William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Stream: ‘Three-Parent’ Babies Can’t Cure Disease

The Brave New baby-making machine.

The Brave New baby-making machine.

Today’s post is at The Stream: Creating ‘Three-Parent’ Babies Won’t Cure Anyone

Jones comes to the doctor and says, “Doc, I’m suffering from cancer.” Doc says, “No problem. Got the cure right here.” Doc pulls out a gun and shoots Jones in the cranium. Doc buzzes the intercom and says, “Nurse, send in Smith.” Smith comes in and Doc says, “You’re now Jones, and you’re cured.”

This make sense?

It ought to. Because this joke relies on the same logic touted by those who have created the first “three-parent” baby. These (mad?) scientists say, in effect, that by “discarding” one sick baby and replacing it by another healthy baby, they have “cured” the first. Or they say that by preventing the birth of a potentially sick first baby, and allowing the birth of a potentially healthy second baby, they have “treated” the first.

Make sense yet? No? Then we need to understand what a “three-parent” baby is…[Go the Stream to read how it’s done]…

Why do this at all? Because there are some heritable diseases associated with mDNA…

This lack of rules brings us to the point of the joke at the beginning. In justifying his procedure, Zhang said “To save lives is the ethical thing to do”. Yet Smith replaces Jones: Smith is not Jones cured.

No lives were saved by Zhang. No lives will be saved. No lives can be saved.

What happens is that some lives are prevented from being born, while others are killed to facilitate the birth of others. No diseases are “cured.” A cure is when a person with a disease has that disease removed. In “three-parent” child-making, a person who might get a disease is prevented from life, or killed…

Go there to read the rest.

Breitbart: A Reply to the 375 Concerned Members of the National Academy of Sciences

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Today’s post is at Breitbart: “A Reply to the 375 Concerned Members of the National Academy of Sciences“.

Some 375 political activists attached to the National Academy of Sciences, supporting the totalitarian view on the climate question, have recently issued an open letter saying we “caused most of the historical increase in atmospheric levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.”
In fact, the extent of our influence on climate is not “settled science.” Only 0.3% of twelve thousand papers published in learned journals claimed that recent warming was mostly manmade. The 375 activists are entitled to their opinion, but the scientific community’s peer-reviewed results overwhelmingly fail to endorse their narrow view that recent warming was predominately manmade.

True, we influence climate, by returning to the air some of the carbon dioxide that was there before. But so do termites, by emitting more methane than all the world’s farm animals combined. So do plants, by taking carbon dioxide; storing the carbon in leaves, stems, and trunks; and returning the oxygen to the air. So does the Sun, by supplying nearly all the Earth’s radiant energy. So do volcanoes, by emitting hot rocks that warm the air and ejecta that shade the Earth from the Sun and cause cooling. So do the oceans, by helping to keep the Earth’s temperature within a few degrees either side of the period mean for more than 800,000 years.

The activists say we are warming the oceans. But in the first 11 full years of the least ill-resolved dataset we have, the 3500+ Argo bathythermograph buoys, the upper mile and a quarter of the world’s oceans warmed at a rate equivalent to just 1 Celsius degree every 430 years, and the warming rate, negligible at the surface, rises faster the deeper the measurements are taken. The oceans are warming not from above, which they would if we were warming the air and the air was warming the oceans, but from below.

Go there to read the rest and despair at how politicized science has become.

Debate Open Thread: Trump Wins On Points In Two-Against-One Bout

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Ladies and gentlemen…the main event! In this corner, the challenger Donald “The Donald” Trump, six foot two, two hundred and twenty-two pounds, a reach of seventy-three inches in the Red White & Blue shorts. And in this corner, the incumbent-ish Hillary “Tell No Lies” Clinton, five foot four, one hundred and thirty pounds, a reach of thirty inches in the Polyester Red shorts. And there’s the bell!

(These are live, unedited notes on the fight.)

Clinton tried early on to land a climate change jab, which was batted away effortlessly by Trump. A roundhouse on “We’ll have a special prosecutor to enforce trade deals” whiffed. Trump responded with one on the kidney with NAFTA and TPP.

“You are going to approve one of the biggest tax increases in history” sets her back on her heels. Hillary thrust back with a website Fact Check advertisement that hit nothing but air. Trump says, “Go to her web site. She tells her how to fight ISIS” lands but without much force.

Blows back and forth about tax cuts and increases. Quick “I have a feeling that by the end of the evening that I’ll be blamed for everything” by Hillary answered with sotto voce “Why not” by Trump. Hillary’s tax-cut-for-college-loans-that-will-boost-the-economy draws no blood. “We are in a big fat ugly bubble” Fed jab by Trump hits. Lester Holt’s request for tax release hits, but not in a soft spot. Countered by Trump’s pledge to release taxes if Hillary gives up her emails. Pain. Returned by Hillary’s insinuations “There could be anything in there! There’s something he’s hiding!” One or two blows get through, the rest are parried.

Hillary scores a point about stiffed paychecks. Her bankruptcy footwork blows by Trump’s “We took advantage of laws.”

“Gun epidemic” is an own blow from Hillary. Trump’s law and order, stop and frisk left-right combo stings. Trump fact checks Lester Holt on stop and frisk, a mistake on Holt’s part to enter debate; he scores a point for Trump in doing so. Hillary’s condescension towards blacks backfires slightly. “Our police are outgunned” does nothing; her call for profiling to buy guns is an own blow. Hillary tacitly admits police are implicitly biased towards blacks. Ouch.

Trump’s super-predator reminder to Hillary hits and her head waggles (her tell when she’s caught). Trump catches Hillary about murder rate in New York. She runs to the corner about safe neighborhoods and respecting rights. Trump scores a body blow with his “See you later, I’ll see you in four years” about pandering for votes among blacks. A quick jab about her health and staying home smacks hard.

Lester Holt’s attempts at birth certificates jabs miss; Trump hits Holt back by reminding Hillary was the original birther. Hillary joins Holt in calling birtherism “racist”, a punch which only hurts leftists.

War drums beat by Hillary with a Russian tattoo doesn’t hurt The Donald. Admirals and Generals over political hacks causes grief. The DNC break-in scores another quick blow. But Trump misses a chance to unleash the e-mail scandal. Hillary’s war plans for ISIS does nothing. Trump’s reminder that Obama and Hillary led to ISIS’s creation doesn’t send her reeling. Her come back about vacuuming up intelligence salvo falls short.

“You started the Iran deal; that’s another beauty” draws a trickle of blood. As does Trump’s call for NATO nations to pony up their dues. Holt jumps in to defend Hillary claiming the record shows Trump supported the Iraq war. Trump beats back the double-team attack, but it costs him a little. “I have much better judgement than she does. I also have a much better temperament than she does” looks like it doesn’t hurt, but it causes an internal bruise which won’t show for days. Hillary’s boasting of the Iran deal is an own blow.

The Iran, China, North Korean nuclear nexus razzle dazzle adds points to the challenger. Hillary tries to block with ineffective words about honoring agreements. “He says it’s a secret plan [to defeat ISIS]. The only secret is that he has no plan” dies aborning. Another own blow. “We cannot be the policeman of the world” slides in for a point.

Holt lets Trump mention Hillary’s stamina. Holt realizes his error and tries to stop Trump. Trump slaps Holt away. “His has experience. But it’s bad experience” uppercut bops her head back. She comes back with Trumps hates women. Trump retaliates with Rosie O’Donnell. Even-steven on the exchange.

Judge’s quick decision—but first a word on what a win means. No (or close to no) Hillary supporter changed her mind, and no (or close to no) Trump supporter changed his because of this debate. The questions is how many ‘undecideds’ changed theirs. So the Judge says: A tie on points. But if we have to call a victor, it goes to Trump because he had two foes, and Hillary had one.

Morning update As of 6 AM next morning, the Drudge poll unsurprisingly puts Trump as winner (80% to 20%). But even more interesting is the Time poll, which put it as a 50-50 tie. This is significant because Time is a standard media organ, meaning if Hillary really won that poll would likely show it. CNBC has Trump as winner 62% to 38%. On the other hand, the Breitbart-Gravis flash poll (immediately after the debate) gave the edge to Hillary, 48% to 43%, which is odd: 9% is missing. In that poll, 2% of undecideds switched to Trump, and none for Hillary. That makes this poll another tie.

More polls will be coming in over the week as matters sink in. But the early indications agree with what I wrote last night.

Update More polls, some giving the edge to Clinton. Huffington Post went full splenetic for Hillary, which is no surprise.

Apropos: CNN over-sampled Ds to Rs two to one. See also this on why they do that kind of thing.

Stream: Are Polls Underestimating Trump’s True Support?

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Today’s post is at the Stream: Are Polls Underestimating Trump’s True Support?

The press in 1980 did their best to scupper Ronald Reagan. They said he was an “extremist” and that he would “would divide America along racial, religious, and regional lines”. They said Reagan was a “dangerous cowboy” with his finger on the nuclear button. They seethed, raged, insinuated.

The Republican establishment joined in the calumnies. The strain on party brotherhood was so bad that after the primaries, one-time Republican candidate John Anderson split from the party and ran as a NeverReagan.

It was thus unfashionable to admit liking Reagan, and so not a few kept their mouths shut.

Presidential polls might have reflected this Reagan shyness. In the month before the election, polls had Carter up an average 44% to Reagan’s 40%. Anderson hovered around 9%, which left about 7% of voters unaccounted for. Were some of these 7% shy Reagan voters?

The final averages right before the election gave Reagan the edge, 47% to Carter’s 44% and Anderson’s 8%. That left only 1% unaccounted for.

The final tallies gave Reagan 51% of the popular vote, Carter 41%, and Anderson 7%, with the remaining 1% spread over novelty candidates.

There is a huge discrepancy here. Polls showed Reagan with 4% less support than he actually had, and Carter with 3% more and Anderson 1% more. These errors could have been caused by Reagan supporters unwilling to tell pollsters their true preference, but they also could have been because of built-in biases of the polls themselves. These biases should not surprise given that many polls are conducted or commissioned by mainstream media outlets, whose sins and biases do not need recounting.

At this writing most polls show Hillary nearly tied with Trump, yet there is a suspicion that, like in 1980, some voters are shy about admitting liking Trump. If this is so, the polls exaggerate Hillary’s true support.

Is anybody who is for Trump coy? If so, how many secret supporters are there? Or are the polls biased?…

Go there to read the rest. And speculate below on how much you think the polls will shift after tonight’s debate.

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