An article by David Robson of the BBC discusses the research of magician Jay Olson, who studies the psychological tricks of his profession, and explains how advertisers, politicians, and yes, magicians, among others, are master manipulators. More here.
This is the first academic exploration of the intersection between the Wiccan religion and the Second Amendment. The article provides all necessary background on Wiccan philosophy and principles, particularly on the Wiccan Rede. The article next explores founder Gerald Gardner's contributions to Wicca based on his views on self-defense, militia service, and ritual knife use. The article then considers arms issues in modern Wicca such as individual self-defense, military and police service, hunting, and contemporary ritual knife use. Finally, the article explores and response to opposition to generally held Wiccan beliefs regarding the Second Amendment.
A decade ago a controversial article in Science Magazine predicted a coming “paradigm shift” that would push forensic sciences toward fundamental change as the result of “[l]egal and scientific forces . . . converging to drive an emerging skepticism about the claims of the traditional forensic individualization sciences.” This article argues that the predicted paradigm shift has occurred. We support our thesis through a deconstruction of the jurisprudence of two of the forensic disciplines implicated in numerous wrongful convictions – forensic odontology (bite mark analysis) and forensic hair microscopy – and an examination of a confluence of unprecedented events currently altering the landscape of forensic sciences. The empirical evidence and data gathered here demonstrates that traditional forensic identification techniques, as well as the doctrines supporting them, are ultimately no more than a house of cards built on unvalidated hypotheses and unsubstantiated or non-existent data. Several very serious consequences result, among them that state, and to some extent federal, jurisprudence that stands for the proposition that this type of evidence is admissible is objectively erroneous and must be reevaluated and effectively rejected as valid precedent; and that the long-overdue paradigm shift presents a unique ethical challenge to criminal justice professionals, one that current professional ethics regimes fail to adequately capture, even though fundamental due process norms compel the conclusion that prosecutors, defense attorneys, forensic experts and their respective governing bodies have an ethical, moral and legal duty to revisit affected cases and provide remedies. Put differently, the “path forward” for forensic sciences that the National Academy of Sciences identified in its seminal 2009 report must have a rear-view mirror.
From Vice, a piece on the increasing popularity of those "haunted" items--specifically, haunted dolls. Sellers sell, and buyers buy, these objects (on eBay, or on some other platform) and the fllip is that the toys are "possessed" by some paranormal spirit or entity. The seller affirms in some way that she or he has had some sort of experience with the doll, and the buyer purchases the doll based on the seller's description of that experience. Now, note that the buyer is actually purchasing the doll, and note the seller's experience, or any expectation of a future experience. One person the reporter spoke to noted that spirits have "free will." That's not so comforting. Do the sellers consider that maybe these entities decide that once a doll is sold, they don't want to make the trip to the new purchaser? Maybe they just want to stay with the sellers? After all, the entities aren't parties to the sale. They didn't agree. Someone call Wolfram and Hart!
Why is this article particularly interesting for this blog? It continues our theme of defending (legally) the cause of those who speak out on their beliefs in the supernatural or paranormal. Professor Levy discusses at pages 265-273 why those who believe they can commit murder or other criminal acts through witchcraft or other paranormal means could be defended through what he calls "causation impossibility." In other words, the defendant thinks it could happen that way, but it can't. Not guilty by reason of the world doesn't work like that.
I understand that those who already think lawyers are hired guns and amoral useless appendages will not see any use in Professor Levy's arguments, just as they may see the Fourteenth Amendment as a technicality. I do see merit in his position, and I see it from the point of view of the First Amendment. There is a great difference between thinking about committing an act, or believing that one can commit an act, and actually committing it. To work out where the line is is difficult, and scholars like Professor Levy are taking on that task. Further, walking down the road of punishing thought crimes, which is what Professor Levy is really warning against, is the stuff of Philip K. Dick's short story Minority Report. It may not just be science fiction. Taken to the outer limits (yes, I know--yet another pop culture reference), I could see an over-eager law enforcement arm using techniques like predictive policing coupled with anticipatory prosecution putting people away for the "great potential" of future terrorism, for example. As we see more and more teenagers and young adults enticed into the arms of terrorist groups, will we hear politicians and policy groups, and concerned citizens ask for just this change?
SSPD (Shameless self-promotion department): he cites my essay on the psychic detective effect at footnote 95.
From the Guardian: UK Conservative MP David Tredinnick says astrology could help National Health Service physicians out by assisting in diagnosis but says he knows that there would be enormous pushback from using it. He accuses those who refuse to see the value in astrology of being "racially prejudiced." I'm not sure exactly how being skeptical of astrological claims makes one "racially prejudiced." Is there a correlation between acceptance of astrological claims and membership in certain ethnic groups that I have somehow overlooked? I would be really interested in that data.
From the 1709 Blog, a post dated 2013, discussing IP protection for magicians' tricks and illusions. Some new material here. The author also runs through Teller's lawsuit against Bakardy, the Robert Rice case, and the Think-a-Drink case. A nice overview, although it's not limited just to the possibility (or not) of copyright protection for magicians' work, even though the blog itself is a copyright blog, and the post is labeled "Copyright In Tricks: Could It Be Magic?" The name of the blog, by the way, comes from the year that the Statute of Anne created the first copyright law.