Social Media Political Lies

I want to preface this post by stating I am not a fan of the two-party system that controls the politics in the United States. This post is not intended to be a defense of President Obama, nor a criticism of the Republican party. The content is a simple result of the fact we currently have a democratic president, thus social media posts about the President will of course be about the current president, and will usually be posted by those that agree with the party not in the presidency. The idea here is to show a few examples of how facts as well as context is very important if we are to be a more educated populace and thus can make more informed voting decisions.

(Update: I am finding the need to expand slightly on my original up-front disclosure. There are many policies of our current President on which I disagree. In fact, I am not necessarily defending a position on either side of the issues in this post. I understand there are more serious issues facing the nation than the posts mentioned below. I picked these as I thought they would be fairly benign and not controversial in their basis in deception. I am happy to discuss more serious political issues over on my Twitter feed.) 

Ah Facebook… an endless source of material about which to point out factual errors and contextual errors. This week I came across a few political posts on Facebook that not only fail any reasonable test of logic, but many of them are false in context. The problem is when people believe these type of posts, the next time they go to the polls they think voting for the other party will somehow change things or make things better.The true record of the last couple of decades should tell us otherwise.

I’m Tired

Bill Cosby I'm tired - fake.The first one is this one claiming to be Bill Cosby with a short speech of how he’s tired after having worked for so many years and feels the same work ethic does not exist today. The original post came from a group on Facebook called “Living Right,” which I assume is a reference to the conservative Republican party, generally considered the “right,” a term with a long history in how people divided themselves in legislative assemblies. The post is a perfect example of why everyone should be forced to join the Facebook groups for “Skeptoid” and “checking snopes.com before forwarding dumb e-mails.” It doesn’t take much effort to find out this is factually incorrect.

First is Dr. Cosby’s age. As of this writing, he is 75, not 83. That is one big clue that something isn’t quite right with the post. More interesting is if one searches “I’m tired,” the very first entry is one on snopes.com – which tracked down how this is incorrectly attributed. The last entry on the first page of search results leads one to the correct attribution which is a blog entry by Robert A. Hall, a retired marine and Massachusetts senator. This has been passed around via email and on Facebook using a couple of different ages for Dr. Cosby (all wrong). Dr. Cosby himself has stated these are not his beliefs, saying in part, “…I don’t subscribe to the ugly views expressed in the email.”

I contacted the “Living Right” group and although they did not reveal their source, they did admit the incorrect attribution to Dr. Cosby. They have not removed the post. I have a big problem in using a falsehood in order to both appeal to emotion and provide some weight to the statement via the argument from authority. Dr. Cosby is a comedian that is well known and loved by many for his stand-up comedy and his television role that deal with issues of family to which many can relate. If a statement requires the use of his image (falsely) to make the statement being made more palatable, perhaps the statement is not one worth sharing in the first place.

Best Layoff Letter Ever

Layoff Letter

This is a weird post. It is a picture of a printed letter hanging on a refrigerator (I think) with some commentary on the top and a copy of the letter below. To summarize, the letter says because President Obama is going to raise fees and taxes that to avoid price increases the company will need to layoff sixty employees. The CEO went to the parking lot and found the cars with Obama bumper stickers and chose to lay those people off since, “They voted for change…”

A couple of things should flag this as suspicious almost immediately. The first is how this was posted as a photo of a copy. Wouldn’t a person either post a photo of the original letter, or if that wasn’t available simply post the text of the letter rather than type it out, print it, hang it up, then post the photo again? That itself doesn’t mean it is fake, but it raises suspicion. Second, Barack is spelled incorrectly. Because it appears this was retyped from the original, that again is possible, but does raise suspicion if copied from the original. Finally, as to a CEO of a fairly large “organization,” I can’t imagine admitting this to employees so openly, as it certainly has a possibility of hurting business. It also could possibly be a violation of employment law. (Update: Rankin v. McPherson is the case law that would cover this. My twitter friends are awesome!)

Here again, a quick search reveals this to be a fake. In fact, it started going around before Barack Obama was elected the first time, an amazing prognostication! It had slight format changes throughout the years as far as who was being address (other business owners or employees), having a specific number of employees working for the company, price increases of 8% to 10% , and the number of employees losing their job. Some have a real company and/or signature attached to them, but as far as I could tell, none are legitimate.

The letter did spawn an idea in a CEO of a real estate company. David Siegel stated in a letter before the 2012 election that if Barack Obama won a second term, he was going to layoff some or all of his 8,000 employees due to what he felt were going to be burdensome taxes and fees heaped on by the Obama administration. However, it turns out he instead gave his employees a raise after the election to help them through the burden he feels will be heaped on them. His company is doing well and Mr. Siegel stated he doesn’t plan on layoffs at this point.

Blaming Obama for gas prices

It is fun to play with statistics. This one is a good one. With gas prices going back up, conservative news sites are quick to point out what the percent gain is over the lower prices when President Obama took office. I will just offer this opinion here to avoid a lengthy economics discussion: the President has very little control over short-term energy prices. Gasoline at $4/gallon is only slightly above the inflation adjusted average. This includes oil crises of the 1970s, the creation of the department of energy, new energy exploration in the US and Canada, and more fuel efficient cars. The market forces dominate the price of gas, much more than any policy of the federal government.

This tactic can be applied to Obama’s predecessor, President Bush. If one looks at January 2001 when Bush took office, the price of a gallon of gas was about $1.60. In July of 2008, it was $4.40/gallon, a 275% increase. If one compares Bush’s second term to Obama’s first term, the price rises through their terms are nearly identical. It is a statistical trick to pick to points to calculate the largest increase, which doesn’t reflect reality of either prices on average or the idea that the president has so little to do with it. It is a similar tactic recently used by global warming denialists of picking a particular section of years and showing a very small increase without accounting for all intervening factors or more recent data. Purposely giving incomplete data is very deceptive, and I am not buying it.

Who wants an Obama phone?

obamaphoneThis one has many falsehoods connected with it. Critics refer to the program of helping low-income people receive a cell phone with a small allotment of monthly minutes as the “Obamaphone” program. The program is actually an extension of the lifeline program, a program started in 1984 under the Republican Ronald Reagan. The extension allowing cell phone companies to receive funding was signed into law by another Republican, George W. Bush, in 2008. None of this has been changed under the current administration.

Another falsehood carried with the program is its “cost” to the government. There is a significant cost to this, but the funds are controlled by a nonprofit called Universal Service Administrative Company. The funds come from fees most of us see on our phone bills every month. So far, the government has not had to supplement the funds coming in from these fees. Some may argue it is a fine point to argue since it is still a tax of sorts and is being given back out and thus is a cost. We can debate the merits of the program or the technicalities if you want, but let’s do so being careful and deliberate with how we describe the flow of money and how the programs came to be.

Politics on Skeptoid?

My point here is my personal opinion that it is important that any subject being discussed should be done so in the most honest way, and with information that is accurate with reasonable assurance. We all have our own shade of political and social principles, and I don’t mind if we disagree in those areas. I enjoy a good discussion on issues of a political nature, and I hope that when the discussion is over, both sides can better understand the other, and perhaps even change a mind or two. But let’s do so with honest information.

Why am I putting this on the Skeptoid blog? Well, Brian said write whatever I want (chuckle). But more seriously, I think it serves an important lesson in some of the very things which can trip us all up. Confirmation bias – where a person will find anything against a politician they don’t like, and not be careful to fact-check it because it sounds good and supports a certain side. Appeal to emotion – using images that invoke fear, anger, sadness, etc. in order to bolster support of a certain position. Argument from authority – assuming because a piece of information comes from someone that it is automatically true without taking at least a little time to consider the facts on their own. I do fall for these fallacies on occasion, for they are difficult to avoid.

I look forward to an honest discussion on these issues.

About Eric Hall

My day job is teaching physics at the University of Minnesota, Rochester. I write about physics, other sciences, politics, education, and whatever else interests or concerns me. I am always working to be rational and reasonable, and I am always willing to improve my knowledge and change my mind when presented with new evidence.
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59 Responses to Social Media Political Lies

  1. Heath Smith says:

    How about chasing some of the stories that we know to be true?

    “Obama said there’s firm evidence of dangerous climate change and noted that while specific weather events can’t be attributed to it, there has been an “extraordinarily large number of severe weather events” in the U.S. and around the world.”

    True statement?

    Senator Obama: “He accused me and other Democrats of wanting to negotiate with terrorists,” Obama said. “That’s exactly the kind of appalling attack that’s divided our country and alienates us from the world.”

    See the article: “Obama approves reconciliation talks between Afghanistan and Taliban”

    The Patriot Act, against it before he was for it.

    The list goes on and on.

    You cannot defend the indefensible.

    The list of political realities far out weight the importance of face book postings and chain emails.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Hi Heath –

      First, the idea here was to talk about how we lie to each other – not how politicians lie to us. It is pretty much a guarantee that ALL politicians will lie to us, so it is up to us to call them on it, regardless of political affiliation.

      As far as a couple of specific issue you raise –

      Climate change – A few weeks ago, I addressed this subject. You can also check Skeptical Science or Phil Plait when he writes about climate change. To summarize, climate change is happening. There are more severe events happening. See the current national drought for an example. Can we know the exact scale? No – and I explain that in my post from a few weeks ago.

      As far as your statement on the Taliban – it is much more complex. I am guessing by your statements you tend to support the Republican side of things, so I will point you to a resource that leans that way. Check out the Jason Lewis Show and listen when he talks about the Taliban. The Taliban were allowing al-Qaeda to stay with them, but the Taliban themselves were never our enemy per se. Jason suggests now that al-Qaeda is more or less out of Afghanistan, that reconciling the Taliban with the rest of the country is a great exit strategy for the US – assuming we leave the threat we will come back if they let al-Qaeda back. Jason Lewis is certainly right-wing, so I hope that helps to overcome confirmation bias and listen to the idea instead of just looking at party affiliation.

      Finally, as I stated up front, I am not a fan of either party as they have become very similar in the way they act in the name of winning elections instead of doing what is right under the Constitution. The reality I see is an Obama presidency is not much different than a Bush presidency, and would not be much different than a McCain or Romney presidency based on their own policy ideas. I hope this makes my personal opinion more clear and this will help steer any political discussion in these comments in that direction instead of a fight between the two current parties.

      • Heath Smith says:

        Eric,

        I think that we need to parse our words carefully, when you state “climate change is happening” is that a statement of fact that these events are man made events or these are cyclic events that we do not fully understand? I hear many in the media claiming that hurricane Sandy was cause by “global climate change” but looking at the historical data, there is no such evidence to support that theory. It is an unsubstantiated claim. The worst droughts in history like our Dust Bowl drought could not possible have been caused by heightened green house gases during the 30s, so what is the explanation for that event? Is it always natural until it contradicts the global warming panic? Hurricanes, droughts, and all the rest are natural phenomena and we have a very short history of being able to even gather data. The temperature data collected is certainly suspect with official sensors in the middle of parking lots and on top of black-topped roofs. Even with the included bogus “official” data, you are talking about 1/10 of 1 degree C over a decade, that is it. The models for future projected calamities is highly suspect and is the root of most of the global alarmist theories.

        As to the Taliban, I think that there is little doubt that they are what can safely be called a terrorist organization. Then Senator Obama stated that he would never negotiate with terrorists and that was simply an attack from the right. Our soldiers are fighting everyday firing live rounds at these people not throwing them newspapers loaded with political theory. Despite Obama’s desire to have a quick and clean exit strategy from Afghanistan, that is probably not going to happen. You can read the the article today titled “12K troops may stay in Afghanistan” to see for yourself that this matter is hardly decided upon. The reality is that there is a desire to negotiate with terrorists and Obama is pushing the concept of reconciliation that may be nothing but a pipe dream. Magical wishful thinking does not produce real world results.

        We can go on and on about the schisms of this administration from the Patriot Act, Guantanamo, the economy, jobs, education, etc etc. The list is long and truth telling is far and few between.

        The reality is not clear cut and dry and as far as I am concerned the outrageous claims and contradictions from Obama himself are far more interesting that what someone posted on a refrigerator, took a picture of, then posted on to Facebook.

        Lets talk about reality.

        By the way, I have no political affiliation. I have no political blinders on that form my reality, political or otherwise.

        Registered Democrat?

        • Heath Smith says:

          Speaking of the constant mantra of education, here is an incontinent truth, 12 of them actually. I wonder how many times Obama will stump for more education dollars today?

          http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/uploads/12_Inconvenient_Truths.pdf

        • Eric Hall says:

          Again, I suggest checking more carefully into the Taliban role in terrorism. It isn’t to say they don’t have a role, but I think like many, you are lumping them in with al-Qaeda, which they are two very distinct organizations. The Taliban are going to be part of a peace solution, in order for it to work in the Middle East – much like the Germans and Japanese people had to be part of peace after the war. You cannot simply kill a billion Muslims. We are going to have to make peace with them.

          No, I am not a fan of the Patriot Act, drone strikes, etc. These are policies started under President Bush and continued and in some cases expanded under President Obama. However, I have not come across any lies on social media about those issues. The issues are out there, but our country continues to vote in favor of those policies by giving a large chunk of the vote to the two main parties. Romney had never stated he would end the Patriot Act or drone strikes…in fact it seems he would have done the same things. Dick Cheney has come out in support of President Obama’s policies in these areas as well.

          What it appears to me that you are doing is saying it is OK to lie about the issues I brought up because the President is involved in more serious policies you don’t agree with. I don’t necessarily agree with them either – but it still doesn’t mean I will resort to logical fallacies or downright falsehoods in making my point. If I cannot make my point using factual statements and the truth, then perhaps I need to rethink my position.

          • Heath Smith says:

            Firstly, the presumption that the Taliban are seeking peace with the U.S., NATO, or the Western world in general, is currently wishful thinking with no evidence to support that theory. There is no evidence that I see whatsoever that the Taliban are reaching out even suggesting the peace is even a possibility. They know Americans have grown weary and that we will withdraw. I believe even Bin Laden made such a prediction that we did not have the stomach for war and that we would withdraw. Now, there are many people that have this dream of peaceful coexistence with the Taliban despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The barbaric acts of the Taliban over the past 12 years are without question. Go have a look at the disturbing videos out of Afghanistan if you think for one moment that they are anything but fundamentalist Islamic terrorists. You can find them on Youtube if you have the stomach to watch. I think that to even suggest that they are not a terrorist organization at this point would be akin to removing terrorism from our vocabulary because it is not a politically correct term. They are the very epitome of terrorism today. They are terrorists that we fight on a 24x7x365 basis.

            So tell me, since you are not for all of the items you mentioned, like the Patriot Act, execution by executive order, and all of the rest currently practiced by this administration, what do you believe in? Do you believe that Obama’s #1 priority will be jobs? Obama is a globalist and always supported free trade. The notion that you are going to educate yourself out of mass joblessness is an insult to anyone with an IQ above room temperature. So tell me, what part of the mass propaganda did you fall for hook line and sinker? Obama care? A public health policy rejected by the citizenry but rammed through Congress with a political majority?

            I do not support George Bush let alone anyone in political leadership today. What I do not do is say “well that guy put a knife in it too so why blame this guy?” I support none of the above to answer your question.

            What I do despise more than anything is the intellectual dishonesty and the hypocrisy spoon fed to the American public on a daily basis with what is formerly known as the ‘Free Press’. I despise the lack of journalism to expose the outright frauds perpetrated on now what seems to be a daily basis.

            We have banks collaborating with Mexican drugs lords and even the Iranians. When they are busted, no one goes to jail, no one faces criminal punishments. They pay a fine and walk scott-free. Don’t even get me started on the lack of criminal prosecutions but our government for the outright fraud involved with the housing bubble. There is no such thing as absolute proof, an artificial standard that the government is imposing before it will bring a single charge to anyone.

            The list of the contradictions, fabrications, scare mongering, outright lies, and cover-ups is endless, all by the most transparent administration in history, according to Obama.

            I am going to drop this conversation here as it is pointless to discuss completely fictitious alternate realities over the facts of the matters.

            I would rather read cartoons posted on refrigerators on to Facebook and bury my head in the sand like the majority of the low-information citizenry do. End of story.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Again, the premise of the post is not to discuss the policies of the current administration, but rather we should discuss them accurately. These are examples of misinformation and/or use of logical fallacies.

            In this reply, you employing similar logical fallacies, including straw man (“Do you believe that Obama’s #1 priority will be jobs?”), appeal to emotion (“The list of the contradictions, fabrications, scare mongering, outright lies, and cover-ups is endless, all by the most transparent administration in history, according to Obama.”), begging the question (“The list of the contradictions, fabrications, scare mongering, outright lies, and cover-ups is endless, all by the most transparent administration in history, according to Obama.”), along with several others. Most of all, you are applying a confirmation bias that because you do not like many of the policies of the President, the other policy decisions you don’t like must be blamed on him as well.

            I noticed through all of the claim you are not associated with a political party, you have not revealed who you voted for in the last election.

          • Heath Smith says:

            “Most of all, you are applying a confirmation bias that because you do not like many of the policies of the President, the other policy decisions you don’t like must be blamed on him as well.”

            And you are too politically blinded to recognize fact from fiction, reality from propaganda, which was the point of this article.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Could you tell me which of the 4 examples within the blog post contain errors? I thought I did a pretty good job of researching the 4 examples I gave, but I would be glad to entertain new information if I am in error in any one of the examples I provided.

          • Heath Smith says:

            “I noticed through all of the claim you are not associated with a political party, you have not revealed who you voted for in the last election.”

            And you never answered my question about being a registered Democrat. Rest assured, my vote was not case for Obama. And you voted for? Let me guess hmm… Climate change is a real and dangerous issues… Could it be? Maybe? Obama?

          • Eric Hall says:

            I have never registered with a political party. I tend to split my ticket among several parties. In the presidential election, I chose Gary Johnson. Although I don’t agree with everything he talked about either, he is a very logic, intelligent, and rational thinker.

        • Eric Hall says:

          One other minor detail – I again would suggest reading my post on latent heat and climate change. When ice changes to a liquid, it absorbs large amounts of energy while remaining the same temperature. Also, while an individual weather event is hard to pin on climate change, we do know sea level rises exacerbated the flooding in New York. Finally, as far as what humans contribute – there is a part that is due to natural variation. It would be hard to know exactly what percent that is. However, we know what the physics of CO2 is, and have for nearly 70 years. Add an extra molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere, you increase the likelihood of a photon being trapped. We are adding trillions of molecules to the atmosphere every day. I suggest, again, read my post from last month on the topic. You should see I am not an alarmist, but instead a realist – and a scientist. We can debate the solutions to our changing climate, but we shouldn’t be debating that humans play a role.

          • Heath Smith says:

            Oh really now? The “rising sea levels exacerbated the flooding in New York”. Do you realize how foolish that is? Ok, so tell me, this “rising sea level”, tell me how many millimeters per year that the sea level is rising? Not predictions, not models, tell me the real number known today.

            The question remains as to whether this increase of CO2, from the beginning of the industrial era to today, a change from 280 ppm to 379 ppm is really the main factor that is causing the supposed measured global warming of 1/10 of 1 degree C, per decade.

            One thing is for certain, there have been no proper audits of the weather collection inputs in to the system used to create the models predicting global catastrophe. There is certainly even less data about the mean temperature of the ocean that covers 75% of the Earth. Add in solar fluctuations and you are observing nothing but noise in the data that we have only measured, at best, for a couple of decades with any sort of accuracy. Let’s not even start a discussion of the “decline in the data” when correlations fall apart in the tree ring data that contradict the agenda of “climate change” formerly known as “global warming 1.0″, a politically charged term with little support.

            Do I think it is bad to pumping all this CO2 in the atmosphere wastefully? Yes I do but I also see alarmist running around like chicken little while they drive Hummer SUVs. I also see no conservation by politicians that fly 747s around like they were taxis. I also see China building coal power plants at the rate of one per week. I see all the citizens of China and India wanting to live like America does. We are nothing more than the tail on the dog and the sooner we come to grips with that reality the better.

          • Eric Hall says:

            “We’ve had roughly a foot of sea level rise in the New York City area in the past century. That’s measured at a tidal gauge near Battery Park just off the southern tip of Manhattan.” http://www.climatewatch.noaa.gov/article/2012/superstorm-sandy-and-sea-level-rise

            Please, read my post http://skeptoid.com/blog/2013/02/02/latent-heat-of-fusion-specific-heat-climate-change/

          • Heath Smith says:

            From 1950 to 2009, measurements show an average annual rise in sea level of 1.7 ± 0.3 mm per year.

            That is a real threat. 6.7 inches per century. Run for the hills!

            You 12 inches over 100 years probably is not taking in to account localized sinking of the land in that area. And yes, alarmists declare that islands are sinking all over the place displacing islanders.

          • Freke1 says:

            @ Heath Smith: an americans emits about 2 times as much CO2 as an european and about 4 times as much as a chinaman. Since we are headed for a 4 degree(C) temp rise in 2100 You may be interested in knowing that the long term equilibrium sea level is around 50 meters above today’s sea level.

          • Heath Smith says:

            @Freke1 . I am not surprised that we expel twice the CO2 of the Europeans, or 4 times the Chinese. Keep in might we are 1/5 the population in China. China and India both have birth rates are are a steady increase while the U.S., Europe, and Japan flat line. As they enjoy the ever increasing benefits of participating in capitalism they are certain to dwarf our energy use in just a few short years. What we do, given the decline of our industrial base, is insignificant in comparison.

            As I mentioned before, the current measured increase in temperature is 1/10 of 1 degree C per decade. If you are attempting to convince me that there is an unexpected, anticipated acceleration in the rate of increase, I am not inclined to believe. In fact, I am already a skeptic. Currently I am going with the accepted measurement of both global temperature and sea level rise.

            From 1950 to 2009, measurements show an average annual rise in sea level of 1.7 ± 0.3 mm per year. Or roughly 6.7 inches per 100 years. I will be long dead and buried before there is another 3.35 inches of global warming panic is ubiquitous. At 939ft above sea level, 1681 years from now, my neighborhood will really be up to their ankles in fear and that is in Michigan, surrounded by water on 3 sides.

          • Freke1 says:

            @ Heath Smith: I used to think similarly to You. But saying “solar fluctuations” or “Hummer SUV” is like saying “Apollo moon landing is fake because where are the stars?”. Despite the missing stars the landings were real, and despite solar fluctuations, fitting tree ring data sets, misunderstood email’s, natural cycles etc. etc. the scientists are really worried. 5 degree(C) is the difference between the last iceage and now. So 4 degree(C) more in 2100 is quite a lot. You should follow Greenman3610 on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKBq53f7tWM

        • Heath, why does it matter who Eric voted for? Would it make any of what he wrote about true?

          • Heath Smith says:

            Mike, I do not need for Eric to tell me who he voted for as this is self-evident (short of a Mormon epiphany with a new love interest). There is no truth in what he speaks so does it really matter whom he voted fore as a graduate student, full of blind ambition and naivety. I was considering advanced mathematics and the consequences of politics and propaganda probably before he was conceived. Not that garners an ounce of respect in the Google/Facebook/Youtube era. I am not against new ideas from a younger generation, those who have their eyes wide open. I am certainly not encouraging false beliefs in pseudo-science and political ‘beliefs’ over being students of real science and real history that will require a lifetime investment before one is able to preach about the subjects at hand.

          • Eric Hall says:

            See my comment responding to your previous insinuation about my presidential vote. I did not vote for Obama. I don’t agree with many of his policies, and I voted accordingly. It doesn’t mean I wish to engage in perpetuating falsehoods, bad science, or any manner of logical fallacy. You certainly make several assumptions about me that are not true. You allude to the idea I am and vote democrat because of my status as ” …a graduate student, full of blind ambition and naivety.” You again also state there is “no truth” in what I speak, but fail to provide evidence as to where I have erred in any of my research or my statements. I would be happy to have a civil discussion about the post or on the related topics on which have been raised in the comments, but ad hominem attacks is something I will not engage in.

          • Heath Smith says:

            “I would be happy to have a civil discussion about the post or on the related topics on which have been raised in the comments, but ad hominem attacks is something I will not engage in.”

            We are not engaging in ad hominem attacks. I am for informed intelligent rapport. My concern is that you lack the objectivity to discuss the events that are unfolding around you given your interest in the coming manufactured global warming crisis and your misunderstanding of the enemies that we face everyday as a nation. You have not erred due to a lack of due diligence, you have erred in the ability to filter the most powerful force known to man, mis-information and propaganda. I do have hope for you with one reservation, that you understand rhat I have no agenda, no propaganda, no incentive, no profit, and no motive for telling you the truth. The sooner you recognize who has your best interests in mind the better.

          • Eric Hall says:

            It is difficult to be objective on some of these issues. Things that have come about because of fear (the Patriot Act for example) are emotional responses that, while there is some science on human psychology, is not easy to predict. I would never claim to be objective, but I think I have been pretty clear I am not a supporter of the policies of the president of which you also claim to despise. That doesn’t mean I will support misinformation, lies, or logical fallacies in order to express my disagreement with those said policies. I, like most people, have an informed opinion as to what direction would best suit our country moving forward, and those policies do not come from either major party. The best evidence I know of for evaluating a policy is looking at past policy. That doesn’t always work as the issues facing us in the future do not always equate to ones in the past. So one must take time to consider how a policy will work in the current time as well.

            My concern is you are stating your opinion of policies you don’t like, but you are not providing evidence showing the effects of these policies. I happen to agree with many policies on your list as ones that do not work and erode freedom. I have looked at the evidence and formed that opinion. But even though I do not support the president on many policy decisions, I am not going to support or engage in the spread of false propaganda (the very same type you claim to dislike).

            The best analogy I can think of is if you have someone who robs bank. This is not desirable. But if someone accuses them of drug possession during the robbery, I am going to weigh the evidence on that charge on its own merits. Someone should not get be sentenced beyond what the law prescribes simply because they did something egregious. I hope that helps clear up my position. I gladly (and often do) point out when my representatives, senators, president, etc. engage in deception or espouse policies which do not stand up to evidence. This post today was to give examples of how the populace tries to deceive each other in order to garner support for a position – something which is of concern to me because I feel it serves to make the public less informed, not more informed.

        • Alondra says:

          Heath, the “scientific” research published in May last year in Current Biology suggests that “large dinosaurs made a significant contribution to the greenhouse effect back then.” Study conducted in the Liverpool John Moores University in England estimated that “about 570 MILLION TONS of methane came from dinosaurs.”

          In May Rush Limbaugh on his show evaluated the report: “I want you to actually stop and consider this report, serious as it can be, that dinosaur FARTS AND BURPS have CONTRIBUTED TO GLOBAL WARMING AND THEIR OWN EXTINCTION and I want to ask you if you really believe that … I want you to very seriously consider the proposition that there aren’t any dinosaurs because THEIR OWN FLATULENCE WIPED ‘EM OUT. THEY FARTED THEMSELVES TO DEATH AND IN THE PROCESS THEY DESTROYED THE PLANET, THEIR OWN HABITAT. THEY CAUSED GLOBAL WARMING BY BURPING AND EXPELLING GAS SO MUCH, THEY DESTROYED THEIR OWN HABITAT. I want to ask you: Does this pass the smell test?”

          Rush continued: “The DINOSAURS FARTED THEMSELVES TO DEATH, and at the same time burped themselves to death. And then after all that, CAUSED GLOBAL WARMING which is really what did them in. And then I want you to ask yourself this: Why is it that it has not yet been asserted that WE HUMANS ARE FARTING OURSELVES TO DEATH? …”

          “The point is, this is ridiculous. This is literally insane. It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. It is one of the most stupid assertions I have encountered in 25-plus years of DEEP STUDY of the ENVIRONMENTALIST-wacko movement.”

          I hope you got a good dose of laugh reading Rush’s conclusion this and I am sure you are agree with Rush.

          But I am also sure that “journalist” like Eric, Freke1 and Lilady are totally agree with the “scientific” research suggestions.

          What you can expect if their sources are factcheck.org, politifact.com, Snoops and other liberal media.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Since the global warming statement in this post seems to inflame a few people, let me be clear on my position so you can no longer make assumptions about what that position is.

            The energy balance of the Earth is changing. To simply explain how it works – various materials on the ground absorb various wavelengths from the sun, and the energy of the material is increased. This energy increase is what we call heat – a measure of kinetic energy of the molecules. The molecules release energy at levels based on their temperature. These photons head out towards space. Some are absorbed by the gases in the atmosphere. Some molecules due to their size and shape absorb certain wavelengths better than others. CO2 falls right in that range of wavelengths the Earth emits. So does methane. If the photons are trapped, it increases the temperature of the air. These photons are re-emitted and reabsorbed by the Earth (the ocean is good at absorbing these photons). Thus the atmosphere and even more so the ocean have an increase in the energy stored in them.

            Even in the worst case scenario from the models, I think humans would be able to adapt. But that it the key word – adapt. Climate change concerns me because the speed at which it is happening and the associated costs that will come with adapting is something we can’t discuss because too many want to deny it is happening. If you’d read my post on climate change, you would see that is my concern. I don’t think it is wise to crash the economy by trying to stop all carbon emissions immediately. Instead, we need to continue to find the right mix of technologies that can help reduce the speed at which we add carbon to the atmosphere. We also need to start discussing what ocean rises of 1 ft, 2 ft, 3 ft will look like. It will require some large relocations or massive investments in infrastructure to combat these changes. We can do it – but if we don’t start talking about it now, we won’t be ready for it. (FYI, the average ocean rise number – the rise will be different in different areas – the ocean is much bigger than a cup of water, so the rise isn’t uniform) There will be large changes to how we obtain fresh water as the ocean rises, and higher maximum temperatures cause more dramatic variations in local water tables.

            While I am not one to say climate change will kill us all – it is going to change how things are done. We can be drastic and try to stop it. Or we can be more reasonable, try to slow it down some, and start planning our adaptation. But to simply deny that CO2 causes more IR radiation to be trapped on Earth is to throw away our knowledge of quantum mechanics – something I feel has pretty good evidence in its favor. What tells me the Earth will warm is physics. How we deal with it is what we should be discussing.

          • Heath Smith says:

            Temperature is by definition the average kinetic energy of the atoms or molecules of a substance. The measurement of temperature in uniform gases of any sort is a trivial matter. This becomes a non-trivial matter when we are talking about measure atmospheric temperature, and especially ocean temperature that we have really only begun to do. Satellites while useful do not tell the entire story as they are only above to measure surface temperature with any accuracy.

            When we talk about the atmosphere and carbon dioxide, we are talking about a trace gas that is 0.039 per cent by volume of the total atmospheric mass. We are talking about the change in that gas level, from the beginning of the industrial era to today, a change from 280 ppm to 379 ppm. To suggest that this trace gas solely responsible for the 1/10 of 1 degree C per decade increase in global temperature I think is a stretch of credulity especially given what I do know about the very basis of this argument, the collection of surface temperatures that is the linchpin or perhaps more appropriately the proverbial keystone for this entire anthropologically caused global climate change argument (which is the real argument here) .

            The entire argument from the IPCC is based on that surface temperature data that I have pointed out previously is extremely flawed and that is being very kind in my choice of words. Frankly, knowing what I do know about the matter, it is at best intellectual dishonesty and perhaps even somewhat sinister in its nature, perpetrated by those that benefit from fear mongering the populous in to compliance.

            You only need to turn on the news for one 24 hour cycle to hear the drum beat that consensus has been reached by the world’s scientists and you are a flat-Earther in political battle terms if you do not comply. Well, I am not one of those that blindly support some pseudo science pushed by those with an agenda, either funding for research or profit centers based on regulating a single molecule in the atmosphere. I refuse to bite.

            Our official surface data has been encroached upon not only be urban sprawl and land use changes, the very locations the sensors have been placed on top of roofs and in the middle of parking lots. There are guidelines for the proper mounting of these sensors, very arbitrary in nature, but at least there was at least an initial attempt to maintain the uniformity of the data like mounting of sensors in an unobstructed area, 2 meters or so above green grass (like there is green grass everywhere, right?). The reality of the historical data collected is that the stations are not uniformly mounted; there has been no attempt at compensating for urban encroachment, and certainly no uniformity in the temperature sensors themselves (along with a calibration schedule). We are literally relying on historical temperature data taken with mercury thermometers that certainly lacked any sort of quality control mechanisms whatsoever.

            The truth is that this data that is relied upon as the sole basis of the global alarmist pseudo science is highly flawed. I have done my research, I have seen the evidence, and I am not compelled whatsoever to become a believe believer telegraphing false beliefs to family and friends to boost my ego or for some other mindless goal.

            As to the scandal at the IPCC regarding the emails, I am fully aware of the contents of those emails and this haphazard (at best) data modeling of tree ring data. The “decline” in the data was not suggesting that the actual temperature dropped, it describes the departure of the tree ring temperature model (and yes I know what that is) with the recent history of historical temperature sensor data (that is highly suspect in and of itself). The larger point is that you are cherry picking the data based on the tree rings and ignoring the data when it does not fit your theoretical model of reality. Again, I see it for what it is, I do understand why models are used but most importantly I see the limitations of models to capture the real world as it actual is. It is a tool like a screw driver in a toolbox; it is not the Holy Grail that is portrayed in the media time and time again, a grail that I refuse to drink from.

            While you started out with a reasonable definition of temperature you then made the statement that “the ocean is good at absorbing these photons”. I believe the heat transfer mechanisms kinetic energy from the atmosphere to the ocean is not simply a matter of photon radiation and absorption but hey, what do I know.

            You also stated, “But to simply deny that CO2 causes more IR radiation to be trapped on Earth is to throw away our knowledge of quantum mechanics – something I feel has pretty good evidence in its favor.” Like politics, there are grains of truth in almost any statement. Broken clocks are right twice per day, pick your favorite political weapon of worlds.

            While we understand that CO2 is one mechanism for the absorption of the average kinetic energy, there are also many other gases as well as the ocean that absorbs not only the kinetic energy itself through mechanical mechanism, but includes the CO2 sinks, like the ocean, like world wide vegetation CO2 sinks, that again are poorly understood. Ask a climatologist and he will tell you he knows all that there is to know about these highly complex systems.

            The Earth with its complex atmosphere and other complex systems that involve everything from plankton to ocean currents to water vapor in the atmosphere is poorly understood despite the claims from the global warming alarmists who believe that the fully comprehend all of its complexity and not only that, they are able to accurately model this data out to hundreds of years in to the future. Being a computer science guy, I am going to call it for what it is, utter non-sense.

            We do not need to throw in the science of quantum mechanics with all of its own internal squabbles like atomic entanglement and faster than light communication that Einstein dismissed very convincingly to me. Modern quantum mechanics has also swallowed the hook line and sinker thought experiments like Schrödinger’s cat that also fall in to this same category of entanglement that Einstein again describes in detail with the debunking of Spooky action at a distance with his two gloves in a suitcase though experiement. But let’s not listen to guys like Einstein. What the hell does that commie know?

            This does bring us full circle though, doesn’t it? The political nature of human beings to cherry pick information when it suits the needs of agendas. Like in the case of Einstein, who delivered to the world his genius insights, pushing us closer and closer to the fundamental understanding of not only our world but also the entire universe, standing on the sholders of giants as he put it himself, humbly I might add.

            Initially, he was an outsider that turned the contemporary physics of the day on its head. His theories were initially quickly and soundly rejected by the physics community. It was only after the confirmation came by capturing starlight bent around by the suns gravitation, a real world adventure in to Africa and Australia that makes Indiana Jones look like a walk in the crypt was there acceptance. Consider how many children are even taught this? Next to zero I would estimate. We are too busy teaching them about political science, scrubbed clean of the realities of the war of the minds and desperate acts in the pursuit of power, but I digress.

            Going back to Einstein, once the political wars had subsided and there surrender to intellectual superiority won the day was the world was exposed to a completely different understand of the world around them. Once certain people in the physics community invented quantum mechanics that departed from Einstein, they again ran off in a new direction, soundly rejecting Einstein, once again, ignoring completely and totally his unified field theory that he pursued to the end, even in his death bed. Even today, many decades after his death, only now do we have the instrument sensitivity and computing power to confirm his theories. Given the evidence that I see, I think that Einstein may come back to haunt modern day physics the spooky action at a distance crowd. I hope that I am around to witness it.

            And where is what is the state of modern quantum physics? We only need to look at the experiments over at the Large Hadron Collider to see what has been unfolding for decades, the confirmation of the “God particle”. In recent months, they have already had a celebrity gathering, declaring subtlety mind you, that they have indeed gathered the evidence of the God particle existence. Not officially of course, just a celebration to celebrate, um, you know, that things are going well and that proof is right around the corner. We should, according to the celebrities, declare victory by summer 2013. Almost sounds like a Hollywood release of Friday the 13th part 13, coming to a theater near you.

            Skeptical people, like me, see this as basically the same thing as the global warming calamity. When I hear that if this particle is not found, the entire standard model is at risk this gives me pause. This is a risky enterprise indeed. The entire collective credulity of the world-wide physics community all the way from the local community college physics professor to the heads of physics at MIT is on the line here. To myself, this sounds like a house of cards, a bubble even, that might come crashing down unexpectedly. But is it really unexpected or just the conclusion of many theories that require indoctrination and in the end total compliance?

            If this event does happen, and the confirmation cannot be made, and the God particle theory is eventually dismissed, I think it would be very appropriate, even a requirement of moving forward, to determine the extent that politics and intellectual bullying within the physics community is responsible for wasting untold billions and decades chasing an illusion. Perhaps even the String theorists with their own theory based on writings in 19th century that discussed musical instruments will be part of that conversation as well.

            As far as the global warming alarmists go, that time has already come and gone. The battle lines have been drawn, the declaration has been made, and if you are not on the green team, you are being isolated, punished, dismissed, and ignored. This has a real financial impact on those that refuse compliance with this intellectual extortion that is nothing short of a new religion to be spoon fed or even force fed to the public to justify future expenditures and “research” despite the overwhelming evidence that the source data is seriously flawed. Do not let facts stand in the way of a good story. Think of Noah’s ark for example. Two by two the scientists climbed aboard the research grant boat. That is how I see it.

            You ignore people like me at your own peril. I have no interest, investment, political stance, propaganda, or pursuit. I simply look at the fundamentals and I see a house built on a Sand bar, like those in New Jersey swept out to see. I also see politicians demanding from the public the money to rebuild their faulty ideas once again so that someone gets to watch the run rise in the morning while there are hungry and homeless in our cities.

            All of the above (and much more) is intricately tied together and politics and propaganda, which I label as ignorance in the pursuit of power for the sake of the few is at the root of most evils in the world today. Previously we had the church in Europe, now we have politics at every level of our society including our education and governmental institutions.

            We will see who prevails. Frankly, I am growing tired of all of it, just like the phony letter supposedly from Cosby. I am tired of convincing others to learn how to learn and stop biting at the hook just because you are told to. I think that I have said enough and invested enough time in this conversation and it really is just burning my time, time I do not have enough of. We can end it there.

          • Eric Hall says:

            You have tried several times to “end the discussion” immediately making several claims that are apocryphal. You will not take my evidence into consideration, but then say I should listen to you or I am in some sort of political peril. This is not how discussions work.

            Just to point out for other readers – I never said anything about quantum entanglement, faster than light communication, Schrödinger’s cat, etc. I am saying quantum mechanics at a much more basic level, something that is taught to undergraduate physics students. The math involved is well understood. It is about absorption and emission spectrum of many basic molecules and atoms – things we could observe even before quantum mechanics, but is then verified by the math of quantum mechanics. Stated as simply as possible (nice sentence in wikipedia) – “Radiation is more likely to be absorbed at frequencies that match the energy difference between two quantum mechanical states of the molecules.” That’s it. Nothing about entanglement, nothing about Higgs. Just simple absorption – which CO2 is good at doing at the frequencies emitted by the surface of the Earth. One doesn’t need quantum mechanics to observe this and repeat the results, but quantum mechanics verifies it via math.

          • Heath Smith says:

            You fail to even address the bogus surface data, probably because it does not fit your understanding and it is uncomfortable. I said I am done and I mean I am done with this debate. I have said what I wanted to and I am finished. End of story. Just keep pushing your climate scare to others that are more receptive and lack the ability to see the truth for what it really is. There, done done.

  2. Doug Mathias says:

    absolutely right on the money!

  3. JGalt says:

    No one but the most intellectually dishonest would disagree with your research and conclusions.

    Now, how about the social media political lies about Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, et al. ad nauseum during the last election? Where was the rational skeptical research into those lies?

    • Eric Hall says:

      Certainly that did happen during the election season. I saw them, though I was finishing grad school in the fall and didn’t have time to write on those things. My point here was to use posts that recently showed up on my Facebook feed. Because the sitting president is Obama, it is natural for posts at this time to concentrate on him.

  4. lilady says:

    How about these two websites to check out what politicians from both sides of the aisles, claim?

    http://www.factcheck.org/

    http://www.politifact.com/

  5. Eric, this is a fascinating topic, and echoes a lot of what I was saying in my post from last month about Kitty Werthmann. We all have our opinions, but if we’re not using facts and objective reality in our arguments, we shouldn’t be making them.

  6. lilady says:

    I’m a little bit “leery” of any radio personality who also sells “supplements” and runs a MLM scheme.

    Link removed – EH

    My husband has a dear friend who sends him emails about all sorts of bogus medical advice, “photoshopped” pictures and other assorted nonsensical conspiracies. The “odd” thing is that he frequently sends “retreads” (new permutations of the same emails that he sent before).

    Another great website for checking out those emails…in addition to the Snopes site:

    http://urbanlegendsonline.com/

    • Eric Hall says:

      I agree – I have been more disappointed in Jason Lewis the last few years. However, like many things – each piece of information should be weighed on its own merit. Another source I use more frequently who talks about the Taliban in a similar way is Dan Carlin. I didn’t think my other commenter would be as likely to look at that source.

      I hope you don’t mind, but I am removing the one link just because I do not want to provide business to the site – thanks!

  7. lilady says:

    The link you removed Eric, I located on the link to Jason Lewis that YOU provided. I don’t at all mind that you edited it out. :-)

    American history and our Presidents’ parts in setting foreign and domestic policy is very complicated. Look at the history of the Taliban and how we got involved through the Mujahideen:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban

    Look at how Democratic and Republican administrations propped up the corrupt Shah of Iran, because of a “perceived threat of Communism” in the form of Mohammad Mosaddegh, the legally elected Iranian Premier. (Actually it was British and American oil interests that influenced our foreign policy toward Iran that set the stage for the Shah’s overthrow and now the repressive regime that is in power now.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran

    You need to be quite selective when you use the internet for your sources…and you need to have an awareness of 20th and 21st century American history and American politics.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Yeah – I just didn’t want the direct link – indirectly…well…it was a sacrifice :)

      I think it is important to have that very discussion – about resources and having a more complete story when discussing issues. Also, doing so in a rational manner – even if you have a fairly well solidified position. You are correct – history and foreign policy are VERY complicated. I appreciate you pointing that out.

  8. lilady says:

    Another website that I peruse is the Drudge Report, because it has links to important foreign and domestic news agencies and many political columnists, who run the gamut from Libertarian, moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats to ultra Liberal political viewpoints.

    http://www.drudgereport.com/

    It also *helps* to have a half century (or more) of interest in the political process. Poor you, you missed viewing the “open” Republican and Democratic Presidential conventions, broadcast on a small screen B&W TV. :-)

    It also *helps* to have a medical background based in science, whenever my husband receives those crank emails.

  9. Stephen Propatier says:

    Politics by nature is more emotional than factual. I think we can all agree that facts are more important than emotion. Yet emotion rules. Confirmation bias and lies help us to feel what we are politically pursuing is “Right”(I mean correct). As a skeptic I like to think that I am a political independent. I fine no one who closely follows logic and scientific thought. I think my major issue is that I am always skeptical of every political motive/ad/warning. That is why it took me so long to accept the truth of AGW. The patterns of behavior we are following are historically repeated time and time again. Humans as a general rule; lack societal vision, prefer to be led, not lead, tend to want more than they give. Our human “gift” is our brains ability to dismiss input. Despite that in the “information era” it is harder that ever to fool us. Propaganda is easier to recognize. In 5 minutes I can check more things out than I could in a day at the library 20 years ago. Remember the card catalog? Truth is that it is intellectual laziness that keeps us from spending the five minutes to check out” A Bill Cosby Quote”. I would also like to point out please people entertainers are just that entertainers. Please ignore everything they have to say. Even in the dark ages royalty did not take advice from their fools/jester.(The political jester is popular in current thought but considered apocryphal by historians). You see what you want inattentional blindness and confirmation bias reigns. Bottom line is always be skeptical. Especially with news reports.

    Difficult to bring up here Eric nice tightrope walk. I agree skeptoid is not a political blog. However skeptical thinking needs to be included in politics.

    Eric, Ironically given my earlier statement, my personal political opinion of the two party system in the US agrees with the comedian Lewis Black. The Democrats are the party of no ideas, and the Republicans are the party of bad ideas.

    • Eric Hall says:

      I would agree with your entertainer rule as a general premise, but I would say people such as Bill Cosby (doctor of education) and Lewis Black (MFA) both are exceptions to the rule as their writing, speaking, education, etc. show they have intelligence above the average for that industry, and one could say even in general.

      Oh – and I was a senior in high school when the library got its first external modem for 1 computer – it was at least a 28.8k :)

  10. JGalt says:

    Heath, for someone “objectively intelligent,” you are certainly a pompous windbag. Stop “helping” us; you’re making us look worse with each comment. Although I might agree with some of your positions and conclusions, being willfully ignorant and spraying your talking points without proof or research does nothing but make people despise you.

    • Heath Smith says:

      Willfully ignorant. Interesting statement without substance or even a hint of substance. Am I surprised? No. Good day.

      • Alondra says:

        Heath, NONE of the Galt’s comments are with substance on the other site.
        O’Homobama’s HOAX at work.

        • Heath Smith says:

          I just feel that if you are going to throw an insult at someone you should at least muster up the courage to make a single statement of some kind that can at least be considered.

  11. Stephen Propatier says:

    @ heath I know you are done. Still I would like to ask you a question. Given that the preponderant majority of climate scientists agree with AGW. You are not a climatologist are you? How are you able to determine with such great certainty that it is a scam. 500 million on climate research in US since 1990. National debt has increased 3.85 billion a day. Is the money involved in climate science really moving. The Bush administration gave 85 billion to AIG alone. In my opinion not a very convincing. Not enough for me to believe that the majority of climatology are lying.TO ask a further question. Do you think that it is plausible to utilize millions of years of stored energy from the sun in 100 years and pay no price?

    • Heath Smith says:

      Well, unlike most people that read the headline and repeat talking points, I have been studying the issue for a long time. The evidence is out there, you only need to Google it for yourself. I am not comfortable with a preponderance of evidence that is presented as fact by an unquestioning ‘free press’ that lacks anything resembling journalism these days. I think it should be renamed Witnessism because that is all they do, report what others say and never analyze or question anything. I am convinced of what I posted because I have 30 years of data acquisition and control experience that helps to form my opinion based on what I see, not what I am told. I am not a climatologist but I believe the evidence is clear to see if you look at it without filters. Study it, see it for what it is. There are other intelligent folks out there that study the issue. Look around. If you want to throw money at bad science, feel free to do so. I am sure the IPCC would love a donation. It is not like any citizen has a say in the matter so far as government spending is concerned. I support none of the corporate welfare going on, be it to AIG or to companies like GE. Take for example GE that does not pay a dime in taxes. I have friends that work there that are not happy about this. Internal meetings have taken place allowing employees to express their dissatisfaction as well. I suppose none of the wasteful spending, corporate bailouts, lack of criminal prosecutions. See the Rolling Stones article “Secrets and Lies of the Bailout” about the housing debacle, that is how I feel about the partnership between corporations and government. There are no changes for the better, just smoke and mirrors to appease an ill informed public.

    • Heath Smith says:

      I missed your last question, “Do you think that it is plausible to utilize millions of years of stored energy from the sun in 100 years and pay no price?” I think it is absolute crime how we waste this energy. I agree with Tesla when has described it as “barbarous waste”. We as a race will eventually pay a price for the contamination of the land, water, and oceans. Despite all of the negative consequences, the price yet to be paid like our nation’s debt, I am not convinced that 1/10 of 1 degree per decade as claimed has even been substantiated. As you say, it is merely at this point the measured AGW is based on a preponderance of evidence, at best, not fact. I still believe that the preponderance is heavily influenced by those with vested interests in the outcome.

  12. Dennis says:

    Some other stories that I see floating around Facebook are the 11 year Colorado girl who shot and killed two “Illegal’s” who were invading her home. Its not true. It usually comes under the headline “Show this to the ones who want to take our guns away” The other claims Obama had the flags fly at half mast when Whitney Houston died while ignoring the death of a Navy Seal. Flags in New Jersey flew at half mast when Whitney Houston died, this was implemented by Republican Gov. Chris Christie not Barack Obama. The Navy Seal who died was not active duty and was killed by a Marine suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at a firing range. I do not know if Obama made a statement on his murder or not but I have a feeling it would have been construed as politically opportunist if he had. Kind of a Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t.

  13. M. A. Melby says:

    Congrats on your recent M.S. in Physics. I received my M.S. in Applied Physics back in 2003.

  14. thank you, I keep telling Teapublicans that I have several issues with the administration and could use some support on important things with out having someone yelling, “Death Panels!” in my ear. yes, there are Death Panels. they are called insurance companies and we need to put a leash on them.

  15. We seem to have gotten of the original subject. Since you folks don’t seem to mind this divergence, I feel compelled to comment.

    I am taking a “wait and see” stance on climate change being related to human activity. I’m just old enough to have seen a lot of theories and scares come and go. I think the folks most head up on believing it tend to be young. That is not a damning statement. Sometimes the young are willing to take chances the older people aren’t. Sometimes those intellectual risks prove well founded. When you get a few years older, you hesitate to throw your weight behind any theory without mountains of evidence repeated and confirmed. It’s a reluctance to be burned again. Sort of the “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” mentality. We don’t want to throw in with one side only to find that once again, the risk has been overstated, the danger not as pressing as believed. We can certainly do everything rational to clean up our environment without blindly following the recommendations of those who warn about GMO’s and want to ban all pesticides. I think it unlikely that global climate change is either a hoax or any kind of conspiracy. That doesn’t mean I have to believe it just because the UN body responsible for studying it claims it is real. I would remind you all the “climatologists” were a rare bread until very recently. They are making a killing off this debate. No one is going to kill the chicken that lays golden eggs by admitting there’s no real problem. And then again, because they make their living off it, is no reason to discount all of their research, just to be a tad more leery of their findings. Some of the contributors to CO2 levels are cows. Cows. What are you going to do, starve people? We could slowly decrease our reliance on beef and pork, and increase other protein sources, but this shouldn’t be done too quickly, or without sufficient planning. I don’t think insulting people who are not yet convinced of anthropomorphic climate change, calling them idiots, crackpots, etc., is a very productive way to address their concerns or get moderates and “wait and see” people like me into your camp. And in the end, you cannot win this battle or save the Earth without all of us.

    In regards the Taliban, I cannot comprehend how you could possibly come to the conclusion that they are not terrorists in the traditional sense of the word and every other sense. Are you assuming that because they are not the ones who flew planes into the Twin Towers that they are not? Do you forget the horrors of the Taliban regime? Have you never read of their shooting of schoolgirls, the burning of their schools, the strapping of explosive vests to pregnant women and children, the bombing of their own government buildings, the assaults on their polling places? These are the actions of terrorists, plain and simple. What are you even talking about with that? I am flabbergasted. It’s as if you have been living on an alternate world for the last ten to fifteen years. I realize you are young, but do you not remember seeing an Afghani woman stoned to death in a soccer stadium while hundreds of civilians looked on for the offense of talking to a man? They forbade women to work, forcing them to beg in the street or starve, even when they were widows with young children to support. How is that not terrorism? Does it only count if they kill and deny rights to men? Does it only count if they bring weapons of mass destruction to the US? When Pakistan and Ethiopia and Somalia are fighting their own wars against the invading Taliban who murder, maim, and deny rights to those whose countries they invade and threaten war and destruction against any who dare oppose them, how can you deny they are terrorists? How quickly we forget the destruction of the ancient Budhas and the leveling of temples. Afghanistan will surely follow its own misguided policy of appeasing these monsters once we are gone. To openly encourage it for some “exit strategy” makes no sense. The Taliban is openly hostile to the west, esp. the US, and stands in opposition to everything we hold dear. We should continue to put pressure on Afghanistan to keep the Taliban out of their government and ensure liberties for all their citizens. The Taliban will certainly do everything in their power to wipe us off the map, as they themselves have stated repeatedly. Why should we help them back into power? That’s not an exit strategy, that is suicide.

    And since everyone here is so interested, I am a registered Independent that for the first time in years, did not vote in the last election. Neither Democrats nor Republicans had an electable candidate that I could stomach voting for. And no third party candidate that wasn’t certifiably nuts presented as a possible winner. However, if you want to put one up for the next one, I’m open. Good luck with that. I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton (though she’s better than Obama) and I haven’t seen a viable Republican option yet either. I’d really love to exercise my right to vote again. So seriously, anyone viable who isn’t certifiable.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Pamela – you are misunderstanding my position on the Taliban. I am not supporting what they do to their citizens, nor am I saying they are not “terrorists” by definition. However, they are not directly responsible for terrorism on US soil. We attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan because they were allowing Al-Qaeda to base themselves within their territory. There are alot of Taliban in Afghanistan, and it would be impossible to just wipe them out. They must be part of the process of peace in Afghanistan, even if we don’t like their past. It would be a little like saying we needed to kill all Germans in WWII because they did bad things. You take out the leaders, negotiate and educate the rest as best we can, and give them warning if they step out of line, we would be back.

      We don’t have time to wait on climate change. We just hit 400 ppm in atmospheric CO2. I don’t know what evidence you are waiting for, but I suggest http://www.skepticalscience.com/ – there are 20,000+ papers which all point to various levels of warming. New York harbor is a foot high than it was 100 years ago due to ocean levels rising plus local expansion due to increased temperature. The US military has been planning for climate change for a couple of decades now (even during republican presidencies). The science is simple at the basic level, the more complex part is how much and how long it will take – because water has a large heat capacity and because of chaos in the shorter term. I am not one to say the whole world will die due to climate change, but if we do nothing to prepare, it will only be more expensive to either fix damage or have to counter-act the effects over a shorter period of time. People who won’t believe the science must not understand the science. We know there is uncertainty, but not so much as to say we don’t know the energy balance is changing to warmer planet as a whole.

      And your cows comment – large mammals are one of the worst ways to feed people. If we stopped beef production all together and switched to small animals for protein, we could feed many more people. So I am not advocating starving people, but better use of resources (i.e. efficiency) is something we should consider.

  16. Fil Barnes says:

    Eric – Just came to read a few of your posts by way of a recent article once again bashing Snopes. I had missed all of that the first two times, I guess.
    I was surprised to see that your Snopes article reads just as I would have written it (in fact, I made a brief comment on someone else’s article that came just before yours that made some of the same points). Thus, it amused me to see that you are also “not a fan of the two party system,” and that you are a physics professor. I teach high school physics and engineering.

    I am looking forward to reading more of your work.

  17. Fil Barnes says:

    Now that I have read all of this thread, your MS in Physics (mine are in Physics Education and Engineering Education) is not nearly as impressive as your patience! You must be a very good teacher.

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