Friday, December 19, 2014

Scotland Yard: "Claims That Boys Were Murdered By VIP Sex Ring Are Credible And True"

Uh...does this story anyone?


Blogger Aa said...

Odd in what way? Given the way that sex crimes and murder by religious organizations have been systematically covered up in the past and now exposed, this does seem plausible. I don't know any details beyond a couple of newspaper articles, of course, but it seems plausible a group of very powerful and well connected individuals engaged in sex crimes with minors, then murdered them, and got away with it for many years.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only the part where the father claimed that the police in the 80s explicitly told him that they wouldn't investigate the case because of the involvement of judges and pols. There certainly have been organized rings of pedophiles in the past, typically for passing around pornography but occasionally for trafficking kids as well. Before you let this set off your skeptic alarm, wait for the other signs that the investigation has degenerated, such as (a) the claim that this "goes all the way to the top" or (b) any mention of Satan.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

You guys don't think the first sentence is just a teensy bit peculiar?:

"Scotland Yard has said claims by a witness that a “VIP” sex abuse ring murdered three boys are “credible and true”."

Look, I just happened to see this on Reddit. (Where, incidentally, 99+% of commenters are certain this is true...) I don't go looking for this stuff. And given the prevailing atmosphere, it would be easy to get labeled as "that guy who doesn't believe in rape" or WTF ever. And I'd rather not deal with that...


I mean...if the story said "the cops find his story credible," I wouldn't bat an eye. doesn't seem weird for Scotland Yard to proclaim the accusations true? Apparently on no grounds other than the accusation? Not like: we've got these unsolved murders and this story brings it all independent evidence of the alleged murders cited... Just: *these cops have experience with pedophilia and murder, and they say it's true.*

Seriously? Would people believe a story like this about any other topic?

I don't ever remember reading a story like this before.

I don't even remember a story like this during the Satanic Panic...

Am I becoming some kind of lunatic about this stuff?

I seem to be a radical social/epistmic outlier...

6:16 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

That's 'epistemic', not 'epistmic'

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, I just passed right over that sentence. Rereading it now, I take calling the accusation "credible and true" as just a clumsy redundancy. Of course the police believe the account, if "credible" simply means worthy of being believed. And if they believe the account, they believe it to be true... So, what's the big deal?

Look, this is only troubling if you take the act of judging something to be true to imply some kind of dogmatic commitment, whereby, if I judge something to be true, I thereby commit myself to rejecting any evidence to the contrary, from now until the trumpets sound. But surely that kind of commitment is not necessary for simple judgments, even expert judgement like that of the police, right? I believe that carrots don't experience pain, quite thoroughly do I believe it, but I can imagine evidence that would cause me to revise that belief.

I don't think you are some kind of epistemic monster, but I do think you've let yourself accept, tacitly, some bad ideas of what "believing the victim" means, based on the the UVA fiasco. The general principle that, when presented with an accusation of sexual assault, you should give it credence is a good one - epistemicly, since false accusations of this kind are rare, and morally, since the damage done by dismissing a true accusation out of the gate is greater than initially accepting it. A few people (Amanda Marcotte, apparently), seem to think that believing someone requires that your initial judgement be forever set, no matter what further evidence come to light, or you are not giving them their epistemic and moral due. But if that's what "believing" someone is, then both reasons for extending belief to a potential victim evaporate. The case for believing a sexual assault accusation is predicated upon the revisability of that belief.

12:25 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

You could be right, A. And I have no interest in making some big deal about this. But...:

"Of course the police believe the account, if "credible" simply means worthy of being believed. And if they believe the account, they believe it to be true... So, what's the big deal?"

I think you're over-simplifying here. As I noted, it's unremarkable for the cops to say things like "we find the story credible." But this is a context in which epistemic questions are central. The job of the police is to basically find out whether or not credible charges are true. It's decidedly weird in such a context to begin the public phase of the investigation by declaring the charges to be true.

You seem to want to say that declaring them to be true is basically equivalent to declaring them credible. I don't think that's right--especially if what was said was "credible *and* true". To put it that way seems to be to explicitly highlight the *difference* between *credible* and *true*. It seems like saying: "Though the assertibility conditions for 'p is true' are, with respect to certain uses of 'true', identical with the assertibility conditions for 'p is credible,' I'm not using 'true' in that way."

Perhaps it's a really weird journalistic error, and what the cops said was "we believe that the charges are true." That's still unusual, though "we believe them to be true" is much better than "they are true," which is what the Guardian says they said...

"Look, this is only troubling if you take the act of judging something to be true to imply some kind of dogmatic commitment, whereby, if I judge something to be true, I thereby commit myself to rejecting any evidence to the contrary, from now until the trumpets sound."

I don't think that's true. In a context like this, calling p true is damn close to claling p proven. When the job of the police is, basically, to determine whether or not credible charges are provable, it seems irresponsible to say the least to start off the investigation by declaring the charges to be true...which one is never in a position to declare unless the charges have been proven.

This could all amount to nothing. I'll admit everything weird here could be a result of poorly-chosen words, colloquialisms, bad journalism, and so on.

I'm just saying: it could also not be.

I mean, what we have here, so far as I can tell from this story, is one person making accusations of rape and murder against someone else. No corroborating testimony, no bodies...

And a story of a kind that, IMO, we should all be suspicious of. Not just pedophilia, but an elaborate pedophile murder...right in front of another person? Which person was then allowed to live...

This story sounds way too much like Satanic Panic. Of course it could be true. But, IMO, it should not be generating the almost universal, passionate credulity I'm seeing.

Or, well: that's my eminently fallible current take on the matter...

8:48 AM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

I agree with your "epistemic yellow alert". On the other hand somebody killed that boy...which alone is more evidence than there ever was in a Satanic Panic case (I.e. none at all.)

1:21 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

But the important issues are, of course, getting completely washed out in the noise over this story, so I think it’s important here to clarify that, as I’m writing this, there is still no real evidence for the accusation that Jackie is lying. (Indeed, it’s interesting how the same people who yell “innocent until proven guilty” the second you mention a rape accusation in the media have no problem deciding someone is guilty of lying with absolutely no evidence to support that claim.) It’s possible that she’s lying. It’s also possible—and frankly, at this point, far more likely—that she is basically telling the truth but got some details wrong, because duh, most people do not have a photographic memory. The Washington Post fact-check of the article verifies that yes, Jackie was telling her friends she was assaulted from the beginning, even though the details changed over time. (As they do with any story you repeat frequently. Memory is shitty that way, sorry.) Jackie’s roommate has come forward and said it happened.

WaPo fact-check article

12:26 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Point taken, PM. I agree.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Is this you finally admitting that Marcotte is a nut? I mean, I'm pretty sure that's your point, but not positive...

If so: props to you.

3:56 PM  

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