Eyewitness: How Accurate Is Visual Memory? – CBS News

March 8, 2009

This is why eyewitness testimony is often way too heavily relied upon in court cases: visual memory, untrained, is way too unreliable; the pre-trial and investigatory practices of police and prosecutors often biases and misleads even the eye-witnesses into being way too certain of their own identification in court, causing juries to rely on them too heavily; and that doesn’t even take into account biases that might cause an eye-witness to lie about an identification. One often hears complaints that the case against a defendant is just circumstantial, that there were no witnesses, as if that were a bad thing, but unless the culprit is well known to the witness, the witness got a good,  long, full-face look at the culprit in good light actually doing the deed, a circumstantial case may be the stronger case than one that relies mostly upon eye-witness testimony. Gloves that don’t fit notwithstanding, circumstances rarely lie; people often do.


CBS’s blatantly deceptive report on federal funding of ESC research

March 8, 2009

“Doctors, Patients Hail The Return Of Federally-Funded Embryonic Stem Cell Research” declares the sub-title of this report. There are several problems with this. One, there was never a ban on federally-funded embryonic stem cell research. Researchers could obtain federal funding by using cells obtained from lines that existed when President George W. Bush for the first time ever opened up federal-funding of any sort for any embryonic stem cell research. So not only was there no ban to return from, before Bush instituted federal funding of ESC research, there was no federally-funded ESC research program to return to, even if there had been a ban in place.

The report continues:

Researchers say that cures for everything from Parkinson’s to paralysis can be found in human embryos.

I doubt that. No researcher who was not lying his ass off would make such a bald statement. The most that they would say is that it is hoped that treatments or cures might be found in human embryos. There’s no evidence yet that cures can be found there. I suspect this is a reporter’s interpretation of something researchers have said, stripped of all sorts of the sort of small print one usually associates with a contract drawn up by a high priced lawyer for an insurance company. No one knows yet whether the problems that have plagued research using ESCs can ever be overcome or that ESCs will ever result in any therapies, let alone cures. This is the sort of rhetoric one gets from activists, not from scientists.

But under the Bush administration, scientists could not use federal tax dollars, to test that theory.

Again, bullshit. Quite simply a lie and someone at CBS news has got to know it’s a lie. They are banking on the reader not knowing it’s a lie. First of all, there were those existing lines. Secondly, there have been, in the years since Bush instituted the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research using already existing lines, a number of different techniques for “manufacturing” pluripotent cells using adult cells such as skin cells. Since they did not destroy embryos, there was no problem obtaining federal funding for these embryonic stem cells without embryos for research purposes.

“For patients, it means that we’re free now to study Parkinson’s disease. We’re free now to study Lou Gerhig’s disease,” Weissman said.

I don’t know who this Weissman is beyond the description in the article. I’ll be charitable and say that the reporter has either misquoted the good Doctor or left off a goodly portion of what Dr. Weissman said because if Dr. Weissman actually did say to the reporter that, before President Obama opened up federal funding to research upon all ESC research, there had been no study of Parkinson’s disease, then he’s as big a liar as the reporter. Since we already know the reporter is a liar, I’ll go with Occam’s razor and not multiply entities. I’ll lay the blame for the lie with the reporter.

I’m sorry. I’ve gone on longer than I wanted to but lies like this just get under my skin. Anyway, here’s the steaming pile of pig-poop:Stem Cell Policy Change Stirs Debate – CBS News.

Naomi Klein, Call Your Publisher

March 7, 2009

Rahm Emanuel, in a refreshing moment of transparency promised so often by Obama, came out with the following:

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” said Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. “This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”

Naomi Klein, Canadian journalist, author and one-time lecturer at London School of Economics, wrote a book called The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. In it, she rakes Milton Friedman and other libertarian and conservative economists over the coals for using crises in order to bring about massive economic and social changes in societies toward laissez faire capitalism, without resort to democratic institutions.

She needs to write a new book entitled The Shock Doctrine II: The Rise of Disaster Keynesianism.

Hello world!

March 7, 2009

This blog will consist of random thoughts triggered by my reading from day to day. Please feel free to comment. Please be civil. Thanks.