William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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This Week In Doom — WMBriggs Podcast

Dall’Abaco concerto

The week of the worst that was, in aural form, featuring the music of Giuseppe Torelli and Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco.

Torelli trumpet concerto

Because they can, and because they want to be seen as glorified by their betters, the Obama administration mandated that the sexually insane be allowed into whatever shower facilities that pleases them in the nation’s public schools.

Incidentally, how many of you out there home school? Or send your kids to, say, a Catholic school because you know those schools are better? You’re excused from commenting.

This toilet ruling has the force of law, which only proves what everybody should have long known: that the storied “separation of powers” is dead. Long dead. Maybe it hasn’t been generally noticed because the corpse has been lying in public view for such an extended period? Who, after all, do you petition to have this law-which-is-not-a-law changed? Congress? The Supreme (hallelujah) Court?

Why is the government involving itself into that which is clearly not its business? Answer: because the majority now concede that everything is the government’s business. Come. Admit this to yourself. You heard the news that the man who coaches the boys track team can slip out of his slip and slip into the girls showers and thought to yourself either that’s the wrong law or that’s the right law. I’ll bet none or only a handful thought the government is granting itself a power it should not have.

It does have it. Now. Because even assuming a change of administration friendlier to Reality, it won’t say “Executive actions do not have the power of law and therefore the ruling is null and voice”. Instead, they’ll dictate another law-that-is-not-called-a-law to modify the old law.

The folks we send to Washington and its satellite bureaucracies must, at least occasionally, sit back and say to themselves: How are we getting away with this?

As proof, here’s the official voice of the conservative wing of the establishment “reacting” to the news: “The Transgender Straw Broke the Camel’s Back” by a fellow called French. His opening salvo:

You may not have realized it yet, but the Obama administration just destroyed the traditional American public school. Without an act of Congress, without a ruling from the Supreme Court, and without even going through the motions of the regulatory rule-making process, the administration issued a letter drafting every single public educational institution in the country to implement the extreme edge of the sexual revolution.

French is shocked at the departure from procedure. But how could he be? Is he hoping he’ll be a member of an upcoming, possibly Trump-led, elite who’ll do the same things to his enemies?

Everything has gone wrong. What if Congress had passed a law? What it then be just? Etc.

Schools are forbidden to inquire into a person’s “gender”. Why? Because there is no physical, empirical, verifiable test of “transgenderness”. You are who are say you are. This is why it does no good at all to ask for any kind of check. This is the point I made in the article “I Self Identify As A Yak“. Nobody noticed, but every argument I used to justify my yakhood was parallel to the arguments men use when claiming to be women.

Suppose, dear listener, you claim to be seven feet tall. It’s your identity! You are a tall man trapped inside the body of a short one! How dare anybody deny your tallness. Why, you might even kill yourself were you to hear enough people tell you that you are only a mere 5’10”. These Realists would have blood on their hands!

It does no good whatsoever to insist that a physical measuring tape “says” the you’re only 5’10”. You say you’re 7′. You self-identify as 7′. It is your choice. Therefore it becomes our duty, dear listeners, to follow you into insanity. Because if you admit that a physical or biological measure be allowed in this case, then you must allow a biological measure of sex, which leads to the denial of fantasies. Oh, you can claim a man’s “gender” is not his “sex”, but if you allow that you must allow his “stature” is not his “height.” We are all stature-fluid now.

And so on endlessly. God bless Texas for recognizing reality and telling the feds to “take their thirty pieces of silver” and stuff ’em. Texas is not bowing to the pressure. How long it will last, only God knows.

This is another reminder your federal government hates you. If you’re a Realist, I mean.

Oh! Did you not hear? The Pentagon is prepping for the entrance of the sexually insane. Yes: “Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday reiterated his intention to allow transgender people to openly serve in the military, and said he’s confident any ‘practical issues’ can be resolved.”

Don’t forget Carter also mandated women to serve in all combat positions.

And—didn’t you know?—the government, through its Department of Health and Human Services, mandated even doctors have to now pretend men calling themselves women are women. As Ryan Anderson explains:

[T]hese [new] regulations will penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected and affirmed, not altered or treated as diseases.

Yes, this is allowed as part of Obamacare. Free health “insurance” for all!

Torelli concerto

Know what universities need more of? Right! Diversity! So says a Buddhist and Chinese philosopher in the New York Times. “If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Let’s Call It What It Really Is“. And what it is, they say, is not Philosophy as Philosophy, in the same way that Mathematics is everywhere Mathematics and not Chinese Mathematics, Arabian Mathematics, and Western Mathematics, but Philosophy is like this: it should be called “Department of European and American Philosophy.”

There is some justice in this, because it is impossible to separate yourself entirely from the civilization in which you swim. And that means Mathematics should also, to be perfectly consistent, be called Department of European and American Mathematics. After all, not all cultures think of number in the same way. And that means that we in the West might not know as much as we could.

The change of name in Philosophy acknowledges, say our authors, that there are not enough philosophers taking an interest in Buddhism (which studies are usually placed in religion) or Chinese philosophy (and again this is often studied in religion or elsewhere).

But then they had to say this:

Philosophy as a discipline has a serious diversity problem, with women and minorities underrepresented at all levels among students and faculty, even while the percentage of these groups increases among college students. Part of the problem is the perception that philosophy departments are nothing but temples to the achievement of males of European descent.

Those ever-naughty males of European descent! You know they’re bad. Why, they even invented the university, those terrible havens of rape and racism! And home to malcontents such as our authors.

What about pluralism in philosophy?

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) recognized this [necessity] when he followed his Muslim colleagues in reading the work of the pagan philosopher Aristotle, thereby broadening the philosophical curriculum of universities in his own era.

In other words, Philosophy as Philosophy is comfortable taking ideas wherever they arise and incorporating them into the curriculum. Or was, before the bureaucratic cancer turned malignant.

Meaning, as our authors, both academic philosophers, did not recognize, we have reached contradiction. More evidence most universities ought to be burnt to the ground.

Torelli trumpet concerto

Unlicensed Armenian Phrenologist

This line was at the end of one of the Pink Panther movies. It came to mind that phrenologists, I mean the science of Phrenology, a one-time Consensus, at least made predictions no worse than do people in global warming “science.” There’s not only the serially failed physical models of the atmosphere, but the plethora of global-warming-causes-this nonsense statistical studies.

Here’s a guy. He’s giving the speech at MIT’s “Ecology and Justice Forum In Global Studies And Languages” forum. “Is ISLAMOPHOBIA accelerating global warming?” MIT has, like most universities, sold its soul. According to the notes, “Ghassan Hage is Future Generation Professor in the School of Philosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry, University of Melbourne.”

There must already have been papers written about global warming causing Islamophobia, though I refuse to look, but this is the first I’ve heard that Science™ has shown Islamophobia causes global warming. Here’s portions of the Abstract:

This talk examines the relation between Islamophobia as the dominant form of racism today and the ecological crisis—

Stop! If I had a live audience, this would be the place where we’d get the big laugh. Muslims aren’t a race, and if you thought a real live Future Generation Professor would know that, you’d’ve been wrong. The extent to which academics are besotted by racism cannot be over-estimated. Race on the brain. Lunacy.

More: Hage’s “most well-known work is White Nation: Fantasies of white supremacy in a multicultural society (Routledge 2000)” By “white supremacist”, Hage means a white who refuses to acknowledge he (the white) is an inveterate racist because he is white.

This definition is both brilliant and fecund, because it provides endless work for scholars like Hage in unmasking racism.

Book has chapters like “Evil White Nationalists 2: The ‘White Nation’ Fallacy”, “Good White Nationalists: The Tolerant Society as a ‘White Nation’ Fantasy.”

He, himself a migrant to a welcoming Australia, says, “I, and many people like me, am sick of ‘worried’ White Australians…[who say] look at crime, look at ghettos…” What Hage apparently wants is these whites to go away, or go live among themselves.

Which is, what, white nationalism? Never mind.

Torelli trumpet concerto

Speaking of race, as we must, though the topic is dreary, here’s something from the Heterodox Academy: “The amazing 1969 prophecy that racial preferences would cause the exact grievances of protesters today“.

Gist: college policies to promote Diversity cause the racism they seek to eliminate.

In the Wall Street Journal, the authors wrote, on average “Asian students enter with combined math/verbal SAT scores on the order of 80 points higher than white students and 200 points higher than black students. A similar pattern occurs for high-school grades.”

Well, and this means, roughly, and depending on the field of study, Asians on any campus will on average be smarter than whites, and whites will on average be smarter than the blacks, Asians much smarter than the blacks. And—worst of all—everybody will notice this. And it will get worse as colleges lust after blacks to push up enrollment figures because, of course, standards must and will be lowered for blacks, and raised for whites and Asians.

It will get worse still when everybody is forbidden to mention these trivial truths.

Point of the article was that all this was foreseen: well, it wasn’t that difficult to foresee. In 1969 a Judge wrote about Yale:

…the admission policy adopted by the Law School faculty will serve to perpetuate the very ideas and prejudices it is designed to combat. If in a given class the great majority of the black students are at the bottom of the class, this factor is bound to instill, unconsciously at least, some sense of intellectual superiority among the white students and some sense of intellectual inferiority among the black students…The faculty can talk around the clock about disadvantaged background, and it can excuse inferior performance because of poverty, environment, inadequate cultural tradition, lack of educational opportunity, etc. The fact remains that black and white students will be exposed to each other under circumstances in which demonstrated intellectual superiority rests with the whites…

No one can be expected to accept an inferior status willingly. The black students, unable to compete on even terms in the study of law, inevitably will seek other means to achieve recognition and self-expression…

Demands will be made for elimination of competition, reduction in standards of performance, adoption of courses of study which do not require intensive legal analysis, and recognition for academic credit of sociological activities…

Since the common denominator of the group of students with lower qualifications is one of race this aggressive expression will undoubtedly take the form of racial demands—the employment of faculty on the basis of race, a marking system based on race, the establishment of a black curriculum and a black law journal, an increase in black financial aid, and a rule against expulsion of black students who fail to satisfy minimum academic standards.

Remember what we said about good theories making good predictions?

Update The material below never made the broadcast, but I leave here for your edification.

Torelli trumpet concerto

What is it about times medieval that has so many people worked up about Christianity? The documents which eventually comprised the New Testament of the Christian Bible were not medieval, of course, but ancient. Yet Christians are always accused of being medieval. Given the flee from Reality we’re witnessing, they’re must have been something uniquely good about the Medieval period, else it wouldn’t be as hated. What might that be? I’ll let you answer.

Meanwhile, here’s one example among a multitude. A guy is re-translating the Bible to make it “queer”. He doesn’t mean odd; he means as a celebration of sodomy. One commenter said:

[R]e-translating the Bible to deliberately elide its medieval edges doesn’t grapple with its flaws so much as seek to evade them, and this doesn’t queer the Bible — it just offers an alternative, which devout believers of The Word would undoubtedly reject, and which hurts efforts to undermine those who cite “religious liberty” to justify their prejudices.

There’s the medieval derision. Anyway, the new work will be called The Queer Bible, which bills itself as “A radical translation of the Bible that is inclusive, celebratory, and personal”. Guy named Whitehead—ex-Catholic: does that surprise anybody?—ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund it, and got three grand. Here’s a link for his “translation”, by which he means his imaginative reconstruction. All about nakedness and insufficient non-procreative same-sex sex, which isn’t sex at all, of course, but masturbation.

Torelli trumpet concerto

“Would it be O.K., for example, to sequence and then synthesize Einstein’s genome?” Drew Endy, a bioengineer at Stanford, and Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at Northwestern University, wrote in an essay criticizing the proposed project. “If so how many Einstein genomes should be made and installed in cells, and who would get to make them?”

Einstein’s and not, say, Obama’s? Well, that’s some sort of improvement I suppose.

Stream: The Transgender Logic of Gender Fluidity Justifies Absurdities

Science attempts to discover whether this is a tall male cat.

Science attempts to discover whether this is a tall male cat.

Today’s mandatory reading is at The Stream: The Transgender Logic of Gender Fluidity Can Justify Absurdities:

Gender, say some, is separate from sex. You are a man in the sense of sex if you are a man biologically, which is to say, having the attributes, however imperfectly, which define the essence of a man. The qualification is necessary, because you are still a man in the biological sense if, for instance, you are fallen victim to some horrible industrial accident and are therefore missing certain appendages.

But you are a man in the sense of gender if you believe, or claim, you are a man. Biological men can therefore be gender-men, too, by merely recognizing their biological status is “right” or “works” for them. But biological women can also be gender-men, by claiming that their biology is in opposition to their gender. A person whose gender is in opposition to biology is called transgender

Suppose, dear reader, you claim to be seven feet tall. It’s your identity. You are a tall man trapped inside the body of a short one. How dare anybody deny your tallness.

It does no good whatsoever to insist that a physical measuring tape “says” you are (for instance) 5’10”. Your say you are 7′: not in height, but stature. Stature is not equivalent to height. Height is biological. Stature is separate and not equivalent (and fluid)…

If we admit that the physical or biological measure for height has primacy over stature, then we must insist on the biological measure of sex over gender. To maintain logical coherence, anybody who argues for the transgender position must agree with this.

The only possible rebuttal is that height and sex, and therefore stature and gender, are different. And this is true. But it is a non sequitur. The argument is not that sex and height are different, but that the only proof of transgenderhood is and can only be personal assertion, and therefore the only proof of stature is and can only be assertion. If you accept assertion as proof of transgenderhood, to say “stature is not allowed to be asserted” becomes itself mere assertion, and therefore you utter a contradiction. To limit assertion-as-proof for gender only is to draw an artificial line based on personal prejudice. It is bigotry.

In an article elsewhere I argued “I Self Identify As A Yak“. Every argument I used to justify my yakhood was parallel to the arguments men use when claiming to be women. This may seem absurd, but consider that many people do assert they are not human beings but animals of another species. Not in the biological sense, of course, but in the same sense gender is not sex and stature not height…

These parallel arguments work for anything. A biological–and–gender–human–species–male walks into the bar and says, “My maturity is 21.” Is it only out of maturophobia that that bartender refuses to serve the person, who is biologically 14, a drink? It must be if the bartender insists on physical chronology to assess maturity—which is not age!…

The government is not the only one who can creates mandates, you know. I can, too. So go to The Stream and read the whole thing.

More On The Deadly Sin Of Reification

(If you can’t see the picture embedded in the tweet, click here for the original.)

The axes are “Percent of men non-employed” by “Percent of births to unmarried women”. The green dots, as indicated by the main heading, are state-wide estimates. I know nothing about the estimates, but given what we know about measuring these kinds of things, it’s a good bet every citizen in each state was not measured, and instead some kind of survey was done.

Point one, a minor note: the dots aren’t real; there is uncertainty in them not shown. That’s one form of reification: when estimate becomes the thing estimated. This is more or less harmful depending on the nature of the measurement. We can guess, given our experience with estimates of this type, that the error is not large here; but it is just a guess on our part.

Men north of 70 and south of 20 are rarely employed. They’re presumably part of the green dots. And women north of 40 and south of 15 (or so) rarely give birth. They’re also presumably part of the green dots. We’re not sure exactly who is measured!

Point two, and the main point: there is no reason in the world for that red line. That red line is the real Deadly Sin of Reification.

The red line does not exist. It is not real. It is not part of any employed or non-employed man. It is not an attribute of any mother of a legitimate or illegitimate child. It is a fiction. It is unobservable.

Drawing the red line draws the eye to where it doesn’t belong. The red line pushes out the green dots, which themselves are already a bit of a fiction, and replaces them with a thing that is far too sure of itself, and isn’t even real.

The red line is—are you ready?—itself an estimate of a parameter of a regression model, which in this case is a model of the central parameter of a normal distribution representing uncertainty in the percent illegitimate births. So it is a parameter of a probability model, and parameters don’t exist. It is only one of three parameters in this model, at that, the other two being suppressed.

The parameter isn’t a causal agent, which is important. Some things are causing the illegitimate and legitimate births, just as some things are causing the men to be employed or the men to be unemployed. We do not see any causes in this data. Any causes we infer from the graph are already in our head, as it were, put there by our commonsense.

What the graph is asking us to believe, and which is easy to believe, is that unemployed men tend to father children without bothering to marry at greater rates than employed men. The direction of cause isn’t clear. Some men seek jobs after getting women pregnant, recognizing their responsibility. Are they listed as non-employed or employed? And so on.

Normally I advocate a predictive approach. That is to say, take the data as is, propose a (non-causal) probability model for the uncertainty, and then make predictions. So that, for instance, a male unemployment percent of 30 would predict an 80% chance (or whatever) of illegitimate birth rates anywhere from (say) 22% to 48%. We could do that here, but why would we? There is nothing left to predict! This is another reason not to include the misleading red line.

All fifty states are represented. The data is at the state level, which is the same locale predictions are valid. Now everybody knows states aren’t homogeneous, not racially, not economically, not most things. Predictions made by the green dot for Michigan for Detroit would be the same as for tiny Charlevoix, hundreds of miles north. The green dots smooth out all these differences. The red line says the differences don’t matter.

“Briggs, what’s the big deal? Everybody already knows shiftless men and loose women have more babies out of wedlock than do employed men and virtuous women. You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”

I agree. Everybody already does know what the graph purports to show. So why show the graph? The graph puts hard numbers to our already well known, and confirmed by common observation, beliefs. The numbers are too certain. They’re aren’t right. The hunger for quantification is too strong.

What the author the graph should have done is measured individual unemployed and employed men and whether these men fathered illegitimate or legitimate or no children. The author could have then told stories of these men and women and the reasons (the causes) of them making babies or not.

The predictions we could make would then be at the person-level, which then might have some utility.

Summary Against Modern Thought: Creatures Didn’t Necessarily Always Exist

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

After last week’s exhaustion, today something really simple and unobjectionable. Whatever God made did not have to have always existed. I don’t see anybody objecting to this, and accordingly only have one small note. What’s that you say? What about questions of the eternity of the universe? Well, that’s next week! Stick around.

Chapter 31 That is not necessary for creatures to have been always (alternate translation)

1 IT remains for us to prove from the foregoing that it is not necessary for created things to have been from eternity.

2 Because if it be necessary for the universe of creatures, or any particular creature whatsoever, to be, it must have this necessity either of itself or from another. But it cannot have it of itself. For it was proved above that every being must be from the first being. Now that which has being, not from itself, cannot possibly have necessity of being from itself: since what must necessarily be, cannot possibly not be; and consequently that which of itself has necessary being, has of itself the impossibility of not being; and therefore it follows that it is not a non-being; wherefore it is a being.

3 If, however, this necessity of a creature is from something else, it must be from a cause that is extrinsic; because whatever we may take that is within the creature, has being from another.

Now an extrinsic cause is either efficient or final. From the efficient cause, however, it follows that the effect is necessarily, when it is necessary for the agent to act: for it is through the agent’s action that the effect depends on the efficient cause. Accordingly if it is not necessary for the agent to act in order that the effect be produced, neither is it absolutely necessary for the effect to be.

Now God does not act of necessity in producing creatures, as we have proved above. Wherefore it is not absolutely necessary for the creature to be, as regards necessity dependent on the efficient cause.

Likewise neither is it necessary as regards the necessity that depends on the final cause. For things directed to an end do not derive necessity from the end, except in so far as without them the end either cannot be,–as preservation of life without food,–or cannot be so well,–as a journey without a horse.

Now the end of God’s will, from which things came into being, can be nothing else but His goodness, as we proved in the First Book. And this does not depend on creatures, neither as to its being,–since it is per se necessary being,–nor as to well-being,–since it is by itself good simply; all of which were proved above. Therefore it is not absolutely necessary for the creature to be: and consequently neither is it necessary to suppose that the creature has been always.

Notes Quick reminder that cause is four: formal, material, efficient, and final. A clay pot has material cause of clay, form of pot, efficient cause of the potter’s hands, and the goal of being a pot.

4 Again. That which proceeds from a will is not absolutely necessary, except perhaps when it is necessary for the will to will it. Now God, as proved above, brought things into being, not by a necessity of His nature, but by His will: nor does He necessarily will creatures to be, as we proved in the First Book. Therefore it is not absolutely necessary for the creature to be: and therefore neither is it necessary that it should have been always.

5 Moreover. It has been proved above that God does not act by an action that is outside Him, as though it went out from Him and terminated in a creature, like heating which goes out from fire and terminates in wood. But His will is His action; and things are in the way in which God wills them to be. Now it is not necessary that God will the creature always to have been; since neither is it necessary that God will a thing to be at all, as we proved in the First Book. Therefore it is not necessary that creatures should have been always.

6 Again. A thing does not proceed necessarily from a voluntary agent except by reason of something due. But God does not produce the creature by reason of any debt, if we consider the production of all creatures absolutely, as we have shown above. Therefore God does not necessarily produce the creature. Neither therefore is it necessary, because God is eternal, that He should have produced the creature from eternity.

7 Further. It has been proved that absolute necessity in created things results, not from a relation to a principle that is of itself necessary to be, namely God, but from a relation to other causes which are not of themselves necessary to be. Now the necessity resulting from a relation which is not of itself necessary to be, does not necessitate that something should have been always: for if something runs it follows that it is in motion, but it is not necessary for it to have been always in motion, because the running itself is not necessary. Therefore nothing necessitates that creatures should always have been.

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