Tag Archives: Justice

How to avoid Confirmation Bias

17 Dec

Just what IS confirmation bias?  In short, it’s drawing a conclusion that you WANT, by overlooking some evidence to the contrary or picking and choosing partial evidence to support or bolster your predetermined view.

My husband surprised me last week when he acknowledged his own confirmation bias regarding the verdict of ‘not guilty’ in the trial of illegal immigrant Jose Zarate, accused of 1st degree (intentional) murder.  Mike, in fact, changed his mind after reading a report written by an alternate juror.  This citizen performed his civic duty by sitting through all the testimony and lawyer presentations for the two sides.  After the verdict, he then discussed with several jurors the verdict-arrival process the sequestered group had followed.  He concluded that the jury had indeed arrived at the correct decision because the alleged murderer had NOT in fact premeditated the shooting of Kate Steinle.

Dear clear thinking, rational friends: We must hold on to a commitment to the truth.  We must focus on ALL the evidence and follow it, even if it leads us to a judgment we don’t like.  Isn’t that why this bronze statue was cast?

Justice is blind

We Americans hold that justice is blind.  Surely we must apply that restraint to our biases and cherished pet beliefs when we are called to make a fair and impartial decision.

Again, I say, ‘Well done, Michael!’  Now may I be equally willing to embrace such fairness and evenhandedness as my husband.  After all, doing so would only be following our Father’s lead as described by the prophet Jeremiah:

……..I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:24b)

Logical Gal and Fairness

30 May

Not Fair

Very early we come up against boundaries that interfere with our desires.  And we learn to whine, wail and worm our way in and around circumstances, if we can!

Where does this presupposition come from, that life should be fair?

An evolutionist would argue that communities work best when its members treat each other equitably.  Therefore, this behavioral value was retained as beneficial for survival and passed down.

A theist would argue that since God created the universe and all that is in it, God has placed in our hearts this sense or shared value of desiring fairness.  After all, we are made in God’s image and as such, we long for justice.

As Abraham prayed back to God in Genesis 18:25:

  • Far be it from you to do such a thing–to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?

God is just


So given that ‘fairness’ is a human value, whatever the source, here is where this concept gets interesting.  Remember how I’ve written in the past that clarifying terms is 1st base in any discussion or debate?   I’m not joking.  Two people can both assert with confidence that they place a premium on fairness.  But just what they MEAN by fairness can leave them poles apart!


It appears that when liberals think of fairness, they envision equitable outcomes as a measure of fairness, that people are treated the same way.

But when one asks conservatives what they intend by fairness, they will explain that it means giving people what they DESERVE  because they worked hard.  What conservatives mean

What is the result of a difference in the presuppositions?  It means that much work needs to be done hammering out REASONS for these presuppositions.

In the end, Logical Joe and Logical Jane can both be strong advocates for FAIRNESS but envision two completely different scenarios.  Welcome to Congressional gridlock!

Congressional Gridlock

Question:  when have you suddenly realized that your conversation partner had something different in mind than you realized?  And how did this effect the dialogue? 




Logical Gal dismantles those pithy rhetorical punchlines

3 Mar

Rhetorical Devices

Sometimes an opponent will zing out a line so clever, so smooth that you swallow it whole and wonder what hit you.  That’s the power of rhetoric.

Not all rhetoric is bad.  In fact, if you want someone to be persuaded by truth, you have to package it, or present it with rhetorical skill.  Aristotle taught his students how to employ effectively LOGOS, ETHOS and PATHOS.  The logos is the actual content, the ethos is a combination of the accuracy of both YOUR authority/credentials or those of the experts you draw upon as well as the quality of your character. Finally pathos is the ‘why you should care’ factor.

But long are the days when an audience listened patiently as an orator skillfully presented a case. Today, in our sound bite culture, we swing snatches of words.

So how does a Logical Joe or Jane parse out one of those ‘fly-by’ explanations that masquerade as arguments?

Sound Bites and Slogans

Last week we took apart the clever line, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary explanations!” (see preceding 28 Feb 2014 post)  Today I would like to address a criticism against God as He is presented in the Bible:

How is eternal punishment for a temporal crime fair?!

At first glance it doesn’t seem fair.  This question is short enough for someone to thrust out there, pause and just let settle in.

The seeming injustice comes from our idea that a punishment should fit the crime.  So we must actually think a bit deeper.  The responses I heard today in a podcast interview made sense.

I offer them as a way to get a handle on a sensitive and difficult issue.

First, time of punishment v. time it took to commit the crime is irrelevant.  How long does it take for a speeding bullet to kill an innocent person?  Yet if convicted, a criminal may spend a lifetime in prison.

Second, whom the crime is committed against makes the difference.

Let’s say one person slaps another.


In the first instance, a big brother might get TIME OUT!…. as a punishment.

But what if an employee slapped his boss?  The stakes would be higher.  I’m pretty sure he’d be fired on the spot!

Well let’s suppose a more risky situation.  You’re at the White House for a State Dinner.  As you approach the President in the receiving line to shake hands, you haul off, intending to slap him. Probably even before your hand neared his ear, you’d be wrestled to the ground and hauled off to jail and charged with something serious.

Do you see what is happening?  The severity of the crime DEPENDS  on the one it is committed against.

So now let’s consider the Creator of the entire universe.  One of His created beings whom He lovingly fashioned in His image rebels all his life and refuses to have anything to do with the One who gave him life. Despite messages and countless ways to get his attention, God’s overtures are ignored or even scorned.

Just like citizens cannot expect to ignore a court summons and get away with it, neither can we turn our back on God and not expect a consequence.

Yes, eternal punishment is categorically different than life in prison, but God the Creator is in a different class all together from any created thing or being.

It takes some time to think through pithy lines, but it’s worth it.  The more we practice the skill of thinking, the better we get at it.

Question:  Which arguments are you having difficulties unraveling?