Monday, March 26, 2007

Back from Spain

I am back from Spain. I spent two days in meetings with some great academics, including this guy and this guy. I am really lucky to be involved in a project with them and others examining public opinion towards immigration in Western Europe.

After two days in Barcelona, my father - who flew in a day after me - and I mounted a couple of motorcycles and headed across the country for six days. We rode past Valencia the first day, down to Grenada the second, up Gibraltar (to the very top) and off to Seville the next day. On Thursday we headed to Albacete and on Friday we stayed in Tureul. Saturday we returned to Barcelona, 3000 kms wiser and no younger from all of the coffee we drank. There can be little doubt that Spain is a first class bike country. Pictures are soon to follow. (For those interested, this is a first-rate outfit from which to rent bikes).

In the meantime, I am back to experimenting on students and writing about the effectiveness of direct mail.

8 comments:

Patrick Lemieux said...

Welcome back, Peter! :-)

Anonymous said...

I just saw this comment of yours at Jason Cherniak's blog:

I wonder if Mark Holland thinks it's ok to check out a person's bank balance before returning a lost wallet? Do you think it's ok, Jason?

For a PhD, you're a bit of a moron, so let me explain the ethics here. It is it not unethical per se to check someone's bank balance from the information contained in a wallet; it is however unethical to use that information in an unethical manner (to smear someone as poor, for example...just to be mean). However, if that information points to criminality (which I doubt a bank balance by itself ever could) then there'd be a moral imperative to use that information to obtain justice.

See how that works?

Now, stop clogging up the blogosphere with stupid questions.

Peter Loewen said...

Thanks for signing your name.

It's a bit much for Holland to suggest that the Conservative's cannot be trusted with people's privacy rights because someone at Parliament Hill didn't deliver their boxes, and then make a bunch of claims based on his searching of those boxes. Don't you think? Or is that another clogging question?

Peter Loewen said...

And do you actually think it's ethical to look into another person's private information just because you can? Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for signing your name.

I'm not signing my name because I have absolutely no interest in committing myself to any discussions involving credentialed nitwits who think ethics and morality have nothing to do with real-world facts or common sense. But, in for a penny, in for a pound:

It's a bit much for Holland to suggest that the Conservative's cannot be trusted with people's privacy rights because someone at Parliament Hill didn't deliver their boxes, and then make a bunch of claims based on his searching of those boxes. Don't you think? Or is that another clogging question?

It is the responsibility of the Loyal Opposition, above all, to call attention to any government wrong-doing, especially if it's criminal. That has nothing to do with the government's legal obligation to protect the confidential information of the citizen.

And do you actually think it's ethical to look into another person's private information just because you can? Sheesh.

Ethics is not about dissecting a complicated series of events and isolating each action to determine whether the act is "ethical" or not. To do so is to indulge in obscurantism and obfuscation, which are unethical.

Like I tried to explain to you, it depends on what you do with the information. In this case, there is a moral and legal imperative for the Loyal Opposition to be aware as much as possible of the activities of the government. That documentation was left behind, there is no crime involved in looking at it, and the suspicion of criminalilty compels a member of the Loyal Opposition to give it the attention it deserves.

You're just trying to claim that simply *looking at the information* is *the* ethical issue here, when it isn't at all. Personally, I don't snoop, mostly because my parents taught me that you might not be happy about what you find. But if I think my responsibility is to protect others from immoral or criminal behaviour, I certainly will look at private information if it has come to my attention legally.

As we all know (and you should by now), if you want private information to remain private, you have to be meticulous about how you manage it.

Focus on the real moral and ethical issues here; is Holland's behaviour nothing more than baseless smearing? Did the Conservatives break the law?

Peter Loewen said...

Funny, because you have committed yourself. At least I'll be accountable for what I write.

As I suspect we won't see eye to eye on this (and as I suspect you're probably just a partisan who thinks anything goes), I shall just say that I would feel my privacy was pretty severly violated if I knew that Mark Holland had read my job performance reviews, especially given that they were marked private/confidential, and especially given that he had only gained access to them either by luck or by more nefarious means.

Now, you seem to think the ends justify the means, and that's a fair position to take, I guess. But it doesn't seem terribly fair to those people who've had countless others read about their private assessments.

Jason said...

Um, yeah... I came in here to talk about motorcycling? In Spain...? Am I? Is this the right...? [Arguing parties break off bickering and slowly turn to regard confused man. Beat. Confused man backs quietly out of room.]

Peter Loewen said...

You're telling me.