Thursday, March 09, 2017
A nod and a wink: Decoding academic text
Academic text is notoriously difficult to read. It can even be difficult for fellow academics to make much out of it. That fact lay behind one of the few compliments I have ever received from a fellow academic. Ken Rigby once said to me: "John, we don't always agree with you but at least we can understand what you are saying".
See what you can make out of the excerpt below from JAMA. It is from an editorial about the effect of diet on health.
Did you get the idea that the editorial is rubbishing the whole idea that diet has any significant effect on health? That IS what it is saying in a cautious academic way. It even nominates the chief reason why the existing studies are inconclusive. The mention is super-brief but it is there. Its inclusion is so brief that it is only a nod and a wink to readers in the know. The mention is: "particularly socioeconomic factors". That's pretty vague isn't it? What does it mean? Does it set off any alarm bells?
It is in fact put in such a away as to avoid setting of alarm bells. It is designed to avoid highlighting something that is HUGELY politically incorrect: The fact that the poor tend to experience more illness and tend to die young. Mentioning that fact out in the open is likely to cause huge eruptions about justice and the like from Leftists -- and the innocent messenger of truth can get shot for telling that truth. Chris Brand, for instance, got fired from a tenured university teaching job for mentioning that not all pedophiles are equal.
So the fact glided over in this case is that social class is seldom mentioned in medical research, not because it is unimportant but because it is in fact hugely important. It is not going too far to say that most apparent diet effects are in fact simply social class effects. The current dietary craze about the evils of sugar, for instance, is based on research which ignores social class. The poor drink more fizzy, sugary drinks so any evidence that sugar is bad for you may really be just another demonstration that the poor have more health problems. The research will be presented as an association between the drink and health while the real thing going on is an association between the drinker and health.
So what we have here is an elite conspiracy to cover up an unpleasant truth. To hang a conspiracy on the single paragraph I have reproduced would of course be absurd. What is not absurd is the fact that this is only one pebble on the beach: The great majority of research papers on diet completely ignore social class. The writers concerned will usually be well up on the social class tree but mentioning social class is odious to them.
And there is a huge price to pay for that embarrassment. By ignoring the possibility that what looks like a diet effect is in fact a social class effect, the papers concerned are rendered moot. They prove nothing and are no evidence for anything. Vast tracts of the medical literature might as well not have been written.
And perhaps the saddest thing of all is that most medical researchers would be aware of possible class effects in their data. Social class is one of the most powerful predictors of ill-health that there is. Any time class IS measured it does reveal itself as an important associate of whatever type of ill-health is being studied. So for the sake of political correctness, researchers do and report work that is meaningless. By ignoring social class, they completely waste their time and efforts. So what we see above is just a nod and a wink where there should be a major scandal.
I suppose we have to be be thankful that the truth is still out there -- as it is above -- for those who know how to read it.
A bit more on the politics of the matter: The editorial by the JAMA editors excerpted above was in response to an article by Micha et al. which they published in the same issue of the journal. The article is rubbish. It is all based on "estimates" that take the existing poorly controlled literature as gospel. But because what Micha et al. did was completely conventional, the editors apparently felt obliged to publish it. They should have rejected it but to do so would have put them at odds with the whole racket that is the conventional narrative about diet and health. So they opted to put their doubts in a cautious editorial only.
REFERENCE: Noel T. Mueller et al. "Attributing Death to Diet: Precision Counts" JAMA. 2017;317(9):908-909. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0946
D.C. Area School District To Close For ‘A Day Without A Woman’ Protest
It’s being billed as “A Day Without a Woman,” but apparently only pro-union, pro-choice, anti-Israel women who can afford to skip work need apply.
The one-day “general strike” is coming under fire from the right and the left for its mixed political messages, as well as the havoc caused by the closure of some schools Wednesday driven by anticipated staff absences.
At least two large school districts — Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina — have announced that they will close in anticipation of hundreds of staff absences, igniting a backlash from parents.
A possible reason for the absences? The U.S. protest is being led by the Women’s March on Washington, whose partners include the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions — the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, an arm of the AFL-CIO.
Conservative pundit Mollie Hemingway, who lives in Alexandria, posted phone numbers Monday for the school district along with the message, “Local gov’t schools are shuttering for leftist propaganda day. So thankful my daughters have better role models at their Lutheran school!”
The Wednesday protest, which coincides with International Women’s Day, is billed as a worldwide “one-day demonstration of economic solidarity.” Participants are urged to take the day off from “paid and unpaid labor” and wear red.
Organizers also have called on supporters to avoid shopping “with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses.”
“The goal is to highlight the economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies, while calling attention to the economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face,” said the statement.
Like the Women’s March, however, the event is embedded with political messages that many women may find objectionable.
The Day Without a Woman manifesto includes strong support for unions, a “living wage,” “fair pay” and “solidarity with the sex workers’ rights movement,” without explaining what those policies entail.
One of the group’s premier partners is Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, which effectively shuts out pro-life women, said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.
“Does Planned Parenthood, a main sponsor of the Women’s March, approve the closing of schools and putting unnecessary burdens on women, especially working mothers who rely on a regular school schedule?” said Ms. Hawkins. “Are they OK with children from low-income families who will go hungry on Wednesday? Women’s empowerment shouldn’t rely on putting other women and children in precarious situations just to make a point.”
Then there’s the Israel angle. Among the international organizers is Rasmea Yousef Odeh, a Palestinian activist who was convicted in a 1969 Jerusalem terrorist bombing that left two Israeli men dead and was released 10 years later as part of a prisoner exchange.
“So, here we are in 2017 and a convicted terrorist who murdered two people with impunity (even Odeh’s cousin confirmed in a documentary that she was responsible for the attack) is a leading figure in the contemporary women’s movement,” said Willem Hart in an op-ed on the B’nai B’rith Canada website.
He pointed to the prominent role in the Women’s March in January played by Linda Sarsour, an outspoken advocate of Shariah law and the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement.
“And, just as Linda Sarsour’s political agenda was given credence in January, not to mention landing an audience of millions of people, now yet another vehemently anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and antisemitic ‘activist’ will be given a platform to spew her radical ideologies,” Mr. Hart wrote.
Despite the protest’s staunch left-wing agenda, even some progressives are uncomfortable with the event, arguing that only “privileged” women have the wherewithal to take a day off without economic consequences.
“The idea behind the strike is a noble one. Who doesn’t want economic equality for everyone?” said feminist writer Maureen Shaw on online news outlet Quartz. “But in practice, most American women cannot afford to opt out of either paid or unpaid labor. This fact, coupled with the very broad aims of the strike, is concerning.”
The idea is modeled on events like last month’s “A Day Without Immigrants,” which was intended to highlight the economic importance of noncitizens. One key difference is that while most immigrants are not instantly recognizable to those who interact with them on the job, most women are.
“We are nearly half the labor force now. We are just as important in the workplace and to our families’ fiscal welfare as men. All things being equal (which is what we’re after, right?), we are too essential to play hooky,” said Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum.
In its Monday statement, the Alexandria school district insisted that the decision to close for the day was based on staffing, not politics.
“The decision is based solely on our ability to provide sufficient staff to cover all our classrooms, and the impact of high staff absenteeism on student safety and delivery of instruction. It is not based on a political stance or position,” said the district.
Both the Virginia and North Carolina school districts were flooded with messages on their Facebook pages from parents and others. Some praised the closures as a way to stand with teachers, while many blasted the districts for kowtowing to political pressure.
“It’s illegal for public servants (and yes, that includes teachers) to strike in North Carolina. I would hope that CHCCS would put a stop to this nonsense — as in FIRE THEM,” said Megan Elise in a post.
Why Do American Jews Want Thousands of Jew Haters in America?
Last week, the Jerusalem Post and other news agencies reported that in a Paris suburb, two Jewish brothers wearing kippot (Jewish skullcaps) were attacked while driving their car by Middle Easterners driving another car.
According to a case report: “While the vehicle was in motion, the driver and a passenger shouted anti-Semitic slogans at the brothers that included ‘Dirty Jews, You’re going to die!’ … The vehicle forced the brothers to stop their car, and they were surrounded by several men … The men came out of a hookah cafe on to the side street … The alleged attackers surrounded the brothers, then kicked and punched them repeatedly while threatening that they would be murdered if they moved. One of the alleged attackers then sawed off the finger of one of the brothers.”
Attacks on Jews in France and elsewhere in Europe by Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA, are so common that for the first time since World War II, Jews in France fear wearing a kippah or a Star of David in public. So many French Jews are leaving France that two years ago, then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls gave an impassioned speech pleading with French Jews to stay in France.
It has gotten so bad for Jews in Europe that The Atlantic, a liberal magazine, recently featured an article titled “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?”
In Sweden, attacks on Jews in Malmo, the country’s third largest city, are so common that Jews are leaving the city and the country.
Last year, the Jerusalem Post published an article about a Jewish couple that had lived in Sweden since the middle of World War II. Dan and Karla (not their real names) are Danish Jews who were smuggled into Sweden as children. Their gratitude for Sweden has been immense.
But they have now left their homeland, the country that saved their lives, to live in Spain. They lived in Malmo. In Dan’s words, the immense saturation of Jew hatred in the city was caused by “the adverse effects of accepting half-a-million immigrants from the Middle East, who plainly weren’t interesting in adopting Sweden’s values and Swedish culture. … The politicians, the media, the intellectuals … they all played their parts in pandering to this dangerous ideology and, sadly, it’s changing the fabric of Swedish society irreversibly.”
The Post continued, saying, “Karla, who’d sat passively, occasionally nodding in agreement at Dan’s analysis, then interrupted, saying, ‘If you disagree with the establishment, you’re immediately called a racist or fascist.’” (Sound familiar?)
The British newspaper The Telegraph recently reported: “Jewish people in Malmo have long complained of growing harassment in the city, where 43 per cent of the population have a non-Swedish background, with Iraqis, Lebanese and stateless Palestinians some of the largest groups. The Jewish community centre in the city is heavily fortified, with security doors and bollards on the outside pavement to prevent car bombs.”
An article in the left-wing HuffingtonPost reached a now-familiar conclusion, saying: “Migrants streaming into Europe from the Middle East are bringing with them virulent anti-Semitism which is erupting from Scandinavia to France to Germany. … While all of the incoming refugees and migrants, fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim lands, may not hold anti-Jewish views, an extremely large number do — simply as a result to being raised in places where anti-Jewish vitriol is poured out in TV, newspapers, schools and mosques. … ‘There is no future for Jews in Europe’ said the chief Rabbi of Brussels.”
Yet, despite all this Muslim-immigrant Jew hatred, more than a thousand rabbis have signed a petition to bring large numbers of MENA Muslims into America, and virtually all Jewish organizations outside of orthodoxy and the Zionist Organization of America have condemned President Trump’s administration for enacting even a temporary travel ban (one due entirely to security concerns) on immigrants and refugees from seven (of the world’s more than 50) Muslim-majority countries.
How is one to explain the widespread American Jewish support for bringing in a massive number of people, many of whom will bring in anti-Jew, anti-Israel and anti-West values?
First, they are staggeringly naive believing, for example, that marching at airports with signs that read “We love Muslims” will change those Muslims who hate Jews into Muslims who love Jews.
Second, never underestimate the power of feeling good about yourself that exists on the Left (the self-esteem movement originated on the Left). And it feels very good for these Jews to say: “Look, world. You abandoned us in the 1930s, but we’re better than you.”
And third, when American Jews abandoned traditional liberal and traditional Jewish values for leftist values, they became less Jewish, less American and more foolish.
Just ask the Jews of Europe.
Texas Legislature to Consider Bill to Ensure ‘Public Safety’ in Bathrooms
Texas is taking measures to protect its citizens from laws that hinder “common sense and public safety” when it comes to transgender persons being allowed to use both men’s and women’s restrooms.
“This is a public safety issue,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, said during a conference call with reporters Friday.
Legislation filed by Texas state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, seeks to ensure that men and women use separate bathrooms.
Kolkhorst said the bill, titled the Texas Privacy Act, will clarify who will be allowed to enter both men’s and women’s restrooms.
“I don’t view this bill as a transgender bill,” Kolkhorst said in the conference call. “It truly is about public safety … It is not against the law for a man to enter a woman’s restroom dressed looking like a man. There is nothing on the books here in Texas.”
The gender on a person’s birth certificate would determine which bathroom Texans could use.
“In Texas, there is a way to change your birth certificate and it is going before a district judge and presenting the date of either hormone therapy or the surgery and then the judge makes the decision that [the gender on] the birth certificate shall be changed,” Kolkhorst said.
Patrick said the bill is necessary because it is “common practice” that men and women use separate bathrooms.
“The people of Texas elected us to stand up for common decency, common sense, and public safety,” Patrick said in a statement. “This legislation codifies what has been common practice in Texas and everywhere else forever—that men and women should use separate, designated bathrooms.”
Patrick says the legislation has received bipartisan support and is viewed favorably by men and women, African-Americans, and Hispanics.
While ensuring that bathrooms remain separate for men and women, the bill also specifies that “no public school can institute a bathroom policy that allows boys to go in girls restrooms, showers, and locker rooms and girls to go in boys restrooms, showers, and locker rooms,” according to Patrick’s statement.
According to Patrick’s office, the hearing for the Texas Privacy Act is the first legislative hearing for privacy protection legislation following President Donald Trump’s revocation of President Barack Obama’s bathroom directive issued by the Justice and Education departments in May.
Obama’s directive allowed students identifying as transgender to be able to use the restroom that corresponded with their gender identity and mandated schools conform to the rule.
Trump rescinded the directive in late February, and a statement from the White House on bathroom usage specified that policy for those who identify as transgender should be decided by the states.
Opponents of the Texas bill say they are concerned that Kolkhorst’s legislation is too similar to the bathroom bill passed by North Carolina last March.
During a conference call with reporters, Patrick said that he does not believe the Texas Privacy Act will have adverse economic effects.
Critics of North Carolina’s bill claim the state lost out on economic opportunities because of the bill, CNN reports.
According to CNN, businesses chose not to expand because of the bill and the NBA moved its All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, to a location outside the state.
However, former North Carolina Commerce Secretary John Skvarla said North Carolina’s economy was not adversely affected, according to The Charlotte Observer.
“It hasn’t moved the needle one iota,” Skvarla said in October.
Patrick argued the Texas bill was different than the North Carolina bill.
“I think there has been significant misrepresentation in what happened in North Carolina,” Patrick said. “Our bill is not the North Carolina bill … Our bill is very narrow and it deals with public safety, keeping sexual predators pretending to be transgender people [from entering] adult bathrooms.”
Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that this bill is appropriate because it seeks to protect the dignity of all people.
“While we must be sensitive to the dignity, privacy, and safety concerns of people who identify as transgender, that is not a reason to ignore the dignity, privacy, and safety concerns of everyone else,” Anderson said in an email to The Daily Signal.
The Texas Privacy Act hearing is scheduled for March 7 in the Texas Senate.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.