Judge Benitez destroys the 2.2 rounds per DGU lie once and for all

Over two years ago, I read through some court filings in Duncan v. Bonta, the lawsuit against California’s “large capacity” magazine ban. I was left scratching my head at a claim from the State of California in support of their magazine ban, that the average Defensive Gun Use (DGU) incident involves discharging only 2.2 rounds. The more I looked into it, the more obvious it became that this was unsubstantiated.

Since then, Duncan v. Bonta made a trip to the Supreme Court, got GVR’d after NYSRPA v. Bruen, and sent back down the judicial hierarchy to the US District Court for the Southern District of California. The district court published its decision last Friday, in which Judge Roger Benitez completely took apart the 2.2 rounds per DGU canard (PDF pages 26-33):

C. The Invention of the 2.2 Shot Average

…the State’s statistic is suspect. California relies entirely on the opinion of its statistician for the hypothesis that defenders fire an average of only 2.2 shots in cases of confrontation.

Where does the 2.2 shot average originate? There is no national or state government data report on shots fired in self-defense events. There is no public government database. One would expect to see investigatory police reports as the most likely source to accurately capture data on shots fired or number of shell casings found, although not every use of a gun in self-defense is reported to the police. As between the two sides, while in the better position to collect and produce such reports, the State’s Attorney General has not provided a single police report to the Court or to his own expert

Without investigatory reports, the State’s expert turns to anecdotal statements, often from bystanders, reported in news media, and selectively studied. She indicates she conducted two studies. Based on these two studies of newspaper stories, she opines that it is statistically rare for a person to fire more than 10 rounds in self-defense and that only 2.2 shots are fired on average. Unfortunately, her opinion lacks classic indicia of reliability and her two studies cannot be reproduced and are not peer-reviewed.

“Reliability and validity are two aspects of accuracy in measurement. In statistics, reliability refers to reproducibility of results.” Her studies cannot be tested because she has not disclosed her data. Her studies have not been replicated. In fact, the formula used to select 200 news stories for the Factiva study is incomprehensible. […]

For one study, Allen says she conducted a search of stories published in the NRA Institute for Legislative Action magazine (known as the Armed Citizen Database) between 2011 and 2017. There is no explanation for the choice to use 2011 for the beginning. After all, the collection of news stories goes back to 1958. Elsewhere in her declaration she studies mass shooting events but for that chooses a much longer time period reaching back to 1982. Likewise, there is no explanation for not updating the study after 2017.

[…] details are completely absent. Allen does not list the 736 stories. Nor does she reveal how she assigned the number of shots fired in self-defense when the news accounts use phrases like “the intruder was shot” but no number of shots was reported, or “there was an exchange of gunfire,” or “multiple rounds were fired.” She includes in her 2.2 average of defensive shots fired, incidents where no shots were fired. […] She does not reveal the imputed number substitute value that she used where the exact number of shots fired was not specified, so her result cannot be reproduced. […] For example, this Court randomly selected two pages from Allen’s mass shooting table: pages 10 and 14. From looking at these two pages (assuming that the sources for the reports were accurate and unbiased) the Court is able to make statistical observations, including the observation that the number of shots fired were unknown 69.04% of the time.

The foundation of the claim was not real data but “anecdata,” which don’t cover nearly as many incidents as actual police reports do. (Not every incident is reported, so even police data is incomplete.)

Second, the sampled news reports were randomly selected. It isn’t clear if there were any process safeguards to prevent cherry picking, and there is no transparency about the included incidents.

Third, the selected timeframes look arbitrary.

Fourth, as Judge Benitez points out, including zero-shot incidents will obviously bring the average down, so it’s questionable.

The most devastating critique is that the expert assigned an arbitrary number of shots fired when news stories didn’t include that crucial detail.

The Court is aware of its obligation to act as a gatekeeper to keep out junk science where it does not meet the reliability standard of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. […] while questionable expert testimony was admitted, it has now been weighed in light of all of the evidence.

Using interest-balancing, the en banc 9th Circuit shamelessly rubber-stamped California’s infringement using this pathetic junk science. It’s gratifying to see interest-balancing tossed into the garbage alongside this junk science under the new Bruen standard.

Okay, so when do we start sending mining missions?

In A First, NASA Returns Asteroid Samples to Earth.

A capsule containing precious samples from an asteroid landed safely on Earth on Sunday, the culmination of a roughly 4-billion-mile journey over the past seven years.

The asteroid samples were collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which flew by Earth early Sunday morning and jettisoned the capsule over a designated landing zone in the Utah desert. The unofficial touchdown time was 8:52 a.m. MT, 3 minutes ahead of the predicted landing time.

The dramatic event — which the NASA livestream narrator described as “opening a time capsule to our ancient solar system” — marked a major milestone for the United States: The collected rocks and soil were NASA’s first samples brought back to Earth from an asteroid. Experts have said the bounty could help scientists unlock secrets about the solar system and how it came to be, including how life emerged on this planet.

Bruce Betts, chief scientist at The Planetary Society, a nonprofit organization that conducts research, advocacy and outreach to promote space exploration, congratulated the NASA team on what he called an “impressive and very complicated mission,” adding that the asteroid samples are the start of a thrilling new chapter in space history.

“It’s exciting because this mission launched in 2016 and so there’s a feeling of, ‘Wow, this day has finally come,’” he said. “But scientifically, it’s exciting because this is an amazing opportunity to study a very complex story that goes way back to the dawn of the solar system.”

The sample return capsule from NASA's Osiris-Rex mission in Utah on Sept. 24, 2023.
The sample return capsule from NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission in Utah on Sunday.Keegan Barber / NASA via AP

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Earth’s atmosphere can clean itself, breakthrough study finds.

Scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery that could change the way we think about air pollution. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have found that a strong electric field between airborne water droplets and surrounding air can create a molecule called hydroxide (OH) by a previously unknown mechanism.

This molecule is crucial in helping to clear the air of pollutants, including greenhouse gases and other chemicals.

The discovery is outlined in a new paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which suggests that the traditional thinking around the formation of OH in the atmosphere is incomplete. Until now, it was thought that sunlight was the primary driver of OH formation, but this new research shows that OH can be created spontaneously by the special conditions on the surface of water droplets.

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The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.
Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet

A study of language in Science articles from 1997 through 2021 raises concerns about exaggerated claims.

Careful scientists know to acknowledge uncertainty in the findings and conclusions of their papers. But in one leading journal, the frequency of hedging words such as “might” and “probably” has fallen by about 40% over the past 2 decades, a study finds.

If this trend holds across the scientific literature, it suggests a worrisome rise of unreliable, exaggerated claims, some observers say. Hedging and avoiding overconfidence “are vital to communicating what one’s data can actually say and what it merely implies,” says Melissa Wheeler, a social psychologist at the Swinburne University of Technology who was not involved in the study. “If academic writing becomes more about the rhetoric … it will become more difficult for readers to decipher what is groundbreaking and truly novel.”

The new analysis, one of the largest of its kind, examined more than 2600 research articles published from 1997 to 2021 in Science, which the team chose because it publishes articles from multiple disciplines. (Science’s news team is independent from the editorial side.) The team searched the papers for about 50 terms such as “could,” “appear to,” “approximately,” and “seem.” The frequency of these hedging words dropped from 115.8 instances per 10,000 words in 1997 to 67.42 per 10,000 words in 2021.

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Study Shows Gun Laws Don’t Matter, Race Does

33 people were shot over the weekend in Chicago. Urban gangland violence like that is what real “mass shootings” look like and finally a Journal of the American Medical Association paper addressed the problem by shifting the blame to something it calls “structural racism”.

The JAMA paper, which was quickly picked up by CNN as “Structural Racism may Contribute to Mass Shootings” and by Bloomberg as “Mass Shootings Disproportionately Victimize Black Americans”, acknowledged what conservatives have been saying about gun violence.

“There was no discernible association noted in this study between gun laws and MSEs [mass shootings] with other studies showing similar findings,” it noted.

The issue wasn’t gun laws, it was race. “The study found that in areas with higher black populations, mass shootings are likelier to occur compared to communities with higher white populations,” CNN reported. “The findings disrupt the nation’s image of mass shootings, which has been shaped by tragedies like the Las Vegas festival shooting and Sandy Hook in which most of the victims were not black,” Bloomberg added.

Faced with an immovable statistical object and the unstoppable force of equity, the JAMA paper blames the whole thing on structural racism. The study correlates urban areas and neighborhoods with high concentrations of single-parent households” to mass shootings. It then demonstrates that “structural racism” must be at fault because of “the percentage of the population that is black.” Black people in the study are interchangeable with racism.

Such is the state of woke medical science which tries to fix racism with more racism. The study never comes up with any plausible explanation of how structural racism causes people to shoot each other. At one point it claims that “racial residential segregation practices are predictive of various types of shootings” in a country where segregation had been abolished since 1964.

The study’s definition of segregation is so senseless that it lists majority black cities like Detroit, a 77% black city, as being 73% segregated, and Baltimore, a 62% black city, as being 64% segregated. A city with a strong black majority and black leaders is racially segregated and its people are suffering from “structural racism”. That’s why there are so many mass shootings.

But if segregation is the issue then why does Atlanta, which had actual segregation, have only 18 mass shootings, while Chicago has 141? Southern cities show up as less segregated and less violent in the paper’s data. A history of segregation is clearly not the issue. This isn’t about the past, whether it’s the historical revisionism of the 1619 Project, or any other.

If segregation were the issue, crime would have been far higher during segregation than after it.

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This gets verified and replicated and away we go to the races

The First Room-Temperature Ambient-Pressure Superconductor

Sukbae Lee, Ji-Hoon Kim, Young-Wan Kwon

For the first time in the world, we succeeded in synthesizing the room-temperature superconductor (Tc400 K, 127C) working at ambient pressure with a modified lead-apatite (LK-99) structure. The superconductivity of LK-99 is proved with the Critical temperature (Tc), Zero-resistivity, Critical current (Ic), Critical magnetic field (Hc), and the Meissner effect.

The superconductivity of LK-99 originates from minute structural distortion by a slight volume shrinkage (0.48 %), not by external factors such as temperature and pressure. The shrinkage is caused by Cu2+ substitution of Pb2+(2) ions in the insulating network of Pb(2)-phosphate and it generates the stress.

It concurrently transfers to Pb(1) of the cylindrical column resulting in distortion of the cylindrical column interface, which creates superconducting quantum wells (SQWs) in the interface. The heat capacity results indicated that the new model is suitable for explaining the superconductivity of LK-99.

The unique structure of LK-99 that allows the minute distorted structure to be maintained in the interfaces is the most important factor that LK-99 maintains and exhibits superconductivity at room temperatures and ambient pressure.

What’s up in space

EARTH-DIRECTED CME (UPDATED): A magnetic filament in the sun’s southern hemisphere erupted on July 11th (movie #1) and hurled a CME toward Earth (movie #2). According to a NASA model, most of the CME will sail south of our planet, but not all. The northern flank will likely strike our planet’s magnetic field during the late hours of July 14th possibly causing a G1-class geomagnetic storm. Aurora alerts: SMS Text

A HYPERACTIVE SUNSPOT: New sunspot AR3372 is seething with activity. In the last 24 hours alone it has produced eight M-class solar flares (graph) To the extreme ultraviolet telescopes onboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, it looks like the northeastern limb of the sun is on fire:

The rat-a-tat-tat of solar flares from AR3372 is causing a rolling series of shortwave radio blackouts around all longitudes of our planet. Ham radio operators, mariners and aviators may have noticed loss of signal below 30 MHz on multiple occasions since July 11th. In addition, episodes of sudden ionization in the atmosphere are doppler-shifting the frequency of time-standard radio stations such as Canada’s CHU and America’s WWV (data).

If current trends continue, we should expect more strong M-class flares during the next 24 hours with a chance of X-flares as well. This sunspot will become even more geoeffective in the days ahead as it continues to turn toward Earth. Solar flare alerts: SMS Text

Bu bu bu bu but all those scientists can’t be wrong!

Regarding Consensus Science

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.
― Michael Crichton

Paging Khan Noonien Singh. Paging Arik Soong.

Scientists Create Synthetic Human Embryo Models in Major First.

In a major scientific first, synthetic human embryo models have been grown in the lab, without any need for the usual natural ingredients of eggs and sperm.

The research – first brought to wider attention by The Guardian – has prompted excitement about the potential for new breakthroughs in health, genetics, and treating disease. But the science also raises serious ethical questions.

The embryo structures were produced from stem cells cultured from a traditional embryo in the lab. Stem cells can be programmed to develop into any kind of other cell – which is how they are used in the body for growth and repair.

Here, stem cells were carefully coaxed into becoming precursor cells that would eventually become the yolk sac, the placenta, and then the actual embryo itself.

A paper on the breakthrough has yet to be published, so we’re still waiting on the details of exactly how this was achieved.

The work was led by biologist Magdalena Żernicka-Goetz, from the University of Cambridge in the UK, together with colleagues from the UK and US. Last year, a team led by Zernicka-Goetz was able to successfully grow synthetic mouse embryos with primitive brains and hearts.

We should point out that we’re still a long way from creating babies artificially. These are embryo-like structures, without a heart or a brain: They’re more like embryo models that are able to mimic some, but not all, of the features of a normal embryo.

“It is important to stress that these are not synthetic embryos, but embryo models,” wrote Zernicka-Goetz on Twitter. “Our research isn’t to create life, but to save it.”

One of the ways in which this research could save lives is in helping to examine why many pregnancies fail at around the stage these artificial embryos replicate. If these earliest moments can be studied in a lab, we should get a much better understanding of them.

We could also use these techniques to learn more about how common genetic disorders develop at the earliest stages of life. Once there’s a greater knowledge about how they start, we’ll be better placed to do something about them.

At the same time, there are concerns around where this kind of synthetic embryo creation could lead. Scientists say strong regulations are needed to control this kind of research – regulations that at the moment don’t really exist.

“These new assays in vitro will pave the way for future studies that aim to unravel the mechanisms of human development, as well as the effects of environmental and genetic anomalies,” says biologist Rodrigo Suarez from the University of Queensland in Australia, who wasn’t involved in the research.

“As with most emerging technologies, society will need to balance the evidence about the risks and benefits of this approach, and update the current legislation accordingly.”

As pointed out by bioethics researcher Rachel Ankeny from the University of Adelaide, who wasn’t involved in the research, today scientists abide by a ’14-day rule’ which limits the use of human embryos in the lab, requiring that human embryos can only be cultivated in vitro for a maximum of 2 weeks.

Rules like this, as well as new ones that may be brought in as this research continues, force us to ask fundamental questions about when we consider ‘life’ beginning in an organism’s existence – and how close to a human embryo a synthetic embryo must be before it is considered essentially the same.

“We need to engage various publics about their understanding of and expectations from this sort of research, and more generally about their views on early human development,” says Ankeny.

“These biological processes are deeply tied to our values and what we think counts as human life.”

The research has yet to be peer-reviewed or published, and was presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

And with CHF and CAD/CAM-CNC manufacturing, such ‘forensics’ are even more problematical

FYI, this is a l-o-n-g article.

Devil in the grooves: The case against forensic firearms analysis
A landmark Chicago court ruling threatens a century of expert ballistics testimony

Last February, Chicago circuit court judge William Hooks made some history. He became the first judge in the country to bar the use of ballistics matching testimony in a criminal trial.

In Illinois v. Rickey Winfield, prosecutors had planned to call a forensic firearms analyst to explain how he was able to match a bullet found at a crime scene to a gun alleged to be in possession of the defendant.

It’s the sort of testimony experts give every day in criminal courts around the country. But this time, attorneys with the Cook County Public Defender’s Office requested a hearing to determine whether there was any scientific foundation for the claim that a specific bullet can be matched to a specific gun. Hooks granted the hearing and, after considering arguments from both sides, he issued his ruling.

It was an earth-shaking opinion, and it could bring big changes to how gun crimes are prosecuted — in Chicago and possibly elsewhere.

Hooks isn’t the first judge to be skeptical of claims made by forensic firearms analysts. Other courts have put restrictions on which terminology analysts use in front of juries. But Hooks is the first to bar such testimony outright. “There are no objective forensic based reasons that firearms identification evidence belongs in any category of forensic science,” Hooks writes. He adds that the wrongful convictions already attributable to the field “should serve as a wake-up call to courts operating as rubber stamps in blindly finding general acceptance” of bullet matching analysis.

For more than a century, forensic firearms analysts have been telling juries that they can match a specific bullet to a specific gun, to the exclusion of all other guns. This claimed ability has helped to put tens of thousands of people in prison, and in a nontrivial percentage of those cases, it’s safe to say that ballistics matching was the only evidence linking the accused to the crime.

But as with other forensic specialties collectively known as pattern matching fields, the claim is facing growing scrutiny. Scientists from outside of forensics point out that there’s no scientific basis for much of what firearms analysts say in court. These critics, backed by a growing body of research, make a pretty startling claim — one that could have profound effects on the criminal justice system: We don’t actually know if it’s possible to match a specific bullet to a specific gun. And even if it is, we don’t know if forensic firearms analysts are any good at it.

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Poll: 61% of Americans say AI threatens humanity’s future.

A majority of Americans believe that the rise of artificial intelligence technology could put humanity’s future in jeopardy, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published on Wednesday. The poll found that over two-thirds of respondents are anxious about the adverse effects of AI, while 61 percent consider it a potential threat to civilization.

The online poll, conducted from May 9 to May 15, sampled the opinions of 4,415 US adults. It has a credibility interval (a measure of accuracy) of plus or minus two percentage points.

The poll results come amid the expansion of generative AI use in education, government, medicine, and business, triggered in part by the explosive growth of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which is reportedly the fastest-growing software application of all time. The application’s success has set off a technology hype race among tech giants such as Microsoft and Google, which stand to benefit from having something new and buzzy to potentially increase their share prices.

Fears about AI, justified or not, have been rumbling through the public discourse lately due to high-profile events such as the “AI pause” letter and Geoffery Hinton resigning from Google. In a recent high-profile case of AI apprehension, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified before US Congress on Tuesday, expressing his concerns about the potential misuse of AI technology and calling for regulation that, according to critics, may help his firm retain its technological lead and suppress competition.

Lawmakers seem to share some of these concerns, with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) observing, “There’s no way to put this genie in the bottle. Globally, this is exploding,” Reuters reported.

This negative scare messaging seems to be having an impact. Americans’ fears over AI’s potential for harm far outweigh optimism about its benefits, with those predicting adverse outcomes outnumbering those who don’t by three to one. “According to the data, 61% of respondents believe that AI poses risks to humanity, while only 22% disagreed, and 17% remained unsure,” wrote Reuters.

The poll also revealed a political divide in perceptions of AI, with 70 percent of Donald Trump voters expressing greater concern about AI versus 60 percent of Joe Biden voters. Regarding religious beliefs, evangelical Christians were more likely to “strongly agree” that AI poses risks to human civilization, at 32 percent, compared to 24 percent of non-evangelical Christians.

Reuters reached out to Landon Klein, director of US policy of the Future of Life Institute, which authored the open letter that asked for a six-month pause in AI research of systems “more powerful” than GPT-4. “It’s telling such a broad swatch of Americans worry about the negative effects of AI,” Klein said. “We view the current moment similar to the beginning of the nuclear era, and we have the benefit of public perception that is consistent with the need to take action.”

Meanwhile, another group of AI researchers led by Timnit Gebru, Emily M. Bender, and Margaret Mitchell (three authors of a widely cited critical paper on large language models) say that while AI systems are indeed potentially harmful, the prevalent worry about AI-powered apocalypse is misguided. They prefer to focus instead on “transparency, accountability, and preventing exploitative labor practices.”

Another issue with the poll is that AI is a nebulous term that often means different things to different people. Almost all Americans now use “AI” (and software tools once considered “AI”) in our everyday lives without much notice or fanfare, and it’s unclear if the Reuters/Ipsos poll made any attempt to make that type of distinction for its respondents. We did not have access to the poll methodology or raw poll results at press time.

Along those lines, Reuters quoted Ion Stoica, a UC Berkeley professor and co-founder of AI company Anyscale, pointing out this potential contradiction. “Americans may not realize how pervasive AI already is in their daily lives, both at home and at work,” he said.

Thinking About Absolute vs. Relative Risk of Negative Outcomes with Firearms

Lately, I have been working on the chapter of my book on American gun culture that explores negative outcomes with firearms.

Although I differ from most scholars studying guns by beginning not with gun deviance but with the normality of guns and gun owners, I do take negative outcomes seriously.

Trying to get a better understanding of how the United States compares to other countries in the world in terms of negative outcomes with firearms, I recently stumbled upon the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and its cross-national Global Burden of Disease (GBD) database (more about IHME GBD at the end).

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High school students say they’ve found new way to prove Pythagorean theorem
This type of proof for the Pythagorean theorem was thought to be impossible.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Two students at a school in New Orleans have presented evidence of a mathematical discovery that scholars have been trying to prove for 2,000 years.

School officials at St. Mary’s Academy say Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson, both 17, attended the American Mathematical Society’s Annual Southeastern Conference where they said they had found a way to prove the Pythagorean theorem using trigonometry and without using circular logic.

“In the 2,000 years since trigonometry was discovered it’s always been assumed that any alleged proof of Pythagoras’s Theorem based on trigonometry must be circular,” the teenage authors wrote in the abstract of their presentation at the conference. “In fact, in the book containing the largest known collection of proofs (The Pythagorean Proposition by Elisha Loomis) the author flatly states that ‘There are no trigonometric proofs, because all the fundamental formulae of trigonometry are themselves based upon the truth of the Pythagorean Theorem.’”

“But that isn’t quite true: in our lecture we present a new proof of Pythagoras’s Theorem which is based on a fundamental result in trigonometry — the Law of Sines — and we show that the proof is independent of the Pythagorean trig identity \sin^2x + \cos^2x = 1.”

Used to calculate the side lengths of a right triangle, this type of proof for the Pythagorean theorem was thought to be impossible. The standard Pythagorean theorem is used on an everyday basis in professions like architecture, building construction, navigation, spaceflight, computer sciences, and more.

Johnson and Jackson first became interested in Pythagoras’ theorem when they entered a math contest created to spark students’ further interests in the field, according to St. Mary’s. The study led them to believe the theory’s original proof was inaccurate.

The students made their groundbreaking lecture to mathematical scholars on March 18 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The two students, both 17, presented their findings at the American Mathematical Society’s Annual Southeastern Conference on March 18. (St. Mary’s Academy New Orleans)

The Problems With Just Getting Guns Out of People’s Hands as a Solution to Gun Violence
New study sees Chicago harassing and arresting people for paperwork violations, damaging their ability to live and work, without demonstrable effect on gun violence

When hideous murders committed with guns make national news, as in today’s Nashville school shooting, it is a natural reaction on many people’s parts to call passionately for just getting more guns out of more people’s hands, by any means necessary.

Those concerned with civil liberties and police abuse of the innocent have long worried about the effects of privileging mere gun possession arrests. A new study from the Marshall Project highlights some of these problems, via examining data and interviewing arrestees from Chicago’s attempts to manage its violence problem with more gun possession arrests.

Chicago police seem to have adopted a pattern of pretextual stops—looking for any excuse to pull someone over and interact with them—in order, they hope, to find a gun without a proper permit to own or license to carry. (Getting both those things can be quite expensive in terms of both time and money, disproportionately affecting the poor living in violent neighborhoods who most strongly feel the pull toward having a gun for self-defense.) Gun law enforcement in Chicago, the Marshall Project finds, “overwhelmingly focuses on possession crimes — not use.”

The heart of the study’s findings:

From 2010 to 2022, the police made more than 38,000 arrests for illegal gun possession. These arrests — almost always a felony — doubled during this timeframe. While illegal possession is the most serious offense in most of the cases we analyzed, the charges often bear misleading names that imply violence, like “aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.”

Police continue to insist that every gun out of someone’s hands, even if it involves arresting that person and increasing mass incarceration of the nonviolent and highly harming that person’s ability to work and rent in the future, is all for the good; after all, that gun won’t be used by that person to harm anyone. (It is almost always the case that those guns would not have unjustly harmed anyone even minus the arrest and confiscation.)

But there is no particular evidence that harassing or arresting those who have harmed no one has “substantially reduced shootings in Chicago. In fact, as possession arrests skyrocketed, shootings increased, but the percentage of shooting victims where someone was arrested in their case declined,” that latter point a strong indication that mere possession arrests are not a sensible high priority for police for whom gun violence should be their only concern when it comes to guns, not paperwork violations. But the Project found that “nearly 60% of the 31,000 new felony cases pursued by [the state’s attorney of Cook County, Illinois] in the past three years were for illegal gun possession; roughly 4% were for homicides.”

Among the gun arrests the Marshall Project were able to analyze from raw data, “Most people [arrested] had no arrest warrants out, nor were they on supervised release, probation or suspected of being in a gang. In most of the incidents we analyzed, police were not responding to 911 calls about a person with a gun.”

The fight against mere possession becomes a generalized excuse for harassment of citizens: “In arrests where possession was the most severe charge…we found that more than 7 in 10 began with a simple traffic violation. After this initial stop, police often used some other justification for a search. Officers often did this by citing the smell of marijuana. Although Illinois legalized cannabis in 2020, smoking while driving is still prohibited.” And, “in a third of the stops, we found the person arrested had their gun owner’s permit, but not the license that allowed carrying the loaded gun in public.”

The enforcement is hugely disproportionate racially. “Although Black people comprise less than a third of the city’s population, they were more than 8 in 10 of those arrested for unlawful possession in the timeframe we reviewed.” Convictions lead to a year or more in prison, and merely the arrest can mess up the life of someone who has harmed no one via “damning criminal records, time on probation, job loss, legal fees and car impoundments.”

As Reason‘s C.J. Ciaramella has previously reported, the overzealous search for guns owned without proper paperwork has led not just to pretextual traffic stops that ruin innocent people’s lives but to violent raids on homes, often not even the homes where the alleged illegal guns were supposed to be.

As the Marshall Project (who although close-focused on Chicago in this study “identified several other cities with similar trends,” including Houston, New York, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Memphis) quotes one of the victims of gun possession arrests they interviewed, “I’m scared for my life — and I gotta go to prison because I fear for my life, for my family’s safety? Because we’re not fortunate enough to live someplace else?”

The Impact of Liberalized Concealed Carry Laws on Homicide: An Assessment

This paper uses panel data from 1980 to 2018 in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia to examine the relationship between liberalized concealed carry laws, homicide, and firearm homicide…. The relationship between shall-issue and constitutional carry laws and homicide were statistically insignificant at the 1%, 5%, and even 10% level. The results were robust to multiple alternative model specifications. We find no evidence that looser concealed carry laws pose a significant public health or criminological risk.


The Strongest Evidence Yet That Covid Masks Are Worthless.

We now have the most authoritative estimate of the value provided by wearing masks during the pandemic: approximately zero. The most rigorous and extensive review of the scientific literature concludes that neither surgical masks nor N95 masks have been shown to make a difference in reducing the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

This verdict ought to be the death knell for mask mandates, but that would require the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the rest of the public-health establishment to forsake “the science”—and unfortunately, these leaders and their acolytes in the media seem as determined as ever to ignore actual science. Before the pandemic, clinical trials repeatedly showed little or no benefit from wearing masks in preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses like flu and colds. That was why, in their pre-2020 plans for dealing with a viral pandemic, the World Health Organization, the CDC, and other national public-health agencies did not recommend masking the public. But once Covid-19 arrived, magical thinking prevailed. Officials ignored the previous findings and plans, instead touting crude and easily debunked studies purporting to show that masks worked.

The gold standard for medical evidence is the randomized clinical trial, and the gold standard for analyzing this evidence is Cochrane (formerly the Cochrane Collaboration), the world’s largest and most respected organization for evaluating health interventions. Funded by the National Institutes of Health and other nations’ health agencies, it’s an international network of reviewers, based in London, that has partnerships with the WHO and Wikipedia. Medical journals have hailed it for being “the best single resource for methodologic research” and for being “recognized worldwide as the highest standard in evidence-based healthcare.”

It has published a new Cochrane review of the literature on masks, including trials during the Covid-19 pandemic in hospitals and in community settings. The 15 trials compared outcomes of wearing of surgical masks versus wearing no masks, and also versus N95 masks. The review, conducted by a dozen researchers from six countries, concludes that wearing any kind of face covering “probably makes little or no difference” in reducing the spread of respiratory illness.

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Live long and prosper. If they will let you.
Longer lives, society, and freedom.

Longer, healthier lives: A disaster for humanity? To hear some people talk, yes.

Harvard aging researcher David Sinclair has managed to regulate the aging process in mice, making young mice old and old mice young. And numerous researchers elsewhere are working on finding ways to turn back the clock.

This has created a good deal of excitement. We’ve seen these waves of antiaging enthusiasm before: There was a flurry of interest in the first decade of this century, with news stories, conferences, and so on. That enthusiasm mostly involved activating the SIRT-1 gene, which is also activated by caloric restriction.

You can buy supplements, like resveratrol or quercetin, that show some evidence of slowing the aging process by activating that gene, or by killing senescent cells. Drugs like rapamycin and metformin have shown promise as well. And diet and exercise do enough good that if they were available in pill form, everyone would be gobbling them.

But while pumping the brakes on the process of getting older and frailer is a good thing, being able to actually stop – or better yet reverse – the process is better still. If I had the chance, I’d be happy to knock a few decades off of my biological age. (Ideally, I think I’d be physically 25 and cosmetically about 40.)

But does this mean we’re looking at something like immortality? Well, not really.

Even a complete conquest of aging wouldn’t mean eternal life. Accidents, disease, even death by violence will still ensure that your time on Earth – or wherever you’re living in a century or two – eventually comes to an end. Still an end to, or even a dramatic delaying of, the process of decay and decline would be nice. As Robert Heinlein observed in the 1950s, you spend the first 25 years of your life getting established, then the next couple of decades striving to get ahead, and then by age 50 your reward for all that is that your middle is thickening, your breath is shortening, and your aches and pains are accumulating as the Grim Reaper waits around the corner.

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generalized estimating equation estimates
Translation (even with the statistical word salad definition) it still comes to: There’s actually no way to figure this out, so I’ll make my SWAG look good on paper

John Lott (more guns/less crime) was right, but they couldn’t let that be confirmed, so they kept torturing the statistics hoping for something different, but the best they could come up with was that gun sales don’t have any effect on crime rates.

Legal Firearm Sales at State Level and Rates of Violent Crime, Property Crime, and Homicides

Journal of Surgical Research, Volume 281, January 2023, Pages 143-154



The effects of firearm sales and legislation on crime and violence are intensely debated, with multiple studies yielding differing results. We hypothesized that increased lawful firearm sales would not be associated with the rates of crime and homicide when studied using a robust statistical method.


National and state rates of crime and homicide during 1999-2015 were obtained from the United States Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Instant Criminal Background Check System background checks were used as a surrogate for lawful firearm sales. A general multiple linear regression model using log event rates was used to assess the effect of firearm sales on crime and homicide rates. Additional modeling was then performed on a state basis using an autoregressive correlation structure with generalized estimating equation estimates for standard errors to adjust for the interdependence of variables year to year within a particular state.


Nationally, all crime rates except the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–designated firearm homicides decreased as firearm sales increased over the study period. Using a naive national model, increases in firearm sales were associated with significant decreases in multiple crime categories. However, a more robust analysis using generalized estimating equation estimates on state-level data demonstrated increases in firearms sales were not associated with changes in any crime variables examined.


Robust analysis does not identify an association between increased lawful firearm sales and rates of crime or homicide.

Based on this, it is unclear if efforts to limit lawful firearm sales would have any effect on rates of crime, homicide, or injuries from violence committed with firearms.

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To End Climate Lunacy, Stop Treating Warming & C02 Hysterically

Those who oppose economically destructive “climate” policies – like those promoted by the Biden administration and at the recent United Nations COP27 conference – will continue to fail to stop the advance of these policies so long as they continue to accept the false claim that warming of the planet and carbon dioxide emissions are harmful.

They are not. On balance, global warming and CO2 emission are beneficial.

Before getting to why that is, however, it is crucial to understand why accepting the false climate claim is so harmful.

When the destructiveness of climate policies is shown, the response is that the policies nevertheless are necessary to address what President Biden refers to as the “existential threat” of global warming and increased CO2 emissions.

When it is noted that these climate policies will at most microscopically and insignificantly reduce temperatures and CO2 emissions, climate policy mandarins push for even more draconian policies.

The result has been that since the 1990s, climate policies have become increasingly destructive and wasteful. Even worse, their continued intensification appears unlikely to be stopped until the public and policymakers are persuaded that global warming and CO2 emissions are not harmful. As Margaret Thatcher famously said: “First you win the argument, then you win the vote.”

To win this argument, it is necessary to focus on the scientific facts.

A warming planet saves lives. Analyses of millions of deaths in recent decades in numerous countries, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, show that cooler temperatures killed nine times (July 2021 study) to seventeen times (In May 2015 study) more people than warmer temperatures. The planet’s recent modest warming (by 1.00 degree Celsius on average since 1880, as calculated by NASA) thus has been saving millions of lives.

CO2 emissions do not pollute and instead are environmentally beneficial. In 2017, over 300 scientists, including Richard Lindzen of MIT and William Happer of Princeton, signed a statement that made this point: “carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. To the contrary, there is clear evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful to food crops and other plants that nourish all life. It is plant food, not poison.” Every one of us, indeed, also exhales carbon dioxide with every breath.

Since 1920, deaths each year from natural disasters have decreased by over 90 percent. And this happened, data from EM-DAT – The International Disaster Database presented by The University of Oxford show, not only as the planet has warmed, but as world population has quadrupled.

Global warming has not increased hurricanes. A NOAA report, updated on November 28, 2022, states that “there is essentially no long-term trend in hurricane counts. The evidence for an upward trend is even weaker if we look at U.S. landfalling hurricanes, which even show a slight negative trend beginning from 1900 or from the late 1800s.”

The same report sums it up in bold: “We conclude that the historical Atlantic hurricane data at this stage do not provide compelling evidence for a substantial greenhouse warming-induced century-scale increase in: frequency of tropical storms, hurricanes, or major hurricanes, or in the proportion of hurricanes that become major hurricanes.”

Global warming also does not increase land burned by fires. As environmental statistician Bjorn Lomberg has shown using data from the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, Remote Sensing of Environment, and Earth’s Future, the percentage of global land burned per year in 1905-2021 has been declining.

Sea levels are rising – but only by a small fraction of an inch each year. An EPA report updated on August 1, 2022, states: “When averaged over all of the world’s oceans, absolute sea level has risen at an average rate of 0.06 inches per year from 1880 to 2013,” including a slightly increased rate since 1993 of “0.12 to 0.14 inches per year.”

The UN climate models that President Biden, John Kerry, and other climate doomsters use to predict future global temperatures are so speculative and unreliable that they have been unable even to reproduce the 20th century’s temperature changes. This is a key point in the must-read book by Obama Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Steven Koonin, Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters.

These kinds of facts should persuade the public and policymakers to stop accepting the false claim that global warming and CO2 emissions are harmful.

When this false claim is no longer widely accepted, policymakers will stop imposing climate policies that particularly impoverish the world’s poor.

They will stop holding international boondoggles like COP27 and that demand vast climate-related foreign aid programs.

They will stop spending hundreds of billions of dollars on domestic climate sinkholes.

And they will stop using purported “social cost of carbon” factors (even though the true social cost of carbon is zero) to regulatorily restrict domestic fossil fuel production, transportation, and use.

It’s not from dinosaurs

Don’t worry, we’ll never run out of oil
When will we run out of oil? 50 years? 100? As it turns out, we may never actually run out of this incredibly useful substance.

  • The discovery and exploitation of crude oil have literally transformed the world beyond all recognition.
  • This was such a great discovery, that our modern world is literally fuelled by it.
  • If the crude oil supply was to suddenly dry up, could we survive?

Crude oil is one of the most important resources we have ever discovered. Oil and the many products made from it have literally and figuratively transformed the world beyond all recognition. However, as we are constantly reminded, crude oil is not in infinite supply. After all, it took millions of years to “brew”.Estimates vary, but if our current consumption continues apace, we may well see a time in the near future when it is completely exhausted. But, are such claims true? Have we reached what is commonly referred to as “peak oil?”.

Or, perhaps, just perhaps, we are looking at the problem from the wrong angle?

But, before we get into the weeds about the future of oil, let’s spend a little time discussing the nature of a “finite” resource. 

Are natural resources actually finite?

Humans like to build stuff. We’ve been doing it for as long as our species has existed, and will continue to do so into the distant future. 

Making stuff needs materials, and depending on what we are making, and how much of it, this can consume large amounts of that raw resource(s). For any product you can think of, somewhere in its supply chain raw materials have been extracted at some point and “used up” in the final product.

As more and more stuff is made over time, it would seem logical that there must be a point when the supply of any material is used up? But is this actually true?

How you think about this might, ultimately, all come down to whether you are a pessimist or an optimist at heart. The former will adamantly believe that because there is only a limited amount of stuff humans could ever get our hands-on (like the entire mass of the Earth, say), then resources must, by definition, be limited. This is especially true if our consumption of a material exceeds the rate of its replenishment. It is this fact that basically determines if a resource is considered “renewable” or not

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