Wednesday, March 24, 2010

does facebook facilitate the spread of syphilis, does craigslist facilitate all sort of crimes?


@roncallari thanks for the link, Ron! same issue: only thing correct is that the guy did not prove it but it is definitely a possibility ~D. 2 minutes ago via web in reply to roncallari


sorry about the delay...

re: "no one is saying that Facebook actually causes syphilis, but they are saying that it is to blame for people getting syphilis, in the same way that people blame Craigslist for other people’s homes being broken into or whatever the case may be."

Matthew, as I said in my 1st comment:

"Quite possibly, Facebook may facilitate the spread of syphilis (and thus cause the observed “rise in syphilis” like the actual Telegraph title says) and Craigslist may well facilitate killings, as well as all sort of other crimes."

this is the issue that needs to be addressed ... but you *can't* even get to it if you fall in the trap of Craig Newmark and similar and believe that regardless of what the facts show, facebook/craigslist/etc. just can't have anything to do with the fourfold rise in syphilis, for instance... so all that's left is to blame it all on "human nature" and watch all sort of ills go through the roof without even attempting to do anything about it!

compare that with actually acknowledging what's going on and taking measures to keep things under control -- and it's no trivial matter (peoples' lives are often at stake!)


P.S. already said everything I had to say on this -- take are! D.


you are welcome!

Again, as far as I can see, you are only correct on the fact that based on the info presented *we don't know*... not that there is no evidence (they listed plenty of it! it's just not conclusive) or it *couldn't* be the case that say, if Facebook went down for a significant length of time, the rates of syphilis would go down to a quarter of what they are while Facebook is operational, all other things being equal.

And of course, you can never prove 100% that all other things were equal but the Telegraph article would have been much stronger if they would have shown that they checked for the other major things that could have caused the number to go up fourfold and none were found.


P.S. I'm not buying the argument that it's like the phone or the automobile is somehow directly (physically) causing syphilis -- how silly, that's not what the argument is about at all... Although plenty of people have fallen for that and other of Craig Newmark's ridiculous PR, that's just a means of causing confusion and evading the problem: it's distracting from the fact that the use of particular phones and/or automobiles (like the use of Facebook or craigslist) can easily cause an increase in serious crimes. And there are things that could and should be done about it.

To stay with this analogy, most people don't really doubt the fact that forbidding the use of the phone for texting while driving an automobile reduces vehicular manslaughter and putting this into law makes sense. It has nothing to do with the ridiculous argument that the phone and/or automobile are killing people... D.

let's give Mathew Ingram another try:


I'm not sure if you misrepresented the article on purpose or simply misread it but I'll give you the benefit of a doubt. It talks about "rising" and "resurgence" not direct causation (so your title is either a mistake or intentionally misleading). And no, it does not prove it but the problem with the sort of argument you are making is that it implies NO correlation just because none was properly found -- that simply means we don't know! Not that it's not true, that it *couldn't* be true... Quite possibly, Facebook may facilitate the spread of syphilis (and thus cause the observed "rise in syphilis" like the actual Telegraph title says) and Craigslist may well facilitate killings, as well as all sort of other crimes. Any casual peruser of craigslist would have to be seriously dimwitted not to realize there are plenty of illegal things listed and it is at best unclear that craigslist is doing what it should to prevent serious crimes.


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