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Studies show . . .

 

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The two most dangerous words in the English language:  “Studies show“.

Or just as valid:  “Statistics show“.

Or perhaps:  “Surveys show

I’m going to bounce back and forth between a critique of studies, statistics, and surveys because in a lot of cases an evaluation of each has the same basis.

There ARE differences, though, and I’ll point them out later.

BEGIN DISCLAIMER:  This is NOT a rant AGAINST studies/statistics/surveys.  Rather, it is a CAUTION that these things need to be scrutinized BEFORE accepting them as any kind of indication.  Too often, posters present a link as if it were “proof” positive that their argument is true.  Not so fast.  Yes, I have used links to these things myself (though not that often), and I’m not suggesting that SOME are without merit.  But some are just flat out junk science.  END DISCLAIMER.

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Each reader must scrutinize these things, and decide for themselves how valid these things are.  And if you’re posting a link to one, this should be done BEFORE you post it, or else you may end up with egg on your face.

I’m not talking about the link/source itself.  All that challenge does is get you embroiled in a link war that has no end.  “My link is better than your link”, “My source is better than your source”, or “My expert is better than your expert.”  No resolution there.

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READ it and base any criticism you have on the thing ITSELF.  I’ll get into “how” to read them in a bit.

If you honestly believe the thing is valid, reading it CLOSELY ahead of time will prepare you to identify any weak points and respond to the challenge.  You must read it closely because your challenger will.  Your challenger will miss nothing.  Expect it.

 

STUDIES

There are all kinds of studies, from market studies,

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to sociology studies, to psychological studies, to climate studies (which of course Al Gore invented), to “studies of studies” (typically called “meta-reviews”), but they all claim to be “scientific”.

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Most often when we think of “studies”, it’s in the medical field.

Unless a medical study has been repeated many many times USING THE EXACT SAME PROTOCOL/METHOD, AND HAS THE SAME RESULTS, it is dubious at best, and certainly is NOT proof of anything.  It may be a “groundbreaking” study (IOW, the first of its kind), but any author worth his salt will specifically say that and caution the reader from considering it as established science.  Sometimes posters fail to mention this, which is one reason you need to scrutinize these things.

One poster here doesn’t even cite studies, but rather argues a point on it’s own merits (our member from Central California that runs a trucking business).  Challengers often criticize that method as not being “supported”, and use that as a lame excuse to avoid addressing the argument itself.  They just throw out the argument on the flawed notion that a valid argument HAS to be accompanied by a link.  But presenting a clean argument without a link is just as valid, and AFAIC is sometimes MORE valid.

A heavy reliance on “studies” leads to a dizzying argument that often steals the focus from the whole point itself.

As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.” – Leonardo da Vinci

It is necessary to take a hard and long look at a study before forming an opinion, but many (especially Liberals) will take a single casually examined study or poll and run with it, using it as “support” for their position.  What you need to probe are elements like the design and protocol of the thing, whether or not those EXACT elements have been duplicated elsewhere and had the same results, population size, population makeup, wording of conclusions, author caveats, publishing journal, peer comments, research sponsorship, etc.

Of course, you need to decide BEFORE you jump into this if it’s even worth the considerable amount of time you’ll be putting into it.  Sometimes it’s not.

 

STUDY LINGO

Now the jargon used in a study is most often obscure and confusing.  So, do you need to be a PhD in that field to understand it?  Most emphatically, NO.  A simple understanding of the English language, and sometimes help from a simple Google search, common sense, and a good dose of patience and due diligence, will allow you to decipher the lingo sufficient to get the big picture.

For example, instead of a simple plain English, “We turned the lights on“, the tightly wound researcher might write it in the study as, “We turned the artificial illumination mode selector switch to the O-N position.”  Tedious and sometimes pompous?  Yes.  But in defense of study authors, they are writing for their peers, not you.

Center your attention on the SUBJECT/VERB/OBJECT of a sentence.  For example, in the sentence, “The development of the myelin sheath enables rapid synchronized communication across the neural systems responsible for higher order cognitive functioning”, take “development . . . . enables . . . . communication” and start with that plain English foundation.  Then you can Google things like “myelin sheath” to fill in the blanks.

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Unfortunately, the use of jargon allows for pseudo-intellectual authors AND posters to hide behind obfuscation, and they often DO.

 

CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION

“Correlations” are frequently abused and asserted as established facts.  For example, let’s say a study on murder . . . “shows” . . . that people who eat blueberry muffins for breakfast commit murders more often than people who don’t eat blueberry muffins for breakfast.  The study wasn’t designed to show that, though.  Let’s say that the study was designed only to show that people who DIDN’T eat a certain number of calories for breakfast were more likely to become violent later in the day.  But a passage in the study explains that some of the subjects were fed a breakfast of scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, AND BLUEBERRY MUFFINS.  While the purpose of the study had absolutely nothing to do with whether murderers eat blueberry muffins or not, this little tidbit may next be seen in a New York Times headline:

Study shows that blueberry muffins are the new “Breakfast of Murderers.

Some years ago, newspapers ran a sensationalist headline that said, “Harvard study shows that taking estrogen for hot flashes causes cancer.

And, the study DID indeed draw that conclusion. Except the print media neglected to add that the study also pointed out that this was only for younger women that hadn’t had a hysterectomy.

Gynecologists were flooded with older hysterectomy patients that had read the article and insisted they wanted to be taken off of estrogen therapy because the article “said” they would get cancer (reinforced of course by their notion that a “Harvard Study” CAN’T be wrong . . . and the papers made “Harvard Study” prominent.) All that sensationalist headline did was create a lot of women that suffered hot flashes needlessly . . . and sold a lot of papers.

Sensationalism sells papers, and generates hits on web pages, but unless you read the study, you don’t have all the facts.

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Researchers will frequently have a statement, often with the flavor of an afterthought, that says something like, “Further study controlling for some correlations needs to be done.”  And in that same study, they’ll draw a conclusion that says something like this, “We have shown IN THIS STUDY that since there’s a correlation between  . . . blah, blah, blah . . . that . . . blah, blah, blah . . . is the likely cause of . . . blah, blah, blah.

Correlation

Somewhere in that study should be a mathematical expression of the “significance” of that correlation.  Sometimes it’s just simply stated in the conclusion as a “significant correlation”, which is pretty vague and doesn’t tell you much unless the study adhered to a strict scientific definition of “significance”.  Some do and some don’t.  That’s why you need to scrutinize the study.

For example, the size of the population studied has a lot to do with the mathematical expression of significance.  The larger the population, the more RELIABLE the significance number, and vice versa.  You can’t just take the studies conclusion as fact.

 

THE FAMOUS “P-VALUE”

I’m not going to go into the jargon of mathematical representations of statistics . . . indeed, a poster who posts something like “P(θ | Y ) , which tells us what is known about given knowledge of the data, is called the posterior distribution of θ given Y, or the distribution of θ a posteriori. The quantity k is merely a “normalizing” constant necessary to ensure that the posterior distribution P(θ | Y) integrates or sums to one” immediately raises a red flag for me.

That person is either a pseudo-intellectual impressed with him/her self and trying to impress you with his/her towering intellect, or is counting on obfuscation to fool you, bore you, or otherwise get you to throw your hands up in surrender and think, “I don’t understand a thing he/she is saying.  It’s way over my head, so this person must know more then I do, so he/she is probably right . . . in any case, I can’t argue.

That’s precisely the reaction they’re looking for, and most often get.

So lets simplify a study and put it into plain English.  Of course by doing that, there’s unavoidably going to be some generalizations that can be attacked by that same pseudo-intellectual as “technically” inaccurate.  I’m not writing this for “technical” review, but rather to enable you to get your arms around the concept . . . which is exactly what this pseudo-intellectual DOESN’T want.  He/she is the custodian of the tree of forbidden knowledge, and only he/she can know this stuff.

B.S.!!!  You don’t even need to climb that tree. Just cut it down.

Again, you don’t need to be a nerd to get the general idea.

Let’s go back to that notion that a study may reveal that an event is related SIGNIFICANTLY to another event.  Remember when I said, “Somewhere in that study should be a mathematical expression of the “significance” of that correlation.  Sometimes it’s just simply stated in the conclusion as a “significant correlation”, which is pretty vague and doesn’t tell you much unless the study adhered to a strict scientific definition of “significance”.  Some do and some don’t.“?

Well, the “p-value” is often presented as that “mathematical expression“.  But what they don’t tell you is that this “p-value” only pertains to what researchers call the  “null hypothesis”.  That “null hypothesis” is another phrase shrouded in mystery for all but those that deal with it regularly.

So, let’s first put this “null hypothesis” stuff into plain English.

What is a “hypothesis”?  It is simply a provisionally adopted supposition used to explain certain observations, and to guide in the investigation of others . . . hence, it’s frequently called a “working hypothesis”.  It is a concept that is not yet verified but that if true might explain certain phenomena . . . or might not.

The hypothesis that chance alone is responsible for the results is called the “null hypothesis”.

For example . . . a certain drug may reduce the chance of having a heart attack. Possible null hypotheses are “this drug does not reduce the chances of having a heart attack” or “this drug has no effect on the chances of having a heart attack“. The test of the hypothesis consists of administering the drug to half of the people in a study group as a controlled experiment. If the data show a statistically significant change (measured as the “p-value”) in the people receiving the drug, the null hypothesis is rejected.

Notice in this example that the p-value says absolutely nothing about alternate hypotheses, only that there is . . . SOME significant relationship between this drug and not having a heart attack (that is, if the p-value is less than 0.05 . . . an arbitrarily chosen number that is called the “significance level” . . . and I’ll get back to that in a bit.)  The p-value says that it’s not chance, BUT SAYS NOTHING ELSE.  The p-value ONLY separates the results from statistical background noise.

Rejecting the hypothesis that a large paw print originated from a bear does not immediately prove the existence of Bigfoot.

OK, let’s get back to statistical evaluations of results for a second.

There are two methods of statistical evaluations, and both are very very different.

A fellow by the name of Ronald Fisher developed one method and that method is accepted in most scientific studies . . . and p-values are an integral part of what Mrs. Fisher’s son theorized.  OTOH, a fellow by the name of Thomas Bayes developed another method . . . called Bayesian Statistics.  The p-value is NOT an integral part of Bayesian Statistics.

Fisher was a neo-Darwinian and of him, Richard Dawkins said Fisher was “the greatest biologist since Darwin“.  Fisher was a proponent of evolutionary biology and, like Margaret Sanger, Eugenics (he was instrumental in forming the University of Cambridge Eugenics Society, along with Horace Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin).

In the 1920′s he wrote a book titled “Statistical Methods for Research Workers“, and in the 30′s he wrote a book titled “The Design of Experiments“.  Both those books have since become standard works used by many of today’s researchers and universities.

He was a strong opponent of Bayesian Statistics.

Thomas Bayes developed his methods in the 18th century, and a lot of them were based on the work of mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace.

My point is not to pit political philosophies against each other as the basis for selecting statistical methods (though it may be revealing that universities . . . typically dominated by liberals . . . generally use Fisher’s methods, though Bayesian Statistics is now rising from the ashes at some universities to challenge Fisher’s methods), but rather to highlight that the p-value is not all it’s trumped up to be.

(Of universities, Thomas Sowell said, “Few professors would dare to publish research or teach a course debunking the claims made in various ethnic, gender, or other ‘studies’ courses.“)

The p-value is frequently misunderstood and often presented by that pseudo-intellectual as “proof” that an argument is true.  While it can be useful, particularly when it comes to rejecting or accepting the null hypothesis, in interpreting p-values one must also know other elements in the study, like the sample size.

For example, let’s take the coin toss.  If I toss a coin 50 times, there will be a p-value.  If I toss a coin a hundred times, there will be a p-value.  But the reliability of the p-value for the 50 coin toss will not be as great as the reliability of the p-value for the hundred coin toss.  (So says BAYESIAN STATISTICS, not necessarily Fisher’s brand.)

Let me put it another way, and at the same time address what I said I’d come back to when I referred to the 0.05 value as being arbitrary.  The generally accepted p-value threshold is 0.05 . . . by those that favor Fisher’s method that is, but that number is designated by the researcher him/her self.  Over 25% of studies using that p-value threshold fail to be duplicated.  Some have suggested that a p-value threshold of 0.005 would reduce those false positives.  “Very few studies that fail to replicate are based on P values of 0.005 or smaller” says researcher Valen Johnson of Texas A&M University.

So, at the end of the day, don’t buy into the p-value argument ALONE . . . there are quite a few other factors that must be considered IN ADDITION TO THE P-VALUE.

One disadvantage to the modern obsessive attention on p-values is the emphasis it places on statistical significance TO THE EXCLUSION OF CONFIRMATION BY REPEATED EXPERIMENTS.  Often, a paper will be perceived as not needing duplication if it “passes” the p-value threshold.

Statistical hypothesis testing is misunderstood, overused and misused.

Significance

Given the problems of statistical induction, one must finally rely, as have the older sciences, on replication . . . but that’s not the trend. The alternative to significance testing is repeated testing, but that requires funding and resources that often are not forthcoming.

 

PEER REVIEW

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This is often seen as one of the two essential elements of a foundation that renders “proof” that a paper is factual.  The other element of course is “p-value”.  If a paper both passes the threshold of p-value AND peer review, it is often presented as “fact”.

Again, not so fast.

“Peer review” is seen as the Gold Standard (or sacred cow, if you will) of publishing.  I wouldn’t disagree that it is something to be considered, and it is something that I always want to see (more on that in a bit), just like I want to see what p-value was calculated (AND what the null hypothesis was specifically), but neither peer review nor p-value represents the WHOLE picture.

Pseudo-intellectuals often hang their hat on p-value and peer review, as though that was all that was necessary to validate the study.  Not so fast, again.

Let’s look at this “peer review” business a little closer than just the buzz phrase that the unwashed masses view as this sacred cow.  I mean, when they hear that phrase . . . that’s it, period . . . no more scrutiny necessary.  After all, if it’s been reviewed and “approved” by scientists that are much more knowledgeable in that field than me . . . who am I to question their judgment?

You guessed it . . . NOT SO FAST.

That is exactly why the pseudo-intellectuals shroud these things in mystery.  THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO THINK YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO SCRUTINIZE THESE THINGS.

First of all, the phrase “peer review” as it applies to studies is actually a misnomer.  Those that examine studies for the accuracy and quality necessary for publishing in journals are known as “REFEREES”, and the study/paper is REFEREED, NOT PEER REVIEWED.  The phrase “peer review” applies to the scrutiny necessary for FUNDING OF GRANTS.

If a scientist submits an application for a GRANT, to say, the National Science Foundation, or the National Institutes of Health, then that application is PEER REVIEWED.  If a scientist submits a study/paper for publication in, say, the journal Nature, then that article submission is REFEREED.

But the phrase “peer review” has become recognized by the unwashed masses as what’s done to studies/papers in journals, so we’ll use “peer review” in that context (even though it’s not accurate . . . but I’m not going to stand on nitpicking technicalities).

Peer review became popular only in the past few decades, although it was used going all the way back to the mid 1600′s.  That recent popularity is NOT based on any new notion that peer review enhances the credibility of a paper, but rather relieves overworked journal editors of the burden of reviewing thousands of papers (see my fourth and last “TRIVIA” item below.)

Now let’s take a look at some of the trivia, flaws, and criticisms of peer review.

*  TRIVIA:  Watson and Crick’s breakthrough on DNA was NEVER subjected to peer review.

*  TRIVIA:  Many papers that have been cited in work that won Nobel Prizes were originally rejected by peer review.

*  TRIVIA:  Edward Jenner’s paper on vaccination for smallpox was rejected by some peer review people.

*  TRIVIA:  In 2013, some 10,952 papers were submitted to the journal Nature.  In 1997, there were only 7, 680 submissions.

*  Reviewers seem biased in favor of authors from prestigious institutions (the “halo effect”). In a study in which papers that had been published in journals by authors from prestigious institutions were retyped and resubmitted with a non-prestigious affiliation indicated for the author, not only did peer reviewers mostly fail to recognize these previously published papers in their field, they recommended rejection.

*  The chairman of the investigating committee of the Royal Society told a British newspaper in 2003, “We are all aware that some referees’ reports are not worth the paper they are written on. It’s also hard for a journal editor when reports come back that are contradictory, and it’s often down to a question of a value judgment whether something is published or not.

*  He also pointed out that peer review has been criticized for being used by the scientific establishment “to prevent unorthodox ideas, methods, and views, regardless of their merit“.

*  In one study, researchers deliberately inserted errors into a manuscript, and referees did NOT detect some of them.

*  The deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association once said, “There seems to be no study too fragmented, no hypothesis too trivial, no literature too biased or too egotistical, no design too warped, no methodology too bungled, no presentation of results too inaccurate, too obscure, and too contradictory, no analysis too self-serving, no argument too circular, no conclusions too trifling or too unjustified, and no grammar and syntax too offensive for a paper to end up in print.

*  The editor of the British medical journal The Lancet once said:  “The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than just a crude means of discovering the acceptability . . . not the validity . . . of a new finding. Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong.

*  Competitors are often chosen as peer reviewers.  Might a competitor be inclined to unfavorably review a submission and then steal the idea for him/her self?  The irresistible opportunity to put a spoke in a rival’s wheel?

*  Peer review in journals assumes that the article reviewed has been honestly prepared and the process is not designed to detect fraud.  It assumes ALL scientists are integral, IOW not subject to human flaws.  A peer reviewer must preserve scholarly integrity by rising above the three deadly sins of intellectual life: envy, favoritism, and the temptation to plagiarize.

Peer review is under reconsideration even within the heart of establishment scientific publishing.

But the most damaging criticism of peer review may be that which is exemplified by the cloning hoax of Hwang Woo Suk.  (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/5181008.stm)

Hwang submitted a paper to the journal Science which was later found to be hugely fraudulent.  Of course, it passed peer review.  It could NOT have been duplicated simply because the results were totally fabricated.  In this case, DUPLICATION, NOT peer review, would have uncovered the hoax.  To paraphrase what I said earlier, one disadvantage to the modern obsessive attention on PEER REVIEW is the emphasis it places on that peer review TO THE EXCLUSION OF CONFIRMATION BY REPEATED EXPERIMENTS.  Often, a paper will be perceived as not needing duplication if it “passes” the PEER REVIEW threshold.

Of course, no one should expect a perfect system, or condemn peer review as a whole for its occasional failures. and I’m not doing that.  Peer review is like democracy was to Churchill: “the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time

What I’m pointing out is, much like p-values, it ain’t all it’s trumped up to be.  It forms ONLY part of the picture, and to hang your hat on it shows me that your analysis of a study is extremely flawed.

Oh . . . I almost forgot.  I had said earlier that peer review was something I would like to see.  Most journals maintain peer reviewers in anonymity, and the identity of a peer reviewer is a closely guarded secret, generally held ONLY by the journal chief editor.  Peer reviewer identities are not normally published (there are exceptions).  Consequently, one CANNOT normally see who a peer reviewer was, whether or not he/she is a competitor, and perhaps more importantly, WHERE he/she draws financial support from.  The only thing you DO see is that the article got published, which means it passed peer review.

The anonymity of peer reviewers contributes to the “Oz-behind-the-curtain” effect:  Reviewers that work anonymously have a greater opportunity to act arbitrarily.  The REVIEWEE has no comparable curtain to stand behind.  Basically, the REVIEWER can take potshots at the REVIEWEE with NO accountability.

 

CHARTS

At least one chart is likely to appear in a study . . . sometimes more than one.  Very rarely is it simple, especially if it’s a line chart.  Very often line charts show three axes, x, y, and z, so that a representation of data points is three dimensional.

A  simple line chart, which is pretty rare for a study

A simple line chart, which is pretty rare for a study.

Pie and bar charts, which are easier to understand sometimes.

Pie and bar charts, which are easier to understand sometimes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the chart meaning is not immediately apparent to you, move on to the text and come back later.  Your goal is to just get your arms around the big picture, and frustration (which is what you will experience looking at some charts) can be a roadblock to that.  Focus on that subject/verb/object stuff.

 

POLLS/STATISTICS/SURVEYS

I said earlier that I would speak to the difference between STUDIES and POLLS/STATISTICS/SURVEYS.  Here it is:  Pollsters present RAW NUMBERS and fastidiously refrain from interpreting results while Study authors DO interpret results.

In a poll, interpretation is left to the talking heads in the media, and the reader.

Yes, too often they’re seen as certainties, and not the guesses they really are. Pollsters DON’T draw conclusions, they just sell their polls to the media talking heads. The talking heads then say something like, “Polls/Statistics show . . .” and then portray their conclusion as a fact.

Disraeli and Twain nailed it.

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.” – Mark Twain

The only place I know of where statistics are of ANY value is sports.

Any evaluation of a poll/statistic/survey has to consider the manner in which questions were asked.

Does the media know how the question was asked exactly (more on that in a bit)? Noooooo.

Do they know if the respondents were being truthful? Nooooo.

The pollster’s “margin of error” is supposed to take care of the “truthful” part, but I think it’s more of a marketing tactic. I mean, who’s going to buy a poll where the margin of error is plus or minus, say, 50%?  And the point of the whole thing is to SELL IT.

Pollsters are very good at phrasing questions that will get results necessary to SELL their polls . . . like the oft used example of this, “Are you still beating your wife“, with the result being maybe “39% percent say they beat their wives.” A poll like that can be honestly represented as accurate, but unless you know how the question was phrased, you can’t really evaluate it.

And pollsters are not compelled to reveal how the question was phrased. In the example above, they can say, “We asked 1000 Americans if they were beating their wife“. They can leave out the word “still” and yet consider that the question was honestly given to the media/reader . . . that’s what I mean when I say “Does the media know how the question was asked exactly?“.

Now I wouldn’t deny that major polling organizations of any kind are not going to risk their reputations by inserting a bias.  But only one that is NOT easily detected by such as the unwashed masses . . . which pretty much allows ANY poll except the most blatantly biased.

Finally, if these conclusions are indeed objective facts anyway, then we had a lot of contradictory “facts” election eve, when the conclusions the talking heads drew were all over the map . . . some concluded from the surveys that Romney would win (that would be the “Carl Rove school of poll interpretation“), and some talking heads concluded from the surveys that Romney would NOT win (sometimes the very same surveys were used to conclude just the opposite.)

That alone to me seems that conclusions drawn from surveys are NOT necessarily . . . FACTS.

So when poll results are presented, much like Google results, I don’t consider them credible until scrutinized.

 

SUMMARY

As I said in the opening, the point of all this is that SCRUTINY is necessary before a Study/Poll/Statistic/Survey can even be established as support for an argument.  And YOU DO have the capability to evaluate these things.  Don’t let that pseudo-intellectiual “towering intellect” slip one through by making you throw your hands up in frustration.  That’s exactly what they are hoping.

(BTW, I’ve used the word “pseudo-intellectual” a lot here.  What I mean by that is the individual that thinks they have everything figured out, including, but not limited to: life, religion, politics, education, and child rearing. Ironically, they have never quite experienced either of the aforementioned.  It is someone who acts pretentiously and wishes to win an argument or impress, rather than modestly trying to find the truth . . . a focus on rhetoric over content. These people often show a superficial understanding of a subject.  We have a few here at RO.  They exhibit pre-pubescent behavior and frequently post links to studies, and are actually a dull-witted lot . . . universities are full of ‘em.)

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NOTE:  I’ve been holding on to my sig line:  “Latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world’s population.” for this very blog.

 

THE END

 

 


About

> Retired and living in Arizona. > Born 1947. > 2 grown children . . . daughter 41, son 46, one grandchild. > Hobbies/interests: Cooking, Writing, and Computers. > Married to incumbent Mrs. BobJam 28 years.


'Studies show . . .' has 37 comments


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Discussion
  1. Well done. I remember some years ago, the news media frothing at the mouth because some Canadian "researchers" proclaimed that using Cyclamates causes bladder cancer so they should all be "banned." The "researchers'" methods involved feeding MASSIVE amounts of cyclamates to mice, then performing necropsies on them, to discover about 10% had developed bladder cancer. Extrapolating their "research" to humans, what it meant was that, if you drank 40 or 50 CASES of cyclamate-sweetened soda pop daily for 50 years, it would likely increase your CHANCES of developing bladder cancer by about 10%! In other words, cyclamates as sweeteners were perfectly SAFE for human consumption--at least insofar as bladder cancer is concerned. However, the outcry was so great that the cyclamate-producing industry disappeared.
    Yeah, that's the EPA's "method" (and apparently Alex Jones' too: Republican Operative / Selling Fear ) to "determine" toxicity. Feed rats 24/7/365 high concentrations of a substance and then when by extrapolation, as you say, they predict they're going to croak, declare it "toxic".

    Well of course they're going to croak! That's research?
    I heard that defended by the statement that if they use higher dosages the experiment won't take as long - or something like that. Yeah.
    Yes, I've heard that counter-argument too, and perhaps that's a plausible explanation of WHY they use high concentrations, BUT IT SAYS NOTHING ABOUT THE CONCLUSIONS THEY DRAW.
    Before I read your blog, BJ, I'm going to brave a wild guess that second-hand smoke is included as one of those things that 'studies show.'

    And btw, I'm much like RET in this regard: Whatever 'studies show', doing the exact opposite is usually the right and proper thing to do.
    The EPA got caught with its hand in the proverbial cookie jar on THAT one too. They fudged their "research" which claimed that thousands die from second hand smoke-caused cancer every year. Several flaws the court found in their "study" was that they didn't have ANY controls for air pollution or other sorts such as water pollution, other environmental factors such as smog, genetic predisposition for cancers in those who developed it, and medications being taken. In other words, they picked a few dozen lung cancer patients who claimed to not be smokers and asked the if they'd ever been around second-hand smoke. When most answered in the affirmative, they proclaimed that second-hand smoke "caused" their lung cancer. The anti-smoking crowd is STILL doing that, by the way. There's a PSA running here in Oklahoma of a grossly-overweight Native American-appearing guy, claiming to be Chickasaw and claiming that he never smoked but had lung cancer. He was wearing an oxygen tube in his nose and at the end of the PSA, it tells us he "died of second-hand smoke." BS.
    Okay, my guess was wrong. But also right. lol

    Your blog takes me back to Science Fairs. The kids had no interest, which lead parents to hate them, as it was near always the preclusion to a Tug-of-War. (JFTR, my kids had enough interest that a few of them made their way to State Competitions, so it wasn't that big of a deal. But that didn't happen until after the teacher taught them (and we parents) how to go about it.)

    That's, "just for the record," because my point is that, even w/o that, the ONE THING almost all students had hammered into their brains were the 'Five Methods of a Scientific Experiment.'

    1. Question. 2. Hypothesis. 3. Procedure. 4. Results. 5. Conclusion.

    If, for nothing else, it did teach them to THINK FOR THEMSELVES before they fell for idiotic claims.

    Doesn't always hold 'cuz my own still do sometimes, but at least they have the sense to run 'em by momma first if the idea is pricey.

    And much as I hate to say it, I see way too many people across the board(s) who are adults that you'd swear were never taught to think for themselves. IOW, P.T. Barnum is alive and well.

    So I thank YOU, BJ, for taking the time to bring the matter to the fore, and even those science teachers who were more into it than any parent ever was.

    Yes, protocol is important. (I once worked in a sterility assurance lab testing the purity of sutures for hospitals. Yup, protocol is important.)

    BJ, I love that you brought up "Peer Review." All one has to do is pear into nearly any courtroom to see the obviousness of the imbalance of 'being judged by a jury of his peers', to know where that one is going.

    Ah, yes, and polls. I don't take 'em 'cuz I don't believe a single one of them. Like you said, "lies, damned lies, and statistics." I have as much respect for Karl Rove as I do for that other weasel, Dick Morris. They talk just to hear themselves speak. It's sickening how many people will gush over their every last word which amounts to not much more than gobble-di-guk.

    Bottom line, thanks again for trying to get people to "scrutinize before you react."
    Yes, for some reason, science, like math, intimidates a lot of people, and the left USES that to their advantage.

    There is absolutely NOTHING mysterious about science. Yes, it maybe requires you to put on your thinking cap, and math can be hard (I struggled with it myself), but it is certainly not beyond ANYBODY.

    The left knows that JoeSixpack is averse to THINKING and hard work, so it's easy for them to wield the intimidation axe by using that jargon to get the deer-in-the-headlights stare. Joe does not disappoint.

    Meanwhile, the left has no idea what they're talking about (Al Gore is a perfect example), but Joe doesn't know that.

    C'mon, you unwashed masses . . . you don't need to be nerds to get the big picture. (Of course, the left encourages that attitude.)
    Of course they do. Which is why so many refer to public schools as "indoctrination camps." Which is why Patricia's acquaintance decided that a Marxist was the next best thing to sliced bread. No facts; no thinking anything through; just follow.

    But bringing up math and science together reminds me of a Geometry teacher, who I at first thought was a jerk, (not a nerd, just someone who hadn't exactly earned the position; but was an asshole, besides), turned my head around by proving to us, through a mathematical equation, that two parallel lines do, and can, eventually meet.

    Think: The earth is an oblong sphere. As could very well be argued, so is the universe. Throw gravity into the mix, and wahlah!

    I'll be a son of gun. He turned my whole opinion of him - and math - around - like something I'd never seen before. That one, simple 'extra-curricular' activity he did, perhaps as a lark to lighten the load that day, (I'll never know), opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking about math. I still struggled with it, but what he did was catch my intrigue. I wanted to learn!

    I wish I could tell him that.
    People need to be told that the word "science" simply means knowledge.
    We had a teacher, Mr. Maples, who taught algebra, geometry, trig, calculus, physics and chemistry. He was an oddball and had some odd mannerisms and ways of speaking. He called soda-acid fire extinguishers, "sody-acid". I didn't understand how smart he was until well after I'd graduated. I, too, wish I'd told him so.
    Isn't it amazing the number of things we think back on before it dawns on us what a true teacher someone was?

    Mr. Greene was a solid "student" of Sir Issac Newton. He, being the short, squat JV basketball coach, never struck me as such; nor would it most...until years later.
    I had a friend who was intimidated by the pseudo intellectuals who all had zero knowledge of anything that was not hearsay, he heard me debating one of them one time and afterwards he told me "You clearly won but because you are not College educated he will not even consider your argument, he assumes that everyone without a degree is a buffoon"

    I said "I can't really fault him for that since I assume everyone with a degree is a buffoon".

    I of course know that all those with degrees are not buffoons but the exceptions are rare enough to justify the assumption, plus it is a great thing to watch the facial expression change of someone who is being condescending when you tell them that if they were brighter they would see the flaws in their argument.

    Great piece Bob, I always say that every statement that has begun with "Recent studies show" in my lifetime has been proved bunk, I still love science but I do not suffer those who bastardize the discipline for political and financial motives.
    Phewww!! Glad you added that qualifier. For a minute there I thought I was going to be consigned to the trash heap of buffoonery.

    And I would just as well say, "I of course know that all those WITHOUT degrees are not buffoons", you of course being a prime example of the counter-point to the unwashed masses.
    I have an advanced degree. I went back to school to obtain it because it widened my employment opportunities. I can honestly say that VERY little of what I was taught has had a practical use for me in my career. Much of what I was taught has, in fact, turned out to be BS. Having the piece of paper has benefitted me, but putting to practical use the "knowledge" I was fed IN college hasn't. I got through by parroting some of the BS the professors said, not by actually BUYING any of it.
    I think the proportion of how much is useful and how much is B.S. largely depends on the field of study.

    While I wouldn't disagree that there's some B.S. (particularly in those "required" courses, like "California History", which I HAD to take), in the technical arena there's very little.

    For example, most of my Chemistry and Math courses were essential to Chemical Engineering.

    However, there IS a certain amount of . . . "knowledge" . . . that can only be gained by working in industry AND starting out at the very bottom (which is something that college grads generally don't deal with well, because they have this inflated sense of worth).

    Starting out at the bottom, though, is essential. You HAVE to know what the janitor at a refinery does if you ever hope to be a refinery operations manager.

    Too often college grads miss that needed practical foundation, which CANNOT be gained in college.
    As I've said before, I went to the College of Hard Knocks.

    I doubt I'll ever graduate.
    There are always those "required courses" so that you will get a "well-rounded education."
    this was a fascinating blog to me as someone who has spent way too much time with dose pseudo-intellectual types. some of your caveats I did figure out long ago, like the fact that a poll or survey is only as good as its design--and the questions themselves are a critical element in that design. I was a part-time pollster for a well known national poll at one time in Reno, Nevada (a friend says, how many the hell jobs have you had anyway? I say I have lost count, which is the truth--if I tried to list them, I would forget a couple. I tried once to list the names of men I had dated, and was coming up with names for a week afterward.) but I digress. I was explaining why my pollster tenure was short lived, tho fun in a way. I liked meeting new people and asking questions.

    but as time went on, the substantive current events section of the interview kept getting shorter and my employer was requiring me to squeeze in more and more product survey type questions; I felt I was almost interviewing under false pretenses. ('well, I have a few more questions here at the end... won't take long...") The political questions were also sometimes "leading" questions of the sort you warn against. I have written before on this forum about my negative reaction to Ted Kennedy's Chappaquidick explanation/apology (it was neither). So when I had to ask people, practically choking as I asked it (don't remember exact wording but what follows is very close), "Some people think that Senator Edward Kennedy has done such a good job in the Senate that it is time for the American people to extend forgiveness to him for the Chappaquidick tragedy, and he should run for President. Do you agree?" Holy moly! of course most people would say "yes, I agree."

    about the same number, in fact, that would also say "yes, I agree" if you asked them, "Is Senator Edward Kennedy, who at the very least made no discernible effort to save the life of a young woman whose death resulted from his careless and probably inebriated driving, by virtue of that fact ineligible to be President of the United States?" I turned in my resignation the next day.

    (I want to mention here that perhaps the one and only time you can almost always rely on polls is right before a major election, because the polling entities know that the real poll will take place shortly afterward, and they don't want to look silly.)

    The part of your blog that blew my mind away was the news (to me) that p-value? has practically replaced duplication as being de rigeur for scientific acceptance. I had no idea! I understand the reasons you mention, but it is nonetheless regrettable indeed. Surely we are on shakier ground as a result? I believe you noted that medical studies still require duplication ( i'm like "thank goodness") altho there are cases where I think things should be made available before they are fully proven if the alternative is sure death anyway, but that's another issue.

    I agree with your weak endorsement of peer review / refereeing as a criterion... it's better than nuttin', but not much. objective in theory, highly subjective in practice.

    I was about to add here, "Studies in the so-called hard sciences (like, say, physics) are, as a general rule, more trustworthy than studies in the so-called soft sciences (like, say, anthropology)." But then I thought... hmmm... global warming... neo-Darwinism... the great ulcers controversy of yore.... the wildly speculative reaches that physics is now attaining, exciting but so far unprovable.... yep, even the so-called hard sciences can be polluted by money, politics, and wishful thinking. Author Michael Crichton was an astute observer and portrayer of that dynamic.

    thought provoking blog.
    The last time I answered a survey it turned out to actually be a plug for a politician so since then I have refused all surveys.
    BobJam: The two most dangerous words in the English language: “Studies show“.

    Jack: Preach it!

    ____________

    BobJam: This is NOT a rant AGAINST studies/statistics/surveys. Rather, it is a CAUTION that these things need to be scrutinized BEFORE accepting them as any kind of indication.

    Jack: A wise disclaimer. Our enemies the LibTards, the RINO's, the Moderates, the Hermaphrodites, the Downtrodden Of The Earth,

    and the Therapyized Milksops of the world are ever looking for an opportunity to accuse us of being anti-intellectual .. lol ..

    I'm thinking of becoming an anti-intellectual .. lol .. and if I do, I'm not gonna give 'em any proof "that I is one". I want to be able to present a plausible denial to the gowned worshipers of the Cerebrum who are "ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

    __________________

    BobJam: One poster here doesn’t even cite studies, but rather argues a point on it’s own merits (our member from Central California that runs a trucking business). Challengers often criticize that method as not being “supported”, and use that as a lame excuse to avoid addressing the argument itself. They just throw out the argument on the flawed notion that a valid argument HAS to be accompanied by a link. But presenting a clean argument without a link is just as valid, and AFAIC is sometimes MORE valid.

    Jack: That's an excellent point. I appreciate that. Btw, dump truck drivers present arguments that BECOME links for other less gifted people.

    "I can't argue, therefore I link."__Donald Duck .. lol .. (all in fun here ... I'm just having some fun)

    ______________

    BobJam: Center your attention on the SUBJECT/VERB/OBJECT of a sentence.

    Jack: Exactly. So many fail to do that. They later tell you "this is what I got out of what you said" .. when I hear that I cringe. That has happened to me many times in threads, I never said what they "got out of" what I said. They failed to parse the sentence, and so my sentences said what "they felt" they were saying, not what they actually said. Emotion is what they call it. Parse, do not emote.

    ________________

    BobJam: CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION

    Jack: I liked that section of your blog piece, read it 2 times.

    ________________

    BobJam: That person is either a pseudo-intellectual impressed with him/her self and trying to impress you with his/her towering intellect, or is counting on obfuscation to fool you, bore you, or otherwise get you to throw your hands up in surrender and think, “I don’t understand a thing he/she is saying. It’s way over my head, so this person must know more then I do, so he/she is probably right . . . in any case, I can’t argue.”

    Jack: I love it .. love it .. love it .. nailed it solid. That's what they want .. these Philosophical Intellectual Academic Talking Heads do that all the time in their secular tirades against faith based positions and/or to push their personal agenda passed off as science. I have read enough of their bull dookey to come to believe that's exactly their intent. They will drown you in intellectualized bull dookey if you allow them to get by with it. Can anyone say Global Warming Hoax? Aka intellectualized bull droppings.

    _______________

    BobJam: If a paper both passes the threshold of p-value AND peer review, it is often presented as “fact”. Again, not so fast.

    Jack: I read your comments on p-value and peer review 2 times. Interesting to be sure.

    ____________

    BobJam: * In one study, researchers deliberately inserted errors into a manuscript, and referees did NOT detect some of them.

    * The deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association once said, “There seems to be no study too fragmented, no hypothesis too trivial, no literature too biased or too egotistical, no design too warped, no methodology too bungled, no presentation of results too inaccurate, too obscure, and too contradictory, no analysis too self-serving, no argument too circular, no conclusions too trifling or too unjustified, and no grammar and syntax too offensive for a paper to end up in print.”

    Jack: That up there made my day. Let us pause for a moment of silence as we meditatively mock and ridicule the befuddled liberal secular humanist world of the closeted university those un-professors of ignorance and vanity combined with chalk dust and nihilism offered as pseudo-balm to the troubled soul of their students as they rob their parents of $50,000 plus per year in wasted tuition.

    _________________

    BobJam: But the most damaging criticism of peer review may be that which is exemplified by the cloning hoax of Hwang Woo Suk. (BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | The pressure to hoax)

    Jack: Preach it! Let us proclaim it from the roof tops .. let every ear hear it ~ grin~

    ______________

    BobJam: “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.” – Mark Twain

    Jack: Excellent quote find.

    _____________

    BobJam: They exhibit pre-pubescent behavior and frequently post links to studies, and are actually a dull-witted lot . . . universities are full of ‘em.)

    Jack: :yeahthat:

    ______________

    BobJam: NOTE: I’ve been holding on to my sig line: “Latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world’s population.” for this very blog.

    Jack: I smiled. Cool. Btw, I appreciate your blog up there and all your time and effort and energy put forth. And, as always, a very good job done too.

    Jack, that post of yours showed why some people think they can interpret the Bible however they like, even if the passage they're "interpreting" is straight-forward.
    BobJam said in the blog: This is NOT a rant AGAINST studies/statistics/surveys. Rather, it is a CAUTION that these things need to be scrutinized BEFORE accepting them as any kind of indication.

    Jack replied: A wise disclaimer. Our enemies the LibTards, the RINO's, the Moderates, the Hermaphrodites, the Downtrodden Of The Earth, and the Therapyized Milksops of the world are ever looking for an opportunity to accuse us of being anti-intellectual .. lol ..

    BobJam replied in the thread here: That's a good point that I hadn't even thought of. I just made the disclaimer because, as much as I detest those things, there are in fact some that deserve consideration . . . but you HAVE TO scrutinize them to make that determination. I never considered saying it just to keep the bad guys (your listing) from making a "gotcha". But you're right, the statement DOES do that.

    Jack said: I'm thinking of becoming an anti-intellectual .. lol .. and if I do, I'm not gonna give 'em any proof "that I is one". I want to be able to present a plausible denial to the gowned worshipers of the Cerebrum who are "ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

    BobJam replied: "Six mumfs ago I coodnt spel injineer. Now I are wun." Does that qualify me?

    Seriously, your characterization of these towering intellects as "ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" is accurate. They wear that as a badge, as if not discovering a truth about your life is an achievement, or that it is necessary to remain perpetually in a quandary in order to continue learning . . . IOW, all learning stops once you have found a truth.

    I must not have gotten that memo because I have found truth (for me anyway) and I'M STILL LEARNING THINGS.

    Jack said: "I can't argue, therefore I link."__Donald Duck

    BobJam replied: Reminds me of that A2E gal. Yes, links are over rated. And, yes, some of these link-heavy folks ARE looney tunes. (Well . . . Donald Duck was Disney, not Warner Bros., wasn't he?)

    Jack said: Exactly. So many fail to do that. They later tell you "this is what I got out of what you said" .. when I hear that I cringe. That has happened to me many times in threads, I never said what they "got out of" what I said. They failed to parse the sentence, and so my sentences said what "they felt" they were saying, not what they actually said. Emotion is what they call it. Parse, do not emote.

    BobJam replied: I agree with you 1000% (that's 10X for you intellectuals), but I think there is an additional reason for this behavior. In addition to mangling the language when they post (in attempts to pose as those towering intellects), which indicates they can't even express a simple thought much less complex ones, they don't even know how to identify a SUBJECT/VERB/OBJECT.

    Diagramming sentences in grade school always seemed like a boring, tedious, exercise. Now I know it was useful. But I don't even think it is done in these "Common Core" schools anymore. Indeed, my suspicion is that if the phrase "diagramming sentences" was uttered on a segment of "Jay Walking", UCLA and USC grads would respond, "What's THAT?"

    BobJam said in the blog: CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION

    Jack: I liked that section of your blog piece, read it 2 times.

    BobJam replied in this thread: See http://www.republicanoperative.com/forums/f33/nutritional-junk-science-our-government-nannies-47065/index7.html#post711033 for a good example of this.

    BobJam said in the blog: That person is either a pseudo-intellectual impressed with him/her self and trying to impress you with his/her towering intellect, or is counting on obfuscation to fool you, bore you, or otherwise get you to throw your hands up in surrender and think, “I don’t understand a thing he/she is saying. It’s way over my head, so this person must know more then I do, so he/she is probably right . . . in any case, I can’t argue.”

    Jack replied: I love it .. love it .. love it .. nailed it solid. That's what they want .. these Philosophical Intellectual Academic Talking Heads do that all the time in their secular tirades against faith based positions and/or to push their personal agenda passed off as science. I have read enough of their bull dookey to come to believe that's exactly their intent. They will drown you in intellectualized bull dookey if you allow them to get by with it. Can anyone say Global Warming Hoax? Aka intellectualized bull droppings.

    BobJam replied in this thread: Yes, these people are so transparent. Do they really think they're putting one over?
    `BobJam @ 25

    I'll be back later to make a light-hearted ultra-cheerful response to your post 25

    That's definitely good. However, the rest of the above might explain why facts scare them so much.

    Ah yes, the old 'link proof.' Of course a person can find a link - or many - to support that "studies show", as there sure are enough of them out there. What they fail to do many times, however, is to ask if what they're reading makes sense.

    [See: "Scrutinize.">

    A bit guilty of that myself. There are times when I just see 'red', instead of stopping to think about what the person is actually saying. Not often, mind you, but it does happen. (I try to remember to put it aside until later. Or never. Ya know, the old "permission" rule.)

    Btw, that usually happens when the author of the words doesn't have a clue what he's talking about, and I know it.

    Gotta add: When I hear, "This is what I got out of what you said," that's a regular red flag for someone who is about to put words in your mouth. Used to bug me, but is so old a tactic it near just runs off my back anymore.

    Neal Boortz floored me the day he went on a rant about diagramming sentences. (paraphrasing) "What's the point in knowing what part of speech a word is?! Who CARES what part of speech "the" is, or "an," or...."

    Here is a guy who depended upon communication for his very livelihood telling us he didn't care about the very tools of his trade???

    Basically what he just told his audience is that his ability to discern what he heard or read - the sources of his material - was questionable.

    Not too bright.

    Actually, I think they do. At least plenty of them appear to have themselves convinced of that.
    BobJam: I detest those things

    Jack: I don't like 'em either. In fact, I never met a study I liked. (W.C. Fields: "I never met a kid I liked.")

    I don't even like the ones that attempt to prove what I believe. I have many reasons.

    (1) People will tell lies to a pollster or interviewer

    (2) Pollsters, interviewers, study operators may be secret ideologues

    (3) I always wonder if money-payoffs and/or ideology is not involved somehow at least in some subtle indirect measurable way.

    (4) The "studies" become dated very quick. I mean the shelf life of a study is pretty short (to my mind anyway because both people and circumstances/realities change with the wind) so I hate to invest any mental seriousness giving credibility to any type of study.

    (5) We dealing here with sheeple and I just don't trust the sheeple to even know what they believe much less hold on to it for any decent length of time. When I saw the sheeple elect Clinton and Our Only Hope to a total of 16 years in the Oval, at that point what little faith I had in people died a natural death. Add this: That same gang may well elect Hillary Nixon .. lol .. to the Oval come 2016 and again in 2020.

    I heard a dude say the other day that if gas went down to $1.00 a gallon that Our Only Hope's approval ratings would zoom to 70% .. lol .. His prediction, which I agree with, does make my point about the sheeple.

    I have a disclaimer: Yes there are some exceptions. :sad: .. lol ..

    BobJam: there are in fact some that deserve consideration . . . but you HAVE TO scrutinize them to make that determination

    Jack: Agree. That's true, but "it kills me" .. lol .. to have to admit it.

    _____________________

    Jack previously said: I'm thinking of becoming an anti-intellectual .. lol .. and if I do, I'm not gonna give 'em any proof "that I is one". I want to be able to present a plausible denial to the gowned worshipers of the Cerebrum who are "ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

    BobJam replied: "Six mumfs ago I coodnt spel injineer. Now I are wun." Does that qualify me?

    Jack now replies: /Big Grin .. Absolutely. (I smiled broadly. That's cool)

    __________________

    BobJam: Seriously, your characterization of these towering intellects as "ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" is accurate.

    Jack: Yeah I honestly think that describes 'em to a tee. Btw, the Apostle Paul said that first and he applied it to a group of intellectualized evil doers in 2 Timothy 3:6-7

    Sayeth the Apostle Paul: "They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth."

    Btw the Feminists of today would most likely call that (ie the reference to gullible women without any mention of gullible men) a sexist statement. (Please note that I call the very existence of feminists on the earth the worst kind of sexism.)

    __________

    BobJam: I'M STILL LEARNING THINGS.

    Jack: Me too. I am learning tons of stuff from these Front Page blogs.

    _____________

    BobJam: Reminds me of that A2E gal.

    Jack: She was the "Queen Of The Hop" .. a truly fascinating memory ..I will never forget her phrase "Your three pronged God" (that was her Jehovah's Witnesses benighted reference to the Holy Trinity) .. she lingers as a ghost in the recesses of what's left of my brain after years here in Squirrel World aka Digital-Code World.

    BobJam: Yes, links are over rated. And, yes, some of these link-heavy folks ARE looney tunes.

    Jack: Speaking of A2E and links, I will mention this again for the benefit of any new comers that might be reading along. A2E's most famous line and one that for some uncanny reason, just about cracked me up was, "I don't do links."__A2E

    .. lol .. She was being inundated with one link after the other and she posted back and said, "I don't do links." .. lol .. I sat there and laughed until I cried .. it just stuck me funny (Yes I fully realize that does NOT strike most folks as funny.)

    _________________

    BobJam: (Well . . . Donald Duck was Disney, not Warner Bros., wasn't he?)

    Jack: /Grin .. Yes I think the Duck was Disney.

    Re Donald Duck:

    Reminds me of Gene Hackman on English Bob in Eastwood's The Unforgiven .. English Bob was called The Duke Of Death and Little Bill (Gene Hackman) mocked it by changing it to The Duck Of Death .. I recently watched that scene and it was fresh on my mind.(We have discussed English Bob and The Duck Of Death before as I recall.)

    __________________

    Jack said: I never met a study I liked. (W.C. Fields: "I never met a kid I liked.")

    BobJam replied: Yes, another Fieldism I like is:

    The guy was the original Andy Rooney.

    Jack said: (4) The "studies" become dated very quick. I mean the shelf life of a study is pretty short (to my mind anyway because both people and circumstances/realities change with the wind) so I hate to invest any mental seriousness giving credibility to any type of study.

    BobJam replied: I would expand on this (though perhaps this is what you meant by "become dated very quick") and add two things:

    1. On duplication (which, as I said in the blog is not relied on that much anymore, BUT SHOULD BE), the conclusion contradicts the first study, leaving the whole thing up in the air.

    2. A later study, not a duplication, contradicts the first . . . this seems to happen a lot.

    Jack said: Me too. I am learning tons of stuff from these Front Page blogs.

    BobJam replied: So am I, both in researching mine (which I do meticulously, and probably accounts for the long times I spend on each one . . . I use the reporters convention of at least two independent sources for everything . . . and if I can only find one source, I throw it out), and from you and RET.

    Jack said: . . . what's left of my brain after years here in Squirrel World aka Digital-Code World.

    BobJam repled: Yes, I often wonder how many brain cells are destroyed by hanging out in the lunatic asylum called the Internet, but I still think the end total is in my favor. IOW, I come away with more than I had when I entered . . . but sometimes I wonder.

    Jack said: Speaking of A2E and links, I will mention this again for the benefit of any new comers that might be reading along. A2E's most famous line and one that for some uncanny reason, just about cracked me up was, "I don't do links."__A2E

    .. lol .. She was being inundated with one link after the other and she posted back and said, "I don't do links." .. lol .. I sat there and laughed until I cried .. it just stuck me funny (Yes I fully realize that does NOT strike most folks as funny.)

    BobJam replied: Yes, that struck me as funny too. So maybe we have the same severe character and behavior disorder . . . brought on, of course, by this Webby World.

    Jack said: Re Donald Duck:

    Reminds me of Gene Hackman on English Bob in Eastwood's The Unforgiven .. English Bob was called The Duke Of Death and Little Bill (Gene Hackman) mocked it by changing it to The Duck Of Death .. I recently watched that scene and it was fresh on my mind.(We have discussed English Bob and The Duck Of Death before as I recall.)

    BobJam replied: Yes, we have discussed the film before.

    What struck me as amusing by the way that Hackman played it was that while at first it seemed to be a genuine mangling of the language, it later morphed into a thing that he did on purpose just to aggravate the Duck.
    Jack said: . . . the gowned worshipers of the Cerebrum who are "ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

    BobJam replied: I commented on this before but I just had two more thoughts on this:

    1. These people seem to crave certainty, yet refuse to allow the certainty of faith (I can hear it now, "There's no such thing as certainty of faith . . . that phrase is a contradiction").

    You want certainty? When (or IF) it comes it will be too late.

    Now I suppose there's "death bed conversions" (you wrote a good blog on that); I certainly don't know what's in somebody's heart; and the Lord judges these things, not me . . . so perhaps it's really not "too late". I don't know for sure, but I don't think I would want to go up against the clock on this.

    These people seem to have closed the book on this (some with their own version of "certainty", some not), but I would definitely open it back up and take a long and hard look.

    With OPEN EYES, not as a philosopher, which is pretty much like a blind person in a dark room looking for a black hat.

    2. Something that always gives me a laugh is when one of our in-house atheists says, "I'm just not wired that way" . . . as if this is some unique characteristic that only a small portion of the human race experiences. As if this closes the book, and no further thought on it is necessary.

    MOST OF US ARE NOT WIRED THAT WAY. Mother Theresa was not "wired that way". The apostles Paul and Thomas were not "wired that way". Adam and Eve were not "wired that way". Ever since the fall, most of humankind has not been "wired that way".

    There are several Christians on this board that have admitted to not being "wired that way" (not using that exact phrasing, but things like, "I used to be an atheist, then . . .", "I've had doubts but . . .", etc.)

    Hell, I myself was not "wired that way". But I thought long and hard about it, and finally came to the "certainty of faith".
    `

    BobJam: I commented on this before but I just had two more thoughts on this:

    1. These people seem to crave certainty, yet refuse to allow the certainty of faith (I can hear it now, "There's no such thing as certainty of faith . . . that phrase is a contradiction").

    You want certainty? When (or IF) it comes it will be too late.

    Now I suppose there's "death bed conversions" (you wrote a good blog on that); I certainly don't know what's in somebody's heart; and the Lord judges these things, not me . . . so perhaps it's really not "too late". I don't know for sure, but I don't think I would want to go up against the clock on this.

    These people seem to have closed the book on this (some with their own version of "certainty", some not), but I would definitely open it back up and take a long and hard look.

    With OPEN EYES, not as a philosopher, which is pretty much like a blind person in a dark room looking for a black hat.

    2. Something that always gives me a laugh is when one of our in-house atheists says, "I'm just not wired that way" . . . as if this is some unique characteristic that only a small portion of the human race experiences. As if this closes the book, and no further thought on it is necessary.

    MOST OF US ARE NOT WIRED THAT WAY. Mother Theresa was not "wired that way". The apostles Paul and Thomas were not "wired that way". Adam and Eve were not "wired that way". Ever since the fall, most of humankind has not been "wired that way".

    There are several Christians on this board that have admitted to not being "wired that way" (not using that exact phrasing, but things like, "I used to be an atheist, then . . .", "I've had doubts but . . .", etc.)

    Hell, I myself was not "wired that way". But I thought long and hard about it, and finally came to the "certainty of faith".



    Jack:
    Magnificent thoughts and points in that post up there. Much appreciated. And amen and amen.

    PS

    An aside.

    I watched Behind Enemy Lines tonight with Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. It had been a long time since I had watched this one. It had a decent sound track in spots and some really good gung ho footage of F-18's and the USS Carl Vinson. **Ultra Far Fetched in spots though, but that's Hollywood.

    **eg. when Owen Wilson outran the mine field .. lol .. he breezed right through unscathed from the shrapnel from at least 10 land mines each one going off 4 feet behind him as he ran through the mine field tripping the trip wires. I said to the wife, "Oh this moron director thinks he's making a Superman movie." .. lol ..

    Jack said: I said to the wife, "Oh this moron director thinks he's making a Superman movie."

    BobJam replied: Your comment was similar to Roger Eberts:

    "Its hero is so reckless and its villains so incompetent that it's a showdown between a man begging to be shot, and an enemy that can't hit the side of a Bosnian barn."

    ________________________________________________________________

    I'm not sure about this because the film never identifies Admiral Piquet's nationality, but he seemed to be French. Since the French were not in NATO at that time (pulled out in 1966 and joined again in 2009), I'm guessing he may have been Belgian. The actor that played the role of Piquet was Joaquim de Almeida, who usually plays Latino roles:

    The character's full name is Admiral Juan Miguel Piquet, so it may have supposed to have been a Spanish guy. Both Belgium (charter member 1949) and Spain (joined 1982) were part of NATO at that time (1995).

    In any case, if he was supposed to be of French origins, it's significant and pertinent to our French bashing that he was the one who ordered Reigart (Gene Hackman) to stand down and cancel the rescue operation. In one line of dialog, "Piquet" starts off with "You Amercans . . ." and proceeds to bash Americans, a French characteristic, although not unique among Europeans (and course we reciprocate in the bashing today.)
    ...the difference being that we have good and sufficient REASON to bash them. They don't. :smack: :howler:
    When my daughter was a pre-teen, when she announced at school that she was having a sleep-over at our house, she'd have girlfriends almost lining up to be invited because it became known that her dad would feed them French toast for breakfast and I made mine with REAL butter, powdered sugar and cinnamon and, when I could get it, real maple syrup (Mrs. Butterworth's otherwise.) I'd also keep making it as long as they'd ask for more. I once had a 12-yr-old eat 9 pieces! Of course she puked her toenails later, but she was back the next time our daughter had a sleep-over.