Once the Hate Is Gone . . .
I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is
because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
Stem Cell Hate
From the EDITOR of a Stem Cell Journal
You may be right but you may be wrong. Personally while I hope you are right, I dint [sic] think you are. Rather I have coime [sic] to think the entire adult stem cell field is based onn [sic] reports that are replete with artifacts,, [sic] misinterpretation, pushing of data, and premature dismissal or alternate explainations [sic]. In point, the 3 germ layer [sic] demonstration of Cathy [University of Minnesota researcher Dr. Catherine Verfaillie] is virtually meaningless; putting a fibroblast in a blastocyst resulted in Dolly;l [sic] are you surprised that progeny of any cell can incorporate into all 3 germal areas in the blastocyst?
Denis English, Ph.D.
Dear Dr. English:
In trying to figure out why so many people don't understand stem cell issues, it explains much that you are editor of a journal on the subject. Currently, over 80 diseases are treated with non-embryonic stem cells and 300 are in clinical trials. Are those "artifacts, misinterpretation, and pushing data?" Or is the proof not in the pudding? Even the nation's leading ESC research cheerleader, Dr. Irving Weissman, says Verfaillie may be onto something – not to mention the other two labs that have made similar findings with different stem cells.
But you don't even understand how Dolly was created or what Verfaillie's lab did. Ian Wilmut and his colleagues took a fully mature cell from a sheep udder, not a fibroblast, and inserted it into an oocyte. Only after about a week of growing and dividing did it become a blastocyst. As for Verfaillie, yes one of her original tests involved putting the cells into blastocysts to see what would develop from there. But in her 2002 report in Nature her team injected cells directly into tail veins of mice, bypassing the blastocyst route. They reported the donor cells had become part of the blood, marrow, spleen, lung, liver and intestine. That the editor of a journal called "Stem Cells and Development" knows nothing about any of this and seems quite proud of it is disquieting in the extreme.
You know, that's really interesting. I searched Pubmed [sic] and you published a anh [A what?] article in 1988 and you're telling me I don't know science. I live science and write about it in my spare time.
Your facts are simply wrong which reflects the right fact; you are not a scientist and have little busness [sic] reviewing the opinions and questioning the statements of those that are. Do you even have an education in science? Based on a few of your statements, I hope not, or I am going to be disillusioned with our educational systems [sic]. Like you ARE SAYING I believe, and you are certain of this, that Ian did not use a marrary [sic] fibroblast in his first report on cloning? That would come as a big shock to him, cause [sic] that is what he said he used. Look it up and read it before you go spouting off an matters you have no business commenting on (Nature. 1996 Mar 7;380(6569):64-6.).
See a sheep's utter [sic], much like the mammary gland that was actually used in the first report cited above, consists of a whole bunch of different kinds of cells. Not utter [sic] cells, but dermal epithelium, endothelium and perhaps adipocytes and blood cells; maybe even cartiledge [sic]. We call those cells keritonocytes [sic]. Now the predoninant [sic] cell in the epithelium, which is the predominate [sic] cell in utters, mammary glands, skin, nose and really a whole bunch of things we refer to as BIOLOGICAL STRUCTURES are FIBROBLASTS. The point I want you to take home is that just because it is an utter [sic] cell, which it wasn't but that doesn't matter, doesn't mean it is not also a fibroblast. Capish?? [Sic, it's "Capiche?"]
Then Ian took the littlle [sic] thing from the middle of the fibroblast, that we call THE NUCLEUS I(repeat after me) [sic] ..NuCLEUS, and carefully placed it into an oocyte that did not have a nucleus, and do you know why. Well Ian took it out, see, and replaced it with the nucleus of a fully differentiated fibroblast. I really hate to burst your bubble bubba, but its [sic] all right there in the literature.
Knowing this above is going to be way the hell over your head, I attached an article that explains it with pictures. Call me if you don't know how to open an attached file. Don't be shy; I already know you are, shall I say, intellectually compromised.
Now lets [sic] examine the implications here. If a fully developed mammary fibroblast, ok [Huh?], if you insist, let me start over.
Now let me explain a few things. [Let's not; 300 words omitted.]
If I am wrong, send me the article and, hey, I'll run it and give it the lead and the cover. But to date, adult stem cells hqave [sic] cured no one of anything, except the hematopoietic stem cells used for marrow transplants.
And you can take that to the bank.
Your emails have more misspellings than that of a fifth-grader. Actually the fifth graders are far ahead of you, since at least they know where the "spell check" button is. You allegedly edit a medical journal, but think sheep have "utters" and "marraries" and you can't spell "keritinocytes" either. Most people probably can't spell "keratinocytes;" but most people don't claim to be God's gift to stem cell research and as it happens the word is in the Microsoft Word lexicon. (I can't help but wonder if your name isn't really "Dennis" but that you misspell that, too.) You happily tell me about things you claim I don't "undserstand" [sic], yet your first virtually unreadable letter made specific reference to Dolly and showed you hadn't the least idea of how she was cloned. In your defense, you proffer a Nature article from March 7, 1996. For several paragraphs after that, you detail what was in that Nature article – however sloppily. Problem is, Dolly was born four months after that piece appeared. Therefore the article you drew from, assuming the impossibility of time travel, cannot refer to Dolly. To quote directly from The Roslin Institute website:
Dolly was the first mammal cloned from a cell from an adult animal. She was derived from cells that had been taken from the udder of a 6-year old Finn Dorset ewe and cultured for several weeks in the laboratory. Individual cells were then fused with unfertilized eggs from which the genetic material had been removed. Two hundred and seventy seven of these reconstructed eggs' – each now with a diploid nucleus from the adult animal – were cultured for 6 days in temporary recipients. Twenty nine of the eggs that appeared to have developed normally to the blastocyst stage were implanted into surrogate Scottish Blackface ewes. One gave rise to live lamb, Dolly, some 148 days later. Dolly was born on 5 July 1996.
Here is excerpt from an article in Slate to also help you understand that you have thoroughly confused two different experiments, even as you treat me like an idiot:
Biologist Ian Wilmut's team also cloned lambs out of DNA derived from sheep-fetus fibroblasts, cells found in connective tissue. Even in a fetus, a fibroblast is as highly specialized and fully differentiated as a mammary cell. Dolly is more of a media magnet than her unnamed fibroblast-derived cousins because she came from adult tissue.
Note that this is what I already told you in my first response, that no fibroblast was used and that the MATURE UDDER CELL (not a fibroblast from an "utter") was used to clone Dolly. But then what do I know since you are the Albert Einstein of stem cells and I'm just a lowly science writer.
As for your "attached" article, thanks for offering to tell me how to open it. But first I'd suggest you actually send it, since nothing was attached.
Finally, here's a citation to the list of about 80 diseases I referenced. You can look each one up individually on PubMed. Here is the list of government-sponsored clinical trials. What is it all these researchers know that you don't? And yet you say adult stem cells are good for nothing but marrow transplants. You are in the position of being the editor of Road & Track and claiming automobiles don't exist. The difference is that people actually read Road & Track, while your journal probably has a circulation of two (except when your mother is too busy, whereupon it drops to one.)
You are nothing but a pathetic shill for the ESC lobby, using your journal to express such opinions as: "Researchers absolutely must have ready access to information pertaining to the functional characteristics of the human embryonic stem cell lines available for research funded by the federal government." I'm absolutely delighted to have you on their side.
If We Just Had Gobs and Gobs of Money, We'd Show You!
As a proponent of all stem cell research, I read your column about adult stem cells getting the short shrift with interest.
I have spoken to the leading stem cell scientists. Not a single one says we should not proceed with adult stem cell research. They all say studying embryonic stem cells will advance the entire field of regenerative medicine.
When you look at this research through the prism of regenerative medicine being one of the great medical advances of our time, and that there is a world of suffering, then it follows that we must advance all stem cell research as fast as we can.
You stated "In contrast, the number of treatments using embryonic stem cells is zero. The number of clinical trials involving embryonic stem cells? Zero."
I have always found that line amusing. That's why we need to start the research in earnest. The presidential lines were prepared using mouse feeder cells and can't be used for human clinical trials. That's why we need to fund research on new lines. When the research begins, the number won't be zero.
Dear Mr. Siegel:
My but that is rich, as they say. On my website I document one scientist after another who has published studies, usually in letter form and thus usually having bypassed peer review, who says that adult stem cells don't even multiply (they merely fuse) or some other such nonsense. And every time they are quickly refuted only to dust the argument off a year later. Of course nobody is going to SAY let's not fund ASC research; they're simply going to be so disingenuous about their alleged lack of value that nobody would think such research to be worthwhile.
To rhetorically avoid the reality that ESC research began at about the same time as ASC research (your website erroneously dates the discovery of mouse embryonic stem cells back to 1981 when in fact they were being experimented with in the 1950s but just weren't called ESCs), you use the words "start the research in earnest." That term, of course, is meaningless. How about, "The only reason we have so many internal combustion engine cars and no steam engine cars is we haven't started the research in earnest." Actually there was plenty of research on steam engine automobiles and some were sold. But in comparison they proved a failure, as did electric cars at the turn of the century and electric cars again towards the end of the century.
If no significant progress has been made with ESCs in ten years, you'll still be talking about starting the research "in earnest." Sorry; I don't buy it and neither does private capital. That's why you're the head of a lobbying group that has nothing to do with ASCs and everything to do with sucking up taxpayer money for "therapeutic cloning" using ESCs. You'll get your cut, regardless that whatever you yank out of the pockets of Uncle Sam goes partly to rats and mostly down a rathole.
Also, I love your rhetoric distinguishing between "therapeutic cloning" and "reproductive cloning." "Reproductive cloning is the process by which an embryo is created by nuclear transfer and implanted into a surrogate mother in the hope of bringing it to term. Therapeutic cloning is the process by which an embryo is created through nuclear transfer in order to obtain stem cells from it for therapeutic purposes." Why don't you say this instead: "Reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning, up to a stage, are identical. If the researcher decides to pull the embryo apart for research, it's then called therapeutic. If the researcher decides to implant it into a womb, it's called "reproductive." Moreover, since both types of cloning are identical to that point, any research on therapeutic cloning is also reproductive cloning research. You cannot have the one without the other." But that would be honest wouldn't it, and honesty doesn't seem to be your forte.
Flu Vaccine Hate
Sickness as a Virtue
As a person who would never, ever get one of these shots, I have three questions to ask you.
One: What do you say to the charge that at least the vast majority of these flu shots don't even contain a trace of the virus against which you're supposedly being inoculated?
Two: What do you say to the charge that a person who gets five consecutive flu shots has their [sic] chances of suffering from Alzheimer's Disease [sic] increase tenfold? (We won't even get on the subject of Alzheimer's Disease [sic], as well as autism, being caused, at least in part, by mercury leaking from dental fillings.)
Three: While you whine about the failure of public officials to protect us, why do people like you think that it's the government's job to protect everybody in every possible situation? The first thing that anybody in this country should be livid about is the government sticking its damned nose into every aspect of people's lives in this country, and they should demand that it stop, and be prepared to enforce their demands physically, if need be.
Dear Mr. Peterson:
One: The charge is completely false and you can't substantiate it.
Two: That is also completely false and you also cannot substantiate it. And you're smart not to get into the dental filling stuff because that is also false and you cannot substantiate it and because you were supposed to be responding to a vaccine column.
Three: Please point out where in my piece I wrote that it's the government's job to protect everybody in every possible situation? But in 1912, back when the federal government was a fraction of its current size, long before Social Security and welfare and Medicare, it established the Public Health Service to protect citizens from infectious disease. This is something that individuals have very little control over. If somebody with flu sneezes in your face, you have an excellent chance of contracting it yourself. The PHS has saved countless millions of lives, most of them those of children. That you are livid about this does not reflect well upon you any more than your affinity for conspiracy theories.
The flu vaccine shortage is just another evil deed done by that evil doer Georgie [sic] W. Bush. He wants to kill off all the seniors so he can steal all their social [sic] security [sic] money like he does everything. It's a disgrace in a country as rich as this country is, but only of [sic] the rest of the ilk [sic] like Bush and Cheney can benefit from it. It"s [sic] shameful that people have to wait in long lines to get a flu shot, many in wheelchairs only to be told they only had enough for 125. people. [sic]
Dear Ms. Bell:
What you wrote goes without saying. Bush is responsible for all the wrongs in this country and indeed throughout the world – unless of course it's Cheney's fault or Bush and Cheney working together.
Recently Courtney Love, who is multi-talented although nobody can quite figure out what any of those talents are, told the Sunday Telegraph regarding her drug use and courtroom problems: "The last thing I want to say is, 'I'm a victim', but I am. I believe it's a trickledown from Bush . . ." Under Kerry-Edwards nobody will ever have to wait in wheelchairs only to be told they only had enough for 125. people.
Iraqi Body Count Hate
Racist Defined: Somebody I Disagree with
For example you say:
"Such faith in the honesty of Iraqis is truly touching. But these are the people who gave us 'Baghdad Bob' and are regularly quoted saying that once again a airstrike killed only innocents."
This sounds like you think "Baghdad Bob" is characteristic or typical of the Iraqi people. Otherwise why even bring him up when speaking of a survey of over a thousand Iraqis? You also seem to imply that the problem is not that our bombs actually kill civilians, I regret to inform you that they do, but those lying Arabs lie and say they do.
Then there is:
". . . but considering how the Iraqis like to pad body counts"
I'd like to know your proof on that statement because it sounds like them lying Arabs again. Finally there is this:
Now The Lancet has become Al-Jazeera on the Thames.? [sic]
Why Al-Jazeera? Is it because only an Arab organization would be so concerned about Iraqi deaths? That sir is an insult to us all.
While it's quit clear that you could give a hoot [Sic, "not give a hoot."] about Iraqi causalities sic of this war, there are those among us who do. You complain that "The Lancet researchers are far from disinterested observers.' [sic]
Get a grip Michael. Of course they are not neutral when it comes to the abnormal causes of human death. They are doctors.
I think you could do with a bit more humanity yourself. I tell you what. [sic] First you justify the low iraibodycount [sic] figure of 14-16 thousand civilians [He means figures from the website www.iraqibodycount.com.], and you give some idea of the number of Iraqis we are justified in killing and then we'll talk further about the Lancet numbers.
Newsflash! Iraqis and Arabs as a whole are Caucasian.
The Lancet authors say they wouldn't lie; I reminded readers of "Baghdad Bob." On the other hand, you seem to think that doctors are such inherent liars when it comes to civilians deaths that we should simply accept them as such, then contradict yourself by saying we should also accept The Lancet article as Gospel. Oops, I mean "Koran."
As to the 14-16 thousand figure, as I noted this is almost certainly too high insofar as it's based strictly on press reports and Iraqis in contested areas are constantly claiming that our weapons only kill civilians. That's not a trustworthy source. In any event, that number needs to be seen in the context of the work of the Butcher of Baghdad. According to the Iraq Foundation, the war Saddam started against Iran claimed 800,000 lives. Add to that maybe 50,000 more lives from the Persian Gulf War resulting from his invasion of Kuwait. Nobody will ever know how many civilians he killed in his own country, especially among the Kurds and Shiites but we're probably over a million now. And it isn't just the numbers that are so sickening. Those Iraqi civilians he killed were gassed, killed in acid torture chambers, put on meat hooks, and in general killed in the most horrific ways Saddam and his sons could think of. And they had VERY active imaginations. Even as we speak, the guerrilla-terrorist force he left in place is still killing on average dozens of civilians each day with car bombs and other means. So yes, I think we can justify some Iraqi civilian deaths suffered by those caught in the crossfire of our efforts to exterminate the vermin your buddy left behind.
Your Wish Has Come True
Dear Mr. Fumento.
Imagine the irony of reading your column today in which you claim "The 'missing munitions' allegation deservedly died" the same day it was announced that as many as 4,000 surface-to-air missiles are missing and may be in the hands of terrorists. Maybe you're right, maybe those videotapes of soldiers examining the explosives which later disappeared were a product of my imagination. But should a passenger plane anywhere in the world be shot from the sky by a missile you and your Bush apologists will need to weave a whole new fantasy.
Boy do I hope I'm wrong. But then again, I live in a 'reality-based' [sic] world.
Dear Mr. Fisher,
Fear not, your hopes have been fulfilled. My reference was obviously to the Al-Qaqaa munitions dump, insofar as my column hit the wires on Thursday and the announcement about the surface-to-air missiles was the following Sunday. If your failed to learn the days of the week in grade school it's not my job to teach you. Lots of explosives disappeared in Iraq because the whole bloody country was, and largely remains, an arsenal. There's hardly a place where you can't scrape back a bit of soil or sand and not find something that shoots or explodes. I'm not a Bush apologist, but apparently you think he's Superman and can fly over the whole country, use his X-Ray vision to identify weapons and explosives, and then blow them all up with his laser vision. For me, though, I live in a "reality-based" world.
So would it Be Okay to Kill Iraqi Civilians if they were All Jews?
I read with interest your column disputing the validity of the Iraqi death toll. You have made several astute observations regarding The Lancet's statistical procedures.
I believe you are exactly the man to now tackle another distortion of reality... the Jewish death toll in the "Holocaust". When I was in elementary school, over 40 years ago, we were taught that the unbelievably huge number of one and one half million Jews were put to death by the Nazis. Now that number has pushed through four million to over six million JEWS executed (the hell with all the other people who may have been killed!!) by the Nazi regime.
With your obviously keen sense of the absurd you should be able to "do the math".
If six million Jews were actually put to death in that region of Europe at that time, given the fact that the rich and educated Jews fled the region (leaving their less affluent and less educated brethren behind...sort of an "un-natural selection" process to better the race), the Nazis would have actually had to import Jews from elsewhere in the world. The numbers don't work, and you are obviously, the man to do that math!
Oh, I'm sorry...you don't want to investigate something as controversial as the Holocaust numbers, do you? It's much less controversial to not care about how many Iraqi's [sic] are dead, because they are the "enemy". But didn't anyone tell you the Iraqi's [sic] are the people we are trying to "rescue"? So ANY number of dead Iraqis is an unacceptable number.
How does an idiot like you ever get the privilege of writing a column in national news media? Maybe we'll be able to "count" you someday!
Dear Mr. Mauer:
There were plenty of Jews in Europe for the Germans to have killed six million of them, and only a bigot who can't use a calculator would say otherwise. With a name like "Maurer" I can't help but wonder if you were a Party member. In any case, having apparently given up hope that Hitler is alive and well in Brazil you have now switched your allegiances to the Jew-hating, American-hating Islamic terrorists. Too bad for you that "Heil bin Laden!" just doesn't have that certain ring to it.
Dear Mr. Fumento:
The administration for obvious reasons had no interest in tabulating an Iraqi body count. Whether it's 10,000 or 100,000 (most will concede at least 20,000) it's too many to slaughter under the guise of "liberating" them, in my opinion. I think we all agreed that 3,000 was too many for us to accept on 9/11 without forceful retaliation.
Our victims were mostly innocent men, women, and children, well advanced beyond the embryonic stage of human development, unavoidable collateral damage in a war of choice that no amount of spin can ever render right and just.
And the one person most responsible for this inhumane carnage had the unmitigated chutzpah to campaign on moral values. His compassion spreads very thin over the killing fields of Iraq.
To paraphrase the late Senator Everett Dirksen: a few thousand here and a few thousand there and pretty soon you're talking about real human lives.
In a nutshell, our moral values in this great land don't seem to extend so far as concerning ourselves with the lives of faceless, nameless human beings in distant lands. Our might makes us right and anyone who disagrees had better make sure our POTUS [President of the United States] is not reading their minds. We know what can happen to anyone he suspects of coveting even an infinitesimal fraction of our power to destroy.
Dear Mr. McNully:
What is your source for "most will concede"? You have none; you fabricated it. Where is your source for our victims mostly being innocent? If it's The Lancet piece I criticized, you must counter those criticisms. You did not. Believe it or not, civilians are casualties in any war. More civilians died in an hour of the bombing of Tokyo than have probably been killed in Iraq since the war started. By your standards, we should not have fought to free the slaves (civilians died) and we should live in a world in which two-thirds of us would be speaking German and the other third Japanese. (Yes, civilians died in that war too.) In a real sense, one innocent person killed is one too many. But it remains that we liberated Iraq from a man who killed over a million people and was still going strong. Life requires hard choices, and if we accidentally killed 10,000 in order to stop that madman then it was sad but necessary. The American public has voted and it voted to keep your views from being the controlling ones. That they did not vote to put you in a zoo may perhaps only be explained by it not being on the ballot.
"I Know So Much about the Study, I Don't Have to Read It"
I reply to the opinion piece by Michael Fumento published in the Star on 6 November 2004. Mr. Fumento criticizes a study carried out by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and published in the British medical journal, The Lancet. Mr [Sic, I allow a "Mr" with punctuation if it's possible the writer is in Britain where they don't punctuate abbreviations so long as the first and last letter are included, but last I checked Arizona is in the U.S.] In this case, I don't think too many [Huh?] Fumento incorrectly states, "The Lancet [claims] that the United States has killed 100,000 Iraqi civilians since the invasion."
The article makes no such claim. The summary says, "...we think that about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths."
Note the use of the word "most." That leaves plenty of room for other causes of death and other killers.
The methodology of the Johns Hopkins study was used in Kosovo and is generally regarded as sound. Moreover, the authors of the Lancet article are careful to qualify their results and to re-calculate the number of deaths after excluding those in Fallujah, where the worst fighting is taking place.
Please correct Mr. Fumento's mistatements [sic].
Thanking you, I remain sincerely yours,
I reply to a letter sent to The Star concerning an opinion by Michael Fumento published in the paper on 6 November 2004. Dr. Vinson criticizes a study carried out by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and published in the British medical journal, The Lancet. I have read the study, which he just as easily could have since it appeared free and full-text online, but he did not. The term "most" applied only to causes of death other than airstrikes, not causes of death other than coalition actions. Notice from Dr. Vinson's own words compared to mine that I actually understated what the Lancet propagandists claimed in that I left out there modifier "or more." If anything, perhaps I am guilty of understating just what shoddy work they did.
Regarding Kosovo, Dr. Vinson has no idea what methodology was used there. He's simply repeating what he heard, like an old parrot. In any case, I explicitly said that the methodology could be correct but only if it were used in a completely unbiased manner, then went on to show how truly biased the researchers and the journal itself are. I also showed in other ways how the 100,000 figure couldn't possibly be correct, but Mr. Vinson seems to have neglected that.
Moreover, the authors of the Lancet article CLAIMED to have re-calculated the number of deaths after excluding those in Fallujah, except that strangely enough they never bothered to say what those numbers were. Again, had Dr. Vinson looked at the report itself instead of a 300-word summary published by the AP or some other intermediate media he would know that. Instead he simply establishes what I already written, that people are simply accepting this study because they find it convenient not because they find it convincing.
Please correct Dr. Vinson's misstatements and forgive him for his support of Hussein's henchmen.
Thanking you, I remain sincerely yours,
And now, for a Maoist Perspective . . .
The lowest number you mention, eight thousand, is about twice the number of Americans who have died ... Occupying yourself with body count is revolting ...
I believe peace with fundamentalism (Muslim and Christian) is possible and need not cost the lives of the children of my friends. Stop supporting and justifying this war on terror and the Americans who propagate it. It's a paper tiger.
Over two million Americans die each year alone, so eight thousand isn't about twice the number of Americans who have died. You're comparing it to 9/11. But this is not revenge for 9/11; it's a whole separate war. For a better comparison, eight thousand is the number of German or Japanese civilians who died in less than a few minutes' time in numerous conventional bombing raids during World War II. Obviously, you think we should not have fought that war either and that we should all be giving the "Heil Hitler!" salute to each other. It is the Lancet authors who occupied themselves with body count. Why are they not revolting but I am? Whatever your beliefs on peace with the Islamists, it so happens the Islamists disagree with you. The only peace they want for us is the peace of the grave. But they're mighty happy that Americans like you exist; they only wish there were more such – and this is a term coined long before you arrived on the scene – "useful idiots." Stop justifying the terrorists' war on us, buddying up to bin Laden, and spitting on the graves of the Americans who have suffered from it and fought it. Ask the families of the three thousand who died on 9/11. The war isn't paper; it's quite real.
[I'm not even going to try "siccing" this.]
You obviously understood me when I said "Americans who have died" in the war on terror (Iraq is not part of the war on terror? Check with Mr. Wolfowitz ...) And why is WWII a better comparison? (While, I don't think we should have fought WWII – and I think it's outrageous that you think we should have – that notions of diplomacy don't seem to occupy a spot in your spectrum of thought – I don't get the comparison (comparing wars!! my goodness ...)) I'm going to guess you know little about Islam – and that you've never traveled there. You think Muslims are not capable of peace?
Look, I know you're freaked out by the beheadings that clearly register here as uncivilized and ghoulish (funny, when we visit London at Christmas we'll see the head chopping block in the courtyard at the Tower of London) but learning to operate in a world characterized by wildly uneven levels of respect for human life (think of China's Long March) is the kind of peace that we could have. And of course, you do know that "American democracy" is a very provocative specter, don't you?
And, finally, what should I ask the Iraqi families who are losing loved ones now (is it one, eight-thousand, 108,000 ...)? It's revolting to propagate the information ...
And you're so angry ... and it is a paper tiger.
Well you've got me on one thing; I've never been to Islam. I've also never been to Catholic or Protestant or Jewish. That's probably because these are religions, not places. You really like that "paper tiger" expression. I assume you know it was popularized by Mao Zedong, insofar as you also make reference to his Long March. Therefore I assume you know he killed tens of millions of civilians through starvation and other means. So that means you're a fan of Hitler, Mao, bin Laden, the Japanese Empire, and Saddam Hussein? Why would anyone be angry at such a sweet person like you? It's not the killing of civilians you have anything against, insofar as clearly the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust and Mao's mass-murder don't bother you. And while an alleged 8,000 Iraqis accidentally killed by our hands is too many for you, the massive number of civilians Saddam slaughtered was not.
What Kind of Brutes Shoot Where the Enemy Is Hiding?
Your attempt to discredit the John Hopkins/Lancet study of Iraqi civilian deaths would have more credibility if either the Hudson Institute or you would take the required time or resources to produce an objective study of your own.
I would find your criticisms of the Lancet study more credible if you were to call upon the U.S. Military [sic] to fully investigate and report on total civilians casualties to date. The Pentagon is fully aware of estimated "collateral damage" from each engagement. As you well know, each mission requires a kill analysis – which includes combatants and "collateral damage estimates." For political purposes, these analyses are not disclosed. Also, I find it curious that the Iraqi Ministry of Health was recently pressured to stop issuing reports on U.S.-caused civilian deaths.
Something terrible is happening in Iraq- extraordinary fire power is being used against highly dense urban areas. For example, I am told that Najaf is now a city of rubble.
Whether you are for this war or not, the lack of reporting about Iraqi civilian casualties by the U.S. media and your attempt to silence any discussion of this issue are disturbing to say the least.
Sincerely Yours [sic],
Dear Mr. Burroughs:
Oh, I get it! Before I can say that a ship that sinks five minutes after leaving port was poorly built, I have to make my own ship. I do not have the resources to conduct my own study; The Lancet did and they squandered the money on producing propagandist trash.
The military no longer does body counts because it caught hell for doing them in Vietnam. You'd love it if they returned to body counting so then you could give them hell for THAT. Yes, the Pentagon is aware of the estimated civilian deaths from Iraq – as are you, since they were in the very piece of mine you're criticizing. When even bin Laden puts the figure at 15,000 the Lancet number of 100,000 would seem a bit high.
Finally, firepower is directed at those areas where the rebels and terrorists hide. They hide in urban areas. In fact, their favorite ratholes are schools, mosques, and hospitals. The whole purpose is to ensure that as many civilians are hurt and killed as possible in order to get people like Andrew Burroughs to condemn the effort to defeat them. You are either a willingly ally of the enemy or a dupe; but the outcome is the same.
Am I the Last Person to Learn Mick Jagger's Mouth has Shrunken?
To the editor:
I am disappointed that the Minnesota Star-Tribune appears to have chosen to syndicate Mr. Fumento's science column. While his dated Mick Jagger and Baghdad Bob references may entertain some of your readership, his transparent innumeracy can only misinform and mislead.
To highlight a few of the more egregious examples with which the column is riddled:
1) Fumento asserts that the study's author's [sic] "split the difference" between the endpoints of the confidence interval as if any intervening value were equally likely. This utterly mischaracterizes the nature of statistical estimation and seriously misleads your readers.
2) Fumento asserts the researchers may have pre-determined the outcome "by cherry-picking". However, the paper delineates the sampling method explicitly (see endnote). This patently misleads readers about the rigorousness of the study.
3) Fumento claims that Iraq's baseline death rate of 5 per 1,000 must be inaccurate, because it is below the US rate. He ignores the different age distributions in the two countries – Iraq is much younger, with a median age of 19 years, vs [sic] the US median age of 36 years. Neighboring Syria, median age 20, also has a death rate around 5 per 1,000.
Having published Mr. Fumento's nonsense, I hope you will do your readers the service of soliciting input on the Lancet study and on Mr. Fumento's critique from an expert. I am quite certain you can find a willing epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota.
I shall be very interested to see an expert take on the study. Mr. Fumento, alas, appears expert only at over-the-top verbiage and puerile innumeracy.
Dear Mr. Michlmayr:
I am disappointed that you have chosen to attempt to make public the gross ignorance and arrogance of which you are obviously so capable. Why are references to Mick Jagger and Baghdad Bob "outdated"? Baghdad Bob was blaring his baloney only a year-and-half ago and Mick Jagger is alive and well and still has the huge mouth of which I spoke. That this was your opening point doesn't speak well for that which comes after.
1. The range for deaths, as I noted, was 8,000 to 194,000. They simply chose a midpoint between those extreme figures. That is what speakers of the English language call "splitting the difference." But I also like how a writer at Slate Magazine put it: "This isn't an estimate. It's a dart board."
2. The researchers chose 998 families to interview. I don't claim to know the exact number of families in Iraq, but I would guess there are quite a few more than 998 out of a population of 26 million. One easy method to skew the results: Go to a house that shows clear signs of bomb damage. There is nothing to assure us they didn't do anything like this and you can be damned sure that if they did they wouldn't be publishing it.
3. Dictatorships always put out nonsense figures on mortality to make life in their cozy little countries seem better than it is. To compare Saddam's figures to those of Syria hardly proves your point. While, yes, the U.S. population is older there is absolutely no comparison when it comes to sanitation, vaccination rates, access to good medical care, or even access to the air conditioning that we know saves so many lives in hot climates. Besides, assuredly you were among those claiming that U.N. sanctions were killing Iraqis left and right. It's absurd to think that the Iraqi death rate should be far below ours. You also conveniently ignored that the mortality rate the Lancet researchers used was well below even that claimed by Saddam. And you neglected about half a zillion other things, such as total conflict of the 100,000 number with those used by anti-war and even anti-US figures. They center on 15,000 but 100,000 serves sympathies so you defend it nonetheless. That is your right, just as it is my right to point out that you've made a complete and utter jerk of yourself.
Mr. Fumento – Thanks for the favor of your reply. I shall correct a few of your errors.
1. references to Mick Jagger and Baghdad Bob "outdated"?
The word I used was "dated". A journalist should know better than to misquote an email. References to sixty-year-old pop stars and where-are-they-now flacks are dated.
2. They simply chose a midpoint between those extreme figures.
I am sorry that you do not understand estimation and confidence intervals. I strongly encourage you to take a basic statistics course before writing about a statistical subject again.
3. [Quoting me from above:] One easy method to skew the results: Go to a house that shows clear signs of bomb damage. There is nothing in the paper that says they didn't do anything like this and you can be damned sure that if they did they wouldn't be publishing it.
Contrary to your assertion, there not only is something in the paper, but I also quoted that something in my letter to the editor. To reiterate: points were chosen at random, interviewers guided by GPS, then "[o]nce at that point, the nearest 30 households were visited."
4. Dictatorships always put out nonsense figures on mortality and especially infant mortality
Per the CIA Factbook, the source I used for Syria's 5-per-1,000 death rate, Syria has an infant mortality rate of 31 (per 1,000 births), Iraq 53, and the US 7.
Dear Mr. Michlmayr:
1. You're right, I did accidentally add an "en" to your word, but I think the mistake is understandable considering that "outdated" and "dated" mean the same thing, except that your word "dated" can also be used to mean putting a date stamp on something. Did you mean to say Baghdad Bob and Mick Jagger have a "best used by…" mark on them? Unless you did, you're wrong. As I noted, Baghdad Bob was spouting his absurd lies just last year. As to Sir Mick Jagger, he continues to perform concerts, release new albums, sings in the background of a commercial currently on American TV, and co-wrote the score for the just-released remake of "Alfie." Personally, I can't stand the guy but I wish I were as "dated" as he is. In any case, how using his mouth as a metaphor could ever be "dated" is beyond me. But as with the rest of what you've written, you revel in minutiae.
2. Oh yes, I understand "estimation;" It's often synonymous with "guess." As to "confidence intervals," gee I not only know what they are I even know what a P value is. Both can be used to determine statistical significance. The nice thing about confidence intervals, though, is they show the range determined by the data the authors chose to employ. In this case, the incredibly broad range made my point nicely that the researchers really had no idea what the number is so they split the difference and made it a nice round, six-figure number. They know how to cater to the press.
3. And you were there to observe and record this procedure? No, and neither was I. That's why it's so important that the chief author and the editor demonstrated their anti-war, anti-U.S. bias both in the paper itself and to the media.
4. Excuse me, but do you think the CIA gets those numbers by sending agents in-country and doing surveys? They get them from the governments themselves. My point was that the Lancet researchers used a total-mortality rate even below the figures Saddam put out. How did they justify that? Did they do a pre-war survey? No. They simply knew that the lower the pre-war baseline the greater the number of deaths they could label "excess" during the post-invasion period. This is evidence of flat-out fabrication and you simply ignore it because it doesn't suit your purposes. I suggest that if you're as serious about all this as you seem to be, get on a plane to Syria or Iran and volunteer your services to the terrorists. They might saw your head off on camera, or they might accept you into their ranks. Your efforts to help them with a keyboard are obviously ineffective.
Lost in Space
I've read with some interest your analysis of the recent Roberts et al. in Lancet. As a scientist, I believe science journalism to be a very important connection between the research community and society, and I think science journalists have an important role in informing public debate. Speaking as someone who has actually published scientific papers, your written articles and comments on blogs have been really, really weak and intellectually lazy. If you are as concerned about reporting truth as your protestations about this Lancet article claim, I see no evidence of it in your own writing.
[150 words omitted.]
I'm glad you don't seem to write about astrophysics. If I were to someday write a paper on something you disagreed with, I imagine you would write just as spiteful articles based on just as weak (or absent) arguments about my own papers. It's a shame; the world needs good science journalism.
– [omitted] Dursi
Dear Mr. Dursi:
Fear not, I don't write about astrophysics because I don't know anything about the field. Would that you had such humility. But I do know this definition: "There is a vague notion that astrophysics is more rigorous or quantitative than astronomy; all this means in practice is if you're an astronomer and you're out to impress you call yourself an astrophysicist, whereas if you want to avoid freaking out people out you say you're an astronomer." Well, I'm impressed neither by your field nor your sad attempt at presenting cogent commentary. It's okay to have your head in space but your brain should remain earthbound. I've answered your criticisms on the very blogs you've mentioned, yet you ignore them. So guess what? I'm going to do like the rest of the world and ignore you.
Not Hate, Just Interesting Idiocy
[This was the original typeface used throughout.]
Lake Charles, Louisiana USA. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
You want Birth [sic] Defects [sic] ANSWERS? NO Funding [sic] Sought, No [sic] Pleas. No great mysteries. HERE are your ANSWERS... FREE ! You've been "bamboozled" long enough; the ANSWERS have been right under our noses, all along.
[110 words omitted.]
There ARE Rules [sic] of Human [sic] Reproduction [sic], that I taught at a University [sic] in their Leisure-Learning [sic] Program [sic], lectured to Birth [sic] Defects [sic] and Mensa Groups [sic] concerning and have been Interviewed [sic] on, Newspapers [sic], Radio [sic] and Tv [sic] about, over the years and here they ARE:
People are either a Biological [sic] Match [sic], or they aren't. Most are NOT, but if they were and knew to match up right and then DID procreate with a Biologically-MATCHING [sic] Mate [sic], their resulting children would have a far better chance of being born Healthy [sic].
[248 words omitted.]
On the OTHER hand, if Couples [sic] procreate blindly (like just about everyone DOES,) BIRTH DEFECTS Will HAPPEN.
[In other words, always keep your eyes open during sex.]
For Example [sic], if EITHER Biological [sic] Parent [sic] is 10,879 DAYS old on the very DAY their Biological [sic] Child [sic] is BORN to them, the resulting child WILL be born a Downs Syndrome Type-I Child [There is no such thing as "Type-1 Down Syndrome"], EVERY time. ("When you conceive, is what you get.")
[Why didn't he calculate it down to the hour and minute?]
[59 words omitted.]
Certainly, the accepted, standard Scientific [sic] Explanations [sic] are staggeringly complicated BUT every Medical [sic] DEFECTS Problem [sic] is EASILY avoidable, by merely knowing when the RIGHT times are and WHICH people to "pair up" to PROCREATE and PRODUCE "Healthy [sic] Offspring." [sic]
If this sounds hauntingly familiar, it IS the exact SYSTEM that the Germans were applying, to produce their "Master Race" of people during WW-II. [sic]
[So Hitler did escape, and he's sending out idiot emails.]
[523 words omitted.]
Reporters, this IS the Press [sic] Release [sic]. What you see, is what you get. Period.
Doktor Lefty Einstein
Dear Doktor Lefty Mengele:
What I see is that you're a complete crackpot, but thanks for the entertainment.
Well, Michael, we might as well let the whole gang in on the fun, since you found time to take it upon yourself and go out of you [sic] way and write back to insult me and call me a crackpot, based on the Claim [sic] I sent in FREE. [Ah, so if you don't charge someone for what you said, then logically it must be valid.] That must be SOME cushy job you have there. You could have just as easily kept your fat, socially-ignorant mouth SHUT, rather than attach an insult to your organization's name. I happen to be VERY for-real and my Research [sic] and Findings [sic] are 100% real, could affect every Person [sic] on this Planet [sic] and I offered to share them with you FREE. [Proof of the adage: You get what you pay for. I suspect most people would pay to avoid his free opinions.]
[26 words omitted.]
Look, I've been sitting on the most staggering Medical [sic] Discovery [sic] in the History [sic] of the World [sic] for over 27 years, at a loss [sic] as to HOW to convey my FREE Information [sic] to SOMEONE, so they would at least give my Claim [sic] a TRY (at a cost of ZERO to them, or anyone....) exactly because smug, judgmental, close-minded people like you lack the Imagination [sic] to dream that such a claim could possibly BE true (which it IS) and all I needed was a personal-insult-reply [sic] from a large organization like yours to make my day. [We're not that large, and the response wasn't from Hudson but from me; he's obviously delighted that anybody from any organization wrote back anything.] Thanks for the encouragement, pal.
Point of order here...I DID not and AM not asking anyone for a damn DIME. I am trying to SHARE Information [sic] with you...... FREE. Extremely [sic] Valuable [sic] information that affects EVERYONE.
[2,607 words omitted!]
(Sorry I upset you and disturbed your snooze, Michael.)
Dear Dr. Mengele:
Honestly, when I called you a crackpot I didn't need the confirmation.
I love your Sense [sic] of Humor [sic]. I enjoy a challenge.
You flatter yourself, sir. You could not rise to the challenge of a dung beetle.