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Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Birth Certificate ... and Global Warming

 


























This is an image of Obama's Certificate of Live Birth the elusive 'long-form' birth certificate. It was released in April of 2011 as Donald Trump climbed in the GOP nomination polls--and was immediately regarded as a fake! Examples of the proof of forgery are the listing of race as "African" instead of "Negro," the name of the hospital (which did not change until 1978) and the use of the national name 'Kenya'--which did not exist until 1963!
If that were true, it would indeed, be a poorly researched fake. These are all good points, right? I turn to Snopes.com's debunking of the birth certificate conspiracy for the answers. They go through these points quickly noting that the term 'Kenya' was in use for a long time before 1961 (it gained full independence in 1963--but the term was around and in use well before that). They show a listing for a child born the day after Barack using the same name of the hospital--and they say the term 'African' was used instead of 'Negro' for blacks who were actually native-born Africans (which Obama's father was).
But who controls Snopes? I could google 'Kenya'--but I'd find a Wikipedia entry. Who controls Wikipedia? The answer is anyone--it's freely editable (well, kinda--but you know what I mean).


Recently America's Toughest Sheriff Joe Arpaio investigated the issue and his "cold case posse" concluded it's a fake! Who's the expert now? Was the evidence compelling? Town Hall thinks so:
Having just attended Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "Cold Case Posse" news conference in Phoenix, Arizona, we candidly admit we have never seen a greater example of raw media bias in our 30 years of watching the fourth estate.
...
Obama's team responded with ridicule, not answers. His campaign tweeted links to an old episode of the X-Files TV show. But ridicule in the face of legitimate questions only works so long.
Citizens are still daring to ask questions about Obama. And by doing it you face certain ridicule, name calling and being treated as children. Even when you may be asking legitimate questions, which have been routinely asked of presidential candidates in the past or have been asked of Republican candidates this year, you are censured.
The birth certificate, they say, is clearly a fake: it has LAYERS. It has NINE LAYERS. What does this mean. What's a Layer anyway?

Some googling finds The National Review Online has done some looking: It appears that a Layer is a photoshop artifact that might indicate the picture was manipulated--but more likely the result of someone scanning the document with Optical Character Recognition turned on. Here's the quote:
"UPDATE: I’ve confirmed that scanning an image, converting it to a PDF, optimizing that PDF, and then opening it up in Illustrator, does in fact create layers similar to what is seen in the birth certificate PDF. You can try it yourself at home."
The NRO is hardly liberal--and they don't seem to think that this is compelling. You can also ask Pajamas Media (right-wing non-mainstream media):
Maybe this is what Trump’s people in Hawaii found that was so incredible. The problem is, it’s not too hard to figure out what’s going on. If you scan a doc with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) turned on, Adobe Acrobat is capable of taking a scanned doc and breaking it out into layers automatically. That’s what seems to have happened here. There are still one or two funky anomalies, like the text in box 17a getting split into two separate layers and the date in 20 getting its own, but OCR is an imperfect beast and stuff like that happens. The larger question seems to be settled on how the cert got broken out into layers: Adobe did it.
Dun-dun-duuuuuuuuh!
But then there's a video from Joe that says the Layers issue has been addressed (I can't be what the British call "arsed" to watch it). But it doesn't matter: I'm not a photoshop expert--who do I trust?

What am I to do ... back and forth ... back and forth. Sheriff Joe doesn't stop with the Birth Certificate. He says the president's Selective Service Card was forged too: that the date stamp is clearly mocked up. This guy says he's disproved it--but who is he? He goes by Dr. Conspiracy. What am I to think?

What -Am- I To Think?
When faced with contradictory "experts" (as well as actual experts) I have a few hard choices. The answer is this: do as much research as I can handle and then decide who I find most trust-worthy based on what would have to be true for the conspiracy theory to be real. This is not rocket science: it's Ockahm's Razor. In this case, I'll go with the "Your-Own-Side-Says-So" rule of credence: I will trust conservative opinions more than liberal ones since this is a politicized issue. Therefore, the NRO is more credible than, say, Wikipedia.

However, I will also look at what must be true for the Obama-fraud to be actual. In this case it seems that:
  1. Someone would have to have extreme precognition to put the announcement of birth in the paper.
  2. There would have to be a massive conspiracy of silence on the House and Senate and, most importantly on the Republicans--the idea that John McCain's campaign would just let that go by is ridiculous. He'd have to be silenced. Sarah Palin too. They don't sound silenced.
  3. The massive machine behind Obama--which picked him as a general nobody to, perhaps, end the Clinton legacy (didn't the New World Order control Clinton too, though? They backed him on Waco and killed Vince Foster ...) is unable to make a decent forgery.
  4. Tough guy, Sheriff Joe Araipo and lunatic Orly Taitz (who is such an inept conspiracy buster she couldn't even win a court case when the other side didn't show up) are the ones who bust through the web of lies.
This seems so improbable I am unable to even begin to figure out how many people it would involve or what the end-game would be (if John McCain is under control, why not just run John Edwards--a far more credible candidate against him--and have him lose? Why go with a long-shot like Obama? For that matter: if you can control Palin and McCain, why not just control Hillary Clinton too? Have her win it.).

Is it possible that Obama, one of the most powerful men on the planet, released an apparently hideously flawed document on purpose? The alternative is to believe that he put out an electronic document with NINE LAYERS that clearly seems to show evidence of tampering.
...
Thus, we figure the clumsiness of this long-form forgery (if that is what it is) is perhaps predictable, and even PURPOSEFUL. The idea might be that those who are "running the show" want to provide us with irredeemable proof that they can basically do whatever they want.
They're SHOWING us that they're in charge; that they can put a man in office who has no business being there and is actively trying to destroy what is left of the US Republic. Yes ... it could be argued this is part of a larger methodology of intimidation.
But even this isn't convincing. If the message that the New World Order can do anything they want is being transmitted in secret messages in the Superbowl Halftime Show and the release of a birth certificat most media outlets including Fox News have reported as legitimate then it's not a very convincing message about their power, is it?

The other dimension of Ockham's Razor is this: What is the intended goal of the action the conspiracy is taking? What is the estimated risk-to-benefit? What is the projected Return On Investment? I promise you--promise you--that these global conspiracy guys are driven by risk mitigation and return on investment. Trust me on this.

In the case of Obama and the Birth Certificate the pay-off seems to be fairly clear: you get a puppet in the White House. But let's consider the big picture here:

  1. Why Obama? You are Mr. Conspiracy and you are choosing between a list of candidates that you might promote to president. Do you choose John Edwards? Who has crippling skeletons in his closet? Hillary Clinton--who is a super-favorite to win the presidency and you, presumably, already controlled her husband? Or this newcomer--Barack Obama who has no record, is black, and, uhm, wasn't born in the US? If you are going to "create" a candidate, why not start with some raw-material that meets the criteria.
  2. The Risk-To-Benefit. This is along the same lines as the first--but let's assume that you can utterly control Obama and, let's say, Hillary is no one's pawn and that Edwards guy can't keep his hands off the campaigns videographer. So you need Obama ... all you have to do is ... what? Forge a birth certificate? Get a back-in-time record in the paper. Then you need to: pay off the state of Hawaii officials--because if one of them talks, it's over. You need to make sure that there are no people around who, despite Barack's young age, can shoot down your story. Oh, sure--we don't have a parade of witnesses saying "I was working the night he was born"--but if you were the Global Conspiracy, how would you know that wouldn't be the case? Consider this: if anyone pokes a hole in your theory? Your whole White House maneuver is shot. Are you going to gamble that much on Obama? Really?
  3. What Is The High-Level Goal? This depends largely on who the conspiracy is. If we assume it's the Democratic machine we have to ask what was wrong with Hillary? The theory was that the powers-that-were disliked the Clinton dynasty and Obama was supposed to destroy them--but that hasn't happened. If anything Hillary is in better shape for a 2016 run than she was in 2008. Also: if the DNC is that superior to the Republicans then haven't they already run the whole table? If the conspiracy is the Global Illuminati then the "We're rubbing your nose in it" maneuver would make more sense--if it made any sense at all--which is does not. If the goal is world power through control of the executive office does it make sense that we assume the conspiracy also controls the legislative branch? Or are the congress-people just too timid to take up the fight? How many things must we assume to be true in order to get that Obama is really untouchable? A whole lot: the press--including the conservative press--innumerable local and state judges. The Republican party. Guys like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin ... I mean, at some point it's "everyone but me."
So ... That Global Warming Thing You Promised?
So here I get to global warming or AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming--warming caused by man). How is this like the birth certificate thing--and ... did your blood pressure just go up? I'll be clear: I do not think that global warming skepticism is on the same scale of crazy as birtherism. Rather, I think that the method of analysis is similar in both cases since, as with document forgery, there is a great deal of conflicting data and neither I, nor likely you, are an expert. Here's how:
  1. Neither I, nor you, are a climate scientist
  2. For each Global Warming claim there is an equal and opposite counter-claim
  3. And in the end we have to consider which position requires the least shenanigans in order to be true--that's the one Ockham's Razor tells us to prefer.
So which is it?

The Experts Weigh In
 I'll start with Conservapedia (which bills itself as "The Trustworthy Encyclopedia"):
Global warming is the liberal hoax[2][3] that the world is becoming dangerously warmer due to the human pollution of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Liberals have used this theory of man-made global warming to justify demands for a more powerful government and that the government needs to assert more controls over energy production and consumption in order to stop the Earth from warming.
That's pretty clear: it's a hoax! Now we'll look at Wikipedia (which, I believe, often has a left-wing slant to its political articles):
The global warming controversy includes a variety of disputes about the nature, causes, and consequences of global warming. The debates are more in the popular media than in the scientific literature.[1][2] The disputed issues involve the causes of increasedglobal average air temperature, especially since the mid-20th century, whether such a warming trend is unprecedented or within normal climatic variations, whether humankind has contributed significantly to it, and whether the increase is wholly or partially an artifact of poor measurements. Additional disputes concern estimates of climate sensitivity, predictions of additional warming, and what the consequences of global warming will be. 
In the scientific literature, there is a strong consensus that global surface temperatures have increased in recent decades and that the trend is caused mainly by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases.[3][4][5] No scientific body of national or international standing disagrees with this view,[6] though a few organizations hold non-committal positions.[7]
This does come off as a little more even-handed--but it indicates that everyone who's anyone supports the global warming idea. I can spend forever following links, reading various sites, and trying to educate myself. In the end: everyone disagrees with everyone else. What do I do? Well, I like what Megan McArdle has done: decided who she trusts:
The first reason I don't post a lot is that I'm not an expert, and I'm not planning to become one. I've basically outsourced my opinion on the science to people like Jonathan Adler, Ron Bailey, and Pat Michaels of Cato--all of whom concede that anthropogenic global warming is real, though they may contest the likely extent, or desired remedies.
As far as it goes, trusting libertarian climate scientist and anyone from the Cato institute is a good indication as they almost certainly are not part of the global warmist conspiracy (to be fair: while Pat Michaels does think global warming is happening--he thinks the ramifications are minor and maybe even beneficial).

I'm also intrigued by the Berkeley study which was funded by the Koch brothers--hardly warmist conspirators--and run by a moderate skeptic (quote is from that liberal rag The Economist):
Marshalled by an astrophysicist, Richard Muller, this group, which calls itself the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature, is notable in several ways. When embarking on the project 18 months ago, its members (including Saul Perlmutter, who won the Nobel prize for physics this month for his work on dark energy) were mostly new to climate science. And Dr Muller, for one, was mildly sceptical of its findings. This was partly, he says, because of “climategate”: the 2009 revelation of e-mails from scientists at CRU which suggested they had sometimes taken steps to disguise their adjustments of inconvenient palaeo-data. With this reputation, the Berkeley Earth team found it unusually easy to attract sponsors, including a donation of $150,000 from the Koch Foundation. 
Yet Berkeley Earth’s results, as described in four papers currently undergoing peer review, but which were nonetheless released on October 20th, offer strong support to the existing temperature compilations. The group estimates that over the past 50 years the land surface warmed by 0.911°C: a mere 2% less than NOAA’s estimate. That is despite its use of a novel methodology—designed, at least in part, to address the concerns of what Dr Muller terms “legitimate sceptics”.
This is convincing to me on the Your-Own-Side-Says-So rule. I'll note that none of these people are objectively more convincing to me than anyone else--but I find Megan McArdle's clarity of thought petty compelling on the balance.

So We Turn To Ockham's Razor
Ockham's Razor, remember, is a philosophical tool that says "The simplest answer is the preferred one." This can be applied to Global Warming or anything else. Here's an illustrated argument:





































(Obscene profits!?)

This, of course, has a pretty obvious bias--and one I don't subscribe to at that--but it makes a compelling point: it does seem that an awful lot of people would have to be involved without a clear organizational structure in scientific fraud--some for money, some for ideological reasons--and that sort of thing falls apart.

But didn't it fall apart? Wasn't that Climategate? I've read Climategate. I've read the de-bunking. I've read Deniergate. I've read the brilliant take-down of it (also by Megan McArdle). In the end, while I certainly have my opinions I'm aware that I also have my biases.

What Must Be True For a Warmist Conspiracy?
I think the place to start with the above is what must be true for the reverse to be true? If there is a global--truly global--warmist conspiracy.

  1. It must be organized by someone with global reach. Who is driving it? Is it members of congress who are funding scientists and thereby tying their hands? Or is it scientists who are doing the fooling for ideological reasons? In either case there are problems: the US Congress doesn't control other countries and other countries--especially developing nations--don't have the same pressures as 1st world countries. In the second case the problem is worse: given that scientists regularly and viciously conflict on everything else, what is special about climate change?
  2. There must be clear motivations for everyone, world-wide. What are the ideological motivations? Is it just making a cleaner world? Or is it a cult of Gaia (the "earth spirit?"). In the latter case it would literally have to be a secret cult. There is no church of Gaia that enrolls hundreds of climate change scientists. In the first case, if the data really did go against global warming why would enacting controls on fossil fuels lead to a better world? Why would the scientists think that?
  3. There must be a control mechanism. How are dissenting voices silenced? We can imaging a variety of ways--but without coordination would it work? I'm not sure.
The other consideration: What is the end game for the Warmists? The material I've seen mostly doesn't say beyond:
  1. Control of the economy or at least destruction of the economy. The idea is that 'job-killing' legislation under the guise of protecting the planet will weaken the economy enough to give the Warmists total control--or maybe humiliate / humble America.
  2. They are agents of a secret religion which, for cult-like reasons, wants to "preserve" the planet. As noted above, there is nothing like a Global Church of Gaia which has congressmen, scientists, and heads of state in its ranks. This would have to be secret.
  3. Make a whole lot of money in, like, a carbon market.
Neither of these seem at all likely. If we assume that the Democrats have some sort of complex end-game where they seize perpetual power through eco-friendly legislation I've yet to see any evidence such a thing could work or would even be tried. Cap-and-Trade doesn't look much like a managerial plan to me. The "Make a whole lot of money" one is always good--but is trying to coordinate a global conspiracy that is "easily disproven" the best way to do that? How does the media get cut in for its share--or are they dupes? Considering that the Main-Stream-Media hasn't bought strongly into "Denier-Gate" I think it's a tough-sell that they'll knee-jerk sign on to any climate-change story that "fits the narrative."

Basically, I don't see the drivers for the behavior that is alleged. I think there is, certainly, room for disagreement and interpretation and bias--but to rise to the level of a conspiracy there would have to be coordination and orchestration. These would leave all kinds of evidence I don't think we see and, like the birth certificate in their absence people must create them.

I think the idea that there is global warming, it is caused somewhat by mankind, it might be very bad, and we probably ought to be doing something about it requires the least conspiracy thinking.

1 comment:

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