VPFL Draft – important

First, here’s the draft order, which was randomly determined. The order reverses each round:

1. W.C. Silver Spooners
2. Burns Hausfraurers
3. Mounds View Meerkats
4. Village Valkyries
5. Masonville Marauders
6. Black Mouth Curs
7. Greenfield Grizzlies
8. East Mesa White Trash
9. Winston Reverends
10. Cranberry Bogs

What you must do in preparation for the draft today is to first select your keepers and place them in the My Players group (on the RIGHT) in the your Edit Draft rankings screen. Then exclude the following list of players, except for your four keepers. (Exclusion is to the LEFT). Reverends, since you’re only keeping two, just place Henry and Wayne in My Players.

Carson Palmer
Peyton Manning
Tom Brady
Vince Young
Donovan McNabb
Eli Manning
Frank Gore
Ronnie Brown
Larry Johnson
Brian Westbrook
Shaun Alexander
Laurence Maroney
Willie Parker
Reggie Bush
Maurice Jones-Drew
Rudi Johnson
Thomas Jones
Willis McGahee
Travis Henry
LaDainian Tomlinson
Joseph Addai
LaMont Jordan
Marvin Harrison
Torry Holt
Javon Walker
Chad Johnson
Terrell Owens
Reggie Wayne
Larry Fitzgerald
Roy Williams
Steve Smith
Antonio Gates
Steven Jackson
Anquan Boldin
Donald Driver
Jacksonville DEF
Baltimore DEF
San Diego DEF

If you have problems let me know. If for some reason you can’t, email me your login information and I’ll take care of it. It’s very easy, though. This way, even if everyone autodrafts, we will all end up with the correct keepers. Comment here once you’ve edited your rankings; Greenfield and Mounds View already have.

Evolution and game theory

One aspect of my debate with Scott Hatfield that seems to have escaped the attention of every single TENS enthusiast or Darwin defender is that my use of concepts from economics to criticize evolution is neither strange nor inappropriate. I submit that it is entirely natural given the way in which evolutionists have attempted to coopt certain economic concepts in much the same way past economists – the Marxists in particular – coopted Darwinism on behalf of their “scientific” discipline.

In this light, it is amusing to compare the following three statements:

“I have a hunch that we may come back to look back on the invention of the ESS [Evolutionary Stable Strategy] as one of the most important advances in evolutionary theory since Darwin.”
– Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

“But if, as is generally the case, there are more than two players or the players have both conflicting and joint interests, there may be no solutions or there may be many. We often settle for outcomes that are more stable, enforceable, or equitable than the others. Although these solutions may be plausible, they are generally not compelling.”
– Morton Davis, Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction

“It is probably clear, then, that games do contain some of the basic elements that are present in almost any interesting conflict situation. Does it follow that we can learn useful things by beginning a study with them? Not necessarily. It may be that military, economic and social situations are just basically too complicated to be approached through game concepts. This possibility gains credence from the fact that the body of Game doctrine now in existence is not even able to cope with full-blown real games; rather, we are restricted to watered-down versions of complicated ones, such as Poker.”
– J.D. Williams, The Compleat Strategyst

Now, if Darwinists can argue that the socialist expropriation and misapplication of evolution is bad science, and I think they can, then economists can just as reasonably argue that the evolutionist expropriation and misapplication of game theory is equally bad science. Nor is it unreasonable to conclude that if a poorly understood and incorrectly applied economic concept is one of the most important advances in evolutionary theory since Darwin, the theory is likely to have some significant weaknesses.

After reading The Selfish Gene and concocting a parody of ESS “science”, I was inspired to pick up a copy of John Maynard Smith’s Evolution and the Theory of Games. I hope to write a critical review of it in the next month or two.

I expect to find that the primary flaw will turn out to be that evolutionists are making the same mistake as the macroeconomists and game theoreticians in assuming perfectly rational decision makers. (The game theoreticians openly recognize this flaw, the Keynesians and Darwinists blithely ignore it.) The fact that Darwinists are making this assumption of rational action in the case of plants and animals instead of humans only makes their theories look even more absurd than the dysfunctional Keynesian models; the good news is that their use of game theory allows for substantive empirical criticism of their research.

Get a job

It’s hard to take the con out of the con man:

Disgraced pastor Ted Haggard won’t be fundraising for a Monument nonprofit run by a sex offender, won’t be ministering to anyone and needs to get a job, his overseers said in a statement released this afternoon.

“Mr. Haggard’s solicitation for personal support was inappropriate,” his church supervisors said in the statement.

One of my primary criticisms of organized Christianity is that there are unquestionably a number of con men and drama queens in the pulpit. Some of them are drawn to the idea of making money by doing little more than talking, others simply like being on stage with all eyes upon them every week. I don’t view this as a problem with Christianity itself – Jesus Christ and Paul both warn the believer about it – but it is a genuine problem that churches really aren’t doing a very good job of policing.

My position is that no fallen pastor should ever be allowed to return to the ministry. Forgiveness and restoration to the community upon repentance should of course be granted, but a return to a position of authority or spiritual oversight should never be permitted.

I don’t trust anyone who makes a better-than-average living by fund-raising, be it religious, political or charity.

It has begun VI

Prior to responding to my previous post, Scott makes a significant and entirely relevant digression in his 9th debate post. I’ll confirm and clarify a few of his points here:

I don’t believe that any of the above concerns are scientific questions, regardless of where we might stand. They are cultural concerns, and often politicized. The concerns as raised could be true, they could be false, but they would have no bearing on the question of whether or not TENS is the best model we have now, or likely to be the best model we have in the future.

Secondly, Vox has been very open about his lack of formal education in biology, particularly evolutionary biology, and much of his acknowledged sources are popularizations. (For all I know, two of the Dawkins books that Vox refers to could be The Selfish Gene (1976) or The Extended Phenotype (1982), which are deep, far-reaching books that, while accessible to laymen, can not really be said to be popularizations.)

I completely agree with the former statement. One of the books is indeed The Selfish Gene. However, it’s worth pointing out that I have the precisely the sort of formal school education in science, biology and evolutionary biology that evolutionary biologists such as Dr. PZ Myers and Dr. Richard Dawkins claim is so necessary in the public schools. My ignorance of evolution, TENs and Darwin is certainly deep in comparison with Scott’s professional knowledge, but is probably far exceeded by that of many of my science-fetishist critics.

This feeds my impression that Vox’s skepticism with respect to evolution is not so much with the discipline of evolutionary biology as practiced, but with the baggage that comes with books that are as much works of advocacy as they are expositions of science, especially those by Dawkins. In fact, I think that his beef is largely with Dawkins, especially Dawkins the popularizer of ‘evolution-as-another-nail-in-religion’s-coffin’, who first makes a distinctive appearance in The Blind Watchmaker (1986).

Absolutely. However, my distaste for evolutionary theory was not based on a reaction to Dawkins, or even atheism in general, in fact, my first encounter with serious Darwinist philosophy was in my formal education as an economist under some socialist professors. This is why my hard-core opposition to Darwinist materialism has never been rooted in my Christian faith, but rather in my economics background. I was a staunch anti-Darwinist before I was a Christian and long before I’d ever heard of Richard Dawkins due to my education in socialist economics.

In fact, based on my experiences as a teacher, I believe that the misconceptions attached to the theory in the popular culture are at least as much of a barrier to its acceptance as any prior theological commitments on the part of its audience.

I agree, and I think it does a real disservice to science for Darwinists to always assume that intellectual opposition to TENS and Darwinism is rooted in religion. This is a very parochial Anglo view; in continental Europe there appears to be a greater tendency to at least pay nominal attention to what the opposition is saying. However, I would say that it is not “misconceptions attached to the theory” that are a significant barrier to its acceptance as “misapplications of the theory”.

Besides, it’s not really the science that bothers him. Vox understands that scientific claims are always tentative, always subject to review/modification/rejection in the light of new findings. He clearly is not losing sleep at night because the silly biologists who can’t predict things the way they do in his field of economics don’t have a better model. No, what gets Vox exercised is the uses to which the ‘evolutionists’ he knows about put that model. And that usage is clearly atheism.

Atheism is only one of them. Socialism is another, eugenics is a third. I’m sure I could come up with more. Although it is pretty annoying when one criticizes a hopelessly unscientific tale of historic fiction for its complete lack of science, only to be told that you just don’t understand science.

Evolutionary biology might not ‘disprove’ God, but it cripples one of the better arguments that historically has been made for God’s existence in the past, that of teleology. It provided the conceptual framework and the data to justify Hume’s famous skepticism: no one who understands the history of this debate can be considered credible who does not acknowledge the devastating effect that Darwin’s thought has on teleology.

Yes, and this is where half of the strong Darwinist link with Marxism is forged. Marxism is dependent upon a materialist point of view, and Darwinism offers a platform for that.

I could care less about that myself because, as should now be clear, whenever Dawkins steps out of his evolutionary theorizing to argue toward God’s non-existence, he is no longer doing science.

YES! EXACTLY! This is why I refer to him in TIA as “Darwin’s Judas”. Dawkins is arguably doing more harm to Darwin and the public acceptance of evolution than anyone since Friedrich Engels.

It’s that word ‘believe’ that I object to. Properly speaking, I don’t ‘believe’ in evolution, either: that implies an affirmation of faith, but I don’t need faith to accept that evolution is a fact, or that natural selection is a fact, or that in individual cases natural selection has been observed to lead to evolution, etc…. The question that was put to the GOP hopefuls many weeks back was crude to the point of being misleading, but (sigh) politics is often not about making logical arguments that use language properly, right? It’s a shame that not one of them had the sophistication to point out the absurdity of the question, and in the process affirm that evolution is good science.

I don’t think Scott fully grasps that this is the way evolutionary skeptics are addressed and attacked 95 percent of the time. It’s unusual to speak with a scientist who makes measured claims, far more often one is in contact with either science fetishists or extremists like Dawkins and Myers. I don’t “believe” in evolution and I probably never will.

I think that what partially motivates Vox’s skepticism is his distaste for Dawkins and his disciples, what informs his actual argument is his understanding of theories. His ‘back-testing’ argument is an attempt to argue that, see, evolution can’t do some of the things I think a truly scientific theory ought to do, so, while it can do some things, I feel justified in being skeptical about those things that can’t be tested until I can see more confirmed predictions to a higher level of accuracy.

Pretty much, although I’d like to point out that I am no defender of those superior macroeconomic models, I have attacked them longer and more viciously than I’ve ever attacked evolution. The main difference is that economists, even econometricians, will readily admit that their models are piss-poor and badly need improvement before they can be seriously relied upon – the politicians, Larry Kudlow and the Federal Reserve notwithstanding. I have never heard an evolutionist admit the same.

I suspect that Vox and I are in substantive agreement that TENS is the only game in town, and that he is not actually urging anyone to reject TENS outright. Rather, he is skeptical about the applications of TENS to those things which are difficult or impossible to test, and deeply resents those who would employ such applications as personal weapons in the cultural wars. I sympathize, but I’m not here to defend such practicies, I’m here to defend TENS.

Yes, pretty much. I am still skeptical about TENS for the reasons that we will continue to discuss, as I think I can convince Scott that the backtesting issue is a genuine problem, but TENS is the only serious game in town at the moment and I am in no way opposed to its continued refinement and application in the field of biology. The point that people seem to always miss is that I never have been.

Mailvox: Teachers are morons

HH doubts the ability of the average parent to handle the intellectual task of the average high school teacher:

I don’t think that in the vast majority of cases a homeschool parent has enough expertise in all the diverse subjects that a child (especially in HS levels and above) should know — when I look at my kids math, chemisty, physics, biology, computers, launguages etc I can’t imagine the average stay at home mom or dad being able to teach that to their homeschool kids.

That’s logical, but there’s just one problem. Teachers, on the average, are morons. (Don’t take it personally, Scott and Catkiller, you’re not to blame for your co-workers with double-digit IQs.) From my 2005 column, “Idiots at the Chalkboard“.

The immortal PJ O’Rourke once declared: “Anybody who doesn’t know what’s wrong with America’s educational system never screwed an el-ed major.” And while one has no doubt that he is correct, it turns out that there is more empirical evidence for the dismal state of teacher intelligence than Mr. O’Rourke’s sexual history or the fear and loathing with which the teachers’ unions regard competency testing.

In 2001, the National Center for Education Statistics reported the average SAT score for intended education majors to be 481 math and 483 verbal. Only those interested in vocational school, home economics and public affairs scored lower.

But while the SAT is considered to be a generally reliable intelligence test, the 2001 SAT is not the same SAT that many of us took prior to attending university. Those 2001 scores on the 1996 SAT, which was replaced this year by the New SAT 2005, are equivalent to pre-1996 SAT scores of 451 math and 403 verbal. In case any education majors are reading this, 451 plus 403 equals a cumulative score of 854.

Examining an SAT-to-IQ conversion chart calculated from Mensa entrance criteria, a combined 854 indicates that the average IQ of those pursuing an education major is 91, nine points lower than the average IQ of 100. In other words, those who can’t read teach whole language.

Teaching isn’t rocket science. Anyone of normal intelligence is perfectly capable of it, especially if one is dealing with five or fewer children. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to prevent a child from learning, as that is the natural instinct of the developing mind. The wonder of the modern American public school system is that it manages to do shut down that natural process.

There’s only one way to be certain

And that’s to do it yourself:

In Sept. 2005, Dr. David Nabarro was appointed the first U.N. system influenza coordinator, a position which also places him as a senior policy adviser to the U.N. director-general…. In a Sept. 29, 2005, press conference at the U.N., Nabarro made clear that his job was to prepare for the H5N1 virus, known as the avian flu. Nabarro fueled the global fear that an epidemic was virtually inevitable.

In response to a question about the 1918-1919 flu pandemic that killed approximately 40 million people worldwide, Nabarro commented, “I am certain there will be another pandemic sometime.” Nabarro stressed at the press conference that he saw as inevitable a worldwide pandemic influenza coming soon that would kill millions.

He quantified the deaths he expected as follows: “I’m not, at the moment at liberty to give you a prediction on numbers, but I just want to stress, that, let’s say, the range of deaths could be anything from 5 to 150 million.”

It’s interesting to note that the recent “outbreak” of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain was caused by the laboratory that was “studying” it. I’m sure that makes everyone located near the laboratory that decided to keep the last remaining samples of the 1919 flu virus around for the purposes of “studying” it feel a lot safer.

Of course, once a properly prepared H5N1 virus escapes from the laboratory to wreak havoc on the world, it would be absolutely outrageous to blame the devastation upon the brave scientists who were innocently “studying” the virus in order to save Mankind from it before it cunningly broke out from the lab.

UPDATE – Look out, they’re practicing again:

What may be the largest pandemic planning exercise ever conducted in the U.S. is set to begin next month. The dry run will force financial services firms to operate with shrinking numbers of employees — on paper, at least. More than 1,800 organizations have signed up to participate in the three-week simulation, which is being sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

You know, I can’t help but recall that the last nationwide federal training exercise to take place in September didn’t really go all that well.

In honor of a new school year

The Yellow Bus

It was a fine September day
When my sweet princess came to say,
“Oh Daddy, could we please discuss
The purpose of that yellow bus?
I see the children get on board
While our house is always ignored.
It looks like fun, it looks so cool,
To ride upon it off to school!”

Her little face was serious,
And naturally curious
About this strange phenomenon
Her friends had all departed on,
With some misgiving then I knew
An explanation now was due.
I placed a hand under my chin
And wondered how I should begin.

Then I remembered my school days
Now dim in memory’s fading haze
The good times, and the bad times too,
When everything was bright and new.
And yet my main recollection
Was a sense of disaffection.
Endless boredom, a parody
Of learning, farce and tragedy!

“Do you know what they’ll learn today?”
She shook her head without delay.
“They first will learn the alphabet – “
“But Daddy, don’t they know it yet?”
She interrupted in surprise,
Amazement in those big brown eyes.
“Ten letters is the minimum,”
I said, “that’s where they’re starting from.”

She blinked and looked somewhat perturbed.
“So, what would I do?” next I heard.
“I know my letters, phonics too,
Today I read a book – no, two!
And yet, they’re gone for the whole day
Do they do nothing there but play?
That sounds so fun, can I go there?
I think that would be only fair!”

“They do play, my lovely flower,
But for just one single hour.
Then all the rest they sit in class
And wait as the long hours pass.
For no child can hope to move on
’til all is learned by everyone.”
“But Daddy, that’s ridiculous.
Surely, it could never be thus!”

It’s worse than that, (I thought it through),
As they teach things that are not true.
They will not let you learn of God
And instill logic badly flawed.
It’s not so much education
As naked indoctrination.
For little is more blindly cruel
Than sentencing a child to school.

Of course, these thoughts I did not share
As she stood innocently there.
“Their parents love your friends, I’m sure,
But Mommy and I love you more.
These next years will suffice to show
How freedom helps a mind to grow,
And you, my dear, will always be
A child of God and liberty.”

Did she fathom?
I cannot say.
She’ll tell me so
One day, I pray.