Natura non facit saltus
Debunking the Paradigm Shifters
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Saturday, May 27, 2006
Pres. Bush's enemies are now bragging that he has admitted mistakes:
I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know. "Wanted, dead or alive"; that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted.Where was "Wanted, dead or alive" misinterpreted? What part of that doesn't translate into some other language? I do not think that Bush was misinterpreted.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Evolution sticker in court
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
In January 2005, Cooper ordered the removal of evolution disclaimers affixed to almost 35,000 science textbooks in Cobb after finding they conveyed an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The county complied, but also appealed that ruling, which was thrown out Thursday by the 11th Circuit.This is ridiculous. Does the court really want more fact-finding on the theory of evolution? The sticker is just an innocuous disclaimer. If it takes that much judicial effort to check the facts, then it should just let the schools use the sticker.
NAACP wants innocent people gagged
DURHAM -- A lawyer with the state NAACP said the civil rights organization intends to seek a gag order in the Duke lacrosse case, and a journalist who participated in a forum with him on Wednesday said media coverage of the alleged rape may deprive the alleged victim of her legal rights to a fair trial.What he doesn't want the public to hear is that the accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum, is a prostitute who had sex with three other men before going to work as a drunk stripper at the lacrosse boys' party. Her main evidence is that she had injuries consistent with rape, but DNA tests say that the semen did not come from anyone on the Duke lacrosse team.
Mangum has no right to a fair trial. She is not the one on trial. It was the Durham DA who decided to try this case in the press. The accused have a right to defend themselves publicly. The jury may not find out whether Mangum really is a prostitute because of rape shield laws, but I think that the Duke players are entitled to release info that rebuts what the DA has told the press.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Toddlers watching TV
NY Times reports:
Parents Making Use of TV Despite RisksThe pediatricians say that children under 2 should not watch any TV. But they have no real research to back them up. Some TV may well be beneficial.
Are you saying that you subscribe to Baby Einstein and Mozart products? There is no evidence that those products work.No, they probably don't work. But I let my toddlers watch some TV, and some of it appeared to be beneficial.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Something frighteningly ominous has been happening on the Internet lately: Google, without any prior explanation or notice, has been terminating its News relationship with conservative e-zines and web journals.
Humans v Evolution
NY Times reports:
Humans can threaten species with extinction in many ways, including overfishing, pollution and deforestation. Now a pair of studies points to a new danger to the world's biodiversity: humans may be blocking new species from evolving.We should send these folks to talk to the climate change folks. Evolutionists usually say that dramatic climate changes promote evolution.
Failure of psychiatry
NY Times reports:
In a career that has spanned four decades, Dr. [Thomas H.] McGlashan, now 64 and a professor of psychiatry at Yale, has with grim delight extinguished some of psychiatry's grandest notions, none more ruthlessly than his own. He strived for years to master psychoanalysis, only to reject it outright after demonstrating, in a landmark 1984 study, that the treatment did not help much at all in people, like Keith, with schizophrenia. Once placed on antipsychotic medication, Keith became less paranoid and more expressive. Without it, he quickly deteriorated.That is right. The scientific evidence that psychiatric drugs do any good is extremely weak.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
There is a famous painting of a black sailor, wearing an officer's uniform, who fought with George Washington during the American revolutionary war. Supposedly he saved Washington's life in the 1783 Battle of Brooklyn. It’s in just about every book on AfricanAmerican history. Unfortunately, it is a fake.
Evolution by small jerks
Here is Niles Eldredge with Confessions of a Darwinist:
In a clear demonstration of how thoroughly political the creationist movement has always been in the United States, Ronald Reagan told reporters, after addressing a throng of Christian ministers during the 1980 presidential campaign, that evolution “is a theory, a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed.” The creationist who managed to get to Reagan’s handlers later bragged to me that those scientists in question were none other than Gould and me. ...He wants scientific credit for proving Darwin wrong, but he doesn't want creationists to notice.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted to life in prison for failing to warn the FBI before 9-11 with what he knew about a possible Al Qaeda attack. According to Judith Miller, the NY Times had a story before 9-11 that Al Qaeda was planning a major attack. Her editor rejected it, and still has regrets about it.
I am not necessarily blaming anyone. I just think that it is unlikely that Moussaoui would have been taken very seriously anyway.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Human ape hybrids
Evolutionists in Nature are claiming that human ancestors spent a million years interbreeding with chimps, and that we are descended from hybrids. Nicholas Wade writes:
"If the earliest hominids are bipedal, it's hard to think of them interbreeding with the knuckle-walking chimps — it's not what we had in mind," said Daniel E. Lieberman, a biological anthropologist at Harvard. ...This is nonsense. It is doubtful that the earliest hominids were bipedal, and there are not enough fossils to give any evidence on interbreeding. All they really found out was that chromosome differences between humans and apes are slightly greater for Y than X.
I expect evolutionists to go ape over this. They are often big fans of the Copernican-Freudian-Gouldian principle that the essence of science is knocking Man off his pedestal. What could be better than claiming that Man is a ape half-breed that spent a million years mating with knuckle-draggers?
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Some economists are circulating a consensus letter in favor of immigration. I may submit my own:
Open letter on global warmingThe economist letter is just as silly. It tells us nothing about whether immigration levels should be increased or decreased, or how criminal behavior might be dealt with.
Human ancestors breeding with apes
The earliest known ancestors of modern humans might have reproduced with early chimpanzees to create a hybrid species, a new genetic analysis suggests.I just don't believe that this can be deduced by extrapolating present-day gene sequences.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Andy writes, about proposed immigration reform:
After watching people pretend that the penalties in the House version (HR 4473) were fair and sensible, and suspecting otherwise, I looked it up myself. In addition to hefty fines for employers not "verifying" employee status, get a load of this:John replies:SEC. 706. PENALTIES. ... `(1) CRIMINAL PENALTY- Any person or entity which engages in a pattern or practice of violations of subsection (a)(1) or (2) shall be fined not more than $50,000 for each unauthorized alien with respect to which such a violation occurs, imprisoned for not less than one year, or both, notwithstanding the provisions of any other Federal law relating to fine levels.'; and ...What an outrage that is! A small businessman is imprisoned for NOT LESS THAN ONE YEAR!!!!!! A floor on the penalty, not a ceiling!!!
The quoted provision applies only if an employer "engages in a pattern or practice of violations" of specified sections of the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli law. Those 20-year-old provisions make it unlawful for an employer to employ an illegal alien, "knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien."I think that the feds should be enforcing immigration law, not private employers.
Winning in Iraq
Three years ago, Pres. Bush announced on the USS Abraham Lincoln under a "Mission Accomplished" banner:
In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. ... Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.I am surprised to still see people attacking this claim. It was the correct thing to say.
We won the Battle of Baghdad. We destroyed Saddam Hussein's govt. We defeated and dispersed the Iraqi army. It was a very impressive military victory.
Occupying Iraq has proved difficult, of course. A lot of people thought that it would be impossible a Western-style govt there. The Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds might still be fighting each other 100 years from now. Maybe the nation-building experiment will fail in Iraq. But there is no doubt that we decisively and brilliantly won the battle of Iraq as Bush said, and it was correct to claim military victory. It would have been irresponsible for Bush to say anything else.
NY Times says NSA makes math errors
Jonathan David Farley writes in the NY Times:
Math is just a tool. Used wisely, math can indeed help in warfare: consider the Battle of Britain, won in part by breaking the German codes. But use it unwisely -- as seems to be the case here -- and your approval ratings might just hit a new all-time low.His argument is that Pres. Bush's ratings are down because he fallaciously thinks that the NSA will be able to use phone network data to gain intelligence on potential terrorists.
The guy is a nut. Bush's rating are not down because of bad mathematicians at the NSA. If the guy is correct that the phone data is useless, then no one should object to the NSA collecting it. Not many people object to it anyway.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Calif Prop 82 is on the June ballot, and it would amend the constitution to impose a surtax on the rich to fund a state babysitting (aka preschool) program for 4-year-olds. The plan is to spend about $8k for 540 hours of day care for each participating 4-year-old.
That is about $15 per hour. I can hire individual private tutors for less money than that. They would do a lot better job also, and I wouldn't have the problem of taking the kid to and from some silly preschool in the middle of the day. Even the left-wing San Jose paper is against it.
I don't even think that the ballot initiative should have been permitted under the single issue rule. Prop 82 does 2 things: tax the rich and start a preschool program. If the rich are undertaxed, then maybe we should have an initiative just for that. If preschool is really such a big win, then we should fund it out of general revenues. But taxing the rich has nothing to do with preschool.
Driving while black
BRITAIN’S most senior policeman Sir Ian Blair is facing a race relations dilemma after the release of figures that reveal almost half the number of people arrested in relation to car crime in London are black.American blacks sometimes complain about being stopped by police just because they are black, but these arrests are generated automatically by robots without regard to race.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Robert P. Rew of San Jose writes:
Judges meddling with people's job
The Missouri House approved by voice vote on Wednesday a resolution that calls on Congress to rein in the nation’s judges by approving the Constitution Restoration Act of 2005 (CRA).
Friday, May 12, 2006
Evolution and bacteria
Holden Thorp writes in the NY Times:
Since evolution has been the dominant theory of biology for more than a century, it's a safe statement that all of the wonderful innovations in medicine and agriculture that we derive from biological research stem from the theory of evolution.Thorp is a chemist, so perhaps that is why he has to guess about the history of biology. In fact, there are hardly any innovations that are attributable to the theory of evolution.
His favorite example is resistant bacteria. The idea is that if an antibiotic kills some bacteria and not others, then the surviving bacteria will reproduce and not be killed. Sound profound? No, it is as trivial as it sounds. No theory is needed.
Biology certainly has made tremendous progress in the last 50 years, and the field has been dominated by evolutionists. That suggests that the theory is useful, and worth teaching. But Kansas has not stopped teaching evolution, and neither has anyone else. Thorp is on the warpath against Kansas not for the science that it is teaching, but for its definition of science.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Reading the 4A
John sends this NRO article on how to read the 4A.
This week, following Hayden’s nomination, Editor & Publisher republished the Hayden-Landay exchange under the headline, “Hayden, Likely Choice for CIA Chief, Displayed Shaky Grip on 4th Amendment at Press Club.” And just yesterday, Fred Kaplan wrote an article for Slate in which he relates part of the exchange. He then comments, "This is startling. Elsewhere in the speech, Hayden said, 'If there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth.' And he doesn't know that it requires ‘probable cause’ as the criterion for ‘reasonable’ search? ... Hayden may have dug his own hole with this one.”The 4A requires that searches and seizures be reasonable, and that warrants be based on a showing of probable cause.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Nonlawyer defends son
The NY Times reports:
Several years ago, Brian Woods sued the school board in Akron, Ohio, on behalf of his autistic son Daniel. Mr. Woods wanted to make sure that Daniel received an appropriate education, and he won several concessions and about $160,000.I am not impressed either. He won his case, and that should be proof that he competently represented his son's interests. The lawyers just want to monopolize the business.
The article suggests that the US Supreme Court might hear a similar case. It sure seems to me that a father should be able to stand up for his son in court.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Physicists make political statement
Leonard Susskind and a bunch of other mathematical physicists have written a letter to the NY Times:
Scientists Speak Out About Guantánamo (1 Letter)Huhh? I always thought that that our country stood for disdain for international opinion. International law is certainly not an American ideal. Americans think that the rest of the world is screwed up, and we stand for doing things better.
We are told that our country is being protected by locking up dangerous terrorists in isolated facilities in order to make us accept a breakdown of our own laws.This is really wacky. Do they really think that Pres. Bush and Cheney and Rumsfield adopted some course of action for the purpose of making American accept a breakdown of our own laws? It sounds to me as if it is the physicists who want us to accept international law instead of our own laws.
But we do not know - indeed, we have not been allowed any way of finding out - if the individual prisoners are enemy combatants, Al Qaeda suspects or innocents unlucky enough to have been caught in a blind sweep.Do they really care whether they are enemy combatants or Al Qaeda suspects? I don't.
It is one of the most fundamental principles of a democracy that all accused should be tried without unreasonable delays and freed if innocent.Democracy means majority rule, not how to try terrorist suspects. It does not mean freeing wartime prisoners, even if they are innocent. Soldiers who fought for Germany and Japan in WWII were innocent in the sense of not having broken any law, but we still did not free them until the war was over.
In no case do our moral principles permit humiliating and degrading treatment.Did they become moral philosophers?
The administration has cynically used fear to justify behavior that the civilized world has long considered criminal.Criminal? These physicists probably disagree with the Iraq War and have some policy disagreements, but the the civilized world has never considered it criminal to detain and interrogate enemy combatants.
Although this is not a scientific issue in the usual sense, we feel that to ignore it would be to abdicate our responsibility to the truth. Therefore, we have felt compelled to speak out against human rights violations, including those committed by Americans. We are asking all people of good will to join us in demanding a quick return to our country's great traditions.These guys should stick to math and physics.
I do think that citizens who are accused of crimes should get protections in the Bill Of Rights, and prisoners of war should get protections as in the Geneva Conventions. But those who conspire with Al Qaeda against the USA are in the another category. They have no rights that the civilized world recognizes, and they should be treated much worse than criminals and prisoners of war.
You might be misinterpreting the sentence about making "us accept a breakdown of our own laws". It sounds like the Bush administration has one reason for Guantánamo, but is telling us another reason in order to trick us into accepting a breakdown of our own laws so that Bush can declare marshal law or something like that. Or maybe left-wing propagandists are trying to trick us about Guantánamo. Or maybe Bush is detaining those prisoners as a trick to make us accept other violations of the law. The physicists are probably just unhappy about Guantánamo, and wanted to qualify their statement with "we are told" because they don't really know what is going on.The signers of the letter are 19 of the smartest people in the world. I am sure that they scrutinized every word, and they mean exactly what they said.
Bush argues persuasively that Guantánamo is legal. I don't see how anything related to Guantánamo could be leading to the public accepting a breakdown of our own laws. It might be leading to an expansion of executive authority or to the irritation of the Mohammedan world, but not to a breakdown of our own laws.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
No shortage of skilled workers
Christopher R. Moylan cites a bunch of article about the supposed shortage of scientists and engineers, and writes:
Whether the cry is for more H-1B visas or more female engineers, the goal is the same: a dramatic increase in the supply of high-tech workers. The problem with these proposed remedies is that they address an employee shortage that does not, in fact, exist.He's right. For as long as I can remember, businesses and others have been complaining about a shortage of scientists and engineers at the same time that they were cutting their wages and laying them off.
Freud was a kook
The Si Valley paper is celebrating Sigmund Freud's 150th birthday, and lists his major inventions:
UNCONSCIOUSThis was Freud's proudest accomplishment. He said that his symbolic interpretation of dreams was the royal road to the unconscious.
Of course people are unconscious when they are asleep; that has been known for 1000s of years. But Freud's theory of dreams is contrary to everything that we now know about dreams.
PSYCHOSEXUAL DEVELOPMENTThis is kooky, and has no merit.
ID, EGO AND SUPEREGOThis was just new terminology for old ideas.
DEFENSE MECHANISMSThere is no scientific evidence for what Freud called repression.
PSYCHOANALYSISAll scientific studies have failed to show any benefit to Freudian psychoanalysis.
Freud was a pervert, drug addict, and a scientific fraud. His ideas have been proven false, to the extent that they are testable.
Friday, May 05, 2006
President's duty to the Constitution
John credits Michael Kinsley for being an honest liberal for writing this:
Last Sunday's Boston Globe carried an alarming 4,000-word front-page article about President Bush and the Constitution. It seems that Bush has asserted the right to ignore "vast swaths of the law" simply because he thinks that these laws are unconstitutional.The President is sworn to uphold the Constitution, as part of his Oath of office. It would really be alarming if the President declared that he could enforce some unconstitional law. Not even Richard Nixon said that.
G.W.Bush did raise some eyebrows when he signed the the McCain-Feingold (campaign finance) Bill while expressing reservations about parts of it being unconstitional. Perhaps he thought that those parts would not be enforced.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Why Bush appointed Miers
A Cato Institute article says:
"Trust the president." That was the Bush administration's main defense of the president's bizarre choice of corporate lawyer Harriet Miers for a seat on the Supreme Court. But the administration also had a backup rationale: as D.C.'s Hill newspaper reported, in an October 3, 2005, conference call with conservative leaders, Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman stressed "the need to confirm a justice who will not interfere with the administration's management of the war on terrorism."A reader says, "This rings absolutely true to me."
Princeton Prof defends marriage law
A reader writes:
What a laugh that Princeton would criticize Robbie George because he "stepped out of the ivory tower," one week after Princeton history prof Sean Wilentz published his ridiculous cover story in Rolling Stone!Yes, I think that the marriage amendment is hopelessly ambiguous and confusing, and not likely to do what the proponents say it will do. The public will not get behind it.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
A really scary idea
John sends this AP news story:
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Tuesday that a Republican proposal in Congress to set up a watchdog over the federal courts is a "really scary idea."Yeah, just like the USSR. The Soviet Union was famous for monitoring judges for conflicts of interest. Ginsburg gets paid about $200k per year and she cannot be fired, and she is really scared that someone might notice her taking bribes.