Presumed Consent in theory and practice

by Kieran Healy on May 5, 2010

The New York Times had a Room for Debate roundtable on presumed consent and organ donation the other day. I wrote a short piece for it. There’s already been some follow-up from Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution. This morning I came across Nurse & Lawyer, who have a dialog on the topic. During their conversation, they say the following about my contribution:

Nurse: One of the panelists, Kieran Healy from Duke, makes what amounts to a ridiculous argument that this law will rekindle fears that surgeons are standing over sick people with hack saws, waiting to harvest their organs, and that they might just take them even if you’re not truly gone. Um. . . won’t those people just sign the opt-out if they are truly so concerned? As Arthur Caplan from Penn (woot woot) points out, most people do want to be donors. Healy also makes no suggestions. Maybe he’s against organ donation all together?

Lawyer: And what’s the source of the idea that doctors have more interest in one patient than in another? What interest does the doctor personally have in harvesting organs, unless the patient is his own kid? I agree. Opt out if that’s your nightmare.

I am not against organ donation. Feel free to read any of what I’ve written on this topic. And my argument is not ridiculous.

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The Tory Tendency

by Maria on May 5, 2010

I’ve renewed my never-ending summer of Trollope, this time with the Eustace Diamonds, the second – though it feels like the fifth – Trollope where “Frank must marry money”. Never one to shy away from a lengthy aside to the reader, Trollope gives a rundown of the attitudes, circa 1873, of “a fine old Tory of the ancient school, who thought that things were going from bad to worse, but was able to live happily in spite of his anticipations”, a trick the Tea Partiers might usefully learn:

“It was bad to interfere with Charles, bad to endure Cromwell, bad to punish James, bad to put up with William. The House of Hanover was bad. All interference with prerogative has been bad. The Reform Bill was very bad. Encroachment on the estates of the bishops was bad. Emancipation of Roman Catholics was the worst of all. Abolition of corn-laws, church-rates, and oaths and tests were all bad. [click to continue…]

Agnotology: followup

by John Quiggin on May 5, 2010

In my last post, I promised a separate discussion on the tu quoque response; that is, the claim that confirmation bias, closed-mindedness and deliberate promotion of ignorance are universal phenomena, just as bad on the left as on the right.

More over the fold on this, but here are some links that have come up since I posted

Slacktivist gives some striking info on the “P&G in league with the devil” rumors. Key points.
*The rumors were apparently started by distributors for Amway, but went viral (compare AGW delusions and Exxon).
* (Many of) those propagating the rumors, even excluding those with a monetary axe to grind, were not innocent dupes, but were well aware that they were peddling lies.

David Frum reduces Jonah Goldberg to a stammering wreck on the question “Is Obama really a Marxist/Socialist”.

A second example of a rightwing critique of agnotology. Note: In the original version of this post, I incorrectly linked to an example of agnotology instead of a refutation, then corrected it (as I thought) but failed. I think it’s right this time. Even inadvertent error can be hard to correct! -JQ

Scott McLemee reviews the book of the concept.

A striking example of the asymmetry of agnotology. The right has made big play of alleged weaknesses in the “hockey stick” paper of Mann et al. But the critique they primarily rely on, by Wegman et al, is a pile of plagiarised nonsense.

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Morecambe and Wise: The Garage Tapes

by Harry on May 5, 2010

Here for 6 more days. Ernie, apparently, was an obsessive archivist, who then left everything in a box in his garage. Delightful.

Here’s the “singing in the rain” sketch they refer to after 30 minutes or so to cheer you up: