Let’s Find And Fire Those Who Support Same-Sex “Marriage”

It’s our way or no way.

Please read to the end of the end. You wouldn’t want to miss anything important.

Bigotry against traditional marriage is unacceptable. Those espousing the unnatural unions of two same-sexed persons hold logically indefensible positions. They should not therefore be allowed to keep their jobs.

It is impossible to justify holding beliefs about same-sex “marriage”. Only religion bashers and hateful discriminators do. Saying you are against traditional religious belief is like saying you want to lynch a black man for the color of his skin, especially when you consider modern science proves that people are born religious and lack free will and thus have no choice but to be religious. And if somebody is born a certain way, then anything they do in that way must therefore be right. Religious people who insist on the sanctity of tradition are just that way.

This is the Twenty-first Century and you would have thought by now religious intolerance would have been banished. But it has not been. There are still people among us who hold irrational and hateful opinions against the natural law! These people should be written out of polite society. Ostracized.

Yes, it now cool to be for traditional marriage, but being against it should lose you your job. We need to find out who each of these prejudiced people are. Name them and shame them. Being against traditional marriage is being against equality. Being against traditional marriage is being against freedom. Nobody should be allowed to be for unnatural unions, not in this day and age.

Those who have supported same-sex “marriage” in the past must pay. We need organization at the large scale. We must mobilize Twitter and Facebook armies which threaten the employers of these bigots with boycotts. Companies must not be allowed to associate with the hateful. If they won’t fire their employees, we just won’t do business with them.

Especially those companies with bigots in positions of powers and those with numerous religious employees must be held accountable. If business do not fire bigots, then these business give the appearance of supporting bigotry. They are complicit with and in that bigotry. Having any employee on staff who holds the wrong political opinion is as if that businesses itself is discriminatory to religion and tradition. This is or should be illegal. These people ought to be jailed.

Every business must issue policies of non-discrimination against those who hold religious beliefs. We cannot let intolerance stand.

Those who have been found to support same-sex “marriage” in the past must be located. Most of them surely left traces of their hatefulness. Their blog posts must be rooted out. See if they gave money to groups like GLAAD. Emails they have written in support of their bigotry must be made public. Conversations they have made when in the place of their employment must be publicly aired.

We must be merciless in our attacks. These people—these scum—had their chance to recant and they blew it. Continued support for same-sex “marriage” is now intolerable, and tolerate it we won’t. Yes, the bigots who supported same-sex “marriage” had freedom of speech on their side. But believing in freedom of speech cannot be a trump card. Freedom of speech doesn’t exclude having to deal with the consequences of what a man says. Now these anti-social people must face the consequences.

It is our right to punish those who disagree with us. We must exercise that right to the fullest of our abilities. No stone must be unturned. We will find everybody who is or was against us and destroy them. It is our right. It is the marketplace speaking! No attack is too strong.

If anybody has given money to despicable groups like GLAAD, and if they don’t when confronted of their hate-speech give a higher amount to a religious organization that promotes genuine marriage, then they’re out.

If anybody who has made public statements in support of unnatural unions, they must recant and make twice as many public statements in similar venues saying they now understand that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Else they’re out.

There is no excuse in the hate-filled anti-religious to say their opinions are a matter of their personal business. Their “personal” business affects the rest of us. Hiding behind “privacy” is absurd.

Join me in signing this post, which now functions as a petition. It’s time to end the discrimination. Let your voice be heard!

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You get the idea (Update: I really hope you get the idea): EVERY argument, descriptor, and “solution” was pulled from arguments the foolish made in hounding Eich to his doom. I cleaned up the language of course. Progressives are notoriously vulgar.

E-Lynching The Politically Incorrect: Mozilla Edition

Just make it stop!

Just make it stop!

The most vile sanctimonious ignorant bigoted contemptuous hateful stunted intransigent insolent arrogant unsympathetic cowardly sniveling brutes are found today almost exclusively among progressives, especially its younger varieties. This is the crowd which boasts of something they call “tolerance”, a word which defined by its effects must mean “do what you’re told or else.”

Or else what? Or else you will be destroyed. E-lynched. Hounded by packs of snarling snotty nincompoops unencumbered by the burdens of thought and reason and unrestrained by decency and commonsense. A rabble which feeds on hate and delights in cruelty, ruffians intent only on demolishing and demonstrating what they believe to be their superiority. For a generation that knows only irony this is truly astonishing.

The latest and surely not the last victim of the howling mob is Brendan Eich, inventor of Javascript and late of Mozilla, the publishers of a web browser I no longer use. Eich’s crime?

There was none. There was no crime. Eich did nothing wrong.

His tormentors, however, are full of sin. These include the employees of Mozilla who first erupted into irrational public petulance and their vulgar and eager imitators on the Internet. Eich had recently had a disagreement with the board of Mozilla, an organization he co-founded, some of whom fretted of his leadership skills. It might have been from they (or those who recently resigned) who sought to sully Eich’s name. It may have been from the political arm of the IRS. Who knows? In any event, Eich resigned yesterday.

The Mozilla organization, true to the breed, had this to say about Eich’s ouster:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness…

This is so poor it could only have been written by someone inflicted with a modern university education. “We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right”. Right? Right? Right that none except those willing to publicly espouse the belief-of-the-moment shall be employed?

“Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech.” The thing about lying boldly is that the lie is more likely to be believed than a lie uttered shyly. I’ve long warned that progressives are holding truth “to a different standard” and that “freedom of speech” is being redefined as freedom to think whatever you like but not freedom to utter or act on these thoughts.

It therefore does no good to shove the Constitution under the nose of a progressive (easy to do, their noses are always aloft). He sees the words but thinks they mean all speech but “controversial” speech is free. What’s controversial? Opinions which differ from his. Has nobody noticed campus speech codes and calls to arrest scientists who do not agree with the party line? Worse is coming.

“Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO.” Eich “chose” to step down in the same way a convicted man “chose” to mount the stairs to the hangman’s noose. No other option was possible. Doing what you’re told is what a progressive means by free will.

“Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech.” A lie, a bold in-your-face self-contradictory preposterous lie. It is the same lie progressives who joined the e-lynch mob told themselves. “We’re stringing you up to support your right to free speech!”

“Equality is necessary for meaningful speech.” Tripe. It is because there is inequality there needs to be free, unimpeded speech.

“Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness…” It is fitting Mozilla ends its performance with a punchline bereft of all mirth. The only emotion left for us, the sane remnant, is sadness; sadness over the suicide of a once-great culture.

The Philosophy of Probability and Statistics (Book. Sort Of.)

I'm going to add another one to the stack.

I’m going to add another one to the stack.

I have decided to let you, dear reader, help me finish my book, which I have tentatively entitled The Philosophy of Probability and Statistics. This is about the seventeenth version of the title, so it might change again.

I’ve been working on this book piecemeal for some time, but not consistently enough (I’ve been spending more time on another one, a more popular version about over-certainty). So I decided to release it as she is, in separated segments. In a sort of fashion. Kinda sorta. More or less.

Today, an outline. Comments more than welcome.

There’s chapters and fragments of chapters and bare notes floating all over my hard drive and on odd pieces of paper. Putting them up will force me to gather them into something resembling coherence.

The writing will be in Latex, in raw code. Maybe I’ll PDF a few, links at bottom of posts. Luckily, PPS is not a math book. Mathematics is useful to probability, and there exists a mathematical subdivision called measure theory which makes great purpose of it, but I am interested in probability as measures of evidence, probability as she is or should be used for real-life matters. In this sense, probability is not mathematics; therefore I don’t need as much of it as is ordinarily used. Meaning reading Latex code won’t be that difficult for the uninitiated.

Incidentally, there is no difference between probability and statistics, except that the latter is a name for data. So I’ll mostly use probability to mean what people usually mean of either subject.

The new category tag PPS has been added to note posts which are part of the book. Click it to see all post (just this so far).

Rough gross mysterious outline:

1. The way it’s done now has lead to an (unnoticed) epidemic of over-certainty. Logic and probability belong to epistemology, which is the study of what we can know. Truth exists, relativism is silly but understandable, skepticism is stupid and not understandable, Gettier problems aren’t. I am not a Bayesian, but I love much of it.

2. Logic, which isn’t formal. Logic is the study of the relations between propositions. Let’s return to syllogistic logic to educate initiates. Symbolic and mathematical logic, fine things, can be saved for adepts. Math and symbolic logic are formal because they constrain the range of propositions. With freedom comes responsibility!

3. Probability, which is logic, it is its natural extension, or rather, its completion. Every results which holds for logic therefore holds for probability; thus probability isn’t formal until its propositions are constrained. Probability is not (of course it is not) relative frequency, a fallacy which mixes up epistemological propositions with ontological ones, and neither is it subjective. Beliefs, decisions, acts are not logic therefore are not probability. Probability is rarely quantifiable.

4. Causality and Induction, which is fine. Logic is the not the proper language of causality, therefore neither is probability. Causality has four dimensions (formal, material, efficient, and final). Logic-probability can measure relations between causal propositions, but again beliefs etc. are not logic. Induction is fine and rational. Induction is rarely quantifiable. Grue is no problem.

5. Observational propositions, which are statistics. An observational proposition is “I saw m people in the drug group out of n become well, and r people out of s in the placebo group become well.” This is statistics as she is normally thought of. Measurements, except in exceptionally rare circumstances, and possibly not even then, are finite and discrete. Again, not all probability is quantifiable.

6. Probability models, most of which aren’t deduced, but some are. Deduced models aren’t models, but optimal and true statements of probability. Deduced probabilities aren’t well known, aren’t well developed, and will save your soul. Non-deduced, i.e. assumed, habitual, or customary, models are killing science softly and slowly and with a smile. And they lead to endless and incorrect debates about truths of models, which we know are false.

7. Over-certainty, which is parameters, p-values, hypothesis tests, estimation, credible and confidence intervals, and premature jumps to infinity. Domine exaudi orationem meam, let the Cult of Parameter end!

8. Predictive statistics, probability leakage. If you’re going to use a non-deduced model, then at least do it so it can be verified, which means use the model in a predictive sense (Bayesians say “predictive posterior distributions”).

9. Models to decisions to verification. Since probabilities aren’t decisions or acts or beliefs to be useful they must be transformed to decisions acts beliefs. Verifying probabilities is not the same as verifying decisions, since by definition probabilities are true statements and therefore not in need of verification. But decisions can be good or bad, as long as you understand what good and bad are.

10. Examples like time series, regression, and so on will be spread throughout. But maybe a special chapter with the regular suspects. There are thousands of procedures and I can’t hope to do more than a handful.

This not a recipe book, but a starting point for somebody to write one. One step at a time!

Are We Hard-Wired for Faith? Guest Post by Bob Kurland

Bob Kurland is a “retired, cranky, old physicist.” This article originally ran in modified form at Reflections of a Catholic Scientist.

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God”—St. John Damascene, as quoted in the Catechism, 2559.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven…”—John Milton, Paradise Lost

“Interestingly, the average human brain weighs about 1.5 kilograms, has about 160 billion cells and about 100 billion neurons connecting the cells. The complexities of the brain are inconceivable. One can look at the brain and see the incredible complexities and the miracles of the Divine…or one can respond…that this has nothing to do with G-d. Some people will be inspired with belief in the Almighty; others will claim that somehow billions of cells and neurons working together can be created through random evolution.”—Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, Jewish World Review, 17 January, 2014

My favorite way to spend driving time is listening to audiobooks, the latest being The Spiritual Brain: Science and Religious Experience by Professor Andrew Newberg, Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, who has used SPECT imaging (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) to show what brain regions (and thus, what brain functions) are activated or deactivated by such religious acts as prayer, meditation, contemplation.

The technique involves intravenous injection of a radioactive chemical that is metabolized by the brain during activity; the metabolic act/brain activity occurs almost immediately after injection, but enough residual radioactivity remains for it to be detected.

There are two relevant issues. The first: “Is mind purely material–is the brain simply a meat computer or something more/other?”. The second: “Given the relation between brain function and religious experience, how was this acquired—by adaptive evolution or bestowed by God?” If it were possible to build a self-aware android—Data of Star Trek—would that android naturally have a religious sense, or would it have to be endowed by his creator?

Brain regions

Certain regions of the brain are involved in various cognitive and emotional functions.1 Such regions are activated or deactivated (as appropriate) in different ways during prayer or contemplation of the Deity by those experienced in prayer and by atheists.

Newberg’s early study was on Franciscan Nuns who had decades of experience in contemplative prayer. During the act of prayer the “attention” and “language” regions of the brain were more activated than for a baseline study while the spatial orientation (sense of location) were deactivated, as shown in the figures below.

Franciscan Nun SPECT scan, from Prof. Newberg

In this figure, the brain image under “Baseline Scan” is taken during “normal” activity (no prayer or meditation). The image under “Prayer Scan” is the brain image corresponding to intense Centered Prayer. In the prayer image, the frontal lobe region (“attention”) is red, more activated than during the baseline. Similarly, the “language center” (lower left) is more activated (redder) during prayer than for the baseline.2

Franciscan Nun SPECT scan, from Prof. Newberg

This figure is also a SPECT scan image of one of the Franciscan nuns. Note the less intense spatial orientation area during prayer (yellow versus red). Prof. Newberg argues that the lower activity of the orientation area corresponds to a feeling of losing self, of oneness with the universe, a feeling often associated with deep meditation and contemplation. The same sort of changes are found for other adepts at meditation, for example, for Buddhist monks. On the other hand, an atheist contemplating God (or his/her notion of God) shows little change in brain activity, as the last figure shows.

Atheist contemplating God, from Prof. Newberg

One MRI study cited by Newberg (I can’t find the original reference) finds that those practicing prayer and contemplation have larger frontal lobes (concerned with attention and focusing activity) than do non-practitioners. But since this was not a study over time, one can’t know whether the prayer/contemplation activity is a consequence of the greater size or that the brain has increased in size after years of prayer.

Newberg also proposes that the practice of prayer/meditation will improve brain function, memory, and help alleviate various kinds of brain dysfunction. If religious experience modifies brain activity, and if one has a sudden conversion experience, how can that change brain activity if it is due only to some physical mechanism? Changes in the physiology of the brain take time, they’re not accomplished in an instant.

Let’s accept the proposition that changes in functional brain activity can be correlated with prayer, contemplation and other religious activity. What then? Is it the case that God changes the brains of the faithful? Or that the functional correlation of brain activity with religious activity is due to adaptive evolution?

The notion of adaptive evolution rests on a Darwinian mechanism for evolution–that prayer increases survival prospects and thus the transmission of a genetic predisposition to prayer is enhanced. Now both Pope John Paul II and I believe that evolution—the descent of species—is more than just a hypothesis. However, as far as the Darwinian model goes, some scientists and philosophers–faithful and non-believers–and I are skeptical; the Scottish verdict “Not Proven” applies.

A prehistoric savage chieftain is distraught over the death of a comrade and while watching the flames of a funeral pyre conceives of the spirit of his comrade going above, like the flames, and finds peace. I find it hard to credit that such a disposition to think of an afterlife is 1) genetically implanted and inheritable and 2) contributes to survival. Granted that general qualities—intelligence, the ability to form abstractions, imagination—may be due to genetic endowments and will therefore enhance survivability, but that does not imply particular aspects of those qualities are also due to particular genes. Indeed, the so called “God gene” proposal rests on minimal statistical evidence. As Carl Zimmer‘s criticism has it:

“Instead the book we have today would be better titled: A Gene That Accounts for Less Than One Percent of the Variance Found in Scores on Psychological Questionnaires Designed to Measure a Factor Called Self-Transcendence, Which Can Signify Everything from Belonging to the Green Party to Believing in ESP, According to One Unpublished, Unreplicated Study.”—Carl Zimmer, Scientific American Review of The God Gene

I think we can dispose of the argument that religious feelings have been engendered by adaptive evolution, or at least conclude that this proposition is not proven. The deeper and more difficult question is the nature and source of religious experience. If mind and consciousness are but emergent properties of a meat computer, the brain, then are religious feelings due only to fortuitous neural physiology, as philosophers such as Dennett, Churchland, Chalmers, would propose? Or do these thoughts and experiences come from another source, the Holy Spirit?

To address this question adequately requires a book at the very least: one would have to consider the nature of “Mind” and “Consciousness”, and that is a matter distinct from labeling the neuro-physiological factors at play during a religious experience.3 Quantum mechanics may have a role, as suggested in two of my previous articles, “Do quantum entities have free will..“and “Quantum Divine via God, the Berkeleyan Observer” and by several philosophers and physicists.4

An aspect of this problem that has not been explored fully by philosophers is the growth of self-awareness/consciousness and intelligence. We are born with only a rudimentary sense of self, and this progresses through infancy and early childhood in several stages to a more complete development, five stages according to Philippe Rochat. How does this development proceed? Is it genetically programmed?

I can only say that I don’t have enough knowledge to come to a conclusion. Although it seems evident from the arguments of Penrose and Searle that our brains are not meat computers, it is not clear how the mental and physical elements of consciousness are separable. I think that quantum mechanics plays a part in consciousness, but I don’t know how that can be specified. I have faith that the Holy Spirit inspires us, but I’m not sure how that is done, although evidence for this might be found from conversion experiences. Perhaps the most trenchant comment on consciousness and The Divine has been given by Rabbi Goldstein in the opening quote. That being said, I believe that consciousness, along with the deeper levels of quantum mechanics, is now and may continue to be a mystery.

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1See the web presentation by Professor Elaine Hull, or books by Dr. Newberg, Why God Won’t Go Away, or How God Changes Your Brain.

2Metabolic activity of the brain is color coded–blue is least, red is most; the color coding is on a relative, not absolute scale. Changes in brain activity are more evident on a gray scale than with the color coding.

3The various views of Mind and Consciousness are explained nicely by John Searle in his book “The Mystery of Consciousness“. A later book by Searle, Freedom and Neurobiology proposes that quantum mechanics is a necessary basis for free will and thus enters into consciousness.

4In addition to Penrose’s books on quantum mechanics and consciousness, there are Quantum Enigma by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, The Mindful Universe by Henry Stapp, Mind,Brain & the Quantum by Michael Lockwood, Quantum Mechanics and Experience by David Albert, and The Conscious Mind by David Chalmers. The last three explore the relation of the Many Worlds/Many Minds interpretation of quantum mechanics to consciousness.

Bob Doyle’s website on information theory, consciousness and quantum mechanics is also interesting and informative.

Finally! Global Warming, The Musical

Our beneficent government gave $700,000 dollars to a theatre troup to create the musical The Great Immensity.

Maybe you didn’t catch that. Our most giving righteous wise government, through its National Science Foundation, gave seven-hundred-thousand dollars to a group to put on a play about global warming. Seven. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. American tax dollars. Science.

Our friend LuboŇ° Motl writes all about it; Daily Caller has a few tidbits, too. The plot of the play:

Through her search, Phyllis uncovers a mysterious plot surrounding the upcoming international climate summit in Auckland. As the days count down to the Auckland Summit, Phyllis must decipher the plan and possibly stop it in time. With arresting projected film and video and a wide-ranging score of songs, The Great Immensity is a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: how can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us?

Right out of the Protocols of the Elders of Oil. The only reason everybody hasn’t rushed to link arms and cease exhaling carbon dioxide is because they have been hoodwinked. The ignorant fools!

Well just wait until the public gets a lot of the hit song from The Great Immensity “Margin of Error”, perhaps the first instance in recorded history in which an opinion poll is set to music. $700,000. Science.

Margin of Error from Polly on Vimeo.

The polls show
Fifty-seven per-cent
of Americans think something’s happening
to the Climate.

Now Yours Truly fancies himself a bit of a playwright. His Dinner with Atheists was performed on Broadway (the author read it aloud while walking down that very street). And his Sandra Fluke Mows The Lawn was considered by him for various nominations of actual awards, such as the Tony.

So it is with some authority I speak on this topic. You therefore know you can trust me when I say I want to get in on this. Seven-hundred-thousand dollars is a lot of money and I deserve it. Gimme.

My global warming musical will be called It’s the End of the World and it’s All Your Fault. Plot thus far:

Young scientist Nigel is watching Fox News when he has an epiphany. The reason his grants aren’t funded is that he hasn’t yet admitted the world is about to end. He converts and finds success! Join him on his one-man quest to find love and to never quite solve the problem of Global Warming (if it were solved, then no more grants). [I'm still trying to work in a sword fight. Everybody loves sword fights.]

I preview for you today fragments of the soon-to-be hit songs.

Wither the Weather?

The weather
   She’s a changin’
You’d betta
   Cry like a little girl

The storms
   Gettin’ stronger
Summer squalls
   Causing people minor inconveniences.

The hot heat
   She’s a risin’
Ever hotter
   Almost a whole tenth of degree more in the next fifty years.

Baby, It’s Hot Outside

Take off that coat, baby
   It’s hot outside.
No need for that scarf, baby
   It’s hot outside.

The thermometer is readin’ lower
   You know it’s hot outside
But the models say it’s higher
   That’s why it’s hot outside.

The icicles on your nose
   Confirm it’s hot outside
The endless winter weather
   Mean global warming’s on its way.
Oh baby! It’s so hot outside!

Denier!

I met a man on the street this day
Who tried to tell me that
Global warming was no threat to me
That cooling was where it’s at.

So I shouted Denier!
And shot him in the head.
The judge,
who was an Obama appointee,
let me go Scott Free.

Justice!

Get Me That Grant

Get me that grant, oh!
   Get me that grant
Get me that grant, oh!
   Get me that grant

Oh, Get me that grant
   A really big grant
Oh, Get me that grant
   A whopping big grant

Gimme that grant now
   How else can we learn?
I want it real bad now
   Else the world will burn!

And now for brilliance. Let’s make this a collaborative effort. Everybody join in and provide your own songs. But the time we’re finished even the fishes in the sea will be humming our tunes and then the world will be a better place!

My Genes Made Me Vote For Obama: Predisposed Reviewed

My brain made me pick this image.

My brain made me pick this image.

Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences by John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford.

If a conservative is a person who clings to what is, who resists change and who distrusts innovation, then, to pick an example at random, a New York Times op-ed writer is a conservative. The last thing anybody who works at that paper wants is a change in the culture. Except for eliminating his enemies, he wants everything to stay just as it is.

What’s a liberal? Somebody who delights in the new? Who’s willing to take risks? Who thrills venturing into the unknown? Who is happy to leave other people alone as long as they leave him alone? Then, brother, Yours Truly is as liberal as they come. The last thing I want is a continuance of Modernity.

Maybe I had no choice except to be so liberal. Maybe each of us born with our politics and there’s nothing we can do about it. Why, babies born and raised in China, Kenya, or Fiji, were they transported here as eighteen-year-olds, would surely line up reflexively at the polls behind the jackass or elephant.

Sound strange? Well the key thesis behind Hibbing’s book is that we can “measure preferences on bedrock dilemmas and [that] these preferences should line up with political attitudes and beliefs in any given historical or cultural context” (emphasis original). Neuro- or bio-politics, as it were, is a new field, and one for which I have some sympathy. Our biology surely accounts for some of our behavior.

Yet I can’t figure the academy out. Haven’t we heard we’re all born equal, that none of us are different except for the pernicious or beneficent environment in which we were raised?

Take a lump of genes wrapped in skin and from birth let it live with two adults (let’s not be judgmental and call them “parents”) who listen to NPR, shop for organic food, and who attend marches for X Rights (where X is variable), and that lump will grow up to be one of the bien pensant. Or let him slog it out with a blue-collar mom and dad who watch Fox News, eat donuts, go to church, and attend Fourth of July parades. Then the lump will turn into Patrick Buchanan. Or Yours Truly. Environment and education—nurture, that is—rules.

But the academy also tells us there is no such thing as free will, that our genes our “selfish”, that our choices are made for us by that which is us biologically but not us mentally, that our behavior is hard-wired, that the reason we don’t like arugula is because of this gene, and the reason we are generous is because of that gene.

Hibbing and pals are somewhere in the middle—definitely not in the first camp. The view that “social context alone determines human behavior…has been a source of misunderstanding and even catastrophe throughout history.” Biology plays an under-appreciated role.

For example, they say it is because of biology that men are more likely to be math geniuses than women—no! Wait. No, no. That can’t be right. I correct myself. Absolutely not. Math ability can’t be genetic. Do you think these guys are some kind of sexists? No, sir. What Hibbing and others say is that the way we act politically is partly genetic.

They have the statistics to prove it. Weak, almost non-existent-correlation, small-sample, based-on-questionnaires, limited-applicability statistics. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a larger collection of maybes, perhaps, probablys, could bes, supposings, possibles.

Here’s the problem. To prove any biological component of ideology you first have to separate the sheep from the goats. Only way to do that is to ask questions, which must be shaded such that divisions can be found, further supposing these divisions are forever fixed. These divisions will be fuzzy and accompanied by great uncertainty. Next is to investigate some ideologically driven behavior, like (they claim) smell preference or what jokes people think funny. That, too, will be measured with error. Last is to correlate the two measures (almost always using a straight line) and report on statistical “significance.” Unless the measurement error is accounted for, which is never is, the conclusions will be far, far too certain, which (as far as I could tell) they always were for the studies reported in this book.

Nobody outside the academy disagrees that biology is influential in our makeup. Some people are naturally delightful, like Yours Truly, and some are naturally bitter pills, like Harry Reid. Some of us are inveterately honest (me) and others choke on the truth (Reid). Others have massive intellects (you know who) while some can only parrot easily won slogans (thanks, Nevada). And we won’t even mention pure physical handsomeness.

Yet biology cannot be fully determinative. Identical twins don’t act in lockstep. The few studies Hibbing cites show twins are often found to be on opposite sides of the same questions, but perhaps not quite to the same rate as non-identical siblings. Environment plays its part: our intellects are ever at work. A man who was a liberal (as that word is commonly thought of) for much of his life can change to be a conservative, and vice versa.

The biological signal of political views is weak at best. I was convinced by none of the studies described in the book, all of which used the kinds of classical statistics (p-values, mostly) which guarantee over-certainty. Though there is enough evidence (from the book and elsewhere) to say biology is often determinative. Why didn’t the authors look to, say, intelligence, which has a robust biological signal? Too political: the findings go in the wrong direction.

Anyway, the authors are keen on their program: they claim their research will bring happiness to one and all by drawing a parallel argument about the course of the politics of homosexuality.

If recognizing that sexual orientation is anchored partially in biology leads to greater tolerance of different lifestyle choices, recognizing that political ideology is also tied to biology will lead to greater tolerance of different political viewpoints.

My knuckles locked up on writing “lifestyle choices” (thank God for the lubricating powers of whiskey), and there is hardly definitive proof how much if any homosexuality is caused by biology (but let that pass), but this is balderdash. I’ll tell you what will be “recognized.” When somebody disagrees with a progressive on a political point, he’ll recognize that his opponent is genetically defective. God help us when genetics testing becomes (more) commonplace than it is (especially in abortion decisions).

A last funny thing. The studies of political differences due to biology strangely always come down on the side of liberals. I keep a list of these studies (here and here) and they invariably paint a dark picture of traditionalists. Oh, and yes: there are increasing calls for selective breeding.

Another Fool Calls For My Arrest: Or, Adam Weinstein Slips A Nut

Whinestein receives his orders via wire.

Whinestein receives his orders via wire.

Another eek-screeching scrawny-brained bug-witted pretty-boy addled cancerous ferret has called for my arrest.

My crime? Sanity.

Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein), writing at a place with the puerile name of “Gawker”—come to think of it, only peeping Toms could reason so badly—demands “Arrest Climate-Change Deniers.

Arrest. As in detain by force and incarcerate. For how long, pretty boy never says. Deniers. As in those who have rationally concluded that more than two decades of busted forecasts can only mean that apocalyptic global warming must be false.

Whinestein is in bad company. He joins professor Rod Lamberts, who says the ends justify the means when dealing with “deniers”, and professor and Queen of Smug Lawrence Torcello who is convinced dark forces have banded together against him.

There used to be a name for these sorts of walking wounded, men whose brains have ceased performing their customary duties, but in modern psychology everything and nothing is a disease, so there is no point in using it.

“Man-made climate change kills a lot of people,” says Whinestein. Now it is useless telling this overgrown child that this statement is laughably false. He has constructed a wall of Legos under his mother’s kitchen table to block information like this from seeping in. There he sits, crouched in his safe gloomy murk, aligning his toy soldiers as they battle for All Mankind. If you needed proof of the danger of reading comic books past the age of twenty, this is it.

A man would have to have cheese between the ears to post in block letters above a picture the words “Consensus: 97% of climate scientist agree” and fail to realize that therefore there are 3% of climate scientists who disagree with the “Consensus.” We could therefore ask Whinestein how many of these scientists he would cart off to concentration camps if we didn’t already know his mathematical skills do not allow him to count past his twelve toes.

And anyway, that 97% is overblown by an order of magnitude. Dear activists: this means the number is too big; hold your arms apart to get an idea how big. Whinestein says he wouldn’t shoot actual scientists who disagree with his non-considered opinion, only those who repeat what the scientists who disagree with him say. Make sense? Expecting sense from a progressive is like standing on Wilshire Boulevard awaiting the Stage Coach. No matter how earnestly you desire it, it isn’t going to come.

Like Lamberts and Torcello, Whinestein believes he has stumbled across the Protocols of the Elders of Oil. Just like the 300-pound Wellesley graduate (major: Womyn’s Studies) who swears she was abducted by Greys and probed lovingly over a long weekend, Whinestein is on the corner screaming, “The truth is out there!” at passersby.

Conspiracy is always the first refuge of zealots. The ignorant, being ignorant, are unable to fathom that others can’t see the hidden patterns which are so plain to them. Those who disagree must be evil, and are therefore fair game for the firing squad.

I’ve told this so many times I’m sick of repeating it. Just once more. Whereas Whinestein is well compensated for his fact-free global warming rants, Yours Truly has never accepted consideration of any kind for his advice. Not that I didn’t and don’t want to. But nobody ever offered it and those I asked said come back next week—but next week never came. On the contrary, my reasoned skepticism has cost me plenty.

Just last week, I had a job lined up that would have been perfect. My dream job. But the organization came back, “Sorry, we don’t want to be associated with deniers or denial.” Me they liked. But they were frightened of foamy-mouthed knuckle-draggers like Whinestein. Last thing a businessman wants is to come to work and see monkeys ooking and eeking and swarming the shrubbery lining the parking lot. It’s a distraction.

I thus invite pretty boy Whinestein or lusty Lamberts or twiggy Torcello or any Gaiaian caped crusader—readers, please email these…these entities for me—to name the time and place and I’ll be there. There they can try their luck arresting me.

Update Reader Brad R reminds us of Richard ‘Killer’ Parncutt.