Science

Half the Facts You Know Are Probably Wrong

Old truths decay and new ones are born at an astonishing rate.

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Dinosaurs were cold-blooded. Increased K-12 spending and lower pupil/teacher ratios boost public school student outcomes. Most of the DNA in the human genome is junk. Saccharin causes cancer and a high fiber diet prevents it. Stars cannot be bigger than 150 solar masses.

In the past half-century, all of the foregoing facts have turned out to be wrong. In the modern world facts change all of the time, according to Samuel Arbesman, author of the new book The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date (Current). 

Fact-making is speeding up, writes Arbesman, a senior scholar at the Kaufmann Foundation and an expert in scientometrics, the science of measuring and analyzing science. As facts are made and remade with increasing speed, Arbesman is worried that most of us don't keep up to date. That means we're basing decisions on facts dimly remembered from school and university classes—facts that often turn out to be wrong.

In 1947, the mathematician Derek J. de Solla Price was asked to store a complete set of The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society temporarily in his house. Price stacked them in chronological order by decade, and he noticed that the number of volumes doubled about every 15 years, i.e., scientific knowledge was apparently growing at an exponential rate. Thus the field of scientometrics was born.

Price started to analyze all sorts of other kinds of scientific data, and concluded in 1960 that scientific knowledge had been growing steadily at a rate of 4.7 percent annually for the last three centuries. In 1965, he exuberantly observed, "All crude measures, however arrived at, show to a first approximation that science increases exponentially, at a compound interest of about 7 percent per annum, thus doubling in size every 10–15 years, growing by a factor of 10 every half century, and by something like a factor of a million in the 300 years which separate us from the seventeenth-century invention of the scientific paper when the process began."

A 2010 study in the journal Scientometrics, looking at data between 1907 and 2007, concurred: The "overall growth rate for science still has been at least 4.7 percent per year."

Since knowledge is still growing at an impressively rapid pace, it should not be surprising that many facts people learned in school have been overturned and are now out of date. But at what rate do former facts disappear? Arbesman applies to the dissolution of facts the concept of half-life—the time required for half the atoms of a given amount of a radioactive substance to disintegrate. For example, the half-life of the radioactive isotope strontium-90 is just over 29 years. Applying the concept of half-life to facts, Arbesman cites research that looked into the decay in the truth of clinical knowledge about cirrhosis and hepatitis. "The half-life of truth was 45 years," he found.

In other words, half of what physicians thought they knew about liver diseases was wrong or obsolete 45 years later. Similarly, ordinary people's brains are cluttered with outdated lists of things, such as the 10 biggest cities in the United States.

Facts are being manufactured all of the time, and, as Arbesman shows, many of them turn out to be wrong. Checking each one is how the scientific process is supposed to work; experimental results need to be replicated by other researchers. So how many of the findings in 845,175 articles published in 2009 and recorded in PubMed, the free online medical database, were actually replicated? Not all that many. In 2011, a disquieting study in Nature reported that a team of researchers over 10 years was able to reproduce the results of only six out of 53 landmark papers in preclinical cancer research.

In 2005, the physician and statistician John Ioannides published "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" in the journal PLoS Medicine. Ioannides cataloged the flaws of much biomedical research, pointing out that reported studies are less likely to be true when they are small, the postulated effect is likely to be weak, research designs and endpoints are flexible, financial and nonfinancial conflicts of interest are common, and competition in the field is fierce. Ioannides concluded that "for many current scientific fields, claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias." Still, knowledge marches on, spawning new facts and changing old ones.

Another reason that personal knowledge decays is that people cling to selected "facts" as a way to justify their beliefs about how the world works. Arbesman notes, "We persist in only adding facts to our personal store of knowledge that jibe with what we already know, rather than assimilate new facts irrespective of how they fit into our worldview." All too true; confirmation bias is everywhere. 

So is there anything we can do to keep up to date with the changing truth? Arbesman suggests that simply knowing that our factual knowledge bases have a half-life should keep us humble and ready to seek new information. Well, hope springs eternal. 

More daringly, Arbesman suggests, "Stop memorizing things and just give up. Our individual memories can be outsourced to the cloud." Through the Internet, we can "search for any fact we need any time." Really? The Web is great for finding an up-to-date list of the 10 biggest cities in the United States, but if the scientific literature is littered with wrong facts, then cyberspace is an enticing quagmire of falsehoods, propaganda, and just plain bunkum. There simply is no substitute for skepticism.

Toward the end of his book, Arbesman suggests that "exponential knowledge growth cannot continue forever." Among the reasons he gives for the slowdown is that current growth rates imply that everyone on the planet would one day be a scientist. The 2010 Scientometrics study also mused about the growth rate in the number of scientists and offered a conjecture "that the borderline between science and other endeavors in the modern, global society will become more and more blurred." Most may be scientists after all. Arbesman notes that "the number of neurons that can be recorded simultaneously has been growing exponentially, with a doubling time of about seven and a half years." This suggests that brain/computer linkages will one day be possible. 

I, for one, am looking forward to updating my factual knowledge daily through a direct telecommunications link from my brain to digitized contents of the Library of Congress.  

NEXT: A Minor Crime

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  1. More like all the facts I know… I’m a product of American public skools!

    1. Four years later, their story seems less like a tribute to upward mobility than a study of obstacles in an age of soaring economic inequality. Not one of them has a four-year degree. Only one is still studying full time, and two have crushing debts. Angelica, who left Emory owing more than $60,000, is a clerk in a Galveston furniture store.

      Each showed the ability to do college work, even excel at it. But the need to earn money brought one set of strains, campus alienation brought others, and ties to boyfriends not in school added complications. With little guidance from family or school officials, college became a leap that they braved without a safety net.

      The story of their lost footing is also the story of something larger ? the growing role that education plays in preserving class divisions.

      1. I messed up the block quote link, here’s the link to start you morning off right: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12…..html?_r=1&

        1. But the need to earn money brought one set of strains, campus alienation brought others, and ties to boyfriends not in school added complications.

          Need to earn money isn’t new. I learned more about real life from a paper route and cutting lawns than from public school.

          It says a lot about what we’ve allowed to happen to education when the definition of academic includes
          “Unaware of the outside world”
          “Formalistic or conventional”
          “Theoretical or speculative without a practical purpose or intention”
          “Having no practical purpose or use.”

          1. Higher education is the modern equivalent of monasteries and seminaries. Sucking up a large and increasing portion of the nation’s wealth and twisting the minds that they come in contact with to non productive means.

            1. It’s even worse than that. At least a real monastery might produce beer. I have a large selection of Chimays and Westvelterns just waiting to be devoured.

              The modern university monastery just produces overly entitled thugs. Not delicious beers, cheeses, and breads.

              1. I see you are a true believer. I am looking forward to enjoying a Westvlet blond and 12 this week myself. I, unfortunately couldn’t bring back all two cases so I drank most of it while over there.

                1. I always have Trappistes Rochefort in the fridge.

      2. wow…so much ideological swill in that passage it is hard to know where to begin. If you didn’t know better, it would be easy to think that no one ever worked his/her way through college, no one ever struggled, and certainly no one without a degree ever amounted to anything.

        1. To be fair, we do have a government aggressively inflating a bubble in the price of education. Combine this with reclassification of jobs that used to require only a high school diploma now requiring a college degree, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

        2. so much ideological swill in that passage it is hard to know where to begin.

          Yeah, I experienced that too. I advised each of my four daughters to dump the futureless boyfriends and concentrate on school.
          The “campus alienation” part has me stumped, though. Does that mean they can’t make friends?

          1. I think that is thrown in there as an argument for increasing diversity and maintaining affirmative action admission policies, even implicit in that argument is that they think all minorities are the same. It’s just like the Prophet video. It should be censored because it’s so insensitive. But why does that matter? Oh well because you know how “they” will react. That is the unsaid assumption in their thinking.

            1. It’s just like the Prophet video

              Wait, which prophet? Zoroaster? Tenskwatawa? Joseph Smith?

              1. They all have videos?

              2. One of these guys?

                Political, so when you get fired for it being so called ‘nsfw’ sue their asses off!

                1. Technically, the only “prophet” depicted there is Moses. Jesus and Ganesha are divine beings themselves. Hotei/Budai, as an avatar of Maitreya Buddha, is either divine (folk Taoism) or merely an enlightened being (Mahayana Buddhism)

                  1. Oh, that’s who those guys are. I thought it was Meir Kahane, David Koresh, and the Elephant Man with his arm up the ass of Lord Varys. Thanks for the correction.

                    1. I lol’ed. Lord Varys… I won’t be able to enter a Chinese restaurant again!

              3. I’m talking about the vids that depict The Jacket

          2. I advised each of my four daughters to dump the futureless boyfriends and concentrate on school.

            Hahahaha! My wife’s cousin was courted by Alterraun Verner throughout high school and college. He is a super nice guy, smart, and successful in the NFL. But she remained faithful to her boyfriend. Nice guy, but hasn’t finished college, is kind of a dork, broke, not in the NFL, and no athletic physique. Who knows why girls make the choices they do?

            1. The heart wants what it wants.
              My eldest daughter’s old HS boyfriend is still working at the same place he did when she went off to college. He asks about her every time I see him. She still has a few old pics of him up on her wall. She’ll be graduating this year, and I expect they will give it another try after that. Fine by me. He’s a good kid.

          3. Probably a hint that they were alienated because they were a minority.

  2. The growth in the production of facts is not sustainable.

    1. Once I start, I can’t look at just one XKCD strip.

      1. The actual metric should be frequency vs. time rather than per word, so the extrapolation can be extended beyond their 100% year by just imagining we open our mouths more & more, babbling “sustainable”, like “DoubleYourSpeedDotCom”, and start running the printing presses and communication lines overtime with that word. No telling how far we can take it then.

  3. Actually, everything I know is inherently correct. Everyone else is wrong.

    And if you happen to be ‘right’ and agree with me, I’m sure you arrived at the correct conclusion for the wrong reasons.

  4. Scientometrics sounds like something from The Simpsons.

    1. I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent field of knowledge.

      1. Studied by scienticians worldwide.

        1. Not conforming with contemporary scientific assumptions?

          That’s a paddlin.

        2. AND L. Ron Hubbard.

      2. It embiggens our understanding of the world around us.

    2. Wish I had thought of it first.

      /Elron Hubbard

      1. Damn you.

    3. The practitioners seem to believe that one fact is equal to the next. This is incorrect. Much of the scientific knowledge in production today is academic busy work designed to pad resumes and climb the greasy pole.

      Of all papers submitted for publication, only a small % are cited by other scientists, and these are dominated by a small number that attract the lion’s share of attention.

  5. CLIMATE SCIENCE.

    Everyone was thinking it; I just had the guts to say it.

    1. That is why your nickname is President…er, Commenter Gutsy Call!

      1. I had rather be right than President.

        –Henry Clay

        1. He was neither.

    2. But the empirical claims of climate change denial are 100% factual, because of the politics you believe in.

      1. +1

    3. EVOLUTION!

      I’ve got even more guts! Pity about the brains, though.

  6. I, for one, am looking forward to updating my factual knowledge daily through a direct telecommunications link from my brain to digitized contents of the Library of Congress.

    As long as you realize that about 99% of new facts are the latest update on what Snooki had for lunch, what Paris Hilton said about Kim Kardashian and who got kicked off Dancing With The Stars. GIGO.

      1. **shrugs**

        He’s got a point, TAO. American culture does seem to put a premium on fluff and the eroding of our rights appears to take a back seat to the latest, greatest shiny new toy.

        But then, as a whole, I suppose human beings are easily prone to distraction.

        HAPPY CHRISTMAS REASONOIDS ONE AND ALL!

        1. the eroding of our rights appears to take a back seat to the latest, greatest shiny new toy.

          Hehehe! Can you imagine trying to ban SmartPhones?

          1. If you wanted a wholesale, bona fide pre-American revolution, that would do it.

            People only get involved politically when they are inconvenienced and their stupid policies they advocate bite them in the ass real time.

          2. Only police should be allowed to possess and utilize advanced mobile computing. In the hands of “civilians”, they are a menace to public order & security.

        2. For a glimpse of our future, please watch the first 15 minutes of the movie “Idiocracy.”

          1. You can also kill yourself.

            Any serious references to “The Kardashians”, Idiocracy, the “Stupid Bowl”, etc. as evidence of some sort of society-wide decline reveal the speaker to be an unthinking faux-elitist and a grade-A moron.

            1. Just out of curiosity, Randian, have you ever considered debating an issue without being a fucking dick?

              I’d be happy to hear and discuss your thoughts on the topic (or any topic), but you act like a fucking 15 year old.

              1. The actual 15-year-old perspective is to pull a whiny Goth move, look out the window and say “Look at all those dumb sheeple out there, entertained with their Kardashians and their Super Bowl. Good thing for me I’m the Lone Sane Man in a sea of Idiots. WAKE UP AMERICA”

                What a megalomanical, immature point of view.

                1. I rest my case.

                  1. I assume what you mean is “I just realized how wrong I am”

                    I think it’s a really neat trick to claim I’m the one being a dick when your post condemned 99% of society. But yeah, I’m the asshole here despite your raging misanthropy.

                    1. I assume what you mean is “I just realized how wrong I am”

                      No, but you’ve given me something to think about.

                      It’d be nice, however, if you could convincingly present your arguments in a rational manner designed to convince rather than humiliate. I realize some debates devolve into pissing contests and ad homs. Got it. I have a pretty thick skin. But you might try posing your argument WITHOUT pissing off your opponent right out of the chute. You do it ALL THE TIME.

                      You called me a moron before I even understood what you were driving at. Your point has some validity and I’ll need to ponder it, however, jumping my shit before explaining your perspective, just makes you a dick.

                    2. Fair enough. I probably reacted too strongly but this is a personal pet-peeve of mine. Frankly, I find it ironically common for people to think that everyone but themselves likes and does dumb things, and it’s ironic because in trying to set yourself apart via “superior culture”, you are in fact thinking the exact same way so many other people think.

                      I feel strongly, though, that someone like you ought to know better. Google “tiddlywink music”, as an example. Also, Rand’s favorite show at the time of the Donahue interview was Charlie’s Angels.

                    3. I put it to you that it’s not the liking of a reality show that’s at issue. It’s where that ranks on your importance of issues.

                      Rand may have like Charlie’s Angels, but her passion and life’s work was Objectivism.

                      I love, and watch a lot of science fiction (GM, note I said “watch”). My father thinks it’s a complete wast of time and to a certain degree, he’s right. There are more important endeavors…which I engage in, most of which revolve around my philosophy.

                      While I don’t have empirical data “proving” we are in decline, notionally, it looks that way to me. As GM says below, when the average person on the street knows who Snooki is, but cannot identify the Speaker of the House, priorities are not quite right.

                      Do I look down on those, who I would claim, have fucked up priorities? You bet I do. Is my way “superior?” Sure is. It’s based on reason (drink). A is A.

                      Do I judge them to harshly? Maybe. Do they have the right to be idiots? Sure do.

                      Am I wrong? I guess that depends on whether my notional evidence is correct or not. I suspect it is, but if you have empirical evidence that shows otherwise, by all means, serve it up.

                    4. (GM, note I said “watch”)

                      So noted.-D

                      “May thy knife chip and shatter.”

                    5. While I don’t have empirical data “proving” we are in decline, notionally, it looks that way to me.

                      Of course it does, because then you can take your own bad tastes and say “well, hey, at least I’m better than him

                    6. Of course it does, because then you can take your own bad tastes and say “well, hey, at least I’m better than him”

                      Then you have described not only human nature in general, but they are psychological rationale that we use to justify our behaviour, our likes, dislikes, and general interests.

                      Otherwise, I’m sure you subjected your decision to marry Mrs. TAO to the most rigourous of logical standards, identifying every single factor weighing every single logical outcome, applied to a logical numerical matrix, and decided accordingly. I’m sure every single decision you make is plugged into a logically unbreakable formulae on paper, such as your diet, and every result is perfectly, logically elegant and totally justifiable and worthy of the proofs of Plato, the syllogisms of Aristotle, and the questioning of Socrates.

                      I would also suggest not using this line of rationale with Mrs. TAO. Or you might just get a borshh pan upside the head (and well deserved too, I might add.)-D

                    7. Otherwise, I’m sure you subjected your decision to marry Mrs. TAO to the most rigourous of logical standards, identifying every single factor weighing every single logical outcome, applied to a logical numerical matrix, and decided accordingly

                      Why not? Charles Darwin did.

                    8. I hadn’t seen that before, HM, and it was awesome, so thank you. Too bad it was too early for him to have read Moby-Dick: “I have perceived that in all cases man must eventually lower, or at least shift, his conceit of attainable felicity; not placing it anywhere in the intellect or the fancy; but in the wife, the heart, the bed, the table, the saddle, the fire-side; the country.” Better than a dog anyhow!

                    9. Why not? Charles Darwin did.

                      Still suffers from Representational Bias.

                      His decision was ultimately emotional, despite all that logical wrangling.

                      Emotion =/= Logic.

                      Excellent piece though, HM. As always.

                      Though RC Dean is consistently my favourite poster, you are closing in.

                    10. Absolutely. I just have always gotten a kick out of Darwin’s marriage list.

                      My decision to marry was completely emotional: love.

                      Though RC Dean is consistently my favourite poster, you are closing in.

                      Thanks.

                    11. Of course it does, because then you can take your own bad tastes and say “well, hey, at least I’m better than him”

                      Then you have described not only human nature in general, but they are psychological rationale that we use to justify our behaviour, our likes, dislikes, and general interests.

                      I don’t make my decisions on how they make me better than other people. I make my decisions based on how they make me better…period. As a person, by my own metric.

                      Sneering at the tastes of others is just shallow faux-elitism donned for the purposes of covering low self-esteem and a desire to lord over others.

                    12. I don’t make my decisions on how they make me better than other people. I make my decisions based on how they make me better…period. As a person, by my own metric.

                      If you do not have a representative sample to gauge against (like say, the population), then how you do you know you are becoming “better”* **

                      *-1 point for Begging the Question.

                      ** -2 points for employing Confirmation Bias.

                    13. Sneering at the tastes of others is just shallow faux-elitism donned for the purposes of covering low self-esteem and a desire to lord over others.

                      Such as employing the pejorative term, “Yokeltarian”?-D

                    14. I may or may not be doing that.

                      Notionally, people seemed more knowledgeable, less superficial and perhaps most importantly, cared about accurately portraying issues when I was a kid. But perhaps that’s because I was a kid and more easily deceived. They seemed less tolerant of being lied to. They demanded more from their media than spin and sound bites. I can tell you, again notionally, Walter Cronkite was a shit-load more objective than Wolf Blitzer.

                      I may be wrong. I may be clouding my memories EXACTLY as you claim. But on the other hand, just because my information isn’t based upon scientific data, doesn’t mean I’m wrong either. I’d love to see a study.

                      And I am better than a good portion of the population. I do not apologize for that. Neither would your hero.

                    15. “Frankly, I find it ironically common for people to think that everyone but themselves”
                      There is a difference between saying everyone is an idiot, and the majority of people were idiots. Since when has this been a giant popularity contest?

                2. I thought it was 50 year olds who didn’t like modern culture and anyone who questioned it was just an old fart?

                3. Actually, my point was that most facts are trivial, useless crap. There are an infinite number of facts out there, very few of them provide any value.

                  I have always said that the average American is fat, stupid and lazy – and it’s pretty damn awesome that we can *afford* to be fat, stupid and lazy.

                  IOW – fuck off and die, asshole. I really don’t want to hear whatever screwed-up, half-baked psychoanalytical horseshit you come up with to explain my comment just because you have daddy issues.

                4. “whiny Goth move” lolzlzolz

                  I’ve been searching that one for years; until now I called it “playing the dandy”.

            2. The OP mentioned no “decline”, or change of any sort in the amount of fluff that people consume, so I guess just mentioning the Kardashians makes people (other than yourself @11:00am) grade-A morons?

              1. What does GIGO mean to you there, boss?

                1. People used to live in larger family or tribal groups. These days we’re a bit more isolated and we tend to replace the constant family drama with an arguably more entertaining televised form. I disagree with the 99% garbage figure; sure, a good chunk of the data on the internet is useless fluff, but I’ve heard an even larger chunk is porn.

                  1. People used to live in larger family or tribal groups. These days we’re a bit more isolated and we tend to replace the constant family drama with an arguably more entertaining televised form.

                    Ah, I think that’s a plausible thesis. If anything, though, it would show evolution rather than devolution. There is a constant drumbeat of “Durr American Idol and Smartphones keep us dumb!”, when in fact we may be entertaining ourselves more intelligently (or at least at a higher rate of return of entertainment/effort) than we did previously.

                    1. So the point of interpersonal dynamics was entertainment?

                      Right.

                    2. If you have something to contribute, feel free.

                      Otherwise you’re just trolling.

                    3. That’s rich, coming from a cranky, hung over, drunk.

                    4. When he wrote his Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville noted how he could walk into the grimiest bar in the country, and that the find lowly dockworker would have an opinion about politics. Today you can go into the richest neighborhood in the nation and find that the rich have opinions about Rich Slut A or Rich Slut B that would made even the lowliest drunk in 1850 feel “superior.” Then the cosmos would tell him he’s an “elitist.” What’s wrong with being a decent human being and not being ashamed of it?

            3. faux-elitist

              Anyone who uses that expression is a faux-elitist.

              Anyone who points that out is a faux-elitist.

              SYSERR 303 (Stack Overflow): Recursion without terminating condition.

          2. From what I’ve seen on the internet, it seems like people use [Idiocracy] as a security blanket to make themselves feel more intelligent. “Thank god someone hates this awful culture as much as I do!” they seem to say. “Mike Judge gets it! Everything’s so disposable and trashy, I’m glad he feels as lost as I do and takes the same pleasure in skewering those fools who watch reality tv and footbaaah!”

            Link.

            1. You know, I read that blog post and thought “Hey, he makes some really good points. Yea Humanity!”

              Then I scrolled down and the first comment was this:

              Fart Nigger
              August 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm
              Nice but you’re entirely wrong.

              *sigh*

              1. Fart Nigger is correct though.

                Judge has the narrator of the movie explicitly say that the humanity’s condition in the 26th century was the direct result of stupid people breeding and smart people not.

                It’s a couple of minute long, multi-scene segment.

                So saying:

                The film’s greatest failing is that it could’ve done more to drive its point home. Instead, it’s squeezed it into a single line, where Joe says “I think maybe the world got like this because of people like me”. Not because of ‘idiots breeding’, not because of shitty television, advertising, or a sustained campaign of anti-intellectualism, but because of average people, like the viewers (ie you and I), who had endless opportunities to improve themselves and didn’t. Because they were too busy looking at everyone else and thinking “well, at least I’m smarter than you.”

                is misconstruing the ‘message’ of the movie.

                1. Also, the ending, which depicts the children of the two protagonists as relative geniuses.

                2. Judge has the narrator of the movie explicitly say that the humanity’s condition in the 26th century was the direct result of stupid people breeding and smart people not.

                  That’s how you get to the satire, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what’s being satirized.

                  And if Mike Judge was sending that message, then he’s a smuggie douche too.

                  1. It’s clearly the message of the movie.

                    Not saying he’s right or wrong just point out that fact.

                  2. Randian is a classic cosmotarian. Anyone who thinks their smarter than anyone else is an “elitist,” or a “smuggie douche.” The fact is that smart people built America. The problem is that we have lost sight of that due to a need to have “equality.”

                    1. It’s spelled “they’re,” genius.

                    2. “joe’z Law”, thar she blows!

                    3. I make spelling mistakes sometimes. So do you. You know you do.

                    4. I make spelling mistakes sometimes. So do you. You know you do.

                    5. Placing “their” where “they’re” belongs, or vice-versa, isn’t a spelling mistake. It’s an error in grammar that is disruptive to the flow of ideas. Like a spelling error, it weakens your presentation. Unlike a spelling error, it demonstrates an actual misunderstanding of how English is used.

                      they’re == they are (contraction)
                      their == possessive (adjective)

                      Language is the palette of the writer. You can finger-paint like an addled child because you simply refuse to take the time, or you can try to construct art. Your call.

                    6. If cosmotarians aren’t themselves the elitists and smug douches, I don’t even know what to think anymore.

                      WHO AM I???

                    7. WHO AM I???

                      The most important thing: An individual named, “nicole.”

                      Shall I draw you a map so you can find yourself?

                      (ducks)

          3. I agree. We have lost sight of what made our nation great. We have a situation where the stupid live off the smart, and reproduce themselves at a much faster rate. If society does survive I’m sure Idiocracy will be shown in a great many classrooms of the future. The problem with our culture is this ideal of equality, embraced by my cosmos here. The idea that we should never question the worth of reproduction of the cleavon-types, because that would be “elitist.” That we should never question whether women should sleep around with the biggest, meanest man they could get. The idea that we should never question feminism, adultery, or divorce. A big reason I have found that fellow Trevor-types don’t reproduce is fear of divorce or infidelity on the part of their women. And our opposition movements don’t help. The left has found that by making the idea of equality the ultimate cultural good, they can dragoon the opposition into agreeing with them. The “conservatives” rarely question whether we should give Cleavon free medical care, but think that giving him a free sterilization would be “nazi” “eugenics” or “Margaret Sanger.” The Cosmatarians here call anyone who questions the worth of the lower class as also being “elitist” in contrast to themselves “respectable” libertarians, at least in their own eyes.

        3. Our circuses have finally come back to the point where they again rival those put on by the Romans. We don’t have the live tigers but we’ve got drunk celebs with sports cars that can do as much damage (and 24/7 streaming video of it all).

          Just in time for another fall…

        4. American culture does seem to put a premium on fluff and the eroding of our rights appears to take a back seat to the latest, greatest shiny new toy.

          “Anybody who doesn’t take an interest in what I am interested in is Teh Stoopid”

          YAWN. Trite, boring, untrue.

          1. I dunno, TAO. Some of the videos Reason has produced seem to indicate otherwise. Such as the famous “Choice” video showing an incredible lack of self-awareness. Another is the “Drone Justice” video shown to Obama supporters, yet still displayed.

            I’m not that effete that just because my interests may not intersect with another person’s interest cluster doesn’t make them a moron per se.

            When they don’t know basic facts about history, particularly their own nation’s, then I have to wonder. Grantd it’s entertainment and not a clinical study, but your average segment of “Jay-walking” certainly suggests what I postulated.

            1. “Jaywalking”?

              Can’t tell if serios

              *headdesk*

              1. No, I was being absurd. Boy, you’re easy sometimes.-D

                But I do have to wonder when most everybody you ask knows who Snooki is but have no idea who John Boehner is.

                Even your poorest babushki on the streets of Donets’k knows who Mykola Azarov and other members of Parliament is. (He’s the PM of UKR.)

                1. But I do have to wonder when most everybody you ask knows who Snooki is but have no idea who John Boehner is.

                  Do you have any evidence or polls for either of your anecdotes here? Any at all?

                  1. Not a discrete, Emily Ekins sanctified scientific poll, but this author does refer to Nielsen Ratings…

                    Also of note are comments on Shit Flopney’s milquetoast and mediocre campaign.

                    I appreciate your piss and vinegar here, TAO, (I’m terribly homesick at the moment), but sheesh.

                    If I ask you the latest stats on certain disease processes and latest TX modalities, and you are most likely not going to know off the top of your head, doesn’t mean you are an idiot, and would not accuse you of such because I know better.

                    When it’s governmental stuff that does affect me and uninformed voters (meaning that they don’t know what’s going on with both TEAMS) are helping decide my fate, then I have a right to bitch. Your average Reason reader is pretty information dense, politically speaking. The general public, not so much.

                    1. The American Public School system was sold to the public by claiming a mission of creating an educated voting populace.

                      Ironic, that.

                    2. The American Public School system was sold to the public by claiming a mission of creating an educated voting populace.

                      Ironic, that.

                      I think that is a legitimate function of government in a democracy.

                      One that they’ve obviously failed at.

                    3. I think that is a legitimate function of government in a democracy.

                      I don’t. Time and time again, government-run schools have been abused. The curriculum is politicized and always presented to support the status quo. How many school children graduate thinking America is a “two-party government”?

                    4. Yes, I agree the results are as you describe. Actually I think they’re worse.

                      But…a democracy needs a moral (not necessarily intelligent) citizenry or it will descend into a majority grabbing the minority’s rights and property.

                      There are any number of warnings to that effect throughout the history of the US and they’re essentially correct.

                      And calling us a republic instead of a democracy is a dodge that delays but not preventss that eventuality.

                    5. I agree; however, I think the impetus is on the citizen to instruct their children in civic virtue, as it is in their self-interest.

                    6. Ferdinand designed the system as sort of a “factory worker” factory. It works to that end pretty well.

                    7. “Ferdinand designed the system as sort of a “factory worker” factory. It works to that end pretty well.”
                      I disagree. Have you seen the work ethics of these kids? The poor want to go on welfare and the rich want daddy to pay for everything. The idea of “work” is apparently “fascist” to them.

                    8. You’re right. I’m just saying aptitude wise.

                    9. Blind obedience to authority being the main virtue rather than independent thinking.

                    10. Also, TAO, it might have been nice to “hear” a “Merry Christmas” from you. Been reading you for years in your various nom du blogs and have enjoyed your forming (and fomenting) arguments.

                      Try not to such an humourless Objectivist stereotype.-P

                    11. Hmph well Joyeux No?l, doc 😛

                    12. Shastlivogo c Rohezhestvom, TOA. Spasibo, moi drug.-D

                    13. Nas Darovia!!

                    14. Randian is not an objectivist. No true Objectivist would defend our modern, decadent society, or call other people “elitists.”

                  2. “But I do have to wonder when most everybody you ask knows who Snooki is but have no idea who John Boehner is.
                    Do you have any evidence or polls for either of your anecdotes here? Any at all?”
                    That’s like asking someone to prove that the sun rises in the east. You really must live in a cave.

                2. “But I do have to wonder when most everybody you ask knows who Snooki is but have no idea who John Boehner is.”

                  Of course, it would be great to live in a world where no one knew who the Speaker was b/c government was so small it was irrelevant knowledge.

                  Dreaming, I know.

          2. “…yet still displayed unyielding loyalty to the President.”

          3. “Anybody who doesn’t take an interest in what I am interested in is Teh Stoopid”
            Anyone who puts more value on understand politics or mathematics then remembering the seven guys Kim Kardashian has slept with in the past year is an “elitist!!” EQUALITY FOREVER!!!!!!!

        5. But there’s a lot of useful stuff in there, like where you put your shoes, cufflinks, etc.

      2. Oh dear , Randian missed his morning enema again. Oh Randian! Randian’

  7. Actually, while most human DNA is biologically active by the broadest definition in the latest study, that’s not the same as saying it isn’t junk. Useless stuff like retrotransposons could still be the vast majority of human DNA.

    1. Speak for yourself. I use every part of my nucleic acid buffalo.

      1. I didn’t know you’re a buffalo.

        1. No, “buffalo” is what the kids are calling “it” these days.

          1. Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

            1. Tonawanda tonawanda tonawanda tonawanda tonawanda.

              1. It’s a shame there aren’t more opportunities for employment in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area. It is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places on earth. I could definitely see raising a family there. But, alas, I am cursed to remain in the Mediterranean climes of my Southern California homeland.

                1. Surely you jest. The only thing worth seeing in Buffalo is Niagara Falls.

                  1. I lived there for 8 years and would beg to differ… but all the good things about the place are more than cancelled out by the wrecked economy.

                    1. And the lake effect snow. Buffalo might as well be Greenland in the winter.

                    2. I miss real winters. Here it is Christmas Eve in NYC and it’s a light drizzle outside. Sigh.

      2. At harmony with Gaia and guanine.

        1. Better than being at harmony with guano.

  8. Looks like the AM links to me; astute business comment section.
    Don’t worry, we’ll make it up in volume!
    “Washington is agreeing to sell its stake in General Motors on terms that may yield a $12 billion-plus loss. But the results – a million jobs saved, a revived auto industry, an economic sector salvaged – merit a sigh of relief.”
    It should be no wonder that the paper is losing money.
    http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/…..142470.php

    1. And only the highest investigative journalism – merely accepting the “million jobs saved” without questioning where that fantasy, er….figure… came from.

      1. At least this time it’s not “created or saved”.

      2. Right on.

        It’s obviously 2 million.

  9. Annnnnd, that fraud Deepak Chopra sounding just like the supposed ‘responsible’ gun-grabbers:
    “Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 70 books…”
    (can’t leave that out!)
    http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/…..141781.php

    1. I presume the horrid Mr. Oz can’t be far behind?

      1. In what way is Dr. Oz “horrid”?

        1. The arsenic in apple juice nonsense that he helped fan the flames of, for one.

          I could swear he had Jenny McCarthy on his show this season, too, one that didn’t involve him beating the shit out of her for the “vaccines cause autism” shit. (Sure enough, a Google search suggests it was back in October.)

          1. *shrugs*

            He’s pro-vac himself.

            Our bottom line: Vaccinations have more benefits than risks. Are they 100 percent safe? No. But the benefits vastly outweigh the dangers.

            Refusing to vaccinate has consequences; 2010 saw more than 21,000 cases of whooping cough in the U.S.; 22 children less than 1 year old died.

            When children don’t get vaccinations, it endangers their health and everyone else’s. About 5 percent of the time, vaccinations don’t produce immunity; but protection for the whole community is better if everyone gets the shots.

            ? Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen

            I think Dr. Oz tries to tackle complex subjects and often underestimates the media’s sensationalism. Say what you want about him, but you can’t deny the fact that he’s a very smart person.

            1. Dr. Oz is quite brilliant, actually. He’s just symptomatic (ha!) of the politicization of medicine.

              Occasionally he’s an axe-grinder, most of the time, he provides some pretty good info and provokes thought and discussion.

              His mission, like any good doctor, is to promote better health. When he gets all political (which in medicine is impossible to avoid totally) then I get a little sour.

            2. whooping cough in the U.S.; 22 children less than 1 year old died

              Where’s the pro-vaccine hysteria in the media?

              1. Your obsession with this just highlights how dumb you are.

                1. Awe, did someone drint to much Pinot last night?

                  1. I too stand in awe of whatever it means to drint something.

                    1. I’ll take that as a yes.

    2. Australia[‘s] buy-back amounted to 600,000 weapons. The same thing needs to happen here.

      A year of Obamacare for each gun you turn in.

      1. Didn’t Tuck Silly blow the “success” of the Australian buy-back out of the water over the weekend?

        1. If it didn’t work, it’s because they didn’t buy back hard enough.

        2. Is “Tuck Silly” phonetically correct? And yes, he debunked the Australia experiment. Although the 600,000 figure may be technically correct, the impact it had on making Australia “safer” is open to debate. Here is the study 2Chili linked to in the article: http://www.ssaa.org.au/researc…..yback.html

          Merry Christmas, everybody!!!

          1. If everybdy starts pronouncing it that way, it will become correct.

            (Or maybe not, considering the number of prescriptivists here who love to make puns out of people’s typos and grammatical errors, myself included.)

            1. If we are going to crowd source a new pronunciation, why not try something fun like “Stinkfinger Jellybottom”?

      2. I don’t want the gun of someone who would turn it in voluntarily. It’s those other shifty fucks who try to hold on to their guns that are the problem.

  10. Hahaha what?

    No one wanted to be president less than Mitt Romney, his son said in an interview out Sunday that raises new questions about the candidacy of the losing Republican nominee.

    In an interview with the Boston Globe examining what went wrong with the Romney campaign, his eldest son Tagg explains that his father had been a reluctant candidate from the start.

    1. It would be much better if we had a country where nobody wanted to be president.

      1. THIS. But that is why leftist do so well in politics, the game usually goes to whoever is most fanatical.

        1. Once again, the wisdom of Dune is unimpeachable.

    2. Reluctant candidates dont run twice.

      1. Maybe he was on a mission from God.

        1. +1 John Lee Hooker

    3. De vulpe et uva.

      Fame coacta vulpes alta in vinea
      Uvam appetebat summis saliens viribus;
      Quam tangere ut non potuit, discedens ait:
      Nondum matura est; nolo acerbam sumere.
      5Qui facere quae non possunt verbis elevant,
      Ascribere hoc debebunt exemplum sibi.

      1. Pedicabo ego vos nescio quid nunc scribit.
        Quieti imprimere conatur populum tuum ludo libro doctrina.
        Suus ‘cosmotarians similis vobis, qui diruentem hoc pro sulum.
        Iam cesset antequam ego stipes a racist Diatribe vos irrumator.

        1. Legi, intell?x?, risi.

    4. What kind of a name is Tagg, anyway?

    5. I actually believe this.

      It explains why his campaign was so crappy. He only really took it to Obama in the 1st debate. He never offered any reason why he wanted to be, let alone should be president. Never defended the biography that was his whole campaign. And he always sound uncomfortable when he was publicly speaking, like a guy that was pulled out of the audience and wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it.

    6. Who would? The media all around, security all around, always criticized, have your family be criticized, and all for what?

  11. The way evolution is taught – survival of the fittest + “genetic drift” – will be thoroughly debunked in the next decade or two.

    1. Get a load of Mr. Intelligent Design over here.

      MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!

    2. Replaced with ????

      1. DNA networking via retro-viruses and / or other mechanisms.

        1. Yep. That’s how we got the dinosaurs. Virus’s made it happen. Our brains didn’t develop for any other reasons then that they were infected by viruses. Idiot.

        2. Perhaps.

          But you would still need survival of the fittest, which was Darwin’s insight. You’re just changing the mechanism of variation. Which does not challenge the validity of evolution as a concept.

          1. Herbert Spencer, call your agent.

  12. Most people can’t think for themselves.

    They base what they believe on who they trust.

    They just believe whatever whomever they trust tells them to believe whether they realize it or not.

  13. NYPD to Start Searching Internet for Pre-Crime Shooters

    The NYPD intends to create algorithms that scan the text of conversations in chat rooms, social media and emails for clues on potential ‘apolitical or deranged killers’, according to NYT. NYPD Police Chief Raymond Kelly said in a statement.

    The goal would be to identify the shooter in cyberspace, engage him there and intervene, possibly using an undercover to get close, and take him into custody or otherwise disrupt his plans.
    ….

    This is particularly bizarre since it appears that Adam Lanza, the shooter at the Sandy Hook Elementary Schoold, didn’t leave any kind of Facebook or twitter clues. What algorithm would have spotted him in advance

    Also raises the question of accessing email and private communications or private forums, etc

    1. The thought of the NYPD ‘developing algorithms’ makes me loff and loff and loff. I mean I feel a tiny tiny bit bad for the New Yorkers who are going to have to foot the bill for that waste of cash, but really, the more money they dump into that pit, the less they’ll have to fund stop and searches.

      1. What makes you think they won’t do both?

    2. Has anyone else been contacted by the NYPD?

  14. Sounds like some pretty messed up facts to me dude.

    http://www.AnonDo.tk

  15. Ron: Another wrong “fact” to add to your list–that a mysterious retrovirus made up by a corrupt junk scientist and propagandized for 28 years by Dr. J. Edgar Fauci causes an amorphous immunodeficiency syndrome, a multi-factorially-caused “disease”-by-definition. Your readers can learn why here:
    http://www.terrymichael.net/Ht…..eport.html
    Happy holidzae,
    –Terry

    1. You are the worst human being ever, Mr. Micheals. Scum, really. Do the world a favour, just…expire.

      But really, I’ll refer your drivel and hackery to the Ministry of Health in UKR.

      With the rising rates of HIV infection (though they are stabilising) and the rampant infection rates in Africa, I’m sure they will take you seriously.

      You are beyond contempt, you loon.

      1. What’s worse: denying the existence of HIV/AIDs, or reinserting back into words the useless u’s that all right-thinking people got rid of hundreds of years ago?

        Well, denying the existance of AIDS, OBIVOUSLY, but still…:P

      2. Nobody who claims that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS is ever willing to have themselves infected with it to prove their point.

  16. So I made the mistake of flipping by the news this morning. Now, since calling them evil and crazy hasn’t worked, the media is saying it was the NRA’s “tone” that was wrong. This from the people who said hi owners and the NRA are respnisible for dead children. They can accuse you of being an accessory to murder but if you fight back iris your tone that makes you wrong. God I hate those people.

    1. Isn’t that an argument used by parents against children?

      1. Come to think of it, yes. And that sums up their attitude towards the rest of the country.

      2. It’s a not-so-subtle way of trying to check someone’s manhood. After you’ve proven someone to be wrong, rather than accepting defeat they will claim that your “tone” was wrong (whatever the fuck that means).

        1. It means they were a big meanie.

    2. Yesterday on meet the press David Gregory was mocking La Pierre’s about putting guards in schools.

      Even while his own kids go to a school with an 11 member security team of current and retired police officers.

      1. My wife worked for a similar school to Sidwell in Washington. Had an armed guard service. But their kids are special.

        1. The duplicity of arguing that it would be terrible for everyone’s kids to be in the type of environment that they put their own kids in, should be shocking. But it’s not.

          Then, again probably only 1 person in 1,000 kin

          1. Then, again probably only 1 person in 1,000 knows about it.

      2. Not only that, some links on Drudge this morning suggest that Gregory may have broken the law on that segment when he displayed, in DC, a 30-round magazine. And Don Lemon apparently may have illegally purchased an AR in Colorado after the Aurora shooting. So weird.

        WHO WILL SAVE US FROM DAVID GREGORY AND DON LEMON? WHERE ARE U, ATF?

          1. I see the prunes worked!-D

  17. I’m a little confused.

    If a fact changes, how was it a fact?

    1. I believe any intellectually honest scientist admits that the epistemology of science is limited by the tools used for observation. (Bailey’s article refers only to scientific facts.)

    2. Exactly. I was born in 1982 is a fact. Stop signs in the US are red and white, is a fact. Everything that follows is either a hypothesis, a guess, a theory, or something someone said that sounds like it could be true, none of them are facts.

      Dinosaurs were cold-blooded. Increased K-12 spending and lower pupil/teacher ratios boost public school student outcomes. Most of the DNA in the human genome is junk. Saccharin causes cancer and a high fiber diet prevents it. Stars cannot be bigger than 150 solar masses.

      1. I was born in 1982 is a fact.

        It’s also equally true that you were born in 2526 B.E. (Buddhist Era) and in 5743 A.M. (Jewish Calendar). What many people don’t appreciate is that scientific facts are model-dependent. Many times, models no longer possess any utility, and thus, their related “facts” are tossed aside. However, we can have seemingly contradictory facts whose truth depends on what aspect of the universe we are observing. Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry is a prime example.

      2. Strictly speaking, that is true, but it is prety conventional to use “fact” to refer to scientific theories or hypotheses which are very well experimentally supported.

  18. The NYPD intends to create algorithms that scan the text of conversations in chat rooms, social media and emails for clues on potential ‘apolitical or deranged killers’, according to NYT.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Also…

    Fucking jurisdictions- how do they work?

  19. If a fact changes, how was it a fact?

    I’m sure there were people who said, when Columbus came back, “He just didn’t go all the way to the edge.”

    1. I’m sure there were people who said, when Columbus came back, “He just didn’t go all the way to the edge.”

      I doubt it, as everyone* in Europe thought the world was round. The Greeks had proven that by about 300 BC (although the Greek concept of a spherical Earth dates back to about 600 BC). Eratosthenes had a pretty good estimate of its radius by about 240 BC.

      *maybe not everyone, but all the educated Europeans.

      1. One more “fact” that schools routinely teach wrong.

  20. All day link party!

    Most hateful Jez comment ever

    Mass media is run by white people. Men, overwhelmingly.

    In fact, if it weren’t for genderwashing, men would go back to only reporting on Cinderella deaths – where the only person other than men defined as exempt from violence is the benevolent sexism side of their usual madonna/whore or mother/whore hatred of people who have a vagina and a heartbeat.

    If white women know anything about white men that any other woman might not have realized – and that’s pretty unlikely, but who knows? – it’s that to white men, guns are just the stake 2.0 and who wouldn’t rather be shot than burned alive? Because white women are acutely aware that’s what white men do when they get their fee-fees all in a twist and decide it was women who pissed them off.

    It’s less cowardice, on the part of white women, and more like learned helplessness? I don’t know. Maybe we should start by blaming men for male pattern violence, and then factor race in terms of intensity of aggrieved privilege to explain why in America, it’s almost exclusively white dudes doing this. Non-white dudes feel plenty entitled to take the lives of others, but not by the maybe not in elementary schools or retirement homes, a baker’s dozen at a time. Only a white dude could be such phenomenally unrealistic expectations and bitterness over disappointment.

    1. If white men are that violent, you would think she would be more worried about offending them.

    2. I don’t know why the Jizzies are selling women short on this whole school shooting thing. It’s one of the few elements of American life where women were pioneers!

      1. And if I am not mistaken, the lesbian community has a nasty domestic violence problem that no one ever talks about because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

        1. I’ve heard the rates are comparable to straight couples, which is still a lot more than many would like to believe

          1. Since women are never respnisible for domestic violence, it should be zero.

          2. Depends on the patient interview, Goldy. I can suspect DV if the WX pattern is consistent, but if they say, “I FELL, DAMMIT!” with an overly protective partner looking on, then I have to accept that information, regardless if whether or not my Spidey Sense is going off.

            Same with suspected child abuse.

            That said, the cases of reported DV with a LEO involved were, by percentage, higher for lesbian than than straight couples. Also of note is the amount of abusive female spouses for straight couples which are higher than one might think.

            And I still want to get married. Go fig.-D

        2. You are not mistaken, John, using my ER patient HX as a barometer. The lesbian community appears to have a penchant for donnybrooking and, as TAO put it, “Getting a borshh pan upside the head.”

          “But Doctor, I just…fell. Really.”

          1. I have heard the same from every other ER doc I have ever known.

    3. Jezebellian, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    4. I don’t remember anyone talking about race with those DC snipers. Am I remembering right? In fact, i think that article is the first time I’ve heard someone seriously blame someone’s race for murders they commit.

  21. Best Lingerie of 2012

    Hey! None of that you guys! I just did this so the women of reason could know what the best mall brand bra is!

    1. Well then you should have avoided a list that included a London boutique I am never going to go to!

      1. So I take it you enjoyed the products from Fleur of England, and not the offerings of Soma Intimates.

        1. No, you can by Fleur of England online. Fr?ulein Annie seems barely to exist on the internets.

        2. Regardless, something tells me my wallet is not going to be thanking you for a link to that blog.

    2. Nice to see a little John pron in there (5th one down). Not my thing, but I support equal opportunity fappage.

    3. That’s some pretty colors there golden boy.

  22. “Dogs flew spaceships!”

    “The Aztecs invented the vacation!”

    “Men and women are the same sex!”

    Firesign Theatre had you beat by a bit, Ron.

    … Hobbit

  23. genderwashing?

    Come to think of it, my balls could use a tongue bath.

  24. If white women know anything about white men that any other woman might not have realized – and that’s pretty unlikely, but who knows?

    What sort of dressing would be appropriate for this type of word salad?

      1. Very appropriate!

    1. Blew cheese.

    2. Blew cheese.

  25. Any serious references to “The Kardashians”, Idiocracy, the “Stupid Bowl”, etc. as evidence of some sort of society-wide decline reveal the speaker to be an unthinking faux-elitist and a grade-A moron.

    You bore me.

  26. Speaking of humorless douches:

    Spike Lee apparently thinks Tarantino’s new movie is teh racist.

    There is no question in my mind that the movie does in fact suck donkey balls, merely because it’s another excretion of Tarantino’s “imagination”.

    1. His “imagination” consists entirely of the single idea of making a big budget version of some shitty 1970s exploitation flick that no one who wasn’t stoned ever watched in the first place. Ian so tired of his sorry ass.

      1. And “Star Wars” was the same idea with serials instead of exploit’n flicks.

      2. Then…ugh…don’t watch it, John.

        Some of us actually enjoy the Blaxploitation genre, by the way.

        1. I like when Pam Grier weaponizes her afro in Coffey. (Or is that scene in Foxy Brown?)

      3. The eggnog is still a bit heavy. Is that Lee or Tarantino?

    2. Spike Lee whines about slavery the way Bin Laden whined about Al-Andalusian Spain.

      Spike Lee, you are not Leto Atreides II the Younger. You do not possess the memories and voices of your ancestors. Deal with it.

    1. If you think that’s unintentional, you just don’t get Jewish humor.

      I think it’s brilliant.

      1. If it’s intentional, I love it and it’s hysterical. If it’s unintentional, it’s kind of disappointing.

        1. I would argue it’s akin to the “tongue-firmly-in-cheek”, media savvy, meta-humor of the IDF Babes ad campaign the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs ran a while back.

          1. I couldn’t decide if it was that, or more some kind of “We’re on the neocon-inspired ‘Judeo-Christian culture’ bandwagon too, because we love American Christian tourism and government support” thing, which would be gross. The cheesiness suggests the former, my paranoia the latter.

            1. That’s why I think it’s brilliant…it works both ways. Indeed, the average Jewish Israeli has the attitude of “Thank you for support because you that your messiah will use our country as the beachhead for global apocalypse, which the second act involves condemning all of us to eternal Hell!”

              Same thing with the IDF Babes. On the one hand, it appeals to the “Chicks with assault rifles are hot!” crowd, but they can counter any accusations of sexism with “What, we’re just showing how progressive our armed forces are. Women on the front lines!”

              Unfortunately, Israel often overestimates the global audience’s media criticism savvy, which is why they eat up those maudlin Latuff cartoons blood libel, which usually depict tons of blood covered dead children and Jewish caricatures that would have made the editor of Der Sturmer say they were over the top.

              1. because you that

                *think

              2. Unfortunately, Israel often overestimates the global audience’s media criticism savvy

                Indeed. I started following them on Twitter when their latest bit of Gazan action exploded the feed to notoriety and it’s been quite interesting. At the time I got a real kick out of how horrified everyone else I follow was by propaganda of exactly the same type we see from our own government every single day.

                1. And yet, I would wager that many of those folks you follow wouldn’t be “horrified” in the least by this sort of propaganda.

      2. I find it just mildly amusing.

    2. How about this bizarro Christmas greeting from the Green Bay Packer TEs?

      For those who don’t remember, here’s last year’s. Tom Crabtree is a whack job.

  27. A while ago, as I was aimlessly flipping through the channels, some Congressman from New York was moaning and groaning about how those poor victims of the Superduperstorm of the Century! need free money from the federal government. Then he brought up the tale of all the poor Humpty Dumpties in New Orleans who still haven’t been put back together.

    I’m not sure why bringing up the incompetence and mendacity of the Katrina aftermath is helpful to any claim of a need for government intervention.

    1. I’m not sure why bringing up the incompetence and mendacity of the Katrina aftermath is helpful to any claim of a need for government intervention.

      Well, like public schools, the problem was that not enough money was thrown at it, of course.

      1. I really don’t see how Katrianatwon looked any better before the hurricane. It makes you wonder. Back in 1995, and in 2011, disasters happened in Japan. But, for some strange reason, there were no riots. Luckily for the Obama administration the hurricane this time hit an area closer to Japan than to the Gulf if you know what I’m saying.

        1. “the hurricane this time hit an area closer to Japan than to the Gulf if you know what I’m saying.”

          Yes, we get your sleazy racism, asshole.

  28. Rethuglitards!

    Republican politicians today have a choice: either change your base by educating and leading G.O.P. voters back to the center-right from the far right, or start a new party that is more inclusive, focused on smaller but smarter government and market-based, fact-based solutions to our biggest problems.

    But if Republicans continue to be led around by, and live in fear of, a base that denies global warming after Hurricane Sandy and refuses to ban assault weapons after Sandy Hook ? a base that would rather see every American’s taxes rise rather than increase taxes on millionaires ? the party has no future. It can’t win with a base that is at war with math, physics, human biology, economics and common-sense gun laws all at the same time.

    The World According to Friedman: Your BASE (that is, the people whom you claim to want to represent) is unworthy of representation. Fire them; abandon them in the wilderness, and find some nice upper middle class college-indoctrinated public service oriented liberals who want and deserve the type of bipartisan consensus of which I, TOM FRIEDMAN- SUPERGENIUS!, approve.

    1. And without more Republican moderates, there is no way to strike the kind of centrist bargains that have been at the heart of American progress ? that got us where we are and are essential for where we need to go.

      You know what? I’m pretty sure I am okay with this.

      1. Yep, me too.

        If centrist bargains got us where we are, then I oppose centrist bargains.

    2. …”a base that denies global warming after Hurricane Sandy and refuses to ban assault weapons after Sandy Hook ? a base that would rather see every American’s taxes rise rather than increase taxes on millionaires ?”…

      Red herring followed by false dilemma, followed by outright lie.
      Have we found shithead’s real name?

      1. Note the implicit assumption as well that it’s OK to use every disastrous weather event as Proof That So-Called Global Warming Is Real, but when the climate modellers’ predictions don’t pan out, you’re not allowed to say that’s not proof their predictions are wrong.

        1. I linked an article the other day that was truly pathetic.
          To paraphrase, catastrophists ‘predicted’ we’d have bad weather as a result of climate change. We’ve had some bad weather, ergo…
          I predict if the sun comes up tomorrow, climate change isn’t going to cause horrible things to happen.
          See how easy that is?

    3. Notice that Friedman doesn’t even go through rational explanation for his lambasting of the “Republican base.” It’s just one long line of question-begging. Anthropogenic global warming is correct because fuck you that’s why. Gun bans are an unqualified good because fuck you that’s why. Tax increases on the kulaks, I mean, MILLIONAIRES is good because fuck you that’s why.

      I almost wish his dream of “the Republican Party has no future” would come true because it would do away with the illusion that TEAM Red and TEAM Blue are in material opposition to each other.

      1. I almost wish his dream of “the Republican Party has no future” would come true

        It has, it’s called California.

        1. “It has, it’s called California.”

          And the Team Blue legislature is having disagreements about which end of the prey gets eaten first.

        2. +1

      2. “Anthropogenic global warming is correct because there is a large body of evidence that the scientific community has concluded proves it correct that’s why”
        Fixed.

  29. Speaking of black swans

    Stabilization, of course, has long been the economic playbook of the United States government; it has kept interest rates low, shored up banks, purchased bad debts and printed money. But the effect is akin to treating metastatic cancer with painkillers. It has not only let deeper problems fester, but also aggravated inequality. Bankers have continued to get rich using taxpayer dollars as both fuel and backstop. And printing money tends to disproportionately benefit a certain class. The rise in asset prices made the superrich even richer, while the median family income has dropped.

    Overstabilization also corrects problems that ought not to be corrected and renders the economy more fragile; and in a fragile economy, even small errors can lead to crises and plunge the entire system into chaos. That’s what happened in 2008. More than four years after that financial crisis began, nothing has been done to address its root causes.

    Who let that guy in? Krugabe will be pissed.

    1. It’s an op-ed, i.e. “wrong”.

    2. Bankers have continued to get rich using taxpayer dollars as both fuel and backstop.

      With the consent and assistance of the federal government of the United States of America.

      And printing money tends to disproportionately benefit a certain class.

      Yes, the ruling class, i.e., the government.

    3. I couldn’t believe that got published in the NYT.

  30. More:

    Second, there must be skin in the game across the board, so that nobody can inflict harm on others without first harming himself. Bankers got rich ? and are still rich ? from transferring risk to taxpayers (and we still haven’t seen clawbacks of executive pay at companies that were bailed out). Likewise, Washington bureaucrats haven’t been exposed to punishment for their errors, whereas officials at the municipal level often have to face the wrath of voters (and neighbors) who are affected by their mistakes.

    “Washington bureaucrats, punished for their errors”?

    CRAZY TALK!

    Oddly enough, they do not seem to be accepting any comments on this piece.

    1. “Washington bureaucrats, punished for their errors”?
      —————-
      Not when “errors” are renamed “successes”:
      “Sigh of relief – the GM bailout worked”
      http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/…..142470.php

    2. Aren’t clawbacks a violation of the ex post facto clause or the clause about not fucking with contracts?

      Yeah, I know the response is going to be, “Fuck you, it’s a penaltax, that’s why.”

  31. I hate people edition #1,350,567,908

    1. “For example a line says ‘no matter what, we’ll deliver your baby’ ? a lot of women take offense to that because they deliver their babies,” she said.

      HAHAHHAHA omg how is that real? How can it possibly be real???

      1. For some women, giving birth is like a wedding x100. It’s all about them.

        1. See, that’s just insane. At your wedding, you get to dress up like a princess. When you give birth, your vagina might get ripped apart.

          Only one of those things sounds like I want it to be all about me.

          I’m pretty sure the group’s real complaint is that they are pro-midwife and thus anti-OB/GYN, which is one of those annoying things where I agree with part of the cause (don’t make home/alternative births illegal at the behest of the medical cartel) but think most of it’s supporters are stupid douches (being covered in blood and shit doesn’t become beautiful and magical because you did it underwater at a birthing center instead of in a hospital).

          1. Girl both of those things would happen at our wedding! lolz

        2. Reason numero uno I did not become an OB/GYN.

          Expectant mommies are the worst!

          1. How’s the weather today Doc? It’s currently -28C here and my car actually started crying when I wanted to start it.

            1. -24C. Most of the streets are clear (finally). The TRAINZ are not running on time, since the Hyundai bullet TRAINZ are allergic to UKR cold.

              I hear The Fates laughing at me, because I like cold weather, but oh I am getting it. Good and Hard.

            2. You don’t have an engine heater block?

              1. I do. It would have laughed at me if I tried starting without it being plugged in.

                1. Stop making me miss Canada!

                  1. Don’t you want to be Miss Canada?

  32. My wife is currently cooking kow man gai and it smells delicious.

    That is all.

    1. The blood is delicious.

      1. Oh yes…even better in boat noodles!

  33. I’m not sure what the temperature is, but I have three or four inches (so far) of light fluffy snow accumulating outside my window.

    1. Oh Brooksie, Merry Christmas!

      In spite of you most likely being a Grinch.-D Also, my Thanksgiving meal, I persevered. ‘Twas delish!

  34. JJ put this so perfect last week I’ll repeat it:

    IT IS THE MORAL DUTY OF THE UNITED STATES AS A RIGHTS-RESPECTING NATION TO INFLICT THE APOCALYPSE UPON ALL NON-RIGHTS RESPECTING NATIONS AND THEIR CITIZENS DESERVE IT FOR HAVING THE TEMERITY TO ACTUALLY LIVE THERE.

  35. I hear America weeping.

    Ted Kennedy Jr. (D), a son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D), will not run for Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) seat if Kerry is confirmed as the next secretary of State, according to a statement he released Monday.

    How will American democracy survive without a Kennedy in the Senate?

    1. I don’t know, but at least the women of Washington, D.C. will be safer.

    2. So then Ben Affleck.

  36. And for more holiday cheer!
    “Postal Service struggles to stay solvent”
    From the article:
    “Union contract
    In 2011, with mail volume and revenue well past its peak, the service signed a contract with its largest union that prohibits most employees from being fired if the service wants to downsize.”

    THERE’s the way to run an organization!
    http://www.sfgate.com/business…..142634.php

  37. There is no such thing as knowledge, truth, or reality. There is no such thing as individualism. There is no such thing as Aristotle. I get a blank check to rewrite reality, of which my whims are the new standard.

    –Professor of Dialectical Obozoism

  38. “There simply is no substitute for skepticism.”

    Maybe.

    1. I see what you did there.

  39. A very good essay; Thanks! But rather than say “half the things you know are wrong” why not just say as knowledge grows almost half of everything you studied or read, becomes more complicated? (yes, I acknowledge that some old beliefs are flat out wrong but nowhere near 50%). For instance, I was, indeed, taught that dinosaurs were “cold blooded”. This was based on the assumption that dinosaurs were all reptiles and reptiles are cold blooded. But now even the claim that reptiles of today are cold blooded is under dispute. This is apparently because the consensus is evolving (sic). Now it is thought, by some at least, that the term “cold blooded” casts a deceptive picture of actual behavior and I have read of the term “Thermoegulation”. This is all well and good. I enjoy reading about it. But sometimes it is hard for a non-specialist to tell how much substance is in the newer terms/descriptions vs. how much is changing fashion/nuance. Anyway, thanks again.

  40. After 55 years, I’ve learned that nothing I was ever taught is true. The only things you can trust are your A, B, C’s and 1, 2, 3’s…and I often have questions about those.

    Even in a library w/ real books, the key is knowing where to find what you want to know. On the internet? Think of it as a huge card catalogue in the old libraries. With the right keyword(s), you can learn anything. (One of these days, I’ll learn more about grammar.)

    The danger is in letting yourself become stuck in a rut, going to the same sites over and over and over …and never learning anything new. Curiosity rules the internet, if you only knew it. Learn something new every day. Never stop learning.

    As for some of the rest of the article? Google: ‘self-correcting information cascades.’ There’s math involved and everything. …keeping in mind that about 25% of all published scientific papers are fraudulent in some way. So, don’t take anyone’s word for anything. Not even mine and not even the author’s. Do your own research and do your own thinking.

    As the article stated, a good portion of what you think you know simply isn’t so…and the rest was likely a lie to begin with.

  41. Also, don’t let the facts get in the way of facts.

    “Some members of the public have also rejected the change, citing the disagreement within the scientific community on the issue, or for sentimental reasons, maintaining that they have always known Pluto as a planet and will continue to do so regardless of the IAU decision.”

    The public has spoken: “It’s a planet. For… REASONS. Fuck you and your scientistications.”

  42. So science is basically bullcrap

  43. That is still better than the percentage of facts on reason.com that are wrong. That is about 98%

  44. An interesting article, but in my experience missing the point. As long ago as the 90’s it was clear to me as a PhD Chemist that knowledge was to a great extent secondary to source-retrieval and mostly analysis. By this I mean that esoteric facts or mundane results might seep into the brain, but for truly adventurous research more than facts was required. A wishy-washy headline memory of results combined with an excellent ability to search the media and whittle out the dross was (and is) required for novel results.
    For this reason, I believe that teaching facts is secondary (and becoming more so every day) with critical analysis, and theory construction.
    I am as impressed by a “memory man” as I am by a chimp using tools. What impresses me is someone with a broad overview of an area, who can draw in and extrapolate by analogy into a totally new field. That is genius, that is human intellect.

  45. How does one accomplish “stop memorizing things?”

  46. George Bush did not cause Obama’s first 4 years to be stinkers.

    Obama did that all by himself……

  47. Have you told Al Gore about this?

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  61. I think that is thrown in there as an argument for increasing diversity and maintaining affirmative action admission policies, even implicit in that argument is that they think all minorities are the same. It’s just like the Prophet video. It should be censored because it’s so insensitive. But why does that matter? Oh well because you know how “they” will react. That is the unsaid assumption in their thinking.

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  62. I think that is thrown in there as an argument for increasing diversity and maintaining affirmative action admission policies, even implicit in that argument is that they think all minorities are the same. It’s just like the Prophet video. It should be censored because it’s so insensitive. But why does that matter? Oh well because you know how “they” will react. That is the unsaid assumption in their thinking.
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  63. Higher education is the modern equivalent of monasteries and seminaries. Sucking up a large and increasing portion of the nation’s wealth and twisting the minds that they come in contact with to non productive means.
    Bankers have continued to get rich using taxpayer dollars as both fuel and backstop.

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