Author Archives: Brandon Shollenberger

How Much Should We Care About Voter Fraud?

I had a different post planned, but I feel it's important to examine a continuation of what's been covered here recently about paranoia over "illegal immigrants stealing our election!" My discussion of this began when I saw a post by a notable global warming Skeptic which began:

I called him out on this as it is utterly insane to believe thousands of voters "self-identified as illegal aliens." it was trivially easy to show there was no evidence to support his description of people as being "literally the people who admitted to [being an illegal alien] in a government office!" He responded by changing the subject, and now, he has a new post which changes the subject yet again, referring to:

an immigrant dumb enough to self identify as a non-citizen and got caught voting in Illinois in a federal election.

I'd like to discuss this specific example, and the more general "evidence" offered, to show just how desperate this person is to justify his paranoia about voter fraud. It's not because I want to single him out, but because many people share his views (including at least one commenter who came here to make the same arguments).
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The North Were not the Good Guys, Part One

Neither were the South. The Civil War was not a battle between "good" and "evil." Slavery is evil, but the South doing lots of evil things is not the end of the story. Many conflicts are between bad and less bad people or groups. I want to talk about this because of a set of really bad arguments about the Civil War I came across in this YouTube video:

But before I do, I want to answer the question this video asks. No, we should not still be watching Gone With the Wind. It's a bad movie. Continue reading

If You're Not a Xenophobe, Why Are You So Dumb?

My last post discussed the total lack of skepticism shown by a well-known global warming Skeptic, Jeff Id. His response is fascinating. I had said some sort of racism/xenophobia is the only explanation I could come up with for Jeff Id's deranged commentary on illegal immigrants stealing elections. This seems to have upset him enough to become even more unhinged.

To be clear, the rhetoric Jeff Id uses in his response isn't what I find fascinating. What fascinates me is how bad his arguments are. I can't imagine how anyone could come up with a response as idiotic as his.
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Skeptics Aren't Skeptical, An Example

I recently saw this comment over at Climate Audit:

I recognized the commenters, Jeff Id, as a notable Skeptic who has shown up in various controversies (for example, being a person directly misrepresented by Stephan Lewandowsky in a scientific paper). Having not seen anything from him in a while, I was curious what he's been up to and clicked the link to his site. I quickly found this:

The irony hurts too much not to discuss.
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I Think I Found The Source of a Fabricated Quote

Some time back I commented on how Mark Steyn included a seemingly fabricated quote in his book he wrote about Michael Mann:

Phil Jones to Michael Mann on February 3rd, 2005:

The two MMs [McKitrick and McIntyre] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the U.K., I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone.6

And, indeed, the CRU subsequently announced that they had "inadvertently deleted" the requested data.

The e-mail Steyn quoted was genuine, but the claim "the CRU subsequently announced that they had 'inadvertently deleted' the requested data" baffled me. I was following the events being discussed at the time, and I had seen the CRU's responses on the issue. The phrase "inadvertently deleted" was never uttered by the CRU.

Given this mystery, I spent some time trying to track down the origin of the quotation. In doing so, I found Steyn had self-plagiarized an article he wrote for his website, but that article didn't include a source for the quotation either. I did find a Google Groups discussion which had the same claim, but it didn't offer a source either. I eventually gave up.

But recently, I started taking stock of some things I've done over the years, wondering if they were a waste of time. One of those things was the work I did examining Steyn's book, finding over a hundred minor misquotations, dozens of quotations whose context was changed to significantly distort their meaning, multiple quotations which were misattributed and numerous untrue factual claims. I put quite a bit of time into it, and I only publicly "published" a fraction of that work.

Was that a waste of time? I don't know. Nobody seems to care Steyn's book is a horrendous piece of trash, a lazy, dishonest smear campaign of the sort we expect from politicians. Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe I could find some interest if I collected the notes I took and published them in the right way. That's something I was pondering when I decided to revisit that quotation I could never find a source for. And it seems today, I've found the answer.

I won't bore you with all the details of how I found this. The way things spread across the internet, especially when people don't provide links to things they reference/quote, is murky at best. But after tracking things back a bit, I found this article which says:

Email 1107454306 is particularly interesting. In it, Dr Jones writes:

The two MMs [McKittrick and McIntyre] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone.

What makes this interesting is that the CRU, in later years, announced that they had "inadvertently deleted" their raw data when they responded to an FOIA request from ... McIntyre.

What makes this interesting is the link provided in this article goes to a blog post which does not contain the phrase "inadvertently deleted." It appears what happened is this article, written by one Charlie Martin, used the phrase "inadvertently deleted" with scare quotes to indicate he was being facetious, that he felt the deletion was not truly inadvertent. People saw this, failed to understand his meaning and thought this was a real quotation. The result is for years people have been saying it was announced data had been "inadvertently deleted," as though that were an actual quotation.

I think that's fascinating. We have a fake quotation which has been around for years and years, all because a person used scare quotes to indicate facetiousness and people didn't notice. People have been using the phrase "inadvertently deleted" in quotation marks for years in reference to this issue, while changing everything else about the commentary they post, and... there's no reason for it.
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Yeah, You're a Bigot*

I am so tired of people saying things like, "I'm not a bigot, I just want illegals to follow the legal process!" Most of the people who say things like that are the same people who demonized "caravans" as an invasion of illegals.

Guess what? People have the right to come to the country and apply for asylum. People you demonize are following the legal process. You constantly spread hate for them anyway. That shows you're full of it. If your concern really were for the law, you wouldn't spew vitriol over people who follow it.

So yeah, that makes you a bigot. Or at least, a xenophobe.

Rebutting Conspiracy Theories Seems Pointless

A recent post may have made you realize I really don't want to discuss conspiracy theories about the alleged chemical attack on the city of Douma by the Syrian government. I've been trying to avoid discussing that topic, especially on Twitter, but I let myself get dragged into it today.

Don't worry. I'm not going to write a long screed about the topic. That's not the point of this post. The point of this post is to show why I didn't want to. I always come away from exchanges on topics like this feeling they were pointless. Most of the time, I find myself putting more work into examining what others say than they did.

This is why I ask people to make their case in a collected, coherent manner with all the requisite information provided in a single location. It almost never happens. I understand doing so requires a fair amount of work, but not doing so simply forces anyone who cares to examine what you say to do the work you refused to do.

Today, I'd like to show a Twitter exchange why I describe the discussions so many people try to get others to participate in are pointless. Also, I'd like to keep a copy for record keeping.
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Funniest Question of the Year?

There was a post at Andrew Gelman's blog recently about a topic I've discussed here often so I chimed in on a couple things. An exchange happened because I made a couple remarks about things like how climate change is not expected to drive humanity extinct or even cause the deaths of billions of people. In my comments, I mentioned how the worst projections of the IPCC aren't anywhere near that extreme. This lead to a discussion of the tired meme which says the IPCC is overly conservative in its projections of the impacts of climate change, a meme which relies upon the alarmist views of a relatively small number of people. Discussion of this idea led to what may go down as the funniest question of the year:

For those who don't know, the IPCC won a Nobel prize. Michael Mann was an author on an IPCC report so he went around repeatedly telling everybody he had won a Nobel prize, which was not true. Personally, I don't think the fact Mann stole credit for the IPCC's Nobel prize means he should be trusted over the IPCC.
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Is it Worth Rebutting Conspiracy Theories?

People say untrue things all the time. Sometimes what they say is so untrue I feel obliged to respond. I'm not sure that is healthy though. Today I'd like to discuss an example which shows why. The example involves the alleged chemical attack on Douma, a city in Syria, on April 7th, 2018, by the Syrian government. Many people have alleged this attack didn't happen, claiming reports of a chemical attack were a fabrication created by a conspiracy of people seeking to create negative sentiments for the Syrian government.
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Too Incompetent to Obstruct Justice?

With there being a holiday this weekend and my legal issues earlier this week, I don't have a lot of energy to write new posts. There are a number of things I'd like to discuss though, so for now, I'll go with a simple one. The Mueller report was released recently (with heavy redactions). There are a lot of people putting a lot of work into spinning the narrative around the report, but to me, it seems one point is clear: Donald Trump did not obstruct justice, even though he tried really, really hard to.

I'm not sure what to make of it. Trump repeatedly gave unlawful orders to his staff only to find his staff ignored the orders or refused to carry them out. Trump seems to be protected from criminal prosecution primarily because he is too incompetent to get his own staff to do what he tells them to do. That seems more damning a criticism than any charge of criminality ever could have been.