Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Tim Lambert is a computer maven at the University of N.S.W. -- where I spent most of my teaching career many long years ago. He seems to have an obsession with catching out John Lott Jr. on gun-usage statistics and he has an occasional blog which seems to be mostly devoted to that. He does also however takes some interest in other scientific issues such as climate change. He has sent me copies of several of his past posts that I have not linked to because I thought that they were too intemperate. Not much light is generated by arguing with an angry man, in my view, and I think all conservative bloggers have to get used to ignoring rage-filled emails from Leftists. Leftists are very good at rage. It seems to be their principal emotion. I did nonetheless address on this blog what substance I could see in Lambert's various posts. Being a terrible tease from way back, however, I deliberately posted here recently another quotation from Lott. I wanted to see what heights of wrath Lambert might rise to this time. Sure enough, another email from Lambert popped into my inbox shortly thereafter. He seems to be learning, however, as his comment this time is principally factual. So, although I am no expert at all on the matter, I thought I might make a few comments on some of the points Lambert raises -- in case John Lott Jr. does not see fit to do so (I could say more about Lambert's whole post but I think that would be too tedious).

Lambert accuses Lott of selective use of statistics but almost any use of statistics has to be selective so the only interesting question is whether alternative selections of statistics show substantially different results. Lambert presents statistics to show that Australia's 1996 gun-control laws have been beneficial. He disputes Lott's claim that serious crime has risen since then. What Lambert's alternative statistics show to me, however, is more a pattern of no change than anything else. Deaths by firearm are surely the biggest issue but Lambert's table shows that the average rate of murder with a firearm before the bans was 0.37 compared with .30 after the bans -- with the figures in most individual years being .20 plus or .30 plus. Given statistical error and the range of influences which could have affected the averages concerned, the bans would seem to have achieved nothing significant -- a very poor result considering the vast expense in money and the significant loss of liberties associated with the bans. I note too that even the slight difference in averages observed seems to have been largely the result of a single very anomalous year in 1997 -- making the averages used a poor guide to any underlying trend. I think that for trend calculating purposes it would in fact be most appropriate to exclude both 1996 and 1997 -- and when one does that the "before and after" difference becomes very small indeed: .31 versus .28. The differences for other gun crimes also seem to be too small to assert a real underlying difference. And even Lambert admits a lack of a clear pattern when he notes that the "assault-with-firearm rate has increased". So Lott's statistical selection shows ill effects from the firearm ban and Lambert's selection shows no clear effect. It seems to me therefore that NEITHER set of statistics support the ban.

Lambert also weighs in on the global warming debate with a critique of another author who says that you can show either global warming or global cooling according to what set of statistics you use. Lambert makes some reasonable criticisms of the statistics which were alleged to show global cooling and recalculates the statistics concerned in a more orthodox way. His conclusion? "When analysed correctly, their data shows neither warming or cooling, regardless of which average is used". In other words, contrary to the Greenies, the earth is NOT warming up. That certainly fits in with all that I know on the subject! I must quote him on that again sometime.



The North Carolina News & Observer has an article by a sociologist explaining why VOLUNTARY segregation of blacks and whites is somehow wrong. It's all the usual Leftist theorizing except for one bit of research that is quoted misleadingly: "no one has managed to demonstrate -- and people have tried really hard -- that there's any connection between that genetic marker for skin color and any of the things we observe as differences between races". That's just evasion of course. Who needs to look at correlates of the genetic marker for skin colour when they can look at skin colour itself -- and that has PLENTY of connections to other things -- crime-rate, for example. And there is almost a century of scientific evidence to show that the lower intelligence of blacks is genetically inherited. But who expects anything but propaganda from a Leftist sociologist? The real reasons for voluntary segregation -- that whites flee black crime and that people in general (black, white or brindle) tend to like best those people who are most similar to themselves -- were not mentioned. The real reasons would never have made it into print, I guess.

Conservative Australian film-critic and economist Paddy McGuinness has a few choice words about Michael Moore's win at Cannes. He even has a picture of himself accompanying the article -- a lot slimmer than when I met him years ago but still weighty. He starts out: "Who ever imagined that the big prizewinners in the international film industry would be fat, hairy slobs?"

Students rebel against arrogant Leftist preacher: "E.L. Doctorow, one of the most celebrated writers in America, was nearly booed off the stage at Hofstra University Sunday when he gave a commencement address lambasting President George W. Bush and effectively calling him a liar.... Those lines provoked an outburst of boos so loud the "Ragtime" author stopped the speech. Rabinowitz approached the podium and called for calm. "We value open discussion and debate," he said. "For the sake of your graduates, please let him finish." Some students and most of the faculty responded with a standing ovation.." (Via Norm Weatherby).

China Hand has just put up some more posts. He sees developments in Taiwan and Hong Kong as worrying.

For more postings, see GREENIE WATCH and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH. Mirror sites here and here


The Left cannot face the fact that the American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq is fundamentally humanitarian. The most effective response to the 9/11 events and the one in America's own best interests would have been a retaliatory strike using nukes to take the whole of Afghanistan off the map -- followed by a threat that Mecca would go sky high if there were any further Islamic attacks on the USA or its allies. That would have made Islam a religion of peace overnight. But GWB rightly rejected that easy road because it would have involved the death of millions of innocents. He chose instead to go after just the bad guys -- an extremely difficult task. And its difficulty is causing continuing American deaths in Iraq to this day. But Americans have always given their blood in order to be humane. They did it in two world wars and in Vietnam and they are doing it now in the Middle East. The only alternative strategy that the Left have is to do nothing -- thus inviting more and more attacks.

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