Sunday, November 11, 2012

Was IQ a factor in the 2012 election?

I'm going to present the following with minimal comment, primarily because I don't think you can draw any conclusions from it.  But the issue came up, and I was curious about it, so I ran some numbers.

The graph below charts 2012 presidential election results into average IQ by county.

This chart uses data from the Associated Press, giving election results by county. I wanted to look at a finer resolution than just by state, since there are a lot of "red" counties in "blue" states and vice versa.  I had some difficulty locating IQ data at any resolution higher than a country level. I used data from the site giving me data for 900 cities which I then mapped into the corresponding counties to get an average IQ by county for about 500 counties. Then I dumped the votes for those counties into their appropriate IQ buckets. I'm not thrilled with this data source for IQ data so if you know of better source for IQ by geography, please let me know.

For reference, the average IQ of Americans is 98. The average IQ for Obama voters in this data is 99.8 and the average IQ for Romney voters is 98.8. The average IQ of the counties represented is 99.2.

Quite frankly, despite the fact that this data shows a slight preference among voters in lower IQ counties to prefer Mr. Romney, and voters in higher IQ counties to prefer Mr. Obama, my take-away is that IQ was not a significant factor in determining the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, or at least that this data doesn't show a significant correlation.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Peter Ferrara condemns Obama over Bengazi in Forbes

I'm not particularly familiar with Peter Ferrara's work. His bio associates him with a bunch of right-wing groups and he is listed as a Forbes contributor since March 2011.

The OP/ED piece by Ferrara that caught my attention is: Benghazi: Obama's Actions Amount To A Shameful Dereliction Of Duty. It certainly reads like a typical nutjob conspiracy theory, but since it appeared in Forbes, and not Fox News, where I would dismiss it out of hand, my interest was piqued.

Looking at the author's other contributions, it is not his first attack on the president. However, these accusations are much more serious, if any of them are true.

Everybody on the right is talking about Obama "lying" about the attack, and particularly the exchange about it that occurred in the second debate. I even drove by a "rally" of sorts today with a few handfulls of people on social security and medicare complaining about socialism and holding signs that read "Obama Lied. People Died." I have seen many right-wing stories accusing the press of lying on Obama's behalf on this and refusing to report on the "truth" that Obama's comments in the Rose Garden in September 12 did not refer to Bengazi. I've read the transcript and listened to the speech over and over and I don't see anything to back up that G.O.P. rhetoric. You can read the whole thing yourself here and I encourage you to do so. The three paragraphs in question follow:

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

Ferrara refers to the exchange at the debate as follows: "This spectacle of the President lying about his own lies to a national debate audience is unprecedented in American politics." Really? Settle down.

A far more potentially serious allegation is this:

Based on documents released by the House Oversight Committee, the day of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, September 11, the White House situation room starts receiving emails at about 1 pm that the mission is under hostile surveillance.  The only response was that the Pentagon sends a drone armed with a video camera so that everyone in Washington can see what transpires in real time, as it happens, at the White House, at the State Department, at the Pentagon, at the CIA.

Ferrara goes on to say an email was sent at 4pm indicating that the office was "under military style attack" and:

The attack was then fed to all of them, the White House, the Pentagon, the State Dept., the CIA, through live video feed.

I haven't really been able to fact-check this part of the conspiracy theory. Other than Fox News. White House officials say there was no video stream available. That would suggest it's either the left-controlled media doing a great job covering this all up, as the author and some of the comments suggest, or it is nothing more than a right-wing conspiracy theory with little to no basis in fact.

Related notes from news sources:

  • CBS News: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies." ... Defense officials say a general alert had been issued to U.S. forces worldwide, but no special alert had been ordered for Libya because there was no intelligence predicting an attack.
  • ABC News: White House officials say there was no video stream available... the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was over before there was enough good information about what had actually happened.
  • New York Times: “The bulk of available information supports the early assessment that the attackers launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.”

Also see: Benghazi: The Real Libya Story Is No Story

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why the DNC, God, Jerusalem party platform debacle saddens me

If you haven't heard yet, there was a rather embarrassing moment at the DNC where Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for a public vote on last minute changes to the party platform to reinsert God and pro-Israel language. It took three tries to get the required two-thirds majority. From the Huffington Post:

Even though the no's were again as loud if not louder than the aye's on the third vote, Villaraigosa said he had determined that two thirds of those present had voted in favor. Boos filled the arena in response.
Within minutes, Republican National Committee staffers had uploaded the video to YouTube and were circulating it on Twitter.

First, this would never happen at the RNC. They would never air their dirty laundry in this manner. This shows how much less disciplined the Democrats are. If there's one thing you can say about Republicans, it's that they are loyal and fraternal. They know how to stick to a message, even if they personally disagree with it.

A co-chairman of the committee charged with drafting the Democrats' official party platform called it an "unfortunate omission." To me, what's a lot more "unfortunate" is that here, in 21st century America, to be successful, a major political party has to acquiesce to religious bullies.

Of course those on the right are running with this, which I can understand since it would play well with their base. But even those on the Democratic side state the "problem" as being that the "God" language was taken out in the first place. That is sad.

Conservatives go so far as to say the media are "covering it up." I love that. What's to "cover up?" How bad is it that here in 2012, excluding references to God equates to being immoral, anti-American, and downright evil. It didn't hurt the Founding Fathers to leave references to god or gods out of the Declaration of Independence, but 200 years later...

They refer to the Democratic Party as "The Party of Atheists, Homosexuals, Abortionists, and Muslims" like it's a bad thing. Really? So now, in 21st century America, a party defined as "good" has to exclude the non-religious (34.2 million, or 15% of Americans), the gay, the pro-choice (about half of all Americans), and non-Christians.

Face palm.

My theory on fact failure speeches

I think Paul Ryan, intentionally inserted bogus reality into his speech(es) because he knows the following:

  • Nobody cares. They like what he said, even if it isn't true
  • The people he is speaking to hate "fact checkers" considering them "elitist" so if those weenies attack their friend Paul Ryan, they consider it bullying and will defend him
In other words, Ryan wants the "fact checkers" to attack him because it only improves his standing with his base. He becomes a martyr for the cause of the intentionally ignorant in the fight against the "elite" intellectuals and nerds who want to destroy this country with their "facts" and "science" and whatnot.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

And another thing... Mocking Mormons

One of my often repeated rants has to do with how everybody has such a good laugh mocking alternative religions, like Mormonism or even Scientology, or for that matter Greek Myths, while smugly considering their own religion normal.

I'm sure you've heard people say the following before and you may even have said something like this yourself: "The Old Testament has all that macabre stuff in it, but the New Testament is not like that and doesn't have anything weird in it." And now this is where you probably think I'm going to pull out some bible esoterica, and I could do that... but I don't have to.

We glory in repeating the absurd Momon teachings of Joseph Smith with a snide remark and a chuckle and everybody laughs right along with us (except Mormons, of course). We can't even say these things with a straight face. Yet, at the same time, we accept Christian absurdities as completely everyday and normal. I will take three very well known examples... no need for digging out any arcane biblical passages. Every westerner on earth knows these stories, even if they are not religious:

  1. The virgin birth
  2. Jesus walking on water
  3. Jesus turning water into wine
You don't need to be a bible geek to know about these claims.

We enthusiastically laugh about stories like Jesus coming to America in 1820 to set Joseph Smith to writing his Book of Mormon, but the simple fact is, as Trey Parker says: "It's no sillier than any other religion, it's just newer."

And that's my point. If you're going to mock the Mormons because their book is silly and absurd, you need to look in the mirror. If the Jesus walking on water story wasn't in the bible and the first time you ever heard of anything about a man walking on water was Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard, would you be so sanguine about it? No, you would mock the shit out of it.

The only reason these outlandish New Testament claims seem "normal" to us is because they have been repeated, with a straight face, since we were kids, and for generations before that, to the point where we now calmly say, with a straight face: "there is nothing weird in the New Testament" - and we actually believe it! These claims transcend church and religious writings and have become part of our common secular language. They are preserved in thousands of years of art, music, architecture, and literature making them seem normal to us when in reality they are no less absurd than believing that 75 million years ago the tyrant ruler of the galaxy, Xenu, brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft and blew them up with atomic bombs.

So before you mock the Mormons and cover yourself in the thought that the New Testament "doesn't have anything weird in it" you might want to think again.