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The Monty Hall Problem: It’s a Piece of Cake

October 31, 2021 by · Comments Off on The Monty Hall Problem: It’s a Piece of Cake 

In chapter 1 of Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker’s new book, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, Pinker discusses the so-called “Monty Hall problem”, which concerns the tricky probabilities involved in a game-show that is similar to the old TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal”.  In the game, there are three numbered doors, and a prize exists behind only one of the doors. The player chooses one of three numbered doors. Game host Monty Hall – who knows behind which of the three doors there is a prize – then eliminates one of the two remaining doors. However, the rules of the game do not allow Monty to eliminate a door having a prize behind it. Monty then asks the player whether she would like to trade her door for the one remaining door.

The Monty Hall problem asks: To maximize her chance of winning the prize, should the player trade her door for the remaining door?  Interestingly, according to Pinker, most people answer that there is no point in switching doors because – there being only two doors left – the prize is just as likely to be behind one door as it is to be behind the other remaining door (i.e., there is a 50/50 chance of choosing correctly). However, the mathematically correct answer to the question is that the player should trade her door for the other remaining door, because there is a 2/3rds chance that the prize is behind the door Monty did not eliminate, and their remains only a 1/3rd chance that the prize is behind the door initially chosen by the player. Read more

THE “RIGHTS ARGUMENT”: A SELF-DESTRUCTIVE PERVERSION OF RIGHTS

September 9, 2021 by · Comments Off on THE “RIGHTS ARGUMENT”: A SELF-DESTRUCTIVE PERVERSION OF RIGHTS 

I recently penned a Freedom Party of Ontario position paper that called for government to ban store owners and others from denying service to people who have not been “vaccinated” against Covid-19 (or against those who have). Three proponents of individual freedom wrote e-mails in response. Each rejected both my conclusion and my rationale. Their counter-arguments, in each case, were to the effect that a ban would violate an individual’s rights and improperly increase the scope of government power. I will here assert that, to the contrary, those writers hold a view of “rights” and government that improperly perverts the purpose of “rights” and of government, and that facilitates the use of law to defeat capitalism and promote fascism. Read more

Government decision making: Why political philosophy is the last consideration

March 29, 2021 by · Comments Off on Government decision making: Why political philosophy is the last consideration 

Some friends of mine were chatting via email about a high profile Objectivist, and a semi-well known libertarian (of the expressly anarchistic bent). They expressed concern that the Objectivist in question has said some things, or acted in ways, that reflect poorly on the philosophy of Ayn Rand, including positions on immigration, vaccines, or an interminable monomania about “Trump”. My friends essentially said that these two individuals nonetheless seem to get a lot of things right with respect to capitalist economics. I replied as follows. Read more

Why face masks might not be mandatory in Durham Region after all

July 8, 2020 by · Comments Off on Why face masks might not be mandatory in Durham Region after all 

You may have seen in the news that it will be mandatory to wear a mask in commercial establishments in the Durham Region starting at 12:01 AM on July 10. However, as the law stands right now, that is false news. Unless the law is changed/extended, there will be no requirement to wear a mask, and there will be no fines for businesses or their patrons. Here’s why. Read more

Is Your Government Playing Games with CoronaVirus and Covid-19 Names?

March 31, 2020 by · Comments Off on Is Your Government Playing Games with CoronaVirus and Covid-19 Names? 

In times of great fear and anxiety, uncertainty and confusion does not help. It is particularly unhelpful when the confusion is deliberate. I am referring to the widespread practice – particularly by governments and some in the mainstream media – of referring to the CoronaVirus, and to CoronaVirus testing, as “Covid-19” or “Covid-19 testing”. Read more

CoronaVirus, Ethics, and Government Policy (Part 2): The “Impossible Dilemma” Excuse For Economic Suicide

March 29, 2020 by · Comments Off on CoronaVirus, Ethics, and Government Policy (Part 2): The “Impossible Dilemma” Excuse For Economic Suicide 

North America is now weeks into governmental measures to keep “non-essential” businesses closed and to keep people in their homes. Fears and anxiety caused by the initial hoardings of toilet paper and other goods now are having to share the stage with fears and anxiety caused by the inevitable deepening economic devastation caused by those measures.

Faced with the rise of the latter fears, politicians are beginning to worry. On one hand, they have told the populace that it is right for us all to sacrifice for the good of the people who are vulnerable to the disease caused, in some, by the Coronavirus: Covid-19. On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly obvious to all that the government’s shut-down of the economy is not practical. The question for politicians is: How do I now justify ending the governmental policy that I’ve already told everyone is the right and moral thing to do without being morally condemned for it? Alternatively, how do I justify not ending the shut-down without looking like I’m impractical? Read more

“Price Gouging” vs. Hoarding: Why Premier Doug Ford Owes Pusateri’s An Apology

March 26, 2020 by · Comments Off on “Price Gouging” vs. Hoarding: Why Premier Doug Ford Owes Pusateri’s An Apology 

Pusateri’s is a Toronto retailer that is being attacked on social media for reportedly charging $30 for one package of Lysol disinfectant wipes. Critics of the decision to set that price call it an instance of “price gouging” – i.e., charging more than the usual price during a time of usual-supply and unusually-high demand – and condemn it morally. Asked to weigh-in on what Pusateri’s was doing, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was “furious”, exclaimed that the pricing was “absolutely disgusting”, and advised that his government was “gonna come after [“price gougers”] hard” using emergency powers he has given himself in response to the spread of the Coronavirus. “They’re done! They’re gonna be gone!”, he exclaimed, referring to Pusateri’s as a “bad actor”. He, and the self-righteous anti-“price gouging” scolds, should have been thanking Pusateri’s for performing an essential function. Read more

The Coronavirus’ Dark-siders, Straddlers, and Light-siders: The Ethics of Good Public Policy

March 22, 2020 by · Comments Off on The Coronavirus’ Dark-siders, Straddlers, and Light-siders: The Ethics of Good Public Policy 

As the spread of the latest Coronavirus (SARS coronavirus 2, or “SARS-CoV-2”) continues, two purportedly opposing camps of policy wonks are forming, which I herein name “Dark-siders” and “Straddlers”. However, though their policy proposals differ, their respective proposals are founded upon the same ethical philosophy. For that reason, the policy proposals of the two camps ultimately will facilitate the same end. And, because the ethics underpinning their policies treats human nature as a thing to be defeated, rather than defended, their policies will be every bit as destructive as the illness they seek to address. There are collectivists who hope to take political advantage of the destruction caused by the government’s response to the Coronavirus. If the collectivists are to be thwarted – if individual freedom and capitalism are to prevail – the government must be careful to found its Coronavirus policies on a better ethical footing. It must come over to the Light-side. Read more

Epitaphs (Part 1)

January 17, 2020 by · Comments Off on Epitaphs (Part 1) 

1. Here lies Paul McKeever (there’s a first time for everything).

2. Here lies Paul McKeever. Somebody had to.

3. Please insert credit card here to speak with Paul McKeever. $295 for the first consultation. $350 per hour thereafter.

4. Here lies the former Paul McKeever. If you’re reading this, you waited too long.

5. Here lies Paul McKeever. Husband, father, philosopher, lawyer, documentarian, author, Past Master, leader of the Freedom Party of Ontario. Honest. Hardworking. Happy. You know: total asshole.

6. Paul McKeever. Nothing to see here, folks.

7. Farewell, Paul McKeever, King of the Arachnids. The body will decay, but your spirit lingers on.

8. Here lies Paul McKeever, Nigerian Prince. Died here with his $10.5M in gold bullion, 30′ down, when the walls caved in.

9. To commune with the spirit of Paul McKeever, visit amazon.com, and search Books for “Paul McKeever”.

10. Here lies Paul McKeever. Now get out of this graveyard, you mopey bastard, and earn some happiness!

How Each Party Leader Shone in Canada’s 2019 Leaders’ Debate (English)

October 7, 2019 by · Comments Off on How Each Party Leader Shone in Canada’s 2019 Leaders’ Debate (English) 

Here is how the leaders of the six largest political parties in Canada distinguished themselves during the only English-language leaders’ debate in Canada’s 2019 federal election. In alphabetical order: Read more

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