Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Operating the information filter

Bringing together a number of earlier points, this is how my information process works. It applies to almost every question, either directly, or in stages if subtle or too complex to then require breaking down. But the same process operates regardless, and is then able to analyse the final result.

I will give some examples how it works, and then you can see how I come to my own conclusions, and why it can then separate beliefs and opinions to actual facts, and what works best for everyone overall.

Off the top of my head road humps are one. Cars are not designed for any more than the minimum number of vertical drops. Simply narrowing or twisting roads slows traffic down and does no damage, so if the council are ideologically determined to reduce speeds to walking pace that does it. Humps are not constant so people slow down suddenly for most and pay more attention to it than the children and animals they are supposed to protect. Emergency vehicles record the number of deaths per year from not reaching patients in time or not getting them to hospital in time as these roads take all vehicles, so we know the number of deaths and claims for damage to cars, but none of the benefits. So using a simple process of cost benefit analysis I find it impossible to justify a road hump, as the aims can be carried out without them and the losses are known.

Not all analyses need to be black and white answers, bus lanes for example depend on the conditions. Generally I can prove they are bad, as when they were introduced in the 70s I discovered rather than build new lanes (as it implies) they simply removed existing lanes and banned other vehicles from using them. That is like chopping a finger in two parts to have an extra one. It is cheating and then where I live the buses wait five minutes or more during the day to get to the bus lane while people queue as the road reduces to one lane for everyone else. This is not unusual, but inevitable, as while the heavy rush hour traffic moves to the right to get out of the bus lane the traffic behind it is held up, often for far longer than the length of the bus lane itself. One road even got rid of it because people couldn't get to the junction as people who made it into the centre were then turning right and cutting off the remainder of the road entirely for people going ahead.

If you either make new lanes, or open them where the roads are so wide they can tolerate them, and there are a lot of buses (most in London have maybe one every ten minutes so pointless) then fine, but otherwise no.

Our old legal argument, week one criminal law, is another example. Our great lecturer, having sold some of the highest numbers of textbooks in this generation, taught us the two sides and then agreed with mine. The question was 'Is the criminal law there to protect people and their property or also enforce morals?'. Now in practice all criminal law systems do both, partly as they originated from the days when religion made the laws, as it still does in many places. Of course all religions differ, so what is moral in Islam is not in Christianity and vice versa. Then from country to country regardless of religion, and over time the moral codes vary constantly. So how can a snapshot in time and location of fixed moral laws be correct at any time, and what is the purpose of enforcing them? None I can see, and technically none.

Whichever issue is now offered, I put it through the same process, and whether fast or slow you get there in the end for nearly all of them. It excludes opinions of course, as most are personal preference, but some can be analysed further into preference based not on consequences but imagination. Utilitarianism is the first principle, then utility. That means does it help the majority, and is it useful at all. Simple but so often obscured in emotion and ideology the actual consequences can easily become hidden. Certain policies however such as high taxation can easily be proved to be wrong, as it hurts everyone one way or another and has no known benefits. It takes less and doesn't give what it does to the poor but spends it as the government of the time chooses, often on themselves. It's always your money and the less they take the better. Government is a last resort as well, only to be used where absolutely necessary and not as a default position to govern everything wherever possible because they can. Basic simple utilitarian principles, and other general principles which can be applied to any issue and provide an answer. In the end there are few questions which can not find an answer using these processes, and they don't rely on trust as you can test them all for yourselves. The underlying principle of all is freedom, and is only taken away as the consequences are harmful in not doing so. Otherwise everything allowing freedom at no cause of harm has to be allowed or is immoral and oppressive.