Monday, April 30, 2012

Has your child been doing paleontology?

Know the warning signs.

Gay killer blames Moses for gay suffering

Gay anti-bully Dan Savage gave a speech recently to a bunch of high school kids interested in journalism.


Savage lives up to his name. His talk, ostensibly about bullying, is bullying directed at Christian kids, scores of whom walked out in the middle of the screed. Savage is legendary for his venom-- his scatological internet attack on Rick Santorum speaks for itself. Just why would organizers of this conference for high school kids invite this scumbag (no pun) to talk?

Savage reels off his boilerplate anti-Christian hate, implicitly blaming the Christian kids in the audience for gay suffering. But there's so much irony. It's been a couple of millenia since the last gay stoning, if I've got my facts right. The biblical injunction against homosexual acts is still valid of course, but Leviticus has been superceded. The new Guy in charge explicitly condemns stoning for sexual sin. Savage didn't get the memo.

But gay men are being killed every day-- in unspeakably horrible ways-- by... ummm... how to say it tactfully?... well...... other gay men. Every gay man with AIDS got the disease from Moses a gay man. In the U.S. 300,000 gay men have died of AIDS. AIDS is a death cornucopia, so actually gay men have died of pneumocystis pneumonia, Kaposi's sarcoma, lymphoma, tuberculosis, fungemia, fulminant salmonella, shigella, listeria, campylobacter, cryptosporidiosis, microsporidiosis, mycobacterium avium, clostridium difficile, toxoplasmosis, cryptococcus, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, rectal carcinomas, hepatocellular carcinomas, head and neck cancers, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and stoning. 

Actually, stoning is not on the CDC list for causes of death among gay men. How times have changed.

AIDS is two things: it is transmissible, and it is behavioral. It is an infection spread (among gay men) by gay sex. It's not in the water, nor on toilet seats, nor caused by smoking, nor the result of stoning (even severe stoning won't cause AIDS). It is the result of gay men with AIDS having anal intercourse with gay men without AIDS, who then get AIDS and have intercourse with gay men without AIDS, who then... . You get the picture.

In other words, AIDS among gay men is caused by infected men (most of whom know they are infected) giving it to guys who often don't know they are infected. Western blots are generally not available in bathroom stalls,etc. so anonymous promiscuity is the perfect storm for an epidemic.

All that's needed for an epidemic to really get going is to have media savvy potential vectors publicly lie about the real cause of the epidemic.

Enter Mr. Savage.

Is Mr. Savage personally complicit in gay deaths from AIDS? Well, yea. How so? AIDS is a completely man-made epidemic. Completely. Like smoking.  Like drunk driving. And the people who hawk smoking-- tobacco company execs, etc.-- carry a heavy moral burden for the deaths of people who buy their products. The people who hawk gay sex-- Mr. Savage comes to mind-- carry a heavy moral burden for the deaths of people who buy the stuff they hawk. People who hawk products that kill people are... oh... gee... what's the word... ummm... killers. People who hawk gay sex are killers-- just like people who stone people, except that people who stone people don't generally profit in any personal way from killing, unlike Mr. Motivational Speaker-Sex Columnist-Editor-Author Dan Savage.

And of course people stopped hawking stoning 2000 years ago. But hawking gay sex is on the upswing.

Mr. Savage blubbers on about stoning and Leviticus-- which kill no gay men at all-- while he makes a nice living hawking gay sex, which is the Zyclon B of the gay holocaust.

"Oh", you exclaim, "Savage is only hawking safe sex. Sero-segregation, and all that". Right. Like the "drive really slow" response to drunk driving.

If you want a peek into gay ethics, keep in mind that the maxim "only give fatal diseases to people who already have them" is a raging controversy.

Unlike cancer or heart disease or accidental deaths, AIDS among gay men is 100% preventable. It is a man-made epidemic, in the sense that we have it entirely within our power to unmake it. We know how to stop it. Here's how:


It's in Leviticus, implicitly of course, and it permeates Christian teaching. Here are some of the rules:

1) Only have sex with your opposite-sex spouse.
2) Don't have sex with men (if you're a man)
3) If you are a man with AIDS, don't have sex with anyone, because you might give it to them and kill them.

Oh, and this rule:

4) Don't hawk things that kill people.

Admittedly, Levitical rules are hard to follow. Advocating chastity can also put a damp on your speaker fees. But the remarkable thing about this Christian chastity thing is that, unlike condoms, it works. Always. 100%. Follow the rules, and you and your friends never get AIDS. It's like a super condom.

And then you can take your chances with stoning.

Islam and Muslims

Michael Medved has a nice essay on the question: does criticism of Islam constitute bigotry against Muslims?

The lame-brained insistence that all faith traditions deserve equal respect (or equal condemnation) doesn't demonstrate tolerance or broad-mindedness; it expresses, rather, a refusal to take any religion seriously enough for honest evaluation of its virtues and flaws. 
Reservations about Islam, and even fears of the Muslim faith's influence on the world at large, don't constitute paranoia or intolerance. These concerns represent an honest and reasonable response on the part of a significant segment of the public to a serious global challenge to the values that Americans hold most dear.
I agree. Readers of this blog have no doubt noticed that I have some very strong criticisms of Islam. But I believe-- just as strongly-- that bigotry against Muslims is morally wrong. The reality is that the vast majority of Muslims-- and all Muslims I know personally (I have many Muslim colleagues at work)-- are good and decent people, with the same hopes and dreams and virtues as everyone else. In fact, my Muslim patients are probably my nicest patients.

Ideologies and religious beliefs are fair targets, and a healthy society has a vibrant ongoing conversation about beliefs and the consequences of belief. The belief that there is no objective moral law or that Christ is the only way to salvation or that Jews are the chosen people or that jihad is justified to extend dar-el-Islam are fair game for critique and debate.

People, on the other hand, must never be targets. We are each created in God's image, and are endowed with irrevocable dignity. The value of each person-- Muslim, atheist, Christian, Jew, etc-- transcends ideology, and must never be denied or violated.

Ideas, on the other hand, are at issue in the arena.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

“Japan is evolving into a type of society whose contours and workings have only been contemplated in science fiction.”

There is a population bomb. It is the implosion of population in many parts of the world. It is going to change societies profoundly and irrevocably, and many cultures will cease to exist.

Ross Douthat has a remarkable essay in ground zero of demographic collapse-- Japan.


Japan is facing such swift demographic collapse, Eberstadt’s essay suggests, because its culture combines liberalism and traditionalism in particularly disastrous ways. On the one hand, the old sexual culture, oriented around arranged marriage and family obligation, has largely collapsed. Japan is one of the world’s least religious nations, the marriage rate has plunged and the divorce rate is higher than in Northern Europe.... 
Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world, and there were rashes of Internet-enabled group suicides in the last decade. Rental “relatives” are available for sparsely attended wedding parties; so-called “babyloids” — furry dolls that mimic infant sounds — are being developed for lonely seniors; and Japanese researchers are at the forefront of efforts to build robots that resemble human babies. The younger generation includes millions of so-called “parasite singles” who still live with (and off) their parents, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of the “hikikomori” — “young adults,” Eberstadt writes, “who shut themselves off almost entirely by retreating into a friendless life of video games, the Internet and manga (comics) in their parents’ home.” 

The tragic irony is that the overpopulation nuts are ignoring the actual crisis facing civilization. Population  decline is the real danger, and this catastrophe is happening, particularly in Europe and Japan. It may not be reversible, and it is almost certain to cause the extinction of entire civilizations over generations. Population implosion reaches a point in which it is an anti-Malthusian feedback mechanism-- you end up with too few young people to reverse the loss of young people.

Douthat notes that in the U.S. population implosion is mitigated by two factors-- brisk immigration and out-of-wedlock births. Indeed these are checks on implosion, but they will cause-- are causing-- demographic and cultural changes that we are only beginning to understand.

Julian Simon, nemesis of overpopulation nut Paul "the battle to feed humanity is over" Ehrlich, got it right: human beings are the most important resource.

We need to protect and nourish and grow our most important resources, which are people. 

Only in America...

John Hawkins has 20 ironies that can happen only in America.


1) Only in America could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000 a plate campaign fund raising event.

...3) Only in America could we have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner, the head of the Treasury Department and Charles Rangel who once ran the Ways and Means Committee, BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.

4) Only in America will you find people who burn the American flag and call America an "imperialist nation," but who get offended if you say they're not patriotic.


9) Only in America could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be thought of as "extremists."


11) Only in America could you need to present a driver's license to cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.


13) Only in America would we think teaching kids at college is an appropriate job for communists, terrorists, and other dregs of humanity.

14) Only in America could people demand the government investigate whether the oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when for every penny of profit the oil companies make, the government tacks on roughly 24 cents’ worth of taxes.

15) Only in America could the first people asked to weigh in on the seriousness of a racial incident by the media be professional race hustlers like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Ben Jealous. In other words, it's like calling in a car dealer as a neutral source on whether or not you need to get a new car.

18) Only in America could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation ever has before in all of recorded history, still spend a trillion dollars more that it has per year, and complain that it doesn't have nearly enough to money.

19) Only in America could the rich people who pay 86% of all income taxes be accused of not paying their "fair share" by people who don't pay any income taxes at all.

My favorite:

20) Only in America could the people who approve of slaughtering 25 million females babies via abortion accuse OTHER PEOPLE of waging a "war on women."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Paul Ryan and the Georgetown left

George Weigel has an indispensable essay on the Catholic left's attack on Paul Ryan's invocation of Catholic subsidiarity and solidarity in his proposed solution to our budget and debt crisis.

The betrayal of the Church by the her leftist claque is being laid bare in the wake of the contraception mandate, and the Church is cleaning house. Not a moment too soon.

What Ryan has in fact done is to follow Benedict XVI and push the subsidiarity-solidarity debate forward, suggesting that there is a kind of moral and political space where solidarity — the moral imperative to live responsibly with and for others — and subsidiarity — the anti-totalitarian, pro-civil-society principle of Catholic social doctrine — intersect. At that broad intersection, there are no obvious answers to public-policy questions, and especially to budgetary questions. But there is prudential judgment: the weighing of risks and benefits; the calculus of probable consequences; the fitting of ends to appropriate means.

Eloquent. Please read the whole thing. A beautiful explanation of the deep wisdom of genuine Catholic social teaching. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

E.J. Dione on the Vatican and the heretic nuns

E.J. Dione has a characteristically witless post on the Vatican discipline of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a heretical claque of far-left nuns who ostensibly represent 80% of American sisters. Like many organizations that represent people with such far-ranging interests, the LCWR has become dominated by leftist crackpots who pursue their own ideological agenda at the expense of the people they nominally represent. The Vatican has imposed a firm but fair crackdown on the organization, the leadership of which should be glad they weren't excommunicated.

Dione, with my commentary:

The Vatican is reining in the leadership conference that represents 80 percent of American Catholic nuns, accusing the group of “serious doctrinal problems” and promoting “radical feminist themes.” That seems a misreading of the very fine work in schools, charities, prisons and impoverished neighborhoods being done by about 60,000 nuns across the nation.
Drop the scare quotes, E.J.. Serious doctrinal problems and promoting radical feminist themes has been the hallmark of the organization for decades. It's a lefty crackpot organization. In fact, the 60,000 nuns who do God's work throughout our country have been betrayed by the radical heretics at LCWR who claim to represent them.

These nuns and their leaders continued to bolster the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church even as it suffered one of its greatest scandals in the sexual abuse of schoolchildren by rogue priests and the cover-ups by diocesan authorities. 
The Catholic sex abuse scandal is part of a culture-wide epidemic of sexual abuse that exploded in the 1960's, largely as a consequence of the cultural changes championed by the left. 'Copulate with anything that moves' is the anthem of Sexual Revolution, the quite legitimate child of the radical left-- i.e. the ideology embraced by the LCWR.

That the organization that claims to represent most U.S. nuns would echo the ideological pabulum of the 'if it feels good do it' radical left is another scandal. It would be like Scientologists complaining about crackpot religions. The LCWR is securely in the ideological camp of the molesters.

Dione also mentions the Catholic sexual scandal because that is de-rigueur for journalists-- Catholic and otherwise-- who hate the Church. Dione has it as a macro on his word-processor.
The Vatican has now appointed a bishop to oversee the operations of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious — the 1,500 superiors who run the sisters’ communities — citing individual nuns at conference gatherings challenging church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood. The announcement also accused the group’s leaders of focusing too much on poverty and economic injustice while allegedly keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage. 
Dione is lying. He knows full well that the LCWR was not chastised for "focusing too much on poverty and economic injustice". LCWR was disciplined for confusing leftist ideology for Catholic teaching. The Catholic Church is the greatest champion of the poor and of economic justice in the world. The teaching is based on a comprehensive respect for human rights including the non-negotiable right to life and the sanctity of marriage and on the principle of subsidiarity, all of which are anathema to the left. Leftist ideology of the sort embraced by the LCWR has killed countless millions of the poorest of the poor-- children in the womb-- and has destroyed families and perverted prudent governance by championing massive state power over individuals and families.

The LCWR's dream of 'economic justice' is Greece with lots of abortions.
A crucial focus in the inquiry appears to be the fact that dozens of American nuns involved in the conference and in antipoverty and hospital work provided prominent support to President Obama’s health care reform. Conference leaders said Vatican investigators had pointedly raised the issue and the fact that the conference had split with American bishops, who opposed reform. 
Obamacare is a manifest violation of the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which is the teaching that social action should take place as close to the family and individual as possible. Action at the federal level should be restricted to matters that can only be done at the national level-- national defense, national parks, regulation of interstate commerce, etc. Health care is a local matter unrelated to federal power, and the foundational Catholic principle of subsidiarity precludes federal control.

Furthermore, the Obama administration is engaged in manifest war with the Church, and obviously hopes to extinguish Catholic influence in American life. Its unconstitutional contraceptive mandate is plainly intended to force the Church out of all aspects of civic life except worship. Catholics who supported this salient have a lot to answer for.

The sisters’ leaders said they reaffirmed their opposition to abortion...
Support for Obama and for the left is support for abortion.
...but also claimed the right to speak out on a “moral imperative” like health care, just as the bishops had.
Bishops teach the Magisterium and determine Church policy. Nuns implement the Bishop's decisions. If they don't like it, they can leave the Church. Really,  they have already left the Church.
The nuns clearly are caught in a classic crossfire of church doctrine, politics and hierarchical obedience. It would be a tragedy, far beyond the church, if their fine work and their courageous voices were constrained.

It is the LCWR that is injecting politics into Church affairs, parroting hard-left ideology and overt political support for an Administration and a political party that is overtly hostile to a broad range of Catholic teaching and hostile even to the Church itself. Being a Catholic and especially a religious is all about Church doctrine and hierarchical obedience. Christ's Body ain't no democracy.

If the heretics of the LCWR don't like it, they should make their break with the Church explicit. They will be received with open arms by libs like Dione, and countless others who work feverishly to destroy the Body of Christ. 

It would be a lot worse if they were priests...

From Jazz Shaw at Hot Air:

Maybe it’s just because I live in New York. I mean, intuitively I’m positive that there must be stories in nearly every state of the union where you’ll hear about public school systems, teachers unions and horrendous educators running out of control. But it sure seems like these stories all come from the Empire State. Case in point.

A health teacher at a high school in Manhattan, joking about life for homosexuals in prison, forced a male student to bend over a desk, lined up behind him to simulate a sex act… 
A high school science teacher in the Bronx who had already been warned about touching female students brushed his lower body against one student’s leg during a lab exercise, coming so close that she told investigators she could feel his genitals… 
And a math teacher at a high school in the Bronx, investigators said, sent text messages to and called one of his female students nearly 50 times in a four-week period… 
The New York City Education Department wanted to fire these teachers. But in these and 13 other cases in recent years in which teachers were accused of inappropriate behavior with students, the city was overruled by an arbitrator who, despite finding wrongdoing, opted for a milder penalty like a fine, a suspension or a formal reprimand. 
In New York it’s nearly impossible to get rid of a failing teacher under normal circumstances. The system is rigged worse than a Vegas casino. Once the teachers receive tenure – which I believe happens about five minutes after they send in their first dues payment to the union these days – they can pretty much never show up for work again and you can’t get them off the public payroll...
Just the tip of the iceberg.

Note the media silence. When the stories are reported, the lurid assertions that are inevitably leveled against the Catholic Church-- 'the Catholic pedophilia crisis grows...' 'How can the Church keep covering up...' etc. are rarely leveled against the public schools. School officials are generally held harmless by the media. When was the last time you heard the media demand that the Secretary of Education-- or the President of the United States-- apologize to victims of public school sexual abuse?

The Pope is asked everywhere he goes. And he apologizes.

Each year now for several years there have been less than 10 credible reports of child sexual abuse in Catholic churches and schools in the United States. There are several thousand reports, at least, of child sexual abuse in public schools.

For many in the media and elsewhere, spreading the most vile anti-Catholic hate is more important than telling the truth and protecting children. Catholic churches and Catholic schools are among the safest places for children in America today. The fact that you don't already know that is a measure of the anti-Catholic bigotry inherent to the media coverage of the child sexual abuse epidemic in America.

America is the least racist nation

Dennis Prager on race and the Democrat Party (excerpt):

Still the Least Racist Country in the World 
The Left needs to position America as a racist country to sustain its political success.

In light of the tragic killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin — and the manufactured hysteria surrounding it — one thing needs to be stated as clearly and as often as possible: The United States is the least racist and least xenophobic country in the world. Foreigners of every race, ethnicity, and religion know this. Most Americans suspect this. Most black Americans and the entire Left deny this. 
... Most Americans were hopeful that the election of a black president — thereby making America the first white society in history to choose a black leader — would finally put to rest the myth of a racist America. More than three years later it seems not to have accomplished a thing. I now suspect that if the president, the vice-president, the entire cabinet, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all nine justices on the Supreme Court were black, it would have no impact on blacks who believe America is a racist society — or on the left-wing depiction of America as racist...

... The Democrats and the Left both recognize that if blacks cease viewing themselves as victims of racism, the Democratic party can no longer offer itself as black America’s savior. And if only one out of three black Americans ceases to regard to himself as a victim of racism, and votes accordingly, it will be very difficult for Democrats to win any national election.
There are many people in our nation who depend on the perception of racism for their livelihood and for their power. We have an entire national political party that would likely never win another national election if Americans came to widely understand that real racism is dying in America. Ironically, this party was the source of most of the actual racism prior to the civil rights revolution, and the civil rights revolution was largely fought against that party. That party is in a continuous struggle against racial harmony and genuine equality.

A careful honest look at the Democratic party is an emetic. 

Theistic evolution...

Commentor Mulder has some good questions:

Egnor, where do you stand on the opinion of the catholic church that god has a hand in evolution? A so-called theistic evolution?

I have no disagreement with common descent (it is certainly possible, and some evidence supports it). I have no disagreement with descent with modification. Its obviously true-- like gives rise to like with some differences in offspring. I have no disagreement with variation in a breeding population. Obviously living things vary in heritable ways. I have no disagreement with natural selection. Survivors do survive.

I disagree with the fanatic assertion by Darwinists that this consititues a powerful scientific theory with explainatory power. It's not 'the best idea anyone ever had' or 'the foundation of biology' or 'that which makes sense of all biology' and it does not allow one to be 'an intellectually fulfilled atheist'. What crap.

Darwinism is a few banal observations cobbled together to serve an ideological end. In that it has been remarkably successful.

If you mean 'theistic evolution' to mean common descent and descent with modification and heritable variability and natural selection-- of course I accept that. It's obviously true (common descent is debatable).

If you mean 'theistic evolution' to mean a deistic God Who set everything running a few billion years ago then went off to play celestial golf, that's nonsense. Theological nonsense. God maintains all in existence moment by moment. He is the Ground of existence. Deism is just a stupid philosophical error.

The Catholic Church's take on evolution is eminently reasonable. Common descent and descent with modification and heritable variability and natural selection are fine. Undirected change is nonsense, and the human soul is created directly and immediately by God.

The most coherent understanding of biological evolution is still Aristotle's and Thomas' understanding: evolution is a manifestation of natural teleology.
I just cant see the reason in theists, when they make fun of scientists - people actually trying to find evidence logically for how life has become as it is on this planet.
I don't make fun of scientists. I make fun of ideologues (who are employed as scientists) who make stupid assertions. The questions about origin of life are very important. Population genetics is great science. Cladistics is fascinating. All are subdisciplines within biology. None are the foundation of biology and none disprove the existence of God.

Meanwhile, their 'banality', egnor, is the same banality that they've been spewing for a couple thousand years - a magical being snapped his fingers and poof! everything appeared as you see it. It really is ironic when believers in magic point to scientists and call THEM silly.
God's existence and agency are matters of philosophical dispute. The arguments are sublime and continue to engage the best minds. They are questions of fact, and have nothing to do with magic. The notion that life began by chance in a warm little pond is an assertion of fact as well.  The latter has a stronger claim on magic than the former.

Is Christianity banal? The assertion that the Second Person of the Trinity was born to a woman in Bethlehem 2000 years ago and died as expiation for our sins and rose from the dead is many things. It is not banal. It is either the most bizarre and consequential hoax in history or the most important thing that ever happened. Neither is banal.

'Things change and survivors survive" is banal.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This just in...

Reagan's strategy on the Cold War

My favorite Reagan anecdote:

Early in the transition after Reagan was first elected President in 1980, Reagan met with his advisors to discuss foreign policy. There was a great deal of discussion about how to deal with the communists. Should we appease the Soviets? Negotiate? Confront?

Reagan said little, until the end of the meeting. Then he said:

'Here's my strategy on the Cold War. We win. They lose.'

I miss the man.  

Evolution is...

Commentor bachfiend answers my request to define "evolution":

Evolution is 1. Common ancestry. 2. Descent with modification. 3. Natural variation within breeding populations. 4. Mechanisms for changing the proportion of variations within breeding populations, one of which is natural selection.

Pretty good summation. Let's sort it out.

Evolution is

1. Common ancestry.

Agreed. Common ancestry is usually cited by evolutionary biologists as a core tenet of evolution.

Common ancestry was asserted by Darwin in Origin, but it had been proposed several times before, most notably by Immanuel Kant and by Darwin's grandfather Erasmus Darwin.

There is certainly evidence to support the inference to common ancestry, although I believe that there are reasons to question it as well. I point out that even if it were shown that life is polyphyletic, it would have no relevance to Darwin's inference to random heritable variation and natural selection.

A synthetic organism capable of conventional heredity and reproduction, manufactured from scratch from chemicals in bottles this afternoon in a lab, would proceed to "evolve" in a perfectly Darwinian way, yet it would share no common descent with any other species. It would merely share common design.

It's hard to argue that common ancestry is an essential tenet of evolution when completely de-novo organisms-- unrelated to any other species by ancestry except by intelligent design-- would evolve just fine.

2. Descent with modification.

Here bach means that offspring are different from parents in heritable ways. True, and known to be true by everyone for countless millennia. About as banal an observation as one could imagine.

3. Natural variation within breeding populations.

Living things vary. Even more banal than descent with modification. Darwinists are always pushing the envelope of banality.

4. Mechanisms for changing the proportion of variations within breeding populations, one of which is natural selection.

Some traits promote reproductive success more than others do. I'm falling asleep...

There you have it, dear readers. The Theory of Evolution. Offspring are different from parents, living things vary, and survivors survive. The conclusion that most Darwinists draw from this profundity is that God doesn't exist. Go figure.

The only actual scientific assertion in "evolution" that isn't utterly banal is common ancestry, which is not an essential tenet of evolution and may well not even be true. Commonalities are as likely to be the result of common design as they are to be the result of common descent.

It's a scandal that this idiot "theory" is taken seriously. There is good evidence that even quite a few evolutionary biologists are coming to acknowledge that evolution's "indispensability" to biology is an illusion.

Evolutionary biologist and atheist philosopher Massimo Pugliucci:

Perhaps the trouble started with Theodozius Dobzhansky, one of the fathers of modern evolutionary theory, who famously said that nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution... Problem is, Dobzhansky was writing for an audience of science high school teachers, and his statement is patently wrong, as an even cursory examination of the history of biology makes clear. For instance, developmental biologists had done a lot of highly fruitful research throughout the 19th and 20th centuries even as they ignored Darwin. And molecular biologists made spectacular progress from the 1950’s though the onset of the 21st century, again pretty much completing (sic) ignoring evolution.

I've long argued that Darwinists are furious mainly because they've been forced to explain themselves. That's one thing Darwinism can't survive. When Darwin's "theory" is actually explained, sans the jargon and evasions, people who understand the explanation burst out laughing. Nothing in biology makes sense without "things change and survivors survive"? My sides ache.

As the laughter grows, atheists will need to conjure up another creation myth. They're working on it. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Confusing neuroscience with philosophy of the mind

Neuroscience or philosophy of mind?
Or both?

A nice example of a rudimentary confusion, which I'm happy to clear up:

Commentor bachfiend, who asserts that he understands neuroscience (unlike moi):

By neuroscience, I mean the field of knowledge that uses evidence to produce a picture of reality,
Neuroscience a branch natural philosophy that deals with the nervous system. Colloquially, it is the scientific study of the nervous system. It entails the usual methods of science-- the systematic study of nature using the scientific method.

and makes the perfectly reasonable statement that the mind is a product of the brain,
Neuroscience certainly makes no such statement, which is a assertion proper to philosophy of the mind, not natural philosophy of the nervous system. Neuroscience can identify correlations between brain processes and mental acts, but causation between brain and mind is simply not in its purview.

In fact, it couldn't be in its purview, because neuroscience is the study of material processes. The mind is not material.

To publicly affirm that neuroscience disproves the existence of the soul is to publicly affirm that, on that topic, you are an idiot.
and if you affect the brain you will alter the mind.
Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. Your brain is affected by myriad things. Not all affect the mind in a discernable way.  Having an MRI of your brain profoundly affects your brain-- it changes the spins of gadzillions of protons in your brain and causes the emission of gadzillions of photons. Yet your mind doesn't change during the scan (unless you're claustrophobic!).

Of course, some things-- like ethyl alcohol-- do alter your mind. There's very much we don't understand.

The actual correlations between brain changes and mind changes are very poorly understood. We have no idea-- none whatsoever-- what thoughts are, in terms of chemicals and action potentials and cells.
Whereas, you adopt a bizarre philosophical argument that assumes that the mind and brain are separate.
The relationship between the mind and the brain is an issue addressed by philosophy of the mind, and there have been many solutions proposed. Some philosophers propose that the mind doesn't exist at all, or that only behavior matters, or that the mind is the brain, or that the mind is what the brain does, or that the mind is a separate substance from the brain, or that the mind is a property of the brain, or that the mind is one aspect of the soul, which is the Aristotelian form of the body.

The debate rages.

I think that Thomistic dualism is the most satisfying paradigm-- the mind is a power of the soul, which is the form of the body. It is a view normally filed somewhere between substance dualism and materialism.

People who are interested in these questions discuss and debate them all the time.

None of this is neuroscience, which does not have metaphysics in its purview. 

12 emoticons for the advanced writer

Allie Brosh is a very funny blogger.


*:0 = "MY FACE IS ON FIRE!!!!"
!,! = "Hi. I am a rabbit"
% = "I feel like I am a mosquito looking directly at you."
|:( = "I am displeased with my unibrow."
<:( = "Pointy hats make me sad."
Read 'em all, and check out her archive.  

Did Roe reduce crime?

Wesley Smith has a thoughtful post on this toxic question.

The idea, I think, is that the fetuses who became medical waste would, but for being aborted, have become children raised in unstable homes and poor environments, leading many, thereafter, to commit crimes in disproportionate numbers. It has raised hackles, as well it should... So, did abortion reduce the crime rate? Who knows? Who cares? It really doesn’t matter–unless one thinks that we have to encourage “certain people” not to procreate as a means of reducing crime. If we go there, we are off a moral cliff that looks an awful lot like the old eugenics.
I agree. The inference that a crime reduction caused by Roe is good is morally repugnant. Preemptive killing of undesirable populations is never ethical, even if it reduces crime, and the claim that it does reduce crime, irrespective of the truth or falsehood of the assertion, bestows an unwarranted luster on raw evil. Abortion is evil, and eugenic abortion is evil, perhaps on an even deeper level.

There are many arguments offered by both sides on the factual issue. Those who assert that Roe had no effect point out that the crime reduction by age cohorts is opposite what a Roe effect would predict. Crimes by older criminals declined sooner than crimes by younger criminals. In addition, the cohort of young teens born in the decade prior to Roe had lower crime rates (by a factor of 3) than the cohort born in the decade after Roe (the pruned cohort).  Others disagreed. The debate continues.

The question, though, strikes me as easily answered, at least to a first approximation. If crime rates dropped because there were fewer criminals, then the number of criminals incarcerated should drop as well. But if the crime rates dropped because we incarcerated criminals, then the number of criminals incarcerated should rise. Although there are many subtleties that may come into play, it's a simple way to distinguish between fewer criminals versus more effective punishment.

The evidence of course is unequivocal-- there has been a marked increase in incarceration rate, that has corresponded more or less with the fall in crime. That is not what the Roe effect advocates would predict. The data suggests that we have less crime because we are more effective at getting criminals off the street.

More criminals in jail, less crime. Odd how that works.

Which reminds me of perhaps the dumbest (and funniest) article ever published in the New York Times. It's title:

Despite Drop in Crime, an Increase in Inmates

It's author, Fox Butterfield, was... dumbfounded. He was quite seriously perplexed. Why would there be less crime when you have more criminals in jail?

Butterfield pondered the "paradox":

In seeking to explain the paradox of a falling crime rate but a rising prison population...

You can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Climate science goes under oath

Fred Singer, a global warming skeptic and a climate scientist with integrity, has a fine essay on Climategate fraud Michael "Hide the Decline" Mann's upcoming new book and on Mann's upcoming opportunity to testify under oath.

Oops. What happened to the Mediaeval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age?
The IPCC has lately flushed the Hockey Stick  graph down the memory hole.
It turns out that even random numbers fed into Mann's algorithm produce hockey sticks.

Excerpt from Singer's essay:

In reading Mann's original papers, I noticed something very strange: his temperature record (blue curve in the IPCC report) based on proxy data suddenly stops in 1978 and is joined smoothly to the thermometer record from weather stations (red curve), which shows a steep rise in temperature. By contrast, atmospheric temperatures measured from weather satellites show only insignificant warming between 1978 and 1997 -- as do the independent data from weather balloons around the world. 
Puzzled by this disparity, I e-mailed Mann (then at the U. of Virginia) and politely asked about his post-1978 proxy temperatures. All I got in return was a nasty reply -- which only served to confirm my suspicion that Mann was hiding the data because they disagreed with the widely accepted thermometer record, which had suggested the existence of global warming. I believe that this is the true meaning of the phrase "Mike's Nature trick," used in the leaked Climategate e-mails -- in conjunction with "hide the decline." It all suggests manipulation of crucial data. 
Naturally, I am anxious to learn if Mann's suppressed post-1978 data show a warming...

How to find out the truth?

Singer says 'not to worry':

... the American Tradition Institute is trying to extract Mann's e-mails from UVa, using the FOIA. Their chance for success is good -- particularly since not only does the university now admits that some 12,000 e-mails exist (previously claimed to have been deleted) -- but it has also released these e-mails to Michael Mann, even though he is no longer a faculty member.
As Tom Jackman reports (Wash Post, March 21):

The ATI case began quietly in January 2011, with a FOIA request to UVa for e-mails to and from Mann and 39 people, involving five grant programs. Seven months later, UVa produced almost 1,800 e-mails, but said it was withholding another 12,000, which they argued were not public record, or were exempt under Virginia FOIA law 2.2-3705.4(4). The case is scheduled for argument on April 16 in Manassas (in Prince William County, Virginia), in suburban Washington, DC. From there, the case will likely begin its ascent up the appeals court ladder and is poised to make law on how Virginia institutions may use FOIA to withhold from some and give to others. Not to mention create an international stink -- if Mann's e-mails show he has manipulated climate change data, an accusation for which he claims to have been cleared. 
As Jackman further reports, Mann said his shared interest, with UVa, in his e-mails means that the e-mails can be released to him, but not to climate skeptics. The American Tradition Institute, the conservative group hoping to show that climate change scientists like Mann manipulated their data, argues that UVa can't give the e-mails to one person and not another. By giving the e-mails to Mann, the university has waived any exemptions it's claiming from the state Freedom of Information Act, ATI's lawyer David Schnare argues. 
Schnare then cited a Virginia attorney general's opinion from 1983 that once a public body disseminates any record, "those records lose the exemption accorded by" FOIA. Federal case law appears to be clearer that "selective disclosure ... is offensive to the purposes underlying the FOIA and intolerable as a matter of policy." 
Meanwhile, a new angle has developed in Vancouver, BC. Canadian climatologist Tim Ball jokingly wrote that "Mann should not be at Penn State but in a State Pen[itentiary]." Mann then improvidently sued Ball for libel. But this now leaves Mann open for the pre-trial discovery process, including a deposition under oath. We shall see how this case develops. Tim Ball has many ways to make his case in his defense. I am hoping he will focus on the suppressed post-1978 data. It would be fitting if Mann's data are used to destroy the IPCC's case for AGW. 
One way or another, the truth will come out. And when it does, we will witness a major earthquake that will encompass IPCC scientists, politicians in America and Europe, and the U.N. Let's hope we don't have to wait too long for this to happen.
Ultimately, we're going to lift the lid and peer into the climate science bowl. The frauds can't flush it all. After all, you and I paid for all the stuff fed into the other end, and it belongs to us, all the way through.

Should be interesting. They wouldn't be covering up so much if it was nice in there. 

When prosecutors go bad

I deal with quite a few prosecutors in my line of work (usually child abuse cases), and I hold them in very high esteem. Most of the prosecutors I've met are honest, hard working, and underpaid heroes who strive for justice for the most vulnerable people.

There are, however, exceptions. Nancy Gertner and Barry Schneck of the Innocence Project have a fine essay in the Wall Street Journal entitled How to Rein In Rogue Prosecutors.


On Thursday, a special prosecutor released his report on the botched prosecution on corruption charges of the late Sen. Ted Stevens. It's worth noting the lessons learned from this investigation. Otherwise, wrongful convictions will continue. 
The special prosecutor, Henry Schuelke, found that Justice Department lawyers committed ethics violations by the deliberate and "systematic" withholding of critical evidence pointing to Stevens's innocence, but he declined to go further. The reason: There was no court order expressly directing the government lawyers to turn over the evidence. Criminal charges can only be brought when there is a knowing and intentional violation of an order. 
In sharp contrast, on Friday, Feb. 17, the chief judge of the Texas Supreme Court convened a court of inquiry to determine whether the former Williamson County district attorney violated state laws by failing to turn over evidence that could have prevented Michael Morton from spending 25 years in prison after his 1987 conviction for a murder that DNA evidence now proves he didn't commit. 
The judge in the Morton case could deal directly with the prosecutor's alleged misconduct while the judge in the Stevens case could not. The Texas prosecutor had been expressly ordered by the trial court to turn over the lead investigator's complete report, an order that made certain all exculpatory evidence would be disclosed. The obligations of the Stevens prosecutors, while based on the Constitution and the disciplinary rules of the profession, were not formally embodied in a court order. 
The two cases present a simple solution for dealing with prosecutorial misconduct: Thirty days before trial, or at some reasonable time, the trial judge should convene a conference and issue a specific order directing prosecutors to produce all evidence that "tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigate the offense," as required by the American Bar Association's ethics rules. This should include the requirement that prosecutors contact the relevant law-enforcement personnel to make certain all such evidence is disclosed as soon as possible.
The Innocence Project is a wonderful organization that has been able to overturn wrongful convictions of hundreds of innocent people, many of whom have served decades in prison. The problem of prosecutorial misconduct is a very real one, and it needs to be addressed vigorously.

The devotion of prosecutors to justice, and not to winning cases, must be sacrosanct, and Gertner and Schneck propose a reasonable approach to combatting one of the most common and most egregious manifestations of prosecutorial misconduct-- the intentional or grossly negligent withholding of exculpatory evidence by the prosecutorial team.

Intentional withholding of evidence that bears on the outcome of the judicial process is obstruction of justice, and should be prosecuted as such.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why are some black lives worth more than others?

Lee Habeeb at NRO asks the obvious question: who do we ignore the murder of blacks by blacks, and only get outraged by the (quite rare) murder of blacks by whites?

We seem to only value the lives of black murder victims when their murder seems to confirm the accusation that we are a deeply racist society. But isn't the selective valuation of only the few black lives extinguished by whites, and the ignoring of the 94% of black murder victims killed by other blacks, stronger evidence for racism than the rare white-on-black murders?

Perhaps there is a strong streak of racism in our society that persists, disguised as anti-racism.

Evil is subtle, and loves irony. 

"the Jewish filth of Europe"

Caroline Glick on Jew hatred in the Muslim Middle East.


... The Palestinians of course are far from unique in their obsession with hating Jews. Their hemorrhage of hatred, their obsessive need to reject any move towards peaceful coexistence with Israel, or what the renowned late Palestinian poet Yousuf Al Khatib referred to picturesquely as "the Jewish filth of Europe," is matched in every Arab land. And of course, it is the primary obsession of the Iranian regime.

The parallels between Nazi laws and the laws of the PA and the Arab states that outlaw all cooperation with Israel and make such cooperation a capital offense are obvious and straightforward. Yet generally speaking, anyone who points out this fact is automatically dismissed as an alarmist or an extremist. Given the PA's relative military weakness when compared with Israel and the Arab world's current lack of interest in waging active war against Israel, noting their inarguable ideological affinity with the Nazis is considered socially and even intellectually unacceptable. The fact that they lack the ability to implement their ideology renders it improper to mention it.

The social prohibition on drawing parallels between the threats facing Israel today and those that faced the Jewish people 70 years ago is not limited to the discourse on the Arab world's conflict with Israel. It also extends to polite society's discourse on Iran's nuclear program, which the Iranian regime has repeatedly made clear is aimed at destroying Israel.

In his address to the nation at the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took aim at that taboo when he attacked those who accuse him of belittling the Holocaust by comparing the annihilation of European Jewry to the threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Netanyahu said, "I know there are also those who believe that the unique evil of the Holocaust should never be invoked in discussing other threats facing the Jewish people. To do so, they argue, is to belittle the Holocaust and to offend its victims.

"I totally disagree. On the contrary. To cower from speaking the uncomfortable truth - that today like then, there are those who want to destroy millions of Jewish people - that is to belittle the Holocaust, that is to offend its victims and that is to ignore the lessons....

We are forgetting the primal crime of recent human history-- the deliberate extermination of European Jews-- and we are abetting the Nazis of our own generation. There must be zero tolerance for radical anti-semitism, which is the coin of the realm in the Muslim Middle East.

What part of this do we still not understand?


Rob Bluey at Hot Air:

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is currently blocking implementation of voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas, claiming such measures are “unnecessary,” discriminatory and would make it harder for minorities to vote. 
But if you’re planning to visit Holder’s office in Washington, D.C., you better bring a photo ID. The Department of Justice has two armed guards stationed outside its headquarters to check IDs of anyone who wants to enter — employees and visitors. 
Holder’s politically motivated crusade against voter ID laws has the support of liberal advocacy organizations ranging from the Center for American Progress and Media Matters to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Advancement Project.
Each of these organizations has criticized photo identification for voting, yet they require it to enter their Washington, D.C., offices as well. There’s even a sign in the building of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: “ALL VISITORS MUST SHOW ID.”

Holder is able to block laws in South Carolina on Texas because they are subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a civil rights-era law that gives the Department of Justice authority over voting changes. It remains unclear if those states will be able to enforce their laws for this November’s election. 
“The Obama-Holder Department of Justice has launched an all-out war on voter ID and other measures,” former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell said upon launching a new initiative called Protect Your Vote. “Although Holder’s actions are purported to prevent African-Americans from being disenfranchised, in reality they serve as a crass political attempt to ensure his boss gets re-elected this year.” 
Liberals have long trotted out false arguments about voter ID laws, claiming they suppress the vote among those individuals who do not have photo identification. But a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case upholding Indiana’s voter ID law revealed there was no such hardship. Opponents of the law were unable to produce a single plaintiff who could plausibly claim inability to get a photo ID. In addition, states with longstanding voter ID laws, such as Georgia and Indiana, have actually experienced an increase in turnout of minority voters.
For rare voters who genuinely have difficulty obtaining valid photo ID, we could certainly fund programs to make such ID available free of charge.

But this isn't really about protecting voting rights. This is about facilitating voter fraud.

Voter fraud is the oxygen on which grass-roots Democratic Party politics thrives, and they will fight like cats getting a bath against measures to ensure integrity in voting.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"If I wanted American to fail..."

"DDT: A Case Study in Scientific Fraud"

From J. Gordon Edwards seminal paper in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Fall 2004)

J. Gordon Edwards, Ph.D. 
Value of Pesticides to Humanity 
The chemical compount that has saved more human lives than any other in history, DDT, was banned by order of one man, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Public pressure was generated by one popular book and sustained by faulty or fraudulent search. Widely believed claims of carcinogenicity, toxicity to birds, anti- androgenic properties, and prolonged environmental persistence are false or grossly exaggerated. The worldwide effect of the U.S. ban has been millions of preventable deaths.

Fraud in science is a major problem. A2002 report published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on fraud in science in Germany stated the International Scientific Misconduct Rules should punish deliberate or grossly negligent falsification or fabrication of data, and that failure to cooperate with investigations will be considered an admission of guilt. Ombudsmen will be appointed to probe for examples of misconduct, including falsification, fabrications, selective use of data, and manipulation of graphs and figures. Upon reading this article, I prepared a 34-page list of frauds published in U.S. scientific journals and sent it to the editor of . Although he responded courteously, he evidently did not wish to publicize this. The most common examples of fraud in the United States appear to be environmental, including acid rain, ozone holes, carbon dioxide, ultraviolet radiation, global cooling, global warming, endangered species, and pesticides. This article will primarily concern the last, especially DDT.

DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was first produced in 1874 by German chemist Othmar Zeidler, but he did not suggest any actual use for it. Sixty years later, Paul Müller duplicated the procedure and discovered the chemicals insecticidal potential. For this, he received the Nobel Prize in 1948.

DDT has been effective in controlling mankinds worst insect pests, including lice, fleas, and mosquitoes. This was of enormous importance for human health because at least 80 percent of human infectious disease worldwide is arthropod borne. Hundreds of millions have died from malaria, yellow fever, typhus, dengue, plague, encephalitis, leishmaniasis, filariasis, and many other diseases. In the 14th century bubonic plague (transmitted by fleas) 1 2 Science killed a fourth of the people in Europe and two-thirds of those in the
British Isles. Yellow fever killed millions before it was found to be transmitted by mosquitoes. It infected British troops in the Louisiana Territory in 1741, killing 20,000 of the 27,000 soldiers. In 1802, French troops arrived there but departed after 29,000 of the 33,000 soldiers died of yellow fever. More than 100 epidemics of typhus ravaged civilizations in Europe and Asia, with mortality rates as high as 70 percent. But by far the greatest killer has been malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes.

In 1945 the goal of eradicating this scourge appeared to be achievable, thanks to DDT. By 1959, the U.S., Europe, portions of the Soviet Union, Chile, and several Caribbean islands were nearly malaria free. In 1970 the National Academy of Sciences stated: To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. In little more than two decades DDT has prevented 500 million human deaths due to malaria that would have otherwise have been inevitable.

Today, however, after the U.S. ban on DDT, there is a global malaria burden of 300 to 500 million cases and 1 to 2.5 million deaths annually, mostly among young children. Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds. Many South American countries suffered more than 90 percent increases in malaria rates after halting DDT use, but Ecuador used DDT again and enjoyed a 61 percent in malaria...

Happy Earth Day. Folks in the developing world can be excused if they don't join the festivities.

"Let’s let their houses burn..."

Warren Meyer has a great post on environmentalist Steve Zwick's demand that denialists' houses be allowed to burn when the Eco-apocalypse arrives.

Meyer proposes a deal with the eco-fascists:

I... offer a counter-proposal to Mr. Zwick’s that skeptics bear the costs of climate change. I am ready to step up to the cost of any future man-made climate change if Mr. Zwick is ready to write a check for the lost economic activity and increased poverty caused by his proposals. We are at an exciting point in history where a billion people, or more, in Asia and Africa and Latin America are at the cusp of emerging from millenia of poverty. To do so, they need to burn every fossil fuel they can get their hands on, not be forced to use rich people’s toys like wind and solar. I am happy to trade my home for an imaginary one that Zwick thinks will be under water. Not only is this a great way to upgrade to some oceanfront property, but I am fully confident the crazy Al Gore sea level rise predictions are a chimera, since sea levels have been rising at a fairly constant rate since the end of the little ice age. In return, perhaps Mr. Zwick can trade his job for one in Asia that disappears when he closes the tap on fossil fuels?
The last alarmist-skeptic bet went badly for the eco-nuts.

Anthony Watts has a pithy comment on the real Malthusian catastrophe we continue to face:

The only thing the world has a genuine shortage of is honest and competent people in gov’t. Almost all of our problems are due to political interference with market forces.

The only CO2 that we have too much of is from the exhaled propaganda of various corrupt socialists entrenched in power in too many nations and in multinational confederations. The global warming hoax is intended in large part to radically extend their power.  

Quotes from the first Earth Day

Alan Caruba has a refreshing compilation of environmentalist lunacy from the first Earth Day in 1970. Maybe we should hold these nuts to their original predictions, before we accept any new ones.

As Earth Day 2012 occurs on Sunday, April 22, I offer a selection of quotes from leading figures in the environmental movement that are worth reading so that you can draw your own conclusions. 
In 1970, the first Earth Day generated the following quotes: 
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” - George Wald, Harvard Biologist
“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” - Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist 
“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.” - New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day 
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” - Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist 
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.” - Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day in 1970. 
Truth meant (and means) little to environmentalists. 
“What we’ve got to do in energy conservation is try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” – Timothy Wirth, former U.S. Senator (D-CO) 
“It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.” – Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace. 
Many of the environmental movement’s leaders harbored genocidal dreams as the best way to “save the Earth.” 
“We have wished, we eco-freaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion—guilt-free at last!” – Steward Brand, writing in the Earth Catalog. 
“Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.” - Dave Forman, founder of Earth First 
“I suspect that eradicating smallpox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.” - John Davis, editor of the Earth First Journal 
“The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing….This is not to say that the rise of human civilization is insignificant, but there is no way of showing that it will be much help to the world in the long run.” - An editorial in The Economist. 
Al Gore 
One could devote an entire column to quotes by former Vice President, Al Gore, but one of my favorites is from his 1993 book, Earth in the Balance. “It ought to be possible to establish a coordinated global program to accomplish the strategic goal of completely eliminating the internal combustion engine over, say, a twenty-five year period.”

He was talking about the engine in every car, every truck, every tractor, every motorcycle, and every airplane, among other uses. Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize, shared with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and an Oscar for his apocalyptic documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” 
There are, of course, voices of reason who have sought to warn us against the true agenda of environmentalism. 
“The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.” --Paul Johnson, historian 
And, finally, this warning from the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclac Klaus: “They hate us, the humans, they consider us selfish and sinful creatures who must be controlled by them. I used to live in a similar world—called communism—and I know that it led to the worst environmental damage the world has ever experienced.”
I especially love the quote about regretting the eradication of smallpox. It's an echo of Darwin's lament in Descent of Man of the eradication of smallpox. He lamented that the survival of weak people who otherwise would have perished from disease:

"Excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his weakest animals to breed."

Anti-human hate runs through Darwinism and eugenics and population hysteria and global warming hysteria. 

The... the... oceans are turning to acid!!!

For your Earth Day enjoyment, Pat Michaels has a nice essay on the latest green hoax.


What with it being Earth Day and all, it’s a good time to reflect on the sorry track record of environmental apocalypse prognostication and make a little forecast of our own, namely that something called “ocean acidification” is going to be the latest, greatest threat to our survival. “This time we mean it”, my greener friends are saying. 
They’ve always meant it. 50 years ago, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, an anti-pesticide tome that Al Gore cites as his inspiration (as I write this you can join the other dozen people watching Current TV, where Al is touting itahhgaain!). Carson conjured a birdless, cancer-riven world caused by increasing reliance on pesticides. 
The metaphor stuck. Federal scientists warned of an “aquatic silent spring” if acid rain remained unchecked. In reality, rainfall is naturally acidic, and there are plenty of spots on earth—including a small place called Asia—where there are very few controls on power plant emissions thought to contribute to it. There are still birds. In the eastern U.S., the white haze of summer (as opposed to the more natural blue haze—hence, Blue Ridge Mountains) is largely made up of acid rain precursors. And the birds tweet on. 
Should have been called the half-acid rain problem. 
Of course there was Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 “Population Bomb”, projecting massive worldwide famines in the 1970s. Doomsayers have yet to learn to delay the end until their dotage, although, judging from his recent letter to the Slovenian government, threatening mass extinctions if they build one power plant, NASA’s James Hansen appears to be coming pretty close. 
Instead of rising exponentially, as Ehrlich said they would, global birth rates dropped—by 50 per cent—and they are still going down. 
Related to the Population Bomb was the World Food Crisis. In the early 1970s, thanks to some bad weather here and some worse central planning in the quaint Communist world, global food stocks reached a very low value. Worldwatch’s Lester Brown said we could starve. He does that, or something like it, every year, in his “State of the World” books. College professors still buy them. 
We solved that the good-old American way, selling a massive amount of our wheat to the Soviet Union, jacking up the price, and then planting, in the words of President Nixon’s “colorful” Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz, “from fencerow to fencerow”. End of crisis. 
Ah, forgot about Ozone Depletion. That was going to disrupt the Southern Ocean/Antarctic food chain, also causing mass starvation. No dice. 
Dupont’s patents on Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), ubiquitous refrigerants thought to be catalyzing the destruction of high-latitude stratospheric ozone, were about to run out, so they were only too happy to assist in banning it. Of course, they had a substitute...
I’ll leave global warming alone, having ranted on it enough. In this year’s Earth Day update, Gallup finds it—yet again—at the bottom of the list of people’s environmental worries. 
Which is why we have a new apocalypse, “ocean acidification”, caused, surprise, by dreaded carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels...

I often wonder how it is that so many people are duped by this crap. Generation after generation, people accept this junk science, despite the fact that quite analogous apocalypses have been proven frauds again and again and again.

I guess it's for the same reason that people still fall victim to Ponzi schemes and various financial scams.

Chuck Colson R.I.P.

Chuck Colson died Saturday at age 80. He lived an extraordinary life, full of grace and of love of God. He founded the Prison Fellowship, the world's largest outreach to prisoners and their families, with chapters in 113 countries.

He is now with his Savior, in joy and peace. Please pray for him and for his family.

Happy Earth Civilization Day

Robert Zubrin at Washington Times has a great essay on Earth Day's Dark Side.


Using Carson’s “Silent Spring,” which falsely argued that DDT was endangering bird populations (in fact, it was protecting them from insect-born diseases) a massive propaganda campaign was launched to ban DDT. As a result, the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did so in 1971. Subsequently, the U.S. Agency for International Development adopted regulations preventing it from funding international projects that used the vital pesticide. Together with similar enactments in Europe, this effectively banned the use of DDT in many Third World countries. By some estimates, the malaria death toll in Africa alone resulting from those restrictions has exceeded 100 million people...
European “greens” also have much horror to account for, notably through their campaign against genetically modified crops. Hundreds of millions of people in the Third World suffer from nutritional deficiencies resulting from their cereal-dominated diets. This can be rectified readily by employing genetically enhanced plants, such as golden rice, which is rich in vitamin A. But as a result of political pressure from green parties, the European Union has banned the import of crops from countries that employ such strains, thereby blackmailing many governments into forbidding their use. In consequence, millions of children are being unnecessarily blinded, crippled or killed every year.

Greens have blood on their hands. The global warming hoax is merely the latest iteration of an elitist anti-human crusade veiled with a patina of claims for stewardship for the environment. Hundreds of millions of innocents-- mostly desperately poor people in developing countries-- have died from disease and starvation because of these bastards.

So on this Earth Day-- the day in which green fanatics celebrate malaria and malnutrition and lucrative scientific hoaxes-- we should celebrate Civilization Day. Let us celebrate men like Norman Borlaug and Paul Muller who have quietly saved more than a billion people from starvation and disease. 

On this Earth Day, give the green nuts and killers and frauds the finger. Turn on all your lights, run 'em all night, leave your car running in the driveway and use as much gas as you can, run every appliance you own, and say a prayer of thanks for the blessings that genuine humane stewardship of our resources have brought to humanity.  

“The right deed for the wrong reason"

Jesus and the Pharisees

R.R. Reno at First Things has a great essay on our preoccupation with earthly matters.


“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” So wrote St. Paul to the Colossians, reminding them that if they have been raised with Christ, then they should direct their minds and their lives toward him. 
As I sat in the pew on Easter Sunday and listened to that passage for Colossians, I found myself wondering: Do I set my mind and life too much on things that are on earth?
Some of the temptations are not easy to identify. Jesus tells us to lay up our treasure in heaven, and that seems to rule out thinking about bank accounts. But is that always true? My children are in college and tuitions bills need to be paid. It’s irresponsible for me never to think about my bank account. “Sorry, Rachel, meant to pay last semester’s tuition, but I laid up my treasure in heaven instead.” No, that won’t do. Whatever Jesus meant when he said that we must be ready to hate our mother and father, brother and sister, he wasn’t giving us an excuse to neglect our responsibilities to our families.
The same holds for our duties as citizens. There is something very wrong about investing politics with ultimate significance. As Jesus taught us, his kingdom is not of this world. He reigns from above, not in the halls of congress.
It's a question I struggle with. How should I as a Christian engage the world? Should I just meet my most basic responsibilities to my family and my church and my job and devote the rest of my time to prayer and devotional activities? I don't know.

Reno answers, from his perspective:

But by the same token, elections matter, and not just a little. Deciding who sits on the United States Supreme Court makes a life and death difference for the unborn. It makes a difference for the future of marriage. Our solvency as a nation may very well turn on who gets elected to public office. The moral character of society is shaped by those in positions of public influence. There are many, many things on earth that rightly engage our minds. It would be irresponsible for us never to think about how to best serve the common good.
I agree. But by the same token, the desire to do good in the world, while laudable in specifics, can be dangerous in generality. Our hearts must be with God, and the world can pull us away from that. We must take care not to become servants of worldy recognition or engagement. This forms the basis for Jesus ' excoriation of the Pharisees.

Reno concludes:

I often find myself humiliated at Mass by the awareness that my mind is preoccupied. Many, many times during the prayers of consecration I’ve caught myself thinking about how I’ve got to solve this or that problem. Money, reputation, politics: I’m in the temples of the gods of this world, propitiating them, negotiating with them, raging at them. 
Then, suddenly, everyone around me is saying “Amen” and starting to rise for the Lord’s Prayer. I’m jarred out of my distracted preoccupations, my mental list-making, my ardent problem-solving. As I said, it’s a humiliating moment. The mystery of Christ made present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist is in front of me, and I’m off in my mind worshipping the gods of this world whom I tacitly presume control my future. 
In that painful moment I try to follow St. Paul’s advice. I don’t stop thinking about my responsibilities. Instead, I refer them to Christ, asking him for guidance. And who better to know the answer? “He is before all things,” St. Paul writes earlier in Colossians, “and in him all things hold together.”

T.S. Elliot understood:

The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


From the Sun:
British sperm donor ‘fathered 600 children’ 
A BRITISH scientist may have fathered 600 children after making donations to a fertility programme he ran with his wife.

And one of his biological children has suggested the number may even be as high as ONE THOUSAND. 
Bertold Wiesner - who was born in Austria - ran the Barton Clinic in London which helped more than 1,500 women conceive. 
Barry Stevens, a film-maker from Canada, was concieved using Wiesner's donated sperm and said the number could be much higher. 
He said last night: "He was the one that found the donors so it's possible he didn't tell his wife and she believed the donations were coming from a lot of different men." 
Wiesner ran the controversial clinic with his wife Mary - until he died in 1972. Research shows he regularly made donations from the early 1940s until the mid-1960s. 
David Gollancz, a London-based barrister also conceived at the clinic, said last night: "A conservative estimate is that he would have been making 20 donations a year. 
"Using standard figures of live births which result, including allowances for twins and miscarriages, I estimate that he is responsible for between 300 and 600 children," he added. 
Allan Pacey - a male fertility expert at Sheffield University said a healthy man could make up to 50 donations a year. 
He said Gollancz's estimations were "plausible". 
Last year it emerged that one anonymous American sperm donor had fathered more than 150 children.
None of these children were "fathered". They were produced, in an industrial process, for a profit. They came to be as a result of a business transaction.

"Fathering" is being with your wife when she has the ultrasound, and walking your baby at night when she has colic, and going to her preschool play, and her soccer game, and her graduation, and her wedding. It's guiding her and protecting her and loving her and putting her through college when it means you'll never retire and vetting her fiance with a microscope and letting her go when you don't want to and then being there for her whenever she needs you.

Hopefully many of these kids did have fathers, of the adoptive or step- sort. Those men are their real fathers, not some jerk who jerked for profit or ego or whatever.

Sadly, I suspect that many of these kids grew up without fathers of any kind. A brutal thing to do to a kid.

We are at the edge of an abyss. The biological revolution-- particularly the ability to engineer conception without conjugal love-- is the most dangerous skill man has acquired, much more dangerous than splitting the atom.

We are changing what it means to become human. People will increasingly be products. Those of us who understand what is happening need to insist that we tell the truth, that we respect language and meaning, even if we don't respect human dignity.

No one is fathered in a sperm clinic. A sperm clinic is the antithesis of fatherhood.

Totalitarian democracy

Andrew McCarthy on law and culture and liberty. Essential reading.


We are in an age of upheaval, and what becomes of our law will go a long way toward determining how it ends. In a free society such as ours, grounded in a culture of ordered liberty, law should not be a didactic force. It undergirds economic and social life as it is already lived, reflecting the society’s values rather than instructing the society on what to think and how to live. But today’s progressive legal elites would have it another way. To them, the “rule of law” is code for a “social justice” crusade in which the courts, government bureaucracies, and international tribunals replace democratic self-determination with their sole and exclusive truth. If the progressives get their way, upheaval will not yield utopia. It will yield totalitarianism.

American society is a tapestry of countless private relations-- churches and families and civic organizaions-- that give it civility and stability and purpose. As Tocqueville observed, religion is (beside the family) the most important force in our culture.

Law properly serves to undergird ordered liberty, not to dictate it. Law establishes the minima of civic peace and justice necessary for culture to flourish. The unrelenting secular assault on our most important civic institutions-- our churches-- serves to replace voluntary ordered liberty with mandatory conformity.

Chesterton quipped that America is "a nation with the soul of a church". The secular assault on religion-- on our soul-- is a totalitarian project. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Seven rules for recording the police

Handy tips on staying on the right side of the law while recording police.

I'm a law-and-order guy, but I emphatically support the moral right of all people to record police officers who are acting in their official public capacity. I support the right to record the police because I'm a law-and-order guy.

In a free country, law enforcement officers are our employees, and they are accountable to us, and accurate  documentation of how they are doing the jobs we have hired them to do is a very good thing.

Officers who interfere with citizens exercising their right-- their responsibility to record them-- should face legal consequences themselves.

Transparency in law enforcement protects all honest citizens and public servants.