Monday, August 30, 2004

Adult memories can be manipulated

Here is a story about a couple of scientific studies that show how unreliable childhood memories can be, and how easily those memories can be manipulated. Adults were tricked into thinking that they once got sick eating pickles or hard-boiled eggs in childhood.

One of the researchers, Elizabeth Loftus, had previously written a book on The Myth of Repressed Memory. She has made a lot of enemies.

USA Today ignores male athletes

I didn't know that the USA Today sports coverage has been taken over by feminists:
On the front page, USA Today featured a story on "U.S. gymnasts look bound for glory." Despite its title, the article turned out to be only about female gymnasts. No mention of the men.

In the Sports section, the first page was graced by photos of swimmer Katie Hoff and volleyball players Kerri Walsh and Misty May. Again, the male athletes were nowhere to be seen.

Swimmer Michael Phelps, seeking to eclipse Mark Spitz’ record of seven gold medals, is arguably the most talented American athlete competing in this summer’s Olympics. But at USA Today, gender counted for more than talent, so his story was buried on page 4F.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Viagra Falls

A side effect of Viagra's popularity is an increase in sexually transmitted diseases:
A San Francisco public health official has petitioned FDA to make Pfizer's anti-impotence drug Viagra a controlled substance because of studies showing an association between use of the medication and higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, director of STD prevention and control for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, has requested that Viagra and similar drugs be listed as Schedule III controlled substances -- a category of legal drugs that are often used for non-prescription uses, such as steroids.
Another side effect is that many people now misspell Niagara Falls. The Si Valley paper just had this headline:
Niagra Falls Plunge Survivor Returns

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Alan Yurko free

Another man serving a long child abuse sentence was freed:
ORLANDO, Fla. - A judge ordered a new trial Friday for a father convicted five years ago of shaking his 10-week-old son to death, citing problems with the autopsy.

Minutes after the judge ordered the new trial, Alan Yurko pleaded no contest to manslaughter. Circuit Judge Alan Lawson sentenced him to time served, allowing Yurko to be released from prison where he had been serving a life sentence in the death of his son, Alan Ream-Yurko.

During a weeklong hearing, Yurko's defense team argued that Alan Ream-Yurko might have died in 1997 as a result of poor health, adverse reactions to vaccines and medical-treatment mistakes.
I am not convinced that vaccines caused the kid's death, but Yurko's conviction does appear to be based on junk science. I think that it is peculiar that judges, cops, prosecutors, and others were so eager to believe that a father would shake a baby to death.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Phony child abuse cases

The CBS 48 Hours TV show today told about people sent to prison for child abuse based on bogus evidence. Apparently all the experts in the 1980s believed that allegations from children were always true, even if the interrogators used manipulative tactics and there were gross inconsistencies in the testimony. Gerald Amirault was finally paroled after 18 years in prison. He was almost certainly innocent, and he certainly did not get a fair trial.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Lesbian rape is good rape, say feminists

I missed this story, about 6 months ago:
The Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee banned "West Side Story" because its members said it stereotyped Puerto Ricans. They banned "Peter Pan" because it stereotyped Native Americans. Yet they want the play the "Vagina Monologues" performed even though it stereotypes males and Christians -- not to mention the fact that it's crude and arguably pro-pedophilia.

Most disturbing about the play is the fact that it features the seduction of a female minor by an adult woman, legitimizing predatory sexual behavior before an audience of minors.
Apparently the lesbian drugging and rape of a 13-year-old is a good rape, because the girl learns that she will "never need to rely on a man".

Another rape extortionist

William Kennedy Smith is mainly famous for being acquitted in a 1991 televised rape trial. The case did indicate that he and his uncle Sen. Ted Kennedy like to party. Now he is faced with another rape shakedown. Five years ago, Audra Soulias dated him for several months, and she is suing him for $3M because she says that the affair started with a sexual assault!

This stinks. We need a shorter statute of limitations, a legal distinction between criminal rape and boorish behavior, and some penalty for extortionist lawsuits. I would think that the real rape victims would offended that these allegations are taken seriously.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Calif uses experts to throw men in jail

Ever wonder how a man can get thrown in prison, even though all the witnesses testify at trial that he is innocent? Here is a judgment upholding a 10-year sentence against a man for a domestic violence charge. The alleged victim testified that the man never even threatened her, but the prosecutor relied on a supposed expert named Darr:
Darr testified: Domestic violence victims, after describing the violence to the police, often later repudiate their description. There is typically “anywhere between 24 and 48 hours where victims will be truthful about what occurred because they’re still angry, they’re still scared.” But “after they have had time to think about it . . . it is not uncommon for them to change their mind.” About 80 to 85 percent of victims “actually recant at some point in the process.” Some victims will say they lied to the police; almost all will attempt to minimize their experience.
The only dissenter on the California supreme court was Janice Rogers Brown, whose appointment to the federal court has been held up by Democrats. I guess that I should be glad that she hasn't been confirmed; we need her too badly in California.

Apparently there are legal precedents that say that Battered Women's Syndrome (BWS) is sufficiently out of the ordinary experiences of jurors that they need expert testimony to explain the behavior of a woman with BWS. An expert in another case described BWS as:
a pattern of learned helplessness and dependency, originating in childhood, which, without intervention, is perpetuated throughout the victim’s life that psychologically causes her to return again and again to relationships in which she is battered and abused.
Not only is this nonsense, it doesn't apply to the case at hand because there was no evidence that the alleged victim (and witness) had BWS. There was just a single incident that was rooted in a routine landlord dispute.

I predict that criminal defense lawyers will soon wise up to this scam. Scott Peterson's lawyer (Mark Geragos) could present an expert witness to testify that Amber Frey is lying because she might have BWS.

George writes:
What's wrong with allowing experts? Do you think that all jurors have personal experience with battered women?
No, but jurors don't have personal experiences with bank robbery either.

Having expert testimony on the credibility of other witnesses is just manipulating the jury on whom to believe. It is up to the jury to decide for themselves whom to believe. When Amber Frey or Kate Faber testify, they don't bring in experts to tell the jury when sluts lie. There is no science for reliably determining liars in court. If there were, then maybe we would have to rethink our whole criminal justice system. But there isn't.

It is axiomatic that if the alleged victim testifies that no crime occurred, and there is no other witness or physical evidence, then the defendant should go free. But this poor man will spend ten years in jail for one little harmless heated argument.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Title IX regulations hurt Olympic athletes

People watch the Olympics, and a lot of outstanding female athletes, and assume that Title IX helped them. But this column says that the USA is getting fewer medal because of Title IX, and wrestling great Dan Gable details
what a disaster Title IX has been:
A recent presidential commission heard testimony detailing the damage that the current Title IX regulations have strewn on America's college campuses. UCLA's swimming team, with scores of Olympic medals, gone. The University of Miami diving program, which produced Greg Louganis, axed. Kent State Hockey, no more. U. Mass gymnastics, hang 'em up. Consider what happened to Kevin Bracken, member of the 2000 Olympic team. His senior year Illinois State University, rather than add a women's program, dropped its wrestling team.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Taking Sex Differences Seriously

Taking Sex Differences Seriously by Steven E. Rhoads seems to be politically incorrect. You can listen to an interview here, or read a review.

Olympic medal share

Andy points out that the USA share of Olympic medals has dropped to 10%, and all-time low. He attributes the drop to Title IX, which crippled many college athletic programs like wrestling. It supposedly helped girls' athletics, but most of the female medalists got no Title IX benefit. Eg, at most one out of the 10-girl USA gymnastics team got any benefit.

Movie fiction becomes courtroom reality

US courts are known for junk science, and lawyers sometimes learn their science from the movies. John sends this SF story:
(08-22) 07:52 PDT LOS ANGELES (AP) --
Lawyers for a graduate student indicted in a series of firebombings and vandalizing of sport utility vehicles hope to use his mental state as a defense during trial.
William Jensen Cottrell, 24, a physics student at the California Institute of Technology, was indicted in March in connection with damage and destruction of about 125 vehicles at car dealerships and homes in August 2003 in the San Gabriel Valley. Authorities said the attacks caused $2.3 million damage.
Cottrell's lawyers said last week that a defense expert has diagnosed him with Asperger's syndrome, which also is known as "high-functioning autism."
They filed court notices indicating their intent to raise the issue during trial, and hope to argue that the condition made him incapable of arson conspiracy.
Mayock's co-counsel, Marvin Rudnick, alluded to such a defense in March when he mentioned Cottrell in reference to the 2001 film "A Beautiful Mind," which focuses on a schizophrenic math genius.
Those who have Asperger's syndrome tend to take matters too literally and are prone to bouts of confusion, the lawyers said.
They also argue Cottrell could have been duped into participating in the andalism spree.
"If 'Rain Man' was adopted by Jesse James, would 'Rain Man' be a criminal?" Rudnick told the Pasadena Star-News.
Bad as the courts are, I doubt that anyone is going to believe that a CalTech Physics grad student is mentally retarded.

There should be no problem finding an expert who will testify that Cottrell has Aspergers syndrome. You can find the official test here, and I wouldn't be surprised if most of the CalTech Physics Dept. tested positive. The syndrome is quite different from what you'd expect from the movies.

George writes:
Are you saying that autism is a phony disease? Or adults with autism cannot be geniuses?
There are no autistic people like the character in Rain Man.

There are lots of adults who would test positive for high-functioning autism. The symptoms are:
  • low social and communication skills -- as evidenced by a preference for solitary activities
  • focused -- they have an attention to detail, and dislike attention switching
  • lack of imagination --
    they are well-grounded in reality, and don't like children's fantasy games.

Normal people (who are not autistic) frequently claim that they can just look at someone, or listen to a couple of sentences, and completely size up his thoughts, feelings, and intentions. Not claiming to have such abilities is considered to be a symptom of autism.

You can read the research paper here.

George writes:
You make it sound like there is something wrong with people who are not autistic?
The people who geniunely suffer from autistim are mentally retarded, and are not geniuses or idiot savants.

Most mental disorders are defined in terms of some inability to function properly in society. See this free summary of the DSM-IV criteria. But shrinks diagnose high-functioning autism based on various personality quirks, and those people could be quite successful in our society.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

No-fault divorce

John writes that NY state still doesn't have no-fault divorce, even the NY Bar Assn advocates it. Here is a recent case:
Judge denies divorce: Adultery not enough

Says husband’s admission of affair is not sufficient to end 17-year marriage because wife resumed sexual relationship with him
John also says that this editorial is a textbook illustration of how people cling to their preconceived "logical" theories for decades after they have been totally disproved by the empirical data, i.e., reality. It describes what everyone predicted as the concept of no-fault divorce swept the nation in the 1970s.

John Kerry's Monstrous Record on Civil Liberties

Reason explains why John Kerry is bad on civil liberties issues. In the great crypto politics debate of the 1990s, John Ashcroft favored a law recognizing our right to use encryption for personal privacy, and John Kerry favored laws to restrict encryption, and let the govt spy on citizens. Ashcroft is better on other constitutional issues also, such as our 2A right to keep and bear arms.

Roswell lives

All the wacky conspiracy theories seem to come from Democrats these days. John says that Roswell lives!
Ten years after the U.S. Air Force closed its books on the claim that a UFO crashed in Roswell, N.M., in 1947, a top Democratic Party figure wants to reopen the investigation into the cosmic legend.
Despite denials by federal officials, many UFO buffs cherish the notion that in early summer of 1947, a flying saucer crashed in rural Roswell, scattering alien bodies and saucer debris across the terrain.
Now Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who chaired the recent Democratic convention in Boston, says in his foreword to a new book that "the mystery surrounding this crash has never been adequately explained -- not by independent investigators, and not by the U.S. government. ... There are as many theories as there are official explanations.
"Clearly, it would help everyone if the U.S. government disclosed everything it knows," says Richardson, who served as Energy secretary under President Bill Clinton. "The American people can handle the truth -- no matter how bizarre or mundane. ... With full disclosure and our best scientific investigation, we should be able to find out what happened on that fateful day in July 1947."

Friday, August 13, 2004

Woman prefers dogs over a husband

Ever hear unmarried women in the thirties complain that no suitable men are available for marriage? Here is a 33-year-old women who cannot decide between a husband or having a couple of indoor dogs. Dear Abby says to stick to the dogs, and cancel the wedding.

Update: I got some feedback on this one. The animal lovers say that the fiance is obviously a jerk, and the marriage would be doomed. Those without pets say that the woman is being unreasonable. I say that in 7 years the dogs will be dead and the woman will be a lonely and bitter old maid. She can tell people that she never got married because her husband-to-be didn't want to live with a couple of dirty and smelly animals, and she chose her dogs over a husband.

New Jersey gov. is out

People are praising New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey for giving a courageous and honest speech. Popular blogger Wonkette said that it was the best political speech of the year. But it was not.

McGreevey blamed his troubles on being born gay. He is not gay, he is bisexual, and he wasn't born that way. His political troubles stem from the fact that he promoted his adulterous lover to being homeland security chief of New Jersey, which endangered everyone because he was unqualified for the job. McGreevey apparently used his governor's office to pay blackmail. None of this was explained in his speech.

McGreevey hasn't resigned, either. He only announced that he will leave office on Nov. 15, after the elections, thereby robbing New Jersey citizens of a chance to determine their own governor. His speech was one of the most dishonest and irresponsible speeches I've heard in a long time.

Apparently McGreevey's Democratic allies knew about his homosexual affair and his official corruption, and covered up for him.

Update: As of Aug. 24, McGreevey still hasn't submitted a resignation letter. Maybe it was all a big publicity stunt.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Britain allows limited human cloning

I expect the left-wing San Jose Mercury News to jump on stem cell research as an excuse to justify their Bush-hating rants, so I wasn't surprised to see a page 3 story with the sub-headline (in the print edition) "Britain allows use for stem-cell research while U.S. remains without coherent policy".

But it turns out that the article is complaining that Bush does not have enough restrictions on stem-cell research! It says:
The United States remains without a coherent policy on cloning. ... no federal legislation has been passed that would restrict or ban the technology. So U.S. companies remain free to experiment with cloning without the need of a license, ...

``We're in the worst possible situation,'' said Arthur Caplan, an ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. Privately funded entities can do as they want, he said. ``The public sector is unable to regulate or control anything.''

``Those of us who are serious about medical applications would welcome the control'' ...
Pres. Bush does indeed have a coherent and reasonable policy, and it is more liberal than that of many other countries.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Faber's friend tells all

Why the Kobe Bryant trial delay? CBS News says:
In a thorough review of court documents, CBS News pieced together the likely basis of the defense case. In October, under aggressive questioning by attorney Pamela Mackey, lead detective Doug Winters admitted that:
  • another man's semen was found on swabs taken from the woman's body.
  • pubic combings uncovered another man's body hair.
  • And that the young woman arrived at her rape exam wearing underwear containing semen that was not Bryant's.
In a later defense filing, Bryant attorney Hal Haddon argued that the soiled underwear "compellingly suggests" another sexual encounter after Bryant and before the rape exam 18 hours later.
The new allegations come from Kate Faber's college friend Laie Weatherwax. She says that Faber has had sex with dozens of men, including several within days. She also says Faber likes it doggie style, and sometimes bleeds if the man is extra large. More of Weathermax's story can be found on

The prosecution's case depends on keeping all of this info from the jury.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Testing psychotherapies

This NY Times article says that the hottest controversy in psychotherapy is that some people want to test the relative effectiveness of various methods!

Biased newspaper

I didn't read my local San Jose Mercury News for a week, and now I wonder why I even subcribe. On the editorial page today, it has two op-ed articles under the heading "Ferociously divided nation". I naively expect one pro-Republican article, and one pro-Democrat. Instead, both were pro-Democrat polemics complaining about John Kerry is being attacked by his enemies!

The newspapers, TV, bookstores, and even movie theaters are filled with slanderous Bush-hating diatribes. By contrast, attacks on Kerry have been muted, and limited to political issues that Kerry himself has raised.

Nobody talks about Kerry's bitter first wife, or anything like that. Kerry cites his Vietnam record as his main qualification for office, so it only seems fair for people to point out lies in his record.

George writes:
The second article was a Democrat smear piece, but the first article
was even-handed. It said:
At this level of anxiety, democracy itself is difficult. From the right, there's a tendency to equate dissent with disloyalty. From the left, there's an instinct to see Bush's decisions as goose steps in a march toward authoritarianism.
No, that is not even-handed. Right-wingers welcome dissent. Eg, many right-wingers opposed the Iraq War. The main point of the article is to say that political ads should not attack Kerry's war record.

I disagree. Kerry's war record shows what a phony he is. Eg, for years he has been telling people about how Nixon secretly ordered him into Cambodia at Christmas 1968. But Kerry was never in Cambodia, and Nixon was not even president then, as this article explains.

The new unreleased expose of Kerry's Vietnam record is now ranked first on the Amazon top seller list.

Katelyn Faber sues Kobe Bryant

Katelyn Faber has now sued Kobe Bryant in federal court, to collect monetary damages for her alleged rape. Her name has been (supposedly accidentally) released in court documents, and at various sites like this one.

This case shows the inequity of the rape shield laws, and the failure to make reasonable distinctions between different types of rape.

If Faber really had sex with another man a couple of hours after seducing Kobe Bryant in his hotel room, and the sperm stains imply, then it impossible that she was forcibly raped. She is threatening to send Bryant to prison for life and to enrich herself in the process, and I think that the jury and the public should know exactly what she is doing.

Kerry tries to be decisive

This Boston Globe story says that John Kerry tried to appear decisive by announcing that
Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whispered into my ear, 'America was under attack,' I would have told those kids very politely and nicely that, the president of the United States had something he needed to attend to
But when asked whether he would have gone to war against Iraq, he said, "You bet we might have".

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Chicken pox vaccine not very effective

Andy sends this Reuters story:
During an outbreak of chickenpox in Minnesota in the fall of 2002, more than half the children who became infected had been immunized with the varicella vaccine, according to a new report.

Evidently, booster shots may be required to provide stronger protection against chickenpox. ...

The primary case in the outbreak was a vaccinated 6-year-old boy. ...

Lee's group estimates that the effectiveness of the vaccine in warding off infection was 56 percent.
The chicken pox vaccine was sold to the public as a vaccine that would not need a booster, and most states have made it mandatory for the schools.