Saturday, November 29, 2008

Equivocation Examined; Compare to Ambiguity


and Ambiguity

A Primer on Some Rhetorical Persuasion Techniques

Rhetoric - the art of persuasion, how to phrase your ideas so they hook the brain, or slide in and entrench without the person realizing how it happened that suddenly they agree. See initial discussion of figures of speech and other techniques at Joy of Equivocating, Persuasion Arsenal.

I. Equivocation

Equivocation is a matter of open-endedness. You hear the words, or see the art, but can't tell what is meant because there is symbolism going on, or shadings suggested. An undercurrent message.

A. Types of equivocation

1. Equivocation can be visual. An artist may leaves a conclusion or interpretation unspecified, sometimes deliberately, sometimes relying on local familiarity to fill in the blanks.

Like this fellow in the water in Croatia. There is a monster or serpent down there, as we recall. But nobody is helping. See Croatia Road Ways. We had no translator around to ask, and there were no written signs. The local people may be familiar with the story here, but we can find nothing about it. To us, equivocal. To a Croat, not.

Could be this, could be that.

Is the lady watcher glad to see him go? What does the man in the water represent? We can see the hat, - a cardinal's type of hat is clear when you see it, but who then is she, the observer?

Inquiring minds. What is going on?

Daniel also wonders. And having wondered, moves on.

2. Aural equivocation.

Equivocation can be in the tone of voice, the upended sentence? That is so annoying.

Is there musical equivocation where the composer does not resolve the harmonic. Why not. Eardrums yearn for the return to dominant. Ears put in what the hearer wants. Hopes for. And there is a pleasure in the non-resolution as well - an exquisite pain, waiting. Right? Hear the chords, searching. The lost chord.... do a search for that haunting situation. Start at//

3. Equivocation can be blended.

Visual equivocation combined with figures of speech -- metaphor, simile, or analogy. See Joy of Equivocating, Persuasion Arsenal, Equivocation and Figures of Speech.

Does this move us from the fountain with the drowning cleric, to a Rohrschach kind of test, where the viewer fills in what the viewer's own predlilections are? See

Show the inkblot. Now, talk about what you see.

4. The practical problems with equivocation.

Equivocal politicians get criticized as flip-flopping. Some people do not like re-assessments once a judgment is made, and require consistency of position as their rule of life, regardless of changing facts.

But there is a strong place for political equivocation where the issue is response to actions of third parties. When a hypothetical situation simply cannot be constructed that is sure to meet the reality when it comes, how could anyone say in advance exactly what he or she would do. That is different from flip-flopping on principle. We need judgments that fit the need of the time, not binds ahead of time.

If there is a question as to the hat the man is wearing, that it is not a cardinal's cap at all, then we are into ambiguity:

II. Ambiguity.

This is a linguistic, or situational concept. We know what the words are, or what the action is, but - uh-oh. Some time later, even a split second, you realize you do not know at all what is being said.

Wish you were here

Someone is Doing a Number on You.

Try this. Nice little travel photo.

Put a caption to it = "Wish you were here."

Look fast. Look away. Then back.

What is wrong here - if the caption is "wish you were here," just where is here?

Where is that person and why? What is said about where they want you? Like a divorcing spouse sending a postcard from Alcatraz. Wish you were here.

Is this a good example.*

1. The Art of the Multiple Meaning.

There can be multiple linguistic or artistic meanings in a speaker's given work, word, phrase or sentence, or other component of language or art.

Common example given in schoolrooms: "The duchess can't bear children," see for example Kent Bach article, in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, article //

Does that mean that the duchess can't have them, or can't stand them.

You pick. Author may not have realized the double meaning at the time. It may take him or her by surprise and eyes open wide - omigod. How could I have said that. The use of an ambiguous word may be by chance, or intentional.

2. Ambiguity as the Gotcha.

Intentional ambiguity is more manipulative than equivocation. Equivocation is right out there. Ambiguity comes at you later. Wait - go back to that a minute. Aha! You've been had. You may not have noticed it during the situation, but later you know. You just know.

As to situational doubt as to meaning, see //

3. Boundaries blur, as with everything.

If we get away from the linguistic, though, and move into actions, are we back in the equivocal.

Equivocation and ambiguity in a time of obfuscation.

Each is a tool. And we are in an era of propaganda, so we should be aware of the workings of all figures of speech. See discussion of propaganda in Petr Ginz: Lens and Legacy, Propaganda.

4. Equivocation and ambiguity. A long tradition.

Both of these rhetorical tachniques take advantage of a human fact - many responses are possible from different people when confronted with the same event.

See these at Sibenik, Croatia - this display being among the first for "glorifying" the common person, instead of saints, around a cathedral.

Control the common man if you can, say the leaders. Use figures of speech, developed ways of expression, and elements of formal "Argument," and do you then control the world. That is why we need education.

5. Taking arms against a sea of equivocation and ambiguity. Education.

Maybe people have not been taught, or otherwise discovered, that rhetoric is part of an art form with deep roots in philosophy, see "Argumentation: Understanding and Shaping Arguments" by James A. Herrick, overview at See chapter 13 on the uses of equivocation and ambiguity in formal argument.

Go back to the Medieval ideas. See // Heavy. Both are found in political speeches and acts.

Keep educations minimal and occupation-oriented for the masses. The beginning and the end. Get back to rhetoric so you can spot it and defend against the lure of the sound - sirens of all forms on the air: :// See Sirens at //

Rhetoric is persuasion. Textbook learning. Propaganda alert.


* The Great Armchair - This is also equivocal. Also ambivalent?

Spot found by chance, off the road in Croatia, looking back at one of the lovely coastal walled cities of the Dalmatian Coast. A comfy, perfect spot - a few beer bottles around. Set a spell. Enjoy. Then drive on. An example of the fun of road trips on your own - see Europe Road Ways. Find what others don't.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Jerome Effect Trumps Fact Check. The Latin Vulgate - Vet It?

Vetting Old Authority

St. Jerome and the 5th Century Latin Vulgate Bible

Change; and Moving Societal-Religious Walls.

Who Dares Question the Great Authorities?

The Jerome Effect. This takes place when an assertion by an authority figure is accepted without investigation.

The "Jerome Effect", in effect, trumps Fact Check. It says, no vetting allowed. You can't question this because an authority is behind it. But how to find meaning if looking behind a translation is not allowed?  See Kngdu: Looking for the Meaning.

Take, for example, Jerome's translation of the 5th Century Bible that had been in Hebrew and Aramaic, into Latin. See for Jerome's translation, shown also at the English Douay Rheims taken from that Latin, and other versions. Still a done deal? Latin Vulgate. Or go to a transliteration site, Scripture4All and compare. Still no questions? Dare we vet, or would things fall apart if we did?

The Jerome Effect bars inquiry. The name comes from Saint Jerome - as an example of any kind of authority whose work lasts far beyond its time: sometimes because of merit, sometimes for lack of vetting. And his particular translations of old texts has become foundational to much of western culture and religion. Is that merit, or lack of vetting? How to know. Interesting concept. When do we question, when do we not, what cultural and religious dividing points can be vetted, and if not, why not.

There is another "Jerome Effect" we have just found - would you believe it is an electromagnetic quantum jump drive motion (JED) being researched in France, see Travellers' News Service, "Jerome Prepares for Launch," at :// Here is its description:

The Other Jerome Effect -- "Scientists describe the motion by saying that matter is displaced instantly from one point to the next without actually passing through the invervening space." Different. Or is it?

A. About The Jerome Effect

1. It is the linchpin for dogma, once the choice to believe is fixed.

Instill the belief firmly enough, and few people vet their sources or options in religious matters. Is that true? That is an area of life where reason is supposed to take a back seat, from the outset, for many.

2. It allows commercial interests to coast on labels, using trusted cultural figures and concepts to front for moneymaking in entertainment and or on the airwaves.

The Jerome Effect is a loyalty concept. A disbelief avoidance. Disney, for example. All he had to do was appropriate a feisty, independent (read the original) Uncle Remus and turn him, for the promotion of a racially divided society, into a harmless, vapidly avuncular, obsequious, made-for-Hollywood movie. And suddenly, nobody looks at the original. The Disney version becomes the new real. Sometime, look up the original Uncle Remus, and then see Uncle Remus in Disney's "Song of the South," see Uncle Remus Tales and Stories, Translations. See FN 1.

Radio and TV. Appropriate our most esteemed cultural adjectives, labels affixed, objectives, like "patriotism" and assert them in opposite contexts, without facts shown to support, and see people fall into the Jerome Effect. I don't vet, because I accept this person as an authority. What else needs vetting: Look at bookstore children's section renditions of old fairy tales, against the originals. See Migratory Patterns of Fairy Tales. FN 1. Or, look up the original statements of religious founders and check them against the institutional positions. Do your own search. Is it worth it to vet?

B. The Jerome Effect may be weakening
as people have access to
and see the need for fact checking.

1. To us, this is a healthy sign.

Using the brain. To foster this independent accountability and transparency check, we need computer access for everyone now that papers cannot provide news. Instead, for economic reasons, they are showing puppies where there should be neutral, reasonably complete news. Or, they show the puppies because they do not want people to get real news - whose economic interest.

2. Do we see an increase in the Wary Factor? Less trust?

The recent election showed that the Jerome Effect ultimately, not immediately, fell flat - facts indeed were checked once basic evidence of dysfunction got out. Old elections went this way - if X or My Party said it, believe it.

Now, thanks to Fact Check and the internet, unvetted people and unvetted assertions may fall faster. And those who benefited for a time from the lack of vetting, in making their own charges against others; or in not being vetted themselves, may later be heard to complain that they are now the targets of other people's unvetted nasty claims. Plus ca change.
3. Are reasonable skeptics speaking up.

Are people wanting more than other people's statements of "inspiration," particularly if there are text or statement inconsistencies. Ask if the supposedly inspired ones benefit organizationally from the fact that you think they are inspired. Focus on family is really focus on whom? Or do they benefit if you take in dogma without reasoning first. Propaganda can lie in claimed inspiration, and dogma, as well as translation. FN 1

Even if there is not intentional skewing by a translator, or speaker, (critiques of translations require linquistic scholars) the issue of self-interest is one to be aware of.

Skepticism is no longer a fear concept. See Martin Luther's Stove, Religion as Religula. We can look at ourselves, sometimes, and even smile. That bodes ill for the Jerome Effect.
B. The Derivation of the Concept - Saint Jerome.
    1. Life and Work.

    The name Jerome Effect comes from Saint Jerome, born about 345 AD, died about 420. See "St. Jerome: The Perils of of a Bible Translator" at :// and the Medieval Sourcebook at :// (differing birth dates).

    He was authorized to translate the Bible into Latin during that early time before the emerging church had differentiated into various branches. There was no separate identity at the time for the later Roman Catholic, Orthodox, etc.

    Earlier Latin translations prior to Jerome have been lost. Jerome contributed to The Latin Vulgate. See the Vulgate and other translations, including old Hebrew (itself a translation from earlier texts in earlier languages), the Latin Vulgate, and several of the translations into English thereafter at ://

    How much of the New Testament was Jerome's in the Vulgate? Not clear, because manuscripts were collected from many sources, says the Perils site, above, at the section "Narrow Role in a Big Book."

    He apparently did the Old Testament entirely, however. And he did that based on the old Hebrew text and Aramaic and other indigenous texts, not the later Greek language (do we have this right? Was it in Greek) Septuagint Old Testament that included additional books. See how acceptability changes.Those additional books were later included, making that (Roman? have to check on this) Catholic Old Testament larger than the version read by others, such as Protestants. Books go in and books go out. Gnostic texts went out as non-conforming uses.

    Jerome's scholarship and linguistic skills were extensive. See See C.T.R.Hayward's "Saint Jerome's Hebrew Questions on Genesis," Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1996.

    2. Translation Reliability Issues.

    Our standard is reliability in terms of recreating the word meaning of the old text in the new language, always difficult, always involving judgment calls, and an overlay of the translator's purposes. See Martin Luther's Stove, Translator School.

    • Issue of spillover. In particular, did Jerome chose to translate words and concepts in a way that supported his theology, as it was emerging in that early undifferentiated church setting, not what was necessarily in the texts at all. That would even have been expected as a cleric? normal in his day? Do our people putting out Bibles today do the same thing? We just need to be aware. These were commissions of the church, so there was an agenda, and not an agenda to weigh anew what had been already decided. Is that so?
    The approach was common. See John Hammond Taylor's introduction to St. Augustine's commentary at "The Literal Meaning of Genesis," at page 10: where there are a variety of interpretations, the reader first tries to determine the intention of the writer, and if that cannot be gleaned, then put in what the faith demands. If a literal meaning results in an absurdity, then go with a figural approach However, Augustine does not tell us about Genesis 2:18, 22. See page 22.
    • Issue of propagandizing for the faith. Jerome also translated "sense for sense," not "word for word." This resulted in stylistic changes to originals - not "equivalence" in meaning but something called "dynamic equivalence." See thePerils site above, at the section "Wary of Word for Word." He avoided literalism, and found that approach justified because others had also done that.

    Was anyone neutral in those days? Or maybe he did fine, in terms of objective meanings. The point is, who has checked. Look at the issue of translating Eve's role - up for grabs. Not necessarily what Jerome said - that she is a mere "help" similar to Adam. There are other options, in the language. See, for example, Martin Luther's Stove, Eden's Mystery Job Description, Eve.
    • Issue of later text corruption. We can't get our hopes up that what we see is what he wrote. His text "was corrupted in the Middle Ages," and only reaffirmed suddenly in 1584 (about a thousand years after he did his work) by the Council of Trent, and that itself was a hastily convened summit to form a defense against the Reformation. See "Saint Jerome, Advanced Information," at ://
    The Council reaffirmed the remaining texts of Jerome as corrupted, on the basis of what, since the text was corrupted? Do go to that site - much on Jerome there. For those of us not in sainted traditions, the stories of the saints are new. Some corruptions are easily isolated and corrected, others simply get passed on.
    • Issue of Fruit of the Poisonous Tree. Later translations relying on an earlier corrupted one.
    Text translation credibility may rely on earlier validity of earlier translations - Case in point. There is a word cluster in Genesis 2: 18, 20 that looks mistranslated, or self-servingly translated, or is omitted entirely.

    /"Ozr" or "ezer" has been inconsistently represented as Eve being a helper, fine. But there is a second word cluster after it, KNGDV or k ngd u. That is the trouble spot. The Vulgate writes in the word for "similar to", yet we find transliteration sources that say, instead, "in front of" or "in command" or directing. See Martin Luther's Stove, Eden's Mystery Job Description. See the sites related to translation of kngdu or k ngd u there. See

    The later Catholic Douay Rheims official English translation from the Vulgate in 1605 or so wrote in Jerome's mere"similar to." Yet see :// and its transliteration from old Hebrew - k ngd u means "in front of". There's fun for theology. Stop the presses. Ladies first? Vet it. Let's all vet it and just check it out. Is questioning old authority not ok?

    Maybe "similar" is right. Or maybe not. Maybe "similar" is a dogma-serving distortion. Who knows? Never vetted.

    Thanks to the Jerome Effect, the role of Eve as mere helper was never questioned - or, to be gentle here, under-questioned. The Council of Trent, with the Reformation beating at its doorstep, had no interest in checking or revising for textual integrity. Just sprinkle the fairy dust and whisper inspiration and it is done. Bibbidy bobbidy. And later, in 1870, add infallibility to it all. Full stop. See "Papal Infallibility" at://

    So: You can't question the Bible here. Saint Jerome wrote it! Indeed. And, as the twig is bent, so grows the tree and you know that if you had an Irish grandmother. You can't question Palin. McCain chose her. Trust him. Political infallibility.

    C. How to Vet St. Jerome: Is he really a curmudgeon, or above that?

    1. Look at his other writings to frame his belief system. Did personal belief spill over into translation and interpretation? We would expect it in those days, so let's check. We understand that he advocated "strict monastic and ascetic practices," see e-notes (handy student summaries) on St. Jerome at ://

    2. Look at his beliefs about sexuality and the place of women, at St. Jerome, Medieval Sourcebook, on Marriage and Virginity, at :// Can he be trusted to translate early Hebrew and other texts if that is what he believes? Vet him. Vet him. To us, Jerome's world view is appalling.

    Look where it led. Woman as subject to man led us right to the Malleus Maleficarum. See that handbook and read it through, word for word, from 1487, for identifying and torturing witches at ://, and the Bull of Innocent VIII in 1484. The book was put on the banned books list in 1490, but the index was reprinted at the request of the pope in 1559 - ideas alive and well. The Inquisition mindset, seeded by Jerome's and his institution's interpretations of woman's place, prevailed. And prevails. Attention must be paid.

    Vet early and often. Before and while you trust.

    D. Why fuss about Jerome now?

    1. Vet anyone whose work still dominates our political, social or religious landscape

    As to Jerome and the Latin Vulgate, see if personal predilections and absorption of dogma influenced his translation, to reflect his personal predilections and absorption of dogma, then all that flowed from that translation is tainted - like fruit of the poisonous tree. See ://

    The Douay Rheims version of the Bible, the first English version authorized by the Roman Catholic Church in response to the Reformation, and in about 1609, flowed directly from the Latin Vulgate, we understand. The Vulgate was not totally Jerome's, but he was important to it and here is a symbol of old sources unvetted. Check for us. Then think of this idea - "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" when information flows from an originally tainted source - that is a courtroom concept for excluding tainted evidence, but it is broadly analogous because our culture today is swung by religious beliefs that stem from Jerome and his time. That is not a conclusion. It is an argument for simply checking. If the validity of those early interpretations is illusory, then the very foundations and walls surrounding gender roles are in issue here.

    How about other "Biblical" ideas - how much is bad translation, slanted translations, self-serving interpretations. Gay marriage, any other cultural issue. Vet the topics, go back to original sources. Propaganda by translation? Vet. Vet.

    2. A decision to stay with an idea or modify it is an analytical one. So analyze.

    Our culture and religion areas are exposed more and more to differing viewpoints. How to know what to hold on to, and what to let go? The issue arises when the old authority is used in new situations, after new information and knowledge have evolved. Will the old leap-of-faith concepts still hold, or should they, when reason and human experience progressed far beyond what was known at the time.

    In flux now: Racial attitudes, American "supremacy," functions of tax policy, bipartisanship as more effective and stabilizing than bullying in domestic and global matters, traditional party and religious dogma, roles of genders, privacy and sexuality issues.

    3. Bad and good ideas spread even faster now, and that vetting is necessary to stability.

    We know old party lines are falling when the party's leader chooses a running mate, and the bump falls the more the person is vetted, seen in a variety of situations. Small Jerome Effect. Lasted only a few weeks. Failure to Vet is fine for those who never question authority. Jerome's wall to them represents a 'load-bearing wall" - not to be moved in renovations of the culture-religious house. That analogy is useful, given all the home improvement shows on TV. See FN 1. Some Palin supporters will never see her as flawed, or McCain as flawed because he failed to vet.

    It is not fine for those who do question authority. For them (us) Jerome's wall represents only a partition - move it about, take it out, cut it down, make a window in it, when it is no longer functional, not serving its purpose of making life better for more. Authority needs investigation as to transparency and full disclosure, and regulation, or it goes amok, whether religious, financial or political.

    F. Vetting in Advance Allows for Choice when Cracks Show Up In Old Systems.

    Every house needs renovating some time. The trick is: what walls can be moved, and what has to stay for the integrity of the whole. Try this: Ask how attached is any cultural dogma to empire (disposable "partitions") of some group; and how much to national wellbeing. How much of what we were raised to believe really relates to core "inspiration," without which we fall (load-bearing walls - leave in place)? FN 1

    Gender roles, allowing privacy, personal responsibility to dominate in areas of morality instead of force imposed. Do we dare challenge its precepts, at the risk of culture and religion falling apart; or can we assess his street creds objectively and then decide if the wall he built is really load-bearing or dispensible as a mere subjective-serving partition.

    FN 1 Why don't we question what icons say.

    Disney - a child's dream. Even the best-intentioned "translation" or rewrite, however, should be read on the right with the original close on the left. Try it with Disney, children's books. Compare: your child's pale boring book, with the pastels and butterflies, against
    a) the real life Rapunzel, who got pregnant, see Migratory Patterns, Fairy Tales, Rapunzel; and
    b) the real tough Red Riding Hood, who cut open the wolf and put stones in, the real Grimm, against almost any "modern" and wussy filtered retelling, see Migratory Patterns, Fairy Tales, Red Riding Hood. Who do we think we are protecting. From what.

    Other religious areas: Was Paul really "converted" or was he such a good community organizer that the conversion was added later, to justify what he was already doing on his own? Will we ever know. See Martin Luther's Stove, Religula.

    FN 2 Need to vet? Apply the Home Improvement Test.

    With all the home-improvement, home redesigns on TV, the topic of how to assess need for and effectuate change is in the air.

    See, e.g., guru Bob Vila at ttp://

    Fix up your house not only with an eye to your own convenience, but also to whether the fix-up is an improvement because of new knowledge, understanding - was the original conception in design a valid one - truly functional, doing what it was supposed to do; and only then whether the change increases its value to others in case you need them.

    Or is the structure post-and-beam, with only the outside frame as a load-bearer. Familiar concepts to the Natural Handyman, but not to many others. Check how to proceed at://

    Saturday, November 1, 2008

    Change In A Time of Recrimination. Framing Laws for a Diverse Culture

     I. The Need to Draft and Implement Laws
    for a Diverse Society


    Check for any religious precept underlying or part of any law proposed, and apply a specific Pre-Legislative Screening to that religious precept.

    How do ideas spread.  By force, or by quiet showings.  Is there a point where Sassafras  Tree, Democracy Spreads by Runners, Roots.

    1. If the religious precept in the law proposed can be objectively corroborated or verified as a valid ground for a law, fine.  Use the precept, just don't phrase it religiously.

    2. If the religious assertion as ground cannot be corroborated or verified, then it is not a proper subject for a law in a diverse society, and the proponents are left with convincing or persuading, but not legal force.

    Let's try it out.

    Proposed Law:
    A. No law shall be premised upon a claim that a law complies with, divine will or divine intent, unless
    1. The proponent first presents text in support of that divinely ordained idea, and to an impartial panel of disinterested scholars of ancient languages including Syriac, and Paleo-Hebrew, or oldest Hebrew, and from no fewer than six independent traditions including the Eastern Christian (see "Christian Century" article above).
    2. The panel shall subject the text to
    a) full chain of custody scrutiny, to ensure that the text produced is unchanged from the original; and
    b) such to include examination for taint in the translation and transmission and inclusion and exclusion of alternate texts and meanings.
    3. The panel then must find unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt after full text analyses that the position proposed is indeed divinely ordained by such text, not the position statement of the writer, and in the exact form so presented.
    4. At that time, the proposal shall be set before the legislature for further processing or dismissal.
    Sample findings of the Panel:  See FN 1 for sample findings of the corroboration-verification panel on issues pending in some states.
    II.  Why does religious and ethnic diversity get in the way of laws and enforcement

    Absence of agreement on what religion controls. There are no more clear majorities who can overcome the others. Who is telling you what? Others are being told something else. Are all our minds filled with beliefs that may well be dysfunctional in terms of national cohesion if applied to others. How to bridge competing dogmas.   How to discern .

    How, or if, to hold on - to a deeply felt cultural belief. People feel strongly about race, how finances work, abortion, stem cell use, uses of warfare, political labels and identification, place in a culture, what laws should cover, reliability of what authority.

    Daunting. Elections end, but the jockeying and persuasion efforts will continue.

    How to contribute constructively, find and protect larger interests of cultural stability, productivity, meeting essential needs; while being true to personal belief.

    III.  If there is a faith-religious ground claimed, then vet it

    1.  Corroboration as to claims - outside corroboration, in experience

    Corroboration means support for the grounds of the law, as with outside evidence that makes the law reasonable and necessary; or to otherwise make something that was otherwise questionable, more certain. See://

    The corroboration need not be absolute. At least, however, corroboration should mean there is little chance of someone pushing self-interest alone; or mere personal belief.

    Uncorroborated testimony for a law or other matter may indeed be suspect.  For example, who is the speaker making the statement. Is there an agenda.  Uncorroborated testimony cannot be used in some places if it comes from a jailhouse "snitch" against another inmate, according to this account of a bill in California, see overview in lay-peoples' terms of the issues at South Carolina Criminal Defense Blog at ://

    The rationale includes how easy it is for the State to plant snitches, and the number of unreliable results because the snitch wants a deal. But uncorroborated testimony can establish a sexual assault unless the testimony itself is "inherently incredible." See sample jury instruction from West Virginia, at :// In some cultures, and ours until relatively recently, the weight of testimony depends on gender, or ethnicity. A Somali girl age 13 reports rape, father supports her; three men deny; charge adultery as to her. Guilt and execution by stoning for girl. Charge: Adultery. See Somalia Stoning, at :// Corroboration may depend on legally defined weight to be given to what the witness says, see gender issues. Weighted corroboration made into law is a weapon.

    Corroboration is a basic means of establishing credibility of people - a witness - to the issue at hand. But it can be manipulated.

    2. Suppose someone brings out a version of a Bible. Or other text. Authentication of documents used to support a claim

    Verifying that an object is what it is said to be. What is more basic. Verifying, authenticating, is done in several ways. Let's say you use a religious or political text to support your position for a proposed law.  Consider the problems there for anyone else.
    • Verifying a text by similitude - is this an accurate translation or summation of earlier documents, as from another language, or era - for example, the Constitution or Declaration of Independence - or has an interest group inserted a slant. Interpretation vs. original intent. How to know? Go back to the original whenever you can, then follow the dots
    • Verifying by Chain of Custody. This gets interesting as to religious texts. Here, you document who had possession of it all along the line, and show that nobody in that chain of possession altered it in any way. Are words changed, left out, substituted..
    Chain of custody is used as a concept in preserving evidence or samples in environmental protection matters. Think of a field sample moving from the hands of the collector through various other custodial hands to the custodianship of the lab technician, see Environmental Protection Agency course, at ://

    In legal terms, think of the OJ trial and collecting crime scene material. Was it left in the trunk of a car and overheated for 3 days before being clocked in at the station, and did that taint it. See similar issues at Legal Technology, Auditability and Chain of Custody at ://

    Chain of custody is a basic means of establishing the bona fides to the issue, the 'credibility,' of stuff. The thing itself. Compare the version presented to you, with the original, and trust no single interpretation. Do it yourself. Why not? What does the plain meaning of the original mean, against how it is represented. Make a difference? Agenda of the later speaker?
    • Verifying an object by demonstrative evidence. If you don't have the original, what do you have?
    If this is a model or diagram or replica - is it accurate. Verify. Authenticate. Is this a gun of the same model, make, year, condition, as the one destroyed in the fire. See the Advanced Trial Handbook, at :// If this is a photo, was it taken under the same conditions, altered, enhanced.

    B.  But how do ordinary people do any of that authenticating?

    The internet is invaluable here for corroboration - how to protect citizens who do not have computers? Sometimes, we don't know how to verify, but we think something is wrong. How to cope?

    That dilemma, of the perceived something wrong, was disastrous in centuries past with - look at this example - changelings. How to prove it? Also witches, heretics. Trial by ordeal was favored. Often the child died without the changeling having been substituted by the faeries, as they were expected to do in compassion for the child.  So, a real child gone. Not a changeling, but too late.
    • There are some primordial issues that unearth old fears that things are not as someone says - Is this an elfin changeling, or Angelina Jolie's real little boy? "Changeling" - see :// See the treatment and determination of suspected Changelings in "Primitive Beliefs in Northeastern Scotland," at Google books at
    At least we have computers, as we used to have newspapers.

    Or, we have the alternative, skip the questions and just believe. Like Dorothy.  Click your heels.

    D. How to address where we have blind spots, and do not want to question,
    yet there is a need for law

    How to word the concept to meet a variety of religions, emotions, political dogma

    Here are examples
    • Emotion. This seldom gets vetted. I am in love and he loves me and I will marry this person willy-nilly; and so you do; and I am one, oh yes, who discarded all corroboration in favor of hormones, and who fell in love and married willy nilly and it turned out fine and I still do the I do ...
    • Political affiliation. This political party is the party of my family and that party is in my interest
    • Text adoption. This particular translated Bible text volume I have here is The Word of God;
    • Faith in translation. Pick a text. Cherrypick. This phrase means that; and that phrase over there, is more important than the other phrase on the other page; take this literally; ignore that
    • Ethnicity. Purple people are lazy
    • Religious authority. People who say they are "inspired" are. Period.
    • Race. My tradition-race is superior to your tradition-race.
    • and so on - see topics explored at Martin Luther's Stove, Vetting Belief Systems. For a quick look at how originals can differ from later renditions, see transliteration of old Hebrew at :// Then, take your own text and choose verses for comparison to any other version of OT or NT. See the changes over time. On those kinds of issues, suggest some corroboration or verification, and there is trouble
    So how to live in a diverse society? Lots of people have ideas on what laws they want passed.

    This system does not work in extremist-controlled societies where the alternative to disagreement with the interpretation of the deity's law is death. 

    In current news is the stoning execution in Somalia of the 13-year old girl who reported being raped, see section V here at para. 3; and the three men denied and accused her of adultery. The religious dogma of the powers that be may say that a female's testimony is less than a male's but under our system, if that phenomenon cannot be objectively verified, dogma or not, it has no place in law. The girl would be protected. We hope.

    Moral:  It takes a society's own moderates / liberals to protect against extremists who would impose their interpretation of a deity's will on others.  How can any outsider gain the leverage over extremists to stop the internal extremists? Situation today?

    V. Conclusion.
    For a diverse society, laws shall be grounded in corroborated, verifiable findings, as cultural matters. Laws for a diverse society shall be debated and framed without reference to any group's religious texts or faith based belief.

    1. As to corroboration, faith by definition cannot be corroborated, so no issue of faith shall ground a law. For example, legislative restrictions on reproductive choice in a pluralistic society shall not refer to "soul" unless "soul" is objectively proven.

    2. As to authentication of texts, the chain of custody of the western Bible series, including all the translations, losses, changes, exclusions - nobody can put that together as to the texts now said to be sacred, and "inspiration" is nondemonstrable.

    3. As to Beliefs, any citizen shall be free independently to believe in anything as his or her chosen Dogma, and to the degree of Literalism that he or she elects.

    4. But such Belief shall not serve as any authoritative or persuasive basis for any legislation or approbation attaching to or affecting any other individuals or groups in the society.

    Note that this approach, in providing for maximum individual practice while minimizing intrusion into other faith systems, is the opposite of cultures where one group's extremist interpretation of the faith system is imposed upon all others, regardless of corroboration or disagreement among conservatives, moderates and liberals also within that faith system. How would this affect the stoned child in Mogadishu, Somalia, above? No weighted corroborative testimony based on dogma, as occurred here, we understand. Instead, any weighting of testimony based on gender must be objectively verifiable. All testimony of all females against males is inherently untrustworthy and subversive? Try it.


    The deity systems globally that love us all, and want peace among us --


    Did you hear? ! #@*!^X --



    FN 1 Sample Findings,

    The Pre-Legislative Screening Panel
    As To Any Group's Dogma

    A. Must Marriage Be Between A Man and A Woman.

    What would our panel find?

    If that is to be based on a religious idea, rather than a cultural one, that means finding proof of when "marriage" began, and for what purpose, and when multiples among spousi-spousae are acceptable. And that it was actually divinity setting the rules, not patriarchs after Eden. What was "inspired?" and what was self-serving edict to firm up a desired status quo. Corroboration - what other motives did the writer have. How close to the event was the writing? What oral traditions may have altered original ideas when the earliest text no longer was convenient.

    Note that any reference to the Old Testament requires presentation of oldest texts in the original Syriac, from which Old Hebrew launched itself. See discussion of oldest languages and the eastern Christian church at "The Christian Century, Thinking Critically, Living Faithfully," November 4, 2008, Vol.125, No.22, at 22ff - "The Church's Long Forgotten History, Long Lost Christians," by Philip Jenkins.

    Or shall we be literal: take an Abrahamic marriage? Not only consider concubinage, but read how Abraham treated Sarah when his own well-being was threatened. There went Sarah's. For that and other issues, take a look. www.scripture4all transliteration, see Martin Luther's Stove, Creation Text Issues.

    The panel would note that there was no marriage in Eden - no vows, no lifelong commitment, no promises, no exclusivity. Use of the term "wife" came later - partner is closer to the original. Marriage came in when property ownership came to be, and the wives became property as were the ewes. Women raising children do fine, so long as the men don't attack. Or fight over them. Is that so?

    And then the guy needed to pass his property to his heir - like Abraham who by then had flocks - so he had to lock that in - and he made it a guy thing. Is that also so? All this isThen, with the oldest texts, how to corroborate that what was written was "inspired?"
    • Panel Finding. Marriage is not "ordained" - it evolved to meet property interests primarily, and consolidate power in one group over another. Therefore, the State can define it as it will, as a cultural matter, but without reference to the "Biblical"
    B. Is the Woman's Role to be Restricted by the Man.

    What would our panel find.

    You will love looking into this. Is Eve a mere caddy, a helper, or is she "k ngd u" or "k ngd v" or KNGDV - meaning "in front of" - a guide, not a caddy? Take a look. www.scripture4all transliteration, see Martin Luther's Stove, Creation Text Issues. Eve can decide whether or not she wants more than a partner.
    • Panel Finding. Eve is in front of, not behind, Adam. Eve does as she likes. Doesn't even have to wear a hat, or keep quiet. Therefore any restriction placed upon women is a cultural matter and not "Biblical" It is to be justified or not according to other measures.
    C. Shall gay marriage be prohibited. 

    Look back at Sodom and Gomorrah. 

    Go to the transliteration site at ://

    Is it equally feasible that the deity's ire was not directed at the male-male sexual act as so abhorrent.

    But it was the force, the taking of guests and forcing them, out of the home where they sought and were given hospitality, that was the baddy.

    By then, women were expected to be forced, and to be the forcee not the forcer. So the daughters being shoved out to the mob was ok in comparison. Not a breach of hospitality.

    Maybe so, maybe not. That is the inquiry, however. Is it the threat to transmittal of property that is in issue? See issues related to contractual lifetime relationships between consenting adults, separating Civil Marriage from Religious Marriage, at PoseJuxta, Civil Marriage, Religious Marriage.
    • Panel Finding. Gay marriage is fine for those who want it. Gay stuff is bad only when forced. Gayness is a matter of culture, not "Bible", and any differing treatment must be grounded on non-Biblical considerations. Find outside corroboration for whatever.
    D. Shall people be barred from using birth control

    How so? Well, Eve must have practiced it - two children immediately, then long gap and only another when one of the first was gone. Well done. No concern of the deity. No need to wade further into Roe. That suffices. When you get to little swimmers able to breathe if out, Roe covers that. Otherwise, use convincing - not force. Nobody is pro-abortion. The problem really seems to be this: that "pro choice" means "pro force." No. No force. Location, location. Convince, people, convince, and lay the groundwork for people wanting to choose your way. People have multiplied just fine.
    • Panel finding. Birth control is fine or not as the culture determines, but not to be derived from Biblical considerations.
    E. Shall abortion laws be based upon "ensoulment" ideas

    Or shall aborting developing foetus considerations be based on basic humanity, alternate implantation options at various stages, minimization of pain when necessary for health of the one already here, knowledge of development, best shot as in Roe, all those gray areas not subject to proofs -
    • Panel decision: Roe is the best we can do, since we can't corroborate anything about a soul, and there is a humane consideration both ways, so we weigh and tilt toward the life already breathing if it comes to that.. So run around and convince people, but that is your arsenal. Convincing. And you have a great shot at that, better than force.
    And so on. So far, culture 10, religion based laws, 0.