Author Archive: Erich Vieth

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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About people who are “Anti-Science”

May 2, 2017 | By | 2 Replies More

Good article in Scientific American reminding us that those who are science-adverse or science-ignorant in some ways embrace science in other ways.  That should be obvious, in that creationists are willing to fly in airplanes and those who reject vaccines love to use their smart phones.  But this article goes further, and warns us that slapping people with with a general anti-science label risks driving them further into scientific ignorance.

People’s relationship with science is much more complex and nuanced than “pro-science” or “anti-science.” We need to correct some of the misconceptions we have and show that what is often labeled as “anti-science” or “science denial” is often better understood as isolated incidents of motivated bias. In general, trust in science is much higher than we often realize, in part because it includes a lot of people we might often consider “anti-science.”

The conclusions of this article:

  • There is a deep respect for scientists and the scientific process.
  • People often use what they believe to be credible scientific findings to argue against actual, credible scientific findings.
  • It is often the implied solutions of scientific findings that motivate denial.
  • People often deny the relevance of facts, not just their correctness.
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How safe is it to have even one nuclear weapon?

April 27, 2017 | By | Reply More
How safe is it to have even one nuclear weapon?

When I was a child, my school would have nuclear attack drills, which involved quickly climbing under a desk of walking quickly to the basement of the school. I think the general strategy was to go somewhere special to essentially kiss your ass goodbye.  That was in the 1960’s where a neighbor in Florissant had actually built a bomb shelter in the front yard, and you can still see the entry to that shelter.  In the decade since the 1960s, I’ve gradually stopped thinking so much about the world’s arsenal of nuclear weapons, even though they are extremely dangerous to possess, even for a country that has them for the supposed purpose of using them against another county.

See time code 1:17 of this excellent documentary by Eric Schlosser, “Command and Control,” where it is revealed that a declassified military report indicates that there have been more than 1,000 U.S. accidents involving nuclear weapons, at least 31 of these posing serious risks of accidental detonation, risking the lives of countless Americans.

It is a miracle that none of these have resulted in nuclear detonations. From the American Experience Website: “Based on the critically-acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser, this chilling documentary exposes the terrifying truth about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal and shows what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to destroy us.”

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On interfering with elections

April 25, 2017 | By | Reply More

The U.S. has accused Russia of interfering with the recent U.S. Presidential election. That accusation needs to be viewed in context:

The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.

This  information is from a detailed article in the LA Times, with many specifics. For instance, the U.S. tried to interfere with the election of the Russian leader in 1996. According to the same article, Russia attempted to interfere with “36 foreign elections from the end of World War II to the turn of the century.”

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The cost of interruptions

April 23, 2017 | By | Reply More

When I’m trying to write, I really get frustrated with interruptions. That’s why I try to write at times when interruptions will be limited, and I turn off my phone and close my email while I write.

Today I discovered that the effects of interruptions have been measured. This stunning conclusion is complements of Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine:

How long does it take people to get back on task? We found about 82 percent of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.

The article offers that not all interruptions are the same, and in fact, some interruptions are beneficial. However, the author of this article echoes my own general frustration:

Are we becoming more superficial thinkers? I argue that when people are switching contexts every 10 and half minutes they can’t possibly be thinking deeply. There’s no way people can achieve flow. When I write a research article, it takes me a couple of hours before I can even begin to think creatively. If I was switching every 10 and half minutes, there’s just no way I’d be able to think deeply about what I’m doing. This is really bad for innovation. When you’re on the treadmill like this, it’s just not possible to achieve flow.

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Career shift in the works . . .

April 13, 2017 | By | Reply More

In addition to my career as a lawyer, I’ve been blogging for years, but I’m going to turn more toward investigative reporting in coming years. I haven’t determined the details yet, but this idea energizes me and encompasses much of my training in the legal field, as well as my interests in photography and creating videos. Over the years I’ve attended national conferences of Free Press, which instilled the idea that high quality journalism is valuable, whether it be created by a big organization or by a citizen journalist.

In the meantime, Bill Moyers offers this list of organizations that do high quality investigative reporting. I’m familiar with most of these, but I just made sure that I’m signed up to receive email newsletters from each of these organizations. I’ll continue sharing links to selected articles on FB and on this website, Dangerous Intersection.

Moyers’ List includes:

1. ProPublica 
2. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI)  
3. The Center For Investigative Reporting (CIR) —
4. Frontline 
5. Mother Jones 
6. The Intercept 
7. Real Clear Investigations 
8. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) 
9. Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) 
10. BuzzFeed 

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Insanity in every corner in these times of needless war

April 12, 2017 | By | Reply More

We have reached unprecedented levels of dysfunction on both the political right and the political left. I agree with each of these conclusions by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept:

1. New wars will always strengthen Trump: as they do for every leader.
2. Democrats’ jingoistic rhetoric has left them no ability – or desire – to oppose Trump’s wars.
3. In wartime, US television instantly converts into state media.
4. Trump’s bombing is illegal, but presidents are now omnipotent.
5. How can those who view Trump as an Inept Fascist now trust him to wage war?
6. Like all good conspiracy theories, no evidence can kill the Kremlin-controls-Trump tale.
7. The fraud of humanitarianism works every time for (and on) American elites.
8. Support for Trump’s Bombing Shows Two Toxic U.S. Conceits: “Do Something” and “Look Strong”
9. Obama’s refusal to bomb Assad hovers over everything.
10. None of this disproves, obviously, that Hillary Clinton was also a dangerous hawk.

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Zach the King (of Magic)

April 9, 2017 | By | Reply More

I just stumbled across Zach the King. Delightful video editing and fun vignettes.

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More Quotes . . .

April 1, 2017 | By | Reply More

A good quote is a novel in a sentence or two. That’s good payback for impatient people like me, who struggle to sit still long enough to read entire novels. I make a point of collecting engaging quotes wherever I read them, though, and I’ve published more than 100 groups of quotes over the years here at DI. This group includes quotes originated by two of my friends, Andy Wahl and Dale Irwin.  Here’s the latest batch from my collection:

“If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.”

― Carl Sagan

When you add it all up, it’s not uncommon for a single child to cost a normal, middle-class family something like $1.1 million, from birth through the undergrad years. To get some perspective, the median price of a home in 2008 was $180,100. It is commonly said that buying a house is the biggest purchase most Americans will ever make. Having a baby is like buying six houses. Except that they don’t increase in value, you can’t sell them and after 16 years they’ll probably say they hate you.

Jonathan Last – Wall Street Journal http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203917304574413792994350108

“Do the next right thing.”
– Dale Irwin (Kansas City Attorney).

Psychological discernment is not as difficult as one might think: Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear soon become convinced that mortals cannot keep a secret. He whose lips are sealed talks with his fingertips; disclosure oozes out of his every pore.

– Sigmund Freud “Fragment of an Analysis of Hysteria,” (1901-5), VI, 148

“Knowledge is learning something new every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”

– ZEN PROVERB

You can look the other way once, and it’s no big deal, except it makes it easier for you to compromise the next time, and pretty soon that’s all you’re doing; compromising, because that’s the way you think things are done. You know those guys I busted? You think they were the bad guys? Because they weren’t, they weren’t bad guys. They were just like you and me. Except they compromised… Once.

Jack Bauer – From the opening episode of “24,” Season One.

“Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.”

― Nikola Tesla

“I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.”
– Paulo Coelho

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Adventure is just bad planning.”

Roald Amundsen

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Blue Lies Take Center Stage in the Era of Trump

March 29, 2017 | By | 3 Replies More
Blue Lies Take Center Stage in the Era of Trump

Donald Trump tells numerous easily disprovable lies: an average of 3 false or misleading claims per day for the first 100 days of his presidency. But his followers don’t seem to care. I’m not surprised that this technique of telling numerous bald lies works. I’ve long thought of these utterances as “tribal truths,” and I’ve seen it all my life, especially in the areas of politics and religion. Today I learned another term for this phenomenon: “Blue Lies.”

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