Thursday, August 27, 2015

Christian Reconstruction Rides Again!

I recently read a good book on Christian Reconstructionism by Julie Ingersoll.

There is a well reported article about Home School Legal Defense Association, and Michael Farris that I just read. It was cross-posted to Slate, but the Slate comment software seems overwhelmed. I am concerned that it has missed the radical religious motivations of the HSLDA, Mr. Farris and the Christian Dominionist/Reconstructionist movement. The rather obvious clues are scattered in the Mission Statements, and Statements of Faith for organizations he has founded. These also include the Parental Rights Organization, and the Citizens for Self-Governance: Convention of States Project.

Some additional reading;

Hedges, Chris
2008 “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” New York: Free Press.

Ingersoll, Julie J.
2015 “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the world of Christian Reconstruction” Oxford University Press

Michael McVicar
2015 "Christian Reconstruction: R. J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism," Univ. of N. Carolina Press).

Mooney, Chris
2005 “The Republican War on Science” New York: Basic Press

Phillips, Kevin
2006 “American Theocracy” New York: Viking Press

Another "hero" of the religious radicals homeschooling is the fake historian David Barton. I already have recommended Prof. Julie Ingersoll's recent book. There is an excerpt on-line discussing the frauds of David Barton.

David Barton, and Michael Farris are closely associated with several of their projects, and make joint public appearances.

David Barton's many lies are exposed in video format by Chris Rodda. Good fun.

One last observation is that the "science teaching" of the home school radicals is really anti-science. It is certainly anti-environment. Case in point is the mutual appearances of the following Christian Dominionists in an anti-environmental video series for churches and home schools;

David Barton, WallBuilders
Dr. Michael Farris, Home School Legal Defense Assn.
Bryan Fischer, American Family Association
Pastor Jack Hibbs, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills
Bishop Harry Jackson, Hope Christian Church
Dr. Richard Land, Southern Baptist ERLC
Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family
Dr. David Noebel, Summit Ministries
Janet Parshall, National Radio Host
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Dr. Frank Wright, National Religious Broadcasters
Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America

The video series is motivated by the claim that, "Without doubt one of the greatest threats to society and the church today is the multifaceted environmentalist movement."

The series is a project of the "Cornwall Alliance" These Dominionists also employ a Creationists favorite ploy, the fake science doctorate. "Dr." Ferris has a J.D. degree. Lawyers are not "Dr.s"

"Dr." Richard Land has a D.Phil in theology. He was exposed as a racist, and plagiarist. He was booted from the "Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission" (ERLC), the lobby tool of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"Dr." David Noebel; Educated at bible colleges, and he "was a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin." He never received a doctorate.

"Dr." Frank Wright "holds a Ph.D. in Finance from Florida Atlantic University." He is now the CEO of Coral Ridge Ministries, renamed "D. James Kennedy Ministries."

The director of this "science" video series is "Dr." E. Calvin Beisner, who completed doctoral studies in Scottish history through the University of St Andrews. His topic was late 17th century Calvinists.

These men are fraudulently presented as authorities on science, and not all even have a legitimate doctorate.

This is hardly a new problem as witnessed by;

Helvarg, David
1994 "The War Against the Greens: The “Wise use Movement," the New Right, and Anti-Environmental Violence” San Francisco: The Sierra Club.

John Rosemond who pretends to be a clinical psychologist is a founding board member of the Home-school "Parental Rights Organization. Recall this is a spawn of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He wrote in 2006 of toddlers that, "They are by nature violent, deceitful, destructive, rebellious, and prone to sociopathic rages if they do not get their way.” The "cure" is to beat them.

These fake degrees are not new to creationism. I have documented some other fakes like "doctor" Kent Hovind"

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Megan Fox, YEC loon

The marvel of modern technology is that an incredibly ignorant person can be "published" and reach an audience of millions. Kim Kardashian West has at least figured how to legally dupe people for massive piles of money without actually harming anyone.

An even worse imbecile named Megan Fox has risen from a well deserved obscurity to become a national laughing stock. Ms. Fox is a young earth creationist (YEC) and home schooler. Her pivotal moment was a YouTube video where she traipsed about the Field Museum of Natural History while dismissing science. She felt qualified to dismiss scientific terms she could not even pronounce. Do watch it, if you must. I initially was laughing, but as the stupidities piled up on mountains of arrogant ignorance, I found I need beer and a short walk.

However, she has allies. They are also exposed in the supporting comments following her Fields Museum diatribe. Perhaps the 1,207,582 views on YouTube are all not just for cheap amusement afforded by a side-show freak. She teaches her home-schooled children YEC frauds. She is proud of being ignorant and infecting her children with ignorance. Her internet notoriety has lead to a new venue: a far-right internet website called PJ Media. I'll totally understand if nobody clicks their ad-bait. I wish I didn't. But, Ms. Fox claims she was "actually threatened" following her YouTube self-humiliation. She just wrote,

I have personally been threatened by people who say they want to call the state and report me for child abuse because I made a video questioning the validity of some of the evolutionists’ claims at the Field Museum in Chicago. These threats are not to be taken lightly, considering that children have been taken from their parents over idiotic circumstances like a homeschooling father who takes a natural supplement that the FDA doesn’t approve of (like every natural health supplement on the market. But don’t worry, it’s not like the FDA said Vioxx was perfectly fine before it killed 60,000 people. Oh wait…).

Those few sentences alone were enough to stun me. (The grammatical, and typographical irregularities alone are stunning. But I am not a grammerological Fascist that windges at grammar stupidnesies. Oh wit ...).

I count 4 significant gross errors of fact, and logic. That is high even for a YEC nitwit.

First of course is why any sane person worries about the comments to a YouTube video. I get emails from YEC loonies with some regularity that threaten me with Hell Fire and Damnation. (Yawn). Then there is the paranoid delusion that Ms. Fox could lose her children by what she later called "government kidnappings" directed against home schooling parents.

But there are still 4 more interesting errors. They are so densely packed that it took hours to trace them all down.

1) Were the children taken into protective custody because their father home schooled, or that he took "a natural supplement that the FDA doesn’t approve of?" Or was there more?

The "home schooling father" referred to Hal and Michelle Stanley of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Seven of their nine children were living at their home, and were removed to protective custody last January. The Affidavit for the search warrant follows:

The Affidavit clearly states that the concern is that the Stanley children were being purposefully exposed to Sodium Clorite. I'll explain why that is a very bad idea a bit later. There is no mention at all of any objection to Mr. Hal Stanely taking any thing he likes. There is no mention at all about home schooling. So we see that Ms. Fox has lied again. Actually, she lied twice.

2) Does the FDA regulate "natural supplements?"

When a chemical is sold in the US as a dietary supplement, it comes under the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). The linked article has more information, but the key items are;

"Under DSHEA, a firm is responsible for determining that the dietary supplements it manufactures or distributes are safe and that any representations or claims made about them are substantiated by adequate evidence to show that they are not false or misleading. This means that dietary supplements do not need approval from FDA before they are marketed."

... a firm does not have to provide FDA with the evidence it relies on to substantiate safety or effectiveness before or after it markets its products.

Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before marketing, there are no provisions in the law for FDA to "approve" dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumer. Under DSHEA, once the product is marketed, FDA has the responsibility for showing that a dietary supplement is "unsafe," before it can take action to restrict the product's use or removal from the marketplace.

The FDA does not regulate "natural supplements." They can only act if there is solid evidence that the product chemical is dangerous, and/or that the advertised claims made about the product are false. Ms. Fox lied again.

3) What is the supplement "MMS," and why does the FDA object to this as a "nutritional supplement?" Why would the Child Protective Services worry that Mr. Stanley was spreading sodium chlorite around the house?

MMS (Miracle [Master] Mineral Solution) is sodium chlorite dissolved in distilled water. Sodium Chlorite, NaClO2, is a starting chemical for releasing a gas, Chlorine dioxide (ClO2). It is a powerful industrial bleach, and also has some use in treating waste water and sewage. If you are a chemist, I recommend the EPA fact sheet (PDF). The first link above was to Wikipedia which has most of the same information in a slightly less technical presentation.

In the bare bones version, this chemical reacts with acid to release several highly toxic gasses. If there is hydrochloric acid in the mix, chlorine gas as well as chlorine dioxide are released. Stomach acid has hydrochloric acid (HCl) concentrations from 0.5%, to as high as 0.1 M. Sodium dioxide can also be released from sodium chlorate (NaClO3) mixed with concentrated hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and an acid (industrially sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is preferred, but stomach acid works just fine). H2SO4 AKA battery acid is easy to come by). This also set off alarms when we read the results of the search warrant on the Stanley house.

Read the items carefully. Item #1 is a gallon bottle of 35% hydrogen peroxide, H2O2. The solution you can buy at the market, or drug store for an antiseptic is a maximum 3%. Hal Stanley had a "partially full" gallon bottle of H2O2 that was over 10 times stronger than can be sold in drug stores. Now remember that the adult children of Hal Stanley were worried he had used some process that "piped vapors" from sodium chlorite into rooms where the small children were doing school work. Industrial concentrated hydrogen peroxide, any suitable acid, and the "miracle solution" of sodium chlorite would produce a gas dangerous to anyone. Hal Stanley had all of these readily available.

Ms. Fox cited (by link) a website for "alternative health" that "feature(s) stories on alternative healing methods that are NOT approved by the FDA." They claimed that the poor poor man selling Sodium Chlorite was persecuted because he sold a product that "saved tens of thousands." I wish they would go back to finding Elvis and Bigfoot. Here is a quick item on how this really turned out;

Seller of “Miracle Mineral Solution” Convicted for Marketing Toxic Chemical as a Miracle Cure

May 28, 2015

A federal jury in the Eastern District of Washington returned a guilty verdict yesterday against a Spokane, Washington, man for selling industrial bleach as a miracle cure for numerous diseases and illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, lyme disease, asthma and the common cold, the Department of Justice announced.

Louis Daniel Smith, 45, was convicted following a seven-day trial of conspiracy, smuggling, selling misbranded drugs and defrauding the United States. Evidence at trial showed that Smith operated a business called “Project GreenLife” (PGL) from 2007 to 2011. PGL sold a product called “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” or MMS, over the Internet. MMS is a mixture of sodium chlorite and water. Sodium chlorite is an industrial chemical used as a pesticide and for hydraulic fracking and wastewater treatment. Sodium chlorite cannot be sold for human consumption and suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet stating that it can cause potentially fatal side effects if swallowed.

So far Ms. Megan Fox has racked an impressive list of lies.

But, there is more!

4) What is the real story about Vioxx?

Remember a few minutes ago when we looked at what the FDA can, and cannot do? On thing they also cannot do is independently test drugs. It is the responsibility of the drug manufacturer to propose, implement, and report their own drug trials. In the case of the pain medication Vioxx, the drug company Merck lied. They lied, and they lied. And then they lied some more.

If you want the details use the link. I think that for this post, the fact that Megan Fox is a raging liar, and hypocrite is more to the point. She first attacked the FDA as a terrible gang that tried to prevent a highly toxic chemical from being sold to nitwits as a "miracle cure" for AIDS, malaria, and acne. Then Ms. Fox whines that the capitalist pharmaceutical industry was not stopped by the FDA. The Merck corporation bribed so-called independent industry scientists, and lied to the FDA, and published faked studies. When the FDA tried to stop the sale of Vioxx, the industrial lawyers went to work to keep the drug in the market, and to keep their bosses out of jail.

A final end note to the persistent inability of Ms. Fox to grasp simple facts is the asinine lie supposed to support home schooling that, "Meanwhile, 79% of Chicago’s public schooled 8th graders can’t read."

She even gave a link to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

There are just a few massive problems with Ms. Fox, and her inability to read a simple table.

If you look at the data that Ms. Fox couldn't read, you will see that Chicago 8th grade students in 2011 were the 12th highest in children who were not fluent in English reading for major cities. This is not to say they were not able to read. Reading in German or Spanish is reading. The NAEP tests are in English.

Next, the data show that 36% of Chicago 8th graders were "below Basic" in English reading. That does not mean they "cannot read," or even that they cannot read English. It meant they were below the National expectation for English reading at the 8th grade level. The home of English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching was Chicago in the early 1900s. The first language was Polish.

One problem with the insanity of the far right is that under current standards, 25% of American students fail in every category. One problem few people are well informed on was that the The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) arbitrarily changed "proficient" from a 50/50 ratio to a 60% fail 40% pass. This was pulled off by the "standardized test" mafia. I was a member of the prototype committee of the NAEP Science Panel. I resigned in protest. But beyond that, Ms. Fox was still grossly incompetently wrong. This is not even close to the lie that "79% of Chicago’s public schooled 8th graders can’t read." She copied this particular lie from any of several radical right-wing websites. The link is to just one example. Even they could tell the difference between "proficient" and "cannot read." Since the average news paper is written for an 8th grade level, we have every hope that average 13 year old will soon surpass the FOX News audience in their English reading.

Ms. Fox clearly has failed repeatedly.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Teacher Slams in the OCWeekly

I have exhausted my effort to make a simple table on Google's Blogger. Bugger is a better name.

OC Weekly is a presumably liberal "alternative" news rag published weekly for Orange County, California. Today they really pissed me off.

It is hard to know just which falsehoods in this little anti-education screed by Matt Coker to debunk first.

The caption to the OCWeekly photo was the first prejudicial item that caught my eye. The photo is of a room full of teachers having a training session for union representatives. One important role that union reps have is to attend teacher and administrator disciplinary meetings. The OCWeekly caption reads, "Anaheim Union High School District teachers participate in a teacher association-based training session that is presumably NOT on what to do with all the money they make." The topics of the meeting were obviously displayed from the union website which Mr. Coker copied the photo. So before this “news” article even started, the gross bias and/or incompetence of Mr. Coker was already clear.

The bare facts are that most teachers are required to attend 5 days of unpaid training, and typically another 5 partially paid days. These are on their “days off.” When I was an industrial chemist, we had scheduled days when company reps came and did review compensation plans on the company dime. In decades of teaching I never even heard of a school district paying for negotiation time, or retirement planning. Teachers must “pay” themselves out-of-pocket. My wife was a K-12 teacher in Orange County for 30 years, and she never had a paid day off for benefit, or retirement planning.

Mr. Coker makes his inability to honestly report on education obvious in his first paragraph. He makes two gross errors. The first is to blindly accept the handout from an anti-education political hack organization. They have lied about teacher pay which just a little effort demonstrated. The second is worse. This is to think that the single number “measure” of district wide student performance should have a direct relationship with teacher pay. Mr. Coker parroted his lines from the far-right,
“Transparent California, which is a project of the California Policy Center and the Nevada Policy Research Institute, found that Anaheim Union's average teacher compensation is $115,437 while its Academic Performance Index score is 777.”

I’ll break this down.

First, the “average teacher compensation” number of “$115,437” is at best wrong. This would be obvious to any honest reporter. The first clue is that “teacher compensation” is not at all the same as a salary. However, most readers will imagine that “compensation” is the same as salary. Any honest, or competent reporter would have made this difference clear. First question is, “Are numbers from a political extremist organization trustworthy?” Second, (since the first answer is No!) what are the real numbers?

The following numbers are from “Transparent California” for individual Anaheim high school teachers. I listed the lowest, and highest paid full-time teachers for 2013-2014 based on their numbers.

Regular pay Overtime pay Other pay Benefits Total pay & benefits
$ 21,362.00, $0.00, $ 1,188.00, $2,917.00, $ 23,091.00
$104,192.00, $0.00, $16,898.00, $25,261.00, $146,351.00

Think just a moment- 4 years of college, 2 years of post-graduate teacher training, and 21 grand to start. Note as well that the highest paid teacher is also getting a $16,898 kicker. Sports coaches do get a very sweet “kick” if their kickers kick well. Additionally, there was an extended hiring freeze when the Republicans were bankrupting California, and the Nation. This has a serious effect on teacher salaries. They actually increase because cost of living, and step increases are built into their contract. What union teachers did here in OC, and across the State was to “forgive” these until the school districts got back in the positive margin of their annual budgets. This finally started to show up in paychecks only since we booted the rightwing from power. The real long term loss was our new young teachers. They were faced with terrible pay, poor hire prospects, and no raises for years. Most new teachers discover that they are not really able to stay in the classroom. They quit. About 50% quit in less than 7 years. The starting pay is very poor as seen in data published by the radical “California Policy Center.”

There are actual professionals that do competent studies of compensation rates for most US industries, and professions. I picked one because it was among the largest. In this case “largest” implies more “competent.” There is a simple comparison between the politically biased (false) California Policy Center assertion that the “average teacher compensation is $115,437,” and a professional company who’s success depends on honesty and accuracy;

Here are their creditable data on the payment package for Anaheim high school teachers;
Median Base Salary, $62,433, 70.8%
Total Compensation, $88,227, 100%

Is the Anaheim’s high school teacher average compensation really $115,437?”

A professional company who’s success depends on honesty and accuracy reported the median total compensation was $88,227, and only ~62K was salary. I know who I trust.

The rest of Mr. Coker’s pathetic slam on teachers was his lack of effort reviewing the idea of the
“Academic Performance Index (API).” The California Policy Center “Transparency” scam reported a trivial summary number of “777.” I am surprised they didn’t round down to “666.” What are the facts? The California Department of Education has these data online. Just a click away for the data that Mr. Coker was too lazy, or too biased to check. I summarize it below for the most recent 2012-2013 data.

Students, AIP 2013
Total#, 25,377, 777

This is were Mr. Coker and the “transparency” gang quit.

But, there is much more. If the goal of a school district is a score over 800, how does Anaheim really do?

There is a district wide ethnic breakdown; (Ethnic label, percentage of students, 2013 AIP score)

Filipino, 16.3%, 915

White not
Hispanic, 11.9%, 819

Hispanic, 64.6%, 734

learners, 43.0%, 685

Poor, 68.6%, 744

So where is there a serious problem? It is obvious that “English learners” do not do very well on all day long tests taken in ENGLISH! Poor students (in our experience often hungry students) do poorly on all tests. It is a safe assumption that a majority of non-English speakers in Anaheim schools are poor Hispanics! We can partial out an estimate of English fluent Hispanic AIP scores making the assumption that "English learners" are Hispanic. In that case, the English fluent Hispanic students have an API over 865.

Their teachers are doing a fantastic job.