Tuesday, September 25, 2012

HughHewitt.com Blog : Hugh Hewitt : 100 Reason To Vote For Mitt Romney Or Against Barack Obama

Link: http://www.hughhewitt.com/blog/g/1f6da36a-b72f-4fa6-afd5-ee1d63c8697e (via shareaholic.com)

After yet another disspiriting Browns' performance yesterday, I decided to redeem the day by listing 100 reasons to either vote for Mitt Romney or against Barack Obama.  I turned that list into a three hour monologue on today's show --the first such in 12 years of radio-- which Duane will post here later tonight.
It wasn't hard to do.  Not hard at all. Which is why I think Romney will win going away.  The president is a failure, on every level and by every measurement.  Americans don't endorse failure.
100 Reasons - Hour 1
100 Reasons - Hour 2
100 Reasons - Hour 3

Monday, September 24, 2012

Letter to a Very Bright 11th Grader

Sent to you by Karl via Google Reader:

via Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux on 9/24/12

24 September 2012
Ms. Annie M__________
11th Grade
Southwest High School
Minneapolis, MN
Dear Ms. M____________:
Thanks so much for your e-mail and kind words about Cafe Hayek.  Russ Roberts and I are delighted that you and your family enjoy it.
Your teacher asks you to challenge me to give "one good reason why the law should not require that women be paid the same as men for the same work."  I'm happy to oblige.  There are many good reasons, but I'll here stick to one.
That one reason is that it's practically impossible for government officials to determine when two jobs involve "the same work."  What might look like the same work to outside observers – to government officials, lawyers, or even the workers themselves – might well be very different work.
Is the worker Mr. Smith more experienced than the worker Ms. Jones?  Is Mr. Smith less likely than is Ms. Jones to take time off of work to care for children or sick parents?  Is Mr. Smith less likely than is Ms. Jones to quit in order to move with a spouse to another city?  Is Mr. Smith a bit more helpful than is Ms. Jones with customers?  Is Mr. Smith slightly more willing than is Ms. Jones to stay on the job a few extra minutes after the workday officially ends in order to help with important unfinished business?
These questions – and many others like them – are important.  Yet in the real world no outside observer is in as good a position to answer them as is each individual employer.  Not that every employer always gets it right, but every employer does have strong incentives to get it right.  If an employer underpays a woman, some other firm can increase its profits by hiring her away at higher pay.
Suppose that the law your teacher endorses were applied to the market for women's dresses.  Would that be good?  Your teacher – to be consistent – must answer "yes."  After all, why should one dress that keeps its wearer clothed sell for a different price as another dress that does the "same work" – namely, keeps its wearer clothed?
Ask your teacher if she supports equal prices for equal-sized dresses.
If she replies that not all dresses of the same size are equal in value to one another, ask her – politely, of course – how she knows this fact to be true.  Ask her why market prices for dresses should be trusted as signals of the different qualities or 'values' of dresses, while market wages for human labor should not be trusted as signals of the different qualities or 'values' of workers.
Ask your teacher also if she would trust government officials to judge whether or not, say, a size 2 knee-length dress from Liz Claiborne provides services to its buyers that are "equal" to those supplied by a size 2 knee-length dress from Versace.  If, as I suspect, she feels uneasy about bureaucrats making such a determination about the relative value of dresses, ask her why she trusts bureaucrats to make the same sort of determination about the relative value of human labor.
(If she likes the idea of bureaucrats sitting in judgment on the appropriate prices of dresses, write to me again.  The conversation will then have to be much different.)
Good luck, Annie.  Let me know what happens.
Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030
   

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Not quite Friday Funny

 
 

Sent to you by Karl via Google Reader:

 
 

via Watts Up With That? by Anthony Watts on 9/20/12

Over at Skeptical Science, SkS founder John  Cook has gone on the full defensive because of the linking of conspiracy "moon landing was faked" author Stephan Lewandowsky to Mr. Cook (and his website) and of offhand comments about his website and the people that run it. It's a hilarious read, as if they are surprised by the negative reactions due to the transparent and clumsy attempts to paint climate skeptics as conspiracy theorists. Of course, being blind as bats to their own issues, they have their own private conspiracy theory forum where they plot to "rip my throat out"  as part of the '…we need a conspiracy to save humanity' theme. They feel they are being treated unfairly. Priceless.

The funniest part is that Cook ends with this: "We intend to remain focused on what really matters, such as the alarmingly rapid decline in Arctic sea ice and increase in extreme weather events." Apparently Mr. Cook doesn't feel the Nature editorial putting science on notice saying: 'Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming' is worth heeding. It's climate activist comedy gold.

Josh, always prescient, has some comedy gold of his own.


Tagged: Conspiracy theory, Stephan Lewandowsky

 
 

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Textbook Example of Media Bias at the New York Times

 
 

Sent to you by Karl via Google Reader:

 
 

via Breitbart Feed on 9/18/12

The New York Times was quick to report on the edited Mother Jones "secret" video of Mitt Romney speaking at a fundraiser back in May, and they were quick to do so in a straightforward way. Their original story has been wiped from their website and replaced with one dripping with left-wing spin to the point you'd think it was a press release from the Obama campaign.

Unfortunately for the Times, there are a lot of websites that republish their work the minute it's posted. That means it lives forever, even after they've killed it.

It's unfortunate for them, but very fortunate for those of us who like to expose how media bias works.

The original piece contains this paragraph:

Romney told reporters Monday night that his remarks were "not elegantly stated" and were "spoken off the cuff." But he says Obama's approach is "attractive to people who are not paying taxes."

In the new piece that paragraph reads like this:

Mr. Romney addressed the video, somewhat awkwardly, at a fund-raiser Monday night in Costa Mesa, Calif., summoning reporters with a few moments' notice to walk through the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which was filled with guests sipping drinks at tables elegantly draped in blue cloths.

The first one simply conveys facts, the second one adds commentary designed to paint a picture of bumbling with "somewhat awkwardly" and of elitism with "guests sipping drinks at tables elegantly draped in blue cloths."

But it doesn't end there. 

The original reads:

Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, said in a statement Monday evening that it was "shocking" that Romney would "go behind closed doors" to describe nearly half of the country in such terms.

Again, straightforward reporting. But the new version reads quite differently:

Mr. Romney, who has been under fire for releasing only two years of his tax returns, was quickly attacked by the Obama campaign. Jim Messina, Mr. Obama's campaign manager, said in a statement Monday evening that it was "shocking" that Mr. Romney would "go behind closed doors" to describe nearly half of the country in such terms.

Weird how, in a story that has absolutely nothing to do with tax returns, the Times feels the need to editorialize about Romney's tax returns. The only people "firing" at Romney for his tax returns are on the payroll of the Obama campaign and "journalists" who write things like this that read as if they're padding their resume for a position in a second term.

The new version of the story has nearly double the words as the original and is full of editorializing of the sort listed above. The original reads like a news story.

In a tale of two stories, the former "new" version is committed to attacking Mitt Romney and reelected the President, the latter is simply committed to conveying facts. That's probably why the former has been scrubbed from the Times' website and latter exists. 


 
 

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Should there be required labeling of GMOs?

 
 

Sent to you by Karl via Google Reader:

 
 

via Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen on 9/17/12

Here is one on-the-mark take (of many):

…there have been more than 300 independent medical studies on the health and safety of genetically modified foods. The World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association and many others have reached the same determination that foods made using GM ingredients are safe, and in fact are substantially equivalent to conventional alternatives. As a result, the FDA does not require labels on foods with genetically modified ingredients because it acknowledges they may mislead consumers into thinking there could be adverse health effects, which has no basis in scientific evidence.

Or try the National Academy of Sciences from 2010:

Many U.S. farmers who grow genetically engineered (GE) crops are realizing substantial economic and environmental benefits — such as lower production costs, fewer pest problems, reduced use of pesticides, and better yields — compared with conventional crops, says a new report from the National Research Council.

Here is a good NYT summary Op-Ed on that report.  There is not the scientific evidence for Mark Bittman's recent evaluation that:

G.M.O.'s, to date, have neither become a panacea — far from it — nor created Frankenfoods, though by most estimates the evidence is far more damning than it is supportive.

It's the tag there that is problematic.  He doesn't offer a citation, nor has he in past columns offered convincing material to back this evaluation (you can read here for a somewhat more detailed account from Bittman; it simply minimizes benefits and does not support "by most estimates the evidence is far more damning than it is supportive").  This earlier critique of Bittman is on the mark on virtually every point.

The standards of evidence being applied here are extremely weak.  In that last Bittman link he wrote that:

…The surge in suicides among Indian farmers has been attributed by some, at least in part, to G.E. crops…

The link is to a sensationalistic Daily Mail (tabloid) story, yet that gets translated into "has been attributed by some."  In that story, the suicides were caused by indebtedness and supposedly the debts were in part caused by a desire by farmers to buy GMO crops.  In comparable terms one could write that anything one spends money on could cause suicide through the medium of indebtedness.

By the way, the Wikipedia treatment gives some more detailed citations suggesting that GMO crops are not a significant cause of farmer suicides in India.  The most careful study of the matter reports this:

We first show that there is no evidence in available data of a "resurgence" of farmer suicides in India in the last five years. Second, we find that Bt cotton technology has been very effective overall in India. However, the context in which Bt cotton was introduced has generated disappointing results in some particular districts and seasons. Third, our analysis clearly shows that Bt cotton is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the occurrence of farmer suicides. In contrast, many other factors have likely played a prominent role.

I would in fact be more supportive of the GMO labeling idea if renowned food writers such as Bittman, and many others including left-wing economists, would come out and boldly proclaim the science about GMOs to their readers.  Too often the tendency is to use a "I'll try not to say anything literally incorrect, while insinuating there are big problems" method of scoring points against big agriculture.  (Another common trope is to switch the discussion to "distribution" and to suggest, either explicitly or implicitly, that a net benefit technology such as GMOs is somehow unnecessary or undesirable; dare I utter the words "mood affiliation"?)  GMO labeling is the one issue which has gained legal traction, so critics of "Big Ag" just can't bring themselves to give it up.

Bittman's whole column is about GMOs, but he gets at the important point only in his final sentence:

[With better information] We'd be able to make saner choices, and those choices would greatly affect Big Food's ability to freely use genetically manipulated materials, an almost unlimited assortment of drugs and inhumane and environmentally destructive animal-production methods.

Overuse of antibiotics and animal treatment (both cruelty and environmental issues) — now those are two very real problems, backed by overwhelming scientific evidence.  The fact that the California referendum is instead about GMOs — which have overwhelming scientific evidence for net benefit and minimal risks — is the real scandal.

It's time that our most renowned food writers woke up to that difference.  In the meantime, they are doing both us and themselves a deep disservice.


 
 

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“Unions Built The Middle Class.” : The Blogmocracy

Link: http://www.theblogmocracy.com/2012/09/17/destruction-of-my-favorite-myths-unions-built-the-middle-class/ (via shareaholic.com)

When ever I get into a debate on the topic of economics with some of the good people I know, I can always tell when their debating chops come entirely from reading and then parroting propaganda they've been fed. One of the most laughable of all of the standard lines is the ubiquitous, "Unions built the middle class," statement. The statement ignores history that a vibrant middle class existed several decades prior to the start of the union movement in our country, the fact that in those nations where the union movement started sooner, their development of a vibrant middle class was delayed by decades when compared to that development taking place here. It also ignores the fact that even at the height of union activity here in America, union participation in the private sector never grew beyond 12%.

Franklin Roosevelt's policies did not pull us out of the great depression, they prolonged the agony for a full decade, where if we had just allowed the free market to work, it would have ended much sooner. Unemployment at the time never actually reached double digits until Herbert Hoover instituted the first of his stimulus packages. Unemployment remained at double digits until America entered WWII. Even after the war, our economy did not begin to come out of the malaise until the Presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, and his return to free market principles.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Genetically modified foods: Why does California insist on finding a problem where nobody else does? � Hot Air

Link: http://hotair.com/archives/2012/09/15/genetically-modified-foods-why-does-california-insist-on-finding-a-problem-where-nobody-else-does/ (via shareaholic.com)

Except for wild berries and wild mushrooms, virtually all the fruits, vegetables and grains in our diet have been genetically improved by one technique or another – often as a result of seeds being irradiated or genes being moved from one species or genus to another in ways that do not occur in nature. But because genetic engineering is more precise and predictable, the technology is at least as safe as – and often safer than – the modification of food products in cruder, "conventional" ways. This superior technology is the target of Prop. 37.

Hugh Hewitt : '"The 5-minute ENERGY Blog: OIL PRICE 'MYSTERY'"

Link: http://www.hughhewitt.com/blog/g/aca17109-d957-4ea5-94d4-3c061b3cf723 (via shareaholic.com)

Today, private sector major oil companies no longer control very much of the world's oil production.    Many majors like Mobil and Texaco no longer even exist.  Aramco is controlled by the Saudi government.  An estimated 85% of the world's reserves are now controlled by governments.  And, more directly applicable to oil pricing, oil prices are now determined by an open market exchange, the NYMEX.

So next time you hear about Congressional hearings, or a pin-headed commentator railing against Big Oil raising prices think "85% of the world's reserves are controlled by governments and the price is set by the market via NYMEX" and you will know all that's needed.  Using a major oil company as a whipping boy for price increases is about thirty years out of date.

Why Do We Burn Our Food?

Link: http://principia-scientific.org/index.php/latest-news/why-do-we-burn-our-food.html (via shareaholic.com)

To produce one gallon of ethanol about 22 pounds of corn (1) needs to be sacrificed.  22 lbs of corn contains about 10,560 calories, (2) which is enough calories to feed one person for about four days. (3) Therefore the calories sacrificed to make 90 gallons of ethanol could sustain one person for an entire year.  Since the US currently produces 10.6 billion gallons (4) of ethanol yearly, enough corn is being sacrificed each year for ethanol production in the United States to feed 117 million people.  This is occurring at the same time that the United States Department of Agriculture is reporting that over 50,000,000 people living in the United States are in "food-insecure households" (5) because their families do not have sufficient funds to purchase adequate amounts of food.

 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking: Impact on Energy, Jobs and Economic Growth

Link: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/08/hydraulic-fracturing-critical-for-energy-production-jobs-and-economic-growth (via shareaholic.com)

Myth #1: Hydraulic fracturing threatens underground water sources and has led to the contamination of drinking water.

Fact: Hydraulic fracturing is subject to both federal and state regulations, and there have been no instances of fracking causing contamination of drinking water.

Groundwater aquifers sit thousands of feet above the level at which fracking takes place, and companies construct wells with steel-surface casings and cement barriers to prevent gas migration. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Groundwater Protection Council, and independent agencies have found no evidence of groundwater contamination.[11] In May 2011, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that "I am not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself affected water although there are investigations ongoing."[12] Three of those investigations are in Texas, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania, and thus far the EPA has found no evidence of contamination; in the case of Wyoming, however, the EPA published faulty data with speculative and heavily contested conclusions. In all three cases the EPA ignored state regulators' management of the alleged problems.[13] Although previous EPA analysis of hydraulic fracturing found the process to be safe, the EPA now plans to publish a full study on hydraulic fracturing and drinking water that ostensibly demonstrates lack of safety. Analysis of the EPA's "Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources" by the nonprofit technology research and development organization Battelle highlighted a number of concerns, including cherry-picking of data, lack of peer review, poor quality control, and a lack of transparency.[14]

Myth #2: The chemicals used in the fracking process are foreign chemicals that industry hides from the public.

Fact: Fracking fluid, made primarily of sand and water, uses a small percentage of chemicals that have common household applications and are regulated by the state.

The fluid used in hydraulic fracturing is 99.5 percent water and sand. The 0.5 percent of additives (typically between three and 12 different chemicals) depends on the composition of the shale formation that varies by region and by well. The combination of additives function to dissolve minerals, prevent bacteria growth and pipe corrosion, minimize friction, and keep the fractures open or propped up. All chemicals used in the fracking process have common applications from swimming-pool cleaners and laundry detergents to cosmetics, and even ice cream.[15] None of these chemicals is hidden from the public, and federal law stipulates that a company must provide detailed chemical information sheets to emergency personnel in case of an accident. While states that have hydraulic fracturing laws have their own stipulations for chemical disclosure, the U.S. Department of Energy, in collaboration with the Groundwater Protection Council and industry, created the website FracFocus.org. The site provides a full list of chemicals used in the fracking process and companies voluntarily disclose the chemical makeup for specific wells across the country.[16] FracFocus allows users to search wells by operator, state, and county.

Myth #3: Wastewater from hydraulic fracturing is dangerous and unregulated.

Fact: Companies dispose of, and recycle, wastewater using many different methods, all of which are compliant with existing federal and state laws.

Companies typically use around 4 million gallons of water—what a golf course uses in one week—to fracture a well by using water from lakes, rivers, or municipal supplies. Much of that water remains in the ground; about 15 percent to 20 percent of the water returns to the surface by flowing back through the well.[17] The flowback water contains the chemicals used in the fracking process and can also collect other naturally harmful substances in the ground. This water is never used for drinking and the disposal is subject to federal and state regulations. States have different regulations for disposal, and companies employ a variety of methods including temporary storage of wastewater in steel tanks or contained pits. More companies are recycling or reusing the flowback water because it makes both economic and environmental sense. Other disposal methods include storing wastewater underground in injection wells that states regulate individually, and the EPA regulates under the Safe Water Drinking Act.[18] The demand for wastewater disposal and recycling is creating opportunities for new companies with emerging technologies to treat wastewater.[19]

There have been concerns, in Pennsylvania for instance, that treating wastewater at sewage treatment plants that discharge into rivers supplying drinking water would contaminate drinking water with radioactive material. But Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection found levels of radioactivity well within federal and state standards. Norm Zellers, manager of the Sunbury Generation treatment facility in Synder County, Pennsylvania, emphasized that "[y]ou can have more radioactivity on a bunch of bananas in the store or on a granite countertop."[20] Wastewater management is another aspect of the fracking process that has been well regulated by existing federal and state laws, and the increased demand for wastewater treatment has driven the process to be cleaner and cheaper.

Myth #4: Fracking causes earthquakes.

Fact: The fracking process itself does not cause earthquakes; in rare instances, the use of underground injection wells (for storage) has caused earthquakes. Induced seismic activity from many underground energy activities is not a new phenomenon and has been closely monitored by the Department of Energy.

After a series of small earthquakes—ranging from 2.1 to 4.0 on the Richter scale—in Ohio and Arkansas near oil and gas sites, many have raised concerns about future tremors resulting from hydraulic fracturing. But the fracking process itself did not cause these earthquakes. The use of injection wells, an efficient and cost-effective way to dispose of briny wastewater, produced the seismic activity. Instances of seismic activity are rare; out of 30,000 injection wells, there have only been eight events of induced seismic activity—none of which caused significant property damage or injury. Induced seismicity does not occur only from oil and gas extraction. A recent National Research Council study highlights the fact that geothermal activities (capturing and using heat stored in the earth's core) have caused relatively small earthquakes (some felt, some not) at more frequent rates from far fewer projects.[21] The study also warns that continuously injecting carbon dioxide at high pressures (carbon capture and sequestration from coal plants) could induce earthquakes of higher magnitudes.[22]


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lewandowsky: study “Useless” unless authors demonstrate “data integrity”

To be sure, the data are the data, regardless of what the consensus may be, but how strong is that consensus?

 
 

Sent to you by Karl via Google Reader:

 
 

via Climate Audit by Steve McIntyre on 9/12/12

Lewandowsky has stated that an online survey by an opponent was "useless" "without the authors demonstrating the integrity of their data" and that their study "should not have been published without the authors demonstrating the integrity of their data—I doubt that they could". Words that apply even more forcibly to his own study. I guess it all depends on whose ox is being gored.

On Sep 27, 2010, about a month after the Lewandowsky survey was posted at several anti-skeptic blogs, John Cook posted the following at the private SkS forum entitled "Excerpt from Steve [Lewandowsky]'s email". At the time, Hans von Storch and Dennis Bray had just carried out an online survey. Lewandowsky complained that there was "no way to check or verify the integrity of the data" and therefore the data was probably "useless". Lewandowsky said that the study should not have been published "without the authors demonstrating the integrity of their data":

I'm sure Steve won't mind if I excerpt from the email he sent me about von Storch's paper:
Got the paper some time ago and I have corresponded with Bray. He seems like a nice guy but the survey data are apparently compromised by the login and password information having been circulated on a denialist mailing list. I have a copy of that email (via Deltoid).

Bray also violated all internet survey methodological standards by not recording dates, times, and IP numbers of respondents (I know this from him personally). He thus has no way to check or verify the integrity of his data. In other words, the data are possibly (probably?) useless, although the published paper seems to include more data than the previous unpublished report which was entirely compromised as just stated.

Now, all that said, the results are not particularly distressing from our perspective, and he correctly identifies that there is a large segment of the scientific community who think that the IPCC understated the problem.
Overall, though, this study should not have been published without the authors demonstrating the integrity of their data—I doubt that they could.

Lewandowsky himself then commented at the SkS forum on Sep 27 entitled "Background info on survey methodology", favorably citing a critique at Deltoid of methodology in a similar earlier survey, results of which Lewandowsky believed to have been included:

Hi all, see here for background on the survey problems: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2005/05/bray.php
I believe that at least a subset of the data reported in the published paper relies on the data in the unpublished survey critiqued by Deltoid.

By the way, a Swedish journalist, Jens Ergon, has done a better controlled survey of Swedish cllimate scientists and their publications and found the usual 97% agreement on AGW. This was reported on Swedish TV and I have corresponded with him.

Graham Wayne then commented that the "problems of data integrity" put him off writing about the topic:

Well, the problems with the data integrity do throw something of a spanner in the works. If I were to write this up, I don't see how I could be less than candid about the problems, which would in turn sufficiently dilute the value of the research. Climate contrarians will jump on the flaws and hammer them to the exclusion of all else (surprised WUWT didn't do this already), so I'm rather put off writing about it.
Anyone else got a view on the practicality of focusing on this?

The (2005) Deltoid post that Lewandowsky had cited is here, which discussed the following survey result – a result that appears to contradict the "97%" of all climate scientists that is commonly cited:

Lambert commented as follows:

Is global warming skepticism amongst climate scientists as widespread as this survey indicates? To answer this we need to look at how the sampling was conducted:

The 2003 survey was conducted as an on-line survey. The existence of the survey was posted in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the Climlist server, and was sent to institutional lists in Germany Denmark and the U.K. As an effort to prevent general access to the survey, the survey was password protected. The password was contained in the informative message distributed according to the above.

However, the information about the survey was reposted (mail list membership required to read link) to the climatesceptics mail list by Timo Hameranta on Sep 20 2003: (my emphasis)

the survey (below) is directed to those involved in the natural sciences related to climate change and not, for example, those involved in policy analysis or economic issues.

I suggest that you participate by completing the questionnaire (instructions to participate below).

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
L�hett�j�: CLIMLIST Climatology Distribution List
[mailto:CLIMLIST@...] Puolesta CLIMLIST
L�hetetty: 19. syyskuuta 2003 18:12
Vastaanottaja: CLIMLIST@…
Aihe: Survey of Climate Scientists
CLIMLIST Mailing Number 03-09-24
Origin: "Dr. Dennis Bray"

Due to the nature of the distribution of electronic surveys some recipients of this message might have received the same previously. If that is the case, my apologies. Please do not submit the survey twice, although, once would be much appreciated. The survey is directed to those involved in the natural sciences related to climate change and not, for example, those involved in policy analysis or economic issues. Your discretion in choosing to participate in the survey on this basis would be greatly appreciated, as would your cooperation in making the survey a success. If you know of colleagues not contained on climlist but involved in the climate sciences, it would be appreciated if you could bring this survey to their attention with the suggestion that they too might like to participate by completing the questionnaire. Simply forwarding this message is likely the most convenient method.

… If you do choose to participate, the survey can be reached by opening your web browser and going to the following link:

http://w3g.gkss.de/G/Mitarbeiter/bray.html/

When the page opens click the link to "survey of climate scientists" Here you will be asked for a username and password.

For username enter "respondent" (without quotation marks)

For password enter "ccsurvey" (again without the quotation marks).

The survey is password protected as an effort to limit the respondents to those involved in the climate sciences. There is also the option to print the survey from a PDF file and submit though regular postal services. Electronic submissions do not transmit your email address and consequently anonymity is ensured. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Since the survey was anonymous, there is no way to ensure that only climate scientists participated and no way to prevent people from submitting the survey multiple times. Furthermore, the survey was distributed on the climatesceptics list which has over 200 members, almost all of them strongly skeptical about global warming. Since the total number of participants was just 557, this could serious skew the results. I don't believe that the results of this survey are representative of the views of climate scientists.

Lambert then cited a response from Bray at realclimate in which Bray stated:

It would be possible however, should one wish, to submit a duplicate return in the 2003 survey. 2003 surveys were checked for identical response patterns and none existed. Of course this does not mean that a single person could not fill out two surveys using different responses.

Lambert criticized this as follows:

The only thing Bray did to check for multiple responses by the same person was to see if there were any responses that were exact duplicates

As I interpret Lewandowsky's methodology, Lewandowsky's check was whether consecutive responses from the same IP address were identical (but this is only an interpretation of poorly described methodology.)

Lambert summarized his criticism as follows:

While no study is perfect, this study is so imperfect as to be useless. Since it was posted on the climatesceptics list, the sample is not representative. As a social scientist Bray should know this.

It is obvious that all the criticisms leveled by Lewandowsky and Lambert against the von Storch and Bray survey apply even more strongly to his own survey. Applying Lewandowsky's own standards, his own survey is "useless" unless he can demonstrate "data integrity", which he can't.

Instead of demonstrating data integrity, in Lewandowsky's response today (his first non-juvenile response), Lewandowsky argues, in effect, that data integrity doesn't matter – a familiar enough reaction in past paleoclimate disputes.

Lewandowsky, although he was quick to fabricate a jibe at me about a supposed pastrami sandwich, did not respond to or cite my post on this matter, though he did cite Tom Curtis' more limited critique. Nor did Lewandowsky examine the crosscut of data that I had used. Instead, Lewandowsky carried out a different crosscut of the data, arguing that he got similar results with this different crosscut. I placed source code for my analysis online so any critics could readily interpret my conclusions and understand points at issue. Unfortunately Lewandowsky has not dne so, making the process of replication and analysis less efficient than it ought to be. I'll try to take a look at Lewandowsky's most recent post over the next few days.

however, one point is obvious: Lewandowsky's defence is framed in terms of "outliers" as opposed to "data integrity". It seems evident that, using Lewandowsky's own words (about the Bray-con Storch study):

this study should not have been published without the authors demonstrating the integrity of their data—I doubt that they could



 
 

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Burt Rutan on climate change

Link: http://www.cfact.org/a/2169/Globaloney-exposed-from-outer-space (via shareaholic.com)

...what really drew me into the subject, was when I found that I couldn't obtain the raw data that I was looking for. I was shocked to find that there were actually climate scientists who wouldn't share the raw data, but would only share their conclusions in summary graphs that were used to prove their various theories about planet warming.

Anyone reading this is invited to e-mail Mr. Rutan the raw data.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

ENCODE hype? From now on I'll just reply: #oniontest

 
 

Sent to you by Karl via Google Reader:

 
 

via The Panda's Thumb by Nick Matzke on 9/5/12

The science media exploded today with the claim from the ENCODE project that 80% of the genome is "functional". The creationists are already beside themselves with joy. And the problem cannot be blamed on the science media, although I wish they were quicker to exercise independent skepticism – the 80% claim is right there in the abstract of the Nature article.

However, skepticism has arisen spontaneously from all over the scientific blogosphere, facebook, and twitter. You see, most of us scientists know that (a) ENCODE is using an extremely liberal and dubious definition of "function", basically meaning "some detectable chemical activity". People have pointed out that randomly generated DNA sequences would often be "functional" on this definition. (b) All the evidence for relative nonfunctionality which has been known for decades is still there and hasn't really changed – lack of conservation, onion test, etc. But I'm beginning to think that certain parts of molecular biology and bioinformatics are populated with people who are very smart, but who got through school with a lot of detailed technical training but without enough broad training in basic comparative biology.

Anyway, I'd write more, but I'm jammed and Ryan Gregory has said everything I would say, except better: http://www.genomicron.evolverzone.c[…]encode-hype/

See also Larry Moran: http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2012/0[…]-of-our.html, especially the rather wry comments.

Hashtag: #oniontest


 
 

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Experts: Some fracking critics use bad science

Link: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/experts-some-fracking-critics-use-bad-science (via shareaholic.com)



http://www.economist.com/node/21558458


Democrats Rail Against Non-Existent Oil Subsidies

 
 

Sent to you by Karl via Google Reader:

 
 

via Breitbart Feed on 9/5/12

Democrats, led by corrupt Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, have spent the last two days of the DNC railing against "oil subsidies" as a way to attack Republicans over energy. A few things wrong with this scenario: there isn't an "oil subsidy."

Leftists have a difficult time differentiating between exemptions and government welfare. The oil industry takes advantage of numerous exemptions, exemptions available to every industry. The industry doesn't take money from the public, or any real cash from an entity, the accurate definition of a subsidy, the way that the green industry does. Allowing an entity to keep more of the money they themselves earned in the free market isn't "giving" them money -- unless you think that the profits a company earns belong first to the government and through them should they be doled to those who truly earned them. 

Subsidies for green energy have been literally just that: money handed to companies like Solyndra by the DOE's green energy program: $535 million of the public's dollars went to Solyndra, who promptly spent it on things like whistling robots. It wasn't just Solyndra; a host of other green companies received these subsidies. It's more than ironic, it's the height of ignorance to decry the false existence of oil subsidies while championing the very real existence of actual subsidies to green companies friendly to this administration. 

Democrats support the "subsidization" of fossil fuels in greater numbers than Republicans. They support the nationalization of the auto industry, they support (again, real) subsidies to electric and hybrid model cars, the majority of which are powered by electricity derived from coal-powered plants. Like it or not, the majority of the nation's electricity is manufactured this way and by subsidizing electric cars, you're subsidizing fossil fuels. (That would be the closest thing to subsidies for fossil fuels, if you wanted to argue it, in which case progressives simultaneously hold the positions of loving and hating them.) 

The market demand of these vehicles doesn't offset the public dollars given them, as we've seen in the most recent case of the Chevy Volt, the American version of the Volkswagen, and frankly, are more expensive to produce less energy (and less reliable energy).

Of course, there isn't a single Democrat speaking this week who will acknowledge this. The party relies too heavily on its green donors and the branding the association lends them before their far left base. 


 
 

Things you can do from here:

 
 

MICKEY KAUS: Why The Fact-Checkosphere Is Failing

Link: http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/149965/ (via shareaholic.com)

...a simpler problem is that the MSM's fact-checkers often don't know what they're talking about. For example, the oft-cited CNN-"fact check" of Romney's welfare ad makes a big deal of HHS secretary Sebelius' pledge that she will only grant waivers to states that "commit that their proposals will move at least 20% more people from welfare to work." CNN swallows this 20% Rule whole in the course of declaring Romney's objection "wrong" . . . .

But Robert Rector, a welfare reform zealot who nevertheless does know what he's talking about, has now published a longer analysis of the 20% rule. Turns out it's not as big a scam as I'd thought it was. It's a much bigger scam. For one thing, anything states do to increase the number of people on welfare will automatically increase the "exit" rate–what the 20% rule measures–since the more people going on welfare, the more people leave welfare for jobs in the natural course of things, without the state's welfare bureaucrats doing anything at all. Raise caseloads by 20% and Sebelius' standard will probably be met. (Maybe raise caseloads 30% just to be sure.) So what looks like a tough get-to-work incentive is actually a paleoliberal "first-get-on-welfare" incentive. But the point of welfare reform isn't to get more people onto welfare.

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day double blunder | Watts Up With That?

Link: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/04/nasas-astronomy-picture-of-the-day-double-blunder/ (via shareaholic.com)



Obama, Democrats, and the Media: You Can't Handle the 'Truth' - Reason.com

Link: http://reason.com/archives/2012/09/03/obama-democrats-and-the-media-you-cant-h (via shareaholic.com)

Following those links is an interesting exercise. Ryan is universally condemned for mentioning that an auto plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, was shut down during Obama's presidency the year after candidate Obama had vowed that the plant would be there another century. "The plant was closed in December 2008, before Obama was sworn in," Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote. But Kessler and his fellow fact-checkers turned out to have been wrong; the plant did close in 2009.

Also cited as an untrue "fact" worthy of correction was Ryan's assertion that "a presidency that began with such anticipation now comes to such a disappointing close....It began with a perfect AAA credit rating for the United States. It ends with a downgraded America." What on earth is unfactual about this?

online.wsj.com/articleonline.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444301704577631470493495792.html

Here's an excerpt from an Associated Press "fact check" of Paul Ryan's convention speech:

RYAN: "And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. . . . So they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama."
THE FACTS: Ryan's claim ignores the fact that Ryan himself incorporated the same cuts into budgets he steered through the House in the past two years as chairman of its Budget Committee. . . .
RYAN: "The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal."
THE FACTS: Ryan himself asked for stimulus funds shortly after Congress approved the $800 billion plan.

In both of these cases, the AP neither disputes nor verifies the factual accuracy of Ryan's statements. Each of these is simply a tu quoque--an argument against Ryan. Under the guise of fact checking, the AP is simply taking sides in a partisan political dispute.



James M. Arlandson: Thirty Shariah Laws That Are Bad For All Societies

Sent to you by Karl via Google Reader:

via Jihad Watch by Robert on 9/5/12

16 Thirty Shariah Laws That Are Bad For All Societies
Can Modern Islam Reform Old Islam?
by James M. Arlandson, Ph.D.
This list of shariah laws is intended to be read by judges, lawyers, legislators, city council members, educators, journalists, government bureaucrats, think tank fellows, TV and radio talk show hosts, and anyone else who occupies the "check points" in society; you initiate the national dialogue and shape the flow of the conversation in society. You are the decision and policy makers.
As intellectuals, you believe the critics of shariah exaggerate (and maybe some are guilty of it). They're just "Islamophobes." Ignore them. Islam is a worldwide religion, after all. It deserves respect.
You are also thorough relativists who believe in tolerance for all religions, in all their parts. At first glance, this is a commendable outlook.
You like what Thomas Jefferson said, "But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my legs."
It is a true that beliefs that do not harm us monetarily or physically should be tolerated. Shariah has positive aspects to it – or, rather, they do no damage in those two ways. Therefore, parts of shariah should be tolerated in a religiously diverse society like America.
The Five Pillars are examples. They are part of shariah – divine Islamic law, which traces its origins ultimately back to the Quran (or Koran) and Muhammad's example or life, the sacred traditions, which were eventually written down in the hadith. None of those five rituals and policies picks our pockets or breaks our legs, if the five are done privately or in the mosque.
Unfortunately, however, this list is not about the harmless parts in shariah, but the ones that are incompatible with the modern era.
Even Thomas Jefferson had his limits. He sent the marines to take back captured American merchant sailors and to open up the trade routes that were hampered by the Muslim Barbary pirates in North Africa, who had sold the captives into slavery or demanded ransoms.
Do the elites have any limits?
In some cases, a religion does indeed pick our pockets and break our legs.
Each item in the list has one or more back-up articles. Readers should click on them to find out that the thirty points come right out of original Islam and are not invented out of thin air. Each back up also has a section on modern Islam, mentioning Muslims – too few – who advocate reform.
And if readers would like to see various translations of the Quran, they may go to the website quranbrowser.com and type in the references. If readers are in doubt about the meaning of a verse, they may go to the tafsir (commentary) written by Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), one of the most authoritative and highly regarded classical commentators in the Sunni world, at qtafsir.com; or the readers may search through the modern commentary by Sunni Indo-Pakistani religious scholar and politician Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi (d. 1979) at englishtafsir.com.

Political Islam

Punishments

Marital, Domestic, and Women's Issues

Conclusion

Political Islam

1. The mosque and state are not separate.
To this day, Islamic nations that are deeply rooted in shariah, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, do not adequately separate the two realms, giving a lot of power to courts and councils to ensure that legislation does not contradict the Quran (never mind whose interpretation).
Most of the laws listed below come from this confusion.
Back-up article: Mosque and State
2. Jihad may be waged against injustice or an unjust nation, as Islam defines the terms.
Classical texts say Islam is justice, and no Islam is injustice. Therefore, a "just war" can be waged against a nation or people who do not submit to Islam.
Yet we are told in the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, which is based on shariah, that humane rules must be followed (Article Three) . Does that article offer hope that modern Islam can move past old Islam? Maybe.
However, the Quran, sacred traditions, classical law, and historical Islam contradict or balance out some elements in Article Three. Would there be a conflict between the old Islam and modern Islam, if war broke out? Many Islamic clerics issue fatwas (religious rulings) to wage jihad.
Back-up articles: Jihad and Qital and The Early Muslim Community and the Sword.
3. Jihad may be waged to spread Islam and force conversions – a holy war.
Waging jihad to spread Islam and force conversions is a perfect description of "holy war." See Quran 8:39, 9:5, 9:11-12, 9:14, and 9:29; and then see 9:33; 61:9 and 48:28.
Yet, we have been told for many years now that holy wars and forced conversions were never done in Islam. That's a myth imagined by Westerners.
However, read those verses and click on the back-up articles:
Back-up articles: Jihad and Qital, The Mission of Muhammad and the Sword, and The Early Muslim Community and the Sword.
4. A captive in jihad may be executed, enslaved, ransomed for money, exchanged for other prisoners, or released freely.
Quran 47:4 and 33:25-27, 4:24 says those things (and the last option – free release – is positive). Yet we are told that in a jihad today everything must be done humanely and justly.
However, the back-up article, this fourth item, and the next four items in this list balance out that claim. Would there be a conflict between old Islam and modern Islam, if war broke out?
Back-up articles: Jihad and Qital and Slavery
5. A woman captive of jihad may be forced to have to sex with her captors (now owners).
Quran 4:24 and especially the sacred traditions and classical law allow this. The sacred traditions say that while out on military campaigns under Muhammad's leadership, jihadists used to practice coitus interruptus with their female captives.
Women soldiers fighting terrorists today must be forewarned of the danger.
Back-up articles: Jihad and Qital and Slavery
6. Property can be destroyed or confiscated during jihad.
Quran 59:2 and 59:5 discuss those rules. Sacred traditions and classical law expand on the Quranic verses. Modern Islamic law officially improves on the Quran: see Article Three of the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, which is nonetheless based on shariah, but it outlaws wanton destruction of property. Would there be any conflict between old Islam and modern Islam in a war today?
Back-up articles: Jihad and Qital and The Quran and the Sword
7. Jihad may be waged to collect spoils.
Quran 8:1, 8:7, 8:41, and 48:20 show this clearly. Early Islam followed the old Arab custom of raiding caravans, but as its military grew, the raids were elevated to jihad. The spoils of war were coveted. Which Islam would prevail in a war today – the old one or the modern one?
Back-up articles: Jihad and Qital and The Quran and the Sword
8. A second-class submission tax, called the jizyah, must be imposed on Jews and Christians (and other religious minorities) living in Islamic countries.
Quran 9:29 offers three options to Jews and Christians: (1) Fight and die; (2) convert to Islam; (3) or keep their religion, but pay a tribute or submission tax, the jizyah, while living under Islam.
In Islamic history, vanquished Jews and Christians became known as dhimmis. This word appears in Quran 9:8 and 9:10, meaning a "treaty" or "oath," but it can also mean those who are "condemned" "reviled" or "reproved" (Quran 17:18, 17:22; 68:49). The word "submission" in Quran 9:29 can also be translated as "humiliation," "utterly humbled," "contemptible" or "vile." It can mean "small" as opposed to "great."
Islamic nations today still seek to impose this second-class religion tax.
Back-up articles: Jihad and Qital and The Quran and the Sword
9. Slavery is allowed.
It is true that freeing slaves was done in original Islam (Quran 5:89 and 24:33), and the Quran says to be kind to slaves (Quran 4:36), but that is not the entire story.
In addition to those verses, Quran 4:24, 23:1-7; 33:52 allow the institution. Muhammad owned slaves, even one who was black (so says a sacred tradition). He was militarily and politically powerful during his later life in Medina, but he never abolished slavery as an institution.
Officially, Islamic nations have outlawed slavery (Article 11, which is still based on shariah). That proves Islam can reform on at least one matter. Can it reform on the other shariah laws?  And we are told that "no other nation or religious group in the world treated slaves better than the Muslims did." The back-up article and next two items in this list contradict that claim.
The legacy of slavery still runs deep in Islamic countries even today.
Back-up article: Slavery
10. A male owner may have sex with his slave-women, even prepubescent slave-girls.
See Quran 4:24 and 23:1-7; but it is classical law that permits sex with prepubescent slave girls and describes them as such. Some Muslim religious leaders and others still advocate this practice, taking the slaves as concubines (though sex with prepubescent slave-girls is another matter).
Back-up article: Slavery
11. Slaves may be beaten.
That's what sacred traditions and classical laws say. See Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery
Back-up article: Slavery
12. Apostasy laws, including imprisonment or execution, may be imposed on anyone who leaves Islam (an apostate).
Normally this is a prescribed punishment, but it is also political, since it is about freedom of religion. Surprisingly the Quran does not cover punishing apostates down here on earth, though in the afterlife they will be punished. Does this modern Islam can reform old Islam? Quran 4:88-89, 9:73-74, and 9:123, read in that sequence, might deal with earthly punishments. Mainly, however, the sacred traditions and classical law permit harsh treatment for anyone who leaves Islam.
Islamic courts and laws still impose these punishments today, or religious scholars today argue for the law.
Back-up article: Freedom of Religion
13. Blasphemy laws, including imprisonment or execution, may be imposed on critics of Islam or Muhammad.
These verses should be read in historical sequence, for they show that as Islam's military power increased, the harsh treatment of mockers and critics also intensified, as follows: Quran 3:186, 33:57-61, 9:61-66, 9:73 and 9:123. Sacred traditions, classical laws, and historical Islam are unambiguous about the punishments, recording the people, often their names, who were assassinated for mocking Muhammad and the Quran.
Islamic nations and pockets of Islam in non-Muslim countries still impose these punishments today.
Back-up article: Free Speech

Punishments

14. Drinkers and gamblers may be flogged.
Quran 2:219, 4:43, and 5:90-91, in that sequence, show that Islam gradually prohibited alcohol. The last passage also prohibits "gaming" of sorts. The sacred traditions and classical law discuss punishing gamblers and alcoholics. One tradition says to execute unrepentant alcoholics who do not stop. But usually drinkers were flogged forty or eighty times, with garments, palm branches, or sandals in early Islam.
Islamic countries can impose these punishments today, or religious and legal scholars still argue for it.
Back-up article: Muhammad, the Quran, and Prohibition
15. An injured plaintiff (a private citizen) has the options of forgiving or exacting legal and literal revenge – physical eye for physical eye.
Categorized as qisas (like for like), Quran 5:45 is the main verse (and see 2:187-189). Sacred traditions and classical laws spell out which punishments should be inflicted on which offenses.
Islamic courts, depending on which way the plaintiff directs, today may ask a doctor to surgically remove an eye or disfigure the face or body in some other way. Currently, qisas can be applied to children in Iran.
The whole purpose of courts is to remove the punishment of wrongs and injuries from the plaintiffs who are private citizens; otherwise, blood feuds and personal revenge make punishments uneven – never mind excessive.
Back-up article: Law of Retaliation
16. The hand of a male or female thief may be cut off.
Quran 5:38 imposes this punishment. The traditions and classical law clarify that the theft has to be a valuable item; or mutilation might not be inflicted during a famine,
But amputation is still done today in Islamic countries and argued for by religious leaders or legal scholars to understand it as if it is still valid.
Back-up article: Thieves, Give Muhammad a Hand!
17. A highway robber may be crucified or his alternate hand and foot cut off.
Quran 5:33 permit these punishments. Yes, from that verse other punishments can be inflicted, but the point here is that execution for first-degree murder with aggravated circumstances is one thing, but mutilation and crucifixion is excessive.
Some Islamic nations can still impose them today, or religious and legal scholars still argue for understanding the punishments, as if they are still valid.
Back-up article: Crucifixion and Mutilation
18. Homosexuals may be imprisoned, flogged, or executed.
Surprisingly, the Quran is not all that clear on this subject, but the traditions and classical laws are.
Islamic nations to this day still impose those punishments, and religious leaders still argue for harsh punishments.
Back-up article: Homosexuality
19. Fornicators may be flogged.
Quran 24:2 says this. The hadith and classical laws can impose additional penalties like exile of the male for a year.
Modern Islamic nations still inflict this penalty, and religious or legal scholars still argue for it.
Back-up article: Adultery and Fornication
20. Adulterers may be stoned to death.
The verse that says to stone adulterers to death went missing from the Quran, so says Umar, a companion of Muhammad and the second caliph (ruled 634-644). But he left no doubt that this penalty was done under Muhammad's direction, and the sacred traditions and classical laws confirm it. But a few rules of evidence must be followed, like confession of the adulterer or four eyewitnesses. In some interpretations of the law, if a woman is raped, but cannot produce four just and pious men who witnessed it, then she is slandering the alleged rapist (or gang rapists) – never mind that the four just and pious eyewitnesses did nothing to stop it, but stood there and watched it.
Some modern Islamic nations still do this, and religious and legal scholars argue for it.
Back-up article: Adultery and Fornication
21. False accusers of sexual crimes may be flogged eighty times.
Quran 24:1-4 speak of corporal punishment for sexual sins. Verse 4 says that if an accuser cannot produce four eyewitnesses to corroborate his accusation, then he will be flogged (see Quran 24:13).
Some modern Islamic nations can still impose the penalty for slander, and religious scholars still argue for it.
Back-up article: Adultery and Fornication

Marital, Domestic, and Women's Issues

Quran 2:228 and 4:34 states that mankind is superior to womankind in a variety of legal and domestic contexts. Quran 2:223 says wives are fields, and their husbands can go into them whenever and however they like. How does this inferiority work out in the law and society?
22. A woman inherits half what a man does.
Quran 4:11 says it, and the hadith (traditions) and classical law confirm it.
Modern Islamic nations still do this, and religious leaders still argue for it.
Back-up article: Women's Status and Roles
23. A woman's testimony in a court of law counts half of a man's testimony, since she might "forget."
Quran 2:282 says it in the context of business law. But the hadith (traditions) explains that women's minds are deficient; classical law expands this curtailment to other areas than business.
Modern Islamic nations still do this, and religious scholars still argue for it.
Back-up article: Women's Status and Roles
24. A man may legally and irrevocably divorce his wife, outside of a court of law, by correctly pronouncing three times "you are divorced." 
Quran 2:229 says this, and the traditions and classical law explain and confirm it. A judge in a modern Islamic country will ensure that the husband did not speak from a fit of irrational rage (anger is okay) or intoxication, for example. Then the court will validate the divorce, not daring to overturn it, since the Quran says so.
Sometimes this homemade and irrevocable divorce produces a lot of regret in the couple and manipulation from the husband in Islam today.
Back-up article: Divorce and Remarriage
25. A wife may remarry her ex-husband if and only if she marries another man, has sex with him, and then this second man divorces her.
Quran 2:230 says this, and the traditions and classical law confirm it. Supposedly, this rule is designed to prevent easy divorce (see the previous point), but it produces a lot of pain, in Muslims today.
Back-up article: Divorce and Remarriage
26. Husbands may hit their wives.
Quran 4:34 says it, and the traditions and classical law confirm it. There is a sequence of steps a husband follows before he can hit her, but not surprisingly this rule creates all sorts of abuse and confusion in Islamic society today.
Back-up article: Domestic Violence
27. A man may be polygamous with up to four wives.
Quran 4:3 (and 33:50-52) allow this, but only if a man can take care of them. The traditions and classical law confirm it. Modern Muslims still push for this old marital arrangement even in the USA, and many Islamic nations still allow it. But some Muslims are fighting polygamy. The hadith (traditions) paints a picture of Muhammad's household that was full of strife between the wives.
Back-up article: Polygamy
28. A man may simply get rid of one of his "undesirable" wives.
Quran 4:128 says this. The traditions say about the verse that the wife whom Muhammad wanted to get rid of was "huge" and "fat." She gave up her turn to his favorite girl-bride Aisha. He kept the corpulent wife. There is heartbreak in Islam today.
Back-up article: Polygamy
29. A mature man may marry a prepubescent girl.
Quran 65:1-4, particularly verse 4, assumes, but does not command, the practice. The hadith says Aisha was six years old when she was engaged to Muhammad (he was in his fifties), and their marriage was consummated when she was nine. The hadith indicate she was prepubescent at nine. She never did bear him any children. Classical law says a father may give away his prepubescent daughter, but she also has a few rights.
Officially many Islamic nations have raised the legal marriage age, but pockets in the Islamic world still follow this old custom. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia okays marriage to ten-year-old girls. Work is still needed to be done for the rights of girl brides, particularly for their sexual health.
Back-up article: Marriage to Prepubescent Girls
30. A woman must wear a head covering and maybe a facial veil, according to sound traditions and authoritative classical law.
Quran 24:31, 33:53 and 33:59 are not as clear about the veil as one might first think. The verses say to dress modestly, but should the head be covered or just the neckline? What about the face (except the eyes)? Thus, modern Muslims are now in a big debate over the veil. However, the traditions and classical law are clearer than the Quran: the veil over the face (except the eyes).
Back-up article: Veils
Conclusion
Compiling this list would not have been necessary if modern Muslim religious leaders and jurists argued that all of those laws have expiration dates – back in the seventh century. Instead, they are eager to impose those archaic laws today (with the exceptions duly noted as the list went along). They believe all of the Quran is universally and timelessly good.
However, most of the public, since 9/11 and the countless posts about Islam since then, are laughing at Islam behind its back. The traditionalists, whom we have kept track of in the series, appear very foolish, when they defend the thirty rules. Do they really intend to tell us to our faces that the thirty laws should be imposed on all of humanity for its own good? Apparently so. But you traditionalists are gradually becoming a laughingstock, in the eyes of most people.
Most people. Why not all?
The allies of the traditionalists in the Western world and elsewhere seem oblivious to the dangers built into the laws.
Are all of these laws on the brink of being imposed on the West, by the next day? No, but many of them, especially the ones about marriage and family, can gradually be lobbied for and slowly make their way into our culture and legal system and advocated in school curricula, in the name of multiculturalism.
But will modern Islam reform old Islam? Will the Western elites encourage reform, or do they believe Islam is fine the way it is? Rather than they and traditionalists defending the thirty laws and calling critics "Islamophobes," traditionalists and their allies should work hard to reform the laws or, better yet, set them aside completely.
For example, the Quran and traditions, classical law, and Islamic history promote slavery, but modern Muslim states have outlawed it – officially (see nos. 9, 10, 11, above). This prohibition shows that modern Islam can improve on original Islam – the one that Muhammad preached and practiced. Slavery was done throughout the world in the old days; that's the (outdated) historical context. Original Islam conformed to it. Can modern Muslim scholars recognize that all of the other laws in this list were part of the same obsolete historical context and throw out these archaic laws?
In the meantime, while we wait patiently for this Islamic Reformation and Modernization (if it happens), the Western elites may want to remember three universal rights that are self-evident, according to the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The hallmarks of those three rights are, among other things, freedom of conscience to follow a religion of one's choice (or no religion at all) without being harassed. Freedom of speech – even the kind that criticizes the Quran and Muhammad – are signs that democracy and justice have taken root. Equality before the law for both sexes also defines the three universal rights.
However, all of those thirty laws suppress everyone's highest quality of life before the law and in society; they suppress our maximum liberty; and they suppress individual pursuit of happiness as he or she defines it.
Finally, a religious utopia which is imposed from the top down in Islam, which harshly punishes sins or crimes by disfigurement or mutilation or flogging, and which denies the basic human dignity of the female sex, is the wrong direction for modern society.
Over the centuries, and after many mistakes, the West has learned from its mistakes and is still learning. Islamic leaders say the West is arrogant. Maybe sometimes it is. But Islam's refusal to learn from the West is also a sign of arrogance. Islam must bend to us, not we to it. Islam is behind the times.
Tolerance of religions in their harmless aspects, like prayer, is one thing, but capitulation to their civilly and socially oppressive parts is another. Let's preserve our cultural and legal advancements without compromise. Let's keep religion and the state (government) separate.
Not one word, phrase, or clause of these thirty shariah laws and even the Five Pillars should ever enter our legal system, legislation, policy formulations, or school curricula.
Most of all, let's keep (or return) to our three universal and foundational rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of (individual) happiness.[1]


[1] This series does not compare Islam and Christianity, but the readers may be curious about it. It may also seem strange to the intellectual elite who have pretty much chucked religion out the window that people often ask about the Old Testament. Doesn't it have severe laws? How can we talk about shariah?
Reply: no one of significance today advocates bringing those severe Old Testament laws forward to the modern era, with the possible exception of the death penalty for first-degree murder with aggravated circumstances (yet countless traditional and ultraconservative jurists and religious scholars today are eager to impose those thirty laws). Second, in the very last endnote to each back-up article is a brief discussion of the question. Basically, Christians believe that the New Testament reinterprets the Old. See my studies How Christ Fulfills the Old Testament and How Christians Benefit from the Old Testament. And Jews today don't read the severe old laws without the Talmudic literature. Thus, there should be no straight line between 3,400-year-old laws in the Torah of the Old Testament and the modern era, without a reinterpretation of them (can modern Islam reinterpret or throw out those thirty laws that are 1,400 year old?).
James M. Arlandson has written a book: Women, Class, and Society in Early Christianity. He has recently completed a series on The Sword in Early Christianity and Islam.