Progressive experts: Please, don’t bother us with the facts

There is a long-running debate about whether homosexuals can “change” their basic sexual identity.  I have no idea.  I assume that a motivated homosexual can subordinate his identity.  People fight their biological urges all the time.  Whether that person is truly “changed” is another matter.  Perhaps it’s just a linguistics thing:  “subordinate” does or does not equal “change”.

The above are just my idle thoughts, and I really have no interest in pursuing them now.  What did interest me this morning was a New York Times online squiblet:

Isn’t that perfect?  “Experts” say gays can’t change, and they do so despite the actual evidence of men who claim to have changed (or maybe just subordinated their homosexual desires).  There it is, in one paragraph:  Thousands of men assert that they have changed — and experts claim that they’re lying because their claims run counter to theory.

You should read the whole article, which expands upon the apt summing up in that little paragraph.

Feynman on the pseudo social sciences

Just last week, I wittered on about my disrespect for so many ostensibly scientific studies nowadays, since they’re focused on establishing an agenda that they have little to do with the scientific methods.  And of course, I routinely lambast here those self-styled experts who are also pushing an agenda.  One of the worst areas for all this ideological crap propounded as science is “social sciences.”  Here’s the brilliant Richard Feynman pointing out the problem with these studies:

Hat tip:  Lulu

One big post, filled with all sorts of fascinating stuff

I’m very suspicious of “studies.”  As a liberal, I was ready to trust anything that came out of academia.  As a conservative, I’m suspicious of academia, because I know it’s more interested in specific outcomes than in the scientific method.  A good example of this is a survey that was sent around to Marin County women about a decade ago, based upon the statistical fact that Marin County women have a higher than average incidence of breast cancer.  Putting aside the fact that we have a substantial population of very elderly ladies (who are prone to breast cancer) and a lot wealth (meaning the cancer can be caught), one would think the survey would have looked into types of birth control, age of first pregnancy, number (if any) of abortions, breast-feeding history, etc.  It didn’t.  It asked about bacon and power lines.  I threw it away.  My daughter is in a study about how young girls grow.  They want to know about the number of chairs with cushions in our home.  I can think of more useful questions to ask.

There are definitely experts out there, but they’re really not in the colleges.  They’re working in the real world, amassing real information.  Which is all the more reason for us to be very worried about the way the Obama White House is morphing into Thomas Friedman’s wet dream:  an all-powerful entity that uses a small number of academic experts to control America.  His is the anti-democratic presidency.

Changing topics entirely, I’d never heard of Gregg Popovich before today, but I know about him now because he’s just joined the ranks of famous Americans who feel that it is incumbent upon them to insult the Americans who write their paychecks. I might not have noticed this bit of foolishness if it hadn’t fault on the heels of a virtually identical insult from Glenn Close.  My first thought was, “Glenn, why are you offending ticket buyers?”  My second thought was, “Oh, never mind.  You don’t have a career.”  (Of course, when she said we average Americans have the IQs of newts, maybe she was comparing all of us to the brilliant Newt Gingrich, in which case she’s forgiven.)

Speaking of Newt, this is why we like him:

Erick Erickson, of Red State, says Santorum is a big government social conservative, which jives with everything else I’ve read about him.  That’s the reverse of what I think is necessary in the White House and electable in the polling places.  Except for the fact that Quinn Hillyer at National Review says Santorum is also a true conservative who isn’t a big government guy, but respects individual freedom.  Two smart writers, two completely opposing views — what’s a voter to do?

I just want to say that I really, really like Tim Tebow.  I can’t help myself.  I just do.

We knew this, but now it’s in writing from a sycophant:  Obama is subordinate to his wife and doesn’t like the job he fights for so viciously.  Oh, goody.  Just what we need in the White House.


Are the experts ever right?

I still remember back in the 1970s when the news was filled with stories about a $50,000 study to prove the breast milk was good for babies.  For those of you too young to remember, back in those days, $50,000 was a lot of money.  Also, back in those days, there remained a few old-style media men who weren’t completely in thrall to the wonders of academics and experts and who could laugh at their excesses — and expect us to laugh as well.  As it was, though, I’m beginning to think that one of the great virtues of that study was that it was obvious from beginning, to middle, to end that the expert prediction was going to be right:  Mom’s milk was predicted to be good for babies and, by gum!, it was.

Maybe all these experts should stick to costly lactation studies because they seem to be wrong about every other damn thing they stick their noses into.  I won’t rehash global warming with you, but I will point out it came from the same expert line of thought that predicted global freezing in the 1970s.  I’ll also be polite enough to mention only in passing all those experts who assured us right up until the end of 1989 that the Soviet Union was monstrously strong and unlikely to collapse for any reason.  And we’ll just pretend it was a little mistake when foreign policy experts opined heavily that Iraq could not be won and that the Surge would be a disaster.

Today’s news again forces us to face just how inexpert those so-called experts are.  Given that the world is in a economic down-spiral because of the gloom-and-doom predictions emanating from experts, those same “experts” deserve to be slapped silly for overstating economic problems, thereby giving rise to even worse financial panic:

Steep slide in U.S. Economy, but Not as Dire as Forecast

The United States economy shrank at its fastest pace in a quarter century from October through December, the government reported on Friday, in the broadest accounting yet of the toll of the credit crisis. Consumer spending and business investment all but disappeared, and economists said the painful contraction was likely to continue at an alarming pace well into the summer.

The gross domestic product — a crucial measure of economic performance — shrank at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. The decline would have been much steeper — more than 5 percent — if shipments of goods had fallen as sharply as orders did.

What’s amusing is that at least one expert is spinning the story again (and I say this without any personal animus to the named expert, since I have no idea who he is, what he knows, or how prescient he has been):

“The difference between 3.8 and 5.1 percent is the inventory buildup,” Nigel Gault, chief United States economist at IHS Global Insight, said. “My only explanation is that companies could not cut production fast enough.”

With inventory accumulation gone, the economy will contract in first quarter at more than a 5 percent annual rate, Mr. Gault predicted.

I know I’ll forget to do so in three months, but it would be interesting to see whether Mr. Gault’s prediction proves right this time around.

As I grow older, I become less enamored of Franklin D. Roosevelt, since I’ve come to understand how disastrous his financial policies were.  Nevertheless, he was a great leader, a true statesman, and he understood one of the key tenets of a stable society:  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Panic and despair are bad government

Do they realize how stupid they sound?

To me, the first good thing about the Palin nomination is that it highlights Obama’s inexperience.  You can just hear him going around the house muttering, “I know you are, but what am I?  I know you are, but what am I?  I know you are, but what am I?”

To date, Obama has written two self-serving books; been editor of the law review, a student job, during which time he wrote only one anonymous note; served 8 years in a state legislature, which is a collegial, not an executive position, and in which he did not distinguish himself; been a law professor who left no tracks whatsoever; spent almost his entire time in the US Senate (another collegial, not managerial job) running for the Presidency; worked as an associate in a small law firm (associates are never managerial); and been a community organizer (whatever that means).  Significantly, his one executive experience was a complete bust:  Despite being a nothing and a nobody at the time, he was put in charge of a $100,000,000 project to improve Chicago schools.  Although he effectively channeled money to his political friends, the program made not a bit of difference to Chicago’s profoundly damaged educational institutions.  It’s a busy resume but, in terms of performance outcome, an undistinguished one.

Palin’s bio isn’t much thicker, but it shows her having (a) more executive experience and (b) more successful outcomes.  She’s raised four children and is working on raising a fifth, which is already a level of executive experience people who haven’t raised children don’t appreciate.  She spent several as a successful mayor of a small-ish town (which can be likened to being the CEO of a 9,000 strong corporation).  Significantly, she’s been a wildly successful, courageous, and non-partisan scourge of corrupt Alaska politicians and big oil interests:

Governor Palin has always run as the anti-corruption candidate. She served as Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2004, when she resigned in protest over the actions of her fellow Alaskan GOP leaders, including then-Alaskan Governor Frank Murkowski. She was furious over the fact that they ignored her reports of rampant GOP corruption. When she chose to run for Governor, the GOP establishment ignored her and supported the incumbent Murkowski. Palin beat him, and went on to beat former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles with no support from Alaskan GOP leadership. She has actively supported and helped the GOP primary opponents of current indicted Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young, and denounced both of them often in public.

Oh, and the forthcoming claim that Palin’s in the pocket of big-oil? Her ethics complaints were filed against people who really were in the pocket of big oil – she was on the outside, investigating.
Lastly, separate from her success rooting out corruption, she’s proven to be a very competent governor of Alaska.  And to to those who are snarky about Alaska’s small population, it’s worth pointing out that, while it comes in at 47 out of 50, Joe Biden’s Delaware comes in at 45 out of 50 — and he’s never managed anything in his state anyway.

So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.

“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major-party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.

Have these “scholars” been sleeping through the last year of so of Obama’s candidacy?  The man has job-hopped a lot but, despite his busy resume, he doesn’t emerge with experience any more significant than Palin’s.  More importantly, while he’s good at getting the position (law review, charity manager, state senator, etc.), once there, he vanishes and, instead, focuses only on his next resume building item.

Or maybe these “scholars” haven’t been sleeping at all, they’re just so blinded by partisanship, they don’t realize how stupid they sound.  As to the partisanship, that’s not me talking, that’s the McCain campaign.  Because respectable Left-leaning blogs are more honest than the MSM, Politico, in which the “scholar’s take” first appeared, updated it post with this statement from the McCain camp:

“The authors quote four scholars attacking Gov. Palin’s fitness for the office of vice president. Among them, David Kennedy is a maxed-out Obama donor, Joel Goldstein is also an Obama donor, and Doris Kearns Goodwin has donated exclusively to Democrats this cycle. Finally, Matthew Dallek is a former speech writer for Dick Gephardt. This is not a story about scholars questioning Gov. Palin’s credentials so much as partisan Democrats who would find a reason to disqualify or discount any nominee put forward by Sen. McCain.”

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.