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Thread: Death Penalty

  1. #101
    Fried Gold Polymath's Avatar
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    It seems to me that some of the objections being made are because of flaws in the justice system, not flaws in the idea of the death penalty (which is a separate part of the issue although the two are intertwined).
    If you think killing is wrong, that's one thing. If you think it's wrong 'cause the guy or gal may be innocent, that's a flaw in the justice system, not in the idea of the death penalty.

  2. #102
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    That's a very, very good point that I should have thought to make, Polymath. If you think they may be innocent, then the problem lies elsewhere: with them being sentenced to death in the first place.

    I understand the point: you don't even want a chance of someone dying injustly, but like Poly said, people being wrongfully convicted is a seperate problem.

  3. #103
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    William Blake, The Proverbs of Hell, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

  4. #104
    Fried Gold Polymath's Avatar
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    Yet none are wiser than the gibbons of peevishness.

  5. #105
    Fluffy Kitten Programmer~ Elledan's Avatar
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    TWTCommish

    Revenge does not equal justice.
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  6. #106
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Correct. They are different things. You call the death penalty revenge, and I call it justice. You have a different idea of what justice is. What exactly is your point, Elledan?

  7. #107
    Fluffy Kitten Programmer~ Elledan's Avatar
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    I really wonder why we do call many punishments in the Middle-East, like cutting off hands, feets and stoneing someone, and beating someone to death with a stick, revenge, while hanging someone, injecting with a lethal fluid, sending a high voltage through someones body, shooting someone to death and locking a person in a small room after which it's filled with lethal gasses is called justice?
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  8. #108
    Fried Gold Polymath's Avatar
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    Also, in game theory, particularly the 'prisoner's gambit' game, those who take like-for-like as a strategy, i.e. act exactly according to the last move of their co-prisoner, are consistently the highest performers.
    This is also true in evolution and has been widely documented amongst birds and monkeys in particular.
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  9. #109
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Who said I called those revenge? I don't call those things revenge -- I call them brutality.

    You want to know why they are different? Well, for one, we don't cut people's hands off for stealing. The people who are put to death are people convicted of MURDER. Usually a serious murder as well -- people who have murdered in cold-blood have lived many times -- some have gone free after time in prison.

    Not only that, but some methods of death take a lot longer, and are obviously more painful -- It's the difference between poisoning someone and torturing them until death. Being stoned to death is obviously a drawn-out process. We don't draw things out like that.

    I have a feeling, however, that you knew this already.

  10. #110
    Fluffy Kitten Programmer~ Elledan's Avatar
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    Let's see...

    The gallow will make people suffer for 8 to up to 15 minutes if the hangman doesn't do a proper job and the neck of the prisoner doesn't immediately snap.

    The electric chair can literally cook the brains, eyes and other organs of the victim. Many people who were executed using the electric chair have suffered for many minutes, when more than one charge was necessary to kill them. During that time, when they had to wait for the next charge, they had suffered third-degree burns and I don't think that they didn't suffer any more pain from other (internal) wounds.

    The firing-squad has only a small chance of killing the victim instantly. Usually more than one round is necessary to finish the 'job'.

    It's no wonder that the lethal injection is preferred.

    But when the execution is over, the 'evil' guy death, and suddenly more evidence shows up which clearly provides us with the fact that the guy that was just killed, was innocent after all... since more than 5 innocent citizens are sentenced to death each year, this will happen at least once each year.

    Some points:

    -The Death Penalty isn't a punishment, since it doesn't teach the criminal a 'lesson'

    -The 'justice' system of the USA is unreliable and full of flaws. Most innocent people who ended up on the electric chair were put there because of false and/or unreliable (lying) witnesses.

    -About 95% of all people who ever commited a murder will never do so again.

    -The death penalty is more expensive than locking a criminal in jail for the rest of his/her life.

    -The death penalty has proven to be ineffective as a deterrent against crime.

    -The USA is the only 'civilized' western country which still uses the death penalty.
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  11. #111
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Leaving the US out of it, the death "penalty" is plain wrong. It is truly barbaric, and has absolutely no place in modern society. Evidence has it that it is totally insignificant as a deterrant, often used where convictions are unreliable and works out more expensive than life incarceration. Those together should make its abolition a logical step. However, even if it was a deterrent, only applied to people 100 % "guilty" and cost 2 cents to apply, I still think it is a fundementally evil procedure. Before you say "wait until something awful is done to your family", that has already happened, and I still maintain that the death penalty equates to murder.
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  12. #112
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Yes, lethal injection is the preferred method. I suppose the fact that I am defending the death penalty means that I am defending ALL methods of it used today, huh?

    As for this "more and more evidence" stuff -- first of all, we both know this is rare, and secondly, it is not a flaw in the death penalty, it is a flaw in the court system. The two are seperate.

    Re: deterrence: and how do we know this? It MAY be true, but is this a known fact now? Is it obvious? Or are there conflicting reports that span both sides of the issue?

    Oh, and while writing of all the pain of this form of death or that, keep in mind that the people who experience it are the ones who inflicted things like that on other people.

  13. #113
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    There was a time when it was fashionably thought that mathematic theory could be applied to modelling all physical and social phenomena (Interestingly it was this idiom of thought that gave rise to the development of Simula in the 1960s, often suggested as the first object oriented programmign language). It appears that the social science of economics still suffers from this hang-over; that the art of economic analysis and management is primarily the art of mathematics and statistics rather than the concern of more less measurable concepts of well being and the welfare of the family, communities and society. Hopefully that time is passing as well.

    I studied game theory ten years ago - so my recollection of the exact studies and concepts (Nash equilibriums, etc) is vague. However, I believe that you oversimplify the the ideas of game theory. Like all economic theories, it rellies on a whole bed of assumptions to be made before the most rational outcome can be identified. The prisoners' dilema is but one set of assumptions. It should be noted that the most rational outcome for each prisoner is not the best outcome that could be achieved if both were to cooperate!!!! So your tit-for-tat strategy tells us that man is destined to forever forsake his potential, prosperity and peace. I already knew this. History suggests this to be so.

    However, as the prisoners' dilema uses one set of contrived pay-offs. There are many other games where the payoffs are different that produce different dominant strategies such as the famous Rational Pigs game (often used to explain Saudi Arabia's strategy in OPEC) and the Advertisers Dilema.

    Now how does game theory handle that the pay-offs might change over time? How does it deal with different values being placed on the trade-offs by different players? How do I know that my assessment of your situation will be the same as your assesment of your situation? How do I know your pay-off matrix. How do I know that the parties will behave rationally?

    Further, tit-for-tat has also been shown to be a difficult cycle to break out off if the game starts off negatively (with one player punishing the other). It leads to a cycle of punishment. Sound familiar? Reminds me of the middle east.

    Game theory is just as usefull and at the same time just as flawed as say neo-classical economic theory is to commerce or pavlovian conditioning is to human psychology.

    For one, applying game theory to the discussion of justic and McVeigh and future (and potential) murderers assumes that they will think and act rationally - which is a contradiction. So the pre-conditions for a prisoners' dilema analysis do not exist from the outset.

    Polymath, you may be know (or be interested to know) that game theory was invented by John Von Neumann. A most fascinating character. A mathematician, his development of game theory evolved from an analysis of "parlour games" (gambling), to economics to warfare. During the war he worked on the Manhattan Project (the development of the atom bomb).

    After the war, he concentrated on the field of computing. Any computer science student will have heard of the Von Neumann architecture. The basic computer architecture which computers follow to this day.

    In the early (pre-nuclear arms stand-off) post war period Von Neumann strongly advocated that the USA should launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. Remember, this is the guy who invented game theory!

    Von Neumann is also believed to be the inspiration for Stanley Kubricks character Dr. Strangelove of the same name film.
    Last edited by freakysid; May 15, 2001 at 11:21.

  14. #114
    Fried Gold Polymath's Avatar
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    Cool, freakysid,
    I first heard about Von Neumann through reading about Richard Feynman. I came across him again in reading about evolutionary models and survival strategies. Which is where I approached game theory from, in terms of succesful evolutionary models.
    If the last forty or fifty years had turned out differently, Von Neumann may have been right about a pre-emptive strike (but I'm being a devil's advocate here).
    I agree with your post, especially about the uncertain starting positions and uncertain values. But given my philosophy of 'do as you would be done by' and 'treat others the way they treat you' (hardly groundbreaking, but easy to follow) I see no reason why if someone kills, it's wrong to kill them back. Simply apply their own standards to themselves, it requires no great thought, and no great moralising, as it merely copies what they themselves do. They'd have to be extremely hypocritical to disagree. And since this tit-for-tat approach is an extremely successful approach in nature, I say 'apply it'.
    Or, just to mix it up a bit, the 'no death penalty' side are, it seems to me, being too co-operative, which is not a very succesful model. But I really am stretching things a bit too far, because as you say, the positions and options are too great to apply a simple model like the 'prisoners game' to complicated issues like the death penalty. But it's very useful to keep in mind.
    Anyway, you obviously know more about it than I do, having studied it before, and I'd be very interest to learn more about
    'Rational Pigs' and 'advertiser's dilemma' if you could point me in the right direction.

    Later on:
    Don't worry, found it at:
    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/owen/froeb...game/game.html
    Last edited by Polymath; May 16, 2001 at 09:34.

  15. #115
    Fluffy Kitten Programmer~ Elledan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TWTCommish
    Re: deterrence: and how do we know this? It MAY be true, but is this a known fact now? Is it obvious? Or are there conflicting reports that span both sides of the issue?
    Like I said in an earlier post, crime-rates have shown to in- and decrease in different states without anyone having been able to link those rates with the death-penalty. States with the death-penalty did not have constantly lower crime-rates over states who didn't have this penalty. The conclusion was that the death-penalty has no influence on the crime-rates.

    Again, the reason why:

    Only two kinds of people will ever be convicted to the death penalty: people who commit a serious crime (usually murder) in rage and those who plan their crime (terrorist attack, for example) months in advance.

    The first person certainly won't give its actions a second thought since rage suppresses rational thought effectively.
    The second person has probably given the result of his actions some thought, but decided that his goal is more important than being sentenced to death.

    Two cases in which the death-penalty is ineffective as deterrent. Unfortunately, these are the only two cases in which the death-penalty was meant to function as a deterrent.

    Add to this the seriously flawed justice system in the US and the disaster is complete.
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  16. #116
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    The criminally insane don't follow the rules of society, and often aren't even influenced by the consequences of their crimes.

    The death penalty seems like a deterrent to sane minded people, but to serial killers it may not seem relevant to them.
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    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Just because a crime rate does not decrease dramatically when the death penalty is in place, it does not mean it has been "proven" to not be a deterrent. I don't think you'll fault me for wanting more than this to declare it proof.

    Not only that, but you're assuming you can lump people into these two categories with no problems whatsoever. I think it's very sloppy and inaccurate to say that all people who commits serious crimes either plan months in advance, and therefore won't mind the death penalty, or they do so in the heat of the moment, and don't think of it.

    The human brain can surely consider consequences a lot faster than it can go get a gun, find someone, and shoot them.

    And besides, people who plan for awhile (it could be one day...not necessarily months) at some point make up their mind to go ahead with it -- and I'd imagine they'd take the time to consider the consequences first.

  18. #118
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mmj
    The criminally insane don't follow the rules of society, and often aren't even influenced by the consequences of their crimes.

    The death penalty seems like a deterrent to sane minded people, but to serial killers it may not seem relevant to them.
    What, all murderers are insane?

  19. #119
    Fluffy Kitten Programmer~ Elledan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TWTCommish


    What, all murderers are insane?
    Why not? It could even be (partly) genetical: a gene which seriously influences their ability to reason or to realize the consequences of their action.

    BTW all Humans have some kind of natural barrier to protect them from distracting thoughts, like punishment, torture, dying, pain and suffering and many other unpleasant things. That's another reason why most deterrents don't work (yes, very few deterrents actually work). If you would be able to fully realize what would happen if you would a certain action, like jumping off a bridge, you would feel the same what somebody feels when this really happens to him. Thanks to this barrier we can function without being afraid of everything. Unfortunately, it also causes us to jump out of planes (skydiving), climb a high mountain and other dangerous activities. However, it doesn't stop there, it's also the reason why a person can commit a deed that is considered to be 'wrong' by others. Without this barrier, not only would this person realize the consequences, but also feel the pain, suffering and dying of the victims.

    You just try now to imagine that you're a prisoner in Death Row, awaiting your execution in a few months. The average Death Row prisoner gets extremely emotional (ranging from frightened to scared and ultimately terrified). It's only then that they fully realize the consequences of their actions since the barrier is no longer of use. Only when the situation is real, this barrier doesn't protect us.

    Like with so many things, this barrier which is required for us to function is thus also the basis for so called 'criminal' activities.
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  20. #120
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    You're smart enough to realize that that's ridiculous: "why not"? Because it's an extreme: it's a generalized, sweeping statement. Murderers are not by definition insane -- there are plenty of sane murderers.

    As for your other comments: I don't buy for a second that punishment isn't a deterrent until right before it is actually endured. If that were true, we'd all break a lot of laws.

    However, it doesn't stop there, it's also the reason why a person can commit a deed that is considered to be 'wrong' by others.
    Unfortunatly that's the way it is without a God: murder isn't "wrong", it's just something we "agree" is bad.

  21. #121
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    I would describe murder as, at least, anti-social.

    Anyway, this post is directed to Polymath. I was toward the end of a very lengthy reply in which I discussed (my version) of the "advertiser's dilema" and how under certain conditions the prisoner's dilema applied (classic case - tobacco companies become more profitable the more government regulates to restrict advertising) while on the other hand, under different conditions you get other outcomes such as the Rational Pigs game. Then my browser crashed. Anyway, there are oodles of sites on the web that discuss game theory - especially in relation to economics and the behaviour of firms within industries.

    BTW TWTCommish you are right about the death penalty being a deterent. A dead man doesn't re-offend.

    Cheers
    Last edited by freakysid; May 18, 2001 at 12:11.

  22. #122
    Fluffy Kitten Programmer~ Elledan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TWTCommish
    Unfortunatly that's the way it is without a God: murder isn't "wrong", it's just something we "agree" is bad.
    So basically what you're saying is that we should have a god else the world will go 'to hell' (bad choice of words, I know ). How ignorant and foolish to say such a thing.

    What have we seen so far of those gods? A few books and some madmen who say that they've been contacted by a 'higher' being. And they (those gods) would have teached us 'good' morals?

    But if you insist that we need gods to teach us what is 'good' and 'wrong', I've got some news for you:

    1) there's no proof for the existance of any god. Aliens are much more likely to exist. Therefore it would be logical to assume that those 'gods' are actually aliens who are having some fun with us.
    2) there is no absolute 'good' or 'wrong'. Take for example two countries who are fighting against each other (Israel and Palestina, for example). If one of those countries kills some soldiers of the other country, is this good or wrong?
    Answer: it depends on with which one of the two views you agree with. If you think that the Isreali have every right to defend themselves and they kill some Palestinian soldiers, you'd find this a good action. You would think it's wrong if you share the Palestinian side.

    Conclusion: 'good' and 'wrong' are totally subjective and are related to time and place.

    FYI a quick reminder: it was you who brought religion into this thread.
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  23. #123
    SitePoint Wizard creole's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Elledan
    1) there's no proof for the existance of any god.
    Wow...I know this is off-topic but how can you say that? How much more proof do you need than the EYE, the ear, the human procreation method?

    I mean really, have you ever sat down and thought through everything that would have had to happen for the EYE to just "randomly happen?" If that's not proof of a God then I don't know what is.

    Think of it this way. If I take all of the necessary parts of a Rolex watch, put them in a bag and let them sit in the corner for a million years then come back, would I have a fully-functioning Rolex? Of course not. It's ludicrous to think that the the same thing could happen to something infinitely more complex...a Human being.

    Originally posted by Elledan
    2) there is no absolute 'good' or 'wrong'.
    Really? I don't believe this, and I think that you don't either. Don't kid yourself into thinking that there are no "absolutes" because there are.

    If I rape, mutilate and dismember a small child, is that "good"? Do you think that there are people who would think it was right or "OK"? And no it's NOT simply a matter of perspective either. If I am mentally disturbed and carry out the above act, it is still wrong whether I think it's wrong or not.

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  24. #124
    Next stop: PHP! Marina's Avatar
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    Originally posted by creole

    If I rape, mutilate and dismember a small child, is that "good"? Do you think that there are people who would think it was right or "OK"?
    Actually there are some tribes in Africa that think it's ok for a father to have sex with his daughters. It has something to do with their religion......... I don't know what they think of mutilating and dismembering children though.

  25. #125
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    Well there are tribes in Papua New Guinea who, in times of famine, think nothing of running over to the tribe next door, hacking them to death, cutting their bodies into more easily transportable chunks then carry their dismembered neighbours home for a great big cook-up. Tim Flanery (scientist and writer) describes such stories in his book "Throwim Way Leg" http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/03/0...07.07bruc.html


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