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Jury Selection and the Five Factor/Big 5 Personality Factors

Snoop (herefocuses on the Big 5 personality factors.  Why care?  Because it seems that the Big 5 are correlated with actual juror behavior.  According to one study: 

Actual venire members ( N = 764) completed the Big Five Inventory before going through the jury selection process for 1 of 11 criminal or 17 civil trials. In the 17 juries that deliberated to a verdict (n = 285), high levels of juror extraversion were associated with not guilty verdicts or verdicts for the defendant, especially in criminal cases. Extraversion was also associated with being selected as a jury foreperson, and foreperson extraversion was associated with longer jury deliberation times and perceived foreperson influence in criminal cases.

Clark, J., Boccaccini, M. T., Caillouet, B., and Chaplin, W. F. (2007). "Five factor model personality traits, jury selection, and case outcomes in criminal and civil cases."  Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34, 641-660. 

Even though there is a correlational relationship, the study notes: "Jury selection decisions by attorneys were not associated with juror personality traits but were associated with juror race and sex, especially in criminal cases."  Twelve years of grade school, jr high, and high school (or prep school for the richies); four years of college; and three years of law school.  Yet few still look more than skin deep.   

For more on the Big 5, check out this nice overview

Have You Heard?

Michael Jackson died, Bernie Madoff got 150 years, and the United States Supreme Court sided with the white firefighters.  Life would be unintesting if everyone stopped talking about the same things as everyone else.  And if everyone else decided to stop being interested in the same things, life would be a bore.  Because there is nothing quite as exciting as sameness.  Now please excuse me while I take my MacBook to Starbucks where I'll send text messages from my iPhone about Michael Jackson, Bernie Madoff, and the United States Supreme Court's white guys.

Western Centric Bias, Pascal's Wager, and Muslim "Freedom"

An ignorant 19-year-old from a farming community, I found Pascal's Wager reasonable.  "Pascal's Wager (or Pascal's Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal that even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because so living has everything to gain, and nothing to lose."

If Christians are wrong (because there is no God) but you live "morally," then when the lights go out, they stay out.  It's not as if living a moral life will lead you to unhappiness.  Everyone wants to be a polygamist, but nobody wants to get herpes.  Living "morally" is usually, at worst, a wash.

On the other hand, if you bet that there is no God but are wrong, you will burn in Hell for eternity.  If you're going to make a bet, the smart money is on God.

Blaise Pascal was a Frenchman who lived in the 1600s.  He didn't have exposure to world culture and world religions.  Instead, he was a product of the Western World.  In the Western World, there is but one God.  Sure, Christians burned Lutherans at the stake and tortured Catholics due to disagreements over the True Nature of God.  But most agreed that God was this white-looking guy who looked down upon all us.

Today's world is much larger than Pascal's.  There are thousands of religions.  Many religions, due to the need to terrify people into believing the unbelievable, have their own version of Hell.  Pascal's Wager is thus much less reasonable.  How can one decide which religion to choose?  After all, many of them are mutually exclusive.  You can't be a Christian and a Muslim.  Who gets the golden streets, the 72 virgins, and the molten-hot pitch prostate massage?  

In a big world, the choice is no so clear.  Pascal's Wager thus no longer makes sense.  There is no smart bet.

Yet thinking about Pascal's Wager has led me away from thinking about Pascal's Wager.  Let's think more broadly - about the general bias we have by product of our Western living and Western mind.  

Ken at Popehat has a post discussing the French Solution to the Muslim Problem, namely, make women remove their garmets of oppression.  Ken thinks that the French are being Orwellian: It does not make a woman more free by telling her she cannot be a slave.  As a Western man, I would agree.

Ken writes:

Leaving people free to make choices means that some will make choices we don’t like under pressures we deplore. Libertarians tend to advocate making drug use and prostitution legal, but that doesn’t mean we like to see women become prostitutes or people engage in heavy drug use — we just think that the alternative, letting the state treat us like children, is unacceptable. Some Muslim women will wear the burka under threat of pariah status at best and physical violence at worst.

Does it really make sense to speak of "free choices," though, when discussing Muslim women?  As a Western man, I do indeed make many free choices that limit my freedom.  Can we really say the same is true of Muslim women?  

When we make Ken-like arguments, aren't we really just falling into Pascal's trap?  To us, of course it makes sense to recognize that Muslim women have the right to make choices that limit their freedom.  Are Muslim women really making a free choice?  Or is that simply how it looks to those of us in the Western world?  

"The Private Lives of Jurors"

In the most recent Los Angeles Lawyer is an article exploring the legal and ethical issues of having a private investigator, investigate jurors.  (It's here.)  It's written by two associates from the best investigative firm in California, Batza & Associates.  This ancedote was especially interesting:

As part of the effort to profile jurors, some litigators hire investigators to perform what is sometimes called a drive-by. This involves a visit to, and careful observation of, a juror’s residence and neighborhood. While an investigator cannot directly contact a juror or a juror’s family members or interview a juror’s neighbors or acquaintances, a drive-by is permissible and can sometimes yield valuable information regarding the juror’s economic, cultural, and social environment. 

One investigator, for example, performed a drive-by of a juror in a high-profile tobacco industry case and observed a vehicle parked in the driveway of the juror’s home bearing a bumper sticker that read, “Cigarettes Kill!”

I'm betting the juror, during voir dire, said, "Of course I can be fair and impartial!"  Read the whole thing here.

Even in Recession, Good Help is Hard to Find

Saying this deeply offends people, as the truth often does: If you are the best at what you do, you'll always have a job. People go home, drink beer, and watch televion.  They are then shocked to lose their jobs.

Sure, rarely an industry dies; but even then, start learning a new skill while your industry lives.  If I had been an auto worker, I would have been attending night school to become a male nurse.  Just as I was about to lose my job at GM, I'd be beginning my new career as a nurse.

This isn't complicated stuff.  You don't need to be smart to be a nurse.  Just study and memorize, which is tedious but not intellectually challenging.  Nursing pays well.  The nursing industry isn't going anywhere.  So go be a nurse.

Sure, it's hard to become good at what you do; or to learn a new skill.  Yes, studying at night after work is a bear.  You need to work harder than everyone else.  What does that have to do with anything, though?  

I'm supposed to feel sorry for out-of-work people who, for years, went straight home from work to a can of Budweiser and a television set.  Why?

Kindle DX Review

Awesome, A+, fantastic, must-see review here.  The .pdf feature is what sold me on the DX rather than the Kindle 2.  The DX is larger, though.  With the Kindle 2, you must convert .pdf files.  Not everyone has had good luck with the conversion.  Most of my day is spent reading trial transcripts.  It'd be nice to take my "office" to the dog park.  Looks like that will be much easier with the DX.  I can probably justify it as a tax write off, too.  

Gig: What Your Jurors Do For a Living

I was up too late last night reading Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs.  People from every job imaginable (or unimaginable) give a first-person narrative of what their jobs are like.  Each entry is a few pages.  Easy to skip from one profession to another.   Great insight into how people think about what they do for a living.

Conclusive Evidence of Media Cover-Up: New York Times Covers Up David Rohde Kidnapping

It doesn't get more overt than this.  The New York Times and every other media outlet refused to cover a story involving a kidnapped Times reporter.  They had good reasons.... If you believe that it's the job of a media outlet to decide when to cover something that is clearly newsworthy.  

How many lives have the Times risked and ruined through covering newsworthy stories?  The journalists usual answer: "I don't play God.  If it's newsworthy, I need to cover it."

Suddenly, when it involved one of their own, the Times found a conscience.  The Times played God.

Maybe they made the right decision.  That's not the point of my post.  For over a decade, I have pointed out media manipulation and cover-ups.  Usually I'd get rolled eyes in response.

Those of you who have accused me of being paranoid about media cover ups can now kindly go fuck off.  Thanks.