Thursday, October 23, 2014

Evidence favors Ferguson cop

Pres. Barack Obama and his supporters have used Ferguson Mo to try to whip up racial animosity for the current election.

The Wash Post reports:
Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown fought for control of the officer’s gun, and Wilson fatally shot the unarmed teenager after he moved toward the officer as they faced off in the street, according to interviews, news accounts and the full report of the St. Louis County autopsy of Brown’s body.

Because Wilson is white and Brown was black, the case has ignited intense debate over how police interact with African American men. But more than a half-dozen unnamed black witnesses have provided testimony to a St. Louis County grand jury that largely supports Wilson’s account of events of Aug. 9, according to several people familiar with the investigation who spoke with The Washington Post.

Some of the physical evidence — including blood spatter analysis, shell casings and ballistics tests — also supports Wilson’s account of the shooting, The Post’s sources said, which casts Brown as an aggressor who threatened the officer’s life.
This was their best example of racist cops attacking black people.

Update: I heard someone argue that even if the cop is not guilty of murder, he is probably guilty of profiling, and blacks get stopped more than whites.

I don't know why Wilson stopped Brown, but Brown had just robbed a convenience store 10 minutes earlier, and Wilson was not told yet about the store calling 911. My guess is that Brown was behaving very suspiciously, and still had the stolen goods in his possession. Wilson probably asked an innocuous question and Brown reacted violently. If so, then Wilson did profile Brown in the sense that Wilson did not see Brown do anything illegal, but was alerted to suspicious behavior. That seems like excellent police work to me. Cops should be confronting people who behave suspiciously.

Update: The liberal NY Mag posts data on how Democrat political gains are entirely dependent on non-white voters. The trend has been continuing for decades.

Update: The NY Times admits that coverage of Ferguson is all part of a campaign to get blacks to vote Democrat in this election.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Professor cannot really detect lies

Many people claim to be able to read faces, expressions, and body language in order to determine what others are thinking. This is so common that it is arguably an essential human trait to have such beliefs. But is such mindreading reliable?

Here is some criticism of a leading mindreading proponent:
Paul Ekman has spent much of his long career studying emotions as expressed on the face. ...

Ekman is renowned for his ability to read faces for signs of what people are thinking and feeling. In his best seller Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes that "much of our understanding of mind-reading" is owed to Ekman and his collaborators. He relates how Ekman, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California at San Francisco, could tell by their faces alone when figures as varied as Bill Clinton and Kim Philby, the infamous British spy, were lying — Clinton in real time, Philby on historical video. Lie to Me, a television show featuring a human lie detector modeled on Ekman, ran from 2009 to 2011 on Fox. His work on lying is one reason the American Psychological Association deemed Ekman one of the 100 most influential psychologists of the 20th century. ...

But some scholars say the idea that anyone could reach 90-percent lie-detection accuracy by observing behavioral cues visible to the naked eye is pure fantasy. Testifying before Congress in 2011, Maria Hartwig, an associate professor of psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, of the City University of New York, took on Ekman directly. (He also testified.) "No such finding has ever been reported in the peer-reviewed literature," she said.
Billions of dollars have been spent on this. The results are pretty weak.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Claiming that political views literally stink

Arthur C. Brooks writes in the NY Times:
I JUST learned that I suffer from cognitive-olfactory dissonance. I don’t smell the way I think.

Social scientists from Brown, Harvard and Penn State recently conducted an unusual study. Seeking to examine the biological cues that influence attraction, the researchers taped gauze pads to the skin of 20 subjects, retrieved them 24 hours later, and kept them in their lab. They asked 125 volunteers to smell each sample, rate how attractive they found each odor, and to guess at the political orientation of the person with whom it originated.

The researchers found evidence that people are instinctively attracted to the smell emitted by those with similar ideologies. In one memorable instance, a female participant asked the scholars if she could take one of the samples home, describing it as “the best perfume I ever smelled.” The scent came from a man who shared her political views. Just before, a different woman with the opposite views had smelled the exact same sample, declared it “rancid,” and urged the researchers to throw it out. Ideological like-mindedness exerts a biological pull on our attraction, it seems — and deep disagreements can really stink.

These results suggest that our beliefs have a strong biological component. But what if our beliefs conflict with our aromatic state of nature?
If true, this might alter my view of human nature. But statistician Gelman writes:
Without a really clear pattern (which I’d not expect to see in this sort of study, given the obscure — at best — relation between scent and political attitude), I think it’s really iffy to take some data on this small sample and make claims about the general population.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Moslem professor attacks Christianity again

Reza Aslan writes in the NY Times:
BILL MAHER’s recent rant against Islam has set off a fierce debate about the problem of religious violence, particularly when it comes to Islam.

Mr. Maher, who has argued that Islam is unlike other religions (he thinks it’s more “like the Mafia”), recently took umbrage with President Obama’s assertion that the terrorist group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, does not represent Islam. In Mr. Maher’s view, Islam has “too much in common with ISIS.” ...

No religion exists in a vacuum. On the contrary, every faith is rooted in the soil in which it is planted. ...

The abiding nature of scripture rests not so much in its truth claims as it does in its malleability, its ability to be molded and shaped into whatever form a worshiper requires. The same Bible that commands Jews to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) also exhorts them to “kill every man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey,” who worship any other God (1 Sam. 15:3). The same Jesus Christ who told his disciples to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) also told them that he had “not come to bring peace but the sword” (Matthew 10:34), and that “he who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). The same Quran that warns believers “if you kill one person it is as though you have killed all of humanity” (5:32) also commands them to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (9:5). ...

Reza Aslan, a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, is the author, most recently, of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.”
So how did an Iranian Moslem creative writing professor become an expert on comparing Christianity to Islam?

There are several interpretations to Sell your cloak and buy a sword. It could be metaphorical, or it could be self-defense. None of them involve murdering idolaters or anything like what the Koran says.

Here is how Aslan got famous, as reported by a far left magazine:
The “most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done,” in which anchor Lauren Green challenged the legitimacy of author Reza Aslan for writing Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, seemed to be popping up everywhere on social media last week. The absurdity of the spectacle was multifold: Why — why?! — would a Muslim want to write about Jesus, Green kept asking, as though a nefarious plot to undermine Christianity were somehow afoot. Meanwhile, Aslan made a show of insisting that he possesses not only the academic credentials and but also the professional duty to do so (“My job as a scholar of religions with a PhD in the subject is to write about religions”).
Fox News was right to question his credentials, as he lies about them. He does not have a job as a scholar of religions or history, and he does not have a PhD in the subject. His PhD is in sociology.

Now that he has made millions on a book trashing Christianity, I guess he could say that he has vested interest in the subject.

Interviewers very commonly ask an author why he wrote the book. Usually this is considered a softball question.

Aslan cherry-picks quotes above to try to show that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are similar on the subjects of violence and peace. They are not. The Koran is a book about forced conquest and subjugation. The Bible is a book about voluntary acceptance of peaceful ideals.

Forget the holy books. Just look at the last millennium of history, and how kids are taught today. Many millions of Moslems support suicide bombings of civilians. It is hard to find one Christian anywhere who does.

Aslan makes blanket judgments about Christianity. But if you say that Islam is more violent than Christianity, then Aslan accuses you of "simply bigotry". No, Aslan is a phony, a liar, a Christianity hater, and an apologist for Moslem murderers.

Update: Here are some more Islamic views:
(CNN) -- In a new publication, ISIS justifies its kidnapping of women as sex slaves citing Islamic theology, an interpretation that is rejected by the Muslim world at large as a perversion of Islam.

"One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar -- the infidels -- and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law," the group says in an online magazine published Sunday.

The title of the article sums up the ISIS point of view: "The revival (of) slavery before the Hour," referring to Judgment Day.

The fourth edition of the group's English-language digital magazine called "Dabiq" said that female members of the Yazidi sect, an ethnically Kurdish minority living mostly in Iraq, may legitimately be captured and forcibly made concubines or sexual slaves. ...

The issue, titled "The Failed Crusade," includes an alleged copy of slain American journalist Steven Sotloff's last letter to his mother and says the victim's Jewish identity warranted his beheading by ISIS.
Yes, I know that a majority of Moslems do not agree with going this far.

Update: See this 2013 survey of Moslem views. Note the widespread support for a death penalty for apostasy (leaving Islam).

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Resistance is futile against alien Asian invaders

Carl Zimmer reports in the NY Times:
Many alien species in the northeastern United States, including the emerald ash borer and Japanese barberry, invaded from East Asia. But the opposite is not true. Few species from the northeastern United States have become problems in East Asia. ...

But as far back as the 19th century, some scientists saw a role for evolution. In “The Origin of Species,” Charles Darwin wrote that we shouldn’t be surprised by native species “being beaten and supplanted by the naturalised productions from another land.”

Darwin reasoned that these victories were inevitable. Different species might adapt to a particular ecological niche in different parts of the world. Put them in the same place, in the same niche, and one might well outcompete the other because it has evolved superior attributes. ...

Dr. Fridley speculated that a similar imbalance could explain why the Northeast gets so many invasive species from East Asia. Today both regions have a similar climate. But the United States was buried by glaciers during the Ice Ages, while East Asia was spared. Its species continued to grow more diverse, to evolve and eventually to become superior competitors — ready to invade, once humans started acting as their chauffeurs. ...

The evolutionary imbalance hypothesis, as Dr. Sax and Dr. Fridley call their hypothesis, could have a grim implication for conservation biologists trying to preserve native species: They may be fighting millions of years of evolution.

“If that’s true, the phrase, ‘Resistance is futile’ comes to mind,” said Dr. Stachowicz.
I wonder if anyone is applying this analysis to human beings. The Jains of India have been declining in numbers, but they are quite prosperous outside of India.

Asian people and customs are welcomed in the USA, but China tries to limit American infludence there. NPR reports:
"There are many Christians and Catholics among the pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong, the older generation," says Joseph Cheng, who teaches political science at City University of Hong Kong.

Cheng, 65, is also a pro-democracy activist and a Christian himself. He says many of the movement's leaders were educated in Hong Kong's Christian missionary schools, which helped shape their beliefs.

"There is this Christian spirit," says Cheng, who wears a yellow ribbon pinned to his shirt pocket — a symbol of the movement. "You are more willing to suffer. Social justice means more to you."

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Embarrassed about mathematician son

Most movies about mathematicians portray them as crazy or disturbed or freaky somehow.

I just saw the 1965 movie Dear Brigitte, and it has this scene:
I want to tell you something. I don't want you to do it any more. Because if they find out about this, do you know what they're going to say?

No, sir.

They'll say, "There goes that Erasmus Leaf. He's a mathematician."


And we don't want that, do we?

No sir!

Of course not. 'Course we don't. So ... We'll just keep this our own little closely-guarded family secret, huh?