Nobel Nobel

Eye on the Prize, Number 11

You wouldn’t like it in Oslo in December. Weather is terrible. No worries. Your presence is not required:

North Korea’s U.N. envoy says denuclearization off negotiating table with United States

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 7 (Reuters) – North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Saturday that denuclearization is off the negotiating table with the United States and lengthy talks with Washington are not needed.

Ambassador Kim Song’s comment appeared to go further than North Korea’s earlier warning that discussions related to its nuclear weapons program, the central focus of U.S. engagement with North Korea in the past two years, might have to be taken off the table given Washington’s refusal to offer concessions.

Hey! There is still a shot at Mr. Congeniality. Then, maybe not.

Quid Pro Quo

Closing it Down, Number 4 in a Series

This is just getting started. I’m never going to run out of these. I have a guy who works for the government to write these for me. Here is a recent one.

Donald J. Trump <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.comDec 6 at 6:56 PM

PELOSI: “WE WILL IMPEACH”

John,

I DID NOTHING WRONG.

The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day the other day and now Nancy is trying to cover up for it by calling for her minions to proceed with Articles of Impeachment.

They just announced that they are going to seek to IMPEACH me over NOTHING. This means that beyond the important and seldom used act of IMPEACHMENT, it will be used routinely to ATTACK future Presidents that Party leaders don’t agree with.

This is not what our Founders had in mind. The Democrats have NO impeachment case and are demeaning our great Country at YOUR expense. But, nothing matters to them – they have gone absolutely insane.

TELL ME NANCY: HOW CAN YOU IMPEACH A PRESIDENT THAT DID NOTHING WRONG?

Nancy and her corrupt party have proven that there is no line they won’t cross to try and STEAL the 2020 Election. The biggest WITCH HUNT in the history of politics has reached a critical point, and I need YOU to be on the right side of history with me.

The DC Swamp wants impeachment. The Hollywood Elites want impeachment. The Fake News wants impeachment. The Deep State wants impeachment. Foreign enemies want impeachment. The Establishment wants impeachment. They all HATE you, John, and that’s why they want to steal your vote.

It’s US against THEM. Make no mistake this is a war, and a war we must win to save the United States of America.

I’m calling on my most FIERCE and LOYAL defenders to step up to the front lines of this Impeachment war and show the Left that we will NEVER stop fighting.

If the mail header is to be believed this is from the President of the United States. And we have to believe it, because this is President Donald J. Trump, and who would claim to be who was not? This is worth unpacking. Start with Pelosi will impeach.

Yeah, Jack. Nancy Pelosi is going to impeach your sorry ass. You perhaps had something else in mind when you started cozying up to enemies of the United States, all the while putting the arm on a military ally to coerce them to give yourself political leverage? You did not know this stuff is against the law and you would be impeached if you did it? You have perhaps been vacationing on Mars for the past 50 years? Yeah, Nancy is going to impeach you. In the words of a famous presidential chief of staff, “Get over it.”

You did nothing wrong? You did not create a phony charity foundation and then use it as your ATM? You did not also enlist the national treasury as your personal cash machine by funneling tax dollars into your private enterprises? You did not fire government employees who refused to stop investigating your crimes? You did not order government employees to not testify on what they know of your crimes? You are, perhaps, thinking of a different definition of “nothing wrong?”

You say the Democrats had a bad day. Mr. President, you had a bad day in November last year when the American electorate rose up and put into office people who would no longer ignore your abuse of office? Get over it.

They are going to impeach you over nothing? Dude, you have a lifetime history of white collar crime, and you carried that life style into the office of President, and you think Congress is going to allow you to continue to abuse the office? Come back from vacation, Mr. President.

“This is not what our Founders had in mind.” Really? Let me do some research into that. Ah, yes. From the James Madison archives we have this note: “And if Donald J. Trump is ever allowed to become President you need to impeach his sorry ass.” Yeah, that is what the founders had in mind. And yes, I am willing to pay for the investigations and the trial. Get over it.

Yeah, Nancy. How can you impeach a President [who] did nothing wrong? Why not impeach Donald Trump, instead. So, Donald, get over it.

Nancy and the Democrats represent a corrupt party? If Pelosi and the Democratic Party are corrupt, then what is left to call the Republicans who overlooked your criminal activities for two years while Democrats were locked out of power in the House of Representatives? Perhaps corruption needs a fresh definition. So get over it.

The DC Swamp wants impeachment. The Hollywood elites want impeachment. The Fake News wants impeachment. The Deep State wants impeachment. Foreign enemies want impeachment. The Establishment wants impeachment. I want impeachment. So get over it.

This is war? If this be war, then make the most of it. Saddle up and get it on President Bone Spurs.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a Continuing Series

When bill arrived back at the farm after a trip into town, he found Martha waiting for him on the front porch.

“What’s up, Babes?” he asked.

“”We have a problem with the tractor,” she replied.”

“Yeah, what’s wrong with it?” he asked.

“It’s got water in the carburetor,” she responded.

“No, that can”t be,” Bill said.

“Well, it’s true,” she insisted.

Bill decided to see for himself. “All right. I’ll have a look at it. Where’s the tractor?”

“It’s in the pool.”

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 193, no surprise

The graph shows up in a publication from The Heritage Foundation and bearing the title “Here Are 8 Stubborn Facts About Gun Violence in America.” The text explains:

More people are stabbed to death every year than are murdered with rifles. A person is more likely to be bludgeoned to death with a blunt object or beaten to death with hands and feet than to be murdered with a rifle.

So, more people are stabbed than killed with rifles. Blunt objects, also. Which is why this series is about Your Friend the Handgun. The graph clearly shows handguns are what we should be concerned about, as in this case:

Wisconsin police officer shoots student who pulled gun, refused to drop it, officials say

Christopher KuhagenBill Glauber Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WAUKESHA, Wis. — A city police officer inside Waukesha South High School in Wisconsin shot a 17-year-old student who pulled a gun in a classroom and refused to drop it, according to officials.

The suspect — taken into custody — was the only person injured in the incident, police said.

Yes, nobody was killed. So this is not about gun deaths. This is about gun violence, and it’s another example of how the proliferation of guns, especially handguns, fails to make our society safer.

This is your president speaking.

Number 234 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrumpThe Fake News Media is doing everything possible to belittle my VERY successful trip to London for NATO. I got along great with the NATO leaders, even getting them to pay $130 Billion a year more, & $400 Billion a year more in 3 years. No increase for U.S., only deep respect!

4:36 PM · Dec 4, 2019Twitter for iPhone

New Flash! The Fake News Media don’t have to do anything to belittle your trip to London for NATO. You have done that nicely.

When Stupidity Is Abused

Number 2 of a series

There are times when stupidity has its uses. I can’t think of them right now, but there must be times. This is to alert you that stupid can also be abused. Take the example of (now) presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. Here is something from 2014:

I think having a gun at home when you have children is really dumb. Kids —, we all went and tried to figure out what was in the top shelf of their parents closet. And we looked in mommy’s handbag. Under the bed. Kids are inquisitive.

That did not go over very well in a number of respects. First of all, if you want people to vote for you you don’t start out calling them stupid. Obviously candidate Bloomberg was not thinking very far ahead five years ago. Now he needs to. That notwithstanding, it is stupid to have a gun in the house. However, do not attempt to convince some of my conservative Facebook friends. Cody posted the above meme, and a lively discussion ensued. Here are some excerpts. Names have been abbreviated.

November 30 at 4:26 PM ·

Says a man with armed body guards and all the money in the world. I have nothing against, other than disagreeing on policy, with any of the Democratic candidates… with one exception. This man is a terrifying ego manic. (yes, prepare for the standard anti- Trump statements).
Goodness you could not pay me a million dollars to vote for this man. (Maybe 3 million would do it though…

Jerry: It sounds like Bloomberg is the one who’s pretty stupid.

Rob: Ironic isn’t it

Cody: It’s as if the Democratic Party said… Hold My Beer, we can find a bigger a hole.

It’s starting to appear there is not a Democrat in the bunch. We are about to see some archetypal gun rights rhetoric.

John: I’m definitely smarter than *YOU* are, Michael! And you aren’t getting my guns, either!

It’s at this point I added a snarky comment:

John Blanton It’s so nice to have a gun around the house.
https://skeptic78240.wordpress.com/…/your-friend-the…/

The linked post features a graph based on some gun violence statistics.

Apparently this elicited this response from Cody.

Cody: Be honest and remove suicide and life isn’t safe, never has been, never will be. But in the interest of safety, we must surrender to the wiser among us, correct? Finally, the use of arms is why you exist today, hunting and killing of other creatures, to keep warm and to eat. In other words, manly pursuits that were…wait for it… dangerous.

The graph clearly shows gun violence in the United States is way out of line with other first world countries. Cody’s explanation is “life isn’t safe.” He seems to ignore that elsewhere life is safe. Why not here?

Now the conversation gets really interesting.

James: Cody, also you can’t give up guns. If we have a Civil War, the food chains to the supermarket may get cut off. People will need to hunt for their own food.

The logic is inescapable. If you give up your guns, then what do you do if there is a civil war? I swear, in my questioning the logic behind free access to guns, I never thought about what we would do in case of civil war. And the need to hunt for our own food. Without guns we are all going to starve. Something is being abused here, and there does not appear to be a lot of intelligence is going to waste.

There is additional comment, and I began to think the conversation needed to be brought back on track.

John Blanton The chart shows countries with strict gun laws and free societies. And not so many children killing children. We need to get over the notion having a gun at home will make us safer.

This is what candidate Bloomberg is shown saying, in his maladroit way. Cody responds.

Cody: John Blanton again. Remove suicide. But that would require honest discussion versus hyperbole and wanting to spin. The method of death doesn’t matter but the result. The major underlying cause of death of young people in US is drug and drug use. Also death rates among whites are consistent with Europe. We have a problem with gangs and drugs that is mainly in the black community. But again you just want to preach… So peace out.

It’s becoming apparent nothing I can say is going to restore sanity to this conversation. A followup response is breathtaking.

James: John Blanton, a gun at home does make you safer. When guys [guns] are taken away, criminals will have free rain to invade your home.

It is hard to argue with logic like that. Yes, criminals will have free reign to invade my home, except it is against the law for them to do that, and they will be prosecuted and put in jail if they do it. It is not against the law for any jakeleg who thinks he needs a gun to have one. The result is children are dying.

The brilliance of this argument rises to new heights.

Randy: And most of those free countries in that chart are free still because we in the U.S. have guns and a demonstrated willingness to use them.

The kid brother is safe from the bullies because of the reputation of the older brother.

See, it goes like this. Because Americans have guns in their homes, people in Japan are safe, because criminals in Japan will not invade their homes, because they know that somebody several thousands of miles away has a gun in his home.

Actually, it is possible Randy means something else. Japan (and France and England) have no fear from a resurgent Russia, because America’s enormous defense establishment is ready to knock down any invaders, and possibly receive thanks in return. However, the discussion is supposed to be about whether it is safer or not to have guns in the home. We see logic bending under the weight.

I attempt to get the discussion back in the groove.

John Blanton Once again, the discussion is about guns in the home. I post one of these every week, and there are several more each week I do not post, because this is a one incident a week posting. It’s not about police killing bad guys. It’s about good guys (even children) killing people. And to tamp down the traffic I only post about experiences involving handguns.

I am preparing to post a story about a person who killed somebody to protect his property. You should not feel good about this. Somebody died who did not need to die.

Lots of stories I post do not involve anybody dying. These are about times when a person wishes he had not had a gun. Loss of job. Arrested by the police. Embarrassed himself. When do we get to see the benefit of the proliferation of private gun ownership?

I am not against guns. I received pistol training from the government. I worked arming aircraft in the Navy Reserve. All right, rockets and bombs but not guns.

Here I am attempting to deflect by pointing out I have nothing against guns, they being made out of metal and having no intent to do me harm. My lame excuse about being a weapons specialist (Aviation Ordnanceman in the Navy Reserve) falls a little flat, since I and most of my shipmates did not actually deal with guns.

Vincent thinks he has a good argument.

Vincent: The moment you illegally enter a home with nefarious intent, you’re right to live has been forfeited. If they didn’t need to die, they also didn’t need to do something to cause it.

Yeah, Dude. You come at me, and I have my gun, and you’re going to be history. And you are five years old, and you find my gun, and now all bets are off. Let’s get back to the substance of the conversation.

Edward posts a link to suicide in Japan. Relevance, please.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_Japan

A substantial factor driving the narrative of those advocating for copious ownership is this argument.

  • Peter: It’s amazing how so many are willing to subjugate themselves to a central government in search of “safety.” I use it in quotes because the opposite is the historically accurate outcome.

Yes, this is that lovable anti-government sentiment. I think back longingly to the CSA.

Peter: These same people are the ones that say we can’t trust police. Anyone else see the irony?

See where this is going?

Jeff: Typical, elitist, judgemental attitude of leftist Democrats.

I was getting the idea Tim is a police officer.

Tim: Only one thing to say about someone wanting my guns….come take them. I will put up a fight…I may die…but guarantee someone will go with me if I do die.

My response was that likely if somebody came to take Tim’s guns he would not resist. That did not go over well.

Cody: John Blanton you don’t know [Tim]. Seriously arrogant attitude Mr. Blanton especially for someone so needing protection that you need a government to protect you. By the way Tim is a policeman and ex military. One of those you think will do your bidding.

Cody: Here’s the best part. John Blanton judges men like us [Dan and Tim] by his own standards. I faced down a DA that was a tough character to say the least. Was nearly killed. I didnt run asking for government and help. Real men don’t seek protection, they are the protectors.

What I liked most about that part is the way Cody was able to peer into my mind, and I remarked on this amazing ability he alleges to have. I need to find where I said that.

Ah! Here it is.

John Blanton Cody Knotts says I judge men… That I make such a judgement is an amazing presumption. The ability to peer into the minds of others would be priceless, were it real.

Tim: Mr. Blanton….Cody said nothing about you being able to read minds…he said you judge men. A judgement is not reading minds…its an assumption. You write like you’re an educated man. Im not super educated and wont ever claim to be. However…for you to comment as you did to my comment is a hell of an assumption to think that I will not fight for my rights if it comes to that. I see you are from Texas…according to your facebook page. A long time ago y’all had a battle cry over there….Remember the Alamo. Well…heres one for you…Remember Ruby Ridge.

I’m sure Tim misunderstands. Cody did not say anything about being able to read minds, but he presumed to know what is in my mind, which implies such an ability. And the conversation gets further from the original posting—is it stupid to have a gun in the house?

This is the moment when Cody decides he needs to scorch me. It is fun to watch.

Cody: John Blanton you did make a judgment. Like so many of your background and class, you play semantics games. Always twisting and turning, spinning and implying, then saying that is not what you said. It all feeds your ego and vanity. I worked 29 years in politics and I met this personality over and over again as I did many. In that time I never once saw that type accomplish anything politically. I have helped elected over 20 officials, removed a corrupt DA and other numerous corrupt officials of both parties, helped get 3 men wrongly accused of murder out of prison, and ran a homeless shelter and a halfway house, my eagle project led to scouting for food. I state all of this not to brag but to make the larger point about constantly making points versus action. You want attention for your supposed positions but what you really seem to want is to lord your alleged intellect over others. You do not openly engage and consider the other position as Eric Weinstein and others I engage with here and on twitter. They regularly disagree and I learn from their position. You seek to enflame discreetly which is about your ego. Its old and tiresome and when you insult my friends personal honor and their manhood, you will be called out as you should. In the 19th century it would be called pompous. I rarely make this responses personal but you are deserving of this response.

Please, Cody and any others who seek to insult me. You are way out of your league. The United States government used to pay a trained specialist to belittle and insult me on a daily basis. You need to take lessons.

Tim picks up on the slant. More power to these people.

Tim: Cody..hes just another one that will type insults on a keyboard but if we were ever to meet in person…he would be a little…well you get the point.

Insult somebody? Me? In your dreams.

Anyhow, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get to something of sustanceb.

John Blanton Cody Good point, Cody. Perhaps I am arrogant in believing a person who has sworn to uphold the law will obey the law when asked to do so.

There is another matter. Who is there to protect. me. I am guessing those prepared to protect me will include:

1. The multitude of people who have shot family members to death.
2. The children who have shot other children and also adults.
3. Any number of the wack jobs who are able to get their hands on firearms due to this county’s notoriously lax standards of ownership.

Remember, the theme of this thread is supposed to be about whether it is foolish to have a gun in the house. It is not about the Second Amendment. You may have the right to have a gun in the house, but is it wise to have one? Many think it is wise. Many are dying. Others are merely having regrets.

Comments welcome.

If it’s comment I want, it’s going to be comments I get. Here are some:

CodyJohn Blanton spin. Semantics and games. You insulted a person and you spin rather to defend. Old tiring and dishonorable.

Once again—I insulted someone? Were ever someone to insult me so. What a glad day that would be.

Finally this, which made my day.

Tim: Mr. Blanton….I will uphold laws when they are constitutional. When they become unconstitutional…I will turn in my badge. As for if its wise or not to have a gun in the home….who are YOU or ANYONE to determine what is wise for someone else? IF you depend on firearms owned by anyone to protect you…as Cody says you do….you are a hypocrite for criticizing ANYONE for having a gun in the house. But I gues if you’re a politician as Cody says…I shouldn’t expect anything else. Oh and if you are under the assumption that tougher laws are going to keep guns out of the hands if…the wack jobs…as you call them…YOU are not as intelligent as I was giving you credit for. You have no idea the amount of firearms that are sold or traded in back allys. You probably should stop talking about things you obviously have no clue about.

Jesus! If I had known. I need only obey the laws I consider to be constitutional. Forget judges. I am the one who decides whether a law is constitutional and should be obeyed. Oh the money I wasted paying taxes and driving in the slow lane. I’m telling you, readers, dealing with the American heartland broadens one’s horizons. Try it sometime.

This is your president speaking.

Number 233 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrumpThe Whistleblower got it sooo wrong that HE must come forward. The Fake News Media knows who he is but, being an arm of the Democrat Party, don’t want to reveal him because there would be hell to pay. Reveal the Whistleblower and end the Impeachment Hoax!

8:33 AM · Nov 3, 2019Twitter for iPhone

Full disclosure: this is the lazy way to post a presidential take down. The congenital liar dug in at the White House has employed the term “Fake News” so frequently it has handles. When something is offered this freely, who am I to refuse?

Abusing Science

Number 47 of a series

I apologize if it appears I keep dragging on the Discovery Institute for stories about abuse of science, but fact is these people are a gold mine of cases. The push for their narrative against natural causes is relentless. To the end I tap into this resource, I receive almost daily updates. Here is from an email in November:

Dear John:

If you listen to the media, you’d think that science has refuted God, the debate over Darwin is closed, the solution to the origin of life is right around the corner, and humans are no more significant than cockroaches.

If you are as sick of this kind of fake news as I am, read on: There is a solution—and you can be a part of it. The solution is called Evolution News and Science Today.

Discovery Institute started this news outlet back in 2004 to counter all the fake news in the debate over intelligent design. Since then, the audience for Evolution News has grown from a few thousand to more than a million users a year. In fact, according to Google, Evolution News is on track to reach 1.7 million users by the end of 2019. That’s right: Not 1,700. Not 17,000. But 1.7 million.

Our growing readership gets unique reporting and analysis from Discovery Institute Fellows like biochemist Michael Behe, philosopher Steve Meyer, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, biologists Jonathan Wells and Ann Gauger, paleontologist Günter Bechly, and many more.

Darwinists absolutely hate Evolution News. Why? Because they know we have an impact! Remember how Yale computer scientist David Gelernter gave up his faith in Darwin earlier this year? One book that influenced his change of mind was Debating Darwin’s Doubt. Many of the chapters in that book were originally published as articles on Evolution News.

Whenever the media or scientific establishment spreads phony information about evolution, we spring into action.

For example, when the journal Science went after Michael Behe’s blockbuster book Darwin Devolves this year with a sham review, Mike and our other scientists were able to use Evolution News to utterly demolish the journal’s bogus claims.

All told, we publish 800+ articles a year, and we even produce an edition in Spanish, translated for us by a courageous university student in Central America.

We want to continue Evolution News (EN) and expand its impact. You can be a part of our efforts by generously supporting EN now.

And it closes with an appeal for donations. You will have surmised I did not contribute.

Some points are worth examination: “If you listen to the media, you’d think that science has refuted God…” The fact is, if you give the matter some serious thought the concept of God is refuted. Lacking any physical evidence, the concept of a transcendental being outside the realm of time and space must rely on philosophical arguments. Creationists will posit the need for an intelligent designer meets the requirement for a scientific basis, but that is turned on its head and exposed as a philosophical argument. The creationists must justify the existence of a transcendental being that has the inclination to create the universe and all these people. To be sure, that line of reasoning is going nowhere.

How about, “…and humans are no more significant than cockroaches.” Amazing! This is an argument that is sure to get you an A on a Philosophy 101 mid-term. Just kidding, of course. From where do these creationists get the idea this conclusion follows? I am guessing what is involved here is not a stab at logical proof but is an appeal to the reader’s preconceived notions. We are dealing with emotions here, and reason be damned.

I will not dissect the entire note, but I will close with a comment on this paragraph: “For example, when the journal Science went after Michael Behe’s blockbuster book Darwin Devolves this year with a sham review, Mike and our other scientists were able to use Evolution News to utterly demolish the journal’s bogus claims.” Full disclosure: I purchased the Behe book and have started using excerpts in rebuttal to CSC’s propaganda campaign. See a previous posting on “The Years of Living Stupidly.”

Also note the Discovery Institute has tuned up the title for their Intelligent Design site. It is now Evolution News & Science. You will be seeing a bunch more here about the fresh surge from the CSC.

The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 14 in a series

Back like 30 years ago Frank Harrold and Ray Eve at the University of Texas at Arlington published research into matters such as religious belief and political affiliation. One point they noted was a strong correlation between religious belief and political conservatism. Conservatives tended to hold belief in biblical inerrancy. That biblical inerrancy defies known science stands out, because there are sincerely religious people who accept scientific findings regarding evolution and the origin of the Earth.

The young Earth creationists, who believe this planet is barely 6000 years old, lost heavily in court cases beginning 40 years ago, and the argument for the scientific validity of creationism shifted to a new breed. These new creationists often concede the age of the Earth and even the common origin of existent species. However, their political affiliation remains strongly linked to conservatism. What is worse, the new creationists appear to be picking up the rhetoric of the worst of today’s conservative block. They are beginning to adopt the language of Donald Trump. Specifically, they now find it useful to employ the term “fake news” when confronted with evidence adverse to their views. A recent item from the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News site illustrates:

Drive Darwinists Nuts with This One Solution to Fake News

John G. West November 19, 2019, 4:15 AM

If you listen to the media, you’d think that science has refuted God, the debate over Darwin is closed, the solution to the origin of life is right around the corner, and humans are no more significant than cockroaches.

If you are as sick of this kind of fake news as I am, I have good news. There is a solution, and you can be a part of it.

The solution is this site — Evolution News & Science Today.

You need to read through this posting by John West. John G. West “is a Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute (DI), and Associate Director and Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs of its Center for Science and Culture (CSC), which serves as the main hub of the Intelligent design movement.”

It’s hard to miss that the modern creationists have latched onto the alt-right play book. From scant months ago the language has shifted noticeably. In this post West employs the combative style of the current President. He writes:

For example, when the journal Science went after Michael Behe’s blockbuster book Darwin Devolves this year with a sham review, Mike and our other scientists were able to use Evolution News to utterly demolish the journal’s bogus claims.

The gloves are clearly off. All pretense of sincere debate has evaporated. Science and those who espouse it are now the enemy, deplorable to the core.

The reference to the Science review is page 590 of the 7 February 2019 issue:

The end of evolution?

A biochemist’s crusade to overturn evolution misrepresents theory and ignores evidence

By Nathan H. Lents, S. Joshua Swamidass, Richard E. Lenski

West takes a strict adversarial approach, relying upon others for the language of science. He holds a Ph.D. in government and a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and in his most recent post he alludes to the demolition of the Science critique. A search of items posted to Evolution News showes something posted by West four days after the Science critique appeared:

Darwinists Devolve: Review by Swamidass, Lenski, and Lents Borders on Fraud

John G. West February 11, 2019, 11:04 AMJoshua Swamidass, Richard Lenski, and Nathan Lents have published a review in the journal Science critiquing biochemist Michael Behe’s forthcoming book Darwin Devolves. I found their review utterly convincing — although probably not in the way they might hope.

Some background: When I became involved in the intelligent design (ID) movement more than two decades ago, a key reason was because I was intrigued by the scientists who thought they were finding discernible evidence throughout nature of intelligent design. I didn’t know whether these scientists were correct. But I definitely wanted them to have the freedom to articulate their views in the public square without retribution. And I wanted to see how the debate played out.

Attaching the label “fraud” to the Science review requires some heavy lifting. Read West’s entire posting. A pertinent section appears to be this:

The authors first claim that Behe “fails to mention Kenneth Miller’s simple, elegant scheme” for the “stepwise evolution” of the blood-clotting cascade, clearly leaving the impression that Behe hasn’t responded to Miller anywhere, not just in his new book.

The authors not only claim that Behe fails to mention Miller’s scheme, they flat out assert that Behe fails to mention it. Here is the pertinent text from Science:

Behe also ignores the fact that some of his prior arguments have been dismantled (2). He includes a lengthy appendix that argues that the blood-clotting cascade is irreducibly complex, for example, but fails to mention

Kenneth Miller’s simple, elegant scheme for its stepwise evolution (3) or the fact that a progenitor fibrinogen gene has been discovered in echinoderms (4).

Apparently it is up to the reader to jump to the conclusion the authors intended to leave the impression Behe has never responded. For the record, a search of Darwin Devolves finds “Miller” mentioned three times. One time is this:

The paper made a splash. The news blog of the very prestigious journal Science reported the results and asked a few big names for comment. The eminent Michael Lynch (discussed in Chapter 4) remarked that “complexity builds out of simplicity, and [the work of Liu and Ochman] is a well-documented argument for how that can happen.” Brown University cell biologist Kenneth Miller chimed in, “The researchers clearly show these genes were derived from one another through gene duplication.”9

Behe, Michael J.. Darwin Devolves (p. 291). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

The other two times are in end notes and references. As with ambition, fraud should be made of sterner stuff. The man doth protest too much, methinks.

From first appearances, John West is making arguments against Behe’s critics which amount to so much propaganda. It is the wave of the new conservatism. It is the promise of the coming years of living stupidly.

Thoughts and Prayers

A Continuing Discussion of Gun violence in this Country

I post a regular series about the value of handguns for personal safety, and I get some push back. The above was posted to my Facebook feed.

If the intent is to demonstrate no increase in deaths due to mass shootings, then it accomplishes its purpose. Another purpose it accomplishes is that it shows statistics only since the ban on assault rifles expired in 2004. Before proceeding it will be worth the time for some analysis.

Note the character of the statistics. The graph depicts number of fatalities and provides no information about the number of mass shootings. There are various definitions for the term “mass shooting,” but a popular one is an incident occurring at one location over a short period of time with four or more people killed, not including the shooter. Other restrictions apply, but this will do.

Another thing not shown is the type of weapon used. These are shootings since the assault weapon ban expired, but some mass shootings do not involve handguns. So the graph is missing some interesting stuff, but I will let it go at that.

Now we turn to whether changes in gun ownership and permissiveness regarding use, e.g., open carry. The gun environment has changed dramatically in this country over the decades, and what is interesting to study is the long history of mass shootings. Somebody has compiled a record. See the following.

What does it show? I think it shows an increase of the rate of mass shootings since the 19th century. Of course, the population has increased during this time. The census from 1890 showed about 63 million. The population last year is estimated at 327 million. That’s over five times the 1890 population, so we should expect a proportional increase in mass shootings, all other factors being equal. It’s worth citing details for each of those listed in the chart.

1891—Parson Hall Shooting

Nobody killed. Fourteen wounded with a shotgun.

1891—St. Mary’s School Shooting

Shotgun again. Several injured.

1903—Camon Band Massacre

Shotgun again. Six killed.

1913—Thomas Jones-Houston Massacre

 

1936—Lehigh University Shooting

1940—Pasadena Public School Shooting

1948—Chester, PA, Shooting

1956—Parsnippany-Troy Hills Shooting

1960—William Reed Elementary School Shooting

1966—University of Texas Shooting

1984—McDonald’s San Ysidro Shooting

1986—Post Office Shooting Edmond, OK

1989—Elementary School Shooting Stockton, CA

1990—General Motors Shooting Jacksonville, FL

1991—Luby’s Shooting Killeen, TX

1998—Jonesboro Middle School Shooting

1999—Columbine High School Shooting

2003—Record High School Shooting

2007—Virginia Tech Shooting

2009—Geneva County Massacre

2009—Pine Lake Nursing Home Shooting

2009—Binghamton Shootings, NY

2009—Fort Hood Shooting

2012—Dark Night Theater Shooting

2012—Sandy Hook Shooting

2013—Navy Yard Shooting

2015—Emanuel Church Shooting

2015—Navy Reserve Center Shooting

2015—Umpqua Community College Shooting

2015—San Bernardino Shootings

2016—Pulse Nightclub Shooting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

parson hall school shooting

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a Continuing Series

This I recall from Readers Digest, decades ago.

Yoeman Brown, was gathering the admiral’s papers after his retirement. Brown was sure he had everything from the admiral’s office, but then he checked a small drawer in the desk. He opened the drawer and found a sheet of paper. On the paper was a short sentence.

Port is on the left, starboard is on the right.

Quid Pro Quo

Closing it Down, Number 3 in a Series

This has come to be like drinking from a fire hose. The enlightenment from Trump supporters makes for impressive reading. Here are two:

Donald Trump Jr. <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>

To: jf_blanton@yahoo.comNov 29 at 10:38 AM

John,

Democrats are trying to destroy this country.

Instead of working with President Trump to kill terrorists, Build the Wall, and create new American jobs, liberals are STILL trying to overturn the 2016 election and silence the voices of TENS OF MILLIONS of Americans.

Corrupt Democrats like Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi would rather see America FAIL than succeed under President Trump’s leadership. These Impeachment Hearings have exposed Democrats for the liars and FRAUDS that they are.

No matter how many LIES Democrats and their good friends in the FAKE NEWS throw at him, my father will NEVER stop fighting for YOU.

And presumed son proceeds to ask for money. This next.

Steve Scalise <info@nrccred.org>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com

Nov 29 at 8:37 AM

Fellow Conservative,

I am reaching out to remind you that our fight to win in 2020 will not be easy.

Democrats have proven time and time again that they will do just about anything to get their way. . . Impeachment Plots. Witch Hunts. Blatant Lies.

They will use every dirty trick in the book and spend whatever amount it takes to win.

So, a double whammy. Of course there are more of these. I will hold them for later. gratuitous joy must be a sin in a book somewhere. Examination is in order.

How about those plots, witch hunts, blatant lies, dirty tricks, impeachment plots? And especially how about those corrupt politicians, such as Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi?

First of all, Congressman Scalise, I regret profoundly you got shot, and I hope the person who did this spends the rest of his sorry life in jail. I will further state those corrupt Democrats ought to be ashamed of themselves. What are they thinking? Let’s take time to examine some of their misdeeds.

Oops! Shot at the sleazy Democrats and missed. Yeah, let’s allow those Democrats cool for a while. In the meantime, Don Jr. needs to concentrate on staying out of jail.

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 15 of a series

I must apologize profusely for my obsession with Texas Senator John Cornyn. The fact is he will run for re-election next year, and he is beginning to feel the heat for his continued defense of President Trump. Does that explain the volume of email I receive from the Cornyn campaign? You decide. Here is something recent.

John Cornyn <info@johncornyn.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com26 at 5:03 PM

John,

Open borders, early release of violent criminals and rampant drug problems. That’s what Nancy Pelosi and her liberal cronies want for the Lone Star state.

But this is Texas, not San Francisco. You earn your living.

In Texas, we want working folks to keep their hard-earned money, not have it taxed away to give free healthcare to illegal immigrants.

I can’t fight Pelosi’s cronies alone.  That’s why I’m asking you for your help.

Got my name right again. That’s a good start.

:Open borders, early release of violent criminals and rampant drug problems.” Senator, look around. These appear to be the same problems facing your home state. And this is Texas, and, yes, this is not San Francisco. I’ve been to San Francisco, and this is definitely San Antonio. And your point being? We are left to guess.

Actually, I am retired, so I am not one of those hard-working Texans, but I appreciate all those hard-working Texans, one of which I was previously one. And, no. I do not oppose providing health care for aliens, legal or otherwise. People need to be kept alive, and they need health care, because they are people and not animals. And health care is not free, and we all pay for it. Apparently you have a problem with this reality, or else you think I should. How about you do some growing up.

Senator Cornyn pleads he cannot fight Pepsi’s cronies alone. Really? Then, Senator, you are so screwed, because I plan to write a significant check to the campaign of whoever runs against you next year. Your continued wrong-headed positions on matters you describe and your continued support for the criminality of the Trump administration make you a liability for the state of Texas. We hope to see the last of you in the United States Senate in the near future.

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 192, no surprise

It’s so nice to have a gun around the house. That’s because you need a gun to defend your home. For examle:

Two juveniles killed outside Union City elementary school

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

UNION CITY — Two juveniles were fatally shot while sitting in a van outside a Union City elementary school early Saturday morning, authorities said.

Callers to 911 reported hearing gunfire in the area of Sherman Drive and Colgate Drive at 1:26 a.m. When officers arrived, authorities said, they found two boys, ages 11 and 14, shot in the parking lot of Searles Elementary School. The older boy died at the scene, and the younger child died en route to a trauma center.

Union City police have not released the names of the children.

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m feeling safer already. Don’t leave home without it.

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 14 of a series

If there is anything that would make me believe in God, it’s letters like the ones I receive from supporters of Donald Trump. There can be no other explanation other than a God in Heaven created people like Senator John Cornyn to almost daily entertain me. For example:

John Cornyn <info@johncornyn.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.comNov 27 at 10:51 AM

John,

As I write this email to you, I’m looking at the calendar and noticing something big…

Once we get through the next few days, we will have just one major fundraising deadline remaining in 2019.

That makes November’s End of Month goal so important, John… We will only have one more shot at making sure we’re ready for 2020.  If we fall short in this second-to-last month, there’s no way we’ll be able to catch up in December.

And John, who knows what the next few months could bring…

  • Our president could very well be impeached by Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi

  • Beto O’Rourke could file paperwork to run against me for Senate (this could happen any day now, according to my team’s analysis)

  • And God knows what else!

First notice he got my name right again. That builds trust. It goes down hill from there.

He wants me to contribute money. That’s not going to happen. Next he warns Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi could impeach President Trump. Really? You think? Isn’t what they are paid to do? Isn’t that why there was such a big loss for Republicans in the elections last year? It was all those Democrats elected to the House last year that made it possible for the opening of the impeachment investigation into President Trump’s crimes. You perhaps thought the American voters were prepared to let him get away with this stuff? Where have you been?

Beto O’Rourke could file to run against your sorry self? Yes, he well could, and, yes, I will write him a big campaign check if he does. Senator, I have watched news of your actions in office for the past few years, and there are a number of things you did that were expected as an honorable member of the United States government. However, your continued support for this sorry sack now residing in the White House is beyond redemption. At this point there is nothing you can do that will get me to ease off and to not work tirelessly to see you out of office. Rest easy tonight.

God knows what else? You are kidding me, right?

And thanks for the email. I was getting bored stiff sitting around waiting for something to come and brighten my day.

Abusing Science

Number 46 of a series

Abuse of science is not limited to the unwashed, and political abuse is not a modern invention. In 1897 a proposed Indiana bill would have set the value for π (pi) to three (3). Presumably that would make engineering computations easier in those days without hand-held calculators. It would likely, if put to use, have also resulted in a number of engineering disasters. But we don’t do that crazy shit anymore.

Wrong, Daddy-o:

The Ohio state House of Representatives has passed the Student Religious Liberties Act, which prevents teachers from penalizing students for giving incorrect answers on tests or other schoolwork if those facts would conflict with their religious beliefs.

The relevant section reads “No school district board of education (…) shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments. Assignment grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, including any legitimate pedagogical concerns, and shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.”

Ordinarily I would have confronted such inanity head-on and screamed my objections from the roof-tops. But then I had a second thought. This would have come in handy 55 years ago when I was taking a course in differential equations. Disregard that I aced DE, this stuff absolutely ruined my life for several miserable weeks. What if…

What if the Texas legislature, just down the street, had been aware of my misery and decided to come to my aid? I still recall Professor Walston reminding us: “Sometimes a differential equation is solved by staring at it until a solution comes to mind.” Yeah, I would liked to have been able to say, “Professor, you can take this differential equation and put it where the sun don’t shine, because my personal god, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, says the answer is always y = 5x + 3.”

You can see there are times a friendly bit of legislation can be a life saver. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 13 in a series

Oh, Jesus. First creationist Ben Stein.

Now top officials in American government. The stupidcy is getting so thick you can walk on it.

And it’s not just former Texas governor Rick Perry.

Nikki Haley: God Placed Trump in Power for ‘Lessons’ and ‘Change

David Brody@DavidBrodyCBN

JUST RELEASED: @NikkiHaley on whether God put @realDonaldTrump in place as president for such a time as this? She Says, “everything happens for a reason… I think God sometimes places people for lessons and sometimes places people for change.” Her @700club story Tuesday! @POTUS

Monday in a preview clip, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley commented on God and President Donald Trump during an interview with the “700 Club.”

Reporter David Brody asked, “What is you view kind of spiritually on the sovereignty of God and what he is doing exactly by putting Donald Trump as president of the United States?”

Haley replied, “Well, I think it goes to show that everything happens for a reason. And the way I see it is, look at the results of Donald Trump as president. Look at we have more friends and family with jobs than we have ever had before. We have the economy moving in a direction it hasn’t been in a long time but is doing great. We are acknowledging real truths with the president that had the courage to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And there has been a lot of courage that has come from this president to change what was the status quo and to do it in a way the American people wanted to see it. They did want a disruptor-in-chief. They did want someone who was going to go against the grain and get us out of our comfort zone.”

I’m not pondering whether these two parked their intellect at the door when they accepted positions in the Trump administration. I’m asking whether they ever had such a thing. The years of living stupidly accumulate growth rings.