Monday, January 4, 2010

The intro to my first book

Reason and Reasonability

The Search for Reasonable Doubt


"If I put this knit cap on, who am I?" he asked. "I'm still Johnnie Cochran with a knit cap ... and O.J. Simpson in a knit cap from two blocks away is still O.J. Simpson. It's no disguise. It's no disguise. It makes no sense. It doesn't fit. If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." —

This is the famous rhyming rhetoric of one Johnnie Cochran, defense attorney.

The Scopes trial, Nuremberg, Oscar Wilde, George Reeves, Timothy McVeigh, the trial of Leopold & Loeb, the Black Dahlia, O.J. Simpson, Harold Shipman, Dr. Ossian Sweet, Bob Crane, the Hurricane, and JonBenét. Arguably the most famous, and infamous, cases of the 20th century. The murders, of Elizabeth Short (Black Dahlia) and Bob Crane (Hogan's Heroes), still unsolved today. The staged trial of John T. Scopes by the ACLU. The highly disputed acquittal of Orenthal James Simpson (SF 49ers RB). As well as, the highly disputed conviction of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (American middleweight boxer). Consider these cases for a moment. If you would have asked anybody on the streets, at the times of these trials, for their opinions, you would have gotten an earful for sure. Sometimes unanimous opinions and other times contrasting and far spanning.

    No doubt, you can easily remember some of these trials yourself. In fact, you may have had very strong opinions on what the verdicts should have been. I can remember people being thoroughly convinced of the guilt of some of these infamous defendants before the cases had even come to an end or without even having had the same facts as the actual participants of the trials. Naturally though, regardless of actually being part of the courtroom proceedings, we sometimes genuinely make conclusions based on the evidence that we are privy to, in order to make our own convictions or acquittals. Yes, we are sure, beyond a reasonable doubt, that is, that the defendant is guilty, or innocent, or whatever.

    'Beyond a reasonable doubt', that's what is used in court right? That's how someone is found guilty or innocent, 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. Actually, when you think about it, we really do make a large majority of our decisions, throughout the day, based on this idea. We usually don't think about it but, we often do it, nonetheless. For example, every day that you leave your house for work, you leave home with enough time to get to work on time, so you aren't late. My guess is that, you don't leave home two hours earlier than yesterday, just in case there are several huge traffic jams. No, even though that may be a possibility, you still don't consider it as a possible option. You know, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it will not take an additional two hours to get to work today, and you're right. In fact, I'd suggest that you use this philosophy just about every day.

    Now, if we, as people, do indeed let this idea dictate our day-to-day, menial, and mundane life decisions (If in fact unknowingly.) as well as, our criminal justice cases then, the question should be posed, "What about the truly HUGE life decisions?" Like, for example, "Will my fiancée be a good partner for me?" Or, "Is our President going to utterly destroy our country?" Or, "Does God exist?" Or, even more important, "Can I trust God with my life?" Is it still applicable? Does it still function? Well, I think we all rest a little easier at night when, after asking big questions like these, we have thought through them and have accumulated a sufficient amount of evidence to make a good decision. In fact, you probably do this often by recruiting a friend to help you think through tough issues like these. I would like to suggest that you can know whether you've made a good choice in a future spouse, you can know whether the Commander in Chief is heading us on an irreparable trajectory, and you can even know certainties about God. That is, unless you have already predetermined the outcome of the case, in advance.

    That brings us to the probing question of, "Is the amount or size of evidence that you are asking for to make your decision, reasonable?"
Are you being reasonable? If you are looking for a spouse, are you being reasonable? or are you looking for someone who is perfect? If you doubt God's existence, are you being reasonable in how much evidence you require?