The story that Matthew Shepard was murdered for being homosexual turns out to be totally false. He was killed by two other homosexuals he already knew, one of whom was crazy on meth. Read more…
I came across a very strange article in The American Prospect, “The Rise and Fall of a “Scandal”, about the IRS scandals. It’s noteworthy because it looks at the following figure and concludes that the media, though well-meaning, has unfairly blackened the reputation of the IRS by its coverage.
I look at that, and I conclude that the liberal media covered the scandal at first, but then stopped covering it in accordance with the White House strategy of denying that anything wrong had happened. Read more…
Via Sailer, “The Michael Jordan/Tiger Woods Model: Why It Will Never Work With The Media,” . The title has it wrong, but the article is good. The strategy is to intimidate reporters and cut off access to any reporter who ever prints anything critical. The drawback is that if the athlete’s stock ever falls (e.g. Tiger Wood’s), even the hitherto friendly reporters hate him and have repressed stories to tell. The tradeoff can be worth it, though.
From an op-ed at the London Times:
Moreover, the scientific basis for global warming projections is now under scrutiny as never before. The principal source of these projections is produced by a small group of scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), affiliated to the University of East Anglia.
Last week an apparent hacker obtained access to their computers and published in the blogosphere part of their internal e-mail traffic. …
Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals.
There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question.
From the New York Times, which as I recall published the top-secret Pentagon Papers:
The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.
Below is a comment I posted on Marginal Revolution:
My reaction is like that of physicist David Wright: it is appalling that the scientists in the emails are concealing data and trying to suppress their rivals’ research. I haven’t heard of that in economics. (I am not surprised at this in climate science, but I would be in almost any other area of science.) Indeed, there are a number of episodes in which mistakes have been found in famous economics papers because of close scrutiny of data voluntarily supplied by the writers to scholars they know will search for every flaw. Examples are the Feldstein social security programming error, Lott’s work on gun control, and Levitt and Donohue on abortion and crime.
Of course, all work has some mistakes, and a sophist could use trivial mistakes to try to discredit a paper, but in the profession trivial mistakes are expected and do not discredit, and we are all aware that big mistakes are very possible too, even from top researchers. Moreover, the custom of revealing one’s data and methods is a deterrent to deliberate fraud. I haven’t heard of deliberate fraud in econ published papers, but if climate science does not have the custom of making data and methods publicly available, we should predict that fraud will occur.
Via Instapundit comes this good Major Hasan and the Media parody.
A funny story from Peter Hitchens on November 5, 2009 (my boldface):
Mr Cameron is in many ways the ‘heir to Blair’ that he said he would be, and I was amused to find that he is also copying his exemplar in his treatment of me at press conferences. Even though he acknowledged me with a three-star Etonian manly glance and nod, and even though there was no huge hurry nor contest to ask questions, he paid me the immense compliment of not taking a question from me. Mr Blair used to do the same, even if mine was the only hand up in the whole vast room. My fellow journalists, amused by the performance, often used to let this happen deliberately. As a result, reporters from immensely obscure foreign media outlets learned that they could question the Labour leader if they put their hands up at the same time as me. The Beekeeper’s Gazette could have got a question if they had turned up. When, after many weeks, Mr Blair eventually relented (which led to a scene, in which I was told to sit down and stop being ‘bad’) I had almost forgotten what I had wanted to ask. I had begun to tell people that I didn’t want to ask a question at all, that holding my hand up for long periods was a Tantric Yoga technique for suppressing nausea.
Ed Whelan notes that the Dean of Pepperdine has inflated his resume:
I was surprised to see this description in his byline: “Douglas W. Kmiec served as head of and principal deputy in the Office of Legal Counsel from 1985 to 1989.”
In fact, Kmiec headed OLC, first as acting AAG, then as the appointed AAG, for a total of about eight months—from (as best I can tell) roughly August 1988 to April 1989—at the end of the Reagan administration (after Chuck Cooper and most of his deputies had left the office) and the beginning of the Bush 41 administration (until President Bush was able to replace him).
Kmiec never served as “principal deputy” in OLC. The formal designation of “principal deputy” appears not even to have existed when Kmiec was at OLC, and folks who were in OLC at the time tell me that Kmiec was never regarded as the lead deputy. (The only contenders for that role were Sam Alito, who left OLC in March 1987, and Mike Carvin, who left OLC in August 1988.)
Kmiec’s website bio is even more extravagant, as it asserts that Kmiec was the AAG heading OLC from 1985 to 1989: “Kmiec served Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush during 1985-89 as constitutional legal counsel (Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice).”
Has Prof. Kmiec gone nuts? Perhaps not. The liberal media seems to accept his claims at face value, so their falsity seems to not have hurt him.
From Pastor Wegener in Zambia on Baylyblog:
There used to be serious articles on core doctrines of the faith: progressive revelation, inerrancy, the Trinity, original sin, justification, sanctification, the Day of Judgment, hell, etc., all of them written by learned pastors and theologians.
Today, we’re taken on a journey as the free lance author recounts her confusion on some topic (like fashion or global warming or endangered species) and how she decided to investigate this topic and went to a conference put on by evangelicals on her topic.
She tells us how her plane was delayed and she had trouble checking in to the conference hotel, and missed her first session, but how it was okay, cause she ran into the seminar leader in the restaurant and ate lunch with him and how he was nice and funny and normal even though a great man.
Then she details all the difficulties in coming to any firm conclusions on this topic and tells us how nuance and humility are really important and necessary, but we can be sure of this, and then out comes some platitude worthy of a 7th grader in Sunday school.
I like that description of the modern, PBS, style of article– the “one person’s experience” style. You should write it up further as a parody and post it on the web. Another good parody would be to do a math or science article in that style.
The style is pernicious not only because it displaces content but because it makes it easy to convey a point of view unfairly, without argument. You simply find or invent anecdotes that make your side look good and the other side bad without seriously engaging the issue. I recently saw Rob Bell’s “Bullhorn Man” (at CGS), a good example.
[T]his is what you get when you copy the form of, say, the Heritage Foundation, without actually understanding the function. Places like the Center for American Progress ( allegedly “the liberal Heritage Foundation)” were explicitly created to mimic what self-styled progressives believe to be the vast rightwing conspiracy (It was the same agenda that brought us Air America). In one sense, they were great at mimicking all this stuff, but like the aliens in Galaxy Quest they lacked a certain level of understanding of how this stuff works internally to these organizations. For instance, they don’t seem to understand that the purpose of institutions like the Heritage Foundation is to make the White House and Congress more of an echo chamber of Heritage, not the other way around.
The Washington Times reports that Mr. Freeman has withdrawn from consideration for the big Obama intelligence job. Yet another stupid Obama mistake— not to see that the anti-Israel, Saudi-payrolled Freeman would be completely objectionable to most of his party. What’s most interesting, though, is Mark Steyn’s blog observation, Don’t read all about it!, at NR, which I quote in full:
I’m glad to see the back of the Saudi shill Chas Freeman, but I wonder what Mr. and Mrs. America will make of it tomorrow morning, reading for the very first time how the “Outspoken Former Ambassador” (as the AP’s headline has it) was scuttled by a controversy their newspaper saw fit not to utter a word about.
As far as I can tell, the only papers in America to so much as mention the Freeman story were the Wall Street Journal, Investors’ Business Daily, the Washington Times, the New York Post, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Augusta Chronicle, and the Press Enterprise of Riverside, California.
But if you rely for your news on the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Detroit News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Miami Herald, or the Minneapolis Star-Tribune — just to name a random selection of American dailies currently sliding off the cliff — the end of the story will be the first time you’ve heard of it.
The U.S. newspaper has deluded itself that it’s been killed by technology. But there are two elements to a newspaper: news and paper. The paper is certainly a problem, but so is the news — or lack of it. If you’re interested in news, the somnolent U.S. monodaily is the last place to look for it.
It might be convenient to collect things I’ve said about the stimulus bill that aren’t on this blog. For Newmajority.com:
What the American economy urgently needs is not Keynesian stimulus, but reform of the capital and housing markets, particularly in the rating agencies, bank portfolios, and government encouragement of reckless lending. That is where the problem started, and where it might have remained– with the mild recession of the first half of 2008– if Presidents Bush and Obama had reassured the American public rather than predicting doom. Whether Keynesian stimulus works is an open question in economics, but it is fairly well settled that what governments implement is not the nonpolitical stimulus that professors recommend. The various Congressional proposals so far are not stimulus bills at all. They are a mix of special- interest tax cuts and pork barrel spending with a general-interest layer of tax cutting on top. It would be better not to try to use fiscal stimulus at all.
From Politico.com after a phone interview:
Eric Rasmussen, a free market economist at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business warns that the money could fund economically inefficient projects.
“They tend to be projects which wouldn’t get through in normal times because they wouldn’t pass the cost benefit analysis,” he said. “It’s much more prey to special interests then something like a tax cut.”
I should remember to spell out my name for people. And to ask how they heard of me. Since she calls me “a free market economists”, it’s probably from the Cato ad.
Around 1990, people were afraid of “crack babies”: that babies born to mothers smoking crack would be seriously damaged. This might be worth looking at now because it might (I’m not sure) be another case, like Y2K, of a scare caused by experts who supposedly were a scientific consensus– like global warming.
This 1995 MOther Jones article talks a bit about it.
Seizing on early studies that raised alarm over fetal damage from cocaine, scientists cited the same inconclusive data again and again. Local news organs spun their own versions of the crack-baby story, taking for granted the accuracy of its premise. Social workers, foster parents, doctors, teachers, and journalists put forward unsettling anecdotes about the “crack babies” they had seen, all participating in a sleight of hand so elegant in its simplicity that they fooled even themselves.
“It really got out of control,” says Donald E. Hutchings, a research psychologist and editor of the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology, “because these jerks who didn’t know what they were talking about were giving press conferences. I’d be sitting at home watching TV, and suddenly there’d be the intensive care unit in Miami or San Francisco, and what you see is this really sick kid who looks like he’s about to die and the staff is saying, ‘Here’s a crack baby.'”
But what a few cautious scientists had to say did little to weaken the momentum of the crack-baby myth. In fact, researchers who found no or minimal effects from cocaine had a hard time getting their results before the public. In a 1989 study published in the Lancet, Canadian researcher Gideon Koren showed that papers reporting a cocaine effect in child behavior were likely to be accepted over those showing no effect, for presentation at an annual meeting of the Society for Pediatric Research–even when the no-effect studies were of sounder design. “I’d never experienced anything like this,” says Emory’s Claire Coles. “I’ve never had people accuse me of making up data or being an incompetent scientist or believing in drug abuse. When that started happening, I started thinking, This is crazy.”
The earliest and most influential reports of cocaine damage in babies came from the Chicago drug treatment clinic of pediatrician Ira Chasnoff. His first study, published in 1985 in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that the newborns of 23 cocaine-using women were less interactive and moodier than non-cocaine-exposed babies. In the years that followed, Chasnoff was widely quoted and fawned over in the press (“positively zenlike,” according to Rolling Stone) and became known as the rather pessimistic authority on what happens to babies whose mothers use cocaine.
Of course, Chasnoff wasn’t the only researcher to report serious effects. They were legion, some publishing simple case reports that took a few cocaine-exposed kids and racked up their problems. Judy Howard, a pediatrician at the University of California, Los Angeles, piped up regularly, once telling Newsweek that in crack babies, the part of their brains that “makes us human beings, capable of discussion or reflection” had been “wiped out.”
Ann Coulter is in fine form.
When the Obama family materialized, the media was seized by a mass psychosis that hadn’t been witnessed since Beatlemania. OK! magazine raved that the Obamas “are such an all-American family that they almost make the Brady Bunch look dysfunctional.” Yes, who can forget the madcap episode when the Bradys’ wacky preacher tells them the government created AIDS to kill blacks!…
Months before network anchors were interrogating vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the intricacies of foreign policy, here is how NBC’s Brian Williams mercilessly grilled presidential candidate Barack Obama: “What was it like for you last night, the part we couldn’t see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife, knowing what was awaiting?”
Twisting the knife he had just plunged into Obama, Williams followed up with what has come to be known as a “gotcha” question: “And you had to be thinking of your mother and your father.” Sarah Palin was memorizing the last six kings of Swaziland for her media interviews, but Obama only needed to say something nice about his parents to be considered presidential material.
UPDATE, JANUARY 14. I discovered that Professor Miron and Congressman Boehner have already been putting together a list of stimulus skeptics, with comments by them. It’s up at: http://republicanleader.house.gov/blog/?p=399
I think I’m going to start collecting the names of economists who oppose the Obama plan of spending $700 billion or so for a Keynesian fiscal stimulus. I hear the media saying that economists across a wide array of views have a consensus in favor of it, and I bet that’s completely wrong. There’s Eric Rasmusen, and Greg Mankiw, and Robert Lucas, and Tyler Cowen, for starters.
I think part of the problem is that a lot of discussion by economists is about what sort of fiscal policy is best *if* we are going to spend $700 billion. That’s different from *whether* we should. In fact, even a devotedly Keynesian economist might oppose having a government stimulus if Congress and Obama get to design it, not an academic economist. If we are thinking of having a Keynesian stimulus, I suppose giving $500 to each American is a good way to do it, especially if we make it a gift certificate that they have to spend within six months or lose. But my saying that doesn’t mean I support the idea, much less that I support $700 billion in porkbarrel spending.
I’ll add to this list as I come across names with links.
Is Obama a Black Nationalist? I met two people yesterday who were starry-eyed about Obama being a reconciler and unifier. That’s not consistent with his past church choice, as Steve Sailer notes, which was to pick a pastor known for his racism. If a Republican candidate had belonged to a church run by an admirer of the KKK, it would be commented on, but Obama doesn’t get that kind of attention. Yet.
After all, an enormous amount of talk has been devoted to, say, Mitt Romney and his church, even though Romney was born into being a Mormon. In contrast, Obama knew dozens of Chicago pastors through his ethnic organizing job, but, when he figured out that he had to belong to a church to have an effective political future on the South Side, he shopped around and chose Rev. Wright’s church.
It’s not exactly a secret that Obama’s Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. is a radical leftist black racialist. After all, Rev. Wright went with Louis Farrakhan to Libya to meet Col. Gadaffi in 1984, and just last November Wright gave his Lifetime Achievement award to Farrakhan at a big gala at the Chicago Hyatt Regency.
Wright calls his stance “black liberation theology” and relates it to Nicaraguan Marxist liberation theology. But I doubt if 2% of the voters know that. The media haven’t been in any hurry to alert the voters, perhaps because Obama’s supporters have tried to brand the Scarlet R on anyone who mentions anything about Obama other than that he will bring us together to bring about change. (Just as there has been more coverage of Romney’s great-grandfather’s polygamy than of Obama’s father’s polygamy…
Furthermore, reading Obama’s account in his autobiography (for an overall analysis of Obama’s 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, see my American Conservative article “Obama’s Identity Crisis”), it’s evident that Obama’s concern was not whether Wright was, say, the far left blowhard that he appears to be, but whether Wright’s church was leftist enough for Obama…
In other words, Obama is wondering, in effect, whether Wright can help him reconcile his black racialism with his vaguely Marxist class-strife ideology. See, the “problem,” as Obama saw it in 1987 (and in 1995 when he wrote his autobiography) is that some blacks are getting ahead in the America, which lessens racial solidarity among blacks, and raises contradictions between racialism and socialism, both of which the young Obama wants to believe in.