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The Future of the Supreme Court (Page 17)
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OreoCookie
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Jan 27, 2022, 10:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
They like, had a map. With this big blank shit in the middle-left because mountains. I don’t think they would be surprised to learn what would become Wyoming turned out empty compared to costal states.
Sure, but would they think that e. g. California would become as populous relative to many other states? Or that the entirety of California would be a single state? Or that the US would be home to over 300 million people?

I don't think people do anyone from that period justice by extrapolating their decisions to today: they tried to encode the values they had at the time with the experience they have had at that time (life and with democracies) subject to the constraints of the time (technological, political and otherwise). That's why there is such a big gap between the Presidential election and the new President taking office. That's why there is the Electoral college and why there was the 3/5ths compromise. Yes, in hindsight, many of the ideas were good, many bad and many needed to be iterated on.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The difficulty of polling is specifically why I place little weight on these numbers.

For example, the article touts high numbers for support of universal background checks.
But you cannot deny the large gulf between the lack of support in Congress and the support amongst the population, which is my point.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
As I understand it, a universal background check system would mean allowing anyone to perform a criminal background check on anyone else.
We should not get sidetracked in our discussion here. Nevertheless, I think you are jumping to conclusions and projecting what you see as the only solution onto the question. We should not forget that everyone holds inconsistent opinions, be it the apocryphal “Keep the federal governments hands off my Medicare.” or support for higher taxes of “the rich” but then having mixed feelings when such proposals are actually made.

Overall, I think my point still stands: the idea to have such measures in place does have considerable support amongst the population, and Congress's stance on them is not reflective of the population at large, even for things that have very broad support amongst voters for both parties.
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subego  (op)
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Jan 27, 2022, 10:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Sure, but would they think that e. g. California would become as populous relative to many other states?
Because coast.

Populations have concentrated on coastlines and rivers for all of history.
     
OreoCookie
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Jan 27, 2022, 10:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Because coast.

Populations have concentrated on coastlines and rivers for all of history.
Yes, true, but was it obvious that CA would be a single state rather than two, three or four? You have North and South Dakota, two Carolinas, two Virginias, etc.

I don't think the Founders had that disparity on their radar. I think they made the compromises they made when they created Congress based on the state of the country then and not how it might be in 100 or 200 years.
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Jan 27, 2022, 11:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Nevertheless, I think you are jumping to conclusions and projecting what you see as the only solution onto the question.
Q.E.D.

This is what I, and everyone else will do unless the particular solution is provided in the poll question. Without the solution, the question is not about a specific measure, it’s about what the respondent Imagines a specific measure to be. This is utterly useless data.

I humbly submit determining the will of the people on this subject requires consideration of a well-tempered case. A poll question with less words than I have fingers is a farcical substitute.
     
subego  (op)
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Jan 28, 2022, 12:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Yes, true, but was it obvious that CA would be a single state rather than two, three or four?
Four states? Rookie numbers. California could be divided into sixty states and still have each one be more populous than Wyoming.

The imbalance on display here between costal regions and mountain regions in terms of supporting population is so vast it was even apparent in the times of the Founding Fathers. It’s been apparent through all of history.

Like, really apparent.



Edit: in the first census, Virginia had a population of about 750k, and Delaware had about 60k.

The Founding Fathers didn’t realize they were giving Delaware power in the Senate which was vastly disproportionate to its population?
     
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Jan 30, 2022, 07:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
This is what I, and everyone else will do unless the particular solution is provided in the poll question. Without the solution, the question is not about a specific measure, it’s about what the respondent Imagines a specific measure to be. This is utterly useless data.
I think with this line of argumentation you are bending reality to what you want it to be by chopping up people who said they were in favor of certain policies by subdividing them further. And it is not useless data.

Your argument that just because those 70 % won’t all agree on a common policy does not mean this is poll or the very high numbers of support aren’t of use. It means that when it comes to the precise policy positions 70+ % of the population are against the status quo and against easing restrictions. In my opinion the strong dissonance between what is discussed in Congress and the actual positions of the people leads to a lot of resentment amongst the electorate.

And it ignores how democracies work: politicians don’t need wait until 51 % of the population support one specific law. If I want higher taxes for wealthier people and the administration I vote into office raises taxes on the rich, but nut by as much as I had wanted, then I don’t think you can simply chalk me up in the “against tax reform proposal” category.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I humbly submit determining the will of the people on this subject requires consideration of a well-tempered case. A poll question with less words than I have fingers is a farcical substitute.
No, I don’t agree.
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subego  (op)
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Jan 30, 2022, 02:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I think with this line of argumentation you are bending reality to what you want it to be by chopping up people who said they were in favor of certain policies by subdividing them further.
Bending reality is claiming the responses to a poll question omitting critical details paints an accurate picture.

Bending reality is claiming a poll question lacking nuance sufficiently represents reality.
( Last edited by subego; Jan 30, 2022 at 03:21 PM. )
     
subego  (op)
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Jan 30, 2022, 04:23 PM
 
I just took a peek at the specific measure the House recently passed with regards to universal background checks.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-...se-bill/8/text

This bill would make it illegal for a private citizen to transfer a firearm to another private citizen. Private citizens would only be allowed to transfer firearms to those with a federal license.

Relevant detail, no?
     
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Jan 30, 2022, 08:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Bending reality is claiming the responses to a poll question omitting critical details paints an accurate picture.

Bending reality is claiming a poll question lacking nuance sufficiently represents reality.
What is and isn’t a critical detail lies in the eyes of the beholder, and it makes a difference whether we speak of policies or (proposals for) laws. Rather than accepting that 70+ % support a general direction, stricter regulations when it comes to e. g. the sale of guns and restricting access to guns for people who have a record of spousal abuse, I have the impression you try to parcel it up to make the numbers smaller.

Do (sometimes very boring and arcane) details in laws matter? Yes, but that is hardly new. An exception meant for narrow circumstances could hollow out and make a proposed law ineffective or be a door for overreach.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I just took a peek at the specific measure the House recently passed with regards to universal background checks.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-...se-bill/8/text

This bill would make it illegal for a private citizen to transfer a firearm to another private citizen. Private citizens would only be allowed to transfer firearms to those with a federal license.

Relevant detail, no?
I don’t see any contradictions here, that’s one way to enforce universal background checks. And?

There are tons of other options, yes. You could require buyers to obtain a recent copy of their criminal record. This way you wouldn’t open the door for random people getting the criminal record for other random people. But prohibiting private sales entirely is also another route.

Besides, I think we are getting sidetracked.
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subego  (op)
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Jan 30, 2022, 09:06 PM
 
Do you think your proposal would poll equally with the proposal to ban private sales?

I posit your proposal would be vastly more popular.
     
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Jan 30, 2022, 09:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Do you think your proposal would poll equally with the proposal to ban private sales?
I have no idea.
I think my proposal would keep all the relevant loopholes open (at least in practice) for things to continue as they are now, though. My proposal also swept a lot of important details under the rug: what about liability? If someone sells a gun to someone they shouldn't have, what should the punishments be? What if the criminal record was fake? What if it was an obvious fake? Etc. If you put in legal weasel words like “reasonable”, how would that be put into practice?

Most people wouldn't think things through this far — and shouldn't. Many measures (think ACA) are initially unpopular and become popular over time. IMHO the reason is simple: it was a net improvement for many people. Plus, sometimes people are just wrong about how things work (“Keep the federal government's hands off my Medicare!”) or are terribly ill-informed.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I posit your proposal would be vastly more popular.
More popular than a proposal that did not pass in the Senate? No idea. Nor do I think this matters for the discussion. You dismissed the value of polls that are according to you not specific enough. I think it is the opposite: it should tell politicians that they have more space to maneuver and backing for starker changes. That's the thing with things like Brexit, which passed on a very narrow margin, but have severe consequences for an entire country.

But I'd posit that none of this matters for our discussion: there are quite a few specific gun control measures that have broad public support and this isn't reflected in any way, shape or form in Congress. There are other, similar topics like health care or taxation. I also think all adults know the feeling “I support the general direction, but this isn't how I would have done it had I been in power.” very well.
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subego  (op)
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Feb 1, 2022, 01:29 PM
 
Any Republican Senator who voted to criminalize private transfer of firearms would get thrown out of office.

By gridlocking this bill, Republican Senators serve both their own interest, and that of those who elected them.

The dysfunction is Democrats submitting a bill no Republican Senator can vote for. The issue of universal background checks is obviously so important to Democrats they would rather the bill die and make Republicans look bad rather than offer a solution that serves the whole country.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 02:06 PM
 
I'm not comfortable with a prohibition on private transfer. Even with the exceptions in that bill.

What I would like to see: we currently have a balance between gun rights and restrictions. Most of us are ok with things the way they are. So maintain the net balance. ie:

Research which measures are more effective in preventing mass shootings. But when you pass them, an equivalent set of ineffective measures must be deleted from the law. So the net level of gun rights and restrictions stays much the same. Maintaining the net balance we're (nearly) all ok with today.

But when I see proposals like this bill, they only add restrictions. They're not paired with removing less effective restrictions, so they are not net-neutral.

I want to see an optimization approach. Not a ratcheting approach, like copyright has become. Where all changes go one way.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 02:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
But when I see proposals like this bill, they only add restrictions. They're not paired with removing less effective restrictions, so they are not net-neutral.
I cynically see it as theatre, and a waste of time.

This bill needs 60 votes in the Senate. It’s never going to get that. The bill’s sponsors knew this going in, yet they sponsored the bill anyway.

[hand-jerking motion]
( Last edited by subego; Feb 1, 2022 at 03:10 PM. )
     
subego  (op)
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Feb 1, 2022, 02:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
I want to see an optimization approach. Not a ratcheting approach, like copyright has become. Where all changes go one way.
I’d say few want this. Most want either more net freedom or more net restriction. I obviously hew more towards the former category.

Edit: to be clear, I’m not totally dead-set against restriction, I’m just highly skeptical towards most proposed restrictions achieving their stated goal, and I’m more tolerant of the downsides of unrestricted firearms than would be the norm with Democrats.
( Last edited by subego; Feb 1, 2022 at 05:06 PM. )
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 08:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Any Republican Senator who voted to criminalize private transfer of firearms would get thrown out of office.
Yes, but that’s an artifact of the political system, not a matter of public support.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The dysfunction is Democrats submitting a bill no Republican Senator can vote for. The issue of universal background checks is obviously so important to Democrats they would rather the bill die and make Republicans look bad rather than offer a solution that serves the whole country.
I don’t think Republicans are partners the Democrats can work with in good faith. The majority of them didn’t even resist when their lives were on the line on January 6th. And they are putting the screws on those who spoke out, including conservative stalwarts like Liz Cheney or Brad Raffensperger.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
I'm not comfortable with a prohibition on private transfer. Even with the exceptions in that bill.

What I would like to see: we currently have a balance between gun rights and restrictions. Most of us are ok with things the way they are. So maintain the net balance. ie:
I’d just add that at least for specific measures there is a broad majority in favor of universal background checks. Thinking this through, this will invariably place at least restrictions on private sales or ban them outright.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Research which measures are more effective in preventing mass shootings. But when you pass them, an equivalent set of ineffective measures must be deleted from the law. So the net level of gun rights and restrictions stays much the same. Maintaining the net balance we're (nearly) all ok with today.
AFAIK it is intentionally made difficult to study guns and gun violence scientifically in the US, including epidemiological studies. I don’t remember whether it was you or subego or perhaps someone else, but we discussed this and one of you was strongly opposed to that.

But we could do things even without additional studies. Most perps are men, for example. In most cases, these people had easy access to guns without proper parental oversight. Most firearm-related deaths are due to pistols and not long rifles like the AR-15. You could do a lot with what we already know, me thinks.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
But when I see proposals like this bill, they only add restrictions. They're not paired with removing less effective restrictions, so they are not net-neutral.
That’s because of two things: gun restrictions have been eased significantly in the US. Many states have move to “shall issue” for concealed carry permits and open carry has become easier. None of these are neutral. SCOTUS even ignored state laws when they forced states to accept the terms of other states when it came to firearms permits. Also, the population is broadly in favor of some tighter restrictions, so I don’t see why these bills should be paired with removing “less effective” restrictions.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
I want to see an optimization approach. Not a ratcheting approach, like copyright has become. Where all changes go one way.
Right now the ratchet is working in the opposite way, though. Firearms laws have been eased significantly over the last 20 years. Not even shootings at primary schools give politicians windows to pass stricter legislation.

Plus, and I don’t mean this in a bad way: I think it is important to recognize when you hold minority views vis-a-vis the rest of the population. That doesn’t mean you are right or wrong, but it means that over the long term that typically is not a stable situation. That’s also a big problem for people who want to ban abortions: their views are not compatible with the majority of the population.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I’d say few want this. Most want either more net freedom or more net restriction. I obviously hew more towards the former category.
That’s a simplistic argument: your notion of freedom includes gun rights, mine does not. Mine includes a right to health care, for example, so the US is less free than all other countries I have lived in in that respect. I live in Japan at the moment where I don’t have worry about crime, my children will never have to do active shooter drills, etc. To reserve a place in a cafe, I can put my wallet or my iPhone on the table. That’s freedom for me. When I lived in Canada, a colleagues two doors down was stabbed several times by a student who stalked him. Colleagues of mine and I ran to help him. If I had lived in the US, it would have been entirely plausible that the student would have had a gun.

To be clear, I am not claiming your notion of freedom should be mine, I’m just saying that the framing as more-vs.-less freedom is fundamentally flawed as different people have different notions of what freedom is.
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subego  (op)
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Feb 1, 2022, 09:21 PM
 
Read that as most wanting more net freedom/restriction [in regards to guns]. I wasn’t talking about all freedoms.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 09:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
AFAIK it is intentionally made difficult to study guns and gun violence scientifically in the US, including epidemiological studies. I don’t remember whether it was you or subego or perhaps someone else, but we discussed this and one of you was strongly opposed to that.
This was me.

In general, what causes difficulty is collecting certain data becomes difficult without building a registry, which I’m against. IMO the US government should not create a list of who has guns.

In specific, the CDC (but no other federal agency) was barred from conducting studies on guns because they admitted they had an agenda to restrict guns. This ban has since been lifted. I agreed with cuffing them in the first place with the ban, and agreed the ban had served its purpose and it was correctly lifted.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 09:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Yes, but that’s an artifact of the political system, not a matter of public support.
This is our key disagreement. I see it as a matter of public support because outlawing private sales of firearms is not an idea the conservative public supports in any way shape or form.

It also might be unconstitutional.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 09:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Read that as most wanting more net freedom/restriction [in regards to guns]. I wasn’t talking about all freedoms.
Yeah, but even then I don't see it that way, i. e. that less gun restrictions imply more freedom and vice versa, even if I ignore potential loss or gain of other freedoms. One aspect is that I connect freedom and personal responsibility more strongly than I feel most gun rights advocates do. E. g. I think there should be training requirements, which depend on the class of firearm you want to own and if you want to carry some weapons concealed.

Another aspect of freedom is that to a degree it rests on laws which are already on the books needing to be followed. For example, in many cases felons are not allowed to purchase firearms. But what good is that if all it does is prevent people from purchasing firearms at stores? Just think of other goods with restrictions? Is it legal to privately sell whiskey to a 9-year-old in your state? I don't know, but I kinda doubt it. Why is that? Well, the American people decided that the legal drinking age is 21, and states have enacted various laws that are meant to ensure that only people of legal age are able to buy alcohol.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
This was me.
Good, I wasn't sure and didn't want to attribute something to you that wasn't your opinion.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
In general, what causes difficulty is collecting certain data becomes difficult without building a registry, which I’m against. IMO the US government should not create a list of who has guns.
Building a registry is entirely separate from research. Researchers don't have the power to enact laws, Congress does. And there is no gun restriction that can pass Congress these days.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
In specific, the CDC (but no other federal agency) was barred from conducting studies on guns because they admitted they had an agenda to restrict guns. This ban has since been lifted. I agreed with cuffing them in the first place with the ban, and agreed the ban had served its purpose and it was correctly lifted.
IMHO that's more your interpretation than anything else. It is clear that gun violence in the US is very different, and that the US has much laxer gun laws than any first-world nation I am aware of. It seems to me that you just didn't like the conclusions. And I had the impression back then that you were afraid what politicians would want to do after seeing the results of studies.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
This is our key disagreement. I see it as a matter of public support because outlawing private sales of firearms is not an idea the conservative public supports in any way shape or form.
You make this claim without evidence. Keep in mind that the conservative public includes conservatives living in urban areas. You could change this claim to support by conservative elected officials and then, yes. But that is not a contradiction to what prompted this exchange, my claim that elected officials are often out of step with the majority opinion of their voters.

Just to drive my point home, in the last New York City mayoral election (I'm picking a Democratic stronghold at random) about 28 % of voters gave the Republican candidate their vote or about 312,000 votes. That is over 100,000 more votes than Donald Trump received in Wyoming in the 2020 election (I chose Wyoming, because it is one of the reddest states I could think of). Republicans in NYC have 0 representation in Congress. Ditto for Democrats in situations where the voting patters are reversed.
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Feb 1, 2022, 10:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
AFAIK it is intentionally made difficult to study guns and gun violence scientifically in the US, including epidemiological studies. I don’t remember whether it was you or subego or perhaps someone else, but we discussed this and one of you was strongly opposed to that.
It was me as well. Discussion continued via PM as I had personal anecdotes to share.

To clarify, there is no US prohibition on researching gun statistics. The restriction is on Federal funding of such research. If you find other funding sources, you can research most anything.

Some research restrictions do exist on atomics though, so be sure to limit gamma ray emissions from your basement lab. Also, investigating opioid synthesis could bring unpleasant people with badges to your door. These issues are independent of funding source.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 10:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
It seems to me that you just didn't like the conclusions. And I had the impression back then that you were afraid what politicians would want to do after seeing the results of studies.
If I didn’t like the conclusions, or didn’t want to have politicians see the results, why would I support lifting the ban?
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 10:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
It was me as well. Discussion continued via PM as I had personal anecdotes to share.
Good. I just wanted to make sure I didn't put words into anyones mouthes and build up a strawman.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
To clarify, there is no US prohibition on researching gun statistics. The restriction is on Federal funding of such research. If you find other funding sources, you can research most anything.
Yes, but most research funding in the US comes from the NSF and the DOE, though. So it curbed research because some politicians didn't like the potential outcome of said research and are skeptical of “the elites at universities” more broadly.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Some research restrictions do exist on atomics though, so be sure to limit gamma ray emissions from your basement lab. Also, investigating opioid synthesis could bring unpleasant people with badges to your door. These issues are independent of funding source.
Yes, but you have sound reasons why these experiments are not allowed. I'm sure you can only do research on certain dangerous diseases in a special lab designed for such diseases. That is different from collecting statistics through official channels.

I find it kinda telling that you compare research on guns to arguably objectively dangerous experiments.
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Feb 1, 2022, 10:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
To clarify, there is no US prohibition on researching gun statistics. The restriction is on Federal funding of such research.
My understanding is the prohibition is on “advocating gun control”.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 10:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Building a registry is entirely separate from research. Researchers don't have the power to enact laws…
What I mean is researchers should not be allowed to collect the data which would appear in a firearms registry, because doing so is de facto creation of a firearms registry.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 10:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Yeah, but even then I don't see it that way, i. e. that less gun restrictions imply more freedom and vice versa…
Less gun restrictions imply more gun freedoms, not more all freedoms.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 10:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I find it kinda telling that you compare research on guns to arguably objectively dangerous experiments.
Beware rabbit holes - I thought them funny examples, and didn't put any deeper thought into it.

Regarding government funding of gun restrictions research - I feel this issue falls solidly into the categories "belief", "politics", and perhaps even "religion". We don't spend tax money trying to prove matters of belief.

A hypothetical example I offered via PM (in Nov 2017) was a government-funded study to rank average race intelligence. It might be technically possible to build such a ranking. But nothing useful would come of it, just riots and division. It is not the job of government to find ways to tear us apart. So I agree with the ban on federal funding for such studies. Of belief-dominated topics like race intelligence, gun restrictions, or which churches are most accurate to their respective holy books.
     
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Feb 1, 2022, 11:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
What I mean is researchers should not be allowed to collect the data which would appear in a firearms registry, because doing so is de facto creation of a firearms registry.
I'm not quite sure how you can build a registry from statistical research: statistical research in all areas (e. g. medicine) is subject to strict rules to ensure anonymity and the integrity of the data. Why would studies on gun violence handle private data any differently? I think this is fearing a problem that does not exist.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Less gun restrictions imply more gun freedoms, not more all freedoms.
According to your set of values, perhaps. Not according to mine. And yes, I am really just focussing on what you call gun “freedoms”. I suspect that is because freedoms not only have individual aspects to them, but also societal aspects.

If I was incarcerated and a law was passed that let all incarcerated people go free, are you maximizing my personal freedom? In the short term and for me personally only, yes, I think that part is obvious. But are you maximizing freedom of movement for society? I think I can make an argument that letting all incarcerated people go free would curb my own personal freedom of where I felt I could move. There is also a reason why I even qualified my personal freedom to the short term: and that is because when I am dutifully released after serving my time, a safer environment will give me more freedom to move about. A less drastic example is that I feel freer to move about in Japan most of the time, because I have to worry less about my belongings and my personal safety.

Likewise, I think when you think of “gun freedoms”, you focus on your own, individual and immediate freedoms. I feel our difference is that I include societal freedoms more strongly.
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Feb 1, 2022 at 11:28 PM. )
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Feb 1, 2022, 11:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Beware rabbit holes - I thought them funny examples, and didn't put any deeper thought into it.
We could perhaps branch the discussion into a separate thread?
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Regarding government funding of gun restrictions research - I feel this issue falls solidly into the categories "belief", "politics", and perhaps even "religion". We don't spend tax money trying to prove matters of belief.
I would argue that once these studies have been conducted, we are no longer talking about political beliefs, but hard scientific evidence and facts.

I have the impression that many gun rights advocates act similarly to the way smokers behaved prior to the default switching from smoking is ok basically everywhere (restaurants, night clubs, etc.) to only a few select places. I am sure that many smokers would want there to be no connection between smoking and the prevalence of many forms of cancer and severe heart disease. And many smokers argued that these changes would curb their freedoms despite dangers of second-hand smoking. This change happened when I was just in my late teens and early twenties, and I remember that when I went out before the change happened, I'd smell like an ash tray. No night club cared about the rights of non-smokers, because there was a substantial minority of smokers who wanted to smoke when they went out.

With guns the broad strokes of what these studies would say seem to be quite clear just like with cigarettes. Does that mean science has an anti-cigarette bias? Do researchers? I am sure that perhaps with certain very narrow questions you might see benefits of gun ownership. And that's totally cool. Follow the evidence.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
A hypothetical example I offered via PM (in Nov 2017) was a government-funded study to rank average race intelligence. It might be technically possible to build such a ranking. But nothing useful would come of it, just riots and division.
Yeah, but I don't think that applies to studies that make us understand gun violence better. Studies could lead to policy proposals supported by solid scientific evidence, that are very targeted and very effective. And if enacted, these could save lives. I don't see that studies of average intelligence by race could do something similar. Quite the contrary, in most cases I am aware of, studies of racial differences amongst intelligence were bad pieces of science where e. g. motivated reasoning drove the research rather than anything else.
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
It is not the job of government to find ways to tear us apart. So I agree with the ban on federal funding for such studies. Of belief-dominated topics like race intelligence, gun restrictions, or which churches are most accurate to their respective holy books.
Two things here: neither racial differences in intelligence nor gun violence are topics outside of the reach of science. This is fundamentally different from e. g. proving that there is or is no god(s), which is outside of the realm of scientific inquiry. There is certain research we do not do for ethical reasons or are subject to stringent rules. But gun violence does not fit those categories.

If you make it practically impossible to acquire the knowledge, then it is upon you that the discussion remains belief-dominated. It is sort of like banning research on fossils and evolution to prevent us from gathering evidence showing that the Theory of Evolution is a very good explanation for how we and all the flora and fauna among us came to be.

The fact that in almost no circumstance (no matter the country) policies are based on science is infuriating to me as a scientist. Science is often seen as a burden, because it tends to get in the way and tell people something they don't want to hear. In my opinion, we should always err on the side of doing more research on these issues. Most notably, because things often cut both ways, sometimes “common sense” turns out to be wrong.

Secondly, the government is us and not some foreign entity separate from the population. So if the population is split in some ways, then government will reflect that split, because it is a reflection of society. However, I pointed to polls that showed that certain topics are not as divisive as people perceive it to be. Something that has support of >2/3 of society should not be something that is controversial or very divisive.
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Feb 2, 2022, 01:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Likewise, I think when you think of “gun freedoms”, you focus on your own, individual and immediate freedoms. I feel our difference is that I include societal freedoms more strongly.
Being brutally honest with myself I’m almost positive our difference is I morally approve of guns more strongly, which I must stress is not the same as saying you don’t morally approve of guns. I honestly don’t know. I just know I morally approve more.
     
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Feb 2, 2022, 01:28 PM
 
I would move all this gun control stuff to a new thread but that's like effort...

I approve of personal gun ownership with similar laws, licenses and training that driving a car has, and that license can be taken away for violating those laws or other violent laws.
     
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Feb 2, 2022, 02:01 PM
 
Scalia made that idea unconstitutional (incorrectly IMO, FWIW).

Also FWIW, topic drift, especially when the OT is hibernating, never bothered me.
     
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Feb 2, 2022, 03:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I'm not quite sure how you can build a registry from statistical research: statistical research in all areas (e. g. medicine) is subject to strict rules to ensure anonymity and the integrity of the data. Why would studies on gun violence handle private data any differently? I think this is fearing a problem that does not exist.
If the data can be collected anonymously, I don’t have an issue with it.

The example from the discussion a few years back was creating a database of all guns in the country. Like I said, if this can be created anonymously, I don’t have an issue.

I posit anonymizing a database of medical histories is much easier than anonymizing a database of transferable possessions, but again, if it can be done I have no issue.
     
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Feb 2, 2022, 03:20 PM
 
Reposting this because it appears to have gone unanswered, and directly relates to your stated desire not to put words into people’s mouths.

Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
It seems to me that you just didn't like the conclusions. And I had the impression back then that you were afraid what politicians would want to do after seeing the results of studies.
If I didn’t like the conclusions, or didn’t want to have politicians see the results, why would I support lifting the ban?


P.S. An easy way to avoid putting words into people’s mouths is to ask someone what they think rather than tell them what they think. This also has the added benefit of fostering discussion rather than stifling it.
     
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Feb 3, 2022, 02:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Being brutally honest with myself I’m almost positive our difference is I morally approve of guns more strongly, which I must stress is not the same as saying you don’t morally approve of guns. I honestly don’t know. I just know I morally approve more.
To be honest, I don't think that's it.
I personally connect freedom and opportunity with responsibility. E. g. I'm quite smart, so it is my responsibility to do something with it and aim to improve society. I wouldn't want to handle, much less carry a firearm without extensive training. A friend at high school got his hunter's license. That was no easy feat, he had to study and pass several exams. (Don't think of this as a simple multiple choice test that you had to pass to get your learner's permit, this was easily 20–40 hours depending on how you count.)
Originally Posted by subego View Post
If I didn’t like the conclusions, or didn’t want to have politicians see the results, why would I support lifting the ban?
A few things: first of all, I just remember your position from a previous debate some years ago and if memory serves, back then, the ban was still in place, correct? So if I didn't know the ban has been lifted (according to you), how do you think I would even think of thinking that you were supporting lifting the ban?

Secondly, and I admit I have not looked into this, based on the information in this thread I am not sure the ban has been lifted. I'm thinking of this passage:
Originally Posted by subego
In specific, the CDC (but no other federal agency) was barred from conducting studies on guns because they admitted they had an agenda to restrict guns. This ban has since been lifted. I agreed with cuffing them in the first place with the ban, and agreed the ban had served its purpose and it was correctly lifted.
You claimed the CDC had an agenda to restrict guns, and that the ban was lifted because it had served its purpose. Like I wrote before, I think the presumption that scientists have “an agenda” to restrict guns is false. That's like arguing scientists have an anti-tobacco or an anti-led paint agenda — they don't.

And to double check: I thought the ban was on all federal funding rather than just the CDC? What is the status here?

Moreover, the way you write it makes it sound as is the CDC is still being prevented to do its job, namely it is no longer doing “controversial” epidemiological research with regards to firearms. That's putting a leash on scientists and preventing the accumulation of valuable data with which we (= the populace) can make informed decisions.
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Feb 3, 2022, 02:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
I approve of personal gun ownership with similar laws, licenses and training that driving a car has, and that license can be taken away for violating those laws or other violent laws.
Same here.
Depending on the class of weapons and the purpose, you need to complete regular training, know about the laws and store the weapons safely. For things like concealed carry licenses, I'd have rather harsh training. This is not meant as a punishment, but people with a CCW should know their limits (e. g. how much their accuracy will suffer when they are under duress or panic*).

* Two or three days ago two German cops were shot and killed by what looks like poachers. Because cops rarely get killed in Germany, this has made national headlines for several days. The first got was shot in the head before she could even open her holster. The second one was shot four times, but managed to empty his magazine, 14 shots, I think, with none hitting the two suspects. “Fortunately,” the poachers were idiots, they left their ids at the scene.
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Feb 3, 2022, 07:47 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
So if I didn't know the ban has been lifted (according to you), how do you think I would even think of thinking that you were supporting lifting the ban?
Because I literally said both these things in the post you quoted. You would think of these things as a result of reading what I said.

I said:

Originally Posted by subego View Post
and agreed the ban had served its purpose and it was correctly lifted
Your direct reply to this quote was:

Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
It seems to me that you just didn't like the conclusions. And I had the impression back then that you were afraid what politicians would want to do after seeing the results of studies.
     
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Feb 3, 2022, 08:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I personally connect freedom and opportunity with responsibility.
I personally connect these, but that’s not really how society works.

I’m sure you know some people who took advantage of their freedom and opportunity to have children, and then shoot everything to hell in the responsibility department.

As a society, we discourage this, but draw the line well before actually trying to stop it.
     
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Feb 3, 2022, 09:13 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Because I literally said both these things in the post you quoted. You would think of these things as a result of reading what I said. […]

Your direct reply to this quote was:
I don’t want to get lost in personal details, but I was speaking in past tense and put further emphasis on it by adding “back then”, i. e. I was referring to our earlier discussion from a few years ago where you were in favor of a ban on research and the CDC ban was to my understanding (at least when I wrote the post you quoted) still in effect. I was criticizing your reaction back then in the discussion we have had years ago.

I realize that it is easy to miss such details, and I don’t hold it against you that you did. But please take a step back and consider the possibility that other people are not putting words into your mouth. Consider the possibility that the misunderstanding might be on your end.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I personally connect these, but that’s not really how society works.
Sure it is. Social norms are enforced by society through various means, social pressure, norms, etc.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I’m sure you know some people who took advantage of their freedom and opportunity to have children, and then shoot everything to hell in the responsibility department.
There is always a relatively small number of exceptions who don’t fulfill their end. Or who are dishonest. But most people are mostly honest. And we live better lives (in my opinion) if we assume the other person is also honest for the most part, has good intentions and, say, does not want to kill us.
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Feb 3, 2022, 09:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I don’t want to get lost in personal details, but I was speaking in past tense…
I was speaking in past tense as well, because I was referring to our discussion from years ago. Your advice on missing details and considering the source of the mistake is best turned inward.
     
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Feb 3, 2022, 12:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Does that mean science has an anti-cigarette bias?
Sort of?

Science, by its nature, does best with the tangible. Injury and death are tangible.

Unless cigarettes and guns possess no intangible benefits whatsoever, our public policy towards them cannot be guided by science alone. How much value we place on these intangible benefits is a question answered by public debate, not science.

In the case of cigarettes, there was ultimately a broad consensus to place little value on their intangible benefits, so no one objected when the CDC’s policy recommendations ignored those benefits.

The CDC did this with guns, and that’s what caught them the hammer. They said the science shows we should look at guns the same way we look at cigarettes. This assertion may very well be correct, however unlike cigarettes there is absolutely no consensus whatsoever as to how we should value the intangible benefits of guns.

The CDC didn’t cross the line because they researched gun violence. Researching gun violence serves to inform the debate. We want them to do that. That’s their job. The CDC crossed the line the moment they saw it as their job to end the debate. Science can’t end this debate.
     
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Feb 3, 2022, 03:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
* Two or three days ago two German cops were shot and killed by what looks like poachers. ... “Fortunately,” the poachers were idiots, they left their ids at the scene.
Just ... Wow. Cop killers leave their IDs behind. This takes Stupid to a whole other level.
     
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Feb 3, 2022, 08:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Just ... Wow. Cop killers leave their IDs behind. This takes Stupid to a whole other level.
And shooting two cops over poaching!?? That makes no sense front-to-back. Probably the poachers weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. Sad that two people are dead because of it.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Sort of?
That’s a gross misunderstanding of what science is and does.

Science is a systematic method to gain insight on the state of the universe. The method itself has no biases. Scientific facts don’t care about our values, policy positions and political system. Floridians will have to deal with rising sea water levels no matter what De Santis says or whether Floridians “believe” in it or not.

Some statements like “climate change is man-made and has a net negative effect on the world” is a statement that has been backed up by lots of different scientists from very different fields. These are not biases. It is a representation of scientific facts as best as we know them now. The broader the base of evidence, the higher the certainty. People less familiar with science usually turn to the motivations of scientists and try to make a connection between that and the outcomes of their research. I remember that UC Berkeley hired a climate change skeptic who wanted to systematically review the evidence. He and his group did over several years — and they confirmed that the consensus was correct. It was good that he did and I am sure microscopically he found some gaps and weaknesses in the works of others. Science is open this way. And if there are aspects where guns, epidemiologically speaking, have net benefits, then the data will show that. I’m sure there are plenty of scientists out there who like guns.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Science, by its nature, does best with the tangible. Injury and death are tangible.

Unless cigarettes and guns possess no intangible benefits whatsoever, our public policy towards them cannot be guided by science alone. How much value we place on these intangible benefits is a question answered by public debate, not science.
I wrote policy informed by science, not scientist fixing policy for politicians.

We don’t know whether something has “no benefits” without scientific study either. I’m sure if you are looking hard enough, you find something beneficial. (E. g. nicotine, apart from being highly addictive, has a calming effect that could be considered positive.)

Further, in almost all cases I can think of, there are several aspects that can be probed scientifically, and these need to be weighed by politicians. During the Covid pandemic, closing schools certainly curbs the spread. However, other studies show an increase in depression among children and that they fall behind in terms of learning outcomes. All of these questions can and have been investigated. How do you weigh those different, competing interests? That’s for politicians to decide.

Lastly, society allows people to engage in inherently dangerous activities. Think of skydiving. Without having done any research, I’d bet that skydiving is inherently more risky than, say, playing chess. But usually then society decides on sensible regulations not just to protect others, but also the person doing the activity.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
In the case of cigarettes, there was ultimately a broad consensus to place little value on their intangible benefits, so no one objected when the CDC’s policy recommendations ignored those benefits.
I don’t think this is an accurate representation of history: it took decades until these obvious facts were accepted (publicly) by politicians, and they acted according to the scientific recommendations. Tobacco companies funded “research” to point out the positive sides and there were clear economic incentives by politicians in states that historically grew tobacco (and subsidized it).

Secondly, the CDC would have added only one of many perspectives. That doesn’t make the CDC biased or implies an agenda. It just reflects the state-of-the-art in their field on these questions.

If you ask a virologist and an epidemiologist on how to deal with Covid-19, especially initially, you would have heard very different recommendations. (That happened in Japan. Virologists tend to think in terms of individual patients and their recommendation was to hospitalize everyone. Surely, if hospitals are not at capacity, that’s a good way to deal with smaller, localized outbreaks and maximizes the chances of individual patients. Epidemiologists put more weight on how to protect the population at large.) Add to that all the other perspectives that are valid and valuable. One of them is the hard question of how many deaths we are willing to accept. That’s not a scientific question, it is a political question. Science can help us understand quantify this for different scenarios, but it can’t make the decision for us.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The CDC did this with guns, and that’s what caught them the hammer. They said the science shows we should look at guns the same way we look at cigarettes. This assertion may very well be correct, however unlike cigarettes there is absolutely no consensus whatsoever as to how we should value the intangible benefits of guns.
Yes, and I think this is a valuable and completely valid perspective. It adds to the discussion and complements other knowledge that we have.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
The CDC didn’t cross the line because they researched gun violence. Researching gun violence serves to inform the debate. We want them to do that. That’s their job. The CDC crossed the line the moment they saw it as their job to end the debate. Science can’t end this debate.
I don’t see that at all.
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Feb 3, 2022 at 08:25 PM. )
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Feb 3, 2022, 08:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
That’s a gross misunderstanding of what science is and does. Science is a systematic method to gain insight on the state of the universe. The method itself has no biases.
Perhaps “bias” isn’t the best word. This was one of the reasons I qualified my statement with “sort of”. A better way to put it is science will be “limited” in the insight it can provide on the value of intangible benefits.

So, not bias, but the method gives far more insight on some questions than it does others. The method has strengths and weaknesses if you will.


Edit: for example, science can give far more insight into the death and injury caused by guns (tangible) versus, say, their value as a check against the government (intangible).
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Feb 3, 2022, 11:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Perhaps “bias” isn’t the best word. This was one of the reasons I qualified my statement with “sort of”. A better way to put it is science will be “limited” in the insight it can provide on the value of intangible benefits.
You can measure many intangible things e. g. severity of depression. As long as you can measure it (directly or by proxy), it is accessible to scientific study.

There are things that clearly lie outside the of the scope of science, e. g. whether God does or does not exist or whether we live in a simulation. Whether “check against government” is in or lies outside of the reach of science depends very much on how you measure it. Empirical research shows that peaceful revolutions have a significantly higher chance of success than violent ones. So once it comes to a revolution — and you want the revolution to succeed (that's not always a given!), you would be better off being peaceful. Deterrence is harder to measure, though.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
So, not bias, but the method gives far more insight on some questions than it does others. The method has strengths and weaknesses if you will.
I don't think I would call it strengths and weaknesses. Rather, it is an understanding of what science does and what it cannot do. One obvious thing is that by design, scientific studies only capture very particular aspects. This is cuts both ways — it allows you to recognize patterns by forgetting things that are not essential in this context. And at the same time you are ignoring yet other factors that may be important in other contexts. Life is much more complex, and I do not think it fits into any one scientific study. The other difficulty is extracting the correct conclusions from scientific studies, where the devil is usually in the detail.

Your choice of metrics (in a sociological context) could be informed by your values. Why do you want to measure child poverty? Probably because you believe child poverty is a bad thing and should be reduced or eliminated. So science could tell you what the level of child poverty is (according to the definition you use at least), but it does not judge the result — we humans do.

That is different to e. g. studies of IQ across racial groups, an example that reader50 mentioned. Or similar “research” that was used to justify eugenics by sterilizing e. g. poor people in the US or disabled people in Nazi Germany: the underlying science was bad, because people relied motivated reasoning to show something that they believed was true. “Poor people should not have as many kids, because they just give birth to more poor people.” Weeding out bad science is hard, and something you have to constantly do, just like you periodically have to clean your apartment. That's just part of doing science. Some of my research has mistakes in it.
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Edit: for example, science can give far more insight into the death and injury caused by guns (tangible) versus, say, their value as a check against the government (intangible).
I think this fundamentally misunderstands what science is. Science does not have values (even though scientists, of course, do, we are just human). Science has no political ideology (even though scientists may). So facts on the Theory of Evolution hold in communist North Korea, in dictatorships and in democratic Denmark. Climate change is happening whether you believe in it or not. To me the value of science is that we can ask and answer many questions without ideological blinders.

What we do with scientific facts is separate. It is neither something science can do nor something it is meant to do. But that isn't a “weakness”. I think it is a strength, because it can cut against beliefs like ideologies.

If you believe owning a gun makes you safer and scientific studies say otherwise (statistically speaking, of course), then your belief is wrong. It doesn't mean you need to give up on guns, but that you need to be aware of the risks. After all, smoking is still legal, for example, even though the risks are well-known at this point — it is just regulated. And we know that riding motorcycles is much more dangerous than driving a car (for obvious reasons), yet many people still ride motorcycles. And science does not have “an agenda” to take people's motorcycles away. Instead, we could use science to make things safer for people who choose to take risks anyway. In most jurisdictions people on motorbikes must wear helmets. Protective clothing is strongly encouraged as well, although I am not sure whether it is mandated by law.

Jumping to the conclusion that scientific insights will lead to blanket bans of certain things is not something you'd expect in other contexts where we already have a very good body of evidence (smoking). To name an example: we know that American vets who have served in combat are suffering from PTSD and are much more likely to commit suicide when they have access to firearms. One (obvious to me) idea — which to me in no way contradicts a super pro gun stance — is a buddy system where if you see a fellow vet who is suffering from depression that you ask him to voluntarily give his firearms to you until he feels better. To me that would be part of responsible gun ownership, just because you are allowed to do something doesn't necessarily mean you should. Just like you might ask your buddy to give you his car keys so he doesn't drive drunk.
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Feb 3, 2022 at 11:55 PM. )
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Feb 4, 2022, 01:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Deterrence is harder to measure, though.
If this aspect of safety isn’t being measured by the study in question, the results of the study are based on incomplete data. The results can be considered accurate only within the limitations of the data the study includes.
     
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Feb 4, 2022, 09:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
If this aspect of safety isn’t being measured by the study in question, the results of the study are based on incomplete data. The results can be considered accurate only within the limitations of the data the study includes.
But this is not an issue of incomplete data, deterrence is simply not covered in the study and would have to be studied separately. That in no way limits studies that compare the success of peaceful and violent revolutions. These studies make no claims about deterrence either way.
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Feb 4, 2022, 10:02 PM
 
If an armed citizenry does indeed serve as a deterrent to the government, this deterrence makes citizens safer.

A study on gun safety must include this data if it is to accurately reflect the net extent to which gun ownership increases or reduces safety.
     
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Feb 5, 2022, 02:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
A study on gun safety must include this data if it is to accurately reflect the net extent to which gun ownership increases or reduces safety.
No, it doesn’t. Why should a study on e. g. whether guns in homes where domestic abuse happens endanger the victims have to cover whether an armed population is deterring governments from going against them? These are simply different questions.

Hypothetically, you could also have situations where guns make you safer in some circumstances, but increase your risks in others. So you’d have to weigh the risks after investigating many different aspects. You’d have to factor in other trends, etc. This is not an easy process. But you could start.

What I think you are trying to get at is that there are limits to science. Yes, true. But even when we hit them, it is good that we are able to recognize them as such. I suspect (without knowing for sure) that it is hard to impossible to prove that an armed populous is or is not deterring government overreach. But that then at least tells me that if someone tells me they are convinced the answer is yes or no, that it is a belief they hold, not a fact.
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subego  (op)
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Feb 8, 2022, 04:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
What I think you are trying to get at is that there are limits to science.
This is in the zone.

Wanted to note I haven’t replied because I’m thinking things through, not ejecting from the discussion.
     
 
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