Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The “I Don’t Know” Presidency
Here is the link.
Not from Fox News, nor any conservative outlet, but rather from National Journal, a compilation of instances in which Obama, or his spokesmen, claim they did not know about some major event or scandal.
“We just found out from news reports,” was the common refrain.
It seems the mainstream media are discovering what conservative media have been saying for a long time: Obama is good at campaigning, but he’s not so good at governing.
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
New Study: Gay Parenting Not Good For Kids
But now comes a scholarly study (in Review of Economics of the Household) that shows that kids with gay and lesbian parents are at a disadvantage.
But first, note that the politically correct orthodoxy has been driven by bad social science. How good are the studies that purport to show that gay parenting is just fine? The author of the current study comments:
Unfortunately, the literature on child development in same-sex households is lacking on several grounds. First, the research is characterized by levels of advocacy, policy endorsement, and awareness of political consequences, that is disproportionate with the strength and substance of the preliminary empirical findings. Second, the literature generally utilizes measures of child and family performance that are not easily verifiable by third party replication, which vary from one study to another in ways that make comparisons difficult, and which differ substantially from measures standardly used in other family studies. But most important, almost all of the literature on same-sex parenting (which almost always means lesbian parenting) is based on some combination of weak empirical designs, small biased convenience samples, “snowballing,” and low powered tests.The typical sample, in other words, is very small. And it typically consists of people who volunteered to be in the sample, approached through a gay community center, gay discussion board on the web, or some such.
Which leads us to a dirty little secret of the social sciences. Social scientists often study a particular issue because they have strong political opinions about the issue. Studying the gay family, in other words, has been a little cottage industry engaged in by academics who want to promote a gay political agenda. Strict canons of social science methodology, and peer review, should mitigate personal bias. But where the methodology is sloppy (as it is here) and the people doing the peer review are part of the same little cottage industry, there is little check on an ideological agenda.
The author of the new study uses a sample from the Canadian census. It is a very large “probability sample” known to be an unbiased representation of the entire Canadian population. That makes it better than any study done so far.
What does it find?
From the abstract of the article:
Here, a 20 % sample of the 2006 Canada census is used to identify self-reported children living with same-sex parents, and to examine the association of household type with children’s high school graduation rates. This large random sample allows for control of parental marital status, distinguishes between gay and lesbian families, and is large enough to evaluate differences in gender between parents and children. Children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65 % as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families. Daughters of same-sex parents do considerably worse than sons.These results, we might add, hold up in the presence of an impressive array of statistical controls.
Of course, any statistical results can be interpreted in different ways. As the author notes of gay parent households:
. . . avenues through which these households are formed are many and complicated. . . these families often have experienced a prior divorce, previous heterosexual marriages, intentional pregnancies, co-parenting, donor insemination, adoption, and surragacy.So it’s always possible to argue that something correlated with gay parenting, and not gay parenting itself, harms children’s chances.
And the author further observes:
An economist may be inclined to think that fathers and mothers are not perfect substitutes and that there must be some gains from a sexual division of labor in parenting. Others may suspect that children of same-sex parents are more likely to be harassed at school, and therefore, less likely to graduate. In any event, it is time to investigate the difference and reject the conventional wisdom of “no difference.”But rejecting conventional wisdom that it so deeply ingrained in the rather narrow, politically correct worlds of academia, the educational establishment and the elite media is not easy. Especially when anybody who breathes the slightest word of dissent is going to be demonized, attacked, bullied and harassed.
Friday, October 04, 2013
Political Fiddling With Global Warming Report
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is in full spin-control mode today after analysts pointed out politicians rather than scientists are driving IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers.Of course, politics and science don’t mix very well, and when they do mix, it’s science that likely takes a back seat since the politicians control the resources that the scientists want: money, power, legitimacy, the feeling that one is “making the world better.”
Earlier today, IPCC released the Summary for Policymakers for its Fifth Assessment Report. However, IPCC failed to release the Fifth Assessment Report itself, explaining it had to make revisions to the Report to comport with the Summary for Policymakers. The content and wording of the Summary for Policymakers is formulated by political representatives of UN member nations rather scientists.
The revelation that politicians and political representatives are dictating what appears in the Summary for Policymakers and the Fifth Assessment Report itself further damages IPCC’s poor credibility regarding objectivity and scholarly merit. Scientific watchdogs previously noted IPCC’s top staffers who direct the Report’s content and conclusions include dozens of staffers affiliated with environmental activist groups. Additionally, IPCC reports are notorious for citing environmental activist memos and other unreliable sources to support alarmist climate assertions.
The just-released Summary for Policymakers bears the undeniable fingerprints of political mischief. For example, a draft Summary for Policymakers that IPCC leaked to friendly journalists several weeks ago reported global temperatures have remained flat since last century and IPCC computer models cannot explain why. The draft Summary also acknowledged temperatures are rising more slowly than asserted in prior IPCC reports. Political representatives openly complained these acknowledgements provided evidentiary support for skeptics of an asserted global warming crisis. The political representatives expressed special concern regarding IPCC’s acknowledgement that it could not explain the ongoing flat temperatures, and they urged IPCC to change its findings. Today’s revised Summary reflects the political objections to the earlier scientific findings, with the revised Summary claiming IPCC computer models can explain the ongoing flat temperatures, and claiming the lack of recent warming has no bearing on long-term temperature trends. IPCC authors are presumably re-writing applicable sections of the Fifth Assessment Report this weekend to change the Reports’ scientific conclusions and reconfigure them to meet the demands of politicians.
IPCC chair Raj Pachauri, meanwhile, is in personal damage control mode after claiming earlier this week that there has been no slowdown in global temperature rise. As reported here earlier this week, reporters documented Pachauri acknowledged earlier this year that global temperatures have indeed been flat for the past 17 years. The draft Summary for Policymakers, before it was scrubbed by politicians and political representatives, also acknowledged the lack of recent warming despite Pachauri’s claims to the contrary.
It’s deeply ironic that warming proponents accuse skeptics of being politically motivated. No doubt skeptics have political biases, but they are not so blatantly acting as willing lackeys, doing the bidding of the politicians.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Environmental Naziism: Punish Politicians Who Don’t Accept Global Warming
He hasn’t recanted or backed off, as this video clip shows.
If you watch is, you will notice that the audience applauds when Suzuki suggests legal punishment for people who don’t accept his view of the issue.
In other words, this kind of environmental fascism is not just some idiosyncratic notion on Suzuki’s part. Quite a substantial number of liberals and leftists would punish people who disagree with them on this issue. And of course, other issues too.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Popular Scientific Arrogance
Popular Science Is Neither. Discuss.This is typical of the arrogance of those who pretend to speak in the name of “science.” They show the dogmatism equal to religious dogmatism at its worst.
The website of Popular Science magazine, beset with “trolls and spambots,” is shutting off user comments, explains its online content director, Suzanne LaBarre. We can sympathize with that—but not with this:A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.All scientific knowledge is empirically based and tentative; “scientific doctrine” is an oxymoron, and “scientific certainty” a relative term. LaBarre’s comments exemplify the danger of religion’s decline. Science is corrupted when people look to it to provide them with a belief system.
If “science” insists that something is true, don’t you dare doubt it.
For these folks, science is not something produced by ordinary mortals. Science never heads off down the garden path, the result of political ideology, group think, careerism, or personal or group self-interest on the part of the scientists.
But in the real world, scientists, a century ago, embraced the poisonous doctrine of eugenics. A little more recently, they accepted the Piltdown Man hoax. And their current claims about global warming are sounding a bit suspect given the reality that there has been essentially no warming for the last 15 years.
We have no problem with the theory of evolution, but we are rather put off by the fact that that members of the cult of science are radically offended that anybody might disbelieve it. They just can’t accept that, no matter how emphatic science is about an issue, people will choose heretical ideas.
Members of the cult of science need to grow up. Nobody has a right to have people agree with them.
We are rather skeptical of anthropogenic global warming, and we are especially put off by the fascist demands for orthodoxy on the part of its proponents.
It’s relevant here that scientists are (relative to other professions) a rather secular lot, with a very large proportion of atheists among their ranks. But of course, when one decides one does not believe in God, the desire for certainty and moral purity does not go away. Rather, it gets transferred to another belief system. Science becomes that belief system. That’s how science becomes scientism.