Archive for May, 2011

About that ‘racism’ thing, or is it bigotry?

In pondering the question Are doctors shifting to the left?, there are some implicit assumptions that are enough to make one wonder about racist or bigoted type thinking.

While doctors used to be mainly male small businessmen, who were a natural fit with the Republican Party, they’re now much more likely to be female and employed by larger organizations. … On the whole, younger doctors –and older ones who are sticking with the profession– seem to have the patients’ interest increasingly at heart. And that’s no bad thing.

What seems to be the thought here is that Republicans are only about money and don’t care about people.

That does fit in quite well with the adds that show Republicans tossing granny off the cliff or being forced to subsist on dog food.

But what such a view of a political party says about the holder of that view is not pretty.

What is the alternative? If one assumes that Republicans are ‘normal’ human beings and have much the same longings and desires as everyone else, it must be that they think the best way to help others is some other way than those that depend upon a socialist ideology, some way that has actually worked, some way that benefits all and not just a few.

The first step in figuring that out is going to be to look at one’s aspersions based on political attachments. Then one can start to examine what is put on the table for what it is rather than supposed motivations of the people presenting the ideas.

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What? me worry? A matter of the law and who you are. maybe.

Dr. Hanson is worried that, without the law there is nothing – and what he sees, which he lists, does not seem to bode well for the law as a standard and civil referent.

I find all this quite frightening for a variety of reasons. Once the
moral high ground is claimed, then legality is constructed as some sort
of reactionary impediment in the way of egalitarian “fairness”. The
process works geometrically: each time the federal government rules by
fiat instead of following the law—for reasons of humanitarianism abroad,
ecological responsibility, worker fairness, gay rights, or empathy for
the alien—it becomes a little bolder the next time.

It is bad enough in California but recent action, or lack thereof, at the federal level brings the problem to a whole new level. Whether it is traffic law rationalized as needed for safety but enforced for revenue or the recent political hack who complained that Republicans were treating illegal aliens as if they had committed a crime, the bedrock of a society seems to be gaining an awful lot of cracks lately. As Hanson notes, big ones, too.

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Shermer tries to figure out why people believe what they do

Harriet Hall does a review: The Believing Brain.

A common question of skeptics and science-based thinkers is “How could anyone believe that?” People do believe some really weird things and even some obviously false things. The more basic question is how we form all our beliefs, whether false or true.

Michael Shermer’s book Why People Believe Weird Things has become a classic. Now he has a new book out: The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies: How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths It synthesizes 30 years of research into the question of how and why we believe what we do in all aspects of our lives.

There are three “takeaway lessons:”

  • Beliefs come first, reasons follow.
  • False beliefs arise from the same thought processes that our brains evolved to enable them to learn about the world.
  • Our faulty thinking mechanisms can’t be eliminated but our errors can be corrected by science.

This review at Science-based Medicine is underscored by a couple of posts on vaccination. Measles outbreaks, 2011 takes a look at how the anti-vaccination ethos is causing harm by resulting in measles outbreaks. A bit of history of this ‘movement’ is provided in Smallpox and Pseudomedicine.

In the U.S. we have had thus far this year 118 cases of confirmed measles, the most cases since 1996. Of these cases, 47 resulted in hospitalization and 9 in pneumonia. Fortunately, none had encephalitis, … As reported in Nature and the MMWR report cited above, measles was in essence eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. This was not easy to do;

but negligence to protection is taking its toll.

Smallpox was “the most terrible of the ministers of death.” It began at least several thousand years ago and rapidly spread wherever its human carriers traveled, eventually to the entire populated world. In endemic regions, it wiped out 1/4 to 1/3 of children in epidemics that occurred every few years. In epidemics among people who had not previously seen it, such as the natives of the Western Hemisphere during the early years of European explorations, it wiped out as many as 90% of everyone.

You’d think experience like this would make an impression but belief systems are strong.

Opposition to smallpox vaccination (the name comes from the Latin for “cow”) began almost immediately after Jenner’s reports and remained substantial for more than 100 years. Some opposition was explicitly religious; some was based on disbelief in the method or, later, in the Germ Theory; some objectors claimed that vaccination caused terrible diseases, including smallpox itself; some voiced a political objection to state mandated vaccination programs. … They’ve since learned to be somewhat more subtle about the issue, possibly because of the 1968 failure, but their distaste for vaccinations in general persists

In the early days of vaccinations, they could indeed be dangerous. The risks were high enough so that cost benefit analysis could be uncertain. Such problems occur in new technologies even today. The choice is about whether to use this phenomena as a reason to support a predilection or to see it as a problem to be solved. Modern health and welfare is based on the problem solving approach. That is critically dependent upon people being able to ‘mature’ beyond their belief systems to be able to examine what they believe and why and how well such beliefs are actually congruent to reality. That isn’t easy and that is why Shermer has so many examples to examine.

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Smearing the vocabulary hides many things

Two items posted this morning discuss communications, the meanings of words, and how we describe our own feelings about ourselves in what we say: Torture? Racism? Genocide? When It Means Everything, It Means Nothing by Dan Miller and Science, truth, and language: Communicating with non-science and public audiences at PhysOrg.

Dan Miller describes how the real world isn’t just a matter of simple well defined concepts and how this fact provides an opportunity to broaden definitions so as to avoid confronting unpleasantness.

Using the word “torture” indiscriminately in the contexts of interrogation and other activities misses the point, confuses the subject, and leads to worse than silly conclusions.

we stain far more darkly such squeamish souls as we may have by being so much in love with them that we are prepared to put our agents and others at mortal risk while refusing to permit them to do what is necessary to shield themselves, us, and others from avoidable and horrific consequences — as they go about the duties we sent them to perform on our behalf. If we are are willing to accept far darker stains such as these, then we had best treat the rest of the wor[l]d as too unpleasant for us and retreat; to where I don’t know, because the unpleasantness may follow us even at home, as has happened in the not far distant past. When this bloody war is over? It may be a very long time. Running and trying to hide are not always good survival strategies.

Then there’s the problem one faces when distortions and deceit don’t achieve the desired result. That is often the underlying problem when the topic of trying to get the public to understand science is put on the table. It is the process of ignoring the message and blaming the messenger. “The problem, described by McMaster University astronomer William Harris at this week’s CASCA 2011 meeting in Ontario, Canada, boils down to a misunderstanding about the way science really works.”

Perhaps, but maybe not. It may be that people do have a fairly good understanding of science but when science is put up as something apart from a layman’s experience and expertise and then its practitioners assigned a special status communications are distorted. That is compounded when that view is used to try to foist something on the layman that just doesn’t fit reality. The message is not what is intended.

A recent and vivid example of this problem is the ongoing argument in the popular media about global warming. Do we need to be absolutely certain before we take action?

This question is loaded. As noted, science is never “absolutely certain” and engineering is even less so. That means all actions we take and decisions we make do not have absolute certainty behind them which implies that the question is absurd on its face. The question does highlight, though, that the uncertainty observed by the “public” is much higher than that espoused by some who set themselves apart as experts and authorities. The disagreement isn’t about communicating science, it is that there are some, who think themselves better than others, who value the certainty of the measure and the need for action differently than others.

In both cases, torture and science, these items by Miller and at PhysOrg describe those who are trying to foist their values and perceptions on others. They do not use clarification, education, and persuasion but rather distortion, misdirection, hubris, and obfuscation as their tools. Such methods do not achieve desired results and that creates frustration.

Rather than sit back and take an honest look at their methods, their values, and their perceptions, frustration drives them to ever more extreme rhetoric or even, sometimes, uncivil behavior. That is confrontational and everyone loses.

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About that ad throwing grandma over the cliff

The Democrat Party ad to demonstrate how evil and heartless nature of the opposition asserted that grandma would be shoved over a cliff if you didn’t vote for them. The idea that anyone could buy this idea, much less craft it into a campaign ad is mind boggling. But Dr. Sowell describes the underlying phenomena as Dependency and Votes.

To listen to some of the defenders of entitlement programs, which are at the heart of the present financial crisis, you might think that anything the government fails to provide is something that people will be deprived of. … This is the vision promoted by many politicians and much of the media. But, in the world of reality, it is not even true for most people who are living below the official poverty line.

The key entitlements are medicare and social security. These have been bubbling to the surface ever since some noted that the current legislation for these entitlements created financial obligations that would exceed anything the government could reasonably pay.

We don’t need to send the country into bankruptcy, in the name of the poor, by spending trillions of dollars on people who are not poor, and who could take care of themselves. The poor have been used as human shields behind which the expanding welfare state can advance.

The goal is not to keep the poor from starving but to create dependency, because dependency translates into votes for politicians who play Santa Claus.

The problem has expanded from just a simple security blanket as originally planned. Medical care has been added to entitlements intended to take care of the elderly. And even the younger set has participated as can be seen by the brouhaha about public employee unions and their ‘rights’ in recent efforts to get state budgets under control.

There were warnings about what would happen when people found out they could vote themselves money. In the 200+ years since those warnings, there have been a number of examples of countries that suffered just that fate. But the pressure for the government to end poverty and suffering continues, despite those lessons, basic lessons about human nature.

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The truth will come out eventually? Can we wait that long?

Paul Ryan is the bogeyman du jour when it comes to trying to maintain the status quo. A recent election in New York became an example of demagoguery that Ryan says will not last.

Paul Ryan rejects the narrative being pushed by the liberal media that his proposal to reform Medicare is toxic for the Republican Party. “Demagoguery can work for a short period of time, but it doesn’t last because the truth comes out,” he told Human Events. “Time is on our side. Truth and the facts are on our side, and all we have to do is get the truth out there.”

He added: “It just takes time because you’ve got to get the facts out. If you have a tight time compression, if you have a short period of time, the demagoguery can work, but it can’t last.”

The Medicare part D is often brought up to ‘Bash Bush’ as hypocritical for a massive entitlement. The thing is that it was also an example of the private sector at work, one that shows the way for Medicare reform such as Ryan proposes.

The second point is, and this is an important one, the CBO “doesn’t put any credence into competition.” As Ryan points out, pumping competition and free-market principles into the GOP’s “prescription drug” plan resulted in the program’s coming in 41% under budget. “CBO just does a very crude analysis where they don’t even bother assuming that competition works.”

The first point was getting the facts right avoiding distortions such as shoving grandma off the cliff after forcing her to live off dog food. That someone would actually believe a large portion of Americans are in favor of such things just indicates how depraved the ‘debate’ has become.

What is becoming rather obvious is that something has to change. The question is when. With the truth come out in time to avoid disaster and create solutions before massive intervention becomes necessary?

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Just who you talkin’ bout? Who owns big oil, anyway?

The oil companies are publicly owned. Say Anything notes that 14% of big oil is owned by individual retirement accounts and another 26% by pension funds.

To be clear, I think that “big oil” is every bit as capable of the sort of corporate/government cronyism that is rampant in America. But generally speaking, oil companies provide a product that we all use. They employ a hell of a lot of us, and even more of us are invested in their companies and thus have an interest in their well being.

Childish lashing out at “big oil” isn’t just, well, childish it’s also bad policy.

Diversion is a common tactic. It is a way to avoid facing the result of bans on exploration, rules and regulations that are of dubious value, and taxes and other burdens. It is like Senator Reid using the idea of insurance companies coming between you and your medical care rather than noting that his idea is to put a bureaucrat in that position. You can always go find another insurance company, which as a stake in the game, to seek better service but there is no way you can get around the bureaucrat, who has no stake in whether or not you get decent medical care.

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One result of war

A Marine tells the story and shouts out A Thank-you to Islamic Extremists

I will begin by expressing my personal gratitude for the role you have played in the grooming of what is today, the man I am proud to be, a man far removed from the clueless child I was on September 10th, 2001. … Thank you, Islamic extremists, for opening my eyes.

Those such as I who have served honorably in our military, are now pursuing college degrees or personal goals with the same tenacity they displayed on the battlefields of your God-forsaken land. We often hold more life experience than our bosses in the boardroom, and with our knowledge and life skills we are more prepared and determined than ever to enter our capitalist system and further America’s economic dominance, and your economic inferiority.

The image is often that of a bloodthirsty individual of low intelligence and other despicable attributes. The reality is American youth and, as this Marine notes, a good portion of that American youth now has first hand experience in just what it is that is special about the United States. In doing so, they have learned about their own capabilities and worth. That bodes well for the future of all of us.

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The judicial oligarchy, New Jersey edition

One has to wonder. One court says that tens of thousands of prisoners must be set free in California because their rights were violated and other is telling a state how much it should spend on its education system.

As Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino explains, “This is just another hit in a long string of cases wherein New Jersey’s highest court has taken on the role of judiciary, appropriator and chief executive.”

Tina Korbe has the story NJ Supreme Court to Christie: Spend more money at Hot Air.

No matter that no one has been able to show that more money means a better education. No matter that the meaning of a “thorough and efficient” education has no effective definition. No matter that only one method is allowable. No matter whether or not there is money to meet the judicial demands.

It does appear that process of accountability in governance have been tossed aside.

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Still confused about torture

Mr. Pitts thinks the price for torture is too high. His example is McCain vs Santorum. A key is his judgment of Santorum – the ad hominem.

Santorum’s bizarre comment, made last week in a radio interview, was in response to a recent McCain speech in which he disputed the claim by deadeners of the last administration that so-called “enhanced interrogation” (i.e., torture)

Bizzarre? so-called? deadeners? He would do better in trying to understand the difference between McCain’s treatment as a POW and what the U.S. considers an enhanced interrogation technique. An episode from McCain’s book is provided as an example of torture that makes the difference clear.

“I would find myself trussed up and left for hours in ropes, my biceps bound tightly with several loops to cut off my circulation and the end of the rope cinched behind my back, pulling my shoulders and elbows unnaturally close together. It was incredibly painful.” — Sen. John McCain from his book, Faith of My Fathers

The fact is that the techniques considered “enhanced interrogation” did not cause physical pain or harm such as McCain describes. The inability to make such a clear distinction is a dishonesty that corrupts the hubris in assertions such as “Some will say the stakes are too high for us to worry about venerating ideals” that condemn and judge others who do make the distinctions. It is the difference between how McCain was treated as a POW and how the terrorists caught in combat have been treated by the U.S. that illustrates the point opposite of what Pitts thinks is reality.

No wonder the Pulitzer Prize and journalism in general has lost so much respect outside of its clique. Many people do value honesty and integrity in their sources of information and it isn’t often found in journalism today, it seems.

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“We’re not the Ninth Ward”

It’s not a vain pride, it is an American facing reality and dealing with it. IBD describes Mississippi’s Floodbeaters. These are farmers who anticipated the flood and took precautions as best they could.

News photographs from tiny Vicksburg, Miss., where 2,100 people have been displaced, showed dozens of farm houses along the Mississippi River and its Yazoo tributary encircled by homemade levees, many of them shielding these homes from the destruction of the river. … IBD called around the area and found that these levees were the result of self-reliant farmers taking matters in their own hands in a classic instance of Made In America preparation, initiative and ingenuity.

The floods from the tsunami in Japan were sea water and unprecedented. In the Mississippi floodplain, the floods are an expected river behavior and leave behind a load of fresh topsoil. There will be losses. But it looks like these folks know, and accept, the costs of their chosen livelihood and will pick up what they’ve managed to save and put their farms back together when the floods subside – and keep on truckin’ … without the whining, complaining, accusing, and continual pleading for someone else to do it for them that was seen after the hurricane.

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Of our kind: Israel

The problem is whether or not we can determine who isn’t of our kind – or if being of our kind is a good thing or not. Bill Murchison uses Israel as an example.

When was the last time we saw throngs of Israelis filling public
squares to call for their leaders’ ouster or demise? When was the last
time we saw Israeli security forces shooting down unarmed demonstrators?
The answer to both questions is the same: We haven’t ever seen it. It
hasn’t happened. Massacres in the Middle East are a phenomenon we see
outside Israel, not within.

“Why” isn’t a question that needs to
be asked or answered right now. The fact of Israel’s unique standing in
the Middle East is the matter in need of underscoring. …

A bigger reason for the cordiality of which I speak
concerns basic values. Israel’s civic values are recognizable as Western
values — love of freedom, dislike of tyranny; willingness to lay lives
on the line in defense of both values.

It is not honest to pretend that the rest of the middle east behaves like the Israelis, or us, or has the same values. And if one desires to put the behavior and values of the rest as above those of western civilization, it should cause some wonder about just how one defines good and bad.

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Why journalism has an image problem

Just take a look at this year’s National Magazine Award for Reporting. John describes the situation in What It Takes To Be An “Award-Winning Journalist”.

In what world is peddling yet more smears against the dedicated military personnel who run Guantanamo Bay “speak[ing] truth to power?” The world of the American Society of Magazine Editors, evidently. You might wonder: who, exactly, are these leaders of the journalism industry who honor left-wing fables lacking even a fig-leaf of plausibility?

Integrity does not seem to be at issue in awards for magazine reporting. Creating rationalizations for such awards, however, does seem to be in place. And then they wonder about declining readership.

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Broadband socialist dreams

This is the ‘net neutrality’ propaganda, again. The dream is to have free I’net access with unlimited bandwidth everywhere and anywhere. Since private businesses are not able to do this, some think it is time for the government to step in. That is what is behind a North Carolina legislative effort. Ars Technica is usually on the socialist side of this fence but they let an industry shill in with heavy warnings that his views weren’t necessarily theirs. Setting the record straight on the North Carolina level playing field bill is by Marcus Trathen, NC Cable & Telecommunications Assn.

First, the bill’s not just about broadband. It’s about government competing in a variety of businesses—cable TV, telephone, Internet access—anything that can be offered by a business over a wire.

Second, and more importantly, North Carolina’s bill does not “prohibit” cities from competing against private providers—it only sets ground rules if they do. This is necessary because there are no rules currently. This means that cities have been free to discriminate against private business, they have been free to cross-subsidize competition with monopoly utility revenues, they have been free to incur debt without taxpayer approval, and they have been free to subsidize their competition through tax exemptions not available to private industry.

The story Trathen describes is nothing new. The examples he provides have many analogies in other attempts to have ‘government do it’ rather than private business. You’d think that with local governments budget’s being busted by payrolls needed to provide a surfeit of services that yet another effort to expand government services would be subject to just a bit more consideration about its impacts and realities. Some never learn, or so it seems.

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Nuclear safety: it’s like the Wisconsin judicial election

The Fukushima incident has prompted safety experts to take a look at their nuclear plants. The problem is, there is only one outcome of such an examination that is politically safe. The Guardian has a report to illustrate the problems that reason and reality face.

An enormous row broke out on Wednesday after the chief nuclear safety inspector gave Britain’s reactor fleet the all-clear and made modest “recommendations” to be incorporated in the planned new plant design

Like in Wisconsin where the November election losers cost the state $8m to repair and cleanup after demonstrations and the loser of an election who requested a recount that cost the state another few million in an effort that appears to be simply a prelude to lawsuits that will cost yet more millions, the nuclear-ophobics raise outrage to extreme levels when someone reports that reality is not in line with their fantasies. One of the more distinguishing tactics used in expressing this outrage is the personal attack.

Critics immediately accused Mike Weightman of rushing to judgment and “complacency” in his interim report on the lessons to be learned from the Fukushima atomic crisis.

The more rational among those phobics use another tactic – the “never enough information to make a conclusion we don’t like” approach.

Paul Dorfman, an academic and member of the Nuclear Consultation Group, said it was an “outrage” that conclusions on Fukushima had been made while facts from Japan remained so sketchy and the crisis was far from over. He added: “There is really not enough information around yet to base any rational decisions on.”

This is similar to the climate alarmist who asserted that the null hypothesis has been inverted and that it is up to those raising questions to prove that mankind has not caused, and will not cause, catastrophic climate change.

They have learned that the squeaky wheel does get some grease and, like a kid who learns that a tantrum can get desired attention, they elevate their efforts so they can get more and more of what they want.

Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, said last week that the country was starting from scratch on its energy policy and was likely to abandon plans to increase the amount of Japan’s electricity provided by nuclear from the existing 30% to 50%.

The reality here that will likely come back to the fore as this re-examination continues, is the cost of eschewing a reliable base power source that has proven itself to be safe even when placed under unprecedented catastrophe. The problem, of course, is that safe does not mean zero risk but rather much less risk that other options or the risk of doing without. The presumption that safety and risk are binary concepts is another logical fallacy to look for in this debate.

Meanwhile – check out Commentary on how Global Warming Activists Bully Scholastic Into Submission, “the kids of the world are depending on you.”

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Fukushima update: the level headed view

An editorial in the latest edition of the Journal of Radiological Prediction by Richard Wakeford provides a good summary about what happened at the Japanese nuclear power plants and the resulting risks. PhysOrg reports and provides a link (http://iopscience. … 746/31/2/E02) to the editorial.

While praising the organisational abilities of the Japanese authorities and the heroic efforts of emergency workers, Wakeford is critical of alarmist pronouncements from some of those in authority outside Japan, and offers perspective on the radiological hazard the emergency poses.

The reactors functioning at the time of the even did scram but suffered a loss of coolant due to the damage to the emergency cooling systems. That caused damages that resulted in the release of radioactive products. To date, measures of exposure indicate that there may be, at most, up to a ten percent influence on nominal cancer rates. That means that the impact on human health due is going to be more evident in the nuclear-ophobia than it is in actual physical ailments. That phenomena is one noted by professor Wakeford in citing pronouncements which “have been breathtaking in their extravagance.”

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Google’s warning about cloud computing

Google has just introduced its portable computer that pushes the cloud computing concept. That means that the programs and data you use are stored on the I’net and not on the piece of hardware you hold in your hands. That situation brings up the ‘single point of failure’ issue and Google has illustrated how personalities can create havoc of that sort.

Blogger is one ‘cloud service’ Google provides. They had a glitch. It put Ann Althouse’s blog offline. She is a law professor in Madison Wisconsin whose blog had extensive coverage of the union shenanigans there recently. In seeking help getting her blog back online, she encountered a political adversary who didn’t seem to mind using his capabilities at Google tech support to harass those he didn’t like. Konsen has the story.

pardon me if I don’t jump on the Google Chromebook
bandwagon. The thought of trusting much personal or business
information to Google already made me uneasy to begin with. Then word
got out about Google’s use of text-reading software to read GMail users’ e-mails and present them with “more relevant” ads. Now, any volunteer with sufficient authority granted by Google — and an axe to grind — can apparently decide to delete your account and cover their own butt by labeling you a “suspected spammer.”

“Don’t be evil” turns out to be a rather nuanced code of conduct.

That is also related to the net neutrality issue. There, the distrust is for those who provide the connections despite there being  nothing to indicate that trust is not warranted. In this case, distrust of a cloud services provider has indeed been shown to have good cause. It is one thing when you can’t communicate. It is another when someone runs off with your work.

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It’s not the model in error: it’s the data!

You’d think an engineering association publication would be a bit less obvious.

So the problem, in a nutshell, is that not seeing is not believing. Since the deaths can’t be identified or even measured, the Times’s editorialists are treating them as if they’re not occurring. They really ought to know better.

You cannot see it, you cannot measure it, so you’re stupid not to believe it anyway? It is just like in climate. Data means nothing if you have something better.

So they ought to appreciate that if dose-response models predict a certain level of fatalities, those fatalities must be assumed to be occurring, even if they aren’t seen.

It’s not that the model is wrong, you see, it’s the data that’s wrong. The data must be forced to fit the model whether it wants to or not.

In this case, Bill Sweet is taking up the anti-nuclear religion. He ends his screed with the zero risk assertion – another engineering absurdity.

You really have to wonder what would happen if engineers allowed a model to over-ride actual experience and data and expected to be able to craft zero risk devices.

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Betting on a bigger God

Jesus and Divine Evolution is a look at what creationism and the denial of evolution is doing to churches, especially in the U.S. It is a report from a three day conference of Christian evangelical pastors, artists, youth leaders, authors, musicians, and publishers.

It is the latter matter — evolution — that interests me most. Officially, the evangelical church in America preaches against evolution, particularly teaching evolution in their schools. Their orthodoxy is a young earth, and no evolution of species.

Of course, the evidence for an ancient planet, a far still older universe, and a long life-span over billion of years is so plain to see in many ways that it becomes harder each year for any thinking person to maintain otherwise. And despite stereotypes, the typical urban evangelical is a thinking person.

What has happened is similar to what has happened in the use of birth control among Catholics: the belief of lay members has diverged from what is preached from the pulpit. When I speak to evangelicals one to one to ask their views in private, I have discovered that on average they do not really believe in creationism, even though their church officially does. This is truer the younger the person is. The gulf shows up in polls as well. In a survey among the conferences goers at Q, the majority responded (anonymously) that they embraced a belief in a theistic evolution.

What this says to me is that in another generation or two this issue of evolution will become an non-issue to American evangelicals.

the denial of the reality of evolution by evangelical churches is hugely detrimental to themselves and to the rest of American society.

There is a comparison and contrast between creationism and anthropogenic global climate warming. Both are heavily burdened by belief. Both try to construct rationalizations supported by evidence and logic for their views. Both suffer when their views are subject to scrutiny and their methods examined. Both respond by attacks on the persons who dare to challenge their views.

Personally and collectively we are defined by our understanding of where we come from. If we believe in a fearful angry-father God, our society will angry and fearful. If we believe in directionless randomness as God, then our society will be directionless. I therefore seek the largest God of possibilities and growth. The God of evolution may not be the optimal God, but it/he is much greater than the dollmaker God of creationism. I’m betting on the bigger God.

It is interesting that Mark Roberts cited Psalm 56, where David seems to be suffering from what are called trolls in today’s social media.

O God, have mercy on me,
for people are hounding me.
My foes attack me all day long.
2 I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
and many are boldly attacking me.

They are always twisting what I say;
they spend their days plotting to harm me.
6 They come together to spy on me—
watching my every step, eager to kill me.
7 Don’t let them get away with their wickedness;
in your anger, O God, bring them down.

Of course, those whose belief in creationism or human caused catastrophic global warming probably think the same thing when asked to explain how their belief fits what can be seen in front of their eye’s about God’s actual works. That is why we all need to pay attention to whether we are actually suffering slander or getting our words twisted or suffering an attack on us rather than our ideas. That is the caution in Luke 6:41.

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Whither propaganda goest?

The PC propaganda:

In the Walt Disney film, the Europeans are portrayed as evil, coming to the New World only in search of gold and the desire to kill Indians. The Indians, on the other hand, are all portrayed as benevolent and good, living simply and peacefully.

The reality:

the English settlers came to America in search of freedom, … Freedom was so important to the settlers that they endured many hardships and suffering such as fire, drought, Indian attacks, disease, starvation and death which wiped out half the colony.

The Indians, on the other hand, were, for the most part, uncivilized and roamed the countryside warring with each other and other tribes. They tortured and murdered prisoners with ceremonial dancing and feasts, scalped strangers, and annually sacrificed 2-3 children chosen by witch doctors. They were doing this before white men ever appeared on the shore.

The example by Charlotte Cushman is the unknown story of Pocahontas. The foil is a 1995 Disney film. The question is why the Disney film has the history so distorted and why that distortion is in line with the anti-American theme.

The same ‘noble savages’ vs ‘evil, greedy western civilization (white) people who don’t care about nature or peace’ meme can be seen in many ‘documentaries’ that center on U.S. Western expansion made in the last twenty years or so. It is a part and parcel of the effort to deny that the intellectual and technological advancement expressed as a result of western civilization have any impact on improving the human condition. That sort of denial can only exist as long as the actual human condition of the American Indian tribes is not likely to present itself yet again and there is little risk of being subject to the reality of what was.

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