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You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > General Talk > Is there a cure for paranoia?
Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32210] Tue, 23 May 2006 02:55 Go to next message
pimple is currently offline  pimple

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My government is surely suffering and so are some of my fellow citizens.

Today I had the pleasure of listening to George feed the flame.

My question is what is the cure?

Like loss of innocence, I suspect that there is no cure.

How is it that you guys across the puddle lived with the IRA for 20 years without developing the same level of paranoia?


Regards
Simon



Joy Peace and Tranquility

Joyceility
A rambling reply  [message #32220 is a reply to message #32210] Tue, 23 May 2006 11:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Guest is currently offline  Guest

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Simon said,
>How is it that you guys across the puddle lived with the IRA for 20 years without developing the same level of paranoia?

Because the Americans weren't pushing it. It's as simple as that. Now they are, so it's filtering across.

I don't really know enough on the subject of hysteria to comment, but instead can I ask a question of the older British/anglophilic people round here?

Before terrorism (and paedophilia, that's another one, also cross-fertilised with America), has there ever been hysteria on the current level (both governmental and personal) in the recent history of the UK? (Even during the Second World War?)

Looking at it from an anecdotal level, America seems to go in for these things rather more. I'm thinking of Mccarthyism, fundamentalist evangelicism, hysteria about the recent terrorism (we've always had terrorism here). On the other hand, historically, the British have tended to be more stoic and pragmatic. (Of course, that's changing: the American attitude of "shoot them"/"lock them up without trial"/"erode everyone else's rights" seems to have crossed the Atlantic now.)

Or am I just believing anti-American propaganda?

As for a cure, well... a cure in the UK might be (i) for Mr. Blair to get out of bed with Mr. Bush; (ii) for us all, collectively, to reject American culture, or at least take it with a hell of a lot more salt than we do; (iii) for tabloids to stop hyping up irrelevant rubbish. Mr. Blair'll be gone in a couple of years, but the last two are Not Going to Happen. And who knows how Gordon Brown/David Cameron/etc. will deal with America. They might be even worse.

Not sure what the cure in America would be, as I don't know what the American man in the street thinks. The people I talk to (here, for instance) are usually intelligent and liberal people, and they are all against Bush. I can only assuming I'm not seeing the "real" America that elected him.

David
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32223 is a reply to message #32210] Tue, 23 May 2006 14:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

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Why in earth would we be paranoid about the IRA? They were just a nuisance.

We are not paranoid about the bombs in London last year, either. We just went to the pub and had a beer.

It's a state of mind. We just do not care about little tin-pot terrorists.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32224 is a reply to message #32210] Tue, 23 May 2006 14:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW

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Put things in perspective ...

Even though I live in London and use the tube etc / am in Central London regularly, my chances of being killed or injured by terrorists are considerably less than my chances of having my life damaged by ill-considered, ill-informed, and poorly-controlled government agencies under pressure to "deliver" on the campaign of the week. I'm not just thinking of spectacular cases like the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, or those held without trial in Belmarsh (UK) or Guantanamo Bay (USA) - I'm thinking of the routine day-to-day suspension of the liberty that Bush/Blair claim to be defending.

If you really want to weep at the impotence of the ordinary citizen when wrongfully accused or arrested, read one mans experiences on "Innocent in London" http://gizmonaut.net/bits/suspect.html .

Let us as citizens (USA) and subjects (UK) be paranoid about the right things!



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Re: A rambling reply  [message #32227 is a reply to message #32220] Tue, 23 May 2006 15:07 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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I'm baffled as to why sometimes these posts log in correctly as Deeej and sometimes they only log in as a guest.

I wasn't logged in before I posted, but I could have sworn I entered my username and password correctly!

David
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32229 is a reply to message #32223] Tue, 23 May 2006 16:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
marc is currently offline  marc

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Well, everyone went to the pub except the man that was gunned down in cold blood by that paranoid policeman.



Life is great for me... Most of the time... But then I meet people online... Very few are real friends... Many say they are but know nothing of what it means... Some say they are, but are so shallow...
Hmm  [message #32230 is a reply to message #32229] Tue, 23 May 2006 16:46 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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Marc:
>Well, everyone went to the pub except the man that was gunned down in cold blood by that paranoid policeman.

I don't think that incident can be blamed on one person, much less one "paranoid" person. It was a failure all the way down the system -- those people who labelled this person a risk in the first place, those who followed him, those who reacted out of proportion because they were told he was dangerous.

How many paranoid policemen are there in America, I wonder? In the UK, the vast majority of policemen don't habitually carry guns so they can't gun people down arbitrarily. In America, if you run from police, you're much more likely to be gunned down, aren't you? Can you say, "trigger happy"?

David
Re: Hmm  [message #32233 is a reply to message #32230] Tue, 23 May 2006 18:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
marc is currently offline  marc

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Deeej wrote:
> Marc:
> >Well, everyone went to the pub except the man that was gunned down in cold blood by that paranoid policeman.
>
> I don't think that incident can be blamed on one person, much less one "paranoid" person. It was a failure all the way down the system -- those people who labelled this person a risk in the first place, those who followed him, those who reacted out of proportion because they were told he was dangerous.
>
> How many paranoid policemen are there in America, I wonder? In the UK, the vast majority of policemen don't habitually carry guns so they can't gun people down arbitrarily. In America, if you run from police, you're much more likely to be gunned down, aren't you? Can you say, "trigger happy"?

Actually no, if you are running away they do not have leave to fire a weapon unless they are being fired upon first.
>
> David



Life is great for me... Most of the time... But then I meet people online... Very few are real friends... Many say they are but know nothing of what it means... Some say they are, but are so shallow...
Re: Hmm  [message #32234 is a reply to message #32233] Tue, 23 May 2006 19:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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I said,
>In America, if you run from police, you're much more likely to be gunned down, aren't you?

Marc said,
>Actually no, if you are running away they do not have leave to fire a weapon unless they are being fired upon first.

I'll take your word for it, and I'm sure it's exactly the same in the UK. My point still stands, however -- you are more likely to be gunned down, simply because many more American policemen and women are armed. By sheer probability alone, one or more of them is likely to overlook the regulations, or believe that the circumstances allow him to override them.

Are you sure an American policeman would never fire on someone running away whom he suspected to be armed and dangerous?

I don't have any doubt that if the incident had happened under the same circumstances in America the American police would have been just as likely -- if not more likely -- to blow the poor chap to kingdom come if they thought he was about to leap into a train with a bomb. I don't want to get political here, but I have a suspicion that the main reason the incident was so widely reported -- and hence condemned -- was that that sort of thing so very rarely happens over here.

I can honestly say I have not, to the best of my knowledge, ever seen a loaded gun in this country, except for shotguns and airguns (for sport).

David
Re: A rambling reply  [message #32235 is a reply to message #32227] Tue, 23 May 2006 20:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
pimple is currently offline  pimple

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I thought that was you, but wondered about the guest status

Regards
Simon



Joy Peace and Tranquility

Joyceility
Re: A rambling reply  [message #32236 is a reply to message #32235] Tue, 23 May 2006 20:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Guest is currently offline  Guest

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It only happens when I'm using a public-access computer with no board cookie. I was this morning, as the wretched ISP decided to cut me off due to a clerical error (I asked for them to cancel in June, so they shut down the account in May, because some idiot on a minimum-wage job entered a single digit wrong).

The answer, of course, is to make sure I log in using the "Login" function rather than simply entering my username and password when I post the reply. That works sometimes, but it's unreliable for some reason.

Sorry!

David
Re: A rambling reply  [message #32237 is a reply to message #32236] Tue, 23 May 2006 20:43 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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Whoops. Here we go again.

That was me, who logged out to test the login functionality and forgot to log in again.

David
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32238 is a reply to message #32210] Tue, 23 May 2006 21:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
pimple is currently offline  pimple

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Greetings-

I think that one of the contributing factors is that 'risk assessment' isn't taught. People here do not know how likely or unlikely anything is; from contracting bird flu or aids, getting a head injury in a bicycle accident, or having their kid 'napped', to being hit by falling space junk.

If you can't figure out the odds - then by golly the gov'ment better keep me safe! (or at least allow me to pretend that I am)

The old foggy part of me says that it is ALL the fault of those damned hand held calculators! Back when we used slide-rules we HAD to know how to estimate and guesstimate.

Regards
Simon



Joy Peace and Tranquility

Joyceility
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32239 is a reply to message #32238] Tue, 23 May 2006 21:23 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW

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Simon Rutlust wrote:
> Back when we used slide-rules we HAD to know how to estimate and guesstimate.
>
I *SO* much agree with that! There have been a number of occasions where I've had to stop staff sending out quotes because they hadn't realised that the figures were obviously wrong (usually because some figures had been keyed in in pence, and others in pounds, or similar silly mistakes).

I'm greatly in favour of calculators - but I *do* wish that everyone was taught to do a rough-and-ready estimate as a cross-check (for those my age, this is something done automatically: even when shopping in a spermarket I'll have a pretty good idea to the nearest fity pence of the value of the stuff I've chucked in the trolley, which can be around £70 worth).



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Calculators  [message #32240 is a reply to message #32238] Tue, 23 May 2006 21:24 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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Said Simon,
>The old foggy part of me says that it is ALL the fault of those damned hand held calculators! Back when we used slide-rules we HAD to know how to estimate and guesstimate.

Well, floating point numbers on calculators are an estimate...

Actually, come to think of it, one of the first things you have to learn (or should learn) with calculators is significant figures, as calculators can't cope with irrational numbers (unlike mathematical notation). Which you might not if working in mathematical notation, where you can leave results as one divided by root two, or whatever.

Er, possibly.

Even assuming that your man on the street has no idea what a significant figure is (which is very likely), it's much easier to work out (say) that 1/122 times 1/343 times 1/728 is a very small number (and hence an insignificant probability) with a calculator than it would be to try and work them all out by hand.

The problem is, calculators or no, it would never occur to that man to try and do that. He accepts what he's told by the tabloid press and the government. I don't think it's got anything to do with calculators or technology or any other bugbear.

David
Re: Hmm  [message #32241 is a reply to message #32234] Tue, 23 May 2006 21:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
marc is currently offline  marc

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Well, my point was that not everyone had the opportunity to sit in a pub and knock back a few brewskies to discuss the pros and cons of a local bombing...

Frankly, here I do not associate with criminal types so I have no realtime knowledge of their activities or how they conduct themselves while doing them.

I do however know a great deal of policemen from the normal course of my business (we supply them with uniforming and accessories) and we frequently discuss how they maintain control whils on duty as they come into contact with miscreants.... The vast majority of them have confided in the fact that they have never fired a weapon as another individual.... Be that as it may... We do live in a rather rural area but are an hour from 2 major cities... In cities there seem to be a more stringent manner of criminal and it only seems reasonable that police there would have occasion to draw their weapons in the course of their duties....

All that being said.... it matters not one scratch one way or another because when in the heat of the moment a vast range of otherwise subdued emotions and viceral reflexes present themselves which are otherwise kept in check.

We are better off with the men and women that serve the public good than without them and in the long run they do a good job.



Life is great for me... Most of the time... But then I meet people online... Very few are real friends... Many say they are but know nothing of what it means... Some say they are, but are so shallow...
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32242 is a reply to message #32229] Tue, 23 May 2006 22:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

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It appears that they were ordered to neutralise the terrorist. They therefore followed him, albeit the wrong man, for 20 minutes, waited until he was seated peacefully on a tube and then executed him. he did not run. He was not wearimg bulky clothing, he was just shot by a group of idiots under orders from above. That is what appears to have emerged.

However, our attitude to terrorists is that we truly do not care either about them or for them.

That our police were out of control is evident. That the surveillance operation was less than perfect when someone seems to have gone for a pee is evident. But that is an incident that should never have happened.

We will still go to the pub. We will still despise terrorists. And we will still go about our business in the full expectation that we never are involved in a terrorist atrocity. You see we genuinely do not care about them or about their supposed causes.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32243 is a reply to message #32238] Tue, 23 May 2006 22:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

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It comes down to common sense, no more and no less.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32244 is a reply to message #32224] Tue, 23 May 2006 22:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

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That is amazing. It seems that everyone except the police thought the whol affair ridiculous.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Re: Calculators  [message #32245 is a reply to message #32240] Tue, 23 May 2006 22:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW

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Deeej wrote: (snip)
>I don't think it's got anything to do with calculators or technology or any other bugbear.
>
~I think it does have to do with not having any kind of feeling for what figures mean, or how common things are ... those of us who were taught to guesstimate answers (as a check on exact answers, be they derived from long division, calculators, or slide rules) seem in general to have a better feel for this.

At most, the chances of being killed or seriously injured in a terrorist attack in the UK in any one year are of roughly the same order or magnitude as the chance of being hit by lightning ... some three or four orders of magnitude less than the chances of being killed or seriously injured by a car. So which do I want my tax money spent on reducing the risk of? Which do I think most deserving of a restriction of civil liberties? Which, come to that, am I sufficently worried about in my everyday life to take real and active steps to avoid? No contest, in my view.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
I agree with you, Marc  [message #32246 is a reply to message #32241] Tue, 23 May 2006 22:39 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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I agree with you, absolutely: most police are good people who work for the public good.

However, by putting anyone in a position of power over other people, feeding them information which may or may not be correct, and equipping them with weapons, you are setting up a mechanism that can go wrong.

I don't think I have a particular point to make, as I agree with you on almost everything you say (though I'm aware that the conversation doesn't really have much to do with paranoia any more!). However, I do feel safer walking down a street ligned with British policemen without firearms than I have done in foreign countries passing police equipped with firearms. I'm aware that may not be a fair comparison, as obviously in the UK I am more familiar with British traditions and outlook. Even so, I think it's psychologically justifiable. De Menezes would probably not have died if those policemen that had attacked him had had alternative, non-lethal weapons.

David
spelt 'lined' wrong -- sorry!  [message #32247 is a reply to message #32246] Tue, 23 May 2006 22:44 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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Re: Calculators  [message #32248 is a reply to message #32245] Tue, 23 May 2006 23:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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NW,

>I think it does have to do with not having any kind of feeling for what figures mean, or how common things are ... those of us who were taught to guesstimate answers (as a check on exact answers, be they derived from long division, calculators, or slide rules) seem in general to have a better feel for this.

Yes. But the reason for that is a mixture of bad teaching and lazy students, not the technology. (Someone looking at a bad workman might be tempted to blame his tools, to rephrase the metaphor a bit.) A good teacher would know when and when not to allow his or her students to use calculators. I grew up in the age of calculators, but I would like to think that I understand significant figures and orders of magnitude. Then again, I was educated privately, so perhaps I'm not qualified to speak on this subject!

>At most, the chances of being killed or seriously injured in a terrorist attack in the UK in any one year are of roughly the same order or magnitude as the chance of being hit by lightning ... some three or four orders of magnitude less than the chances of being killed or seriously injured by a car. So which do I want my tax money spent on reducing the risk of? Which do I think most deserving of a restriction of civil liberties? Which, come to that, am I sufficently worried about in my everyday life to take real and active steps to avoid? No contest, in my view.

No contest in mine, either.

David
Common sense -- oh dear!  [message #32249 is a reply to message #32243] Tue, 23 May 2006 23:23 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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Surely the last thing we need is common sense?

Common sense (for many people) says "There are terrorists everywhere!", "There's a paedophile behind every lamp post!", "A police state will protect us!", etc. etc.

Whose common sense?

Common sense is incredibly prone to manipulation. It can be whipped up into a supposedly rational witch hunt

Critical and intelligent scientific arguments are the answer, not common sense. (See NW's post "Re: Calculators" above.)

David
Re: Common sense -- oh dear!  [message #32250 is a reply to message #32249] Tue, 23 May 2006 23:27 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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And, of course, once common sense can be rationally and intelligently justified, it stops simply being common sense and becomes a proper scientific argument -- which makes it so much better, because then you can have a proper discussion.

Legislation based on common sense alone often relies on people not questioning it, because no-one has actually thought through the implications or the rationale.

David
Despite my rail on Google, and now calculators  [message #32253 is a reply to message #32240] Wed, 24 May 2006 00:05 Go to previous messageGo to next message
pimple is currently offline  pimple

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I am not a Luddite.
Deeeeeeej said:
Well, floating point numbers on calculators are an estimate...

It is not the machines that need to be able to estimate, it's us.

He accepts what he's told by the tabloid press and the government. I don't think it's got anything to do with calculators or technology or any other bugbear.

How do you/us/we teach them/us/ otherwise???? There is an expression here - seldom used, that states: You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make 'em think!

It was the stated intention of the 9/11 bunch that they were going to 'change' American culture. I think that they achieved their goal, but not in the direction that they intended, but rather in ways that diminish us and show us to be fools on the international stage. We will recover, but not quickly nor gracefully.

Regards
Simon



Joy Peace and Tranquility

Joyceility
?????  [message #32254 is a reply to message #32253] Wed, 24 May 2006 00:51 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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I said:
>Well, floating point numbers on calculators are an estimate...

Simon said:
>It is not the machines that need to be able to estimate, it's us.

I did not say otherwise. It was a mildly facetious comment that I brought up so I could talk about significant figures, which, I am perfectly aware, are only tenuously linked to our ability to estimate things.

I said,
>He accepts what he's told by the tabloid press and the government. I don't think it's got anything to do with calculators or technology or any other bugbear.

Simon said,
>How do you/us/we teach them/us/ otherwise????

(I assume you're referring to learning from the tabloid press or the government -- and by extension, government-mandated teaching?)

The point of teaching is not to teach someone facts or opinions; the point of teaching is to teach someone how to find them out for himself. You put a lot of question marks as if it's obvious. I don't see it as obvious at all. The vast majority of stuff I have learnt in the past ten years is stuff that I have learnt myself, from books or manuals or life.

Simon said,
>There is an expression here - seldom used, that states: You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make 'em think!

Far too simplistic. A person needs to be willing to learn, but a lot of willingness to learn is learnt in childhood. So you can if you get there early enough. There is another source of learning that isn't government or media-mandated, and it's probably the most important of the lot: upbringing. It's not the job of the government to interfere with that.

>It was the stated intention of the 9/11 bunch that they were going to 'change' American culture. I think that they achieved their goal, but not in the direction that they intended, but rather in ways that diminish us and show us to be fools on the international stage.

Some would say that has already happened. I have yet to meet a British person who approves of George W. Bush.

>We will recover, but not quickly nor gracefully.

I wonder. Look at Russia. Look at older "empires" like those of the British and the French. In the long run, the only advantage that America has over Britain and France is that it is more populous.

David
Re: Common sense -- oh dear!  [message #32262 is a reply to message #32249] Wed, 24 May 2006 21:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

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Common sense is not the manipulable panic reaction you describe. It is th euse of simple, normal, logic to work out what is real and what is false.



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Once more into the breach!  [message #32263 is a reply to message #32210] Thu, 25 May 2006 01:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
cossie is currently offline  cossie

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I was avoiding this thread because I reckoned that if I participated I was pretty sure to annoy someone! However, I think that the issues have become so distorted that I cannot contain myself any longer.

Timmy says that we - the British - simply do not care about terrorists. I certainly don't agree with that view. I care very much. Our reaction to terrorism in our midst is stoic rather than heroic - it's something over which we, as individuals, can exercise no control. Like those who coped with the carnage of the Blitz, we carry on as normal because we don't really have any other option. Those who live and work in London and other major cities are obliged to use public transport because roads are hopelessly congested and parking is hugely expensive. They carry on as normal not to express disdain for terrorists but because they have no other practical alternative; they realise that the odds of being caught up in a terrorist attack are minimal, and they hopefully assume that they will stay lucky. I'm pretty sure that the same is true of ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad and ordinary Israelis in Jerusalem, though the odds may well be different. But that's not why I care so much. I care because if there were to be a prolonged and successful terrorist campaign, it is almost certain that there would be a racist reaction, and that would very seriously damage our country and our culture.

I cannot therefore agree that it is wrong for the police to adopt a visible and pro-active approach. I CAN agree that there are valid grounds for criticising our police force; it is insular, insufficiently accountable and far too often smug and arrogant. It perpetuates the myth that only a policeman can understand policing - and that is absolute rubbish. In any field, good management requires good managers; the intricacies of policing are no more difficult to absorb than the characteristics and requirements of any other industry or profession.

But even if these failings were properly addressed, it is inevitable that errors would still be made. That doesn't mean that mistakes should not be rigorously investigated, but the police are not superhuman. When anything goes wrong, there is a media feeding frenzy demanding retribution for failing to achieve perfection. Yet our media are very far from perfect; indeed at some levels standards of accuracy are abysmal. We should remember the words attributed to St. Stephen: 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.'

I do not dismiss the blog to which NW provided a link; intuitively, I am inclined to agree that on balance the likely scenario is a senior police officer unwilling to admit that he was wrong - see my reference to smug and arrogant above! But in my years working for government I have on several occasions been involved in cases which were featured in the press. It is always government policy to refrain from public comment about individual cases, but I have seen 'factual' press reports and statements by aggrieved individuals which bore no resemblance whatsoever to the truth. We need to remember that the blog tells only one side of the story.

It seems to me that in terms of increasing the quality of policing the real question to be addressed, both in the case of the Stockwell shooting and the blogger's experience at Southwark, is not merely the establishment of the primary facts - it is at least as important to establish why lies were subsequently told. I accept that, regrettable as it may be, in difficult circumstances mistakes will be made - but when they are made, they must not be concealed behind a tissue of untruths.

Another factor too often overlooked is the truism that you get what you pay for. There was a time when a murder enquiry would be pursued rigorously, regardless of cost. There was a time when doctors would prescribe whatever drug would be of most benefit to the patient (non-Brits - remember that we have a State health service, with flat-rate prescription charges - currently about $10, ever if the drug costs $500 or more). Now, budget control rules supreme, and to hell with moral considerations. Why? Well, primarily because we don't like paying tax. We have, in Western terms, a relatively low-tax economy - especially for the very wealthy - though to read our press you wouldn't think so! So when embarking upon a pious tirade against government institutions, we need to remember that quality comes with a cost attached.

I sympathise with NW's view in principle; for example, I certainly have serious reservations about technological tracking of vehicle movements. But I have no real objection to identity documents. It's all a question of balance. It's too easy to complain about infringement of freedom without considering questions of responsibility. We are not - and can never be, and SHOULD never be wholly 'free', because our freedom impinges upon the liberty of others. As I've said with depressing regularity, the ultimate morality is to secure the greatest good of the greatest number. We NEED balance, and we are obliged to rely upon the State to provide it. Overall, I think that there is a slow but discernable improvement in this area. I must, however, dismiss NW's statistical comparisons as unsound. If we wish to compare the probability of, say, road deaths, with the probability of being involved in a terrorist attack on London's public transport system, you need to establish comparative figures for the same population - that is, the odds of being killed in a terrorist attack as against the odds of being killed on the road in the course of that journey. And that DOES alter the figures!

Finally, I am wholly with Deeej on the issue of common sense. 'Common Sense' is easily and regularly influenced by the media. It was a valuable concept in historic times, but that was when a much greater proportion of our population thought for itself. Today, 'common sense' has absolutely nothing to do with logic, and a great deal to do with your newspaper of choice.



For a' that an' a' that,
It's comin' yet for a' that,
That man tae man, the worrld o'er
Shall brithers be, for a' that.
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32264 is a reply to message #32210] Thu, 25 May 2006 04:35 Go to previous messageGo to next message
electroken is currently offline  electroken

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Location: USA
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Messages: 271




Cossie almost makes any comment I can think to make here irrelavent. I do agree with him and he states it so well. I want to add something about paranoia in the USA. When crime is rising (or seems to be doing that) we have a grat effort by government and those in political power to declare to have solutions to this problem. I remember one politician who was running for President that promised to put a cop on every corner. (Obviously a figure of speech) But he did intend to increase the police forces by a large margine as though that would really make a difference. I would point out to people that one of the most unsafe places to be was in prison. Your odds of being sexually assalted are almost 100% and you will be forced to pay tribute to at least one protector. I believe there are a lot of cops in every prison so you should be safer there.............NOT!!

We are quite paranoid about kids being kidnapped and killed by pedophiles or strangers to the extent that almost no children play outside without adult supervision...........almost no matter what the age of the kids.
In my day (1950's) I am sure there were probably just as many pedophiles and pereverts etc who could have harmed us, so since we played days on end in unsupervised play, we should have all been harmed some how. Funny though, I didnt know anyone who had something happen to him. We have blown this whole thing out of proportion and tell kids that every adult unknown to them is going to harm them. We call it stranger danger and it is really assenine(sp?).

I know that someone will point out that there might be more danger from strangers now, but I am hard pressed to believe it. Besides, most molestation is done by family or friends and that is an accurate statistic.

Within groups such as Boy Scouts there can be no "one on one" counseling done at all. There must be at least a second adult present. I would submit to you that counseling done in that manner is not very effective. Now if it is about personal matters I am sure the counseling will bring little results and not help the kid much. Sometimes a one on one talk is needed and wanted by the boy who wants to discuss issues with an adult.



Ken
Re: Once more into the breach!  [message #32266 is a reply to message #32263] Thu, 25 May 2006 04:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
JFR is currently offline  JFR

On fire!
Location: Israel
Registered: October 2004
Messages: 1367



cossie wrote:

I was avoiding this thread because I reckoned that if I participated I was pretty sure to annoy someone!

I was avoiding it too - but for a different reason. I don't think that there is anything that I could say that would convince people. However, as Cossie (and WS) has said: "Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more".

Timmy says that we - the British - simply do not care about terrorists. I certainly don't agree with that view. I care very much.

Israelis too care very much about terrorism. Arab violence against Jews in the Holy Land has been our lot for almost 150 years. Sometimes it was bad (like the cold-blooded murder of nearly 30 Jewish families in Hebron in 1929) and sometimes it was less hurtful. It has become 'establishment' during the past three decades.

Our reaction to terrorism in our midst is stoic rather than heroic

I would say that is true of Israelis as well. When people get maimed and killed it hurts the whole nation. But we accept it as a part of life. We are used to it, and therefore really only think about it when it happens. Apart from that we lead normal lives.

I'm pretty sure that the same is true of ... ordinary Israelis in Jerusalem, though the odds may well be different.

Actually, I don't think the odds are different at all. Since the violence started in 1860 (!) just over 20,000 Jews have been killed - and that is including soldiers fighting in six wars since 1948. Even though that is a terrible average of 137 deaths p.a. I bet you thought that the total was a lot more!

I care because if there were to be a prolonged and successful terrorist campaign, it is almost certain that there would be a racist reaction

I cannot speak for Britain, but in Israel that has not happened. Of course there are people who hate Arabs, but they are few and far between and have no political or social clout. The vast majority of citizens would be very happy to live in peace with our Arab neighbours and would bear them no real grudge afterwards. Many people in the West just do not know that thousands of Palestinians work in Israel every day (because they can't find work in Palestine) - and people accept them in friendship even though any one of them might be a terrorist about to blow himself and them to smithereens.

We should remember the words attributed to St. Stephen: 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.'

Hmmm. Forgive me that I of all people should diffidently offer here a correction. I believe that it was Jesus who said this (in John's Gospel). However, I have been known to be wrong on rare occasions Wink.

The moment whole populations become hysterical because of terror attacks the terrorists have achieved their goal. Stoicism defeats their purpose.

Peace and out.



The paradox has often been noted that the United States, founded in secularism, is now the most religiose country in Christendom, while England, with an established church headed by its constitutional monarch, is among the least. (Richard Dawkins, 2006)
Re: Once more into the breach!  [message #32268 is a reply to message #32263] Thu, 25 May 2006 12:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
NW is currently offline  NW

On fire!
Location: Worcester, England
Registered: January 2005
Messages: 1560



As usual, cossie puts forward a clear and well-thought-out view! However, I'm afraid that there are several points on which I have to disagree:

> But that's not why I care so much. I care because if there were to be a prolonged and successful terrorist campaign, it is almost certain that there would be a racist reaction, and that would very seriously damage our country and our culture.

I share your worry that our country and our culture could be damaged: my assessment is, unfortunately, that the damage done by turning the UK into a police state is *far* greater than the risk of exacerbating tension between ethnic/national groups. I know that "police state" is an emotive term ... but they now have back the powers to "stop & search" that many of us fought so hard to have abolished as the "suss" law - and the powers seem (at least in London) to be being used predominantly against certain minority ethnic groups. The state has the power to detain without charge for an extended period. A "shoot to kill" policy is in place, supported by the state. Service providers are being required to keep records of *all* our e-mail activity -this a major change from phonetapping where (in theory) only calls to & from specific individuals were recorded*. It is illegal not to tell the government your password to anything that is password protected that they think may provide any evidence that they may find useful - and you can be imprisoned for failing to comply. The UK has the highest number of CCTV cameras per head of any country (between 2 & 3 million - about 10% of the worldwide total): although many of these are privately operated the police may requisition the tapes, and many cameras are local authority or state agency operated. The "traffic" cameras DO take reference pictures of those attending demonstrations like the anti-war ones**.

* I have had my phone tapped, in 1980-81. It compares to being burgled or mugged ... it feels like a violation of self, it feels unclean, it takes years to get over.

** I cannot give details, but I have personal proof of this.

> It seems to me that in terms of increasing the quality of policing the real question to be addressed, both in the case of the Stockwell shooting and the blogger's experience at Southwark, is not merely the establishment of the primary facts - it is at least as important to establish why lies were subsequently told. I accept that, regrettable as it may be, in difficult circumstances mistakes will be made - but when they are made, they must not be concealed behind a tissue of untruths.

I would of course agree with that 100%. But I believe this requires a fundamental change back: back to where the police were seen as agents of us - the public, rather than agents of the state. For this reason the current government moves to reduce the number of police forces and centralise a chain of command even further is something I view with deep suspicion. At present, it seems to me that there is a mistakened belief among the police and Home Office that to admit mistakes undermines trust in the police: if I, as a person who used to have regular contact with the Metropolitan Police at a senior level, and occasional contact with assorted anti-terrorist, "bomb squad" and diplomatic protection groups do not trust them I would say that this policy of covering up failures is not working.

> So when embarking upon a pious tirade against government institutions, we need to remember that quality comes with a cost attached.

Yup. So let's scrap the ID card scheme (which on past form of large-scale government computer schemes may well suffer cost inflation, mission creep, and ultimate failure to deliver). Let's have an open discussion of what WE want the police for, and what WE want to pay for. Do we want to charge clubs for polcing the area surrounding football grounds? Do we want to charge (who?) for the police presence on EuroPride ? We need a clear view of who the Police exist to serve - and, at the moment, I don't feel that it's us (the public).
>
> We are not - and can never be, and SHOULD never be wholly 'free', because our freedom impinges upon the liberty of others. As I've said with depressing regularity, the ultimate morality is to secure the greatest good of the greatest number. We NEED balance, and we are obliged to rely upon the State to provide it.

I'd agree with that, as far as it goes. But, for me, the DECISION about what the balance should be must be a continuing explict open political process, with the state enforcing that and accountable for the results ... at present, the state is simply making decisions that suit short-term operational needs and individuals establishing political power-bases.



> I must, however, dismiss NW's statistical comparisons as unsound. If we wish to compare the probability of, say, road deaths, with the probability of being involved in a terrorist attack on London's public transport system, you need to establish comparative figures for the same population - that is, the odds of being killed in a terrorist attack as against the odds of being killed on the road in the course of that journey. And that DOES alter the figures!

I was thinking of the population as being "everyday folk going about their lawful occasions" in a very broad sense (even at home sleeping: lightning does strike houses) ... but I agree that if one selects an appropriate population one can come up with different appreciations of risk (and I think that this something that is part of the understanding of what numbers mean that could usefully be taught in schools).

>
> Finally, I am wholly with Deeej on the issue of common sense. 'Common Sense' is easily and regularly influenced by the media. It was a valuable concept in historic times, but that was when a much greater proportion of our population thought for itself. Today, 'common sense' has absolutely nothing to do with logic, and a great deal to do with your newspaper of choice.

I agree. Almost by definition "common sense" is a local phenomenom, (generalising from a limited pool of experience), and what is needed is a logical / sensible approach whch can address broader issues.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
Paranoia? I'm not paranoid.....  [message #32269 is a reply to message #32210] Thu, 25 May 2006 12:11 Go to previous messageGo to next message
marc is currently offline  marc

Needs to get a life!

Registered: March 2003
Messages: 4729



None of my friends and aquaintances are paranoid....

I asked, and they said they didn't think any of their froends and aquaintances are paranoid either....

Well, except for crazy Eddie.... He always DID think someone was watching him.... Hell!!! when he had a broken leg he swore up and down that the CIA put cameras in his cast....

Terrorist attacks are real but I don't see myself as a target....

The IRA is real and I am not afrade to visit The UK....

Likewise I am not afear'd to bite into a fresh strawberry on the off chance it might be sour....

I do NOT however like BEES at all.... They are definately out to sting me....



Life is great for me... Most of the time... But then I meet people online... Very few are real friends... Many say they are but know nothing of what it means... Some say they are, but are so shallow...
Re: Common sense -- oh dear!  [message #32271 is a reply to message #32262] Thu, 25 May 2006 18:36 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Deeej is currently offline  Deeej

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Location: Berkshire, UK
Registered: March 2005
Messages: 3281



Hmm.

I have a certain dislike of "common sense" (used to justify law, science, etc.) because I spent a lot of time thinking about it for an essay this Easter. And I came across various pieces of material that referred to "common sense" as if their result was obvious -- yet, in fact, many time it was not. At all.

One particular argument went like this:

- Films are violent
- Children are impressionable
- Children watch violent films
- Children have been known to commit violent crimes
- Some of those children committing violent crimes may have watched those violent films
- Therefore violent films cause violent crimes among children (nothing about upbringing or social situation or liberty or personal responsibility here!)
- Therefore violent films should be banned

It was known as the Newson report (Elizabeth Newson, "Video Violence and the Protection of Children") and was a major factor in the hysteria following the Bulger murders. The penultimate point is both wrong and extremely persuasive when phrased correctly. That's why I mistrust common sense. It's not always good logic, but it sounds it.

I repeat my point: who gets to decide what "common sense" is? People thought it was common sense to lock people up for being gay, or instituionalise them, not all that long ago -- and they could justify themselves using "simple normal logic". That doesn't make them right.

David
Re: Common sense -- oh dear!  [message #32274 is a reply to message #32271] Thu, 25 May 2006 20:47 Go to previous messageGo to next message
timmy

Has no life at all
Location: UK, in Devon
Registered: February 2003
Messages: 13759



There was no common sense in the report you describe. It was a report intended to appease the vengeful public who wanted something to blame.

Common sense is the applcation of real logic to an issue, not the twisting of logic



Author of Queer Me! Halfway Between Flying and Crying - the true story of life for a gay boy in the Swinging Sixties in a British all male Public School
Well ... perhaps twice more!  [message #32279 is a reply to message #32263] Fri, 26 May 2006 01:18 Go to previous messageGo to next message
cossie is currently offline  cossie

On fire!
Location: Exiled in North East Engl...
Registered: July 2003
Messages: 1699



JFR

I don't really find your figures too surprising. I assume that most, if not all terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians are reported in our media; if so, they do not appear to be unduly frequent. However, most have a tragic poignancy, in that the victims are civilians - many of whom may be sympathetic to the Arab situation and not all of whom are necessarily Jewish - and that in so many cases the carnage is caused by a young suicide bomber whose mind has been twisted by fundamentalists into a religious zeal which has little relationship to the traditions of the religion it purports to represent. Incidentally, do you have figures for civilian casualties since the creation of the State of Israel? That statistic might be more meaningful to outsiders.

As regards racist conflict, I think that the situation here is rather different. Due in no small measure - or so I believe - to slavish adherence to political correctness, many British towns and cities have 'ghetto' areas in which there is little or no opportunity for interaction with anyone outside that racist group. For example, a TV news report this evening featured state primary schools in Oldham which were either wholly Asian or wholly white. Unrest is never far below the surface, and there have been several major riots in recent years. A recent outbreak of violence in Birmingham, between West Indians and Asians, was sparked by an unsubstantiated rumour that a West Indian girl had been raped by an Asian youth. At least one youth died in the ensuing disturbance. This, I think, illustrates my fear. We have a significant Asian population - not much less than one in ten, though by no means all are Muslim. The vast majority of Muslims are neither fundamentalist nor even sympathetic to fundamentalism. But it is not the peaceful majority on either side which would trigger violence - it is the small extremist minority. If there were to be a protracted series of terrorist attacks, there would be a real risk that violent racial clashes could be provoked - and once begun, such violence would be difficult to control. An even greater fear is that it could escalate into random violence against anyone seen as brown skinned. Therein lies the problem - the 'other side' is perceived to look different - and in such a situation no-one, however innocent, would immune from danger. That's why I think that pro-active policing is necessary - not so much because of the risk to those who might be directly involved, but rather because of the underlying risk of the violence which might be provoked in the aftermath.

And in response to your challenge to Deeej for the crown of Chief Pedant, I must - with tears in my eyes! - concede that you are right. The story is at John 8, vv 2-11. But St. Stephen WAS stoned, and if he'd had his wits about him he might well have used the quote!

NW

I don't dispute what you say about the situation in London, but the picture 'Oop North' is somewhat different, although we have our share of prat policemen. I agree in principle with many of your reservations, but I don't regard the present position as being anything approaching a police state. We have certainly moved backwards in some areas, but I still think that the solution is to press for very strict controls on the use of information obtained otherwise than in the direct course of investigating a crime. For example, I don't have much of a problem with CCTV cameras - certainly they have had a positive and beneficial effect in Newcastle - but I agree absolutely that film should NEVER be used other than for the purpose of detecting or preventing crime. Traffic Management cameras will certainly record protest marches, and if a serious offence is committed I've no objection to the recording being examined for that purpose, but I absolutely oppose the use of the recording simply to identify participants in a lawful protest.

You say 'let's have an open discussion'; I would certainly support that, but I can't see it happening. There will be a continuing need to lobby and complain if we are to provoke action. I do however feel that the activities of the human rights extremists (not that I'm numbering you among them!) make the task infinitely more difficult. Balance is usually found in the middle!

Two specific points to close. Though I don't have too much confidence in the ability of the government to deliver on time and on budget, I am pretty strongly committed to identity cards. Maybe it's the difference between our career backgrounds, but whilst you clearly see it as an infringement of personal liberty, I see it as a golden opportunity to control the widespread 'black economy', which is an affront to a civilised society and a major burden upon us all. I spent many years working among the dishonest, and - believe me - the problem is HUGE.

Secondly, though I'm not too bothered about the merger of police forces - a process which has gone on for decades - I do very strongly agree that the police should be very much more accountable to the public, and NOT through a government-controlled body like the police complaints commission, but by a a genuinely independent body with wide public representation.

On the wider issues, though, I think we'll just have to agree to differ about the balance between liberty and obligation!


ELECTROKEN

Your comment about prisons is not only relevant to the USA; it might not be quite as bad here, but there are certainly problems. I do genuinely believe that convicted prisoners are not entitled to the full spectrum of human rights. I cannot see why a powerful criminal should be able to exercise power over his fellow prisoners; the fact that this can apparently be done is an indictment on the prison system. The hard, but obvious fact is that career criminals will not be reformed by that system, and they most certainly should not be able to manipulate it for their own ends.

As regards paedophiles (excuse the British spelling!), I have seen no convincing evidence to suggest that there has been a per capita increase in offences over the last half-century - and, as you say, the majority of offenders are among the family or friends of the victim. The one thing that HAS changed is the level of car ownership (especially in the UK), which means that the predator-paedophile can cover a wider range. Somehow there is something even more emotive about a child being snatched by a stranger from outside the community. But the fact remains that the incidence of paedophile offences in relation to the child population is so small as to be almost infinitesimal. I don't see how any open-minded individual can deny that the paedophile paranoia has diminished, rather than increased the experience of childhood. It's about as logical as demanding that all trees in public places should be felled in case a child climbs one and has a fatal fall. Or arguing that all river banks should be fenced in case a child falls in and drowns. I have every sympathy with parents who have lost a child, but I really do believe that the frisson of adventure and discovery is an essential element of a happy and productive childhood.



For a' that an' a' that,
It's comin' yet for a' that,
That man tae man, the worrld o'er
Shall brithers be, for a' that.
Re: Paranoia? I'm not paranoid.....  [message #32282 is a reply to message #32269] Fri, 26 May 2006 02:50 Go to previous messageGo to next message
pimple is currently offline  pimple

Likes it here
Location: USA
Registered: March 2006
Messages: 375



Well, if you'd quit stealing their honey to make mead...



Joy Peace and Tranquility

Joyceility
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32283 is a reply to message #32210] Fri, 26 May 2006 03:00 Go to previous messageGo to next message
pimple is currently offline  pimple

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Location: USA
Registered: March 2006
Messages: 375



Greetings-

An interesting read! Lots of words about the problem, but not much on the cure. How do we get back to the business of being a 'civil society' again? Can we? Can rights which have been lost or abused in the name of national security ever be regained?

What is the half-life of a national mental disease?

Regards
Simon



Joy Peace and Tranquility

Joyceility
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32284 is a reply to message #32283] Fri, 26 May 2006 03:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
marc is currently offline  marc

Needs to get a life!

Registered: March 2003
Messages: 4729



Of course things can get back to normal......

All it takes is an election ........



Life is great for me... Most of the time... But then I meet people online... Very few are real friends... Many say they are but know nothing of what it means... Some say they are, but are so shallow...
Re: Is there a cure for paranoia?  [message #32285 is a reply to message #32283] Fri, 26 May 2006 09:38 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
NW is currently offline  NW

On fire!
Location: Worcester, England
Registered: January 2005
Messages: 1560



Yes and no ... Yes if we mean the false institutional paranoia of Bush and Blair, a part answer is a revision of our electoral systems to reduce the risk of effective elected dictatorships (in the UK, by proportional represention so as produce a "hung" parliament, and an end to the bribery and coercion called "whipping", so enforcing some degree of consensus politics) which will greatly reduce the electoral benefits of deliberately whipping up hysteria.

No, if we mean on an individual level: the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and "a paranoid is a guy who's just discovered what's going on" (William Burroughs, I think).



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
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