Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sandusky convicted

AP reports:
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — As Jerry Sandusky insisted through a lawyer Monday that he is not guilty of sexu­ally abusing children, a juror who voted to convict the retired Penn State assis­tant coach said she hoped the verdict would help his accusers heal.

The jury found the tes­timony of the eight vic­tims who took the witness stand compelling, Ann Van Kuren said Monday. Jurors weighed the accounts and evidence diligently before finding Sandusky guilty last week of 45 counts for sexu­ally abusing 10 boys over 15 years, she said.
No, the verdict will not help the accusers heal. They are all suing Penn State for millions of dollars.

There was no physical evidence or timely complaints. The alleged victims told stories based on recovered memory, a dubious process with no scientific validity. The only accuser who is not suing was McQueary, and he testified in exchange for immunity for himself. So every witness against Sandusky had a very big motive to lie. None of them told a story that could be independently corroborated.

With all the accusations, there is still no proof of Penn State culpability. There is no explanation about how Sandusky could have been so openly molesting so many kids, without anyone saying anything. I think that it is a big witchhunt.

I conclude that there are certain things about human nature that most people do not understand. That people will lie when they have a motive to lie. That it is very difficult to detect a determined liar. That almost no one tolerates child molesters. That some men like kids and behave inappropriately, but not criminally. That prosecutors can manipulate witnesses by asking them to support the testimony of each other. That once a media witchhunt gets enough momentum, there is no stopping it. That personal knowledge of abuse does not imply that someone else is an abuser.

The press just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Watergate scandal. From that I learned that there could be a media witchhunt without most people even knowing what the crime was. That the Wash. Post publishes silly rumors if it finds two anonymous sources. That Nixon was betrayed by the real criminals, such as John Dean, Mark Felt, and Al Haig. That the public could somehow be convinced that the coverup is worse than the crime.

If the Watergate coverup was a great ctime, then so is Operation Fast and Furious. Nobody died in Watergate. The Obama administration has repeatedly lied to Congress and to the public to conceal its role in this matter.

Update: McQueary is now also suing Penn State for millions of dollars. There is no objective witness against Sandusky.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Smart women may be worse

London evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa writes:
Intelligent women make the worst kind of parents, simply because they are less likely to become parents in the first place. There is also some evidence that children of more intelligent women are more likely to suffer from health and behavioural problems, probably due to the fact that they tend to have children later.
He once got fired for writing this:
What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women? Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women. ... However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women. Black women have lower average level of physical attractiveness net of BMI. Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women. Black women are still less physically attractive than nonblack women net of BMI and intelligence. Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.
He also wrote on Why Modern Feminism Is Illogical, Unnecessary, and Evil. I would not take any of this stuff too seriously.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Distrust immigration studies

Economics prof. Steve Landsburg is radically pro-immigration, and argues that is the only morally and economically correct policy here and here.

I posted this comment on his blog, but it was deleted:
Steve, anytime you start saying things like “$3 worth of benefits to Americans”, you are making politically loaded statements that conceal dozens of dubious hidden assumptions. It is like saying, “re-electing Obama will cost you $10,000?. Such a statement is not a fact, but a reflection of the opinions of the speaker.

As I see it, these bogus immigration economics studies come from (1) immigrant communities who want to bring in their friends and relatives, (2) businesses who want the cheap labor, (3) libertarians who want to bankrupt the welfare system, and (4) leftists who want to undermine the American political system. No, I do not accept any of their figures unless they are demonstrably free of those biases.
I am posting here just because it was deleted there.

I often hear people say that without our immigration policy, food would cost twice as much, or the web would not be searchable, or some other such nonsense. American immigration policy has huge costs that should be obvious.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Coyne attacks Christian discoverer of Big Bang

Leftist-atheist-evolution Jerry Coyne attacks Michael Coren, a Christian scholar:
He even argues that secularism has held back science, because the Big Bang theory, proposed by the priest Georges Lemaître,

was opposed by the secular, scientific world when it was first discussed, because it sounded too Christian. Who, then, had the open minds and who the closed?

That’s bogus. Hubble had already produced evidence for an expanding universe around the time Lemaître proposed the Big Bang, and the physics community was divided for a few decades between the steady-state and Big Bang theories.  Fred Hoyle, who coined the name “big bang” as a derisive phrase, may have disliked it partly because of his atheism, but it’s simply not true that the “secular, scientific world” opposed Lemaître’s theory because it implied a creator.
Coyne should stick to biology. There is overwhelming evidence that Lemaitre discovered the Big Bang, with both theory and data, as explained here, here, here, and in my book. Lemaitre's data was inaccurate, but so was Hubble's. I would comment on Coyne's blog, but I have been banned there for correcting him previously.

Coyne is particularly upset at Coren for saying:

The science aspect of all this is particularly nauseating, not only because it is fundamentally untrue, but that it is thrown at Christianity at a time when society is arguably experiencing one of its most credulous and naïve stages and is only too willing to embrace any and every kind of non-scientific or anti-scientific nonsense, from alien invasion stories to ghost myths, and from conspiracy theories to supernatural animals. To paraphrase the great Christian writer G.K. Chesterton, when people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in something else, they believe in anything else.
There is something to this. Almost everyone believes in things that are contrary to the teachings of science. Including Coyne.

Christians usually believe in miracles, and they are, by definition, contrary to the teachings of science. Christians are not anti-science like the people who will believe in anything. Even the Pope considers scientific evidence when deciding whether something was a miracle. Christianity has always encouraged science.

I do not know whether Hubble is popularly credited out of some anti-Christian prejudice. Maybe Hubble got better press because he was an American. But what is Coyne's excuse? He is uncomfortable with the fact that many famous scientists have been Christians.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

More dubious prosecutions

Europe does not believe in innocense until proven guilty. Wired reports:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been ordered to return to Sweden to face sex-crimes allegations after the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom rejected a bid to re-open his appeal case there. ...

Assange has not been charged with any crime in Sweden. He is being sought for questioning in Sweden on rape and coercion allegations stemming from sexual relations he had with two women in that country in August 2010. One woman has claimed that Assange pinned her down to have sex with her and intentionally tore a condom he wore. The second woman claims that he had sex with her while she was initially asleep, failing to wear a condom despite repeated requests for him to do so. Assange has denied any wrongdoing, asserting that the sex in both cases was consensual.
After extradition, he will be held without bail:
Assange will be brought to Sweden by the country’s Department of Corrections, which will also take him into custody. Since Assange is considered to be a flight risk, he will be kept in prison while waiting for the remand hearing.
So Assange is being imprisoned without trial, without being charged with a crime, and without even any accusations that caused measurable harm or that could ever be proved.

Jerry Sandusky will surely be convicted and serve the rest of his life in prison. But I am skeptical about the prosecution's case because it is based on recovered memories, on McQueary the moral degenerate, and on long-forgotten incidents. All of the witnesses have been carefully coached by lawyers to tell stories that will maximize their own personal gain. Most of them are suing Penn State for millions of dollars, and will profit from a Sandusky conviction. In most cases, their testimony is contrary to their original stories.

If the prosecution is correct, then Sandusky molested dozens of kids over 20 years, and did it openly on the Penn State campus with the knowledge and mild disapproval of dozens of Penn State officials, employees, and students. And yet no one has any physical evidence, or took strong measures to stop it. People like McQueary witnessed rapes but did not stop them or call the cops. Could McQueary and the others really be that evil? It is hard for me to believe. Has anything like this ever happened anywhere? It seems like a witch-hunt to me.

John Edwards managed to beat the rap against him. If it were a crime for a politician to be a liar and a phony, then he would belong in prison.

George Zimmerman is being persecuted, even tho there is overwhelming evidence that he acted in self-defense.

The perjury case against Roger Clemens depends almost entirely on the credibility of one witness, and is going to the jury. The witness may be just saving his own skin.

There is a new sports doping case:
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has backed Lance Armstrong into a corner. In a letter sent to the seven-time Tour de France champion, the organization said it has more than 10 witnesses prepared to testify that Armstrong used banned substances between 1998 and 2011.
The unfairness of this is that he has paased all his drug tests, the issues has been litigated multiple times before, and he cannot be retested to determine what he did in 1998.

There should not be any false accusations in blood doping because (1) we have very reliable objective tests, (2) a disputed test can be resolved by collecting another blood or urine sample and sending it to another lab, and (3) it is just a silly sport, so that is no harm is giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

So why are there the dubious prosecutions of Barry Bonds, Clemens, and Armstrong? They make no sense.

Update: Clemens was acquitted on all counts.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Prejudice against ancient Europeans

Neanderthal man has a bad reputation, even tho he had a large brain, walked upright, and contributed to modern DNA. The NY Times reports:
Stone Age artists were painting red disks, handprints, clublike symbols and geometric patterns on European cave walls long before previously thought, in some cases more than 40,000 years ago, scientists reported on Thursday, after completing more reliable dating tests that raised a possibility that Neanderthals were the artists. ...

The third possibility, which the scientists said they had not anticipated at the start of their project, is that some of these earliest works of cave art might be attributed to Neanderthals. Until recently, archaeologists usually considered Neanderthals incapable of creating artistic works much beyond simple abstract markings and personal ornamentation.
SciAm adds:
Cave painting wouldn’t be the first sign of Neandertal sophistication. In recent years scientists have unearthed quite a few signs that our oft-maligned cousins were aesthetes. Archaeological evidence indicates that they made jewelry from teeth and shells, festooned themselves with feathers, and painted their skin. If they were decorating their bodies with symbols, many experts say, they almost certainly had language. In fact, anatomically modern humans and Neandertals might have inherited their capacity for symbolic thinking from their common ancestor. If so, the roots of our symbolic culture go back half a million years.
AAAS Science reports:
We find the earliest musical instruments in Europe, we find the
earliest figurative sculptures, and we find the earliest cave paintings in Europe.
NPR denies that Neanderthals were human:
Alistair Pike, an archaeologist at the University of Bristol in England who used a novel technique to get new dates for some of those paintings, says they're older than people thought, and they may just predate the arrival of humans in Europe.
It is now common to say that humans are ape, because of DNA similarities, so it is a little strange to say that Neanderthals were not human.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Studies show dads are best

A Heritage blog says:
A number of studies and articles have suggested that research shows no difference in outcomes between children whose parents have same-sex relationships and their peers raised by heterosexual parents. For example, the American Psychological Association (APA) stated in 2005 that “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”
A 2010 psychologist court brief that argues:
"These studies ... are impressively consistent in their failure to identify deficits in parenting abilities or in the development of children raised in a lesbian or gay household."
The truth is the opposite. The pro-gay studies are bogus.
The New Family Structures Study (NFSS), under the direction of Dr. Mark Regnerus, provides the most representative picture to date of young adults whose parents had same-sex relationships. NFSS is a large, random, nationally representative sample. ...

NFSS project director Dr. Mark Regnerus concludes in a piece running on Slate today that “the stable, two-parent biological married model [is] the far more common and accomplished workhorse of the American household, and still—according to the data, at least—the safest place for a kid.”
The NFSS shows that the kids with gay parents do worse on 25 different measures.

The implications are much wider than the same-sex marriage debate. Civilizations have agreed for millennia that kids are best reared by their natural dads and moms. Only in the last few decades have we seen feminists and queer studies professors argue that kids do not need dads, and that kids are just as well off being adopted by lesbians. As a result, we have policies that systematically separate kids from their dads. The leading psychologists have been lying to the public for years about this.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Judging by shoes

Here is a new study:
You can accurately judge a person just by looking at their shoes, psychologists say.

Researchers at the University of Kansas found that people were able to correctly judge a stranger's age, gender, income, political affiliation, emotional and other important personality traits just by looking at the person's shoes.

Lead researcher Omri Gillath found that by examining the style, cost, color of condition of the shoe, participants were able to guess about 90 percent of the of the owner's personal characteristics. ...

People with "attachment anxiety" or people that were most worried about their relationships generally had brand new and well-kept shoes. Researchers suggest that this may be because they worry so much about their appearance and what others may think of them.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Brains getting bigger

National Geographic News reports:
It's not clear why—medicine? cars? supermarkets?—but the skulls of white Americans, and perhaps of other races and nationalities, have become slightly taller and roomier, according to new forensic research.

New measurements of hundreds of skulls of white Americans born between 1825 and 1985 suggest that their typical noggin height has grown by about a third of an inch (eight millimeters).

It may not sound like much, but the growth translates to roughly a tennis ball's worth of new brain room.
More evidence that humans are still evolving.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Doomsayers never learn

The LA Times reports:
A group of international scientists is sounding a global alarm, warning that population growth, climate change and environmental destruction are pushing Earth toward calamitous - and irreversible - biological changes.

In a paper published in Friday's edition of the journal Nature, 22 researchers from a variety of fields liken the human impact to global events eons ago that caused mass extinctions, permanently altering Earth's biosphere.

"Humans are now forcing another such transition, with the potential to transform Earth rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience," wrote the authors, who are from the U.S., Europe, Canada and South America.
The Nature article is behind a paywall. The lead author, Paul R. Ehrlich, is interviewed about it, and asked about his
his previous predictions:
In 1968, in his best-selling book The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death."
His responds about his assessment, "It has gotten a lot worse. ... The book was basically much too optimistic." He says that he did not know about global warming, AIDS, and ozone depletion.

We did not have anyone killed by famines. The dire predictions about global warming, AIDS, and ozone depletion have not happened. Ehrlich not only makes bad predictions, he cannot recognize when he is wrong.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Women cannot guage their interest

The Spearhead blog writes:
Women love a man who takes control. Then there’s the relentlessly considerate man who sees no need to control her at all. Every woman deeply appreciates how rare and special of a find this enlightened new age is, a who man places such a high importance on pleasing her that he makes sure never to impose himself by assuming he understands her needs without first asking what she actually wants. Every woman hears how this male sensitivity is highly treasured by other women, which is why she’ll be so conflicted when she realizes she absolutely detests a man for exactly the same quality. ...

Women will openly admit they don’t always want to be asked what they’d like before a man acts because it quickly gets old and makes a man appear to be a child seeking permission. But at the same time women get very angry or hurt when they feel men haven’t asked about and listened to their needs. No wonder women are accused of wanting men to read their minds. It’s the only reasonable conclusion to arrive at about someone who by their own admission makes a habit of arguing for you to do something that they don’t actually want, because they won’t tell you what it is they do want you to do.

Women often complain that they leave subtle clues about their interest, and men misread them. This is surely true, as research shows that women themselves do recognize whether they are interested in a man. For example, one study said:
A common finding in psychophysiological research is that correlations between sexual feelings and genital responses are lower in women than in men. Measurement issues, anatomical differences, factors influencing self-report, and the role of attention have all been considered but do not seem sufficient to explain this gender difference. Providing women with feedback about their genital response, or asking them to focus on genital sensations, does not seem to increase response concordance, suggesting that women are less accurate in detecting genital responses.
Another said:
However, clinical observations and laboratory studies have often pointed to a desynchrony in subjective and physiological sexual arousal in women, but not in men
This seems completely bizarre to me. It is one of many male-female differences that I would have liked to have learned when I was younger. It is more politically correct to deny these differences, so you have to find them on your own.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The trouble with brain scans

A lot of people are skeptical of psychology, but suddenly become completely gullible when an article contains pictures of brain scans. A lot of that work is bogus also.

Vaughan Bell writes in the UK Guardian:
Neuroscientists have long been banging their heads on their desks over exaggerated reports of brain scanning studies. Media stories illustrated with coloured scans, supposedly showing how the brain works, are now a standard part of the science pages and some people find them so convincing that they are touted as ways of designing education for our children, evaluating the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and testing potential recruits. Recently, to the chagrin of French scientists, politicians called for neuro-imaging to be used in the courts to decide on the guilt of criminals, after the technology made its dubious debut in the legal systems of India, Italy and the US.
Another neuroscientist explains the details.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Zimmerman jailed without bail

AP reports:
SANFORD, Fla. — The cred­ibility of Trayvon Martin’s shooter could become an issue at trial after a Florida judge said that George Zimmerman and his wife lied to the court about their finances to obtain a bond, legal experts say.

That’s because the case hinges on jurors believing Zimmerman’s account of what happened the night that the 17-year-old Martin was killed. Zimmerman wasn’t charged in the case until more than a month after the shooting, as the former neighborhood watch volunteer maintained that he shot Martin in self­defense under Florida’s so­called stand your ground law. Protests were held across the nation, and the case spurred debate about whether race was a factor in Zimmerman’s actions and in the initial police handling of the case. Martin was black; Zimmer­man’s father is white and his mother is from Peru.
No, Zimmerman is claiming self-defense under the same notion of self-defense that exists in every state. The "stand your ground" has been an issue among the Martin supporters, but Zimmerman has shown no sign of intending to rely on it.

So what was the lie? When the main point of a news article is that Zimmerman lied, I think that the paper ought to print the lie. The closest it comes is this:
Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the killing, and during a bond hearing in April, his wife, Shellie, testified that the couple had limited funds available. Zimmerman took the stand at the hearing and apologized to Martin's parents.

Prosecutors pointed out in their motion that Zimmerman had $135,000 available then. It had been raised from donations through a website he had set up. They suggested more has been collected since and deposited in a bank account.

Shellie Zimmerman was asked about the website at the hearing, but she said she didn't know how much money had been raised.
Got that? It says "she said she didn't know". If the amount was somehow important to the bail hearing, then the prosecutor should have demanded more specific. It is not clear to me that defense fund-raising should automatically cause a higher bail, but if that was the argument that the prosecutor intended to make, then he should have said so.

In spite of all these stories casting aspersions on Zimmerman, the release facts are overwhelmingly in favor of self-defense. For a detailed discussion of the evidence, see TalkLeft's account.

I heard someone argue that it is wrong to form an opinion about this case before trial. But a major point of the stand-your-ground law is that a man should not have to face trial when there is clear evidence of self-defense. In this case, Zimmerman called 911. He was attacked while going back to his car. The attacker was bigger, stronger, and on drugs. Zimmerman was punched and knocked to the ground. His nose was broken. His head was being pounded into the pavement. His head was bleeding. He cried "help" 20 times. About a dozen witness all tell more or less the same story. If this is not a legitimate case of self-defense, then what is?

Update: I have criticized Alan M. Dershowitz, but I agree with him here about Corey:
State Attorney Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case, recently called the Dean of Harvard Law School to complain about my criticism of some of her actions.
Threatening to sue Dershowitz for libel seems foolish to me. I posted some similar criticisms of Corey, but it never occurred to me that she would be calling commentators and accusing them of libel. I guess I assumed that she was competent enough to know that she was lying to the court. Now I think that she is a bully who is used to getting her way in court, and she will use her power to frame Zimmerman.

Update: The Legal Insurrection blog explains the weakness of the perjury charge. While Mrs. Zimmerman is somewhat evasive, she is more honest than the prosecution affidavits. If the prosecutor wanted a specific answer, he should have asked a specific question. She had no way of knowing that she was supposed to volunteer details of the website fundraising.

The perjury precedent is Bronston v US, 409 US 352 (1973):
Federal perjury statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1621, does not reach a witness' answer that is literally true, but unresponsive, even assuming the witness intends to mislead his questioner by the answer, and even assuming the answer is arguably "false by negative implication." A perjury prosecution is not, in our adversary system, the primary safeguard against errant testimony; given the incongruity of an unresponsive answer, it is the questioner's burden to frame his interrogation acutely to elicit the precise information he seeks.
Wikipedia summarizes:
Bronston v. United States, 409 U.S. 352 (1973), is a seminal[1][2] United States Supreme Court decision strictly construing the federal perjury statute. Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote for a unanimous Court that responses to questions made under oath that relayed truthful information in and of themselves but were intended to mislead or evade the examiner could not be prosecuted. Instead, the criminal-justice system had to rely on more carefully worded followup questions.
Based on this, I think that Barry Bonds' conviction should be reversed on appeal, even tho it was not for perjury.