Sunday, August 26, 2018

Free Speech: To be or not to be?

Andrew Atkin:

There are three types of speech, of concern.

1. Objective speech.
2. Malicious speech.
3. Illegal speech (slander, defamation, and inciting violence, etc)

Most agree that people expressing an objectively held view should have the right to do so, without government interference. And for good reason. When honest and objective speech goes - everything eventually goes. Suppressing speech is how tyrannies evolve.

However, we can all agree that slander and deliberately inciting violence cannot be legal. 

Where the real debate is today, is with malicious speech. That is when people don't just express an objective viewpoint, but speak to the end of being nasty and hurtful and for the sake of being hurtful. Malicious speech works against objective speech, as it acts as a form of bullying. Already today, people are afraid of expressing an honest opinion out of fear of being slandered and labelled a racist and a bigot, etc.

So here is the question. How do you manage or control for malicious speech? 

Well the last thing you should do is have the government control for it. Because when the government can shut people down in the name of hate speech, they win the legal power to shut down any speech they might choose to interpret as 'hate'. Again, that is how you create a slow-moving tyranny. No freedom of speech means freedom of propaganda, in practice. 

The way to deal with malicious speech is to let it be dealt with in the traditional way - privately. Let private venues control, block and deplatform malicious speakers. As we do, and should continue to do. And name and shame those who are cruel and defamatory.

In saying this, there is a special concern. Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are so very dominant as mass-public platforms, that even as private entities they can (and do) suppress political speech, and to the point where they can have a major impact on the formation of public opinion. And they can do this with immoral discretion, through private control. In this case, we need regulations to defend against privately-driven (and/or government subsidised) propaganda. 

To note, propaganda is not just a game of telling lies, and it usually isn't. It's mostly a game of ensuring that certain truths are not spoken so that false assumptions are formed. The people of North Korea, for example, really do believe in their emperor because they simply don't know what they're not allowed to know. 

Hence we need to pay special attention to current and future powerful private platforms, to ensure that freedom of speech is functional in our modern world. At the least, if we cannot stop dominant platforms from suppressing contributors who have an influence they don't like, they should be forced to advertise when and where they have blocked people, and why, while also providing a direct link on their forum so that the suppressed individual/s can have their right-of-reply. If we must have suppression in a private location, then the act of suppression itself should always be visible.

Indeed, it is when the right-of-reply is suppressed that we can know we have entered a dangerous territory.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Why successful Charter Schools fail

By Andrew Atkin:

Remember the old school Certificate system, where we failed half the country and only because the other half did better. This is because we (or the guys behind the scenes at least) understood the real purpose of highschool: To filter for different types of students.

The idea was to send the less academic types on their way to get on with their lives, so they could move to the trades, or other, and get ahead. Saving the tax-payer a lot of money, and of course the students themselves a lot of time and money.

On a developmental level highschool is a waste of time. Most of the learning content is worthless and only superficially learnt (remembered - not digested) which is probably the real reason why healthy young minds hate it. It's rubbish learning so of course it hurts, and it's most likely meant to hurt because boredom-tolerance is in fact an important part of being academic. We need to know if you can and will take the pain.

Now if 'signalling' is the true essential purpose of education (yes it is) then we have to ask ourselves: Where do "successful" charter schools stand in that purpose? Are they working as an accurate human filter, or are they merely passing people through who should not be passed, and in turn setting them up for failure for when they come to apply for a job that is not suited to them?

I would say it is the latter. Again our best research in education suggests that education is mostly about signalling for ability that was already there, as opposed to developing ability.

I will make it simple: Other things being equal, the student with an IQ of 120 but with no degree is a much better deal for an employer than a student with an IQ of 100 and a degree. In fact an IQ of only 100 will render you incapable of functioning in many professions, no matter what paper qualifications you might have accumulated. You will never hear this from the education industry of course, because their bottomline is to maximise demand and expand their services. But it's true.

So this is how charter schools can fail. When you pass students through who should really be failing then your education system is failing. Finding innovative ways to make lower IQ students look like higher IQ students is not success. It's just delaying failure, setting people up for heartbreak, and increasing costs.

If we really want to revolutionise highschools, then we should make them more practical. Open them up to trades-training and the like, so young people can have something real going forward into the workplace. Not just the temporary illusion of success.

-Imagine being able to walk into a $30 per-hour practical job straight out of highschool, because you're already relevantly skilled. A better idea? I think so.

Extended article:

Monday, August 13, 2018

On Dogma, Philosophy and Free Speech

By Andrew Atkin: From the philosophical outlook, there's actually no such thing as a good or bad view, as such. Only a good or bad argument. The 'good' view is the view (conclusion) supported by the best argument. That is, if you value reality over fantasy at least. When Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux came to New Zealand they were not here to parade a view like a raving protest group. They were here to provide an argument. They were here to try and change some people's minds on what the best view really is, through their arguments. That is what challenging speech is all about. It's about challenging our ideas and assumptions. And when we try to suppress speech that communicates a given argument, what we are ultimately doing is putting dogma over reason. And that fact stands no matter how cosmetically appealing (or revolting) a given viewpoint might be. An excellent example of dogma over philosophy is with the respected historian, David Irving. Over many years David Irving studied all the original documents supporting the Holocaust event and found himself, right or wrong, coming to the conclusion that the Holocaust was wildly exaggerated. He then presented his arguments to challenge us on what the accurate view really was. The result? He went to jail for the hate crime of coming to a conclusion that he was not allowed to come to. Wow. Even in today's world the philosophical position can get you in serious trouble. And now I come to Phil Goff, Jacinda Arden, and all the other people who did not want to see Southern and Molyneux give their talks in New Zealand. Goff and Ardern claimed that New Zealanders hated Molyneux and Southern's views and, supposedly, did not want to hear their arguments. What Goff and Ardern claimed, in effect, was that New Zealanders were more interested in dogma than philosophy. (For the record, they were wrong. Thousands did want to hear them). What can I say? That's one hell of an insult to New Zealanders, I think. They might as well have just called us all bigots and sheep. That is, people who are totally incapable of changing their mind.