Link: "A Bayesian Take on Julian Assange"

post by ata · 2010-12-16T03:20:33.153Z · score: 8 (9 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 13 comments

From Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight: A Bayesian Take on Julian Assange.

13 comments

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comment by [deleted] · 2010-12-16T18:16:02.783Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Naomi Wolf had a similar take. Around the world -- even in Sweden -- when people are raped by attackers other than Julian Assange, there is no global manhunt, no INTERPOL, no imprisonment without bail prior to questioning. Most rapes are not even investigated. We do have reason to believe that the Assange investigation would have gone quite differently if he had not been the founder of WikiLeaks.

comment by Kevin · 2010-12-16T13:41:12.832Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Someone should ask Nate Silver to try a take on Amanda Knox.

comment by Nisan · 2010-12-16T06:26:17.792Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The linked post makes a good point — it's unlikely that there would be sufficient legal evidence to convict Assange if his were an ordinary case. But the question of whether Assange actually raped anyone is different. A man not being convicted of rape is not as strong evidence of his moral innocence as we'd like.

A datum relevant to the latter question would be the proportion of rape accusations in Sweden that are true.

comment by gwern · 2010-12-16T23:26:00.419Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Prediction re conviction: http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1976

comment by jmmcd · 2010-12-16T13:19:41.059Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

They might also injure Mr. Assange’s reputation among the public: certainly I have learned more about details Mr. Assange’s personal life in recent days than I would care to know.

When I heard about the charges, I ignored them, and I know just about nothing about them, and I prefer to keep it this way. Is this justified? That is:

Should I be repeating my litany: "If Assange is a sex offender, then I want to believe that Assange is a sex offender"?

Or should I be ignoring the case, on the grounds that any information about it is likely to make my opinion of the real Wikileaks issues More Wrong?

Edit: or should I repeat the litany of the News of the World: "If there is a possibility of a sex scandal, then I want to believe there is a sex scandal. And I want to know ALL about it!"

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2010-12-16T15:49:32.764Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Wikileaks is more important than the possible sex offence (as it probably is) then you should ignore info about Assange's personal life. Of course, one should also bear in mind the long term effects of high-profile individuals being seen to get away with sexual assaults.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2010-12-16T16:22:30.283Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If Wikileaks is more important than the possible sex offence (as it probably is) then you should ignore info about the Assange's personal life.

The above equation seems very wrong. A better one would be to compare:

  • (Importance of Wikileaks) * (probable level of added ignorance about it, if you follow the court case)
  • (Importance of sex offense) * (probable level of added ignorance about it, if you refuse to follow the court case)

Wikileaks is probably more important, however if you choose to ignore the court case, your probable level of ignorance about it is much higher.

comment by benelliott · 2010-12-16T22:41:27.859Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given that I am not remotely interested in a single crime that may or may not have taken place between two people who I will never meet (and neither should anyone else be, unless they avidly follow all rape stories that take place anywhere in the world), I would say that the comparison still comes out strongly in favour of ignoring the case and focusing on Wikileaks.

comment by luminosity · 2010-12-16T23:06:40.841Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The interesting thing is not the crime, but the obvious overreaction to it by the Swedish prosecution (by comparison with their reaction to many similar allegations that come up regarding other people). It's clear that this is not the typical modus operandi. What is unclear is whether it's one person chasing a high profile case for fame or political gain, or whether it's a larger movement to attempt to discredit wikileaks.

comment by benelliott · 2010-12-16T23:11:09.425Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with that fully. All I was saying is that I have no real desire to learn whether he actually committed the rape (as has been pointed, the reaction is interesting either way), since I am not a perfect rationalist and learning this may well contaminate my beliefs about Wikileaks in general

comment by knb · 2010-12-16T03:48:43.616Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This case may also turn out to be a good way of calibrating a person's predictions.

Right now people are throwing out a lot of predictions, ranging those who think, on one extreme:

  1. Assange is guilty as charged.
  2. The prosecutors have evidence to proceed against Assange
  3. The US government had nothing to do with it.
  4. They aren't going to try to have him extradited to the US/no charges will be brought

To the other extreme:

  1. Assange was entrapped by a US government (probably CIA) plot
  2. The charges against Assange are totally specious, any sex was entirely consensual
  3. Right now, there is a grand jury meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, to try to charge and extradite Assange to the US.
  4. The Swedish prosecutors know they have no viable evidence, but want him held in jail until the US extradition can go through.

Of course there are other theories, for example, that the plot had no USG involvement, and is just a case of angry ex-lovers seeking revenge against an innocent man.

comment by Vaniver · 2010-12-16T06:22:26.376Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course there are other theories, for example, that the plot had no USG involvement, and is just a case of angry ex-lovers seeking revenge against an innocent man.

This is my strongly preferred theory. (But I might quibble about calling the other party in a one-night stand a lover.)

comment by anonym · 2010-12-16T07:34:55.677Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Calling the other party of a one-night stand a "lover" sounds totally natural to my ears.

The second and third senses of the term at dictionary.com are:

  • a person who has a sexual or romantic relationship with another.
  • a person with whom one conducts an extramarital sexual affair.

Do you not hear the word used in those senses very much? Is it the one-time-ness that makes it seem less like 'lover' is appropriate?