Friday, 25 September 2015

Dr Ben Carson, ignorance or lying?

Now there is no question that Ben Carson is a smart man.  He was a very skilled neurosurgeon.  But the problem with people that are extremely good at something is that they often inflate their ability or knowledge in another area.  Well Ben Carson is doing that here.

Now I'm a layperson when it comes to science.  Sure I'm a science geek and love to learn about various topics especially biology, psychology and physics, which includes cosmology and astronomy.  I'm not a scientist. I don't have a degree in the field.  But I am fairly well educated in the field.  So there is a problem if I can punch holes in his arguments.  There are things that I don't know for sure and I'll admit it when asked a question.  If I'm unsure of the answer I'll emphasise that fact and I'll probably go learn more to educate myself and I'd hope others would research what I said and if I was right or wrong about a topic.

So here I'm going to go through his speech and point by point I'll point out where he gets the science wrong.  I'll explain how much he gets the science wrong.  Note that his speech is only 3 min and 45 seconds long.  It is very easy to spout shit about stuff like this and raise doubts.  To convince people that often don't want to know the truth because it goes against their religious views.  It takes a lot longer to refute the claims.  This is because these things are often complex topics.  Learning isn't easy.  If it was everyone would be doctor or scientist.

First here is the interview

What Dr Ben Carson thinks about the big bang

11 seconds in and he uses the term "highfalutin" in regards to literally a whole field of professionals?  What would his response be if someone label all doctors as pompous or pretentious?  So he starts off with an ad hominem attack.  He leads with denigrating a whole field of scientists.  Why? Because he knows his audience is mostly made up of people that don't understand the field in question and don't like the implications it has.  Mind you this audience, as most audiences, wouldn't understand the technical details about neurosurgery either.  He knows it sets up the audience so they can more easily dismiss what scientist say if they ever do hear more.  Because they are just pompous and pretentious after all.

16 seconds in he say that "they" the highfalutin scientist "saying there is this gigantic explosion"
OK 16 seconds in.  2 words "gigantic explosion"
Lets talk about what they actually say.  The Big Bang Theory (BBT) says that everything we can see in the universe was condensed into a very small region of space.  If you watch the show The Big Bang Theory then you would have heard the theme song "Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,".  Already a TV sitcom gets the science much more right then Dr Ben Carson.It wasn't an explosion it was a very rapid inflation.  You might think I'm quibbling about terms but there are very specific differences.  An explosion is a sudden outburst of something.  There is a location where the explosion happens. Material is pushed away from that spot leaving a cavity behind.  This is NOT what scientist say happen in the early universe.  What they say is that there was a rapid inflation of space/time.  We know, thanks to Einstein, that space and time are part of a single whole.  It is space that expanded.  Now what was in this space is very different from what you and I see around us.  Atoms didn't even exist.  The energy density was so high that even protons and neutrons couldn't form. The stuff that they are made up of are called quarks and at those energies you can fit all the matter and energy in the universe into a very small region.  How small?  7.7×10−30m.  Now this isn't a size the human brain is used to dealing with.  A proton is about 1×10−15m.  So we are talking about a distance 1,000,000,000,000,000 (1 quadrillion) times shorter.  Now are physics at this point are not well understood for good reasons.  These are energy densities we can't even think about working with.  If we could we could be making universes left right and centre.  So gigantic?  Nope.  Explosion?  Nope.  It was a rapid inflation of space-time   Now see 1 paragraph to try to explain how 2 words are totally misrepresenting the science.  In actuality I could probably right pages on just this bit and I'm not a scientist.

3 more seconds and he say "Everything came into perfect order".  No! It most definitely did not.  In fact the early universe was very smooth.  I'm talking like the differences were 1 part in 100,000.  This in terms of the science is saying that temperatures where VERY even.  To give you an idea of how uniform that is think of the Earth and the temperature difference on it.  Now imagine that instead of having temperatures going from -95C to 56C (-128F to 134F) the temperature was just 21C (70F) The differences in extremes would be about 1/1000th of 1 degree C or 1.8/1000th of a degree F

The universe was even smoother and more uniform before.  This is what it was like 380,000 years AFTER the big bang.  For almost that entire time the universe was so hot, over 2,726C ~5,000F that light couldn't any where because it kept getting absorbed into the protons that made up the plasma that filled the universe.  So the universe started out VERY smooth and over 380,000 became much less smooth but still smoother then 1 part in 100,000.  At this point the inflation had ended but the universe was still expanding.  Stuff wasn't moving through space.  The space between stuff was just getting larger.  With this expansion comes the fact that the density was dropping  As that happens the temperature drops.  After about 380,000 the temperature dropped enough that the electrons whipping around the place could get captured by the atomic nuclei.  Not really "perfectly ordered".  Then the universe continued to expand. At this point there would be a glow everywhere in the sky like the sun but as the universe continued to expand this glow faded.  It then took another about 200 million years before the first stars formed as that very uniform gas started to condense into pockets of higher densities that formed from gravity.  Perfect order my ass.

25 seconds in and he presents to the audience terms they are probably not used to.  He mentions the second law of thermodynamics and entropy.  He wants you to think there is a problem that the scientists can't explain properly.  First off what is the 2nd law of thermodynamics or 2LoT for short.
It is that in any cyclic process the entropy will either increase or remain the same.  Well what is entropy?  Entropy is the amount of energy in a system that is available to do work.  Well there are 2 problems the 2LoT refers to "closed" systems and even if the observable universe was a closed system there was a LOT of energy to do stuff with.  How much energy are we talking about?  Well think of our sun.  It is about half way through its life on the main sequence. The observable universe has about 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times the amount of energy of our sun.  Note that even after our sun "dies" there will still be a far bit of energy coming out of it.  So yes as time goes on it will be harder and harder to do "work" in our universe but thankfully our universe has a HUGE amount of energy to begin with.

So 37 seconds in he say "you are going to have this big explosion and everything is going to become perfectly organised" well good thing that isn't what the scientist ACTUALLY say happened.

44 seconds in he says "when you ask them about it they say they can base this on probability theory if there are enough explosions over a long enough period of time" blah blah blah.  He already got the first bit extremely wrong.   But you may have heard something vaguely similar and I'll try to explain this.  Often you'll hear people say how finely tuned our universe is.  You might read some popular science magazine say how many different types of universe there could be out there. There are various hypothesis about where the universe came from.  Scientists don't say the BB (Big Bang) is when the universe was created.  We don't know that.  We have some ideas but the BBT (Big Bang Theory) just says we can trace back to a point where the universe was very hot and dense, again just like the song says.  Scientist also ask questions like "Why does the electromagnetic force have the strength it does?" "Why is gravity so weak in comparison?" "Why is the speed of light what it is?" "Why does the electron have the mass it does?" and the list goes on.  These are what we call fundamental constants.  They are numbers that we can measure but don't seem to have a reason why they have the value they do.  It is possible they could have other values but if they did the universe would act different then it does.  We may never know why some or even all the fundamental constants have the values they do.  On hypothesis is that these values some how get frozen in at the very first instance of inflation.  There is another hypothesis that inflation happened not just in what we can see.  We estimate the entire universe is at least orders of magnitude large then what we can see there might be other universes that bubble off that have different values for the constants.  This would result in a whole range of possible universes.  Most of them not at all compatible with life as we know it.  But this could be happening countless times which means there would also be a countless number of universes that would be very similar to ours.  This will blow your mind too.  It is entirely possible that this multi verse is itself infinitely large.  That means there would be an infinite number of universe.  Not only that there would be a smaller, but still, infinite number of universes that would be EXACTLY like ours.  But this is just hypothesis at this point in time and truth be told we probably would never be able to detect another universe. But it isn't incompatible with the models we use to describe and make predictions about our universe.

Well that doesn't even scratch the surface of that but he's distorted what the scientists actually say.  So lets just go with "We don't know why our constants are the way they are" but even so given they are constants our universe would have ended up pretty much like this no matter how many times you re ran the process.  Sure there might not be a Earth but there would be Earth like planets.  There would be the same chemical processes going on and there is every indication that there would be life in it that evolved to a point where it could ponder such questions.  So no we don't need the "perfect explosion" we just needed that inflation to happen and our constants to be about what they are.  They could even fluctuate.  Some of them could fluctuate quite a bit and life could still evolve let alone have stars, galaxies and planets form.

1 min 11 secs in and he's used the, what is normally tornado in a junk yard, creationist claim.  He just modifies it to a hurricane in a junk yard.  Normally this is used to try to discredit evolution.  Saying that there hasn't been enough time to form life blah blah blah.  But hopefully being a doctor he isn't that stupid about biology.  But you never know.  For the record the Vatican supports evolution and not just "micro evolution" because there is no such thing in science terms.  That is a creationist term and that is the audience he is talking to.  Again science says that given the constants of our universe the structure we see would be inevitable.  Might be slightly different like comparing a blue mustang with a red one. Essentially the same.

1 min 31 secs and he is amazed that we can predict a comet is coming in 70 years.  Dude, it is just gravity and high school maths.  Even if the constants where different we'd still be expect predictions of that type to be possible.  That is because the universe does have constants.  Perhaps if gravity wasn't a constant well then we couldn't make that prediction but then if it wasn't a constant then stars might never have formed let alone planets.  Bill O'Reilly has a saying "Tides go in, tides go out.  You can't explain that!" and he's just as fucking ignorant of the science as Dr Ben Carson seems to be.  We can predict tides because gravity is constant.  We know that the moon won't sudden'y take 10 days to orbit around the Earth.

1 min 40 secs in and he drops the "fairy tale" line to a crowd that probably believes that there was an actual first human male named Adam was formed from much by a human shaped magical being that knows everything  but yet didn't see that his creation would be tricked into eating from the tree of knowledge by a talking snake....yea that isn't a fairy tale.

1 min 43 secs "that is amazing!"  Yea scientist would think that too because that isn't what scientist say happened!.

1 min 52 secs "even if you use their own theories you have this mass spinning and then it explodes" NO! that isn't what the theory says.  How about he either learns what the actual theories say or shuts the fuck up about it.  I would never dream of walking into an operating theatre and telling some brain surgeon that he's doing it all wrong because I read a comic book that had a drawing of a brain in it.

2 min 13 secs he starts babbling about angular momentum and tries to discredit scientist even more by pointing out how some moons don't orbit in the same direction as most other moons. Guess what that is OK.  Because the total angular momentum is still the same.  Some moons where captured after the formation of the solar system.  Some might have been put into a different orbit because of interactions with other planets.  But forget that.  According to him the universe is in "perfect order" now he is showing us that it isn't. Hell out solar system isn't even in perfect order.  Something hit Venus so hard it almost flipped completely up side down so now it rotates in the opposite direction to most other planets.  Uranus is tilted on its side by over 97 degrees so one of its poles points almost directly towards the sun.  Again science explains this just fine because science doesn't say the universe is "perfectly ordered"

2 min 28 secs "what about the billions and billions of explosions that where not perfect?"  I don't know Dr Carson.  You are making up a fantasy universe that doesn't at all match what we observe and what scientist say happened.  Fuck where is Santa Claus?  Where is Darth Vadar?  Dr Carson's understanding of the actual science isn't even close to being right.  There is a saying used in science "That's not right. That isn't even wrong" and is used in reference to statement that are so off base it doesn't make any sense.  Kind of like someone say that taste of an apple is the letter J.

2 min 34 secs Again where is this debris?  Well if you want to talk about the multiverse then by definition those other universes are not connected to us.  If he means something else then again it isn't what scientist are saying.

2 min 41 secs He say it, science, requires an enormous amount of faith.  No ... no it doesn't.  It takes a bit of learning.  This argument is often used by creationist and there is a reason why.  Either they are just parroting it from someone they heard it from or they what to put science on the same footing as their religious belief.  Faith is defined as a strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.  Science is about finding actual evidence and seeing if that evidence supports or falsifies a hypothesis.  The 2 are not even remotely the same.   A person of ANY faith or no faith at all can go out and look at the data and test models and see if the predictions match observations.  We can't do the same with religious claims.  If we could there would not be so many religions.  Hell there would not be so many versions of Christianity.

2 min 54 secs and the first mention of God.  What does science say about gods?  Nothing.  Science is agnostic on the topic.  Why?  Because science is about describing the natural world around us in a manner that allows us to make useful predictions.  Deities are super natural and would be not subject to "natural laws" especially if you think they created them.  Now science can make statements about religious claims like the claim the Earth is only 6 thousand years old or that there was a world wide flood.  Both which are demonstrably false but those are topics for another day.

3 min 3 secs  he doesn't have enough faith to believe in scientist.  No he doesn't have enough knowledge in the appropriate field to believe it and probably doesn't want to because it threatens his very weak theology.  This isn't a dig against people that believe in any god(s).  This is a fact that his theology is very weak.

3 min 13 secs he claims that so many things have to violate the theories own principals.  No. His poor understanding of the science makes him confused.  That is OK if I had his false understanding of what the current science said I would probably be confused.  But instead of him going to learn he just wants to throw up his hands and says "God did it"  Why is he even a doctor?  Surely if his god knew someone was going to have a brain condition then that god wanted them to have it.  Let them die and go to the kingdom of heaven.  Ah bad theology there.

So let us assume there is a god. Are you telling me that you don't think your god could have set those fundamental constants up the way that it wanted? I hate calling the Christian God a he because I can't understand why a god with no other gods  would have a penis.  Set up the constants and set the universe in motion.  Dr Ben Carson's god is so inept that it couldn't produce the universe we see with continually interfering with it.  He's taken evolution deniers claims and push it back to the universe.  Just like creationist that don't understand evolution he doesn't understand cosmology.  Or maybe he does and he is just lying his audience.  I think the answer is some where in between.

Now think about this.  It takes him 3 and a half minutes to spout out a bunch of shit.  It takes a layperson over 4 hours to try to correct the lies he spun.  That is because making shit up is easier then learning the actual science.

 Many of you will still believe him.  Very few of you will bother to even investigate what science actually says.  Most people wouldn't even had read the first few paragraphs of this post let alone the whole thing.  But if just one person decides to actually look into how bad his ramblings are then my time was well spent. Because then you'll probably think how dishonest he probably is even if he does believe what he says because he has to much wrong and to much like long debunked arguments to have just thought this up himself.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Is it illegal to collect rain water?

Collecting rainwater is not illegal. In a few states it was very restricted like in Colorado, Utah and Washington. That ended in 2009 when those three states relaxed their bans. In a handful other states, rainwater harvesting is regulated. In these states you have to obtain a permit, which is in most cases is about making certain that your harvesting equipment doesn't contaminate groundwater. So it isn't illegal. It is like saying "Building a house is illegal" no, it isn't. Building a house without following the law is illegal.

There was a guy in Colorado who was jailed for 30 days back in 2012 but this is because he had been denied a permit, but went ahead and built three HUGE reservoirs anyway. So he broke yes he broke the law but not in the way this graphic suggests. Should he be allowed to defy the state regulatory agency?

Think about the situation tho. The idea of regulation of rainwater harvesting is pretty simple. Water falling from the sky is public property, not private property, and belongs in the water table where it can restore diminished streams and reservoirs. Those who collect it privately are "hoarding" it. Of course the opposite theory is: a person who uses rainwater first is consuming less public water. So it isn't a simple issue especially in places. You'll find that there are even communities that require rain water collection because it reduces the burden on the public water works.

The problem here is that on the Internet people are not being subject to any kind of screening, editing, fact checking, or anything else. It is a great place to plant and spread misinformation for political purposes.

Here is a good article about the actual situation instead of converting it into a sound byte that makes it sound like it is just big government getting in peoples faces for no reason.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Obama Hope and Change?

Yup he didn't enact most of the Change I wanted and I lost a lot of Hope on him because of that.  Like  many other presidents he disappointed me in many areas including the A.C.A. His position to be thought of at the great compromiser compromised the ideas he should have been known for.

What the average person hoped for was a better health care system.  What they got was a better health care system but not as good as it should have been.  Why? He compromised using a republican plan that still gives too much to a bloated and corrupt industry.  There are too many examples around the world of better health care systems to ignore them and go for a solution that ultimately is a big boon to the health insurance industry.  For example here in Australia we have a single payer system augmented by an individual mandate for those over a certain income level. This gives the government the power to control exploitative practices by the healthcare industry while still having a private healthcare and insurance option.  This leads to better healthcare across the board by providing a baseline of coverage that everyone gets with the option for persons to still have higher level coverage and access to doctors of their choice.

What the average person hoped for was a change to the politics in Washington.  What they got was the GOP stating that their number 1 goal was to make Obama a failure as a president by voting against him regardless of the benefit of the policies put forth.  Even when he compromised and decided to go with a “republican plan” as with the A.C.A. the GOP would vote against it. If you think about it he could have pushed through a better health care plan but compromised with an opposition that didn’t want compromise. Fuck they didn’t even want their ideas.  They just wanted Obama to fail.

What the average person wanted was some sensible gun regulation.  What they got is a few speeches and a ton of people not only not willing to even listen to some sensible gun regulation but even a loosening of gun regulations in many cases.  All backed by the straw-man argument that sensible gun regulations = take away all guns.  Often using false dichotomy that if everyone didn’t have guns America would be a lawless land. Using a Historian's fallacy that the founding fathers thought everyone should be able to have any type of weapon they wanted and that they would think that the same combat tactics of the 1700s could be used today against a 21st century military.

What the average person wanted was corporations and those running them to be held accountable for their actions.  What they got was more of the same privatization of profits but socialization of the risks. What they got was the words that corporations can be “too big to fail”.  What they got was inaction by the DoJ to pursue criminal charges against executives who commit white collar crime that dwarfs blue collar crime by several orders of magnitude.

I could go on and on. But I ask what was the alternative?  With Romney we probably would have got the A.C.A. at best and at worst a watered down A.C.A. where insurance companies could deny you coverage or cut you off when you got a major illness.  We would have still been kicked out of Iraq by the government there because the people were sick of seeing innocent people be killed by US contractors with no repercussions.  We probably would have seen social security get abolished and those funds used for more tax breaks for the highest end of the economic spectrum with the same flawed trickle down economic justification we’ve heard for the last 3+ decades.  We would see more workers rights eroded away leading to more corporate welfare like the abolishment of minimum wage in the argument that it hurts the economy to pay someone enough that they can live without working 80+ hours a week leading to a shifting of the burden of those people from their employers onto the social program systems.

Was Obama against marriage equality? Historically no.  We have his statements from over a decade before he ran where he was clear that he supported it.  He then did a typical politician move and changed that position when he needed votes.  He finally went back to that position when he needed the money from those that supported the position.  So his moral convictions wavered, as most politicians convictions do, when faced with a population that doesn’t care about getting rid of a bigoted law.

I’ll leave it there. You can read more about my position, both positive and negative, with respect to President Obama in other posts on my blog.

A review of a review of a book of a collection of essays.

This is a post in response to the following blog post about the content of a book found at

I've got a few problems with that abstract and I'll highlight them here. First: the need for a Western “forward policy” in the Gulf in order to protect U.S. and European interests, particularly oil and its transport, against both Soviet adventurism and the greed of Middle Eastern potentates. translated : the need for policies to protect western multinational corporations and their greed and shift the risks on to the American public via a cost in both American citizens lives and tax dollars to protect said western multinational corporation's interests. The mentality that the Middle East, or for that matter any place in the world where multinational corporations want to exploit local resources, fighting against said multinationals is a bad thing is simply "Fuck the locals, the world's rich people we identify as like us deserve that resources, and ultimately money, more than they do". When the Eastern block countries do it then it is "adventurism" when the Western multinationals do it then it is called "capitalism". One only has to look at the number of times crony capitalism, or as we call it in the USA 'Capitalism', has little to no regard for anything but short term gain because they know the risks they take will most likely not be shouldered by those that take the risks and get the reward regardless of the outcome. The "greed of Middle Eastern potentates" is also rich. It rubs us wrong in the west because of its imperial implication but our rich are effectively the same. They often inherit their wealth and control the politicians and thus the laws to keep themselves wealthy and thus in power. Would you complain if a US leader stopped Russia from trying to exploit any of the US's natural resources? Nope. Funny enough we let western multinational corporations rape those same natural resources further demonstrating Western potentates or as we call them "the mega rich American's" The issue is many American's look at those rich people and think "If I work hard enough I could be just like them" when the reality is it will never happen. Even winning the lottery a few times in a row wouldn't get you there. The American dream is just that. A dream that has been swapped out by those that already have theirs. So it is not much different then a "Royal family" in the Middle East. Second: The use of the word "liberal" in this synopsis with reference to the "West". The article refutes it's own claims by its own lead "how little we’ve learned about the Middle East.". One can not start out by pointing out how little the west has learned about the Middle East then call the US liberal. Third: The “affirming a disjunct” logical fallacy throughout the entire article. Is there truth to many of the reasons they claim there are problems? Fuck yea! But that doesn't mean that the way the West has exploited the area for almost a hundred years isn't also a significant part of the issue. You can’t handwave away those issues. Yet this is what many people want to do or are just ignorant of those issues. It reminds me of Bill Cosby. Denial that he did anything wrong. Shifting the blame and rationalisation when he is forced to a point that he can’t deny what he did wrong any longer. Much of the USA does it with regard to the black community. The idea that slavery was oh so long ago. “The got the right to vote decades ago!”. All the while ignoring the reality then trying to claim that blacks deserve to be targeted by law enforcement because they are just thugs. That all crime in the black community should cease before we attempt any further discussion about racism within the USA. Fourth: The idea that the "West" only wants democracy for the area and it is just these primitive people that won't accept it is the major problem. The reality is we've never really brought democracy to the area. We supported and often put in place the same autocrats the article complains about. Fifth: The idea of tribalism as bad. The USA can be thought of, in one respect, as one huge tribe. You'll hear it coined by other terms like "National Exceptionalism". The article will complain about a "tribe" wanting what is best for their local people while we want what is best for "our nation" which these days isn't really for the nation but again what is best for the multi-national corporations. We often subdivide our national tribe when we don’t like what is good for the national tribe. We push these things into terms like “State’s Rights” The fact is we are humans with a fairly well understood social evolution. For hundreds of thousands of years most humans, Homo sapien, whole social world was a few hundred people at most and tribal. People point to the bible thinking that it is a moral code for all people but in reality it is a code for a tribe. It is full of laws on how you treat people within the tribe compared to how you treat people outside of your tribe. Even western people still pull this tribal mentality all the time. Look at any competitive activity we are involved in. Fuck even things that shouldn’t be competitive we still do it. Every sporting team is drilled how they are some how better and more deserving than the others. When anyone tries to belittle “tribalism” like they are above it I’ll point out the hypocrisy they display every day of their lives. The comment of “Any progress towards political maturity has been stultified by their inability to comprehend any loyalty other than that to family, tribe or religious sect. Loyalty to the nation or to the constitution is a concept devoid of meaning for them.” ignores so much it isn’t funny. Look again at issues we have in the USA where people bitch about “State’s Rights”, often in a vain attempt to hold on to some bigoted view that most of the country finally recognizes is bad for society. Look at the religious divides in the USA. A small but vocal component of the Christian majority will cry persecution any time their doctrine isn’t allowed to be shoved down the throats of all Americans. Non believers make up about 14% of the US population yet when you look at representation within politics, especially federally, it is devoid of non believers. Why? For the same reason every president ever elected so far has claimed to be Catholic. Most people in the USA will vote for a candidate based on their stated religion over an opponent even in the face of the politicians actual positions. Iraq should not have been 1 country. It would be like if the USA the North East was primarily Secular Humanists, the South East was primarily Southern Baptists and the West was Hindu. You’d see that the USA wouldn’t work very well together. We need not look far to see this type of behavior. Look at Canada and the strong divide between the East and west and their mentality. Fuck look at Texas and tell me a decade that has gone by where there hasn’t been people bitching that Texas should secede from the union. When a national disaster hits you always hear people bitch how their tax dollars should not go to aid some other state. Realistically Iraq should have been 3 countries. The north which is primarily Sunni Kurds, the West where are primarily Sunni Arabs and the south which is primarily the Shia Arabs. It is understandable that a Sunni Kurd will have little ties to the Shia Arabs in the south and may not want to risk their lives for them. Fuck you have plenty of Americans that wouldn’t want to risk their lives for their neighbors because their neighbor is Black or White or Latino or gay or Muslim or atheist. If we had a civil conflict in the USA how do you think it would pan out? Oh fuck me we did and look America almost split in 2.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

FGM Female Genital Mutilation, what it is, what it is not, why you should care and what can you do about it.

This is probably something many of you don't want to know or let alone even think about.  For various reasons people will not discuss issues such as this.  The largest reason is society has a number of taboos when it comes to the topic of sexuality and things relating to sexuality.  This reason, like all reasons, any one can give about why people should not talk about topics like this are deeply flawed and far out weighed by the reasons to bring topics like this to light.  So I hope you will continue reading and find out what the facts are and what you can do to help combat against this torture of young women.

So what is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?  FGM is the complete or partial removal of the external female genitalia.  Some may claim that it is often no different then male circumcision.  The reality is much different.  Some argue that it is a cultural issue and no business of anyone else's to comment on another culture's practices.  But this argument ignores the fact that any time we identify a cultural practice as demonstrably harmful to an individual, group of people and/ or society as a whole we should make efforts to stop such practices.

  FGM falls under all 3 of those categories. It is clearly harmful to the individual.  Any procedure done against the will of an individual that is for non-medical reasons falls under this category.  Even if the girls are "talked into it" they are often to young to understand the ramifications of the decision and the pain, both short and long term, that they will have to endure.  The practice is demonstrably harmful to all women because its sole use is as a tool to oppress women.  To literally make sex unpleasurable for women and remind them that they are the property of men.  Finally it is demonstrable that it is harmful to society as a whole because we see time and time again that when women are oppressed in societies those societies do not do as well.  Societies where women are treated as equals have higher quality of living then those that do not.  The most successful way you can help a community flourish is to empower the women of those community and that includes giving them reproductive autonomy.

  Now to the specifics to demonstrate that this isn't just a form of "female circumcision".  The most minor version of FGM most closely resembles male circumcision.  Some apologists will claim this is the most common form but while the removal of the clitoral hood would be anatomically the same as a male circumcision, the reality is this rarely ever happens.  So Type 1 is normally the removal of the hood and the clitoris.  This is like saying that instead of a male having their foreskin removed they had not only the foreskin removed but at least the whole head of the penis.  Anatomically it it more like chopping off the entire penis.  And this is the most minor version of FGM performed.

  More severe versions of FGM removal of the labia minora, the "inner lips".  This is called type 2 FGM.  Type 2 can even include removal of the labia majora.  To shock you even further there are a total of 4 types each worse then the previous with varing amounts of damage being done in each level.  Type 3 includes actually sewing up the remaining vaginal orifice.

  There are other procedures done with FGM in various regions.  This includes cauterizing or even removal of tissue not by cutting but by abrasion.  Think of it like this.  A doctor says "We need to remove your hand." then whips out a large file and starts at the tips of your finger.

  While some procedures are done to babies, who won't remember the procedure, many are done to little girls around the age of 5.  Most procedures are, in fact, done to girls between the age of 7 and 10. Pretty much always these are done with absolutely no anesthetic.

  FGM has further complications and results in an extra 1-2% in  perinatal deaths.  Death rates from the actual procedure is recorded at 2.3%.  Compare this to the most overblown rates of death from males circumcision which is less then 0.009% or over 255 times less likely.  The more accepted numbers for deaths do to male circumcision is between  0 and 1 in 500,000 which means FGM is over 10,000 times more deadly.

Do you think this is just a problem of Muslims?  Nigeria has the highest rates of FGM and the occurrence in the Christian community is higher both in number and percentages.  Do you think it is only a problem in Africa?  A 2015  study estimates that over a half a million females in the USA are at risk of or have undergone FGM and that number is up from about 228,000 women in 2000.  It is illegal, thankfully, in the USA under 18 U.S. Code 116 - Female genital mutilation.  But this does not help girls when they go back to their parent's country of origin on holiday.  While it is illegal here the parents are not subject to prosecution if it is done overseas.  The Girls Protection Act of 2010 tried to address this issue and was cosponsored by 156 democrats and 21 republicans.  The republican controlled Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations blocked it from going to a vote.  I have no idea why they would prevent this bill from going to vote.  I can guess that the oppression of women is just part of most of their world view when you look at their voting records.

The problem needs to be brought to light.  Legislation needs to be enacted to protect those women in the USA from this practice.  More broadly we need to apply political and social pressure to stop this practice that at the end of the day serves no other purpose then to oppress women.  Something that in 1915 should not have been acceptable let alone 2015.  I encourage everyone to research this topic.  If you keep your head in the sand on the issue then that is your choice.  But as with all bad positions you hold it reflects on the type of person you are.  Yes I'm trying to guilt you into action because staying silent on issues like this is unacceptable in my opinion.

Read more about FGM here World Health Organisation
Google "FGM charity" to find were you can go to help.   Here is one article that lists 16 various organisations trying to tackle this issue.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Remember Solyndra?

Do you remember Solyndra?  This is the solar panel manufacturer that went bankrupt after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in government money.  The Obama administration was blamed for the program.  Loosing and wasting your tax dollars on left wing liberal projects that were supposed to help lower our carbon foot print.  So, was it really as bad as you remember?

This is a short post in reply to a FB post where I'm talking about how peoples views are often distorted by misreporting and out right lying by not only Fox News but most media outlets.  To often people latch on to this stuff and don't let go.  I still hear people make comments about Solyndra and frankly most people have no real clue what happened or even what "Solyndra" was.  They just use it as a "buzz word".  When people bag Obama there are a few "go to" terms.  Solyndra! Benghazi! Obama Death Panels!

The reality is most often very different from the shit that is in people's heads.  Yes "shit".  It is a very apt word to describe the "information" it is largely all the stuff that wasn't useful and probably just out right fake.  Much like what you flush down the toilet every day from your previous days meals.

Did you know that the program that gave Solyndra money was supposed to loose hundreds of millions of dollars.  $780 million dollars has been lost by 4 companies including Solyndra.  The Department of energy factored into the loan program these types of losses.  The whole program was supposed to loose money over all.  The costs was deemed acceptable because of the innovation it was expected to spur.  So Solyndra lost about 528 million dollars.  Three other companies folding lost the program another 150 million dollars.

Before I go on let me talk a bit about the DOE's renewable-energy loan program.  Normally we would hope that private equity providers, like Mitt Romney has made so much money off of, would be the source of funding for programs like this but people like Mitt Romney don't like these "risky" investments do they.  He doesn't actually like investments full stop when you talk about building up companies.  He's more for going in, transferring debt then dumping or dismantling the companies.  So the government had to step in.  The government has been doing this type of stuff for a long time.  Obama's administration isn't the first and it certainly won't be the last to issue loans like these.  Hell the banks get loans like these all the time from the government and they loose hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars.

Anyway what is the state of the renewable-energy loan program that was budgeted to actually loose money.  Well turns out that the program is going to make any were between 5 and 6 billion dollars.   Not bad aye.  Have you heard Fox News or any other news organization talk about that?  Did they explain that the program was supposed to loose money but ended up being a bit of a cash cow?  Probably not.  Doesn't work well with the view that the vocal right wing want to push that Obama wants to destroy America.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A response to Bob Francis

This is in response to the following face book discussion.

First off psychology is a science. It is highly statistical science but if you want to be a Scientologist like Tom Cruise go for it.
Second you don't start with a theory. You start with repeatable observations and experiments, analyse the observations in unbiased manners, things like double blind tests, and you formulate a falsifiable hypothesis which can also be independently verified. A scientific theory is a well substantiated explanation of some area of the natural world that arrived at after repeated applications of the scientific method. Continually testing new and existing data to see if the current theory is still accurate. If it isn't either the theory is falsified and may have its domain of applicability reduced and it is replaced by a new theory that makes more accurate predictions or more predictions.
Newton's law of gravity is an example of a Theory that while wrong is still widely used but its domain of applicability is reduced.
Your statement that they've stopped checking observations is disingenuous or ignorant, take your pick. It is like saying biologists have stopped checking if evolution. It is continually examined. New scientists in learning their field continually test current hypotheses and theories and many main stream scientists do the same.
Your example of Einstein is a good one. He originally predicted that GR indicated a non static universe and introduced a cosmological constant to keep it static. He later said that was "the biggest blunder in my career" and it was removed from GR for a very long time. Then we continued to test GR over the next 80 years. ~20 years after GR was published we found something that didn't add up within GR and that was the galactic rotation curves that indicated that galaxies where rotating to fast for the amount and distribution of matter within the observed galaxies. Pop forward another ~60 years and we discover that there is unseen mass around almost all galaxies. Mass that is at best very weakly interacting electromagnetically. Pop forward another 10 years and we discover that the expansion of the universe doesn't indicate that it is going to slow down but never quiet reach zero thus will expand forever and it isn't slowing down and never has been slowing down to cause a "big crunch" but in fact is speeding up and dark energy is introduced as the cause of the Hubble expansion.

The SAME type of stuff goes on with climate change. To say it doesn't ignores all the scientific work out there and frankly shows a very poor understanding of the scientific method.

You know why appropriate action isn't being taken. Because of people like you that want to deny the science kick up a stink if money was sunk into fixing the problem. Would you right now be willing to go through the pain and expense that it will take to fix the problem? The IPCC report is not only about the science but there is a whole volume that goes into mitigating the problem and it factors in how much people are willing to do. The science of psychology on this matter is pretty clear. People generally have very short term impulses that work against fixing problems like this. Politicians have short term goals of getting reelected. People might like the idea of not fucking over the environment or even other people but when they can be fooled or self deluded into believing that there isn't a problem they'll take the greedy option. Take Easter island as an example. That society kept cutting down trees and at some point you'd think that they might consider it a bad idea to continue to do so but no...they didn't. They cut down EVERY tree on that island. They destroyed their civilization. This isn't some "soft science" hypothesis. We know they did it. Captain Cook discovered the island before the population completely dwindled out. The boats they had were pitiful meaning they couldn't even fish properly any more.

So again if you don't know what is in the IPCC report please shut up and stop making false statements about the report and all the science in the report because YOU and everyone like you, including Fox News, CNN, etc. Everyone that either knowingly or unknowingly makes it look like the science isn't in or says that it isn't science because, even though you haven't investigated the issue you are sure that all those scientists are doing bad science, it it is treated as a "religion" is the problem.

Religions have "Truths" that are not independently verifiable. That is why we have thousands of denominations of the "Christian" religion, forget about all the other religions. Science, including the science of climate change is search for the best explanation to observed physical facts. The observed physical fact is our climate is changing. The fact isn't based off of 1 piece of data. It is from many different areas of the relevant sciences using data from many different sources. If you want to know about it then there is the IPCC report which makes it very easy to get a very large amount of work that has been done on the topic. Think of the IPCC report as a HUGE scientifically reviewed paper.
Are there still questions? Yes! Does that mean we should ignore everything we know until all those questions are answered? Not if you care about your grand children and great grand children. You and I might miss much of the problems. But Steven, Melissa, Bryan and Joshua won't. They'll be in the thick of it. And because simply pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere isn't a instant fix they are quickly being set into a future they'll not even be able to properly mitigate given the current science. It will take hundreds of years to get the oceans to return to normal. We'll never get back some of the aquatic life that is dying off because they can't evolve quick enough to the changes in their environment do to climate change.
The "taxing production" isn't a scientific solution. It is a political solution to try to motivate companies to change in a manner that is less economically impactful. I don't think that carbon should be taxed either. It is a stupid political trick to get people to think that the governments and companies are trying to do something. What needs to be done? Read the volume of the IPCC report that goes into that. There are many ideas that can be implemented put forth by many people much more knowledgeable then you and I. Not only "scientists" but others like economists.
It is like if you went to the doctor and they told you that you have a tumor in your head and they recommend an invasive surgery because based on their knowledge you'll die if it isn't removed. You might go to a few other doctors to get a second, third and forth opinion. Now imagine you've gone to 100 doctors about the issue and 98% of them agree that you need to get it operated on. None of them will guarantee your survival. Of the 2 others 1 suggests you use this drug that they say will help and you know that doctor has received a lot of money from the pharmaceutical company that makes that drug. Last doctor isn't sure that the tumor will continue growing or even if it does that it does you might have a better quality of life not operating. Then Alex, your neighbor, comes over and says that through meditation you can heal yourself. A work mate comes to you and says all you need to do is use a pillow with magnets. And another person that noticed you reading up on the topic of brain tumors while on the train tells you they heard that brain tumors actually can make you smarter. Who are you going to listen to? In reality you probably wouldn't get to 10 doctors. You'd be faced with doctors on one side pretty much in universal consensus about what you should do and quacks on the other side. Then CNN picks up your story and they'll bring 1 of the doctors on and Alex on to have a "debate". Hopefully most people will walk away hearing that all the doctors you went to see agreed on the treatment but a good percentage of people will hear that meditation has been found to work, even though there isn't any science or real evidence behind it, and they'll think you should go down that route because it is less invasive. That is what it is like. You can disagree but, by what you've posted, you clearly don't understand the issue.