Tuesday, September 18, 2012

They're still lying with statistics

In 1954 Darrell Huff wrote a book called "How to lie with statistics". It is well-known and has often been used as an introductory college textbook. The point of the book was of course to alert people to statistical skullduggery so that they were not deceived by it.

But even though it sold a lot of copies the book has been an almost complete failure. In most academic fields where statistics are used (e.g. medical research, psychological research, climate research) statistics are still routinely misused. I spent 20 years getting papers published in the academic journals of the social sciences pointing out the defective reasoning in other articles in my field and, more recently, my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog has tackled the outlandish conclusions that prevail in much of medical research. It's all a very sad tale. A lot of so-called "science" is basically corrupt.

So I would very much like readers to take the time to listen to a breezy video below by statistican W.M. Briggs in which he gives examples of corrupt statistical reasoning from psychological, medical and environmental research.

And the lesson from the above? Don't accept ANY scientific statement until you have seen what people say who don't agree with that statement. Corrupt science is so common that the odds are that the critics will be right.

So why is statistically-based science so corrupt? Briggs gives you some answers but I will give you another one that you may not see elsewhere: Most users of statistics are Left-leaning academics and for them "There is no such thing as truth". There is however a desperate need for them to defend their ideology. Their egos depend on it.

Even medical science has become heavily politicized with the "war on obesity" and the general elitist view of the Left that anything popular is either wrong or bad for you (cue cellphones).


The Media's Rape of Reality

I didn’t want to write this column. I definitely didn’t want to use these words. I wanted to write about something else, but after the events of this week, I had no choice.

I am here to report a rape. To protect President Obama from the failure of his administration to anticipate or respond appropriately to the attacks on our embassies in the Middle East, the media has absolutely raped the truth.

Americans were targeted and murdered by radical monsters around the globe. The president did nothing about it. The White House had at least a 48-hour advance warning this was coming. It told no one. It didn’t warn the diplomats or increase security at the embassies. It didn’t warn the complicit governments – and they are as involved in this as the mobs and murderers themselves – of potential consequences.

And when the attacks were over? The president took all of one hour of out of his busy fundraising/campaign schedule to address this matter. Then, it was off to Las Vegas and back to his rich friends to shake the money maker.

Let me be clear, every drop of blood spilled by Americans as a result of the actions of these monsters drips through the hands of this administration before it hits the ground.

There’s no need to recount the story now, except to say the president, the secretary of state and their auditioning second-term press secretaries in the media burnt more calories this week attacking an American in California for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech than they did condemning the murderous mobs or their enablers in their respective governments.

Whatever outrage they had leftover was reserved for Mitt Romney for committing the unforgivable sin of standing up for American values in the face of terrorism and speaking out against it hours before the President did. That the President’s campaign attacked Romney for standing up for American values a full 8 hours before the President condemned the attacks on and murder of Americans isn’t a story.

Until a better word is invented, disgusting will have to do.

Within 48 hours of the first attacks the Justice Department had tracked down the filmmaker and leaked his name to the media. The media dutifully reported it as if they’d found an escaped Nazi. Of course that analogy doesn’t fit perfectly as escaped Nazi are granted the presumption of innocence.

After all, all the filmmaker did was make a bad movie despotic governments we helped empower could use to incite rioting and direct the anger away from their own incompetence and toward the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known. Through state controlled media, they played this unknown video endlessly and spread it throughout the region. All the while, our President skipped nearly 60 percent his national security briefings. Turns out maybe you can’t get by on the Cliff notes on those briefings. Maybe you do have to show up.

But Mitt Romney spoke first, and that was the story the media covered.

It made little mention of how the Justice Department found and outed the anonymous American supposedly “responsible” for all this in just two days but, after looking for two years, still can’t find out who authorized Fast And Furious within their own ranks. It found no fault with the president returning to his real duties – campaigning and fundraising – after he’d devoted just an hour to the most significant security threat of his administration. Had a fiction writer scripted the media’s coverage even they wouldn’t have had the nerve to be so brazen as to attempt something so corrupt.

Now, the violence is spreading, and the president has no idea how to react. He’s sinking in concrete, campaigning and fundraising while the Middle East burns. But he thinks Mitt Romney spoke too soon? That’s it somehow a gaffe that Romney grasped the implications and the outrage of the situation a full workday before the president could be bothered even to release a statement? That’s somehow a Romney gaffe, but the President being uncertain if Egypt is our ally or not barely registers?

President Obama has learned well from great propagandists in the past: When the chips are down, invent a phony outrage to distract the public.

Follow the pattern:

As more stories of violence and dismissed warnings come in, more criticism of Romney comes out.

As our credit is downgraded again, more criticism of Romney comes out.

As the Federal Reserve announces plans to print $40 billion a month in a third attempt at “quantitative easing” to right the president’s broken economy, more criticism of Romney comes out.

No matter what happens, no matter how detached our president gets from the job he seeks to keep for four more years … no matter how many people die…we still haven’t seen enough of Mitt Romney’s tax returns.

That’s how sick the media has gotten.

Does the president defend our freedom? No. He asks YouTube to review the video to see if it violates the user agreement and can be taken down. Isn’t it amazing how the first instinct of liberals in any situation is to lionize extremists abroad and censor our speech at home? YouTube, showing a strong commitment to the Constitution than the man who swore an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” it, said it wouldn’t remove this horribly produced and acted Z-movie. Good for them standing up for the First Amendment. Bad for the media for trying to re-elect a man who turns his back on the very principle that protects its very existence.

The president has not acted like a president in this crisis, he’s acted more like a spoiled child told for the first time to eat his vegetables. Everything else he’s faced in office – abysmal economic data, the 2010 election, the unpopularity of his actions and policies – could be spun or somehow parsed to create whatever new data-metric reality he wanted because his media mouthpieces were only too happy to spread it.

But those events didn’t have smoke, fire, video and a body count the world can’t easily ignore.

The media’s spin will work on idiots, but the rape of reality can’t and won’t work on anyone with more IQ points than teeth. People, Americans, YOU, need to spend time every day between now and the election talking to anyone with at least one working ear who hasn’t yet decided how to vote and explain to them what is really happening. Donating money is great. Planning to vote yourself is key. But spreading the word to those open to hearing it and making sure they cast an educated vote is crucial.

Democrats don’t want voters to be educated or informed … thus the fight over voter ID laws. They want you to eat your gruel, take your medicine and re-elect the president because he knows more about what’s better for you than you do. With so many Americans now suckling the government teat, that easy message has a receptive and large audience. We have to be larger this November or our nation surely will be smaller in the future.



With Obama policy crumbling, White House blames movie for Mideast unrest

With anti-American demonstrations exploding across the Muslim world, the White House is insisting that the deadly attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya and violent protests targeting U.S. facilities in Egypt and several other countries are entirely the result of an anti-Islamic video on YouTube.

Why would the White House heap blame on the movie — indeed, insist that it is the sole cause of the violence — when officials don’t actually know that to be true? There are, perhaps, two reasons. One is that the administration has put an enormous amount of faith in the idea that Arab Spring uprisings will lead to democracy in much of the Middle East. Current events suggest that faith might be misplaced. For the administration, blaming the movie is easier than admitting they were wrong about something so big and important.

The second reason is that Barack Obama has based much of his approach to Middle Eastern affairs on what he perceives as his own unique ability to reach out to Muslims. The entire point of the president’s June 2009 speech to the Muslim world, delivered in Cairo — the same city where protesters are condemning the United States today — was that Obama’s life story allowed him to understand the Muslim experience in a way that previous American leaders could not. The fact that he spent part of his childhood in a Muslim country (Indonesia) and had many family members who were Muslim, the president apparently believed, would make many previously hostile Muslims somehow like the United States more.

It didn’t. So now, with anger at the U.S. burning throughout the region — and showing on Americans’ wide-screen TVs — it’s easier for the administration to blame the movie than to admit the president’s personal initiative failed.



Why Do Swedes in America Earn Far More than Swedes in Sweden?

Sweden is a good example of a nation that has implemented some good reforms in recent years, such as school choice and partial Social Security privatization.

But I argue that these good reforms don’t fully offset the damage caused by excessive government spending. And now I have a new – and very pointy – arrow in my argumentative quiver. A study from the London-based Institute for Economic Affairs has found that Swedes in America earn significantly more money than Swedes in Sweden.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the IEA study.

"The 4.4 million or so Americans with Swedish origins are considerably richer than average Americans, as are other immigrant groups from Scandinavia. If Americans with Swedish ancestry were to form their own country, their per capita GDP would be $56,900, more than $10,000 above the income of the average American. This is also far above Swedish GDP per capita, at $36,600. Swedes living in the USA are thus approximately 53 per cent more wealthy than Swedes (excluding immigrants) in their native country (OECD, 2009; US Census database). It should be noted that those Swedes who migrated to the USA, predominately in the nineteenth century, were anything but the elite. Rather, it was often those escaping poverty and famine. …A Scandinavian economist once said to Milton Friedman, ‘In Scandinavia, we have no poverty’. Milton Friedman replied, ‘That’s interesting, because in America, among Scandinavians, we have no poverty, either’. Indeed, the poverty rate for Americans with Swedish ancestry is only 6.7 per cent: half the US average (US Census)".

This is remarkable information, and it reminds me that Thomas Sowell had similar stats for other groups in his great book, Ethnic America.

I’m not familiar with the methodological issues involved in this type of research, but is certainly seems like this is a good way of getting apples-to-apples comparisons of different economic systems.

Like many other people, I’ve argued that the success of the overseas Chinese community (compared to their counterparts stuck in Communist China) is a damning indictment of statism.

Now we see that Swedes do reasonably well when living in a country with a big welfare state, but they do even better when living in a nation with a medium-sized welfare state.

So you can imagine how prosperous they would be if a bunch of Swedes lived in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore!



New Woodward book shows how Obama made it worse

Bob Woodward knows a failed president when he sees one. The man who was instrumental in bringing down Richard Nixon has now covered eight presidents for the Washington Post while writing more than a dozen books about them.

Which is what makes the final verdict he renders on President Obama in his new book, "The Price of Politics," so damning. Woodward writes, "It is a fact that President Obama was handed a miserable, faltering economy and faced a recalcitrant Republican opposition. But presidents work their will -- or should work their will -- on the important matters of national business. ... Obama has not."

Over the course of almost 450 pages, Woodward depicts Obama as an arrogant, aloof and hyperpartisan president who manages to either alienate or disappoint everybody he needs to help govern Washington.

As a result of Obama's bumbling, Woodward concludes, "The mission of stabilizing and improving the economy is incomplete. First, the short-term federal fiscal problem has not been solved. Instead it has been pushed off to the future, leaving the United States facing what is now called the fiscal cliff. ... Second, the long-term problem of unsustainable entitlement spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, highlighted by Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and familiar to all informed politicians and economists including the president ... has been left largely unaddressed."

"Americans are now left with a still struggling economy in the midst of a presidential election," Woodward writes. "It is a world of the status quo, only worse."

"The status quo, only worse." What a perfect description of the Obama presidency. It even fits on a bumper sticker.


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Robert said...

"Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."
- Mark Twain