
Jul 282011

I’ve been blogging here on NoodleFood and elsewhere for nearly ten years now. In all that time, I’ve never gotten as wildly inane a comment as this one on my CSG post on the efforts to impose anti-abortion “personhood” laws on Mississippi. The comment is from “Carol Arens532.” Brace yourself:

Think about it before abortion was made legal, the abortionist had to worry about maternal deaths from abortion, simply because these could very easily lead to an investigation by the FBI, after all if you are going to break the law the last thing that you would want to do is leave behind evidence of your illegal activity so that there can be an investigation. Thus before Roe vs Wade should a pregnant woman be seriously injured from an illegal abortion, she would be brought to a hospital and should she die there, there would be an oddtopisy done to determine the cause of death, the medical personal of the hospital would then be required to report this to the police clearly letting them know that someone is breaking the law, and initiate an investigation. Now however that abortion is legal the abortion can botch as many abortion as he wants without having to worry about there being an investigation, infact he can have a number of women die from abortion at his facility and never have to worry about the police or the FBI investigating his activity. It sure is good to think that the state of Mississippi thinks that it’s women and children are worth protecting from this. Sincerely Carol

When I posted it to Facebook and Twitter, many people noted that they hoped that they’d never have to have an “oddtopisy.” But my favorite comment was posted by Roberto Sarrionandia to Facebook.

This is hilarious. Presumably the same thing is true for all surgery. Paul can get away with strangling his patients, because radiography is legal and thus the authorities aren’t concerned with investigating it.

Similarly, when people are stabbed, nobody bothers investigating because knives are legal.


Open Thread #286

 Posted by on 27 July 2011 at 11:00 am  Open Thread
Jul 272011

Glowing Bar City Street Night Lights

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

NoodleFood’s Wednesday and Sunday Open Threads feature creative commons photographs from Flickr that I find interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!

Jul 262011

The NPR show Planet Money recently aired a fascinating story about the underground online market for stolen credit card numbers. (Click on the link to listen to the audio file.)

Basically, this underground market has many features of legitimate online sales websites (such as eBay or Amazon), but with some curious inversions.

For instance, you can’t get an account unless two other current members (who are also criminals) can “vouch” for you as also being a fellow criminal.

However, to do any kind of “business” they still have to rely on some of the same mechanisms that honest marketplaces use. For instance, there are rating systems for buyers to give feedback on sellers of these stolen credit cards. Getting a good A+ rating as a seller is critical to this sort of “commercial” success. Many sellers also have FAQ’s (“Do you offer discounts for bulk purchases?”, etc.) that mirror the sorts of FAQs one sees on eBay.

Of course, the transactions are conducted not via credit card (heh), but through other forms of secure digital currency.

Other funny/bizarre tidbits:

  • The site moderator warns users not to use ALL CAPS in their posts, otherwise, they’ll be banned.

  • To get in, you also have to click on a “Terms of Use” box that states you’re not a journalist nor a law enforcement officer. In other words, they are relying on the “honesty” of the bad guys. (Of course, the story was aired by an NPR journalist working with an FBI agent who quite appropriately “agreed” to those terms without any moral qualms.)

    (Update: SteveD points out that the Terms of Use are relying on the honest of the good guys, not the bad guys. Yes — quite right!)

  • Many of the big operations end up functioning like real businesses, hiring employees, etc. In other words, they “successful” bad guys have to work hard for their ill-gotten gains — which makes one wonder why they don’t just get honest jobs.

As I listened to the story, it really struck me how the bad guys were in so many ways parasitical upon methods and practices of genuine honest producers.

The full story lasts about 30 minutes and I highly recommend listening to the whole thing! (Download the audio file.)

Evolutionary Theory: Fact Versus Faith

 Posted by on 25 July 2011 at 1:00 pm  Education, Religion, Science
Jul 252011

Should evolution be taught in schools? I can’t help but laugh as these Miss USA contestants answer that question… but then I want to cry.

Evolutionary theory is the integrating theory of biology. As such, it should be a major part of middle and high school biology. Alas, it’s not, and the result is the widespread acceptance of blatantly faith-based views like those expressed in this video.

When I taught introductory philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I’d spend a day discussing evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory explains the supposedly mysterious order and complexity of living beings cited by Paley’s analogical argument for God’s existence via purely natural law. Hence, the existence of a divine designer cannot be inferred from the complexity and order of life.

Before starting that class, I’d ask my students whether they’d studied evolutionary theory before. Only about two-thirds of them had done so. That was bad enough, but even worse, most of those students were utterly confused about evolutionary theory, usually thinking it to be nothing more than sheer random variation.

When young people aren’t taught the basic facts of biology, is it any wonder that they default to religious superstition and myth?

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