Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Differences Between Micheli, Massei, Hellmann and Nencini Courts Pointing To Almost Certain Outcome

Posted by Peter Quennell

What are the biggest differences? In fact the Supreme Court already pointed them out: science, scope, and balance.

Judge Micheli, Judge Massei and Judge Nencini all have a very extensive criminal-case background. All three have handled many cases of murder, many cases against the mafia, and many cases involving criminal science. All three have remarkable success records and have hardly ever been overturned on appeal. 

Judge Hellmann and his court are the extreme outliers. Until forced into early retirement by the Council of Magistrates, he had been a (quite good) business judge. His one major criminal case, years ago, had led to a farcical outcome, and he was ridiculed for this at the time.

Cassation made it very clear that he simply did not reflect a knowledge of the precise Italian law on scope and balance at the appeal level, and that he mishandled the science. In fact, as he actually said, the reason he appointed two independent DNA consultants was that he was at sea on the science.

That left Judge Hellmann’s panel of judges like a rudderless ship, bereft of the kind of good guidance from the lead judge on science, scope, and balance that comes only from many years of experience.

Which, given a level playing field, the pathbreaking Italian system enforces competently like almost no other.

Above all as the Hellmann Report makes extraordinarily plain, his court came to be swayed by the CSI Effect, with the help of two tainted consultants and probably the irresponsible Greg Hampikian in Idaho.

The CSI Effect is a phenomenon very, very unlikely to happen in Judge Nencini’s court.  First, take a look at this good explanation of what the CSI Effect is in the Fox Kansas City video.

Many crime shows such as the BBC mysteries and the Law & Order series and spinoffs show investigators solving their crimes in the old-fashioned way. Lots of witness interviews and alibi and database checking, and walking around and loose ends and lying awake at night puzzling. And often there’s a big stroke of luck. 

But if you watch the very popular CSI Las Vegas series and its spinoffs in Miami and New York, and the various clones on other networks, you will see something very different indeed.

When those shows first began airing worldwide in the late nineties, the producers explained that audiences increasingly appreciate learning something new when watching a show, and it is true, one sure can load up on the trivia.

But you will also see the US equivalent of Dr Stefanoni and her forensic team in those shows, roaming far beyond the narrow crime scene, interrogating witnesses and checking alibis and finding a lot of non-forensic evidence, and even at times drawing guns.

Most unreal is that, time and again, the forensic evidence testing is clearcut and takes just a few minutes and instantly clinches the case.

  • There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the Casey Anthony jury was affected by a shortfall in the starkness of the forensics when the behavioral evidence seemed so strong.
  • There are several articles like this one and this one on whether the appeal verdict outcome in Perugia might be affected in the same way.
  • There are many articles like this one and this one and this one and especially this one saying there is a tough added burden on investigators and juries without a commensurate improved outcome.

With conviction rates declining in the US and Europe, professionals are taking a scientific look at whether the CSI Effect is one big cause of that decline.

At the macro level in the US this writer doubted that the CSI Effect is fatally unbalancing takes on the wider evidence. The same conclusion was reached in this first major study at the micro level.

But the belief in the CSI Effect continues. Articles like this one on an Australian site talk of a backlash against too many acquittals. Some articles like this one argue that maybe lay juries are out of their depths.

And judges and prosecutions are taking countermeasures.

In Ohio and many other states prosecutors and judges are acting against a possible CSI Effect in their selection and briefing of juries. And an NPR report came up with these findings.

Some states now allow lawyers to strike potential jurors based on their TV habits. Judges are issuing instructions that warn juries about expecting too much scientific evidence based on what they see on TV.

In the field, Shelton says death investigators sometimes run useless tests, just to show they went the extra CSI mile.

“They will perform scientific tests and present evidence of that to the jury. Even if the results don’t show guilt or innocence either way, just to show the jury that they did it.”

This is coming at a time when death investigators in America have no resources to spare. An investigation by NPR, PBS Frontline and ProPublica shows some states have already opted not to do autopsies on suicides, others don’t autopsy people who die in traffic accidents, and many don’t autopsy people who die over the age of 60.

But Murphy, the Clark County coroner, expects things to get worse.

“You know, we’re in budget cuts right now. Everybody’s in budget cuts. Las Vegas is no different than anybody else. We’re hurting. We’re going to feel that same crunch as everybody else,” he says.

One of Zuiker’s great disappointments is that, for all its popularity, his fictional Las Vegas crime lab didn’t generate more political support to fund death investigation.

“I’ve done my job. You know, we’ve launched three shows that cater to 73.8 million people a week and is a global phenomenon and the largest television franchise in history. We hoped that the show would raise awareness and get more funding into crime labs so people felt safe in their communities. And we’re still hoping that the government will catch up.”

None of the science in Meredith’s case has ever been discredited in court. Even in Judge Hellmann’s court the agenda-driven independent consultants Conti and Vecchiotti failed - and under cross-examination admitted it.

Also remember that the Hellmann court did not get to see two very key closed-court scientific presentations (the stark recreation of the attack on Meredith, in a day of testimony, and later in a 15 minute video) which had a very big balancing effect on the Massei court. 

Right now the reputation of not one defense-campaign stooge who has attacked the science remains intact.

Greg Hampikian has headed for cover. He had widely proclaimed that he clinched the Hellmann court’s outcome, in an act which may well have been illegal. Unsurprisingly, he is now trying very hard to hide his own claimed “proof ” of shortfalls in the science, as Andrea Vogt has been showing in her Boise State University investigation, and as we will soon post more on. 

Saul Kassin is another defense-campaign stooge who falsely claimed that he clinched the Hellmann court outcome by “proving” a false confession by Knox - in an interrogation that never even took place.

Despite all of this, maybe as straw-snatching, we can again see an organized attempt to confuse American opinion on the science of the case.

Whether she did this intentionally or not, that is what the PR tool Colleen Barry of the Associated Press was doing when she omitted that the trace of Meredith on the knife is undisputed hard evidence.

Judge Micheli and Judge Massei handled the science, scope, and balance with some brilliance. In all three dimensions Judge Hellmann fell short abysmally.

What is your own bet on the outcome under the exceptionally experienced Judge Nencini?

Parts of this post were first posted in 2011 after the disputed and much examined outcome of the Casey Anthony murder trial..


When we use reliability in connection with some scientific evidence, we are unknowlingly making several assumptions. One of the most important of these assumptions is that any error present in these evidences are random in nature and have not been deliberately introduced with some objective of introducing some bias. Random errors have a tendency to cancel whereas subjective bias has a tendency to accumulate.

We had great respect for the scienitic results because it appeared something like a black magic but is respected to be perfectly unbiased. We have learned to take even eye-witness testimonies with a spoon of salt because they are vulnerable, just like us. Therefore the burden has shifted to science, for obvious reasons.

Nothing can be foolproof, because fools are very smart.

I am seeing a cottage industry is being produced that is going to deliver custom made results, whatever the actual result may be. Most “real” facts are malleable and flexible enough for multiple interpretations.

Now we must focus not on the details of the thousands of individual evidences, examining every word or letter with a microscope, but on the whole picture. How the various parts fit the total picture. Just like a jigsaw puzzle.

Let us wait for the final day. And wait for the whole landscape picture of evidences.

Posted by chami on 11/12/13 at 08:56 PM | #


The graph shows a steady increase in conviction rates by juries and a steady decline in conviction rates from the bench yet you say “US Feds are maintaining extremely high conviction rates by not using juries when chances of their getting out of their depth are high”. The data seems to suggest that convictions are falling when juries aren’t used. Am I missing something?

Posted by Odysseus on 11/12/13 at 09:12 PM | #

Hi Odysseus

Thanks. So the graph is gone. I’ll see if there is anything else worth including. Other links above seem to say it all. There are various papers saying wrongful convictions in the US are in the 1-5% range and a few papers mentioning such cases in European countries, but Italy does not seem to surface as a lead offender.

I watched Alan Dershowitz attempting to put in a good word for the American jury system after the CSI Effect seemed to have prevented Casey Anthony’s conviction, and he specifically mentioned Italy’s as a notably fault-free system with its enquiring panels of judges and two-tier appeal arrangement.

One thing that bedevils those who want to prove a travesty of justice in Meredith’s case is that, though they have to resort to accusing many people of crimes, they cant come up with a motive (no judges or prosecutors are elected and Dr Mignini’s career was never threatened) or hard proofs, or a reason why incarceration rates generally are so low.

New York adopting some of the same principles suggests Italian law enforcement has its merits and despite an overload due to caution it has elements of one of the better models out there.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/12/13 at 10:15 PM | #

True enough Peter. It is unfortunate however that juries generally can’t be bothered with the details.

For example Jody Arias jury although they convicted her of murder in the first, failed to provide an ‘exit strategy’ or a final conviction. I think the spit was 8to4 for the death penalty.

This is endemic to male perpetrators as opposed to female ones of course since juries world wide are squeamish DNA notwithstanding. See this with Knox and Sollecito. There are even now web sites extolling the innocence of Jody Arias even though she admitted to the murder of Travis Alexander.

There’s always some idiot who refuses to see the wood for the trees or in the case of Knox some would be white night coming to the rescue, 90% of them very old men if not in age then in mentality.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 11/12/13 at 11:43 PM | #

This piece should make Rff shake in his nike’s. Thankyou

Posted by Bettina on 11/14/13 at 07:25 AM | #

It’s interesting that where the defence have tried to pour doubt onto the forensic evidence, this has usually been an own goal, as if anything the evidence has been clarified and affirmed.

Perhaps ‘the maths effect’ has some influence on juries and the CSI affect? That is, where it has been established that if a book contains just a tiny amount of mathematical expression, the sales and readership fall dramatically.

At least, here (UK).

And people frequently misunderstand percentages and so on. What is the general standard of mathematical education/understanding like in the States?

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 11/14/13 at 11:52 AM | #

@Grahame Rhodes

“It is unfortunate however that juries generally can’t be bothered with the details”

I do not think that it is unfortunate- this is a positive thing in my opinion.

They have seen the experts arguing all sides of various evidences. They need not bother with all the technical details, but should be able to grasp the summary. They preserve this summary of evidence- and they put these together.

We do not know what and how do they argue, but we assume that the juries are regular intelligent folks with a clean and unbaised mind. They are busy putting the various summaries into the total picture.

I do not want them, at this stage, to be bothered with the technical details of each and every evidence presented. Now they can evaluate the balance of all the evidences.

Because there are several of them, and each of them are technically independent, the final result is generally aceptable.

1-5% genuine mistakes (wrongful convictions) are acceptable and understandable in the present setup (but please do not ask me to explain why and how!). We do not know how many are wrongfully released (H-Z syndrome, should we call that?) but all these numbers are based on assuming the system is unbiased.

If the system is perverted, then these numbers are no more reliable.

Posted by chami on 11/14/13 at 02:39 PM | #


more open discussions—->
  greater transparency—->
    truth gets exposed.

systematic misinformation——>
  greater distrust——>
    truth is hidden.

Somehow people have natural instinct to distinguish natural and fabricated information.

Just like genetically modified organisms leave a trail of evidence of manipulation in there genetic profiles that can identify them as unnatural.

You can fool all people some of the time but you can never fool mom.

Posted by chami on 11/14/13 at 06:30 PM | #

A-ha, good choice of words Chami, you can never fool mom, whose mom, may I ask? Amanda’s mom, right? It is always amazing to watch some brat’s parents defend their offspring’s dirty deeds, but in this case it’s bloody murder, and her very first reaction was to stop cute little Amanda from spilling the beans on the knife over the phone, that’s what I call maternal instinct.
But anyway, coming back to the CSI effect, in my opinion this effect has twisted the concept of *reasonable doubt* (a disservice to justice, really). Now technical speculators have sprung up, making even the slightest imperfection look like the biggest of hurdles. In the case at hand, there is very little doubt (we have to admit that it is infinitesimal, but still exists) that AK and RS played a major role in the murder. This “doubt level” is obviously insignificant relative to the generally-accepted “reasonable doubt”—the defense, however, wants to make us believe that it is actually much greater, and tries to convince the jury that nothing less than 100% certainty will be acceptable for a conviction. Well, some hot-tubbers will never believe an actual murder took place even if they saw it with their own eyes, so there goes your 100% certainty, with enough perseverance some murderers will walk free and get to write books about it.
However, mommy knows that little Amanda did a bad, bad, thing, and so does daddy, and it ain’t over yet ...

Posted by Bjorn on 11/14/13 at 10:58 PM | #

Hi Chami.
Perhaps I wasn’t clear. What I meant was that sometimes so much detail is given to any jury that in consequence confusion results. IE reasonable doubt. American lawyers in particular have used this trick for years. Example of the other side of the coin. OJ Simpson. “If the glove does not fit then you must acquit.” and this destroyed (At least in the mind of the jury) any evidence that had gone before because they were forced to zero in on that. This has happened here also where the DNA evidence is used to trump anything else. If you can stomach reading it, the blogs on the Knox web site are just one of complete denial where most of these idiots regurgitate stupid comments such as Mignini was convicted of falsifying evidence and suggesting it was a satanic ritual. There are still people out there who believe completely that is the case. Sad but true. They take anything and swallow it hook line and sinker. Such as, there was no Meredith DNA on the knife even when it’s been established completely that her DNA was on the knife to begin with. They ignore Sollecito saying that Meredith pricked her finger on the knife when he was cutting fish when she had never been to his apartment. But they of course ignore that and give excuses such as “He was confused” great defense eh? Enough though. We will wait and hope that there are no bad surprises coming out of the woodwork. I share Peters optimism of course, but I also remember the last time when were so sure that the conviction was a slam dunk.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 11/15/13 at 12:30 AM | #

Hi, Grahame, well put, and congrats on venturing into Knoxland (I couldn’t). Some appreciation of the present justice system is probably appropriate, in the old days the suspect would be promptly tortured, questioned rather brutally, and justly executed without much fuss, often by a family member of the victim (which is the way to go, in my opinion). For some complicated reason, the world “evolved”, torture metamorphosized into amiable questioning, good cop / bad cop routine became a subject of ridicule, and the worst of murderers could finally afford to relax and do cartwheels in the police station. However, the questioning is not without merit: people pay attention to what you say, and if you lie, you end up in major trouble, which is what happened in this case (aside from the hard evidence, which is more than ample). If the police or a normal person (sorry for using the word “normal” in these times, I probably just exposed myself to legal action) cannot make sense of what you say and you keep invoking your hallucinations as excuses for what comes out of your mouth, you also end up in major trouble. Now, some people argue that a liar is not a murderer, and people should not be convicted based on what they say. WRONG! Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. ANYTHING! If you cannot provide a sensible and credible explanation for your actions, and if you lie multiple times, you go to jail, because people do not believe that you are innocent. It is as simple as that - if you lie and you are by some miracle innocent of the crime, then the burden falls on you to prove your innocence, which in this case did not happen (no, writing a book about it does not count).

Posted by Bjorn on 11/15/13 at 01:27 AM | #

Can someone remind me / us just who IS the jury in this part of the trial?  Could be significant in terms of their understanding the entire body of evidence etc.  Thanks.

Posted by believing on 11/15/13 at 03:19 AM | #

What I like about this case, and the Italian system of justice, is the clear progression of logical thinking that is evidenced by the following sequence of Judges Reasoning Reports: Matteini, Micheli, Massei, and, the Supreme Court.

Kudos also to all the volunteers who presented the evidence to the English speaking world that would otherwise have had to rely on and have their opinions shaped by a corrupt media and PR agency led effort, and a whole slew of paid for hire ‘experts’. 

And it is the natural progression of thinking, so clearly laid out and what appears to be continued by Judge Nencini, that not only showed what an aberration the Hellman decision was, but also, what can be the only possible outcome of the Nencini Court process.

Posted by Ergon on 11/15/13 at 03:21 AM | #

Also would the reason the burglar would NOT have gone into the boys apartment (assuming the argument of a lone Guede burglar / rapist) because there are some strong looking metal security screens on their door and windows - or were they added later?  Just curious after looking at the villa photos in the October 8th post.

Posted by believing on 11/15/13 at 03:23 AM | #

Hi, believing. The two professional judges lead the court, while the remaining ‘citizen’ judges on the bench are what you might consider to be part of the ‘jury’, selected for the particular trial. As you go higher up the trial process the educational requirements for the jury go up as well, though even at the 1st trial level they must have an educational and otherwise established background not often seen on American juries.

It is only at the Supreme Court level that all the judges are professional jurists.

Quite an admirable system really, and an honour to have observed both through the pro-Meredith sites, and at first hand.

Posted by Ergon on 11/15/13 at 03:31 AM | #

Hi again, believing 😊

The bars were there on the lower apartment windows the day of the murder, as seen in news photos and when the defense lawyer used them to try reach the upper window in the earlier, failed experiment. The Channel 5 re-enactment shows the professional climber grabbing the subsequently installed upper window bars to pull himself up and sit on the perch.

BTW, supposed burglar Rudi could well have broken in through the boys flat downstairs through their glass windowed door, if he were so inclined, and as police inspector Lorena Zugarini did the day Meredith’s body was discovered. Or through the girl’s upstairs balcony door. That side is very dark and has very little pedestrian traffic, so a burglar could, and subsequently did, enter through that balcony, undetected.

But then, it begs the question. Rudy knew the boys had marijuana plants growing downstairs, and didn’t bother breaking in there to steal them, but decides to break in to the flat of a girl he ‘fancied’, Amanda Knox, around 9 PM at a time when any of the four girls could be home? Boggles the mind, to see the contortions the defense goes through to explain that.

Posted by Ergon on 11/15/13 at 03:50 AM | #


“would the reason the burglar would NOT have gone into the boys apartment…”

Instead of accepting such an open ended question, I shall pose a restricted version of the same with a different final outcome.

My question would have been:

Was Rudy the burglar? What would he do (if I can think like him) to make an entry?

And my answer would have been:

1. I would not block any escape route. If I am caught, I should be able to say that I have just come to look for xyz.

2. I shall focus on the objective and task on hand. Steal money or have sex but not both.

3. I would prefer to finish my toilet at home before going for a date/ theft.

4. If I am going after money, I would like to be alone and 9 PM is not the best time for me. As the house is familiar, I shall look for the easiest entry point that can also be used for an exit point.

Posted by chami on 11/15/13 at 11:17 AM | #

@Grahame Rhodes

I understood what you were trying to convey but I did not agree with the words.

One of my former students has left basic science (biology) and opted to become a lawyer. I told him a couple of lawyer jokes but he would not listen. I finally suggested him to train in IPR and today he is a very succssful lawyer in the US. Because of his basic background in science, he argues brilliantly. He still prepares for every lecture.

Arguments with members of the FoA camp go something like this:

Q: What is the color of the sky?
A: Dingo dog has four legs!
Q: That was not the question! Why don’t you try to answer to the point?
A: Prove me I am wrong!
Q: You want me to repeat the question?
A: There is no DNA.

I am not joking. Much of their arguments can be reduced to the above form. And when the debate goes on like as above, there is no end and therefore no winner unless you have someone acting as a supervisor judge.

Sometime you get tired. He who gets tired first, loses the game.

Posted by chami on 11/15/13 at 11:43 AM | #

Indeed. Any one can come home at 9 PM and interrupt a ‘burglary’.

Posted by Ergon on 11/15/13 at 03:39 PM | #

In that case Cami then I am at fault for not conveying my meaning in an erudite manner.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 11/15/13 at 06:10 PM | #

I try to be clearer but then I cannot be brief.

In the wild, the best and most common strategy of the predator is to the chase the prey long enough so that it is so tired that it cannot fight back. This way the predator conserves the most energy and saves its own skin!

This is also the most favorite strategy of the FoA.

In a conventional fight, it mostly starts with a petty cause and then escalates to the terrible violence. The party that cannot predict or see the game beyond 2-3 moves usually loses. Think as if it is a game of chess, War games are not much different.

Boxing is more popular than chess.Everybody can follow the game.

The great success of FoA is that they have always lost in the detail but never in their final claim. They do not care about the logic (see my previous post) but always sticks to the final talking point. The other party usually gets fed up and leaves.

For the indifferent observer, it is the final result that counts. For him, the details do not matter and he is usually dense in the matter of details. The fellow who just gets tired and leaves is the loser in the common perception.

Several posts back, The Machine (TM) mentioned how the advertisers influence the potential customers indirectly into thinking in a particular way. The trick is not really difficult- keep the message simple and mix it with hooks that gets attached to your thinking process (the brain). The process is so simple and so apparently innocouous that most common man do not realise the important message that is planted in their brain without their understanding.

I am sorry I cannot locate the post by TM, but it was only within 1-2 days.

You can see how the FoA argues: they will not leave their talking point. These day, the theme is “there is no DNA”. They do not bother about the details.

In the US, I think (I do not remember very well) the jury is selected at random and your academic qualifications are not important. If the jury does not get the point, you cannot blame him/her. I was always curious what do they discuss when they have to give the final opinion. The discussion topic, I understand, are mostly petty and trivial (but they are not disclosed). Italian juries, are selected on merit and their academic qualifications do matter- this is still true as confirmed by ergon. That makes a world of difference.

In a democracy the number game is important and the FoA is counting on that. They want to decide science by a poll. That is really very dangerous.

Not for Amanda or Meredith, it is bad the health of the nation. That is also called the USA.

Posted by chami on 11/15/13 at 07:59 PM | #


Your Q & A sketch made me laugh. Sometimes it seems as if they are being wilfully ignorant but then the realisation dawns that it’s much worse than that. These people have had no education that leads them to appreciate the value of discovering the truth for themselves, so their only approach is to adopt a “side” (often the media angle) and stonewall all pertinent questions -  because (a)they don’t understand the question and (b) they are led to believe that you, the questionner, are part of the “the other side” (thus “bad”) , or the “corrupt prosecution” agenda in this case.

It’s a hopeless, dispiriting task to engage them - and these morons are what our education systems turn out, in huge numbers it seems. Somewhere along the way showing youngsters the joy and satisfaction in finding things out for themselves gets left out of the curriculum, certainly for those not going on to higher education. For these poor souls, the emphasis in their teaching is always on passing school-leaving exams in order to produce more fodder for a system where independent thinking is very suspect, not to mention dangerous, and is positively discouraged. 

Then we wonder why young people rebel. Who wouldn’t, given the way they are treated throughout primary and secondary education? They are at least beginning to ask questions at this stage, albeit incoherently sometimes. It’s the ones that don’t rebel, who never realise that it’s OK to question, who have totally had the life spirit knocked out of them.

Posted by Odysseus on 11/15/13 at 08:55 PM | #

Consider the American TV programs that people watch and are popular.
Honey BooBoo, Keeping up with the Kardashions, Ex Wives of Rock, Duck Dynasty, The Governors wife, Glee, The Survivor, Dancing with the stars, Just Shoot Me, Any reality show you like. And the list goes on.

Then there are such shows such as ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ or ‘Foyles War’ or ‘Poirot’ which seem to be too cerebral for American audiences. I rest my case.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 11/15/13 at 11:41 PM | #

Another excellent exposure update by journalist Andrea Vogt,



Posted by True North on 11/16/13 at 06:50 AM | #

Investigations into the defense campaign subversion of justice and the implication of Boise State University are the subject of our next post which will go up later today.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/16/13 at 02:22 PM | #


You have raised two very important points but they are not really connected with this topic.

1> the way they are treated throughout primary and secondary education

I am not an american and but I am familiar with the system. The great bullying experience young minds are exposed to in the school. I hear so much about the revision in the curriculum, the maths and the sciences and the engineering but never about the trauma (the mental violence) they experience in the schools that leave the young minds permanently scarred. But then, in spite of these defects, the system has produced many great minds, scientists, engineers and a spirit that refuses to lie down…

But that is another story.

2> It’s the ones that don’t rebel

The basic philosophy of modern education has been to churn out skilled labors that do not question. They perform wonderfully in the factories and I sometimes feel sad with the chinese experiment that is 100 times worse in this matter. We want a nation that is intellectual in outlook but skilled in the daily life of “earning the daily bread”.

I often wonder how the bullies in the school do in their future career - also called life. I do not know the answer but they too are bullied by the system at a later stage.

Perhaps seekingunderstanding can tell us better.

At my age, I too often try to look at the overall picture and try to guess what success means. I am personally convinced that school education needs greater intellctual freedom and that means freedom from fear and freedom from bullies.

These are my personal opinions and I am not here to criticise anyone. Educational systems need constant attention and care and adjustments at the micro level - course correction and focus on the quality rather than tests and results.

Sometime back a few students asked me what I have done to improve quality and standards. And I felt ashamed because I could not give a good answer.

Posted by chami on 11/16/13 at 08:11 PM | #


Mostly off-topic but I agree, with one reservation regarding “we want a nation that is intellectual in outlook but skilled in the daily life of “earning the daily bread”.

Do we? I have no expectations for a “nation” but I do want more intelligent people to leave school with a spirit that hasn’t been beaten down from an early age by the desperate and neurotic need to earn “the daily bread”. Far better these youngsters are carefully taken in hand and led to develop their unique potentials, each at their own pace. If this means they have to go against any dismal “family tradition” of being totally concerned about daily bread, so be it.

Otherwise what we are talking about isn’t education in any classical sense (educare, to bring out potential). It’s making sure that nothing ever changes. Even a half-wit like Dubya would find that depressing! In fact how did a half-wit get to his position unless there was/is a significant number of half-wits that thought he was supremely clever? Very worrying for for the US, surely?

Posted by Odysseus on 11/17/13 at 12:06 AM | #

@chami & Odysseus
You have touched upon an enduring and probably unending discussion - the nature of true education.

I believe it is pertinent to our topics insofar as only those who have had a poor education -or at best mediocre -would be able to associate themselves with the FoA.
chami previously illustrated vividly the lack of awareness of logical process. Almost as if these persons are immune to logic, with a worrying lack of respect for it, too.

Bullying is a crucial subject. It is inseparable from the other topic of ‘mob rule’ & crowd behaviour, - of groups ganging up on a individual.
It matters so deeply - in the workplace, in schools, in families with siblings, in politics. We truly need to ‘get a grip’ on it, to use the colloquial. We need to reach a point (in society) where first of all it is recognised for what it is, and secondly it is deemed to be unacceptable. No ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ or excuses.
One debates through reasoning, and not by attempting to slander or demean an opponent. Only two year olds should have tantrums.
Bullying is uncivilised and unacceptable. It is not ‘character forming’ - it harms and damages. It prevents learning and growing, and disallows resolution. And it repeats itself, mindlessly.
It is not the same as discipline. Discipline is possible without fear or terrorising. There have always been good teachers (or rather educators) who knew this. I often remember the saying: ‘Discipline is found in freedom, and freedom is found within discipline.’ They are integrated, and intertwined… or need to be. Perhaps if we teach self-responsibility as the base line, good practice would flow from this?
But nothing is instant - education and growth take time and patience..and sadly we live in an increasing atmosphere of desires for instant gratification as well as entitlement.
“It will end in tears!” ( as my grandmother used to say…)

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 11/17/13 at 02:22 AM | #

Teaching in American public schools has been made very limiting by the advent of such programs as “No Child Left Behind.” Yes, high school graduates must meet certain standards ( being able to read, write, do sums, etc.) , but it is frustrating having to ” teach to the test”, and not be able to color outside the lines of a pre- fabricated curriculum established by Texas textbook publishers!  Equally disparaging is the proliferation, over the past several years, of mainstream magazine articles and other media features declaring that the value of a college education is questionable these days. Education is about gaining skills, but most crucially, about learning how to think, both inside and outside the box.

Posted by mimi on 11/18/13 at 10:20 PM | #

Encouraging facts about Judges Massei, Micheli, and Nencini all with criminal case backgrounds, high success rates with few lost on appeal, and “science, scope, and balance”. Surely Nencini can determine if the science proved Knox and Sollecito’s footprints in blood or turnip juice.

There’s more clear evidence pinning Knox to Perugia murder scene than there was against her new hero, Ryan Ferguson, now acquitted and released from prison. She and Madison Paxton look like two ghouls as they hold up a message to salute Ferguson’s dubious release. He looks like a total thug to me, however the evidence is not adequate and he could possibly be innocent. There’s much more evidence against Knox than against Ferguson.

Knox is drawn to Ryan’s story. Strange that both crimes involve a Halloween attack with strangling and theft, a pair of drunk school friends, one having “dreams” of the crime then changing his stories and a well-loved victim feeding a cat.

Lies abound. Knox empathizes. Ryan’s father launched a personal PR battle for his son’s innocence for 6 years. The man who was killed, Ken Heitholt, was a newspaper man. Mr. Kercher wrote for newspapers. Knox is all grins.

In trying to locate info on the Ferguson case, it soon became clear that few sites exist to direct people to the prosecution evidence against Ryan Ferguson. The mass of opinions are exalting his innocence and decrying his false prosecution.

My futile search for the hard facts that the first jury used to convict Ferguson proved yet again the validity and intrinsic merit of TJMK, the PMFs, and McCall’s wiki.

Such sites as these that impart facts not rhetoric are vital to keep Meredith’s case visible. Otherwise it could be hidden like a proud citadel under the millions of insidious weeds and vines of internet falsehoods.

Posted by Hopeful on 11/22/13 at 12:53 AM | #
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