Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


That means "There Ain't No Justice." It's a kind of epithet that is common in Larry Niven's Ringworld universe. Anyway, it's true.

Dick Cheney and the guys he hired to shove stuff up prisoners' rectums in order to inflict pain and humiliation are walking around rich and happy.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch knowingly presented testimony from a witness who he knew was lying -- had her appear twice, and did nothing to impugn her testimony, even though he knew she wasn't even present and was making up her entire story, which was crafted to exonerate a murderer who McCulloch wanted to get away with it. He has now said publicly that he knew she was lying but has no intention of prosecuting her. Of course, that would be a bit of a problem for him since he suborned her perjury. McCulloch is still the prosecutor and Michael Brown is still dead.

Bank executives who sold securities as AAA investment grade that they knew were junk. When they went bust, the global economy went with them. The taxpayers bailed out the banks and the bankers kept their 9 figure salaries and bonuses, while tens of millions of struggling people lost their jobs.

I could go on but you can easily come up with plenty of your own examples. However, it turns out that not everybody believes in TANJ. Greg Caruso, in Scientia Salon, discusses what is called Just World Belief, JWB. This discussion is in the context of a larger discussion about the illusion of free will, which I often touch on here. Sayeth Caruso:

Recent empirical work by Jasmine Carey and Del Paulhus (2013), for example, has found that free will beliefs correlate with religiosity, punitiveness, and politically conservative beliefs and attitudes such as Just World Belief (JWB) and Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA). They found these correlations by administering their The Free Will and Determinism Scale known as FAD-Plus (Paulhus and Carey 2011) — a 27-item scale used to measure people’s beliefs and attitudes about free will and related concepts — along with measures of religiosity, political conservatism, just world beliefs, and right wing authoritarianism. It’s important here to highlight just how worrisome some of these correlations are. Take, for example, a few of the sample items used to validate belief in a just world.

Just World Belief Scale (JWB) (Lerner 1980):
“By and large, people deserve what they get.”
“Although evil men may hold political power for a while, in the general course of history good wins out.”
“People who meet with misfortune have often brought it on themselves.”

It turns out that people who believe in a just world are also generally religious. It's a forced position: if God is all powerful and God is good, the world must be just, and people must get what they deserve. That means poor people and people who are killed by cops are asking for it. Do read Caruso's essay, starting with the  first part which is here. If you're interested in those kinds of deep thoughts, you might want to bookmark Scientia Salon, where it appears.

And can we please grow up and get over religion?

1 comment:

A. Nonnie Mouse said...

A friend from long ago, who fights for the severely disadvantaged, used to sing a song, and the main line was: "Everybody knows that there ain't justice, there's just us." I pretty much believe that.

Am also a "free will" skeptic. People who are desperate, oppressed, disabled, whose brains have been damaged in some way; people who do not have the range of opportunities presented to those judging them; people who are scared; people who do not have support -- all those people and more are facing challenges that "free will" advocates do not begin to acknowledge, much less address.

I'm not willing to condemn all religious people, because a lot tend toward "love one another" and "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and "treat others as you would want to be treated." This brand of religion advocates putting yourself in another's shoes, understanding the history and the challenges. I'm for that.