9.20.2008

The Wisdom of Crowds Questioned

Slashdot (as an entity) has been whining about the nasty email it gets accusing it of bias.

Of course there is the perception that as in any human filtered media organization, bias happens naturally.

I have been thinking about crowd bias. If you have a crowd of "evangelical christians" for example, what kind of crowd stupidity would come out of it on account of commonly held misconceptions?

Let's take the misunderstanding of the historic origin of "when human life begins" in common usage in the U.S.

In the 1960s, as a part of its general rethinking of liturgy and philosophy, the Catholic Church considered the question of when human life begins. The context was this: Humanity has rights as a group that are different from individual rights. The rights and responsibilities of the group need to be considerate of its members who have no way of making themselves heard. These may be oppressed populations in different locations or they may be the unborn members of the community of humans.

The theologians consulted with biologists to clarify what was then understood as constituting life and came to the conclusion that they couldn't tell when life began. To be on the safe side, they (Roman Catholic policymakers) decided that life begins when the possibility of life exists.

American theologians, taking this as excellent advice, incorporated the new policy into their thoughts.

What we are left with is a conflict between the rights of the family of humans versus the rights of the individual based on a decision so conservative it verges on fantasy.

Gradually, groups who incorporated this into their core belief systems have come to make it a matter of faith.

Catholics, in their admirable love-hate relationship with Rome are somehow able to distance themselves from a good deal of this but evangelicals who are as a matter of belief are in daily direct tow-way communication with God have forgot that it wasn't the result of a divine utterance.

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