Lazy linking

A few links to things I have come across recently

3 Men Arrested in Plot to Bomb Kansas Aparment Complex, Mosque Following Presidential Election

Three members of a southwest Kansas militia dubbed the “Crusaders” were arrested Friday on charges stemming from a plot to attack a housing complex that houses a mosque in Garden City, Kan.

It is hardly a surprise that right-wingers are a genuine terrorist threat in the US, and it is good to see that the law enforcement are aware of this, and can stop them before they can effectuate their plans.


Parkinson’s researcher with three retractions heads to court on Monday

On Monday, Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood will head to court in Brisbane, Australia, following a probe at her former institution, the University of Queensland (UQ).

Barwood was granted bail in November, 2014 — charges included  that she “dishonestly applied for grant funds,” and fabricated research that claimed a breakthrough in treating Parkinson’s disease, according to The Guardian. In March, Bruce Murdoch, a former colleague of Barwood’s at UQ, pleaded guilty to 17 fraud-related charges, and received a two-year suspended sentence after an institutional investigation into 92 academic papers.

It is fairly rare that scientists are facing trial after having fabricated research, probably because it can be difficult to be sure whether they actually fraudulently fabricated their result. In cases like this, where there were claims of breakthroughs in an area, giving people false hope, I think it is important for there to be a legal follow up.


Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously means listening to what they’re actually saying

Donald Trump’s supporters deserve to have their concerns taken seriously.

If the media and commentators in 2016 can agree on nothing else, it’s this. It’s a bit of an odd meme. I can remember literally no one in 2012 dwelling on the importance of taking the concerns of Mitt Romney voters seriously, even though they made up a considerably larger share of the population than Trump supporters. No one talks about taking the interests of Hillary Clinton supporters, a still larger group, seriously.

But Trump supporters, a smaller group backing a considerably more loathsome agenda, have received an unprecedented outpouring of sympathy, undertaken as a sort of passive-aggressive snipe at unnamed other commentators and politicians perceived to not be taking their concerns seriously.

But there’s something striking about this line of commentary: It doesn’t take the stated concerns of Trump voters, and voters for similar far-right populists abroad, seriously in the slightest.

In the primary, though, the story was, as my colleague Zack Beauchamp has explained at length, almost entirely about racial resentment. There’s a wide array of data to back this up.

UCLA’s Michael Tesler has found that support for Trump in the primaries strongly correlated with respondents’ racial resentment, as measured by survey data. Similarly, Republican voters with the lowest opinions of Muslims were the most likely to vote for Trump, and voters who strongly support mass deportation of undocumented immigrants were likelier to support him in the primaries too.

We see the same in Denmark, where we always hear about how the voters for the xenophobic Danish Peoples’ Party (Dansk Folkeparti) have a lot of concerns which we should take serious, but when you listen to what the actual supporters say, it is all about foreigners and getting rid of them.


Male members form a barrier for women joining the corporate boards

Slate reports on PwC’s 2016 Annual Corporate Directors Survey, and points out something important.

Male Corporate Board Members Aren’t Stoked About Adding Women to Their Ranks

Much has been made over gender diversity on corporate boards in recent years. Study after study after study has shown that companies perform better when they have women on their boards of directors; it’s fair to assume that even the most crotchety, least woke board member would admit that gender diversity is an admirable goal, in theory.

Or is it? According to a new survey of 884 directors of public companies, 10 percent of current board members think the ideal number of women on a corporate board is somewhere between 20 percent of the board and zero. Zero! One in 10 directors mulled over the prospect of sharing a conference table with women and thought, “I could tolerate zero women, or maybe a very tiny proportion of women, but that is absolutely it.”

Every time the subject of women in corporate boards come up, there are always someone who claims that women have equal opportunity, and that there is no need for quotas or other measures to get more women into corporate boards. This study clearly shows that this is nonsense – there is an significant number of existing members of the boards that are actively against more women on the boards, so they form a barrier for women to join.

And don’t expect that corporate boards are swayed by evidence. As Slate stated, there are many studies that show that companies perform better when they have women on their boards of directors, but this doesn’t convince the male members


Source of the figure.

Given the weight of the evidence, the clear correct answers to the questions is “very much”, yet a majority of men doesn’t think this is the case.

Birds in nerdery

I love it when someone who is nerdy in one area, applies their nerdiness to more mainstream nerdery.

A good example of this, is this article by Peter Cashwell

Why that American Robin Cameo in ‘The Hobbit’ Wasn’t an Error

In this article, Peter Cashwell argues that it is fully acceptable that an American Robin appeared in The Hobbit movies, since it is a fantasy setting, which isn’t meant to mirror Earth exactly. I have known Peter Cashwell online for close to 2 decades, and his nerd credentials regarding mainstream nerdery (comics, sci-fi etc.) can’t be disputed. When it comes to birds, he has written the brilliant The Verb: To Bird about birding.

Speaking of birds, and popular culture, Peter Cashwell’s article for some reason made me think of this piece of brilliance:

Estimating the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow by Jonathan Corum

Here Jonathan Corum answers the ancient question, what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Support Skepticon

Every year the awesome crowd of Skepticon is putting together a free skeptic conference in the middle of no-where (or rather Springfield, Missouri).

It is free for the participants, but unfortunately, it still costs money to put up a conference. This year, the fundraising has been going slow, and now there is only a month left to raise the final money they need to put on an awesome program.

So, if you have some spare money, consider throwing some in the direction of Skepticon.

I am planning on going to the conference, so if you are there, come and say hi.

Music with a message

I think this band is trying to tell us something

For the record: I quite like black metal, but I found this video/song funny, and thought I’d share.