Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mark Regnerus: How to research controversial subjects and stay employed

If not popular: From sociologist at Mark Regnerus, who found that gay parents were more likely to have problems that might impact children:

Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas’ Department of Sociology gave a talk about the challenges of conducting research on controversial topics at the 2017 Scherer Lecture and Conference. More.

Reality check: It was fascinating watching the Correct get together to try to destroy his research.

See also: How did Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus get to be so hated?

It was hard to find children of same-sex parents who had been together for long. Ironically, that fact—instead of pointing clearly to a problem for children in same-sex households—provided an opportunity to attack Regnerus’s findings.

A “re-analysis” of the data published over two years later in the same journal, Social Science Research, dropped from consideration the same-sex households that did not last long, keeping only the few that did. The result was a greatly reduced difference, loudly proclaimed.

That practice is called “data laundering.” The resulting sample of same-sex households was not only small but unrepresentative, whereas the other groups remained large and representative.

Media, however, had found what they needed in the newly cooked statistics. They jumped in to declare Regnerus debunked. Some of the takedowns were unusually dishonest. At the New York Times, Jesse Wegman dismissed Regnerus’s careful but deeply unpopular work alongside a study whose data turned out not to exist. More.

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Compassion director dumped at prominent science institute

No, see, “compassion” means you DON’T just tell them to jump in front of a truck. You need reprogramming.

No, we don’t sit around here, making stuff up:

Tania Singer, 48 , had achieved prominence outside the scientific world in recent years. She caused a sensation with her interdisciplinary studies on the foundations of social emotions such as empathy, envy, fairness or revenge. Since 2013 , she has headed the ReSource project at the MPI in Leipzig, one of the largest research projects ever on the effects of meditation on the brain. At events such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, she regularly called for more compassion in business and society.

This was missing but apparently in their own laboratory. The science journal Science and the online portal BuzzFeed reported in the summer of this year that Singer had bullied and intimidated employees and PhD students for years. Christian Weber, “Max Planck Director Tania Singer leaves the institute” at Sudddeutsche Zeitung

You could have predicted trouble when they hired a “compassion director” anyway. That’s about as useful as commanding people to be funny.

Note: If you don’t read German, you’ll need to hit the Translate button.

See also: Robot priests: And you thought “robotic religion” was just a pointed criticism… ?

How do robots “care”? From Sapiens: Emotional robots’ cameras and sensors respond to your facial expressions, tone of voice, and movements

and

The new, politically correct chatbot was worse?

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Black pro-life student reflects on evangelical SJWs who denounced him

Remember Ryan Bomberger, the black pro-life student activist who made Wheaton evangelical college uncomfortable? In his own words, at Townhall:

Only one of those five people involved in this letter of denouncement even attended the event (Sammie Shields). The presentation was 50 minutes, followed by nearly an hour of Q&A and discussion. How was anyone “unheard” or “underrepresented”?

When you can’t prove the content wrong, the tactic is to make things up. I can’t rebut every lie I’ve heard and seen posted on social media since my November 14th presentation. Some have claimed that I said, “no one cares what the KKK believes”, “racism doesn’t exist anymore”, and “women should think twice about reporting sexual assault.” Of course, I never said any of those things. One of the student leaders… made the bizarre claim, in order to bolster his false narrative about what I said about the KKK, that “there was a lynching in Mississippi last week”. Really? Wouldn’t there be at least one news article on that? But it doesn’t matter. “Diversity”!

Victimhood is potent.

The story has now become the “hurt” and “grieving” students.More.

Reality check: Don’t be surprised if later,  pro-lifers aren’t allowed to speak because pro-live baby dismemberment types are “uncomfortable.” Still later, there will be more witches in Wheaton than evangelicals. At least the evangelicals brought it on themselves.

See also: Black prolifer made Wheaton students feel unsafe

and

More witches than Presbyterians in the United States?

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Revealed: the hidden global network behind Tommy Robinson

Guardian investigation shows how cash, legal support and millions of tweets underpin anti-Islam activist – but Facebook removes his ‘donate’ button

The British far-right activist Tommy Robinson is receiving financial, political and moral support from a broad array of non-British groups and individuals, including US thinktanks, rightwing Australians and Russian trolls, a Guardian investigation has discovered.

Robinson, an anti-Islam campaigner who is leading a “Brexit betrayal” march in London on Sunday, has received funding from a US tech billionaire and a thinktank based in Philadelphia.

Two other US thinktanks, part-funded by some of the biggest names in rightwing funding, have published a succession of articles in support of Robinson, who has become a cause célèbre among the American far right since he was jailed in May for two months.

A typical Guardian hit piece.

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Denmark Deserves an ‘A’ for Effort in Confronting Jihad in 2018. But Is It Enough?

It’s been quite a year in Denmark. In June, the Danish Parliament passed a law banning the burka and niqab. The media went nuts. “Slowly but surely,” warned the Independent, “Europe is undergoing a move towards restricting religious freedom for non-Christians … minorities are being treated as second-class citizens.” The Guardian headline read: “Muslims feel besieged.”

Then, this summer, Denmark introduced new laws requiring children living in Muslim enclaves to spend at least 25 hours a week taking Danish language classes and learning about Danish values. The headline in the New York Times report on this development called it “[h]arsh,” said that some Danish politicians’ description of Muslim ghettos had “become increasingly sinister,” and cited a Social Democratic member of Parliament who drew a comparison to Nazi Germany. Time’s Amro Ali, who used words like “illiberal,” “xenophobic,” and “discriminatory” to describe the policy change, also brought up the Nazis. Richard Orange of the Guardian sang the same tune.

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Macron scraps fuel tax increase as panicked Elysée warns of thousands of yellow vest protesters coming to ‘smash and kill”

President Emmanuel Macron of France is to totally scrap fuel tax rises that sparked three weeks of unrest and the worst riots seen in Paris for half a century, as the Elysée last night warned that “several thousand” hardened protesters were bent on descending on Paris on Saturday “to smash and kill”.

However, in a decision that risked further fuelling the “yellow vest” revolt, Mr Macron ruled out reversing a landmark decision to scrap a wealth tax that has seen him dubbed by critics “the president of the rich”.

In a sign of rising panic at the pinnacle of the French state, the presidency issued a hasty evening announcement that the government would scrap a “green tax” on diesel and petrol due to be imposed in the 2019 budget.

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Is it still murder if your mind gets uploaded to the internet?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. PosterA computer engineer turned philosopher, Jonathan Bartlett, asks, If I kill you but upload your mind into an android, did I murder you or just modify you?

Is it even possible to upload your consciousness to a computer and, if so, is it still really you?

The sci-fi TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013– ) tackled this question in an episode titled “Self Control”.  Scientist Holden Radcliffe has an android assistant appropriately named Aida (Artificial Intelligence Digital Assistant). Together, they build a virtual world that people could be plugged into and uploaded into, called The Framework. More.” at Mind Matters

Also re mind uploading claims: 😉 Read this stuff before you forward cash: 😉

Claim: Yes, you can upload your brain Fine print: They might have to kill you first

Attend your own funeral! It’s easy if you upload your consciousness to the cloud, says futurist. Ummm…

and

Can we cheat death by uploading ourselves as virtual AI entities?

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Why the Brit pubs are closing down

The pubs are closing down in some areas of Britain and many are quick to cite growing Muslim influence there.

Some of us suspected it wasn’t that simple. If that was the main explanation, the Muslims would be much more resented. Pub life was iconic, after all. Mark Steyn, as so often, has the answer. He recalls his discussion with a taxi driver in Last Call:

A lot of the pubs are closing down,” he said. “Before GPS, the pubs was how we knew the route. Turn left at the King’s Head, right at the Plough & Harrow… Now they’re all shutting down.”

“Is that because there’s more Muslims?”

He laughed. “No. It’s because the drinkers prefer to get the cheap liquor from the supermarkets. They drink it at home all day. So they’re drunk before they leave the house. Then they just go to a nightclub and they don’t have to spend all their money on the expensive drinks because they’re already drunk. So they can just dance with a slag and not spend a lot of money.”
More.

Reality check: Sodden at home, eh? Alcohol does that to people.

If the sober Muslims are smart enough not to cut off the supply to the doomed secular Brits, the demographic change will happen more quickly. One wants to feel sympathy but eventually turns attention to people who are at least trying to help themselves.

See also: Middle aged alcohol deaths rising, especially among women

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Catholic sex abuse crisis: The curious silence of First Things’ Richard Neuhaus

Catholic readers may well remember Fr. Neuhaus (1936-2009), whose First Things magazine was refreshing reading from a thoughtful ecumenical Christian perspective. That said, from Rod Dreher at The American Conservative:

Ah, Neuhaus. He never could bring himself to see clearly what was right in front of his face.

It is also undeniably true that a lot of people back then simply could not imagine that the truth was as bad as all that. I hold the late Father Neuhaus more responsible than most, precisely because he was such an insider, and ought to have known better. His insider status, though, and his vanity, blinded him to the ugly reality of the scandal. Like Podles, I personally felt the lash of his tongue for the things I wrote about the Church and clerical sex abuse.

To be honest, I’m not sure how wide a readership Sacrilege would find today, simply because it is extremely dark. But it tells the truth. Catholics and others need to know these things — that these crimes happened, and that men of God covered them up for decades. It is very easy to treat these horrors as an abstraction, because it is extremely painful to come to terms with the barbarism and perversity within the Church. Leon Podles doesn’t flinch in describing exactly what these monsters did. Reading Sacrilege is like watching an exorcism up close and personal. I did not have the strength to get through it a decade ago. I don’t know if I have the strength today. But this book should be in print again, as a witness and a warning. More.

Reality check: You can still buy Sacrilege from a specialty bookseller.

In assessing the disaster, it’s helpful to note the role played by significant silence, as opposed to actual collusion.

See also: Catholic bishops abandon hope of reform, fall into abyss The abyss? The question of minors vs. adults is purely a matter of secular statute law. According to Christian teaching going back to the New Testament, all the listed behaviours are sin, period. What secular law says is irrelevant.

and

Longtime critic of Catholic Church over sex scandals is vindicated

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Is a bad “AI Winter” looming?

View of Lake Michigan from the Memorial Museum in Milwaukee, Wi Artificial intelligence crashes and busts are historically common:

First, what caused previous AI winters? There was one straightforward reason: The technology did not work. Expert systems weren’t experts. Language translators failed to translate. Even Watson, after winning Jeopardy, failed to provide useful answers in the real-world context of medicine. When technology fails, winters come.

Nearly all of AI’s recent gains have been realized due to massive increases in data and computing power that enable old algorithms to suddenly become useful. For example, researchers first conceived neural networks—the core idea powering much machine learning and AI’s notable advances—in the late 1950s. The worries of an impending winter arise because we’re approaching the limits of what massive data combined with hordes of computers can do. Software engineer Brendan Dixon, “Is a bad “AI winter” looming?” at Mind Matters

See also: Also by Brendan Dixon: The “Superintelligent AI” Myth The problem that even the skeptical Deep Learning researcher left out

Also from Mind Matters:

Has Neuroscience Disproved Thinking? A philosopher argues that Nobel Prize-winning research shows that the theory of mind is just another illusion, useful for survival and success. Computer engineer Eric Holloway: We’ve all seen this sort of argument before in many other guises. It is commonly called “reductionism.” The reductionist claims that, because an object can be construed as made up of parts, the object is just the parts. It is like saying that because an article like this one is constructed from letters of the alphabet, the article is only rows of letters.

Computer engineering prof Robert J. Marks Talks Computers with Michael Medved Computers can magnify what we do, he says, and that’s the real threat.

Quantity vs quality: Can AI help scientists produce better papers? What happens when scientists simply can’t read all their peers’ papers and still find time for original research? Quantity is definitely a solved problem. STM, the “voice of scholarly publishing” estimated in 2015 that roughly 2.5 million science papers are published each year. Some are, admittedly, in predatory or fake journals. But over 2800 journals are assumed to be genuine.

Who does the concept of “intellectual property” really benefit? Was traditional copyright law meant to protect algorithms that decide people’s financial fate? The title question is more complicated than we might at first suppose. The short answer is, not necessarily the starving artist, says Samir Chopra, a Brooklyn College philosophy professor and co-author with Laurence F. White of A Legal Theory for Autonomous Artificial Agents. It’s becoming a corporate grab.

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Murphy Brown remake fails, of course

From Lesley Goldberg at Hollywood Reporter:

For Murphy Brown, the rebooted series was always intended to be a closed-ended order of 13 episodes. The multicamera comedy, featuring the return of star Candice Bergen and from original creator Diane English, has underperformed (6.2 million total viewers and a 0.9 in the key 18-49 demo) in its prime Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. slot and remains in consideration for a renewal. F More.

Reality check: Media simply aren’t what they were when Murphy Brown was big. Now, they’re whiny and needy, obsessed with hatred of Donald Trump and in Canada, they are soon to be welfare recipients. You can’t make a show about people like that and make them seem really independent and gutsy. All you can do is make them seem like the sort of people who put on the airs of being independent and gutsy. And that’s never been hot.

See also: The mainstream media are not independent anyway

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Education: It had to come down to a war on giving out grades

From Toni Airaksinen, re a Columbia U seminar for profs, at PJ Media:

“Grades are currency for a capitalist system that reduces teaching and learning to a mere transaction” (emphasis added), the CTL states, quoting activist Jesse Stommel. “Grading is a massive co-ordinated effort to take humans out of the educational process.”

Fifteen of the 34 Powerpoint slides specifically encourage professors to let students grade themselves. If students can choose their own grades, the presentation asserts, then they’ll feel less stress and anxiety, and maybe even learn more productively.More.

Reality check: The main outcome will be that no one will be able to prove that a student did not learn anything from time spent in class until they are far enough away that someone or something else can be blamed.

See also: Which side will atheists choose in the war on science? They need to re-evaluate their alliance with progressivism, which is doing science no favours.

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson the latest science celeb to get MeToo#d

Astronomer and science popularizer Neil DeGrasse Tyson has been #MeToo’d:

Dr. Katelyn N. Allers, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Bucknell University, told me that she was “felt up” by Tyson at an after-party following a meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in 2009. AAS didn’t have a mechanism for reporting sexual harassment at the time, but Dr. Allers says she probably would report the incident if it had happened today … David G. McAfee, “Two More Women Accuse Neil deGrasse Tyson of Sexual Misconduct” at Patheos

I remember Tyson from stories like “March for Science: Neil DeGrasse Tyson thinks science denial dismantles democracy,” and “Tyson bombshell: Universe likely just computer sim, and “Tyson wrong on duck sex. ” Oh yeah, and finding Superman’s home planet, back in the days when something like that wouldn’t provoke a firestorm among the Woke.

The  hedder following should really read, “Affirmative-action giant accused of inappropriate sexual conduct”:

How will Science ever survive the downfall and disgrace of Neal DeGrasse Tyson?

… It should be amusing to see the academic Left bending over backward to try to Believe All Women while simultaneously defend Black Lives Matter. I guess we’ll see who outranks whom these days in the SJW hierarchy. The fall of an affirmative action giant” at Vox Popoli

Vox Populi assumes, without offering evidence, that activism today needs to make sense. Not clear.

I am not saying I subscribe to the following theory. I dust it off now and then, as it’s part of my collection of theories bumping around:

Some people think that the #Metoo witch hunt started as an effort to GET someone that nearly 100 percent of Me Too-ers totally hate. Total hatred of whom didn’t seem to do them much good…

Let me unpack this slowly and carefully: As a general rule, if you think that someone you hate is stupid, you should be cautious. You are not an impartial judge. If you have spent a lot of time and energy hating him, that is a measure of the control he has over you, not a measure of the control you have over him.

Just sayin’ is all.

If certain theorists are correct, the #Metoo bomber squad has taken out a whole bunch of guys who weren’t doing much that attracted attention all by itself. They happened to be in the way of the blast. Maybe their places will be taken by more Politically Correct persons. But it is hard to believe that can have been the original goal.

Oh well, who knows? Who reads minds?

Britain’s Daily Mail weighs in, of course, “Fox, National Geographic say they are investigating claims that Neil deGrasse Tyson, 60, made inappropriate sexual advances toward two women.” Hat tip: Ken Francis

See also, for some background: Larry Krauss cites physics to fight back against sex harassment charges

At Buzzfeed: Serious sexual assault allegations against celebrity physicist Lawrence Krauss

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Security report on Trudeau’s problem-plagued India trip set to be shoved under carpet by Canadian media on Monday

‘It’s not good’: Security report on Trudeau’s problem-plagued India trip set to drop Monday

The findings of a special security review into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s much-maligned trip to India early this year will be released Monday.

Copies of the classified report are in the hands of the Prime Minister’s Office and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

While a source told CBC News the PMO doesn’t see the report as a major concern, another person with knowledge of the report’s findings acknowledged that “it’s not good.”

Prediction: Sock stories galore.

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Do you need Twitter to shut down the Twitterbots for your own good?

From Mind Matters.ai: The bots have become very unpopular, emblemizing everything people hate about Twitter. So, the Washington Post tells us, the company is now cracking down: “Twitter suspended more than 70 million accounts in May and June, and the pace has continued in July”:

The rate of account suspensions, which Twitter confirmed to The Post, has more than doubled since October, when the company revealed under congressional pressure how Russia used fake accounts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election…

“One of the biggest shifts is in how we think about balancing free expression versus the potential for free expression to chill someone else’s speech,” [Twitter’s vice president for trust and safety Del] Harvey said. “Free expression doesn’t really mean much if people don’t feel safe.” Craig Timberg and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Twitter is sweeping out fake accounts like never before, putting user growth at risk” at Washington Post

But there is a whole other side to the bots that is at least worth knowing about, a side that one hopes will live on. More.

Reality check: Underlying much of the angst about the political impact of bots is a basic premise: Most of us need help thinking for ourselves and protection from the many bad influences (like Donald Trump) that we are not able to recognize, the way our betters can.

See also: Can Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, save it from humanity? Berners-Lee has launched a global campaign for a Magna Carta to “protect people’s rights online from threats such as fake news, prejudice and hate” Not everyone sees Berners-Lee’s project as realistic. For one thing, acquiring and using masses of personal data without consent is the very basis of the business of the big social media companies, who are more powerful than many nation states.

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