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09 Jul 20:31

Margaret Hoover Talks About Life on the Firing Line

by ReasonTV

William F. Buckley Jr.’s “Firing Line” returns to PBS to elevate political discourse about the important policy issues facing the nation.

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Few TV shows—especially few political shows—can compare to "Firing Line", the talk show hosted by William F. Buckley, Jr. In its original incarnation, it ran for 33 years and over 1,500 episodes and featured guests ranging from Muhammad Ali to Ronald Reagan to Jack Kerouac to Milton Friedman to Mother Teresa.

The show went off the air in 1999, but now it's back on PBS with Margaret Hoover in the host chair.

Born in 1977, Hoover is the great-granddaughter of Herbert Hoover, a former contributor to Fox News and CNN, and the author of 2011's American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party.

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Alexis Garcia. Camera by Jim Epstein.

"Dark Fog" by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1300031 Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Photo Credits: The Hoover Library and Archives, Barry Schultz/ZUMA Press/Newscom, Richard Gilmore/ZUMA Press/Newscom, Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press/Newscom, Abaca Press/Van Tine Dennis/Abaca/Sipa USA/Newscom
06 Jul 22:09

CNN ratings fall below Food Network

by J.P. Travis

cnn-logo.jpg
CNN ratings fall below Food Network. If every airport and half the bars in the country weren’t tuned to CNN out of habit, their ratings might be zero.

03 Jul 21:05

Serving Everyone -- Letter to All My Employees

by admin

Sent over the weekend:

Recently, there have been stories in the news about businesses who have refused to serve some customer because they belonged to some group that business did not favor.

I want to be clear that RRM serves EVERYONE. I don't care, nor do I even want to know, their politics or their religion or ethnicity or choice of sexual partners. Nor should you or your employees. Good campers are always welcome. Camping should be a relief and refuge from the crazy politics we have today, not another battleground.

I will note that this would be my policy even if I owned all the campgrounds. But I do not. Every campground we operate is a public facility and is thus governed by very very strict rules against discrimination that apply to all government facilities. So turning some customer away or harassing them because they believe different things than you is not only against my wishes, it will get all of us (but particularly me) in deep and expensive legal trouble.

I have a zero tolerance policy on this and have had to fire some folks, even some managers, over this issue in the past. I do not think we have a current problem with this, nor do I have someone in particular in mind when sending this email. If I thought I had a current problem, I would be dealing with it directly. I am instead writing this in response to current events, which are as depressing as anything I have seen in my lifetime.

So let's remember that we are the public's haven from all this mess. They need camping and relaxation more than ever.

02 Jul 22:29

Learning To Think Like A Progressive

by tonyheller

Tom Steyer wants guns banned and believes 0.0004 mole fraction CO2 is deadly. He is so worried about these things, he believes nuclear annihilation is necessary to prevent them from happening.

Steyer: Maybe We Can Have a ‘Nuclear War’ to Provide a ‘Real Course Correction’ to Trump

Steyer believes we need this :

To prevent this :

Democrats are very angry about Trump making peace with North Korea. It gives them one less thing to be hysterical about.

02 Jul 22:22

Heterodoxy is Hard, Even at Heterodox Academy

by John Paul Wright

Heterodox thinking requires room to be made for different views, different ideas, and different voices to be heard. With sufficient heterodox thinking, it is hoped, the bonds that blind and bind people into groups of tribal moral warriors might wither and eventually allow for truth to replace ideology. However, if the first Heterodox Academy meeting is any indication, heterodox thinking poses substantially more problems than even the hardworking leaders of Heterodox Academy realized.

Entering the meeting I was immediately struck by the fact it was held in the New York Times conference center—a beautiful area replete with wait staff, security, and a professional grade lighting and recording area. Everything was well orchestrated, professional, and deliberate. And as Jonathan Haidt took the stage, I felt a sense of respect for a man who has not only deepened our understanding of humanity but who has also worked diligently to make Heterodox Academy a reality. He has, in many ways and sometimes against scathing criticism, popularized the idea of intellectual diversity—making the case that people like me, who do not share politically progressive ideals, are also worthy of intellectual respect. His has been a voice of reason, calm, and dignity in a sea storm of increasingly vitriolic rhetoric in academia against conservatives, classical liberals, and libertarians.

Tribal moral communities, Haidt has argued, emerge organically when individuals realize their shared interests, their common views, and their overlapping values. These communities, synthesized and energized by their shared moral intuitions, will identify and elevate certain narratives, specific beliefs, and various symbols that define the social and psychological boundaries of the group. In Haidt’s language, tribal moral communities “sacralize” objects and ideas, making them taboo for members to challenge and generating a clarion call to arms if attacked. When embraced, these sacred values bind members of the group together—they offer safety in numbers, psychological and emotional security, and the reassuring knowledge that group members and their sacred values are moral and that outsiders and their values are not. But these values also blind people to their biases and to the inconsistencies in their narratives and beliefs. The benefits of belonging to a tribal moral community therefore come at the cost of intellectual independence—that is, conformity to the moral orthodoxy of the group. Most of us, most of the time, it appears, are happy to accept this trade-off.

Haidt’s description of a tribal moral community can be applied to a broad range of groups and, in many ways, it helps us to understand how the groups we belong to normalize our vices and prejudices. Similar bodies of research in the cognitive sciences confirm this. One study after another shows that we are not only blind to our biases but that we will expend substantial cognitive energy to maintain our sacralized values and beliefs. And nobody escapes these human conditions, not even the highly educated or the intellectually gifted. To the contrary, higher levels of education and intelligence usually indicate more refined and motivated cognitive biases, more thoroughly saturated in moral overtones.

It’s against this backdrop that Heterodox Academy came into existence, promising to serve as an important corrective to the tribal moral instincts of a group certain of their knowledge and their intellectual superiority. University professors, you see, have all of the trappings of a tribal moral community. They share a common socio-moral identity, they are often oblivious to their own biases, they hold various narratives and beliefs to be sacred, and—as recent events have demonstrated—they will denounce and attack heretics without mercy. If tribal communities create homogenous thinking, Haidt reasoned, then the antidote is heterodox thinking.

Perusing the panelists, however, I began to suspect that this moment in heterodox history might be less than I had hoped. The panelists had impeccable educational credentials; they had all achieved remarkable levels of intellectual recognition, and virtually all of them came from elite universities. Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and New York University, to name a few, were all represented. Largely absent, however, were professors of equal ability from state schools, large or small. Familiarity with the political proclivities of elite university professors led me to suspect that few would have much sympathy with those on the Right. I could almost sense the presence of a tribal moral community.

From left to right: Kmele Foster, Shadi Hamid, Alice Dreger, Angus Johnston, John McWhorter and Jason Stanley. Photo: Andy Ngo

But I withheld my concerns and awaited the evidence, which duly arrived with the first panel. Three of the four panelists had a history of social protest: one had protested the Iraq war, another had protested the Vietnam war, and a third appeared have built an entire career around protesting. As I sat there, I recall thinking that, while these people were out building their reputations as progressive leaders, guys like me were in the military or doing the fighting. Our backgrounds were clearly very different, but in academia theirs matter much more than mine do.

That panel, and those that followed, provided several insights into the current state of higher education. Outside of a few lightly contested points, most panelists acknowledged that higher education is perilously close to losing any remaining credibility. But who is to blame for our problems? Who is to blame for the violent riots and physical attacks on professors? Who shuts down speakers and disinvites them? Who has propelled our great institutions away from truth-seeking? And, perhaps most importantly, why have they done so? Pertinent questions like these were left unexplored.

There was plenty of discussion about the changing role of parenting and how this might have produced students less capable of meeting the demands of living independently. And there was discussion about the university’s role in building resilience in students instead of focusing on perceived trauma. Many of the points made were insightful, perhaps even true, but were devoid of empirical evidence. Similarly, there was much discussion about administrators and their role in establishing a climate where civility, free speech, and the open exchange of ideas flourishes. But what we didn’t hear is what is most instructive: we didn’t hear criticism of faculty who ideologically indoctrinate students, and we didn’t hear criticism of specific disciplines, such as women’s studies, which are often at the forefront of shutting down speakers. Nor did we hear criticism of Title IX and the chill it has created, nor did we hear criticism of the leftist monoculture that permeates the academy. To his credit, John McWhorter did describe social justice idolatry as a religion that has negatively impacted higher education, but comments like his were relatively rare.

Somehow, these heterodox thinkers forgot to mention that their team has played a critical role in creating or fostering many of the protests, riots, assaults, and general campus lunacy we have witnessed over the past decade or so. Yet there was no mention of the rise of “victims” programs rooted in intersectional grievances. No mention of the impact postmodernism has had on the academy. No mention of biased research areas produced by the ideological dominance of the Left, or the fact that what now counts as research in some fields is so embarrassing that Twitter accounts mock it because faculty can’t or won’t. It’s almost as though faculty didn’t exist on university campuses. Perhaps Haidt’s theory that shared values blind people to their own biases was in full visibility onstage?

On the other hand, there was an effort to draw an equivalence between the assault on Charles Murray and another case few knew about that, well, didn’t involve anyone being pursued, stalked through the city, and assaulted. And there were the requisite negative references to President Trump and the calls to limit college speakers to those who had something intellectual to offer. The “provocateurs” of the Right, as they were called, were apparently too much to defend, even for the most ardent supporters of free speech. Similarly, a professor from Yale said that “free speech has been weaponized by the Right” in order to attack higher education and that “we” need to protect the institution.

One of Thomas Sowell’s greatest insights is that people select packages of beliefs and only rarely evaluate their beliefs independent of their other beliefs. This is why, for example, the same people who support abortion rights also support gun control. One doesn’t necessarily lead to the other, but within the context of the overall package, disparate views become correlated. So, too, do the explanations for those disparate views. If asked why a person supports gun control and abortion rights, they are likely to answer, “because I’m a progressive.” And it is here, where packages of beliefs merge with canned explanations, that panelists revealed their own biases. Other comments and narratives revealed the liberal assumptions of the panelists, which many in the audience appeared to share. And, to reiterate, although many of the comments were well argued from a position of intellectual authenticity, infrequent disagreements were a matter of degree only as liberals and progressives politely differed with one another.

In the closing panel, Haidt mentioned they were aware that of the 28 panelists, only 3 were not left of center. I appreciated his candor and I believe him when he said that Heterodox Academy will move to be more intellectually inclusive in the future. Nevertheless, as the conference drew to a close, I experienced conflicting emotions. At one level, I was impressed by the event, happy to have attended, and proud to be a member of Heterodox Academy. But, on a more personal level, I felt angry and even resentful. Heterodox Academy is the only organization promoting intellectual diversity in the academy and openly supportive of scholars across the political spectrum, including conservatives such as myself. Nevertheless, hardly any of my views, concerns, or experiences were represented or expressed. I suppose that I naïvely expected some degree of intellectual balance would have been sought or that the common narratives of the Left might be challenged. Maybe I was simply too optimistic, but I deeply wanted to attend an event that was truly intellectually diverse—that is, where heterodox thinking was not only encouraged but also demonstrated.

These fleeting emotions have since passed and what has emerged in their place is a greater awareness of the problems that inevitably accompany efforts at elevating heterodox thinking within the academy. The numeric imbalances between liberal and conservative faculty are, by any measure, immense. The Left virtually owns the institution and a fair number of professors in the humanities and social sciences view conservatives with open contempt. Indeed, Heterodox Academy has been repeatedly attacked by leftist academics who accuse it of being a shelter for conservative saboteurs whose true intent is to poison the academy with their rancid ideology. Other critics have been even less gracious.

This places the leaders of Heterodox Academy in a difficult position. On the one hand, if they want to grow the Academy they will need to reach more faculty. This, in turn, means they will have to appeal to those on the Left—the group most suspicious of or antagonistic to Heterodox Academy’s mission. On the other hand, these efforts may in turn alienate faculty in the center or on the Right. There is no simple answer to this conundrum, but I suspect one strategy will be to reassure academia that Heterodox Academy is not a right-wing organization. It can do this is by strategically elevating leftist faculty and their concerns and temporarily de-emphasizing the role of non-leftist faculty. In the political world that is higher education, the necessity for trade-offs will always hamper our best intentions.

As Heterodox Academy moves forward, it will become ever more important to foster relationships between academics of diverse backgrounds and politics. It will be these relationships that will eventually alter the climate of intolerance that has swept across our institutions and it will be these relationships that erode the bonds that form the backbone of the professorial tribal moral community. Trade-offs will have to be made and these trade-offs will leave Heterodox Academy open to criticism from both sides. If, however, we reduce Heterodox Academy to a set of purity tests or allow our tribal instincts to dominate our motives, then the great experiment will fail and higher education will be worse off. I, for one, remain committed to Heterodox Academy and believe wholeheartedly in its mission. Today, however, I’m also more aware that it’s difficult to be heterodox, even for Heterodox Academy.

 

John Paul Wright is a Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati. Follow him on Twitter @cjprofman

The post Heterodoxy is Hard, Even at Heterodox Academy appeared first on Quillette.

02 Jul 22:20

A couple of things you might not know about the FBI conspiracy against Trump

by DrJohn

 

The single most damning text between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page reads like this:

“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page texted Strzok.

“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Strzok responded.

If that doesn’t scream bias and conspiracy, nothing does. But you probably know these two. There are a few more you might not know. There might be a few more things you might not know.  The Trump Russia investigation was basically a seamless continuation of the Hillary email investigation.

Among the people who worked on the Clinton email investigation, er, “matter” were Agent 2 and Agent 5– Kevin Clinesmith and Sally Moyer. About Moyer:

About Clinesmith:

 Clinesmith lamented Clinton’s loss the day after the election, messaging to several FBI employees, “I am numb.” He added, “I am so stressed about what I could have done differently.”

Clinesmith also expressed regret over the reopening of the Clinton email case on Oct. 28, 2016, arguing that it “broke the momentum” of Clinton’s campaign. He warned at the time that the belated move, which was pressured by leaks over the discovery of additional classified emails on the laptop of Clinton’s aide in New York, could initiate “the destruction of the republic.”

After Clinesmith messaged another FBI employee that he was “just devastated” over Trump’s unexpected victory, he launched into a rant: “I just can’t imagine the systematic disassembly of the progress we made over the last 8 years. ACA is gone. Who knows if the rhetoric about deporting people, walls, and crap is true. I honestly feel like there is going to be a lot more gun issues, too, the crazies won finally. This is the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost, they have to deal with an incumbent in 4 years. We have to fight this again. Also Pence is stupid.”

Then Clinesmith soon sent another text:

“I am so stressed about what I could have done differently,” read another message that apparently referenced the Clinton email investigation.

Asked in one text message after the election if he had changed his mind about Trump, Clinesmith wrote: “Hell no. Viva le resistance.”

Hillary was interviewed by an interesting group of people and had some other curious characters present as well:

Peter Strzok. David Laufman. What did they conclude?

No kidding. Clinton was never even a subject. Clinton was never going to be in trouble

On Thursday night, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released seven pages of textsbetween FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzock and his FBI paramour, Lisa Page. Those texts show that both Strzok and Page were interested in letting Hillary Clinton off the hook so as to earn the FBI goodwill with the presumed next president.

Page wrote to Strzok on February 25, 2016, “One more thing: she might be our next president. The last thing you need us going in there loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi?” The obvious implication here is that Page wanted to go easy on Clinton in order to curry favor. Strzok wrote back, “Agreed. I called [FBI counterintelligence head] Bill [Priestap] and relayed what we discussed. He agrees. I will email you and [redacted] same.”

It was bizarre (and a departure from usual FBI protocol) that Clinton’s lawyers were present. There was one more whose name was redacted. Her name is Jeannie Rhee. More on her in a moment.

Without stopping for lunch Strzok rewrote the findings from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” to shield Clinton from legal jeopardy and maintain her political viability.  He then closed the Clinton investigation and Comey went on to exonerate Clinton, bringing along much the same crew.

Then in 2017 Mueller was appointed Special Counsel. Who did he choose for his team?

Peter Strzok

Lisa Page

Jeannie Rhee.

Yes, THAT Jeannie Rhee. The lawyer who represented Clinton in the email investigation. No conflict there, right?

Clinesmith would later go on to interview George Papadopoulos. Strzok would, along with agent Joe Pientka, would interview Michael Flynn. Michael Flynn, originally exonerated by the FBI, was suddenly found guilty of making false statements to the FBI. Papadopoulos also got snagged for not remembering a date. Clinton aides made false statements to the FBI without any consequence. The FBI ignored the Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop- not 100,000, not 200,000, but 700,000 of them.

So let’s see.

Comey, McCabe and Strzok swept the Clinton investigation under the rug and opened the Trump-Russia investigation 12 days after Trump won the nomination. They framed Flynn and Papadopoulos. Comey then killed a chance to find out the truth about the Clinton emails. Mueller brought Strzok and Page, a Clinton lawyer and every Trump hater he could find on board for his investigation.

As Trey Gowdy noted, the Clinton email investigation was decided before it was over and the Trump-Russia investigation was decided before it began.

As for Trump becoming President? Strzok was going to stop it.

 

 

 

 

02 Jul 22:18

Statistics Vs. Artificial Intelligence

by Briggs

This meme which heads today’s post (see discussion under this tweet a modification of an original cartoon) expresses the true distinction between statistics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Which is to say, there is none. Rather, there are lots of differences in practices, but that AI is just a model in the same way non-linear regression is a model. Only AI is far, far more attractive. AI is art, statistics is dull. AI is bleeding edge, statistics is old and crusty.

AI attracts money, statistics repels it.

I imagine some statisticians are still kicking their own keisters over not thinking of putting the AI frame around their models. Computer scientists beat them to it. And have been beating them to it for years. Computer scientists have a genius for creating marketable names for dull and uninspiring models. Of course, statisticians went down the blind Hypothesis Testing Alley (p-values and Bayes Factors) hoping it would lead to the Fountain of Truth. It didn’t, and now they can’t find their way back to Probability again.

As I wrote in the Machine Learning, Big Data, Deep Learning, Data Mining, Statistics, Decision & Risk Analysis, Probability, Fuzzy Logic FAQ (to which I now realize I should have added AI):

What’s the difference between machine learning, deep learning, big data, statistics, decision & risk analysis, probability, fuzzy logic, and all the rest?

  • None, except for terminology, specific goals, and culture. They are all branches of probability, which is to say the understanding and sometime quantification of uncertainty. Probability itself is an extension of logic.

Computer scientists have going for them something statisticians never will, though. The metaphor that computers are brains; or rather, that brains are computers. That’s not true, but it’s so seductive an idea that it cannot be abandoned without much psychic grief.

An abacus does not suddenly become intelligent merely because the number of beads and slides pass some threshold, or are operated at some superior speed. Neither can multiplying a coefficient by a measured value be called “thought.” There is no philosophical difference between a wooden abacus and a computerized calculation. But given we are saturated in science fiction which shows AI (robots etc.) to be just as alive as we are, it’s hard to think our way past it.

Notice how AI is either a victim, our most glorious category, or an evil overlord, our worst? As with all such stories, they say much more about ourselves than our technology.

Anyway, read What Neural Nets Really Are: Or, Artificial Intelligence Pioneer Says Start Over, and especially Our Intellects Are Not Computers: The Abacus As Brain Part I and Machines Can’t Learn (Universals): The Abacus As Brain Part II.

Lastly, and most importantly, did you notice the crack? The Blonde Bombshell taught us Flaubert, which we modify slightly. “Models are a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.”

02 Jul 20:08

BINBS Professor Slams The ‘Ethically Questionable Persuasion Tactics’ Of The ‘Believers’ Who Market AGW

by Kenneth Richard

In a new paper published in the Journal of Social Marketing, Dr. Erik L. Olson spotlights the “Fakegate” scandal as a salient example of the unethical and deceptive practices used by those who promote dangerous anthropogenic global warming (AGW) — a“difficult-to-sell” cause. It is suggested that the ethically questionable tactics employed by AGW “marketers” (i.e., falsely hyping “the severity, immediacy and certainty of AGW threats”) have failed and should be resisted.

Image Source: ResearchGate.net, BI Norwegian Business School BINBS

Three years ago, an unheralded paper was published in The International Journal of Geosciences entitled “Climate Change Science & Propaganda” (Nelson, 2015).  The author, a retired chemical engineer, openly and brazenly characterized the United Nation’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as an “undisputed” distributor of propaganda.

Propaganda is a manipulation tool focused primarily on emotions. It has little to do with truth or facts and everything to do with persuasion and motivation. Whether that is good or bad, depends on whether you feel science should be boringly independent and often ignored, or entertainingly deceptive but viewed by many. If the initial reaction is emotional, it’s probably propaganda.”
“The IPCC members are obligated to uphold, maintain, and implement its principles and promote its products, and act in accordance with the manifesto (IPCC, May 2011 p. 24). They must proactively communicate with the media and correct any incorrect representations that may be damaging (IPCC, May 2011, p. 33). Bureau members must not express any views beyond the scope of the reports (IPCC, May 2011, p. 36). All members, including all lead authors (IPCC, Nov 2011, p. 16) must sign a conflict of interest form (IPCC, Nov 2011, p. 19), which indirectly obligates them to uphold the IPCC principals and products.”
It is undisputed that not only does the IPCC recommend propaganda, it teaches and promotes it.”   — Nelson, 2015

In a new paper (detailed below), Dr. Erik L. Olson — a professor of marketing at BI Norwegian Business School (BINBS) — further derides the current marketing of an imminent human-caused climate threat.

Olson targets the tendency for the purveyors of dangerous AGW to utilize deceptive and unethical tactics in an effort to garner the publics attention and to sell governmental policies that promote costly emissions mitigation.

He analyzes the public’s response to the “Fakegate” scandal — an instance in which an activist climate researcher named Peter Gleick admittedly stole documents and deceptively posed as a Heartland Institute member in a failed attempt to undermine climate change skepticism.

The results of the analysis reveal that AGW advocates (or, as Olson calls them, “believers”) tend to justify the unethical conduct of those on their side as long as the transgression is deemed to have been for a “good cause”.

Noting that the AGW paradigm is “difficult-to-sell”, Olson warns that the utilization of deceptive headlines, the unethical practice of manipulating temperature data to “hide the decline”, stealing documents  and faking authorship . . . are not effective selling points when it comes to persuading an already skeptical public.

Instead, as a marketing tool, the utilization of deceptive and unethical  tactics are destined to fail.


Olson, 2018

“[O]pinion polls and other research show a public that frequently perceives climate science and associated AGW threats as complicated, uncertain and temporally and spatially distant (Anghelcev et al., 2015; Bennett et al., 2016; Gordon et al., 2011). Thus climate scientists, celebrities, public policymakers and other AGW social marketers face a daunting task in convincing a lackadaisical and often skeptical public to support AGW mitigating behaviors and policies. The difficulty of this marketing assignment has also led to the utilization of ethically questionable tactics that hype the severity, immediacy and certainty of AGW threats (O’Neil and Nicholson-Cole, 2009; Rogers, 1975; Rosenberg et al., 2010).”
“For example, the past 25 years have witnessed a large number of greatly exaggerated predictions regarding the speed and scope of temperature increases and AGW dangers from a variety of AGW “endorsers,” which have fortunately proven to be false alarms (Bastasch, 2015; Grundmann, 2011; Michaels, 2008; Newman, 2014).  Another ethically questionable example is provided by the Climategate scandal involving members of the climate science community and their attempts to increase public certainty regarding the methods and predictions of “mainstream” climate models by blocking the publication of research not supportive of the AGW paradigm (Curry, 2014; Grundmann, 2011).”
[C]ommercial marketers are widely criticized and distrusted because they frequently resort to ethically questionable tactics when the marketing assignment involves uncompetitive or unsought products that are difficult to honestly sell (Holden and Cox, 2013; Olson, 1995). .. [T]he use of ethically questionable persuasion techniques by social marketers is more likely to occur when the promoted cause is “difficult to sell” owing to definitional disputes between the marketer and target regarding the “greater good” implications of the promoted behaviors and public policies (Hastings et al., 2004; Holden and Cox, 2013; Spotswood et al., 2011; Von Bergen and Miles, 2015). Yet despite these philosophical discussions on social marketing ethics in the literature, there has been relatively little empirical attention given to the ethical dilemmas that social marketers face when tasked with difficult-to-sell causes such as the AGW paradigm (Freeman, 2009; Pang and Kubacki, 2015).”
“The Fakegate scandal that is the focus of the current research is different than other AGW scandals and ethical missteps, however, because the protagonist publicly admitted to the intentional use of ethically questionable tactics for the purposes of favorably influencing public opinion regarding the AGW cause. Fakegate started with the theft of internal strategy and donor documents from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank and dangerous AGW “competitor” owing to their efforts to educate the public regarding climate model uncertainties and the high economic and political costs of AGW mitigation (Hoffman, 2011). … An analysis of the writing style, content details and errors in the fake document led several bloggers to speculate that the thief and fake document author was Peter Gleick, a climate researcher, environmental think tank president, chairman of a scientific association ethics committee and frequent blogger on climate science and AGW threats (Greenhut, 2012). These publicly discussed suspicions led Gleick to confess and apologize for his use of deception in posing as a Heartland board member to acquire and disseminate the internal documents.”
Failures provide valuable learning opportunities, and the Fakegate failure demonstrates that social marketers who are unwilling or unable to honestly and persuasively debate the scientific validity and “greater good” of their cause, should not resort to ethically questionable persuasion tactics if they hope to win widespread and lasting trust and support for their social marketing objectives.”
02 Jul 19:06

Dr. Hansen’s Statistics

by Willis Eschenbach
Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach OK, this post has ended up having two parts, because as usual, I got side-tractored while looking at the first part. It’s the problem with science, too many interesting trails leading off the main highway … Part The First I wanted to point out an overlooked part of Dr. James…
02 Jul 18:48

Analysis of James Hansen’s 1988 Prediction of Global Temperatures for the Last 30 Years

by Guest Blogger
Guest analysis by Clyde Spencer Introduction There have been articles on WUWT recently, here and here, commemorating the 30 years since James Hansen gave Senate committee testimony about his view of the human influence on climate. Some apologists for Hansen have, without more than subjectively comparing graphs, claimed that his prediction was extremely accurate. The…
02 Jul 06:57

New Bill Would Ban Internet Bots (and Speech)

by John Samples

Sen. Dianne Feinstein has introduced the Bot Disclosure and Accountability Act, a proposal to regulate social media bots in a roundabout fashion. The bill has several shortcomings.

Automation of social media use exists on a continuum, from simple software that allows users to schedule posts throughout the day, to programs that scrape and share information about concert ticket availability, or automatically respond to climate change skeptics. Bots may provide useful services, or flood popular topics with nonsense statements in an effort to derail debate. They often behave differently across different social media platforms; Reddit bots serve different functions than Twitter bots.  

What level of automation renders a social media account a bot? Sen. Feinstein isn’t sure, so she’s relinquishing that responsibility to the Federal Trade Commission:

The term ‘‘automated software program or process intended to impersonate or replicate human activity online’’ has the meaning given the term by the [Federal Trade] Commission

If Congress wants to attempt to regulate Americans’ use of social media management software, they should do so themselves. Instead, they would hand the hard and controversial work of defining a bot to the FTC, dodging democratic accountability in the process. Moreover, the bill demands that the FTC define bots “broadly enough so that the definition is not limited to current technology”, virtually guaranteeing initial overbreadth.

While the responsibility of defining bots is improperly passed to the FTC, the enforcement of Feinstein’s proposed bot disclosure regulations is accomplished through a further, even less desirable delegation. The Bot Disclosure and Accountability Act compels social media firms to adopt policies requiring the operators of automated accounts to “provide clear and conspicuous notice of the automated program.” Platforms would need to continually “identify, assess, and verify whether the activity of any user of the social media website is conducted by an automated software program”, and “remove posts, images, or any other online activity” of users that fail to disclose their use of automated account management software. Failure to reasonably follow this rubric is to be considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice.

This grossly infringes on the ability of private firms, from social media giants like Facebook to local newspapers that solicit readers’ comments, to manage their digital real-estate as they see fit, while tipping the balance of private content moderation against free expression. Social media firms already work to limit the malicious use of bots on their platforms, but no method of bot-identification is foolproof. If failure to flag or remove automated accounts is met with FTC censure, social media firms will be artificially incentivized to remove more than necessary.  

The bill also separately, and more stringently, regulates automation in social media use by political campaigns, PACs, and labor unions. No candidate or political party may make any use of bots, however the FTC defines the term, while political action committees and labor unions are prohibited from using or purchasing automated posting software to disseminate messages advocating for the election of any specific candidate. It is as if Congress banned parties and groups from using megaphones at rallies. Would that prohibition reduce political speech? No doubt it would. How then can the prohibitions in this bill comport with the constitutional demand to make no law abridging the freedom of speech? They cannot.

Feinstein’s bill attempts to automate the process of regulating social media bots. In doing so, it dodges the difficult questions that attend regulation, like what, exactly, should be regulated, and foists the burden of enforcement on a collection of private firms ill-equipped to integrate congressional mandates into their content moderation processes. Automation may provide for the efficient delivery of many services, but regulation is not among them. Most importantly, the bill does not simply limit spending on bots. It prohibits political (and only political) speech by banning the use of an instrument for speaking to the public. Online bots may worry Americans, but this blanket prohibition of speech should worry us more.

02 Jul 06:28

Power, Privilege, and Free Speech

by admin

This is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to the Daily Princetonian a couple years ago in response to an editorial calling for speech codes of some sort (e.g. bans on "hate speech")

This is why I think Progressives are making a huge mistake in opposing free speech, on their own terms.

Speech codes are written by and for the privileged.  They are written by the oppressor to shut up the oppressed.  George Wallace did not need the First Amendment, black kids trying to go to the University of Alabama needed it.  So the progressive opposition to free speech (e.g BLM shouting down the ACLU over free speech) is either 1) completely misguided, as the oppressed need these protections the most or 2) an acknowledgement that progresives and their allies are now the privileged, that they are the ones in power, and that they wish to use speech codes as they have always been used, to shut up those not in power.  In our broader society the situation is probably #1 but on university campuses we may have evolved to situation #2.

The folks who wrote the first amendment were thinking about this dynamic.  Had they instead decided to write a speech code, it likely would not have been good.  It might well have banned the criticism of slavery, for example, if Jefferson and his Virginians had anything to say about it.  But they didn't create a speech code, thank god.  In fact, I am trying to think of any time in history I would have been comfortable with the ruling elite locking down the then-current norms of their society into a speech code, and I can't think of one.  What gives you confidence, vs. the evidence of all history, that you can do so today with good results?

Unfortunately, in the time since I wrote this, the ACLU has apparently abandoned its absolute support of free speech and seems ready to knuckle under to Progressive speech codes.  But never-the-less, I was thinking about this issue of speech codes and power when I read this:

Police officers in Crafton, Pennsylvania, arrested a 52-year-old black man, Robbie Sanderson, for shoplifting at a CVS in September of 2016. He called them Nazis, skinheads, and Gestapo as they cuffed him.

Because of those epithets, Sanderson was charged with "ethnic intimidation." Insulting the officers in such terms was an anti-white hate crime, from the perspective of the authorities. Sanderson had made bias-motivated "terroristic threats," they claimed. The alleged motivation increased the seriousness of Sanderson's crime from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

Anyone with any education about history could have predicted such an outcome with total certainty.

02 Jul 06:26

Ideological Turing Test Fail

by admin

Kevin Drum claims to want to really understand the Trump voter.  I will let you read it to see what you think, but here was my comment:

I am all for promoting understanding between our two great national tribes. But you ruin your attempt by whipping out a statement like this: "There are plenty of people who are simply beyond reach for liberals. They’re either racist or sexist or they love guns or maybe they’re just plain mean" Seriously? Back to the old "if you don't agree with me you must be racist?"

Further, you execute the classic tribal maneuver of choosing to take on one of the opposition's silliest niches, rather than their best. This is the equivalent of a Conservative making blanket statements about liberals and environmentalists based on a few of silly folks caught on video signing a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide.

This does pretty much zero to promote understanding, and in fact is smug arrogance and virtue signalling masquerading as an attempt at understanding.

I think the high minimum wages in California are misguided and actually hurt the poor and unskilled, and I have written about why I think so. But you know what? I can sure as hell publish a one or two paragraph defense of minimum wages that you would never know was written by anyone but a hardcore progressive or Bernie Bro. As another example, I am pro-choice but I have really engaged with anti-abortion folks enough in social settings to infer that they really, truly think that abortion is killing human beings. We pro-choicers like to make ourselves feel better by saying that the anti-abortion folks are anti-women or religious fascists or something, because it is much easier to hate those folks. But it is much harder to hate someone who really, honestly thinks a baby is dying, even if we think they are misguided.

A lot of hate in this country would disappear if people really tried to understand their opponents in terms other than crude smears, like they are racist or sexist or fascist or snowflakes or whatever. So much so that if I were a professor, I think that every day in a class discussion at the halfway mark I would make everyone reverse positions and try to credibly argue the opposite side of the question. When I run my once a year high school economics class, I do exactly this. And I did that for years in high school debate. For a whole year, despite being an ardent free trader, in every other debate I had to argue in favor of protectionism. I think it was good for my soul.

I post this because there seems to always be a 50/50 chance that I will get banned after every comment on Mother Jones.  I never use profanity, and always try to be reasonable, but I am on my 3rd or 4th ID at Mother Jones because they keep banning me.  I still will always treasure the first time they banned me -- the comment that got me banned is below.  I am pretty sure they thought I was promoting the National Rifle Association in my comment, when in fact I was referring to the National Industrial Recovery Act and the NRA blue eagle of the New Deal.

The authors portray this (at least in the quoted material) as an anti-trust issue, but I suspect a bigger problem is the cronyist certificate of need process. In many locations, new hospitals, or hospital expansions (even things as small as buying a new cat scanner) require government permission in the form of a certificate of need. As one may imagine, entrenched incumbents are pretty good at managing this process to make sure they get no new competition. This, by the way, is a product of classic progressive thinking, which in its economic ignorance saw competition as duplicative and wasteful. We are lucky the Supreme Court shot down FDR's NRA or we would have this sort of mess in every industry.

01 Jul 21:47

Study Casts Doubt on Cap to Human Lifespan

by Mark Barna, Discover
Mark Barna, Discover
What would it be like to live forever? The thought has likely crossed your mind. But you soon sober up it ain't going to happen.Nevertheless, the idea of living longer than your parents and grandparents is not farfetched. Better lifestyles (such as exercising regularly and not smoking) and better medical care have helped increase longevity in developed countries.
01 Jul 05:48

#WalkAway Movement Gains Steam As Free-thinkers Reject The Left

by Fuzzy Slippers
“Once upon a time, I was a liberal. Well, to be honest, less than a year ago, I was still a liberal"
29 Jun 22:31

FAIL: California’s expensive global warming law lags in results compared to other states

by Anthony Watts
From Investor’s Business Daily For more than a decade, California has won high praise from environmentalists for its stringent greenhouse gas restrictions. But a new report shows that despite the enormous costs of this effort, the state is doing a worse job at cutting CO2 emissions than the rest of the country, while badly hurting…
29 Jun 17:49

SHOCKER: RECYCLING PLASTIC IS MAKING OCEAN LITTER WORSE

by Anthony Watts
From the GWPF and the “Great Pacific Recycling Patch” department. Save The Oceans – Stop Recycling Plastic – video follows London 28 June: An explosive report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) reveals that efforts to recycle plastic are a major cause of the marine litter problem. The report, written by public health expert…
28 Jun 18:48

Americans Believe Tech Companies Are Censoring Political Views, New Poll Finds

by Katy Steinmetz

A new poll from Pew Research Center helps quantify the ambivalent feelings Americans are having about the tech sector in the wake of controversies over user privacy and allegations of political bias against conservatives.

As part of a larger polling package on American attitudes toward tech, set to be released later this year, Pew asked 4,594 U.S. adults questions related to the neutrality and influence of tech platforms. Findings released Thursday show that more than 40% of Americans believe that technology companies support the views of liberals over conservatives (compared to just 11% who think the opposite), while 72% say it’s likely that that social media platforms actively censor political viewpoints that the companies “find objectionable.” Nearly two-thirds also said that tech companies “often fail to anticipate how their products and services will impact society.”

Lead researcher Aaron Smith says there was a dearth of data about public attitudes to inform debates over the role that technology companies are playing in our lives, as Americans have reacted to events like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and Google’s firing of engineer James Damore (who was let go after criticizing the company’s diversity policy). “There are a lot of questions about the biases that might be getting baked into the products and services that these very powerful corporations are putting out,” Smith says, in addition to worries about data security.

Fears about bias have come from various groups as tech companies have become more influential in the dissemination of content. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in April, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz grilled him about whether the company had been unfair toward social conservatives and Trump supporters when making decisions about what kind of posts are considered acceptable on the platform. Critics of Google have meanwhile alleged that search algorithms further damaging stereotypes about black women.

Roughly half of Americans believe tech companies should be more regulated than they are now, according to the poll. Though Congress has been loathe to crack down on one of the country’s most powerful economic engines, lawmakers in recent months have pursued ideas such as outlining a privacy “bill of rights” and pushing for greater transparency in online political ads. Though right-leaners are more likely to think that tech companies censor certain political viewpoints, Pew found that Republicans are still less likely than Democrats to want the government stepping in.

While the halo surrounding the tech sector has been dimming, Pew found that Americans still believe that innovations flowing out of Silicon Valley are generally more helpful than hurtful, particularly when thinking about their personal use. Just over 60% said that the impact of major technology companies on society has been more good than bad, while 74% said the products and services of tech companies have had a more positive than negative impact on their own lives.

And Smith notes that there are types of censorship users support. When it comes to issues like serious online harassment, for instance, there is wide agreement that content can be “objectionable” and worthy of being banned. “It speaks to the fact,” Smith says, “that this is an inherently challenging issue for the companies building these tools.”

28 Jun 18:41

Why the climate change campaign failed – Scientists demonstrate

by Anthony Watts
By Larry Kummer. From the Fabius Maximus website.   Summary: Why has the vast investment over 30 years produced little action in the campaign for policy action to fight climate change? Listen to climate scientists to learn one reason for this failure. Here is one day on Twitter, typical conversations in the decayed wreckage of…
28 Jun 17:50

Amazon is promising massive profits to anyone who wants to start a delivery company with a minimum $10,000 investment (AMZN)

by Hayley Peterson

amazon delivery

  • Amazon is trying to expand its network of package delivery couriers by offering a package of incentives, including discounts on vehicles and fuel, to new business owners.
  • Delivery partners who are accepted into Amazon's program could earn about $300,000 in annual profits operating a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles, the company said.
  • Amazon already works with hundreds of third-party courier companies nationwide that hire and manage their own fleets of drivers.


Amazon is offering new incentives to anyone who wants to open and run a courier business delivering packages for the e-commerce behemoth. 

The company says delivery partners who are accepted into the program could earn about $300,000 in annual profits operating a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles.

To start, the partners need only a minimum investment of $10,000.

Amazon said it would provide discounts on Amazon-branded vehicles customized for delivery, branded uniforms, a fuel program, comprehensive insurance coverage, and more.

People interested in applying for the program don't need to have any experience in delivery and logistics, the company said. 

Amazon said it plans to eventually hire hundreds of business owners into the program, who would employ tens of thousands of drivers across the US. 

Amazon already works with hundreds of third-party courier companies nationwide that hire and manage their own fleets of drivers.

The new incentives appear to be part of an effort by Amazon to rapidly expand that network, as its last-mile delivery needs have ballooned in recent years. 

The company's shipping costs nearly doubled over the course of three years, from $11.5 billion in 2015 to $21.7 billion in 2017.

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment on whether its relationship with current delivery service providers would change.

If you are an Amazon delivery service provider or driver and have a story to share, email hpeterson@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: Amazon's discounts for Prime members just hit all Whole Foods stores. Here's how to find the deals.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Sneaky ways Costco gets you to buy more

28 Jun 17:40

Channeling Bastiat: If you don’t object to free light from the Sun, why object to low-cost goods from China? - Publications – AEI

by Mark Perry

AEI
Channeling Bastiat: If you don’t object to free light from the Sun, why object to low-cost goods from China?

Tomorrow, June 29, marks the 217 anniversary of the birth of the great French classical liberal economist Frédéric Bastiat (born June 29, 1801) whom economist Joseph Schumpeter called the “most brilliant economic journalist who ever lived.” Celebrating Bastiat’s birthday has become an annual tradition at CD, and I’ll start a day early with this re-post of a previous CD post from last August.

In the mid-1800s, the French government imposed tariffs on numerous imported foreign goods, on everything from sewing needles to locomotives, to protect French industries from more efficient foreign rivals that could produce and sell goods to French consumers at a lower cost than domestic producers. Around that time, French economist Frederic Bastiat published a now-famous satirical proposal to the French government titled “The Candlemakers’ Petition” that was intended to help members of the French Parliament understand that protectionism and mercantilist trade policies would make France weaker economically and “not great again.” Sound familiar? When it comes to opposition to free trade and support for protectionism, not too much has changed in the last 172 years.

Below is a shortened and edited version of Bastiat’s classic economic essay:

Petition of the Manufacturers of Candles, Waxlights, Lamps, Candlelights, Street Lamps, Snuffers, Extinguishers, and the Producers of Oil, Tallow, Resin, Alcohol, and, Generally, of Everything Connected with Lighting

To the Members of the Chamber of Deputies. Gentlemen:

Your chief care is the interest of the producer. You desire to protect him from foreign competition and reserve the domestic market for domestic producers.

We are suffering from the intolerable competition of a foreign rival, who has an advantage so far superior to ours for the production of light that he floods our domestic market with it at a fabulously reduced price. The moment he provides his product, our consumers abandaon us and rush to our rival; and an important domestic industry, having countless ramifications, is rendered completely stagnant. This rival, who is none other than the sun, wages an economic war war mercilessly against us.

What we pray for is that you to pass a law ordering the shutting of all windows, skylights, dormer-windows, outside and inside shutters, curtains, blinds, bull’s-eyes; in a word, of all openings, holes, chinks, clefts, and fissures, by or through which the light of the sun enters houses, to the disadvantage of the manufacturers that have accommodated our country — a country that, in gratitude, ought not to abandon us now to foreign competition.

If you close access to natural light, and create a demand for artificial light, which of our French manufacturers will not be benefit by such protectionism?

If more tallow is consumed, then there must be more oxen and sheep; and, consequently, we will see the multiplication of meadows, meat, wool, and hides.

If more oil is consumed, then we will stimulate more cultivation of the poppy, olive, and rape. These rich and soil-exhausting plants will come at the right time to enable us to avail ourselves of the increased fertility that the rearing of additional cattle will impart to our lands.

Our heaths will be covered with resinous trees. Numerous swarms of bees will, on the mountains, gather perfumed treasures, now wasting their fragrance on the desert air, like the flowers from which they emanate. Thus, there is no branch of agriculture that shall not greatly develop.

The same remark applies to navigation. Thousands of vessels will proceed to the whale fishery; and in a short time, we shall possess a navy capable of maintaining the honor of France, and gratifying the patriotic aspirations of your petitioners, the undersigned candlemakers and others.

Only have the goodness to reflect, gentlemen, and you will be convinced that there is perhaps no Frenchman, from the wealthy coalmaster to the humblest vendor of lucifer matches, whose lot will not be improved by the success of this our petition.

As long as you exclude, as you do, coal, iron, corn, foreign fabrics, in proportion as their price approximates to zero, what inconsistency it would be to admit the light of the sun, the price of which is already at zero during the entire day!

Economic Lessons:

1. If you wouldn’t object to receiving free light from the Sun, then you shouldn’t object to receiving free goods from China, Mexico or Japan. And even though free goods aren’t usually available, you shouldn’t object to Americans being able to buy cheap goods from China, Mexico, and Japan at prices below those offered by domestic producers.

2. If you wouldn’t object to the Sun “dumping” free light on the US economy every day, then you shouldn’t complain about foreign producers “dumping” low-cost goods on the US economy at prices allegedly below the cost of production.

3. Suppose the Sun is able to provide free light to Americans only because the citizens/taxpayers of the Sun subsidize the production of light on their star. If you wouldn’t object to free light from the sun that is only made available for free due to somebody subsidizing that production, then you shouldn’t object to goods being made available to Americans at low prices that result from foreign subsidies.

4. If you wouldn’t be so foolish to think that the Sun is stealing our jobs, prosperity, and wealth by providing free light, you likewise shouldn’t be so foolish to think that China is stealing our jobs, prosperity, and wealth by providing us with low-cost consumer goods.

5. f you don’t object that the Sun provides massive amounts of free light to Americans but doesn’t buy any products “Made in the USA,” then you shouldn’t object to the fact that Americans buy (import) more products from China than we sell (export) to the Chinese.

Channeling Bastiat: If you don’t object to free light from the Sun, why object to low-cost goods from China?
Mark Perry

28 Jun 00:10

Survey: 72% Of Americans Say News Outlets Intentionally Run Fake News

by Craig Bannister

A new survey shows 72% of Americans believe "traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake, false, or purposely misleading."

In the survey by Axios/SurveyMonkey, respondents were asked “How often do you think traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake. False, or purposely misleading?”


Please support CNSNews today! (a 501c3 non-profit production of the Media Research Center)

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27 Jun 17:22

IEEE Statement on Strong Encryption vs. Backdoors

by Bruce Schneier

The IEEE came out in favor of strong encryption:

IEEE supports the use of unfettered strong encryption to protect confidentiality and integrity of data and communications. We oppose efforts by governments to restrict the use of strong encryption and/or to mandate exceptional access mechanisms such as "backdoors" or "key escrow schemes" in order to facilitate government access to encrypted data. Governments have legitimate law enforcement and national security interests. IEEE believes that mandating the intentional creation of backdoors or escrow schemes -- no matter how well intentioned -- does not serve those interests well and will lead to the creation of vulnerabilities that would result in unforeseen effects as well as some predictable negative consequences

The full statement is here.

27 Jun 17:05

Mandatory Union Dues Violate Workers' First Amendment Rights, SCOTUS Rules

by Eric Boehm

More than four decades after the Supreme Court ruled that public sector workers could be required to pay dues to unions even if they do not join one, a 5–4 majority on the high court overturned that precedent in a closely watched case that could have major ramifications for the future of public sector unions.

"Under Illinois law, public employees are forced to subsi­dize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bar­gaining and related activities," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion. "We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmem­bers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern."

In the short-term, the ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees means that plaintiff Mark Janus was successful in his decade-long fight to prevent the union from taking $50 out of his paycheck every two weeks. Over the years, Janus estimates, he's contributed more than $6,000 to the union.

More broadly, Wednesday's ruling could end the automatic deduction of union dues from millions of public employees' paychecks, forcing unions like AFSCME to convince workers to voluntarily contribute dues—something workers would do, presumably, only if they have a reason to do so.

"So many of us have been forced to pay for political speech and policy positions with which we disagree, just so we can keep our jobs. This is a victory for all of us," said Janus in a statement. "The right to say 'no' to a union is just as important as the right to say 'yes.' Finally our rights have been restored."

The ruling is "a landmark victory for rights of public-sector employees," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which supported Janus' lawsuit.

While today's ruling certainly shifts the balance towards worker freedom, groups like the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represented Janus, say they are already prepared for additional rounds of litigation. In states that previously have embraced right-to-work policies, unions have often tried to make it as difficult as possible for workers to renounce their membership.

In speaking about his case, Janus has often framed the debate as one of free speech. His interest in not paying union dues was not an attempt to secure "a better deal" on his own outside the union model, he told Reason's Nick Gillespie in June. Rather, he said, "the question is my First Amendment rights to speech and freedom of association."

That was a major point of contention during oral arguments in May. As Reason's Damon Root noted at the time: "The union's position, [Justice Anthony] Kennedy told [Illinois Solicitor General David] Frederick, involved 'mandat[ing] people that object to certain union policies to pay for the implementation of those policies against their First Amendment interests.' In other words, Kennedy seemed to suggest the mandatory fees at issue here are unconstitutional."

The free speech question has divided libertarians, though. Eugene Volokh, editor of the Volokh Conspiracy blog (which is hosted by Reason.com), submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court arguing against the First Amendment angle to the Janus case.

Janus is the second case in recent Supreme Court history to wrestle with the underlying question of whether unions can compel the payment of dues from non-members. During 2016, the Supreme Court heard the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case, which similarly sought to free non-union members from paying union dues. That case ended in a 4–4 draw after Justice Antonin Scalia's sudden death left the Court with an even number of conservative and liberal members.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, appointed to the court last year to fill Scalia's spot, sided with the majority in Janus.

The Janus case, like Friedrichs before it, was aimed at overturning the 1977 Supreme Court ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which upheld mandatory union fees.

In the majority opinion, Alito noted the importance of following precedent "unless there are strong reasons for not doing so."

"But there are very strong reasons in this case. Fundamental free speech rights are at stake," he wrote. "Abood was poorly reasoned. It has led to practical problems and abuse. It is inconsistent with other First Amendment cases and has been undermined by more recent decisions. Developments since Abood was handed down have shed new light on the issue of agency fees, and no reliance interests on the part of public-sector unions are sufficient to justify the perpetuation of the free speech violations that Abood has countenanced for the past 41 years."

Unions had argued that overturning Abood would leave them with non-dues-paying members who would essentially become "free riders" benefitting from collective bargaining activities without contributing towards the associated costs. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Elena Kagan said the free-rider issue would be "a collective action problem of nightmarish proportions" for unions.

Whether you consider them free riders or not, unions are probably right to be worried about losing dues-paying members in the aftermath of the Janus ruling. An analysis by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, a union-backed think tank, estimates that 726,000 workers nationally would stop paying dues if they had that choice. The loss of union members and their dues could be particularly challenging in blue states, according to the IEPI report. Public sector union membership would decrease by an estimated 189,000 members in California, 136,000 members in New York, and 49,000 members in Illinois.

"The response to Janus will be critical to the long-run survival of the U.S. labor movement," the report warns.

"In the short run, the Janus decision may hurt some unions financially, but in the long run it will serve to make unions and their members more militant and force a stronger culture of internal organizing," said Paul Shearon, secretary-treasurer for the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, in a statement to Reason.

Whether that's true remains to be seen, but certainly Wednesday's ruling ushers in a new era of union politics and shifts power back to individual workers to decide whether unions thrive or fail.

Read more Reason coverage of the Janus case.

John Stossel on the potential to extend "right to work" to public sector employees.

Damon Root on the First Amendment aspects of the case.

Scott Shackford on the Trump administration's Department of Justice reversing it's stance on mandatory union dues.

Eugene Volokh and Alicia Hickok debating the merits of the case.

And check out a conversation between Nick Gillespie and Mark Janus on the Reason Podcast.

27 Jun 15:30

Has the U.S. Constitution Lost Its Meaning? A Debate

by ReasonTV
Remlaps

It's safe to skip past 12 or 13 minutes of introduction.

Should the U.S. Constitution be interpreted and applied according to the original meaning of its text?

On June 11, 2018, two leading constitutional legal scholars, Georgetown's Randy Barnett and Cornell's Michael Dorf, debated "originalism," which seeks to protect against arbitrary and personal interpretations by jurists, while making the law stable, predictable, and consistent in its application.

_____
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Reason is the planet's leading source of news, politics, and culture from a libertarian perspective. Go to reason.com for a point of view you won't get from legacy media and old left-right opinion magazines.
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The debate was hosted by Reason and the Soho Forum, which runs Oxford-style debates, in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event, and the side that gains more ground is victorious. The resolution was: "The U.S. Constitution should be interpreted and applied according to the original meaning communicated to the public by the words of the text."

Dorf won the debate by changing the minds of 20 percent of the attendees.

Barnett, arguing for the affirmative, is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center and the director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution. His books include Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People and Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty. After taking a J.D. from Harvard Law School, he worked as a prosecutor in Chicago. Barnett is a Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute and the Goldwater Institute.

Dorf, for the negative, is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He is the editor, author, or co-author of six books, including On Reading the Constitution, with co-author Laurence Tribe. Since 2000, Dorf has written a bi-weekly column, currently appearing on Justia's Verdict. He also posts less formal legal analysis several times per week on his blog, Dorf on Law. After taking a JD from Harvard Law School, he served as a law clerk for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The event opened with a standup routine from comedian Dave Smith.

The Soho Forum is held every month at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village. The next debate, which is sold out, features Erik Voorhees and Peter Schiff on bitcoin and crypotcurrency. On August 27, William Easterly and Joseph Stiglitz will discuss whether free markets or government action is the best way to eliminate global poverty. You can buy tickets to that debate here.

You can catch all Soho Forum debates by subscribing to the Reason Podcast and our YouTube Channel.

Produced by Todd Krainin.
26 Jun 20:09

Remy: Violent Video Games

by ReasonTV

In prison for life, Remy looks back on his violent past and contemplates where it all went wrong who's to blame.

Written and Performed by Remy
Shot and Edited by Austin Bragg and Meredith Bragg
Mastering by Ben Karlstrom
Music tracks by Grind Time Production Squad

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Reason is the planet's leading source of news, politics, and culture from a libertarian perspective. Go to reason.com for a point of view you won't get from legacy media and old left-right opinion magazines.

----------------

LYRICS:

In the clink
In the slammer
Yeah I'm doing hard time
For a crime that I committed
Back in 2009

See violent games lead to crimes
Wish I knew from the start
Before I ever got involved
In playing Mario Kart

I was hugging the turns
Heaving items for thrills
Ain't seen a toad so damaged by shell
Since that last oil spill

But something happens to your brain
Doing virtual wrongs
Woke up the next morning
And it wasn't too long before I was

Dropping bananas
Upon every street
Hurling turtles
Hurting every single person I see

Then I was road-raging at plumbers
Nobody could stop me
I'd run princesses off the road so much
I joined the paparazzi

Now I'm in prison doing 20 to life
How could such a game be legal man
The danger is rife

Well my fate is sealed
Won't be doing right
Because I'm playing violent video games tonight
And the things I do
I then do in life
It's a tragedy I'm gonna be in jail for life

Reminds me of another time
My life went astray
Playing a World War 2 game
Back in 2008

I was only playing a minute
Then I felt an unease
Next thing I did right after playing
I interred the Japanese

Years later I would pay the judges
To win every race
It's just what happens when you play
Too many games by EA

Now I'm doing life
With no chance of parole
Why didn't anybody ban these games
How was I to know

CHORUS

Expert here
And forgive me for stalling
But violent video games
The stats are appalling

Just look at this graph
And as you can tell
As gameplay's increased
Youth crime has as well

Uh - It's gone down
Well who needs a chart?
I took 400 grand in loans
So you know that I'm smart

Like a guy leaving the mohel
You're missing the point
Freedom's when you only get to play
The games we anoint
26 Jun 17:26

Restaurant Owner That Booted Sarah Sanders Followed Her Family to Another Restaurant and Started a Protest

by Kemberlee Kaye
The story is worse than originally reported
26 Jun 17:14

Modern Guide to Analyzing Complex Multivariate Systems

by admin
  1.  Choose a complex and chaotic system that is characterized by thousands or millions of variables changing simultaneously (e.g. climate, the US economy)
  2. Pick one single output variable to summarize the workings of that system (e.g. temperature, GDP)
  3. Blame (or credit) any changes to your selected output variable on one single pet variable (e.g. capitalism, a President from the other party)
  4. Pick a news outlet aligned with your political tribe and send them a press release
  5. Done!  You are now a famous scientist.  Congratulations.
26 Jun 17:07

Police Investigate 20 Kids for Sexting, Charge No One (Thankfully)

by Lenore Skenazy

PhoneLet's hear it for an unusually sensible police response to a case of high school sexting.

The Nashua, New Hampshire, police received word in May that 10 or 20 students at Bishop Guertin High School had been snapping and swapping sexts.

But then, rather than arresting these kids for making child porn, or threatening to register them as sex offenders, the police did something outrageously reasonable.

They opted not to charge any of them.

As Nashua's Lieutenant Robert Page told WMUR TV:

"To begin with, the laws of child pornography were developed to target and prosecute child predators, not students and juveniles who make bad decisions," Page said.

Police said they have spoken to all the students who were involved and their parents. They also wiped the photos off the phones.

The police went on to tell the students that what they put on social media never completely disappears, so from now on, lay off the inappropriate photos. That's precisely the response I think most of us would want from the cops if our own kids ever sent or received a sext. (Which, if they're under 23, they probably did, by the way.)

Now compare the perspective and compassion of those Nashua, NH, police to the actions in any number of other teen sexting cases. For instance:

  • The 2014 Virginia case where cops sought and obtained a warrant to give a teen boy an erection so they could compare it to a sext they had gotten their hands on (as it were).
  • The case in Minnesota where a 14-year-old girl sent a racy picture of herself to a boy she liked, and was charged with distributing child porn. Yes, that made her both the exploited child and the nefarious pornographer.
  • The Rhode Island case where a girl, 13, sent a boy, 14, "inappropriate" pictures of herself, which the boy inappropriately shared. Lots of inappropriate behavior going on. But how inappropriate? He was charged with distributing child porn, she was charged with disseminating indecent material.

I vote to have Page make a video for the National Association of Police Organizations saying just what he said to WMUR:

"The laws of child pornography were developed to target and prosecute child predators, not students and juveniles who make bad decisions."

Or maybe we should needlepoint some police station pillows with that statement. Or make t-shirts. Or simply repeat it over and over until law enforcement realizes the American public does not want its children being treated like child pornographers simply because they've got a cell phone and some hormones both turned on at the same time.

26 Jun 16:30

The Real Problem With AI

It's algorithms. And data. They can be wrong.