Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

      Numerous published reviews have appraised the role of vitamin and mineral supplements in primary or secondary prevention of chronic disease have consistently found null results or possible harms. With respect to multivitamins, the published studies indicate no substantial health benefit. Supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful.
      Nevertheless, the use of multivitamin supplements increased among U.S. adults from 30% between 1988 to 1994 to 39% between 2003 to 2006, while overall use of dietary supplements increased from 42% to 53%.  Sales of multivitamins and other supplements have not been affected by major studies with null results, and the U.S. supplement industry continues to grow, reaching $28 billion in annual sales in 2010. 

Politician And Environmentalist Lies about Climate Change

      In Senator Cruz's opening statement in the Science Sub-Committee of Commerce Committee he emphasizes the need to stick to the science in considering policy.  As an example, he shows the wild exaggeration made by some politicians, such a past-senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry.
      Likewise, in his essay about the Sophistic Nature of the Defense of Global Warming Alarm, Dr. Lindzen, MIT Professor Emeritus warns of similar disingenuous reporting of statements made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Specifically,
  • The IPCC does not claim that the ‘science is settled'
  • The IPCC does not claim “that there is an urgent need to fight climate change by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide.
  • The IPCC does not claim that climate change is mostly due to human activities  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Polar Bear Numbers Increased

Survey Results: Svalbard polar bear numbers increased 30% over last 11 years

Results of this fall’s Barents Sea population survey have been released by the Norwegian Polar Institute and they are phenomenal: despite several years with poor ice conditions, there are more bears now (~975) than there were in 2004 (~685) around Svalbard (a 30% increase) and the bears were in good condition.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Religious Freedom: What It Is and What It Is Not

      Religious freedom has traditionally been construed as an individual right to pray and worship as one sees fit. But Religious Right activists are working to change religious liberty into something else—a device to be used to control others and a vehicle to enlist government support to further fundamentalist dogma. In this talk, Rob Boston discusses why the Religious Right's view of religious freedom isn't really religious freedom at all and why, ultimately, changes in the American religious landscape will lead to a less dogmatic, more secular nation.

Real X-Files

Okay we'll try this one again.  The last time I transfer the "embed code" from the producers, it disappeared from their website and from our embed.  Their new embed code didn't work any better so we saved a the video to You Tube


This was featured again in Cause and Effect Newsletter, Issue #46December 18, 2015. Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community.

Religious Freedom?

This one goes under the column, "In America you are free to have a religious belief as long as it is the same as mine." 
      Schools in Augusta County in central Virginia were temporarily closed due to outrage over a lesson in Arabic calligraphy. Riverheads High School teacher Cheryl LaPorte asked students to practice calligraphy by copying an Islamic statement of faith known as the shahada as shown below.
Have any idea what it means?  Neither did the students.  It may have not been the best choice of study material, but the lesson was hardly deserving of the response. 
      Eric Bond, Virginia Department of Education and Superintendent, LapOrte's lesson was consistent with state standards and didn't violate students' rights. They weren't asked to "translate it, recite it, or claim it as a belief." The County Sheriff reported an abundance of "profane" and "hateful" calls and emails as a response. It was the "tone and content" of this "fanatical Christian Terrorism" had the school district announce the Friday closure. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Yale Petitions to Repeal First Amendment

Yale fail: Ivy leaguers sign 'petition' to repeal First Amendment
Looking to understand just how controversial the debate over free speech on our college campuses really is, filmmaker and satirist Ami Horowitz recently traveled to Yale University, one of our nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, to speak directly to students.
“I decided to take this campus free speech debate to its logical conclusion,” said Horowitz, who asked students if they’d sign a petition calling for an outright repeal of the First Amendment. “The result was this unbelievable display of total stupidity.”
In fact, Horowitz discovered a solid majority of the students asked willingly signed the petition, with several expressing their enthusiastic approval for his anti-First Amendment efforts.
{Emphasis above added by us}  
Watch the video to find out just how many supported the petition, and how willing many students were to sign away their more basic rights of free speech and expression.

And does ANYONE question why Trump has such supportThomas Jefferson knew an educated populace was critical to democracy.  So help us! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The 2015 Paris Mirage

     The following Wall Street Journal has received wide coverage on the Internet.  It is strictly non-technical and a pragmatic opinion. The following article Paris Climate of Conformity, appeared December 13'th.  The emphasized in sections was added by us.

      Paris has provided nothing that will have any impact on the climate.  The commitments are nothing more than an unenforceable mirage with no way to confirm any of the emission reductions.  The goals are so far in the future that none of those making them will be around to champion the effort. Policy makers naively assume that enough money can create technological advances on schedule.  For example, fusion power is just a decade away, as it has been for the last half century.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sore Looser Law - New Republican Party Tactic

      As sure as the sun rises in the east, the Republican Party is headed for disaster in the 2016 Presidential Election.  Any attempt to treat Trump unfairly (as Trump interprets the action), regardless of his general incompetence, will have him bolting and running as an Independent.  Most likely, he'll drag enough Republicans to almost guarantee Clinton a win.  So do the Republican have any options?  Its called the Sore Loser Law.

      Sore Loser laws block someone who runs and loses in a party primary from running in the general election as the candidate of another party, and/or as an independent.  According to an article by Emory law professor Michael Kang, 47 states have some form of a sore loser law on the books, but most of them don't actually apply to presidential elections.  However, Ohio and Michigan have laws that do apply and according to Ohio Secretary of State — Jon Husted — Trump has already disqualified himself from running as a third-party or independent candidate there. Nevertheless, an attempt to apply this would end in court.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Protecting Medical Identity

Although it is difficult to protect against sloppy practices by Insurance companies and medical provides, one should follow the good practices listed below:

It is prudent to take preventive measures that should decrease the chance of being victimized:
  • Safeguard your health plan membership card like it is a credit card
  • Insist that your healthcare providers check your ID when they request your health plan card and request they do the same for all their patients. By verifying your credentials, healthcare providers can ensure that imposters are not able to seek treatment, buy prescription drugs, or make false claims for medical services using your benefits.
  • Monitor inaccuracies in your "Explanation of Benefits" statements from your health plan and report any discrepancies.
  • Beware of "free" services, especially if you are asked to provide your insurance ID number.
  • Regularly review your medical records to ensure accurate treatment data, and pay close attention when a healthcare provider reviews your medical history with you.
  • Acquire free annual credit reports to check for fraudulent medical debts and other inaccuracies.

Polar Bear Facts

One of the "facts" reported in the soon to be released movie Climate Hustle is that the polar bear population has increased from 5,000 in 1960 to 25,000 in recent counts.  This certainly came as a surprise to hear this comment.  It is certainly not the message that we have been hearing and seeing on the popular media.  Since we have tried to be careful not to swallow so-called facts from either side of the Climate Change debate, we decided to do a little quick research.  Our first stop was Polar Bear International.  What did they say?
One of the most frequent myths we hear about polar bears is that their numbers are increasing and have, in fact, more than doubled over the past thirty years. Tales about how many polar bears there used to be (with claims as low as 5,000 in the 1960s) are undocumented, but cited over and over again. Yet no one I know can come up with a legitimate source for these numbers.*
Nevertheless, the organization concedes no matter how poor the early counts were, polar bear populations have been increasing.  But, they plead to ignore this evidence and follow the unsubstantiated opinion.
But the most important point is that whatever happened in the past is really irrelevant. Polar bear habitat is disappearing due to global warming. Even the most careful on-the-ground management doesn't matter if polar bears don't have the required habitat.  
Next we decided to check the Canadian Geographic Organization
Consider Mitch Taylor’s story. He spent more than two decades as a polar bear researcher and manager for the Nunavut government and has published around 50 peer-reviewed papers. That should garner widespread respect. But Taylor has been highly vocal about his belief that polar bears are mostly doing fine, that cub mortality varies from year to year and that the much ballyhooed predictions of extinction by 2050 are “a joke.” He also alleges that a lot of the “exaggerated decline” is just a way to keep certain scientists well funded and to transfer control of the polar bear issue from territorial to federal hands. In response, Taylor’s critics disinvited him from meetings of polar bear specialists that he’d been attending since 1978. They also like to point out that he’s a signatory of the Manhattan Declaration, which questions the very existence of climate change. But amidst all the heated charges and countercharges, it’s hard to argue the fact that few people know polar bears the way Taylor does. And while it might be inconvenient for current political posturing, there’s no denying that certain subpopulations of polar bears are managing to survive, even thrive. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Hangman Has Taken His Tole

As sure as the Hangman, the Republicans have doomed their chances in 2016 thanks to their timidity regarding Donald Trump.  At this time, if he is nominated by the Republican Party, he has no chance of winning the Presidency.  When the Republicans find their "spine", it will be too late. Trump will bolt and drag the degenerates of his thinking who almost universally vote Republican. He has never been a surprise.  What has been the surprise is the cowardice of Republicans to disavow his message of hate.

Resolution of Absurd Climate Positions

Climate Change Will Not Be Dangerous for a Long Time:
Slower warming than predicted 
gives the world time to develop better energy technologies
  By Matt Ridley Scientific American , November 27, 2015
The climate change debate has been polarized into a simple dichotomy. Either global warming is “real, man-made and dangerous,” as Pres. Barack Obama thinks, or it’s a “hoax,” as Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe thinks. But there is a third possibility: that it is real, man-made and not dangerous, at least not for a long time. This “lukewarm” option has been boosted by recent climate research, and if it is right, current policies may do more harm than good.

The Dismal Data Security of the Medical Industry

    According to Baseline (12./8/15) the average price tag for the most desirable data includes most valued personal data passwords ($75.80), health records ($59.80), Social Security numbers ($55.70), and payment details ($36.60).  The most impacted industry for identity theft is healthcare at 29.8%.
    Also 90% of hospitals and clinics lose their patients' data at  http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/20/technology/security/hospitals-data/ 
    We reported on this blog about the dismal security practices of the medical industry.
    One month ago we received a plain text e-mail from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee that listed the Social Security numbers of all our 200 employees.

Most Valuable Data

The average price tag for the most desirable data includes most valued personal data passwords ($75.80), health records ($59.80), Social Security numbers ($55.70) and payment details ($36.60).
- See more at: http://www.baselinemag.com/security/slideshows/data-breaches-myth-vs.-reality.html?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BL_NL_BB_20151208_STR1L1&dni=290055298&rni=29507635#sthash.FfZrYgrM.dpuf

Most Valuable Data

The average price tag for the most desirable data includes most valued personal data passwords ($75.80), health records ($59.80), Social Security numbers ($55.70) and payment details ($36.60).
- See more at: http://www.baselinemag.com/security/slideshows/data-breaches-myth-vs.-reality.html?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BL_NL_BB_20151208_STR1L1&dni=290055298&rni=29507635#sthash.FfZrYgrM.dpuf

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Loss of Intellectual Integrity

     It’s that time of the year again, when charitable organizations and the like solicit for financial support.  That includes the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.  I am more than inclined to send them a big check similar to what my wife sends to her church, but no matter how much I support the mission of the organization, I am forced to decline.
     Likewise articles in their magazine and related publications, such as eSkeptic, unintentionally reinforce that decision, when I find I am weakening in my resolve.  My problem is the hypocrisy I find in the position these organizations have taken on Climate Change and the continued highly biased and one-sided opinion pieces that both the Committee and the Skeptic Organization publish.
     Many people with a sincere interest in the facts associated with Climate Change search for the opportunity for a credible debate on this topic.  These organizations could provide the platform, if their official positions were not so blatantly one-sided.  This is not the same as the oft voiced comment by Creationist to “teach the controversy,” where it is an argument of faith verses evidence.  Both sides of the Climate Debate have credible and distinguished scientists.
    To make matters even worse there has been a movement within these organizations to discredit those that challenge some of the extreme positions of global warming from being referred to as Climate Skeptics, as if these organizations had ownership of that identification.
     This week in eSkeptic  http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/15-12-02/  the book review,  Advocatus Diaboli—the Devil’s Advocate by David Priess reminded me of the problem I have with the organization.
     The review opens with the statement
Recognize your assumptions. Question them regularly. Don’t fall prey to mirror-imaging and related mindsets. Avoid cherry-picking to support your preferred hypothesis. Value evidence over belief. Skeptics in diverse fields ranging from the hard sciences to intelligence analysis know these maxims well. But plenty of research has made it clear that only exceptional effort keeps us all from falling prey to the same troublesome mental traits; it’s just plain hard to move beyond mere recognition of critical thinking best practices to actually practicing them best.
The article goes on to discuss experiences in the Catholic Church for the establishment of sainthood.
The book starts by describing the roots of the red team concept in the Roman Catholic Church’s “Devil’s Advocacy” method for vetting the qualifications of potential saints. . . It was thought, would ensure that objectivity served as a brake on rapid rushes to sainthood. . . But it raises the question: Why didn’t the process of challenging superstitions lead to the debunking of all attempts at sainthood?
This mild brake on the system for “confirming” miracles eventually proved too annoying for the faithful. . . .Pope John Paul II in 1983 got rid of the position altogether . . . beatifications and canonizations skyrocketed.
And here is the key sentence summarizing the result of this failure to challenge
 The integrity associated with the process and outcome was negated.

Monday, November 30, 2015

What Level of Honesty Do Americans Expect of Their President?

Although it is remarkably easy to skew the Truth-Telling profile created by PolitiFact, It seems to reflect what most people perceive about the GOP candidates.

Fact-checking the 2016 GOP presidential candidates

The question is "Could a Truly Honest Politician Become President?" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/could-a-truly-honest-politician-become-president/2012/07/06/gJQAGK4OSW_story.html  

Donald Trump's and Ben Carson's continuing to stretch "the fact", but it doesn't seem to have hurt their popularity with their constituency.  The question these people need to ask is, "Is that the kind of information they would be willing to accept, if either of these men become President?"  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Decades of Pampering Pays Dividends

Weep for protesting college students crybabies and brats for pitching hissy fits over hurt feelings -- and us
  • Everybody Gets a Trophy culture and an educational system that, for the most part, no longer teaches a core curriculum, including history, government and the Bill of Rights.
  • Zealous pampering of the American child that began a few decades ago.
  • Johnny was handed a blue ribbon along with everyone else on the team even though he didn’t deserve one. Today’s campuses are overrun with little Johnnys,
  • Self-esteem is earned, not bestowed.
  • recent surge on campuses of “trigger warnings” in syllabuses to alert students to content that might be upsetting, and “safe spaces ” where students can seek refuge when ideas make them uncomfortable.
  • The marketplace of ideas is not for sissies
  • the world we’ve created for young people who soon enough will discover that the world doesn’t much care about their tender feelings.

Is SkyNet Here?

According to "The Week" (11/27/15) 
Google just made an announcement that will send ripples throughout the technology industry for years to come... The company has built a new learning system for machines called TensorFlow"
Lifehacker calls TensorFlow a game changer (original article)
The development of smarter and more pervasive artificial intelli- gence (AI) is about to shift into overdrive with the announcement by Google that TensorFlow, its second-generation machine-learning system, will be made available free to anyone who wants to use it. This has the potential to shape the future of artificial intelligence (AI).
KDnuggets reports that not everyone is impressed, TensorFlow Disappoints – Google Deep Learning falls shallow
Look, Google is at the forefront of technological innovation, there is no denying that...Google is 5+ years ahead of everyone. In everything. All the time.  It's like a new pizzeria opening on the block, except it has pretty much the same menu as other shops, doesn't taste quite as good, and costs a little more, too. You might try it out, but something tells me you and your friends end up back at your favorite spot soon enough. 
I'm not saying don't use TensorFlow. I'm not even saying that I won't use it. It's just that, well, I'm struggling to figure out when or why I would use it, to be honest.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Charitable Giving SCAMS

     Between September 29 and October 14, 2015, AARP engaged Alan Newman Research to conduct a research study among the general population in seven select states: Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington. It explored holiday fraud and scams in the upcoming holiday season.  One of the topics included charitable solicitations and donations.

REF:  AARP Study Results
     Data from this survey showed:
  • 70% of those who donated to a charity or fundraiser in the past 12 months did so without asking what percentage of their donation went to the fundraiser versus to the charity itself.
  • 52% said they didn't know that professional fundraisers are allowed to keep most of the money they raise for charity as long as they don’t lie about how much they keep.
      Before making a charitable donation make sure the group you choose will put your money to good use and not spend it on big salaries for its executives or huge payments to professional fundraisers.
      The easiest way to research national charities is with the three major charity watchdogs: Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. They rate charities based on how they spend their money, protect donor privacy, govern themselves, and more. They use somewhat different criteria and don't always agree, so check out a charity with all three groups. (Only CharityWatch requires a donation for full access, although it provides useful information without one.) 
     The watchdogs don't always rate the same charities, so look for a charity that has high ratings by at least two of them. Sometimes the BBB Wise Alliance says it didn't rate a charity because the group did not provide the information necessary for an evaluation. Take that as bad sign

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Republicans Seem Anxious to Promote a Religious War

      "We are in a religious war with radical Islamists," Sen. Lindsey Graham proclaimed on Fox News earlier this month. "When I hear the President of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we're in a religious war, it really bothers me."

     What bothers us is the shortsightedness of the Republican candidates for POTUS, almost universally, who wish to play the religious card in order to draw attention to themselves.  Even George Bush, who claimed to be a born-again Christian, recognized the error to elevate the conflict in the Middle East to a religious war.

In his article "Why ISIS Attacked Paris", Mark Juergensmeyer recognized the real dynamics of this conflict.  He commented.
     In fact, ISIS has not been doing well these days. . .The amount of territory controlled by ISIS has shrunk considerably in recent months.ISIS is also not as attractive to young Muslims activists as it used to be. . . ISIS, it appears, is on a downward slide.
     But perhaps this is precisely what explains the Paris attacks. ISIS is desperate. It needs a victory, a vivid show of force to bolster the morale of its supporters, attract new volunteers, and with luck, intimidate its foes. The attacks in Paris may have been calculated to achieve all of these goals.
     If its actions could goad the French and other Western powers into further military action against it, this would fit perfectly into the image of the Western Crusaders waging war against the forces of Islam.

Friday, November 20, 2015


     We just received a call from (425) 287-6073 informing us that the IRS was filing a lawsuit against us and that we need to respond.  It's the infamous tax SCAM.  The IRS never makes such calls.  For more information about this scam and others like it follow this link


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Rather Die with Dignity Than Live with Dishonor

      The lessons of history haven't permeated Western policies toward the Middle East and specifically ISIS.  Americans and their leaders don't seem to understand what is driving the massively effective recruitment of the ISIS image.  No matter how benevolent, no people like to be subjected to what amounts to an occupation.  From Roman times the history of the Middle East repeatedly demonstrates the response of these civilizations to being under the heel of another peoples' boot.
     The American occupation both implicitly in Iran and explicitly in Iraq has led to the rise of violent insurgencies.  The solution to ISIS being proposed by most Americans, most notably the conservatives and their mouth-pieces is -- a bigger boot.
     The crippling policies against Germany after World War I led to Germany's retaliation in World War II.  Likewise, bombing the hell out of ISIS only strengthens the movement and its desire for greater public violence as an expression of honor.
     Policies of Obama to addressing the ISIS situation seems to appreciate this psychology.  Most likely the experiences of a black growing up in America shapes his disposition to this issue.  It's a fact to which the privileged cannot relate, can only give lip service, and most definitely cannot lead the world toward a resolution.
     America must take a secondary and supportive position to Middle Eastern nations.  Islam as a religion and its purpose of existence is in turmoil with the multiple interpretations warring for dominance. The only solution is to respect the dignity of the Islamic people to find their own answers.  Without question that will be a long and painful process.  Attempts of outside influences to accelerate the process by interjecting themselves into this "family war" only provides the warring parties a reason to consolidate, such as in the case of Al Qaeda, against the common evil.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Stop RoboCalls

As soon as we heard that a provision buried deep in the new federal budget would authorize robocalls to cell hones, we jumped on it. People like you quickly sent tens of thousands of messages to the House as lawmakers were debating the bill.

Your message was clear: this is a terrible idea!

But this bad provision still got pushed through Congress in a rush to avoid a government shutdown. Thankfully, that's not the end of it! A handful of Senators have already launched legislation -- the HANG UP Act -- to repeal this before it even takes effect.

Tell your Senators to cosponsor, and all lawmakers to support, the HANG UP Act!

Today, it is still against the law to robocall cell phones in most circumstances, yet we get these unwanted and exasperating calls anyway. Your stories are pouring in describing debt collector robocalls related to debts you don't owe and debtors you don't know. This problem could get a lot worse unless the HANG UP Act quickly passes.

Ten Senators -- Senators McCaskill, Wyden, Menendez, Blumenthal, Leahy, Warren, Sanders, Franken, Klobuchar, and Baldwin -- are already signed on as original cosponsors and they need support.

Tell your Senators to cosponsor the HANG UP Act and say "No" to robocalls to cell phones!

After you take action, check out the rest of our work to pressure the major phone companies to give us all free, effective robocall blocking.

No matter what happens in Congress, we are going to need better tools to block robocalls ourselves. We've already signed half a million people on to our petition to the phone companies. Our campaign – EndRobocalls.org -- has put this problem back into the spotlight, so we hope you will share it with friends and family.

Thanks for everything you do!

Tim Marvin, EndRobocalls.org
A project of Consumers Union
Policy and Action from Consumer Reports

Controversal Climate Essay

     On October 16, David Siegal posted the essay "What I Learned about Climate Change: The Science is not Settled" at ClimateCurious.com .  It was picked up by the blog WattsupwithThat and has received a rebuttal on October 29.  "Climate Change is Real and Important". 
     We were reluctant to post anything about it until we have time to evaluate Siegal's claims and the rebuttal.  However, that has been done. Siegal has responded at "Climate Change: Is it Real and Important?".
     What is great about the Siegal response is he includes REFERENCES that readers can research for themselves.
     Anthony Watts provided Summary of the Article on his blog he included the following introduction to David Siegal, which we paraphrase below.  Watts titled his post as How a liberal vegan environmentalist made the switch from climate proponent to climate skeptic”.  Follow-up comments can be found by clicking here.
     David Siegel is not a climate expert; he is a writer. He became interested in climate science early in 2015 and decided to educate himself in the field. Like the contributors to MTSkeptics, it didn’t take long before it was clear that there isn’t likely going to be any catastrophic warming this century. 
     Siegal did his homework and wrote the above noted essay aimed at liberals -- who have a voice, who have access to media, and who might take 30 minutes to educate themselves.
     He submitted his work to many liberal publications, from the LA Times to the Atlantic Monthly to National Geographic to Huffington Post. They all turned it down. So he posted the essay himself and hoping others will read it and help spread the word.  He wants influential liberals to understand that the science is not settled.

Freedom OF Religion Is Same as Freedom FROM Religion

      Kim Davis's refusal to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County Kentucky is a violation of the American Constitution.  She has every right to practice her beliefs IN PRIVATE, but she has no right to force those beliefs in her PUBLIC job.  Her claim that the Supreme Court ruling supporting the right of Gays to marry violates her religious beliefs is wrong and in direct violation of the civil duties she agreed to execute.  If she has trouble with that, she should resign her position.
     Her argument can be extrapolated to allow any person to discriminate based on some absurd claim it violates his or her "religion."  Does that claim extend to devout Hindus refusing to issue business permits to a steak house?  Does that claim extend to devout Muslims from issue liquor licenses to bars or taverns? Does that claim allow a Quaker pacifist from issuing permits of any kind to American soldiers?
     Likewise, when has it become a litmus test for PUBLIC office to be Christian?  Does any candidate for President, such as Ben Carson, who openingly claims that Muslims (and other non-Christians) should not hold that office have the right to run for that office, especially when he must that an oath of office to uphold the Constitution?  Does the OPEN discussion of religion have any place PUBLIC office, especially President?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Other Side of the Climate Debate

Climate Debate has some unwritten constructive aspects that I think few appreciate.  Coal, the primary source of the world’s energy, is extremely dirty source of energy and maybe the worst.  It hugely and negatively impacts the environment.  America needs to move its dependence from fossil fuels.  As a hidden agenda these concerns are significant. 
There is the other issue – the rapid deforestation of the planet.  Again a topic of consequences. 
Lastly, oil is an extremely valuable, non-renewable resource.  It is the basis of the products of modern life.  To burn it, seems horribly short-sighted.  Maybe this story to stop burning fossil resources won’t sell well and another is needed.
People like stories of apocalypses - that humankind is inherently evil.  Just look how well the “original sin” story has sold.  How many times has the world been prophesiedto end (often with great glee).   The story of the “Great Flood” is as old as the written word and almost every culture has its version.  Maybe the end of life as we know it by 2100 because we all will be frying is marketable, especially to those who trust their news from the 140 characters they receive from the Internet
The danger however, lies in the assumption that CO2 is the culprit and to reduce it will solve the problem.  That is simply not true.  CO2 is not a pollutant, it is necessary for life, and to reduce it to the point that the reduction will have significant impact on global warming is unrealistic. For at least the next half-century, the world economy is tightly tied to the energy sources that produce CO2.  No nation is going to surrender that.  The continued pushing the message that CO2 is bad is misdirecting.
The fact that the climate does change routinely and dramatically without human intervention is fairly well documented.  And, throughout history it has been a net positive factor and not a negative one.  The one thing that seems certain is that the earth is in a warming part of the cycle, life on the planet will have to change as a result (as it always has), and no one really knows and can forecast the impact of that change.  The dynamics of this planet are extremely complex and for some people to claim “settled science”, as typically done by one side of the Climate Change Debate, is both arrogant and na├»ve.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Do Guns Make One Safer?

More food for thought on this topic. These facts are from the November 6’th issue of “The Week .” I have not verified the accuracy at the source.

FBI database
  • 2012: Of the 8,855 criminal gun homicides - 258 fatal shooting deemed justifiable
  • 2014: 52,000 recorded shootings, less than 1,600 were used for self-defense.
  • 2000 to 2013: Study of 160 active-shooter events found 7 incidents in which an armed civilian shot the gunman and ended the rampage. Of these only 1 was the typical “good guy with a gun” – rest were off-duty cops or security guards.
American Journal of Epidemiology
  • 80 Million Americans who kept guns in home were 90% more likely to die by homicide than those who don’t.
American Journalof Public Health
  • A person with a gun was 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than someone who was unarmed.
University of California(San Francisco)
  • A person with a gun in the home is three times as likely to kill themselves as non-firearms owners
  • More than 20,000 person shoot themselves to death annually
Gallup poll found 63% of Americans think a gun in the house makes then safer while 56% think the country would be safer if more people carried concealed weapons.

The above statistics do not seem to support that perception.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Republican "Debate"

     Thus far, the only candidate that appears reasonably competent is John Kasich.  He was “spot on” in his opening comments about the absurdity and non-realistic proposals of the other candidates. Unfortunately, he fell into the “angry old-man” trap in his rant, which severely spoiled his statement.

     It was fair for CNBC to challenge the candidates on policy that they either have on their website (Trump) or for which there is lots of documentation (Carson).  The vigorous denials of both these men speaks volumes to their credibility. CNBC failed when they did not have backup to their questions.  It made it appear that CNBC moderators were more interested in scoring a “gotcha” than resolving contrasting positions.

     Carly Fiorina is a mystery.  She routinely throws out long lists of “facts” meant to impress and then (like Trump and Carson) denies the evidence when her veracity is challenged, such as the non-existent video on Planned Parenthood.  Her stand on “Zero-based Budgeting” is another example of how she does not understand what she is saying. ZB is an old theoretical idea, but unrealistic in practice for organizations such as the US Government.

     Lastly, all the candidates have a “tax plan”, for the sake of having a tax plan.   None will work and the President cannot legislate taxes.  Congress has that sole responsibility.  But to the average citizen these plans sounds like a “candy store” for which too many are ready to line-up with their hands out.

     The Republicans need to get “real.”  Get Trump, Carson, and Fiorina off the stage. In order to govern, a President must have a skilled staff and have deep relationships within the established political machinery both domestic and

     Who can do that job?  For the Republicans their best candidate is Kasich and maybe Christie.  Previous favorite Bush continues to be a "no show." The Senators are great on their feet, but lack experience.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the God Question

Neil Tyson will be lecturing in Nashville on November 19'th.  Here is his stand on the God question

Published on Mar 2, 2015 Neil Tyson started feeling tired or perhaps impatient while talking to a religious interviewer on God only after 8: 05. I can't imagine how Richard Dawkins manages for a long time.

The God Distraction

Published on Oct 28, 2015: This is the introduction to my new ten part series, The God Distraction: I don't care if God exists, and neither should you. http://patreon.com/MrDeity

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

End Robocalls

Policy and Action from Consumer Reports
We hope to bring our petition total to 400,000 today, and 500,000 in a few short weeks.
The big phone companies have annual shareholder meetings coming this spring, and we intend to make sure the top brass and the largest shareholders know exactly what customers want -- free tools to block unwanted robocalls.
But to get to 500,000 in such a short time, we're going to need help from all our supporters.
If we reach 400,000 supporters today, and then each of our supporters can find five more supporters, we'll reach our goal in no time!
We know that your friends want the robocalls to stop as much as you do. It seems like every American wants this. So why hasn't it happened already? Because as individuals -- filing complaints with the FTC, or trying to block unwanted calls on our own -- we can be ignored. Together, we can be powerful.
So please, take a moment to share EndRobocalls.org with everyone you know! We'll keep you updated as the campaign progresses.
Sincerely, Tim Marvin, Team Lead
EndRobocalls.org, A project of Consumers Union
Policy and Action from Consumer Reports

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Issues with "Web of Trust"

I routinely install Web of Trust on computers to block access to dangerous websites that may contain malware.  Recently, while researching climate reports I found that Web of Trust was "red" flagging websites that provided a contrarian position in the Climate Debate.  When I googled "Web of Trust" and "climate", I discovered I wasn't the first to notice this disturbing and irresponsible bias, which seriously diminishes the value of Web of Trust.   Web of Trust infested with warmists – action required!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science

Dr Judith Curry writes:
"Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science is an important new book  that everyone should read. And it's free. It is a privilege to make available to you the book Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science, by Alan Longhurst. The book is well written, technical but without equations - it is easily accessible to anyone with a technical education or who follows the technical science blogs."
Click here to download a copy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Retraction of Articles from Springer Journals

London | Heidelberg, 18 August 2015
Springer confirms that 64 articles are being retracted from 10 Springer subscription journals, after editorial checks spotted fake email addresses, and . . .fabricated peer review reports. . . we have strong reason to believe that the peer review process on these 64 articles was compromised. We reported this to the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE) immediately. Attempts to manipulate peer review have affected journals across a number of publishers as detailed by COPE in their December 2014 statement.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Are We All Potentially Evil?

The large numbers of people who are trying to join ISIS is a conundrum. In his recent publication eSkeptic Michael Shermer explores the famous Stanford Prison Experiment as it relates to this topic.  He concludes his discussion with
Watching The Stanford Prison Experiment film you will be tempted—as I was—to moralize about the accursed guards and sympathize with the guiltless prisoners. Such is the power of a good film. But after your moral emotions subside think like a scientist and consider why good people turn bad, and what we can all do to prevent future evils.
Click here to read his essay.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Science-Based Medicine vs. Evidence-Based Medicine

The core weakness of evidence-based medicine is that it relies, as the name implies, solely on clinical evidence to determine whether a treatment is appropriate or not. This may superficially sound reasonable, but it deliberately leaves out an important part of the scientific evidence: plausibility.
Read about it click here

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Naturophathic Blog Tells All

Britt Marie Hermes left the profession of naturopathic medicine to pursue a career in biomedical research. Since her departure, she has been working to understand her former biases towards naturopathic medicine and explore the ethics and evidence, or lack thereof, of naturopathic philosophy and practice. She concluded that naturopathic medicine is not what she was led to believe.
It is a system of indoctrination based on discredited ideas about health and medicine, full of anti-science rhetoric and ineffective and sometimes dangerous practices. 
Her blog, http://www.naturopathicdiaries.com/, reveals what she discovered about naturopathic medicine.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Was American Founded as A Christian Nation?

If we are talking about 13 colonies belonging to the British Empire, whose king presided over an imperial church, then yes, British citizens residing in those colonies lived under Christian rule.
If, by the question, one is asking whether the Founding Fathers relied on Protestant Christian principles in drafting the essential documents and in organizing the new governments, then the answer is a resounding "no."
If one refines the question to ask whether the Founding Fathers were motivated to act as they did based on their Christian faith, the answer becomes a little murkier, but the response is still "no."
If, finally, the meaning of the question is whether Christian impulses and rhetoric existed during the founding period and impacted the "great debate" about revolution and republican governance, then the answer is "yes" (although the question would then lose its distinctiveness at this level of abstraction)
Demographically speaking, America certainly resembled a "nation of Christians" at the time of its founding and has ever since. But it's a rather different proposition to claim that the founders established the new American government as a "Christian nation." Clearly, they did not.
Here's a better question: Is America a Christian nation now? On this question there is a lot more evidence to sustain a "no" answer.
A culture warrior as well as priest and public intellectual, Neuhaus demonstrated with more clarity than any "village atheist" that the idea of Christian America was a fiction in search of believers.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Being Independent Minded

Many of us aren't nearly as independent-minded as we like to think.  The views many of us hold are largely dictated by partisanship and ideological affiliations rather than intellectual rigor.  This leads to an almost chronic unwillingness to revisit and refine long-held positions.  Our thinking on matters of politics and philosophy and faith not only can become lazy; it can easily ossify.  It may be worth asking yourself: in the last 15 to 20 years, on what issues of importance have you changed your mind, recalibrated your thinking, or even attempted to take a fresh look? Or has every event, serious study, and new set of facts merely confirmed what you already knew? To put it another way: Do you think you've ever been wrong?
Peter Wehner in CommentaryMagazine.com  [reprinted from "The Week" June 19, 2015; page 10]

The Jihadist Trap of Here and Now

The Jihadist Trap of Here and Now is republished with permission of Stratfor
By Scott Stewart    June 25, 2015

      In recent weeks, I have found myself spending a lot of time thinking about the jihadist strategy of al Qaeda and how it compares to that of the Islamic State. Earlier this month, I wrote about the possibility that the al Qaeda brand of jihadism could outlast that of the Islamic State. Last week, I wrote about how ideologies are harder to kill than individuals, focusing on the effect that the death of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wahayshi will have on the group and the wider global jihadist movement.
      But beyond the impact of leaders like al-Wahayshi, there are other facets of strategy that will influence the war for the soul of jihadism. Specifically, I am talking about time and place. Both al Qaeda and the Islamic State seek to establish a global caliphate, but both differ quite starkly in how to accomplish this task and how soon it can be achieved.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wrong-Headed Policies

      In an earlier post we accused the Democrats of "build it and they will come" thinking, except I just thought of a classic Republican policy -- "trickle-down economics" aka Reganomics.  It is often stated in the aphorism "a rising tide lifts all boats" is commonly attributed to Democrat John F Kennedy who used it in a 1963 speech. The phrase has been used to defend tax cuts and other policies where the initial beneficiaries are high income earners.
     A more recent attempt at this kind of thinking was attempted in 2012 by Republican Governor Sam Brownback who urged the Kansas legislature to slash income taxes without an exact plan to make up the missing revenue.  This "trust me" policy led to a $400 Million budget deficit. In response Kansas had to approve in 2015 the largest tax increase in its history.
   However, never fear "the rising tide" dupe has not been totally defeated.  According to the non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy the poorest 20% of Kansans will not pay 1.5% more in taxes than in 2012, while the wealthiest 1% will pay 1.9 percent less.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Narcisstic Personality Disorder

    I have had a theory that people who hog Facebook pages, such as those who post a half-dozen status updates daily or countless selfies, may have a mental disease known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  I stumbled upon this disorder while searching demographics of psychopathology. According to a Wikipedia reference https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder   
People with narcissistic personality disorder are characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance. They have a sense of entitlement and demonstrate grandiosity in their beliefs and behavior. They have a strong need for admiration, but lack feelings of empathy.
The reference continues with
A nationwide study in the United States found that 7.7 percent of men and 4.8 percent of women could be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (Stinson et al., 2008). These data also suggest that narcissistic personality disorder is more prevalent among younger adults, possibly supporting the impression that narcissistic personality disorder is on the rise as a result of social and economic conditions that support more extreme versions of self-focused individualism (Bender, 2012)
Of course this research didn't mention Facebook, but surely I am onto something.


     The murder of nine blacks in a Charleston SC church by a alleged deranged young white male had us doing some basic research into psychopathology.  A friend forwarded to me the CNN article, "The Birth of a Psychopath" which had appeared only a few days prior. http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/16/health/birth-of-psychopath/index.html
     In previous posts on this blog we reported finding on another mental disease schizophrenia which appears to be far more common that one might assume.  We consequently wondered how predominate psychopaths were in the population.  This CNN article claims 1% of the men in America were probably psychopaths.  (I then noticed this article was written Kelly Daniel https://twitter.com/KellyDanielCNN ).  I have followed the references in her article trying to get to the root source document that supported this statistic.  I came up with nothing.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rigid Mental Processes

This video is deeper than riding a bike.  It also explains why when certain biases get hard-wired into our brains, it is almost impossible to change.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Liberal vs Conservative Approaches

     We have worked with government agencies as both adviser and advocate.  In that work we have notice a distinct difference in how liberals and conservatives approach legislative issues.  What we noticed kind of explains one of the primary difference on how Democrats and Republics want to approach the healthcare laws.
     The approach the Democrats seem to prefer is the "Field of Dreams" - build it and they will come.  They prefer to focus of policy.  They assume the details will take of themselves.  The Republicans on the other hand are "results driven" and detail oriented. They start with the results that they want to achieve and then work backward into broader plans.
     The Affordable Care Act was a huge piece of legislation and virtually impossible validate the end product.  The abysmal role-out should not have been a surprise.  It was made even worse by the fact that so few on the democratic side had little executive experience.  The Republicans harped on the law being so broad that no one knew what was in the law or how it was likely to work.  They wanted to start with much smaller measurable pieces and work backward into a broader scope legislation.
     For sure there were many other self-serving political agendas in the confrontation on this law, but this difference in approach to legislation maybe why liberal and conservative minded people find it so hard to work together.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


      Approximately 2.4 million American adults, or about 1.1 percent of the population age 18 and older, have schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The onset of schizophrenia  often appears in late teens to early 30s. Although only diagnosed in early 20th century it has throughout humankind.
       This chronic, debilitating mental disorder is characterized by distortions of thinking and perception with primary aspect of psychosis. Schizophrenics have abnormal perception of reality with hallucinations and delusions. They often hear voices or see things which do not exist.
      Also about 1 in 20 people in the general (non-schizophrenic) population has experienced at least one hallucination in their lifetime that wasn't connected to drugs, alcohol or dreaming.
     These people reported hearing voices or seen things that didn't exist, or experienced a delusion (a false belief), such as the thought that their mind was being controlled or that they were being followed.


I Side With

     Instead of just selecting a Presidential candidate because you like his or her smile.  Try matching your political and social preferences with that of each of the many candidates.
     The website provides a very comprehensive survey that you complete and it tells you which political party you best match (which may not be that unknown) and which Presidential candidate you should watch.
     Here is the link

The questions are selected because they give a broad sample of the most divisive issues being discussed this year in politics. ISideWith.com continues to add new issues on a weekly basis.  It is not affiliated with any political party, candidate, or interest group.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fake Charities

The Federal Trade Commission recently by accused Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society of defrauding donors for more than $187 million. The FTC alleges that these four "sham charities" solicited millions in donations by promising to help pay for hospice care, chemotherapy, and other services for cancer patients, but only a fraction of that money actually went to patients. Most of it went to company cars, high salaries, and a Caribbean cruise.

Before donating check the charity’s score on Charity Navigator, a website that tracks the performance of thousands of non-profit organizations. Find out what percentage of donations go to actual programs versus administrative and fundraising costs.  Don’t be fooled by a name that sounds like a well-known charity. Search for that organization name — especially with the word “complaint” or “scam.”

Obamacare Train Wreck In One Month?

     It has been five years since the Affordable Care Act become law.  A recent Gallup Poll shows little has happened to make Americans more favorably inclined toward it.

Although it has survived some 60 recall attempts by the Republicans in the House of Representatives and one major U.S. Supreme Court challenge, the latest legal challenge could be the "killer."

Individuals in the 34 states who rely on a federal on tax subsidies to help buy insurance could lose that aid if the Supreme Court rules against Secretary Burwell and the federal government this month.

To make matters worse some states are expecting huge increase in 2016
Rate increases proposed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest insurer, range from 35 percent to 39 percent. Aetna and Coventry Health Company, which merged in 2013, requested rate increases of 20 percent to 35 percent.
"We’re seeing the same sort of thing in a lot of other states,” said Sheldon Weisgrau, director of the Health Reform Resource Project in Kansas. “This is a reflection of what it actually costs to insure a large majority of population, whereas before what we had was a market that excluded a lot of people.”

Sunday, May 31, 2015

I Fooled Millions Including Peer Review

      “Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day. It made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just beneath their update about the Germanwings crash. From there, it ricocheted around the internet and beyond, making news in more than 20 countries and half a dozen languages. It was discussed on television news shows.
      And the statistically significant benefits of chocolate that we reported are based on the actual data. It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research. Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded.
Here’s how we did it.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Political Idiocy

     In 2003 we were among the very few voices the rallied against the idiocy that soon became the Iraq War, especially when it is a political decision made either in the "heat of the moment" and for self-serving purposes.  George W Bush took this country to a war justified by falsified facts. Some were knowingly falsified and some were the result of poor and less competent decision-making expertise.  The result will be his and America's legacy for all time.
     We should not be so quick to forgive and forget the others who pushed Bush to this decision.We should be quick to be wary of those who seem ambivalent about this black-eye on our history.  Most definitely, they should not be put in leadership positions to repeat this insanity.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Political Cartoons from THE WEEK

Is Christianity Fading in the US?

In its "Talking points" section The Week (www.theweek.com) commented on the recent survey by the Pew Research Center that the future of Christianity in America "looks bleak." It said
Clearly we are staring in the face of a European-style collapse in religious observance within a couple of generations.
David Usborne in Independent.co.uk  says
Hallelujah! The effect organized religion has had on American politics has been utterly toxic. The Christian right has tried for decades to impose its harsh, Old Testament views on the entire country.
He goes on to claim
Rather than ignoring fringe elements of intolerance, Republicans "pander to them."
And Tod Robberson in the Dallas Morning News says
In a modern world torn apart by medieval religious extremism who wants to be affiliated with intolerance

Unbiased Reporting

      Finding unbiased reporting is almost impossible.  The "mainstream" broadcast media such as CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS are often accused of being left-leaning.  FOX doesn't hide the fact that is way to the right.  In print media, such as daily newspapers and magazines, it is often more difficult to identify biases.  Often the biases are subtle through simply reporting news favorable and ignoring news unfavorable to an author's or to an organization's bias.
     However, we appear to have found print publication that makes a noticeable attempt to present multiple sides of a story using re-prints of statements from competent proponents. It is a weekly titled "The Week" (www.theweek.com)  and sub-titled "All you need to know about everything that matters." It is one of the few periodicals that I find myself reading from cover-to-cover.
    In the May 29'th issue they commented on a "bias" topic which we have been following for nearly a decade. "How Fox is Damaging the GOP."  in which they reference an article by James Fallows in "The Atlantic," "How Fox New is (Still) Hurting the Republicans" (read it here). They could as well have included certain prominent talk-show hosts as damaging to the Republicans.
     In his article he says

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Religiously Unaffiliated Shows Significant Growth in America

Pew Research shows a significant decline in religious affiliation with Christian religions dropping from 78% to 70% in seven years
Pew found the problem exacerbated by age demographics with the young being the least religious.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

22 Reasons Why Climate Apocylipse Is Wrong

According to the IPCC "The Science is Clear."  According to Al Gore "The Debate is Over."  However, according to Jean-Pierre Bardinet
But anyone with some scientific background who takes pains to study the topics at hand is quickly led to conclude that the arguments of the IPCC are inaccurate, for many reasons of which here is a non-exhaustive list.
Read his 22 Inconvenient Truths on Global Warming by clicking the following

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Faith-based Initiative

Faith-based organizations are often trumpeted with the assertion that they are morally superior, have more caring staff, and are better at addressing any issues that individuals may have. However, there is no evidence for this claim. Research indicates that FBOs do not perform these tasks any better than secular organizations. 
Read the report: http://secularpolicyinstitute.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Abuse-in-Americas-Faith-Based-Initiative-System.pdf

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Healing Code Crap

The practice of Naturopathy is illegal in Tennessee (click here), but that has not stopped Alex Lloyd.  of Leipers Fork, Tennessee. We thank Robert Hammond for bringing this article by Harriet Hall on Science-based Medicine blog.
Alex Lloyd’s concept of “Healing Codes” is one of the most bizarre,ridiculous offshoots of so-called energy medicine. Lloyd is a naturopath who has been criticized by “Dr. Joe” Schwarcz for recycling old bunk for profit. He claims that illness is due to disturbances in the human energy field and that the cells of our body store destructive energy patterns and all our memories, habits,interests, and tastes. This is pure imagination: there is no scientific evidence for the existence of a human energy field or of cellular memory.
Read the entire article  The “Healing Codes” of Alex Lloyd: Energy Healing with Words and Finger Exercises

Lloyd claims to have a Ph.D. and N.D., but we have been unsuccessful in our attempts to verify how he was awarded these degrees.