Mailbag: Iraq, race and racism, soccer rules, and voodoo sciences

Mail 830 Friday June 27, 2014


TWIT 463

Hi Jerry,

As I was listening to the show I couldn’t help but notice you sounded much better than last year: clear voice, faster speech and better precision. You sound like you lost 20 years! Well done, I am glad the effect of all those rads seems to have faded, and I always appreciate your ability to see the big picture, conciseness and objectivity in debates and opinions.

Best regards,

Francis Gingras

Longtime reader

Well, thank you. I feel better also.


View on Iraq

I think I told you about the Bechtel manager I met at an RV park up the coast. He and some undercover SOCOM types were in Iraq before the invasion. They were spotting bridges to be hit by our planes. They expected enough precision that only part of the bridge would be taken out. They were building replacement parts in Kuwait so that after the invasion the infrastructure could be rapidly re-built. He was in the palace with commanding general when Bremer came in like a bull in a china shop. He fired the general, tossed the plans to use the Iraq army, and generally pissed everyone off. It’s ironic to me that if we were more like the Iraqis, someone would have shot Bremer in the head and the report would have gone back to HQ that Bremer had an unfortunate accident or some such and that they would have to send someone else.

Phil Tharp

It is probably as well that the Legions had not learned, but they are not stupid.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:

We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.

Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face

The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ "Chuck him out, the brute!"

But it’s "Saviour of ‘is country" when the guns begin to shoot;

An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;

An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

                        Rudyard Kipling


The Voodoo Sciences


All sciences mature through a series of phases, first is identification, then classification, followed by experimentation. You have to know what is out there (e.g. find all the different rocks, stars, plants, elements, and so on), then develop an understanding of relationships among what’s out there (e.g. these rocks all look alike and these other rocks all look like each other, but the two groups are different…), and finally begin to develop testable hypotheses about what made each classification what it is and made them differ from each other.

Each step is necessary and will happen at different rates for different areas of investigation based upon the breadth of things to catalog, the complexities of measuring them for classification, and the difficulty of developing experiments that can be carried out. Biology has only recently entered the stage of experimentation.

The social "sciences", on the other hand, are still firmly rooted in the identification and early classification stages. Additionally, most of the participants in the social "sciences" have waved off the need to move to experimentation and are willing to posit "theories" that they will happily hold as untestable. It is at that point that the social "sciences" stepped off the scientific maturation process and became "sciences" only in quotes.

The sad thing is that psychology and sociology may finally have the tools needed to carry out meaningful experiments in human cognitive response. Brain imaging, electronic monitoring, and non-destructive interference with brain function through trans-cranial magnetic induction (TMI) are beginning to provide the needed observation and objective measurement methods needed for experimentation.

Kevin L Keegan


You wrote on June 23, 2014

"But the result is cynicism about all science. The American people are not well educated and as time goes on that condition will only get worse."

Cynicism about science is not confined to the lesser educated.

Cynicism about science exists with good reason among our most highly educated people.

In previous posts I mentioned conflicts of interest influencing the claims of those designated as scientists.

The corruption of peer review was documented at

Outright fabrication of results in promoting an agenda was discussed at

At times, in fact almost daily, articles in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are retracted as a result of fraud by scientists.

A 2005 article in PLOS Medicine concludes that most published research findings are false.

I am reminded that science was invented by and nurtured in the Roman

Catholic church in Medieval times by individuals motivated by the

idea that studying nature could provide insights into the mind of the

loving God who had created a universe of order and reason.

For popular, readable expositions of this fact, see Rodney Stark’s

"The Victory of Reason" and "For the Glory of God."

Of course, once the methods of science were invented and shown to

work, it was not necessary for practitioners to believe in a holy,

righteous, and reasonable God. The techniques were now available to all.

However, technique without a transcendent foundation transforms the

practice of science from a search for truth to a quest for power over

others in the service of some social or political agenda. Scientific

integrity must be optional. See, for instance, C. S. Lewis’s "That

Hideous Strength" for a novelization of the concept.

Those interested in the implications of basing societal norms on the

shifting foundation of human will might also be interested in Arthur

Leff’s "Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law". (Duke Law Journal, vol.

1979, no. 6, pp. 1229-1249, December 1979)

Today when it comes to the practice of science under the new

Lysenkoism we might paraphrase John Adams:

Science was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly

inadequate to the life of any other.

Best regards,

–Harry M.


Race vs racism

Hello Jerry,

"Race Has a Biological Basis. Racism Does Not”

Mr. Wade puts his toe into the ‘anti-political correctness’ pool, but just can’t make himself dive in.

I think it is Fred who has pointed out, many times, the fact that there are NO examples of societies in which races are represented in roughly equal percentages in which they co-exist peaceably, without ‘racism’.

There are countless examples of societies in which there are multiple races, with one dominant and small percentages of another race or other races where everyone gets along relatively well, but as the percentages begin to equalize, racism inevitably happens. I don’t know the percentages, and it undoubtedly varies from case to case, but my guess would be somewhere between 10 and 20%.

The phenomenon is not confined to race, either. It works with religion, too. Muslims, for example, get along just fine with other religions—until they reach somewhere between 10-20 percent. Then they start killing their way into power. Catholics and protestants: see Ireland. Ad infinitum.

All this would indicate to me that racism (or maybe ‘groupism’), as well as race, is as much biological as race itself. It is ubiquitous, and it is not, as the progressives would have us believe, confined to red-neck white conservative Christians. I could easily be wrong, but there is a good deal of evidence that I am not.

Bob Ludwick


Dr Pournelle

Once upon a time, I was a pro soccer referee. While I have no direct experience myself reffing a World Cup match, I know several who did have such experience.

FIFA <> run the World Cup referee assignment committee. Brazil does not provide all the referees to all the games. In international matches — and all the World Cup matches are international matches — the referees must be impartial. In practice that means the referees may not come from either country competing in the match.

For the USA-Portugal match, the best info I have is that the center referee was Nestor Pitana, an Argentine. Because Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country, I suppose Sr Pitana speaks Spanish. He may also speak Portuguese as well. I don’t know. If he does, then likely he speaks a dialect of Brazilian Portuguese. I know from personal experience that there are many dialects of Portuguese in Brazil. Continental Portuguese is different. To my ear, it sounds more like Castilian Spanish than any of the Brazilian dialects.

I do not know, but based on the fact that Sr Pitana is a high-rated and highly-respected international referee, I would wager a large sum that he speaks English.

The idea that an Argentine referee prefers Portugal to the USA is possible, but I find it not probable. I think Sr Pitana prefers his own reputation as an impartial international referee. I also found his concern for the players’ health to be commendable: He was the first World Cup referee to call a hydration break.

I watched the match, and I saw nothing that would indicate that Sr Pitana favored Portugal.

As for the added time, many of the matches — too many, in my view — have had 5 minutes added at the end of regulation. Not only USA-Portugal but many others. Perhaps this is due to the heat in Brazil and the injuries that result from it. I don’t know. I do know that I have become aware of the long added times.

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith


Dr Pournelle

At this World Cup, the scores are up and the number of ties is down. Why? The ball <> .

image <>

How the Brazuca may be changing soccer at this World Cup <>

The number and quality of goals in this year’s World Cup is remarkable bordering on incredible, and there have been plenty of theories as to why. The simplest may b…

View on <>

Preview by Yahoo

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

Who is to blame for Portugal’s late goal?

Dr Pournelle

If you must blame someone for Portugal’s late goal (90’+5′) <> , blame Michael Bradley <> . Bradley mishandled a trap in the last minute and tried to salvage his error and take the ball upfield. He lost the ball to Eder <> . Eder passed to Ronaldo <> . Ronaldo crossed to Varela <> for the header to tie.

Bradley showed signs of fatigue. I do not excuse his errors for fatigue. He muffed the trap, and his ego led him to try to salvage his error. Swallow your ego. Win the game.

The correct play for Bradley was to clear the ball out of bounds. Had he done that, the seconds would have ticked away and the final would have been USA 2 – 1 Portugal.

Were ifs and buts candy and nuts, what a merry Christmas we would have.

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

PS Based solely on the facts that the USMNT manager (a position most Americans call ‘coach’) Jurgen Klinsmann <> played for the 1990 World-Cup-winning West German national team and was once the German national team manager, I believe that in the final match in Group G Germany and USA will tie.

Three letters that sum up more than I know about soccer, referees, and rules. Thanks.


Racism and Sports


Please be careful with statements like "Anyone watching a basketball game will understand that races exist and skill sets relevant to basketball are not distributed equally among the races; and that’s hardly cultural." If we look at the demographics of basketball we find that in 1949 there were no African-Americans playing professional basketball, but by 2005, 76% of the players were African-American. A striking evolutionary gain! What is even more puzzling about these gains in basketball is that Division 1 college basketball only had a 63% African-American demographic compared to 33% white in 2005. Those evolutionary traits must not kick in until after college. Similarly in baseball, we can conclude that non-white races had not evolved any talent for the sport before 1946. But by 2012, some 7.2% of the players were African-American and 26.9% were Hispanic — a tremendous evolutionary gain in under a century!

My point is that economic opportunities are meted out on the basis of racial bias — racism — not on the basis of evolutionary abilities. Economics IS cultural and how we run our economy is culturally biased.

Kevin L Keegan

Prior to Jackie Robinson there were no Blacks playing professional baseball. There are many now. What has that to do with the ability to play? You have made no point I can recognize.


The Bugs in Darwin


You said, "official position that heredity is unimportant compared to culture"; which is true for a few things such as race, but by and large most things are now taught as a product of heredity – alcoholism, drug addictions, promiscuity, homosexuality, etc. – rather than a product of heredity and culture. While most of these things may have some basis in our genetic makeup – being more inclined to alcoholism because of a particular body chemistry does make sense – it doesn’t excuse the personal choice to indulge in the first place, especially if your parents and grandparents were alcoholics. The sad part is, we are now using these genetic excuses for why it is acceptable to be an alcoholic, a drug addict, cheating on your spouse, etc. When everything can be blamed on our genes how can we be held accountable for the choices we make?

Braxton S. Cook

I may have a defect of understanding, but I am not sure I follow your argument.

I have said and I think it is easy to demonstrate that the official “scientific” position in the voodoo sciences deliberately ignores easily repeatable observations. The usual Darwinian evolution comes to a halt when civilization makes it easy for the “less fit” to survive to have children. Of course that leads to the question of what do we mean by fit and less fit? The Spartans had their views on the subject, and all children born to Spartan Equals were inspected by the Ephors to determine whether they were to be permitted to live; this defined ‘fitness’ in one way, discernible by adult males examining infants of both sexes. Some of the founders of the Eugenics movements thought that the ‘unfit’ certainly included the mentally retarded, and advocated compulsory sterilization. (“Three generations of morons is enough.”) Various racists have defined various other races as manifestly ‘unfit’ to breed and bear children.

None of this has much to do with science, but fear of what science might discover dictates certain axioms of the voodoo sciences that must not be questioned. That mean in effect that it is no longer science.

As I long ago concluded, there are levels of rationality. Novelists are story tellers; we are required only to be plausible. Politicians fit into the category. They seek plausibility and persuasiveness, but they seek not truth.

Advocates are required to present all the evidence favorable to their case or their clients case, but are under no obligation to present evidence unfavorable to their arguments.

Scientists have the obligation to come up with falsifiable propositions, and to present and explain or admit inability to explain all the evidence of the truth or falsity of their propositions. All the evidence. The voodoo sciences openly suppress any evidence that might falsity their well mean axioms about equality and the irrelevance (or even non-existence) of race; and denounce as racists any who present any evidence for the existence of races of man, or of different trait distributions among those races. This can be ludicrous when it comes to athletic prowess, and it is quietly agreed that we can allow that certain races are more likely to produce athletes best at certain sports – but never say that aloud. After all, white men can jump…

There are undoubtedly some syndromes of effects. Alcohol tolerance is not equally distributed among humans nor among the races of humans; neither is resistance to fetal alcohol damage. We are beginning to understand some of those combinatory factors. And it has always been hoped that something like Head Start will erase intellectual differences among the races wherever it is applied. Everyone eagerly searches for evidence that it has worked. It seems extraordinarily difficult to find.

The climate sciences apparently are moving in the same direction, so that the Roman and Viking Warm periods known to us from history tend to vanish when climate models are constructed. There are similar tendencies in other sciences, so that supposed scientists become advocates, and often are required to be by custom if not by law.

And so it goes.


"spy" glasses

Despite the rhetoric and fear mongering (check the comments!), this is less a ‘spy’ tool and more akin the ‘heads-up’ display for fighter pilots. This will be tremendously useful to Marines on the ground (if portable power and uninterrupted connectivity can be assured).



David Couvillon

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; Chef de Hot Dog Excellance; Avoider of Yard Work






Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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