Archive for December, 2005

Kuhn and JAMA

Friday, December 30th, 2005

Scientific journals are not sacred texts, and indeed are the battle grounds for contending factions and egos, not necessarily identical with any objective pursuit of truth. Not a new idea, but worth repeating now in the face of leftist assaults on for-profit pharmaceudical research. Leftists have moved into the leadership of the major medical journals with the intent of using the levers of academic prestige to move public policy against the market and towards state-subsidized academic/bureaucratic dominance of medicine. Politics dressed in lab coats.

But unbeknownst to the media, the journals at the top got there because of herd behavior by researchers, not because they are better than lower-tier journals at vetting research quality. Here’s why: Researchers submit their best work to the top journals, which can therefore afford to maintain their prestige by rejecting, not publishing, many high quality papers. That’s brand creation — not science. Most of their editorial effort goes into deciding which submitted papers are sufficiently newsworthy. Anonymous peer review by jealous competitors has its merits, but it has a tendency to select for fashionable if relatively unoriginal and inoffensive papers. Top medical journals compete for papers describing large clinical trials reporting small effects of treatments for diseases affecting many people, although these reports often do not substantively advance scientific knowledge, and many subsequently are invalidated.
If reporters understood that journals are magazines, not Holy Scripture, we might not be witnessing ever more onerous regulations inhibiting interactions between academic and industry science. Prestigious biomedical journals are good for our health — provided they stick to their core business of facilitating imperfect communication between researchers. Leave drug and device monitoring to the FDA — and theology to theologians.

While Kuhn recognized the delaying effects of career interests and personal investment in particular ways of understanding a phenomenon, he ultimately believed that there was real progress in understanding. The current generation of activist-academics have been indoctrinated in social constructionism and the belief that all is power and power is all.

Happy whatever

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

Local talkers, trying to be sensitive and inclusive are managing to display their deep and wide ignorance by refering to both Christmas and Chanukkah in the past tense. They heard both mentioned as happening on the 25th, so both must be past … right? Um, no.

Good Deeds

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

Samaritan’s Purse 2005 highlights. One of many Christian organizations doing great good in the world.

Iraq - the good war

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

While we did not fight WWII to stop the Holocaust, stopping the Holocaust is part of what made the invasion/liberation of Europe a good war. Same holds for the invasion/liberation of Iraq. The latest AP report of Saddam’s mass murders:

Municipal workers in the Shiite holy city of Karbala found remains believed to be from a mass grave dating to 1991, when Saddam Hussein’s regime put down a Shiite uprising in the south.

And how many Iraqies were murdered by Saddam?

Human rights organizations estimate that more than 300,000 people, mainly Kurds and Shiite Muslims, were killed and buried in mass graves during Saddam’s 23-year rule, which ended when U.S.-led forces toppled his regime in 2003. Saddam and seven co-defendants are now on trial for the deaths of more than 140 Shiites after a 1982 attempt on Saddam’s life in the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad.

Not that you’ve seen U.S. officials/opinion leaders visiting the sites and talking with the survivors/kin-folk.
Regarding the trial of this mass-murderer, Senator Spector voices a frustration I have felt from the beginning.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., visiting Iraq on Tuesday, said he met with the chief judge overseeing Saddam’s trial. Specter said he was disappointed in how the court has allowed the former leader “to dominate” the trial.
“You have a butcher who has butchered his own people, a torturer who has tortured his own people,” Specter said. “The evidence ought to be presented in a systematic way which would show that there’s been quite an accomplishment in taking (Saddam) out as opposed to letting him be a blusterbun and control the proceedings.”

The Iraqi judges simply haven’t the experience and conditioning as members of an independent branch of government, and they do face the real threat of death from Saddam’s henchmen. It must be an enormous psychological effort to not yield to the man who was the law and the power of life and death in Iraq for so many years.

Michael Scheuer losing his MSM pass?

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

Michael Scheurer may have just lost his place in the MSM roladex — he has been favorably quoted and featured when his comments were useful to attack President Bush. His criticism of our politicians and bureaucracies responses to Islamic terrorism has always been broader and deeper. Now he writes a scathing attack in the Washington Times in which he claims that the Washington Post, New York Times, and Senator McCain, by name, are engaged in self-interested actions that are going to cause the deaths of many Americans.
Here is the lede.

If we die as a nation, Lincoln once said, it will be an act of national suicide. And so it seems we are. The media, led by The Washington Post, and Congress, led by Arizona Sen. John McCain, are moving America to disaster’s brink by intentionally destroying its most successful counterterrorism tool: the CIA’s rendition program.

Regarding the Post:

How, thanks to The Post, the CIA’s clandestine counterterrorism cooperation with several allies has been exposed or reported incorrectly, time will tell — thereby severely diminishing the chance of further such cooperation. Unavoidably, this will weaken America against al Qaeda and result in more dead Americans. For The Post, thousands of American corpses are apparently not too much of a price to pay for selling papers and perhaps bagging a Pulitzer.

And Mr. Scheuer is even more scathing of the senior Senator from Arizona.

What to make of Mr. McCain? His behavior raises the question of whatever became of U.S. veterans who never sought to make political or economic hay from their wartime records. Former Sen. George McGovern and the actor Jimmy Stewart flew, respectively, 35 and 25 combat missions over Nazi Germany. They and tens of thousands of other World War II veterans chose not to draw attention to their own bravery and combat records. In Mr. McCain, we have a man who has been dining out on his POW experience for a quarter-century, and is now using it to grandstand on the so-called “torture” issue to advance his campaign for the presidency. This is not to question the Arizona senator’s personal bravery and patriotism — there is no question on these points — but merely to reflect on his tawdry, self-serving behavior in comparison to men like Mr. McGovern, Mr. Stewart, and their contemporaries. The senator’s “no-torture campaign” reveals him for what he is: A little man, with mediocre intelligence, a taste for bullying and an appalling temper who thinks the presidency is his birthright.

But tell us how you really feel.
Regarding the MSM, the Congress and the Administration:

Mr. McCain’s attack on “CIA torture” will have the same impact as The Post’s: It will kill Americans. Neither Mr. McCain nor The Post have mentioned that the CIA conducts no torture, and that its interrogation methods have been approved, reviewed and reapproved by batteries of U.S. government lawyers. Also unmentioned is that CIA’s rendition program is today the main U.S. counterterrorism tool because neither the Clinton or Bush administrations nor the Congress have taken the Islamist threat seriously.

Read it all.