Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Ant and the Grasshopper - The True Story

The ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER fable finds frequent updates on the Laughing Conservative blog.  It is really hard for any hardworking person to have any empathy for the grasshopper, until they learn that the grasshopper at one time was as industrious as the ant.  But the grasshopper was “flighty” and could only afford to rent land owned by the ant. It cultivated fields full of food that it could have easily harvested throughout the cold winter without hording.  Then the real estate crisis happened. 

The fields that the grasshoppers were sharecropping were foreclosed on by the Ant Bank.  Although the bank had made all kinds of promises for a future of sustenance, it confiscated the farms of the grasshopper claiming they were on ant land and with the grasshopper’s poor harvest prospects they were not sufficient to pay the Ant Bank.

Then came subsequent years and prosperity returned.  The ant returned with its promises of low rent farm land to the grasshopper.  The grasshopper remembered its prior losses to the greedy ant.  It remembered that none the ants were penalized for false promises to starving grasshopper sharecroppers.  In fact, these same ants were doing even better with all the food they had accumulated from the grasshopper. The grasshopper saw it had little future.  That’s when the grasshoppers became locust.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

FACEBOOK"S DESTRUCTION OF DEMOCRACY

, , , for looking the other way during election manipulations in the UK (and US).

This is a bold TED talk — a serious indictment of Facebook — given last month to an audience that included major tech leaders such as Zuckerberg, Sandberg, et al.

The talk focused on the UK Brexit vote and low-income white workers, but you could substitute the Trump election and low-income white workers. . . and all the points would be the same . . . including the consequences.

One TED talk executive said, “there’s never been a talk like that at TED before.”

I think it might be worth your time. The first 7 or 8 minutes give you the gist if you’re pressed for time . . . but I watched the whole 15 minutes.
 
(A somewhat long Guardian/Observer article by the reporter who did the video:  https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/21/carole-cadwalladr-ted-tech-google-facebook-zuckerberg-silicon-valley )

--More from John Oliver--
COMMENTS RECEIVED IN ADVANCE OF THIS POST:

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Who's the Climate Liar?

Did Patrick Moore, a Doubter of Anthropogenic Climate Change, Co-Found Greenpeace?
 
President Trump thinks so.
Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace: “The whole climate crisis is not only Fake News, it’s Fake Science. There is no climate crisis, there’s weather and climate all around the world, and in fact carbon dioxide is the main building block of all life.” @foxandfriends Wow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2019
Greenpeace USA‏Verified account;@greenpeaceusa
Replying to
Patrick Moore was not a co-founder of Greenpeace. He does not represent Greenpeace. He is a paid lobbyist, not an independent source.
Snopes says:
Moore’s anti-climate-change statement on “Fox and Friends” is a bad-faith argument, and attributing such statements to a “Greenpeace co-founder” is factually inaccurate.
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/patrick-moore-climate-doubter/
However,  a web page quote directly from the Greenpeace website list Patrick Moore as a co-founder

http://web.archive.org/web/20021119050900/http://www.greenpeace.org.au/aboutus/founders.html

So who is caught in this lie?:

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Time to Get Scientific About Climate Change

Guy Sorman recently interviewed Judith Curry for the City Journal(1).  In it Curry talks bluntly without all the political spin about the real status of Climate Change. Curry is the former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  Specifically, she states:

“There is warming, but we don’t really understand its causes. The human factor and carbon dioxide, in particular, contribute to warming, but how much is the subject of intense scientific debate.”

"Even if all the states respected this commitment [Paris Climate Accord]—an unlikely prospect—the temperature reduction in 2100 would be an insignificant two-tenths of a degree. And this assumes that climate-model predictions are correct. If there is less future warming than projected, the temperature reductions from limiting emissions would be even smaller."

"Since the Paris Climate Accord was concluded, no government has followed through with any serious action. India is effectively ignoring the agreement, and France “misses its goals of greenhouse-gas reduction every year. The accord is unenforceable and carries no sanctions—a condition insisted upon by many governments that wouldn’t have signed on otherwise. Most economists suggest that the only effective incentive to reduce greenhouse-gas levels would be to impose a global carbon tax. No government seems willing to accept such a levy."

"Almost half of the warming observed in the twentieth century came about in the first half of the century, before carbon-dioxide emissions became large. None of the climate models used by scientists now working for the United Nations can explain this older trend. Nor can these models explain why the climate suddenly cooled between 1950 and 1970, giving rise to widespread warnings about the onset of a new ice age."

"Sea level is rising, but this has been gradually happening since the 1860s; we don’t yet observe any significant acceleration of this process in our time."

"Climatology has become a political party with totalitarian tendencies. If you don’t support the UN consensus on human-caused global warming, if you express the slightest skepticism, you are a ‘climate-change denier."

"Climatology is becoming an increasingly dubious science, serving a political project. The policy cart is leading the scientific horse.” 

"In 2005, Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian railway engineer, who remade himself into a climatologist and became director of the IPCC told me, without embarrassment, that, at the UN, he recruited only climatologists convinced of the carbon-dioxide warming explanation, excluding all others."

“We’re always being told that we are reaching a point of no return—that, for instance, the melting of the Arctic ice pack is the beginning of the apocalypse. But this melting, which started decades ago, is not leading to catastrophe. Polar bears have never been more numerous and less threatened by the melting than by urbanization and economic development in the polar region."

Read whole interview at

(1) https://www.city-journal.org/global-warming 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

What is the MOMO Challenge?

      The Momo Challenge and the Blue Whale Game are part of a folkloric tradition of what’s called a fear test - will teens be brave—or scared—enough to complete the challenge, even if they know it will end in their deaths?  The ultimate test is one that instructs the teen to commit suicide.

      However, there is little evidence that these games have actually led to teen suicides. For the most part the stories about suicides are nothing more than media caused panic paticularly in parents who may not be as tuned into the activities of their children as they should be. Its another form of stranger danger that have created a generator of helicopter parents who envision a threat around every corner.

     According to Benjamin Radford, a scientific paranormal investigator, a research fellow at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. "It’s easy for grief and moral panic to override critical thinking. The evidence for the Blue Whale game and the Momo Challenge is built largely on rumor and conjecture instead of solid evidence. This is only the latest in a long series of similar moral panics and outrages shared on social media and aided by sensationalist news media"  Click here to read his whole article

John Oliver Takes on PSYCHICS



While on the subject of psychics here is another video.  https://youtu.be/faBIIFA5wng 
It wouldn't be such a big deal except - 40% of Americans believe in them - and THEY VOTE.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

No Compelling Evidence That Recent Sea Level Rise Is Abnormal

      Mean global sea level has risen at a slow creep for more than 150 years; since 1900, global mean sea level has risen about 7-8 inches. The implications of the highest values of projected sea-level rise under future climate change scenarios are profound, with far reaching socioeconomic and environmental implications. However, these projections are regarded as deeply uncertain and the highest of these projections strain credulity.
      Recent research has concluded that there is no consistent or compelling evidence that recent rates of sea level rise are higher or abnormal in the context of the historical records back to the 19th century that are available across Europe.
        In many of the most vulnerable coastal locations, the dominant causes of local sea level rise are natural oceanic and geologic processes and land use practices. Land use and engineering in the major coastal cities have brought on many of the worst problems, notably land-filling in coastal wetland areas and groundwater extraction.
       Local sea level in many regions will continue to rise in the 21st century – independent of global climate change. The appropriate range of sea level rise scenarios to consider for 2100 is 8 inches to 5 feet. 
      Values of sea level rise are contingent on the climate models predicting the correct amount of temperature increase. However, there are numerous reasons to think that the climate models are predicting too much warming for the 21st century

https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/special-report-sea-level-rise3.pdf 

Website Breach Info

      "Have I been Pwnd" website came about after what was, at the time, the largest ever single breach of customer accounts — Adobe. The website creator often did post-breach analysis of user credentials and kept finding the same accounts exposed over and over again, often with the same passwords which then put the victims at further risk of their other accounts being compromised.
      His FAQs page goes into a lot more detail, but all the data on this site comes from "breaches" where data is exposed to persons that should not have been able to view it.

Identity Leak Detector

      Everyday personal data is stolen in criminal cyber attacks. A large part of the stolen information is subsequently made public on Internet databases, where it serves as the starting point for other illegal activities.

      With the HPI Identity Leak Checker, it is possible to check whether your email address, along with other personal data (e.g. telephone number, date of birth or address), has been made public on the Internet where it can be misused for malicious purposes.

CONSUMER and CYBERCRIME NEWS

Technology has hidden side effects -- BobSullivan.net reveals them and provides interesting commentary about:

Saturday, February 16, 2019

How Can Global Warming Accelerate if Effect of CO2 is Logarithmic?

      If scientists agree that the greenhouse effect is approximately logarithmic — which means that as we add more CO2 to the atmosphere, the effect of extra CO2 decreases, why does the IPCC projects that if we don't take steps to reduce our emissions, global warming won't just get worse, it will speed up?
      The answer can be found in a 28 March 28, 2018 post by DPiepgrass at 
https://skepticalscience.com/why-global-warming-can-accelerate.html

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Efficacy of Intercessonary Prayer

      It is common practice at most churches to request prayers or to have prayer services for someone sick. But who does these prayers help?  Numerous attempts to prove scinetificallyhave all failed to demonstrate any benefit to the ill, including a study funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
      In 1982, Randolph Byrd, a cardiologist at the San Francisco General Medical Center and born-again Christian believed that he could put faith-based prayer on a solid scientific foundation by implementing rigorous study using a double-blind randomized clinical trial. He randomly engaged four-hundred cardiac patients to prayed-for and not-prayed-for by Christian intercessors.  He found highly questionable and virtually little benefit to prayer.
      Subsequently, four new major investigations incorporating the same procedures Byrd had followed were carried out at other medical centers: William Harris, Saint Luke’s Hospital (1999); Jennifer Aviles, Mayo Clinic (2001); Mitchell Krucoff, Duke University Medical Center (2005); and Herbert Benson, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (2006). Their results were as follows:

Various broader meta-studies of the literature in the field have been performed showing evidence only for no effect or a potentially small effect (maybe depending on one's bias). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer 

So what explanation do those who uphold the value of prayer offer?
  • The research is premised on a misconception of how God responds to prayer.
  • God is outside the domain of science and therefore is not amenable to experimental evaluation.
  • It is not possible to randomize God or truly understand his will.
  • Research can neither prove nor disprove the validity of divine intervention.
  • Because God already knows who needs healing, prayer is superfluous.
  • It is a corruption of faith, if not willful blasphemy or sacrilege, to test God.
For additional information read:
https://secularhumanism.org/2018/12/have-christians-accepted-the-scientific-conclusion-that-god-does-not-answer-intercessory-prayer/

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Media Bias

If you think your news source sounds a little biased, it probably is.  That was the conclusion we came you while reading the magazine "The Week."  We were impressed by their practice of trying to share both sides of a contenious topic, but in our most recent reading (December 7, 2018), it seemed the column space (i.e. written acreage) was heavier on the more liberal position. It was time to check the Media-Bias-Chart.
The Version 4.0, updated in August 2018 is found at https://www.adfontesmedia.com/

Sure enough the authors of the chart consider The Week as skewing LEFT.  Could be our Confirmation Bias, but we don't think so.  However, the magazine is included in their YELLOW box, which they believe report the news fairly.

More important our the source in the ORANGE and RED boxes.  They provide either EXTREME or UNFAIR versions of the news or in the RED case PROVIDE NONSENSE DAMAGING TO PUBLIC DISCOURSE.

Again, we couldn't argue with the authors evaluations, especially with FOX NEWS which is popular in Tennessee

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Timely TED Talk on Confirmation Bias

Only if you are truly open to the possibility of being wrong can you ever learn, says researcher Alex Edmans. In an insightful talk, he explores how confirmation bias -- the tendency to only accept information that supports your personal beliefs -- can lead you astray on social media, in politics and beyond, and offers three practical tools for finding evidence you can actually trust.
https://www.ted.com/talks/alex_edmans_what_to_trust_in_a_post_truth_world?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare 

This TED-talk-find was an excellent treatise on Critical Thinking.  I wish everyone would listen to this TED talk as many times as necessary for the message to really sink in.  It is applicable in all aspects of life where we have soft data such in politics, economics, medicine, religion, etc. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Bush, TARP, and Federal Debt

Fifteen years ago, I was the webmaster for a political debate group. It was formed almost immediately after GW Bush invaded Iraq.  I thought that was an idiotic decision and politically motivated.  I was interested in what others thought.

Nearly all my friends and family were Republicans; so, you can tell what feedback I received.  However, I continued to vote Republican assuming it must have been me who got this whole invasion thing wrong.

In 2008 it was another Presidential election and I was ready to vote for McCain.  I liked that the man voted his conscience rather than the Party line.  However, when he picked Palin as Vice-President, I started to question his competence.  I couldn’t see risking the country if, for some reason, she should become President.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Death of Local News

The September 7th issue of THE WEEK had an article about the death of local news and the serious impact that has on the fight against corruption.  
http://theweek.com/articles/793309/death-local-news  

It asks the question, "Do we still meed local news?" It answers, "Only if things like schools, taxes, infrastructure, and government accountability matter to you." 

In the absence of local news people are relegated to getting their information on Google, Facebook, or Twitter.  Everyone knows how accurate those sources are and how insulated they are from fake stories. 

Even worse people trust their tribal bards without challenge or fact checking.  That only increases polarization of opinions and offers credibility to the loudest voices, the fringes.  People stop listening to and learning from others who may have contrary opinions.

The problem has only been exacerbating when the most vocal are the fringe elements and confabulators that populate high levels of authority that the average person used to be able to trust.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

What to do if you see fake news on Facebook

What to do if you see fake news on Facebook
Plus, what to know about the Iranian influence report.
By Rob Verger August 23, 2018

      Facebook and the intelligence division of a cybersecurity company called FireEye have pointed their fingers at a new global actor involved in the spread of what they’re calling “inauthentic” behavior or news: Iran.
      In fact, Facebook announced this week that they have shuttered more than 600 accounts, pages, and groups that the social network says are tied to Iran, meaning that the Middle Eastern country joins Russia as implicated in the spread of false news and manipulation via American social media. It’s an issue that will only gain in importance the closer the midterm elections become, and while it seems like an uphill battle, there are still steps you can take.
      This is what to do if you come across posts or accounts you think may not be what they seem to be, as well as what to know about the latest report.

What can you do?