Saturday, March 23, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mark Reizen at 90 singing Prince Gremin

Amazing.  Makes me wonder if I could still have a singing career.

Didn't Sleep At All Last Night

That's a fact, not a song title.  The song title, what I'm about to listen to so I can stay awake is (CLICK ON THE LINK)


McCoy Tyner - piano
Freddie Hubbard - trumpet
Joe Henderson - tenor sax
Avery Sharpe - bass
Louis Hayes - drums

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lying For Science Censoring Questions The Taboo 2

I've never been a close follower of TED talks, having occasionally listened to them on YouTube when the topic or the speaker interested me.   Most of them are too short to develop a topic past what an an online article will and it generally takes less time to read an article.   Most of my TED listening has been while doing the dishes.

Yesterday, while researching another part of this series about breaking the ultimate taboo,  reading about parapsychology with an open mind, I came across posts about TED caving into a campaign by Jerry Coyne and P.Z. Myers.   Coyne and Myers, who I've written about in the past, objected to a short TED talk by the accomplished biologist,  Rupert Sheldrake* who is also a promoter of the scientific study of tabooed ideas.

Going straight to the source, the first thing I did was follow links to the obscure corner of the TED site pages where they put Sheldrake's video.  I would guess they did that so they could claim that they weren't caving in and censoring it.

The talk was a mild mannered and reasonable short summary by Sheldrake of his book, Science Set Free.  Which I haven't read - I read his Morphic Resonance years ago, found it interesting and provocative but about which I came to no other conclusion.  I've never seen any reason to not read something before coming to a conclusion as to what it said, but that doesn't mean I'm going to come to a conclusion after reading it.  That is compared to the "Skeptics" who generally discourage people from reading the controlled scientific research in ideas on their atheist Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

In his talk, Sheldrake asks some interesting and provocative questions about various founding assumptions of materialistic reductionism.  He holds that the orthodoxy of materialist reductionism is an unfounded ideology, which it is, and that the ideological coercion of those holding it is bad for scientific inquiry.   Remember, in his talk he poses those holdings as claims to be investigated, and gives some rather interesting reasons for a couple of them to be opened up to questioning.   One is that the idea that "physical laws" held be in place today were fixed at the big bang and have remained unchanged for the entire history of the universe.  He asks, provocatively, why would we assume that stasis in physical law would be the case in an evolving universe.  He doesn't answer that question, he asks it.

One of the more interesting things he mentions is the possibility that the constants of physics might fluctuate in value.  Sheldrake mentions two of them,  the gravitational constant and the speed of light.  Being curious he did something extremely practical, something which I've never heard of anyone doing before, he looked up the old editions of physical handbooks that list the values of those constants.  He found that the measured speed of light listed dropped about 20km/s between 1928 and 1945, to rise again in 1948.  He noted that the differences were far outside of the stated possible errors by an enormous amount.

When he asked the head of the metrology office who was in charge of such things, that discrepancy was known to them but it was assumed to be an error.  The discrepancies in that reported speed are, routinely, averaged out because, after all, it is a given that the actual speed is a constant, unvarying figure.   Sheldrake's account of his interaction with him is quite funny and never cruel in the manner of the "Skeptics".

Rupert Sheldrake asks the obvious question of what if those values aren't due entirely to error but that there are fluctuations in the actual speed of light.  He doesn't answer the question, he asks it in considerable detail.  The extent to which he gives an answer is that he suspects that the value might not be constant.   Well, why not look closely at the question and find out where the evidence produced in that inquiry leads?   Perhaps it will lead to greater accuracy in measuring the speed of light which will then be found to actually be the constant it is held to be.

I looked at Coynes' blog and the first thing I noticed was, typical of debunkery, he lied about what Sheldrake had said.  The headline of his post says.  Rupert Sheldrake speaks, argues that speed of light is dropping!  If Coyne listened to the talk and understood what Sheldrake said, he'd have heard him say, unmistakably, that the lower REPORTED speed of light covered the specific period of 1928 to 1945, he said that the REPORTED speed went up in 1948.   So, in his talk he wasn't "arguing that the speed of light is dropping".   Which is far from a small error on Coyne's part and entirely in line with an ideological campaign of discrediting, not with even journalistic, nevermind scientific, accuracy.

Typical of the unedited, unmoderated Coyne, his post is unhinged and dishonest, misstating published research done by Sheldrake, making absurd characterizations of what he said.  I've noted Coyne's MO when he isn't being restrained by editors and professional standards before.  Coyne's primary interest in his magazine and blog writing isn't scientific, like P.Z. Myers, his primary subject matter is protecting his materialist-reductionist ideology.   Their fans believe that what they write comprises science.

I would go through his entire screed to refute him on a number of points but will go to how he continued to mischaracterize what Sheldrake said about the speed of light.  He asked one of his fellow ideologues, the theoretical physicist Sean Carroll, for an explanation.  Carroll produced a graph and a list of reported speeds of light.   As Sheldrake noted in his response to being censored by TED, the list omits the period under question, going from 1926 to 1950.  But all Carroll did was restate that there was a variation in the reported speed of light, something which Sheldrake based his QUESTION on.  From what Coyne posts, it's unclear if Carroll listened to Sheldrake's talk or if, as I strongly suspect, he relied on Coyne's characterization of it.  If it was the later, Carroll is likely answering a distorted version of what Sheldrake said.

Carroll's answer that the speed of light HAS TO BE a constant because the rest of the current model of physics relies on it being a constant is, clearly, not dealing with the possibility that that model is incomplete.  One and only one time, has Sean Carroll deigned to respond to a question I asked him.  It was during a discussion of whether or not physics was on the verge of having a Theory of Everything.  My question was if there was a single object that physics knew comprehensively and exhaustively, if physics could completely describe any object at any scale in the physical universe in every aspect.   It took me 17 days of asking him that question over and over again and, finally, offering to never post another comment on his blog if he would answer it.   His answer was, as I knew it would have to be, "no".   In light of that fact, that physics doesn't know everything about any single object in the universe, the pretension that physics is on the verge of a Theory of Everything is absurd, on its face.   Those assertions are illogical and there is no level of science that can escape the necessity of logical coherence.

I think it would be a good idea of Carroll would go back and honestly find out what Rupert Sheldrake said before he joins his good buddy, Jerry Coyne (not to mention PZ) in trying to suppress his questions.   It would be the really scientific thing to do, the really honest thing to do. Maybe he might find out something that hadn't occurred to him before.  Or, maybe, he'll find a better way to measure the speed of light, not relying on a mere defining convention.  He mentions that in his response to Coyne, not seeming to realize that Sheldrake talked about it during his talk.  Though his and Coynes shared ideological position rests, largely, on such conventional definition.  "Skepticism" rests on those and related conventions, not on questioning, finding new evidence and following that where it leads.  It's as if they don't really have any confidence that rigorous inquiry will lead to confirmation of their assumptions.

*  Since most of the online mention of non-orthodox scientists such as Rupert Sheldrake is by ignorant ideologues who rely on a distortion of their record of scientific publication,  here is a linked index to just his conventional published biological research.

Papers on Hormone Production in Plants

Papers on Auxin Transport in Plants

Papers on Cell Differentiation

The Ageing and Death of Cells

Papers on Crop Physiology  (What I originally knew Sheldrake for)

Note in the following that even the "Skeptical" Inquirer has published him

Papers on Experimenter Effects

I would invite you to compare that to, say PZ Myer's publications record.

Update:  Here's how Rupert Sheldrake answered the point dealt with above:

Accusation 2:
“He also argues that scientists have ignored variations in the measurements of natural constants, using as his primary example the dogmatic assumption that a constant must be constant and uses the speed of light as example.… Physicist Sean Carroll wrote a careful rebuttal of this point.”

TED’s Scientific Board refers to a Scientific American article that makes my point very clearly: “Physicists routinely assume that quantities such as the speed of light are constant.”

In my talk I said that the published values of the speed of light dropped by about 20 km/sec between 1928 and 1945. Carroll’s “careful rebuttal” consisted of a table copied from Wikipedia showing the speed of light at different dates, with a gap between 1926 and 1950, omitting the very period I referred to. His other reference ( does indeed give two values for the speed of light in this period, in 1928 and 1932-35, and sure enough, they were 20 and 24km/sec lower than the previous value, and 14 and 18 km/sec lower than the value from 1947 onwards.

1926: 299,798
1928: 299,778
1932-5: 299,774
1947: 299,792

In my talk I suggest how a re-examination of existing data could resolve whether large continuing variations in the Universal Gravitational Constant, G, are merely errors, as usually assumed, or whether they show correlations between different labs that might have important scientific implications hitherto ignored. Jerry Coyne and TED’s Scientific Board regard this as an exercise in pseudoscience. I think their attitude reveals a remarkable lack of curiosity.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On The Dropping of The Assault Weapons Ban

What we're witnessing is a major, as yet unannounced, disastrous failure of American democracy due to disastrous flaws in the American constitution and the Bill of Rights. When an industry, the gun industry, can successfully thwart regulations necessary to prevent the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year, violating the expressed desire of a large majority of Americans for protection, then the constitution is an obvious and unambiguous failure in its own terms. That the gun industry and their tools in the media and the judiciary can cite the constitution to prevent the protection of Americans by its government, then the government that constitution sets up has failed. And this has been going on for decades, now.

The Constitution of the United States is an obvious failure, due in no small part to the failure of the judiciary to reject the idea of corporate personhood. The most august institution set up by that constitution was unwilling to protect its integrity from the insertion by a goddamned law clerk(!), not even an appointed justice. 

The embedded corruptions of the American Constitution have not and will not be expunged by the current system. All human creations contain flaws that, uncorrected, will destroy them. Our constitution with its empowerment of oligarchs and anti-democratic interests will destroy us, either one by one or, eventually, in a conflagration that will make the Civil War look like a mere premonition.   

Jimmy Guiffre Trio: Jesus Maria by Carla Bley

In Memory Of

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Open Answer to an E-mail

Since I take the insults of idiots to be unintentional compliments, no.  Now, aren't you sorry you asked if you hurt my feelings? You seem to have a number of issues, not surprising. Atheist/"skeptics" tend to be anti-social, emotionally damaged and in need of the mutual assurance they give each other that they are intellectually superior, all without doing the work to be intellectually accomplished.  The pseudo-skeptics feed that need without being intellectually demanding.

Breaking The Ultimate Taboo Part 1

Yes, I really did mention parapsychology without scoffing the other day.   I broke that taboo among the virtuous and sciencey and lefty and the self-defined "rational" class.   I did so because I first broke the interdict on reading quite a bit of the controlled research into telepathy, precognition and telekinesis.  Several years ago I found that it was almost uniformly conducted at an far higher level of scientific and intellectual integrity than the soc-sci research accepted with little question by the same self-consciously sciency and rational.   That is until that accepted soc-sci goes out of fashion and is junked if not ridiculed.

By contrast, after withstanding decades of attack on its methodology,  lies told by people such as Martin Gardner,  Irving Langmuir, CEM Hansel and Paul Kurtz and ridiculed by their fans, an objective review of research of experiments conducted by J. B. Rhine, J. G. Pratt and others stands up far better than just about any psych-soc research conducted in the same period.  But you're not supposed to actually look at that research or you risk being mocked and discredited,   You're supposed to go with what Gardner, Langmuir, et al or -O the intellectuality!-  James Randi and Penn Jillette said about it, taking them as unquestionably authoritative.

It wasn't until I was thinking of reviving my study of statistics that I came across the crucial paper that changed my thinking about parapsychology as a scientific study.  I bought the propaganda campaign that has become mainstream common wisdom among the leftish since the mid-1970s, one of the few political successes of CSICOP, though it has failed, utterly, in other parts of the population.  I was thinking of buying the big, very expensive statistics textbook written by Jessica Utts and went to her website at the University of California at Davis (she moved to Irvine since) to read more about her.  There I saw that she'd done quite a bit of analysis on the research into parapsychology.   If I had gone with the taboo, I'd have quit there, not buying her book and not reading her papers on the subject.  But I, for my own reasons, read her papers and found them to be entirely convincing.  Utts is a very careful statistician, a very honest and clear thinker and unafraid to take on those who promote the taboo.  Her exchange with Ray Hyman on his little known "file drawer" scandal when he was an appointee of the National Research Council *,  was the first thing that opened my eyes to the real nature of the CSICOP program of intellectual intimidation.   Her  general evaluation pretty much clinched it for me.

From there I read the two books by Dean Radin and some of the older books by Rhine and others. The case they laid out is convincing and moderately stated.

Before going on, here, for anyone who isn't familiar with  Radin or the topic, I'll suggest you listen to this lecture he gave at Google a few years back.  Radin's humor is kind of charmingly corny but his expertise**  is far more impressive than that of just about any "skeptic" you're likely to know by name.  The research I found most persuasive, in measuring physiological response instead of reported experience,  is discussed, beginning at 29:30.

* Hyman’s perceived position as a “responsible critic” of parapsychology has placed him in a position of some influence. He was appointed to the National Research Council committee on enhancing human performance for the U.S. Army. He served as chair of the parapsychology subcommittee, which concluded that there was “no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena” (Druckman & Swets, 1988, p. 22). This NRC report has been widely read by people in a position to fund psi research. Rather surprisingly, not long before his appointment, Hyman cosigned a fund-raising letter for CSICOP (March 23, 1985) that stated:  “Belief in paranormal phenomena is still growing, and the dangers to our society are real ... in these days of government budget-cutting the Defense Department may be spending millions of tax dollars on developing ‘psychic arms’ . . . Please help us in this battle against the irrational. Your contribution, in any amount, will help us grow and be better able to combat the flood of belief in the paranormal.” This strikingly illustrates his prejudgment. In the section on parapsychology of the NRC report, there is no mention whatever of the conclusions of the NRC-commissioned work by Robert Rosenthal; that work was not even cited. Rosenthal’s findings diametrically contradicted the opinion of Hyman’s subcommittee; this was a clear cover-up. Even after all of this, in his 1988 Experientia article, Hyman claims to give parapsychology a “fair and unbiased appraisal” (in Hyman, 1989, p. 141)! Writing of some of Hyman’s earlier work, philosopher Stephen Braude presciently and pungently stated: “Hyman professes one set of attitudes and beliefs, and betrays another. One’s dagger may be brandished openly or concealed under one’s cloak. Real malevolence may be served either way” 

**   Radin's CV includes:  Dean Radin, PhD, is Senior Scientist at the INSTITUTE OF NOETIC SCIENCES (IONS) and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Psychology at SONOMA STATE UNIVERSITY. His original career track as a concert violinist shifted into science after earning a BSEE degree in electrical engineering, magna cum laude with honors in physics, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For a decade he worked on advanced telecommunications R&D at AT&T Bell Laboratories and GTE Laboratories. For over two decades he has been engaged in consciousness research. Before joining the research staff at IONS in 2001, he held appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, and several Silicon Valley think-tanks, including Interval Research Corporation and SRI International, where he worked on a classified program investigating psychic phenomena for the US government.

He is author or coauthor of over 200 technical and popular articles, a dozen book chapters, and several books including the bestselling The Conscious Universe (HarperOne, 1997) and Entangled Minds (Simon & Schuster, 2006). Both of these books are in print, and so far they've been translated into six foreign languages. A new book will be published in 2013. His technical articles have appeared in journals ranging from Foundations of Physics and Physics Essays to Psychological Bulletin and Journal of Consciousness Studies; he was featured in a New York Times Magazine article; and he has appeared on dozens of television shows ranging from the BBC’s Horizon and PBS'sCloser to Truth to Oprah and Larry King Live. He has given over 200 interviews and talks, including invited presentations at Harvard (medical), Stanford (medical and statistics), Cambridge (physics), and Princeton (psychology), for industries including GOOGLE and Johnson & Johnson, and for government organizations including the US Navy and DARPA. In 2010, he spent a month lecturing in India as the National Visiting Professor of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, a program in the Indian government's Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Compare that to James Randi's and Penn Jillette's records.  Not to mention the late Paul Kurtz, the god(less) father of organized pseudo-skepticism and the new atheism.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lee Morse : Mood Indigo

Jimmie Noone's Apex Club Orchestra - Ready for the river

Abbey Lincoln African Lady

The Internal and External of Criticism or How things are rigged by and for atheists

One of the more surprising details found while researching organized atheism/skeptcism was that in  1984 the atheist/skeptic icon, Richard Feynman gave a banquet address to the Parapsychological Association.  That, in itself, was surprising since in the previous decade Feynman had included the study of parapsychology as falling within "Cargo Cult Science".   Apparently in the decade that separate that speech and the one at the PA Feynman had revised his opinion of parapsychological research as he is reported to have said that parapsychology had good internal critics and didn't need  external critics to maintain the integrity of its research.   Of course you don't have to believe in PSI to judge the integrity with which formal, controlled research into it is conducted so I don't know if Feynman changed his opinion to that extent.  But since his famous Cargo Cult Science speech deals with the integrity of research, he seems to have looked more closely at that and saw the scientific research into those reported phenomena is conducted with the highest level of care and integrity.  I dare say it's entirely better than the widely accepted research into psychology and the other social sciences within which a number of the quasi-professional critics of PSI work.

In reading the blog reaction to the new pope my first reaction was, as I said, mention Catholicism and a lot of people who believe themselves to be leftists or liberals start channeling the fundamentalist and old-line Anglican tradition of anti-"Papist" invective.   I saw stuff I'm pretty sure was derived from Foxe's totally discredited "Book of Martyrs" and other classics of the genre, counterparts to the infamous "Protocols".   More of it was just the opportune and predictable blog atheist crap.  Anyone who would think they were going to get accurate, honest information about the pre-papal history of Pope Francis from online atheism is looking for it in the wrong place.   You might as well get your information about Islam from Pam Geller or about GLBT folks from the Phelps family.  Or, indeed, from the upper reaches of the Catholic hierarchy.

Unknown to just about all non-Catholics and even many Catholics is the fact that there are numerous internal critics of the papacy, the hierarchy and Catholicism in general.  There always have been.  In the 14th century, St. Catherine of Siena openly criticized  Pope Gregory XI, forcing his return to Rome and they made her a saint.  When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope, his own brother Georg Ratzinger, a priest, said he thought that they should have elected a younger man.

And there are more stringent critics within the priesthood.  Hans Kung, who with the young Joseph Ratzinger was one of the theologians involved with Vatican II,   has made no secret of his criticism of the papacy, especially the idea of papal infallibility.   His criticisms of his former colleague, Joseph Ratzinger, were among the more scathing of the informed criticism.  That tradition of criticism within the Biblical religious tradition is as well founded as possible.  The author of the book of Isiah was absolutely unbounded in slamming the establishment of The Temple, calling it useless in the face of its participation in injustice,  and they put it in the scriptural cannon.  And that is only one of the prophetic books, including the Gospels, which are full of internal criticism of religion.  

Some of the most persistent and accurate criticism of the sex abuse scandal has come from Catholics who are disgusted with the crimes against children and women by priests and the enabling of that by bishops, Cardinals, including the future pope Benedict XVI and other, sitting and former  popes.   You might know that if you read their literature or Catholic media not controlled by the hierarchy.  

You might be shocked to find that  independent Catholic media exists if you buy the line of anti-Catholic invective mentioned above.  Many of those whose motives is hatred of Catholics and, or, religion in general, the Catholic church is a totalitarian dictatorship, the dream of some of the most demented old line integralist Catholics, the traditional internal counterpart to Protestant fundamentalism.   But that's not the Catholic church, even among the ordained and those in religious orders.   The greatest resistance to Benedict XVI's crack down on Catholic nuns and sisters was to be found among those same nuns and sisters and their many supporters among lay Catholics.  

The internal critics of an organization or group are often represented as being suspect because of asserted conflict of interest.  And sometimes that is true.  But that conflict of interest isn't only a possibility with internal criticism,  opposition to something is as much of problem for honestly addressing it as support of it.   I think in the past forty years that fact has been lost, especially when the topic is religion and the opposition to religion.  The organized skeptics(you can accurately read "atheist" here) set themselves up as reliable skeptics claiming the presumed integrity of scientific methods.  Which is something that those who organized CSICOP immediately disproved by the completely sleazy, corrupt, incompetent and most un-sciency sTARBABY scandal.   Only the media didn't cover that, it took the press releases issued by CSICOP and went with their PR.   Much later several members of CSICOP left when their review of the evidence showed that the worlds most famous organization allegedly dedicated to the "scientific investigation of claims of the paranormal" was an incompetent and dishonest fraud.  However, most of those who were documented by both ex-CSICOPpers, Denis Rawlins and Richard Kammann of having known the scandal in detail, didn't leave the club or do much to clean it up.   Neither did it do much to expel Vern Bullough as he openly was also a board member of Paidika, which advocated the legalization and "normalization" of pedophilia.  The atheist/skepticism industry hasn't got a particularly good track record of internal criticism and they almost completely reject external criticism.  

I can assure you from my experience over the last six years that one of the surest ways to get mob attacked is to post a criticism of CSICOP, its abbreviated current form, CSI, or one of the atheist or "skeptics" organizations or celebrities online.  

A good internal critic has the virtue of wanting to clean up, correct and reform the organization.  Whatever conflict they can be accused of, it doesn't contain the desire to destroy or discredit what they criticize.   External critics often escape a charge that their motives, desiring to destroy and discredit, are as ripe for distortion and outright lying as an internal critic might have for covering up.  Any criticism, outside or inside, is only as good as it is honest, fair and measured.  That is if correcting a wrong is the motive.  These days the alleged potential for covering up by internal criticism is used to debunk the integrity of those wanting to clean up an organization,often it is taken as a given, no evidence of that needed to fulfill the intentions of those making the charge.  On the other hand,  the potential for distortion and lying by those intent on destroying an organization is hardly ever taken as needing consideration when judging the quality of the charges.  That is a double standard that has been insisted on and practiced by atheism and their front of pseudo-skepticism more effectively than just about any other ideological faction in the West.   The practice of criticism, itself, is in need of internal criticism.

Update:  One of the current lines of online anti-religious paranoia is based in the number of Catholics sitting on the Supreme Court.  As noted above, it is a line of bigoted propaganda that has its counterparts in the charge that Jews control the media and banking.   Apparently the bigots who say that ignore that one of those Catholics is Sotomoyer , hardly in the Pope's pocket.