Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
One of four.
Andrew Wakefield and the faked link between MMR vaccinations and autism.
Andrew Wakefield is one of the heroes of the anti-vaccination crusaders. In 1998 prestigious British medical journal The Lancet published a paper by Wakefield and others which implied a link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination. Not only was there no such link, but Wakefield’s data was faked. The article was retracted by The Lancet on February 2, 2010.
Wakefield must have known the likelihood that his faked research would reduce vaccination rates and lead to increased levels of preventable infectious childhood diseases. That is, he must have known than faking data so as to suggest a link between MMR vaccinations and autism would lead to increased child deaths.
Whatever Andrew Wakefield is, he is no hero of child health.
Apart from faking the results, there were several other ethics violations. These included failing to disclose cash payments from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR caused their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, and the use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.
On January 28, 2010, Wakefield and two of his co-authors, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, were found by the UK’s General Medical Council to have acted irresponsibly, dishonestly and not in the clinical interests of the children involved in the study. The Medial Council found, amongst other things, that Wakefield had used colonoscopies, MRIs and lumbar punctures when such procedures were not clinically indicated. On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield and Walker-Smith were guilty of professional misconduct and should be struck from the Medical Register in the U.K. His license to practice medicine has been revoked.
There is no moral difference between this faking of medical research with foreseeably lethal consequences, and adding Melamine (a poison) to milk with foreseeably lethal consequences.
Some supporters of the MMR/autism theory claim that just because a few bad apples faked their results doesn’t necessarily mean there is no connection between vaccination and autism. No it doesn’t. But there isn’t. Not a speck. Not a jot nor a tittle.
In the next few days I will explain exactly how scientists know this. I’ll also examine the story that when Japan stopped vaccinating children, SIDS (cot death) stopped completely. It didn’t.
Ninety per-cent of Facebook and Twitter causes are based on false information, bigotry or both.
From scare stories about preservatives in food, to stories of dogs being hooked alive and used as shark bait, to stories about how people who don’t look like us eat something we don’t like eating and it’s disgusting and they are horrible and it should be stopped, almost every “Please pass this on, this must be stopped” story turns out to be based on false or misleading information, or cultural bigotry so blatant that it verges on racism.
These campaigns have real consequences. A campaign against the use of lean beef trimmings was bulldust from beginning to end. But the facts fell before a tidal wave of disgusting pictures of pink slime, and assertions the slime was loaded with ammonia and other deadly chemicals used as preservatives. None of the slimy pictures had anything to do with lean beef trimmings, and claims about high levels of preservatives were false.
It didn’t matter. The US beef industry responded with factual information, photos of the real product and descriptions of production methods. No one cared. Lean beef trimmings are high in protein, reduce the overall fat content of burgers and other meat products to which they are added, and in blind taste tests, were found by a majority of people to improve the tenderness of processed meats. It didn’t matter. The facts had no weight compared to the emotional fervour and manufactured horror of the pink slime campaign.
The end result was that factories were closed, businesses were forced into bankruptcy, hundreds of workers lost their jobs, and hundreds of families their incomes.
It may feel like you are doing a good thing when you click ‘Like’ to some circulating campaign against something, or pass it on to your friends. But when ninety per-cent of such campaigns are simply wrong, then clicking ‘Like’ or passing it on is not good, or even morally neutral. It is wrong.
At very least, we should check, every time, that what we are being told is true. Look for opinions opposed to those expressed in the message. Ask yourself “Is this reasonable?” “Is it really likely to be true?” Even if it is true, local governments may have the matter in hand, and demands for action in a Twitter campaign may be counter-productive or insulting.
Don’t pass on alarm stories without checking first, and if you have any doubts about the accuracy or fairness of a story, don’t pass it on at all. The truth matters. Don’t be a party to lies.
There is a point, though, at which the merely lazy, ignorant or bigoted nature of most Facebook campaigns tips over into actual evil. This point is the ongoing campaign against vaccination, and especially vaccination against childhood diseases such as measles and polio.
Over the next week I will write four articles explaining why this opposition is based on false, and in some cases deliberately false or misleading information. I will explain why the campaign is not just misguided but evil. And I will explain what you can do to help the truth be heard.
Green activists are once again turning Japan’s annual dolphin hunt to their financial advantage, deep-sixing facts in favour of fund-raising propaganda. Sure, the slaughter at Taiji Cove is not for the squeamish, but neither is any Australian abattoir …
Lies, damned lies and dolphins
Villagers in Taiji in Japan are halfway through their annual dolphin harvest, which runs from September to May. Villagers in Australia are halfway through their annual feeding frenzy of self-righteous indignation. Twitter accounts gurgle with rage. Facebook pages quiver with fury. Post after post proclaims the Japanese to be vile, murderous, and deserving of the same fate as the dolphins.
There are clear emotional benefits to participating slacktivists. A scrumptious sense of moral superiority. The feeling of purpose that flows from with aligning oneself with a righteous cause. Being part of a community of like-minded believers.
But the hunt continues. The Japanese are disinclined to change their behaviour on the basis of what they see as the petulant posturing of a group of ignorant, hypocritical, glory seekers.
Read the rest at Quadrant Online.
On the anniversary of 9/11 two US embassies are attacked. One of your ambassadors is killed and his body dragged through the streets, and you are apologising because someone, somewhere, might have hurt muslim feelings?
The muslim world hates you. They see you as the enemy. Nothing you do will appease them. They will not rest until you are subjugated, dead, or convert to islam.
This is not your fault. For heaven’s sake, stop apologising.
In the mid 1990s Julia Gillard had a sexual relationship with a corrupt union official, Bruce Wilson. At the time she was a partner in law firm Slater and Gordon.
Julia Gillard has attempted to squash any discussion of that relationship, and of her involvement in setting up an illegally constituted entity – the AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc – into which stolen union funds were deposited. Pressure was brought to bear to have two journalists, Michael Smith and Glen Milne, sacked for trying to bring this to public attention. That in itself is scandalous.
She was asked to resign from Slater and Gordon, or resigned of her own accord in almost inexplicable circumstances – she was in a well paid position and had no other job to go to.
Gillard was either completely ignorant of the law relating to the setting up of incorporated associations, or if she wasn’t, she knowingly arranged a drop box for stolen union funds for her boyfriend.
Slater and Gordon’s credibility has been diminished by this. The media is taking a growing interest, and seems less willing to be cowed. This is not going to go away.
On the facts, Julia Gillard is either dangerously incompetent, dishonest, or both. In any case, the people of Australia can have no confidence in her leadership.
If the Federal Government is to continue to have any integrity (don’t laugh!) Julia Gillard must stand down until there has been a full enquiry.
More details in the latest Alan Jones interview with Michael Smith.
It used to be that inn-keepers could be fined if they were found to be profiting from immoral earnings. Now they can be fined of they don’t.
From the UK Guardian:
Australia’s hotel industry has been rocked by a court ruling that a prostitute was illegally discriminated against by a motel owner who refused to rent her a room to work from.
The judgment has stunned hoteliers, who thought they had a right to decide what sort of businesses were operating from their premises.
The woman, identified only as GK, had taken her discrimination case against the Drovers Rest motel in the coal mining town of Moranbah to the Queensland state civil and administrative tribunal after management refused to rent her a room.
The motel’s lawyer, David Edwards, said on Wednesday that the court notified him this week that it had upheld the discrimination claim. Edwards confirmed the woman was seeking damages, reported in The Australian newspaper to be 30,000 Australian dollars (£20,000).
Richard Munro, is chief executive of the Accommodation Association of Australia.
“It’s absolutely illogical,” Munro said. “If a hairdresser decided to set up shop in the motel and started inviting people in to get their hair cut, I think the motel owner would have the right to say, ‘Hang on, that’s a different business operating out of my business.’”
“If a prostitute decided to start working out of a shopping mall, the owners would have something to say about it. There is some protection for the rights of the motel owner here,” he said.
Janelle Fawkes, chief executive of the Scarlet Alliance Australian Sex Workers Association, said the ruling was a major win for the sex work industry throughout Australia.
“Accommodation discrimination is a major issue for sex workers, but it is not by any means the only form of systemic discrimination that sex workers experience,” she said.
They are not ‘sex workers.’ They are prostitutes. Prostitution is demeaning to both men and women, it is damaging to families and to society. One may not wish to judge the motives of any indivdual man or woman who offers sexual services for a price, but prostitution is still wrong.
If Queensland law demands such a ruling because prostitution is legal in Queensland, and it is forbidden to discriminate against a person engaged in a legal business, then the law needs to be changed. No one should be forced to allow prostitution to take place at their home or place of business.
In March a group of forty-nine NASA scientists wrote to Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, expressing their concern that NASA’s climate alarm advocacy is not based in science and is undermining NASA’s credibility:
The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr. NASA Administrator NASA Headquarters Washington, D.C. 20546-0001
We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.
The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.
As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.
For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.
Thank you for considering this request.
A month ago the journal Nature Climate Change published a paper by a group of German scientists demonstrating that the world’s temperature has been declining for the last 2.000 years:
How did the Romans grow grapes in northern England? Perhaps because it was warmer than we thought.
A study suggests the Britain of 2,000 years ago experienced a lengthy period of hotter summers than today. German researchers used data from tree rings – a key indicator of past climate – to claim the world has been on a ‘long-term cooling trend’ for two millennia until the global warming of the twentieth century.
This cooling was punctuated by a couple of warm spells. These are the Medieval Warm Period, which is well known, but also a period during the toga-wearing Roman times when temperatures were apparently 1 deg C warmer than now. They say the very warm period during the years 21 to 50AD has been underestimated by climate scientists.
Lead author Professor Dr Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: ‘We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.
Marc Morano and Lord Monckton explain why the whole notion of climate refugees is bunk:
And if you need more, try the NIPCC 2011 interim report which lists dozens of peer reviewed papers published in the last two years questioning the science of man made global warming.
Consensus? Pull the other one.
Anthony Watts’s blog has not been updated for past couple of days. Anthony says he has something big to post in the next day or so.
There are rumours that Richard Muller of the University of California has prepared another article based on the temperature studies about which he wrote last year in the Wall Street Journal.
Basically, Muller said his work proved the world really was warming, so there was no excuse for global warming scepticism.
Sadly for Muller, he had missed the point. He, like most global warming alarmists, seemed to have no idea what the sceptics were actually saying. No one denies the world has warmed over the last one hundred and fifty years. No one denies that human activity can influence climate. The argument is about the extent of human influence, whether current climate change is unusual or dangerous, and if it is, what are the most economical and effective ways to deal with it.
Marc Morano summarised the scientific responses to Muller’s earlier article at Climate Depot.
This is a capture from Steven Goddard’s blog Real Science:
Anthony’s major post has nothing to do with any new work by Muller, but is a ‘pre-release’ of an important paper by Watts, Jones, McIntyre and Christy on NOAA station siting problems and post measurement adjustments.
A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new siting classification more accurately characterizes the quality of the location in terms of monitoring long-term spatially representative surface temperature trends. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward.
These factors, combined with station siting issues, have led to a spurious doubling of U.S. mean temperature trends in the 30 year data period covered by the study from 1979 – 2008.
Quadrant Magazine has posted a transcript of an important 2GB radio interview between Alan Jones and Michael Smith.
A few paragraphs:
Jones: Cambridge has been calling on the one hand for a Royal Commission but then is appointed (to FWA). He was the author of the affidavit when McClelland was the solicitor. Cambridge is now in the union controlled Fair Work Australia, which has delayed the investigation into Thomson and, as I understand it, he has not pursued the Wilson-Gillard matter since.
Smith: That is true. He swore an affidavit with penalty of perjury if falsely sworn. You read it; read what he said about Slater & Gordon, and its role and Ms Gillard was a partner who was involved in this position where she had a conflict of interest having a sexual relationship with the man who headed up her client, the AWU, that was undisclosed to her partners. The Law Council would have a view about the appropriateness of that.
Jones: Did she, as a lawyer, set up accounts into which extorted funds were diverted? This union heavy was going around saying: I want this money, 25 thousand from you and 30 thousand from you in order to get work done. This was 20 years ago, and that money was shoved into another account the AWU would not know about. Did she set up those accounts?
Smith: I know that her handwriting is present. I have had that analysed by the country’s pre-eminent forensic handwriting analyst, Paul Westwood. He is the same guy who helped me out on the Craig Thomson matter, who analysed the hand-writing on the credit card chits, the signature.
I am a layman. I can look at her handwriting, I have a copy here and the handwriting on that form. It is identical. But the forensic analyst tells me it is in all likelihood, balance of probabilities, written by the same person, by her.
Jones: The accounts set up that she as a lawyer opened at the direction of Wilson and Blewitt have been described by an AWU executive as unauthorized, invalid, irregular and used for quote, possibly illegal purposes. There were 13 of them.
Smith: Yes, a large number of accounts were set up. Wilson was given the flick from the AWU when the accounts that were established in Melbourne were discovered and he was allowed to leave the union, and in fact got redundancy payments. The money was paid back to the organisations that had paid the money into those accounts, in Melbourne. Julia Gillard was questioned in Melbourne and said: I have done nothing wrong. At that point the account she had set up in 1992 in Perth had not been discovered. It was discovered later, after he had left the union and after she had made the public protestation that she did nothing wrong. She had a duty as a lawyer acting for the AWU, upon a report to her law firm that fraud had been discovered, she had a duty to assist her client to find the location of any further monies that might be owing to it, including her knowledge, the fact that a cheque drawn on the association she had set up, had been used to buy a house for a person, not for the union, and she said nothing. This was in March 1993. Slater & Gordon were involved in the purchase of this property at 85 Kerr St, Fitzroy, and money that Thiess Contractors paid was used to pay for the property. Wilson’s signature was on the cheque …
Jones: A final comment: Julia has said previously when questioned that she was young and naïve, and she was terribly distressed when she found out what the boyfriend Wilson had been up to. Would that be Wilson’s account of things?
Smith: (laughs loudly), Alan, no.
Jones: According to her, Wilson was concealing it all from her.
Smith: Yeah (laughs). Bruce Wilson lives in a coastal town, he goes to work in a very old car, he is working in the kitchen at a registered club, he works shifts there cooking meals. He looks at Tim Mathieson and Julia Gillard getting on the plane and thinks to himself about what he knows. What if he was approached by the authorities? What would he have to say under oath? His account is very different from hers. And look Alan, you just add this up, the weight of Cambridge’s affidavit, what Ludwig has to say, what his offsider Blewitt has to say, and all the documents, all the bank statements, all the handwriting analyses, put that on one side of the scale, on the other side of the scale put this statement: “I did nothing wrong, I was young and naïve.”
Was Julia Gillard dishonest; an accessory or active participant in the theft of union funds? Or is she simply incompetent?
“Fair Trade” may make us feel better about our wealth; by spending a few cents more on some chocolate or a cup of coffee, we are doing something for small producers in developing countries. But it does nothing for those countries or producers.
If anything, it makes their situation worse. Producers are obliged to pay registration fees of between $2,000 and $4,000, plus additional annual fees. This is necessary to sustain the bureaucracy which oversees what is essentially a price fixing organisation. That cost shuts out many of the smaller and poorer growers.
Nonetheless, those who do fit into the system will make an extra 18c per day by being part of Fair Trade. Maybe they could save that to buy a new tractor. But …
Farmers are discouraged from using fertilisers or pesticides. They cannot own more twelve acres of land. This means that they will never reach the levels of efficient production that would enable them to compete with more developed nations. Larger producers who already use such methods, and are consequently more efficient, are excluded. In other words, the Fair Trade system is structured so as to keep the poor locked into small scale farming and out-dated methods of production which ensure they stay poor.
This is confirmed by studies which show no long term benefit or reduction in poverty for producers who sign on with Fair Trade. Fair Trade is a comforting mirage for chocolate and coffee loving Westerners. It does nothing for growers.
Nor is Fair Trade coffee or chocolate better than coffee or chocolate sourced through normal methods. Growers who are able do so sensibly sell their better grade coffee and cocoa on the open market where it commands a higher price, and sell the inferior product through Fair Trade channels, where the price is guaranteed.
Real fairness, in the form of development and increased prosperity, is a by-product of free trade, not Fair Trade.
More here from Tim Wilson at the IPA.