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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It just won't die.

I don't even know what to say to introduce today's post. I am running dry on pithy, amusing, or even vaguely grammatical sayings to employ in discussing this subject. And, of course, I can mean only ONE subject: the ongoing nonsense at Conservapedia about Richard Lenski.

Many of you will recall my most recent coverage of this debacle. In short, despite getting his ass handed to him, despite the pleas of his fellow Conservapeons, Andrew Schlafly has persisted in accusing Richard Lenski of wrongdoing. Indeed, Schlafly has posted a critique of Lenski's work- although I do the term "critique" a grave injustice by employing it to refer to Schlafly's nonsensical rambling.

So what could possibly top all of this? How can Schlafly possibly make any more of an ass of himself than he already has? How do you think? By writing another letter:

Yep, you read that right: this is a letter Schlafly is evidently going to send to PNAS purporting to have identified flaws in Lenski's work. But, wait, that's not all! Schlafly doesn't just write another letter, he introduces himself in the funniest way possible:

Or, to be more clear:


Andrew Schlafly, B.S.E., J.D.

Author Affiliations:, teacher of precollege students

Oh, MY! A B.S.E. and a J.D.?! Whatever will we scientists do? We're being challenged by an unqualified semi-moron! And- this is the worst part- he teaches precollege students!*

Before you totally laugh this off, though, you should probably take a look at the other part of this letter. Specifically, the recipient list:

Or, in crude human language:

Randy Schekman, Editor-in-Chief, PNAS, University of California at Berkeley (by email and postal mail)

New Scientist (by fax - 0171 261 6464)

Rep. Brian Baird, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education of the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology (by postal mail)

Judicial Watch (by email)
[emphasis added]

Yes folks, that's right: Schlafly has decided that his humiliation isn't complete enough yet- now he needs to broaden it so as to include the United States Congress. Fortunately for us all Brian Baird is a Democrat and, with a little luck, probably has sane views on science. Nevertheless, when Schlafly decides to be a pest, he really doesn't cut any corners.

I have absolutely nothing to say here. I am simply dumbstruck by Schlafly's determination to publicize imaginary faults he has detected with the help of his psychotic beliefs. There is no derisive comment I could possibly write that would make him look like more of a jackass than he already does.

Andrew Schlafly: You have humbled me.

* I love that term "precollege students." I mean that covers quite a range, you know?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The terrifying part of this is the part about sending it to a congress person. Now I know nothing about Rep. Baird, so this may not apply to him, but have you ever seen these folks take testimony?

Can’t you just see some poor statistician trying to explain a mean of sample means to Congress? You don’t end up in Congress because of your stellar understanding of statistics. So I’m sure that would be a hoot.

I was watching a sub-committee hearing on banking a few days back, and I’m not sure all the members of the committee understand what banks actually do or for that matter what the FDIC is and why it’s there.
“No sir, the FDIC doesn’t ‘bail out’ depositors! It insures their deposits up to a certain amount. That’s about as smart as saying car insurance companies bail out people who get into accidents.” ~I scream at the TV before my wife makes me change the channel.

Anyway, my point is politicians are hardly experts in everything (some may say anything), and just thinking about them trying to judge the merits of even simple statistical procedures, let alone stuff like you would need to do to test “historical contingency” type problems frightens me to my core.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008 3:03:00 PM  

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