Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Proposition 8

The sad story of yesterday’s election seems like it’s going to be California voting for Proposition 8, declaring that marriage is between a man and a woman, thus striking down the state’s Supreme Court ruling. This to me seems like obvious discrimination and I couldn’t be more against it. I just read a great piece that put it into perfect perspective for me (via techno.blog(“Dion”)). The basic thesis is that if you can’t find anyone within the group a piece of legislation is effecting that’s in favor of it, it’s discriminatory.

The entry gives three examples: “I have met many women who are pro-life. They’ve traded one value (personal choice) in favor of another (sanctity of life). … I’m in favor of women having voting rights, even though I’m a man. … There are Silicon Valley zillionaires who are voting for Obama. If Obama is elected, they will pay more in income and capital gains tax as a result.”

While I expect there may be holes in this theory, and that you’d have to specify the type of legislation it works for (like specifically “values” legislation), what struck me was it’s similarity to Karl Popper’s definition of science (which I wrote about in January): “Philosopher Karl Popper has argued for decades that the primary criterion of science is the falsifiability of its theories. We can never prove absolutely, but we can falsify. A set of ideas that cannot, in principle, be falsified is not science.”

I haven’t put this through the ringers yet, but it seems to me like this statement is scientific: Legislation that can not be supported by anyone in the effected group is not values, it’s discrimination. Now let’s try and throw things against it that prove it wrong. The first thing I think of is laws that punish criminals, which theoretically they would be against. However, those same laws also protect criminals as citizens from other criminals. Anyone else?

November 5, 2008