Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 71

Here it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

How and when to quote or not to quote.

No evidence to back idea of learning styles (there goes another neuro-myth).

The fate of the critic in the clickbait age (bottom line, we still need them).

The problem with positive thinking. (Old, but good one.)

Emotions are cognitive, not innate, researchers conclude (just like the Stoics thought).

Why does everyone keep making Nazi comparisons? (Yeah, seriously, stop!).

115 thoughts on “Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 71

  1. Coel

    Hi Socratic,

    I would also note at this point that Catholic priests do NOT commit child sexual abuse at a rate significantly above the national average.

    Do you have a cite for this?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Robin Herbert

    Admittedly the national average for child abuse is distressingly high in most countries, but I would also question Socratic’s claim about this. In Australia I would suggest that priests have committed child sex abuse at far higher than the national average. I will look out some figures from the Royal Commission.


  3. SocraticGadfly

    Thatstudy is part of this piece.. Going by insurance rates and claims, it’s clear in dollar terms that there’s other evidence that, at a minimum, Catholic priests aren’t worse than other clergy.

    And, as a newspaper editor, I have years of corroborative legal evidence, including personal coverage of criminal trials, that sexual abuse by public school teachers, namely, “statutory” rape cases, is in fact a bigger problem, as the story references.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Robin Herbert

    Hi garthdaisy

    “Your emotional and cognitive capacity are already in you (innate) waiting for sensory input to react to.”

    Can you cite the research or other reasons that leads you to the opposite conclusion to the scientists referred to in the article?


  5. Markk

    From the same article:

    “Ninety per cent of the victims were boys, with their average age at time of abuse being 11-and-a-half years old.”

    I had no idea such as massive proportion of the victims were boys.


  6. SocraticGadfly

    As I noted above, there is plenty of legal evidence, in aounts that go well beyond “anecdotal,” about child sexual abuse by schoolteachers.

    However, in the United States and its 50 various states, public school districts, as governments, generally enjoy sovereign legal immunity from lawsuits.

    Therefore, you’ll never hear about a lawsuit against a school district over sexual above, versus all the priestly lawsuits. Ergo, due to a common fallacy of informal logic, you have people not thinking of schoolteachers as likely sexual abuse perpetrators, as opposed to clergy in general and Catholic priests in particular.

    Roman Catholicism is the largest individual denomination in the US. Therefore, by the same “availability fallacy,” and the fact that dioceses and archdioceses CAN be sued for multimillion dollar amounts (individual schoolteachers, even if sued, don’t have that money), everybody says, “Catholic priests!”

    Protestant denominations are smaller to much smaller. Plus, churches like Southern Baptists, with its totally congregational structure, make it hard to sue above the level of the local congregation. And, pastors of independent churches belong to no denominational structure.

    So, the “availability fallacy” shows why Catholic priests are seen as such ogres both vis-a-vis other clergy and even more vis-a-vis the general population.

    And, per the Newsweek link, schoolteachers, as far as actual “availability,” and not the “availability fallacy,” are around children of various ages far more than priests, or other clergy, are.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. SocraticGadfly

    Markk — given that there is actual evidence supporting Catholic priests are gay in much higher percentages than the general population, actually, the fact that most the victims are boys shouldn’t be surprising.


  8. Robin Herbert

    Hi Socratic

    You appear to be talking about the nationsl average for religious institutions. That I don’t know about. But there is an interesting assumption here:

    It didn’t happen because the school was full of rapists; it happened because one man was never stopped. Overall, the John Jay study found that 149 priests were responsible for more than 25,000 cases of abuse over the 52-year period studied.

    So what is being suggested here? That those 149 priests were such geniuses that they did all of this without anyone ever suspecting?

    No victim ever complained?

    Or is it being suggested that those who turned a blind eye, who protected and enabled oaedophiles, who bullied victims into silence, should not be counted in that statistic as abusers?


  9. SocraticGadfly

    Robin said:

    Or is it being suggested that those who turned a blind eye, who protected and enabled oaedophiles, [sic] who bullied victims into silence, should not be counted in that statistic as abusers?

    I don’t know if that’s the suggestion being made.

    But, for the sake of argument, let’s say it is.

    It’s absolutely the right answer.

    The others maybe accessories to a crime of sexual abuse, speaking legally above all, but also speaking in terms of actual everyday language. They are not abusers themselves.

    That may seem harsh …

    But, it’s also the proper use of language.


  10. SocraticGadfly

    Folks, as far as clergy in general, though NOT Catholic clergy, per personal information I have, I have reasons to wish we could provethem to be a bunch of ogres and monsters on this — beyond any atheist talking points, Gnu Atheist or otherwise, or beyond any general population talking points that have most likely arisen from that “availability fallacy.”

    But, I don’t have that information.

    So, I’m not going to make such claims. Nor am I going to make claims about Catholic priests without evidence.

    (In my newspaper career, I’ve also — either off the record, or in private searching that did not warrant invasion of privacy as I didn’t deem it news-relevant — I’ve uncovered more than one gay Catholic priest. At this point, I’m in anecdotal grounds, not enough stats to hit the level of relevance, but none of them were accused of abuse.)


  11. SocraticGadfly

    As far as teachers and statutory rape, it should be noted that this is very much a female</> teacher problem, and again, we’re beyond anecdotes.

    Not only in all the cases I have reported on, but every one I’ve seen for years on Associated Press stories, it’s a female teacher committing the statutory child sex abuse case against a male student. I don’t know if would-be male teachers are taught, either formally in classes or informally by professors, to maintain extra vigilance and self-control, or what. But, that’s the reality.

    At the same time, contra Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher,” it’s not all 24-year-olds just a year or two out of college. One of the two cases I reported on was of a teacher in her 30s. A second was 41, married, and with her oldest son the same age, and the same junior class in the same small-town high school, as her victim.


  12. Robin Herbert

    i have no reasons to demonstrate Catholic priests or any other representatives of religion as ogres or monsters. Quite the opposite in fact. One of the sad results of this is that good people have been smeared.

    But the figures coming out of the Australian Royal Commission appear to suggest that the number involved in the abuse is higher than any other group and the amount of abuse that they were allowed to get away with was much higher.

    Now you may think that it is an incorrect use of language to call someone an abuser, who knowingly and cynically allowed children under his care to be raped on a regular basis and who went out of their way to make that rape easy and to protect the rapist.

    I must say that I disagree. I think that “child abuser” is just the right term for that person.

    But let us say that the percentage of people involved in the abuse of children in Catholic institutions is probably higher than the national average.


  13. Robin Herbert

    Incidentally, the prevalence of child abuse in Catholic institutions is currently probably below national average, due to the steps that have been taken – at least this is true in Australia. But I imagine when the final report of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse (which looks at child abuse across all institutions and organisations) is released then we will see that the prevalence has been much higher in Catholic institutions than in other institutions and organisations. This is due, not to the greater number of paedophiles in the Catholic Church but due to the culture of protecting them and bullying their victims and bullying those who tried to stop the abuse.

    That culture is what caused there to be so much harm.


  14. Robin Herbert

    I can’t get a firm figure on the percentage of school teachers against whom sexual abuse claims have been made – an initial rough estimate is that it less than 0.5% in the UK at least.


  15. garthdaisy


    “Can you cite the research or other reasons that leads you to the opposite conclusion to the scientists referred to in the article?”

    I don’t have the opposite conclusion as the scientists quoted in the article. I agree with them completely. It is the title of the article and a few things the author injected that I disagree with. You may have mistaken the catchy title of the piece and certain comments by the author for what the scientists were actually saying.

    ““We argue that conscious experiences, regardless of their content, arise from one system in the brain,”

    I agree.

    ““Specifically, the differences between emotional and non-emotional states are the kinds of inputs that are processed by a general cortical network of cognition, a network essential for conscious experiences.”

    I agree.

    ““the brain mechanisms that give rise to conscious emotional feelings are not fundamentally different from those that give rise to perceptual conscious experiences.”

    I agree

    “existing work posits that emotions are innately programmed in the brain’s subcortical circuits. As a result, emotions are often treated as different from cognitive states of consciousness, such as those related to the perception of external stimuli. In other words, emotions aren’t a response to what our brain takes in from our observations, but, rather, are intrinsic to our makeup”

    I agree with the scientists that this is wrong.

    “They conclude that emotions are “higher-order states” embedded in cortical circuits. Therefore, unlike present theories, they see emotional states as similar to other states of consciousness.”

    I agree this is right. “emotions are “higher-order states” embedded in cortical circuits.”

    These scientists are saying that emotions are the same kind of states as cognitive states “such as those related to the perception of external stimuli.” I agree. This is what I am saying. They did NOT say that our cognitive capacity is not innate. It was the author at “PsyPost” who concluded that this means “emotions are not innate” and that this would make a catchy title and hype angle for the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Robin Herbert

    Hi garthdaisy

    I think the headline writer probably understands them better than you do.

    You are agreeing that emotions are not intrinsic to our makeup, but on the other hand you are saying that they are innate, which sounds pretty close to ‘intrinsic to our makeup’ to me.

    I think that everyone agrees that the facility to have emotions is innate.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Robin Herbert

    I was saying on another blog that I thought that the amount of functional DNA must be a lot more than 10% because that represented a tiny amount of information capacity (equivalent of about 80 MB) considering the complexity of the brain, nervous system, pulmonary, skeleto muscular system that it had to build. A biologist responded that most of the information was already in the environment – in the way things bend and fold, the way the matter reacts to heat in the environment etc.

    If that is right (if I have got it right) then maybe the divide between something being innate and something being a response to the environment is even fuzzier than we think.


  18. Robin Herbert

    In Time Flannery’s “Throwim Way Leg” he describes an old man in the New Guinea Highlands describing his youth and a raid on the neighboring village when they slaughtered the entire village. He describes finding a baby on the way out of the village and placing that baby in the bundle he was carrying containing the dismembered limbs, probably of the baby’s parents.

    Listening to this story, with perfect equanimity, and fondness, is the baby himself, now grown up and adopted by the murderer of his parents.

    We might imagine how we might feel if we were to hear this story in the son’s place, we would probably have very different emotions. So it seems quite reasonable that our emotional responses are not innate.


  19. Sherlock


    “*Listening to this story, with perfect equanimity, and fondness, is the baby himself, now grown up and adopted by the murderer of his parents.

    We might imagine how we might feel if we were to hear this story in the son’s place, we would probably have very different emotions. So it seems quite reasonable that our emotional responses are not innate.*”

    I think we have to distinguish between the emotion and the external events that trigger them. The physiological and emotional responses we label ‘fear’, for instance, are surely innate but the kinds and intensity of external stimuli that evoke them will vary depending on our environment and upbringing.

    Liked by 1 person

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