October 20

The Junk ‘Science’ of Dr. Joe Perrone and Anti-Marijuana Propaganda

a junk “science” doctor

Dr. Joe Perrone is the chief science officer at the Center For Accountable Science (link), a project of the nonprofit Center for Organizational Research and Education, which is supported by businesses and foundations, including those in the hospitality, agriculture, and energy industries.   They have a mission statement on their webpage that reads:

Every day, consumers are inundated with headlines and talk show segments warning about how the products in their pantries, medicine cabinets, refrigerators, and under their sink could give them an array of terrifying diseases. In many cases, these scary stories vastly overstate the actual risk, causing unnecessary alarm.

The Center for Accountability in Science provides a balanced look at the science behind these news stories and examines the organizations behind the effort to scare consumers.

So, I find it extremely curious that doctor Perrone takes aim at the marijuana legalization lobby in his recent article in the New York Post, The junk ‘science’ behind the marijuana legalization movement, and shotguns a headline attack against their claims that marijuana is “safe”.

Let’s understand that Mr. Perrone is not a medical “doctor”.   He is a doctor of science.  So, I’ll concede that he knows more about junk ‘science’ than I do because, after all, I’m just a caveman.  Your ways frighten me, so I’m glad to have smart people like doctors tell me the correct sciences to believe as truth.    Let’s also state that I’m sure doctor Perrone is a fantastic person.  He probably has everyone’s best interests in mind when he decides to propagate longstanding old myths about marijuana use while claiming the new myths of harmlessness are false and “junk science”.   I wholeheartedly agree with him that substances abused can be detrimental to anyone’s health.  But the premise of his article says that marijuana advocates claim the drug is “safe”, and “harmless” and that it’s wrong to claim those things.    Here’s a quote from the article:

The problem is that marijuana is not, in fact, “harmless.” Proponents are spinning the science — casting pot as a threat only if used improperly, much like a car — for the sake of advancing their political agenda.

The problem with his citations is that no one ever claims marijuana is harmless, and certainly never in any scientific way.  In the first link to sources, marijuana is simply claimed to be less harmful than alcohol.  The second claims “harmless” in the context of being “not lethal”.   Neither is a used in a hyperbolic, mythical, or scientific sense as Perrone implies in his article.  Actually, he implies nothing of the sort – he overtly refers to it as “junk science”.  Since it was not a scientific claim, the premise of his article seems to be invalid.  Yet he goes on to describe the study he has read (LINK) claiming the dangers of marijuana are real and shouldn’t be ignored.  Unfortunately, no one has ever said there weren’t dangers of abusing marijuana.  He’s using claims of “harmlessness” in a different context to disprove them in another context.    There is a fundamental misrepresentation of the context, so we cavemen like to refer to that as a false presumption, and the resulting argument as a straw man.  Or perhaps, in this case, a cave man argument.

I would expect more from a doctor than to make such an error in logic, but then, he must have his own political agenda to advertise.  I’m sure he relies on his doctoral background to assume you won’t notice how he manipulated the meaning of his source material.  He continues his scare tactics by telling us more about his buddy’s study:   “…driving after smoking pot approximately doubles the risk of a car crash.”   What he fails to mention is this, which is taken directly from the study he quotes:  “…cannabis users who drive while intoxicated increase their risk of motor vehicle crashes 2–3 times [20] as against 6–15 times for comparable intoxicating doses of alcohol. Cannabis use was estimated to account for 2.5% of traffic deaths in France as against 29% for alcohol.”   So, you are 400% more likely to be in an automobile accident while under the influence of alcohol than under the effects of marijuana.  In fact, you are %100 more likely to get in an automobile accident while driving than while sitting on your couch.   And you are %1000 more likely to die in your car crash when drinking alcohol compared to marijuana.  Facts are cool, aren’t they?  Yes, especially when you focus on parts of facts and then take them out of context.    The nice thing about reading the actual synopsis of the study is that they include the words “suggests strongly”, which means they are careful to not claim a direct causal link, whereas dr. Perrone fails to do this.   When you omit these carefully conceived words, you imply the causal link implicitly.  

I could go on, but that might defame the reputation of Mr. Perrone, who, I hope,  uses more rigor in his day job than when moonlighting as a columnist.   I’d also like to say that any substance, when abused, can be harmful.  Although, asprin is determined to be relatively “safe” by the general public and the medical community, too much asprin will kill you, and no one gives asprin to children.   This is not a scientific claim, and should not be used as the basis for an argument by portraying my claim as “junk science”.   Of course the effects of  marijuana warrant more study and analysis – no one would doubt that.   But using lies to argue that someone else is lying is bad form, especially for a doctor – especially a non-medical one.

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October 17

To Protect Us From Ebola, Foreign And Domestic

outbreak central

To protect us from enemies, foreign and domestic – a catchy, time honored tradition, but obviously not important enough to restrict travel to and from West Africa. The clarion call from some Democrats and Republicans for President Obama to do this simple task has fallen on deaf ears as the President has said he will not do so until the WHO reverses it’s position on restricted travel. My question is, thusly: Why don’t the Senate and House draft a bill making it the law of the land? Why wait for an executive action to prevent this devastating disease from destroying our safety, our lives, and our economy? Force the president’s hand, get off your lazy, fast asses, and do some real work in Congress for a change.  They control the regulatory agencies, not the President.  They regulate and fund the bureaucracy, not the president.  The President can act, but chooses not to.  Congress could act, but would rather blame the president instead of using their own authority to do so.   Any other tragedy elicits a Congressional action – why not this one?  If it can only save one child from a needless, violent gun death, emergency legislation is always proposed. After every mass shooting, or any other crisis, we hear the need to protect our children. Let’s take Obama’s own words on the Sandy Hook crisis and apply them to the potential Ebola crisis:

“Will all of them get through this Congress? I don’t know. But what’s uppermost in my mind is making sure that I’m honest with the American people and with members of Congress about what I think will work, what I think is something that will make a difference. And to repeat what I’ve said earlier — if there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step.”

What happened to this type of resolve when it comes to potentially saving the lives of thousands of American children from a far more insidious threat?  I’ll tell you the difference between a non-discriminating virus and an indiscriminate teenage shooter:  A lone gunman kills arithmetically.    He can only shoot a limited amount of people before he runs out of bullets.  The victims don’t turn around and start shooting more people, which is exactly what happens when a virus is the perpetrator.   And before the tragedy of death, our whole society could easily be affected – just from the perceived threat of Ebola spreading throughout the country.   Fear will spread much more quickly and devastatingly than the actual disease.  Children being held home from school, out of fear, will stunt their education.  Fear will keep people from working, travelling, conducting commerce.  The economy to implodes.  Recession follows as  markets collapse.  Fear will be the harbinger of disaster, well before death arrives.

Here’s another whacky opinion from Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who is obviously smoking the mari-juana by proxy:  (she) agreed with the administration’s logic that blocking travel would make it harder for the U.S. to help contain the outbreak in West Africa. Failure to contain it there, she said, would put Americans more at risk of Ebola.   “There’s no such thing as fortress America when it comes to infectious disease,” she said. “The best way to stop Ebola is going to be to stop this virus in Africa.” … “Experts from Doctors Without Borders have told us that a quarantine on travel would have ‘catastrophic impacts on West Africa,’ ” she added.  (via – The Blaze).   Catastrophic impacts on West Africa?  Like what, a serious economic impact?  How about dying from a hemorrhagic virus, killing a majority of your population, and spreading it worldwide?    From the Blaze article, we learn the House Dems agree with Obama.  But, the Republicans control the House, so it would be an easy task to introduce emergency legislation to restrict travel.   And that travel restriction doesn’t have to be absolute.  We could exempt military and humanitarian aid group members from the ban.   We could regulate the restrictions, by law,  to go TO the affected areas, and place more rigorous restrictions coming OUT of the affected areas.  That’s not being unsympathetic, it’s just common sense.  The problem is that politicians here don’t seem to have any backbone to do it, only big mouths.  The time to act is NOW, before the tragedy occurs, not in the aftermath.

Another point I need to get straight in my mind is when traveling from abroad, I’m not allowed to bring in fruit from another country because it could bring in disease and wipe out the indigenous plant population of the US.   If I want to bring a pet into the US from abroad, I have to have proof of vaccinations or my pet gets quarantined for 30 days.  But if I want to travel to and from Liberia, all I have to do is not have a temperature of 101.5 ?   When the preponderance of evidence shows the incubation period of Ebola would allow travelers to enter this county up to 21 days before displaying symptoms, I’m not understanding why there’s no mandatory quarantine for all West African travelers coming into the US.   Obviously plant and animal life are more important than people – according to the CDC and the WHO.   This is the first epidemic I’ve ever heard of treating without a quarantine, and that restricted access will only help spread the disease further.   I can’t make up the ridiculousness of this dichotomy, it’s too insane and difficult to comprehend.

Therefore, I need someone to think FOR me.  I need the politicians that we elected to do the jobs we elected them to do, and pay them handsomely do do In the aftermath of tragedy, politicians and especially congresspeople are always quick to think for us, react to our emotions, and promise action.  This time, we just get the buck passing.  Congress passes the buck to the President, Obama passes to the WHO.  No one has to do anything because there’s not yet a tragedy.  And we need a tragedy to trigger a response.   But this “no such thing as fortress America”  does not invalidate the moral requirement of our government to build a defense.   A defense to protect us for enemies, be they a foreign army, a terrorist group, or a microscopic killer that can wipe out our economy and our population.   The best defense is a good offense works in football, but this isn’t football, this is real life, where the congress and the president are charged with both and have done neither.  If it could save one child, or a million, shouldn’t somebody do something now instead of when it’s too late?  Call your congressman now.

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October 12

Being Black in Sandusky Ohio

I know, it’s tiresome to see tough, blue-collar police officers abusing their authority on a daily basis but these cops deserve the ringer for the illegal behavior they display in this viral traffic stop shown here:  <LINK>

An even more interesting read is the comment section on PoliceOne.com where some members have no problem affirming their belief that this was a lawful arrest and proper behavior for officers. Note that SOME members, who are police, actually do comment that what they did was not proper. Just because it was a lawful traffic stop does not give officers probable cause to do anything they please. First they claimed that they had probable cause because the driver was nervous. As if being nervous was an irregular behavior by a civilian during a traffic stop. Then they brought out the K-9 unit and claimed the dog indicated. Forcing a dog to indicate is a simple process and used frequently as a source of probable cause.

Should we even mention that the sun can clearly be seen above the head of the officer making contact with the passenger who is recording?  It is not dusk, it is not “twilight”, and it is most certainly not dark which would require headlights.   The primary reason for the traffic stop is invalidated by the video.   The non-uniformed officer that shows up at the end of the video with the red shirt and badge around a chain on his neck is most likely the narcotics officer who was, no doubt, the head of this “sting” operation, or the point man who was profiling cars to be stopped for made up “violations” such as driving without headlights in the daytime.   And, as stated numerous times by the arresting officer, police seem to think that during a valid traffic stop they area legally allowed to do whatever they please. This is not the case as they need probable cause or a reasonable suspicion to determine ALL of their actions as legal. failing to ID a passenger is not automatically probable cause.  Here are some other notable quotes:

“You look exactly like someone who has warrants…”  –  you’re black

“…now you’re obstructing an investigation”  –  an illegal investigation based on an invalid traffic stop

“Everyone’s gettin’ arrested. It’s as simple as that.”  –  a false arrest based on no evidence

“You’re gonna come outta that car one way or another.”  –  a final intimidation tactic that gets the woman driver to submit to protect her infant in the back seat

Officials said the case was reviewed by prosecutors and they determined that the officers “acted lawfully”. But one has to wonder, had they not been black, would they have even been pulled over in the first place. Clearly stopped during the daytime for not having headlights on is a method of intimidation and probably a ruse to fish for suspects on the highway, profiling them as they drive past a checkpoint. Something police “task forces” like to do to add to their numbers at the end of the month. Just go driving on the 20-24th of any given month and you’ll always see an inordinate amount of local, county, and state police on your highways and local streets trolling for “offenders”. They may insist there is no such thing as a quota system, but we all know that’s how they gauge officer performance: arrest numbers, ticket numbers, confiscation dollars, and contraband quantities.

It seems Ohio police will make up laws when ever they feel someone is suspicious in every and any situation. And you don’t have to be black to be the target of police abuse of power.
Listen to this guy who is interrogated by an officer during a stop

He attempts to trick the driver into admitting he smokes weed and that he has weed in the car numerous times and that he should have his car searched. He does this by being a “buddy cop” and using a passive question instead of a direct primary question. This is why it’s always important to never answer questions. They are ALWAYS fishing for a reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Thankfully this guy is having none of it. I’m sure this guy is just lucky and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s white. Wait, doesn’t having a disc golf bag give them probable cause to search and detain, bring in the drug dogs, and make all occupants exit the vehicle and identify themselves?
 

 

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October 11

Detroit Cop Steals Dead Man’s Watch

Something smells in the state of Detroit and it’s the stench of privilege. Cop privilege. At least Capt. James Craig is doing something about the corruption run wild in the city’s department and the suspect in question was apprehended. However, this is just another example of the privilege this class of people has enjoyed for so long coming to light. The privilege of being a police officer.

See this LINK for the story in the Detroit News yesterday.

detroit police james craig

I’d fire him if it weren’t for the Police Union…

It’s funny how when no one is watching, people with power over others seem to abuse that power in almost all circumstances. There is no active, completely separate department that watches police behavior in this country and the result is usually the trampling of rights of ordinary citizens in a free society. How on God’s green Earth can a police officer believe he’d get away with stealing an expensive watch from evidence? Privilege. The privilege of knowing his fellow officers will always take care of their own unless outside forces act upon them. Knowing that whatever you choose to do, you’ll probably never suffer any repercussions for your actions. Even then the wagons tend to circle in the law enforcement fraternity of justice and simply slap them on the wrist and move on. This is all I expect to happen in this case, since the victim was already dead and there’s not even a civilian complaint. We’ll see, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.  You know what they say, “spare the rod…”

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October 10

Detroit Cop Threatens Couple In Suburb Road Rage

detroit cop brandishes firearm at couple down woodward avenue in birmingham

This is how we roll…

As seen on Detroit local WXYZ TV: (LINK)

It seems that when you become a police officer, you become accustomed to being above reproach. Not only do you own the law while on duty, you can easily forget that the law also applies to you as a person whether you’re in uniform or not. When this off-duty Detroit cop cut off a motorist, he decided to threaten them with a gun as well. Oh, he didn’t threaten them, you say? Well, he “brandished” a firearm to the couple he cut-off on Southbound Woodward Avenue last week. Funny thing is that there happens to be a law not to do that. So, the couple decided to follow this strange man and call 911 at the same time.

There’s no chance he could deny his crime since the couple would have no other way of knowing he was in possession of a firearm had he not decided to flash it at them from an open window. Birmingham Police pulled the man over and confiscated the weapon.  Since this story has become a local tv news item, there’s a chance he might actually get charged with a crime. There is a nasty habit of prosecutors making sweet plea bargain deals for law enforcement personnel, though, so I won’t get my hopes up for a conviction, or any punishment besides a reprimand.

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