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  January 18, 2016

Compendium of Error

Dangerous books occasionally get printed. At first their appearance suggests oppressive authorities must have been asleep at the wheel to let this highly subversive information into the wild. Now they will have to hunt down each copy, burn them, assassinate the author, "debunk" and "educate" prospective readers, and send a firm message so no one else tries to discuss the topic.

But none of that happens for a book that upends everything. It isn't noticed and the topic isn't considered the slightest bit interesting. People go on following the errors and misconceptions the book urges them to realize and discard.

Upon deeper reading it becomes clear the author doesn't understand the full magnitude of what he has uncovered. Because of his fixation on leftist social justice, the book distracts itself from a larger point. Nevertheless, the concluding implications should be considered.

Unfair by Adam Benforado reveals the legal system is founded on error, just like the rest of society Adam Benforado's Unfair examines the foundational flaws in the U.S. legal system. Eye witness testimony continues to be weighed heavily, despite being known to be the least reliable. Prosecutors use clever strategies in an attempt to win rather than pursue justice. Juries are gathered under the archaic premise that they can detect lies and ascertain truth, like sniffing out witches, but studies find no such ability to find truth or lies exists.

Good looking people receive lesser penalties, presumably from the instinct to judge well-constituted people less harshly than the poorly constituted. Judges give different penalties for the same crime depending on the time of day, suggesting they are in a hurry for lunch or too tired to assess rationally. Lie detectors only prove nervousness at the situation.

In any case, justice is unequal, as perhaps it should be, remembering that "one law for the lion and ox is oppression."

We see justice is based on superstitious thinking, capricious, and open-minded about accepting sworn testimony about things they imagine they saw, heard, felt, and maybe remembered in a particular way exactly as they happened many years ago when the event in question occurred.

This is where the author thought he was done, unaware of what he had opened. Not only is justice this collection of superstitious fantasies and illusions cast into custom, but every facet of civilization is built from a similar mix of reason, fantasy, mistake, happenstance, and fiction unified into a whole that stands with self-assurance of its durable applicability.

It neither doubts itself nor feels a need to check. Contrary information is tacitly ignored, prompting no structural correction or rebalancing. It keeps on as before, certain it is sensible, functionally sound, and ideally formed, despite awareness it is irrational, structurally flawed, and founded on primitive notions long ago recognized as wrong.

The wheel was used into the 19th century Foucault tried to clarify human folly by giving a history of punishment, showing that in all ages it remains the same presumptuous act, performed violently with good intentions to help teach the person it is done to, yet other than harming someone, it changes nothing.

As neither the moneyed interests nor clever lawyers care to assess the rules of the legal game and better tune them to reality, we should not expect any reevaluations in other areas of civilization founded on grossly erroneous principles.

Instead, expect failing systems to release pressure by becoming increasingly permissive while calling this need progress, which implies infinite permissiveness without scrutiny and historical comparison would be the best of all.

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