Back in 1984, in Rogers Park, Chicago, there existed (and still exists today) a Jewish preschool on Touhy Avenue, the street where I currently live.

It happened that a woman was picking her four-year-old daughter from school, and as they were walking through the hall, a janitor tried to tickle the little girl, and the girl told him to leave her alone.

So the mom asks the girl about it later, and the girl alleged that the janitor had previously tickled her private parts.   The allegations were reported to the police, who then interviewed something like 80 kids at the school.  Some of the kids apparently reported that there were satanic rituals going on at the school.  Some kids claimed they had seen the teachers there kill a baby, cook it in a kettle, and then eat it.

Ultimately, there was an investigation, the janitor was charged with molestation and the school closed down for a while.  Eventually, the janitor was acquitted, and two-hundred-something charges against the school and various teachers were dropped, because of either lack of evidence or a bumbled investigation, depending on who you ask.

In case you were wondering because of the superficial similarities, A Nightmare on Elm Street was also released in 1984.

I discovered this today because we published an article about a couple in Texas who just had their 20-year-old convictions tossed in a similar satanic ritual abuse situation.

And that led me to an article one of my co-workers wrote back in 1987 about the Rogers Park case.

Here’s the most authoritative version I’ve been able to find in my brief research.  It appears from this that the judge in the case felt like there was a real possibility that sexual abuse had occurred, but because it had become this satanic cult witch hunt, the investigation had been compromised, and thus there was reasonable doubt, requiring the acquittal.

Interesting story, eh?

Weighing in at more than 1,800 pages, it is quite possibly the most complete tome available on how to improve your mind, make better decisions, and understand why people, including yourself, do what they do. I cannot recommend it more strongly.

Pay-what-you-want version includes DRM-free epub, mobi, and PDF versions. Also available on Amazon for Kindle, etc.

http://ift.tt/1xj0hMQ

Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky Tweet What does it actually mean to be rational? Not Hollywood-style “rational,” where one rejects all human feeling to embrace Cold Hard Logic — real rationality, of the sort studied by psychologists, social scientists, and mathematicians. The ki…

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Faced with injustice, we’ll try to alleviate it – but, if we can’t, we’ll do the next best thing, psychologically speaking: blame the victims of the injustice

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So here’s an interesting thing, particularly for my friends in the journalism universe.

It’s an article from a former high-level CIA officer about how to produce high-quality intelligence analysis. It’s a really good read, though, for anyone who produces (or consumes) intelligence of any kind, including news.

One of the best things — the notion of “What are we not seeing, which we would expect to see, if our analysis is correct.”

From the piece:

“During one of the most challenging times in my analytical career, I worked for the finest analyst I ever knew. In the middle of the Tiananmen Crisis in 1989—when everyone’s hair was on fire—I found him late one afternoon going through a stack of musty old reports. I asked him what he was doing. He said, “I am looking for things that did not make sense then, but do now.” “

What a great insight.

Full article, PDF, “What I Learned in 40 Years of Doing Intelligence Analysis for US Foreign Policymakers”:

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol.-55-no.-1/pdfs/CleanedPetersen-What%20I%20Learned-20Apr2011.pdf

They Live (1988) Directed by John Carpenter… is that it’s a really easy way to get people to ignore thinking about the ramifications and consequences of the particular situation, focusing their attention instead on the general opprobrium for the principle of order. The mind gets caught thinking about whether laws, in theory, are good on the whole, and forget to think about the ACTUAL ISSUE under question. Some examples:

“We need voter ID in this country to make sure there is no election fraud. Don’t you care about the rule of law in our democracy?”

“We can put up our satanic monument in the state capitol building, because if you let the christians do it, you have to let any other religious groups do it. That’s what the rule of law means!”

“The President’s executive order on immigration is making a mockery of the rule of law by bypassing the will of Congress”

“Those violent protesters really have some good points, but they should respect the rule of law and just let the cops and the justice system do their jobs.”

It’s a handy, general-purpose argument for whenever you want to try to defend the status quo from anyone who’d like to change it.

“Rule of Law” on Wikipedia

Ha ha. It’s all a big lie.

Yep. Everybody already knows.

 

A so-called Christian heavy metal band whose frontman was convicted of attempting to hire a hitman to murder his estranged wife has admitted that it duped fans …

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What separates the mind of a scientist (or, more generally, a rationalist) from the average person?  Sent my way by Brother Doug.

xkcd – A Webcomic – The Difference.

His logic is not as strong as he’d like you to believe.

This came my way because of a thread on Less Wrong about recommended reading for new rationalists.  Eliezer Yudkowski is a very bright fellow, and this little quote comes from somewhat mathematical lesson on what constitutes a “technical explanation,” as opposed to a verbal explanation.

“Remember Spock from Star Trek? Spock often says something along the lines of, ‘Captain, if you steer the Enterprise directly into a black hole, our probability of survival is only 2.837%.’ Yet nine times out of ten the Enterprise is not destroyed. What kind of tragic fool gives a figure with four significant digits of precision that is wrong by two orders of magnitude?”

via Yudkowsky – Technical Explanation.