“The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey” – What they missed

This show utilizes a common debate technique of switcheroo over and over.

First of all, casting a doubt on a proof does not equal disproving the theory. For instance, yes, the DNA on the underwear could have come from the factory. But saying that does not eliminate the possibility it could have come from the killer. All the show did was to take away the power of that piece of evidence to be conclusive on its own.

Secondly, it wants you to believe in the dichotomy between the family member and the basement window. The actual dichotomy is the family member and the intruder/non-family-member. Disproving the basement window theory through cobwebs does not disprove the intruder theory. They use the same technique with the flashlight – As pointed out in the show (then ignored), the flashlight matching the skull damage does not exclude other possibilities. And again with the “spot” of blood.

Thirdly, another very popular technique – disguising an opinion / speculation as fact simply by listing the credentials of the person saying it. JonBenet stealing a piece of pinapple and running away, and Burke chases her and hits her in the heat of the moment – that’s the weakest of the theories I’ve heard. The autopsy found fibres in her stomach to have been consumed hours before death. Even if you didn’t trust the autopsy, a 6-year-old with tiny teeth chewing on these big blocks of pinapples – it takes a while to shred it into fibres and an additional few seconds to get to the stomach. Another example is the taser bit – a taser does not inflict a far more severe damage to a smaller person the way poison would.

Some things that the show missed:

  • Did they search the house for Patsy’s writing – letters, notes, etc. for the misspelling “bussiness”? If she were using the misspelling as a disguise, she would have done it more than once. I believe “bussiness” is an accidental misspelling.
  • What are the chances they didn’t fix the broken window is Colorado where the temperature easily drops to 22F in the winter?
  • Jon Ramsey is often smiling through his media announcements. Not a smile of relief. It’s an arrogant, victorious smile.
  • Nothing about the DNA found under the fingernail?
  • DNA test of the ransom note? Patsy’s DNA would be on the note. But only the writer’s DNA would be on every line of the note as they drag their palm across while writing the note.

All in all, they did a good job of creating “reasonable doubt” but did by no means prove Burke did it. In fact, they added nothing to the theory that Burke did it.

Anyone who’s studying debating technique should gain a lot by watching this show. Some techniques used here are (excuse me for not knowing the actual terms for these techniques – if you know the terms, please post in comments)

  • setting out a false dichotomy (window vs family member, not intruder vs family member).
  • Using a person’s credentials to make his speculation appear like a legitimate theory. (“JonBenet must have stolen pinapples, and Burke hit her in the heat of the moment” – no evidence supporting this, and it contradicts the autopsy)
  • Equaling casting doubt on a piece of evidence with disproving the theory supported by the piece of evidence. (“Brand-new piece of clothing could have DNA. Therefore, no intruder.”)



Bullying, stigma, and discrimination 

Thesis: Bullying, stigma, and discrimination are borne out of the insecurity that needs to inferiorize others and perpetuated by the fear of becoming a victim.

In other words, I think they exist in some cases because, without someone to look down on, some people simply can’t face the bone-chilling fear that they might be the ones people are looking down on. 

If so, punishing the bullies and berating the bigots are the opposite of what needs to be done to stop it. 

When “third-party consultants” are for sale.

When businesses have disagreements and bring in a “third-party” to decide who’s right, it’s like a schoolyard dispute.

Do you remember, when you and your friend decided to bring in a referee to your fight, how did you pick them?

You certainly picked someone who knew a bit of the background. You picked someone who knew either both of you or none of you. But, most importantly, you picked the kid who have the intelligence to know the truth and the courage to stand by the truth.

I call it “the courage to make the Right Call, not the Popular Call.”

The Popular Call is so tempting though. You can tell the client – whoever is responsible for hiring you – how wonderful they are and how good a job they did. They are happy with you because you made them feel good about themselves. You’ll probably get repeat clients. Sure, there will be some non-compliances that you neglected to point out. But what’s the harm – your mortgage is paid.

The Right Call is hard – people really don’t like to be told they are not perfect or that maybe the other side has a stronger leverage. Even though it really is an opportunity for improvement, our school system had trained us to think of it as a failure. As a consultant, you have to be skilled at communicating this in a gentle, empathetic, compliment sandwich, or you’ll have a mess of emotions on your hands. Sometimes no matter how good you are, you will have some unhappy clients. Some clients would rather change the consultant than change their procedures, looking for the “popular call” consultant.

Until that one inevitable day when the truth comes out. It may be that year. It may take years for it to happen. But it happens. In some situations with severe penalties. The penalty is to the client though, not to the consultant. Sure, the consultant is exposed, but they’ll just go on to the next client.

As a company, you really have to have the courage to hire someone who tells you the truth knowing it’ll get uncomfortable for them. Someone who looks out for you at their expense. You can always find them by looking for personal integrity. 

Asian stereotypes

​My friends sometimes give me a hard time about perpetuating Asian stereotypes. So let me tell you what happened this week. 

I finally tracked down a cousin on Facebook. I have like a dozen of them but have only seen a few of them a few times when I was a kid. She was happy to hear from me. We rapid-fired messages back and forth a while about kids, dogs, life, hobby, and she asks what I do for work. 

I hesitate a second. All of my cousins are Ph.D. or M.D. with a black belt or a masters in traditional art. This one is a researcher in USA. No, she didn’t spend years in North America learning English like I did. She taught herself English like my dad taught himself to speak Chinese. 

Well, I tell her. That was the end of messages. 

It’s wrong to perpetuate a stereotype. But I was just telling a real story. 

Truth is irrelevant

The reason Trump terrifies me is this.
I grew up with someone who absolutely had no concept of “the truth.” They can make whatever statements and… like they actually believe it or something.
It honed my logical reasoning and critical thinking. It taught me humility and confidence. And it also taught me another thing.
If you approach people with logical reasoning that requires effort to understand, they see you as a burden, and they’d swat you, and the truth, away. (and that’s why I draw – my master’s defense was almost entirely charts)