Lance Armstrong and two kinds of evidence

Which do you think is the stronger evidence for guilt or innocence?  Eyewitness accounts or scientific forensic evidence?  The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped cycling great Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from the sport for life on the basis of eye-witness accounts, even though he never failed a drug test.  Tracee Hamilton thinks this is wrong:

Armstrong never failed a drug test. He was tested in competition, out of competition. He was tested at the Olympics, at the Tour de France, at dozens if not hundreds of other events. And he never failed a test. We know this because if he had, Travis T. Tygart, the head of USADA, would have personally delivered the results to every home in America, like a grim little Santa Claus.

Instead, Tygart gathered a group of people who swear they saw Armstrong doping. There has been no trial, no due process, but in the minds of many, that testimony outweighs the results of hundreds of drug tests.

People lie. Blood and urine usually don’t. And if they do, they don’t lie 500 times. People do. Some lie that many times in a week. But okay. Let’s assume these people really are witnesses, let’s assume they’re telling the truth, and then let’s assume that their testimony is the new standard, outweighing all drug test results.

Then what in the world is the point of drug testing? In any sport, by any group, at any level of competition? If the results can be discarded in favor of testimony, then let’s go right to the testimony phase and quit horsing around with blood and urine. The cheaters are always ahead of USADA and its brethren anyway. They have deeper pockets and better doctors. So let’s toss out the baby with the blood and urine bath water and just call in witnesses who will recount all the bad things they saw their fellow competitors do. What in the world could possibly be wrong with that system?

I don’t know if Armstrong did the things he’s accused of doing, and neither do you. I don’t know if these witnesses are telling the truth, and neither do you. I do know two things: First, he passed all his tests. And second, if he had failed a drug test, and brought in 10 people to testify that they were with him every minute of every day leading up to the test and he never ingested anything, never injected anything, never doped his blood, would we be having this debate today? No, because he would have failed a drug test, and all the testimony in the world wouldn’t matter.

It can’t work both ways. Either a drug test is the standard, or it isn’t. A lot of athletes must be wondering the point of going through testing if they can be taken down anyway, regardless of the results, even years after the fact.

via Lance Armstrong vs. USADA: What are we to believe? – The Washington Post.

 

The Pro-lifer Stockholm Syndrome

A ferocious riposte from pro-life activist Hilary White on the Akin controversy, how pro-abortionists are fallaciously and cynically exploiting the issue and how many pro-lifers are caving:

The fact is, the abortion movement has invented the rape exception as a useful propaganda tool, a club with which to bludgeon pro-lifers into silence. They have succeeded in this because they know that a lot of pro-lifers will crumple at the first sign of shouting. It might not be a popular thing to say out loud, but in my travels I’ve met a significant number of “pro-lifers” whose primary concern is to find ways to demonstrate how “pro-woman” they are and are only too eager to rush to agree with the abortionists, or at least provide excuses for them, on the rape exception.

The fact that the feminist crocodile tears over rape-induced pregnancy have succeeded in driving a wedge into the pro-life movement is a sign that pro-lifers, particularly our politicians, are in desperate need of both a sturdy plank for their backs and some solid training in apologetics. We are already seeing pro-lifers in blog posts, comment boxes and on private lists fighting to get on the bandwagon, saying, “What a despicable thing to say!” and it’s only a tiny step from there to a friendly, placating, “There, there. We’re the nice pro-lifers. Of course we support a rape exception…”

I have coined the term “Pro-lifer Stockholm Syndrome” to describe a mental state in which a pro-lifer has become so concerned with being liked, or at least not hated, that she has actually gone over to the other side. In the old days, spiritual writers used to call this the error of “human respect.”

We might be able to concede that Akin spoke poorly, but it is imperative that we never abandon a single inch of the field to the pro-abortion side, yes, even when they’re screaming at us. It should be a rule that when a pro-lifer makes a mess of things, first, we don’t abandon him; second, we take control of the narrative and start demanding that they back up their claims with facts. Always call them on their assertions. Always.

She goes on to shoot down the notion that a child conceived by rape should be killed because of what the father did.  She also points out, referring to what Rep. Akins said, that there has long been research on how stress inhibits fertility, though no one dares study pregnancy rates among rape victims.  Still, she says, pro-abortionists, far from defending science, reject scientific findings when it comes to the life of the fetus and the effect of abortion on women.  She concludes:

We are expected to jump like rabbits every time someone shrieks about pregnancy due to rape. But they only do this because they know it works. I can understand it, who likes to be shouted at and called nasty names? But it is imperative that we learn that this is nothing more than a political slogan, a rather dirty trick.

As our friend the pro-life apologetics trainer Scott Klusendorf likes to say, “So OK, if I change my position to support legalised abortion in the 0.0001 per cent of cases of pregnancy due to rape and incest, will you then drop your insistence on restriction-free abortion on demand?

“Yah, didn’t think so.”

via Pro-lifer Stockholm Syndrome: Rape, Todd Akin and appeasing abortionists | LifeSiteNews.com.

HT:  James M. Kushiner

Republicans postpone convention

Good thing we don’t believe in omens.  (Or do we?):  The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, was supposed to start today.  It’s been postponed until Tuesday, for fear that Tropical Storm Isaac might turn into Hurricane Isaac, which may very well wreak havoc in the Sunshine state and with Republican convention plans.

Republican National Convention reworking schedule because of Tropical Storm Isaac – The Washington Post.

I Did Not Know That

Local columnist John Kelly asked readers to tell about “common knowledge” that they somehow missed.  Some examples:

A reader named Andrea said she was raised in Upstate New York and didn’t visit Washington until she was 21. Growing up, she would hear about artifacts that were being put “in the Smithsonian.”

Wrote Andrea: “I had always thought that the Smithsonian was that tall pointy thing that I had seen pictures of in textbooks — you know, the Washington Monument — and wondered how it all fit in there. I’m not sure when I was disabused of this idea, but to this day I almost always accidentally call the Washington Monument the ‘Smithsonian’ in my head before pointing it out to people — and identifying it correctly — out loud.”

A reader I’ll call “Jan” has had her driver’s license for 35 years. “I understand how cars work and am a good driver,” she wrote. “However, I only learned from my husband a few years ago what those little white lights on the rear of a car were: the back up lights. . . . I keep wondering what else I don’t know.”

Frederick’s Annie Hughes confessed that until about five years ago, she did not know that thunder is the sound lightning makes. “I am very embarrassed to admit that fact,” she wrote. . . .

Laurel’s Charlie Goedeke calls himself “a highly trained modern engineer” who has always enjoyed classical music. “For years I listened to and appreciated the music of Chopin — as in ‘Chopping,’ with a silent g — on recordings,” Charlie wrote. “At the same time I was vaguely aware of the existence of another composer, ‘Showpan,’ heard often on the radio. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s, when a friend was asked to play a Chopin piece on our piano, that the connection between the two finally clicked.”

Annandale’s Jane Pacelli said that she was baffled for years by two words that seemed to have similar, if not identical, meanings: “The word ‘subtle’ (presumably pronounced SUB-tul) was often seen in print but never heard in conversation,” she wrote. “Its twin was pronounced SUTT-el (and presumably spelled ‘suttle’) and never seen in print.” . . .

One day when he was in his 10th-grade biology class, Germantown’s Vince Opperman listened to the teacher answer a student’s questions about blood transfusions and how important our RH factor is when getting blood.

“This seemed odd to me, not having done my homework,” Vince wrote. “So I asked: ‘What does our age have to do with it?’ Brought down the house.”

via Day 2 of ‘I Did Not Know That’: So-called common knowledge – The Washington Post.

We’ve been kind of serious around this blog for awhile, and a jolt of humility is good for all of us.  Under the anonymity of the internet, what are some things like these that you should have known but just didn’t?

Antibiotic woes

In today’s scientific livestock industry, cattle are often given antibiotics. Not as medicine but “to fatten them up.”  Apparently the drugs kill beneficent bacteria in the animal’s digestive system that causes them to put on weight.  Now the light has dawned in the minds of some medical researchers.  Could the heavy use of antibiotics among human beings be a factor in our obesity problems?  Are we fattening ourselves up like drugged cattle in a feed lot?  See Early use of antibiotics linked to obesity, research finds – The Washington Post.

In other antibiotic news, a “superbug“–a strain of bacteria completely resistant to all known antibiotics killed six people at the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Center.  The linked article estimates that 6% of American hospitals are infested with this thing.  (This doesn’t seem to be a case of what scientists have been worried about, bacteria that have developed a resistance to antibiotics because of their overuse and evolved into something that cannot be killed.  [That wouldn't be evolution, by the way, just natural selection, which I don't think anyone denies.  Faster animals outrun predators, animals adapt, and the fittest do survive.  What Darwin did was insist that natural selection eventually turns one species into another.]  Anyway, this superbug is normally one of those friendly bacteria that inhabits our bodies, but when a person’s immune system goes wrong, it turns into a monster.

The great soda grants

George Will describes how a stimulus program that became part of Obamacare shelled out millions of dollars worth of grants to lobby lawmakers against soft drinks:

Because nothing is as immortal as a temporary government program, Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), a creature of the stimulus, was folded into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working through the CPPW, disbursed money to 25 states to fight, among other things, the scourge of soda pop.

In Cook County, Ill., according to an official report, recipients using some of a $16 million CDC grant “educated policymakers on link between SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] and obesity, economic impact of an SSB tax, and importance of investing revenue into prevention.” According to a Philadelphia city Web site, a $15 million CDC grant funded efforts to “campaign” for a “two-cent per ounce excise tax” on SSBs. In California, an official report says that a $2.2 million CDC grant for obesity prevention funded “training for grantees on media advocacy” against SSBs. A New York report says that a $3 million grant was used to “educate leaders and decision-makers about, and promote the effective implementation of . . . a tax to substantially increase the price of beverages containing caloric sweetener.” The Rhode Island Department of Health used a $3 million grant for “educating key decision-makers to serve as champions of specific . . . pricing and procurement strategies to reduce consumption of” SSBs. In government-speak, “educating” is synonymous with “lobbying.”

Clearly some of the $230 million in CDC/CPPW anti-obesity grants was spent in violation of the law, which prohibits the use of federal funds “to influence in any manner . . . an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation.” But leaving legality aside, is such “nutrition activism” effective? . . .

Research indicates that overweight individuals have “reasonably close” to accurate estimates of the increased health risks and decreased life expectancy associated with obesity. Hence the weakness of mandated information as a modifier of behavior. A study conducted after New York City mandated posting calorie counts in restaurant chains concluded that, while 28 percent of patrons said the information influenced their choices, researchers could not detect a change in calories purchased after the law.

Other research findings include: A study of nearly 20,000 students from kindergarten through eighth grade found that among those with easy access to high-calorie snacks in schools, 35.5 percent were overweight — compared with 34.8 percent of children in schools without such snacks. Nutrition policy is replicating a familiar pattern: Increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco mostly decrease consumption by light users, not the heavy users who are the social problem and whose demand is relatively inelastic.

The robust market in diet books, weight-loss centers, exercise equipment, athletic clubs, health foods — between 1987 and 2004, 35,272 new food products were labeled “no fat” or “low fat” — refutes the theory that there is some “market failure” government must correct. But as long as there are bureaucrats who consider themselves completely rational and informed, there will be policies to substitute government supervision of individuals for individuals’ personal responsibility.

As the soft paternalism of incentives fails, there will be increasing resort to the hard paternalism of mandates and proscriptions. Hence the increasing need to supervise our supervisors, the government.

via George Will: Why government needs a diet – The Washington Post.

Another thing, besides it being illegal for the government to fund efforts to lobby the government.  Who is getting these grants, and how are they spending that $15 million?  Educating  policymakers should require some handouts, a PowerPoint set up, and maybe some coffee and doughnuts.  How could that cost $15 million?


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