You Can Have My Chi-Squared Test When You Pry It From My Cold Dead Fingers

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] Jerry Coyne has a long analysis of a recent skirmish in the ongoing Woke War: Why we can’t use statistics any more. His springboard is a recent article in Nautilus by one Aubrey Clayton: How Eugenics Shaped Statistics.

I could go on and on about the errors and misconceptions of the paper from Nautilus […], whose aims are threefold. First, to convince us that several of the founders of modern statistics, including Francis Galton, Karl Pearson, and Ronald Fisher, were racists. Second, to argue that the statistical tests they made famous, and are used widely in research (including biomedical research), were developed as tools to promote racism and eugenics. Third, that we should stop using statistical analyses like chi-squared tests, Fisher exact tests, analyses of variance, t-tests, or even fitting data to normal distributions, because these exercises are tainted by racism.  I and others have argued that the first claim is overblown, and I’ll argue here that the second is wrong and the third is insane, not even following from the first two claims if they were true.

It's longish, but also devastating.

Briefly noted:

  • Zachary M. Seward notes yet another instance of Apple's Commie cooperation: Apple hobbled a crucial tool of dissent in China weeks before widespread protests broke out.

    Anti-government protests flared in several Chinese cities and on college campuses over the weekend. But the country’s most widespread show of public dissent in decades will have to manage without a crucial communication tool, because Apple restricted its use in China earlier this month.

    AirDrop, the file-sharing feature on iPhones and other Apple devices, has helped protestors in many authoritarian countries evade censorship. That’s because AirDrop relies on direct connections between phones, forming a local network of devices that don’t need the internet to communicate. People can opt into receiving AirDrops from anyone else with an iPhone nearby.

    Apple's November 9 update only applied this "fix" to iPhones sold in mainland China.

    According to this Fox Business story, "Apple did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday."

  • So Donald Trump dined with Kanye West (who currently prefers to be called "Ye") and Nick Fuentes. Andrew C. McCarthy notes that Trump’s Dinner with Fuentes and Ye Renews a Key Question for GOP Voters.

    There is no substantive importance to former president Donald Trump’s hosting at Mar-a-Lago of Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, a pair of disturbed young men who’ve publicly expressed antisemitic and, in Fuentes’s case, racist views. The only significance is in the public’s learning curve, particularly the learning curve of Republican voters.

    To repeat what I’ve said for a long time, it is a ripe dead certainty that Trump cannot win a national election. And at the risk of belaboring a more recent observation, the wheels have come off the Trump Train in the two years since the night he lost the 2020 election. The former president has become increasingly erratic. Yes, he was erratic to start with, but he no longer has an array of experienced, capable people staffing him, advising him, pushing against his self-destructive tendencies, and preventing him from doing crazy stuff. We thus now find him frantically trying to put a benign spin on his dinner with Fuentes and Ye . . . just as it seems like only yesterday he was frantically putting a benign spin on his stubborn recklessness in hording scores of classified documents at the same Palm Beach club (the subject of one federal investigation) . . . much like his benign spin on the Capitol riot (the subject of another federal investigation) . . . and on his phone call with Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger (the subject of a state criminal investigation) . . . which was of a piece with his equally “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky (the subject of the first impeachment . . . that preceded the second impeachment). On it goes, and on it will go.

    Trump increasingly erratic? Say it ain't so!

  • Glenn Greenwald has a lot to say about The Media's Deranged Hysteria Over Elon Musk's Promised Restoration of Free Speech.

    It is hard to overstate how manic, primal and unhinged is the reaction of corporate media employees to the mere prospect that new Twitter owner Elon Musk may restore a modicum of greater free speech to that platform. It was easy to predict — back when Musk was merely toying with the idea of buying Twitter and loosening some of its censorship restrictions — that there would be an all-out attack from Western power centers if he tried. Online censorship has become one of the most potent propaganda weapons they possess, and there is no way they will allow anyone to dilute it even mildly without attempting to destroy them. Even with that expectation in place of what was to come, the liberal sector of the corporate media (by far the most dominant media sector) really outdid itself when it came to group-think panic, rhetorical excess, and reckless and shrill accusations.

    Example, from a Taylor Lorenz (who else?) WaPo article:

    “Apple and Google need to seriously start exploring booting Twitter off the app store,” said Alejandra Caraballo, clinical instructor at Harvard Law’s cyberlaw clinic. “What Musk is doing is existentially dangerous for various marginalized communities. It’s like opening the gates of hell in terms of the havoc it will cause. People who engaged in direct targeted harassment can come back and engage in doxing, targeted harassment, vicious bullying, calls for violence, celebration of violence. I can’t even begin to state how dangerous this will be.”

    Yup, that's moral panic all right.

  • We're all told, endlessly, about the conspiracist fantasies of our right-wing friends. And, yes indeed, it's out there, even at one of my local websites.

    But conspiracism is a very human phenomenon, and Stanley K. Ridgley notes an underpublicized hotbed: The Conspiracist Fantasy of University Bureaucracies.

    Critical racialism originated in the crucible of neo-Marxist critical theory and has developed into an unfalsifiable doctrine informed by the psychopathology of paranoia. Now, it is codified into a systematized, conspiracist belief system. The doctrine constructs its own reality according to a central conspiracy myth and encourages the paranoid behavior of its adherents, including a displaced sense of responsibility (blaming others), hyper-suspicion, grandiosity, delusional fixity, the creation of a pseudocommunity of persecutors, and the creation of a hermetic interpretive system within the real, normal world.

    In common parlance, this paranoid doctrine is called antiracism.

    This is how a conspiracy theory can blossom from the psyches of hyper-fearful people who form communities of paranoia. The conspiracy emerges from the tendency of its victims to see exactly what they want to see in the world—and to discount everything else.

    That's pretty relevant to folks like (see previous item) Alejandra Caraballo, isn't it?


Last Modified 2022-11-28 11:22 AM EST

Racing the Light

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer]

It's been three years since the previous Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novel from Robert Crais, but this one was well worth the wait.

Book-flap spoiler: Elvis's love, Lucy Chenier, is back, with her nearly-adult son Ben in tow. As near as I can recall, she hasn't been even mentioned in the series since 2005's The Forgotten Man. But it turns out that Elvis and Lucy have kept in touch all along. Their relationship is an important subplot here. (As often happens in long-running series, the timeline is muddled.)

But the main plot is the disappearance of podcaster Josh Schumacher; his mom shows up at Elvis's office with an envelope stuffed with cash and a couple of bodyguards. Josh's podcast deals with lurid government Area-51 coverups of extraterrestrial hijinks. But lately he's been seeing a beautiful porn star; she has artistic aspirations, and also a secret. And guess what? She's missing as well. And, as it turns out, a number of shady and violence-prone characters are looking for Josh too. There are political connections, and hints of massive corruption that can only be covered up by murder most foul.

It's a definite page-turner. (Or, on my new Kindle, a screen-poker.)