William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Author: Briggs (page 1 of 744)

March For Science A Dud: Updates

From Vox

Stream: March For Science A Dud.

(Note: Our series with the good saint Thomas Aquinas will return next Sunday. This current post will remain on top through Sunday: watch for updates.)

I am pleased to report the asinine March “for” “Science” has been a dud.

Organizers lit the fuse of what they thought was going to be an enormous stick of dynamite. Wait until you hear the boom, honey! But what they got was tiny pop from a damp ladyfinger.

Pop. No exclamation mark.

The Independent quoted some guy called Peter Lipke, who said, “I’m a science professor.” This prepped the reader, signalling some solid science was on its way. Lipke continued, “The current administration has shown complete disregard for facts and the truth.”


The insufferable and ever-smug Vox began its “explanation” of the March with a picture of a kid, maybe eight or so, holding the sign, “Climate change is real”.


In the same Vox picture, a plain-looking woman is holding the sign, “Your global warming can’t melt this Snowflake.”

She’s right, you know. Given global-warming-of-doom has failed to materialize as predicted (over and over and over again), very few snowflakes are being melted.

Vox never disappoints. They checked the “fatuous” box by quoting a sociologist who “studies protest movements”, and she said—are you ready for more science?—“Protest is also an opportunity to create what we call ‘collective identity.'”

Who knew? I mean, who knew scientists were so smart?


Time magazine kindly supplied a video of high-pitched, ear-grating woo-wooing protesters (I still say the DOD was wrong to reject my proposal to weaponize the female protester voice). One guy held the sign, “Climate change cannot be undone by tweeting.” But it can be by holding up an idiotic sign?


In one of the satellite marches in Los Angeles, a good handful of people showed up, one carrying the sign, “Make wind, not warming.” Flatulence jokes in a science march? Where’s the respect?


Australia. “I create knowledge. What’s your superpower”. Sarcasm.


Science wants you—no: Science demandsyou click over and read the rest. You don’t want to an anti-Science, do you?


More than one person had a sign or that read “Science is not a liberal conspiracy.” Yeah? What would make people think it was? Maybe all those liberal political signs? Like the one with a picture of Hillary which read, “She probably would have blinded me with Science.” No, that would have been the bursts of EM from the atomic bombs.

Science does not yet have an explanation why this lady has so many teeth.

Tweet: “That millions feel they must march to show solidarity with the truth, reason and evidence is not particularly reassuring.” No, it isn’t. How could these marchers have been so easily fooled?

An ugly woman with, “My science prevents STDs when grabbing p***y”. Chastity does even better.

Blasphemy is always popular.

Heard often: “What do we want? Evidence-based results! When do we want it? After peer review.” Oh, Lord. Peer review. The best guarantor of conformity and groupthink. And this march proves it.

Sign (and not the only one): “No science no beer.” Dude? Science is not responsible for beer.

Nye angry. Nye no like people not love science. Arrugah!

Will somebody get this man a cookie?

Number of people holding up that idiotic, scidolatry Neil DeGrasse Tyson slogan can’t be counted.

Truly, Science is a religion. What else accounts for all this kiddies?

Here’s some real science for you.

Note the Hulk. Or note this one, complete with “Black Lives Matter” science poster. Or something.

More real Science.

Taste this: “We must speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”

Huah huah huah. Science.

I’m No Longer At Cornell

I got fired about a month ago. This would ordinarily fall under the categories, “About time” or “So?”, and thus it is not worth mentioning. Except for this.

I had a spate of radio shows lately about the March “for” “Science” and the public relations dossier on me still had that I taught at Cornell. Some of the radio hosts said things like “He’s a professor at Cornell” or “He teaches at Cornell.”

I was mostly able to correct this on air, but since I’d hate for anybody to think I’m claiming a false credential, I wanted to set the record straight. (The dossier has at last been updated so there should not be new instances.)

Through last summer (2016), I taught in a graduate program and was an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Cornell. It’s unclear to me exactly when the Adjunct status expired, or even if it’s expired now. But if it did it might have been a couple of months back, since about then one of Jerry Coyne’s readers noticed I was not listed on the Department’s website. Up until about a month ago, I thought I’d be returning to do my usual summer duty—and was indeed informed by the program director that I would. So my claiming Adjunct status was in good faith. (I’ve put in a request to see if I’m still listed or not.)

As far as I know, mine wasn’t a political firing. I was told by the director: “After our meeting last week, I had another meeting in the dean’s office about the…program. There was a strong opinion that if any resident faculty wanted to teach in the program, I should give them preference over non-affiliated faculty.

“Unfortunately, someone from statistics has asked me to teach in the program, and I am in the position of needing to let them, which means that we will not be able to offer you a position teaching this summer in Ithaca.”

The lady who is replacing me, God bless her, and who will now teach the Masters-level statistics course is a lawyer with a specialty in sexual harassment. She isn’t a professor, but she is local. (I don’t live in Ithaca. I’ve not met my replacement.)

Now if that news was underwhelming, this next announcement will be even less interesting than discovering how much loose change was discovered in my couch.

I will not be seeking any future university employment. It is obvious to friends and enemies alike that just about exactly none of my opinions are welcome in or around any American campus. I mention this only to stave off kindhearted emails saying “Did you see State U was hiring?”

“Oh, Briggs, what have you to worry about? Didn’t I hear you were being funded by the oil companies?”

I am. For my work in fooling the public about global-warming-of-doom, I have a lifetime coupon that lets me shave off that annoying nine-tenths of a cent added to the cost of every gallon of gasoline, up to ten gallons. Once per week (cash only). Big Oil knows how to take care of her own.

“No, I have it wrong. You’re a paid shill for the Discovery Institute. At least, that’s what you were accused of in comments at Stream.”

I am? Say! Terrific news. I’ve always wanted to be a shill; it’s been kind of a dream job for me. The DI is a bonus: everybody I’ve ever met from there has been a sweetheart.

I first tried a government sinecure, but all the good ones were taken by Harvard and Yale graduates (Cornell is low on the list). That’s when I decided to become a shill. After all, I possessed in abundance the two most desirable traits for shills: laziness and blowhardedness.

I haven’t been entirely successful landing shill positions. I do have that Big Oil deal, but what I didn’t tell you is that I don’t have a car (and haven’t for twenty years), so the payoff is not as exciting as it first sounded. And though it seems I am a “paid” shill for DI, somehow the pay hasn’t reached me yet. (Is this the fault of the Post Office or IRS?)

Since shilling isn’t doing the trick, I suppose the next natural step for a fellow of my unique qualifications is inheritance. Now since none of my relatives are rich, if this is going to work I’m going to have to be adopted, Roman style, by some wealthy individual. All offers considered.

March For Politics, Scientism & Scidolatry

Stream: March For Politics, Scientism & Scidolatry.

The upcoming March for Science—check with your nearest purple-haired activist for directions and times—is to no one’s surprise turning out to be one of those standard-issue paroxysms of “outrage”, grief, and angst directed against…well, this time against those who are against science.

Which is a group comprised of exactly no one.

Since there is no opposition to science, protesting against those who are against science ensures the March will be a success. Nothing burns as brightly as a Straw Man.

Let’s see if we can analyze this March scientifically. There are three broad motivations for participation: politics, scientism, and scidolatry.


Not only is the march providing moments of high comedy, it is allowing our self-appointed betters a stellar opportunity for virtue signalling.

Politicians and celebrities are courting injury, rushing to the nearest cameras, anxious to let their constituents and fans know they are “for” science.

Some in the march realize that the event has become just another political event, and are suggesting politicians try to maintain a low profile. You may as well ask fish to eschew water.

President Donald Trump is said not to love science with sufficient ardor. And by that marchers mean they believe Trump is disinclined to spend money on favored projects.



Can you see the flaw in this argument? The heat of vaporization of tungsten is 774-thousand Joules per mole; therefore, rape is morally wrong.

The number is correct. But nothing about morals or ethics flows from any scientific statement. Ever. Philosophy and religion precede science. Science cannot even say why 2 + 2 = 4 (though it can use that fact). The belief that science can answer philosophical questions is called scientism, the fallacy that science provides the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Science tells us facts and makes predictions. For example, science tells us this fact: a man pretending to be a woman is a man. But it is a question of morals and not science whether it is right or wrong for the government to insist we act as if this man is a woman.



It’s hard not to escape the sensation that many marchers feel (not think) Science is some kind of mysterious being. And that Science isn’t happy with the state of the world. It must be appeased. It must be supplicated. It must be worshiped. “Hail Science!” “Raise your hand if you believe in Science!

If we do not pay sufficient attention to this magnificent entity, it might turn against us and refuse to reveal more of itself to us.

Celebrity scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, “The good thing about Science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Pure scidolatry, that.

Science isn’t true, nor is it false. It is a collection of facts and predictions, some of which are true or good, and some false or bad. Tyson is substituting Science in for God, or suggesting that because a scientist says a thing, that thing is therefore true. Which is obviously false.


Single file, now. In an orderly fashion, click on over.

British Politician Tim Farron Fails To Say Gay Sex Isn’t Sinful, Suffers Celebrity Scorn

The particular personages in this story are not what’s most interesting, nor is the outcome of the UK politics which started it.

What is fascinating is the browbeating and indignation and astonishment by the Powers The Be that anybody might deign to call sodomy a sin. Here’s the story.

A British politician, Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, was asked by a reporter, “A while back I asked you if you thought that homosexuality was a sin and you struggled to answer. Now you’ve had a while to consider that question, what is the answer?”

Farron (the media reports) is “a committed Christian” who had one time said, “My faith is in Jesus Christ, I put my trust in Him. I count Him as my Lord and saviour, and I’m in no way ashamed of that.”

Very well. Now there is no reading of Christianity—nor Orthodox Judaism nor Islam—in which sodomy is not sinful. This in itself is not controversial. True, there are some outlying theologians who read scripture and who conclude, “When God condemned sodomy, He was only kidding.” But the knowing award these efforts a wink and a smile, understanding the plain words of God and St Paul and so forth are unambiguous. They do this because they desire the whole thing just be forgotten. After all, this is, the fallacy goes, 2017 (insert most current year here).

Put it another way. Everybody knows people of The Book, as the Muslims say it, must admit sodomy is sinful. To ask a “committed Christian” to say sodomy is not sinful is like asking an electrician to say sticking your finger in a wall socket isn’t harmful. If the Christian says sodomy is not sinful, he loses a great deal of the authority which allows him to label himself a Christian. Just as the electrician would lose much of his authority were he to endorse electrocution.

Back to the question put to Farron. I’m afraid he took the Path of Biden and waffled. He said he was “for” NOWM rights—oops: make that LGBT rights—but that “Just because I’m Christian, it would be a bit boring for everybody to spend the next weeks asking me to make theological announcements that I’m not going to make.”

Fine, whatever. His choking is understandable. What happened next is amusing. Celebrities took offense, and their indignation was duly noted. Because, after all, it doesn’t do to offend celebrities. Besides, whose authority on scripture—or on any subject, really—is more valuable than celebrities?

A “comedian” called Farron “a fundamentalist Christian homophobe.” Another celebrity said, “Mr @timfarron you are definitely a sinner for your continued intolerance & prejudice. Please try and join the rest of us in the year 2017.”

Then came the willful misinterpretations, which is to say, the lying. Farron was asked whether he thought sodomy is sinful, but cynics twisted that and condemned Farron for intimating “being gay is sinful.

Well, being gay is not sinful, for the very great reason that there are no such things as “gays”, nor can one be “gay”. Since one cannot be gay, being gay cannot be sinful.

If there are such things as “gays”, then there are in the exact same way necrophilics, pedophiles, objectum sexuals, woofies, and on and on, each sexual desire creating a new kind of being. Which is absurd. People are beset by all kinds of temptations, but temptation does not and cannot be the defining characteristic of anybody. This is a metaphysical impossibility.

Since temptation isn’t the point and sinful acts are, we’re right back to admitting (or not) sodomy, an act, is sinful.

(These points I tried to make in yesterday’s satire.)

For the false and scurrilous charge of intimating being gay is sinful, Farron was duly called an “absolute disgrace” et cetera, et cetera. So the clever Farron sought out the nearest microphone and said, “I do not think being gay is a sin.” Which is, as we can now see, an unassailable answer.

It also allowed him to dodge the sodomy question—again.

But it wasn’t forgotten. A Guardian writer, who enjoys the Liberal Democrat party and “gay rights” and would not see these damaged, excused Farron’s unspoken thoughts on sodomy.

The writer said, “I don’t care what he [Farron] considers sinful, so long as it doesn’t translate into policy.”

Meaning if a question of sodomy came up in legislation, he would have Farron violate his conscience. That sin is forgivable by the writer, who ended with, “can we extend to Farron the same courtesy he affords us, and love the sinner, while hating the sin?”

The only sin left is to say there is sin. And that is the main point.

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