Sunday, October 10, 2004

"Belief" is the theme for today it seems...

There's the shattering of beliefs about Iraq..

Scrawled on the helmet of Lance Cpl. Carlos Perez are the letters FDNY.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York, the Pentagon and western
Pennsylvania, Perez quit school, left his job as a firefighter in Long Island,
N.Y., and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. "To be honest, I just wanted to take
revenge," said Perez, 20. ... "Sometimes I see no reason why we're [in
Iraq]," Perez said. "First of all, you cannot engage as many times as we want
to. Second of all, we're looking for an enemy that's not there. The only way to
do it is go house to house until we get out of here."

There's the shattering of beliefs about "prayer research"...

In 2001, two researchers and a Columbia University fertility
expert published a startling finding in a respected medical journal: women
undergoing fertility treatment who had been prayed for by Christian groups were
twice as likely to have a successful pregnancy as those who had not.

Three years later, after one of the researchers pleaded guilty to
conspiracy in an unrelated business fraud, Columbia is investigating the study
and the journal reportedly pulled the paper from its Web site.
No evidence
of manipulation has yet surfaced, and the study's authors stand behind their

Critics express outrage that the federal government, which has
contributed $2.3 million in financing over the last four years for prayer
research, would spend taxpayer money to study something they say has nothing to
do with science.
"Intercessory prayer presupposes some supernatural
intervention that is by definition beyond the reach of science," said Dr.
Richard J. McNally, a psychologist at Harvard. "It is just a nonstarter, in my
opinion, a total waste of time and money." ...

"There's no way to put God to the test, and that's exactly what you're
doing when you design a study to see if God answers your prayers," said the Rev.
Raymond J. Lawrence Jr., director of pastoral care at New York-Presbyterian
Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. "This whole exercise cheapens
religion, and promotes an infantile theology that God is out there ready to
miraculously defy the laws of nature in answer to a prayer."

And finally, speaking of such things, there's the twilight of the futures markets' true believers. I think the linked post explains much; since it's patently obvious that traders in a futures market bias the results. (And like a stampeding herd, can all be wrong at once, or all right at once.) So I've been predicting a Kerry win for quite a while, and I thnk the Iowa Electronics markets back me up on this, since they've got to have at least a slight bias towards the drank-the-koolaid George Gilder types, who generally wouldn't go for Kerry anyway.

Also suspect is the "econometric predictors" of who's going to be the next elected president....

His model predicts Bush will get 57.5 percent of the vote, using such variables
as economic growth, inflation, incumbency and duration in office. He has been
accurate in five of the past six elections, missing only in 1992 when Bush's
father lost.

I cannot begin to tell you how totally bizarre that seems to me: it's voters who vote, not inventories or accounts receivable. Voters have a problem with things called "unemployment" and "underemployment," and "being maxed out on their credit."

Why some guy would measure things this way- when it's clear they don't work at least 16% of the time, (and there's better correlates obviously), well, either it's propaganda posing as a "statistic," or the researcher's just STUPID.

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