Natura non facit saltus
Debunking the Paradigm Shifters
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Monday, Jan 31, 2005
Forced prostitution or lose welfare benefits
This UK story reports on the current German welfare state:
A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.Meanwhile, the European Union has formally told Turkey that it must legalize adultery if it wants to join.
Sunday, Jan 30, 2005
Scientist punished for allowing criticism of Darwinism
Andy sends this article:
The career of a prominent researcher at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington is in jeopardy after he published a peer-reviewed article by a leading proponent of intelligent design, analternative to evolutionary theory dismissed by the science and education establishment as a tool of religious conservatives. ...You can read the controversial scientific review article here. If there are any real scientists with a substantive disagreement, then they should publish a rebuttal.
Bob defends monolithic evolutionism:
I read the review article. The purpose of peer review is to prevent nonsense like Meyer's article from being published as science. I can't imagine how that article made it through peer review without a conspiracy on the part of Sternberg to find creationist referees. There should be an investigation to clear up this point. The fact that Sternberg claims to be surprised that creationism is scientifically disreputable shows his disingenuousness. I will be interested to see who hires Sternberg.Notice that Bob implicitly admits that the "details of speciation" have not been worked out yet. I wonder if the evolutionists are willing to allow students to learn that.
Chris send this blog comment:
The Council ... would have deemed the paper inappropriate ..., the journal will not publish a rebuttal to the thesis of the paper, the superiority of intelligent design (ID) over evolution as an explanation of the emergence of Cambrian body-plan diversity. The Council endorses a resolution on ID published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which observes that there is no credible scientific evidence supporting ID as a testable hypothesis to explain the origin of organic diversity. Accordingly, the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings.It is very strange when scientists argue that the integrity of the scientific process requires that published claims not be rebutted.
Not strange at all. I learned in Philosophy 101 that it is impossible to prove that there is no invisible person in the room. That is exactly the case with ID. Similarly, the PTO refuses to examine patents on perpetual motion machines. Creationists get what they deserve: no respect.
Friday, Jan 28, 2005
Sometime I wonder whether school officials are being deliberately stupid for some ideological reason. The Zero Intelligence blog documents such stupidity almost daily.
John sends this story:
The administrators decided to eliminate the spelling bee, because they feel it runs afoul of the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.Of course, No Child Left Behind says nothing of the kind.
Obviously it is stupid to eliminate a spelling bee for the reasons given in the story. Here are some good reasons to completely eliminate all English spelling bees.Bob refers to an R.P.Feynman essay about changing some English spellings to be more phonetic.
LA train wreck
Andy sends this news excerpt:
Fox News Network January 27, 2005 ThursdayWe do know that Juan Manuel Alvarez is a victim of the family court. According to the NY Times, he because suicidal 2 months ago when the family court ordered him not to see his 2 kids. His wife asked for, and got, a restraining order.
The amicus brief joined by Christian Coalition and Concerned Women of America is written by Viet Dinh, credited by some with having authored the Patriot Act when he worked for Ashcroft. The brief is a slick piece of deception, claiming that we need to shut down peer-to-peer copying systems to restrain child pornography on the internet.You can find the briefs here and here. The case threatens to ban technology just because it can be used for copyright infringement.
Praising Scalia, court book
Focus on the Family says:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is once again making a plea for judges to focus on the U.S. Constitution—instead of their own political leanings.
Thursday, Jan 27, 2005
State of Fear
Michael Crichton's new novel, "State of Fear," takes on global warming and climate change, and it finally gets some scientific criticism here:
He writes that our paper "concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century." But we didn't say that. Instead, we outlined plenty of technologies that must be further developed to stop a probable several-degree rise in global temperatures. We called for a Manhattan Project-style effort to explore technologies we already have.It doesn't take a Manhattan Project to explore existing technologies; it would only be used to develop new technologies.
Further, he invokes the pseudo-sciences of eugenics and Lysenkoism (in the former Soviet Union) as examples of mainstream scientists being led astray. But these were politically driven ideologies.I can why these scientists take offense, but global warming is ideologically driven. For years, anti-progress leftists have used environmentalism as an excuse to attack economic development. Those arguments have been rebutted by the fact that advancing technology has generally made the environment better. Recent arguments that we have an underpopulation problem can be found here and here. Now with global warming they think that they have the perfect no-growth argument, because just about everything seems to generate some warmth.
I still don't understand why anyone is worried about global warming instead of the next ice age which will put NY City under 50 feet of ice and is due to start soon if ice ages follow the pattern established long before humans were an environmental factor.Worrying about global warming gives an excuse to restrict CO2 emissions. The best catalytic converters can't do anything about them.
Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005
Stupid lawyer with no sense of humor
John sends this Newsday column. from a lawyer defending the arrest of 2 men for telling lawyer jokes:
Mocking the legal system in a courthouse can be a corrosive force to jurisprudence. If permitted, it would attack the very fabric of our democracy by creating a judicial environment that ridicules and derides those who not just serve the courts but, far more important, those citizens who seek justice. Ultimately, scornful, derisive behavior inside our courthouses would threaten the very laughter that is so crucial to who we are as a free and open society.If Lois Carter Schlissel had understood the facts, then she'd know that the pair were "arrested while waiting in line to get into the courthouse". They were outside!
This shows that Galileo believed that the Copernicun position was revolutionary:Kepler's reply mentions Plato and Pythogoras, and some of the Pythagoreans believed in a heliocentric system.[Galileo to Kepler, 1597] ....Like you, I accepted the Copernicun position several years ago and discovered from thence the causes of many natural effects which are doubtless inexplicable by the current theories. ... Copernicus himself, our master, who procured immortal fame ...
Copernicus's famous book was titled, "On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres", and that refers to the planetary orbs revolving around a point near the Sun. For 100s of years, that's what people meant by the Copernican Revolution.
I think that Galileo is just saying that he agrees with much of the Copernican model.
Clarence Thomas' America
The blog site Clarence Thomas' America has a nice description of how Justice Thomas views differ from the rest of the Supreme Court. The purpose of the site is to attack Thomas, but it just further convinces me that he is our best justice.
Monday, Jan 24, 2005
Man-made greenhouse gases saved world from big freeze
John sends this article.
HUMANS may have unwittingly saved themselves from a looming ice age by interfering with the Earth's climate, according to a new study.
Sunday, Jan 23, 2005
NY Times wants to suppress criticism of evolution
A long NY Times editorial says:
Critics of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution become more wily with each passing year. ...Andy writes:
The genie is out of the bottle on allowing criticism of evolution. Not even the ACLU has enough attorneys to stop the criticisms. This will be yet another example of the internet destroying any censor standing in its way. Add the criticism of evolution to the growing list reflecting the power and influence of the internet. No newspaper publishes any meaningful criticism of evolution, but the internet is awash in it and that is driving the changes in schools.Bob writes:
Do you seriously claim that the Cobb county warning stickers and Intelligent Design constitute criticism of evolution? This is like saying that the claims that the earth is fixed and immovable because the bible says that the sun rises, or that the value of pi is 3 because the bible says so constitute criticism of physics and mathematics. People are free to put this on the internet, but teaching it in schools is another issue.The sticker says that evolution is a theory, not a fact. If you read the editorial carefully, you'll notice that it admits that the sticker is 100% correct. The editorial really has to strain hard to try to argue that Georgia students should not get the truth.
I am not sure how how a technical advance in the molecular biology of DNA related to Darwinian evolution. Apparently some RNA-like molecules can turn genes on and off. Darwin didn't even believe in genes.
Typical wacko argument. Attack evolution based on 150 year old science. Keep up the good work.I am not attacking evolution, I am attacking the NY Times editorial which focuses on the theory of evolution as it was understood by Darwin.
The NY Times article mentions "Charles Darwin's theory of evolution", "Darwinism", "Darwinian natural selection", and "evolution" interchangeably. Darwin gets proper credit for priority in discovering and articulating the principle of evolution by natural selection. Why would the NY Times wish to limit the discussion to evolution as understood by Darwin? The idea is absurd. Another ridiculous straw-man argument based on feigned misunderstanding.The NY Times does indeed want to limit the discussion of evolution. Read the editorial. It does not want schoolchildren to be exposed to any criticism of Darwinism. The NY Times position is fundamentally anti-science.
Bob complains about "religion thinly disguised as science". Real scientist do not goto court to try to prevent students from being encouraged to think critically. It is the evolutionists who behave like narrow-mind religious propagandists who know that their dogma cannot stand serious scrutiny.
I suggest that the Georgia school board prepare a new sticker that says:
A supremacist federal judge has ordered the truth removed from this sticker because he suspicious about the motives of a school board that would want to tell the truth about a science book.
Thursday, Jan 20, 2005
Problem with big bang
Is this a real problem for Big Bang? And how do you rate status of Big Bang now?I dunno, but I don't think that you'll find the answer in Genesis.
Tuesday, Jan 18, 2005
Forcing wives to betray husbands
John sends this Seattle Pi story about prosecutors who want to make it easier to force a wife to testify against her husband.
"The bottom line is, accurate and relevant information should be provided to the jury in making a decision about guilt or innocence," said Tom McBride, executive secretary of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. "Why in the world does the institution of marriage need to suppress information from a jury automatically?"The marital privilege should be strengthened, not weakened. The state should treat a married couple as a unit, and not use its power to bust up marriages. Just as no man should be forced to testify against himself, no man should be forced to testify against his wife.
Monday, Jan 17, 2005
Mandatory prison sentences
John sends this Debra J. Saunders column in the SF paper:
THE DEPARTMENT of Justice reacted as expected to last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed federal judges to set sentences outside federal guidelines. A spokesman said the feds are "disappointed" because this ruling will lead to more disparity in sentencing.She's right. She is probably the only sane writer for that newspaper.
John also sends this LA Times column in which Harvard law prof Alan Dershowitz blames it all on Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In the sentencing guidelines case, a 5-4 court majority ruled that a sentencing judge may not increase a defendant's sentence based on the judge's resolution of disputed facts. All such disputes must be submitted to a jury. ...The core problem is having women on the Supreme Court. They hold too many contradictory positions in their heads.
Are you suggesting that they all be required to attend Harvard so Summers can set them straight? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6838216/We have two women on the US Supreme Court, and they both seem to lack the crisp logical thinking ability that ought to be a pre-requisite for the job. Sure, some women have the ability, but they seem to be scarce in the judiciary.
The Secretary of State is a diplomat. It requires a different set of skills.
Last week, Andy lambasted Justice Breyer for his opinion in the sentencing cases, Booker and Fanfan.Andy responds:
John omitted how he and Roger generally defended the decision, and were happy to shift blame (unjustifiably) to Congress.Not me. I think that Breyer's decision is entirely incorrect. I do think that Congress needs to take some action on the sentencing guidelines, especially now that Breyer has made a mess of them.
Friday, Jan 14, 2005
Social Security angst
Joe recommends this TechCentral article that traces the Social Security shortfall to a decision in the 1970s to index payments to wage inflation instead of price inflation.
Thursday, Jan 13, 2005
Evolution is a theory
John sends this Georgia story:
A federal judge in Atlanta has declared unconstitutional the evolution disclaimers placed inside science text books by the Cobb County school system and ordered the "stickers" removed immediately. ...You can see the sticker here.
Apparently some of the testimony focussed on the definition of a theory:
The plaintiffs' attorney, Michael Manely, during the trial hit hard on the fact that a scientific theory is not the same as "theory" applied in everyday life. He called on several scientists to testify to that effect, including biologist and textbook author Kenneth Miller.The evolutionist claim that scientists and laymen use the word "theory" to mean different things is just plain nutty. There is no difference. The evolutionists are lying to promote their agenda.
You're wrong again. The Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary lists 6 definitions for the word:No, I think that the school board would be happy with definition 5. If a physics book referred to the wave theory of light, then I think that both physicists and George school boards would be happy saying that it is theory, not a fact, regarding the nature of light.
Evolutionists are uncomfortable with the word "theory" because they seek the dogmatic certainty of what they regard as their religious rivals. They are just not happy saying evolution is a definition 5 theory.
I don't even agree that the school board was intending to denigrate Darwin. It appears to me that the school board was suspicious about evolution being used to explain the origin of life, and Darwin himself never believed that evolution could explain the origin of life.
John sends this Reuters story:
Cutting down on fossil fuel pollution could accelerate global warming and help turn parts of Europe into desert by 2100, according to research to be aired on British television on Thursday.This could be yet another story about how environmentalists are worsening the environment.
Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005
Arrested for telling lawyer jokes
John sends this Newsday story:
"How do you tell when a lawyer is lying?" Harvey Kash reportedly asked Carl Lanzisera.It is a sad day when it becomes a crime to tell a lawyer joke on a public street.
Book on judicial supremacy confirmed
John sends this TNR story that says:
Pyrrhic Victory: On judicial nominations, conservatives could lose by winning. ...This article is just gibberish. Scalia and Thomas are not pushing some sort of Constitution in Exile.
John also writes:
The main argument of The Supremacists is that modern judicial supremacy should be traced to Cooper v. Aaron (1958) and Dred Scott, not (as liberals like to say) to Brown v. Board of Ed and Marbury v. Madison.Andy responds:
That is an argument nicely echoed, apparently, by Larry D. Kramer. It's great that there is one law professor out of thousands (and a dean no less) who evidently agrees with us. OK, all the better.I agree with Andy. Tribe's criticisms are idiotic and insubstantial.
Saturday, Jan 08, 2005
2A secures individual right
This may be belaboring the obvious, but the US Justice Dept just issued this memo:
The Second Amendment secures a right of individuals generally, not a right of States or a right restricted to persons serving in militias.The WSJ says:
Readying for a constitutional showdown over gun control, the Bush administration has issued a 109-page memorandum aiming to prove that the Second Amendment grants individuals nearly unrestricted access to firearms.The next step should be to give some specificity to this view. We should have a national consensus that law-abiding individuals are entitled to own and use a 1911 Colt .45 handgun and a 12 gauge pump-action shotgun. There is some debate about exotic weapons, but these guns have been commonly used by millions of people for generations.
Robert Post, a constitutional-law professor at Yale Law School, said the new memorandum disregarded legal scholarship that conflicted with the administration's gun-rights views. "This is a Justice Department with a blatantly political agenda which sees its task as translating right-wing ideology into proposed constitutional law," he said.Sometimes blatantly political right-wing ideology is correct and constitutional. Often blatantly political left-wing ideology is wrong and unconstitutional. To paraphrase the good Dr. Thompson, buy the supremacist ticket, take the supremacist ride.
Thursday, Jan 06, 2005
Bush favors tort reform
Bush buys into the supremacist interpretation of the interstate commerce clause and is pushing Federal legislation which is unconstitutional according to the text of the constitution.You will probably get agreement among those right-wingers who think that FDR's New Deal was unconstitutional.
I was glad to see Pres. Bush visit Madison County Illinois to take on the ambulance chasers. I grew up in Madison County. Plaintiffs find crazy reasons to file lawsuits in Madision County just because it has a reputation for big damage awards for flimsy claims.
Mohammedan emotional distress
There is a lawsuit pending over this Tucson Citizen letter:
We can stop the murders of American soldiers in Iraq by those who seek revenge or to regain their power. Whenever there is an assassination or another atrocity we should proceed to the closest mosque and execute five of the first Muslims we encounter.I am surprised that the newspaper would print this letter. An editor should have changed "should" to "could", at the least. Also, it should have clarified that the writer was referring to mosques in Iraq, not Arizona.
Wednesday, Jan 05, 2005
Dope doc convicted
Andy recommends this column, and John writes:
The article does not explain why Dr. Hurwitz apparently prescribed powerful narcotics with a street value of $3 million to a single patient, and narcotics worth $750,000 to another patient. What possible "legitimate medical purpose" could there have been for such outlandish amounts?Andy responds:
Dr. Hurwitz did not make any money on that "street value," which is irrelevant to a doctor not trading in that market. The article does explain that Dr. Hurwitz was cooperating with the federal government for years, and probably thought law enforcement was doing its job.John responds:
The street value of drugs he prescribed (actually, he didn't just prescribe the drugs, he *dispensed* them) is relevant, not because Hurwitz shared in that money (I never said he did), but because it indicates the extraordinary quantity of dope he supplied to a single patient.
Check out this judge's signature. It has no resemblance to his name.
Tuesday, Jan 04, 2005
Why societies fail
Bob recommends the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. Diamond wrote himself a book review in the NY Times, if you want the executive summary. Diamond's previous book on the subject was Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. That book reinterpreted world history from the viewpoint of trying to explain everything by geography, and it was sufficiently politically correct that it was widely praised among liberal intellectuals.
I am very skeptical of analyses like this:
A society contains a built-in blueprint for failure if the elite insulates itself from the consequences of its actions. That's why Maya kings, Norse Greenlanders and Easter Island chiefs made choices that eventually undermined their societies.If someone tries to write a one-paragraph explanation of the causes of the American Civil War, the Great Depression, or the fall of the Roman Empire, he'll get endless arguments even tho those events are documented in painful. And yet Diamond thinks that he can look at a few tree stumps and explain illiterate societies that died out hundreds of years ago.
In the case of an Easter Island which currently supports no human population and has no trees but was forested several hundred years ago and supported 30,000 people, tree stumps can tell quite a lot about why the society on the island collapsed.It is left-wing for the reasons as the evolutionist who wanted all schoolchildren to be taught that man is no better than an insect.
Diamond claims that steep hills are cultivated to the ridge without terracing and that the consequent erosion is reducing the cultivatable land and the food yield. It is harder to show that the "genicide" is due to the agricultural collapse. I haven't read Collapse yet, but from a review the evidence given is that the Hutu killed each other as well as the Tutsi. Diamond is a very craftsman-like in his arguments, I will let you know when I read the book.You might want to check out Diamond's utterly fallacious Discover magazine article on QWERTY. You can find it debunked in this Reason article (but you may also want to check out what the Dvorak true believers say).
Monday, Jan 03, 2005
Against filibustering judges
Andrew Hyman has a letter regarding filibusters that was printed in the Washington Times, and writes:
The inspiration for this letter was an interview in which Phyllis Schlafly urged the Senate to change its filibuster rule so that three-fifths of Senators "present" could invoke cloture.
Sunday, Jan 02, 2005
Scientists for unlawful research
Paul Berg (a Nobel-prize-winning DNA scientist) is offended that any politicians would want to regulate scientific research. He writes this in today's Si Valley paper:
For when science is attacked on purely ideological grounds, its very integrity is at risk. Therefore, one must ask if infringing the inherent right of scientists to freedom of inquiry serves our society best. Perhaps, however, that right is already embodied in our Constitution. ...So I guess he favors Josef Mengele's Nazi research, Kinsey's child molestation experiments, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, research on exotic weapons, eugenics, cloning, and all the other controversial scientific endeavors.
Did you check out that CWA link? It appears that Reisman is a wacko and CWA is a wacko organization. The claim of molestation experiments is false based on the CWA site.Bob's link shows Table 34 from Kinsey's 1948 book. I am assuming that the table is authentic. It looks like a report on child molestation experiments to me.
I think I get it now. Compiling data obtained from interviews with pedophiles constitutes child molesting and conducting sexual experiments on children. If people accepted reasoning like that, you could get a Nobel Prize for literature for your blog.Maybe Bob should have been Scott Peterson's lawyer.
Yes, Rog, it looks to you like a report on child molestation, because that's how the CWA website author wanted you to see it. (And your powers of discernment have lately been somewhat suspect.) However, it's equally obvious that this data is taken (and presented) OUT OF CONTEXT. Placing it back in context, as "Bob" attempts to do, is apparently not something you're willing to allow.No, Berg is saying that scientists have an "inherent right" to do whatever scientific experiments they want. He doesn't want any regulation. As for Kinsey, go ahead and put the child molestation in context, if you can.
I was just reminded that Berg chaired the committee appointed by NSF to investigate the dangers of recombinant technology which resulted in a moratorium on recombinant experiments and the NIH regulation of recombinant research. This is hardly a record of not wanting any regulation. Maybe Berg just objects to being regulated by political hacks who pander to religious hypocrites and nuts.
Saturday, Jan 01, 2005
Hoping Rehnquist retires soon
Chief Justice Rehnquist just issued his annual report on the judiciary and he devotes 5 out of 18 pages to whining about public criticism of judges. He says:
Although arguments over the federal Judiciary have always been with us, criticism of judges, including charges of activism, have in the eyes of some taken a new turn in recent years. I spoke last year of my concern, and that of many federal judges, about aspects of the PROTECT Act that require the collection of information on an individual, judge-by-judge basis. At the same time, there have been suggestions to impeach federal judges who issue decisions regarded by some as out of the mainstream. And there were several bills introduced in the last Congress that would limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts to decide constitutional challenges to certain kinds of government action.I guess he is conceding that Congress has the power to limit jurisdiction, or he wouldn't be complaining about it.
His response is to babble about all the power the Supreme Court supposedly got in its 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison, and to praise FDR for how he intimidated the Court into renouncing its constitutional interpretation.
President Roosevelt lost this battle in Congress, but he eventually won the war to change the judicial philosophy of the Supreme Court. He won it the way our Constitution envisions such wars being won -- by the gradual process of changing the federal Judiciary through the appointment process.No, the way to change the Constitution is by amendment. FDR wanted to enact dubious policies that everyone had always understood to be unconstitutional.
Rehnquist stands for judicial supremacy more than anything, and the sooner he is replaced, the better.
Man is no better than an insect
A Haverford College student writes this letter to Phyllis.
Your column, "Darwinists top the censorship food chain" (12/29/04), is full of misinformation and in places, entirely wrong.Yes, this guy is a good example of the perils of teaching evolution in schools. I was sympathetic when he tried to argue from the point of view of science, even tho his arguments were fallacious. But then he insists on a completely unscientific assertion, that man is no better than an insect, and he insists that it be taught for essentially political reasons.
The evolutionists talk all day about how noble Science is, but they will not stick to science in what they want to teach as evolution.
What exasperates me about your attacks on teaching evolution is the assumption you seem to make that the way to combat the unscientific nonsense which is taught in high schools and social science courses is to attack the idea of evolution. The source of the bad ideas you complain about is Marxism, and post modernism, not evolution. Gould, a Marxist, made the bizarre claim that evolution shows that there is no such thing as progress! Relativists claim that cultures are never superior or inferior to each other. Evolution instructs the exact opposite in both cases. By making the obnoxious and false claim that there is a scientific controversy over evolution you deprive yourselves of the strong arguments against the nonsense you criticize and completely discredit yourselves by joining the creationists who are entirely disreputable. It is a scientific fact that we have common ancestors with other living things. Accept it and get to work using evolutionary explanations for why we are better than insects.My idea of progress is to permit criticism of Stephen Jay Gould in the schools.