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Michael McMahon

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  1. drumbo: “Good luck convincing people.” “Expected Loss — estimated loss frequency multiplied by estimated loss severity, summed for all exposures.” - irmi A perpetrator’s low risk of recidivism is rightfully a big mitigating factor. But there is another aspect to consider besides their risk of reoffending (failure probability); namely the severity of the crime that they might be capable of committing if they ever deteriorated and carried out another crime (damage related to the failure). So I think both variables are important in the context of rehabilitation. There is an enormous difference between a serial thief being released only to subsequently steal than there is a person who killed someone being released from jail and committing murder again. “The formulation "risk = probability (of a disruption event) x loss (connected to the event occurrence)" is a measure of the expected loss connected with something (i.e., a process, a production activity, an investment...) subject to the occurrence of the considered disruption event. It is a way to quantify risks...You may also rephrase as "risk = failure probability x damage related to the failure".” - researchgate
  2. A consideration with chronic pain is that relatively speaking, humans evolved to be physically weak. The endurance running hypothesis attests to how slow humans are compared to animals. We’re not optimised for sprints or gallops but more for longevity and stamina. It’s not a 100 meter race we compete in but possibly a slow 80 or 90 year race against the ageing process. People like Usain Bolts are immensely inspiring precisely because they are the exception that proves the rule; we can’t beat a cheetah! ”Humans, other great apes and bears are among the few animals that step first on the heel when walking, and then roll onto the ball of the foot and toes. Now, a new study shows the advantage: Compared with heel-first walking, it takes 53 percent more energy to walk on the balls of your feet, and 83 percent more energy to walk on your toes.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100212092304.htm No matter how much we try to forefoot strike while sprinting, we’ll never be as efficient as digitigrade wolves and canines! “Broadly stated the problem of bipedal locomotion is centered on the need to rotate the pelvis in the horizontal plane. To do so would require a muscular system laid out in the horizontal plane. But the layout in the human anatomy is such that the majority of the muscles run parallel to the spine, like the erectores, or hip extensors and hamstrings. Direct action of these muscles does not result in efficient pelvic rotation in the horizontal plane. The mechanism by which such rotations are achieved is one of the core concepts of the spinal engine theory.” https://wdced.com/2015/12/body-physics-the-spinal-engine/ The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body. But, along with the hip flexors, this muscle is very close to the hip joint and so they don’t have good leverage. The calf muscles on the lower legs are far away from hip joint and consequently have great leverage. Yet they are very small muscles in comparison to the hamstrings or glutes for instance. So human bipedal morphology isn’t great for generating and sustaining massive speeds like a quadruped. These creatures can capitalise on increased stride length and frequency with reduced ground contact time due to their forelegs. The human body instead seemingly relies on indirect postural movements of the upper body and arm swing to exploit gluteal power at slower speeds.
  3. “Be cruel to be kind” - From Shakespeare 's Hamlet: act towards someone in a way which seems harsh but will ultimately be of benefit. Rehabilitation is of critical importance. But rehabilitation and punishment are not contradictory or mutually exclusive. The concept of rehabilitation most certainly forbids any disproportionate vengeance. But the justice system must impress upon people who commit evil actions the wrongness of their crimes. The following link is a logical extreme which doesn’t in any way disprove rehabilitation. But it does show that rehabilitation is not synonymous with undue leniency. Where multiple lives are lost, long term use of restraints such as leg cuffs and handcuffs are necessary to further confine them. https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2016/0420/Anders-Breivik-Can-Norway-be-too-humane-to-a-terrorist
  4. Yes. I very much agree with the concept of rehabilitation. We have to be forgiving. I just think if the crime is particularly extreme or if the perpetrator is still remorseless, then confinement in jail may be necessary to ensure and validate that they have changed their ways and have become peaceful. As a last resort, time in jail can instill in some criminals the immorality of their crime by a process of backward reasoning: they have lost their freedom so they may eventually conclude that they have done something wrong. As soon as they reach that conclusion we can let them re-enter society. It goes without saying that criminals should always be treated humanely by society irrespective of the severity of the crime they committed. They should all be free to avail of psychological help and counselling so that they can recover. I agree that society should foster a merciful attitude in the court system while also acknowledging the pain of the victims and the need for public safety. I was just making the point that any discrepancy and large variation in jail time for similar crimes owing to provocation would be unfair. The provocation defence has been used not only by criminals but also in unethical cases of excessive self defence and vigilantism which is equally as bad. Taken to its logical conclusion, spur of the moment excuses would condone duelling and blood feuds.
  5. I suppose it’s the empathetic tone of an apology; that they’re able to say what actions they were responsible for, why what they did was wrong and that they’re sorry.
  6. Enforcing precedence might lead to more consistent, fair and proportionate sentencing. We must avoid harsh sentences without being too unduly lenient. We cannot be vengeful. I think provocation and spur of the moment defences undermine precedence as it’s no longer about the objective facts of the case. It instead emphasises subjective whims and enraged emotions which are unverifiable. We don’t have thoughtcrimes! Repentance must obviously be taken into account and is certainly a mitigating factor. We must clearly be sympathetic to perpetrators who were suffering from mental illness at the time of the crime. Although I don’t reckon it’s fully exculpatory as they could have tried to alert people before they acted on any violent thoughts. “A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.” - Wikipedia
  7. It’s interesting to note that some of the most intimidating specimens are in fact not too harmful: “Compared to common pets such as dogs, tarantulas are not dangerous at all.“ - https://www.burkemuseum.org/collections-and-research/biology/arachnology-and-entomology/spider-myths/myth-tarantulas-are Mind you, I don’t think I’ll be queuing up to buy one of these pets any day soon!
  8. https://theconversation.com/explainer-why-are-we-afraid-of-spiders-26405 I’ve been wondering a small bit about the irrational fear evoked by spiders and snakes. Some people say there may be an evolutionary component to it as a few of these creatures can potentially be deadly. But our visceral response to them seems to be far more excessive than the actual threat they would have posed throughout human evolution. Humans obviously have a limited capacity to empathise with animals. We can anthropomorphise our pets and we might admire animals in the zoo. But as the philosopher Thomas Nagal pointed out, “What is it Like to be a Bat?”. In other words what is the sentience of these creatures like? They can’t just be inanimate robots as they display complex behaviour. Perhaps they live in a barely self-aware oneiric sort of existence that will be forever unknown to us. Some exotic creatures may possess a mind so “alien” to ours that it becomes repulsive when we try to project a degree of consciousness onto it. So might the creepiness of spiders and snakes be more of our instinctive reaction to their unfathomable psychology rather than the actual biology of them?
  9. guidoLamoto: “Chronic pain involves the ongoing stimulation of nerves-- chronic arthritis or a broken bone, for example.“ There are indeed physical correlations to certain painful sensations. But sometimes unfortunately chronic pain can be invisible; it can only be observed through a person’s behaviour. Consciousness isn’t entirely reductionistic. Chronic pain is of course a very real illness as it would be incredibly difficult to consistently feign anxiety.
  10. Maybe aspects of chronic pain might be a subconscious response to try to counteract death anxiety: https://www.psychology.org.au/for-members/publications/inpsych/2018/December-Issue-6/Death-anxiety-The-worm-at-the-core-of-mental-heal
  11. If one accidentally falls off a ladder, they're not guilty of negligence and endangerment because they are the only victim. So it makes no sense to imply that suicide victims committed anything.
  12. Solipsism would lead to loneliness and isolation. I don't think it's selfish.
  13. Solipsism Syndrome is "a psychological state in which a person feels that reality is not external to his or her mind". But is derealization/depersonalization related to this source of anxiety? Do they exist on a spectrum? People who suffer from derealization say that they feel like they are in a dream. But what does that mean? Dreams obviously happen inside your own head. Therefore if you are in a dream, no one else exists. In a sense we can never know what another person is thinking. We can only infer they are conscious from their behaviour. So is derealization, with symptoms like perceptual and emotional abnormalities, a result of anxiety-induced solipsism?
  14. Even if there are copycat suicides, they'd be in a small minority compared to those who die of mental illness. It does not justify ostracising victims.
  15. But there's a lot we don't understand about the mind. We can't control a lot of our subconscious such as the sensation of colour. Similarly we're not in complete control of our emotions. Mental illness seems to be deceptive. Depression, for instance, may delude the person into thinking everything is meaningless. They can't remember being happy. I think it's important not to be harsh when their beliefs, memory and thoughts might be impaired.
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