Fox Shows How Climate Predictions Are Becoming Much More Accurate

One way to evaluate the validity of a science is with its predictive value, and Fox has unintentionally demonstrated the strong predictive value of climate science with regards to global warming. Fox tried one of their usual illogical attacks on science by coming up with a list of Eight Botched Environmental Forecasts.

The most recent item is not really a serious scientific forecast but a prediction made by a scientist in a newspaper interview. It is already of dubious meaning when they have to resort to using such an interview as opposed to the more meaningful predictions published in scientific literature which the science should be judged by. Even worse (from the perspective of the anti-science right) is the fact that the most recent “botched forecast” is from 2000.

The most recent forecast was from 2000, well before climate science reached its current state, and well before the consensus statements on climate change were released. Little Green Footballs has listed the years of all eight forecasts:


Not a bad record–on the mark for ten years and only four “botched forecasts” following 1970. What Fox wants to avoid admitting is that, not only have the predictions of climate scientists become increasingly accurate, in some cases we are seeing that global warming is progressing even more rapidly than many of the scientists predicted. Of course Fox would never report that as a “botched environmental forecast.”

Quote of the Day: A Credible Conservative Movement

“I don’t call him a socialist because he’s not,” he said. “I don’t doubt that he was born in Hawaii because he was. I don’t call him a Muslim because he says he’s a Christian. And I didn’t say anything about death panels because there weren’t any in that health care bill.”
Bob Inglis, an outgoing Republican Congressman from South Carolina who says a “credible conservative” movement that doesn’t focus on “hatred” of President Obama is needed.

That would be a good start, but beyond that we need a conservative movement which recognizes individual liberty, that recognizes the difference between plutocracy and a true market economy, that understands that the current GOP idea of a strong defense weakens our country, and which doesn’t take a knee jerk stand against any government action which doesn’t involve invading other countries, torture, or imposing the views of the religious right upon others.

Today’s Presidential News Brief

Barack Obama is spending the holidays in Hawaii, or as right wing talk radio is saying, in his fake place of birth.

White Male Conservative Christians Are Such An Oppressed Group

We have seen for quite a while how conservatives love to act like they are victims. Gary Bauer has written the most absurd variation on this I’ve seen in quite a while entitled, If Christians Were Treated Like Muslims. My first thought was that it was a plea from one conservative to other conservatives to end their Islamophobia. No, it is actually a claim that Christians in this country receive worse treatment than Muslims.

Among his many complaints, Bauer complains of how Christmas and Easter have become secular events stripped of their theological meaning. There is some truth to this, but it was Christians who have shown their preference for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The change in their holidays was not forced upon them by the Muslims or Jews. Besides, in the end these are all just stories to promote a lesson. The stories of Jesus may have some historical background (as may also be the case with Saint Nicholas) but any reality to these stories has been buried under layers of fiction. To me it doesn’t really matter which stories Christians prefer, but nobody is stopping people like Bauer from having a traditional religious celebration. Why are conservatives unhappy unless everyone else adopts their religious views?

It will hard to see this article beaten as an example of the absurdity of conservative thought. I imagine Bauer could top this by claiming that Southern slaves were treated better than the slave owners.

Posted in Op-eds, Religion. Tags: . No Comments »

Christine O’Donnell Under Investigation For More Than Witchcraft

It might be time for Christine O’Donnell to follow up her “I’m not a witch” commercial with a statement that “I am not a crook.” She is now under federal investigation for misuse of campaign funds:

Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell to determine if the former Senate candidate broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation…

At least two former campaign workers have alleged that she routinely used political contributions to pay her personal expenses in recent years as she ran for the Senate three consecutive times, starting in 2006. The Washington-based watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission making similar allegations and asked Delaware’s federal prosecutor to investigate.

O’Donnell’s campaign has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged she had paid part of her rent at times with campaign money, arguing that her house doubled as a campaign headquarters.

Federal law prohibits candidates from spending campaign money for personal benefit. FEC rules say this prohibition applies to the use of campaign money for a candidate’s mortgage or rent “even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign,” although O’Donnell’s campaign maintained that it was told otherwise by someone at the agency.

Quote of the Day

“Imagining Donald Trump flying on Jet Blue is like trying to imagine Sarah Palin flying on Air Force One.” –David Letterman

Biological Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives

I think we’ve all noticed that conservatives just don’t think like us. I’m speaking of the hard core conservatives who buy the fictional worldview put out by Fox and right wing talk radio. There also conservatives who do reject much of the current nonsense coming from the right, many of whom have been ostracized by the conservative movement and who we can rationally discuss issues with even if there are differences of opinion. Other conservatives just seem to be incapable of rational thought based upon facts as opposed to repeating right wing talking points. There might even be biological evidence for the different type of thought seen on the far right according to a report in The Telegraph

Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions.

On the otherhand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.

The “exciting” correlation was found by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students.

They found that the size of the two areas of the brain directly related to the political views of the volunteers.

However as they were all adults it was hard to say whether their brains had been born that way or had developed through experience…

The results, which will be published next year, back up a study that showed that some people were born with a “Liberal Gene” that makes people more likely to seek out less conventional political views.

Via Raw Story, an abstract on the report from October showing a difference in genetic makeup between liberals and conservatives can be found here.

There are many obvious limitations to this, and it will be interesting to read the entire study when published. I will assume for the sake of discussion that differences between liberals and conservatives in the UK are comparable to those here, but that is far from certain.

The most obvious example which supports this hypothesis in the United States was the 9/11 attack, with current divisions between American liberals and conservatives being largely redrawn based upon response to the attack and view of the Bush administration’s response. Conservatives were motivated by fear to the point of irrationality. This was seen in how easily they were manipulated to support an attack on Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack, as well as how easily they fell into line supporting restrictions on civil liberties.

If there are really biological differences, it would be interesting to see the degree to which this correlates with the subservience to right wing authority seen by the conservative movement. It is certainly easy to see the correlation between being driven by fear and their willingness to surrender civil liberties and follow their leader.

This might also correlate with other common characteristics of American conservatives such as religious beliefs. The best predictor of voting behavior in the United States  is frequency of Church attendance, which might be related to both more primitive thought processes and to a fear of crossing their god. Unfortunately, this commonly extends to the desire of conservatives to use the power of the state to impose their religious views upon other.

This might also extend to the racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and xenophobia which is common, even if not universal, on the right. Conservatives commonly fear and hate those who look or think differently from them. While it has become fashionable on the right to object to such characterizations, their denials are hardly taken seriously by those on the outside who observe how it influences many of their positions.

This propensity towards fear and hatred of those who are seen as different has been exploited by the right wing noise machine, regardless of whether these attitudes are biological or learned (and I suspect it is a combination of the two). Just look at the effective manner by which they have demonized liberals in the minds of many. They portray liberals as holding a wide variety of views which have nothing to do with the actual views of most liberals. I certainly would not support liberals or vote for Democrats if they held half the views attributed to them by the right. This promotes the opposition to liberalism and identification with conservatism among many of them, and even has some influence on non-conservatives. This leads to the frequent poll finding that a majority identify themselves as conservatives while supporting the liberal position on polls based upon specific positions as opposed to labels.

We have seen increased polarization between left and right in recent years, and I believe the panic on the right caused by 9/11 has exacerbated this. Part of this very well might be because liberals and conservatives are wired to view the world differently, making communication between the two more difficult.

The Latest Right Wing Conspiracy Theory

Following the right wing means reading through lots of articles based upon made up “facts” and arguments which have barely moved beyond the level of opposing Galileo for believing the earth wasn’t at the center of the universe. The contradictions often appear ridiculous, such as claiming to support freedom and small government while promoting a government which exerts greater control over the lives of individuals. At least this becomes understandable, even if no less objectionable, once you realize that when Republicans argue for freedom, they are really arguing for the freedom to impose their beliefs upon others.

What really makes conservative writings entertaining is the frequency with which they resort to conspiracy theories. They can easily take any facts, regardless of whether they are true or are the false “facts” circulating in the conservative echo chamber, and imagine all sorts of wild things. As they already believe that any source of objective information is part of  a mythical “liberal media,” once they come up with an idea it becomes impossible to show them how absurd their beliefs are.

Birthers are becoming common on the right but the latest conspiracy theory stops worrying about Obama the Muslim and now fears Obama the Indian. Jillian Rayfield describes the latest right wing conspiracy theory, which says that Obama, with help from the United Nations, is going to give our land back to the Indians.

Yes, it is ridiculous. But is it any more ridiculous than a long list of things believed on the right?

Sarah Palin’s Alaska Hates Palin, While Tax Compromise Has Not Hurt Obama Among Democrats

Public Policy Polling found that in the first nine states they polled, all had an unfavorable view of Sarah Palin. In addition, they found that she  has serious problems among Republicans. The next state to be polled was Alaska, but even this didn’t help Palin:

It’s a well known fact that Sarah Palin is the most unpopular major political figure in the country…one thing that may be less well known is that one of the states where voters have the dimmest view of her is her own home state of Alaska.

We’ve polled Palin’s favorability in ten states over the last couple months. In Alaska just 33% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to 58% with a negative one. The only place where fewer voters see her positively than her own home state is dark blue Massachusetts…

Palin’s unpopularity in Alaska is an interesting sidebar but ultimately pretty irrelevant to a possible 2012 Presidential bid. What’s more relevant is that a majority of voters in every single state we have polled so far on the 2012 race has an unfavorable opinion of her. And her average favorability in the Bush/Obama states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia that are most likely essential to Republican chances of retaking the White House is 36/56. Democrats can only hope…

While far too early to predict the 2012 nominee, a CNN/Opinion Research poll also shows trouble for Palin:

In the battle for the GOP presidential nomination, the survey suggests Palin may have some work to do if she throws her hat in the ring. Only 49 percent of Republicans say that they are likely to support Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008 for the Republican nomination in 2012.

“That’s a huge 18-point drop since December of 2008, when two-thirds of GOPers said they were likely to support Palin. It also puts her well behind potential rivals Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, and a bit behind Newt Gingrich as well,” adds Holland.

The poll also shows how meaningless recent talk of a challenger to Obama from the left is. Regardless of the merits of the act, I had predicted that the tax compromise would  be a huge win politically for Obama. The CNN/Opinion Research poll shows not only that the tax compromise didn’t hurt Obama, but that the number of Democrats who support a candidate other than Obama is declining:

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday, 78 percent of Democrats questioned in the poll say they want to see Obama at the top of their party’s ticket in 2012, with only 19 percent saying they would prefer someone else as the Democratic presidential nominee. The 19 percent figure is the lowest figure since March, when the question was first asked.

Quote of the Day

‎”Sarah Palin, part-time Governor of Alaska, is angry because Michele Obama is encouraging kids to eat healthy. Sarah Palin believes the government shouldn’t tell us what to do. Sarah Palin believes she should tell us what to do.” –David Letterman