Those willing to spread misinformation and incite violence have learned a hard lesson about free markets: Private companies don’t have to associate with them.
Go read the whole thing.
Those willing to spread misinformation and incite violence have learned a hard lesson about free markets: Private companies don’t have to associate with them.
Go read the whole thing.
Dr. Novella has a very good piece up about conspiracy theory thinking.
Last night Frontline aired what I feel may go down as the most important documentary of 2010, The Vaccine War. An extremely well made documentary that is as unbiased and factual as possible, this is what I expect and nearly always get from Frontline. On the rare occasion I’ve seen where Frontline messes up, they quickly and thoroughly correct the mistake.
I feel this documentary is important not because it will likely end the problem of the anti-vaccine movement, although I really hope it will. It is important because if we keep heading down this road eventually the avoidance of vaccinations will cause unnecessary illness, pain and death. It may be twenty or more years from now but if it happens we’ll have this documentary to review and see who caused the problem. Then we can rightly blame the irresponsible parties (I’m looking at you, McCarthy, Handley, Fisher, Kennedy and the other out front denialists).
Billy Corgan is spouting total nonsense that is likely to lead to more deaths just like Jenny McCarthy :-(. Orac has the breakdown of his nonsense from a medical perspective. I wanted to point out that he is falling in with the lying conspiracy mongers on the Massachusetts health emergency law update.
The state of Massachusetts here in America is about to sign into law (if it hasn’t already) for a mandatory vaccination. The state will have the power to come into your home and incarcerate you for being unwilling to comply with a vaccination order. Didn’t you hear? Soon, you won’t even have the choice to live OR die as you wish!
No Billy, this isn’t about your own life, it’s about the government not allowing you to choose to kill others, would you like us to legalize manslaughter for you Billy. I pointed out back in September this is simply an update to existing laws and the scary quotes are the product of quote mining the legislation. Billy wants the government to not stop him and other jerks like him from making others sick and causing deaths. It is truly sad that Billy has no critical thinking skills and science knowledge and it is leading him down the path of causing undo suffering and death in others :-(. How many more people, mostly children, need to die from H1N1 before the celebrities wake up and stop pushing their pseudoscientific, conspiracy ranting.
Phil Plait from Bad Astronomy had a post the other day about the idea of mandatory flu vaccinations in Massachusetts. Since I live in MA I was puzzled that I hadn’t heard about this before so I read the linked article. The first thing I noticed was that this wasn’t about normal policies, it’s about amendments to the laws regarding actions during a state of emergency. I went to comment about it and saw that a bunch of people had already set the record straight in the comments.
Basically if there is a pandemic flu outbreak and lots of MA citizens are getting sick and dying then the Governor could declare a state of emergency and the laws go in to effect. At that point citizens will have to either get the flu shot or stay home so that they can’t infect and potentially kill others. The laws have been around since the 1950’s and what the legislature is doing is updating them for modern circumstances.
Then I saw a comment from Joshua saying he had posted about this at Boston Skeptics.com, it’s a great read that I highly recommend for those concerned about this topic. An important point from Joshua’s post is that in addition to the updating it clarifies the policies and in the process actually lessens the possibility of abuse of these powers versus the existing statutes.
Searching around for more information I stumbled upon this post at Examiner.com with this scary information.
Also in the bill is a line about “involuntary transportation” to a healthcare facility.
Checking the bloggers source link took me to an article at WorldNetDaily with a similar scary part.
In addition, citizens may be subject to “involuntary transportation.”
Knowing how often WingNutDaily misleads by quote mining and since both items used scare quotes I took a look to see what the bill really says. Here’s the section that talks about involuntary transportation in the proposed amendment (emphasis mine):
SECTION 12. Section 94A of said chapter 111, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out subsection (d) and inserting in place thereof the following subsection:-
(d) Law enforcement authorities, upon order of the commissioner or his agent or at the request of a local public health authority pursuant to such order, shall assist emergency medical technicians or other appropriate medical personnel in the involuntary transportation of such person to the tuberculosis treatment center. No law enforcement authority or medical personnel shall be held criminally or civilly liable as a result of an act or omission carried out in good faith in reliance on said order.
That seemed odd, why would you take flu carriers to a tuberculosis treatment center. The answer is easy, it has absolutely nothing to do with flu pandemics. Section 94A of chapter 111 is about what to do with citizens with active tuberculosis who are unwilling to accept proper medical treatment and are a serious danger to the public health. Here’s the original section 94A subsection d:
(d) The commissioner or his agent may call on the police department of the city or town whose board of health certified such person, or the police department of the place where such person is present, to provide the transportation to the tuberculosis treatment center.
The way the old law is worded the police could be required to transport everyone even those who are willing to comply and there was no requirement for medical personnel used in the transportation. The revised version makes it clear that the police will only be involved when the person refuses to comply and it requires EMTs be involved. While the original version would have been appropriate back in the 50’s and 60’s when every town didn’t have EMTs with ambulances, in the 21st century the new version is safer and removes an unneeded burden on the police. The only other thing it changes is it gives explicit protection to EMTs and police from criminal and civil penalties from performing the action. This also seems very reasonable to me as cops and EMTs should not be hauled into court for following orders from legal authorities. If the citizen infected with active tuberculosis wants to sue someone it should be the state/local health authorities not the guys and gals following their orders.
As is so often the case the wing nuts at WorldNetDaily have quote mined the information to give thoroughly misleading information to their readers. The wing nut at Examiner probably didn’t do any original quote mining instead he just blindly parrots what WingNutDaily says to misinform his readers as well. Of course I’m being too polite to the wing nuts what they are doing is intentionally lying to motivate their readers who they know will never check anything they say for accuracy.
State Senator Richard Moore has more on this topic in a post at WBUR’s web site.
Earlier this week Greg Laden posted an intriguing article, Home Chemistry Hobbyist Shut Down in Massachusetts. He had picked up on this story via a post at the MAKE magazine Blog, Home science under attack. Both of the blogs where basing their commentary on this one article from the August 9th edition of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Let me start by summarizing the story as reported by two local newspapers, see the links below for the full text of the seven newspaper articles I found.
On the afternoon of August 5th 2008 the Marlborough Massachusetts Fire Department responded to a call of a fire in a two story house on Fremont Street. When they arrived they found a fire in a window air conditioner of a second floor bedroom and the lone occupant of the house at the time, homeowner Victor Deeb, had safely gotten out. The firemen put the fire out in about a minute but by that time there was more than a thousand dollars worth of smoke damage to the bedroom. [updated 8/18 with information from Mr. Deeb’s comment] If this had happened to me I would have turned off the power to the air conditioner and put the fire out with a fire extinguisher avoiding the major smoke damage from waiting for the fire department to arrive. Since Mr. Deeb is a 71 year old who uses a cane to get around it is perfectly understandable why he called the fire department instead. [Mr. Deeb was trying to use a fire extinguisher on the fire when a passing Policeman saw the smoke and called the fire department.] (Photo of Mr. Deeb speaking to Police after the fire was put out, from The MetroWest Daily News)
The firefighters then followed standard procedures and checked that all the spaces in the house had been ventilated to remove the smoke and prevent further damage. When they went down into the basement they discovered a chemical R&D laboratory containing more than 100 unlabeled containers of chemicals [Mr. Deeb seems to dispute this]. The chemicals where in assorted containers from quart size up to 20 gallon drums some on shelves and some just sitting on the basement floor. Fire department officials attempted to find permits issued to Mr. Deeb for the storage of large quantities of chemicals but where unable to find any permits. The fire department then contacted the state fire marshal’s office who in turn called in the state bomb squad. If Mr. Deeb had obtained permits for possessing large quantities of chemicals they could have avoided the bomb squad but without the permits they had to take the safe approach and treat this as a potentially dangerous situation in a residential neighborhood. At no time did the authorities claim that Mr. Deeb was making weapons or drugs they simply had no way to know what was in the containers and without permits they could not simply take Mr. Deeb’s word for it that these unlabeled chemicals were not dangerous.
The Fire Department advised Mr. Deeb that this situation would take many hours to clear up so he should find a place to stay for a while. Mr. Deeb took the advise of the fire department and left with his family. Over the next two days the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and local authorities, with the cooperation of Mr. Deeb, removed over 1,500 containers of chemicals none of which turned out to be a biological or radioactive risk. Mr. Deeb and his family were allowed to return to their home on August 8th after the laboratory was safely dismantled and taken away. A hazardous materials cleanup company was contracted by MA DEP to test and then properly dispose of the chemicals. The Marlborough Department of Public Works is running tests to make sure none of the chemicals seeped into the town sewer system. While Mr. Deeb has likely violated numerous state and local safety regulations and laws, as of Saturday the 9th no citations had yet been issued.
This Saturday’s (8/16) Worcester Telegram & Gazette article has more details about the incident. The FBI showed up to take a look and there were thirty-five 20 gallon drums of chemicals that the hazmat contractor had to take for analysis and disposal. His laboratory was a mess with flammable chemicals stored next to the home’s furnace. By his own admission Mr. Deeb is a retired chemist who was very clearly running a for profit chemical R&D laboratory out of his basement in a residential neighborhood. He is considering suing the city for taking down his lab because he thinks his civil rights have been violated.
IMO, the fire department and other city and state officials did absolutely nothing wrong. They certainly did not violate Mr. Deeb’s civil rights because there is no civil right to possess and improperly store large quantities of regulated chemicals in your home. The officials had every right to enter his lab without a search warrant because they were called to the home by him [there] to put out a fire.
Mr. Deeb may be a very good chemist in fact judging by the number of patents he appears on it is almost a certainty. He has clearly been running a business from his home at least since 11/1/98. However he clearly does not understand laboratory safety rules, you must always properly label and store chemicals. Flammable chemicals like the acetone he had must be stored in fire proof cabinets not sitting on the floor or shelf and/or near a furnace. Mr. Deeb could not handle a small fire without the assistance of the fire department so obviously he couldn’t be trusted to handle a laboratory fire. He appears to not understand the need for permits and zoning clearance for commercial chemical research laboratories.
The reaction on the Internet is so far over the top I’m astounded. It seems that most of the people commenting on this story have made no effort to read the articles and are simply jumping to totally absurd conclusions based on preconceived notions. Here’s a list of my responses to the wild commentary and claims that are spreading across the Internet.
I know it’s hard to research stories but that doesn’t excuse people from the obligation to examine the evidence. I’m most disappointed that so many people jump right to parroting the poorly researched and quote mined work of others to justify their preconceived notions. Any of these people who have integrity should take the time to read the articles, Google Victor M. Deeb and then post updates to correct their bogus reporting.
I have found one well researched response on the net, Mike O’Risal’s post is a very good read. Having read a number of excellent posts and comments by Mike over the past year, today I’ve added his blog to my reader and blogroll. On top of his good writing I need to start reading him regularly because he lives in my county, Worcester (pronounced Woostah in my native Yankee accent).
I’m sorry that Mr. Deeb has lost his R&D laboratory and likely will close his business. However, he should have followed the rules for running a commercial laboratory and gotten the proper permits and zoning variances. He may be ignorant of the law but that is not a valid excuse especially when you are running a for profit business.
The MetroWest Daily News articles:
Worcester Telegram & Gazette articles:
Victor Deeb’s business:
is up at City of Skeptics, go check it out.
or The great Google conspiracy thread 🙂
Last year on an engineering mail list someone asked about good ham radio mail lists. One of the early replies, lets call him engineer #1 said:
Search Google Groups with key ‘ham’. Ignore any porky links 😉
Another person (engineer #2) saw that and replied.
Just don’t search for “amateur video” which is a perfectly legitimate Ham radio term…… discovered that the hard way.
Although just for fun I just checked this search term, it doesn’t seem to be quite as raunchy as before.. and even has one relevant hit on the first page.
I thought that was funny but knew that was probably not what the engineer #1 meant by porky links. I’d seen a small previous rant from him on Google and sure enough engineer #1 responded with this.
Ever since goopile charges money for ranking things have changed. Whoever is not ponying up enough funds does not show up in the cummershally useful first few pages of hits. So much for ‘not doing evil’ (but not much good either). Simple math shows that 100-150 paying punters will displace *everyone* from the first few pages of hits. And there are a lot more than 150 paying punters out there, no matter what the search terms, even with the new ‘we advertise in regular hits but you don’t know it’ approach seen with ieee.org etc papers.
Oh crap this guys got a conspiracy theory about Google searches being totally rigged. Fortunately for me I didn’t have to call this guy out right away because two other engineers replied.
#3) I disagree with that, do a gurgle for … and my site comes top, and has done so for a couple of years.
I have never paid to list it, and never submitted it to any engines. Simply gets there by magic or whatever. (actually, i believe it is because the site links to a number of other places and gets spidered, but magic sounds better).
#4) I don’t think Google (like some others) accepts payment for search ranking. They do auction off ad positions, but these paid ads are clearly marked as “sponsored links.” I think search position is largely based on the number of relevant links to a page (not from link farms). For example, my page on … comes in number 4 out of 1,810,000.
Engineer #1 comes back with this diatribe.
I think that there are a lot of exceptions that confirm the rule. The rule is that getting a site with ‘usual’ content into a reasonable position is nearly impossible without ‘magic’ involving Ben Franklin effigies changing hands. There is nothing sinister about it (but I’d still want to know why those ieee.org ‘sell’ pages get ranked so high without having content accessible to usual browsers w/o paying).
Most of my domains have what I would consider “usual” (plain, not extraordinary) content and they get good ranking. Well saying good ranking is being optimistic, fair ranking would be more accurate, they get ranked lower than better sites and higher than worse sites. I don’t pay anyone money to improve my ranking and a few others replied to the thread saying they had good rank without paying. It was looking like engineer #1 felt there was a conspiracy against sites he’s worked on. So, I just couldn’t resist stirring the pot by asking for the one thing conspiracy theorists can never provide, evidence.
> I think that there are a lot of exceptions that confirm the rule. The rule is
> that getting a site with ‘usual’ content into a reasonable position is nearly
> impossible without ‘magic’ involving Ben Franklin effigies changing hands.
Would you please provide a search term(s) that produces a Google result that illustrates your point.
About thirteen hours later I see this reply from engineer #1.
Sorry for the late answer.
Hmm, why is he apologizing, his reply was 13 hours after my query, on a global mail list 72 hours or more would be considered a late reply. Could he be trying to get on my good side by being polite while avoiding providing any evidence?
I cannot give a direct query, but here is an alternate way:
– enter some search terms in Google
– take the websites for the first two pages of results and search each
– note the order of the websites (which should reflect ranking), and the link count for the search on those websites (which does not)
Of course this is far from perfect, but it busts the myth about ‘relevant results sorted by ranking determined by link count’.
Yep, he can not provide any evidence for his claim and tries to distract me from the request for evidence by asking me to do his work for him. One of the more rational minded engineers on the list replied with good information and links to Google explaining how to get good rank. That skeptical engineer ended his reply with a very funny bit.
This is starting to sound like every other conspiracy nutter thread – “I can’t prove it but I know it’s true”. What colour helicopters do Google use? Stripes? No use looking for them in GoogleMaps of course, they’d be photoshopped out.
And one of the list’s class clown engineers who hates conspiracy theories added:
I heard that. My niece’s boyfriend’s cousin works for a cleaner who does an IT firm and she said….
The next reply in the thread was from an engineer that I usually see posting rational well thought out replies.
It’s been particularly annoying that you USED to be able to enter a part number of a relatively obscure chip and have the manufacture’s spec sheet show up high in the rankings. Now, you wind up with a whole bunch of data sheet subscription services that want money before they’ll feed up the datasheet, and a bunch of sales sites, good portion of which don’t actually HAVE the datasheet or the part you requested anyway. For instance, try “tmp47p443″…
I don’t think this is google being bought, I think it’s just sites that have learned how to manipulate the search engines.
I just had to try his example so I did then posted this reply.
Great something to try, thank you. I seem to remember the last time I tried this a year or more ago it was frustrating. Google on tmp47p443 and there it is, only data-sheet archives and aggregators. First hit is DigChip.com a member only site but, it does show it to be Toshiba part. Go to Toshiba’s web site and search, not found, that explains why the manufacturers site didn’t come up in the Google search. Second result is clearly an obsolete parts sales site so I skip it. The 3rd result is datasheets.org.uk I try it and success, the tmp47p443 data sheet without any signup.
That was too easy, I do seem to recall that it was harder finding data sheets for obsolete parts. I check the date on the datasheet and see it’s from 2000 so I try an older part. The MC146823 was obsolete more than 10 years ago but, there’s a copy of the data book pages at the first result, datasheet4u.com. I try some more:
28c16 – 3rd result alldatasheet.com
MC146818 – 1st result datasheetcatalog.com
ad7533 – 1st result original manufacturer Analog Devices
Well either my memory of how hard it was to find datasheets for obsolete parts is wrong or, Google and the free datasheet sites have improved things. In any case it’s worth noting that these sites have many old datasheets for free.
Next the conspiracy theorist engineers started complaining about Google searches linking to journals where the information isn’t available for free. They claimed that the sites must be paying Google to do this as a way to increase their income.
And — as mentioned here before, Google /knows/ that the IEEE pages it indexes are not public. I still find it quite odd to find non-public content indexed and probably never will get used to this.
I’m sure the ones who have access to IEEE or would buy their papers based on a Google search are a dwindling minority of Google users. All others just get annoyed by this. There must be another reason… and as always, money leads the suspicions.
The last time this issue came up here I wanted to mention something I remember reading about it from quite a while back. However I couldn’t locate what I had read about Google and standards bodies so, I didn’t mention it. I think it was from around 2001 and in one of the trade rags, EET I think.
Any way, what I remember reading was that Google was trying to get standards bodies to allow them to index there documents for search results while protecting the standards bodies income source. While I can’t find the old article It seems to match up with the information at Google Scholar.
Google Scholar and Google books take the attitude that it is better to let you know that the information is out there even if you can’t access the complete information for free. Personally it doesn’t bother me to see a standards body restricted access document listed first in the results. If I really need to see the information I’ll head to a library or have my employer buy it.
A number of other engineers echoed my reply and feelings about the situation. The conspiracy theorists couldn’t deny that this is what Google is doing so they fell back on a good old standby, I don’t like it this way so it shouldn’t be this way. One example was this guys post:
Whether money changes hands or not, indexing sources where the subscribers are only a tiny minority among the general Google users is more a nuisance than a service. It is not much more than advertising for those paid-for services, without much usefulness otherwise.
I really would like an option to blank those results out. They do me no good. I found Google was better when they weren’t there.
OK that’s his opinion, he’d rather be unaware of the availability of information, seems stupid to me but it’s an opinion and no longer an allegation of wrong doing so I didn’t reply. Soon after, the engineer with the failed example replied to the thread with “We’re still waiting for an example search.” and the only reply from the conspiracy theorists was along the lines of, I can’t provide one now but someday I will. This should have been the end of this silly discussion but no, it sprouts multiple new threads with similar themes and no evidence until finally one conspiracy theorist provides one test case. But wait, the conspiracy is that it gets annoying links up high in rank but where does his example come in the rankings.
Note: The link above was the 1st on page 51 (!!) of the search…
Ah the link that he is using as an example is ranked 511th (#1 on results page 51 at 10 results per page). That is not evidence for the claim by any stretch of the imagination. Very few people would ever see that link except for a conspiracy theorist trying really hard to find some scrap of information to support their pet theory. Frankly if some organization is paying money to reach 511th position they are throwing their money away.
Next another example comes through but it’s a search for words that are only likely to be encountered in articles from science journals. Another rational engineer points this out and the conspiracy theorist replies with, I don’t like it and because I don’t like it their must be a conspiracy. I made no replies in this branch of the thread because even the other CT’s didn’t want to touch this silliness.
One of the other new threads was getting even more ridiculous by boiling all the various claims down to one simple claim, Google is evil and stupid. Again no-one is providing concrete examples so I had to jump in with this reply.
Has anyone got any evidence this time around?
After all we’re talking about a search engine so there must be links that support the claims.
Last time around I asked for evidence and none was forthcoming. If no evidence is presented this time around maybe we should all agree that posting unsupported claims against Google is forbidden.
One of the original conspiracy nuts replied with this:
It is hard to point at something that is *not* found …
Followed by some hand waving and no evidence of any kind. So I replied:
Well then point out the search terms you used and the URL’s of sites that should have come up in the list but didn’t. Claims with no evidence are useless and are not part of good engineering or science.
The sound of crickets followed and to this day no-one on the list lets these silly Google conspiracy threads go forward. Someone will simply reply with “give us the link” and the conspiracy theorist simply waves his hands and slinks away back into his fantasy world where anything he doesn’t like must be a conspiracy.
My two readers will be as pleased as I am that I finally got one of my posts included in this great blog carnival. I’m not saying which post, you two will have to go read the Circle to find out.
Here’s an exchange from an engineering mail list.
Yes and what about WTC7? There was no airplane attack on that 47 story
building and it went down in the classic controlled demolition style!
You should not need more than one of these wakeup “Aha’s” to doubt the whole
Its a question of honor for engineers to be above the unwitting when it
comes to the manipulation dosed out to the masses!
Another engineer posted this nicely done response.
I was once very concerned with the facts about WTC7
Now, I have seen a large body of evidence that convinces me the building WAS
hit very hard by one of the towers on the side opposite the standard
pictures you are shown and was about to come down with or with out any
fires. The fires were also NOT minor, but from the outside, may have
appeared to be so.
http://www.debunking911.com/pull.htm is a very good site with most of the
I responded with this comment.
Good reference …, another one I like for the Larry Silverstein “Pull it”
I expect there will be an increase in the conspiracy theories about WTC 7
over the next few months. The draft of the NIST WTC 7 report is due out this
July and the final report should come this fall. Once the report is out, it
will be much harder to get people on board with the conspiracy theories. Of
course the 9/11 conspiracy theorists will never go away, recently I stumbled
across a new conspiracy theory for the President Lincoln assassination,
The original nutcase responded with this diatribe [Bold emphasis mine].
Im frightened by the prevalence of people that take any shortcut to thinking
for themselves, people that overcome their doubts because of brown peer
pressure, and people that buy into the stereotypes projected by the
liberally corporate media that has replaced government that paints humans
brave enough to speak up with scarewords like ‘conspiracy loons’ and then
takes you to lala land with false moonlandings alien ufo coverups, etc. …
The average beer bozo then is distracted enough to take the bait and go on
about Lincoln, Kennedy and you name it whatever far from the issue at hand!
Hey I reviewed it again today who can argue it more bullet prove and
impartial then ‘Architects and Engineers for 911 truth’ with “How The Towers
Watch it if you are ready to know the Matrix!
Wow this guy is not just a 911 Troofer but also a bigoted racist. Two bad tastes that combined make me taste vomit. Who can argue with a group of conspiracy minded architects with no experience in skyscraper engineering, demolition and fire fighting? Everyone with a brain in their head.