Friday, January 27, 2012

Junk food does not cause obesity

The NY Times reports:
In the fight against childhood obesity, communities all over the country are banning the sale of sweets and salty snacks in public schools. But a new study suggests that the strategy may be ineffective.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University ... compared children’s weight in schools where junk food was sold and in schools where it was banned. The scientists also evaluated eighth graders who moved into schools that sold junk food with those who did not, and children who never attended a school that sold snacks with those who did. And they compared children who always attended schools with snacks with those who moved out of such schools.

No matter how the researchers looked at the data, they could find no correlation at all between obesity and attending a school where sweets and salty snacks were available.
Nearly everyone has an opinion about what foods are healthy, and nearly all of them are contrary to scientific research. Do-gooders pass laws and policies favoring what they think are common-sense ideas about beneficial diets, but they are almost certainly doing more harm than good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Denying sex differences

Anthropologist Agustín Fuente attacks the study in SciAm:
Recent publication in PLoS ONE by psychologist Del Giudici and colleagues [i] has reignited the debate about just how “naturally” different men and women are. Del Giudici et al. state that their findings of a “pattern of global sex differences…may help elucidate the meaning and generality of the broad dimension of individual differences known as “masculinity-femininity”.”
The study doesn't actually say anything about the sexes being “naturally” different. It merely reports personality differences.
There are three major problems with the conclusions being drawn from study: a) “gender” and “sex” are used interchangeably, b) evolved differences in men and women are not being measured, and c) relevant biological and anthropological datasets are ignored. ...

“Sex” and “Gender” are not the same thing. Sex is a biological state that is measure via chromosomal content and a variety of physiological and developmental measures. Gender is the roles, expectations and perceptions that a given society has for the sexes. Most societies have two genders on a masculinity-femininity continuum, some have more. The two are interconnected, but not the same thing. We are born with a sex, but acquire gender and there is great inter-individual diversity within societies and sexes in regards to how sex and gender play out in behavior and personality.
Gender is a grammar term that is sometimes used as a polite term for sex. The above comment might be applicable to a study of transsexuals, but this study concerned those who are unambiguously male or female.
There are no consistent brain differences between the sexes [iii], there is incredible overlap in our physiological function [iv], we engage in sexual activity in more or less the same patterns [v], and we overlap extensively in most other behavior as well. There are some interesting re-occurring differences, particularly in patterns of aggression and certain physiological correlates of reproduction, muscle density, and body size.
This is nonsense. Another denier says:
They argue that males and females are as different in personality as the distance between the planets Mars and Venus. Instead, the overwhelming evidence, across multiple psychological domains, is that men and women are more similar than different; the distance between them is more like the distance between North Dakota and South Dakota.
More gibberish. The same reasoning says that humans and monkeys are more similar than different. I don't even get the point of the Dakota analogy -- North Dakota and South Dakota have no overlap at all. Here is a recent example of parents trying to be sex-neutral, and a funny video of the Norway gender equality paradox. Yes, there are plenty of academics who deny the obvious.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Jews Vote Democrat

Ilya Somin tries to explain why Jews vote Democrat. He disagrees with other Jewish explanations, such as Norman Podhoretz's and Irving Kristol's.

These opinions confirm that American Jews have been voting overwhelmingly Democrat for a century, but their theories are filled with contradictions. Jews hate the Religious Right, but that could only explain the last 30 years or so, at most. The cause does not seem to be any religious teaching, because the Orthodox Jews are not so Democrat. Jews are not necessarily opposed to conservatism, as they heavily supported Margaret Thatcher. Explanations based on income, education, urban living, etc. are unconvincing. Nor is it based on support for Israel, as Republicans usually support Israel more than Democrats. Other theories involve Jews foolishly voting against their self-interest. Kristol calls it "cognitive dissonance".

Explanations by non-Jews are always denounced as anti-semitic.

Jews are only about 2% of the USA, but the Democrat Party would be dead without them. Marxist and other more radical leftist movements would not exist without Jews.

Whatever the reason, it seems clear that Jews will vote for Barack Obama in 2012. So will the blacks, single moms, and food stamp recipients.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Grads defend liberal bias

Princeton University has a token conservative on the faculty (Robert P. George), drawing this alumnus praise:
Especially in light of the heavy liberal bias that exists on the current Princeton administration and faculty, it is refreshing to learn that “it’s not unusual to find Professor Robert George engaged in a dialogue about constitutional issues,” and that “it’s a major focus of his classes.”
But a brainwashed recent alumna complained about it:
The basic premise of science is that change is inevitable and in many ways, if understood, beneficial and revolutionary. We may consider “liberal bias” to be revolutionary in terms of the citizenship rights and alumni donations that allowed me to attend the University. ...

The liberal perspective toward change is intrinsic to higher education in the United States and for this, thank goodness. What are education, science, and governance if not the acceptance of the basic premise that change will happen and that we can have an impact on its direction? I rue the day when my alma mater or any other loses this bias. In its absence is the reproduction of the status quo, which while admirable as an ideal, requires us to ignore the watches on our wrists.
So she thinks that conservatives are folks who refuse to accept the time on their own wristwatches? She probably did not have a conservative professor. Who even wears a wristwatch anymore?

She probably did take a class at Princeton that taught her that science was all about revolutionary change, in a leftist Marxist sense. I did when I was a student there.

Another alumnus wants that professor to be re-educated:
he might benefit greatly from sitting in on an introductory economics course, and perhaps one on the history of the 1930s.
This is another incoherent letter. Is he blaming conservatives for the Great Depression?

You would think that if a liberal Princeton graduate is showing off how stupid George is, then he or she could actually address some opinion of his.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Into the mind of a Neanderthal

Now that Neanderthal DNA has been sequenced, scientists are getting bolder with their analysis. NewScientist reports:
But while Neanderthals would have had a variety of personality types, just as we do, their way of life would have selected for an average profile quite different from ours. Jo or Joe Neanderthal would have been pragmatic, capable of leaving group members behind if necessary, and stoical, to deal with frequent injuries and lengthy convalescence. He or she had to be risk tolerant for hunting large beasts close up; they needed sympathy and empathy in their care of the injured and dead; and yet were neophobic, dogmatic and xenophobic.

So we could have recognised and interacted with Neanderthals, but we would have noticed these significant cognitive differences. They would have been better at well-learned, expert cognition than modern humans, but not as good at the development of novel solutions. They were adept at intimate, small-scale social cognition, but lacked the cognitive tools to interact with acquaintances and strangers, including the extensive use of symbols.
In other words, the European Neanderthals were conservatives, while the out-of-Africa hominids were liberals. Plus Neanderthals were ugly. Or so they imagine.

Update: The NY Times reports that the out-of-Africa theory has been superseded:
The new view is fast supplanting the traditional idea that modern humans triumphantly marched out of Africa about 50,000 years ago, replacing all other types that had gone before.

Instead, the genetic analysis shows, modern humans encountered and bred with at least two groups of ancient humans in relatively recent times: the Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and Asia, dying out roughly 30,000 years ago, and a mysterious group known as the Denisovans, who lived in Asia and most likely vanished around the same time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not dark today

Wikipedia and a lot of other web sites have gone dark today to protest SOPA, a proposal to limit lookups to pirate web sites.

Google uses a rare ad on its home page to recruit people to its political cause. What Google does not say is that it makes billions of dollars from indexing pirate web sites, and that limiting piracy is a threat to its business model.

SOPA may have been a bad idea, but it was already dead, and it was not going to destroy the internet or anything like that. The internet has a long history of chicken littles claiming that some law or technology will end the internet, and they have all been wrong. SOPA might make it a little harder to find pirate web sites, and slightly harder for Google to facilitate piracy, but that is about all. If Google wanted to be constructive, it could suggest other ways of dealing with pirate web sites.

So this blog is not going dark today.

Update: After the blackout, the feds seized the overseas file sharing site I thought that the they needed SOPA to have this power. It appears that the feds wanted to make a statement that they will bust pirate sites regardless of the web protests or congressional action. And I didn't see Google sticking up for the free speech rights of megaupload users.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Romney attacked for being white

Lee Siegel writes for the NY Times blog:
There has yet to be any discussion over the one quality that has subtly driven Mitt Romney’s candidacy: his race. ...

Contrast that with Mr. Romney’s meticulously cultivated whiteness. He is nearly always in immaculate white shirt sleeves. He is implacably polite, tossing off phrases like “oh gosh” with Stepford bonhomie. He has mastered Benjamin Franklin’s honesty as the “best policy”: a practiced insincerity, an instant sunniness that, though evidently inauthentic, provides a bland bass note that keeps everyone calm. This is the bygone world of Babbitt, of small-town Rotarians. ...

Mitt Romney ... knows that he offers to these people the white solution to the problem of a black president. I am sure that Mr. Romney is not a racist. But I am also sure that, for the many Americans who find the thought of a black president unbearable, he is an ideal candidate. For these sudden outsiders, Mitt Romney is the conventional man with the outsider faith — an apocalyptic pragmatist — who will wrest the country back from the unconventional man with the intolerable outsider color.
Siegel is Jewish, which allowed him to once criticize Joe Lieberman for matching the "anti-Semitic caricature" by being "greedy, arrogant, venal, and vindictive."

This election is not about race or religion. Barack Obama's race turned out to be a big advantage in the last election. He only became unpopular with people like David Brooks after his policies failed. And it is funny to see Romney accused of representing Christians when he is a Mormon.

To liberals at the NY Times, race and religion are proxies for the American Dream. They hate American culture and values, and they promote racial animosity whenever they can, in the hopes of undermining Americanism. The NY Times had its harshest attack on Romney for wanting limits on immigration. They want to flood America with Third World immigrants, and scream racism at anyone who wants to preserve American greatness.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Autistic boy aces college

Last night CBS TV 60 Minutes reported:
Jake Barnett is one in 10 million. The Indianapolis 13-year-old has been acing college math and science courses since he was eight years old. Now Jake is a college sophomore taking honors classes in math and physics, while also doing scientific research and tutoring fellow students. No one could have predicted that Jake would even make it to college. At age two, Jake began to regress - he stopped speaking and making eye contact. The diagnosis: autism. Jake is proud of his autism. "That, I believe, is the reason why I am in college and I am so successful," he tells Morley Safer. ...

No one could have predicted that Jake would even make it to college. Just before his second birthday he began to regress, stopped speaking and making eye contact. After consulting with several doctors the diagnosis was autism.

Michael Barnett: We went through speech therapy, physical therapy, developmental therapy, occupational therapy. Therapists came to the home.

Kristine Barnett: He was going further and further from our world into a world of his own. And I really was just baffled at how we were going to get him back out of that world.

Safer: And how did you get him, back out of that world?

Kristine Barnett: We realized that Jacob was not happy unless he was doing something he loved.

Which even as a three-year-old was math and science. His parents say the more he focused on the subjects he loved the more he began to communicate.

The psychiatrists are redefining autism as autism spectrum, and broadening the concept so that it can be diagnosed based on stereotyped behaviors, as well as mental retardation. Many states have now passed laws requiring insurance coverage, even tho there is no known effective treatment.

On TV, Jake seems like just an unusually smart boy with no obvious disorders. He just has what the shrinks derisively call stereotyped behaviors.

The psychiatrists are doing something sinister here by pathologizing harmless behaviors, particularly male behaviors. Millions of dollars are being drained from our medical system to fund useless therapies. They conflate smart kids with retarded kids. I think that their pseudo-scientific opinions about autism will ultimately be considered more offensive and wrong than their previous stances on homosexuals.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cannot consider musician for his accomplishments

Criminal defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz writes
Gilad Atzmon was invited to attend a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Friends Meeting House happening late this week...

I cannot overemphasize how serious this matter is. ...

I cannot imagine an overtly homophobic, sexist or racist musician being invited “solely for his musical accomplishments.”

Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School, is author of “The Trials of Zion.”
Really? Musicians cannot be considered for their musical accomplishments anymore, and must also be judged for the political correctness of their views? And the serious of those judgments cannot be overemphasized?

Many famous musicians have endorsed Che Guevara in various ways. Companies sometimes get blamed for it, such as the recent Mercedes-Benz Apologizes for Using Che Guevara Image. I think Mercedes-Benz was only trying to make a harmless joke. But musicians seem to get a free pass. Surely endorsing Che is more offensive than any opinions that Atzmon has expressed. Dershowitz is the bigot here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Google wants copyright opt-out

Google copyright lawyer Bill Patry claims to tell how to fix copyright, part 3 and part 2. I would respond in the comments on that blog, but my comments were deleted.

He does not explain it, but a large part of Google's empire is based on the difference between opt-in and opt-out. Copyright law protects an author's exclusive right, and no other system can use his works unless he opts-in to the system. Google wants the law to be opt-out, so that Google can copy whatever it pleases until the author opts-out by formally objecting. Google finds that few authors opt-out, becaues of Google's market power and other reasons.

For example, the rapid success of YouTube was almost entirely because it was the biggest and most reliable source of pirated videos on the web. Now Google responds to takedown notices from those who want to opt-out, but the market power of YouTube is so great that most copyright owners settle for some ad royalties instead.

The Google Book lawsuit was supposedly a class action representing authors who did not want their books copied unless they decided to opt-in. But Google's proposed settlement was an opt-out system.

Patry's only proposal is to shorten copyrights, but he says, “None of those suggestions would weaken copyright, whatever that means. None of the proposals have anything to do with my employer.”

Yes, they do weaken copyright, and they are designed to help Google, his employer. A weakened copyright would be a good thing, but Google ought to be honest about its interests here.

Red wine health is bogus

NPR reports:
The already shaky case for the anti-aging powers of resveratrol, a substance in red wine, is looking a little shakier.

After a three-year investigation, the University of Connecticut Health Center has told 11 scientific journals that studies they published by resveratrol researcher Dipak K. Das may not be trustworthy.

In 2008, the university got a tip about irregularities in Das' work. The subsequent investigation identified "145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data," according to a UConn statement.
Of course, these studies being bogus does not say anything about whether red wine is healthy or unhealthy, just as a vaccine study being bogus does not say anything about whether the vaccine is safe. But this does show that a lot of people are easily duped by research claims that reinforce what they would like to believe.

Meanwhile, it is claimed that a soda tax will save thousands of lives.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Marxist retirement is tragic and unnecessary

I will know that California is low on funds when I stop reading about 6-figure pensions. The Santa Cruz newspaper reports:
SANTA CRUZ - Mike Rotkin, who has spent nearly two-thirds of his life at the City on a Hill, has finally and officially retired.

The five-time former mayor, who holds the record for City Council service, retired from UC Santa Cruz at the end of December, nearly 43 years after arriving as a graduate student in 1969.

After working as a teacher's assistant for several years, Rotkin served a combined 38 years as a lecturer and field study coordinator for Community Studies, a program being phased out by UCSC amid ongoing state funding cuts.

"I do feel that I'm not harmed by this as much as the students and the university by closing the program," Rotkin, 66, said. "It's tragic and unnecessary." ...

And even now, he's not really leaving. He will teach "Introduction to Marxism" as a summer session course and continue as member of the University Council of American Federation of Teachers' negotiating team.

"I didn't retire because I was tired of teaching," he said. "I retired because they threw me out."

There was a financial calculation, too.

Rotkin, who earned $88,461 from UCSC in the 2009-2010 academic year, figured out he would take home more each year if he started drawing on his pension. As a 26-year veteran of the City Council, he also gets a small pension from the city.
So he was being paid $90k to teach Marxism, and even more not to teach Marxism? The governor is planning on a tax increase to be approved by a ballot measure. There should be a ballot measure to abolish unfunded pensions and stop teaching Marxism.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Disqualifying the chess champion

Computer chess has gotten too good. In 1996, a computer beat the human world chess champ. In 2005, a state-of-the-art chess program was released as GPL open source, and the field got a lot more competitive. Now the good computers are far better than the best humans.

One program wins every year:
On December 4, 2005 a free, downloadable chess program named Rybka 1.0 Beta was initially released and took a sizable lead on all then-existing chess program strength ranking lists, surpassing all commercial programs. Rybka then proceeded to rapidly widen its lead with subsequent versions. Rybka went on to become a commercial engine in 2006. Working with Grandmaster Larry Kaufman, one of the world’s leading position evaluation specialists, Rajlich issued the seminal Rybka 3 in 2008. Rybka 3 was over 100 Elo points stronger than Rybka 2, an enormous improvement in what was already the leading commercial program. The latest public edition of Rybka (Rybka 4.1) is more than 300 Elo points stronger than the top competitors that existed in late 2005 on comparable hardware.
But in A Gross Miscarriage of Justice in Computer Chess, Rybka has been banned from tournament play.

It is a little hard to see how Rybka could have been plagiarized when it is some much better than it has won every tourneyment it has entered. The Wash. Times wrote:
Yet another world champion has been brought low for suspected use of a banned performance-enhancing substance.

Rybka, the chess-playing computer program that won the past four World Computer Chess Championship titles, was summarily stripped of its silicon crown this week amid charges its programmer plagiarized the software of two rival programs. ...

As for Rybka, it will now be remembered as just another champion that didn’t respect the rules of the game.
No, Rybka may be remembered for advancing the state-of-the-art more than any other chess program. Here is the rule that it is accused of violating:
Each program must be the original work of the entering developers. Programming teams whose code is derived from or including game-playing code written by others must name all other authors, or the source of such code, in their submission details. Programs which are discovered to be close derivatives of others (e.g., by playing nearly all moves the same), may be declared invalid by the Tournament Director after seeking expert advice. For this purpose a listing of all game-related code running on the system must be available on demand to the Tournament Director.
There is some evidence that early versions of Rybka had components similar to what is in the open-source programs. Rajlich admits that he studied them. But I don't see how Rybka could be called a close derivative when it plays so much better. There don't seem to be any standards for how much one program can use the ideas of another.

It appears to me that the real problem is that Rybka got so good that no one else had any chance of winning the tournaments. The losers had to gang up to disqualify the champ so that the others would have a chance at winning.

I think that the real problem with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Lance Armstrong, etc. is that they were so good at what they did. Others are jealous, and will do anything to bring down the champ.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Distance Between Mars and Venus

A new psychology paper says:
The idea that the sexes are quite similar in personality – as well as most other psychological attributes – has been expressed most forcefully in Hyde's “gender similarities hypothesis” [9]. The gender similarities hypothesis holds that “males and females are similar on most, but not all, psychological variables. That is, men and women, as well as boys and girls, are more alike than they are different.” Hyde's paper has been remarkably influential; between 2005 and 2010, it has accumulated 247 citations in the Web of Knowledge database and 498 citations in Google Scholar (retrieved May 19th, 2011).

While the gender similarities hypothesis does not make specific predictions about personality, sex differences in personality were found to be “small” in Hyde's meta-analytic review.
The paper goes on to argue that while the 16 Personality Factors do not individually show much difference between men and women, the factors can be combined so that the distributions of men and women only overlap by 10%.

As explained here, the situation is somewhat analogous to race and genes. People used to say that human races were all the same because they have essentially the same genes. They also said that we have 99% the same genes as chimps. It turns out that you have to look at many genes at once to see dramatic differences.

The paper says:
The idea that there are only minor differences between the personality profiles of males and females should be rejected as based on inadequate methodology. ...

In conclusion, we believe we made it clear that the true extent of sex differences in human personality has been consistently underestimated.
It is surprising that this paper is so controversial. I thought that it was obvious that men and women have different personalities, and I had assumed that psychometric testing had established this decades ago. The original Turing test involved fooling someone about a male or female personality.

In other psychology news, SciAm Mind reports:
Two Big Myths about Grief
People are not always devastated by a death and should be allowed to recover in their own ways
It says that grief counseling usually does no good at all.

Psychology research is in a sorry state. They have trouble with the obvious.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

UN attacks freedom of religion

Harvard law prof and Jewish identity political activist Alan M. Dershowitz writes:
The Brian Leiters of the world are an important part of the reason why anti-Semitic tropes are creeping back to legitimacy in academia. His knee-jerk defense of an admitted Jew hater — who, according to Leiter is not a despicable anti-Semite but an acceptable "cosmopolitan" — contributes to the legitimization of anti-Semitism.

The same can be said of Ron Paul, who everyone has heard of. Paul has, according to The New York Times, refused to "disavow" the "support" of "white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy." ...

It has been said that "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Leiter and Paul may or may not be good men, but they are guilty of more than merely doing nothing. They are, by their actions, helping to legitimate the oldest of bigotries. Shame on them!
This is apparently a large part of what Jewish identity politics is all about -- going around calling people anti-Semites and bigots and invoking silly Nazi analogies. He even calls Jews and other Semites anti-Semites if they do not support Israel.

Leiter and Paul have all sorts of goofy views. It is reasonable to assume that 2% of their goofy views involve Jews, since Jews are about 2% of the USA population.

Deshowitz is the worst sort of bigot. He doesn't even believe in the religious aspects of Judaism. He just promotes Jewish identity politics and Zionism, and recklessly calls people Nazis if they do not share his political views. He claims to support free speech, but he wants organized ostracism of anyone who even associates with people he dislikes.

A different view comes from leftist-atheist-evolutionist Jerry Coyne. He is of Jewish descent but he says that all religion is poisonous. He says:
We need the right to freely and publicly criticize politicians, religious people and their beliefs, and historians — indeed, even those historians who affirm the Holocaust. I’ve learned a lot listening to Holocaust deniers, including ways that they resemble other conspiracy theorists, the methods that Nazis used to suppress information about the gas chambers, and the paucity of direct written links between Hitler himself and the extirpation of the Jews. It should not be a crime to promulgate such denialism, odious though those viewpoints may seem.
That is a crime in much of Europe, and Holocaust historical work is unreliable as a result. Another religion wants the UN to give it special protection from criticism:
It’s Islam, and at issue is Resolution 16/18 of the United Nations Human Rights Council (have a look at it.) It ostensibly protects all religions, but the people pushing it are, of course, Muslims. ... But now the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (a consortium of Islamic Nations) has tweaked the language to make it palatable to America, and they’ve succeded: Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are supporting the resolution, and the U.S. may sign on.

This is what the resolution says ...
3. Condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means; ...
What’s happening here is that Islam is seeking special protections not afforded to other faiths. We should not let ourselves be bullied by this stance, or by this resolution. Resolution 16/18 is an offense to the American tradition of free speech, and it’s odious that both Obama and Hillary Clinton are supporting it.
Yes, it is odious. Some religions really are better than others. Nearly everyone agrees to that, altho they differ about what the better religions are. Speaking in support of one religion implicitly devalues the competing religions, and incites discrimination against those other religious views. That is a good thing, not a bad thing, even if it is upsetting to Dershowitz and the Islamic nations. They are textbook examples of bigoted religious intolerance. There is no true freedom of religion in any Islamic nation.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Human appendix not useless

I pointed out here that evolutionists like to cite the human appendix as bad design, even tho there is a good theory that it is useful. Now there is clinical evidence as well. Those with an appendix recover from certain intestinal infections better.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Jumping to a guilty conclusion

I am making a list of things that I learned in 2011. One is that no one believes in innocence until proven guilty. Between people I know, people on TV, etc, I have yet to meet a single person who believes it. Every single one of them jumps to conclusions that people are guilty based on the flimsiest of evidence.

Herman Cain. I had an otherwise sensible woman tell me that Cain must be guilty of sexual harassment because she was once sexually harassed. She insisted that I listen to her story, even tho it had nothing to do with Cain's story. I have heard other women make a similar argument many times. If sexual harassment stories are common, then it is easy for a woman to make a false accusation.

Jerry Sandusky. Many people said that they decided that he was guilty based on the weakness of his denial in a TV interview. But criminal defendants have a 5A right not to testify at trial, and one of the reasons for that right is people think that they can judge guilt or innocence by watching a denial, but they cannot.

Penn State officials. They have been fired and ostracized, and yet the case against them rest entirely on one accuser who has told an implausible story and who has changed his story a couple of times. Of course there will soon be lawyers filing million dollar lawsuits, and you can be sure that new witnesses come forward with mysteriously recovered memories.

Rod Blagojevich. He was convicted of selling Barack Obama's senate seat, but no one ever showed that he ever took a bribe, asked for a bribe, or had any suspicious money squirreled away.

Barry Bonds. People argue that he is guilty of something based on the size of his head and other strange notions. He was convicted and sentenced, but hardly anyone knows what he was convicted of. And the prosecutor sure did not present evidence of his head size.

Michael Jackson. The accusations were implausible, and from people suing for millions. He was acquitted.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The accusations were extremely implausible, and the charges were eventually dropped.

Of course there are many people in the criminal justice system who are unfairly prosecuted, but that is not my point. My concern is about how people jump to conclusions of guilt even tho the accusation is bizarre and improbable, the evidence is flimsy, and sometimes even the crime itself is undefined.

I should have learned this lesson during the 1974 Watergate hearings. Yes, some crimes were committed, but hardly anyone can tell you what Richard Nixon did that was criminal. Somehow they all decided that he was guilty without even knowing the charge or how the evidence relates to that charge. I think that this is a common brain defect that people come to such conclusions.