William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Category: Politics (page 3 of 69)

The empirical and philosophical arguments used by politicians and “activists”.

The Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage, Part III

Part II

Question 3

You often say everybody deserves to love somebody. Why do you think re-defining marriage into something it isn’t is an answer to this? Do you think the state of (many person? two person?) marriage has something to do with creating love? Or can love exist without the label ‘marriage’? I know you’d agree to this. So what is it about the state of matrimony itself which increases love? I can answer that for man-woman mating-marriage: natural kids and family of course provide the strongest ties (and most robust civilization). That doesn’t work for man-man or woman-woman: no natural kids. Sure, there’s adoption, but that only begs the question whether non-traditional couples (why couples? why not triples?) should be allowed to adopt. And anyway, most people won’t adopt. Non-traditional adoption produces a nightmare of legal and moral difficulties, the consequence being the State, in the name of “fairness”, will increasingly claim custody over children, thus removing (by force) control from natural parents. This isn’t a slippery-slope argument. Already we have seen governments which have mandated same-sex “marriage” propose or institute laws forbidding the use of the ancient words “husband”, “father”, “wife”, “mother” from official paperwork. Some governments (like Canada) go on to criminalize speech, saying people cannot talk against same-sex “marriage” or homosexual conduct because that is “discriminatory” (a circular argument if ever there was one). Other localities say a person does not have the right to withhold on religious grounds actions which further or abet same-sex “marriage.” Freedoms are being removed; rights are being taken away. Why does the so-called right to same-sex “marriage” trump other rights?

Can, say, a woman-woman pair make a vow of eternal love without the benefit of marriage? Of course they can. Nobody is stopping this or suggesting that it should be stopped. As far as I can see, nobody is denying anybody anything except one small thing. And that small thing is my cooperation. Think about this. I can’t stop, and don’t per se want to stop, Jack and Ed (and Tom and Lou and …) from shacking up and professing eternal love. This isn’t because I want Jack and Ed to do this, but because I don’t know them, they aren’t in my family or Church and if they don’t bother me, I won’t bother them. It’s true that if I met them and my opinion were asked, I’d try and talk them out of it, but on different grounds which we can discuss another time.

Question 4

Do you really understand what marriage is? It is not Jack and Ed sharing the rent, or checking a box on a form created by government, it is Jack and Ed asking me to bless their union, and this I won’t do. This I cannot do, for I am convinced what they have is not marriage. Why do you insist on taking away my freedom to define marriage in the traditional way? That is exactly what you would be doing if you forced me to acknowledge their union.

Marriage is not a contract between two people, it is the natural ordering of two people and the rest of society. Marriage is not just between George and Martha, though that bond is central. It is between George, Martha, and me (and you). In a civil sense, marriage is the label I (and the rest of us) bestow upon them. This being so, my blessing cannot be invoked involuntarily. I cannot give my consent for really it isn’t mine to give after all, because I have it on loan from a Higher Authority (or, if you don’t like that, via natural law). It is true that government can dictatorially label Jack and Ed’s pairing “marriage”, and that government can even with the threat of force impel me to call the pair “married.” But this still does not make them captial-M Married.

Marriage is, as the old saw has it, an institution, rich in tradition and deeply embedded in our culture. It says something good that people, knowing the vastly overwhelming positive benefits which accrue from it, aim for it. But I don’t think they see beyond the civil ceremonies which, via paperwork alone, create couples (triples? quadruples?).

There is the story of the government (in the USA, natch) dissatisfied with the complexities of π and so by legislation attempted to dictate that it take a value commensurate with squaring the circle, a logical and mathematical impossibility, which is to say, an affront to nature and quite anti-science. (Let’s don’t think this situation absurd; consider what happened to truth in the Soviet Union.) Now these government officials failed in their attempt only because a mathematician happened to wander into the debate. But suppose he was sick that day and the government, by law, impelled people to say π = 3.2. Well, they’d have to do so when courting the bureaucracy, but that would not stop the real π from taking its true value. Same with small-m “marriage” (civil rules and procedures) and the true capital-M Marriage (husband-wife bond).

Do you really think that by asking the government to use its coercive power to impel and force behavior will change truth? It cannot. Or, in a weaker sense, that it will change minds? Well, it might: people hate to be screamed at or lose social standing or employment. You may win the day with the word “marriage”, but that cannot and will not stop those of us who know better to call true Marriage something else. I’m betting on the phrases “traditional marriage” or “real marriage.” Suppose as is likely the use of such phrases becomes widespread. Would you support efforts to have this speech suppressed, it being “hurtful” (which it will be)? If so, then you must ask yourself just what is it you’re after. It isn’t marriage. It’s control over those who believe differently than you.

Next, and finally, “orientation”, fairness and equality.

Part IV (Final)


Warning Tolerance is a hallmark of those supporting same-sex marriage. Never will you find proponents employing abuse, vituperation, appeals to emotion, or angry senseless shouting. They do not label their opponents enemies, nor accuse them of being hate-filled. They instead use calm, logical, well-reasoned argument; they understand rational and sincere people may disagree on certain points. I therefore expect supporters of traditional marriage to act similarly. Comments which do not accord with ladylike or gentlemanly behavior will be ruthlessly expurgated.

The Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage, Part II

Part I

Question 2

I’ve often heard you say, “Why shouldn’t we let two loving same-sex people marry?” My question: why two? If your only retort to “Why two?” is a variant of “That’s absurd” or “I won’t answer” then you concede the argument. If you cannot provide a cogent defense of these or other reasonable questions, we must assume you haven’t any justification for your beliefs, and that the sole reason you want what you want is that you want it and that you should have it because you want it.

I’ll assume you have an answer to “Why two?”, which might be this: marriage has always been, except in rare instances, between two people. This is true. But then marriage has always been, except in rare circumstances, between a man and a woman. History and tradition are not on your side. If you embrace tradition for “two people” you must embrace it for “man-woman” because tradition is both conditions, held simultaneously, not either condition held singly. I’ll tell you why I think two: because two is natural, because two is one mom plus one dad, because two is built into nature. That’s the scientific answer. A man-woman coupling is how genes are passed on. Even considering the exceptions (like harems), two is the vastly, most overwhelmingly common option, everywhere and at all times. Then the exceptions were mostly one-man-many-women, and actual instances were as rare as lottery wins, available only for those at the pinnacle of certain societies (circumstances which made women scarce or nonexistent for those in the lower echelons). Yes, there were historical pockets of one-man-having-relations-with-one-underclass-boy, but that wasn’t marriage, just an age old form of dissipation.

Again I ask you, why two? History is no guide, neither is nature. Why two? Because marriage just “feels” like two people? It does, too, and for the reasons I’ve given. But it doesn’t “feel” like anything but George plus Martha to me. Are feelings all we have? Marriage doesn’t feel like two to, for example, Boris Dittrich, the “father” of SSM in the Netherlands who “has admitted that group marriages of three or more people, is the next, inevitable logical step in the dismantling of the western world’s traditional marriage laws.” Dittrich is far from alone in believing he has an unanswerable argument that once natural rights and tradition are abandoned “marriage” may be defined as anything able to make its way into law. (Later I mention those who would wed animals.) How do we respond to Dittrich? Once you abandon the naturalness of man-woman mating and raising of children as irrelevant, there is no logical reason not to accept Dittrich’s desires. “Marriage” is the state between any-sized groups of people who agree to call themselves wed.

You might concede marriage doesn’t have to be two people, but two is what most seem to want. If enough people want a thing, thus it should be so? As in, if 50.1% of the country agreed to call two men who wanted to “cohabitate” be called “married” then they are “married.” That right? My dear, this is no good. To paraphrase your mother, if 50.1% of the country agreed to walk off a cliff, would you, too? This suggests an impermanence to morality, that right and wrong are subject to fad. This is not problematic for traffic laws, but deeply troubling for fundamental, foundational matters. What if the country (government, people, or both) decided that a certain demographic group would be better off underground? That has certainly happened, but if you say votes decide morality, then you cannot complain.

Suppose you are a resident of North Carolina, where the people have spoken and opted to stick with tradition by amending their constitution to say marriage is only man-woman. If truth is decided by a vote, the position these people haven taken is therefore not wrong, and must be accepted as right. When you cross the border into North Carolina, you too must believe same-sex “marriage” is wrong. Since it is wrong, and since voting decides what is right, then it would incoherent of you to agitate against the law.

Your hope now is that (in the USA) the Supreme Court decides SSM is a right. They might; it is even probable. But what happens if the states rebut by passing a Constitutional Amendment à la North Carolina? Would you then accept SSM is wrong? Or would you still believe it moral and that the majority is wrong? If so, then you have admitted that truth cannot be decided by a vote, that there are right and wrongs not subject to whim or opinion, that morality is objectively true.

I agree. Now all we have done so far is to argue whether the State, i.e. the government, can arbitrarily decide (as they did in North Carolina) what marriage is. Since (as we just proved) because the people by vote cannot do so, it follows the State (formed of people) cannot either. We now have to sort out what marriage is. We’ll do that next.

Part III


Warning Tolerance is a hallmark of those supporting same-sex marriage. Never will you find proponents employing abuse, vituperation, appeals to emotion, or angry senseless shouting. They do not label their opponents enemies, nor accuse them of being hate-filled. They instead use calm, logical, well-reasoned argument; they understand rational and sincere people may disagree on certain points. I therefore expect supporters of traditional marriage to act similarly. Comments which do not accord with ladylike or gentlemanly behavior will be ruthlessly expurgated.

The Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage, Part I

In a further effort to increase my leisure time (by reducing my chance of employment), presented here for your edification an argument against same-sex “marriage” in the form of an open letter to a young true believer.

Dear Young Person,

Same-sex “marriage” is winning the day, more so with the young who see it as a case of civil rights. It is about rights. Among these are the right to be left alone, the right to keep government from intruding into areas which it does not belong, the freedom to let people and not bureaucracy decide the form of society. The right to hold to tradition. The right to practice religion freely. And the fundamental God-given right to observe, celebrate, and hold the family-making bond between a man and a woman sacred.

I’m betting you haven’t considered your belief seriously. You might cherish it, are passionate about it, but it’s unlikely you have considered the idea philosophically, that instead you have absorbed your belief passively from the culture. To prove this, I’ll ask a series of questions which will help you see that your opponents have a point.

Ground rules first. In order to prove me wrong, you need to rebut each of the arguments which follow. Ignore just one and victory is mine. Crying “Homophobe!” or use a ruse like dismissing a point because I am a conservative or religious are both fallacies, the use of which concedes victory to me. Any use of a counter-argument which includes as a premise that which we seek to prove—such as saying “Same-sex ‘marriage’ is the law”, or “Marriage is a right”—is a fallacy which, etc. See also the warning on comments below.

Question 1

Why did you think it was government that got to define marriage? You might answer: in your experience, government gets to define everything. And that’s so, especially over the course of your brief lifetime. But government does so only because we the people have forgotten that it is We the People who are the government. The folks we shoot off to Washington every few years let this slip their minds, too. Our “representatives” no longer see themselves as our servants, but as our masters, so much so that a “Do this!”-“Yes, sir!” relationship is expected. This appears so commonplace to you that you don’t think to question it. It’s worse than that: you are downright suspicious of anybody who does question it. This proves that people are naturally conservative: they like holding on to what is and are, in large part, reluctant to change.

Since you’re a product of public schools, you won’t know that marriage was an institution before the State was, nor will you have been taught that the State itself is a modern creation. Thus it will come as a surprise that rights do not and cannot come from the State, which is a fictional entity; it is a tacit agreement among (some) of the living, more or less constantly renewed. But not always. States dissolve and fresh ones are created. If rights arise from the State, then when the State dissolves its rights expire with it. If the State is the sole source of rights, it may change them capriciously: might makes right (I’ll return to this in another Part). This topic can be expanded indefinitely, but I trust to your good sense to extrapolate from these beginnings the horror life can become if the State is sovereign in all.

In opposition to the State are natural rights, which are self-evident truths. We’re not talking traffic laws, but fundamental rights such as to life, liberty, and the pursuit (but not attainment) of happiness. These rights exist above the State and without the State; the State has no business meddling with these rights, lest it turn tyrannical. Marriage is one of these fundamental, self-evident rights.

There was marriage before the State, before any organized, formalized hierarchy existed; before there were such things as contracts or even paper to write them on. Before State and government there was biology. There was and is nothing more natural than a man and a woman coming together to produce and care for children, theirs or others which some misfortune might send their way. A man and woman came together to produce you. This man-woman pairing is called, in ancient words, dad and mom, husband and wife. Cultures historically created the ceremony of marriage to bless this union. The offspring taken together with the man and woman are called a family. That word is ancient and ubiquitous, too.

This man-woman mating is so natural, so common, and so obvious that only an academic can question it. It is from an academic (or from somebody having prolonged contact with one) where you probably learned to question it. But in questioning it, you acknowledge it. You know the naturalness is true because you are reading these words. I mean, there must be a you there reading, a you produced by a man-woman mating. Yes, there exists technology the good Baron von F. would be proud of which can produce babies in “test tubes,” but this produces few to no children, it is no match for nature, and even with these marvels biological “stuff” from a man and a woman is still required (a physical woman must also carry the baby to term). We call this scientific, biological equation “man plus woman equals childrn” marriage and foundation of a family.

Government takes marriage as a given and then builds rules around it. These rules only pertain to matters which are not marriage. Example: where does the Social Security check go when one of a married couple goes on to his or her reward? Well, to the spouse, says the voluminous paperwork. Yet Social Security, a fine government program (for the sake of argument), is not marriage. It is a way for the government to take money from one group of people and give it to another (keeping a cut for itself). Government decided that a spouse gets the dough, just as it may in the future decide to modify this rule so that somebody else besides a spouse collects, such as a “domestic partner” (you can always tell you’re on shaky philosophical ground when tortuous language like this is employed). But it is not Social Security which defines marriage—marriage was preexistent—it is instead marriage which decides how bureaucracies function. The same is true for any other example.

It is the State which fits itself around marriage, and not marriage which fits itself around the State. We have let government tinker around the edge of marriage, such as allowing it to demand blood tests, or to grant it the power to forbid marriage to anybody under (say) sixteen, or by indulging it in its insane addiction to paperwork. But these rules codified what everybody (or at least an overwhelming majority of adult citizens) already held and acknowledged to be true. You and others are now asking government to encroach further, to stick its nose were it doesn’t belong. You are hoping by its force and might, by fiat, that government will change what marriage means. But government can’t change the state of marriage fundamentally. Nobody can. The best it can do is to use the word incorrectly, and require that others do, too. We’ll see later that this still won’t (and can’t) alter real marriage.

Part II


Warning Tolerance is a hallmark of those supporting same-sex marriage. Never will you find proponents employing abuse, vituperation, appeals to emotion, or angry senseless shouting. They do not label their opponents enemies, nor accuse them of being hate-filled. They instead use calm, logical, well-reasoned argument; they understand rational and sincere people may disagree on certain points. I therefore expect supporters of traditional marriage to act similarly. Comments which do not accord with ladylike or gentlemanly behavior will be ruthlessly expurgated.

Climategate 3.0—Update: Hacker A Coder?

Whoever it was that snatched the cache of emails from prominent climatologists and created Climategate 1.0, then 2.0 has come forward, in a sort of way, to begin Climategate 3.0. He—sounds like a he, perhaps a Russian he?—sent an email to several climate scientists explaining why he did what he did, and including a password to open 200,000 files that have been previously hidden. (I wasn’t one of these; I don’t have the files nor the password.)

The hero/thief/activist/concerned citizen-of-the-world, call him what you will, I prefer jokester for this individual has a fine sense of humor, is clearly a computer geek and is careful covering his tracks. His missive can be read in several places, such as at Anthony Watt’s place.

I have not seen the file nor the password, but others have started burrowing through. Early results suggest, as Tom Nelson discovered, much boredom awaits. There has been a tidbit or two, such as one email from a serious, working, peer-reviewed and -reviewer climatologist that called Mann’s hockey stick “crap.” This curiously is the precise statistical word to describe Mann’s work, so perhaps it was a statistician and not climatologist who wrote those words.

This means the, the, THE, THE Consensus isn’t. Ah well.

The other (so far) slice of fun came from my pal Gav Schmidt, who in reaction to the refreshed controversy tweeted this:

This is the interest over time in Climategate. I must admit this curves tracks my attentiveness, too. But here’s why this is funny. A new email from Tom Wigley admits the pseudo-science (actually cheap journalism) of counting papers as proof of consensus or truth. After trying his own hand at counting citations, he said:

Analyses like these by people who don’t know the field are useless.
A good example is Naomi Oreskes work.

The press naturally loves Oreskes’s work, because journalists nearly always fall prey to and cherish the fallacy that interest equals truth. But Oreskes has always been engaged in persiflage.

So we now understand that plots of interest are a standard newsman’s dodge and reveal nothing but political hotness. This includes Gav’s plot, which is misleading even as a political thermometer, since it was taken before Climategate 3.0 hit.

Ah well, so much of science is theatre these days, yet another avenue for agitation. I’m guessing 3.0 doesn’t reach the peak that 1.0 or 2.0 did, since, though activist scientists haven’t yet ceased discovering new ways to announce the sky is falling, people have tired of hearing them.

But see this page for updates which I find of note.

Update May as well engage in amateur forensics. I think the hero-hacker is a coder. The facility with all things computer makes this easy to guess, but so does his language, which doesn’t sound like a scientist but with somebody who works with them. He also appears to be somebody who uses English for his day job, but whose native language is something else.

Probably a coder tasked with implementing parts of climate models (data assimilation, connectivity between modules, output generation, etc.) and who sees these creations resemble smelly sausage rather than prime rib. Somebody who is aware that the certainty and confidence publicly stated in the models is far more than is actually warranted.

Give Children The Vote?

Our future

“After soccer practice, I’m going to bring you to the polls.”

“Ah, mom! Do we have to go?”

“Everybody has to vote, Johnny. If you don’t, you’re disenfranchised.”

“I want Spiderman to win!”

“Now, Johnny, don’t be silly. Spiderman isn’t running.”

“I can vote for anybody I want to!”

“I just hope I can fit the stroller into the booth so your sister can vote, too.”

This scene is the earnest product of Miles Corak’s fevered imagination. Corak is (according to Reuters) an intellectual at “Canada 2020, a Canadian progressive research group.”

Works like this. Corak figures “rising income inequality and declining social mobility go together.” Which group has less income than kids? Therefore which group therefore “suffers most” from declining social mobility? You got it, baby. Babies.

Infants have no job prospects. Couldn’t get an interview if they begged. Nobody will hire them. Blatant—and legal!—age discrimination rages, my friend, positively rages.

“Older individuals, and those with more education working in higher-skilled occupations, are more likely to vote,” Corak writes… “But, in addition, there is a broad bias by virtue of the simple fact that children are disenfranchised. Children’s rights are not adequately recognized and they have a reduced political voice in setting social priorities.”

“Children,” Reuters quotes, “are one of the last categories of humans denied the most fundamental right of citizenship: the right to vote.”

To prove to you that Corak doesn’t live entirely in a bubble, he added, “When you first hear about [child voting], it sounds like a crazy idea.” Amen. It does. But after you cogitate over it a while, why then it…still seems like Corak has been spending too much time in the Canadian winter without his coat.

In his favor, Corak says he didn’t originate the idea. He blames a guy named Paul Demeny. Social scientists call lines of infants at the polls “‘Demeny voting’ in his honor.”

Demeny’s version is a little different than Corak’s because Demeny recognize that children and infants do not possess—how can we put this politely?—the intellectual prowess to decide between, say, Joe “Wakka Wakka” Biden and George “Jeb” Bush, the two candidates most fret will vie for this nation’s top spot in 2016. (On the other hand, if it were these two gentlemen, maybe the only ones who could be talked into voting would be children.)

Not only is Junior too stupid to vote intelligently, he also can’t reach the machine to register his opinion. Solution? Let mothers vote for their children. Demeny says this is “justified by logic and justice”. Reuters agrees that mother-proxies are “a data-backed view: Mothers are best at spending shared resources on their offspring, which is why state child support usually goes to them.”

Whither fathers? After requiring they fund the enterprise, forget them. The brutes.

Now this idea, representative voting, is not silly. It is after all true that a family of eight—mom, dad, and six currently ineligible voters—has more at stake than a confirmed bachelor. Why shouldn’t the larger family have more say? As it is now, the bachelor has four times the voting power of either the mom or dad. Social injustice indeed!

But then doesn’t the man who has ten-thousand acres of Wyoming stashed away in a corner have more riding on the country’s prospects than does the fellow who rents month-by-month a single-wide trailer in Tornado Alley, Oklahoma?

Maybe votes should be partitioned by a formula which weights land ownership and family size equally.

Consider too that the aged; those eighty and over have have expended their stores of “social mobility”. These people aren’t headed to the future, but to Florida—if I may employ the euphemism. Infants and newborns, on the other hand, have decades in front of them. The value of their social capital is two orders of magnitude larger than the elderly’s.

That means the weight of children’s votes should be larger than the weight of adults’ votes. Kids who, through say an inheritance own land, would be allocated the largest number of votes. Fair is fair.

We haven’t nearly finished. It is obvious that a man (or woman!) who through intelligence and hard labor employs and therefore provides a living for a hundred men (or women!) is more in the game than one of this man’s (or woman’s!) wage earners.

We have to factor in intelligence, too. Those who can correctly identify their country on a globe should receive twice as many votes as those who admit to watching wrestling on television.


Hat tip: Hot Air, where the Reuters article was originally linked.

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