bookmark_borderEither bad or mad

Originally uploaded by Patrick Denker

There’s an important article in The Times today about how to deal with pædophiles.

It basically argues that we normally either punish criminals and then let them get back to normal life afterwards (even though we know they might reoffend), or we decide they’re ill and offer them treatment (possibly for the rest of their lives) instead.

However, we seem to want to do both when it comes to pædophiles: First we punish them, and we then stigmatise them for the rest of their lives because they’re sick.

I had never thought about this before, but I think it’s true.

When it comes to deciding whether to opt for bad or mad, I think we should split the group into two.

An 18-year-old who had consensual sex with a 14-year-old is not a pædophile in my book, and if we think it’s not OK, it’s definitely a crime, not an illness, and when he’s completed his punishment, he should be free to live a normal life afterwards.

On the other hand, middle-aged men raping small kids are in a very different category. It makes much better sense to try to cure them of their urges in high-security psychiatric hospitals and only release them back into society when (or if) the psychiatrists think they have been cured.

bookmark_borderThe reality of the long tail

Long-tailed Tit
Originally uploaded by Sergey Yeliseev

There’s an article in Slate discussing whether the long tail is as long as has been thought. Please do read it.

I think there might be a lot of truth in this, and I think it’s got to do with knowledge: In order to buy an obscure book or film, you first need to know it exists. It simply is not very likely anybody will pay money for a random song from iTunes that nobody has recommended to them.

Because of this, I think the size of the long tail is depending on online communities. If people mainly get their information from TV and other mainstream media, they’re going to buy items from the head, not the long tail.

Only if many people get a lot of their information from blogs or Facebook groups or other specialised contexts is it likely that the tail gets really long.