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Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have.
 
-- Ronald Reagan

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Friday, January 24, 2003
 
The Crackpot Index

Didn't write this, but it's awesome. Original here.


A -5 point starting credit.

1 point for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false.

2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.

3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.

5 points for each such statement that is adhered to despite careful correction.

5 points for using a thought experiment that contradicts the results of a widely accepted real experiment.

5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those with defective keyboards).

5 points for each mention of "Einstien", "Hawkins" or "Feynmann".

10 points for each claim that quantum mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

10 points for pointing out that you have gone to school, as if this were evidence of sanity.

10 points for beginning the description of your theory by saying how long you have been working on it.

10 points for mailing your theory to someone you don't know personally and asking them not to tell anyone else about it, for fear that your ideas will be stolen.

10 points for offering prize money to anyone who proves and/or finds any flaws in your theory.

10 points for each statement along the lines of "I'm not good at math, but my theory is conceptually right, so all I need is for someone to express it in terms of equations".

10 points for arguing that a current well-established theory is "only a theory", as if this were somehow a point against it.

10 points for arguing that while a current well-established theory predicts phenomena correctly, it doesn't explain "why" they occur, or fails to provide a "mechanism".

10 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Einstein, or claim that special or general relativity are fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of a "paradigm shift".

20 points for suggesting that you deserve a Nobel prize.

20 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Newton or claim that classical mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

20 points for every use of science fiction works or myths as if they were fact.

20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined) ridicule accorded to your past theories.

20 points for each use of the phrase "hidebound reactionary".

20 points for each use of the phrase "self-appointed defender of the orthodoxy".

30 points for suggesting that a famous figure secretly disbelieved in a theory which he or she publicly supported. (E.g., that Feynman was a closet opponent of special relativity, as deduced by reading between the lines in his freshman physics textbooks.)

30 points for suggesting that Einstein, in his later years, was groping his way towards the ideas you now advocate.

30 points for claiming that your theories were developed by an extraterrestrial civilization (without good evidence).

30 points for allusions to a delay in your work while you spent time in an asylum, or references to the psychiatrist who tried to talk you out of your theory.

40 points for comparing those who argue against your ideas to Nazis, stormtroopers, or brownshirts.

40 points for claiming that the "scientific establishment" is engaged in a "conspiracy" to prevent your work from gaining its well-deserved fame, or suchlike.

40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on.

40 points for claiming that when your theory is finally appreciated, present-day science will be seen for the sham it truly is. (30 more points for fantasizing about show trials in which scientists who mocked your theories will be forced to recant.)

50 points for claiming you have a revolutionary theory but giving no concrete testable predictions.



 
Hmm

He reminded Muslims that they were "divided and weak," and no match for the West. Instead of talking about jihad and wars, he advised them to concentrate on providing education and health facilities to ordinary people and work with the West to achieve social and economic progress.


So right-wing nutjob? Nope, none other than Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

 
Culture of Death on the March

Spooky stuff here.

 
More Victor Davis Hanson

A bonus! Man, the "blood for oil" crowd just doesn't get it. Must be because it sounds so catchy. Like guns and butter.

 
Global Warming

I don't understand people like this. Why is it that a warm winter in Switzerland is proof of global warming, but the fact that we're all freezing our asses off here in the eastern US is not proof of a need for skepticism? Actually, I do understand, since the author is a WWF activist, and has a vested interest in keeping everyone scared of the weather. Ugh.


Thursday, January 23, 2003
 
Condi Rice is the Man!

"Why We Know Iraq Is Lying" from today's New York Times

 
Hope springs eternal -- especially when it is at someone's else's risk.

From Thomas Sowell's column today.

 
Autism Watch

See this by Thomas R. DeGregori, professor of economics at the University of Houston, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). He talks about the autism/vaccine story, which just won't die, and really hits the nail on the head.

In any story about children being harmed by medical science or by toxins in the environment, the readers' sympathy for children tends to cloud their judgment about the theories offered to explain the children's health problems. If the response of my students the day after that story ran is any indication, the thing readers retained was the plight of the autistic children. They should have known the larger issues because we had discussed them in class.

Lesson: It is difficult to fault reporters, who may have spent weeks researching a story, for using a lead that plays upon the readers' sympathy to hold their attention throughout the article. We have to find ways of showing sympathy for the children while separating the issue of their grievous misfortune from the scientific issue of the cause of their misfortune. (italics in original)

A little further down he describes what he calls "the Alejandro factor," which results when the story in the paper describes the supposed risk of receiving the vaccination, but fails to note, or notes in much less emotional terms, the risks of not receiving the vaccine. A good story, Mr. DeGregori may have just sold me one of his books!


 
VDH Alert

Have I mentioned that I love this guy? Today's column is his suggestions for the upcoming State of the Union address.


Tuesday, January 21, 2003
 
Character is skin deep.

According to Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). From today's Best of the Web: "Yes, we want to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. But what makes up character? If we don't take race as part of our character, then we are kidding ourselves."--Hillary Clinton at a Martin Luther King Day ceremony, quoted in today's New York Sun

 
Dennis Prager offers an explanation (in two parts; here's part one) of why blacks and Jews in this country overwhelmingly vote Democratic. I note it here, and will look at it more closely after I read part 2 (not yet published)

 
Sho-nuf

Jimmy Carter, former U.S. president, and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is attempting to broker a resolution to the 2 month long national strike going on down in Venezuela. Of course, as he does this, officials from North Korea are in South Korea, negotiating over the dead remnants of Carter's last high-profile international "agreement."

 
Why I love President Bush

"This looks like a re-run of a bad movie. And I'm not interested in watching it."

His comment today on the UN inspections fiasco in Iraq.

 
Good One!

David Brooks writes about SUV's today at Opinion Journal. (That seems to be a theme among today; see this by Johnathan Adler at National Review Online.) The best part of Brooks' article is when he describes Princeton professor Peter Singer thusly: "the most mysteriously prestigious thinker in America." Singer, in case you don't know, is the author of Animal Liberation, and is an all-around nut job posing as a serious thinker. He equates equal value to human and non-human animals, has no qualms about infanticide, and thinks the state should impose involuntary euthanasia on certain classes of people. And this guy is a professor of bioethics? Thus I am fond of Brooks' phrase, as I often wonder, why does anybody listen to this guy? He has about as much moral sense as a dead twig. He has a right to his opinion, of course, but honestly, in the market place of ideas why does anybody buy his?