Archive for the ‘Groupthink’ Category

If you don’t like the results, sit on it for 2 years.

January 21, 2012 4 comments

That’s what happened to a new (old) study that showed that selling junk food to kids in school doesn’t lead to overweight kids. According to a study by Penn State sociology professor Jennifer Van Hook, Competitive Food Sales in
Schools and Childhood Obesity: A Longitudinal Study

Employing fixed effects models and a natural experimental approach, they found that children’s
weight gain between fifth and eighth grades was not associated with the introduction or the duration
of exposure to competitive food sales in middle school. Also, the relationship between competitive foods
and weight gain did not vary significantly by gender, race/ethnicity, or family socioeconomic status, and it
remained weak and insignificant across several alternative model specifications (bolded for emphasis)

The real travesty is that Prof. Van Hook sat on the data for almost two years.

Van Hook said that the findings surprised the researchers so much that they held off publishing for nearly two years “because we kept looking for a connection that just wasn’t there.”

This is a problem with a lot of junk science now. A lot of researchers fall victim to Belief Bias. They attribute the validity of the research based on what they believe the valid conclusion should be. In this case, Dr. Van Hook had already made up her mind that junk food in middles schools should lead to more overweight kids. When the data fails to show a correlation, they person simply thinks that there is an error in the data, not an error in themselves. They then try to tease (more like torture) the data to try and fit the preconceived paradigm. In this case, they couldn’t torture the data enough to find anything that fits what they think ought to be true. The opposite is also very true in Academia, when they have one piece of data that confirms their bias, they tout that data as proof positive that their hypothesis is right.

There is nothing wrong with this. This is how science is done. You make a hypothesis, form an experiment, look at the data to see if it fits with your hypothesis. Three things can happen; the data can fit your hypothesis, in which you try different experiment to test your hypothesis. If repeated experiment all confirm your hypothesis, you can make a reasonable assumption that your hypothesis is correct. The second thing to happen is that the data totally refutes your hypothesis, in which case you reject the hypothesis and try again. The third thing to happen (which is common) is that some sort of systemic error occurred in your experiments that makes the data inconclusive. The only thing to do is try to reformulate your experimental procedure to get rid of the error. That is what should happen.

The problem now is what to do with all that legislation that was passed aiming to help the children? Policies were put into place based off of bad science. They made the assumption that junk food in schools WERE the cause of obesity, before any data could be looked at. This is the central fallacy of most Statist (Paternal) solutions to societal problems. They are never really based on any actual science. They same can be said for cell phone bans around the country, when there is no evidence that banning cell phones while driving actual does anything?

The other thing about this junk food study, is that it shows once again that the conventional wisdom is usually wrong. It shows that Academics are the easiest people to fool. It shows the depths to which people will hold on to their beliefs when the data is staring them in the face telling them they are wrong. I do have to give credit where credit is due. The research, Dr. Van Hook, actually published the study. A lot of researchers get so married to their pet hypothesis, they will not publish anything that might refute it.

I highly recommend listening to this Econtalk podcast with Gary Taubes.

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about what we know about the relationship between diet and disease. Taubes argues that for decades, doctors, the medical establishment, and government agencies encouraged Americans to reduce fat in their diet and increase carbohydrates in order to reduce heart disease. Taubes argues that the evidence for the connection between fat in the diet and heart disease was weak yet the consensus in favor of low-fat diets remained strong. Casual evidence (such as low heart disease rates among populations with little fat in their diet) ignores the possibilities that other factors such as low sugar consumption may explain the relationship. Underlying the conversation is a theme that causation can be difficult to establish in complex systems such as the human body and the economy.


Why Does the Media Keep Underestimating Newt?

January 20, 2012 1 comment

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself. – Sun Tzu

Excellent article by Walter Shapiro here.

The South Carolina primary has become a referendum on Newt Gingrich. Just 10 days after he was left in a dustbin labeled “Yesterday’s Man” after dismal finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich has confounded the experts yet again. The oft-derided and consistently under-estimated House speaker has now bested Jesus in his sheer number of resurrections—an association that can only help as the South Carolina primary vote looms.

Read the rest but I find the explanation quite simple….they think they are smarter than you, me…and of course they think they are smarter than Newt himself.

This is typical of anyone that buys into the idea of Statism, which modern Liberals overwhelmingly do. The media is comprised of about 90 – 97 percent liberals according to Tim Groseclose of UCLA (I highly recommend watching his Uncommon Knowledge interview here.) They believe in the central premise of Statism, that the State knows more than you and should therefore be able to dictate what you can and can’t do, for your own good. Call it Paternalism if you want, it’s all the same thing, just depends on the degree of control. How often do you hear a Liberal talk about how dumb those people that vote Republican, Libertarian….take your pick of things not Liberal Democrat and how if they were in charge…

They think they are smarter. So when someone that is really smart comes along (enter Newt) they constantly project their idea of a Republicans on to him. The fact that Newt has consistently defied the “conventional wisdom” (another word for what the Media wants you to believe) should be a fairly good indicator of how dumb those in the media really are. Since they are overwhelmingly Liberal…kinda tells you how Liberalism fairs doesn’t it?

Why is the Left so backward looking?

You’d think that Progressives would be the type of people always looking forward. That Conservatives would be the one looking backwards for a time that once was. Like most things, what you think is and how it really is are usually not the same. After reading this article, it’s easy to see just how much the Left looks back and not forward.

At first glance, it might seem odd to find the left so nostalgic. We tend to expect conservatives to be the backward looking bunch. But it isn’t all that peculiar, really. The modern left began as a project to recapture a lost innocence corrupted by greed and power. That’s how Rousseau understood the human story. It’s how the French revolutionaries understood what they were doing. And many subsequent projects of the radical left (from Maoist agrarianism to the anti-globalization riots of the 1990s) have been fundamentally anti-progressive, and so have been in some tension with both the more nihilistic elements and the more technocratic elements of the left. (The right, of course, has its own share of similar tensions, especially between libertarians and traditionalists.) The American left, like every other movement in American politics, has always been less radical than its foreign counterparts, so its nostalgic streaks have been less nuts, but they have been no less prominent—from Jefferson’s agrarianism right through contemporary environmentalism, with its naïve yearning for a simpler time.

This helps to explain the left’s attitude toward the increasingly obvious fiscal implosion of the welfare state. Liberals have so far responded almost exclusively with reactionary denial and with a doubling down on the very ways of thinking that created the problem. They yearn for the glorious energy of the Great Society era, unwilling to see that its consequences are the very source of our troubles. They really seem to believe that leaving Medicare just as we have it is essential to guarding the American dream. And to oppose conservative attempts at reforms of various programs, they appeal to an almost blind fear of change, and to the segments of our population most inclined to such fear—ignoring the plain fact that the status quo is unsustainable and the question is only what kind of change will come.

I think it makes a lot of sense.

Categories: Groupthink, Krugman, Liberal

The Left wants to emulate Europe except….

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Except when it comes to monetary policies.

Why is it that, now when Europe wises up and reject Obama’s call for more monetary stimulus, does the left reject our European cousins. The latest G-20 was a disaster for Obama and the failed Keynesian policies of the past. Bush was a Keynesian, so why are we repeating those same failed policies? Oh hope and change, why do you always evade us.

I’m sure the answer lies somewhere that most of the Left like to think they are the smart ones. They constantly appeal to the experts but fail to realize when the expert is wrong or lying. How else can anyone justify continuing to read a Krugman article? The Left learned Keynesianism in school and that’s all they know. Since they won’t admit to being wrong, they bitterly cling to the Keynesian economics they learned from the “experts” in school. For a group of people, who by large, say they are for science, that is about as unscientific a methodology as you can get. Of course, it’s not science but scientism. It’s faith based science, where they take it as an article of faith that their experts, not any differing opinion’s experts, are always and forever right. That we know all that there is and nothing, no new set of evidence can “refudiate” it.


Keith Olbermann will be missed

November 7, 2010 6 comments

I’m sure he isn’t going anywhere. I’m sure MSNBC will bring him back soon. They can’t handle their rating going down any lower than they already are. So really, Keith has nothing to worry about. Hell Fox might give him a new deal just to piss everyone at MSNBC off, though I doubt they’d want anyone like Olby around.

Olbermann is of course a very partisan Democrat. Anyone with two ears clearly can recognize that. MSNBC isn’t a non-partisan news organization. They are decidedly Left. There is nothing wrong with it. I don’t understand people who think news organization are objective. Objectivity in journalism is such a ridiculous idea that only people with bloated egos and sense of self-worth would think there is such a thing. Naturally the Left holds those ideas close to their chest, as can be seen with any mention of Fox News to any Liberal.

The one and only criticism that the Left has against Fox is that its partisan Right. Well no shit! The one valid criticism against Fox is that they represent themselves as fair and balanced, which they are not obviously. Yet it’s funny that they try harder than most other new organizations for some semblance of balance. They have non Republicans on their shows all the time and for the most part try to be civil. It doesn’t always work. To MSNBCs credit they have Joe Scarborough in the mornings. Either of those doesn’t change the fact that they both have partisan leanings with their new coverage.

All that isn’t new. But what is new, is that now of all time, MSNBC is trying to make a stand? I mean why now? Why wait until 2010, when Olbermann’s partisanship has been on world display for years? MSNBC says it because of politician donations they just found out about…hogwash! Olbermann and Mathews have been doing far more with their nightly tirades against Republicans. I don’t know how much MSNBC charges for a 30 sec ad spot in the 8pm time slot, but if you were to add up time that Olbermann and Mathews use their shows for partisan purposes, it would be far greater than what Olbermann donated.

Olbermann says it’s not a First Amendment speech issue. For that I give him credit, at least he is trying to be consistent in respects to the Citizens United ruling. indeed, if it’s in his contract that he isn’t to donate, then he did breech his contract with MSNBC, so they are well within their rights to do what they want with him.

I say Oblermann will be missed because, unlike some, I welcome partisanship. I am fully aware of the bias in all forms of journalism. Being aware make me cautious as to what I believe. I do my due diligence based on my notions of which organizations have which bias.

The sacking of Olbermann only makes the bias harder to fully appreciate. MSNBC, by making this stand, makes it easier for people to forget that they still will be biased Left. They aren’t changing their line ups, they still have the Leftists Maddown, Mathews and “We as one nation, must stand together, must fight the forces of evil – the conservatives in this country” Ed Schultz, are they? Who in their right mind would think that is a non-partisan lineup anyway, well except for Liberals, which judging by MSNBC’s ratings, don’t watch much news anyway. They must just already know right?

People like Olbermann, Mathews, Krugman, Goldberg, O’Reilly and Hannity provide us with valuable signals as to what bias a news organization has. Without those points, we can’t properly calibrate our BullShip detectors. Sacking Olbermann only makes matters worse for the people who fall victim to the fallacy of non-partisan news organizations.

The Intolerant Left

October 24, 2010 23 comments

I used to think the left wing was the home of tolerance, open-mindedness, respect for all viewpoints, but now, I learned the truth the hard way.

– Juan Williams

It’s a common mistake for people to make. They assume that the Left is the tolerant side. After all, the Left keeps preaching about tolerance and inclusion. Yet, there is that immutable fact that the Left, while preaching tolerance, is very much intolerant of anyone that harbors a different opinion.

Anecdotal evidence is everywhere. You have the recent Williams-NPR flop, where the “tolerant” liberals at NPR decided to fire Williams for admitting that he gets “nervous” to get on an airplane with people dressed in Muslim garb, all the while trying to drive the point home that there is a difference between extremist Muslims and the non-violent ones.

You have the political activist/director Rob Reiner compare Tea Party people to Nazis on Real Time with Bill Maher. Of course there is George Clooney reminding Maher that he needs to be a little bit more tolerant and open minded about the Right.

MAHER: I think this is a big difference between liberals and conservatives. You know, I don’t think conservatives are bad people. I think they have a hard time being empathetic to people who are not like them at all.

CLOONEY: Okay, now wait. I’ll tell you why, hang on a minute though. I’ll tell you why that’s not necessarily true. Because this movement, the Sudanese movement, Darfur, the north-south agreement were really truly embraced by the Right even more so than the Left.

Of course these recent (all within the last week) examples don’t really amount too much. What really proves it are the personal experiences that former Democrats and liberals have faced when dealing with issues that they have differing opinions from the mainstream Liberal group-thought. My example is one of being called racist for not supporting Obama during the 2008 primary. It didn’t matter that, at the time due to my economic ignorance, that we agreed on a lot of issues. The sheer fact that I didn’ t want Obama meant that I must be racist. During that Primary season, Hillary and her supporters were subject to all kinds of vicious attacks from other Democrats. Mind you, McCain had a very hands off attitude in his campaign after he locked the nomination for GOP. There were months, where the news cycle was dominated by Dem on Dem in fighting, racial and gender attacks. All from Democrats to other Democrats, Liberal vs Liberal.

Now, of course, you have a combined selective amnesia of the whole affair from Liberals. They try to whitewash history to suit their own purposes but it isn’t working like it used to. Thank you You Tube. In the age of Interwebs, the usual Liberal play of selective amnesia doesn’t work. All it takes is three seconds of searching on You Tube to bring up a clip of Barney Frank proclaiming that there isn’t a bubble in housing.

So let’s just take a quick look at what it means to be “tolerant” for the Left:

Gender: Woman have to be pro-choice and pro-“Feminist” (There is distinction between classical feminism and what’s coming out of the Womens Studies Dept at most Universities).Example: Sarah Palin. She is a woman who embodies everything from the classical feminist movement, a woman who has both career and family. A woman who is successful and has shattered some glass ceilings in her day. Yet the left utterly hate her. Hate is probably too weak of a word for how Liberals think of Palin. Why? Because she is Conservative and Pro-Life. Thus she must be hated.

Race: There is no way around it, for a black man or woman to have any standing in Liberal circles they have to be liberal as well. To be a conservative black person is to be an Uncle Tom. Go read some “tolerant” Liberal reviews of books by some of the smartest men on the planet, who happen to be black, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and Clarence Thomas. You can always tell the “tolerant” liberal by their constant demeaning and name calling of the authors in question. Go ahead try it!

We all have some stories of liberal intolerance. What are yours?

How stupid are AGW fanatics? This stupid….

October 6, 2010 4 comments


Methinks they are 5 cans short of a six-pack

Really? I mean really? Check out the website for I wonder how long that will be up? As of 12:33 pm EST it’s there….any bets on when it will be mysteriously erased?