realthog: (Default)

The Discovery Institute has the reputation of at least aspiring toward rationality in its denial of evolution by natural selection -- to represent the seemingly sober IDeologues rather than the froth-flecked Young Earth Creationists -- and to have a certain measure of integrity in the arguments it offers, no matter how dumbfoundingly wrong they might be.

So I was deeply troubled by their latest "Evolution News and Views" blog entry from Discovery Institute staffer John West. His subject is the recent New York Times article by Leslie Kaufman (in which West himself features) discussing how Creationist pressure groups are attempting to gain traction in their campaign to have the "scientific controversy" over evolution taught in classrooms by tagging onto it an insistence that the similarly spurious
"scientific controversy" over anthropogenic global warming also be taught.

Those who know their history will be reminded forcefully of the technique developed a few decades ago by the tobacco companies, eager to reject claims that consuming their product might conceivably be bad for your health. They knew that trying to sow doubts in the community about those scientific conclusions alone would be all too obvious a publicity ruse -- or "lie", as one might alternatively describe it -- and so they (or rather a PR company they employed) devised the stratagem of making the public distrust all science. In particular, they selected the environmental sciences as a companion area to attack alongside the medical evidence of smoking's harmful effects. The legacy of this cynical promotion of false information into the public discourse is a primary reason why in this country we not only have rampant pollution (see here for a recent, extraordinarily vile example) but also must suffer such a proliferation of astonishing bullshit from self-styled "climate skeptics" . . . who pontificate with all the academic rigor you expect from that loud guy in the pub you do your best to avoid, yet demand equal media time with, ya know, qualified climatologists.

Kaufman's piece on the latest development of this severely dishonest technique is perhaps rather too balanced, but anyone with an adequate supply of brain cells will be able to understand what's going on. However, West's summarization of it in his blog . . . well, I'm not sure if it's one of the most deceitful pieces of spin I've recently come across or if he can really be that muddle-headed and stupid. Here's a sample:

The nationwide effort to protect the freedom of teachers to hold balanced classroom discussions of evolution, global warming, and other scientific issues is highlighted on the front page of today’s New York Times. The article, “Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets,” contains the usual errors and mischaracterizations one expects from the establishment media. But mischaracterizations or not, the article gets one thing right: It reveals how both the public and policymakers are increasingly dissatisfied with the scientific establishment’s attempt to misuse science to support various ideological agendas, whether it be Richard Dawkins’ scientific atheism or some global warming alarmists’ efforts to push us back to the Stone Age. People want genuine education about scientific topics, and that includes being able to study all of the evidence, not just a few data points cherry-picked for their propaganda value.

Note, for example, the complaint about "contains the usual errors and mischaracterizations one expects from the establishment media" followed just a couple of lines later by the remark concerning "some global warming alarmists’ efforts to push us back to the Stone Age". Could there be a greater mischaracterization of someone else's argument than this? Might West supply us with a list of "global warming alarmists" who're trying "
to push us back to the Stone Age"? Indeed, could West supply us with the name of just one?

As for West's accusations of cherry-picking, either that's projection or mendacity -- and I find it hard to believe it's not the latter, because unless he's in a coma he must be aware that this is exactly a technique of which he himself makes extensive use.

What West is keen to obscure is, of course, that there is no "scientific controversy" over what one might loosely call Darwinian evolution, just as there is no
"scientific controversy" over AGW. There are, however, political controversies; and it's the prevalent tactic of the "climate skeptics" to confuse the two. Shame on West for promoting this dishonesty.

realthog: (Default)

Thanks to Wonkette for posting a screengrab of a wonderful pi-chart prepared by Faux News to show the different levels of support enjoyed by the supposed GOP frontrunners for 2012.

Apparently 60% of Americans back Romney, 63% back Huckabee, and a stonking 70% back Palin.


That'll be 193% of the population voting Republican in 2012, then.

realthog: (Default)

The excellent folks at Southern Poverty Law Center, whose Hatewatch newsletter is invaluable, have discovered a new antiscientific conspiracy theorist! It's an ex-US Army Maj Gen, to boot -- you know, one of those guys in whose hands rested thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of human lives. Go look at the original for the full story (and, I'd recommend, sign up for their newsletter at the same time; they unearth horrific tales that are often largely ignored by the MSM because, ya know, the victims are black). Here's a bit:

Of all the fantastic musings and mutterings about the H1N1 flu and vaccine, few are more outrageous than the pronouncements of retired Army Maj. Gen. Albert Stubblebine III and his psychiatrist wife, Rima Laibow. [. . .]

After President Obama declared a national emergency on Saturday to deal with the rapidly spreading illness, Stubblebine, a onetime intelligence officer, wasted no time e-mailing a dire
warning to his members. The president’s declaration, he said, “is perhaps the most ominous domestic event I have ever encountered. We either take this hill, or we die on it.” He went on to state that Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia declared war on their own people. “Has the United States declared war on the American people today? Sadly, tragically, it would appear so. I do not wish to see the American population corralled, controlled and killed.”

H1N1, or swine flu, has never been a serious illness, Stubblebine says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a different take. The flu is spreading fast in at least 46 states, has caused the hospitalization of about 20,000 Americans and the deaths of more than 1,000 people, the agency says.

Obama’s action gives Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius frightening authority to trample the rights of American patients, Stubblebine maintained. “None of this makes any sense UNLESS the intention is to replicate Hitler’s actions in Germany which used the all too willing medical system as a means to eliminate individuals, segments of the population and anyone who dared to speak out (or whisper) against the regime,” he wrote. Indeed, Stubblebine contends, the swine flu is a genetically engineered virus that is part of a World Health Organization-United Nations-United States scheme to sterilize untold numbers of people.

Not to be outdone, Stubblebine’s wife, Laibow, lent her name to a missive on the foundation’s website that says Sebelius now has the power “to send people to hospital-administered concentration camps.” She added that Obama’s declaration “puts the US on a par with Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia where the tyrants who declared war on their own people used the structures of the system to ‘justify’ and ‘legitimize’ their assault on the life, location and liberty of their citizens” and the government “now has its excuse to institute the corralling and culling of anyone it chooses.”

Fortunately, according to the husband and wife — who call themselves Gen. Bert and Dr. Rima — there is something ordinary citizens and future victims can do now: Send them money. [. . .]

There ain't no gibber mountain high enough. It's a bit of a relief to know that Stubblebine has his own in-house psychiatrist; less so that she obviously, well, has anyone watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers lately?

realthog: (bogus science cover rough)

You people are out calling us Nazis, saying we're running around with Swastikas. We get tarred and feathered as Nazis because we don't just bend over, grab the ankles and let you guys ram whatever down our throats you want.
----Rush Limbaugh, August 11ish
realthog: (bogus science cover rough)

. . . and he does so not in some lefty broadsheet with long words and difficult concepts but in the UK's rabid right-wing tabloid The Daily Mail:

'I wouldn't be here if not for the NHS': Stephen Hawking defends UK's 'Orwellian' healthcare after attack by U.S. politicians

Professor Stephen Hawking has spoken out in defence of the NHS after high-level U.S. politicians have branded the National Health Service 'evil' and 'Orwellian'.The British professor, who has suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease for 40 years, insisted that he 'would not be here' were it not for the NHS.

He spoke after an editorial in Investor's Business Daily, a national financial newspaper in the U.S. that also runs articles by columnists on the Left and the Right, launched a misinformed attack on the NHS.

In an editorial commenting on the healthcare debate that has gripped America this summer, the newspaper claimed: ' People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.'

However Professor Hawking- who as recently as April was treated in an NHS hospital, Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge - quickly rubbished the claim.

'I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS,' he told the Guardian. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.'

Rather to my surprise, the numbnutses at Investor's Business Daily have finally, after nearly a fortnight, gotten around to altering its July 31 editorial to remove the inane reference to Hawking and the trouble he'd have dodging NHS Death Squads -- well, they may not have worded it exactly like that, but that was the general implication. Needless to say, there's no trace of an acknowledgment that they've made this alteration, far less an apology to Prof Hawking for having taken his name in vain in such a reprehensible (not to mention pig-ignorant) fashion.

realthog: (bogus science cover rough)

A big tip of the hat to [ profile] fledgist for this one.

Over at Investor's Business Daily, where all the bright folk hang out, they've apparently been running a series on "Government-Run Healthcare: A Prescription For Failure" -- and it's rooted in the kind of in-depth research that has all along marked the right's approach to the subject.

Take this, for example, drawn from their July 31 editorial "How House Bill Runs Over Grandma" in which they demonstrate the folly of a national health service -- any national health service -- by laying into Britain's NHS:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.


1) In which country was Stephen Hawking born?
2) In which country did Stephen Hawking receive the medical care and medical technology that kept him alive?
3) In which country has Stephen Hawking spent all his life?
4) In which country has Stephen Hawking done and in which country does Stephen Hawking still do all of his brilliant research?
5) Are the editorial staffers of Investor's Business Daily dumber than a sack of hammers?

Your Score

5 answers correct: you're an at least normally intelligent and knowledgeable human being and probably over the age of eight
0 answers correct: well, the good news is that Investor's Business Daily has an editorial job for YOU!

realthog: (corrupted science)

Thanks to blogger Elizabeth Gettelman on the Mother Jones magazine's site for this:

Burger King, Carl's Jr. Remind Us: Burgers = Sex, Duh

Two sexy burger ad revelations today. First, the burger-as-blow-job Burger King ad burst onto the scene, second, The Hills' Audrina Partridge becomes the latest scantily clad lady to make love to, I mean, to lustily eat a Carl's Jr. burger.
[. . .]

The fine-print on this choice Burger King ad:

"Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame-grilled with the NEW BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER. Yearn for more after you taste the mind-blowing burger that comes with a single beef patty, topped with American cheese, crispy onions and the A1 Thick and Hearty Steak Sauce."
[. . .]

In all seriousness, the BK ad is disgusting, but perhaps a bigger deal than degrading ads is that these burgers are really, really bad for us, and for the planet. [. . .] BK doesn't yet list the 7-incher's nutritional profile yet but its Double Whopper with cheese has 1,010 calories and 24 grams of saturated fat, 66 grams total [. . .]

And since Burger King is going racy and explicit in targeting sex-crazed burger eaters, maybe they could unstraddle that fence they're riding with their homepage web promotion touting their commitment to kids, healthy meals, and active lifestyles. "Hey parents!" it exclaims. Hey parents is right.

Just in case you want to know, here's the pic BK are using to help extol the virtues of their succulent 7-incher:

BJ King

I suppose this could be seen as a way of reducing teenage pregnancies -- you know, because teen girls will think twice if they believe they might find themselves in bed with one of Burger King's products -- but it's hard otherwise to see the campaign as anything more than obnoxiously crass. And, of course, it's promoting perhaps the most extraordinarily unhealthy and environmentally irresponsible diet one might imagine.

Topical Etiquette Hint: If you wish to send letters of protest to your local elected officials, this mightn't be le moment juste to choose John Ensign or Mark Sanford as addressee.
realthog: (corrupted science)

In the Gray Lady's continuing ill conceived campaign to provide a soapbox for rightist loonies as "balance" to its sane centrist commentators, today's New York Times contains an anti-Obama op-ed, "On Nov. 4, Remember 9/11", by one Jeffrey Goldberg, who's apparently a national correspondent for The Atlantic and author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.

I don't want to get into the stupid, artificial left vs right schoolyard game that too many people regard as politics, but I do want to criticize Goldberg for a piece of monumental imbecility. His op-ed begins:

The next president must do one thing, and one thing only, if he is to be judged a success: He must prevent Al Qaeda, or a Qaeda imitator, from gaining control of a nuclear device and detonating it in America. Everything else — Fannie Mae, health care reform, energy independence, the budget shortfall in Wasilla, Alaska — is commentary. The nuclear destruction of Lower Manhattan, or downtown Washington, would cause the deaths of thousands, or hundreds of thousands; a catastrophic depression; the reversal of globalization; a permanent climate of fear in the West; and the comprehensive repudiation of America’s culture of civil liberties.

In fact, as anyone but a blinkered ideological slave would instantly observe, the Number One deed any incoming president must take in order to save American lives and protect American security is to act swiftly on climate change -- on a number of fronts, from international diplomacy to rapid investment in (a) the various climate-friendly energy technologies already available and (b) the development of new ones. Ignoring for a moment the longer term, when viewed alongside the number of deaths that are going to be caused by global warming even over the next decade or two (many of them directly attributable to the brain-dead inaction and denial of the incumbent Administration) "the deaths of thousands, or hundreds of thousands" is a pretty goddam paltry concern.

And in the longer term, of course, we're looking at human casualties in the billions . . . and quite possibly at the destruction of our species.

Yes, averting the possibility of a terrorist nuclear strike -- anywhere, not just in the US -- is obviously a matter of great importance; only an idiot would say otherwise. Constant vigilance and policing are required. (We all saw what happened when a US Administration lost its focus on counterterrorist intelligence; within a mere 18 months or so there were the 9/11 attacks.) But counterterrorism is not the only priority, and it's very far from the most urgent or the most important. Right at the top of the list, with everything else an inestimably long distance behind, is the matter of global warming; and if Goldberg thinks for one moment otherwise then he's a fool.

March 2013

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