Archive for November, 2017

Foxworthy Releases Results of EPA Experiment on Scientists

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 2, 2017 by deborah1960

At a conference on the role of science in governance, Dr. Reynard J. Foxworthy III, recently appointed Acting Top Scientist for Extremely Scientific Stuff at the EPA, released the findings from his study on the effects of recent EPA and Department of Interior policies upon scientists.  These policies forbid recipients of federal research grants from participating in governmental advisory boards.  Citing the Book of Joshua for some reason or other, Director Pruitt told the scientists that they can take the money for the research, or share the benefits of their research by serving on governmental advisory boards, but they can’t do both.

When asked about the rationale for this decision, Dr. Foxworthy explained that it would be totally unfair for the government to get advice on science from the scientists whom the government paid to conduct science.  “It gives them a competitive edge over the poor scientists who have to rely solely on private industry to fund their research. It’s really, really, extremely unfair, believe me.  I mean, how much money do you think the fossil fuel industry has to fund their research into naturally occurring cycles of slightly warmer weather?”

Upon further questioning about the propriety of using the bible to determine governmental policy on science, Foxworthy chortled heartily.  “Why, there’s lots of science in the bible!  In that same Book of Joshua, it states that the Lord made the sun stand still for two days—proof positive that the sun orbits the earth. And if you want proof about the divine origins of the universe, you don’t have to look any farther than Genesis.”

Noting the late hour and his incredibly busy schedule, Dr. Foxworthy declined to answer any questions about Galileo and Stephen Hawking.  Instead, he dived into his findings of his “big, beautiful study.”

“As expected, nearly all the scientists who accepted grants have displayed symptoms of repetitive concussion brain injury, caused by repeatedly hitting their heads against the wall.  Other observed phenomena include insomnia, increased nail biting, and spikes in reported cases of repressed rage syndrome.”

However, the truly surprising findings were associated with the private industry scientists.  A sizable minority of scientists were seen strutting their stuff in their laboratories while singing “I Got Mine.”  However, the majority (52%) suffered symptoms of varying degrees of guilt.  Extreme cases were found sleepwalking, miming the washing of hands, and muttering, “Out, damned Scott. Out, I say!”

Audience members were curious about the methodology employed by Dr. Foxworthy, and some were frankly surprised when Dr. Foxworthy discounted the need for controls or adherence to ethical guidelines for the conduct of research upon human subjects.  Eyebrows were definitely raised when Dr. Foxworthy noted that he wasn’t testing any particular hypothesis, but just thought it would be “kind of fun to mess with those hoity-toity government-funded scientists.”

Dr. Foxworthy has been a figure of controversy since his appointment, not least because he admits that he hasn’t been in a lab since his eleventh grade chemistry class at the New York Military Academy for Troubled Scions.  He earned his doctorate in Really Scientific Creationism from the Holy Smoke! School of Theology, with a dissertation entitled, “The Role of Divine Punishment in Communicable Disease.” He is the author of such scientific works as It’s Faith that Moves Mountains, Not Fracking and The Role of Petrochemical Spills on the Calming of Turbulent Waters.

©2017 D. R. Miller

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Critical Thinking Today’s Q and A About the Mueller Indictments

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2017 by deborah1960

Well!  You can’t say that Robert Mueller doesn’t know how to throw a curve ball.  Everyone knew about one indictment, and some savvy money was on Manafort, but two? And an admission of guilt?  Who says Christmas comes only in December?

In case you’ve been under a rock, here’s the low down:  Bobby Mueller has convinced a federal grand jury that Paul Manafort and his minion Jack Gates have committed a vast array of federal felonies, including conspiracy, tax evasion, money laundering, and failure to register as foreign agents.

Additionally, there’s the admission of guilt by George Papadopoulos.  In it, Georgie admits that he’s been a very bad boy indeed, having lied to the FBI about the timing and nature of interactions that he had with various Russian nationals on such sundry matters as emails and dirt on Hillary.  Of course, President Trump is saying “George who?”, but it wasn’t so long ago that Candidate Trump glowingly referred to Mr. Papadopoulos as “an excellent guy” who was one of his campaign’s five foreign policy advisors.

So those are the facts.  Now, some questions from the audience.

  1. What’s the big deal? It’s not like Jack and Paul are convicted or anything.

I can see your point.  In a sense,  this ain’t much—at this point in the game, all Mueller has to do is convince the grand jury that it’s more likely than not that a crime was committed in order to get the indictment.  It’s no guarantee of an ultimate conviction. True enough, but here’s a little piece of fat to chew over:  under the DOJ’s Principles of Federal Prosecution, in an indictment, a US Attorney should not recommend charges that he or she does not believe can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  And there’s something about the cut of Bobby’s jib that makes me think he takes those principles very seriously indeed.

  1. Why did Mueller release the indictments at the same time as the admission of guilt?

Other than wanting to give his legions of admirers an extra treat, there’s an excellent tactical reason for Mueller’s decision to release  the Papadopoulos admission at the same time as the Gates/Manafort indictments:  nothing says “you might want to reconsider your decision not to cooperate with the prosecutor” like an act of mercy juxtaposed with a napalm attack.  I wouldn’t be surprised if George ends up with probation, while Gates and Manafort, if found guilty of all charges, could be in for a very, very, very long sentence indeed.  The message should be clear to all possible actors in this sordid attack on our government:  speak up, and I’ll be merciful; be a dick, and you’ll rue the day you were born.  Even Jack and Paul should be able to read the tea leaves; if they showed up at Mueller’s office with a contrite heart and a willing set of jaws, I bet they’d be pleasantly surprised at how smoothly all this could go for them.

  1. Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27, but no one knew about it until his guilty plea was released on October 30. All that time, he was a “cooperating witness,” which must have been quite a mean feat to pull off. But when I read George’s admission of guilt, I got the distinct impression that he was a suit short of a full deck of cards. How in the world did he manage to keep his yap shut for such an extended period of time without letting on to any of his co-workers?

Well, yes, I think you’re right:  it was an amazing trick.  However, you might have misplaced the credit.  I think that Mr. Mueller, and not Mr. Papadopoulos, managed to pull off that particular caper.  I don’t have first-hand knowledge, but I suspect Mr. Mueller employed an old prosecutorial trick called the Ninja nut-twist.  It takes years of experience to know how to achieve that Platonic balance of employing enough rigor to get the witness to do what you want without making him squeal like a stuck pig.  I imagine that Robert is a Zen master by this point.

  1. By the way, what does a “cooperating witness” do?

The short answer is, whatever the prosecutor wants him to do.  As for the particulars, I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess—but I bet George’s former colleagues are doing just that as I type these words!

  1. Robert Mueller is saying one thing, and the President is saying another. Whom should I believe?

Seriously?  This is a question?  Tell you what.  As your Critical Thinking Teacher, I’m going to give you some homework.  Check out this brilliantly written masterpiece on how to judge the credibility of a witness by using RAVEN (Reputation for honesty, Ability to see, Vested interest, Expertise, and Neutrality), and then get back to me with your answer. Here’s a hint:  focus on “R.”

6. But what about Killary’s uranium? And Benghazi?  

 I. Can’t. Even. Here. Read this.  And this. Life is just too short.

  1. Ha, ha! Just messing with you! My real question is, since the first leaks about the indictments surfaced, Faux News, Rush Limbaugh, and others of their ilk have come out with guns a blazing, saying that the real scandal is anything remotely to do with Hillary.  I know that this is a false equivalency designed to distract me from the matter at hand, which is whether the Trump campaign gave a tiny but helpful hand to Putin’s plan to wreck our election.  But I can’t decide:  is this a red herring, or is it ignoratio elenchi?

Excellent question, Hermione, and a succinct description of both of these logical flaws.  The distinction can be difficult to make however, because it depends upon the intent of the person throwing rhetorical sand in his opponent’s eyes.  As you might recall from the delightful article “Ignoramus Rex,” a red herring requires intent, while ignoratio elenchi occurs when the opponent blurts out an irrelevant refutation without intending to do so.  Now, to absolutely prove intent, you would have to enter Rush’s mind—a sad and lonely place, to be sure, and I really don’t recommend it.  However, judging from the highly coordinated nature of their verbal blitzkrieg upon logic, I think it’s safe to conclude that they actually meant to fling their balderdash.  Hence, I would characterize their flaw as a red herring.

Well, that was fun.  I’d love to answer some more questions, but there really is the most marvelous World Series going on.  Gotta go!

©2017 D. R. Miller