Wednesday, January 1, 7000 - Permanent Top Post

Myth #4: Conspiracy theorists believe in UFOs / Aliens / Apollo Moon / Holocaust denial

This is a straw man and an ad hominem fallacy. Not all conspiracy theorists believe in the same things, nor does believing in aliens invalidate their arguments on other theories. The only thing linking these things is that they are all perceived to be conspiracy theories. Each should be evaluated on its own merits.

However, if a theorist bases their beliefs on poor argumentation, then other conspiracy theorists may want to distance themselves from him/her or question that theorist's ability to support their own ideas. Many such people are accused of being deliberately planted to discredit other theories, a technique called the 'poisoned well'. The media then proceeds to discredit an entire investigative movement based on a few silly theories - a strawman attack.

When the media lumps anybody who doesn't trust the government version of 9-11 into the category of flat earthers and holocaust deniers, any real conspiracy there might have been is given the ultimate defense. Namely, a pre-emptive, universal ad hominem on anyone who would dare talk about it publicly, the archetypal 'tin foil hatter'.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Debunking MADD - MADD “Statistics” Again Debunked - A Reality Check on DUI Claims

Posted by Lawrence Taylor

As I’ve posted repeatedly in the past, MADD’s prohibitionist zealots are fond of twisting statistics to justify their expansion of unfair laws, Draconian penalties and unconstitutional procedures.  See, for example, A Closer Look at DUI Fatality StatisticsMADDness and Lies, Damned Lies and MADD Statistics.
The truth is finally beginning to emerge:

A Reality Check on DUI Claims 
Groups purposely misstate fatalities
to further an anti-drinking agenda
The Tennessean, June 22 — Drunken-driving stories, like last week’s op-ed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving representative Alexanderia Honeycutt, make headlines every day.
Groups like MADD relentlessly remind Americans that the abuse of alcohol continues to be a huge problem on our roadways and, as a result, the most drastic measures are needed. Though truly "drunken" driving is a serious issue, much of the reported problem is little more than PR.
 Consider fatality statistics. The number of deaths that activist groups attribute to drunken driving is grossly exaggerated.
Last year, federal statisticians classified almost 18,000 deaths as "alcohol-related." However, alcohol-related does not mean alcohol-caused. In fact, that figure includes anyone killed in a crash in which at least one person (driver, pedestrian, cyclist, etc.) was estimated to have any alcohol. (If a sober driver recklessly crashes into and kills a family whose driver had enjoyed a glass of wine, statistics reflect all their deaths as "alcohol-related.")
In reality, the figure reflects a much broader spectrum of casualties: people under the legal limit, drunken pedestrians, impaired cyclists and others. After accounting for those people, actual innocent victims only make up 12 percent of the widely reported statistic — a considerably smaller amount than activists have led us to believe.
The anti-alcohol lobby has also invented fantastical talking points to bolster their bunk traffic stats. Honeycutt uses one of its favorites ("first offenders drive drunk on average 87 times before they are caught"), going so far as to accuse individuals of criminal acts with absolutely no proof to back up the claim.
The truth is that this widely publicized figure comes from rough estimates of self-reported data — commonly criticized as unreliable. Collected from a small sample almost 13 years ago, even the study’s own authors admit the estimates are "crude."

As I posted a couple of years ago, an independent study by the Los Angeles Times  found that despite federal figures claiming nearly 18,000 deaths caused by drunk driving in 2002, only about 5,000 of these actually involved a drunk driver causing the death of a sober driver, passenger or pedestrian.
MADD has used the same altered statistics to get all 50 states – with some federal coercion – to lower the legal limit to .08% and to expand the use of roadblocks:
In the 1990s, these groups used another "crude" statistic to convince the public that reducing the legal blood-alcohol content limit from 0.10 to 0.08 percent would save 600-800 lives annually. Today, research proves it didn’t work.
Their 0.08 push failed to have any measurable effects on traffic fatality rates. It only lowered the threshold for qualifying as a "drunken" driver, ignoring the fact that the majority of "drunks" wreaking havoc on our roads drive while more than double the 0.08 limit. One study in Contemporary Economic Policy concluded that 0.08 efforts would have been better spent encouraging effective measures against chronic drunken drivers.
Tennessee’s anti-alcohol groups aren’t heeding that warning. Instead, they’re demanding more funding, more legislation and more manpower for other misguided measures, like sobriety checkpoints.
These roadblocks are based on the idea that it’s more important to look "tough on drunken driving" than to actually go after the drunks. Checkpoints don’t catch many (if any) drunken drivers. In the largest program ever studied, Tennessee ran almost 900 checkpoints over the course of a year, stopping almost 150,000 of the state’s drivers. The result: a mere 773 DUI arrests — less than one arrest per checkpoint. Compare that to the impact of roving police patrols — a tactic that catches 10 times more drunken drivers than roadblocks.
But you won’t hear anti-alcohol activists like Honeycutt repeat that stat. Their groups no longer target "drunken" drivers, aiming instead to eliminate any drinking before driving.
Right now, the 176 million responsible Americans who drink in moderation can still safely (and legally) drive home after enjoying a drink. Furthermore, research shows that drivers who talk on cell phones, drive drowsy, or travel 7 mph above the speed limit pose a larger threat than those who enjoy a few drinks (and stay below 0.08) before driving home.
Disregarding the evidence, the anti-alcohol movement’s invented, inflated and distorted "facts" would have the public believe that there should be no legal limit except zero. This is the reason we all think one thing when the reality is another.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

FINALLY! Scientific American Writer Exposes the Tribal Cultist Arrogance and Dogmatic Lunacy of Science 'Skeptics'

Today I'm tipping my hat to John Horgan, a blogger who writes for Scientific American, for his extraordinary article entitled Dear "Skeptics," Bash Homeopathy and Bigfoot Less, Mammograms and War More.

In his article, Horgan rightly points out that today's so-called "science skeptics" are little more than dogmatic tribal cultists (my words, not Horgan's) who celebrate "skeptical" thinking concerning their selected philosophical targets while vehemently denying anyone's right to question their own beliefs on things like breast cancer screening, vaccine safety, global warming and genetically engineered foods.

As Horgan eloquently explains in his piece, real skeptics are skeptical of everything, not just selected topics that are targeted by the madness of status quo science crowds (i.e. the "cult of scientism").

Real skepticism means questioning everything... especially the status quo

A real skeptic, in other words, would bring critical thinking to all of our science narratives and cultural beliefs, including those that cover the origin of the universe (cosmology), the origin of the human species, the nature of consciousness, the long history of indigenous botanical medicine, the cancer industry and mammography, homeopathy, antidepressant drugs, water filters, the existence of God and everything else imaginable. But far too many of today's infamous "skeptics" (such as Richard Dawkins) are really just cultists who labor under the false banner of "science." And they're offensive to real critical thinkers, it turns out.

"I don’t hang out with people who self-identify as capital-S Skeptics. Or Atheists. Or Rationalists," explains Horgan. "When people like this get together, they become tribal. They pat each other on the back and tell each other how smart they are compared to those outside the tribe. But belonging to a tribe often makes you dumber."

I've seen this myself, on both ends of the medicine spectrum. I've seen insanely stupid pharmacology experts swear that statin drugs are such miraculous chemicals that they should be dripped into the public water supply. But I've also seen "raw foodies" at festivals swearing that their "water vortexer machines" could levitate water in defiance of the laws of gravity.

In both cases, my critical thinking alarms go haywire, and I shake my head in disbelief that so many people are so gullible, regardless of their level of academic education or technical mastery of certain subjects. A highly trained doctor with an IQ of 200 can be just as functionally stupid as a high school dropout, I've observed. In fact, when it comes to medicine and health, many so-called "experts" are so ignorant of reality that they almost seem cognitively retarded

Another layer to this cake is the strong likelihood that many of the leading 'Skeptics' are active (Government) disinformation propagandists, people like Michael Shermer, who ignore or obfuscate hard scientific evidence when it comes to high level corruption, such as with the September 11 attacks. Other issues related to science also come into play, such as hiding experimental evidence indicating the reality of ESP and the UFO phenomena.

I suspect that the leading proponents are recruited because they have corrupt, or intelligence-linked, backgrounds.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, May 26th, 2016.]