Month: September 2013

Are Experts Ever Right?

No matter what the situation, there is always some expert ready to give an opinion on what should be done. The problem is, experts are more often wrong than right.

Don’t believe me? There are studies that show this, and those studies keep on coming.

In the financial world stock brokers are sometimes considered to be experts on stocks. Having been a stockbroker, I can tell you that most brokers have little expertise in picking good stocks. There is a famous book first published in 1973, “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”, by Burton Malkiel. One of the things the book highlights is the fact that from an historical viewpoint, professional money managers, as a whole, did not produce stock portfolio gains even as high as the market averages.

Most importantly, you could buy a stock index fund mimicking the Standard & Poor’s 500 average, and you would do better than most professional money managers. Guess what? This hasn’t changed in the last forty years. There is another book titled, “Where Are The Customers’ Yachts?“. The title is  in reference that many of the yachts in marinas are owned by stock brokers, who make money whether the market goes up or down.

Then we have the medical experts, most of them being medical doctors. I have blogged about their lack of expertise, but will repeat the numbers. It is that important. In my blog, The Dirty LIttle Health Care Secret, I highlight the fact that almost 100,000 people are killed by doctors and hospitals every year in the United States. There is a name for this phenomenon, iatrogenesis. Everybody in the medical industry knows about this horrible fact, but nobody wants to talk about it.

We aren’t through talking about medical experts and their mistakes. A very well-known paper published by Dr John Ioannidis, a Greek physician and researcher with  a blue-ribbon background that includes being a professor of medicine and director at Stanford University, and an adjunct at Tufts University School of Medicine, takes aim at peer reviewed studies in the medical research area.

Up to eighty percent of randomized studies in the medical field have proven to be wrong. This is the figure that the Ioannidis team arrived at after reviewing years and years of studies. The reasons vary, but researchers are human, doing anything to acquire government grants to keep university research departments afloat. Data are adjusted to show a pre-determined outcome. Plus, up to 10% of the really large randomized trials are just wrong. How many substances have been identified to be bad for you, and then further study falsified those findings? It is common.

So much for the medical experts.

Climate science is in much the same shape. It was revealed in the ClimateGate emails that internationally prominent climate scientists cherry-picked data, doctored graphs, and produced fraudulent information to the general public to further their political agenda. Other crooked scientists have demonstrated bad conduct, like Dr Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University. He produced the infamous Hockey Stick graph that erased the historic Medieval Warm Period of about 1,000 years ago when the world was warmer than now, but without the influence of increasing greenhouse gases, i.e., carbon dioxide.  Efforts to defend Mann’s shoddy work and wounded reputation were organized by a left-wing communications company, Fenton Communications. Fenton started a website called Realclimate, where the primary blog authors are the same ones that have been known to perpetuate alarmist garbage in the climate science.

Ever heard of eugenics? Eugenics is a science about genetics that was promoted widely around the world in the early decades of the twentieth century. Its advocates believed that they could breed unwanted characteristics like homosexuality, low IQ’s, bad looks, etc. out of the population. This idea was taken to its logical extreme by Hitler’s Nazis when they undertook to eliminate entire populations of people like Jews, homosexuals, mentally retarded people, and people with other medical or hereditary conditions. There was a world-wide following of eugenics. It was the scientific consensus of the day. Now, we know better, or should. The experts were terribly wrong, but there are some who still push this pseudoscience.

How about Alar, the substance falsely accused of causing cancer in children? Alar was sprayed on apples to keep them on the trees to promote ripening. Although attacked by environmentalists who said they had evidence, nothing was ever produced to prove the allegations. Furthermore, half of Hollywood testified before Congress about how bad the stuff was, and even the EPA thought the use of alar was OK. The anti-alar publicity campaign was organized by a left-wing communications company, Fenton Communications.

The list of experts out of control goes on, and on. Why is this?

I believe that money is at the root of much of the bogus research. Most research in the US is funded by the government, and this automatically means that many research programs are politically motivated. There are literally thousands of climate scientists sucking money out of the federal government, almost all of whom preach catastrophic global warming. The government does not fund studies that propose to show that the alarmist are not correct. The whole scam started with the self-fulfilling system that promotes crises that produce votes, and that generate research money.

Some bogus studies misuse statistics. Many of the researchers are medical doctors, climatologists, or social scientists who have little training in mathematics. When you read a press release about a study, see if they quote a margin of error, like plus or minus 5%. If a margin of error is not mentioned, throw a red flag, and look into that study. You may be surprised at what you find. After all, journalists are not very good with numbers, either, and have no clue what they are publishing.

Expert opinion is fraught with risk. If so many experts are wrong most of time, how are we to make decisions?

Pay attention to your gut. Listen to your neighbors. Get a second medical opinion. If something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Use your common sense.

Be very careful when checking expert information. Too many people put too much trust in experts and consensus. Everybody has their agenda.

Carbon Taxes Or Trading – What Do You Know

We have all read about carbon taxes and other malicious fees that our EPA is preparing for the American public. Just how many people in the US know anything about it?

Why should there be a carbon tax? What is it supposed to accomplish? Will carbon taxes halt climate change? Are there other alternatives to handling risks attributed to climate change?

Fortunately for us, we have a guinea pig in the form of the entire country of Australia which foolishly established a carbon tax. We have the figures estimated by world-class economists and climate scientists on the effectiveness of a carbon tax in combating carbon dioxide induced climate change.

A young Australian named Topher Field recently volunteered to produce and direct several YouTube videos explaining carbon taxes and climate change for lay persons. He financed this endeavor with contributions from climate skeptics from all over the world. This is, indeed, a grass-roots effort.

Take a look at the video and decide for yourself. The bottom line is that it costs fifty times more to try to squelch carbon emissions than just adapting to possible damage.

Here’s the link to the 50 to 1 web site.

What Will The Congress Do?

It will be interesting to see how the US Congress will vote on Obama’s recent Syrian bombing proposal. As we know, Obama, after muddling around with the Syrian question for three years, has decided that now is the time to do something. Well, except he wants the Congress to cover his rear.

Barack Obama never makes a decision alone. He always has somebody available to take the fall.

It is my estimation that the Congress will vote to let Obama bomb Syria, not because it is the right thing to do, but because our misbegotten President has another week to twist arms. Who knows how much dirt the CIA, FBI, and NSA can dig up on a Congressman in that length of time? Obama will do anything to get the Congress to vote for his initiative.

There was a time when we could have decided to aid the Free Syrian Army. But, with Obama’s muddling, that time has passed. Al Queda militias have ascended into the lead. Bombing the Syrian army assets will primarily aid Al Queda. Who in their right mind would aid Al Queda? Would Barack Obama do that?

Plus, there are legitimate questions about who is lobbing sarin gas, and killing hundreds of innocent non-combatants. In spite of what Secretary Kerry has said, there is anecdotal evidence that Al Queda has used sarin gas in the war, according to the Russians.

Turkey reveals that they raided a terrorist cell in their country, and confiscated a 2 kg container of sarin gas that was intended to kill innocent Turks. Therefore, we know that extreme Islamic terrorists have access to sarin.

If we take all the stories as evidence, then we don’t have a clue who is the angel, and who is the devil in this fight. Have we heard about this doubt from the White House?

We need much more information before we should start killing people in Syria. It is pretty plain that the Administration has data they are not sharing with the public, and we need to know exactly what is going on.

As we put up with a muddling Presidency, we also have an uninformed Congress. In my opinion the Congress should recommend AGAINST the bombing, and let the President make whatever decision he must that is in the interest of the United States of America.

So far, all we have from Obama is the inability to identify those interests, and his embarrassing talent to back terrorist groups like the Egyptian Brotherhood and Al Queda.