Scientific Method as Harmful

Even for conservatives, who, if there is any one common denominator, insist upon coercive hierarchical systems of social organization—yes, that includes capitalist libertarians[1]—the case of Jason Richwine is peculiar.

Our story begins with a Heritage Foundation study which opposes so-called illegal immigration and amnesty based on projected costs to taxpayers.[2] This report was not well received, but it is beyond my scope here to address its shortcomings.

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  1. [1]David Benfell, “Defining Conservatism,” April 12, 2013,
  2. [2]Robert Rector and Jason Richwine, “The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer,” Heritage Foundation, May 6, 2013,

The false dichotomy between oblivion and paranoia

Let’s begin by stipulating that Glenn Beck is paranoid.

But there’s an old joke that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean “they” aren’t out to get you. And in that context, an article appearing in Salon today seems particularly bizarre. Jillian Rayfield writes, “As Kyle Mantyla from Right Wing Watch explains, Beck apparently believes there is an ‘all-encompassing government surveillance apparatus in operation that records literally every email, phone conversation, and electronic communication and stores them all in a massive database in Utah,’ which he discussed for the bulk of his Wednesday show.”[1]

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  1. [1]Jillian Rayfield, “Beck was seemingly referring to government surveillance of Americans,” Salon, May 22, 2013,

I’ve got mine

I recently got into a heated discussion with some folks on Friendica about sustainability and veganism. This should be a no-brainer:

Producing 1 kg of animal protein requires about 100 times more water than producing 1 kg of grain protein (8). Livestock directly uses only 1.3% of the total water used in agriculture. However, when the water required for forage and grain production is included, the water requirements for livestock production dramatically increase. For example, producing 1 kg of fresh beef may require about 13 kg of grain and 30 kg of hay (17). This much forage and grain requires about 100 000 L of water to produce the 100 kg of hay, and 5400 L for the 4 kg of grain. On rangeland for forage production, more than 200 000 L of water are needed to produce 1 kg of beef (30). Animals vary in the amounts of water required for their production. In contrast to beef, 1 kg of broiler can be produced with about 2.3 kg of grain requiring approximately 3500 L of water.[1]

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  1. [1]David Pimentel and Marcia Pimentel, “Sustainability of meat-based and Plant-Based Diets and the Environment,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 78, no. 3 (2003),

The blood on Jeffrey Sachs’ hands

These sweatshop jobs are the targets of public protest in developed countries; those protests have helped to improve the safety and quality of the working conditions. The rich-world protesters, however, should support increased numbers of such jobs, albeit under safer working conditions, by protesting the trade protectionism in their own countries that keeps out garment exports from countries from countries such as Bangladesh. These young women already have a foothold in the modern economy that is a critical, measurable step up from the villages of Malawi (and more relevant for the women, a step up from the villages of Bangaladesh where most of them were born). The sweatshops are the first rung on the ladder out of extreme poverty.[1]

Such words, written by Jeffrey Sachs, should sound oddly familiar; they are reminiscent of nostalgia for the Old South, in which former slaveowners asserted that their slaves loved them.[2] They presume to speak for others, for sweatshop workers and for slaves, rationalizing the sweatshop and the plantation, for a life of ease for capitalists and for masters.

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  1. [1]Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time (New York: Penguin, 2006), 11
  2. [2]David Anderson, “Down Memory Lane: Nostalgia for the Old South in Post-Civil War Plantation Reminiscences,” Journal of Southern History 71, no. 1 (2005): 105-136.