Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Like Deja Vu All Over Again

"I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery. I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times...." Jimmy Carter 1976

June 29th 2009

Janine Driver, a Washington, D.C.-based body language and deception detection expert, believes he [Mark Sanford] lied when a reporter asked if this was the first time he had been unfaithful.

"He answers the question before it's been asked," said Driver, who spent 15 years with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "Then what does he do? He drops both his eyes and turns his head AWAY? ... That's what's called the cold shoulder. Because we face the core of our body toward people who usually address us."

Sanford told his friend "Cubby" Culbertson he had never strayed before, and he [Culbertson] "absolutely" believes him.

"Some guys are wired such that violating God's design in this area, of women, is a real challenge to them," Culbertson said. "That's not in his DNA. That's why it's such a surprise."

June 30th

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's recent affair wasn't the only time he strayed from his wife, Sanford revealed in an interview with the Associated Press. But, he says, he didn't have sex with the other women, who he met while on trips abroad.

"There were a handful of instances wherein I crossed the lines I shouldn't have crossed as a married man, but never crossed the ultimate line .... What I would say is that I've never had sex with another woman. Have I done stupid [things]? I have. You know you meet someone. You dance with them. You go to a place where you probably shouldn't have gone," Sanford said.

For some reason this all sounds just way too familiar, like deju vu all over again.

January 26, 1998

"But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." Bill Clinton said.



Friday, June 19, 2009

The truth is...........

Regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling that there is no constitutional right to test biological evidence use at a trial before DNA testing was available.

There are two things at play here, the process and the outcome, and unfortunately both are given equal weight by lawyers and prosecutors. It is not hard to understand why, really when you think about it. What is the outcome - or objective - of a trail – to establish guilt or innocence, which in effect is to establish the truth about a situation. But truth can be elusive, hidden, disguised - which makes the outcome always suspect – is it really a true statement of what took place? Because there is doubt to the truth from the perspective out the person(s) responsible for the outcome, we put into the decision the word “reasonable.”

So what is “reasonable” and how does that even come close to what is the truth? It can’t and therein lies the flaw with the system. We cannot have doubt when we condemn or exonerate a person, it would never lead to closure, so we instead focus on the process that leads to the decision. It is here where the waters turn muddy for the process is least important to the truth. That is the truth is the truth, the process has no bearing on the truth, that is the two are independent of one another.

There are four, and only four possible outcomes from a trial when guilt is assessed.
  • You can be found guilty and the truth is you are guilty
  • You can be found guilty and the truth is you are not guilty
  • You can be found not guilty and the truth is you are guilty
  • You can be found not guilty and the truth is you are not guilty
Only two of the four have an outcome that is true. Yet in all four cases, if the process that leads to the outcome was fair, then justice was done. However, in two of the outcomes the truth was not reached. To be found not-guilty when you are guilty might be seen as a failure of the system, however, to be found guilty when you are innocent is a travesty especially when a long jail term or the death penalty is the punishment.

For Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Alaska to legally deny access to DNA evidence that might exonerate a wrongly accused person is upsetting, especially in light of the 240 people who have used it to overturn their convictions is distressing. For the Supreme Court to uphold the right to deny access to this evidence is disappointing. I understand the argument about state’s rights, however, the argument made by Chief Roberts, and the same one I have seen used by prosecutors to deny access to evidence after conviction, is in support of the process at the expense of the individual - that new technology that was not available at trial should not throw fairly won convictions into doubt.
“The dilemma is how to harness DNA’s power to prove innocence without unnecessarily overthrowing the established system of criminal justice”
In other words it’s the process that must be preserved.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Warning: Doublethink in Play

Don Beavers, a retired Army Intelligence officer, writes at the beginning of his essay (The Eagle 6/12/09):
“The United States of America does not torture prisoners or detainees”
This statement, as well as every statement that contends torture did not take place appears to be predicated on two things:
  • There was no intent to kill
  • They would not suffer lasting harm
Because these two things were not present during the wateboarding or any other “enhanced interrogation” procedure torture did not take place. There is no debate here on what is and what is not torture. It has been clearly articulated by both the UN as well as under the Geneva Convention.
UN: torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Geneva Conventions: "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."
When I hear these arguments - these bold statements of assertion that what did go on did not go on - I immediately think of George Orwell’s “1984”. There is a certain irony at play here, just like by calling it the Ministry of Love, and understanding, while you called it that, what the word “love” meant, and also knowing that torture took place within the Ministry of Love, required simultaneously accepting as correct two mutually contradictory beliefs - or - what Orwell called “doublethink.”

It is doublethink when Mr. Beavers, Donald Rumsfeld, Eric Holder, Dick Cheney, and Alberto Gonzales declare that torture did not take place when they know full well how it is defined. To believe we are a moral nation, to believe we are a nation of laws, to believe we do not torture, and yet knowing we did is a textbook example of doublethink.
…to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies.
Mr. Beaver’s ends his essay:
“I did not consider anything I was subjected to [in training] or anything we did to question prisoners to be torture.”
So if waterboarding, which he rates as a “7 or 8” out of 10, is not “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental” or is not a “form of coercion” then what is? To call it anything else ignores the lawful definition and most importantly, ignores the reality of what took place. Mr. Beavers and his ilk know this but will steadfastly adhere to their assertion that torture did not take place.

How could something so despicable and unlawful as torture take place by the US? It could not. So they call it something else - enhanced interrogation, a name that does not mean torture in the same way the windowless Ministry of Love became the place where there is no darkness

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dr. McLeroy.........one more time!

It would be easy to just call Dr. McLeroy an idiot and move on from this topic. I believe him to be misguided in his opposition to teaching the theory of evolution, which does not make him an idiot. I have to assume that this opposition stems from his belief and not from some sinister devious plot for some other clandestine reason.

To be fair to Dr. McLeroy as well as to pursue my own understanding of this opposition, the “why” needs to be questioned. I feel that I can support my argument for the teaching of the theory as it is understood today. I believe that evolution in no way supports or denies the presence of God and to use it in such a manner is counter to what science is all about. If it happend by chance or through God has nothing to do with the theory.

As I was preparing my last entry, I came across an article he wrote called "Testable Explanations” (August 2, 2008). First off, I believe every explanation Dr. McLeroy uses to support how science, especially evolution, should be taught in public schools is motivated by one goal; to allow for the debunking of the theory. All theories should be scrutinized, challenged, and run through a meat grinder to get as close to the “truth” as we can. This is not the goal of Dr. McLeroy, his goal is to allow for a mechanism to cast doubt on the theory not to replace it with a better one, but to allow for creationism to also stand side-by-side.

So back to the question of “why” – the foundation for this need of his - crusade more like it – this zealot-like behavior put forth to discredit evolution. I conclude that it stems from his misguided belief that because evolution accepts as the foundation “natural explanations” it therefore excludes the presence or the hand of God.
“For the supernaturalist” Dr. McLeroy writes, “the phrase “natural explanations” does not just undermine his view of science but actually excludes it by definition. “
This is the battle line that has been drawn; you may only choose one – natural or supernatural. Why Dr. McLeroy sees it this way can only be speculated. I contend that he fears science because it weakens his belief or understanding of his God in the same way a child loses their belief in their parents as superhuman as they increase their understanding of the world in which they live in.

The explanation for natural phenomenon, from gravity, to reproduction, to physics, to the origin of life comes from science. There is no other way to know and understand this phenomenon other than through the use of the scientific method. What we see is the result of how it was designed to work. Whether this design is from the hand of God or through chance will never be known. It works in a particular way, a natural way, a way in which we can hypothesize and test.

Just as children may be thought of as a gift from God they do not result from a supernatural explanation. The way life on earth has gotten to this point also follows a particular methodology, it has evolved over time. This is how it appears to work based on the evidence we have encountered. There is no need to have a supernatural explanation because one is not needed. It follows a prescribed methodology seen constant – tested - over time. If God had a hand in this it was setting up the parameters. God’s creation was DNA, and DNA changes the structure of life randomly, suddenly, minutely, and quietly over time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A strange kind of common sense

Don McLeory, our local dentist, evolution debunker, and ex-State School Board head, wrote a pretty nice article in our local paper, The Eagle (Sunday, June 7, 2009), on the virtues of keeping ideology out of the science classroom. On the surface, his argument appears very sound and echoes what the scientific community has been stating all along, that “science is the use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomenon as well as the knowledge generated through this process”. Where Dr. McLeroy and his followers find comfort is in the term “testable.”

“If it is not testable, it is not science” Dr. McLeory notes. The understanding here is that one cannot test in the laboratory or field the different hypothesis used to support the theory. This Dr. McLeory contends allows a student on “scientific grounds to challenge any untestable ideology being taught as dogma.”

The theory of evolution is not dogma, nor, for a scientist, is it an ideology. A scientific theory is:

“A plausible or scientifically acceptable, well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena and predict the characteristics of as yet unobserved phenomena.”
It is based on the use of a Hypothesis:
“A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation. Scientific hypotheses must be posed in a form that allows them to be rejected.”
So the new argument that the Intelligent Design folks are using is to try to use the definition against itself, as if it will get caught in an endless loop of if-then-else logic and completely self-destruct. They use the logic that because you can’t test what took place millions of years ago, then the hypothesis is not valid, which means you can’t use it to support the theory. This logic is also used to support the inclusion of a supernatural cause. Because the supernatural causation can’t be tested either, it is just as plausible a theory as the scientific one.

The constant battle over evolution by the ID folks have hurt science in the name of trying to hold onto their own dogma and ideology. Allowing guys like Dr. McLeory to dictate what our children should or should not be taught in a public setting does nothing but muddy the waters of logical thinking. We end up confusing kids who then grow up to be confused and ignorant adults, all in the name of perpetuating the belief that their holy book is somehow the absolute, accurate, and definitive explanation as to how their God works.

In their paper “The role of anomalous data in knowledge acquisition A theoretical framework and implications for Science Instruction” Chinn & Brewer (1993) noted:
“The 3-week instructional unit on evolution [given to a class consisting of 50% creationists] included a section on fossil evidence for evolution. Before instruction, only 1% of the students agreed with the statement “Fossils were intentionally put on earth to confuse humans.” After instruction, however, 7% of the students agreed with the same statement.”
“For the supernaturalist” Dr. McLeory argues, “the phrase “natural explanations” does not just undermine his view of science but actually excludes it by definition. If science is limited to only natural explanations but some natural phenomena are actually the result of supernatural causes then science would never be able to discover that truth—not a very good position for science. Defining science to allow for this possibility is just common sense.”In Science you cannot allow for the possibility of something that cannot be tested. Common sense should lead you to that conclusion, which is why Dr. McLeory will use whatever method he can to keep our kids in the dark.

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15)

Friday, June 5, 2009

We want to be borked!

Robert Bork is quoted as saying about Supreme Court nominees that they “are treated like political candidates” meaning that there is an examination not just into their credentials but into their ideology and views on controversial issues. This, Bork commented, sets out “to erode public confidence in the impartiality of the courts, and to endanger the independence of the judiciary”

Fair enough, however, if one looks at how court cases are decided the ideology and views of the justices almost always dictate their outcome. The more conservative or liberal the more they side with a conservative or liberal view on the issue.

I came across these charts on a Blog called “New York Court Watcher” http://www.newyorkcourtwatcher.com while trying to support my hypothesis that Bork is wrong; ideology and views do matter.

If there were no liberal or conservative bias with the justices, their voting would be evenly distributed, that is, sometimes they would side with and sometimes they would side against the Courts decision. Additionally, how they vote would be independent from how any other Justice votes – there would be a randomness which would result in a Justice's decisions being about 50% conservative and 50% liberal. It is highly unlikely, in my opinion, that two people could independently have the same voting record on a wide variety of different topics without also having the same view or ideology leanings towards that topic.

What is interesting is that the court's decisions are almost evenly distributed between siding with a liberal view and a conservative view for the cases heard. Does this make my argument moot? No, my argument is Bork's contention that ideology and views should not inter into the discussion. At the Supreme Court level, the buck stops with them. We are asking them to decide on an issue so what goes into this decision is and always will be a mixture of perception, goals, attitude, past experience, and preference, not just the weight of the argument at hand.

In looking at the graphs, one can easily see that the label of “conservative” or “liberal” placed on a Justice is a pretty good indicator of how they will vote. It is unfortunate that it has come down to this, but we only have ourselves to blame. We as a society elevate people to high positions not based on their wisdom but instead based on what they will do to benefit our side. To counter a liberal leaning we place a conservative and when the pendulum swings to the right we place a liberal. We as a polarized society have made ideology and views the litmus test for a Justice. Credentials do not matter it is whether you will deliver the opinions my side wants delivered. There is no call for wisdom, understanding, logic....only calls for a guy or gal who will keep or change the status quo.

Independent thinking is like diversity, everyone says they are for it till it wants to move into their neighborhood.