The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 14 in a series

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

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

Drive Darwinists Nuts with This One Solution to Fake News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The end of evolution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is your president speaking.

Number 218 in a series

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

…The Fake News is not as important, or as powerful, as Social Media. They have lost tremendous credibility since that day in November, 2016, that I came down the escalator with the person who was to become your future First Lady. When I ultimately leave office in six…

…years, or maybe 10 or 14 (just kidding), they will quickly go out of business for lack of credibility, or approval, from the public. That’s why they will all be Endorsing me at some point, one way or the other. Could you imagine having Sleepy Joe Biden, or Alfred E. Newman…

…or a very nervous and skinny version of Pocahontas (1/1024th), as your President, rather than what you have now, so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius! Sorry to say that even Social Media would be driven out of business along with, and finally, the Fake News Media!

I don’t want to make a big deal of this, but let it sink in for a moment. Those are the writings of the President of the United States. Do I need to say anything more?

Breitbart Mentality

Number 7

I do, yes I do. I subscribe to Breitbart News. Why? I will tell you why. I spent my whole life dealing with the real world, full of messy facts and hard consequences. Breitbart is a breath of fresh air. It’s like stepping out of Mary Poppins and onto the set of a Marx Brothers film. A slavish support for Donald Trump and everything right wing often steers the course in bizarre directions. Take this recent item for example:

Nolte: Top 51 Fake News ‘Bombshells’ the Media Spread About RussiaGate

That was the headline, and you need to bear with me and read the rest of my post. Granted the aspect of Breitbart calling out “fake news” sets a new level—you really need to hear them out. You never know when you might find a diamond in a coal bin. Breitbart writer John Nolte lays out the headlined 51 fake news bombshells that are giving him the most heartburn. He concedes the mainstream media outlets have gotten it right so many times, but they should have gotten it right those other 51 times. Continuing:

You’re supposed to take care of your kids!

And the media are supposed to get stories correct.

But here is the media forced to brag on when they didn’t crash the plane, when they did take care of the kids, which tells you something is horribly, terribly, ridiculously wrong.

Nolte writes metaphorically. Taking care of the kids is what you are supposed to do all the time. Crashing the plane is what you are never supposed to do. However, he infers, the real scandal is the flood of fake news put out to, I presume, drown the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Some more:

While a list of what the media might have gotten correct is fairly easy to put together, no one will ever be able to grasp the tsunami of fake news Americans were buried under for over two years.

The list below of 51 might sound like a lot, but it is a drop in the ocean when you recall the thousands and thousands of hours CNN, MSNBC, Meet the Press, This Week, PBS NewsHour, State of the Union, Good Morning AmericaReliable Sources, and the Today Show devoted to anchors and pundits pushing the hoax that Trump colluded with Russia.

I will not hit on all of Nolte’s top 51, thinking the first three will be representative. Here is number 1.

New York magazine, McClatchy: Michael Cohen went to  Prague.

For the record, it is almost certain Michael Cohen has never been to Prague. From the referenced news item:

In April, Peter Stone and Greg Gordon reported for McClatchy that Robert Mueller had obtained evidence that Cohen did indeed visit Prague. Today the pair have a new report with much more detail. Cohen’s phone pinged off cell-phone towers in Prague during that period, according to four sources. Also during that period, an Eastern European intelligence agency electronically surveilled a conversation in which one Russian said that Cohen was in Prague, according to two more sources. The reporting is the opposite of thin. If the conclusion is wrong, it is a massive journalistic error.

It is possible, of course, that all these sources are wrong. It is also possible that Cohen did visit Prague, and either did not meet with Russia, or met to discuss innocuous topics, and then lied about it. But the more probable explanation by far is that Cohen did visit Prague and did meet with Russian agents.

From Wikipedia:

However, on April 13, 2018, the DC Bureau of McClatchy Newspapers reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that Cohen did travel to Prague during the late summer of 2016, with two sources having confirmed this secret trip. The evidence is said to show that Cohen entered the Czech Republic from Germany, and since both countries are in the European Union’s Schengen passport area, Cohen would not have needed to receive a passport stamp to enter Czech territory. The following day, Cohen again denied he has “ever been to Prague”. Cohen also said that he didn’t travel to the European Union in August 2016. McClatchy reported in December 2018 that a mobile phone traced to Cohen had “pinged” cellphone towers around Prague in late summer 2016. McClatchy also reported that during that time an eastern European intelligence agency had intercepted communications between Russians, one of whom mentioned that Cohen was in Prague. The Mueller Report did not conclude Cohen had been in Prague, citing his testimony to investigators.

Beyond all this, we have to wonder what all the fuss is about. McClatchy obtained unreliable information from multiple sources and reported it. The substance is Cohen did not need to go to Prague to do all the stuff he has been convicted of and also the stuff he did that was not criminal. He continued to negotiate with Russian interests on behalf of Donald Trump while Trump was running for the office of President of the United States. Further, he initially lied about it before ultimately coming clean and taking his lumps. His boss, the President of the United States, perpetrated the lie.

Number 2:

BuzzFeed: Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie, and Mueller has emails proving it.

The referenced news item is Breitbart, itself:

BuzzFeed, citing two unidentified law enforcement officials, alleged in a Thursday evening report that President Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress and that he regularly briefed the president and his family on the Trump Tower project in Moscow. BuzzFeed claimed Cohen told Mueller that President Trump personally instructed him to lie about the timing of the project in order to obscure Trump’s involvement. No other news organization was able to confirm the report nearly 24 hours after it’s publication.

Again from Wikipedia:

According to a BuzzFeed report on January 17, 2019, President Donald Trump personally directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project. However, a spokesman for the Special Counsel investigation later said the report was “not accurate”

Number 3:

The New York TimesPaul Manafort passed polling information to Kremlin.

Again the reference is to Breitbart:

Nolte: New York Times Forced to Correct Manafort Russia Collusion ‘Bombshell’

The far-left New York Times has been forced to issue a humiliating correction after falsely reporting Paul Manafort passed along polling information to a Kremlin-connected businessman.

Times “reporters” Maggie Haberman and Ken Vogel are dishonest enough on their own, but put these two leftists together, and you are almost certain to get a heapin’ helping of Very Fake News, which is exactly what happened Wednesday.

I find the foregoing difficult to reconcile with this from the Mueller Report

Separately, on August 2, 2016 , Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met in New York City with his long-time business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI assesses to have ties to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik requested the meeting to deliver in person a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to the Special Counsel’s Office was a “backdoor” way for Russia to control part of eastern Ukraine; both men believed the plan would require candidate Trump ‘s assent to succeed (were he to be elected President). They also discussed the status of the Trump Campaign and Manafort’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states. Months before that meeting, Manafort had caused internal polling data to be shared with Kilimnik, and the sharing continued for some period of time after their August meeting.

Yes! That is curious, but I will leave it for readers to sort out. The conclusion Nolte wants us to draw is mainstream media outlets are responsible for “the tsunami of fake news Americans were buried under for over two years” and for “pushing the hoax that Trump colluded with Russia.”

We are left to wonder at the tsunami that buried us.

Finally, concerning that hoax the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

Any attempt by the mainstream media to bury the American public beneath a tsunami of fake news would be completely unnecessary. We have people now working for the United States government already doing that. But thank you, Breitbart News.

 

This is your President speaking.

Number 115 in a long series

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

So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have “begged” for this deal-looked like war would break out. Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!

This is from somebody who knows fake news.

This is your President speaking.

Number 89 in a long series

From CNN

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

Rasmussen just came out at 51% Approval despite the Fake News Media. They were one of the three most accurate on Election Day. Just about the most inaccurate were CNN and ABC News/Washington Post, and they haven’t changed (get new pollsters). Much of the media is a Scam!

You tell them, Mr. President. Good to see you have your eye on the ball.

This is your President speaking.

Number 29 in a long series

Screen shoot from CNN on YouTube

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

The Failing New York Times has a new publisher, A.G. Sulzberger. Congratulations! Here is a last chance for the Times to fulfill the vision of its Founder, Adolph Ochs, “to give the news impartially, without fear or FAVOR, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved.” Get…

….impartial journalists of a much higher standard, lose all of your phony and non-existent “sources,” and treat the President of the United States FAIRLY, so that the next time I (and the people) win, you won’t have to write an apology to your readers for a job poorly done! GL

Hint: an impartial journalist would be somebody at Fox News.

This is your President speaking.

Number 28 in a long series

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

As our Country rapidly grows stronger and smarter, I want to wish all of my friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media, a Happy and Healthy New Year. 2018 will be a great year for America!

Apparently the fun is going to continue right on into 2018. Enjoy the show. Something like this may never come our way for another 100 years.

This is your President speaking.

Number 27 in a long series

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

I use Social Media not because I like to, but because it is the only way to fight a VERY dishonest and unfair “press,” now often referred to as Fake News Media. Phony and non-existent “sources” are being used more often than ever. Many stories & reports a pure fiction!

Hey! I paid him to say that.

People Unclear

This is number 32

I never saw this coming, but apparently “Fake News” has become a cottage industry in American politics. A recent posting on CNN Politics shows the level to which this technology has developed:

US ambassador denies own comments, then denies denial

(CNN)  The new US ambassador to the Netherlands lied twice to a Dutch news crew about 2015 comments he made saying the country was in chaos because of Muslims.

“Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned … and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands,” said now-US ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra in 2015 at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2015 Restoration Weekend.
When the reporter asked Hoekstra about those comments, the Ambassador denied making such remarks. He said, “That is actually an incorrect statement; we would call it fake news, I never said that.”The reporter then played back the Ambassador’s 2015 comments extracted from a video made at the time. He said to the Ambassador, “”You call it fake news. Obviously.” Ambassador Hoekstra’s response takes your breath away. “I didn’t call that fake news. I didn’t use the words today. I didn’t think I did.”

People, this is United States Grade A Prime Fake News. This shows how it’s done in grand style

  • First you say it.
  • Then you say that saying you said it is fake news.
  • Then you say that your having said it is fake news is, itself, fake news.

People, it does not get much better than this. Obviously Ambassador Hoekstra has missed another fine point in all this, that fine point being plausible deniability. When you set out to invoke Fake News, be sure you have your backside covered. Be sure of two things:

  • There are no videos.
  • Your audience does not have a copy of the videos.

That’s what it takes to do really good Fake News. Following are some out-takes from  the video. It’s entertainment for all the world brought to you courtesy of the United States Government.

This is your President speaking.

Number 21 in a long series

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

The Fake News refuses to talk about how Big and how Strong our BASE is. They show Fake Polls just like they report Fake News. Despite only negative reporting, we are doing well – nobody is going to beat us. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

Takes your breath away.

This is your President speaking.

Number 17 in a long series

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

House Democrats want a SHUTDOWN for the holidays in order to distract from the very popular, just passed, Tax Cuts. House Republicans, don’t let this happen. Pass the C.R. TODAY and keep our Government OPEN!

And that about says it all. Apparently there are limits to rational discourse. I cannot attest to the validity of the featured image, but if anybody wants to challenge it, particularly the bumper swastika, my email is always open.

Fake News

Could be the start of something big.

Here’s an odd one:

Kentucky Lawmaker Kills Himself Amid Sexual Assault Allegations, Officials Say

Here is where the twist comes in:

Johnson posted a message on his Facebook page Wednesday evening, saying the accusations “are false” and ‘only God knows the truth.” The post appears to have been deleted.
“GOD and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be. AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news. Conservatives take a stand,” his post read.

That last was from CNN. None of the other outlets I reviewed mentioned Johnson’s invocation of “fake news” on Facebook.

“Fake news,” which hereafter I will enter into the lexicon by putting it in italics instead of between quotes, requires some definition. To conservatives, fake news has come to define false stories, mostly pasted against conservatives and conservative causes., these items generally being promulgated by mainstream media outlets, also known as liberal sounding boards by conservatives. Fake news in other circles has come to mean truthful tales that cast a bad light on conservatives and their causes. And that gets us back to Representative Dan Johnson, lately of the Kentucky legislature.

What, then is the fake news of which he spoke? Was he saying the girl’s accusations are fake, which is always a possibility, or does he mean the reporting of the girl’s story is fake news. It’s possible Mr. Johnson was confused at the time. If he was alluding the girl was lying, then that does not fit either definition of fake news. That is what is properly called false testimony. CNN, in reporting the story, is not disseminating fake news. They are reporting that the girl made the charges, which nobody has denied she did. For this to fit the first definition, false stories, then the girl must have not made the accusations, and the reporting was therefore false.

What this appears to do, instead, is to fit the second definition. It’s a true story that casts a bad light on a conservative—Mr. Johnson. Again, nothing has been said about whether the girl’s charges are true, and that is something that may never be known, since there is only the girl left to tell the tale. It is unfortunate the conservative lawmaker from Kentucky chose not to stay around and put the lie to what he labeled fake news in one of his final transmissions. We can only guess at his motivation to avoid the matter in the most prejudicial manner.

Fake news is a recurring topic, and I will be getting back to it on a regular basis. Keep reading.

Trump News

Disclaimer: I subscribe to an email fake news service. Trump News is the name of the email sender. These posts are pulled from the emails.

For your reading pleasure

gun-13yearoldkillsintruder

Beginning of a new series. I subscribe to an email newsletter from EnVolve.com. The sender is listed as Trump News, but it is not likely the President-elect is in any way involved with Trump News. Where to get started? How about with a recent story from En-Volve:

Career Felon Killed In Shootout By 13-Year-Old During Home Invasion

A check reveals the WCBD news item cited had much the same story.

That is certainly good news, and it flies in the face of my series of postings titled Your Friend The Handgun, aimed at demonstrating the folly of actually invoking your Second Amendment rights and loading yourself up with firearms. What is so heartening to learn is that the use of a (presumed) handgun allowed a 13-year-old child to defend his home and himself from two dangerous criminals. A side effect is that criminal proceedings will not be necessary against one of the crooks. R.I.P.

But wait. What’s fake about this news? Well… For starters, look at the picture of the young boy who pulled the trigger. How righteous. How heroic. How white.

If you read available news stories related to this incident you will observe that the identity of the young boy is being withheld at his (and most likely his parents’) request. So, where did En-Volve get the photo of the shooter? Your guess is as good as mine, and my guess is this is a stock photo, and the boy is a model posing for the photo with a semi-automatic pistol and a very determined look. I am familiar with the concept because I shoot stock photos for profit, and I have used such models.

So, the photo is a stock photo, and the boy is a model. Most likely that is a prop gun provided by the photographer. That does not answer an interesting  question. Why is the boy white? This is North Charleston, SC. Yes, that North Charleston, SC, where apparently a bunch of non-white people live. Such as the two crooks in the picture. I’m going to leave it to readers to figure out why a white child is supposed to have killed a black thug. There is an additional item worth discussing.

The story from En-Volve was posted by A. Michael Smith on 30 December 2016. As a reference, Smith’s story links to a story in USArmy4Life.com. That story says:

6 TIME FELON KILLED IN SHOOTOUT BY 13 YEAR OLD DURING HOME INVASION

Then it says pretty much what the En-Volve story says. Except for the date. The date of the En-Volve story is 30 December of 2016. The date of the US Army 4 Life story is 25 December 2016. So when did the actual events take place? To find out I relied on my trusty Way-Back machine, Google:

– On Tuesday afternoon a 13-year-old boy who was home alone used his mother’s gun to fend off two potential burglars, killing one of them.

According to authorities, the boy, who is not being identified because of his age, became suspicious of a grey Chevy Sonic that had pulled up near his house.

The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office reported that the boy later heard someone trying to break into his family’s home. He then got his mother’s gun and went to the back door of the house.

The boy told police officials that he fired the gun at a person outside and the person fired back.

The two burglars, Lamar Anthwan Brown, 31, of Summerville, and Ira Bennett, 28, of North Charleston, then fled the scene.

Bennett reportedly drove an injured Brown to Trident Medical Center, and then took off—Brown later died of his gunshot wounds.

US Army 4 Life used the Fox 29 news item pretty much as written, obviously without a lot of re-investigation. But note that the Fox 29 story is from 11 November 2015, over a year prior to both the US Army 4 Life story and the En-Volve story. But the Fox 29 story did not have a photo of the child, just the two black crooks. In none of the news accounts was the child or his family identified.

And now I get to the part where I speculate, completely fact-free. Why did US Army 4 Life need to go back over a year to find an appropriate story? If there is any substance to “a million self defensive uses of firearms a year,” why wasn’t there a story available from the previous week. Or the previous month? Could it be that no such story existed—that the last time a home owner effectively used a firearm to protect his home was over a year prior? I am not going to stretch incredulity that far, and I am going to grant that real self protection events occur more than once a year.

I also like to wonder how many of those self-protection episodes involve something like popcorn.