Welcome To “Bad Research Theater”!

Yes, it’s Alistair Cookie, here for another episode—two, in fact!—of that long-running exhibition loved by the confirmation bias-infected and the unscrupulous alike, “Bad Research Theater”!

Episode I : “The Steam Engines of Galapagos

The eye-opening scholarly paper “The end of the line: competitive exclusion and the extinction of historical entities” has been published the journal, “Royal Society Open Science.” Bruce Lieberman, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and senior curator of invertebrate paleontology at the KU Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum, uses the history of railroad steam engines history to argue against the merits of “competitive exclusion,” the respected paleontology evolution principle that species can drive other species to extinction through competition.

Working with former KU postdoctoral researcher Luke Strotz, now of Northwest University in Xi’an, China, Lieberman found that the fossil record lacks the detailed data verifying competitive exclusion found in the history of steam engines. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced!

Many years ago, as a boy trying to bring in distant baseball broadcasts at night on my transister radio, I stumbled across a rural evangelist who was ranting about the godlessness of evolution. “Evolution says that if you put a six cylinder engine in your garage and let it sit there for a million years or so, when you come back and check on it, it will have become an eight cylinder engine!” he said, chuckling heartily. I thought that was the dumbest thing I had heard to that point in my life, and it still is in the top five. Little did I suspect that his idea of comparing mechanical objects with live organisms would be adopted decades later by actual scientists.

Episode II : Anything to Throw Them Off the Track

Continue reading

NPR Wonders If Transgender Athletes Have A Physical Advantage Over Female Competitors

Huh! Good question, NPR! It’s a mystery! A real head-scratcher! Oh if only there were some convincing evidence that going through puberty as a male confers some kind of advantage for trans female athletes! When will we have such information?

Oh, I almost forgot: “Nah, there’s no mainstream news media bias!” Also: “We pay taxes to support this crap???”

The World Athletics Council, the governing body for international track and field, announced last week that it will bar transgender women athletes from competing in events with everyday, normal, biological women who have been so from birth. This isn’t rocket science. What is ridiculous is that so many organizations are so devoted in their loyalty to Woke World that they are still in denial. That’s trans Ivy League swimming cheat Lia Thomas above with one of the little women who finished second to her during the past year’s contests, and no, they are not standing on platforms.

Continue reading

Latest Admittees To The “Do Something!” Hall Of Fame

The consistently ridiculous U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared last week that the world has just ten years to reduce “global emissions” beyond what any reasonable or politically viable measures can accomplish, and if it doesn’t, heat waves, famines and infectious diseases could claim millions of additional lives by century’s end. Or maybe not. The IPCC is not at all embarrassed about all the other supposed deadlines politicized climate change “experts” have confidently predicted and that it has relayed with absurd certainty. It doubtless will spit out yet another doomsday prediction after this one has passed. (That U.N. warning on the right dates from 1989. The deadline: 2000.)

As plenty of rational, honest scientist have pointed out, “the world” is nowhere close to ready to dump fossil fuels. Alternative technologies and energy sources have not shown that they can achieves what the slick TV commercials claim and promise. All of the targets, some of them supposedly mandatory, established by national and state governments are cynical, manipulative grandstanding. The useless U.N., as is its wont, is aspiring to world dominance and influence it does not have and (I hope) never achieves.

If you have no options, a wise man once said, you have no problem, but the theoretical climate change Sword of Damocles has been a useful device for unethical politicians–incompetent, irresponsible, dishonest—to attract public support through demagoguery. Spurred on by the U.N. jeremiad, two New York Times readers nicely illustrated this bizarre phenomenon in heartfelt letters to the Times editors:

Continue reading

The Revealing Resume

Business.com performed an experiment by sending two identical fake resumes to “180 unique job postings that were explicitly open to entry-level candidates.” Both featured a gender-ambiguous name, “Taylor Williams.” The only difference between two resumes was the presence of preferred gender pronouns on the test version. The test resume included “they/them” pronouns under the name in the header.

The fake resume including preferred pronouns received 8% less interest than the one without them, and fewer interview and phone screening invitations.

The researchers found this “worrisome.”Ryan McGonagill, director of industry research at Business.com, told NBC,

The law makes it clear that you cannot base any employment decision (hiring, terminating, or otherwise) based on their gender identity. It’s incredibly disappointing and unethical that many of the hiring managers in our study would disqualify a candidate for being authentic.”

Continue reading

Using Personality Testing For Anything But Party Games Is Unethical

Go ahead: change my mind.

Right on cue, after we were discussing why some elite universities were eschewing standardized test scores (that elite minorities inexplicably don’t tend to perform as well on as whites and Asian-Americans, though nobody can say why, at least out loud) and wondering what criteria schools might resort to instead to let them discriminate on the basis of race (you know, “affirmative action”) without appearing to do so, here comes the New York Times with an article about the growing popularity of so-called “personality tests.”

I should have seen itcoming. At least the report injects some skepticism into the analysis (“Critics are quick to point out that some of the tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which churns out four-letter distillations of personality, are about as reliable at predicting success in a professional endeavor as sorting candidates by astrological signs or Magic 8 Balls”), but what the report doesn’t do is state a simple fact: there is no reliable way whatsoever to measure the accuracy or value of such tests.

An outgrowth of psychology, which might be the most disappointing, unreliable and underachieving pseudo-scientific discipline of them all (if not an outright fraud), these tests purport to reduce the infinite complexity and variety of human behavior to something that can be quantified and measured by a test lasting a couple hours. Bollocks, as our British readers might say.

Continue reading

On Rasmussen’s Terrible Poll, Conservative Media Spin, And Scott Adams’ Self-Cancellation

Ugh. Polls.

Some misguided fool at the conservative polling operation Rasmussen Reports convinced the gang to ask 1,000 randomly chosen Americans two questions:

1. Do you agree or disagree with this statement:  “It’s OK to be white”?

2. Do you agree or disagree with this statement:  “Black people can be racist, too”?

Question #1 is unforgivable—incompetent, irresponsible, unethical. “It’s OK to be white” was designed as parallel “gotcha!” linguistic retort to “Black lives matter,” an equivalent to “When did you stop beating your wife?” What does it mean? Agreeing with “It’s OK to be white” might mean, “I reject the premise behind Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory!” It also could mean, “Of course it’s okay to be white; any other position is racist.”

Disagreeing with the statement might mean, “I see what you’re doing there: trying to weasel out of white society’s obligation to recognize the intrinsic injustices it inflicts on black citizens!” Or it might mean, “I hate those honky bastards! They’re all the same: evil.” Without defining terms, no poll is legitimate.

Rasmussen should be ashamed of itself.

Continue reading

Gee, I’ve Turned My Harvard Diploma To The Wall And Lowered It To Floor Level…What’s Left?

And the unethical hits just keep on coming in Cambridge…

Harvard Law School’s journal “Civil Rights and Civil Liberties” requires that applicants reveal their sexual orientation, gender identity and race for their article submissions to be considered, as well as including their preferred pronouns (mine are “Bite me!”) and whether he or she is blessed with a disability. These are the very same people who would scream if an employer required the same information. To be fair, that’s because the journal wants to practice good discrimination—you know, penalizing white, straight men, the source of all evil, strife and injustice.

Naturally, a presumably white, straight male has objected to these required disclosures. Wisconsin-based attorney Michael Cicchini, who submitted articles in the past, has blown the whistle on the journal. While the form includes the option “prefer not to say,” the application also announces in bold, “This form is mandatory. CR-CL will not review submissions from authors who have not completed this form,” thus making it clear that one will not curry favor by insisting on privacy. “Harvard should not be judging article submissions based on identity politics,” Cicchini says. Continue reading

Cowardly And Unethical College Administrators…Again

The ethics of this controversy are easy. How could Hamline College administrators screw it up so badly? That’s easy too.

An adjunct professor of art history at Hamline University (in Minnesota, where strange things are always happening), Erika López Prater, knew that Islam forbids depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, so before showing a 14th-century painting of Islam’s founder, she alerted any Muslim students taking her class through her course syllabus that images the Prophet Muhammad would be shown and studied in the course. She directed students with any concerns to contact her. No student did.

Before the class in which paintings of Muhammad were about to be shown, she again alerted students in case anyone felt they needed to leave. No student left. But after Dr. López Prater showed a painting featuring the prophet, a senior in the class complained to the administration. Then Muslim students who were not in the course argued that the class was an attack on their religion. Guess what?

Hamline officials told Dr. López Prater that she was out. Emails to students and faculty pronounced the episode “Islamophobic.” Hamline’s president, Fayneese S. Miller, co-signed an email saying that respect for the Muslim students “should have superseded academic freedom.” Continue reading

Can You Spot What’s Misleading And Incompetent About This “Study”?

Of course you can!

So why couldn’t the researchers?

An online survey  asked consumers to order virtual meals after randomly looking over menus that either had some form of climate labeling or none at all. 23.5% more of those who ordered from a menu that noted  “the least green” choices made a “sustainable” meal choice than those who ordered from menus without such information.

More than 5,000 adults 18 and older participated in the test in March and April of this year. They were told to imagine that they were at a restaurant ordering dinner. Subjects were randomly assigned to view only one of three menus on which every food option was identified by a photo that could be clicked when placing an order. One menu featured standard, climate neutral codes below each meal photo. Another featured red labels stating “high climate impact” under meals that included beef. A third menu featured green labels stating “low climate impact” under those meals that did not include beef.

The researchers concluded that both the high and low climate impact menu labels were effective at encouraging more sustainable food selections compared to the control. Continue reading