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Member since: 2002
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32 Animated Videos by Wireless Philosophy Teach You the Essentials of Critical Thinking


Fun stuff.

Greenpeace is fighting to harm the planet.


Even Fortune Magazine Knows Trump Is Ludicrously Racist



Although he wound up complying with federal regulators on his rental policies, Trump had successfully staked out his position on race. He was on the side of those whites who resented civil rights laws intended to redress racism.


In 1989, he told Bryant Gumbel in an interview, “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market…if I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really do believe they have the actual advantage today. “ In fact, all the serious studies refuted that. However his statement did serve as a kind of shout-out to those who were ignorant about the racial dynamics in the U.S. economy.

Earlier in that same year Trump helped fan the flames of racial resentment when black and Latino teens were arrested in the infamous “Central Park jogger” attack. Trump alone chose to pay for $85,000 worth of full-page newspaper ads trumpeting, in capital letters, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” In the text Trump objected to then-Mayor Ed Koch’s plea for peace: Mayor Koch stated that “hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so.”


Whether he’s mocking Chinese businesspeople with broken English, contorting his body to make fun of a disabled reporter, or calling out to “my African American,” again and again, Trump has provoked anxiety and played to racial divisions. Earlier this week, Joe Scarborough, a lifelong Republican and host of the Morning Joe TV show called Trump’s remarks about Judge Curiel “completely racist.” He didn’t pass the same judgment on the man himself, but from what I see, the record would support him if he did."


Nobel Award Winners ask Greenpeace to stand on scientific consensus, instead of against it

A letter signed by over 100 scholars attempts to get Greenpeace to re-think opposition to genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).

So, in the past, what has Greenpeace thought about the opinions of Nobel laureates? Hmm....

(A Greenpeace tweet):

When #Nobel laureates say humans need to live more sustainably, we should probably listen, shouldn’t we? http://grnpc.org/IgHcH

So Greenpeace in the past celebrated Peter Doherty, Brian Schmidt, Ada Yonath and asked us to hear them....Hmm. Ok, so the Nobelists didn't ruin treasured historical sites, and they didn't climb Greenpeace's headquarters. But they seem to have been heard (by the world, if not by Greenpeace). I wanted to keep a running list of the pieces about this story.


This Reuters piece at CBC is one of my favorites. From the piece: "Greenpeace officials called the event a publicity stunt." Yeah, Greenpeace is so opposed to publicity stunts. My ass. I was noticing that none of the coverage had the bogus syringe-tomato images, but many of them used photos of past Greenpeace publicity stunts--because there are so many to choose from.



Greenpeace jumped the shark years ago. Will those who remain work to right this ship, finally?

Guy Leaves Fake Animal Facts All Over Los Angeles Zoo


"California-based comedic genius obviousplant has recently pranked the public once again by distributing fake animal facts at the L.A. zoo. Not only did he educate the zoo's visitors about how owls are related to the TV series "Friends," or why penguins wear tuxedos, but he also made the place a lot more interesting!

Bored Panda has turned Wysaski's flyers into a list that you can vote for and comment on. Want more? Be sure to check his other pranks here, here, and here.


Greenpeace’s Colonialist Ambitions



Why is this happening now given that the activist campaigning has been going on for almost two decades? In recent months NGOs have expanded a myth that Golden Rice does not work, is dangerous and that NGO campaigns are not responsible for the delays in developing the technology. Seeing how NGOs can take a debunked article and turn it into a successful social media campaign (Glyphosate 101), scientists felt the need to speak out.

So how did Greenpeace respond when faced with such a scientific slap on the face? Did they acknowledge the eminence of the scientists and take the evidence the Nobel laureates presented into consideration? Did they express regret for the loss of life from Vitamin A Deficiency? Did they request a meeting or conference to discuss the issue and present their own research on how ecological farming will transform impoverished countries and solve malnutrition?

Come on now! This is Greenpeace: the most arrogant and egotistical assembly of zealots history has ever had the horror to have witnessed! On the day that the Nobel laureates presented their letter, Greenpeace released a scathing response accusing industry of overhyping Golden Rice for global approval, reinforcing the anti-GMO myth that the technology does not work and continued to push their alternative of ecological agriculture (farming with no inputs or technologies whatsoever). The NGO’s four citations were to a biased news article, an undocumented and unattributed hearsay from IRRI and two to their own reports against Golden Rice. Talk about defending their scientific credentials! Greenpeace also retweeted an article in Ecowatch where the head of the Organic Consumers Association, Ronnie Cummins, declared that all of the Nobel Laureates were paid by Monsanto! Argumentum ad Monsantium!

This is classic “Age of Stupid” behaviour. Greenpeace is not engaging in debate with the leading scientific minds. They present neither facts nor evidence but rather attempt to cast doubt and undermine trust. They were responding to their tribe, sayng what their followers wanted to hear and disregarding the rest. But their tribe is getting marginalised: good leaders will continue to abandon the NGO; funding will decline (2015 financial statements showed yet another dramatic increase in fundraising expenses) and the mainstream public will continue to consider Greenpeace as an obstacle to progress and technology.


The list of Greenpeace colonization activities is stunning. Check it out.

Brexit and Trump: When Fear Triumphs Over Evidence

The psychology behind why so many people are willing to ignore the experts


Brexit proponent and politician Michael Gove, even made it part of his platform to fight the nerds; “people in this country have had enough of experts.” Because, what do experts know about things, right? Wrong.

In a clearly historic referendum with immediate consequences, 52% of the population voted for Brexit. As the nerds predicted, the currency immediately plunged, the prospect of Scotland leaving the UK became “highly likely,” and many people felt betrayed by their country. Some of those who voted to leave immediately felt “regrexit” about their choice.

So, why should you care? Because our pro-Brexit politicians mirrored Trump's campaign tactics and won. Far beyond the comparatively sensible argument of political sovereignty, Brexit campaigners won with anti-immigration invective, lies, and a misguided attempt to reclaim a past that never was. The press claimed we needed to make Britain great again. That’s not to say that the remain campaign did not try to use the fear as well - particularly the fear of a ruined economy—to try to keep the UK in the EU, but this was not nearly as emotional an appeal as the tactics used by the Brexit camp.

I have already written about the influence of false memories of a glorious past on political voting, but xenophobia and expert shaming are on another level all-together.



A history of violence: Evidence grows that gun violence in America is a product of weak gun laws

Evidence is growing that gun violence in America is a product of weak gun laws

"WITH awful, numbing regularity Americans use high-powered, high-capacity firearms to carry out mass shootings. And with awful regularity, efforts to reform America’s gun laws in the wake of such tragedies fail. (Indeed, a recent paper published by the Harvard Business School found that a mass shooting leads to a 75% rise in measures easing gun control in states with Republican-controlled legislatures.) More than 30,000 people die in shootings in America each year; no other rich country suffers anywhere near that level of gun violence.

Opponents of gun control argue that such figures have things backwards. In their view, widespread gun ownership deters crime, and thus benefits society. Advocates of tighter restrictions on gun ownership disagree: they believe the spur to gun crime from the ready availability of weapons far outweighs the deterrent effects. Social scientists have long struggled to adjudicate, since, on the surface at least, the data are ambiguous.

Pro-gun groups point out that rates of gun ownership tend to be highest in rural, sparsely populated states, where crime rates are low. By the same token, over the past two decades, as the number of guns in America has risen sharply, crime rates have fallen. Yet even as the number of guns in America has grown, the share of households with a gun has dropped steadily. Research published in 2000 by Mark Duggan of the University of Chicago concluded that the homicide rate had been falling in tandem with the proportion of households where guns were kept. What’s more, the homicide rate was falling with a lag, suggesting that reduced gun ownership was causing the decline, and was not simply a side-effect of a falling crime rate.

Other studies have reached similar conclusions. An analysis published in 2014, for example, using detailed county-level data assembled by the National Research Council, a government-funded body, suggested that laws that allow people to carry weapons are associated with a substantial rise in the incidence of assaults with a firearm. It also found evidence that such laws might also lead to increases in other crimes, like rape and robbery. A recent survey of 130 studies concluded that strict gun-control laws do indeed reduce deaths caused by firearms.



Interesting analysis.

"Living in the Age of Stupid: How to comprehend Brexit, Trump and the Anti’s"


This piece cuts to the chase on what's happening to our world, all too well.

The rise and inevitable fall of Vitamin D


"It’s been difficult to avoid the buzz about vitamin D over the past few years. While it has a long history of use in the medical treatment of osteoporosis, a large number of observational studies have linked low vitamin D levels to a range of illnesses. The hypothesis that there is widespread deficiency in the population has led to interest in measuring vitamin D blood levels. Demand for testing has jumped as many physicians have incorporated testing into routine care. This is not just due to alternative medicine purveyors that promote vitamin D as a panacea. Much of this demand and interest has been driven by health professionals like physicians and pharmacists who have looked at what is often weak, preliminary and sometimes inconclusive data, and concluded that the benefits of vitamin D outweigh the risks. After all, it’s a vitamin, right? How much harm can vitamin D cause?

There’s no lack of research on vitamin D. Unfortunately, much of that research has been observational, which can find interesting correlations, but can’t demonstrate cause and effect. While there have been some high-quality, large prospective trials using vitamin D as a therapy, there are also a huge number of smaller, poor-quality trials, many of which have produced positive results that haven’t been replicated in larger studies. The net effect has been lots of positive press, but some persistent questions that may not be as widely understood. A new paper from Michael Allan and colleagues set out to summarize the evidence base for vitamin D across multiple uses. It was published in the Journal of General and Internal Medicine, and is entitled “Vitamin D: A Narrative Review Examining the Evidence for Ten Beliefs.” And scanning the list, most of the common claims and beliefs are there: osteoporosis, falls, colds and the flu, cancer, etc. As a narrative review, it is important to note that this type of paper has a high risk of bias. The authors do state that they preferentially sought out systematic reviews and meta-analyses (which, when well conducted, can produce very objective information) but when wrapped in a narrative commentary, the risk of bias increases. This doesn’t mean the findings are incorrect, but that the conclusions emerging from a narrative review (compared to a well-conducted systematic review) will be less robust and quantifiable. While the paper is behind a paywall, I will touch on each of the myths and the evidence they cite, because the paper neatly summarizes the overall evidence base for many of the claims made for vitamin D that I and other contributors have discussed in past posts.


#10: No role for routine vitamin D testing

There’s a lack of evidence to demonstrate that routine vitamin D testing is necessary. The Choosing Wisely campaign recommended against routine testing as the results of the test are not likely to change the medical advice you’ll receive, which includes basic lifestyle advice (stop smoking, control your weight, be active, and to focus on getting your vitamin D from food and the sun). Despite the recommendations against testing, it has become widespread: In 2011, US Medicare spent $224 million on vitamin D tests for seniors.

Conclusion: More hype than hope

Despite the correlation of low vitamin D levels with an array of medical conditions, the evidence for supplementation remains unconvincing for most uses. Given the modest benefit, low cost, and relative lack of side effects, vitamin D, when used with calcium, retains a role in the prevention of fractures, along with the possibility it may modestly reduce falls and mortality. As for testing, you might need one if you have osteoporosis, or have any medical condition that affects your ability to obtain or use vitamin D. In the broader population, there’s no clear need for testing at all. This area, like a lot of nutritional research, is plagued with lots of low-quality evidence that is more than likely to steer us in the wrong direction. Until better evidence emerges, taking a cautious approach to vitamin D seems sound. Supplementation at modest doses is safe. If you do decide to supplement, remember that more isn’t better, and keep your dose low enough to avoid potential harms."


The author, a pharmacologist, assesses the state of the science for several claims regarding Vitamin D supplementation.

Good info!

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