Nov 05 2015

The Ben Carson Contradiction

By all accounts, Ben Carson is a brilliant pediatric neurosurgeon. He was the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital until he retired, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his surgical achievements.

Carson’s views have come under close scrutiny since he has become a presidential candidate and is closing in on the frontrunner position. Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist. He is a creationist who has stated that he believes Darwin came up with the idea of evolution because of Satan. He thinks the Big Bang is a “fairy tale.”

He famously suggested that those who believe in evolution have no basis for their morality, saying:

“Ultimately, if you accept the evolutionary theory, you dismiss ethics, you don’t have to abide by a set of moral codes, you determine your own conscience based on your own desires.”

This claim is transparently wrong, and discounts a vast and rich philosophical history of morality and ethics.

Apparently the well of anti-intellectual things that Ben Carson has said is very deep, and the media have no difficulty bringing up more examples. Most recently a video from a 1998 commencement speech has surfaced in which Carson states his belief that the Biblical Joseph built the pyramids of Egypt to store grain. He states directly that the world’s archaeologists are wrong, the pyramids were not built for the pharaohs, but Carson in his brilliance had divined their true history and purpose.

His brilliant insight is that something huge must have been built to store grain, and that structure would not just vanish, so perhaps it was the pyramids. Never mind all that archaeological evidence for how, when, and why the pyramids were built and the utter lack of evidence for the Joseph-grain storage hypothesis.

I bring all this up in order to address a question – how can one person be undeniably brilliant in one sphere of their intellectual life, and shockingly ignorant and anti-intellectual in other spheres? I have heard this question often in recent weeks, pretty much every time a new revelation about Carson’s beliefs comes out.

I don’t think this is as much of a contradiction as it may at first seem. Carson is evidence for something that I have tried to emphasize often here – all humans suffer from similar cognitive flaws and biases. We can all be brilliant and stupid at the same time, and apparently have no difficulty compartmentalizing our beliefs in order to minimize cognitive dissonance.

I write frequently about the neuroscience of belief, because I think there is no greater insight we can have than how our own brains function, because that is the tool we use to understand the rest of the universe. Invariably, however, when I discuss a specific cognitive flaw or bias, the common reaction is the equivalent of, “Yeah, other people are stupid.”

Take, for example, the Dunning-Kruger effect. I almost universally hear this principle described as, “dumb people are too dumb to realize how dumb they are.” The data, however, does not support this conclusion. It does not reveal something about “dumb people,” but rather something about all people. We are all on the Dunning-Kruger spectrum, and we can be on different places on the spectrum with regard to different areas of knowledge, at the same time.

It would be better to state the Dunning-Kruger effect as, “People have difficulty assessing their own level of knowledge or expertise with a tendency to be increasingly overconfident at decreasing levels of knowledge.” The Dunning-Kruger effect describes all people, not just dumb people.

Ben Carson is not an anomaly or contradiction. He is a perfect representation of humanity.

Carson is also evidence that people who hold extreme or anti-scientific beliefs are not necessarily stupid. Belief in pseudoscience and the paranormal is not about general intelligence. It is about the human tendency to form and maintain beliefs for a variety of social, cultural, and personal reasons.

Most people adopt the religion into which they were raised.  Retention rates for most major religions are above 60%. But there are also generational and cultural trends as well.

Conclusion

The existence of technical brilliance alongside extreme anti-science beliefs in Ben Carson is not an anomaly. It is the human condition. It means he has an extreme belief system that has a dominant effect on how he views the world.

Understanding common tendencies in human behavior, however, does not mean there aren’t important differences in how people form and maintain their beliefs. People have different habits and tendencies. Skepticism is about habitually challenging your own beliefs. Examining the logic and evidence, and using knowledge of human psychology and neuroscience to understand the biases that might be at work in your own thinking.

What we can conclude about Carson is that he is not systematically following a valid intellectual process in forming his beliefs. He has no problem dismissing the opinion of experts and scientists, and substituting his own poorly-informed hunches. Obviously this is a disturbing trait in someone running for high office.

77 responses so far

77 Responses to “The Ben Carson Contradiction”

  1. NotAMarsupialon 05 Nov 2015 at 9:05 am

    Not splitting hairs here, but did he really refer to the Big Bang as a “fairy tail” rather than a “fairy tale”? No worries if it’s just a typo, but if it isn’t, then that makes the story even better.

  2. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 9:17 am

    Jesus… Even from the UK, the thought of this guy becoming president fills me with dread.

  3. edwardBeon 05 Nov 2015 at 9:26 am

    Yeah, and Donald Trump as well.

  4. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 9:37 am

    He’s apparently not convinced on AGW either. Oh shit…

  5. Kestrelon 05 Nov 2015 at 10:11 am

    “Carson is also evidence that people who hold extreme or anti-scientific beliefs are not necessarily stupid.”
    Yeah… I agree with your overall point but I’m not convinced that Carson isn’t an idiot.

  6. Zhankforon 05 Nov 2015 at 10:20 am

    I’d just like to point out that even from a Biblical literalist point of view, the Bible doesn’t say that the pyramids were built as grain storage, it says that the Israelites were forced by the Pharaoh to build
    Pithom and Ramses as store cities.” No mention of pyramids at all, even if one is going to take the Bible as the ultimate archaeological source material. I bring this up to make two points:

    1) It suggests Carson isn’t even all that familiar with what the Bible says, but with what a generally uneducated person or a young child thinks the Bible says.

    2) Carson isn’t just parroting Biblical literalist opinions, it seems like he really did come to this conclusion through his own thinking.

  7. llewellyon 05 Nov 2015 at 10:53 am

    ” how can one person be undeniably brilliant in one sphere of their intellectual life, and shockingly ignorant and anti-intellectual in other spheres?”

    Although computers and brains are very different, it is almost guaranteed that they follow the same mathematical laws.

    So consider the panoply of computer chips. Most modern computers have a specialized chip or “sound card” in older systems, or subsection of an “SOC” in small computers such as your phone, which is dedicated to sound. It’s very efficient at doing things appropriate for sound, but it’s inefficient at anything else. And then a computer will typically have another specialized chip or subsystem for turning triangles into the appearance of a three dimensional model. And another for encoding and decoding of video compression formats, like mpeg. And another for handling wireless internet … I could go on.

    Now there’s also a “general purpose CPU”. But, there are many kinds of general purpose cpus, and different general purpose cpus will run the same algorithm with different levels of efficiency. Furthermore, general purpose cpus are constructed of many special purpose components. There is an ALU, for integer arithmetic and bit fiddling, and if you try to use it for floating point calculations (needed to approximate real numbers) , it will perform very inefficiently. And so there’s also an FPU, approximate since the early 1990s.

    In a world where designing a new computer chip is a very costly investment, with a substantial failure rate, and where the mass production systems required are also extremely costly investments, there are huge incentives to make a computer chip as “general purpose” as feasible, to appeal to as broad a market as possible.

    But differing levels of efficiency still exist, special purpose components are still very successful, and *all* general purpose cpus are made up of special purpose components.

    Why? Because the math requires it. Every design decision in computing is a compromise, a trade off which favors some algorithms and disfavors others. Some algorithms benefit from a large cache, even if it has mediocre latency. But other algorithms do *not* benefit from a large cache, and instead need very low latency. Some problems require multi-tasking – for many others it’s just more hardware they can’t take advantage of. VLIW and its descendant EPIC are great for many physics simulating supercomputers, and terrible for web servers. The math rejects a perfect general purpose system; it can only exist as a set of uneasy compromises which work ok for many popular problems. When an unforeseen problem becomes popular, the illusion is shattered.

    But brains evolved, and evolution does not do design. Why would a set of uneasy compromises, working adequately for a broad array of problems evolve? Most life forms are highly specialized. Generalists do exist, but their generalism is always limited, and it’s always more efficient in someways than others. Coyotes are great generalists, but they don’t live in Antarctica (until fossil fuel pollution consequences come along …), and they don’t live in the deep ocean.

    General purpose intelligence, and its truncation “g” and their metrics such as “IQ” are cultural delusions, which arise from our human egotistical sense of self-importance, which caused us to search for statistical artifacts until we found what we wanted to believe.

  8. BobbyGon 05 Nov 2015 at 11:26 am

    Beyond all this religious babble, Dr. Carson has a stunning ignorance of Constitutional fundamentals. I watched him interviewed a couple of weeks ago, during the latest shutdown/default threat. He said “As President, I will not allow the national debt limit to be raised.”

    That is simply NOT in the President’s job description. The federal debt “shall not be questioned,” and ONLY Congress has the authority and duty to see that it is always honored (either by raising the limit, raising taxes, or cutting spending in veto-proof fashion where necessary). Article I, Sections 7 and 8, and 14th Amendment, Sections 4 and 5.

    http://bgladd.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-79-solution.html

  9. tmac57on 05 Nov 2015 at 11:27 am

    In my former job as a communications tech. we had to continually go through some rigorous schooling in order to keep up with the rapidly changing technology. I became aware of an interesting contradiction concerning a few of my coworkers who could perform quite well in these courses, acing the tests, and completing the course work rapidly, and basically ticking all of the boxes to assure that they were well educated in the material, only to find that back in the field, that they had almost no understanding how to logically apply what they had just learned.
    Additionally, I worked with a brilliant guy that had a stellar reputation as an electronic switching systems tech. and a go to kind of guy among his peers, that inexplicably could not figure out how to trouble shoot a simple signalling circuit using a voltmeter.
    So learning information only, or acquiring a specific skill set, surely does not ensure that you have the more generalized abilities to do a complex job that involves critical thinking and a flexible and agile mind.

  10. worlebirdon 05 Nov 2015 at 12:22 pm

    It gets even weirder. Not only does Carson not believe archaeologists when they say the pyramids were built as tombs, he thinks that scientists believe aliens built the pyramids:

    “And various of scientists have said, ‘Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that’s how -‘ you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.”

    He can’t even distinguish wacky left-field conspiracy theories from actual scientific hypothesis.

  11. steve12on 05 Nov 2015 at 12:53 pm

    llewelly:

    “But brains evolved, and evolution does not do design. Why would a set of uneasy compromises, working adequately for a broad array of problems evolve?”

    The process of evolution necessarily means dealing with vestige components, if you will, and the brain is actually a great example. We have phylogenetically older parts of our brain that are quite similar to that of “lower” animals like lizards up to newer higher end components (the neocortex), and each was sort of plopped on top of the other.

    The result of these different components is a constant give and take (uneasy compromises,as you put it) between these structures, and things can go really wrong for the organism when the give and take breaks down

    I’m generally very weary of computer : brain analogies. They can be useful at times, but can also be misleading.

  12. steve12on 05 Nov 2015 at 12:59 pm

    There is almost a savant-ish quality to Carson. I’ve always thought he might be “on the spectrum” as people say colloquially – someone who is really great with certain details but has a little bit of trouble seeing the forest outside of some enclosed set of goals or tenets.

    That said, the more prosaic explanation of a less-than-successful battle against the biases we all suffer from is probably the better explanation.

  13. schmokeron 05 Nov 2015 at 1:08 pm

    So what does cause intelligent people who do rigorously question their own beliefs in one area to adopt anti-intellectual views in other areas when they are obviously smart enough to evaluate the data, and in fact have proven in other areas that they can and do study and interpret data correctly? What is it about some brains that allows for the development of an extreme belief system they are incapable of challenging when they clearly demonstrate the ability to challenge themselves in other areas?

    We say, “Well, our biases can cause us to ignore…”

    But where does the susceptibility to these biases come from to be so strong as to overcome significant cognitive advantages that are being used elsewhere? In the case of people who do not posses the level of intelligence needed to evaluate complex data (or even simply data, in some cases), it doesn’t seem that odd that they would develop biases based on environmental factors which their limited cognitive abilities prevent them from seeing past.

    But what about people who are intelligent? Why they would develop these biases in their formative years is not the question, but how they can continue to maintain them is the jump I’m not sure I understand. The question is why are some able to overcome them and others are not, even when cognitive abilities are equal? Why, do we think, some people do overcome their biases, while people of the same or greater cognitive abilities do not? Are there differences in the brain unrelated to cognition that are a factor? Or could mental illness be in play?

    I’m not looking for ammo to call conservatives names. I’m genuinely baffled by why some hyper-intelligent people cannot overcome even the most basic and easily disprovable biases.

    And I should point out that this is essentially unrelated to Ben Carson, who may, as some evidence of other past statements of his suggest, simply be cynically lying in order to appeal to whomever he feels he needs to appeal to for votes. It’s impossible from the outside to ascertain whether he is being genuine with all these beliefs, or whether he is not. But we do know that some people of that intelligence level are sometimes unable to overcome biases that require little effort or cognitive ability to contradict. And that’s what I don’t think this post covers.

    As usual, my cognitive level is not so high that I am unaware this question may have already been answered and I simply did not understand it.

  14. djbon 05 Nov 2015 at 1:23 pm

    @Zhankfor: “Carson isn’t just parroting Biblical literalist opinions, it seems like he really did come to this conclusion through his own thinking”

    I wondered about that too. I found that there is a group that believes that Joseph was actually Imhotep. They found a couple things in common with their stories – saving grain, building things and feeding people though a famine. They shifted time and other facts around a bit and Viola – Joesph = Imhotep.

  15. Ivan Groznyon 05 Nov 2015 at 2:17 pm

    “He has no problem dismissing the opinion of experts and scientists, and substituting his own poorly-informed hunches. Obviously this is a disturbing trait in someone running for high office.”

    You demonstrate by this your own unconscious biases, i.e a typical normative, ideological assumptions of left-wing liberal intellectuals that they don’t recognize as ideological biases, but treat them as self-evident truths; namely, why is it “disturbing” that a person running for high public office does not trust “experts and scientists”? That’s a good quality in my view: the president has to be an independent thinker, with good judgement, even if it collides with the experts’ views in any particular field. The problem with Carson is not that he too easily dismisses the experts, but simply that he is wrong about certain things having to do with science (whatever “experts might have though about them). But – and this is your main ideological blind spot – in order to make a political problem out of this you have to assume that the president has to have a very broad authority to manage the entire society, and to intervene in all sorts of things. Only then his knowledge about broad areas of science and his relations to experts are critical; only then an edgy, anxious look at his thinking about science makes much sense as a political attitude.

    If you, however, accept the traditional conservative ideological approach, the only thing you worry about is whether the candidate cares about the Constitution and the limits to his own authority, and whether his own governing philosophy and personal character represent a danger to public order and economic prosperity. What kind of legislative initiative the guy is expected to push? What kind of changes or reforms he is likely to propose? Does he have a good personal character and common sense, rather the belief in the experts? For a good president it’s much more important what kind of knowledge about social science and political philosophy he has, rather than about natural sciences and technology. The problem with Carson is that he does not have any consistent governing philosophy, so it’s difficult to judge him at this point.

    If you accept this ideological vision, it’s not immediately clear why would Carson’s crackpot beliefs about evolution, Old Testament or the rest be of any interest for making POLITICAL judgement about him, whatever your beliefs abut these issue might have been (btw all American presidents before Obama, including even Jimmy Carter, were creationists). Far more relevant is the question – what is he going to do with the power given to him, if elected? The president is not a scientific manager of society (it may be in the perspective of the faculty of Harvard or Yale, but not in the real world), but a chief executive officers of federal government with limited and circumscribed powers.

    And to avoid any misunderstanding, I am not calling you to accept the ideological perspective I outlined, but just to accept that your own perspective is ideological as well, that your entire narrative about Carson is based on “liberal” left-wing view of politics and the role of elected officials, rather than on a “neutral”, “analytical” or “scientific” framework. You are entitled to this view of course, but it is a bad sign when you always castigate other people for their unconscious biases while perpetuating your own.

  16. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Steve12,

    “There is almost a savant-ish quality to Carson”

    I’ve only ever seen still pictures of the man – just watched a YouTube vid of him and I see what you mean, he has an odd quality about his speech patterns and facial expression. Having said that, I don’t think I’d look exactly natural and fluid on national TV.

  17. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Ivan,

    Wasn’t Dubya responsible for crippling stem cell research in the US? Do you not think this flows from his religious beliefs and his scientific literacy?

  18. steve12on 05 Nov 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Ivan:

    I love ideologues screaming at others for being ideologues.

    “…your entire narrative about Carson is based on “liberal” left-wing view of politics and the role of elected officials, rather than on a “neutral”, “analytical” or “scientific” framework.”

    The whole notion that pointing out Carson’s wrongness on science is somehow an act of bias is so stupid that it defies description. Steve didn’t say anything about his politics. Should we accept that the pyramids were built by Joseph, lest be a “leftist”? Must I accept a 6000 year old Earth or be communist?

    THINK CLEARLY. You’re mind is muddled by politics.

    For political ideologues like Ivan, all criticisms of their ideological kin are forms of bias whether they’re germane to their politics or not. I know I’ve said it many times, but it’s why I detest the overly politically identified of all stripes. All must bow to their stupid political philosophy, including reality itself.

  19. steve12on 05 Nov 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Mumadadd

    “…he has an odd quality about his speech patterns and facial expression. ”

    Right? It seems to go a little beyond soft-spoken.

  20. steve12on 05 Nov 2015 at 2:43 pm

    “THINK CLEARLY. You’re mind is muddled by politics.”

    Given this sort of poor writing (your you’re is my pet peeve!), I’d say that MY mind is muddled with Ivan’s politics….

  21. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Ivan,

    Wait a minute, you’re commenting on a blog created with the express purpose of promoting science and skepticism…pointing out that the author has a subconscious bias towards…what was it? Judging a political candidate based on their scientific literacy? It’s a pretty transparent bias, don’t you think? I also noticed you had to cherry pick a single sentence out of the entire article and take it out of context to make this about Carson’s political abilities.

    namely, why is it “disturbing” that a person running for high public office does not trust “experts and scientists”? That’s a good quality in my view: the president has to be an independent thinker, with good judgement, even if it collides with the experts’ views in any particular field. The problem with Carson is not that he too easily dismisses the experts, but simply that he is wrong about certain things having to do with science (whatever “experts might have though about them).

    WTF? You want the leader of the free world to substitute his own judgement for that of experts? Are you shitting me? You don’t want somebody capable of understanding the limits of their own knowledge and being able to defer to expert opinion what they are out of their depth?

    I just want to get this straight: You:

    a) don’t trust scientists, and;
    b) don’t trust experts

    Is that correct?

  22. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Ivan,

    You do your own independent research every time you make a medical decision, I presume? I mean from the ground up – basic science, translational research, phased clinical trials?

  23. steve12on 05 Nov 2015 at 2:53 pm

    “WTF? You want the leader of the free world to substitute his own judgement for that of experts? ”

    But Mumadadd, what if something the expert says conflicts with The Philosophy?

  24. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Steve12 (or anyone really),

    We don’t have much exposure to libertarian ideals here (or maybe we do but it’s called something else, or just kind of watered down) — what’s the end game with deregulating everything? I just can’t understand it. I think it was BJ7 who used the example of catching a flight on a plane produced by a deregulated plane industry — I’d extend that: book a holiday through a deregulated travel agent, in a deregulated hotel, on a deregulated flight, with deregulated travel insurance and deregulated medical facilities. Sound good?

    Maybe I’m painting a strawman because we don’t really have libertarianism here, but I have read most of Ivan’s posts and this seems to be one of his ideals.

  25. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Anyway, not a political blog so feel free to tell me to piss off and Google it.

  26. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Urgh. What’s wrong with this picture? He and Trump are trying to undermine each other by questioning each other’s faith. David Cameron got pilloried for referring to Britain as a “Christian Nation”. Wowzwers.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxk-4dxAm9w&t=1m58s

  27. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Ivan,

    Re my last question to you, of course the answer will be “no”. You can’t possibly disregard the chain of interrelated and dependent expertise that lead to any one of the myriad scientific and technological marvels of your everyday existence, as independent a thinker as you may be.

    You appear to have developed some kind of system for selecting which ones you disregard and which ones you keep. Care to explain your system? And remember, science and expertise are forbidden.

  28. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Don McLeroy: “Someone has to stand up to experts!”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzrUt9CHtpY

  29. RickKon 05 Nov 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Ivan said: “If you, however, accept the traditional conservative ideological approach, the only thing you worry about is whether the candidate cares about the Constitution and the limits to his own authority, and whether his own governing philosophy and personal character represent a danger to public order and economic prosperity.”

    That’s just it – Carson has demonstrated characteristics that reflect poorly on his governing philosophy and his personal character. These are not factors that can be segregated from a person’s ability to rationally weigh evidence.

    If a presidential candidate indicates he/she will accept input from psychics and astrologers alongside input from industry leaders and economists when making economic policy decisions, he/she can rightly be labelled unfit to govern.

    Similarly, if the candidate indicates such a disregard for science that he/she will dismiss 150 years of scientific advancement in favor of a particular bit of mythology from a particular religious tradition, he/she can rightly be labelled unfit to govern.

    Some of our biggest problems have significant scientific components: the global economic systems, national defense, global resource management, climate, information technology, healthcare, etc.

    To use your words: he doesn’t have to “intervene in all sorts of things”, but to do his job effectively he has to understand all sorts of things. How can voters trust our country’s leadership to a person who demonstrates such an overwhelming ability to dismiss real understanding in favor of religious ideology?

  30. tmac57on 05 Nov 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Sheesh!!! Another blog post hijacked by an ideologue trolling for attention and derailing what could be a constructive dialogue. 🙁

  31. Lukas Xavieron 05 Nov 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Ivan Grozny:

    The problem with Carson is not that he too easily dismisses the experts, but simply that he is wrong about certain things having to do with science

    Obvious question here: Don’t you think those points might be related?

    If he was right, we’d be fine. If he was wrong at first, but listened to the experts, we’d be fine. You’re putting your finger on the exact problem: He’s wrong AND he refuses to listen to people who know better. That’s a recipe for disaster if I ever heard one.

  32. tmac57on 05 Nov 2015 at 4:40 pm

    schmoker- “But what about people who are intelligent? Why they would develop these biases in their formative years is not the question, but how they can continue to maintain them is the jump I’m not sure I understand.”

    That’s an excellent question, and one that has been getting a lot of attention by cognitive psychologists in recent years.

    I suspect that it is the fact of their high intellect that gets in the way. If you are a smart driven person, you might not think that you need any outside guidance or course correction other than what you feel in your own gut. In other words, if you think that you already have most of the answers (and you think that you are smarter than everyone else around you), then new information that tries to contradict your foundation of belief, is most likely rejected out of hand, or not even listened to in order for you to do any sort of intellectual evaluation of it.

    Have you ever been arguing with a bright person, and as you make your argument, they cut you off with an objection before you have even completely made your point, then you regroup to try to finish your thought, only to again be interrupted with new objections? And as you try to answer their points, you realize that the discussion has been co-opted into an entirely tangential argument in which they continue to ignore your progression of thoughts and on the whole are completely dismissive and essentially not really listening?
    That is the sign of a smart person who knows that they are ‘right’ and that you are not worth listening to. They would never say that to your face most likely, but in fact that is probably how they feel.

  33. Ivan Groznyon 05 Nov 2015 at 4:44 pm

    “Obvious question here: Don’t you think those points might be related?”

    they may or may not. “Experts” could be wrong (it happened many times). Or some experts may think “A” and some other experts may think “B”. In economics that’s the case all the time. Even if he were to “believe experts” as a matter of principle, that would not solve his problems at all: as a president he would have most of the time to choose between the two conflicting groups of experts with opposite analyses and recommendations. Obviously to be a competent chooser among the conflicting expert theories and advices, it’s not enough to “believe to experts”; you have to figure out which experts to believe and why.

    Rickk:
    “if the candidate indicates such a disregard for science that he/she will dismiss 150 years of scientific advancement in favor of a particular bit of mythology from a particular religious tradition, he/she can rightly be labelled unfit to govern.”

    Why? I wrote the entire comment arguing that this is a non-sequitur. Every single American president before Obama, at least in the last 40 years, believed in creationism, just as Carson believes today. Does that mean that all they were “unfit to govern”? Cmmon.

    “Carson has demonstrated characteristics that reflect poorly on his governing philosophy and his personal character.”

    What specific “governing philosophy” did Carson demonstrate by not believing in Darwinian evolution?

  34. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 4:45 pm

    “And as you try to answer their points, you realize that the discussion has been co-opted into an entirely tangential argument in which they continue to ignore your progression of thoughts and on the whole are completely dismissive and essentially not really listening?”

    Michael Egnor?

  35. Ivan Groznyon 05 Nov 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Mumadad
    “You do your own independent research every time you make a medical decision, I presume? I mean from the ground up – basic science, translational research, phased clinical trials?”

    You just illustrate my point about unconscious left wing bias splendidly. Politics is something different than science, politics is not social engineering where you cure or improve society by applying scientific methods. That’s why the president does not have to know much about science, or can even hold ridiculous views about science if he has a right governing philosophy and respects the Constitution.

  36. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Ivan,

    Fair point, in that there are areas of so-called expertise in which predictions are unreliable. Though scientific experts would tend to reflect how reliable their predictions are likely to be in how they present their opinion — it’s built into the process, and if it isn’t, the science is no good and they’ll be called out for it by their peers.

  37. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 4:55 pm

    My last comment was referring to this:

    “Even if he were to “believe experts” as a matter of principle, that would not solve his problems at all: as a president he would have most of the time to choose between the two conflicting groups of experts with opposite analyses and recommendations. Obviously to be a competent chooser among the conflicting expert theories and advices, it’s not enough to “believe to experts”; you have to figure out which experts to believe and why.”

  38. steve12on 05 Nov 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Ivan:

    “You just illustrate my point about unconscious left wing bias splendidly.”

    Come again? Caring that someone accounts for evidence = left wing bias?

    And there’s your problem the with the politically over-identified. EVERYTHING is about politics. EVERYTHING is “bias”, no matter how far fetched it may be.

  39. steve12on 05 Nov 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Hey Ivan –

    “…politics is not social engineering where you cure or improve society by applying scientific methods. That’s why the president does not have to know much about science, or can even hold ridiculous views about science if he has a right governing philosophy and respects the Constitution.”

    The POTUS has to make all kinds of policy decisions, and there’s all kinds of analyses that go into that that are science on some level or another. So this is ridiculous, of course.

    What I’m have a hard time with is this:
    Is this dumber than your whole ‘elites’ argument? I mean, this is pretty dumb. But you also said that big business elites were schills for the left wing agenda, and that’s REALLY dumb.

    So as you can see, we have a quandry…..

  40. mumadaddon 05 Nov 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Ivan,

    “you have to figure out which experts to believe and why”

    Agreed. I don’t think anyone here was suggesting that the president should just pick one expert and stick with their opinion.

    Although, when it comes to science, an understanding of the method itself and the process by which it builds up models over time would lead a scientifically literate non-expert to follow the consensus, right? There is some nuance there in understanding how robust the consensus is, but if there is a scientific consensus, what other system/knowledge could reasonably override it as the best bet (save freakish genius in that particular field)?

    Do you really, sincerely believe that a president’s beliefs about nature, how it functions, its origins, and humanity’s place in it will have no effect on their policy decisions? You think they can somehow be disentangled?

  41. Paul Parnellon 05 Nov 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Ivan,

    ” You just illustrate my point about unconscious left wing bias splendidly. Politics is something different than science, politics is not social engineering where you cure or improve society by applying scientific methods. That’s why the president does not have to know much about science, or can even hold ridiculous views about science if he has a right governing philosophy and respects the Constitution. ”

    Yeah… no. You can do vast amounts of evil even while staying within the strict letter of the constitution. The constitution does not segregate good and evil it only provides a framework for us to do our own segregating for ourselves and place limits on how we can do the segregating for others. We are still free to do it wrong and screw up the world.

    Carson may be intelligent but he is a dumb ass on so many topics that I would have trouble taking him seriously running for dog catcher.

    The president needs to not be a dumb ass on as many topics as possible. That above all else implies a need for scientific literacy and a respect for the process of science. That does not mean that he cannot disagree with consensus. But it does mean that he has to have a well reasoned argument that at least shows he understands the subject. Otherwise he is just another dumb ass and dumb asses are dangerous. They screw up the world.

  42. David Haddadon 05 Nov 2015 at 7:17 pm

    “It would be better to state the Dunning-Kruger effect as, People have difficulty assessing their own level of knowledge or expertise with a tendency to be increasingly overconfident at decreasing levels of knowledge. The Dunning-Kruger effect describes all people, not just dumb people.”

    It seems to me that while we are all no doubt subject to it to some extent, that with good critical thinking skills the Dunning-Kruger effect becomes much less pervasive and quite a bit easier to minimize than other cognitive biases such as confirmation bias. Of course this could be because I am overconfident about a subject I don’t know enough about.

  43. Lukas Xavieron 05 Nov 2015 at 7:20 pm

    “Experts” could be wrong (it happened many times).

    That’s a ridiculous argument. Fact is that the experts tend to be right far more often than the competition. On the occasions where they’re wrong, it’s usually only a matter of time before the consensus changes.

    If you’re don’t have the time or inclination to thoroughly study the subject yourself, you’re best off simply going with the experts.

    Or some experts may think “A” and some other experts may think “B”. In economics that’s the case all the time.

    An objection that doesn’t apply to archaeology, immunology or climate science; subjects where we know that he has pretty nutty opinions and where the expert consensus is quite clear.

    Frankly, I consider this a complete change of the subject. People have pointed out a concrete problem and you respond by saying that there’s no problem in a completely different area. Your point is simply irrelevant to the matter under discussion; it’s a complete red herring.

    I’m happy to agree that there are probably many areas where Carson is fairly reasonable. In return, will you agree that on the matters actually under debate, Carson is in disagreement with an expert consensus which is both quite definitive and well supported by evidence?

  44. Newcoasteron 05 Nov 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Good article, Steve. Thanks for clarifying the definition of Dunning-Krueger, as I have seen the “dumb people” all over the place, especially with those newer to skepticism.

    I think it also points out something that David Gorski has written about several times, that physicians aren’t necessarily scientists, or even good at science. We use science in our clinical practice, and hopefully understand at least some of the science, but we don’t do science. I understand a lot of it because I am interested, and do a lot of reading on general science topics. I spent a couple of summers as a research technician for the federal fisheries department, and a couple of bachelors degrees in science before my MD, but none of that makes me a scientist. I also think that surgeons are even less likely to be up on science as theirs is a very hands on doing profession, and it is mostly a technical skill that needs to be apprenticed and practiced. One doesn’t actually even really need to know much medicine to be good at surgery. Carson is obviously a technically gifted surgeon, but he doesn’t need to bother with science that conflicts with his 7th Day Adventism…which is pretty much all of science.

    Also, Carson’s stories of a violent youth who changed when he “found god” are not standing up to closer scrutiny, so it’s possible he has confabulated a more dramatic history for himself, similar to Brian Williams.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/05/politics/ben-carson-2016-childhood-violence/

  45. Charonon 05 Nov 2015 at 10:54 pm

    “Protestantism’s shedding away of authority, as evidenced by my mother’s proclamation that I needn’t go to church or listen to a preacher to achieve salvation, inspires self-reliance – along with a dangerous disregard for expertise. So the impulse that leads to democracy can also be the downside of democracy – namely, a suspicion of people who know what they’re talking about.”

    -Sarah Vowell, _The Wordy Shipmates_

  46. Charonon 05 Nov 2015 at 11:02 pm

    This is broader than the scope of the original article, but I’m genuinely concerned about the future of the United States. The Republican Party has gone insane. To the point that conservative leaders from the recent past – George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, etc. – are bewildered by what’s going on. Even John Boehner. It’s not even entirely clear that “the Republican Party” is a coherent thing anymore.

    Meanwhile the Democratic Party has fallen apart for just about anything other than the presidency, with no hope of regaining the House until probably 2024 at best, and losing badly at the state level many places.

    And our government is not built to handle such extreme partisan polarization.

    Anyway, more pertinently, of course we’re all subject to cognitive biases, but some of us work very hard to counteract them. That’s the whole point of the scientific process. To be lead by people who think the biases should be embraced instead, well… I’d watch the movie, but it’s not so fun in real life.

  47. civilon 06 Nov 2015 at 3:15 am

    “[This] suggests Carson isn’t even all that familiar with what the Bible says, but with what a generally uneducated person or a young child thinks the Bible says.”

    This isn’t that uncommon. I was educated for many years by evangelical Christians. In my experience, most evangelicals have read less than 20 percent of the Bible. They have a few favorite passages and verses, that’s all. They’re little different from mainstream Protestants in that regard.

  48. wellerpondon 06 Nov 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Charon,

    I feel the same way. It seems like we’re turing our back on everything that made America what it is today: social progressivism, healthy middle class, scientific literacy and drive, education, etc. Based on no particular knowledge of history, it sure feels like the beginning of the end.

    Regarding the conversation about defending science as “left-wing” liberalism, I’m having a hard time getting my head around that. First of all, I think reality is liberalism the way the US defines it. We know people are less likely to shoot someone if they don’t have a gun in their hand. We know anthropogenic climate change is real. We know giving money to rich people is giving money to rich people. So, sure, we can call that liberal, but it’s still all true.

    Second, Carson’s opinion should not be given equal time as experts. You might be considered wise when you go against the opinion of how to settle a strike, for example. But if you go against the opinion of an objective fact, that’s just ignorance or dogma.

  49. steve12on 06 Nov 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Charon & Wellerpond:

    I agree with you guys – we’re in trouble. For some social issues, progress has continued over the past 40 years.

    But since we’ve swung toward more libertarian economic policies, things have gotten much worse and the middle class has bore the brunt.

    If libertarian/conservative econ policies actually worked, lowering taxes on the wealthy, lessening (or not enforcing) financial regulations, encouraging globalization, and weakening labor would have improved our economic standing. We certainly have done all 4 of those, on the average, over the past 40 years.

    The results have been disastrous for most, yet econ libertarians say the problem is we haven’t gone far enough.

    The econ libertarians had models (based on ideology) of how economies work. They got to instantiate policies that tested the models, and the models failed. Happens all the time.

    The problem here is that they simply cannot accept the the models failed because they’d have to change some of the ideology from which the models are derived. It’s madness.

  50. Ivan Groznyon 06 Nov 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Steve 12
    “But you also said that big business elites were schills for the left wing agenda, and that’s REALLY dumb.|

    Do you know how many big corporations support “climate change action”? That there is an association of major corporations and NGOs pushing for carbon rationing? The Wall Street investment banks push for this. The big business all the time lobbies for regulations that hinder their competition, primarily the small upstarts. Antitrust, progressive taxation, Wall Street regulation, big firms are more than happy to impose the additional costs on their smaller competitors. Read for example Gabriel Kolko to see how much of progressive era regulations were initiated by Big business for their own benefit. FTC commission was a cartel scheme invented to stifle competition. Interstate Commerce Commission was a cartel scheme to stifle competition as well. There is no single initiative for expanding government power today which is not staunchly supported by large number of corporations.

    You are really, really dumb if you believe that there is any necessary link between having lot of money and believing in free market principles. Free market businesmen

  51. steve12on 06 Nov 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Oh, Ivan….

    Using climate change as the principle measure of political leaning is absurd.

    The rest is a hodge-podge of you calling things leftist that aren’t leftist. Crony capitalism is not a leftist policy! You can’t just change the definition of leftist to “bad” and carry on from there.

    “Jock itch is leftist!”.

    “Antitrust, progressive taxation, Wall Street regulation”

    Can you be less specific?

    Ivan: You’re a brainwashed guy who thinks in terms of strung together phrases created by a political operative. You need to break these issues down further and evaluate the relevant details in a substantive way. Good luck!

  52. steve12on 06 Nov 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Ivan:

    I have to make one more comment. In defending the untenable notion that corporations are leftist agenda drive, Ivan ostensibly cites “Antitrust, progressive taxation, Wall Street regulation” as policies that the corporate world encourages.

    I’m not going to comment. I’m just going to leave it there…..

  53. carbonUniton 06 Nov 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Biblical aspects aside, how could one think that the pyramids are grain storage structures? They are gigantic mounds of rock, pretty much solid, except for the burial chamber and passages to it. Hardly a structure with lots of storage space!

    He seems like a real nice, soft spoken guy. (It’s surprising that there’s not a rip in the space-time continuum when he and Trump get together.) He has scary ideas though. He’s anti-scientific, despite his background. He seems to have the conservative theocratic bent. I would also note that he’s Seventh Day Adventist and that group has a real apocalyptic viewpoint. They are waiting for the end times as prophesied in Daniel and Revelation. That’s not the kind of belief you want in the commander and chief, with his finger on the button. We don’t want someone who might give Armageddon a little push militarily or by deciding not to stop that incoming asteroid.

  54. Willyon 06 Nov 2015 at 6:15 pm

    I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and follow some of the threads connected to the opinion pages. I can tell you that we have a LOT of nut cases (sorry to be so blunt) in this country. The level of science comprehension is simply appalling. The level of ideological blindness is astounding. On one recent thread (on AGW of all things), people are describing Dr. Carson as one of the world’s most accomplished scientists. They are so uninformed that that mock those who say Carson really isn’t a scientist. For chuckles, they also mocked a person who tried to inform them that human respiratory exhalation doesn’t create CO2.

    It all makes me want to cry. I’m glad I’m in my seventh decade and not just starting life.

  55. mumadaddon 06 Nov 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Willy,

    It’s sad when the promise of universal human rights and an embracing of sound epistemology starts to disintegrate before leaving the runway. I feel the same sadness. I hope you at least have something nice on the barbie.

  56. Willyon 07 Nov 2015 at 9:11 am

    mumadadd: Ah, the barbie. A source of regular and dependable pleasure.

  57. Ivan Groznyon 07 Nov 2015 at 10:08 am

    steve, 12

    “Using climate change as the principle measure of political leaning is absurd.”

    No, it’s not. It’s a defining issue for modern left. The quickest test whether somebody is a heretic or not. The best and quickest way to demonstrate your righteousness. And it is not the “political leaning” that I am talking about here but political practice and behaviour of corporations: and political practice shows that big corporations always support government intervention, not necessarily because their CEOs believe in big government (although many do, no doubt) but because government interventions often impose disproportionately high costs to smaller, newly emerging competitors. Have you ever heard of the terms “rent-seeking” or “state-capture”? Or maybe “lobbying”? What do you think corporations are lobbying for? Milton Friedman’s book to be sent to schools? You should read a famous paper by Bruce Yandle “Bootleggers and Baptists” which explains very precisely how government intervention to be really successful always needs a coalition of two groups: self-righteous preachers of virtue, illiterate ideological crusaders wanting to “protect the small guy” from Big Bad Business by using Good Big Government (people like you) and cynical business interests, more than happy to profit from their stupidity. Baptists in a Suthern town wanted lior stores closed on Sundays. Bootleggers were more than happy to financially support their ideological campaign, and then take over the market on Sundays themselves. you know, like Greenpeace and General Electric.

    As for antitrust, read for example MCChesney and Shugarts’ “The Causes and Consequence of Antitrust”, or Di Lorenzo’s “Origins of the Sherman Act”, or “Public Choice and Antitrust” by Robert Tolisson and you woudl see that many big corporations, from the beginning were big supporters and lobbyists for antitrust as an anti-competitive, cartelizing device.

    Progressive taxation is one of the fundamental ways to favour big established corporations over the smaller upstarts because it comparative hinders their capital formation much more, and thereby strengthens the competitive position of the established corporations. How many American billionaires support higher marginal rates?

    “I’m not going to comment. I’m just going to leave it there”

    you think the mere quotation is enough because you are an economically illiterate left-wing zealot who thinks that his ideological preconceptions are self-evident truths, only because in his little echo-chamber, composed of similar, self-righteous illiterates, everyone believes the same and thinks you don’t have to prove anything if it conforms to and comforts your biases.

  58. steve12on 07 Nov 2015 at 11:19 am

    Ivan

    I’m not going to address all of your zealot libertarian insults. They speak for themselves.

    Let’s look at a place where I agree. Sort of.

    ” government interventions often impose disproportionately high costs to smaller, newly emerging competitors. ”

    This is a real problem, and is a real problem of corporate+gov’t collusion, essentially. And really, it’s mostly libertarians alone in the wilderness pointing it out. We need to have corporations stop formulating our policies for their own advantage – stop them form writing the laws.

    I do not agree that this is left-wing. This is crony capitalism!

    You see Ivan I actually am NOT an ideologue. I actually want smart policy regardless of where it comes from. E.g., I think rising college costs (in the US) are at least in part a result of easy financial aid and guarantteed gov’t loans. The more that was available, the higher costs. Libertarians have also rightly pointed this out.

    Here’s the difference betwee us Ivan:

    I am for smart policy within the reasonable confines of ideology (e.g., free enterprise balanced with social concerns)

    You are a rigid ideologue who (as is clear form your writing) is obsessed with your political talking points and must force all policy analysis through that filter.

    You should read some things that challenge your world view and think more critically.

  59. AmateurSkepticon 18 Nov 2015 at 7:18 am

    @Ivan: “If you, however, accept the traditional conservative ideological approach, the only thing you worry about is whether the candidate cares about the Constitution and the limits to his own authority, and whether his own governing philosophy and personal character represent a danger to public order and economic prosperity.”

    Really? By my reckoning anyone stupid enough to believe that the pyramids were built to store grain might be stupid enough to think that it would be a good idea to shoot down a Russian plane that was flying over the sovereign territory of some foreign country with the express permission of the government of that country just because we told them not to do so.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/11/16/1450632/-Ben-Carson-genius-can-t-name-a-single-country-he-would-call-on-to-help-in-fight-on-terrorism

    After all, there isn’t any chance that a situation like that might spiral out of control.

  60. AmateurSkepticon 18 Nov 2015 at 7:33 am

    @Ivan “btw all American presidents before Obama, including even Jimmy Carter, were creationists”

    If you actually believe that Lyndon Johnson was a creationist at heart, you probably ought to make an appointment with Ben Carson for his medical services.

  61. Ivan Groznyon 20 Nov 2015 at 12:19 pm

    How about this genius:

    “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism”

    Bernie Sanders

    Is he fit for the highest office in the land? Less crazy than Carson?

  62. mumadaddon 20 Nov 2015 at 12:28 pm

    “Is he fit for the highest office in the land? Less crazy than Carson?”

    Based on that – no & no. What the eff is he talking about?

    Has he expounded this viewpoint though or was it a slip of the tongue?

    Forgive my ignorance on US politicians — I live elsewhere.

  63. steve12on 20 Nov 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Ivan:

    No, it’s not as crazy as what Ben Carson has been saying. I’m not saying the analysis is correct – I haven’t read it. But it’s based on actual policy work done by the CIA:

    “But Sanders’ summary of the position of the CIA and Department of Defense was accurate. They have been warning for years that extreme weather caused by climate change is likely to worsen instability around the world and cause security problems.”

    from: http://www.factcheck.org/2015/11/sanders-on-climate-link-to-terrorism/
    I believe all the links are in there required are in there….

    Again DOES NOT MEAN IT’S RIGHT, but does mean it comes from policy analysts and is not CRAZY.

    Every time Ivan posts something there should be this accompanying sound:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP8sofAN4xc

  64. steve12on 20 Nov 2015 at 12:57 pm

    But it’s not your fault Ivan!

    If I had to pass all of my reality through a narrow ideological needle first I’d make a lot of mistakes as well!

    Your life DD (degree of difficulty) is spiked quite high…

  65. mumadaddon 20 Nov 2015 at 1:36 pm

    “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism”

    Oh, man. The phrasing is poor — makes it sounds like terrorism leads to global warming. Not saying I agree with it either, just the other way round is at least less crazy.

  66. steve12on 20 Nov 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Mumadadd:

    I agree that the phrasing is poor – and I don’t think climate change is 1/1M the influence of colonialism or proxy wars or resource wars.

    So I would say that the degree of influence is so small compared to the others as to be negligible.

    But he had a reasonable source and the notion of climate affecting political stability is reasonable. So it may be WRONG, but it is not CRAZY. That’s my point.

  67. mumadaddon 20 Nov 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Steve12,

    “So I would say that the degree of influence is so small compared to the others as to be negligible.”

    Miniscule to the point of irrelevance, I would guess. The only slant I could buy would be foreign trade policies being modified to reduce emissions, somehow having an economic impact, leading to decreased stability. Not exactly direct though.

  68. steve12on 20 Nov 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Mumadadd:

    “The only slant I could buy would be foreign trade policies being modified to reduce emissions, somehow having an economic impact, leading to decreased stability. Not exactly direct though.”

    Agreed. Though I think going forward it could lead to more direct effects depending on the degree of warming in the given region and resource scarcity induced thereof. I didn’t read the CIA report, but I suspect it’s more prospective – that a direct link could be made in the future.

    I still make the point, however, that Carson’s claims – pyramids for grain or an angel teaching him chemistry or denying evolution or claiming a young Earth – are CRAZY, whereas this is simply wrong.

  69. mumadaddon 20 Nov 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Steve12,

    Your point seems reasonable on the surface, but without reading the FBI report (FBI trumps CIA, btw, in terms of resources and mainstream acceptance) upon which Carson based his statement about the pyramids — I cannot comment further.

  70. Ivan Groznyon 20 Nov 2015 at 5:46 pm

    “but does mean it comes from policy analysts and is not CRAZY”

    Wow now I feel better, Department of Defence is the source which claimed in the 1990s that by now New York will be under water…I can find you for every crazy non-policy analyst 10 crazy policy analysts. The fact that some policy analyst says something does not meant it’s not crazy.

  71. mumadaddon 20 Nov 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Ivan/S12,

    Is a policy analyst someone who is officially employed to advise politicians on policy?

  72. mumadaddon 20 Nov 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Ivan,

    Found this: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/policy_analyst/

    Is this the type of policy analyst you’re referring to here?

    “I can find you for every crazy non-policy analyst 10 crazy policy analysts. The fact that some policy analyst says something does not meant it’s not crazy.”

    Political analysts be crazy, yo! One time my homey be all like, yo, Bernie, global warming get them al-Qaeda types all sand in the vag n shit! Who knows why, you know all us analysts be crazy n shit! Pfft, ISIS get all ants-in-they-pants when the heat turned up, yo!

    Yeah, they cray-cray. Ben Carson is much better off forming his own opinions, irregardless.

  73. steve12on 20 Nov 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Ivan:

    “The fact that some policy analyst says something does not meant it’s not crazy.”

    OK. Let’s look at the propositions themselves then – shall we?

    “Climate drove geopolitics” is not the same as “an angel taught me chemistry”

    You can say they’re the same all you like.

    But they ain’t.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP8sofAN4xc

  74. steve12on 20 Nov 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Mumadadd:

    I think “policy analyst” is a catch-all for anyone doing said analysis (i.e., not a specific term).

    The analysis is besides the point, though. Supernatural causation for acquisition of academic material and bad policy analysis are not equivalent in the crazy dept.

    That’s the point.

    Here is a crazy man (i.e., Bernie) talking policy prior to our invasion of Iraq before having the courage to vote “no” . What a policy nut!

    http://www.sanders.senate.gov/video/flashback-rep-bernie-sanders-opposes-iraq-war

    “I am concerned about the problems of so-called unintended consequences. Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed and what role will the U.S. play in ensuing a civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists? Will the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority be exacerbated? And these are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered.”

  75. steve12on 20 Nov 2015 at 10:00 pm

    “…all sand in the vag n shit! ”

    how’d I miss this? LOL!

  76. mumadaddon 24 Nov 2015 at 2:49 pm

    http://news.sky.com/story/1592373/charles-syrias-war-linked-to-climate-change

    The Quacktitioner Royal, Prince Charles, has now chimed in, also AGW with the problems in Syria. For the record, I think he’s a dangerous loon whose influence needs to be minimised, but in an interview he said:

    “It’s only in the last few years that the Pentagon has actually started to pay attention to this. I mean, it has a huge impact on what is happening.”

    So, maybe this is coming from what at least should be a credible source (the Pentagon I mean, not the QR).

  77. mumadaddon 24 Nov 2015 at 2:50 pm

    “also AGW with the problems”

    Missed a word; that should have read: “also linking AGW with the problems in Syria”

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