The New Terrapin Gazette
26 May, 2012
I am predicting that the first guy who uses a Second Amendment weapon to bring a drone down that’s been hovering over his house is going to be a folk hero in this country.
The Abuse Of Polling
The last time this newsletter took issue with a poll of Muslims was in February of 2008. Number 3 included a long analysis of attitudes toward suicide bombing, and the Pew organization was found badly wanting. (Copies on request.) That dismal attempt to explain and clarify by asking questions and then reporting the statistics was surpassed by what could well be the most egregious abuse of polling ever: the Gallup organization’s research into Muslim opinions and 2009 report of its results. Regrettably, the linked documentary has only now come to this newsletter’s attention. Without doubt, the documentary is the articulation of a clearly discernible theme that Gallup hoped would dominate Western attempts to understand and interpret Islam.
(Note that the Gallup organization may try to distinguish between the formal, scholarly report of its poll and the documentary at the above hyperlink. As the public is not invited to obtain the former, but is expected to be satisfied with the latter, that distinction may have little cogency. But even if it does, there is no excuse for the format and content of the documentary. The video is an outrageous misuse of polling, as the following commentary makes clear. No respectable pollster would stoop to producing propaganda, let alone propaganda that is as inaccurate as the Gallup video.)
In order to proceed rationally, one should first view the documentary at the above hyperlink, and only then consider whether this newsletter’s criticisms are valid and truthful.
A full examination of the poll and documentary could easily go on for thousands of words, so what follows is more a list of the major points than it is an argument for their relevance.
Note first that the documentary is anything but a report of the findings of the poll: it is advocacy. Second, the viewer is simply assured that the questions were appropriate, though none of them is quoted verbatim. Too, the methodology is not clarified. How were the persons polled chosen? What were the demographics of the sample populations from which they came? What guidelines governed the interviews? Were the questions asked in group settings or in one-on-one interviews? Were family members present, did family members know the interviews were conducted, what information about the poll was available to family members? What were the religious affiliations of the persons polled — Sunni, Shia, or? What information was gathered about the religiosity of the polled persons? Those questions merely begin a long list of concerns that should be fully addressed.
Whether the pollsters tried to take into account or even knew of the concept of taqiyya is not mentioned. Nothing was said about how the pollsters believed they appeared to the informants — were they always taken as Muslims, members of the same sect as the informants, aliens, or…what? What measures were taken to insure that truthful answers were provided, and that the pollsters could be relatively sure they were not simply being told what the informants believed the pollsters wanted to hear — or what would allow the informants to avoid problems? What was done to assure informants that the poll was not a trap for heretics and apostates?
When you ask a Muslim what he thinks of the freedom to say whatever one wants, how do you know his assumptions about that concept are anything like yours? To many Muslims, freedom of speech means the freedom to damn Jews, preach the Koran, and plot mayhem. But freedom of speech, Islamic style, does not include the right to blaspheme or deny the commandments of Allah and dispute the Koran’s inerrancy. Fundamental notions vary between cultures, though the words be the same; any pollster who does not understand that is incompetent. How did the Gallup people approach those facts? They are, pardon the expression, crucial.
That is just a small sample of the many unknowns involved.
The documentary regarding the poll is not a valid or convincing report. It is a political document that omits many facts and ignores cultural factors, while claiming to respect both. How many times did you hear the word “Jews” used, for example? Where are the responses regarding peace with Israel, the propriety of dhimmitude for Jews and Christians, and the implications of the Battle of the Great Ditch? They would be fundamentally significant, and diagnostic. They are missing, and that is a serious flaw.
When the female pollster presents her results, she spends well over ninety percent of her time in animated, enthusiastic advocacy, waving her arms passionately as she praises sharia as a precious defender of the rights of females. What place do her personal views, her cultural biases and assumptions, have in a report of the results of the poll? One wonders what she thinks of Mohammed’s incest — that incident when he took the comely wife of his son and added her to his collection of sex partners, and then announced to the angry community that Allah was not offended because he, Mohammed, was a prophet, and therefore uniquely privileged.
Nothing is said about the refusal of Muslim immigrants in the West to acculturate, and no mention is made of the many references Muslims make to their frank intent to change and eventually control the nations into which they are moving rather than adapt to their new homes. No mention is made of the phenomenon observed in Britain and France, where Muslim families have immigrated and reared children who, in sharp contrast to their peaceful parents, become thugs and religiously-inspired (would-be or actual) mass murderers. No attempts are made to note any demographic factors that contribute to bloodshed committed by jihadis; there is no hint of how Muslims who support violence against the West justify it. Whether they were asked that question remains unknown.
Huntington’s famous quote, “Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards” is ignored, when in fact it is central to the question of just how sincere “peaceful” or “moderate” Muslims actually are. What do Muslims think of the historian’s words, and how many volunteer the observation that they have emigrated to evade the “innards” of Islamic society? Gallup does not explore the question. Nor is any mention made of the rejoicing of the Muslim world (whose “moderates” remained silent) when the USA was attacked in 2001. How do Muslims understand, explain, justify, or denounce that seeming Schadenfreude? What about the fatwa declared against Rushdie the novelist — where was “moderate” Muslim opposition to that? Do the polled Muslims know that murders were committed in obedience to the fatwa? How sincere is “moderate” Islam, if in fact it exists beyond a community of silent, inactive pacifists?
Even a casual observer of Islam must be struck by the notion that Muslims express themselves in accord with a value system that is radically distinct from that of the West. Indeed, Muslims appear to be circumspect, fearful of expressing personal opinions that may strike other Muslims as heretical. They often tend to behave, in other words, as members of an intolerant, repressive and harshly punitive society. That would tend to make them difficult to poll, would it not? After all, the very notion of polling is radically alien to Islam’s authoritarian and fanatical qualities.
An honest pollster must deal with these issues, and explain his methodology.
No references whatsoever are made to the importance Muslims ascribe to the commandments of the Koran and hadith. The pollsters instead lecture their audience repeatedly, implying that Muslims are just like people everywhere, and are not expressly told that suicide in jihad is, as Sam Harris has pointed out, a career opportunity. Nothing whatsoever is said about the demographics of jihadis, and the old nonsense is repeated: jihad is falsely claimed to be only a spiritual struggle carried on by peaceful people who are trying to be kinder and gentler and more giving. Yet the Koran unambiguously and expressly says otherwise.
In short, this documentary is dishonest, unreliable, deceitful, deplorable and reprehensible. It is pure propaganda, and of the vilest sort, because it pretends to be objectively informative.
The basic concept seems well-intended: one should ask Muslims what they think, what they believe (how they regard the Koran and hadith), and what they want.
By all means, then, do ask, and you will be informed.
This Is A Repair Job?
One of the big complaints about the recent financial disaster and the federal government’s reaction to it is that the entire concept of a corporate entity being “too big to fail” is a bad idea. It is, at base, an ethical assertion: people who make mistakes (and probably pull some fast ones, though that can’t always be proved) need to accept the consequences. According to this concept — which might be called, “Sleep in the bed you made”– when a financial institution has a policy of making bad loans and collapses accordingly, the people at the top lose their jobs and are sued from here to Samarkand. Then the company closes its doors. Prudent competitors of the incompetent/unethical company benefit, as is only correct.
The last thing anybody should want is inefficient, wasteful firms competing, however briefly, with well-run outfits. The better all the competitors are run, the more prosperity there is and the more people participate in it. So the bad actors and the incompetent have to be culled.
Well, that’s the idea behind the Dodd-Frank legislation: no more “too big to fail”. As you will see if you click on the hyperlink.
You may have noticed, however, that Barney Frank’s name is on that legislation. That should tell you that something somewhere is going to go wildly off the rails.
Of course the first thing you will notice if you really do click on the hyperlink is that the law in question is a monster, and so complex and specialized that even Wikipedia pleads for edits to make the explanation of the law easier to understand. You may notice next that bureau after bureau after agency after authority after office is created by the law; it’s a jungle of regulators, enforcers, investigators, and who-knows-what-those-other-
To put it simply: there is nothing simple about Dodd-Frank, and there is probably not much good about it, either. In fact this Frankenstein is pretty typical of the things done and not done by one of the worst sessions of the Congress ever.
And the reason for that judgment? Why, the fact that Dodd-Frank does not end the “too big to fail” madness.
Now really, Pilgrims, to ask you to look at the evidence for that claim is very naughty of this newsletter, for the experience of checking out the intent and general architecture of Dodd-Frank and then comparing it to “too big to fail” would be mind-warping for decent folks. Pull back from the horror, and rely on a genuinely accurate summary of the facts that will do nicely. You are welcome.
One can draw three conclusions from this nightmare: first, it’s really good to know that Barney will be gone, because that guy has been a millstone around the neck of the polity for years. Second, the philosophical principle that says that the most democratic and representative entity in the federal government is the House of Representatives is pure theory, and more wishful thinking than theory, at that. Third, maybe there really is hope, because Dodd is no longer in the Senate.
Seems pretty pitiful, doesn’t it?
An Old And Stupid Issue, New Again But Still Stupid
Breitbart Org. compares news media reports on Romney’s Mormonism with the media attitude toward Obama’s Pastor Wright. This newsletter considered Wright an entertainer who made no significant impact on Obama’s values (meaning he probably did not change The One’s thinking at all), and it considers Romney’s Mormonism a distraction; the media generally disagree.
From the commentary linked above:
This is a helluva scam the media has going here. While one hand it works in tandem with the Obama campaign to ensure a full vetting of Rev. Wright never happens, you know, because religion is off the table — with the other hand, the very same media is screaming scary, freaky, racist, polygamous Mormon! at the top of its lungs.
First, the Mormons — all of them, Utah pioneers, splinter groups in Mexico and stay-behinds in Missouri — were never and are not today polygamous. Many of them were, and some still are, polygynous. Big difference. Huge difference. Look it up. Use the words correctly.
Second, this is all childish, as NTG sees it. Wasn’t it settled when JFK became president? Well, no. Romney’s Mormonism is not comparable to Roman Catholicism, because the LDS religion is practiced by such a small minority. Lots of voters know nothing at all about Mormonism, and know no Mormons. Moreover, there is a segment of the “wingnut” electorate that considers profession of Mormonism to be politically disqualifying because it is ipso facto absolute proof of intellectual incompetence. These anti-Mormons will not vote at all rather than vote for Romney. That could give Obama victory in one or two crucial states.
Gaining Insight Into The Anthropogenic Global Warming Cult
According to a book review,
Scientists overlook inconvenient results, writes Mr. Brooks, a British science writer who holds a doctorate in quantum physics and writes a weekly column for The New Statesman. They ignore data that conflict with their ideas. Einstein, for example, bristled at criticism of his papers, withdrawing one submitted to The Physical Review after an anonymous peer reviewer pointed out an error. He published the paper elsewhere, Mr. Brooks writes, “complete with the mistake.”
You are correct: that’s not science. Einstein was at base not a scientist — his comment that “God does not play dice with the universe” was made in response to quantum mechanics, which he felt was incorrect because it repudiated his faith in certainty.
Parenthetical observation: it may seem odd to use the New York Times as a source of information on “climate change”. If you have read The Hockey Stick Illusion, you realize that the Times regularly passes off rubbish as truth, oversimplifies the facts, and hews to an agenda rather than follow the truth, as this article illustrates. Faith-based fake science does result in statements that expose fabrications for what they are, though. Once you know exactly how the hoaxers constructed their alarmist global warming fables, and precisely how they have defended them from facts, you can read the NY Times with a mix of amusement and irritation.
The full story is not amusing, however. “There is a war being waged against climate realists — on campus, in the board rooms of foundations and think tanks, and especially in the media, whose practitioners willingly carry water for the scaremongers, the smear merchants, and those who seek to destroy anyone who challenges AGW orthodoxy.” The relentless, unprincipled cult rejects the core values of science, and is a real danger to good governance.
While heresy and apostasy are struggling to reform the study of climate, the fact remains that scientific fraud is actually more common than you probably realized. At present, the Hockey Stick hoaxers are running the show; if history is a guide to the future, they will be dethroned and something a lot closer to the truth will prevail. Not soon enough!
Finally, don’t bypass this epochal sermon from Michael Crichton, delivered at the California Institute of Technology in 2003. Highest recommendation.
In case you missed this, don’t let it go by a second time: it’s funny, on target, and even inspiring.
Collectivists are sweating blood over the coming decision The Supremes will hand down on Obamacare. It’s a hypocrite’s professional hazard.
Here you find pessimism, defeatism, and self-hatred rolled together: “There seem (sic) to be no way to sustain civilization any longer, but that might not be such a bad thing for the rest of the world, because its collapse is taking place due to a larger collapse: the collapse of cultural diversity and the loss of biodiversity famously called earths (sic) sixth major extinction event which is the dark side of the progress of civilization.” Don’t dismiss this drivel with vapid references to Hopeandchange; in fact, the cynical peddling of Obamite slogans goes hand in glove with the systematic undermining of US resolve to make the world a safer, freer, more prosperous place. Exactly how that is takes a while to see, but begin with Utopianism, and continue with a careful look at collectivist governance….
Related: take a close look at one of the insane props that supports the AGW hoax. Ultimately, it’s species self-hatred, as noted in NTG Number 249, but you can think of it as Green Run Amok.
Astounding marriage proposal: how did he put all this together, and…good grief, what if….
Yes, this is how the feds conduct themselves, and you had better remember Section 1001 when they come calling. They will ask seemingly innocuous questions, and “answer” your questions with questions. — Oh, you say you don’t know anything about this “Section 1001” gizmo, whatever it is? It was covered in Number 225 of this newsletter, and here’s the link to an explanation of it. Summary: when talking to the feds, don’t say anything.
Guess where this was published: “…fully 71 percent of the Obama Energy Department’s grants and loans went to ‘individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.'” For the answer, click. Well, the worm has not exactly turned. Those folks have published “opinion” before…but is this gruesome statistic really opinion, or fact? Isn’t it more in the nature of genuine news?
Here he is again… he’s a favorite of the First Assistant Dishwasher in The Eagle Wing Palace.
Some folks are determined to change the world, and this group is a definitive example of non-violent reformers and visionaries. It offers free “courses” designed to improve your life in just about every way. To this newsletter, a distressingly high number of the offerings are off-center or simply wrong, while some are entertaining guilty pleasures (the UFO exposé is delicious). Keep your reason, maturity and common sense handy, and enjoy a break from the everyday.
“Wingnuts” can give this a pass, as they don’t need it; you “progressives” should read it. Yes, “Orwell” was not his name, but the fable he crafted has turned out to be seminal, and often helpful to those who wish to clarify the obtuse machinations of politicians. “Censorship is good for you, and if you don’t believe that, you have been reading and listening to and watching the wrong stuff, so the big media and the government are here to get you cleaned up. Hold still — we are political Centrists, so this won’t hurt a bit.”
What password to use next time you have to provide one? Follow this advice.
Marion Barry: “The Irish caught hell, the Jews caught hell, the Polacks caught hell.” The man should have been in the diplomatic corps…but then he might have called it “the diplomatic corpse”. You never know. Well, the fuss over Barry’s slur is vaguely reminiscent of Sarah Silverman’s deliberate joke with the punchline, “I love Chinks…and who doesn’t?”. The difference: Silverman is not a chowderhead.
Somebody ought to build little observation platforms for the locals to use….
Good news. Keep at it, guys.
Al Qaeda thinks it can take on, and defeat, Pakistan. Amazing.
“The world’s most popular game is also its most corrupt, with investigations into match fixing ongoing in more than 25 countries.” Cripes, nobody should have to be told that — soccer players get bumped and fall to the ground screaming and writhing in overwhelming agony, only to get up and trot back into the game a minute later. It’s all as obviously fake as a 1970s daytime TV soap opera. So of course there’s match-fixing. Soccer fans have to be just about the most gullible knuckleheads in the world…by sharp contrast, lovers of pro wrestling (“sports entertainment”) are far more aware of the realities of what they are watching. It’s very much like going to a film: you know it’s not reality, but a fake with all sorts of digital effects, yet you don’t care, because it’s fun; the same goes for plays, which are even more artificial, but still tremendously appealing. The huge ethical flaw in soccer is that it’s a fake that has tricked hundreds of millions of people, and cheated them. Don’t ever bet on a soccer match, Pilgrims.
It looks as if the “wingnuts” are waxing a bit too optimistic. May they be correct, and this newsletter wrong.
Jihadis want to burn forests down, and are studying and training to do it. Smokey needs an S&W 500.
It doesn’t get any goofier than when you try to stamp out election fraud.
Nat Hentoff on George Mason, The Bill of Rights, and the dangers posed by the federal government: the real question is what the “protectors” are likely to do, given the current laws. This newsletter suggests that Barack Obama and Eric Holder are not to be trusted. And the Republicans? Would they be better? Just guessing, but no, they might even be worse. Faith in the quality of future governments is like depending on good luck charms. Individuals must cooperate voluntarily to keep The Powers That Be honest and decent.
Looking deep and then deeper into every face
Past beauty and wisdom, past gender and race
I see a lone hungry wolf in a shining blue flame And only the strange remain
The masthead includes a quote from the works of Charles Krauthammer.
The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Arch Linux, Emacs, and Firefox.