William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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The National Embarrassment Which Is Bill Nye

Some big thinkin' goin' on here, boss.

Some big thinkin’ goin’ on here, boss.

Let’s admit first that, whatever faults the man has, Bill “The Science Guy” Nye has taught us at least one valuable lesson in biology. Never cinch your bow tie so tight that it cuts off the oxygen to your brain.

Violate this simple rule and you’ll end up making videos like this one: “Can We Stop Telling Women What to Do With Their Bodies?

Why, no, Bill, we can’t stop telling women what they can do with their bodies. Such a thing is beyond preposterous. “Pardon me, madam, I see that you are using your body to gut a passel of cats and are scattering their eviscera along the byway. But since you are using your body to do this, the objection to your act which first occurred to me must be wrong. Carry on.”

We also tell women not to use their bodies to kill their own bodies, though this admonition is weakening. Here’s another thing women can’t do with their own bodies: without a prescription ingest any quantity of substances like cocaine or heroin. Women, using their own bodies, are also discouraged from clonking their husbands on their heads with frying pans.

A woman who uses her body to kill a life inside her which is not her body is acting immorally. This life, this enwombed (that’s what I said: enwombed) baby, does depend on its mother for life, but this is also true of babies who escape from inside their mothers into the wild. An outwombed baby left unattended dies. A woman, using her own body, must not fail to keep the outwombed life-form alive, else, we say, she is wicked, and must pay the relevant penalty.

The secular often say they do not believe in miracles. They lie. They claim a miracle happens that turns the life inside a mother into a human being. One instant this life is just some ambiguously classified life-form, and the next—Abracadabra!—it is human! Sacré Unplanned Parenthood!

Now there are many arguments that advocate the routine killing of enwombed babies, but perhaps the most idiotic ever ventured was given by Nye in this video. I’m willing to be corrected on the “most idiotic” claim, but frankly I think Nye is peerless.

He states, what everybody already knows, that a fertilized egg must be implanted in the uterus for a pregnancy to take. He notes many fertilized eggs fail to implant and thus die. So far, so good. But then the constricting neck-wear has done its work and he says (around 40 seconds in):

Then who—whom–are you gonna sue? Whom are you gonna imprison? Every women who’s had a fertilized egg passed through her? Every guy whose sperm has fertilized an egg and then it didn’t become a human? Have all these people failed you? It’s, uh, just a reflection of a deep scientific lack of understanding. And, uh, you literally, or apparently literally, don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Which is, it, Bill? Literally? Or apparently literally?

No, no: I’m teasing you, Bill. Have a sense of humor! Everybody can see that while your last sentence is comprised of individual English words, the sentence itself is empty of all meaning. And then I notice, Billy Boy, you mentioned suing as a penalty before imprisonment. You smarting from some lawyer’s bite, Bill, old son? Okay, no more teasing, I swear.

Here’s Bill’s Blunder recast. Some mountain climbers fail to make it to the top because they slip and fall to their deaths. Nobody can be sued or imprisoned for this. Therefore the folks who continue climbing and have not yet reached the top are not human beings and may be killed. Heck, à la Planned Parenthood, we can even harvest their organs for a pretty penny!

And it doesn’t have to be just mountain climbers. To make it home from a driving commute, a driver must remain alert at all times. Some do not remain alert and crash and die. Those who continue on their way are therefore not human and may be used for medical experimentation. Hey. Aren’t you for scientific progress? Don’t you want the new medicines that will result from this killing?

The national embarrassment which is Bill Nye goes on to accuse white men of coming to their view of the immorality of abortion from “a book written 5,000 years ago”. Old Bill also claims we whites believe every act of intercourse results in a pregnancy.

Bill, you recall, casts himself in the role of scientist. And this is, unfortunately, true. Many scientists are this stupid.

Who’s Supporting The UN’s So-Called Sustainable Development Plan? The #BigPush


The UN general assembly is meeting and the biggest of wigs have stepped to the microphone to say how very wonderful it is to get along.

I jest, but in the jest, as there is not in all jokes, a slice of truth. That is we should not give undue weight to the words of our leaders. Their actions are what count. As the song has it, “We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill.”

Nevertheless, let’s document what was said and see what we might learn. First, those who spoke in favor. Again, it will ultimately be actions and not words that draw these boundaries. (I may update this later with the smaller countries who transcripts are late.)


The Pope endorsed the UN’s Sustainable Development (SD) agenda. Sort of. Actually, the UN’s Vision for Lifting Up the World’s Poor Differs Sharply from the Pope’s.

The evolving Big O of course endorses. His middle name might even someday become “The Time To Act Is Now.”

French President Hollande is on board. He said “reports all say that if we do nothing…temperature of our planet will [increase] by 3 to 4 degrees by the end of the century…So we must try to reach an agreement at this climate conference in 2015.” Sacré vert!

Mexico’s President Nieto said (my translation) the SD Agenda and COP21 “are historic decisions that promote a new paradigm; a change in the way we think and act” She said their adoption “requires a clear and firm political will of each country”.

Portugal’s President Cavaco Silva said, “I welcome the adoption of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development…to usher in an era in which poverty is eradicated.” Poverty eradicated?

Brazil’s President Rousseff said, “In the BRICS [amalgam of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa], we launched a New Development Bank, which will assist in expanding trade and investment and possibly in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.” And she said, “The 2030 Agenda outlines the future we want. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals reaffirm the basic tenet of Rio+20: it is possible to grow, include, preserve and protect.” She also said we’d have Paris.

South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said the “I believe the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be an important stepping stone that can lead to a second and third [Korea-like economic] miracle around the world. The Republic of Korea…which will be playing a key role in the implementation of this development agenda, will actively contribute to achieving the development goals.”

The Dutch King said, “Our Kingdom welcomes the Sustainable Development Goals…And we will put our hearts and souls into helping ensure their success”

Qatar’s Amir said, “It is gratifying that the United Nations has adopted the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Plan which we have participated in, because it is our belief that a good distribution of the development fruits is a prerequisite for realizing social justice…” Perhaps he meant redistribution?

Denmark is chomping at the bit. Prime Minister Rasmussen said, “The Sustainable Development Goals carry a multi-trillion dollar price tag. It cannot be solved by governments or aid alone. We need the support of all actors: private enterprises, civil society, NGOs, international organisations and many others.” Pay up, sucka.

Chile’s President Bachelet is all over it. “Primary responsibility for sustainable and more equal development rests with each individual country. Chile is enthusiastically committed to this task. However, this endeavor requires a favourable environment, since many of the targets are affected by global dynamics and most of the challenges that we face today cannot be resolved by each country in isolation.” Give us money?

Cuba’s President Castro Ruz said (my translation), “Climate change poses a danger to the existence of the human species…” Etc., etc.

Switzerland is for. So is Nigeria, but only to the extent that they get something out of it.


Vladimir Putin spoke in favor of COP21, and said Russia will reduce “greenhouse gas emissions to 70-75 per cent of the 1990 level.” But this was not rousing cry for action. He said “we should take a wider view” of the proposed solutions and that “We need a completely different approach.” He suggested “introducing fundamentally new technologies” to handle problems. So mitigation and not capitulation.

Belarus is agin. Not only that, President said, “Under the guise of the protection of human rights, overthrows of governments, destruction of states and wars over resources are being justified. Chaos and anarchy are proliferated. Predatory attitude to nature and pursuit of easy profit are culivated…This leads to degradation of human consciousness, when someone’s perverted whims are treated as a norm.” Harsh.

China’s President Xi said “We should care for nature and not place ourselves above it…to achieve sustainable development”. He pointed to those living in poverty and said the “Development Agenda must be turned into action”. And he mentioned mitigation about climate change. Xi is in the Against column because Chinese leaders have been known to tell their listeners what they want to hear at a greater rate than other country bosses, and because he brought up mitigation.

Poland’s President Duda said, “I wish to assure you about my country’s readiness to participate in the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals.” A statement with lots of cracks in which Poland can escape.

Kazakhstan’s President Nazarbayev is much more interested in ridding the world of nuclear weapons, and thinks a one-world currency will help.

South Africa’s President Zuma said, “We seek a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement in Paris that is applicable to all Parties. In addition, for South Africa as Chair of the G77, a Paris package that is hollow and weak on finance would not be acceptable.”

Egypt’s President Al Sisi said, “Development is a fundamental human right.”

Iran was mum on the entire subject.

Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe said, “We equally reject attempts to prescribe ‘new rights’ that are contrary to our values, norms, and beliefs.”

Uganda’s President Museveni seemed not too hot on the idea.

Update: Any additional comments relating to killing the lives inside would-be mothers on this thread will be deleted.

Open Thread: Effect Of Pope’s Visit?


Now the real excuse for this post is that yesterday, it being a sort of holiday, I made rather merry and neglected to cause a post to be written. Since I cannot rely on randomness, chance, or whatever else is supposed to be the modern, sophisticated replacement for hard chance, nothing got done. From nothing came nothing.

The New York Post became the New York Pope. The lachrymose speaker of the house was near to blubbering, and the wet stuff glistened the cheeks of several other other Congresspeoples. Great masses made pilgrimages to DC, NYC, or Philly. The sworn secular were lost in admiration, even, I am guessing, to the point of doubting their doubts. Even the die-finally atheists on Twitter were respectful, more or less.

Ross Douthat, of the secular Cathedral’s press organ, said Pope Francis bolstered progressives.

It’s a gift the religious left sorely needed, because the last few decades have made a marriage of Christian faith and liberal politics seem doomed to eventual divorce. Since the 1970s, the mainline Protestant denominations associated with progressive politics have experienced a steep decline in membership and influence, while American liberalism has become more secular and anti-clerical, culminating in the Obama White House’s battles with Francis’ own church. In the intellectual arena, religiously-inclined liberals have pined for a Reinhold Niebuhr without producing one, and the conservative fear that liberal theology inevitably empties religion of real power has found all-too-frequent vindication.

Pope Francis has not solved any of these problems. But his pontificate has nonetheless given the religious left a new lease on life. He has offered encouragement to Catholic progressives by modestly soft-pedaling the issues dividing his church from today‚Äôs liberalism — abortion and same-sex marriage — while elevating other causes and concerns. His personnel decisions have confirmed that encouragement; his rhetoric has reinvigorated left-leaning Catholic punditry and thought. And his media stardom has offered provisional evidence for a proposition dear to liberal-Christian hearts — namely, that a public Christianity free from entanglements with right-wing politics could tug the disaffected back toward faith.

His analysis is surely right, at least for many. But only because of two things. The Holy Father did not on this trip talk say, what he has said before and surely still believes, that for instance gmarriage is of the devil. That means Satan-caused, dear reader. A harsh and frightening proposition. The second thing is the left’s euphoric eagerness to mold any statement made by the Pope into their image.

But not all on the left are buying it. One headline: “Pope Francis is not a progressive–he just has terrific PR“. The writer of that piece noticed that Francis said this:

Gay adoption is discrimination against children: “What is at stake here is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of so many children who will be discriminated against in advance, depriving them of the human maturation that God wanted to be given with a father and a mother.”…

“Defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court or kill you. No child should be deprived.”

These kind of “hidden secrets” so unnerved the writer that he used the “P”-word—-propaganda—to describe the Pope’s efforts.

And here at home I noted that the Pope has spoken deeply and eloquently on, for instance, the Eucharist and its necessity, as well on other matters of Catholic dogma. These statements were not buried, but where right there, plain to see, in his so-called environmental encyclical. It’s just that everybody pretended not to see, or somehow ignored, those words.

Lastly, given the weakening, perhaps only temporary, of the secular of the renewed, again perhaps temporary, faith of the lapsed, the visit at least shows that traditional religion is far from dead. Secular religion—democracy, scientism, etc.—is still with us. But has it been softened?

What do you think?

Update On lefty reporting: “Thus saith The New York Times: Compassion is the opposite of Catholic doctrine“.

Summary Against Modern Thought: God Wills His Being But Not Necessarily You

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.

A milestone today, the answer to an infinite regress sometimes posed by doubters, at least those who demand to know who or what created God. The answer is: no thing and no body.

Chapter 80 That God Wills His Being And Goodness (alternate translation)

[1] FROM what has been proved above it follows that God wills necessarily His being and His goodness, and that He cannot will the contrary.

[2] For it has been shown that God wills His being and goodness as principal object, which is the reason of His willing other things. Wherefore in everything willed by Him He wills His being and goodness, just as the sight sees light in every colour. Now it is impossible for God not to will a thing actually, for He would be only potentially willing; which is impossible, since His willing is His being. Therefore it is necessary for Him to will His being and His goodness.

[3] Again. Whoever wills, of necessity wills his last end: thus man of necessity wills his own happiness, nor can he will unhappiness. Now God wills Himself as last end, as stated above. Therefore He necessarily wills Himself to be, nor can He will Himself not to be…

[5] Again. All things, in as much as they are, are like to God, Who is being first and foremost. Now all things, in as much as they are, love their own being naturally in their own way. Much more therefore does God love His own being naturally. Now His nature is per se necessary being, as was proved. Therefore God necessarily wills Himself to be.

Notes And there we have the answer—the proof—to the perpetual question “Who created God”?. No thing “created” God. God wills His own being. God’s existence is necessary. He must exist.

Chapter 81 That God Does Not Necessarily Will Other Things Than Himself(alternate translation)

[3] …Moreover. God, by willing His own goodness, wills other things to be, in as much as they partake of His goodness. Now, since God’s goodness is infinite, it can be participated in an infinite number of ways, and in other ways besides those in which it is participated by those creatures which now are. If, then, through willing His own goodness, He willed of necessity the things which participate it, it would follow that He wills an infinite number of creatures partaking of His goodness in an infinite number of ways. But this is clearly false: for if He willed it, they would exist, since His will is the source of being to things, as we shall prove further on. Therefore He does not necessarily will those things also that are not.

[4] Again. A wise man, through willing the cause, wills the effect which follows necessarily from the cause: for it would be foolish to will that the sun exist above the earth, and that there be no brightness of day. On the contrary, it is not necessary for one through willing the cause to will an effect which does not follow of necessity from the cause. Now other things proceed from God not necessarily, as we shall show further on. Therefore it is not necessary that God will other things through willing Himself.

Notes Regular readers of this blog will know there is a discussion ongoing whereby some people, by causing themselves to strike the keys of their computer keyboards in a particular order, seek to convince others there is no such thing as cause. This proves, or rather proves the opposite, what the first (quoted) article in this chapter proves: man’s thoughts can err in an infinite, or at least a rather large, number of ways.

That first argument should also give a thrill: “since God’s goodness is infinite, it can be participated in an infinite number of ways”. Since God is infinite, heaven, if we make it, will never get boring, even though we’ll be there for an infinite time. As I’ve been saying all along, infinity is the trickiest of all mathematical business.

The main point here is that everything but God is contingent, as philosophers say. Contingent, in their thinking, means does not necessarily exist or is not necessarily true, and this is so. But we now know—and this is science, or should be—what everything is contingent upon, and that is God’s will. The converse is also true: everything that is necessarily true or necessarily exist must be part of God. That leads to the idea that all the words and concepts we use to describe the ineffable—good, true, beauty, etc.—are attempts at describing what God is like. And that, if we’re interested, brings us to the concept of transcendentals. But that’s too much for us, at least now, so here is one resource.

In sum, to understand the ground of all science, and also all ethics, morality, and the other subjects traditionally recognized as being part of religion, we must first understand what we can of God. But since God’s mind is infinite, we’re never going to reach our destination. And, given the human condition, this is a joyful thought. You, dear reader, are contingent, which should create in you a sense of gratitude. Here, just for the asking, you have a change to participate in this infiniteness. What a gift!

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