Archive for August, 2021

The Afghan issues that “experts” missed…

August 31, 2021

An op-ed in the NY Post caught my eye…

The author is Rebekah Koffler a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer

Her fundamental conclusion:

After 20 years of immense effort by American warfighters, intelligence personnel, diplomats and aid workers to turn Afghanistan into what Westerners consider a normally functioning society, it has reverted to the same chaotic and brutal place that it has been for centuries.

The root cause:

US “experts” conjured up “pie-in-the-sky” policy ambitions and wrongheaded warfighting strategies.

They failed to anticipate how the insurgents in Afghanistan might adapt, fight and stymie the world’s most sophisticated and technologically advanced military.

They underestimated how resourceful a highly motivated weaker power can be when faced with a more powerful opponent

More specifically, Koffler  points to:

> Mission creep: After the American military quickly achieved its initial objective of defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan, the establishment continued to press on with the usual, and doomed, mission of nation-building, security assistance, and training and equipping the incapable Afghan army.

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> Cultural ignorance: “The reason America had to spend 20 years in Afghanistan involves a profound lack of foreign cultural expertise in the intelligence and national security communities … all of which failed to recognize how alien the Western concepts of democracy, women’s rights and the like, are for a tribal, patriarchal Afghan culture.”

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> Adversaries’ passion & focus: The Taliban-inspired insurgents had religious ferocity and an Afghan identity that is wrapped up in resisting foreign invaders.

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> Hidden in plain site.: The Taliban looks rag-tag in their non-uniform native garb … which make them — save for those carrying automatic rifles — hard to distinguish from non-combatant civilians (and kill on site).

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> Defanged military tactics: “The insurgents’ employment of simplistic, homemade improvised explosive devices (IEDs) enabled them, the weaker side, to prevail over US forces. and mitigate US advantages in resources, technology and ground combat.”

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Retrospectively, the picture seems so clear…

The end of American exceptionalism ?

August 27, 2021

 

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Biden press conference August 27, 2021

Seriously, who’s calling the shots?

August 27, 2021

During Biden’s press conference he alerted reporters:

“Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list. The first person I was instructed to call on was Kelly O’Donnell from NBC.”

That revelation set off a tweet-storm asking who is “they”, why is Biden acting as a willing puppet and why isn’t there broader concern.

Biden reads dutifully from the teleprompter that he’s making the decisions and that he accepts the responsibility.

Does anybody really believe that?

Wouldn’t you like to know who’s really pulling the strings?

Maybe some day they’ll be outted .. but, I’m betting the under.

NYT: 72% of young NYC Blacks unvaccinated…

August 26, 2021

According to the NY Times, only 28% of the city’s 18 to 44 year old Blacks have been vaccinated.

And, based on interviews, there a couple of explanations for the low vaccination rate …

The overall theme: distrust of the government, health care system and law enforcement … a sentiment has been aggravated by a couple of self-inflicted government backfires:

Vaccination Priorities

> Early-on, in the sprit of “equity”, Blacks were sorted high on the priority list for vaccinations.

The backfire: “Since when does the government give anything good to Black people first?”

That raised heightened memories of the Tuskegee experiments.

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The J&J Pause

> Also early-on, NYC “directed the 1-shot J&J vaccines to Black and Latino neighborhoods”.

When the J&J vaccine was put on hold,  it reaffirmed the perception that “they’re experimenting on us” … that the vaccine was being tested on Blacks.

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Survivor Confidence

> Blacks have been hard hit by Covid … with an infection and death rate about twice that of Whites.

So, many young survivors — who were down the priority list for the first wave of scarce vaccines — heeded the government advice that they were at relatively low risk … or, concluded that they either had already been infected, now had natural immunity and didn’t need the vaccine.

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Perverse Incentives

> Now the government is offering cash payouts to people to people who get vaccinated.

To some, that plays into the perception of recruitment into a science experiment: ”It must be bad if they have to pay people to take it”.

And, city officials threaten to ban unvaccinated folks from public places (e.g. restaurants).

That’s a policy that would obviously, and disproportionately, impacts Blacks.

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Biden & Harris Said

Add to the list that both Biden & Harris, as candidates for office, declared that they wouldn’t trust a vaccine developed by Trump on at “Warp Speed”.

First impressions anchor perceptions… it’s hard to unhear something that you heard!

Seriously, why hasn’t the Afghan Taliban been besieged by Covid?

August 25, 2021

A week or so ago, the Babylon Bee ran this satire piece:

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Fake-quoting CNN anchors:

“The Taliban is showing all of us the proper way to behave during a pandemic — something those horrible idiot Trump supporters don’t seem to get.”

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That got me thinking…

Why are there no reports of a rampant Covid spread around Afghanistan.

Despite the odds, has  Afhganistan been spared from the virus and his consequences ?

Seems unlikely.

When I see pictures coming out of Kabul, I see large crowds, tightly packed, minimal sanitation … ripe for superspreading.

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Despite the Bee’s insinuation to the contrary, the Taliban warriors aren’t pictured wearing N-95s.

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Gotta believe that the Afghan hospital system is a mess … and focused on fighting casualties.

So why haven’t there been reports of soaring Covid case rates … and high Covid-related death counts?

Hmm…

Dilbert asks: “Who wants a bully in the White House?”

August 24, 2021

Is it really better to have a groveler-in-chief dealing with our adversaries?

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Watching Biden Biden grovel to (1) the Taliban, asking them to please let Americans leave Afghanistan after his botched troop draw down, (2) Putin, asking for permission to establish air bases in Asia … and being told to pond sand, (3) OPEC, asking them to boost oil production to offset the forced cut in U.S. oil production and ease gas pump inflation, I recalled a prior (and once again on-point and timely) HomaFiles post.

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During the 2016 Presidential campaign, cartoonist Scott Adams hit the nail on the head on his Dilbert blog, …

Adams observed that, during the campaign, Hillary’s constant refrain was that we can’t have a loose cannon bully in the White House.

Of course, Dems and their media friends kept that notion front-burnered during the campaign.

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Adams cut to the chase on on “Dangerous Trump”:

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Where are the Bagdad Bob comparisons?

August 23, 2021

Watching Biden’s teleprompter reading of “his” Afghan update last Friday, I couldn’t help but recall Baghdad Bob — the Iraqi PR minister who was ubiquitous proclaiming that Iraqi forces were prevailing over the U.S. military … though the concurrent split screen images were graphically depicting a contrary reality.

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Even the NY Times had to bust Biden for outright lying to paint an alternative rosy universe contradicted by real time  happenings on the ground.

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The NYT fact-check article emphasized 3 points:

1. Allies’ Response

> Biden: “I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world.”

NYT: governments (e.g. Britain, Germany) have not minced words in questioning American leadership and credibility.

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2. Al Qaeda Presence

> Biden: “What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with Al Qaeda gone?

NYT: The Taliban continues to maintain its relationship with Al Qaeda, providing safe haven for the terrorist group in Afghanistan …Al Qaeda has a presence in at least 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

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3. Airport Access

Biden: “We have no indication that American citizens who are carrying an American passport haven’t been able to get — in Kabul — through the airport.”

NYT: Reports from Afghanistan contradict this statement and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul sent a security alert  warning American citizens, legal residents and their families that the “United States government cannot ensure safe passage to the Hamid Karzai International Airport.”

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To be sure,  NYT isn’t a right-wing rag … and these are not “little white lies” … they are central to the crisis at hand.

So, where are the Baghdad Bob comparisons?

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P.S. Since Biden was vacuously reading from his trusty teleprompter, gotta wonder: “Who wrote that speech … and who fact-checked it?”

Uh-oh, Joe: The lines have crossed…

August 20, 2021

Previously, approval dipped below 50%
… now, a plurality disapproves.
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According to the latest poll from left-leaning Reuters-IPSOS:

> 46% of American adults approve of the job that Biden is doing

> 49% disapprove … putting Biden 3 points underwater on net total approval

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Polling from right-leaning Trafalgar Group, confirms that a plurality disapprove of the job that Biden is doing … 46.5% approve, 47.6% disapprove.

Digging deeper. Biden’s net strong approval (a measure of intensity), is underwater by 14.9 points … 26.7% strongly approve,  41.6% strongly disapprove.

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Consistent with Trafalgar’s numbers, left-leaning Economist/You Gov poll puts Biden’s net strong approval 11 points underwater.

Digging still deeper into the poll’s internals…

> Blacks’ net strong approval — while still a sky high 29% — has dropped 5 percentage points

> Hispanics’ net strong approval dropped 4 percentage points … putting Biden 7 points underwater with Hispanics

> GOP strong disapproval jumped 7 points to 76% … and net strong disapproval increased by 9 percentage points to 73%

> While Dems’ net strong approval is still a sky high 48% … strong approval has dropped to 50%

Said differently, only half of Dems strongly approve of the job that Biden is doing.

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Gotta believe “the data” … right?

Covid: Square this circle for me.

August 19, 2021

According to the latest Economist-YouGov polling:

> 22% strongly approve of Biden’s handling of Covid; 31% strongly disapprove … for a net disapproval of 9 percentage points

> Among Blacks, 36% strongly approve, 11% strongly disapprove… for a net positive approval of a whopping 25 percentage points.

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But, according to Kaiser (channeling CDC data):

> Approximately 50% of Whites have been fully vaccinated

> But, only 40% of Blacks have been fully vaccinate

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If 61% of Blacks approve of the way Biden is handling Covid (36% + 35%) … and 25% net approve based on “strongly” ratings … why are only 40% vaccinated?

I understand the historical government malfeasance (i.e. the Tuskegee “experiment”), but if Blacks trust Biden and approve of the job he’s doing on Covid, why aren’t the vaccination rates higher?

Early on, access to vaccines may have been an issue.

But now, vaccines are as freely available as Kohl’s coupons.

Hmm.

MUST READ: About the 25th amendment…

August 18, 2021

There are implications beyond the prospect of Kamala’s ascendency to the Presidency.
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Given the Afghan fiasco, there are already rumblings about the Dems invoking the 25th Amendment on Biden.

For now, let’s skip over the questions of whether there’s a strong case to be made … and whether it could be pulled off.

We’ll jump to the “what if?” implications.

But first, some background…

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The Constitution

There are 4 sections to the 25th Amendment.

We’ll skip Sections 3 and 4 which deal with the political processes and focus on the core ramifications.

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Here’s how Sections 1 & 2 work

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Nixon, Agnew, Ford & Rockefeller

In 1972, Nixon was elected president and his running mate, Spiro Agnew was elected vice president.

In 1973, Agnew was investigated “on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, bribery, extortion and tax fraud” … he pleaded no contest to a single felony charge of tax evasion and resigned from office.

President Nixon nominated Gerald Ford to be the new vice president pursuant to Section 2. Ford was confirmed by both the Senate and the House. by a wide majority

In 1974, Nixon resigned and Ford became president under Section 1.

The office of vice president was thus again vacant.

Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller, former New York governor, for the vice presidency. Rockefeller was confirmed by a majority of both the Senate and House.

Tidbit: Ford, who was defeated by Carter in 1976, is the only president to have been elected neither president nor vice president.

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So, what if?

Now, let’s pretend that the Dems invoke the 25th Amendment on Biden and prevail.

Vice President Harris becomes President Harris… and the VP position becomes vacant.

OK, so Harris nominates somebody to be VP.

Here’s where things get interesting…

Keep in mind that the Senate is split 50-50.

Now when there’s a tie, VP Harris steps in to break the tie and Dems prevail.

But, if the 25th were invoked, there would be no tie-breaking VP and Section 2 calls for a majority … a tie isn’t good enough.

Hmmm

So, the GOP could stonewall any nomination that Harris puts forward … and in the process, deny Dems a majority vote on any issue.

Take for example, the $3.5 trillion “Make America Sweden” Bill (aka the human infrastructure bill).

The GOP could block it without even needing Mancin or Senema to vote against it.

Double hmmm.

More generally, invoking the 25th would potentially stop the Dem’s socialist agenda in its tracks.

Suddenly, the thought of President Harris doesn’t sound so bad…

Obama: “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f–k things up.”

August 17, 2021

Given Biden’s declining poll numbers — Covid chaos, high inflation, energy dependence, Afghan meltdown, southern border mess — I thought it was time for a flashback.

A warning that all of this would happen … from no less than Barack “Birthday Bash” Obama…
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Holy Smokes.

Last year,, hard-left Politico ran an article sub-titled “What Obama really thinks about  Biden”.

I expected it to be typical Biden puff piece.

Suffice it to say that I was surprised.

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In Obama-speak, the former President “took Joe to the hoop”…

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Uh-oh, Joe: Declining approval down to 50% …

August 16, 2021

And , intense disapproval is growing.
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In the past couple of weeks, there have been occasional polls scoring Biden’s job approval at or below 50% … generally attributed to Covid mis-steps, border chaos, spending-induced inflation, pay-to-don’t play unemployment benefits, reversion to MidEast oil dependence and now, the Afghan implosion and global disgrace.

Even CNN has noticed and had some Freudian on-air lapses:

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More generally, the polling has reached consensus status.

In  RCP’s most recent poll-of-polls, Biden’s job approval is down to 50% … and, disapproval has has increased by more than 10 percentage points since inauguration day.

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And, Biden’s plight may be even worse than the top-line numbers indicate.

Let’s dig a little deeper.…

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Marketers often look at a metric called the “Net Favorability Index”.

That measure considers only the most extreme consumer perceptions: strongly approve, strongly disapprove … and subtracts the latter from the former.

The net number is a proxy for the intensity of consumer sentiment.

OK, so how’s Joe doing on his job’s net favorability metric?

Answer: Not so good.

According to survey data gathered by the left-leaning Economist -YouGov

> 23% of Americans strongly approve of the job that Joe’s doing … 33% strongly disapprove … for a net disapproval of 10 percentage points.

In pollster-speak, he’s 10 points underwater.

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Digging a little deeper, Biden’s job approval is…

> 17 points underwater among men; 4 points underwater with women

> 34 points above water with Blacks, but 17 points underwater with Whites.

> 46 points above water with Dems, but 64 points underwater with Republicans.

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Perhaps most important, Biden’s job approval is is only 14% among Independents … and his job disapproval with that group a whopping 40%.

Said differently, Biden is 26 points underwater with Independents.

Buyer’s remorse?

Completely predictable…

Vax: Maybe the “hesitants” are being completely rational…

August 13, 2021

Behavioral economics prevail when personal risks outweigh the personal benefits.
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Economist-YouGov released survey results that asked people about their Covid experience and attitudes.

Here are a couple of the questions that caught my eye….

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19. Do you personally know anyone who has tested positive for covid-19?

> 39% did not personally know a close friend or family member who tested positive for Covid.

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20. Do you personally know anyone who has died due to complications from covid-19?

> 67% did not personally know a close friend or family member who had died from Covid.

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My take: Except for people who are undeniably vulnerable (e.g. seniors), those  who haven’t been personally touched by covid’s health consequences are less likely to be vax-inclined. And, many have not been personally touched by covid health consequences.

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32. Which do you think is a greater risk: possibly contracting COVID-19, or possibly having a bad reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?

> On average, 39% perceive that the risks outweigh the benefits, but…

> Those over 65 perceive the benefits to outweigh the risks — 72% to 28% (a ratio of 2.5 to 1)

> Those who are 45 to 64 perceive the benefits to outweigh the risks — 63% to 37% (a ratio of 1.7 to 1)

> Those 18 to 44 perceive the benefits to outweigh the risks — 53% to 47% (with rounding, a 50-50 proposition)

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So, just based on the perceived risk – benefits numbers, you might expect seniors to be more vax-inclined … and, they are, with a 90% vax rate.

And, you’d expect younger folks to be less vax-inclined … and they are (with vax rates running in the 50s or 60s).

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I think that just about everybody buys into the vaccines’ benefits: 90%+ protection against hospitalization and death.

So, what about the risks?

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30. Among people who have been vaccinated: Have you experienced any negative reactions to the vaccine?

> About 1 in 5 vax recipients report that they experienced “negative reactions” (i.e. side effects) from receiving the vaccine.

> A slightly higher percentage of those 18 to 29  reported a negative reaction … almost 1 in 4

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Those are just the immediate negative vax reactions.

What about the longer term risks?

The CDC — speaking on behalf of “the data” and “the science” — says that there are absolutely no long-term risks of serious complications.

There isn’t data to conclude that there won’t be negative reactions in, say 20 years.

And, while “the science” may conjecture about future health risks being inconsequential … there’s no experiential certainty … and there are plausible arguments to the contrary.

See our summary post: Unexpected things happen when you start fiddling with the innards of living cells.”

So, what?

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For the sake of argument, let’s assume that there is a low but statistically significant risk of future health consequences (i.e. a probability greater than zero).

If so, it logically follows that the longer a person’s remaining expected life span, the higher the probability that they would incur a negative health consequence.

So, an older person (highly vulnerable to severe covid health consequences)  might reasonably conclude that the expected benefits from getting vaccinated (protection from hospitalization and death over a short time horizon) exceed the risks of future related health consequences (over a short expected “natural” life span).

Conversely, a younger person who has low vulnerability to a consequential covid infection may perceive the vax benefits to be minimal compared to the possibility (albeit low) of a severe future health consequence (given their otherwise long expected life span).

Said differently, it’s completely rational for a vulnerable senior to rush to get vaccinated … and, conversely,  quite reasonable for a low-vulnerability young person to wait & see.

That’s how risk-benefits behavioral economics works.

It’s completely rational.

Baltimore: “Almost half of our kids are failing … and nobody seems to care”

August 12, 2021

The Baltimore City Schools  System recently released average high school GPA scores for  the first three quarters of the past school year.

The numbers are shocking!

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Source

You read that right.

Over 40% of Baltimore’s 20,500 public high school students averaged a D grade or lower.

Of course, covid’s “learning disruptions” have had an impact, but…

Pre-covid, 24% of the students were averaging a GPA below 1.0, so covid disruptions only get about half the blame.

The school board says that it is providing students with a variety of opportunities to acquire the “unfinished learning” they lost.

But, few students are taking advantage of the learning opportunities.

Nonetheless, the schools’ policy is that no student will be held back for failing classes.

All will progress to the next grade level.

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Jovani Patterson ran for Baltimore City Council President last year on a platform that included accountability in education.

He lost!

Stating the obvious, Patterson now says:

This is just further perpetuating a cycle of poverty, of despair.

If almost half of our kids are failing, what options do they have after high school?

Our schools outspend 97% of other major school districts but we don’t see much change.

City leaders don’t care at all.

Everyone should be speaking out about this.

But, they aren’t….

McKinsey: The pandemic’s learning loss…

August 11, 2021

A 1/2 year of learning lost, but majority of parents are unconcerned (or oblivious)
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McKinsey recently published an analysis of the the impact of the pandemic on students’ academic progress.

COVID-19 and education: The lingering effects of unfinished learning

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The Reality

Citing standardized testing results by Curriculum Associates, the McKinsey researchers conclude:

> More first and second graders have ended this year two or more grade levels below expectations than in any previous year.

> On average, K–12 students are now 5 months behind in mathematics and 4 months behind in reading heading into this school year.

> The learning loss is most severe for students attending majority black schools

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Those results are in line with prior studies and projections re: learning loss, so they didn’t surprise me.

But here’s something that did…

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Shades of Alfred E. Newman

Alfred E. Newman was the lead character in the Mad Magazine (pop in the 60s and 70s).

His blasé, often oblivious mantra was “What, me worry?”

Apparently, a majority of parents are adopting a 2021 variant of the Newman philosophy.

Based on a large scale survey of parents, McKinsey researchers conclude that “parents underestimate the learning gap caused by the pandemic.”

Specifically, across all races, more than half of parents think their child is doing just fine.

> 40% said their child is on track academically despite the pandemic

>16% percent said their child is progressing faster than in a usual year

> Only 14 percent of parents said their child has fallen significantly behind.

Black parents are slightly more likely than white parents to think their child is on track or better.

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Perceptions vs. Reality

I’ve been wondering why there has been so little attention being given to the learning gap that students have incurred during the pandemic.

I chalked it up to the dirth of union-resisted standardized testing … and,  the media-fueled obsession with CLT, equity math and transgender accommodations.

I missed the obvious: A majority of parents are either oblivious  … or worse, just don’t care if we’ve fallen behind 27 other countries in academic achievement.

My hunch: Even Alfred E. Newman would fret over that.

Old School: Target offers employees a paid tuition program…

August 9, 2021

Ah, for the good old days…

Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s it was commonplace for employers to offer tuition reimbursement programs to employees.

I know because I took masters courses in economics courtesy of a mid-sized machine tools company … and got my Univ. of Chicago MBA courtesy of a multi-national food retailer.

The terms and conditions were simple:  I had to pay upfront … and when I had proof of payment and a course grade that was B or higher, my employer reimbursed me for the schools’ tuition.

There was some small print requiring the courses to be “business-related” … but that wasn’t a issue in those days since workers were trying to advance their careers.

Companies benefited  since each job-related course increased employee’s value to the company and since the program had a “stickiness” that helped retention.

Employees benefited since they were getting a free education … and potentially a free degree.

Of course, there were indirect costs borne by the employees … mostly the sacrifice of free time since courses (and “homework”) were done in the evening or on weekends … and degrees seemed to take forever when taking only 1 or 3 courses at a time.

Bottom line: It was a win-win for companies and employees.

But, the tuition benefit seemed to fade away when tuition-inflation caused costs to skyrocket… and, when course offerings and degree majors became less practical and way less job-related.

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Fast forward to today.

Many companies are rekindling the old school programs … offering employees a chance to complete or advance their studies at little or no cost.

The latest example: Target.

Team members will have a range of options, including courses for high school completion, college prep and English language learning as well as select certificates, certifications, bootcamps, associate and undergraduate degrees.

Target is partnering with education and upskilling platform Guild Education to provide easy access to more than 250 business-aligned programs from over 40 schools, colleges and universities.

Read the last lines carefully: only business-aligned programs from 40+ approved schools:

Schools, colleges and universities like the University of Arizona, Oregon State University and historically Black colleges and universities like Morehouse College and Paul Quinn College.

My bet: Target will be negotiating tuition discounts from the approved schools … rejecting schools with ROI-busting tuition increases.

Well done, Target.

Sometimes, old school ideas had merit…

Has America tuned out Biden …and CNN?

August 6, 2021

I was surprised to hear that Biden had held a townhall on CNN this week.

No problem … I wouldn’t have watched it anyway.

And, I wouldn’t have been alone.

According to Nielsen, only 1.5 million  tuned in for the event.

For perspective, that’s about .6% of 225 million adults … and about 1/2 of Tucker Carson’s viewership at the same time.

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The good news for Biden is that his ratings were about 50% higher than CNN’s overall ratings for the week.

Also according to Nielsen, CNN went the entire  an entire week of July 28 to August 3 without reaching 1 million viewers.

High point was Chris Cuomo’s 930,000 on the day that the NY AG released her report on the other Cuomo. CNN’s Cuomo averaged 872,000 for the week.

CNN’s primetime lineup averaged 858,000 viewers, marking a whopping 73% decline since January.

My take: America has tuned out …

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P.S. Has anybody spotted Kamala Harris recently?

 

Uh-oh, Joe: Biden’s approval numbers slipping fast…

August 5, 2021

According to RCP’s poll-of-polls, Biden’s job approval stands at 50.7% … 5 of the last 9 polls tracked by RCP have him below 50%.

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According to the left-leaning Morning Consult, Biden’s most severe slippage is among Independents … 44% of them approve of the job Joe is doing, 49% disapproval, for a net disapproval of 5 percentage points (the green line below) … that’s a 21 point drop from in net approval since January (from plus 6 to a negative 5)

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Most telling, among Independents, Biden has a net disapproval on ALL issues except his handling of the coronavirus … and, he’s falling fast on that issue … from a net approval of 30 points to a net approval less than 10 percentage points.

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Digging deeper, on Biden’s most disapproved issues, he is underwater with a net disapproval of

  • 24 percentage points on immigration
  • 22 points on guns
  • 20 points on national security
  • 12 points on the economy.
  • 8 points on energy
  • 4 points on jobsimage

It definitely looks like the honeymoon is over…

Uh oh: More evidence that “scientific” research is flawed …

August 4, 2021

Still more re: why “the science” is losing the public trust. 

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It’s not a new issue! From the HomaFiles archives… circa 2015

In a prior post, we reported that Dr. John Ioannidis, a director of Stanford University’s Meta-Research Innovation Center, estimated that about half of published results across medicine were inflated or wrong

For details, see Uh-oh: Most published research findings are false…

Now, the NY Times is reporting findings published in the Journal of Science which concludes that more than half of all studies published in the 3 most prominent psychology journals are seriously flawed and that their results can’t be replicated.

The Times says:

The report appears at a time when the number of retractions of published papers is rising sharply in a wide variety of disciplines.

Scientists have pointed to a hypercompetitive culture across science that favors novel, sexy results and provides little incentive for researchers to replicate the findings of others, or for journals to publish studies that fail to find a splashy result.

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Here’s the basis for the conclusion that the majority of the studies reported flawed conclusions …

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Uh-oh: Most published research findings are false…

August 3, 2021

More re: why “the science” is losing the public trust. 

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It’s not a new issue! From the HomaFiles archives… circa 2015

I didn’t say it, the New Yorker magazine did, setting off a buzz in the halls of academia.

The theme of the New Yorker article –- titled “Truth Wears Off” –was that most (academic) research was flawed and not able to be replicated.  This is, the results were at best true under some special circumstances at a specific point in time, but can’t be replicated. At worst, they’re just plain bull.

Hmmm.

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Challenging the integrity of publication-driven academics?

Turns out that the New Yorker wasn’t the first mag on the beat.

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How science lost the public trust…

August 2, 2021

British science writer Matt Ridley argues that “scientists” have become disconnected from “science”.
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Loyal readers may remember Mr. Ridley — a self-proclaimed “science critic” —  from a 2019 series of HomaFiles  posts.

I credited Mr. Ridley for inspiring the series and  and I adopted his coining as a “lukewarmer” on climate change.

Recap: 16 Reasons why I’m lukewarm on climate change

In a recent WSJ weekend interview, Mr. Ridley gives his take on “How Science Lost the Public Trust”.

Ridley’s core conclusion:

Politics and hubris have disconnected scientists and  scientific institutions  from the philosophy and method that ought to guide them.

More specifically, Ridley draws a pointed distinction between “science as a philosophy” and “science as an institution.”

The former grows out of the Enlightenment, which Mr. Ridley defines as “the primacy of rational and objective reasoning.”

The latter, like all human institutions, is erratic, prone to falling well short of its stated principles.

The Covid pandemic has “thrown into sharp focus the disconnect between science as a philosophy and science as an institution.”

People inside (the institution) not only have been “disappointingly incurious” but have tried to shut down the inquiry “to protect the reputation of science as an institution.”

Science — as a profession — has become “rather off-puttingly arrogant and political, permeated by motivated reasoning and confirmation bias.”

Mr. Ridley fears “that the pandemic has, for the first time, seriously politicized epidemiology.”

There is a palatable “tension between scientists wanting to present a unified and authoritative voice,” on the one hand, and science-as-philosophy, which is obligated to “remain open-minded and be prepared to change its mind.”

“It’s largely the fault of epidemiologists themselves, deliberately publishing things that fit with their political prejudices or ignoring things that don’t.”

In Mr. Ridley’s view, the scientific establishment has always had a tendency “to turn into a church, enforcing obedience to the latest dogma and expelling heretics and blasphemers.”

This tendency was previously kept in check by the fragmented nature of the scientific enterprise: Prof. A at one university built his career by saying that Prof. B’s ideas somewhere else were wrong.

In the age of social media, however, “the space for heterodoxy is evaporating.”

Forced conformity But, an is the enemy of scientific progress, which depends on disagreement and challenge.

Increasing numbers of scientists seem to fall prey to groupthink and dogmatic gate-keeping gets in the way of new ideas and open-minded challenge.

So, Ridley concludes: “Those who believe in science as philosophy are increasingly estranged from scientists and science as an institution.”

And, that’s “How Science Lost the Public Trust”.

Again, the whole article is worth reading.

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