June 21, 2014
The Junk Science Hall of Shame
Picking "the worst Junk Science agitprop" is impossible. No matter how bad one seems, you can always come up with another that is worse: a proof-by-induction of infinite suckage.
But, dearest ThreeSourcers, I have a special place in my heart for BPA bottles. Jane Goodall lived with lower primates: I worked with guys who had PhDs who would not drink water out of a BPA bottle (I think that is one point for Jane).
Insty links to a story in that noted scientific organ, The Stir, which is quite sympathetic to the concerned.
For several years now, moms have been making the choice they thought was best for their little ones: Steering clear of bisphenol-A (BPA), the toxic substance in plastic that may mess with the endocrine system, disrupting hormones, and causing a variety of short- and long-term health concerns for our children including asthma, cancer, infertility, low sperm count, heart disease, liver problems, and ADHD. But apparently, even if you've been incredibly conscious and checked every sippy cup and water bottle to ensure it's marked "BPA-free," it may not be enough!
May not be enough (really? An exclamation mark? A period would have been fine!) Enough of what, exactly? Bisphenol-A, like most things hated by The Stir readers, has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Moms today may worry about sippy cups, but my Mom worried about botulism. BPA "may mess with"
While BPA liners are a huge advance, Modernity Guy should contemplate that leached BPA is a call for another innovation. Yet, what the poor Stir Moms are discovering [Shocking Spoiler Alert] is that there is some danger in everything. It seems the Non-BPA bottles leach other and likely worse stuff into baby's organic, alar-free applesauce.
Not to mention incredibly frustrating, considering that we think we're doing everything we can to protect our children by doing the research before going shopping for sippy cups, only registering for the BPA-free baby bottles, keeping certain plastics our kids use out of the dishwasher or microwave, etc. But news like this it makes it seem like even our best efforts are all for naught. It makes it seem like even our best efforts aren't enough to protect our kids, and that's nothing short of extremely aggravating.
Rub a little dirt in it, Mom; he'll be fine.
I am reminded of a favorite Emily Dickenson couplet
The surgeon must be very careful when to use the knife.
UPDATE: A friend (no, not a PhD) sends a link to Mother Jones which contradicts my claim of "no proof ever." I should update it to "scant proof."
June 17, 2014
Think you can buy these people off?
After which it will be "water that has ever been microwaved," "customers who have been vaccinated..."
May 20, 2014
Falsus Libertario Delenda Est!
Having recently escaped Colorado's Second Congressional District, I consider myself well-informed about Rep. Jared Polis (Libertarian? - CO).
He is currently the darling of the big-L Libertarians who are certain to have discovered the elusive "Libertarian Democrat:" cryptozoology's greatest prize! Rep. Polis is a regular on "The Independents" on FOX Business Channel. He received positive coverage in Reason:
A conventional Democrat in some respects, he also supports many causes that matter to libertarians: legalizing marijuana and hemp, restraining NSA surveillance, reforming copyright and patent laws, and making space for the virtual currency Bitcoin.
"A conventional Democrat in some respects." Yes, the obligatory disclaimer for interviewer Scott Shackford. Let me help you, Scott. He is a conventional Democrat EVERY FREAKIN' PLACE AND EVERY GORRAM TIME THAT IT COUNTS. Minority Leader Pelosi does not have to worry about his vote (including yea on ObamaCare on March 21, 2010).
When he's on his own, he pens a Libertarian Editorial in the WSJ. And he accepts campaign contributions in Bitcoin! He's like Mises reincarnate!
If they looked a little deeper, they'd see not only "A conventional Democrat in some respects," but a wellspring of dirigisme. The Blueprint [Review Corner] chronicles Polis as one of four überfunders of statehouse races providing the Democratic legislative majorities in Colorado which brought us draconian gun laws and insane regulations on energy -- especially to rural Coloradans. Thanks, Jared! Or shall I call you Murray Rothbard?
Today, he is in the press for using his considerable funding to force his energy views on the entire state. (Remember when Hayek did that?)
DENVER -- Democratic Rep. Jared Polis reminded Coloradans Monday why it's tough to tangle with a rich guy, outraising his pro-business foes in the latest campaign-finance reporting period on his proposed statewide anti-fracking initiatives.
Those damned oil companies and the nefarious Koch Brothers outspent in one day! By a statist who is feted as a "Libertarian."
If that's what they're like, I definitely want out! Libertario Delenda Est!
October 2, 2013
So that's how the Obama campaign raised so much cash "on the internet"
This could be an "Otequay of the Ayday" post:
“We’re all familiar with the J-curve in private equity,” said Joseph Dear chief investment officer at the California Public Employee Retirement System in March. “Well, for CalPERS, clean-tech investing has got an L-curve for ‘lose.’”
From an article at thefederalist.com -- The Venture Corporatists - "Saving the planet" has made lot of investors richer. Taxpayers? Not so much, which concludes:
As long as green technology remains not simply an economic venture but a moral one, taxpayers will continue to nobly lose money as politically connected “social entrepreneurs” reap a windfall.
September 24, 2013
The once prestigious Scientific American Magazine has taken the "skeptic" label a step further and labeled Dr. Judith Curry, director of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology, a "heretic." Then has the audacity to ask in the sub-head, "Why can't we have a civil conversation about climate?"
Her-e-tic: n. 3. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle. Synonyms: 3. dissenter, skeptic, freethinker.
If science always conformed to established attitudes, doctrines and principles then the earth would still be flat and man would be flightless. At least as far as "science" is concerned.
So, how did Dr. Curry's apostasy begin?
But over the past year or so she has become better known for something that annoys, even infuriates, many of her scientific colleagues. Curry has been engaging actively with the climate change skeptic community, largely by participating on outsider blogs such as Climate Audit, the Air Vent and the Blackboard. Along the way, she has come to question how climatologists react to those who question the science, no matter how well established it is. Although many of the skeptics recycle critiques that have long since been disproved, others, she believes, bring up valid points -- and by lumping the good with the bad, climate researchers not only miss out on a chance to improve their science, they come across to the public as haughty.
You mean, she's been trying to have a civil conversation about climate?
Ultimately though, I think this one quote is the most important one in the entire article:
Still, once Curry ventured out onto the skeptic blogs, the questions she saw coming from the most technically savvy of the outsiders -- including statisticians, mechanical engineers and computer modelers from industry -- helped to solidify her own uneasiness. "Not to say that the IPCC science was wrong, but I no longer felt obligated in substituting the IPCC for my own personal judgment," she said in a recent interview posted on the Collide-a-Scape climate blog.
That any scientist would ever substitute anything for her own personal judgment is the reason why science got off the fact-finding and truth-seeking track in the first place.
UPDATE: This article was mentioned by Mark Steyn yesterday, but it was published in November, 2010. [No matches found for "curry" in ThreeSources archives from November 2010.]
June 19, 2013
Don't trust anyone under 24
In fact, particularly if you're 15 or younger, you can commit capital murder and be on the streets at 43. That was the fate of Indiana's Paula Cooper:
Cooper was 15 years old when she used a butcher's knife to cut Ruth Pelke 33 times during a robbery in Gary that ended in Pelke's death. Her three companions -- one only 14 --received lighter sentences, but Cooper confessed to the killing and was sentenced to death by a judge who opposed capital punishment, said former prosecutor Jack Crawford, who sought the death penalty for Cooper. Crawford is now a defense lawyer in Indianapolis and no longer supports capital punishment.
Enter European "human rights" activists, the Pope and the Supreme Court, and this confessed murderer's fate takes a U-turn.
Two years after Cooper was sentenced to die, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an unrelated case that the execution of young people who were under 16 at the time they committed an offense was cruel and unusual punishment and was thus unconstitutional. Indiana legislators then passed a state law raising the minimum age limit for execution from 10 years to 16, and in 1988, the state's high court set Cooper's death sentence aside and ordered her to serve 60 years in prison.
The Supreme Court seems to be sure, as does Indiana's former attorney general:
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to execute anyone who is younger than 18 years when they commit an offense.
And, it now seems, essentially get away with it.
April 2, 2013
However, Got yer Schadenfruede right here
This is good clean fun (grabbed from Facebook, sorry no attribution).
A very interesting blend of my FB friends is upset about the President bowing to science and reason:
February 8, 2013
First World Problems
Anything interesting on Facebook today, jk?
Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is banned in the European Union and Japan among many other places around the world and is believed to be a harmful additive by many. It is a member of the Bromide family which has been used in making products flame retardant! Google it. See if it's something you think PepsiCo should be putting in Mountain Dew. If they already know it's too controversial for Gatorade, why are they leaving it in Mountain Dew?
Something bad in Mountain Dew? Ehrmigahd!
This is funny but it isn't. The poster is a PhD who used to work for me. Super bright guy with a mortgage and kids. I know he'd laugh himself into a coma upon encountering somebody who does not believe in global warming. But he signs and posts these all the time.
"Google it.' (It's on the Internet -- what else can I do to prove it?) "a member of the Bromide family which has been used in making products flame retardant!" Jeeburz -- one of the elements is four squares away from Arsenic on the Periodic Chart -- you gonna eat that?
December 13, 2012
Best Chart Ever!
From The Skeptical Libertarian on Facebook.
July 5, 2012
"Colorado Burning" because "Climate Changed?"
Anyone who has read many stories on the Colorado forest fires has surely seen at least one account that links the events with "climate change." Stories like Huffpo's "Stunning NASA Map Shows Severe Heat Wave Fueling Wildfires" are an extreme example. But Colorado state climatologist Nolan Doesken has a much different explanation:
While it’s true that this June was the hottest June on record, averaging 75 degrees, or 7.6 degrees above normal, he said extreme heat was just one of the ingredients–and maybe not even the most important one–involved in this year’s perfect wildfire storm.
The story continues, exploring more likely factors:
Forest-health advocates say there’s one thing missing from the climate-change-causes-wildfires theory: The forests are so poorly managed that it doesn’t take much for them to go up in flames. Twenty years of reductions in timber sales and environmental lawsuits have gutted logging on public lands, resulting in densely packed, tinder-dry trees that are practically designed for crown fires.
So one explanation is 7.6 degrees warmer temperatures for a month and the other explanation includes 15 to 20 times higher density of trees that are diseased and dead, at least partially due to that very overcrowding. Given that tens of thousands of wildfires occur each year in the United States, Colorado's fire disasters are unprecedented for their severity rather than frequency. And that severity is driven more by wind and fuel density than by a dubious, anti-scientific theory called climate change.
May 30, 2012
Jenny McCarthy Body Count
Heh (If your sense of humor is tuned that way).
May 27, 2012
On last week's post criticizing the City of Boulder's "Climate Change Preparedness Plan" brother JK glibly (sarcastically?) quipped that "if things get too warm here [in Weld County] I can drive right over the line [into Boulder County]" where presumably he'll be "saved" from the "deleterious" effects of
Seems the CCPP is part of a larger Climate Action Plan (CAP) that is enabled by a voter-approved tax that expires next March. The tax collects $1.8 million annually for the City of Boulder's pet enviro projects. Apparently Boulder County thinks the city is on to something and they are contemplating a "sustainability tax" of their own. Boulder Daily Camera:
"I'm very concerned that if the county goes ahead, our CAP tax will stand a very good chance of losing," Mayor Matt Appelbaum said. "And that will just kill us. That will set us way back. It would be a huge loss for us if we lost the momentum. There are many programs that are just getting going."
One wonders if Boulder County's "sustainability tax" will be more sustainable than Boulder City's CAP tax.
October 21, 2011
She Blinded Me with Junk Science!
Saw this on the Teevee news this morning:
A major study of nearly 360,000 cellphone users in Denmark found no increased risk of brain tumors with long-term use.
Followed on FOX31 Good Morning Colorado by "advocates claim that the ten year study was not long enough to detect slow-developing tumors" and in the NYTimes it is followed by:
Although the data, collected from one of the largest-ever studies of cellphone use, are reassuring, the investigators noted that the design of the study focused on cellphone subscriptions rather than actual use, so it is unlikely to settle the debate about cellphone safety. A small to moderate increase in risk of cancer among heavy users of cellphones for 10 to 15 years or longer still "cannot be ruled out," the investigators wrote.
One of my lefty friends has become so upset over my Karl Popper "back to the caves" quote that I have been abjured from its use on Facebook. But this ain't Facebook and, at the big kids table, we can draw a generalization about junk science advocates.
I suggest cell phones save thousands of lives every year, allowing people to escape dangerous situations and coordinate efforts more quickly in an emergency. I suspect it is magnitudes above "thousands" but I don't think you can argue a thinking person out of thousands.
Against a real, empirical, substantive benefit of thousands of saved lives, the
FACT: A cell phone can get you out of a dangerous situation because you can afford it and the person you're contacting can afford it.
FACT: Thousands of people used to die of botulism and food illnesses from canned goods. Resin liners with BPA ended that. Poof. Pretty much nobody dies of that today.
Vaccines, GMO crops, hydraulic fracturing, incandescent light bulbs, the list goes on. Modernity and prosperity save real lives today in large quantities. How much more, life-saving modernity and prosperity would we have with rational risk expectations?
UPDATE: Unvaccinated behind largest U.S. measles outbreak in years Two hundred fourteen real kids, today. Rep Bachmann, call your office -- Jim Carrey on line one.
April 21, 2011
Try to Teach a Pig to Sing...
I posted a few days ago (Scientific Fact, Yawn!) on the refutation of the junk science on plastics. I lamented (what I whiner I can be...) that "None will be disabused of their junk-science asceticism." (a whiner with bad grammar, "None" should be singular...)
A good friend who used to work for me is on Facebook today with "Chip in $5 today to our 'Get BPA out of canned goods campaign!'" I'll save you a click to see the linked page:
Moms! And the people who love them! Versus a bald libertarian with a beard! Whom you gonna believe?
This is the most insidious campaign. If my buddy wants to forego the convenience of a water bottle, he's not hurting anybody. But BPA linings have virtually wiped out Botulism and the thousands of deaths it caused annually. This junk science will kill.
I passed along a link to the AEI piece. We'll see if my PhD friend is educable.
April 19, 2011
Looks like we may not all die from water bottles after all:
A comprehensive review by the German Society of Toxicology of thousands of studies on BPA concluded, "[BPA] exposure represents no noteworthy risk to the health of the human population, including newborns and babies." The group, which included several scientists who have advised regulatory caution on BPA, bucked calls by advocacy groups to lower safe exposure levels.
This is near and dear to my heart since I know a lot of these people. They are shocked that I tempt fate by drinking water out of plastic bottles and regale me with tales of outrageous hoops they jump through to avoid it. I mention that about 10,000 people die of food poisoning for every one that dies from the plastic that prevents it. They usually recommend some documentary I have to see.
And I could forward this story to them, but it would be a waste of ones and zeros. None will be disabused of their junk-science asceticism. It's much better to store your mayonnaise in an old clay pot...