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A Study by Colorado’s Corrections Department Finds that Solitary Confinement is Good for Mental Health ( The Department’s chief researcher said of legitimate criticisms of the study, “In any study, there’s always plausible alternative explanations.” The problem is when the plausibility of the alternatives is greater than or equal to the plausibility of the study’s results. That seems to be the case in this study, in which a variety of other identified artificial factors may have caused the results, any one of which is at least as likely as that the results themselves are valid. Rule number one of empirical research: Either isolate the variable, or control for intervening variables. Failure to do that means the study is garbage.

Jews resent Mormon practice of post-humously baptizing Holocaust victims into the Mormon Church ( What strikes me about this story is that, if you don’t believe in the Mormon religion or in the sanctity of their baptisms, then their fiction doesn’t have to be your reality. I get how insulting this practice appears to be on the surface, and how insulting it is at some level, given the perceptions of those engaging in it (they believe that they are making a relevant decision on behalf of those who died, without any right to do so). But, for my part, if it makes a Mormon happy to baptize me in absentia, or anyone I care about, knock yourselves out. On the other hand, if, for some reason, others involved are unable to dismiss the practice as someone else’s fiction, then their sensibilities are relevant, and do indeed merit consideration.

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