False Testament

Number 4 of a series

This is the fourth and last of my reviews of the video series, “Is the Bible Reliable?” The series is produced by Focus on the Family and features creationist Stephen C. Meyer. The video is marketed as a DVD containing ten episodes. The first six episodes cover the Old Testament, hitting on some high points that Meyer believes will make a case for the reliability of the Bible. As noted (see the above link) Meyer skips a large body of biblical  text that would sink any other publication.

The final four episodes deal with the New Testament, the contribution by Christians, telling the story of Jesus of Nazareth, his teachings, his trial and execution, and his return from the dead. Meyer wants to assure viewers all those doubts about the validity of the New Testament are groundless.

He wants to demonstrate the New Testament is reliable as a source of information due to several  characteristics:

  • A documentary style rather than a piece of satire (for example)
  • A reliable transmission—not a bunch of stuff mangled in retelling
  • Contemporaneous or as nearly contemporaneous with the events described
  • Corroboration  from  other sources
  • Reputable character of those telling the story

He demonstrates that Luke comes off as a historical work.

From BibleGateway.com:

Luke 1:1-4 King James Version (KJV)

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

He offers up early manuscripts to demonstrate the New Testament is truly an ancient work.

He references:

  • Codex Alexandrinus, 5th century A.D.
  • Complete Manuscript of the New (and Old) Testament in Greek

From Wikipedia:

The Codex Alexandrinus (London, British Library, MS Royal 1. D. V-VIII; Gregory-Aland no. A or 02Soden δ 4) is a fifth-century manuscript of the Greek Bible, containing the majority of the Septuagint and the New Testament. It is one of the four Great uncial codices. Along with the Codex Sinaiticus and the Vaticanus, it is one of the earliest and most complete manuscripts of the BibleBrian Walton assigned Alexandrinus the capital Latin letter A in the Polyglot Bible of 1657. This designation was maintained when the system was standardized by Wettstein in 1751. Thus, Alexandrinus held the first position in the manuscript list.

The Magdalen Papyrus, Gospel of Mathew (P64)

The “Magdalen” papyrus was purchased in Luxor, Egypt in 1901 by Reverend Charles Bousfield Huleatt (1863–1908), who identified the Greek fragments as portions of the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 26:23 and 31) and presented them to Magdalen College, Oxford, where they are cataloged as P. Magdalen Greek 17 (Gregory-Aland {\displaystyle {\mathfrak {P}}}{\mathfrak {P}}64) and whence they have their name. When the fragments were finally published by Colin H. Roberts in 1953, illustrated with a photograph, the hand was characterized as “an early predecessor of the so-called ‘Biblical Uncial'” which began to emerge towards the end of the 2nd century. The uncial style is epitomised by the later biblical Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Comparative paleographical analysis has remained the methodological key for dating the manuscript: the consensus is ca AD 200.

And possibly the earliest, the John Rylands (P52) Fragment.

The Rylands Library Papyrus P52, also known as the St. John’s fragment and with an accession reference of Papyrus Rylands Greek 457, is a fragment from a papyrus codex, measuring only 3.5 by 2.5 inches (8.9 by 6 cm) at its widest; and conserved with the Rylands Papyri at the John Rylands University Library ManchesterUK. The front (recto) contains parts of seven lines from the Gospel of John 18:31–33, in Greek, and the back (verso) contains parts of seven lines from verses 37–38.[3] Since 2007, the papyrus has been on permanent display in the library’s Deansgate building.

Meyer wants to compare the meager New Testament holdings with those of other famous works.

A favorable Comparison

  • Gallic Wars by Caesar, written  in 55 B.C., earliest manuscript from 850 A.D. 10 mss extant.
  • Histories by Tacitus, written in 100 A.D., earliest manuscript from 900 A.D., 2 mss extant.
  • History by Thucydides, written in 430 B.c., earliest manuscript from  900 A.D., 8 mss extant.

This last part echoes from a few years back when Michael Shermer debated Douglas Geivett at the University of Texas at Arlington.

This was our first encounter with Douglas Geivett, but a number of the more erudite have studied his writings and arguments. Richard Carrier has reviewed In Defense of Miracles. In “Geivett’s Exercise in Hyperbole” Carrier takes issue with Geivett’s lack of understanding of history:

He then issues a comparison, in the voice of a mock critic, asserting that the resurrection of Jesus is as historically evidenced as Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C. 3

Geivett’s over the top comparison of the resurrection with this well-established historical event severely blunts the credibility of any other arguments he might make, and it takes some of the shine off his professed piety. Whether he will continue to be an effective proponent of the reality of God will depend on how well he controls his handling of the truth. His standing as a creationist, however, is looking brighter all the time.

That footnote reference links to this:

It should be clear that we have a huge number of reasons to believe that Caesar crossed the Rubicon, all of which are lacking in the case of the resurrection. In fact, when we compare all five points, we see that in four of the five evidences of an event’s historicity, the resurrection has no evidence at all, and for the one kind of evidence it does have, it has not the best, but the very worst kind of evidence–a handful of biased, uncritical, unscholarly, unknown, second-hand witnesses.

In Episode 8 Meyer addresses the early composition of Luke and Acts. He argues there is evidence they are (nearly) contemporaneous.

People, Positions and Places

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:

Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

The biblical quotes are from BibleGateway.com.

Roman Rule of Cyprus

  • Up to 22 BC, Imperial Province. Legate.
  • 21 BC and after, Senatorial Province According to Luke.
  • Paul and Barnabas meet the proconsul Sergius Paulus in Cyprus.

The point here is that differing Roman territories were ruled either by Caesar, and the local ruler was call a legate, or they were ruled by the Senate, and the local ruler was called a proconsul. Paul got it right when referring to the ruler as a proconsul for the date of his supposed visit.

There is the Temple Warning Inscription.

The Temple Warning inscription, also known as the Temple Balustrade inscription or the Soreg inscription, is an inscription from the Second Temple in Jerusalem, discovered in 1871 by Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau and published by the Palestine Exploration Fund. Following the discovery of the inscription it was taken by the Ottoman authorities, and it is currently in the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.

From BibleGateway.com:

Acts 21:27-28 King James Version (KJV)

27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

Luke, writing for Acts, got this right.

In Episode 9 Meyer takes up external corroboration.

There is the Miracle of Cana:

The transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of JohnIn the Gospel account, Jesus, his mother and his disciples are invited to a wedding, and when the wine runs out, Jesus delivers a sign of his glory by turning water into wine.

The location of Cana has been subject to debate among biblical scholars and archeologists; several villages in Galilee are possible candidates.

 

Miracle at Cana

“Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification …”

– John 2:6

Meyer observes John 2:6 got that right. This was the time stone water pots were used, rather than clay ones.

I was amazed Meyer brought up the James Ossuary:

The James Ossuary is a 1st-century chalk box that was used for containing the bones of the dead. The Aramaic inscription: Ya’akov bar-Yosef akhui diYeshua (English translation: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”) is cut into one side of the box. The inscription is considered significant because, if genuine, it might provide archaeological evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. However, the authenticity of the inscription has been challenged.

Meyer apparently made this video in  2010, seven years after this artifact was demonstrated to be a fake:

In 2003, The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) determined that the inscriptions were forged at a much later date. In December 2004, Oded Golan was charged with 44 counts of forgery, fraud and deception, including forgery of the Ossuary inscription. The trial lasted seven years before Judge Aharon Farkash came to a verdict. On March 14, 2012, Golan was acquitted of the forgery charges but convicted of illegal trading in antiquities. The judge said this acquittal “does not mean that the inscription on the ossuary is authentic or that it was written 2,000 years ago”. The ossuary was returned to Golan, who put it on public display.

Meyer notes some key facts.

Some Key Facts

  1. Paleographical analysis of the inscription dates the ossuary between 20 B.C. and 70 A.D.
  2. Reburial by ossuary was done primarily in the city of Jerusalem between the late 1st century B.c. and 70 A.D.
  3. Only wealthy and prominent people had their bones placed in ossuaries. Inscriptions incurred further expense and expertise.

Episode 10 concludes the video series with the trial of Jesus.

I  will mention some artifacts and some quotes that Meyer asserts attest to the reliability of the scriptural account of Jesus. First there is the authenticity of Herod Antipas.

Herod Antipater (GreekἩρῴδης ἈντίπατροςHērǭdēs Antipatros; born before 20 BC – died after 39 AD), known by the nickname Antipas, was a 1st-century ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch (“ruler of a quarter”) and is referred to as both “Herod the Tetrarch” and “King Herod” in the New Testament although he never held the title of king. He is widely known today for accounts in the New Testament of his role in events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.

There is the finding of Peter’s House in Capernaum:

Capernaum (/kəˈpɜːrniəm/ kə-PUR-nee-əmHebrewכְּפַר נַחוּם‎, Kfar NahumArabic: كفر ناحوم, meaning “Nahum’s village” in both languages) was a fishing village established during the time of the Hasmoneans, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It had a population of about 1,500. Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other. A house turned into a church by the Byzantines is said to be the home of Saint Peter.

Peter’s House

  • 4th century A.D. writings of the Pilgrim Egeria, say, “And in Capernaum, what is more, the house of the prince of the apostles [Peter] has been turned into a church, leaving its original walls however quite unchanged.”

Josephus is one person who is presumed to have spoken with people who knew Jesus:

The works of Josephus include material about individuals, groups, customs, and geographical places. Some of these, such as the city of Seron, receive no mention in the surviving texts of any other ancient authority. His writings provide a significant, extra-Biblical account of the post-Exilic period of the Maccabees, the Hasmonean dynasty, and the rise of Herod the Great. He refers to the Sadducees, Jewish High Priests of the time, Phariseesand Essenes, the Herodian Temple, Quirinius‘ census and the Zealots, and to such figures as Pontius PilateHerod the GreatAgrippa I and Agrippa IIJohn the BaptistJames the brother of Jesus, and to Jesus (for more see Josephus on Jesus). Josephus represents an important source for studies of immediate post-Temple Judaism and the context of early Christianity.

From Tufts University:

[63] Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Finally, there are historians mentioning Jesus.

Historians Mentioning Jesus

  • Titus Flavius Josephus, Yosef Ben Matityahu (ca. 37-100 A.D.)
  • Publius Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 56-117 A.D.)
  • Mara Bar-Serapion (late 1st century A.D.)
  • Flavius Lustinus, Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165 A.D.)
  • Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (ca. 9230 A.D.)
  • Pliny the Younger, ca 61-113 A.D.)

Taking them in turn.

Titus Flavius Josephus, already noted.

Publius Gaius Cornelius Tacitus.

A survey of the literature indicates that this citation by Tacitus has not been given enough regard, having often been overshadowed by the citations in Josephus (see next entry). Respected Christian scholar R. T. France, for example, does not believe that the Tacitus passage provides sufficient independent testimony for the existence of Jesus [Franc.EvJ, 23] and agrees with G. A. Wells that the citation is of little value.

It is unfortunate that France so readily agreed with Wells’ assessment. An investigation into the methods and background of Tacitus, as reported by Tacitean scholars (whose works, incidentally, France does not consult), tells us that this is an extremely reliable reference to Jesus and for early Christianity.

Mara Bar-Serapion:

The letter has been claimed to include no Christian themes[2][4] and many scholars consider Mara a pagan, although some suggest he may have been a monotheist.[3] Some scholars see the reference to the execution of the “wise king” of the Jews as an early non-Christian reference to Jesus. Criteria that support the non-Christian origin of the letter include the observation that “king of the Jews” was not a Christian title, and that the letter’s premise that Jesus lives on in his teachings he enacted is in contrast to the Christian concept that Jesus continues to live through his resurrection. Another viewpoint is that he could be referring to the resurrection recorded in Jesus’s teachings which say he lived on, that would mean we don’t know if he believed the resurrection happened or not and leaves it up to speculation whether he was a Christian or a non-Christian who agreed with Christians as regarding Jesus as a “wise king” according to the Gospels.

Flavius Lustinus:

The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia notes that scholars have differed on whether Justin’s writings on the nature of God were meant to express his firm opinion on points of doctrine, or to speculate on these matters. Specific points Justin addressed include that the Logos is “numerically distinct from the Father” though “born of the very substance of the Father,” and that “through the Word, God has made everything.” Justin used the metaphor of fire to describe the Logos as spreading like a flame, rather than “dividing” the substance of the Father. He also defended the Holy Spirit as a member of the Trinity, as well as the birth of Jesus to Mary when she was a virgin. The Encyclopedia states that Justin places the genesis of the Logos as a voluntary act of the Father at the beginning of creation, noting that this is an “unfortunate” conflict with later Christian teachings.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus:

The Roman historian Suetonius (c. AD 69 – c. AD 122) mentions early Christians and may refer to Jesus Christ in his work Lives of the Twelve Caesars.

One passage in the biography of the Emperor Claudius Divus Claudius 25, refers to agitations in the Roman Jewish community and the expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius during his reign (AD 41 to AD 54), which may be the expulsion mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (18:2). In this context “Chresto” is mentioned. Some scholars see this as a likely reference to Jesus, while others see it as referring to an otherwise unknown person living in Rome.

Pliny the Younger:

In any event, the value of the Pliny letter as “evidence” of Christ’s existence is worthless, as it makes no mention of “Jesus of Nazareth,” nor does it refer to any event in his purported life. There is not even a clue in it that such a man existed. As Taylor remarks, “We have the name of Christ, and nothing else but the name, where the name of Apollo or Bacchus would have filled up the sense quite as well.” Taylor then casts doubt on the authenticity of the letter as a whole, recounting the work of German critics, who “have maintained that this celebrated letter is another instance to be added to the long list of Christian forgeries…” One of these German luminaries, Dr. Semler of Leipsic provided “nine arguments against its authenticity…” He also notes that the Pliny epistle is quite similar to that allegedly written by “Tiberianus, Governor of Syria” to Trajan, which has been universally denounced as a forgery.

Despite Meyer’s enthusiasm for his list of historical reference to Jesus, these seem paltry at times. However, in religion enthusiasm counts for a lot.

Suppose…

Suppose we grant Meyer all his points about when the texts were written and how these place names and these people are as told in the Bible (including the New Testament). There is one thing he cannot get past. The details can be demonstrated to have been fabricated. Some examples are in called for. Refer to previous posts for examples I am not repeating here. These are new.

A talking donkey:

Numbers 22:26-30 King James Version (KJV)

26 And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.

27 And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.

30 And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay.

Nay, indeed. Here is another:

Luke 22:41-44 King James Version (KJV)

41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

You may have noticed Jesus was by himself, with nobody around to hear him. So, who is writing down what he’s saying?

Jesus was born in Bethlehem? Really? Why? Mary and Joseph were required to travel to Bethlehem (from Nazareth) for a census (for tax purposes). Really? Since when did the Romans, or any other government require this? From all appearances this is made up in order for Jesus to fulfill the prophesy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

The nativity of Jesus or birth of Jesus is described in the gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the time of Herod the Great to a betrothed virgin whose name was Mary. There are, however, major differences. Matthew has no censusannunciation to the shepherds or presentation in the Temple, implies that Jesus’s parents’ home is Bethlehem, and has him born in a house there, and has an unnamed angel appear to Joseph to announce the birth. In Luke there are no Magi, no flight into Egypt, or Massacre of the Innocents, Joseph is a resident of Nazareth, the birth appears to take place in an inn instead of the family home, and the angel (named as Gabriel) announces the coming birth to Mary.[1] While it is possible that Matthew’s account might be based on Luke, or Luke’s on Matthew, the majority of scholars conclude that the two are independent of each other.[1]

From where I observe, Meyer is clawing at the air to validate the Bible to a bunch of Christian youth. His aim is to ensure they (and viewers) retain their faith in the Bible and thereby retain their faith in Christianity. Were I a cynic among them this sort of hoax would only put me off the message of The Lord. Which is pretty much what happened with me, about 60+ years ago.

I watched to  the end of Episode 10 streaming on Amazon Prime Video (where I obtained these screen shots), and when that finished another episode started up, featuring not Stephen C. Meyer, but Del Tackett, former president of Focus on the Family. It’s Episode 1 of Season 3, with Season 3 having the title, “Who is Jesus?” Season 3 does not appear on Amazon’s Prime Video menu. You may have to do a search to find it. I make no promises I will watch and review Season 3, except.. Except that Amazon may have this available for a limited time, and I  would hate to let slip the opportunity to watch it without having to  pay the $25+ to purchase a DVD.

Keep reading. God may grant your wish.

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Persecution Complex

An addendum

Over the past few days I reviewed ten episodes of Does God Exist, a video produced by the fundamentalist Christian organization Focus on the Family. It’s offered as a DVD and is also streaming on Amazon Prime Video. In addition to the ten episodes addressing the question, “does God exist,” there is a bonus segment highlighting the challenges fundamentalist Christians encounter in a less than sectarian world. The operating title is “The Toughest Test In College.” From Amazon:

Preparing for college involves more than just buying new clothes and textbooks. Your toughest test is not going to be on paper; it is a test of your heart and mind. Can you live out your convictions and share your faith with students and professors who might not agree with your Christian worldview?

Here is a brief review. We start with Jay. “He’s on his way to college.”

What Jay and other fundamentalist Christians encountered (according to the video) is the challenge of hostile professors. Across the spectrum, these (supposedly) liberal professors go from questioning students’core beliefs to heaping ridicule on any and all who will not abandon their beliefs. We are informed these hostile professor in the video are actors paid to stand in for real people.

Prominent contenders for Objectionable of the Month include Peter Singer and Ward Churchill. Singer is polarizing for his views on the value of human life. Churchill would be controversial on any campus, but this video singles out his opposition to the Bush administration’s prosecution of the war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Churchill wants administration officials prosecuted for war crimes, a not totally un-Christian position.

Del Tackett, D.M., president (now former president) of Focus on the Family, weighs in and narrates much of the story.

Stephen C. Meyer, the main figure in the video, also appears. Meyer gained fame as an advocate for Intelligent Design as legitimate science. He was prepared to testify (but did not) for that at the Kitzmiller trial. Here all the wraps are off. Meyer is a Christian warrior, fully committed to a campaign to define what is the true faith.

And there is J. Budziszewski, Ph.D., a professor of history and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He argues strongly against “moral relativity.” He compares it to factual relativity. If somebody advises against eating the cafeteria’s tuna salad, citing that it’s making people sick, he portrays the relativist as saying, “That’s your own opinion” (not his exact words).

Eric Pianka, is Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. Before I proceed further I need to clear up a minor point. Despite the correct spelling of Pianka’s first name, and despite displaying graphics depicting his complete name, the producers somehow missed the point.

The controversy about Pianka is a speech he made. Wikipedia provides some details:

Pianka’s acceptance speech for the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist Award from the Texas Academy of Science resulted in a controversy in the popular press when Forrest Mims, vice-chair of the Academy’s section on environmental science, claimed in the Society for Amateur Scientists e-journal The Citizen Scientist that Pianka had “endorsed the elimination of 95 percent of the human population” through a disease such as an airborne strain of the Ebola virus. Mims claimed that Pianka said the Earth would not survive unless its population was reduced by 95% suggesting that the planet would be “better off” if the human population were reduced and that a mutant strain of Ebola would be the most efficient means. Mims’ affiliate at the Discovery InstituteWilliam Dembski, then informed the Department of Homeland Security that Pianka’s speech may have been intended to foment bioterrorism. This resulted in the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewing Pianka in Austin.

Pianka has stated that Mims took his statements out of context and that he was simply describing what would happen from biological principles alone if present human population trends continue, and that he was not in any way advocating for it to happen. The Texas Academy, which hosted the speech, released a statement asserting that “Many of Dr. Pianka’s statements have been severely misconstrued and sensationalized.” However, Dr. Kenneth Summy, an Academy member who observed the speech, wrote a letter of support for Mims’ account, saying “Dr. Pianka chose to deliver an inflammatory message in his keynote address, so he should not be surprised to be the recipient of a lot of criticism from TAS membership. Forrest Mims did not misrepresent anything regarding the presentation.”

Some of the same names keep cropping up in the creation-evolution controversy, and one of those is Forrest Mims:

Forrest M. Mims III, who most recently wrote the Amateur Scientist column of last June’s issue of Scientific American, is out since they discovered he is a committed creationist. Mims talked to the Houston Chronicle and to the Wall Street Journal, and that’s when the watermelon hit the fan. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, in a letter to SA, asked them not to use religion as a basis for publication, and the ACLU has taken up his case. That was where the matter stood the last I heard of it.

The Skeptic editor, Keith Blanton, was able to tape record an interview with Mims on the CNN show “Crossfire,” and he has made the tape available to interested viewers. Contact Keith at one of the NTS meetings if you want to borrow the tape. Appearing in the interview with Mims was NCSE Director and CSICOP Fellow, Eugenie C. Scott. The interview was moderated by conservative Cal Thomas (substituting for Pat Buchanan) and by liberal Mike Kinsley (of New Republic).

And here is what is additionally interesting. Both Pianka and Budziszewski are at the University of Texas at Austin, a place where I once obtained a degree. If you casually watch the introductory sketches you might get the idea that students are going to show up at college and run head on into a wall of liberal bias, unlikely, based on personal observation. Creationist Robert Koons is a professor of philosophy at UT Austin, and he is also an advocate of Intelligent Design, being a former fellow of the Discovery Institute. Robert Pennock was a professor of philosophy at UT Austin  when  he published Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism. What needs to be taken away from this discussion is that students leaving home and heading to college are going to run into the real world, and the real world is not the family dinner hour.

Christian students in the video are portrayed as earnest and sincere. You would want your own children to be like these. Except… Except we see students (or stand-ins) reflecting disdain for homosexual lifestyles and even those whose only offense seems to be anti Christian.

The video includes testimonials by a litany of students regarding the disrespect they received at even Christian institutions. They recount observing lewd behavior, sexual promiscuity, and tolerance for un-Christian life styles. Individual students are generally not identified on-camera, but the end credits list names of actual students as well as names of actors who dramatized students in the video.

Students testify. What they found, even at Christian academies, was a more open attitude, one their home life had neither accepted nor recognized. There was more tolerating of sin and also an acceptance of world views that were not biblical. To that, a thinking person would have to respond, “No shit.” People, you can walk a block from  your front door, even in Salt Lake City, and find world views that are not biblical.

But this video drills down on college campus life and wants to target not only bad actors, abusive and wrong-headed faculty, but also the openness we should hope to find on campus. I notice some play with the concept of intolerance. There is intolerance toward Christian values, and there is intolerance toward uncommon lifestyles. There seems to be a lot of intolerance going around. See the case of Emily Brooker below.

We also learn we should not put our complete trust in the experts. We are reminded that experts predicted a glowing future for the American economy, just days prior to the greatest collapse in our history.

Also mentioned are predictions by “experts” a few decades back of a threatened global cooling, and also the advice from other “experts” that eugenics, including forced sterilization, was necessary for the purity of the gene pool. Particularly, the case of Carrie Buck is highlighted. She was deemed a danger to the gene pool and forcibly sterilized in what is now acknowledged to be a gross injustice and a violation of all sense of humanity:

Paul A. Lombardo, a Professor of Law at Georgia State University, spent almost 25 years researching the Buck v. Bell case. He dug through case records and the papers of the lawyers involved in the case. Lombardo eventually found Carrie Buck and was able to interview her shortly before her death. Lombardo has alleged that several people had manufactured evidence to make the state’s case against Carrie Buck, and that Buck was actually of normal intelligence. Professor Lombardo was one of the few people who attended Carrie Buck’s funeral.

A historical marker was erected on May 2, 2002, in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Carrie Buck was born. At that time, Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner offered the “Commonwealth’s sincere apology for Virginia’s participation in eugenics.”

Missing from the narrative is what position people of Christian faith took on the matter at the time.

A prominent case featured in the video is that of the student shown below.

While not identified here, her case is a matter of record:

Does a professor have the right to require his students to comply with a certain political or social view in order to pass a course? Can universities demand that students observe policies that conflict with their religious views or restrict their First Amendment rights?

A lawsuit filed by a Missouri college student may soon provide some answers to these questions–with important implications for academia.

The lawsuit, Brooker v. The Governors of Missouri State University (MSU), was filed on Oct. 30 by the Alliance Defend Fund on behalf of Emily Brooker, a student in the university’s school of social work. The ADF, a Christian legal group that advocates religious freedom, accuses tax-funded MSU of retaliating against Brooker because she refused to sign a letter to the Missouri Legislature in support of homosexual adoption as part of a class project.

Gay adoption violates Brooker’s Christian beliefs.

As told in the video, the suit was settled in Brooker’s favor, and the offending faculty largely left their positions. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a regular target of mine for their pursuit of frivolous causes:

You get the picture. Congress outlawed such practices in venues covered by US law,which would be public accommodations. In short, places open for business to the public are no longer allowed to embarrass the entire nation through the use of insulting and exclusionary practices.

Beyond that, this is a truly egregious case and one the ACLU would have taken.

It is perhaps inevitable the matter of Guillermo Gonzalez will come up in the context of campus intolerance. He is featured as one of the cases of those expelled for advocating Intelligent Design. Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State University, where he taught. He contested this action, contending he was denied tenure due to his support for Intelligent Design. The faculty board that declined to offer him tenure stated the denial was due to his lack of productivity at the University. Although he showed promise early in his career, at Iowa State his publication record was sparse, and he sponsored no successful Ph.D. candidates. The National Center for Science Education published a critique of the Expelled video and included the Gonzalez case:

Gonzalez’s publication output dropped steadily during his time at ISU. The work he did publish was based on re-evaluations of data he had previously collected or analyses of other people’s data.

An assessment by the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) found that:

…a closer look at Mr. Gonzalez’s case raises some questions about his recent scholarship and whether he has lived up to his early promise. …

Under normal circumstances, Mr. Gonzalez’s publication record would be stellar and would warrant his earning tenure at most universities, according to Mr. Hirsch [a scholar who analyzed the publication record]. But Mr. Gonzalez completed the best scholarship, as judged by his peers, while doing postdoctoral work at the University of Texas at Austin and at the University of Washington, where he received his Ph.D. His record has trailed off since then.

“It looks like it slowed down considerably,” said Mr. Hirsch…. “It’s not clear that he started new things, or anything on his own, in the period he was an assistant professor at Iowa State.”

That pattern may have hurt his case. “Tenure review only deals with his work since he came to Iowa State,” said John McCarroll, a spokesman for the university.

When considering a tenure case, faculty committees try to anticipate what kind of work a professor will accomplish in the future. “The only reason the previous record is relevant is the extent to which it can predict future performance,” said Mr. Hirsch. “Generally, it’s a good indication, but in some cases it’s not.”

David L. Lambert, director of the McDonald Observatory at Texas, supervised Mr. Gonzalez during his postdoctoral fellowship there in the early to mid-1990s. … [H]e is not aware of any important new work by Mr. Gonzalez since he arrived at Iowa State, such as branching off into different directions of research. “I don’t know what else he has done,” Mr. Lambert said. …

Mr. Gonzalez said he does not have any grants through NASA or the National Science Foundation, the two agencies that would normally support his research…. He arrived at Iowa State in 2001, but none of his graduate students there have thus far completed their doctoral work

Provided that his colleagues at Iowa State objected to his views on Intelligent Design, we need to recognize there can be a problem when a fellow scientist is seen buying into wacko science. I have observed previously there only so many times you can show up with your fly unzipped before you are no longer invited to the party.

It is unfortunate that Stephen C. Meyer has allied himself with a bastion of intolerance which Focus on the Family is. Or perhaps it is fortunate for readers. His several books, including Darwin’s Doubt and Signature in the Cell, attempt to make a show of scientific validation. Not so here. Meyer goes full monty in support of religious orthodoxy. Barbara Forrest has written Creationism’s Trojan Horse as a critique of Intelligent Design, and Meyer’s religious intent is hard to hide:

Religious motivation drives all the CRSC leadership.14 Indeed, Stephen C. Meyer, the director of the CRSC, professed his attraction to “the origins debate” precisely because it is theistic: “I remember being especially fascinated with the origins debate at this conference. It impressed me to see that scientists who had always accepted the standard evolutionary story [Meyer says he was one of them] were now defending a theistic belief, not on the basis that it makes them feel good or provides some form of subjective contentment, but because the scientific evidence suggests an activity of mind that is beyond nature. I was really taken with this.”15

Forrest, Barbara. Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (p. 260). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Meyer’s pretense at academic rigor and any scientific basis for creationism dissolve completely in the video that follows this one. Also produced by Focus on the Family, its title is “Is the Bible Reliable?” A quick peek reveals that Meyer is hosting this one and is arguing for biblical literalism, or something close to it. A review is coming up next. Keep reading.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Saw it before. Must have had the VHS at one time. Catching it now on Amazon Prime Video. It’s Sliver, staring that very hot (then) Sharon Stone. This came out in 1993, about the time Stone was still sizzling from Basic Instinct, to be reviewed later. It’s from Paramount Pictures. Details are from Wikipedia.

It’s based on the book of the same name by Ira Levin, and I’m guessing the title comes from the apartment building that’s central to the plot. It’s a sliver of concrete, steel, and glass that shoots up in a tony neighborhood in Manhattan. It’s a thriller, with emphasis on eroticism and suspense. Lots of people die.

Opening scenes show a striking blond woman, Naomi Singer played by Allison Mackie, entering the building and taking the elevator to her apartment on the 20th floor. Closed circuit television (CCTV) follows her every move. She goes immediately to her balcony, overlooking the city, and takes in the view. Another person, not identified, enters her apartment using a key. He comes up behind her and caresses her. She responds at first. Then she is suddenly and violently thrown over the railing to her death. Thus begins the drama.

The next tenant of number 20B is Carly Norris (Stone), book editor for a New York publisher. She bears a resemblance to the late Ms. Singer.

Carly is newly divorced, having shucked off a seven-year, miserable marriage. She soon meets a number of other residents of the building, some of whom are about to die. One is Gus Hale (Keene Curtis), who first notices Carly’s strong resemblance to the former tenant. He aims to tell her some things he knows before he goes off to Japan for an extended stay. Later we observe his body in the shower, as seen on CCTV. Coverage throughout the building seems to be unlimited.

Unlimited includes Carly’s bathroom. Somebody watches her bathe erotically.

Nothing and nobody are missed. CCTV seems to cover every inch of the sliver building.

One of the downsides of Carly’s promising career is a morass of pressure exerted on her by people in power. She advertises herself as fiercely independent, a person who likes to be in control. Her boss, Alex Parsons (Martin Landau) wants her to review a book by Jack Landsford (Tom Berenger). She does not like Jack’s books, and she does not want to review his book. Alex wants Carly to work with Jack. Jack lives in the sliver building. He has already noticed Carly moving into the building. He is brash and pushy, just the kind of person Carly does not like.

Carly throws a party, and Jack crashes the party, uninvited. Another tenant is Zeke Hawkins (William Baldwin), who also attends. Somebody has gifted Carly with a telescope, already set up on the balcony. Party goers take turns exercising some erotic voyeurism through the telescope. It remains a mystery how the telescope got delivered and installed.

It turns out Zeke was the donor. It also turns out he owns the building. Both Jack and Zeke put the move on Carly, but Zeke has more oil (as in oily), and his rude sexual overtures are successful. There is much steamy sex, as much as can be allowed without garnering an R (X?) rating. Here Zeke has left Carly the gift of sexy bra and panties. At dinner in a swanky restaurant he demands she demonstrate she is wearing them. That she does, to the alarm of an elderly couple sitting nearby. She has to demonstrate the panties by removing them and passing them over to Zeke.

But Zeke has wired his entire building so he can spy on everybody and everything. He invites Carly to participate. She is spellbound and cannot look away. Tragedy and depravity are played out in front of them. Zeke, from time to time, interferes with these dramas, in one case levying an anonymous threat against a child molester, forcing the creep to mend his ways. But there is no doubt who is creepier.

Carly’s friend Vida Warren (Polly Walker) has something to tell Carly about the late Naomi, but she doesn’t. She is shortly murdered in the stairwell, and Carly hears the commotion and spots Jack standing over the body. Jack is arrested, but released on bond. There is a confrontation. Jack has a gun. Jack accuses Zeke of setting him up to take the fall for Vida’s murder and wants Zeke to confess. Carly and Jack wrestle for the gun, and Jack is killed. Police stop looking for the root of the sliver building murders.

But Carly’s suspicions grow. She sends Zeke out on an errand and uses the interval to search for video tapes. She finds the one showing Naomi’s murder, a tape Zeke said did not exist. She also finds Zeke’s gun, and when Zeke returns early and sees she has the tape, Carly holds him off with the gun, from time to time shooting out one of the myriad TV screens. In a glimpse she catches the identity of Naomi’s murderer. It is not Zeke. He empties the pistol into various TV screens and leaves.

And that’s the end of the movie.

My first impression was that for a woman as Carly purports herself to be, having the need to be in charge, she allows Zeke to run all over her. I would consider Zeke’s sexual approach to be crude and doomed to failure had I not witnessed the same method work (not for me) on a number of occasions.

People, a hidden TV camera in every bathroom? Is there any reason the tenants have not already sued Zeke’s socks off and taken possession of the building for themselves? There is ample evidence that unauthorized entrance is being made to Carly’s and other apartments, and nobody calls the police to investigate, much less a lawyer.

Reality is not what this movie is about. Watch it for yourself, but beware your glasses are going to steam up.

Prime Suspect

That’s the title of episode five,  season one. It starts out looking like a kidnapping, but it turns into a high stakes caper involving some totally ruthless people and some classic math. I caught this on Amazon Prime Video. Details are from Wikipedia and IMDB. It’s NUMB3RS, and it’s ultimately about math.

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Ethan (Neil Patrick Harrisand Becky (Susan Egan) Burdick are hosting a birthday party for their daughter Emily (Emma Prescott). As the party is winding down things turn sour when the clown tosses Emily into his van and drives off. The FBI will get involved.

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Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) is the agent in charge of the case. His brother Charlie (David Krumholtz), is a math prof at a local college, who comes in to help the FBI where math is involved.

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I’m not going to detail the plot. However, there is some Skeptical Analysis involved.

It’s a kidnapping for ransom, but for an unusual ransom. Ethan Burdick is a math genius who is working on a resolution of the Riemann Hypothesis, named after Bernhard Riemann who first posed it in 1859. Ethan is supposed to have a solution to the (then) 150-year-old problem. It’s the solution the crooks are after. They will trade the child for the answer.

Despite the clown makeup, Agent Terry Lake (Sabrina Lloyd) recognizes the clown as a criminal recently sprung from stir. Bad news, the family has been warned not to deal with the police, so the FBI has to go it alone.

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Except that Charlie meets with Ethan, and the two of them go over Ethan’s resolution of Riemann. Charlie’s observation is heart-wrenching. Ethan is on the wrong track. He has no resolution for the Riemann Hypothesis. He has nothing to give the crooks.

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Charlie and the agents also discover what the crooks are after. They will use the resolution of the Riemann Hypothesis to crack the encryption key used by the Federal Reserve. They will obtain the Prime Interest Rate hours in advance of its release and will bet heavily on related investments. And win.

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What Charlie, Ethan, and the FBI do is to work with the Federal Reserve and concoct a fake key leading to a fake page. Ethan will give the crooks the method, the crooks will compute the key and use the key to access the fake page. The feds will be watching all this activity and will pinpoint the location of the cracking operation. They plan to move in before the crooks can scram.

Not known, but suspected, is that once the crooks have the Prime Rate, they won’t need Emily any longer nor the math prof working with them.

The trap is sprung, the feds move in like gangbusters, one of the miscreant’s takes a load to the chest from an agent, and Emily is snatched from the arms of the ring leader in exchange for his life.

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Except that this is not exactly what the Riemann Hypothesis is about. Follow the link above and read all about it. In short, Riemann proposed to be able to identify limits to the population of prime numbers within a bounded domain. What does that have to do with cracking the key to the Federal Reserve server? Glad you asked:

An essential requirement of a public key system is that your everyday Edward Snowden should not be able to take E and derive D from it. The method described by RSA involves using pairs of very large prime numbers. Call a pair of these numbers p and q. Then

p x q = n.

The number n is not prime. It has only two factors, p and q. Now suppose each of p and q are 100 decimal digits long (or more). Then the length of n is 200 (or more). The RSA method uses p and q (and n) to produce e and d. Read the RSA paper, page 6. This involves some nice math, which I will not elaborate on here.

A user R can publish n and e, keeping d (and p and q) private. Somebody wanting to send R a message uses n and e to encrypt the message. R uses n and d to decrypt the message. Knowing n it is still very difficult to compute d, even if you know e. Computing d is tantamount to factoring n (into p and q). It is well known that the factoring problem is hard. Factoring n is only a bit less difficult than doing a search for p (or q), but it is not easy enough to make it feasible with present day computational facilities.

And there is more interesting stuff. You can go to my previous post and read up on it. The essential point is this. For a public key system, the person owning the key makes public his key for encryption. However, the decryption key, which the owner holds private, is required for reading the encrypted message. People use his encryption key to code messages, and they send messages to the key owner. He is the only one with the decryption key, and he is the only one who can read messages encrypted with his key.

The deal is this. The public key is a large integer, maybe hundreds of digits long. It’s a composite, the product of two prime numbers. If you can factor the encryption key and obtain the two prime factors, then you can compute the decryption key and read all the secret mail sent to the owner.

This is not to say the Fed uses this method, but if they did, they might do the following:

  1. Determine the new Prime Rate, a few days in advance. And keep it a secret.
  2. Pput the Prime Rate information on a secure server. A secret key would be required to access the server and read the new Prime Rate.
  3. The public key system is not used for sending lengthy messages. It’s only practical for sending short strings, such as the key to the Fed server.
  4. The gatekeeper of the Fed server would use the public keys of various parties (hopefully only Fed employees) to send them the pass code for the Prime Rate page.

Now, the crooks count on having one of the public keys in question. These keys really are public. If they can factor one of these public keys they can possibly eavesdrop on a communication link and obtain the encrypted pass code. The crooks compute the associated private key and read the pass code. Then they use the pass code to read the (unpublished) Prime Rate and get ready to make a lot of money in just a few hours.

Anyhow, that’s how it might work. Except that Riemann’s Hypothesis does not seem to be a key to factoring large prime numbers. For one thing, it’s a hypothesis. They conclusion is stated in the hypothesis. Everybody already knows what the conclusion is. The big deal about the Riemann Hypothesis is to prove that it’s true.

As a side note, the Riemann zeta function was an object of Alan Turing’s interest in constructing a computing machine. A good book about this episode is by Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma. The link is to my review of the book. A first rate movie, The Imitation Game, is based on the book, and a review is scheduled to be out next month.

For those who like to dabble in the arcane field of cryptology, you might be interested in reading a piece on The One Time-Pad and also The Codebreakers.

The Math Solution

I watched this the first couple of seasons when it came out in 2005, before I became averse to TV drama shows. I’m reviewing this episode because of something in the plot that piqued my interest. It’s NUMB3RS, by Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton, and it’s about math genius Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz) and his brother Don (Rob Morrow), who is an FBI agent working in Los Angeles. Charlie, who is a math prof, helps his brother solve crimes by the application of arcane math principles. This is about the second episode of season one.

The plot revolves around tracking a bank robbery gang, and the opening shots show some statistics. Here, 16 banks were robbed, two robbers, average take is $2700, and no weapons employed. These two are called the Charm School Gang, because they are so polite. They even open the door for other customers when entering the bank, and they smile throughout the operation.

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Charlie has applied some statistical analyses and has determined an underlying pattern to the sequence of crimes. He has predicted the robbers will strike on a particular day at one of two banks in L.A. The title sequence overlays security video shots from the robberies with math symbols.

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The FBI is waiting on the appropriate day, and the robbers strike one of the two banks. Agents rush in to make the arrest, but there is a dramatic turn. Unknown before, the robbers have always had a backup of four well armed henchmen, who never made an appearance before, because they never needed to. In a hail of gunfire an agent is killed, along with one of the bandits. The others make their escape.

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The failure of the FBI operation and the death of the agent sends Charlie into a deep funk, and he takes himself off the case, immersing himself at his home in the solution of one of the so-called NP-complete math problems. It’s a class of problems still defying resolution.

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The crooks pull off another robbery, this time killing a bank manager. Charlie’s friend on campus, physics professor Larry Fleinhardt (Peter MacNicol) reminds Charlie of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. It applies to sub atomic particles (and even to atomic particles), and it makes us aware that measurement, observation, of an entity requires some interaction with it, thus affecting the thing being observed. This is critically true of sub atomic particles, but Charlie is reminded that macro objects, such as bank robbers, are also affected when they are observed, particularly when they are made aware they have been observed, such as the FBI presence at the previous robbery.

And Charlie has more. This is a world-class operation, armed to the hilt, military coordination, with six skilled operators involved. For an average of $2700 a whack? Something is wrong. Charlie figures out with it is. They are not robbing banks. They are using the robberies as a cover for another crime. The crooks are stealing bank transaction data. While everybody else is preoccupied with the heist, somebody is slipping over to one of their computer terminals.

The robbers are after bigger stakes. They are tracking the schedule for the delivery for destruction of millions of dollars in unfit currency by the Federal Reserve Bank. They are going to hold up the cash transfer.

Don and the FBI team prepare to intercept the heist. Charlie is there. He reminds Don of the Heisenberg Uncertainty. The gang is likely aware the feds are on to the scheme. Don tells Charlie to not worry. They are well prepared for the Heisenberg Principle.

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Sure enough. The bandits intercept the shipment. Sure enough, they get the drop on the FBI agents.

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But Don and the other agents are one step ahead. They know the bandits know, and they have anticipated the getaway plan, killing one of the bandits and capturing the others. Here Don says hello to the ring leader as he attempts, unsuccessfully, to start the getaway car.

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And here is my Skeptical Analysis—it’s something I picked up on in my working life. Since I never had a real career, just a succession of jobs, I ended up working with a wide range of technologies. My first patent involved the Federal Reserve Bank. They wanted a machine that would automatically put a strap around a bundle of 100 bills. In the course of this project, I visited the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas and got a look at their operation. And I saw what they do with unfit currency. They do not, as the TV plot would have it, take bundles of currency to a secret location for destruction. They destroy it right on the spot.

In the basement of the Dallas branch were hand carts loaded with tremendous stacks of currency. Particularly, there were some carts loaded with unfit currency. You could tell. Each bundle of 100 had been drilled through, leaving two 1/2-inch diameter holes in each bill. These bills were worthless. Further destruction of the bills was rendered by a hammer mill, and the chaff was sold off for planters mulch and such.

The project I worked on went a step further. It eliminated the need to drill the two holes. My company sold the Federal Reserve a system that accepted stacks of bills into a feed hopper and peeled them off at high speed, feeding them into a document transport. As each bill passed down the length of the machine various readers detected counterfeit, which was routed to a special bin. Other stations recorded denomination, serial number, and such. Another station detected unfit currency. Unfit currency went all the way to the end of the machine, about ten feet, and entered a high-speed shredder.

And that’s what I found screwy about this plot. The writers could have patched this up a bit and made it true to life. But then, this is fiction, and it’s OK to give the imagination free rein.

Jack Webb Live

I’m sure I won’t make this review a series. Here’s an episode of Adam-12, to give Millennials a peek at what they missed.

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It’s really all about producer, director, actor Jack Webb:

John Randolph “Jack” Webb (April 2, 1920 – December 23, 1982), also known by the pen name John Randolph, was an American actor, television producer,director, and screenwriter, who is most famous for his role as Sgt. Joe Friday in the Dragnet franchise (which he also created). He was also the founder of his own production company, Mark VII Limited.

I became familiar with Jack Webb before we had television. He had a radio program centered on police drama. The first thing to come out of the box was, “Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” The show moved to television, and we got to see Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday.

Dragnet ran on TV from 1951 to 1959 and returned in 1967 for four seasons. Webb introduced Adam-12 in 1968, and it ran for seven seasons. Webb tended to load his productions with people he was accustomed to working with, and he brought in character actor turned TV star Martin Milner to portray Officer Pete Malloy. Co-star was Kent McCord as Pete’s partner, Jim Reed. Adam-12 is their police cruiser and also their radio call sign.

The show opens in what appears to be a police dispatch room. Millennials are going to get a kick out of this. Everything is done using paper. These were the days before 911, and if you wanted the police you called them on the telephone, and the officer who took the call would write the details on a piece of paper and drop it onto a conveyor. As the opening announcement, always the same (“… One Adam-12, fight group, with chains and knives.”) drones on, a dispatcher picks up the slip and puts the assignment out on the police frequency.

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I picked this episode to review, because it has abundant police action (many do not), and it illustrates a point of critique. Screen shots are from Hulu.

Gary Crosby plays Rambo cop Ed Wells, notorious around the station for telling and retelling accounts of his heroic exploits. Pete looks at Wells and sees a cop out of control. Jim, inexperienced and overly impressionable, sees a cop who gets things done. We get to see how this plays out.

Adam-12 gets the call about a man with a gun. They roll on it, and Wells and his partner arrive smartly to back them up. The kid tells the cops his mother’s boyfriend is in the apartment with a gun. It’s a pistol the previous husband brought back from the war.

While Pete sets out to handle the matter in a professional way, Ed barges in, takes charge, breaks down the door, and cuffs the man. During the commotion a bullet has lodged in the door jam above Ed’s head. Pete does not approve. Jim is again impressed.

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Also not impressed is watch commander Sergeant McDonald (William Boyett). He chews Pete out for not staying on top and handling the arrest. Pete does not unload about Ed’s cowboy tactics. A woman and a young boy were in the apartment, and a weapon was discharged, which did not need to happen. Ed could have been hit, also the boy or his mother.

Pete continues to have concerns regarding Jim’s infatuation with Ed’s tactics. Since Adam-12, as with all of Jack Webb’s productions, draws on moralization, there has to be a moral. There has to be comeuppance. Here it comes.

There’s another call. It involves a man with a gun. Sound familiar? Ed and his partner are assigned the call. Pete and Jim arrive as backup. Ed does not wait for hell or high water. He goes charging at the front door of the house, pistol drawn. A shotgun blast from the window puts him on the lawn.

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Oops! The chickens have come home to roost. With Ed on the grass, Pete takes charge of the operation. Multiple police units arrive. Pete directs officers to block traffic on the street and to cover back exits. Pete and Jim use their police cruiser as a shield and rescue Ed from the lawn, seeing him into an ambulance. Then the man with the shotgun is coaxed into throwing out his weapon and surrendering peaceably. It’s a demonstration of how good police work gets done. It’s another Jack Webb moral conclusion.

The problem with this one is the problem with most of Jack Webb’s work. Nothing is already so apparent it can’t be overemphasized. Ed is a Rambo. We can see that, but it is way overdone. The only thing left to stretch this character additionally would be to have Ed come swinging in on a vine.

Then there’s Pete’s reaction. A cop with a whiff of maturity would have dropped the hammer on Ed forthwith. His actions in the first episode put lives in danger. He should not be strutting around with a gun on his hip. He should be sent back to the police academy or off the force. And it was Pete’s job to see that was done. Pete risked additional lives by not taking care of the matter when it counted. This plot has a significant absence of reality.

In the end we see Ed recovering in the hospital ward but unreformed. Yes, that is also something that should not be happening. At this point in the game it must be apparent to the police command structure that there was a problem that needs fixing. None of this comes out in Season 1, Episode 22.

It is jarring to watch this and compare police work from 50 years ago. A few years ago I took a ride on patrol with a San Antonio police officer. Adam-12 it is not. The cop car of today is likely an SUV, and it has a place to mount a laptop computer. Details don’t just come over the radio, 911 calls go to the computer screen, and everything is there. And the cop wears everything possible to automate police work. These days we may be just a few sessions in surgery away from Robocop.

And that’s the rundown on Adam-12. The action mostly takes place in Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, North Hollywood and thereabouts. Shooting took place on location.  This is a more convenient place to film than in most other parts of Los Angeles. Additionally the facilities of Universal Studios were close by. I became familiar with the area a few years back when I was there on a contract job along with another engineer from Texas. We got to know the area, and I can recognize some of the locations, still around after 50 years.

I first saw Martin Milner in the movies before I knew who he was. He was one of the Day children standing on the stairs in Life with Father. That came out in 1947.  I do not recall his part in Sands of Iwo Jima (Pvt. Mike McHugh), but I recently posted on his role in Halls of Montezuma. I first remember him from his hit TV show Route 66, which ran from 1960 to 1964. He died last September at 83.

Adam-12 may have been the peak of Kent McCord’s on-screen career. He was later elected to the National Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild.

Gary Crosby was the son of the famous Bing and singer-actress Dixie Lee. Adam-12 may have been his peak, as well.

There’s no finishing without touching on the production company’s trademark sign-off. With variations through the years, it shows working-class hands holding a stamping die and a massive hammer and pounding the Mark VII Limited logo into a steel plate. It’s what I would expect from Jack Webb.

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I have the complete first season of Dragnet 1967 on DVD and will review one or more of those episodes for the edification of the Millennial crowd.

The Day After

 

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December 7 is the anniversary of the Japanese Empire’s attack on United States. On the anniversary The History Channel ran again its production depicting the first 24 hours after the attack.

It’s principally about President Franklin D. Roosevelt, at the time in his third term. Roosevelt had been first elected during the depths of the Great Depression with a promise to restore the American economy and to help citizens affected by the economic debacle. During the darkest hours of the 1930s he brought inspiration to American citizens with weekly radio broadcasts and strategic polemic, such as “We have nothing to fear but fear, itself.” His election for a third term was a first for this country.

The two-hour episode tells the story of how the President and the American public came to learn of the Japanese attack and how the United States responded during the first 24 hours. It’s the story of Roosevelt’s greatest challenge and his finest hour.

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People need to remember what the world was like in 1941. CNN did not cover the attack live. Unfortunately in those days there was no direct line from the White House and important military bases, such as Pearl Harbor. Following the initial flash, word filtered to the President in snatches of conversation. The History Channel dramatizes this factor using actors, such as below, showing word coming in over the phone. Commanders at Pearl Harbor had to communicate with the War Department, and the word had to be relayed to the President. Information was suppressed initially, because people were not sure whether the Japanese were tapping the phone lines.

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Cabinet members were called in from far flung locations, and members of Congress were ordered to return to Washington, D.C. An important session was scheduled for the day after, 8 December. And the President needed to make a speech. It was going to be the most important speech in his career.

A problem was the President was a cripple. Twenty years before he had been afflicted with polio and told he would never walk again. This almost turned out to be true. He campaigned and served with his disability concealed from the public. News photographers were requested not to photograph Roosevelt in his wheel chair.

This, the President had to overcome. A man barely able to stand needed to stand and to project an image of strength. He needed to impress the Japanese and ultimately the Germans.

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Pearl Harbor was not the only story of the day. Hours after the initial attack the Japanese launched an attack on American forces in the Philippine Islands, at the time an American colony. Trouble had been brewing with Japan for months as America reacted to Japanese aggression against its Asian neighbors by applying economic sanctions. Earlier in 1941 the United States imposed an embargo on oil to the Empire, an action that immediately set in motion a countdown to the Pearl Harbor attack. Lacking petroleum resources of its own, the Empire would run out of oil in a few months and would have to cease its military aggression. The attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines were intended to knock the United States out of action, leaving Japan free to seize petroleum sources in Southeast Asia.

With this in mind, Roosevelt brought General Douglas MacArthur out of retirement and sent him to command American forces in the Philippines. MacArthur was a commander with sterling credentials, but Roosevelt personally disliked him. MacArthur was a prima donna, politically ambitious and overly sure of his own capabilities. The effect was that MacArthur was warned to expect a Japanese attack, and he failed to make adequate precautions. The result the following year was the worst defeat of arms in the history of the American military.

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A prominent feature of the time was a collection of organizations opposed to American involvement in the war in Europe. America First was one of the most prominent of these. On 7 December North Dakota Senator  Gerald P. Nye was giving a speech in Pittsburgh, unaware of the attack. A news reporter learned of the attack and rushed to the meeting, where he informed the senator. Senator Nye went on to give his speech, a fiery denunciation of Roosevelt the war monger. During the speech the reporter passed a note to the senator updating him on details of the attack. Nye looked at the note, stuck it in his pocket, and finished his speech. Then he passed the news of the attack to his audience and left the meeting. Members filed out of the hall, and America First dissolved three days later.

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British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had been urging Roosevelt to get into the European war since the start. He and Roosevelt were on extremely friendly terms and were on the same page about the matter. However, the United States Constitution required congressional approval, which approval was not forthcoming.

Churchill learned of the attack while having dinner with American Ambassador Averell Harriman.

It was Sunday evening, December 7, 1941. Winant and Averell Harriman were alone with me at the table at Chequers. I turned on my small wireless set shortly after the nine o’clock news had started. There were a number of items about the fighting on the Russian front and on the British front in Libya, at the end of which some few sentences were spoken regarding an attack by the Japanese on American shipping at Hawaii, and also Japanese attacks on British vessels in the Dutch East Indies. There followed a statement that after the news Mr. Somebody would make a commentary, and that the Brains Trust programme would then begin, or something like this. I did not personally sustain any direct impression, but Averell said there was something about the Japanese attacking the Americans, and, in spite of being tired and resting, we all sat up. By now the butler, Sawyers, who had heard what had passed, came into the room, saying, “It’s quite true. We heard it ourselves outside. The Japanese have attacked the Americans.” There was a silence. At the Mansion House luncheon on November 11 I had said that if Japan attacked the United States a British declaration of war would follow “within the hour”. I got up from the table and walked through the hall to the office, which was always at work. I asked for a call to the President. The Ambassador followed me out, and, imagining I was about to take some irrevocable step, said, “Don’t you think you’d better get confirmation first?”

In two or three minutes Mr. Roosevelt came through. “Mr. President, what’s this about Japan?” “It’s quite true,” he replied. “They have attacked us at Pearl Harbour. We are all in the same boat now.” I put Winant on to the line and some interchanges took place, the Ambassador at first saying, “Good,” “Good”— and then, apparently graver, “Ah!” I got on again and said, “This certainly simplifies things. God be with you,” or words to that effect. We then went back into the hall and tried to adjust our thoughts to the supreme world event which had occurred, which was of so startling a nature as to make even those who were near the centre gasp. My two American friends took the shock with admirable fortitude. We had no idea that any serious losses had been inflicted on the United States Navy. They did not wail or lament that their country was at war. They wasted no words in reproach or sorrow. In fact, one might almost have thought they had been delivered from a long pain.

Churchill, Winston (2010-06-30). The Grand Alliance: The Second World War, Volume 3 (Winston Churchill World War II Collection) (Kindle Locations 9374-9392). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

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Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Roosevelt were at odds regarding the speech the president was to give on the 8th. Hull urged a monument to oration. Roosevelt saw the best effect would be something forceful and to the point. Roosevelt pressed his son James, an officer in the United States Navy, into duty steadying him in his walk to the front of the congressional chamber. It was a critical move. Roosevelt slowly worked his way to the front of the assembly, all the way fearful of falling. An incident such as that would have sent a dismal message to our country’s enemies.

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His walk to the podium was slow and likely painful, but once there Roosevelt delivered a speech for the history books:

It was a most dramatic spectacle there in the chamber of the House of Representatives. On most of the President’s personal appearances before Congress, we found applause coming largely from one side—the Democratic side. But this day was different. The applause, the spirit of cooperation, came equally from both sides. … The new feeling of unity which suddenly welled up in the chamber on December 8, the common purpose behind the leadership of the President, the joint determination to see things through, were typical of what was taking place throughout the country.

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With one dissenting vote Congress approved a declaration of war against the Japanese Empire. Significantly, Nazi Germany had not been included in the declaration. No German forces had attacked the United States. That matter resolved itself a few days later when German Chancellor Adolf Hitler did us all a favor and declared war on the United States.

Within 100 days the United States bombed the Japanese mainland, and six months after the Pearl Harbor raid four of the Japanese aircraft carriers involved were sunk at the Battle of Midway. Territory held by the Japanese Empire continued to shrink following that battle, and nuclear weapons exploded on the Japanese mainland in August 1945 forced the Empire to capitulate. American and British forces landed in North Africa less than a year after Pearl Harbor and began the job of shrinking the western front. German forces met disaster at Stalingrad in late 1942, and the Soviet Army pushed the Germans back relentlessly until western and eastern powers converged in Germany in May 1945.

By then Roosevelt was dead. Elected to another unprecedented term, he died of a stroke about two weeks before Hitler shot himself in his Berlin bunker.

Points

This is the tenth and last in a series of posts on the story of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Brigade during World War Two. I’m posting this on the anniversary of the surrender of the Third Reich, 70 years ago. I have the book Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose, but it’s easiest for me to follow the narrative through the HBO mini series of the same name. The images are screen shots from the History Channel’s syndication release.

When Episode 10 opens the war in Europe is over, and the men of Easy Company are enjoying the easy life in scenic Austria. It’s July 1945, and men of are counting the “points” they need to be released from duty.

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Episode 10 is a series of flash backs to the closing days of the war and the weeks following.

They were off to Bavaria and the Alps. Bradley had assigned the 101st to U.S. Seventh Army. Its objectives were Munich, Innsbruck, and the Brenner Pass. The purpose was to get American troops into the Alps before the Germans could create a redoubt there from which to continue the war. Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden was the presumed HQ for this combination last stand and the beginning of a guerrilla war against the occupiers.

Ambrose, Stephen E. (2001-10-26). Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (p. 417). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

To Easy Company fell the task of taking the last refuge of the Nazis. French General Leclerc had announced his intentions to take possession of Berchtesgaden for the French, but Richard Winters’ commander, Colonel Sink, had other ideas. He ordered Winters to out maneuver the French and take the town.

Winters led the battalion on a backtrack to the autobahn, then east to Bad Reichenhall, where another blown bridge stopped the Americans for the night. The following morning, May 5, with Easy Company leading the way, the 2d Battalion drove unopposed to Berchtesgaden and took the town without having to fire a shot.

Ambrose, Stephen E. (2001-10-26). Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (p. 429). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

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Berchtesgaden was a looter’s paradise. Nobody could live there who was not a Nazi. Ich bin Keine Nazi did not fly in Berchtesgaden. Everything there belonged to Nazis and was free to the taking. Including the best hotel lodgings for the colonel and the finest silver tableware for the first to grab.

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It was here Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest was located, atop a mountain with a spectacular view. It was at Eagle’s Nest that the Nazi elite hobnobbed. It was here before the war that foreign dignitaries came to appease the Nazis and to be schooled by Hitler in how to conquer Europe.

 An occasion for finding out what England would pay arose in November when Lord Halifax, with Mr. Chamberlain’s enthusiastic approval, made the pilgrimage to Berchtesgaden to see Hitler. On November 19 they held a long conversation, and in the lengthy secret German memorandum on it drawn up by the German Foreign Office46 three points emerge: Chamberlain was most anxious for a settlement with Germany and proposed talks between the two countries on a cabinet level; Britain wanted a general European settlement, in return for which she was prepared to make concessions to Hitler as regards colonies and Eastern Europe; Hitler was not greatly interested at the moment in an Anglo–German accord.

Shirer, William (2011-10-23). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (p. 302). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Hitler, Göring und v. Schirach auf Obersalzberg

It was also here when the men of Easy Company came to sit on Hitler’s balcony, drinking Hitler’s champagne, enjoying Hitler’s magnificent view, that Major Winters gave them the news that the German Army had surrendered, and their fighting days were over.

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It was left to Winters, and from time to time even lowly enlisted men, to accept the surrender of entire cadres of German troops. Winters must have had a sense of history, for this view shows him telling a German colonel he will be allowed to keep his side arm.

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The killing was not over, however. Sergeants Lynch and Sisk and privates Don Moore and Joe Liebgott were assigned to hunt down and kill a man who had been the head of a Nazi slave labor camp. The video is only an abbreviated version of the episode.

They got to the farm and without a struggle took the Nazi prisoner. Liebgott interrogated him for thirty minutes, then declared there could be no doubt, this was the man they wanted, and he was guilty as charged. The Americans pushed the man at gunpoint to the weapons carrier, then drove off. Lynch stopped beside a ravine. They prodded the man out of the vehicle. Liebgott drew his pistol and shot him twice.

The prisoner began screaming. He turned and ran up the hill. Lynch ordered Moone to shoot him.

“You shoot him,” Moone replied. “The war is over.” Skinny Sisk stepped forward, leveled his M-1 at the fleeing man, and shot him dead.

Ambrose, Stephen E. (2001-10-26). Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (p. 448). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

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The men who had just a year before jumped into combat in France in the early morning darkness now found themselves doing occupation duty. The video shows, with hostilities over, American and German soldiers working to maintain order. Here a German veteran relates he has just completed his second war.

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American troops had empathy for defeated soldiers. We see an Easy Company soldier manning a check point on a road. A German veteran on crutches and with one leg is passed through. Then the American stops a civilian car and discards the luggage to make room for the veteran. The civilians, for whom the veteran has made such a sacrifice, are not pleased at being treated in this manner.

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People keep dying. Men of Easy Company encounter a drunk American soldier stopped on the road at night. He has just murdered two Germans who refused to give him gasoline. He then shoots the soldier who tries to take his gun. We see a German doctor saving the soldier’s life and the men of Easy Company inflicting front line justice to the shooter.

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Finally it’s all over for Easy Company. Concerns about being shipped to the Pacific Theater to continue the war against the Japanese evaporate in the middle of a baseball game in the closing days of summer 1945. Major Winters gathers them around to tell them the Japanese Empire has surrendered. There will be no more war, for the time being.

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The series starts with men of Easy Company preparing to jump into France and reflecting back on the time they first got together at Camp Taccoa in Georgia two years before. It follows them into the night of horror as they land in Normandy in the dark and face their first combat.

There follows the routine of camp life back in England for a few weeks before the jump into Holland in September 1944 to participate in the disastrous Market-Garden campaign. Then follows the bitter winter defense of the Belgian town of Bastogne and the push to the north to Germany. Their last combat is shown in Haguenau, where men are lost to German shelling and a daring last patrol to obtain German prisoners. Secretly Major Winters cancels an order for yet another patrol and submits a fake report. For Easy Company the shooting has stopped.

Following the end of the war most of the men left the service, including Major Winters and Captain Nixon. Nixon went back to his family’s business, and he hired Winters as human resources manager. Winters worked there until he retired, and then he did as he promised he would do. He purchased a farm in Pennsylvania and finished out his life there. During the Korean War Winters was called back to duty and trained combat infantry units, but he did not return to combat. He died in January 2011.

When the series first aired in 2001 many of the men of Easy Company were still alive, but that is no longer true. Age is taking from us the voices of those who served during that time 70 years ago, and eventually those voices will be silent forever. Only news clippings, combat film, newsreel footage and books and re-enactments of these events will remain. There will come a time when the only remaining physical evidence of the horror will be fragments of war machines rusting on ancient battlefields or gathering dust in museums.

Dr. Quack

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I’ve been slow picking up on this. “Alternative medicine” is an intrusive social problem and can stand some bandwidth. I posted on it back in January in an item titled “Stupidity Writ Large.” That was related to the measles outbreak facilitated by America’s pernicious anti-vaccine movement. Now comes the matter of Dr. Mehmet Cengiz Öz.

Mehmet Cengiz Öz (Turkish: [mehˈmet dʒenˈɟiz øz]; born June 11, 1960), better known as Dr. Oz, is a Turkish-Americancardiothoracic surgeon, author, and television personality. Oz is supportive of alternative medicine, and has been criticized by publications including Popular Science and The New Yorker for giving “non-scientific” advice.

Oz first appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004, and later on Larry King Live and other TV programs. In 2009, The Dr. Oz Show, a daily television program focusing on medical issues and personal health, was launched by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and Sony Pictures.

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Dr. Oz’s alternative medicine connection is manifest in, among others:

Lest readers think any of these to be a reasonable practice of medicine, consider the following:

Reiki:

The existence of the proposed mechanism for reiki – qi or “life force” energy – has not been established. Most research on Reiki is poorly designed and prone to bias and there is no good evidence that Reiki is helpful for treating any medical condition, although some physicians have said it might help promote general wellbeing.[5] In 2011, William T. Jarvis of The National Council Against Health Fraud stated that there “is no evidence that clinical reiki’s effects are due to anything other than suggestion” or the placebo effect.

Reiki’s teachings and adherents claim that qi is physiological and can be manipulated to treat a disease or condition. The existence of qi has not been established by medical research. As a result, some consider Reiki to be a pseudoscientific theory based on metaphysical concepts.

Faith healing:

A study in the British Medical Journal investigated spiritual healing, therapeutic touch and faith healing. In a hundred cases that were investigated, no single case revealed that the healer’s intervention alone resulted in any improvement or cure of a measurable organic disability.

Psychic communication with the dead:

Scientists who study anomalistic psychology consider mediumship to be the result of fraud and psychological factors. Research from psychology for over a hundred years has revealed that where there is not fraud, mediumship and Spiritualist practices can be explained by hypnotism, magical thinking and suggestion. Trance mediumship which is claimed by the Spiritualists to be caused by discarnate spirits speaking through the medium have been proven in cases to be alternate personalities from the medium’s subconscious mind.

Homeopathy:

No individual preparation has been unambiguously shown by research to be different from placebo. The methodological quality of the primary research was generally low, with such problems as weaknesses in study design and reporting, small sample size, and selection bias. Since better quality trials have become available, the evidence for efficacy of homeopathy preparations has diminished; the highest-quality trials indicate that the remedies themselves exert no intrinsic effect. A review conducted in 2010 of all the pertinent studies of “best evidence” produced by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that “the most reliable evidence – that produced by Cochrane reviews – fails to demonstrate that homeopathic medicines have effects beyond placebo.”

I’m taking inspiration for this from today’s CNN report on the Columbia University controversy surrounding Dr. Oz. Images are screen shots from the broadcast.

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One of the ten to sign the Oz protest was Dr. Joel Tepper:

The doctors who sent the letter were led by Dr. Henry Miller of California’s Stanford University. The nine other doctors from across the country included Dr. Joel Tepper, a cancer researcher from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and Dr. Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health — based on the Upper West Side.

From the CNN report:

Dr. Joel Tepper signed the letter. “He has touted many drugs as miracle drugs for weight loss, which causes people to spend huge amounts of money for treatments which have no benefit whatsoever.” He said at most universities if someone who did this, “That is grounds for dismissal.”

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CNN aired clips from a Senate committee roasting of Dr. Oz:

During a Senate hearing on consumer protection, Senator Claire McCaskill stated that by airing segments on weight loss products that are later cited in advertisements, Oz plays a role, intentional or not, in perpetuating these scams, and that she is “concerned that you are melding medical advice, news, and entertainment in a way that harms consumers.”[41] Mary Engle of the Federal Trade Commission criticized Oz for calling green coffee extract “magic” and a “miracle”, stating that it is difficult for consumers to listen to their inner voices when products are praised by hosts they trust.

One of the products Oz was promoting, Green Coffee Bean Extract, was found to have no weight loss benefits. Two of the researchers who were paid to write the study admitted that they could not back their data so they retracted their paper. The FTC filed a complaint that the Texas-based company Applied Food Sciences (the promoters of the study) had falsely advertised. The FTC alleged that the study was “so hopelessly flawed that no reliable conclusions could be drawn from it” so Applied Food Sciences agreed to pay a $3.5 million settlement.

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Dr. Oz is firing back.

“I bring the public information that will help them on their path to be their best selves,” Oz said in a statement, according to USA Today. The newspaper reported that the statement was released by a “Dr. Oz Show” representative. “We provide multiple points of view, including mine, which is offered without conflict of interest,” the statement continued. “That doesn’t sit well with certain agendas which distort the facts.”

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His rebuttal echoes the position of the counter-science site Natural News:

A letter signed by ten doctors — all of whom have financial ties to industry — calls for Columbia University to force Dr. Oz to resign from the university’s Department of Surgery. This letter is a tremendously educational exhibit of the mafia tactics used by the biotech industry, as it essentially claims Dr. Oz has lost his mind and is now endangering the public. “Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr. Oz’s presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable,” the letter reads.

Of course, all the people who signed this letter have no qualms whatsoever with farmers spraying thousands of tons of cancer-causing glyphosate herbicide chemicals on all the foods we eat. That’s perfectly acceptable to them and poses “no danger,” they claim. It is Dr. Oz and his crazy, wild, irresponsible advice that people should eat wholesome foods and take charge of their own health that’s now deemed a threat in this society… a society dominated by the financial interests of biotech and pharmaceutical corporations that profit from sickness and disease.

His profile shows Dr. Oz to be a “professor at the Department of Surgery at Columbia University since 2001.” I have no knowledge as to whether this is a position with academic tenure. If Oz has tenure, there may be nothing Columbia can easily do to disentangle itself. As long has he cleans his boots before stepping onto the campus he has academic immunity.

There is something I can do and you can do. Watch the Dr. Oz show and note what products get pushed. That can be an indication of scant worth. Form your buying habits accordingly. And keep your friends informed. Praise for Oz needs to be met with a retelling of the facts. Misinformation left adrift can eventually come ashore on your own beach.

Follow the saga of Dr. Oz and conduct your own research. The truth really is out there for those who desire it. And keep reading. I am not finished with this topic.

Institutional Advertising

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I believe this has come around before:

So now I’m watching the news on cable TV, and I see a lot of ads by Norfolk Southern. And these are really glitzy productions. There’s a cute jingle playing over the video (“Helping this here country move ahead as one”), and there are beautifully choreographed sequences of products being moved and trains and powerful locomotives moving in perfect harmony. Steven Spielberg, you need to watch this.

I considered it so odd that Norfolk Southern, a railroad company that doesn’t provide service into the region where I live, would be advertising themselves to me. Again this morning, as they have been for weeks, Norfolk Southern is showing all the stuff they haul. It’s impressive.

Cargo containers filled with manufactured goodies from across the Pacific.

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Train loads of coal to fire my power plant. And steel products. New automobiles.

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Would that I had that much stuff to ship.

But maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the company is trying to build brand loyalty. If it wasn’t shipped by Norfolk Southern, then you don’t want it.

I’m telling you, it’s an impressive ad. There are these two train engineers talking over things in the yard, discussing what they’ve been hauling. They seem like earnest, committed railroad men. I’m sold. From here on out it’s Norfolk Southern for me and my family. Before Barbara Jean and I make the next purchase at the H-E-B store we’re going to ask, “Can you verify these carrots were shipped on Norfolk Southern?

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Keep reading.