Monday, October 15, 2018

Why Interest Rates Need To Be Increased- Contrary To Dotard's Idiocy ('The Fed's Losing It's Mind')

Image result for Trump screaming baby images
"WAAAAAH! The Fed has lost its mind with their interest rate hikes! They're messing up my stock market!"

It seems Baby Doturd loves the stock market when it's soaring so he can brag he's behind it. But when it tanked last week he disowned it,  blaming the nearly 1400 point loss  on the Fed as opposed to his (and the GOP's) own stupid policies. The orange -hued ignoramus erupted last week Wednesday, belching :

“I think the Fed has gone crazy.  The Fed is going wild. I don’t know what their problem is. They are raising interest rates and it’s ridiculous.”

No, what's ridiculous is you butting your butt brain into issues about which you have no clue. Just like you did with your jackass stupid trade war with China, and sputtering bilge such as "Trade wars are easy to win!"  No, fool, they are not and the impact always smacks citizens.  This asshole actually also had the nerve to blurt out:

I think I know more about it than they do.”

 No you don't, Dotard,  but you're too too damned dumb and self-absorbed to figure it out. Likely a victim of the  Dunning -Kruger Effect because of your pronounced cognitive incapacity and narcissism.  To remind readers, the Dunning-Kruger effect is defined as “a cognitive bias whereby unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate.” Wikipedia adds that “This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude.” 

Or, as psychologist David Dunning (the discoverer) once explained to Errol Morris, writing in an essay series, “The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is,” for the New York Times:

 “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent … [T]he skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”  
In the case of Trump, aka Dotard, he is fundamentally ignorant and  mega unskilled, as well as incompetent regarding just about every imaginable thing from tax policy, to tariffs, to immigration and its positive contributions, to interest rates.   The imbecile arguably doesn't even know that interest rates are "far below historic definitions of normal" according to a WSJ piece from last Friday.

In addition,  Doh- Turd seems not to process he's a victim of his own "success" (sic)  in jazzing up an economy that didn't need it - actually overheating it.  The demented dolt seems to have forgotten that his (and the GOP's) tax cuts juiced corporate earnings and led them to use the extra $$$ for stock buybacks - which sent valuations of  corporate equities hurtling beyond anything sustainable.

 This is part of  what is prompting the Fed to raise interest rates and drawing Donnie Dotard's ire. Why? Because he has to have some entity to blame other than himself. He loves to embrace the market when it's soaring but after it crapped out last week he want to distance himself knowing the midterms are around the corner and fearing voter-investors might take it out of his hide.

The other aspect not grasped by this imbecile brat and pretend president, is that when bond yields rise stocks tend to sink.   The yield on 10-year United States Treasury bonds reached a seven-year high last week of 3.25 percent (it receded some on Wednesday as stocks dropped), up from 2.82 percent in August. The 10-year rate was below 1.4 percent as recently as July 2016. What this did is stoke volatility across asset classes, igniting a single-minded search for protection.    This was largely reflected in buying up bonds (bonds have lower prices when their yields go up as the 10-year Treasury did last week).

Basically what happened is that stock investors - seeing high bond yields - sold off equities and bought Treasurys in a flight from risk .  But the real problem lay in the future i.e. when stocks sell off amid falling bond yields which tends to precede recession. Last week, then, was just a warning shot over the bow of irrationally exuberant investors too enamored of overpriced stocks.

Another less discussed aspect is the purchase of options. Not only did investors grab up bonds (including risky corporate bonds) but also options that pay out if the S&P 500 takes a drastic fall. Why would they do that? Well, because they are convinced a drastic fall is coming - if not now then later.  But what their frenzied buying of options has done is to drive up the cost of hedging stock portfolios to the highest in months.

In other words, investors (especially of the 'momentum' species) are bracing for even greater turmoil across markets, increasing hedges on their stock positions. The concern is with this behavior in addition to bond purchases as yields go up on the long term (e.g. 10-year) Treasurys.

Here's the skinny:The behavior of stock, bond and commodity markets last week showed investors' main concerns were that higher oil prices (now approaching $100 a barrel) will fuel inflation and trigger the Fed into raising interest rates even more rapidly.  This according to Charles Himmelberg chief market economist at Goldman -Sachs.  Himmelberg also said (in the same Friday WSJ piece) he saw more evidence investors are retreating from risk and worrying about economic growth.

Retreat from risk will especially be rife if the 10-year  Treasury yield should approach 3.5 % - a level some analysts believe would be a major threat to stock valuations.

Let's seek even more perspective here:  For much of the last couple of years, short-term interest rates, which the Fed controls directly, have risen much faster than longer-term rates, which are set based on global supply and demand for bonds. The Fed was plowing ahead with rate increases, while investors were evidently skeptical that growth would be persistent enough to justify higher long-term rates. (After all the Reeps passed tax cuts that promised both to stimulate the economy but also expand the supply of government debt to now an estimated $1.5 trillion)

In late August, the rate on 10-year Treasury  bonds was only 0.18 percent higher than for two-year government bonds, a phenomenon known as a flat yield curve. (When that number turns negative, it’s considered an “inverted yield curve” and is often a measure of looming recession.)

Since then, longer-term rates have risen faster than shorter-term ones. Still the yield curve remains flat by historical standards and the gap between 10-year and two-year bonds was up to only 0.33 percent in recent days.

The yields of inflation-protected bonds have moved mostly in lock step with traditional bonds in recent weeks, suggesting that traders haven’t become more worried about inflation.  The rise in longer-term interest rates is driven mainly not by a rise in inflation expectations, but rather by a rise in investors’ expectations for what the Fed will do and for how much compensation bond investors are demanding in lending over long time horizons.

Leaders of the Fed have indicated that they expect to keep raising their target interest rate to around 3.4 percent by the end of 2020, up from the current level of just above 2 percent.  This is very reasonable, contrary to Baby Dotard's histrionics,  given higher interest rates will provide more leverage if and when the next recession does occur.  To keep interest rates too low puts an artificial strait jacket on the Fed's responses, which a real president would grasp - but evidently the splenetic infant Trump can't.

Recall Trump criticized the Fed when it raised interest rates in July, and again when it raised interest rates in September. But his attacks have sharply intensified in recent days, in tandem with the drop in the stock market.

What we need is for this forlorn loser brat to grow up and admit that Fed Chief  Jerome Powell
Image result for Jerome Powell
knows a hell of a lot more about finance and economics than he does.  (Especially as we now know the mutt made all his money from common grifting and tax fraud - with Daddy Fred's help)

 And after all- if Dotard  needed surgery, say for removal of his appendix - he'd not want a trained monkey doing it but a competent human surgeon.  In like manner we can't have an orange Orangutan like Trump trying to manage the economy or dictate interest rates.  It needs to be left to the "big boys".

See also:

The Market Weighs in on Trump’s Economic Policies


"In truth, the whole of Trump’s economic policy has been a massive injection of debt into an already healthy economy. His tax cuts for corporations and deficit spending for military expansion have added more than $2 trillion to the national debt in just two years. It’s like injecting adrenaline into an already healthy runner in the middle of a marathon.

Let’s be clear. Any moron with a handful of credit cards charged off to the next generation can gin up the illusion of prosperity. That’s all the Trump economy is: borrowing trillions of dollars from the future, spending it today, and pretending to be a genius. But the market has figured it out."

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Solutions To Special Relativity Problems (2)

1) We have: t = t’/ [1 - v2/c2] ½

But the proper time is defined such that:

t' = t/2   or t'/ t = ½


[1 - v2/c2] = (t'/ t)2


v2/c2 = 1 - (t'/ t)2

v2 = c2[1 - (t'/ t)2]


v = c[1 - (t'/ t)2]½ = c[1 - 0.52]½ = c[0.75]½ = 0.866c

2)  The proper time t' = 3600 s

Since v = 300 m/s = (10-6) c and hence v/c << 1 we need the form: 

t = t’/ [1 + v2/2c2] t = 3600s/ [1 +     (10 -12) c2/2c2

Since the numerator is only slightly larger than 1, the time t will be:

3600 s/(1.000000000001)= 3600.0000000018

= 3600 + 1.8 x 10-9 s or slightly longer than one hour. 

3)  (a) The proper time t' applies to the muon's reference frame.

So:   t = t’/ [1 - v2/c2] ½   and t' = t [1 - v2/c2] ½

where v = 0.99 c and v2 = (0.99c)2 = 0.98c2

Then: t' = t [1 - 0.98c2/c2]½ = t [0.02] ½ = t(0.14)

recall distance travelled = 4.6 km = 4600 m

To get t' we need to find t first, e.g.

t = 4600 m/ (2.97 x 108 m/s) = 1.55 x 10-5 s

Then: t' = (1.55 x 10-5 s) (0.14) = 2.1 x 10-6

b) The distance traveled by the muon as measured in its frame is just the 
proper length, L'  so:

L' = 4600 m [1 - v2/c2]½ = 4600 m (0.02)½

L' = 4600 m (0.14) = 644 m

4)  The proper time t' = 2.6 x 10-8 s

t = t’/ [1 - v2/c2] ½    and v = 0.95c


t = (2.6 x 10-8 s)/ [1 - (0.95c)2/c2] ½

t = (2.6 x 10-8 s)/ [0.0975]½ = (2.6 x 10-8 s)/ 0.312

t = 8.3 x 10-8 s

Which is the mean lifetime of the muon as measured by an observer on Earth.   

Brew Crew's Craig Counsel Needs To Pull Relief Pitcher Jeremy Jeffress NOW!

Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress runs out of luck
Jeremy  Jeffress looks on as his relief pitching world falls apart yesterday at Miller Park. Despite that, he believes he's doing "just great".  Maybe it's time for some psychotherapy or ECT?

What do you do with a relief pitcher who's living in La-La land, and I don't mean just because he blew a three- run lead yesterday in the Milwaukee Brewers' 4-3 loss to the LA Dodgers? Well, you pull him from the roster if he's not producing and has merely become a liability. Sadly, this is now the case with Jeremy Jeffress who-  during the regular season -  was lights out coming in from the bullpen, with a 1.29 ERA,  and an 8-1 record in over 73 appearances.

Now, in postseason play, Jeffress is 0-1 over 4 and 2/3 innings and with a 7.71 ERA.  He's also allowed a team high of 11 hits and opponents are hitting him at a .458 clip.  Not good! Pitching in all 5  Brewers' playoff games, Jeffress has been shaky in 4.  Not an auspicious sign, especially when it's often win or go home in the post season. These numbers tell the story despite Jeffress being quoted yesterday  in The Milwaukee Journal -Sentinel as  exuding denial, saying:

"I feel good, man. It’s just the nature of the game.  I can’t strike everybody out. I can’t make everybody hit a ground ball. I am human. But right now I feel great."

The man is more deluded than Trump, I'm afraid, and not operating in reality.   He shouldn't feel "great" but downright lousy after blowing the game yesterday and now leaving LA the chance to grab 3 in a row in their home (Chavez)  stadium and taking the NL championship. Nope, he ought to feel downright shitty, sorry!  

Evidence?  He came in for reliever Corbin Burnes with two on and nobody out then promptly gave up singles to Cody Bellinger and  Joc Pederson.  (Bellinger's single with bases  loaded pulled LA to only a 3-1 deficit. )    At that point I would have pulled him, given his other awful performances, including blowing a game 1 lead in the NLDS to the Rockies which would bave cost the Crew had they not managed a rally in the 10th - after the score had been tied at 2-2.

Jeffress did manage to fan Yasil Puig but then committed the unbelievable pitching atrocity - the only word I can muster here- to walk in the next run (with bases already loaded)  making it 3-2 Brew Crew.  And the walk was delivered to the number 8 hitter Austin Barnes.   (Jeffress referred to Barnes getting on with the walk as just "getting lucky" - yeah, well, he was lucky Jeremy Jeffress was the pitcher!)

After that grotesque pitching miscue I thought Craig Counsel - Brewers' manager - would pull him for sure, i.e. especially after the inning finally ended and going into the 8th - but oh no, Counsel appeared as deluded as Jeffress. Somehow thinking the guy still had some stuff when it was obvious to the most superficial fan he had nada. Ok, maybe he still had some heat, but his location was not to be found in the most critical LA at bats.

So what did we see in the 8th?  The illustrious Jeffress gives up an infield single to Chris Taylor and then, lo and behold, Dodgers fearsome hitter Justin Turner rips a homer to put his team ahead 4-3. At that point, I told wifey the game was over, given the LA bullpen  was every bit as good as the Brewers' and they weren't about to lose that 1-run lead like the Brew Crew did. She agreed.

As usual too, Jeffress was quick with the excuses, e.g. on Turner's homer:

"He just got lucky.  I knew what I wanted to pitch him.  I just left the ball up and he got his pitch."

Got lucky?   So pitching is a process of luck?   Get real!  Was reliever Josh Hader "lucky" the day before yesterday when he retired all those Dodgers without incident?  Hell, admit it, you didn't execute what you "wanted" to pitch him. You even admitted you 'left the ball up'! Hence, you failed!  A top notch reliever in that situation doesn't fail knowing Turner is a power HR hitter and a guy is already on base - plus giving up a homer means a likely loss- given LA's bullpen.

Even worse, this cat is in total denial.  That's the sure sign he needs to be pulled from the roster, given he feels he needs to do nothing  - make no changes - to his pitching mechanics, etc. As he was quoted in the paper, when asked if he now needs to change anything:

"I can do little tweaks here and there. But if I start to try to change stuff it’ll just snowball and keep going downhill.  Just trust and believe in my stuff. I’ve been doing it all year, man. There’s nothing that I need to change, honestly."

There's "nothing he needs to change" but if he does he will "keep going downhill"?    So he KNOWS he's in the relief pitching dregs! Counsel, incredibly, came to his defense, saying he was being  "careful".  No way, and no how. He was being ineffective, missing location and just plain lousy.  But then I am now beginning to question Counsel's judgment after over using Hader in Game 1, and for no good reason.  He basically let him pitch 3 middle innings, taking starter Gio Gonzalez out after only two, burning the Crew's top reliever out for Game 2.

Jeffress' absurd denial is the sure sign of a determined loser. The fact remains that  in this postseason Jeffress has been pitching behind in the count too often --e.g.  the home run by Turner was on a 2-0 splitter. He also walked Barnes on a 3-2 curveball to force in the Dodgers' second run in the 7th. 

From this observer's take, Counsel needs to seek counsel from his pitching coach about what to do to redeem Jeremy Jeffress.  If nothing can be done, or if Jeremy insists he's feeling  "great" about himself  as is  - he needs to be pulled for the good of the team.  Even then, it may be too late with three games in L.A.

There are other pitchers to go to, including Junior Guerra, and Freddy Peralta - who fanned 13 Rockies and blanked them back on Mother's Day.   He also has Woodruff, Gonzalez and Wade Miley - all of whom have performed well as starters and can be left in longer than Counsel has thus far allowed,  What we do know now is that the Brewers' pen is not the intimidating lot it had been- putting up a ghastly 6.96 ERA compared to 1.17 for the starters. The numbers don't lie.

And now  even the LA Times sports writers are mocking The Crew's pen as an "allegedly invincible bullpen".  They also called out Jeffress' preposterous self -congratulatory and delusional take, as I have.

It's time for the Brewers' junior manager Counsel to right this ship and the primary move begins with letting Jeremy Jeffress chill out for the remaining games of this championship series. Whatever is now left of it.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Yes, It's Important To Teach Students HOW To Think - Not WHAT To Think

Loyola University philosophy students (ca. 1964) regularly were tested in the rigors of thinking using core questions such as 'How would you choose to live (and why) if you learned humans were the product of accidental mutations via evolution?'

Sue Sharkey and Bruce Benson were correct to draw attention to the need for collegians' critical thinking in their Denver Post Sunday Perspective article, 'It's Critical To Teach Students How To Think, Not What To Think' (p. 4D).  But this elicits the question of exactly HOW that training ought to proceed.    What techniques should one employ in critical thinking?   At Loyola, as part of the required  Arts and Sciences core courses, we all took Logic (Phil. 220), and what follows are some of the takeaways from my preserved notes.

In previous posts I explored a number of basic logical fallacies, this was at the '101' level. But as we learned at Loyola, arguments  are not always blatantly fallacious - many more are subtle and the defects can be much more difficult to recognize and challenge. But the ability to do so forms a crucial support if the student (or average person, citizen) is to be able to do critical thinking.

Consider: Logic requires the isolation and separation of objects in order to relate them to propositions. In this way both generalizations and deductions can be made.

A logical sequence might be (given propositions p, q, and r):

If p, then q

If q, then r

Hence p-> r

(Hence, p implies r)

However, to do this necessitates that the objects connected to the propositions p, q, and r be isolated from each other by category.  This is why good, solid arguments are often difficult to craft. But in general, as Fr. Hecker,  S.J. often reminded us, a good argument must satisfy three conditions:

i)The premises must provide a reasonable amount of support for the conclusions

ii) The truth of the premises must be well established

iii)It must not be circular.

While a blatant fallacy may well omit or cut corners with one or more of these, there are other fallacious arguments that aren't so self-evident. Let's consider the following under the category of 'disguised nonarguments'.

1) Petitio Principii  (Begging the question):

In fact, there is no "question" to follow or beg but rather it refers to the specious circular argument under consideration.  In general, this is a variant of circular reasoning whereby the conclusion is merely a restatement of something stated in one or more premises, e.g.

The assassins of  U.S. presidents have all been lone nuts

Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone nut.

Therefore, Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated JFK.

Apart from being circular (which makes it a bad argument in itself) the initial premise also suffers from over-generalization.  The secondary fallacy at work here is "hasty generalization".  That is, assuming that because previous presidents may have been slain by loners or "lone nuts" JFK would have had to have been as well.  In addition, the assumption is made that Oswald was a "nut", which is refuted by all the evidence we know about him. This was best summed up by author Michael Parenti (The JFK Assassination  - Defending the Gangster State.):

"Lee Harvey Oswald spent most of his adult life not as a lone drifter but directly linked to the U.S. intelligence community. All of his IQ tests show that he was above average in intelligence and a quick learner. At the age of eighteen in the U.S. Marines he had secret security clearance and was working at Marine Air Control in Atsugi Air Force Base in Japan, a top secret location from which the CIA launched U2 flights and performed other kinds of covert operations in China. The next year he was assigned to El Toro Air Station in California with security clearance to work radar. “.

Another (somewhat)  less controversial example of begging the question:

God existed before the universe because He created it

Therefore God had no beginning

Therefore, God exists without a cause because He is the first cause.

Again, we see that the conclusion is simply a restatement (using different words) of the initial premise.  Further, since  a "causeless God" is a much more extraordinary claim than a causeless cosmos then much greater argumentative heft must be summoned to defend it. The example shown, however, reveals "God" is trotted out as part of the premise, and the causeless attribute is added as a separate part. Thus,  the religionist's argument is useless because the conclusion is one of the premises. Circular logic cannot prove a conclusion because, if the conclusion is doubted, the premise which leads to it will also be doubted.

2) Post hoc ergo proper hoc:


"Jim got seriously ill and had to be hospitalized. I prayed for him and he got better after five days. Therefore, my prayers made him better."

This is quite common and easily exposed. It basically means a person has connected some event in a causal fashion with an event that has gone before – though there is no proof whatever of causal nexus.

It is often observed after disasters, when there are few survivors, and they claim that they “experienced a miracle” by escaping alive. In fact no connection exists between the plane crash or whatever, and their survival. They were merely lucky – to perhaps be sitting in the right seat at the right time, nothing more.

3) Affirming the consequent:

In affirming the consequent, the offender starts out by stating or claiming  ab initio that which they still need to prove or demonstrate. The classic example from real life can be found in the Katzenbach memo which defined the modus operandi and purpose of the Warren Commission, e.g.

"It is important that all facts surrounding President Kennedy's assassination be made public in a way which will satisfy people in the United States and abroad that all the facts have been told and that a statement to this effect be made now.

The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin, that he did not have confederates who are still at large; and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial.

In this memo argument, one can see Katzenbach had Oswald pegged as the assassin of JFK even prior to the Commission's commencement. A classic case of "affirming the consequent" and a major reason we refer to the WC report as a whitewash.

Here’s the deal: the laws of deductive logic used in an argument, prevent a person from affirming that which he must prove. It doesn’t matter if what’s being affirmed happens to be Lee Oswald's being the one and only JFK assassin,  visiting aliens from an advanced civilization (or some vague “intelligent designer”)  presumed to be responsible for the intricacies of the inner ear or the human eye, or the validity of astrological horoscopes in x, y or z situations.

In each and every case the claim has to be presented as a conclusion to rigorous propositions or deductions, not stated as fact from the outset. 

4) Fallacy of Equivocation:

This disguised argument usually depends on a particular word or set of words having two or more different meanings in the context of a single argument, e.g.

Man is an inventor

No woman is a man

Therefore, no woman is an inventor.

Here, the obvious flaw inheres in the conflation in the use of "Man" for "mankind" or the  whole human species, with "man" an individual member of the species and of male gender.   This is a reminder that when confronted with argument to be sure the terms are consistent for the given premises in the context.

5) Slippery Slope:


"If we legalize marijuana across the country, our people will collectively lose the ability to want to do anything- and they'll just tune out  - so we can be taken over by anyone!" 

"If  we pass the universal basic income  (UBI) everyone will just become a lazy good -for- nothing and the country will rot from the inside!"

Those who invoke slippery slope arguments want to convince you that legalizing marijuana, or passing the UBI (e.g. for workers displaced from jobs by AI, or automation)  will send the country on the road to economic or moral perdition. Some manner of calamity will rain down on one and all. Families will be torn asunder with members hooked on opioids.  Functioning society will crash. Wall Street will cease to have a DOW or NASDAQ, whatever.

 The base thread in all slippery slope arguments is the assumption, or perhaps more accurately the false assumption, that some disdained behavior or policy will lead inexorably to a vastly worse outlook or behavior. Although these tactics are insipid on their face, since no concrete evidence is ever presented to support them (or if it is, it’s specious), they’re invoked because people can be so easily misled by appeals to fear. All that’s required is a preconceived negative image, e.g. an MJ user zoned out and oblivious to the world around him, and the recipient of the disinformation will be ready to accept just about any claim.

History shows, time and time again, that appeals to slippery slope reasoning often do much more harm to innocent people than they do to advance a case for some agenda- whether preventing nationwide legalization of MJ, refusing to vote an atheist into public office, or providing a universal basic income for soon to be displaced workers.

6)  Ignotum per Ignotius:

Example:  "The human eye is far too complex an organ to have come about in any way other than intelligent design."

Of all the fallacies, I supsect this is perhaps the most endemic and pervasive within the U.S. cultural war landscape. This dates from as far back as 1925, when Christian “design” model creationists argued the best “cure for atheism” was the structure and design of the eye. Well, hardly! Since, after all, the eye “sees” optimally at a particular wavelength (~ 5500 Å) of light, precisely because it evolved on a planet with a star whose maximum radiation output is at that wavelength!

What is the logical fallacy of ignotum per ignotius? Basically it translates from the Latin to mean: “seeking to explain the not understood by the less well understood.” In this case, attempting to account for the alleged grandiose “design” of the human eye by appeal to totally unknown constructs (e.g. a supernatural or unknown "designer"). This, after all, would have to be the subtext if the eye’s design is being viewed as “a cure for atheism”. (E.g. the atheist is compelled to surrender evolution via natural selection, since the inherent nonrandom survival features are alleged to be unable to account for the splendid design).

The problem with this line of argument is that it invokes a less well-known or understood mechanism (“the designer”) to account for a structure or organ whose origin may not be fully apprehended at this moment. But who or what is this designer? The proponents of the various forms of creationism (including the now fashionable intelligent design) won’t say, but it doesn’t require an Einstein to infer they are interjecting a supernatural agent. That is, “God.”

The problem is that all intelligent design (ID) has done is to subsume naturalistic evolution's observations then magically assert they are produced by "intelligent design", since no random process could possibly arrive at such intricacy in a billion years. Thus, rather than accept a fairly well understood random process ID’ers opt to nix it in favor of a much less well understood “designer” about whose specifics, attributes they are totally silent.

All they can offer up is the canard that: “X, Y or Z structures display irreducible complexity, hence there must be some unseen intellect working behind the scene to create it!" This is pure nonsense as well as a circular argument- but most important commits ignotum per ignotius fallacy. (Note that very often logical fallacies are committed in sets, though one particular transgression stands out.)

To paraphrase the philosopher David Hume[1]:

"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish."

For example, consider the example of the eye again. Is the falsehood of its intelligent design more miraculous than the fact it attempts to establish: that the eye is the product of intelligent design? Arguably no. While the falsehood would leave natural selection as a primary agent, it is (as we saw) in no way is “more miraculous” or incredible than the initial ID proposal! As I noted earlier, by the time natural selection appears, a selection effect in the genome is already solidified. So no "random chance exists", .e.g

) Arguing from authority:

Example: "Read John 3:16! If you don't believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior you are going to Hell!"

If you’ve ever argued with orthodox Christians, you know how often they cite chapter and verse from their Bible to try to force an argument to their side.  The tendency has become so predictable it resembles a kind of dog whistle response whenever an unbeliever appears in view. The Fundies (especially) salivate-drool and aren't even aware they're doing it. You start a rational argument with a hard core believer, and within five minutes he’s trotting out the old canard:

“The fool hath said within his heart there is no God!”

If that citation doesn’t work, look for him to go back to his biblical or scriptural grab bag for some other forlorn, antiquated quote (say like John 3: 16) , all in an effort to convince you that you, Mr. or Ms. Heathen, are going against two thousand year old authority and God’s holy writ! The favorite quotes, by the way, seem to be all those dealing with “Hell” in the New Testament, or related to the end times and the “Beast” written about in Revelation. All of these, as well as the psychotic personality portrayed in the Old Testament, disclose (god-) concepts fashioned by human minds. Martin Foreman hits the nail squarely on the head when he writes[2]:

“No self-respecting human author, far less an all-knowing deity, would suggest (the Bible) is worthy to be considered a holy text

Catholics at least are somewhat less predictable than Protestants, maybe because Catholics were forbidden to read the Bible for centuries, so didn’t develop the incredible fetishism and obsessive dependence displayed by many evangelical Protestants

8) Red Herring:

In any argument or debate with a diehard cultural warrior, the most anticipated tactic is always the red herring. This tried and true ruse represents an effort to re-direct a debate away from its central issue to a marginal or peripheral one.


Look at all the crime, the murders and the drugs going on! If it weren’t for atheists we’d have none of these!

"Socialism has always failed because it seeks to steal from those who create the jobs, and produce the goods!"

In fact, none of the above are remotely related to, or effects from, the cause imputed. More atheists aren't going to increase crime (there are fewer atheists per capita in prisons than any other group), nor are socialists going to "steal" from those who create jobs.

In each case the red herring exploiter seeks to take attention off the real causes of whatever problems are under discussion and deflect them to a specious scapegoat or smokescreen cause. Thus, poverty and extreme economic inequality aren't examined as the primary sources of crime, drugs etc. - but instead atheism is blamed.  Similarly, an inefficient, capitalist economic model isn't examined  (based on the Pareto distribution) for why its sundry aspects fail in a low aggregate demand society. Instead,  Socialists are blamed for trying to "steal" the means of production - when in fact the alleged job creators are merely sitting on their money and doing nothing- leaving millions jobless - yes, who would have jobs under Socialism because tax monies would be used for capital works- alternate energy programs and not launching wars or specious spending.

9)Fallacy of Ambipholy:

Any statement or argument characterized by ambipholy contains imprecise grammar or syntax which permits one or more interpretations and hence is designed to mislead.  (Give only one of the interpretations will be accurate).   This fallacy generally occurs when a person attempts to support a conclusion using a faulty interpretation of a grammatically ambiguous statement.


Pons and Fleischmann's demonstration of cold fusion showed that we can obtain energy from nuclear fusion.

Here the mixup is between "cold fusion" and nuclear fusion, thereby leading too many readers to believe they are the same thing, but they are not. Pons and Flesichmann basically conducted their experiments at room temperatures while genuine nuclear fusion requires temperatures such as developed in special machines called tokamaks, e.g.

In addition, the cold fusion experiments never generated excess heat (thermal energy) beyond the limits of measurement errors.

A more prosaic example - from modern advertising:

"This mattress comes with a lifetime guarantee!"

With this statement in the advertisement, the consumer assumes the product is guaranteed for as long as she lives whereas a careful reading of the fine print actually reveals the guarantee refers to the life of the product, the mattress. In other words, when the mattress goes, it goes! THAT'S the lifetime!

Of course, the classic case of ambipholy - as Fr. Hecker informed us - was in Croesus, King of Lydia.  The story has it that the King asked an oracle if he could be assured a great victory in going to war with Persia.  The oracle replied: "You will destroy a great kingdom" - which Croesus interpreted to mean Persia.   So Croesus confidently went to war unaware the kingdom to be destroyed was his own.

10)The Straw Man fallacy:

This one is often used in political campaigns so we ought to be especially aware of it now with the midterms scheduled in 25 days.   The basic strategy is to set up a "straw" person who can be knocked down easier than the real one. In this case the straw is a dubious argument.  In effect, the opponent's argument is construed in the least sympathetic way possible or an earlier incident or event is elaborated on in the most deleterious fashion. Example:

"If the Democrats take over the House they will take away your tax cuts and use the money for 'Medicare for All."

In fact the Demos will do no such thing since the tax cuts passed last year are already law. What they CAN do is vote to prevent an extension of the existing tax cuts - which are projected to add more than $2 trillion to the deficit.

Another straw man to expect:

"The Senate Judiciary Democrats tried to destroy a good man during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and used the presumption of guilt instead of innocence"

They Senate Judiciary Dems did no such thing because the hearing was NOT a trial and Kavanaugh was not a "defendant" or the "accused".  He was a former federal judge now about to be promoted to the highest court and legal position in the land.  Hence, the hearing was a rigorous job interview nothing more. In any similar corporate capacity - with so much at stake (a nearly 30-40 year job position) do you really believe any LESS grilling would be done? If so,  you live in Wonderland.

Be aware this political season of the arguments trotted out in whatever venue, and see if you can apply critical thinking to validate them.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Special Relativity Revisited (2)

Let’s now consider the implications of the Lorentz-Einstein transformation and refer again to the original diagram (Fig. 1). Recall:

(11)  x = x' + vt'/(1 - v2/c2)½


x' = x - vt/(1 - v2/c2)½

(12) y = y' and y' = y

(13) z = z' and z' = z

(14) t = t' + x'v/c2/(1 - v2/c2)½


t' = t - xv/c2/(1 - v2/c2)½

    Suppose there’s a clock located in system S’ and an observer in system S sees this clock moving with velocity v. At any time t, the position of the clock with reference to the S –observer’s system is given by x = vt. If the length of time between two ticks is of this clock is T’ in the S’ system, the transformation to the S system (assuming x’ = 0) makes the time interval T appear to be:

T = T’/ (1 - v2/c2)½

    Since T > T’ then it seems to Observer S his clock is running slower than it does to S’. This applies not only to the clock but to all physical processes that depend on time, e.g. the vibrations of electrons in atoms, rates of chemical reactions, biological processes (heart beat, respiration) etc. In effect it appears to the observer in S that his counterpart in S’ is living at a slower rate than he is. However, to the observer in S’ it is the observer in S who seems to be living at a slower rate.

    This is a paradoxical result but one which can’t be escaped if we carry special relativity to its logical conclusion as Einstein did. So long as the two systems have a constant relative motion, we cannot say that one is moving and the other standing still, or that one’s clock is moving slowly and the other quickly.

    A number of subtle consequences arise out of this. For one thing, the notion of simultaneous events, i.e. for observers in two different reference frames, is no longer tenable. Einstein, in fact, seems to have been the first human being to recognize that simultaneity between two events is a provincial illusion. In his landmark (1905) paper on special relativity (“Does the Inertia of a Body Depend on Its Energy Content?’) he remarked:

We have to take into account that all our judgments in which time plays a part are always judgments of simultaneous events. If, for instance, I say ‘That train arrives here at 7 o’clock’ I mean something like this: ‘The pointing of the small hand of my watch to seven o’clock and the arrival of the train are simultaneous events.”

    Einstein agreed that observing such simultaneity was a reasonably accurate way for a person holding a watch to tell the time of an event happening next to the watch, but insisted that on principle the method couldn’t be relied upon for timing an event far away from the watch, especially by someone moving in relation to the other things involved.

    As an illustrative example, consider Fig.2 which features an enormously long train (defined as system S’) with an observer ‘Bob’ at its very center. (E.g. if the total length of the train is L, he is at L/2).

Two bolts of lightning then strike the extremities of the train, and do so simultaneously according to Bob’s watch. Bill, however, is situated on a stationary platform as shown – defined in system S- at the exact midpoint between the strikes and swears that he recorded the rear flash a sizeable fraction of a second earlier than the forward flash.

    Who is correct? A non-relativistic thinker would undoubtedly incline towards the view of Bill, the stationary observer. The argument here is that Bob’s simultaneity is only apparent, not actual since the train would have carried him closer to the forward flash by the time he received their simultaneous light from points that were, by then, no longer equidistant from him.

    For a relativist, however, it is just as true to say the train was standing still and the ground sped by it, so the ground observer (Bill) could have been carried beyond the equidistant point as easily as Bob.

    In Einstein’s cosmic viewpoint, the lightning flashes (and their midpoint) are free to be considered an integral part of the train OR Earth, OR any other frame of reference. Each and every observer may select his own viewpoint. Any viewpoint is true and right, none is wrong. This example embodies the essence of relativity, that is, that time is truly relative and not absolute as Newton had believed.

    As an illustration of a type of experiment that attempts to reckon simultaneity, consider Fig. 3.

Here a light pulse is directed at a moving mirror M traveling with velocity v to the right. By the time the pulse reaches the mirror it has moved a distance D =  v (D t)/2 horizontally.

    According to an outside observer, if light is to hit the mirror it must depart at an angle to the vertical as shown.

    By Pythagoras’ theorem (square of the hypoteneuse equals the sum of the squares of the other 2 sides):

(c (
Dt)/2)2 = (v (D t)/2)2 + d2

This implies:

D t = 2d/(c2 – v2)½ = 2d/ c[(1 - v2/c2)½ ]
But, for the stationary observer:

D t’ = 2d/ c

which implies:

D t = D t’/ (1 - v2/c2)½

We call delta t’ the “proper time” or that time interval between two events as measured by an observer who sees the events at the same place. It’s always the time measured by a single clock at rest in the frame.

Example Problem:

    The period T of a pendulum is measured to be T= 3.0 s in the inertial frame of reference of the pendulum. What is the period of the pendulum when measured by an observer moving at a sped of 0.95c with respect to the pendulum?

    We note that the time measurement taken in the inertial frame is the proper time, and this is t' = 3.0 s.

Then we need to obtain t, for which:

t = t’/ [1 - v2/c2] ½

where v = 0.95c, so:

t = 3.0 s/ [1 - (0.95c)2/c2] ½ = (3.0s) 1/ [0.0975] ½

and t = (3.0 s)(3.2) = 9.6s 

Other Problems:

 1) With what speed would a clock have to be moving to run at a rate that is one half the rate of a clock at rest? 

2) An atomic clock is placed on a Jumbo Jet. The clock measures a time interval of 3600 s when the jet is moving at v = 300 m/s. What corresponding time would an identical clock left on the ground measure? (Hint: whenever v << c (e.g. v/c << 1), note that we have 1 + v2/2cand not [1 - v2/c2]1/2)

3) A muon formed high in the Earth's atmosphere travels at v = 0.99c for a distance of 4.6 km before it decays into an electron, a neutrino and an anti-neutrino.

a) How long does the muon survive as measured in its rest frame?

b) How far does the muon travel as measured in its frame?

4) The average lifetime of a pi meson in its own frame of reference is 2.6 x 10-8 s. If the meson moves with v = 0.95c, what is its mean lifetime as measured by an observer on Earth?

Libertarian Columnist Jon Caldara Needs An Education On Human Rights

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The impetuous libertarian gun fanatic and rabble rouser Jon Caldara is at it again in his latest Denver Post op-ed ('Jared Polis and the New Human Rights', Perspective, Oct. 7). Caldara writes:

"Jared Polis insists: 'Health care is a human right'.   Either my understanding of human rights is completely wrong or Polis's understanding of the English language is. I thought human rights were guarantees through natural law that you can do some things even if the society around you wants to stop you. Those activities and beliefs behind them, can't be ripped from you even if you're in the political minority. The government can't take away your speech, and expression, yur ability to assemble, own firearms. Government can't take property without due process, inflict cruel punishment."

Here Caldara demonstrates the typical truncated libertarian view that only negative rights count. In other words,  there are only “negative” rights inherent in the Bill of Rights, and there can be no “positive” ones.   A negative right implies that there are ‘x’ things the government can’t do to you, e.g.  take away your guns or your property without good legal basis ("eminent domain"). . By contrast, positive rights assert there are actual positive rights to which you are entitled under the Bill of Rights, say health care and privacy. Most of those on the Right (as well as libertarians like Caldara) , who have only passing acquaintance with the Federalist papers, assert positive rights don’t exist, but they are wrong. They merely show they fail to grasp the concept of an "unenumerated right", i.e. under the ninth amendment of the Bill of Rights..

The latter has been well explicated, for example, by Prof. Garry Wills (‘A Necessary Evil: A History Of American Distrust of Government, Simon & Schuster, 1999).   As Prof. Wills has pointed out, the unenumerated rights are all those rights not already specifically declared or described in the existing Bill of Rights.  The Founders thereby realized and understood there could exist rights in the future they hadn’t conceived of at the time of the Constitutional Convention, and so allowed those (then) undefined rights to become realized later. In other words, the rights allotted citizens are not limited to the rights actually and specifically delineated, i.e. in the Bill of Rights.

This opens up the basis for positive rights, not merely negative ones. Hence, Jared Polis - unlike our friend Jon Caldara- simply grasped the concept of the unenumerated right and how it paved the way for rights such a health care and privacy.

And why not? (Apart from the fact the U.S. is a signatory to a 1994 UN Declaration that health care is indeed a right.)  Think about it carefully, from the perspective of Caldara that health care must not be a right, never and no how.   So let us say I have no access to competent health care and in Caldara's view, no right to it.

I then contract Avian flu, Ebola or some other highly virulent disease, but for which I can get no care. (No money to pay for it) I am turned down at place after place and end up circulating amidst large crowds merely spreading the particular  contagion to others. HOW is this helpful to the community I live in, how is it beneficial to our national security? It isn't! 

This is where Caldara's ill-informed logic breaks down, i.e. "The new progressive bill of rights means the people around you owe you stuff".

No, that is Trump think.  What it means is that by conferring positive rights like health care the whole community benefits because that one loose end which could unleash an epidemic is sealed. Closed, not left open.  Rather then thinking in a limited fashion about "grabbing others' stuff" one is led instead to concur that all partake of the protections afforded by the tax commons. That goes for national defense - but also for health care.

It also includes an inherent right to privacy - another positive right. For example, if the presumption is no right to privacy then the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights is meaningless. To restate that Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

But note, “secure in one’s person, house, papers, effects” implies PRIVACY! These are after all MY private papers, my private effects, my house, etc. If an inherent right to privacy was a myth then by all accounts being secure in one’s person, papers, effects wouldn’t matter. Hell, let the whole freakin’ world see ‘em! This is why in a fascist dictatorship “personal effects” don’t exist. “Personal papers” has no meaning. The state has full monopoly, de facto ownership on whatever the person has, even his own body. Hence, in fascist dictatorships, such as existed in Nazi Germany, all personal effects, papers could be seized by the Nazis on a whim or remote suspicion - under the Reich Laws. A fundamental right to privacy, meanwhile, insists there exist bona fide entities that one can uniquely own, e.g. papers, effects – including photos or what not- that are private. Without this fundamental right, then, “personal papers, effects” has no meaning hence the 4th amendment is meaningless.

Again, this is not exceptional so Caldara's limited view of rights  as only negative breaks down. Caldara is correct that a right (positive or negative) retains that property irrespective of the population affected, as when he writes:

"In a society of only three people it would still be a violation of human rights for two of them to force the third into a religion, or take his arms".

True, but this is not the same as a government of three agreeing to a contract that health care for all members is a right - a shared responsibility - to protect each from a terrible disease that may befall one and spread to the others.  In other words, the extension of the positive right is a matter of mutual self-interest.   This is why Caldara's logic also breaks down when he writes:

"If it is a right to demands goods or services at someone else's expense then one person out of our fictional society of three could demand health care...and the other two must provide him that human right."

Well, they could also refuse - and die themselves- say if he contracts cholera.  Caldara's claim is that "it's not a freedom" i.e.  for the recipient of the care (say oral rehydration with salts in the case of cholera) but rather a "liability for the other two to provide".   My argument is that it is not a liability but a very wise form of self protection to take proactive care of the 3rd member of the fictional society.  Hence, it is beneficial to this mini society to deem health care a right, just as it would be for any larger society.

The whole problem, as I see it, is a failure of vision (and political moxie and will) to see positive rights as beneficial to whole communities or nations, not as liabilities to be avoided.   Caldara is right about one thing, all human rights are unconditional - and that includes health care and privacy.