Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bobby Dunbar; Hypocrisy and Misdirection

(I jump right in with the spoilers, before I list either the name or the link. I apparently think suspense, while not without upsides, is completely dominated by downsides and is therefore a waste of time. If you disagree, I suggest finding a workaround.)

I was watching something accurately billed as 'should be a tedtalk.' And I thought, "Man, he really knows his stuff." So I decided to check out the stuff produced by the dude who knows his stuff.

'Best of' lists have been pretty useful to me before. So I tried it again and it worked again. But even here, even 'best of,' even non-politicized reporting, you need skill to not be mislead by. They're not even intentionally spinning this stuff; it happens more or less automatically, to the point where it would take a serious amount of skill to stop.

Again, I worry that this is just me. That everyone else just deals with this with their hypocrisy circuit. Certainly, the Dunbars believed that Bobby was a Dunbar. Similarly, the listeners here will believe he was an Anderson, and all the character conclusions that will imply. That is, if I go up and talk to them, that is what they'll say to me. However, if you judge their beliefs by their actions* then the listeners, when dealing with someone like a Dunbar, may behave very differently than their stated beliefs would indicate.

*(Specifically actions that don't include talking about their actions or beliefs.)

All this to say that, unfortunately, my brain doesn't work that way. I must consciously understand the real motivations and the actual justified conclusions behind what is stated in shows like Ghost of Bobby Dunbar, or I'll end up doing something stupid.

This may be because I don't stop at the first level of conclusions. I tend to take things as far as they'll go, as is required for philosophy. The hypocrisy circuits don't function well outside common-sense domains beyond which these logical peregrinations often take me.

Hopefully, though, this isn't just me. Hopefully I can say in general: not being mislead by journalism takes a good deal of skill.

Sadly it wasn't as good as I hoped. Maybe I just don't like journalism, but to me, on an absolute scale, journalism can and should be a whole lot better, especially if this is the best. (Simply put, the YouTube videos seem a lot more like a real person talking about things they really care about. You'll see below how everyone in the show don't even consciously know what they really care about, let alone can talk about it.)

Nevertheless, at least for the best, the pro outweigh the cons. Especially the philosophical resources provided by the radio show I settled on. Quotes not checked for accuracy; the seeking function on the podcast is not worth me wrestling with. I tried to disentangle my real angle, about families, bonds, and identity from the rest, but it turns out it's a continuum and it didn't work. Ultimately this is to continue my theme of an economic purpose for philosophy. These people need my services, or the services of someone like me.

But in short, my real point, my main point, is just that the Dunbar family has rejected Margaret, quite stupidly. Blood is a terrible reason to form bonds, but if you try and it works, it means there were good reasons. It doesn't matter if Margaret is a Dunbar by genes or not. What matters is, did the Dunbars enjoy her company? Did she enjoy theirs? Then the bonds were there, for good reasons, not reasons of blood.

The second part is about her father. "If my grandpa isn't my grandpa, who am I?" "My first guess is who you always were. The fact is you have always been an Anderson living among Dunbars. I would suppose you could continue being an Anderson living among Dunbars, except now you're not mistaken about this." "But that's not who my blood says I am!" "So, what, now you know you're an Anderson, you're going to take up farming? Knowing who your ancestors were changing absolutely nothing about who you are. It changes your 'real' name and who you can safely have sex with, and that's all."

I read about this in fiction often enough. Usually it is cheesy and simplistic, but all my books come to the same conclusion; for human relations, human bonds, it doesn't matter what your birth certificate should look like.

There are two minor points I'll highlight as well. One is implicit, about children, which you'll notice by the glaring lack of any further commentary.

The story also shows, again, how children are seen by our people. The question never asked is 'How does Bobby feel about all this? Did he just go along with this? Did he question it? Did he fight it?" Our people consider children to be objects. Just bit pieces. No better than slaves. Objects, bit players, slaves....they don't have thoughts or feelings.

(Admittedly, once Bobby matures (20s) he's allowed beliefs. They suggest he created the legend himself to help convince himself he was really a Dunbar, so he could get on with living his life and stop worrying about meaningless labels.)

The second is very explicit, and hearkens back to at least the Bible, about how flawed human characters really are, and about how much effort everyone puts into denying their own flaws and the flaws of people they like, ultimately to their own detriment. It's the ultimate in conditional love.

'No, honey, you're perfect!' And they really deceive themselves into believing that. Let me translate.

'Yeah, uh, honey, if you weren't perfect I would hate you. Notice how I rag on even the slightest defect in my coworkers. No pressure though!'

(There's also a less cynical third option, which is that your flaws are actually quite irrelevant, much like the actual quality of the food is irrelevant to food preferences. Rather, we all see the flaws, but pointing them out is simply a way to communicate disgust, contempt, or hatred, whereas lying about it is the way to communicate trust, respect, and love. Less cynical but still counter-productive.)

I bring up this character thing because it's something I only recently cured myself of. Now, I'm very good at spotting patterns. I've intentionally played up this already strong facet of the human brain. Other people do not act as if they know how flawed the real people behind these story characters are. (By flawed I simply mean lacking in virtue, not as in badly designed.) The only issue with this conclusion is that I cannot be entirely sure the two ways of acting are different for other people, but they are for me.

Certainly they mouth the words - I've seen at least on reference to flawed humans in the New York Times - the simple fact is that condemnation is rarely if ever non-hypocritical. It is never mitigated by the deserving humility in the face of your own flaws. Everyone is willing to cast the first stone. (Unless specifically asked, the percentage drops then, because the rarely-used conscious computer engages.)

I'll jump right into the hypocrisy.

"'Know why I stayed in my shell of grief.'

She had to have, on some level, known."
So presumably this woman, according to Wizard's First Rule, believed what she wanted to believe, not the truth. But, in the end, the hypocrisy circuit fails. The weight of that nagging feeling in the back of the head releases you from the lies you tel yourself.

The thing is, now what? Does she repatriate Bobby, nee Bruce? No. Hell no! She can't do that. And precisely for the reason given above. People make mistakes, but she knows that it's hellishly unlikely that Jillian would have thanked her for admitting her error. No, more likely she would just be piling external grief on top of internal grief. And so, because everyone is willing to cast the first stone, Jillian never saw her son again. Good going, you jerks.

Of course, even without all this, Bobby would probably be used to life with the Dunbars now. Another adjustment would probably be pretty bad for him, as shown by the condition of the kids social services takes custody of.

Nevertheless, I must disclaim that you don't get a free moral pass just because you contributed your womb. Jillian's quest to reunite with her son, just as Lessie's, was an utterly selfish quest. She felt bad not personally taking care of her son, and wanted to find that son to feel good again. It had nothing to do with his well being or his wishes, the first you know by the fact that he was likely no worse off with the Dunbars.

The Dunbars, however, thought Margaret was being selfish, not Lessie. While there are many unstated facts that might make this true, ultimately it is the family that's being the most selfish. "She found a truth you didn't like, just one, and now you're never going to speak to her again? Just to hide from this one meaningless fact?"

"Why do you need to do this?"
Why does it matter? If it turns out Bobby's legend was true, nothing changes. If it's false, nothing should change. It's only meaningful because Margaret was curious. They want to pretend it's not true in any event! They could just do that! But no, they have to do that and act as if its true when talking to Margaret. And apparently nobody even notices the cast-iron cohones this takes, let alone tries to call them on it. Think about it; if Margaret is just wrong, what's with all the ire? That makes her crazy or stupid, not an evil "orchestrating" mastermind. She can only be evil if she's right but they just want to pretend otherwise.

Oh, and because people are highly irrational unless forced to consciously think about it.

More tragically, there's very little guarantee that the actual DNA test was accurate. First, a single test is not very reliable in this case. While indeed you share 50% of your non-autosomal genes with your parent, they had no living parent to test, or even great grandparent. (Handy chart.) On average, you share 50% of your genes with a sibling. What that means is that sharing none of your genes is quite possible. Further, this test was not against an actual sibling, but against some apparently random Dunbar. Finally, I'm not convinced the lab was testing under the knowledge of what they were doing, if one of their techs considered it a paternity test. An easy check would be to now test the father against an Anderson. I consider this check no less than completely necessary. (For instance, a huge percentage of men are cuckolded. What if Bobby Dunbar wasn't ever a Dunbar?)

"It's like they don't believe me."
On the face of it: well boo fucking hoo. Not that! Anything but that!

I actually should be misogynist here. I should blame this on her being a woman and disliking conflict more and needing social support more...but I'm not going to.

She is weak. She is weak like a child, but not because she's a woman. She's weak because she has avoided conflict and strife in her life instead of facing it and withstanding it. She has sacrificed her personal values and beliefs for the sake of momentary comfort. Eventually, now, one of her drives has forced her to face adversity, and she has no idea what to do.

(Is this her fault? Or is it her parent's fault? Or her society's fault?

(Also, you see what I did there? The misogynist view is, in this case, actually more charitable than the one supported by the facts. Take note if you talk to a feminist; equality cuts both ways, and it's trivial to slice a woman on the sword of affirmative action. If you talk to a dumb feminist, play with them by noting that direct insults on individual women are required if you're to respect women as a whole. The fireworks should be quite spectacular.)

So, as per my standard practise, it's time to toss the surface reading. By "It's like they don't believe me," she means "I wish my (adoptive) family would support me." (Of course I don't even really know what 'support' is supposed to mean, but you get my drift.) This woman sees no reason for her family to break the bonds between them. Similarly, I see no reason. So she believes something contrary to what you believe. So what?

Compare this latest debauchery by the Dunbars to the actions of the Andersons. (Contrary to progressive thought, blood will tell. While you can overcome your breeding, most people don't. And most of them don't do it on purpose. {Frankly most people don't even overcome their first instincts, let alone their genetic predispositions.})

The Andersons were fully aware that the Dunbar's story was the opposite of theirs. Nevertheless, they attended a talk given by Margaret. They worked closely with her, in fact. Clearly, the actual motivations behind the Dunbar's shunning of Margaret are selfish and defensive in nature. They don't want to know; and that's fine. But (naturally) they're being highly hypocritical about it.
"They don't like what it suggests about their ancestor's motives and characters."
Again, I see the denial of flawed human beings. Of course your ancestor's motives and characters were bad. Everyone's is, including yours. Now you just know how. Or, in the Dunbar's case, deny how. (Please remember that if the truth had been the opposite, or if a repeat DNA test upturns the verdict, I would be accusing the Andersons of hypocrisy instead. They would fare no better in this test, except for the meaningless difference that it wouldn't be a family member they would be shunning.)

Margaret keeps talking about how they know, deep inside. This is just some truth bubbling up through her hypocrisy circuit. In this case, about the hypocrisy circuit. These Dunbars did some self serving things by deceiving themselves. You will too, most likely in the next few hours. Hell, I'm probably doing so right now. (And remember, you can't fix a problem you don't consciously know you have.)

She also speaks about how Percy is 'capable' of stabbing a man, as if this has any bearing on whether he could lie about Bobby. Again, I can go to the New York Times; everyone is capable of evil. The thing is, I don't see any reason to stab a person. Neither does Margaret, but apparently Percy did. That is a difference of belief, of thinking, not capability.

He did it on the eighth anniversary of the presumed death of the original Bobby Dunbar. Beware anniversary reactions; you're not aware of it, but your body knows the exact time and date at nearly all times, and fully understands the significance of both.

Margaret thinks the stories in the papers are 'how judgemental' of Julia. So I guess she agrees with me; they may also be true, a point she has avoided, stating only a preference and a fact. In the times, having three children by two men, neither her current husband, was the definition of loose morals. Whether this means Julia was a slut or not is more difficult to determine, but there's no reason she might not have been. The other implications may be equally true, or not.

Note how Julia Anderson "Had no lawyer and no allies in Appaloosa, and thus the boy was now Bobby Dunbar." Our court system takes no note of the fact that justice depends on these things and desperately needs to be revised if it wants to pretend to serve anyone but the rich. I personally suggest a rousing round of privatization. It's not like you can stiff the poor more than we already are. (And by definition they don't have that much property to protect anyway.)

There was no side-by-picture because Jillian Anderson had no picture of Bruce. (Good lord how did they, some of the best in the business, not catch things like this?)

The plan was to keep the results of the DNA test sealed. Margaret could have easily kept them to herself. She didn't. Her father could have also.

There were several other intentional manipulations I caught as well, that I don't deem worthy of pinioning.

In the end, every family's story contradicts those of the other families. Most likely, they're all mistaken. I've read a lot of people who know investigations into these stories never turn out well, precisely because if you tell anybody, they'll react like the Dunbars. In the real story, everybody is deeply flawed. What really happened is most likely a small or forgivable initial wrong, followed by escalating salvos of major wrongs by all sides. Everyone ends up looking bad - that is, the flawed humans they always were but can no longer deny.

The age of Bruce during the incident isn't consistent within the show. Whether and who did any kidnapping, moral or legal, is not consistent within the show. No wonder press accounts even at the time weren't consistent; the media can't even manage self-consistency. Just another example about how fraught even the simplest historical conclusions are.

On reviewing the show, I was struck by how petty the whole thing is. People can, and have to, deal with dead children, and so could have Lessie. Julia could have visited her son or ascertained that he was being cared for at any time. It's one child who was adopted more or less by accident instead of the usual way. Oh no. What a difference.

Can this support all the acrimony and attacks this spawned? Clearly not. It can hardly support the court costs incurred. No, this is classic angst. (Which is why I can't stand people accusing teenagers of being angsty. Such hypocrisy.)

Character Assassination
Though really it's more character suicide.

Julia Anderson, much as she may have reformed in her third marriage, had a disreputable youth. Her choice of husbands was so wise and had such forethought that she was shot in the foot the night of her wedding. (On purpose? By accident? Pretty bad accident, anyway.) Her constant attention to her lost son speaks more of obsession than of any kind of straightforward loss.

Finally, the whole incident would have been impossible had Julia not let Bruce go with Walters.

None of this means her loss was in any way deserved or justified. But just because she was wronged, in this story, many people will believe her a saint. Kind of ironic, since elsetimes people are wont to ask "Why do bad things happen to good people?" as if they're surprised. (Shows what I get for trying to take people's words at face value, hence my policy above.)

Lessie Dunbar, in desperation, deceived herself and used the flaws of the legal system to take a boy that wasn't hers. (Probably; again, the genetics test needs to be checked. Also, if the DNA had gone the other way, they would have held up some other letter supporting that conclusion instead.) Her husband stabbed a man and, apparently, was a chronic adulterer, and she left him, and the children, not too long after the incident with Bobby.

Finally, this would not have been possible if Lessie had been properly watching her son during their excursion into the alligator-infested swamp. (Which is why parents obsessing over car seats and padded playgrounds irritate me so much. Modern parents are not much more capable than Lessie - they put the children in cars to begin with, an extremely risky move compared to a playground.)

For both, I think it would have been helpful to know that they were being coerced by their biology. They were pursuing their kids long after it was a good idea to do so, even in light of how much they wanted them back. They're not just in love, (it really doesn't matter if they are or not) they're obsessed, by biological imperative. On the other hand, they may strongly resent this knowledge, just as the Dunbars did. Ideology is powerful stuff, not to be trifled with.

For both, I think that carefully not seeing the essentially self-serving nature of the incident was helpful. If Lessie got Bobbie back, she wasn't responsible for letting her son get eaten by an alligator. If Julia got Bruce back, she wasn't responsible for letting her son get lost in the wilds, never to be heard from again. The obsessive pursuit speaks of someone who can't face the real reason for their pursuit, as would be necessary to reassess the pursuit and stop or achieve closure.

And the fact is, you are, statistically, just as selfish and hypocritical as these people. I'm not condemning them. (Or at least, I shouldn't be. Oops. It would be more obvious if I were talking to them in person.) I can't credibly do so. I'm accusing you(plural) of condemning them.

Unanswered Questions
Now, a very important note. Like nearly everything, the show attempts to distract you from unanswered questions by focusing on interesting parts of what they do know. However, considering these unanswered questions shifts the viewpoint on what they've said considerably.

If Bruce didn't look like Bobby, how did they find him with the peddler, Walters?

Was Julia Anderson's statement that Walters kidnapped the child also a self-serving, self-deceiving lie?

How are Julia's last seven children so obsessed with a man they never met?
This person had no direct impact on their lives whatsoever. You can see their real reaction when he briefly visited one of them. Their hypocrisy circuit immediately realizes that, in real human terms, he's little different than any yahoo off the street, and commands no special action. As I would predict, the man goes with his first instinct and does nothing. No one demanded he think consciously about it, and so he didn't. (I have several flags set up for exactly this kind of situation, which suggests you can do the same.) His later regret is also a self-delusion. He's obsessed with a man he made small talk with for some portion of a half hour total, ever.

What else don't I know, because they attempted to condense a century-spanning epic tragifarce into less than an hour of talking?

Emotional Logic versus Rational Logic
I think this is the core of my objection to this bit of journalism in particular. Clearly, its main goal is to satisfy the emotional system by telling a story. However, it also wants to pretend to analytic integrity by conveying some facts. As such, it fails at both. On the emotional side, I rather like the digressions into stories about their families. I want to hear about how other people live and relate to each other in the privacy of their own homes or their own times. But these are pushed into digressions because the show is supposed to be working toward a conclusion. On the flip side, because so much time is devoted to human relations, the focus on the facts is weak. The rational story is inconsistent and tattered.

Perhaps a bit of this is trying to please everyone a bit instead of pleasing one person properly. But mostly, it is an attempt to weld emotional logic to rational logic, as opposed to an attempt to unify them, to tell both stories at once. More precisely, it is an attempt to appear so welded; in fact, it is an entertainment product that entertains by deluding the listener into thinking it is informative.

Of course it may just be that knowing epistemology is bad for appreciate of journalism, just as knowing physics is bad for appreciation of action movies.

Finally, it would be helpful to know if I successfully got this essay to read well.

My emotional logic circuits completely outstrip my rational circuits. For instance, I came to the conclusion that nobody realizes how flawed everyone is before rationally analyzing the abundance evidence in favor, and initially wrote it down in that order. (Specifically I'd seen plenty of evidence, but hadn't rationally considered it yet.) It really screws up my flow. Was I able to fix it?

I find this is a general problem. The natural flow of my ideas is anything but linear and translates very poorly into essay form. So...uhh....get on creating that nonlinear form of writing for me, mmmkay? I'd do it myself but first I'm busy and second, aren't other people supposed to be good at stuff too?


Anonymous said...

You talk about 50% DNA matches, but you misunderstand the test, I'm afraid. They tested one of Bobby's sons and compared to his brother's sons, and what they compared was the Y chromosome. This passes unchanged from father to son, and it did not match. So this proves that Bobby was not a Dunbar.

Alrenous said...

Oh I see!

Thank you. Yes I definitely missed that detail.

cynthia_booker said...

Don't take it all so seriously. It was just a good story that has no bearing on the lives of listeners except an hour of entertainment. It really is not necessary to tear it apart, bit by deceiving bit.
Whatever will you do when the new Robin Hood movie comes out? Write a dissertation about how false it all is? So what - it is still a good story.

Alrenous said...

So you're saying This American Life is essentially a fiction outfit?

cynthia_booker said...

I did not say that This American Life is essentially a fiction outfit. Many of the shows are very factual and specific, for example the recent programs about the economy and banking industry. However, there should be room for the telling of a good, entertaining yarn, and when that is the focus of a particular show, there is no pretense of anything else. In the story of Bobby Dunbar, I saw no hint of hypocrisy on the part of This American Life.

Alrenous said...

Has simply stating the contrary position worked for you in the past?

It never works for me. I'm hoping you can help me out here.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting essay. While I don't agree with everything you state, you are thinking, and trying to do so in a logical fashion, which is light years beyond what 99.9% of humanity does.

In answer to your question (perhaps rhetorical) about whether you succeeded in getting "this essay to read well", I'd say you did well enough. Your grammar is a bit tortured at times, but first and foremost you are attempting to communicate and you did that well.

From my own experience I know that I sometimes fail to communicate what I think are important points, because I insist on trying to make the presentation perfect.

Alrenous said...

"Very interesting essay. While I don't agree with everything you state, you are thinking, and trying to do so in a logical fashion, which is light years beyond what 99.9% of humanity does."

Indeed, if you did agree with everything, wouldn't that mean you weren't thinking?

"In answer to your question (perhaps rhetorical) about whether you succeeded in getting "this essay to read well", I'd say you did well enough. Your grammar is a bit tortured at times,"

Not rhetorical; as you say, it doesn't matter how well I think if nobody can understand me, so thanks.
Ironically, I seem to have a love for tortured grammar, though you've just helped my motivation to improve.

From my own experience I know that I sometimes fail to communicate what I think are important points, because I insist on trying to make the presentation perfect.

Heh, Accept your Ignorance.
In my experience, I'm rarely persuasive, and I often end up blaming my presentation. Since I'm obviously all right and stuff, I must have just failed to communicate my perspective!

In reality, I'm probably just ignorant of how to be persuasive.

That said, what I actually want is not communication per se, but the truth. I write what I think primarily so I can look at it more clearly. If you have some good reasons why I'm wrong about stuff, I'd like to hear them.

I'll start. 99.9% of humanity doesn't need to think in a logical fashion. Their values don't require it. But, our culture is such that everyone must pretend to think in such a way.

I like 300 as an example of this. The hunchback says to Leonidas, attempting to appeal to his values, "Use your reason!" But, he misunderstands reason, and his proposition is obviously self-serving.

So what do you do if you are actually part of a reason-worshipping culture, and have neither want nor need for strict reasoning? The actual, rational decision is the smokescreen.

I'd be much less annoyed if we could just drop the act. "Yeah, I mainly just go with my gut." At the least, I'd certainly spend less time fruitlessly trying to argue people out of their intuitions.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is this "article" is horrific and written immaturely. Not only is it riddled with elementary spelling and grammatical errors, it is tangential and verbose. Most importantly, I believe you have no right to be so ignorantly and rudely judgmental. You are making statements about real-life living people/families, that you have never met and know nothing about. These statements are uneducated and cruel. Your facts aren't even did not even find out how to spell the city correctly. I would suggest for you to put your time into further education and doing some self analysis, because in judging YOU from this must not have many friends. I realize that I should not even give this article my time, but it amazes me how much you are criticizing others, given that many of your comments aren't factual and are completely incorrect. I guess that is why you shouldn't always believe what you read on the internet.

Alrenous said...

written immaturely


riddled with elementary spelling

Ah, shoot. Will have to check that.

grammatical errors

My thoughts don't transliterate to English well. I'm working on the issue.

This post is nearly three years old and I'm itching to edit it, but I don't know if one can safely edit old blog posts. I don't know if that leads to corruption of some kind.

"it is tangential and verbose"

Yes, I have issues with that.

"Most importantly, I believe you have no right to be so ignorantly and rudely judgmental."

If I don't, then right back at ya'.

"You are making statements about real-life living people/families, that you [...] know nothing about."

I wish I knew nothing about them, but sadly I can safely infer a great deal.

"These statements are [...] cruel."

Because reality is cruel.
These issues either apply to real families, or they're meaningless. By referencing a specific one, I'm just being honest about that. Moreover, they're already public figured by having appeared in a radio show.

Some of what I'm doing here is highlighting how different 'storytelling' looks from an honest assessment. Regardless of whether my assessment happens to be correct or not, you can see it's different at every level.

"Your facts aren't even did not even find out how to spell the city correctly."

Can't spell correctly? Is that really the best you can do?

"you must not have many friends."

Which of course makes me incorrect. Why would you care if I have friends? Like, if I had them all comment on this, would you have to reverse your position?

"I realize that I should not even give this article my time,"

Indeed, you obviously don't care enough to do a good job.

I wonder if I even still agree with everything in this post. But as you didn't bring up any specific issues, I don't have any easy opportunity to recant.

That and you obviously don't care, and so neither do I.

"but it amazes me how much you are criticizing others, given that many of your comments aren't factual and are completely incorrect. "

...So are you going to correct any of them, or do you prefer baseless assertions?

"I guess that is why you shouldn't always believe what you read on the internet."

...You were at risk of believing me? You do realize this article isn't for people like you, right?

Reality really is cruel. To whit:

Your 'never met' phraseology is mimicry, indicating lack of original insight. Your judgmentalism about judgmentalism is hypocritical. Your complaints about my grammar and spelling are petty to the point of absurdity. Your crack about friends is obviously intended purely to wound. You're obviously in pure signalling mode - you state disagreement, but no reasons for disagreement whatsoever - the point is to make sure your allies know you don't support things like this. Hint: your allies don't read my blog either.

What's actually going on here is that the reaction to such stories is highly constrained by social rules, and I intentionally broke all of them. Thus, I must be factually incorrect. I just gotta.

Despite all this, you found my article potentially persuasive, so much so you felt it required rebuttal or someone might take it seriously.

So I did a spell-check and found three typos. It would appear it's you who can't spell. But thanks for getting me to find them.

Fact is, being called names by someone like you means I'm doing it right.

Anonymous said...

I am the great granddaughter of Julia Anderson. My father is the nephew, by blood, of "Bobby" Bruce Anderson. This essay, I believe, that as far as an essay goes it is written well. It does however, sound judgmental. As for your comment about the other children being "obsessed", That is hardly true. My great aunts and uncles moved on with their lives and did not seek out Bruce. I call him Bruce because that is who he was born as. Since the test proved he was not Dunbar by blood he verily well couldn't be anyone else. Julia let Walters take him for a few days but when she went to her sisters, was not there when they returned. She never said and or implied that he kidnapped Bruce. She knew who he was with. And he sought out my uncle and aunt, AFTER he was grown and married with children of his own, not the other way around. They never saw him so they very well may have thought he was any other "yahoo'' off the street. If aunt and uncle had know who he was while talking with him what would you or anyone else expect them to do? Jump the counter maybe and demand regular visits? They didn't know each other and his family was by then the Dunbars. What really is the difference between my family wanting the truth out and anyone who has been adopted wanting to at least meet the real parents and or siblings for the sake of simply knowing. I see none. You seem very well educated and with a strong belief system but it is possible to write an essay in an opinionated manner and still be respectful of the history itself and the descendants of the people whom you write about. Being a parent is hard as I have a child myself and I believe that Julia truly was heartbroken over loosing "Bobby". The comment you made about him being adopted by accident instead of the usual way I felt was inaccurate. She never wanted to "give him up or away ". Power and money took that from her which is I think what you were trying to say but at first when I read it, it sounded a different way to me. I also do not believe the public painted Julia as a saint. People knew about her past and yet after everything was done, offered her help in trying to start a new life. I believe at the time she didn't believe that any bad would have befallen by allowing the boy to go with Walters. Kind of like letting our children in stay weekends at their uncles and or aunts houses. Then bad timing and missed arrivals happened. So I don't believe that she just was intentionally sending her son on his way with Walters because she couldn't care for him or anything of the sort. And even though she may have always talked of him or told stories to her other children is not an obsessive pursuit because after the trial and she lost him, that was it. She didn't try to take him back again because she knew it would be more traumatic. The only closure she was able to have/get was that he was getting everything he needed and everything he could have wanted. Now as far as this comment goes, if I have gotten any of my facts wrong I apologize in advance as I was only made aware of this case and my family's involvement in it just recently. I am still reading and researching everything as my curiosity has been sparked. Until this light was shed I had believed we were a simple family line from farmers. But, I wouldn't call it an obsession,