SocraticGadfly: 1/9/05 - 1/16/05

January 15, 2005

Religious Right voters played for suckers again?

Bush told the Washington Post Jan. 15 that he:
“will not press for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.”

Bush’s flunky, press secretary Scott McClellan, later tried to “clarify” the manner, saying Bush didn’t want to expend political capital.

No, he’s expending that instead in an effort to cut your Social Security benefits, while potentially doubling the national debt -- the national debt, not the deficit -- to pay for this dubious privelege.

So, how do you feel now about voting for God’s anointed?

Maybe you're part of the problem, Mr. Fineman

Howard Fineman recently talked about the demise of the mainstream media as a "political party." He complains about Bush not holding press conferences as being part of this demise.

Well, people like you in the MSM who sucked up to Bush, especially during his march to war, while he continued to not hold press conferences, are part of what caused this problem, aren't you?

Absent a British parliamentary system, the adversarial role of the press in modern America is vital. But people like you rolled over and played dead the past four years. And once you got steamrollered on Iraq, Bush had, to quote his dad, "Big Mo."

Only thing is, unlike his dad, he knew how to use it. And use it he did, tragically.

So, go look in the mirror next time you blog something like this, Howard.

Push for even bigger Super Sized McHouses not good

Big-box houses could get even bigger, unfortunately.

The Dallas Morning News says more people are wanting even bigger houses, with three bathrooms and four bedrooms, despite the average Dallas-area household having 2.6 people. And the average home in America has already grown from 1,700 square feet to 2,300 in the past 30 years.

The trend for even bigger houses is unfortunate for two reasons: suburbs are using housing size as one of their few tools to restrict lower-income people moving in from Dallas, and unfortunate nationally due to its environmental waste.

January 14, 2005

Wolfie said it

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, in talking about foreign troops in Indonesia for tsunami relief, said:

"For any country it is sensitive to have foreign troops on your territory. It would be sensitive in the United States and I can tell you that it is extremely sensitive in Indonesia.”

Gee, Wolfie, do you think? Would that be why our undermanned, overadventured Army is getting its ass shot at in Baghdad, no thanks to you?

January 13, 2005

Pray-for-pregnancy study seriously flawed, fraudulent

A Columbia University-sponsored study on the efficacy of prayer in aiding women in becoming pregnant has been found to be full of holes, including shoddy methodology and outright fraud.

I remember when this study came out and The Dallas Morning News had a column about it, by either an in-house column or somebody syndicated. I e-mailed that person, expressed some skepticism, and she said, in essence, “It must be true. This is irrefutable.”

I can’t remember who you are, but in the spirit of good science and not gloating, I hope you have the integrity to eat some humble pie now, and in public.

The Skeptical Inquirer story also reveals at least serious journalistic conflict of interest:
It remains to be seen whether ABC's Dr. Johnson, a medical doctor who also serves as a minister at the evangelical Community Covenant Church in West Peabody, Massachusetts, will report or ignore the following shocking information that has since been revealed about the alleged study and its authors. (Emphasis added.)

Let it be also noted that one of the three authors of the study, Daniel Wirth, holds a master's degree in parapsychology.

An empirical argument against the reality of psi phenomena

Notwithstanding the popularity of the movie EVP and the belief in electromagnetic voice phenomena as the latest psi fad, we have good scientific arguments against psi.

A good reference like The Skeptic’s Dictionary will give you a rundown on the failure of psi research to produce scientifically verifiable evidence, as well as logical fallacies of psi boosters.

But I offer another argument against psi -- an inductive, empirical one.

It’s been 4 million years or so since our australopithecine ancestors pulled their knuckles off the ground and started their move toward becoming civilized human beings.

Or, more charitably toward the psi side, lopping off more than 2 million years of empirical arguments from science, it’s still been about 1.5 million years since the emergence of the genus Homo.

Or, even more charitably, it’s been about 200,000 years since the emergence of modern Homo sapiens as a species we would recognize.

One would think that with 100,000 years of development, not to mention either 1.5 million or 4 million-plus, that the entire species would be levitating furniture by now.

And that’s not just a snarky comment. If psi powers actually did exist, they should have a huge evolutionary advantage.

So, it seems obvious from an evolutionary biology examination of human history, that they don’t.

Let's look at some specific hypotheticals.

If I am a long early homo sapiens male of 100,000 years ago, and have telekinesis, I could use this to a number of evolutionary ends. One would be to be a better hunter, by directing my spear or arrow at the last second, by mental power, to assure a kill. Another would be to bend out-of-reach tree branches laden with fruit down to me, etc.

Now, the real kicker in terms of evolutionary biology is when that cute little number down the canyon in Cave No. 4 sees me doing this, or the results of this. Badda-bing, and Junior is soon born, theoretically inheriting my psi powers.

Or, take clairvoyance. Let's say I'm the gamma male, but the best mind-reader in my tribe. I can tell beta is planning a coup against alpha. If I play my cards right, I'm soon King of the Hill.

And, of course, once again, that hottie in Cave No. 4 sees me and ...

In either of the above scenarios, if the future Mrs. Me also has above average psi and wants to assist me, then we're money in the bank.

Since we don't see the vast majority of today's Homo sapiens walking around claiming psi powers, let alone actually doing something with them, it would seem obvious these powers don't exist.

January 12, 2005

Born-again Christians continue to be hypocrites

Even on a serious sexuality issue

Born-again Christians sure don’t act like they’re born again.

And no, that’s not carping or sniping from liberal mainstream Protestants

Instead, it comes from the quasi-official “house organ” of evangelicalism, Christianity Today.

As reported by evangelical polling guru George Barna, not only do born-agains divorce as often as the population at large, they also have just about as high a percentage who think extramarital, not just premarital, sex is OK, and have a higher percentage of people lacking at least some degree of racial tolerance.

Read the whole report. I know, yesterday I said the religious right bore watching over the rabid fervor some of them have for intelligent design, and that this fervor, in turn, really was a reflection of their concern for a perceived decline in American morals.

Need I cite Jesus’ own words about pulling planks out of their own eyes first?

Three cheers for George Soros

Not all progressives are being defeatist. Then again, George Soros isn’t necessarily a mainstream Democrat. As Yahoo reports, Soros and a couple of other rich progressives want to fund a progressive think tank with fiscal resources equivalent to the Heritage Foundation.

January 11, 2005

A mad dog would look more placid

Than some of the rabid science-hating creationists in Dover, Pa.

As Salon reports in “The New Monkey Trial”, a few of these folks, such as new Dover school board member Bill Buckingham.

Clue No. 1 – when a self-described “Goldwater Republican” like former board member Carol “Casey” Brown thinks your mental gears have slipped a few cogs, they very likely have.

Buckingham appears to be a caricature straight out of a Joe McCarthy 1950s script, worrying how evolution has led to immorality, and so on.

If you haven’t been worried about the religious right, or should I say far right, you should now.

WaPost shows again how it's a lap dog

In talking about Dina Powell, the head of the White House personnel office, the Washington Post’s Ann Gerhart basically says that she’s willing to roll over and play dead to get a White House interview.

“She has a talent for being warm and gregarious while staying completely disciplined. She insists that an hour-long interview be on background, with quotes needing to be approved prior to publication>” Gerhart says of Powell.

And obviously Gerhart agreed to these terms. Just as obviously, so did people up the Post’s editorial chain.
Thank doorknobs that I don’t work at a newspaper like that. The Post’s money, the money of just another establishmentarian corporation, couldn’t buy off my conscience for laying there and getting screwed. I'd much rather have the freedom of where I'm at, asking the questions I want.

I have never agreed to conduct an interview with a public offical only on background. I have agreed in advance to have someone go off the record about specific issues, but that is different.

January 10, 2005

Astroturfed blogs coming?

What’s next in our world? Looks like Astroturfed blogs, if Ketchum has its way.

Hey, it’s the next logical step after Astroturfed letters to the editor.

January 09, 2005

Here's my attempt to screw with Kenny Boy Lay

I read in the Sunday Dallas Morning News that old Kenny Boy had started a website, I also read that he was generating paid sponsor links to it.

Read the details from the Morning News.

So, I decided to go cheap on Blogger and start I even officially titled the blog “” and will add the www. if necessary.

Ledeen – wrong on torture, right on exposing Clinton

Neocon torture proponent Michael Ledeen is all wet over at National Review about some types of torture being acceptable. But he is right on in exposing the Clinton administration in the second half of his screed for coming up with the idea of rendition, sending suspected terrorists to nations less principled than us, so they could torture them for us.

Just one more proof, for you Big Bill lovers of the past, or you Hillary hopers for 2008, that Clinton just wasn’t all that liberal.