Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A superhero movie is not cultural genocide

Movie critic Richard Brody writes in the New Yorker magazine:
In a recent video interview to promote “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man, lost his mettle. The interviewer quoted a remark by the director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu that superhero movies are “cultural genocide.” Downey seemed taken aback and responded offensively, with a nativist slur: “Look, I respect the heck out of him, and I think for a man whose native tongue is Spanish to be able to put together a phrase like ‘cultural genocide’ just speaks to how bright he is.”

There’s no defending Downey’s remark.
I'll defend Downey's remark. It is about the kindest thing that ought to be said when some leftist jerk from another culture accuses an actor of mass murder for making a popular movie.

Nobody uses terms like ‘cultural genocide’ unless they are Marxist hate-mongers. Those using the term should be mocked in the harshest terms. Downey was easy on the guy, and could have told him to go back to Mexico.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Parental contribution is mainly genetic

Bryan Caplan argues that reading helps kids more than anything:
The big result is the lack of results. Controlling for family and child background, time in school and studying barely help - and television viewing barely hurts. Contrary to wishful assertions that exercising the body improves the mind, sports don't matter either. Out of nineteen activities, only two predict greater academic success across the board: reading and visiting.

The estimated effect of visiting is modest. Reading, however, is a huge deal.
Visiting refers to certain organized out-of-school activities.

AA Nature study reports:
Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies

Despite a century of research on complex traits in humans, the relative importance and specific nature of the influences of genes and environment on human traits remain controversial. We report a meta-analysis of twin correlations and reported variance components for 17,804 traits from 2,748 publications including 14,558,903 partly dependent twin pairs, virtually all published twin studies of complex traits. Estimates of heritability cluster strongly within functional domains, and across all traits the reported heritability is 49%.
You can download the full article here.

People think that kids are shaped by schools, TV, parenting, etc. The data says that these things matter less than you think.

Saying that heritability is 50% makes it sounds as if parenting and schooling are the other 50%. But other studies show that the other 50% is mostly measurement error and unkown factors, as the measurable aspect of the environment seem to have very little effect.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fat shamer on Dr. Oz show

Physician and Turkish-American TV personality Mehmet Oz regularly promotes quack medicine, with the endorsement of Oprah Winfrey. In particular he has promoted bogus weight-loss alternative medicine that borders on fraud. His physician colleagues have denounced him.

So you would think that he is against being fat. But much of his audience is fat women, and he does not want to offend them. So he introduced an anti-fat TV guest as a monster in Fat Shaming by Roosh V.

In spite of being ambushed on the show, Roosh stays calm and on point, describing how American women have become unhealthy and unattractive by getting fat. He also encourages fat men to join a gym, lose weight, and get in better shape. Men respond to logic and reasoned arguments, he says, but women do not and must be shamed.

Oz had some obese women denounce him, saying that they were happy to be fat and their inner beauty is what matters.

Oz's audience was mostly fat women, and they sided with him. All of which just help Roosh make his point that fat acceptance has led to a generation of repulsive people.

I have tried watching the Dr. Oz a couple of times. One time he discussed a minor medical problem that I was familiar with, and his advice was abominable. I say that Oz is the monster.

Very few people would dare say what Roosh V says, but he is reasonable and sensible compared to Oz.

Speaking of politically incorrect views, here are a couple of other examples.

Anthropologist Peter Frost says A synthesis has been forming in the field of human biodiversity. This consensus differs from how the leftist-Marxist-globalists deny race. It is hard to refute anything Frost says, but very few academics are willing to say it.

John Derbyshire attacks Bill Nye:
What did the Science Guy have to say to the Rutgers graduates? Well, he warned them of the horrors of climate change, which he linked to global inequality.
We’re going to find a means to enable poor people to advance in their societies in countries around the world. Otherwise, the imbalance of wealth will lead to conflict and inefficiency in energy production, which will lead to more carbon pollution and a no-way-out overheated globe.
Uh, given that advanced countries use far more energy per capita than backward ones—the U.S.A. figure is thirty-four times Bangladesh’s—wouldn’t a better strategy be to keep poor countries poor? We could, for example, encourage all their smartest and most entrepreneurial people to emigrate to the First World … Oh, wait: we already do that.
Again, hardly anyone is willing to say this, but if global warming is really such a big threat, then maybe the best thing we can do is to keep the Third World poor.

I mentioned how prominent skeptic-atheists have become disillusioned with the whole movement, but I am afraid that I have understated the matter. See the videos on Why 'Feminism' is poisoning Atheism. It appears that creepy leftist social justice warriors have hijacked to whole movement. Even the conferences sound very unpleasant.

Here is someone afraid to use certain words:
When it hit the national news that searching for certain racist and offensive words in Google Maps brought up the White House, I was immediately appalled. As someone who grew up listening to Hip-Hop music, I've heard similar language before, so I was not offended by the words themselves. I was, however, disappointed in the apparent disrespect towards our President and the ignorance of the perpetrator.
Apparently searches for "Nigger King" or "nigga house" would get you the Presidential White House. Note that the author not only refuses to write the N-word, he has to \give an excuse for even having heard the word before.

Google apologizes for this, but it bragged that during the G.W. Bush administration a search for "miserable failur"e gave the White House as the top result. That was changed when Barack Obama moved in, and the search gave Obama's biography. Google decided that was disrespectful, and the search now gives an article about how it used to point to Bush.

Update: Half of Democrats favor making hate speech a crime.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Risky to ask a woman to cut the cake

It is sometimes argued that STEM subjects should be minimized to make them more appealing to women. A female mathematical physicist attacks the idea:
But by proposing that women focus on work that is “societally meaningful” and that supports “humanitarian” goals, Ms. Nilsson indulges in two fallacies.

One is the premise that women are attracted to work consistent with the cultural notion that these are appropriate roles for women (traditionally, nursing and teaching).

In some sense, she is advocating “pink science” while ignoring the large number of female mathematicians, physical scientists and engineers who find the subject matter itself attractive.

It is analogous to telling women in medical school that they should become pediatricians and ob-gyns rather than neurosurgeons.

The other fallacy is that women are so shortsighted as to see only projects directly aimed at improving “the lives of people living in poverty” as having a meaningful societal effect. Surely, we all have a vested interest in enterprises like designing bridges and airplanes that are structurally sound.

We need to move forward with more female scientists in all fields rather than relegate them to certain subspecialties and pretend that such work is more valuable to our society.
And then there are those women who want to be treated like men, such as this one who refused to cut the cake:
My daughter majored in electrical engineering and got a job at a major electrical company. At a social gathering during work hours, her male associates asked her to cut a birthday cake, serve it and do the dishes. She refused, left for the day and eventually resigned.
Any attempt to push women into STEM fields might be pulling them away from better choices.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Trashing a skeptic for being skeptical

Philosopher and skeptic-atheist Massimo Pigliucci rants about all the jerks and social justice warriors in the Skeptic Atheist Movement, and then complains when a prominent skeptic is actually skeptical about something (global warming):
he [Randi] had absolutely no business even expressing an opinion on a technical matter of that magnitude. He’s a magician, not an atmospheric physicist! Same with Bill Nye ...
Apparently the movement is dominated by folks who believe that if you are smart enuf to be a skeptic-atheist, then you must also be a leftist-feminist-SJW, because that is the only rational belief.

They also wonder why the movement attracts dysfunctional creeps.

My guess is that most people would join the SAM unless they had some desire to shut religions. Right-wingers do not care to stop the religious beliefs of others, and left-wingers seek social conformity. Leftists seem to want everyone in the movement to have the same opinions.

Someone said that organizations tend to go left-wing unless they have some charter or something keeping them right-wing. If so, then SAM groups are likely to go left-wing.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Academics still do not want Gould criticism

The late Stephen Jay Gould was famous for writing The Mismeasure of Man, a book that is widely regarded as garbage by experts in the field, but widely praised by academic leftists who liked his ideology.

Evolutionist/philosophers Joshua Banta, Jonathan Kaplan, and Massimo Pigliucci write a summary of a paper they published:
Why would the popular media be interested in a story about a historical argument surrounding measurement techniques and statistical summaries of human skull volumes? ...

Gould was, and remains, a divisive figure. His strong opposition to “genetic determinism” led to some very public fights with other science popularizers, such as Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson, whose work he viewed as encouraging naïve views of the relationship between genes and development. Gould’s longstanding commitment to anti-racism came together with his concern about simple-minded genetic explanations offered by “hereditarianism,” ...

In one of his popular books, The Mismeasure of Man, Gould set his sights on Samuel G. Morton, a 19th century American physician who catalogued and reported the cranial volumes of human skulls he collected ...

Lewis et al. claimed that Gould was wrong, and that Morton was correct. ... members of the White Supremacist website StormFront immediately trumpeted Lewis et al.’s results as proving that Gould was a fraud, and took them to be broadly supportive of their explicitly racist agenda [6]. And it is worth remembering that Nicholas Wade, as the science editor for the New York Times, was, at least in part, responsible for the unusual degree of attention that Lewis’ paper received ... Speculating that Wade publicized Lewis et al.’s paper to support his racist program seems, on the whole, not entirely unreasonable. ...

it isn’t at all clear what question Morton was trying to answer, if any, ...

Some historians have argued that, again, while Morton had many racist beliefs, his work on skulls was just an attempt to gather data with no particular purpose. Indeed, during the same time he was producing his big Catalog of Skulls, he was also publishing detailed descriptions of fossilized crocodile skulls, of all things! And even his Catalog of Skulls contains a surprising number of descriptions of nonhuman (birds, reptile, fishes, other mammal) skulls. ...

The basic conclusion at which we arrive regarding Lewis and colleagues versus Gould is “a pox on both your houses!” Morton’s data is simply not useful for anything, and talking about “races” as people perceived them at some point in history is not scientifically relevant.

What is troubling is that the Lewis and colleague’s paper passed through peer review in such a high-profile journal and picked up so much popular media attention, leaving many people with the erroneous impression that there is evidence suggesting that individuals of different “races” really do differ in their skull sizes, and that this then tells us anything of any interest at all. That Lewis and his colleagues work, surely unwittingly, gives cover to racists is even more unfortunate.
These philosophers are to call people racists, but they don't like criticism of their anti-science views. They deleted my comment from Scientia Salon, so I am posting it here:
It is amazing how much leftists will rush to the defense of dishonest work by a fellow leftist/Marxist. Here the defense of Gould consists mainly of race-baiting innuendo and claims that Morton, who died in 1851, might have had some opinions that are not proved by his data.

For a recent discussion on how Gould was a notorious academic fraud, see Trivers on Gould.

If Morton's samples were not the best, the scientific approach would be to get better data. The anti-science approach of Banta-Kaplan-Pigliucci is to launch race-baiting ideological attacks. Gould had no longstanding commitment to anti-racism. He just used racist name-calling to substitute for scientific analysis.

The popular media was interested in this story because the world's best known and credentialed evolutionist wrote a book that sold millions of copies and became required reading at hundreds of universities, and it was almost entirely bogus in its content. It was fake science being propped up by leftist politics.

These philosophers are typical of leftist academic Marxist biases and tactics. They attack perfectly legitimate scientific work on the grounds of supposed bad motives. Next they denigrate with guilt-by-association. That is, they suggest that something must be wrong with the science if it is quoted on a web site with a racist following. They argue that certain data should be ignored, and that certain subject should not be talked about. Finally they attempt censorship, by arguing that aa legitimate scientific paper should not have been published.

Nobody is going to endorse racist views based on skull measurements by a physician who died in 1851. But Gould used misrepresentations of those measurements to become America's most famous scientist, and he needs to be exposed until professors quit defending him.

They pretend to be anti-racist, but they are the opposite. The Marxist view requires an oppressor class and a victim class, and they have to stir up racial animosity to achieve their political goals. So they create racial divisions and call everyone else racists.

Ron Unz recently wrote:
In corrupt societies, bad deeds frequently go rewarded, and in the years that followed, Gould, a notorious academic fraud, was provided the platform of some of America’s most prestigious media outlets—The New York Review of Books and Natural History magazine to promote his scientific opinions, many of which were incorrect, nonsensical, or dishonest; his books, such as The Mismeasure of Man, became widely assigned texts in college courses, thereby serving to misinform entire generations of students. And by an amusing irony of fate, the noisy attacks on mainstream evolutionary theory by this self-proclaimed Marxist eventually caused him to become a leading inspiration for ignorant religious Creationists, who gleefully used his arguments in their long but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to expel Darwinism from our public schools during the 1980s and 1990s.
This was in an introduction to comments by Robert Trivers, a highly respected evolutionary biologist:
Many of us theoretical biologists who knew Stephen personally thought he was something of an intellectual fraud precisely because he had a talent for coining terms that promised more than they could deliver, while claiming exactly the opposite. One example was the notion of “punctuated equilibria”—which simply asserted that rates of (morphological) evolution were not constant, but varied over time, often with periods of long stasis interspersed with periods of rapid change. All of this was well known from the time of Darwin. The classic example were bats. They apparently evolved very quickly from small non-flying mammals (in perhaps less than 20 million years) but then stayed relatively unchanged once they reached the bat phenotype we are all familiar with today (about 50 million years ago). Nothing very surprising here, intermediate forms were apt to be neither very good classic mammals, nor good flying ones either, so natural selection pushed them rapidly through the relevant evolutionary space.

But Steve wanted to turn this into something grander, a justification for replacing natural selection (favoring individual reproductive success) with something called species selection. Since one could easily imagine that there was rapid turnover of species during periods of intense selection and morphological change, one might expect species selection to be more intense, while during the rest of the equilibrium stabilizing selection would rule throughout. But rate of species turnover has nothing to do with the traits within species—only with the relative frequency of species showing these traits. As would prove usual, Steve missed the larger interesting science by embracing a self-serving fantasy. Species selection today is a small but interesting topic in evolutionary theory, not some grand principle emerging from paleontological patterns.

Recently something brand new has emerged about Steve that is astonishing. In his own empirical work attacking others for biased data analysis in the service of political ideology—it is he who is guilty of the same bias in service of political ideology. What is worse—and more shocking—is that Steve’s errors are very extensive and the bias very serious. A careful reanalysis of one case shows that his target is unblemished while his own attack is biased in all the ways Gould attributes to his victim. His most celebrated book (The Mismeasure of Man) starts with a takedown of Samuel George Morton. Morton was a scientist in the early 19 th Century who devoted himself to measuring the human cranium, especially the volume of the inside, a rough estimate of the size of the enclosed brain. He did so meticulously by pouring first seeds and then ball bearings into skulls until they were full and then pouring them out and measuring their volume in a graduated cylinder. He was a pure empiricist. He knew brain size was an important variable but very little about the details (indeed, we do not know much more today). He thought his data would bear on whether we were one species or several, but in any case he was busy creating a vast trove of true and useful facts.
Millions of college kids today are taught that Morton was an evil racist, just because he collected skull measurements.

Update: Massimo Pigliucci argues:
“people tend to hold political and policy views that are in their self-interests, whether they realize it or not.”

Seriously? I would think that my self-interest is much better served by supporting race and gender inequality, since I’m an older white male, than equality. Go figure. ... Ah, so this ought to confirm my suspicion that most Republicans, including those in high offices, have low cognitive ability. The nonsense truly never stops.
No, a white male professor is acting in his self-interest when he recites a leftist cultural Marxist orthodoxy about how there is no such thing as race, and similar nonsense. As you can see, Gould was forgiven for being wrong on a lot of issues because he was supposedly politically anti-racist. These professors can tell themselves that their ability to be anti-racist in the face of their own privileged background proves that they have higher cognitive ability, and those who do not subscribe to these leftist beliefs must be stupid.

The truth is more nearly the opposite. It does not take any intelligence to have kindergarten morality and go around calling everyone else a racist. I have more comments here.

Update: Scientia Salon approved this comment:
Curious debate. On one side, we have folks who deny objective science, who defend Marxism, who brag about being anti-racist while calling scientists and reporters racist, and who oppose saying anything that might encourage the anonymous posters on Stormfront. If presented with data or quotes to refute what they say, they brag how they are smarter and have a superior understanding.

Gould’s book is an embarrassment to modern science. Defending it is like defending Soviet Lysenkoism. It is just bad science that is promoted for leftist ideological or self-interest reasons. And yes, it is in the self-interest of white male soft-subject professors who make a career out of denouncing racism and pseudoscience.
For examples of one of them making a career out of denouncing racism, see Ignorance, Lies, and Ways of Being Racist or Realism, Antirealism, and Conventionalism about Race. This is race-baiting, not anti-racism. He seeks out "some evidence of racist intent" in order to brand people as racists. I do not know whether he is a Marxist, but he sure acts like one.

Update: Update: A comment asks:
Schlafly, what is your purpose?

C. Van Carter’s purpose is obvious – heighten suspicion of those those with greater melanin in their skin. This achieves what? – besides greater antagonism and social repression of those you don’t like.
Comments are closed, so I answer here.

A better scientific understanding of humanity is a worthwhile goal in itself. It is bizarre to me that it is acceptable to study varieties of fruit flies but not human beings.

Studies about human nature are especially interesting because they tell something about who we are. Humans are similar to chimps in some ways, and different in others. There are similarities and differences between the sexes, and between ethnic groups, and within groups. Information about heredity tells us something about nature v nurture.

Similarities and differences between men and women have enormous practical utility. So does information about traits being innate or immutable.

Marxists and fellow travelers hate this, because they see it as interfering with their goal of a classless egalitarian society. So they want to suppress the scientific knowledge and call everyone else racist.

Whenever they see diversity or inequality, it translates to Marxist-speak as "social oppression" because they frame everything as one class oppressing another. They claim to be against antagonism but they actually encourage it because they want a revolution from the oppressed classes.

So yes, I also have a purpose of exposing the hypocritical leftist truth-denying professors who promote Marxist nonsense. We would all be living like Cuba if they had their way.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Christian culture is superior

A Moslem congressman wants to ban a prominent Dutch poltician because:
Mr. Wilders’ policy agenda is centered on the principle that Christian culture is superior to other cultures.
I thought that most Christians believe that Christian culture is superior. If they thought that Islamic or Confucian culture were superior, then maybe they would convert.

Maybe Moslems do not understand this, as many of them are born into Islam and are not permitted to convert out.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The war on radio

It is amusing to see the Apple fanbois deny that their products have any shortcomings. An Apple fan site says:
American broadcasters turn up the volume on misguided campaign to enable FM tuners in smartphones

By Sam Oliver
Monday, April 20, 2015, 11:12 am PT (02:12 pm ET)
Millions of consumers have switched off their radios in favor of music and commentary streamed over the internet, a trend that many in the terrestrial broadcast industry allege has been bolstered by device makers and wireless carriers who have conspired to disable built-in radio receivers in a bid to sell more expensive data packages.

Apple's iPod nano includes an FM receiver, but the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch don't.

Most smartphones — and indeed other connected devices, like tablets — ship with one of a handful of universal wireless communications chips inside, usually made by companies like Broadcom or Murata. They combine multi-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios in a single package, reducing size and increasing efficiency.

In many cases, these chips also pack a third over-the-air option: an FM tuner.

While many low-end devices take advantage of this to tick yet another feature checkbox, flagship smartphones rarely enable it. Apple's iPhone has never shipped with the ability to natively receive FM broadcasts despite having a built-in tuner, and Samsung largely dropped it from the Galaxy lineup after the Galaxy S3. HTC's One M9 does come with the feature, as do some Windows Phone models.
My smart phone cost a small fraction of an Apple iphone, and it has a radio. So do all my non-Apple ipods.

The android apps for listening to the radio are pretty terrible. NextRadio works great for some stations, but it only lets you listen to the station that are paying a fee to the app maker. The built-in app does not work.

Radios are getting harder to use. I bought two used cars with after-market radios, and both were inexplicably difficult to use. Both were still running a demo on the display, as the manufacturer apparently intended that the user turn that off after installation, but the user never figured out how.

I used to occasionally look at after-market car radios to buy, but I could never find one to meet basic requirements. Must be easy to use without a manual. Must be easy to scroll thru the dial to find radio stations. Must be easy to play mp3 music.

Even cheap clock-radios have gotten difficult to use.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Barry Bonds acquitted

Baseball star Barry Bonds has now been acquitted of all the charges against him. The feds spent 12 years and probably $10M trying to convict him of some steroids-related crime.

I said that Barry Bonds is innocent back in 2006, and repeatedly posted weaknesses in the case against him, and how the press is libeling him.

The 9C federal court said:
Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote that “this case involves nothing more than an irrelevant, rambling statement made by a witness during the course of a grand jury investigation.”
I will be looking to see if any sports writers admit that they were wrong.

A 2009 Yahoo article said:
Taking the Clear – the star drug of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative – was not a crime, according to expert testimony included in grand jury documents.

Not only was the performance-enhancing drug tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) not specifically banned when athletes squirted “The Clear” under their tongues to gain an edge, the testimony also indicates that the drug wasn’t categorized by the Justice Department as a steroid until January 2005, long after the drug laboratory had been shuttered.

Yahoo! Sports has examined sealed grand jury testimony given by drug-testing expert Dr. Donald Catlin in 2003 and BALCO lead investigator Jeff Novitzky in 2004. Both men testified that THG was not a steroid according to the federal criminal code. Furthermore, Novitzky testified that “there’s never been any studies to show whether or not THG does, in fact, enhance muscle growth.”
Nevertheless people argue that Bonds must have known that it was a steroid.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Demographic Winter

The 2008 movie Demographic Winter is available on YouTube, in Part I and Part II. The 2013 video with a similar message.

One review says:
Doomsayers from Thomas Malthus to Paul Ehrlich have warned of “overpopulation” leading to depleted resources and mass starvation. In reality, more people have generated to more prosperity and higher standards of living.

What the world faces in the 21st century is another type of demographic crisis, but one that is painfully real: falling fertility rates and aging populations which could ultimately endanger civilization.

The average woman has to have 2.1 children during her lifetime – just to replace current population.

In less than 40 years, fertility rates have fallen by over 50% worldwide. In 1970, the average woman had 6 children during her lifetime. Today, the global average is 2.9. The United Nations Population Division predicts a further decline to 2.05 by 2050.
In much of the industrialized world, the crisis can be discerned even now:

• Europe might as well hang a “Going Out of Business” sign on its door. The average birth rate for the European Union is 1.5, well below replacement (2.1). In Italy, it’s 1.2.
Another review complains about the supposed subtext:
The argument put forth in Demographic Winter is a familiar one to those who have been watching conservative strategy develop over the past several years: that with birthrates falling globally over the last half-century, and in most developed nations falling below the “replacement rate” of 2.1 children per woman, the ratio of young to old will shift dramatically and wreak havoc upon existing social security and healthcare systems. The economy at large may also suffer, as the elderly cease spending and a smaller generation of workers is crippled by the taxes needed to support their parents. And the reasons why it’s occurring is a litany of culture-war complaints: women working, the “divorce revolution,” the sexual revolution (including cohabitation and the pill), worries, or what the filmmakers call “inaccurate presumptions,” about overpopulation and limited resources, and an affluence that leads to fewer children. It’s a massive failure to be fruitful and multiply, writ large, but again, such religious cues are kept off-screen. ...

But there’s a more insidious undercurrent to the “demographic winter” argument as well, one its proponents fiercely deny, but which nonetheless permeates nearly all of the current debate on demographic worries: that the concern is not a general lack of babies, but the cultural shifts that come when some populations, particularly immigrant communities, are feared to be out-procreating others. This has become a standard right-wing argument in Europe and the U.S., launching a series of books since 2001 that predict a coming Muslim onslaught that will displace traditional Western populations, ... Demographic Winter is an entry in the growing canon of profamily scholarship that seeks to make an “air-tight case” for the theological ideas of the “natural family” based on social science alone, de-sublimating Biblical claims into research-driven theories.
I am not sure that is the subtext, as the movie clearly says that United Nations projections show the entire world population peaking, and starting to decline in about the year 2050.

However, those UN projections are out of date. The Dec. 2014 UN projections show the world population increasing for the foreseeable future, and still increasing in 2100. The biggest gains will be in Africa, India, and China.

Nearly all the examples of birth rate decline were from Europe and Japan. Japan's has been decline for two generations. Other Western developed countries countries have been declining since about 1960, altho some of them have replaced the loss with immigrants.

The news media reminds us daily about how global warming might have an effect over the next century. But the demographics changes may be far more significant. There are technological fixes for the climate, but not for demographics.

These movies do not say what to do about these trends. One shows a couple of white lesbians adopting a couple of black babies. (Last one, at 1:09:30.) I am not sure the point of that. Is that the logical consequence of an excess of older infertile white women and an excess of poor African kids?

One conclusion might be that some populations are overbreeding, while others are underbreeding. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has argued (in 2009) that a major purpose of legalizing abortion was to reduce the population growth in the people we don't want:
Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.
She later clarified that she was quoted accurately and concerned about overpopulation in the welfare class.

Abortion is just one of many government and social policies with long-term effects on demographics. The movies mention various anti-family policies in Western countries, and these lead to low fertility in wealthy communities.

The net effect of all these policies is to de-populate the societies who created the modern world, and replace them with runaway overbreeding and migration in Third World countries.

Demographic changes seems to be a lot more important than climate change over the next century. Global warming is only expected to raise sea level a couple of feet, and most of the CO2 emission growth is coming from those high-population Third World countries. Most of the other environmental threats of the future are also attributable to Third World population growth, and to immigration to America and Europe. I don't have any answers, but it is very strange for this issue to be ignored by anyone claiming to be concerned about global warming or pollution.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

National Grilled Cheese Day

According to this, grilled cheese lovers enjoy life better is all sorts of ways.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Leftist distrust of science experts

I occasionally hear people claim that Republicans are anti-science, but the Democrats seem much more anti-science to me. Here is an editorial cartoon from Monday's Santa Cruz Sentinel, the daily paper for a leftist Democrat California beach town.

Thalidomide was never FDA approved (until it was later approved for leprosy). No one was injured a Three Mile Island. I don't think that anyone ever said that the space shuttle was perfectly safe, altho the risk did turn out to be higher than estimated. (Note also the spelling error of Challenger.) Dow Corning was bankrupted over breast implant lawsuits in 1995, but that is just proof that our legal system is broken. There is a consensus now that the lawsuits were bogus, and millions of women get implants today without major problems. Asbestos is not really that dangerous unless you are a smoker who inhales the fibers.

Leftists also hate GMO foods, pesticides, DDT, antibiotics, and preservatives.

Journalist Chris Mooney has made a career out of blaming Republicans for not trusting scientific experts, and has a Wash. Post column on The science of why you really should listen to science and experts. SciAm's John Horgan refutes it:
I recently knocked science journalist Chris Mooney for asserting that “You Have No Business Challenging Scientific Experts.” Non-experts have the right and even the duty, I retorted, to question scientific experts, who often get things wrong. ...

He cites a study that found that judges and other lawyers show less ideological bias—or “identity-protective cognition”–in their application of the law than law students and lay people. ... To my mind, the study merely shows that lawyers and judges know the law better than law students and non-lawyers.

Mooney’s citation of Tetlock is bizarre, because Expert Political Judgment—far from a defense of experts—is a devastating critique of them....

“people who make prediction their business—people who appear as experts on television, get quoted in newspaper articles, advise governments and businesses, and participate in punditry roundtables—are no better than the rest of us. When they’re wrong, they’re rarely held accountable, and they rarely admit it, either. ... People who follow current events by reading the papers and newsmagazines regularly can guess what is likely to happen about as accurately as the specialists whom the papers quote.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Useless airline safety measures

Commercial flying is safer than ever, and the most prominent safety measures appear to be worthless. I have assumed that most of what the TSA does is worthless, but I thought that securing the cockpit doors was valuable. Now it appears to have caused the Germanwings crash, as well as a 2005 crash. I haven't heard that it has saved anyone.

Every time you fly, they tell you about emergency oxygen masks and flotation seats, even tho these never save anyone. The oxygen even caused a 1996 Florida crash.

The airline industry would probably justify this stuff by saying that the public needs a big show of safety and security in order to be convinced to fly. That seems crazy to me. The safety record is already so good that your drive to the airport is more dangerous than the flight. We should abolish the TSA and let the airlines just do what really contributes to safety.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Worst-case housing scenario

Ever wonder about the competence of the Federal Reserve Bank? I just found this:
7/1/05 – Interview on CNBC
INTERVIEWER: Tell me, what is the worst-case scenario? We have so many economists coming on our air saying ‘Oh, this is a bubble, and it’s going to burst, and this is going to be a real issue for the economy.’ Some say it could even cause a recession at some point. What is the worst-case scenario if in fact we were to see prices come down substantially across the country?

BERNANKE: Well, I guess I don’t buy your premise. It’s a pretty unlikely possibility. We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fired for opinions

The NY Times hired a part-time opinion columnist, and then fired him because he has some opinions!

Politico reports:

The New York Times has terminated its contract with one of its new online opinion writers after a Gawker article highlighted the writer's previous association with racist publications, according to that writer's Twitter account.

Razib Khan, a science blogger and a doctoral candidate in genomics and genetics at the University of California, Davis, was one of 20 writers who signed contracts with the Times to write for the paper's online opinion section.

The Times announced its new stable of contributors on Wednesday. Hours later, Gawker's J.K. Trotter reported that Khan had a "history with racist, far-right online publications." Khan wrote 68 posts for Taki's Magazine, a publication founded by a "flamboyantly racist Greek journalist," Trotter wrote. Khan also wrote a letter to VDARE, "a white nationalist website named after the first white child born in America, in which he discussed [an essay] concerning the threat of the United States becoming “more genetically and culturally Mexican.”

Khan is a geneticist, with a broad range of knowledge and opinions. None are particular extreme, from what I have seen. The NY Times is more racist than those publications, as it was publishing several race-baiting article a day on Ferguson Missouri. I once wrote a letter to the NY Times editor that was published, but that does not mean that I endorse everything the newspaper says.

It is funny to see a dark-skinned Bengali punished for writing a letter to a supposed white nationalist editor.

The subject of genetics is sensitive. The NY Times reports
Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome

A group of leading biologists on Thursday called for a worldwide moratorium on use of a new genome-editing technique that would alter human DNA in a way that can be inherited.

The biologists fear that the new technique is so effective and easy to use that some physicians may push ahead before its safety can be assessed. They also want the public to understand the ethical issues surrounding the technique, which could be used to cure genetic diseases, but also to enhance qualities like beauty or intelligence. The latter is a path that many ethicists believe should never be taken.
AAAS Science magazine adds:
In 1975, the notion of using recombinant DNA to design human babies was too remote to seriously consider, but the explosion of powerful new genome-editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9, zinc fingers, and TALENs has changed that. They have made it easy for anyone with basic molecular biology training to insert, remove, and edit genes in cells, including sperm, eggs, and embryos, potentially curing genetic diseases or adding desirable traits. Rumors are rife that scientists in China have already used CRISPR on human embryos. Researchers fear that publicity surrounding such experiments could trigger a public backlash that would block legitimate uses of the technology.
The idea of human improvement is very scary to a lot of people. Maybe a million people get born every day, with the big majority being sub-optimal circumstances. Why would anyone care if a couple get born as part of an experimental genetic treatment program? It would be insignificant to the population.

In more news about things you cannot say, a kid was kicked out of a college class for expressing some opinions. Buzzfeed reports:
True said he sparred with classmates over discussion topics related to ancient Greece and Rome, such as the “patriarchal” belief that logic is more important than emotion and his analysis of Lucretia’s rape. But it was his questioning of the widely shared and often debated statistic that 1 in 5 women in college are sexually assaulted — it doesn’t serve “actual rape victims” to “overinflate” numbers, he said — and his rejection of the term “rape culture” that led to him being banned, he said.

“I am critical of the idea of a rape culture because it does not exist,” he wrote in a lengthy email to Savery explaining his perspectives that he has also posted online. “We live in a society that hates rape, but also hasn’t optimized the best way to handle rape. Changing the legal definition of rape is a slippery slope. If sexual assault becomes qualified as rape, what happens next? What else can we legally redefine to become rape? Why would we want to inflate the numbers of rape in our society?”

More than 90 colleges are currently under federal investigation for allegedly mishandling sexual violence cases. Sexual assault on campus has become a hot-button issue both in Washington, where the White House launched a task force and senators have introduced bipartisan legislation, and on campuses like Reed, which roughly 1,500 students attend.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Study on merits of breastfeeding

Another new study on the benefits of breastfeeding is in the news, and I am just commenting on how it is reported. NPR radio reported on the study, and failed to explain how it controlled for obvious confounding variable. A comment has to explain:
I agree that correlation is often confused with causation, and has been particularly in discussions of breastfeeding. However I read the actual study, which is linked and they included maternal education, income level, smoking, maternal age, maternal pre pregnancy body mass index, gestational age, type of delivery, and birth weight in their study and took them into account. They also did the study in Brazil because breastfeeding was not positively associated with family income. The difference in IQ is seen even within income, as seen in figure 1 of the study. The authors of the study admit the study does not answer the question of whether this difference in IQ is attributable to the biological component of breastmilk, mother infant bonding, or intellectual stimulation, but this study goes much further than any previous study.
Okay, fine, maybe it is more convincing than other studies.

But what seemed curious to me was how NPR was eager to convince people that breastfeeding is good for the baby, but a lack of breastfeeding is not necessarily bad:
STEIN: Horta and Lawrence agree that babies raised on formula can turn out to be just fine, but they say everything should be done to help women breast-feed if they can. Rob Stein, NPR News.
Saying that breastfed babies are better off, on average, is the same as saying that formula-fed babies are worse off.

I guess they want to shame the moms who could breastfeed and choose not to, and not shame the moms who are unable to breastfeed. Are NPR listeners really eager to shame someone after hearing a story like this?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Subjects were right to doubt a CIA report

In 2003 Pres. G.W. Bush asked the US Congress and the UN to authorize war against Iraq. The main reasons given were that Iraq had WND programs in the past, and had not complied with UN resolutions and inspections. The concern was that Iraq would develop either chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

A widely reported 2006 social science study found:
When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions
by Brendan Nyhan, Jason Reifler

An extensive literature addresses citizen ignorance, but very little research focuses on misperceptions. Can these false or unsubstantiated beliefs about politics be corrected? Previous studies have not tested the efficacy of corrections in a realistic format. We conducted four experiments in which subjects read mock news articles that included either a misleading claim from a politician, or a misleading claim and a correction. Results indicate that corrections frequently fail to reduce misperceptions among the targeted ideological group. We also document several instances of a “backfire effect” in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question.
Their best example was giving subjects quotes about Bush, Iraq, and WMD to convince them that Iraq had WMD, and then later giving them a CIA report saying that no WMD were found in Iraq:
In other words, the correction backfired – conservatives who received a correction telling them that Iraq did not have WMD were more likely to believe that Iraq had WMD than those in the control condition.
The study did not actually ask the subjects to explain their reasoning. The researchers say that is a waste of time, because psychology research shows that people are too dumb to know why they believe what they do.

This appeared to be convincing evidence that some conservatives just irrationally believe what they want to believe in spite of the facts, because only the craziest conspiracy theorist would claim that the Bush administration covered up the WMD evidence that would vindicate its war theory.

But a NY Times story last month says exactly that. The CIA found WND in Iraq and covered it up:
The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.

The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

The effort was run out of the C.I.A. station in Baghdad in collaboration with the Army’s 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion and teams of chemical-defense and explosive ordnance disposal troops, officials and veterans of the units said. Many rockets were in poor condition and some were empty or held a nonlethal liquid, the officials said. But others contained the nerve agent sarin, which analysis showed to be purer than the intelligence community had expected given the age of the stock.

A New York Times investigation published in October found that the military had recovered thousands of old chemical warheads and shells in Iraq and that Americans and Iraqis had been wounded by them, but the government kept much of this information secret, from the public and troops alike. ...

Most of the officials and veterans who spoke about the program did so anonymously because, they said, the details remain classified. The C.I.A. declined to comment. The Pentagon, citing continuing secrecy about the effort, did not answer written questions and acknowledged its role only obliquely. ...

Not long after Operation Avarice had secured its 400th rocket, in 2006, American troops were exposed several times to other chemical weapons. ...

In some cases, victims of exposure said, officers forbade them to discuss what had occurred. ...
As an American citizen, I do not want to believe that our President lied to us to get us into war. But there is overwhelming evidence that Wilson (WWI), FDR (WWII), and LBJ (Vietnam) did exactly that. Now it has somehow become accepted wisdom that Bush also lied to get us into the Iraq War.

Those political scientists should go back and study those liberals who believe that Bush lied to justify the Iraq War. Present them the evidence, and then see whether they re-align their opinions to the facts.

Some people will still say that Bush exaggerated the threat, or that the WMD did not justify the war, or that Bush deserves contempt for various other reasons. Maybe so. It also appears that many people are not rational about issues like this.

But people are wrong when they say that Bush took us to war under false pretenses of WMD. The war was as openly and honestly debated as any war. Congress and the UN had the facts, and voted for it. Some of the intelligence info turned out to be wrong, but the war had the support of the Democrat leadership for reasons that were essentially correct.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Four Laws of Behavior Genetics

SciAm writer John Horgan notes that the evidence for behavior genes has a history of being over-hyped:
In 1990 The New York Times published a front-page article by Lawrence Altman, a reporter with a medical degree, announcing that scientists had discovered “a link between alcoholism and a specific gene.”

That was merely one in a string of reports in which the Times and other major media hyped what turned out to be erroneous claims linking complex traits and disorders—from homosexuality and high intelligence to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder—to specific genes.

I thought those days were over, and that scientists and the media have learned to doubt extremely reductionist genetic accounts of complex traits and behaviors. I was wrong. Last Sunday, the “Opinion” section of the Times published an essay, “The Feel-Good Gene,” which states:
“For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that a genetic variation in the brain makes some people inherently less anxious, and more able to forget fearful and unpleasant experiences. This lucky genetic mutation produces higher levels of anandamide–the so-called bliss molecule and our natural marijuana–in our brains. In short, some people are prone to be less anxious simply because they won the genetic sweepstakes and randomly got a genetic mutation that has nothing at all to do with strength of character.”
The evidence for the "feel-good gene," which supposedly reduces anxiety, is flimsy, just like the evidence linking specific genes to high intelligence, violent aggression, homosexuality, bipolar disorder and countless other complex human traits and ailments. ...

Last fall, I quoted from a 2012 editorial in Behavior Genetics: “The literature on candidate gene associations is full of reports that have not stood up to rigorous replication. This is the case both for straightforward main effects and for candidate gene-by-environment interactions… As a result, the psychiatric and behavior genetics literature has become confusing and it now seems likely that many of the published findings of the last decade are wrong or misleading and have not contributed to real advances in knowledge.”
That is correct, but only part of the story as there have been real advances in the field. Razib Khan reports:
* First Law. All human behavioral traits are heritable.

* Second Law. The effect of being raised in the same family is smaller than the effect of genes.

* Third Law. A substantial portion of the variation in complex human behavioral traits is not accounted for by the effects of genes or families.

* Fourth Law. A typical human behavioral trait is associated with very many genetic variants, each of which accounts for a very small percentage of the behavioral variability.
Researchers model behavior by assuming that it is determined by genes, family upbringing, and random factors. Twin studies have proved that the genetic influence is huge, and the family upbringing appears to be negligible. DNA studies have failed to find any individual genes with a large effect. Larger scale studies are starting to show that a combination of many small genetic effects can be significant. For more on what randomness means here, see my 2015 essay.

Parents are usually convinced that their child-rearing is the biggest influence on their kids, but this is an illusion, according to the research.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A lot of Moslems support terrorism

Every time some terrorist incident is in the news, we are reminded that most Moslems are not terrorists. That is certainly true, and it is easy to find Moslems to denounce a particular terrorist attack.

This page summarizes various surveys of Moslem opinions, such as:
PCPO (2014): 89% of Palestinians support Hamas and other terrorists firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

Pew Research (2013): Only 57% of Muslims worldwide disapprove of al-Qaeda. Only 51% disapprove of the Taliban. 13% support both groups and 1 in 4 refuse to say.

Turkish Ministry of Education: 1 in 4 Turks Support Honor Killings
Update: Here is a new one:
The majority of British Muslims oppose violence against people who publish images depicting the Prophet Muhammad, a poll for the BBC suggests.

The survey also indicates most have no sympathy with those who want to fight against Western interests.

But 27% of the 1,000 Muslims polled by ComRes said they had some sympathy for the motives behind the Paris attacks.
So 27% of British Muslims agree with terrorist murdering of newspaper cartoonists.

Yes, a majority are against such violence. That should be said, I guess. But that leaves a lot who favor the violence.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Psychometrics is mainstream psychology

Wikipedia has an article on List of topics characterized as pseudoscience. Most of it has obsolete or crackpot ideas.

These two items are somewhat out of place:
Psychometrics – is the field where practitioners have claimed to be able to measure various abstract mental attributes such as intelligence or creativity in individuals and groups using various contrived tests. Additionally, environmental and pre-exposure factors are often disregarded. ...

Scientific racism – ... the claim of "classifying" individuals of different phenotypes into discrete races or ethnicities.
Both are justified by Stephen Jay Gould's book, The Mismeasure of Man. The book has been one of the biggest selling American science books ever, and is probably still required reading at many colleges.

The book is garbage. As you can see from the Wikipedia page, the main claims were proven wrong. It is a Marxist-influenced political attack. Only the part on skull measurement was published as peer-reviewed science, and even the ideologically-sympathetic NY Times said in 2011 that almost every detail of his analysis is wrong.

Psychometrics has been central to the study of psychology for a century. Besides the IQ tests, there are dozens of widely respected tests to diagnose mental disorders, detect personality types, or measure other features.

Classifying people into races and ethnicities is also common and well-accepted. I noted that it is essential to recent research on Neanderthals.

The Wikipedia editors say, paraphrasing:
Of course psychologists believe in psychometrics, just as astrologers believe in astrology. That means nothing as long as we have reliable sources who say that it is pseudoscience.
It ought to be possible to find reputable scholars to say that frequentism is pseudoscience, such as from the journal that banned it.

I once proposed that the list include Continental Drift, as it meets their criteria for inclusion. Others suggested evolution. Reputable sources have said that it was pseudoscience. In the world of Wikipedia, having a reliable source is more important than truth.

I used to think that pseudoscience was a useful concept. But the term seems to be almost entirely used by people with some sort of political agenda. While I think that I have an idea of what is or is not scientific, I do not think that we have a good definition of pseudoscience.

Update: I tried to add t his:
However modern geneticists and anthropologists routinely divide people into those of African, European, and East Asian ancestry. ref: NY Times, Feb. 19, 2015.
It was reverted, as was my attempt to fix the psychometrics paragraph.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Man is the most social animal

The new book, This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress (Edge Question Series), has a curious collection of opinions. It was promoted on the recent Science Friday.

The essays are all free online. One attacked this Aristotle quote:
Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.
Adam Waytz wrote:
For reinforcing a perilous social psychological imperialism toward other behavioral sciences and for suggesting that humans are naturally oriented toward others, the strong interpretation of Aristotle's famous aphorism needs to be retired. ...

Despite possessing capacities far beyond other animals to consider others' minds, to empathize with others' needs, and to transform empathy into care and generosity, we fail to employ these abilities readily, easily, or equally. ...

Even arguably our most important social capacity, theory of mind — the ability to adopt the perspectives of others — can increase competition as much as it increases cooperation, highlighting the emotions and desires of those we like, but also highlighting the selfish and unethical motives of people we dislike. ...

Because our social capacities are largely non-automatic, ingroup-focused, and finite, we can retire the strong version of Aristotle's statement.
No, man is very social by nature.

I used to think that chimps were more social, but they are not. They never cooperate in the ways that humans commonly do, such as building something together.

Only a few animals are truly social in the sense of cooperating. Mainly humans, ants, bees, and termites. And only human are social in the sense of a theory of mind.

I used to think that women were more social than men. That might be true when the group is the size of a small dinner party, but men are much more social in larger groups. See for example this Dutch reality TV experiment.

Aristotle's statement makes a lot more sense than Waytz's. Humans being social does not mean that we never compete or that we treat all others equally. Ants and bees are essentially slaves to the group. Some humans are also, but as Aristotle explained, our society permits some to become individualists, either because they are less than human or more than human. That is, the nonconformist may be the criminal who fails to adapt to society, or the free man who chooses to go his own way.

Sometimes a preference to the in-group over the out-group bugs people. But that is an essential part of being a social animal. Bees prefer their hive over a foreign hive, and ants prefer their own colony. If a social relationship means anything, it means a preference over those without a social relationship.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Against hypothesis testing

Statistic professor Andrew Gelman attacks frequentism:
The conventional view:

Hyp testing is all about rejection. The idea is that if you reject the null hyp at the 5% level, you have a win, you have learned that a certain null model is false and science has progressed, either in the glamorous “scientific revolution” sense that you’ve rejected a central pillar of science-as-we-know-it and are forcing a radical re-evaluation of how we think about the world (those are the accomplishments of Kepler, Curie, Einstein, and . . . Daryl Bem), or in the more usual “normal science” sense in which a statistically significant finding is a small brick in the grand cathedral of science (or a stall in the scientific bazaar, ...

My view is (nearly) the opposite of the conventional view. The conventional view is that you can learn from a rejection but not from a non-rejection. I say the opposite: you can’t learn much from a rejection, but a non-rejection tells you something.
He is a Bayesian, and he regularly attacks high-profile social science studies.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Nominating frequentism as the biggest fail

I posted a rant against nutrition science, and got this comment:
This is all true, but it should be noted nutrition science failed because of the Frequentist statistical methods that were used in the studies.

Frequentist statistical methods have screwed up a lot of other subjects. pretty much everyone it's touched in fact, from economics to the psychology, neither of which can be said to have increased their predictive capabilities within living memory.

I nominate Frequentist statistics as the biggest fail. ...

Already by the 50's and 60's statisticians had discovered a mass of (theoretical) problems with p-values and Confidence Intervals (the primary tools used in all those 'scientific' papers which turn out to be wrong far more than they're right). They only really work in very simple cases where they happen give answers operationally identical to the Bayesian answer.

These problems aren't merely faulty application. They are problems of principle and are inherent in Frequentist Statistics even if performed correctly. ...

The only difference between now and 50 years ago is that back then people could only point out theoretical problems with Frequentist methods. Since then, it's become clear to everyone that Frequentist statics is a massive practical failure as well.

Most heavy statistics laden researcher papers are wrong.

Every branch of science that relies on classical statistics as their main tool has stagnated. Just like Economics and Psychology, their predictive ability hasn't improved in half a century despite hundreds of thousands of peer reviewed research papers, and massive research spending that dwarfs everything that came before.
He refers to this 1976 E.T. Jaynes article demonstrating how the frequentist gets wrong answers.

This seemed a little extreme to me, but now I see that a reputable journal is banning frequentism:
The Basic and Applied Social Psychology (BASP) 2014 Editorial emphasized that the null hypothesis significance testing procedure (NHSTP) is invalid, and thus authors would be not required to perform it (Trafimow, 2014). However, to allow authors a grace period, the Editorial stopped short of actually banning the NHSTP. The purpose of the present Editorial is to announce that the grace period is over. From now on, BASP is banning the NHSTP.

With the banning of the NHSTP from BASP, what are the implications for authors? The following are anticipated questions and their corresponding answers.

Question 1. Will manuscripts with p-values be desk rejected automatically?

Answer to Question 1. No. If manuscripts pass the preliminary inspection, they will be sent out for review. But prior to publication, authors will have to remove all vestiges of the NHSTP (p-values, t-values, F-values, statements about “significant” differences or lack thereof, and so on).

Question 2. What about other types of inferential statistics such as confidence intervals or Bayesian methods?

Answer to Question 2. Confidence intervals suffer from an inverse inference problem that is not very different from that suffered by the NHSTP. In the NHSTP, the problem is in traversing the distance from the probability of the finding, given the null hypothesis, to the probability of the null hypothesis, given the finding. Regarding confidence intervals, the problem is that, for example, a 95% confidence interval does not indicate that the parameter of interest has a 95% probability of being within the interval. Rather, it means merely that if an infinite number of samples were taken and confidence intervals computed, 95% of the confidence intervals would capture the population parameter. Analogous to how the NHSTP fails to provide the probability of the null hypothesis, which is needed to provide a strong case for rejecting it, confidence intervals do not provide a strong case for concluding that the population parameter of interest is likely to be within the stated interval. Therefore, confidence intervals also are banned from BASP. ...

The NHSTP has dominated psychology for decades; we hope that by instituting the first NHSTP ban, we demonstrate that psychology does not need the crutch of the NHSTP, and that other journals follow suit.
The beauty of the NHSTP is that it reduces an experiment to a single number to decide whether it is publishable or not. As far as I know, there is no other single statistic that is a suitable substitute.

The original post was attacked by professional skeptics, and defended by Dilbert. The skeptics have the attitude that if you say that scientists were wrong, then you do not understand science. Science works by correcting previous errors, they say.

I think that the skeptic-atheists hate Dilbert because he has posted some criticism of how evolution is taught and explained. That makes him an enemy of the atheist-evolutionists, but then call him a creationist. I do not think that he is religious at all, but that is the way leftist ideologues are.

The Skeptic radio podcast that attacked Dilbert is best known for co-host Rebecca Watson and Elevatorgate. She told some crazy and probably made-up story about a fellow atheist flirting with her in an elevator at an atheist convention. The details are unimportant, except that these folks get very upset about this sort of thing.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Christianity invented individualism

A new book on Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism credits Christianity.

From one review of a related book:
The discovery of the individual was one of the most important cultural developments in the years between 1050 and 1200. It was not confined to any one group of thinkers. Its central features may be found in different circles: a concern with self-discovery; an interest in the relations between people, and in the role of the individual within society; an assessment of people by their inner intentions rather than by their external acts. These concerns were, moreover, conscious and deliberate. ‘Know yourself’ was one of the most frequently quoted injunctions. The phenomenon which we have been studying was found in some measure in every part of urbane and intelligent society.
That review ties it into outbreeding v. nepotism, guilt v. shame, and rule of law v. feuding.

Boston Review is unpersuaded:
during the same Middle Ages when Christianity was supposedly becoming modern liberalism below the surface, its adherents dedicated themselves to crusading violence abroad and principled intolerance at home. When Siedentop alludes to the Crusades it is to remark on how they unified Europe and encouraged knights to put their petty feudalism aside in order to agree that Christians should never kill fellow Christians — as if the main problem were not how medieval Christians learned to tolerate other sorts of people or understand the rest of humanity to be on par with themselves. “Strikingly, in its first centuries Christianity spread by persuasion, not by force of arms — a contrast to the early spread of Islam,”
I guess the reviewer wants to blame Christianity for fighting Islam. I don't know why -- Islam certainly was not going to invent individualism or modern liberalism, and Christianity was not going to either unless it was willing to repel Islamic invaders.

I have not read the book, and there are other theories for modernity. Civilization more than two millennia ago was concentrated in the middle east, from Egypt to Babylonia to Persia to India, and in China. Then came the Greeks, Christianity, and the Romans. And Europe advanced very rapidly in the last 500 years or so.

There were also a bunch of changes in Europe 1000 years ago or so, such as banning cousin marriages and an economy based on individual families. These books probably explain it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wikipedia censors physics videos

I posted MIT fires its best professor. It cut all contact with him and his famous physics videos, but it turns out that the video lectures are essentially in the public domain and still hosted on YouTube.

Wikipedia claims to have a neutral point of view and to be not censored. So it has movie spoilers and Hilter's Mein Kampf. But it has now censored Lewin's videos. The links are currently on Conservapedia but not Wikipedia. I posted the matter on the BLP noticeboard to get the attention of senior editors, but no one helped.

The videos are straight physics lectures, and no one objects to the content. MIT has not fully explained why it took action against Lewin, but we do know the following.

The Obama administration has used Title IX to force colleges to change the way they handle complaints, and has punished Harvard and Princeton for not favoring the complainer enuf.

The Harvard law professors say that the new policies lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process for the accused.

Lewin is nearly 80 years old, and a retired MIT professor. He was MIT's most popular professor.

A 32-year-old French woman watched some of Lewin's videos online, and sent him naked selfies. She was also on medication for mental disorders.

A year later, MIT investigators persuaded her that "Lewin’s interest in her was not motivated by empathy, and that their first conversations included inappropriate language."

MIT alleges that Lewin violated college policy.

In case you think MIT would always be fair, read about how it destroyed Aaron Swartz.

I deduce from this that Lewin never got a fair hearing, that he is a victim of a modern witch-hunt, and that MIT scapegoated him in order to avoid action from the Obama administration. I realize that it sounds inappropriate for an 80yo physics professor to be getting a naked selfie from a woman on another continent, but we live in an age where it is common for millions of women to send naked selfies. Even big-shot Hollywood actresses do it.

Update: Now the IPCC is accused of sexually inappropriate emails. [6][7][8] As with Lewin, the allegations are serious enough that he is no longer on the job. To be consistent with Lewin, Wikipedia should remove all the links to the IPCC reports.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Neanderthals were ancestors to most people

The NY Times reports:
In 2010, scientists made a startling discovery about our past: About 50,000 years ago, Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of living Europeans and Asians.

Now two teams of researchers have come to another intriguing conclusion: Neanderthals interbred with the ancestors of Asians at a second point in history, giving them an extra infusion of Neanderthal DNA.
Neanderthals did not just interbreed with our ancestors, they are our ancestors.

The story is phrased in a way to suggest that the offspring of that interbreeding died out, or that African ancestors are somehow more worthy than European ones. It is like octaroons denying black ancestry.
Based on these differences, scientists estimate that the Neanderthals’ ancestors diverged from ours 600,000 years ago.
This only makes sense if "ours" refers to Africans. The author, Carl Zimmer, is white as in the photo, so those Neanderthal ancestors are also his ancestors.
Our own ancestors remained in Africa until about 60,000 years ago, then expanded across the rest of the Old World. Along the way, they encountered Neanderthals. And our DNA reveals that those encounters led to children.
Now he is talking like a white boy. Being white, his DNA reveals that his African ancestors mated with his Neanderthal ancestors.
Today, people who are not of African descent have stretches of genetic material almost identical to Neanderthal DNA, comprising about 2 percent of their entire genomes.
Wait a minute -- didn't he just say that we are all descended from Africans? So who are these people "not of African descent"?

This article is all about trying to explain the fact that Caucasians have 2% Neanderthal DNA, Orientals have 2.4%, and Negroes have 0%. These terms have fallen out of favor, and the article says "People in China, Japan and other East Asian countries" instead of Orientals. Maybe that is clear enuf, but "African descent" is a confusing word for Negro.

As far as I know, these racial terms are not considered offensive. People don't like the terms because they don't like the idea of dividing humans into racial groups. However, the reported research is all about genetic differences in the three major racial groups, so if you do not believe in the distinctions then none of this makes any sense.

Stranger is how stories about Neanderthal ancestry refuse to admit that Neanderthal were ancestors. Zimmer talks about them as if they are sub-human animals who were just not good enuf to be called ancestors. He writes:
People who inherited a Neanderthal version of any given gene would have had fewer children on average than people with the human version.
The human version? So he is saying that the Neanderthal genes are not human.

Neanderthals interbred with Africans, and all 6 billion non-Negroes today are the direct descendants. It seems crazy to call those Neanderthal genes non-human.

Zimmer has been writing on this topic for years, but even he gets confused by his own racial political correctness. An earlier article had this correction:
Correction: January 29, 2014
An earlier version of this article misstated the living groups in which Neanderthal genes involved in skin and hair are very common. They are very common in non-Africans, not non-Asians.
He should have just said that the Neanderthal genes are common in Caucasians and Orientals. The article also said:
That suggests that male human-Neanderthal hybrids might have had lower fertility or were even sterile.

Overall, said Dr. Reich, “most of the Neanderthal genetic material was more bad than good.”
That research is refuted by the current research. No one in the NY Times would ever say such a thing about a living racial group. People often slander Neanderthals.

Anthropologist John Hawks defends Neanderthals against various negative stereotypes. He notes a new book on The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction. A lot of this is speculative, of course, as dogs were only domesticated 15kyrs ago, and Neanderthals went extinct 40kyrs ago.

Update: Another NY Times article discusses hostility to racial categories:
“Whiteness” as a concept is not new. W. E. B. Du Bois wrote about it in the 1920s; James Baldwin addressed it in the 1960s. But it did not gain traction on college campuses until the 1980s, as an outgrowth of an interdisciplinary study of racial identity and racial superiority. It presumes that in the United States, race is a social construct that had its origins in colonial America when white plantation owners were seeking dominance and order.

Today “white privilege” studies center on the systemic nature of racism as well as the way it exposes minorities to daily moments of stress and unpleasantness — sometimes referred to as “micro-aggressions.” Freedom from such worries is a privilege in and of itself, the theory goes, one that many white people are not even aware they have.
No, racial is not just a social construct that was invented to grow cotton.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Walker was right to punt on evolution

Leftist-atheist-evolutionist professor Jerry Coyne responds to a news story:
But it was in London that a Brit, somehow overlooking the significance of cheese, asked the governor whether he believes in evolution. This is precisely no different than asking whether one believes in the theory of gravity or general relativity, but Walker would not answer. He said he had come to London to deal not with philosophical matters but, as cannot be emphasized enough, cheese. Good day, gentlemen!
It is in fact different from asking whether one believes (“accepts” is a better word because “believe” implies a religious-like faith) in theory of gravity or generality relativity, and the reason is obvious. The theories of gravity and relativity don’t impinge on anyone’s religious beliefs. Evolution carries implications that no other science does—save, perhaps some branches of cosmology. It implies that humans evolved by the same blind, materialistic, and naturalistic process involved in the evolution of every other species, and so we aren’t special in any numious sense. It implies that we’re not the special objects of God’s creation. It sinks the “design” argument for God—the most powerful argument in the canon of Natural Theology. It implies that we were not endowed by God with either a soul or moral instincts, so that our morality is a product of both evolution and rational consideration. It implies that much of our behavior reflects evolved, genetically-influenced propensities rather than dualistic “free will.” It implies that even if God did work through the process of evolution , He did so using a horrible and painful process of natural selection, a form of “natural evil” that doesn’t comport well with God’s supposed omnibenevolence.
So Coyne was looking for this politician to affirm evolution because that would imply an endorsement of his materialistic view of humans, and in particular that they have no free will or moral instincts.

Humans do behave as if they have free will and moral instincts. Well, some behave that way more than others. Evolution teaches that all such traits developed from lower animals, and your ancestry determines how much you have inherited. So some people have the genes for good moral behavior, and some have the genes to be natural slaves. Maybe all politicians should be asked whether they believe this stuff, and branded anti-science if they do not. Walker was sensible not to take the bait.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Republicans refuse questions on evolution

The leftist site Salon posts on evolution politics:
From climate change to vaccines to the theory of evolution, much of the Republican Party has made clear that it’s not exactly enamored of modern science. ...

But Walker’s refusal to indicate whether he accepts a fundamental tenet of biology underscores the GOP’s tortured relationship with science, not least on evolution. With Walker and other GOP hopefuls gearing up to launch their 2016 campaigns, Salon now provides you with a comprehensive guide to where the Republican candidates stand on the origin of life.
No, it does not tell us where any of the candidates stand on the origin of life.

Evolution is not a theory about the origin of life.

Leftists like HBO TV's Bill Maher are always attacking Republicans for being anti-science, but look at his anti-science views.

TheHumanist.com published an article:
How to Teach Evolution to Christians and Muslims
by Susan Corbett • 2 February 2015 ...

First, an interesting fact that I came across in Islamic teachings which was also generally acceptable to the Christian community was that Muslims are (for lack of better terms) “allowed” to believe in an evolutionary explanation for life on Earth, with the exception of humans. As long as the focus was on non-human species, there would be little-to-no objection from the Christian or Muslim communities within the school. ...

Second, the term “theory” can be defined as “an idea or set of ideas that is suggested or presented as possibly true, but that is not known or proven to be true to explain certain facts or events.” After giving the students this explanation of a theory, I was then able to present Darwin’s theories to them and allow them to postulate whether they believed Darwin’s thoughts followed this definition.
Strangely, this article has been retracted without any comment or notice. You can temporarily read it in Google's web cache.

I can only assume that either some leftist-atheist-evolutionists or Muslims were offended. (Maybe some Christians were offended, but they would not retract an article for that reason.)

So human evolution seems to be the sensitive issue. This has two parts: (1) humans evolved from lower animals and retain many similarities with them; and (2) human bio diversity is driven by the inheritance of many significant physical, cognitive, and behavioral traits.

Many leftist-atheist-evolutionists are eager to force everyone to accept (1) as true science, because that undermines religion and promotes their egalitarian politics. They rarely mention (2), even tho it is the flip side of the same reasoning.

If Salon or the press want to quiz politicians on evolution, then I wish they would ask Republicans and Democrats, and ask about both (1) and (2).

If the question is presented as just a disguised version of "Do you believe humans have souls, or do you believe in science?", then I would not blame a politician for refusing to answer.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How the machines will enslave us

The Dilbert cartoonist writes:
My too-clever point is that someday humans will be enslaved by their machines without realizing it. The machines will evolve to become more useful, more reliable, more credible, and far more fair than humans. You will do what machines tell you to do until there are no real decisions left for you to make. And we won’t see that day coming because it will creep up on us one line of code at a time. And the machines will not look like evil robots; they will look like the technology sprinkled throughout your day. Totally benign.
I agree with this. Movie artificial intelligence doomsday scenarios like Terminator usual portray the AI as an evil top-down secret military project out of control.

No, our new robot overlords will come from Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft. These companies have a missionary zeal to connect everyone to their servers:
Zuckerberg delivered a zinger:

"Well, it matters to the kind of investors that we want to have," he said.

Facebook, Zuckerberg says, is a mission-focused company whose goals extend beyond making money. The goal of Internet.org is to bring affordable internet access to parts of the world that don't have it.

"We wake up every day and make decisions because we want to help connect the world, and that's what we're doing here," Zuckerberg said on the call
Someday you will be afraid to trash popular products, or else Amazon might not offer you the best deals. You will be afraid to express unpopular views, or else Facebook might not connect you to a better class of people.

Taking orders from a stoplight might seem trivial, but someday that stoplight will be connected to your phone maps, and turn green based on which cars are going to the more worthwhile destinations. And if you are taking your self-driving car to the beach, it might go a long slow way in order to get out of the way of people going to work. Or it may decide to take you to the gym if it decides that you need more exercise.

While this seems invasive today, it is easy to imagine policies like this been justified for kids. As it is, they are locked into car-seats and supervised 24 hours a day. Millions of teenagers carry cellphones that track them at all times. Using the technology to control them is just another step.

For some reason, most people obediently tell the truth to their physicians. This is so widespread that such hearsay is admissible in court. Now Google is giving health advice as part of its regular Google search. Google has cell phone apps that use sensors to track fitness. Soon people will feel an obligation to tell Google the truth, and will accept the idea that Google knows what is good for you better than you know yourself.

Already, I get robotic commands on a daily basis, where I see no reason to comply. I just logged into Google, and a message from Google Wallet said "Your card has expired. Please update this card." After a few minutes, it said "Please re-enter your password". Why would I do those things? I do not even know what Google Wallet is good for.

My phone service is unreliable, and occasionally I get a recorded message saying "Your call did not go thru. Please try again." Maybe I don't want to try again. Maybe a second try will be a similar waste of time. Why is someone asking me to attempt a phone call?

Microsoft MS-DOS and most versions of Windows had a feature where if you issued a command to see what was in your A or D drive, it would then command you to put a disc in the drive. Again, why? I do not want a disc in my drive. I merely gave the computer the most innocuous possible query, and now it is ordering me to do something.

The remarkable thing is that apparently nobody complains about being ordered around by robots like this. It would be just as easy for the messages to say "Your call did not go thru. You may try again." or "Disc not found".

This may sound trivial, but my car recently ordered me to "Service engine". For what? Why? I had to borrow a special diagnostic device to tell a 3-digit code that I could look up on the web to find out whether it was serious or not. Why does anyone put up with that?

Aristotle believed that some people were natural slaves. Slavery is illegal, but many people are perfectly happy taking orders from robots.