A Poor Marker of Truth

The internet is not just a cheap, fast, and easy way to spread information. It is also a force multiplier. Small information campaigns can end up having a massive effect, for two important reasons. One is that the inherent structure of the web allows for and encourages the spread of information. Some kinds of information spread faster and wider than others. So we need to ask ourselves – what features of information will make it spread more through social media? It’s not accuracy, or thoroughness, or fairness. Bite-sized nuggets of drama or humor seem to do the best. If your information is unencumbered by reality, that is an advantage.

NeuroLogica Blog » A Poor Marker of Truth

We Deceive Ourselves to Better Deceive Others

Facebook – The Skeptic’s GuideScientific American

I have known for a long time that you have to believe a thing before you can convince others. I see no reason to limit that observation of human nature by saying the things you manipulate with must be true. They just have to sound true, and most of that is presentation.

It’s​ good to get confirmation of the hypothesis through scientific study, even though I’m not surprised by the results. Most people will only watch/read far enough to get confirmation of the thing they are told to believe, want to believe. It takes effort to discover the whole picture. If there is no reward in filling out the picture, most people will not bother.

I would be interested in discovering which portion of the test group refused to do the work after watching all the videos. Were they less inclined to demonize or praise? That information would be more revealing of human nature, in my opinion.


What Does the Word Only Mean to You?

Skeptics Guide to the Universe #607 – Science or Fiction. Steve used the word only to describe capturing data from the LED on the computer. Using malware in addition to the LED is not only using the LED. If you add the variable of freighted malware to the possibilities, there are many ways that information from your computer could be gathered, even if it was never connected to a network.

The only way to be certain that your code is clean is to write every bit of the code yourself on an isolated machine, and even then malware can be encoded onto the ROM chips built into the board.

Basically, if you want certainty that your systems are secure, you are screwed. But malware in addition to the LED is still not only using the LED.

(letter to Dr. Steven Novella, host of the SGU)

Malaria or DDT?

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe Facebook page posted a link to this article on The Daily Beast:

Today, most people under the age of 40 have probably never heard of Rachel Carson. But in the early 1960s, almost every American knew her name.

On Sept. 27, 1962, Rachel Carson changed her tone. Her next book, Silent Spring, which she called her “poison book,” was an angry, no-holds-barred polemic against pesticides: especially DDT.

The first chapter of Silent Spring, titled “A Fable for Tomorrow,” was almost biblical, appealing to our sense that we had sinned against our Creator. “There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change… the cattle and sheep sickened and died… streams were lifeless… everywhere there was the shadow of death.” Birds, especially, had fallen victim to this strange evil. In a town that had once “throbbed with scores of bird voices there was now no sound, only silence.” A silent spring. Birds weren’t alone in their suffering. According to Carson, children suffered sudden death, aplastic anemia, birth defects, liver disease, chromosomal abnormalities, and leukemia—all caused by DDT. And women suffered infertility and uterine cancer.

Carson made it clear that she wasn’t talking about something that might happen—she was talking about something that had happened. Our war against nature had become a war against ourselves.


I read the article. It was a thoughtful piece on the subject of the cost of chemophobia on the world today and the wholesale discarding of DDT as a method of eradicating a deadly parasite. I posted it on my timeline because I’m kind of a fan of thinking what if? on a broad range of topics. I also posted it as a comment on a friend’s tribute to Rachel Carson on their timeline. I was trying to send a message. I wanted to highlight the lack of caring for the massive numbers of deaths from Malaria across the entire tropical zone of the world, deaths that could have been prevented if we had simply pursued Malaria eradication beyond the borders of the United States the way that we pursued it within our own borders.

Now we have Malaria cases potentially showing up in Florida again (CDC) not to mention the Zika panic, and the question really should be asked: should we revive DDT as a preventative, or should we finally admit that we need to embrace a newer technological intervention?

A Yale-hosted defense of Silent Spring was immediately offered as a rebuttal to The Daily Beast article. A Yale education is probably of more value than an article on a random internet website, but the writing in that opinion piece didn’t do the institution or the value of its education any favors. It was filled with demonstrably slanted opinions like this one: 

The first thing worth remembering is that it wasn’t Rachel Carson who banned DDT. It was the very Republican Nixon


This sort of riposte makes no sense as an argument unless you are certain your opponents are Republicans and/or conservative. Since I’m neither of those things and more than half of the other readers who might chance across the defense would not be of that mindset either, they clearly they need to work on their arguments a bit more if they wanted to sway disbelievers in the saintliness of Rachel Carson.

This slanted political tone goes on throughout the article. The finding that the programs were voluntarily stopped makes no mention of reasons for the stoppage. It could reasonably be assumed that the stoppages were in some way linked to fear of DDT brought about by books like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the associated naturalist movements that the book gave voice to. The administrators of these programs should have been afraid of the mosquitoes. As was observed by others, hindsight is always 20/20.

Even the negative health findings for DDT are inconclusive. Still inconclusive forty years later. If Malaria intervention was up to me, we’d have a Malaria vaccine already. Even better than that, we’d also engineer the mosquitoes to not be able to carry the disease:

Humans contract malaria from mosquitoes that are infected by parasites from the genus Plasmodium. Previous work had shown that mosquitoes could be engineered to rebuff the parasite P. falciparum1, but researchers lacked a way to ensure that the resistance genes would spread rapidly through a wild population.

In work published on 23 November in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers used a controversial method called ‘gene drive’ to ensure that an engineered mosquito would pass on its new resistance genes to nearly all of its offspring2 — not just half, as would normally be the case.

The result: a gene that could spread through a wild population like wildfire.


…but there is little chance the GMO and vaccine fearing public will go for either solution at this point. If I’m forced to create a disease limiting solution from the toolbox we are currently stuck with, I’ll take DDT. I say this with the knowledge that Malaria is moving North with the warmer weather. Only a matter of time till we’ll be seeing a resurgence here in Austin.

If I’m forced to pick the form of poison, I’ll take the chemicals, thanks. They beat the hell out of having Malaria. How about we focus on waking up the population so they might embrace human intervention as a means of removing the aedes aegypti mosquito as a disease vector?

The mosquito Aedes aegypti is infamous for carrying Zika and dengue fever. The quest to kill it has consumed enormous amounts of money, time, and effort. So it seems counterintuitive that a team of scientists and health workers have just received $18 million to release these mosquitoes over densely populated parts of Brazil and Colombia.

Their insects are no ordinary mosquitoes, though. They’ve been implanted with a bacterium called Wolbachia, which stops them from spreading the viruses behind Zika, dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and other diseases. It’s not totally clear how it does this, but it may be by competing with the viruses for nutrients or boosting the insects’ immune system. With this microbe inside them, the mosquitoes are no longer carriers of sickness. They are dead-ends.

theatlantic.com (gift subscription for the blog author still greatly desired)

…and even that approach is still going to be a battle to get people to accept. They’ll just know that it’s really GMO. Really man interfering with nature, the essence of Rachel Carson’s fearmongering fifty years later.

Then Ed Darrell waded onto my Facebook timeline, offering me multiple links to his blog articles on the subject of Rachel Carson, DDT and Malaria:

If you want to fight #malaria, do what the U.S. did to beat it in 1939: Better housing, prompt medical diagnosis and complete medical treatment.

#DDT used to have a role to play in campaigns to knock down malaria and eradicate it completely, as the U.S. did AFTER World War II, in mop up operations for those few places malaria remained.

But DDT stopped working against malaria in 1948 in the Mediterranean (as you know from reading “Silent Spring,” of course), and DDT resistance killed the World Health Organization’s campaign to eradicate malaria from Africa in, 1963.

Malaria is on the increase ONLY in India today, the last nation to make DDT and the heaviest user of the stuff. If DDT still worked, India should have been malaria-free decades ago.

But DDT doesn’t work. And so India is phasing it out, and will stop making it by 2020 if not earlier. Last year only ten places on Earth found any use for DDT.

Bednets are twice as effective as DDT in preventing malaria’s spread. Bednets are a fraction of the cost of a DDT campaign.

So we have a choice. We can fight malaria, or Zika, or any other vector-borne disease, or we can “bring back” DDT. But we can’t do both.

Ed Darrell

This is chemophobia. I’ve republished his quote verbatim simply to illustrate the problem. That is dedication to the effort of removing chemicals from our environment without ever understanding that everything everywhere is a chemical. I could have cited other sources on the subject of Rachel Carson if I wanted to or had run across them first:

As detailed by Roger Meiners and Andy Morriss in their scholarly yet very readable analysis, “Silent Spring at 50: Reflections on an Environmental Classic,” Carson exploited her reputation as a well-known nature writer to advocate and legitimatize “positions linked to a darker tradition in American environmental thinking.” Carson “encourages some of the most destructive strains within environmentalism: alarmism, technophobia, failure to consider the costs and benefits of alternatives, and the discounting of human well-being around the world.”

geneticliteracyproject.org (republished from Forbes)

I mean, I write this blog on an editing platform that is substantially no different than Ed Darrell’s. There is one key difference between the two of us though. I don’t go around pretending that I am some kind of authority on anything other than what I think. Ed Darrell, on the other hand, seemed to think that his blog entries on the subject of DDT meant something in the objective sense of meaning something and not just more hot air in the world.

For that matter he also seemed to think that opinion pieces produced in defense of his heroine Rachel Carson and against the dreaded chemical menace DDT meant more than the opinion pieces that I produced declaring the opposite, when they demonstrably don’t or rather can’t. They are opinions, take them or leave them as you please.

I get it and I simultaneously don’t give a shit. Both at the same time. DDT isn’t the answer to Malaria or Zika or any other bug-borne disease; but then neither is chemophobia and trusting to nature to do what is best for us. Nature doesn’t give a shit, either. If nature gave a shit about us we wouldn’t be in the middle of a climate change crisis, either. What I wanted was for the kneejerk chemophobic responses to stop. That is what I wanted and eventually got. Not for quite awhile, though.



The article on Facebook was taken down at least briefly (also Facebook) Which is why I copied the contents to this article and then embroidered them some years later. Ed Darrell’s Twitter account was suspended the last time I clicked the link and checked on him. He apparently fucked around and found out at some point after our little encounter on Facebook. It was only a matter of time.

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast subsequently ran a segment lauding Rachel Carson as a forgotten superhero of science in 2018. Time changes and opinions change, apparently. Or maybe that is just the difference between the opinions of Bob and Jay Novella. Who knows or cares?

I haven’t heard a thing about the Zika virus since it first broke headlines as a mosquito-borne illness in 2016. Malaria has not seen a massive resurgence. Yet. It will if we don’t get treatments online that prevent its spread. There is a Malaria vaccine now. It’s not as effective as epidemiologists would like it to be. Given the antivaccination climate in the US over the COVID vaccine, I doubt you could get people to take it voluntarily. They’d rather spread the plague than stop it.


Triskaidekaphilia not Triskaidekaphobia

Written reference to the superstitious fear of the number thirteen dates to the late 1800s. Its origin is conjectural (a matter of guesswork). The term triskaidekaphobia first appeared in the early 1900s. It was derived from treiskaideka, the Greek word for thirteen + phobia, fear of = a fear of thirteen.

Google search result (Wikipedia)

This was in my news feed today.

Rebecca Watson, Did the Patriarchy Steal Friday the 13th From Women?

Thirteen is supposedly a bad number because the twelve disciples plus Jesus equals thirteen, the first reference that she offers for the fear of that day and/or number.  I hadn’t heard the cycles (moon, menstrual) argument before. I have never (and I do mean never) heard the triskaidekaphiliac women’s day argument before.

The thirteenth is my lucky day. I was born on the thirteenth. I got married on the thirteenth because the wife insists I remember things that fall on the thirteenth day of the month. She also scheduled the births of our children (C-sections are like that) for the thirteenth of the month. It isn’t her fault the children didn’t actually emerge on those days (birth is like that) So when Friday the thirteenth rolls around I enjoy the double-whammy of good luck; my favorite day of the week and my favorite day of the month combined into one great day to celebrate. I am the biggest promoter of triskaidekaphilia that I know of aside from this guy.

What I’m trying to say is I of all people should have heard the women’s day argument before, and I haven’t. So I’m going to say Friday the thirteenth being a women’s day is the fiction. Hope that clears it all up for you.

Why Edgy is Posing; The Nature of Coded Language

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe #577 is out. While listening, I was agog at the notion that scientists could, with a straight face, attempt to determine if cool was a real thing. This is the kind of thing a nerdy scientist thought that they might be able to prove.

It’s a game of superficially rebellious status-chasing, centered on consumerism.


What then followed was Cara Santa Maria trying to convince the rest of the panel that there was a difference between being edgy and posing. All of that is coded language. Cool is coded language. Cool used in any other way than to describe the temperature of something is creating a meaning for the word other than what the word really means, the relative lack of warmth of an object or area. Cool has no meaning aside from temperature unless you want to try and find the shallowest surface of existence, to give deep meaning to what marketing types want to try to sell you next.

Edgy is always posing.  People who get tattoos and piercings because they want to be seen as cool or on the edge really don’t understand what damage that kind of real life living entails. When your normal day involves scrounging food out of a dumpster, scoring a high so that you can get through another suck-ass day, those scars paint themselves on you without you having to go looking for the edge of normalcy.

When you live that kind of life on a day to day basis, you aspire to be normal. You aspire to have what some external observer might call a normal day.  Meals prepared from food you bought in a store, eaten at a table with real chairs, with all the family present. Getting through a day without breaking things in anger. What a relief normalcy can be, when normalcy is something that you just vaguely remember seeing on TV once, a long time ago.

The Qualia of Santa

You pulled a fast one this week, Steve (Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe #543) I’ve written posts for my blog on the subject of Santa Claus, and I even reference the same source material that Snopes.com references for their article. While it may be strictly true that Coca-Cola did not ‘create’ the modern image of Santa Claus with a specific campaign, they have shaped the image of Santa Claus with their promotions over the years. So much so that the image most people have for Saint Nick is the Coca-Cola image specifically.

I dispute both Snopes’ ruling of false and your using this as the fiction for this weeks SGU podcast on that basis alone. The article on Snopes’ site might be more persuasive if the example images for their arguments actually loaded. But I doubt it.


I agree there is ambiguity in saying that Coca-Cola created the modern image. They contributed to an iterative process, perhaps substantially.

That is exactly why I included the additional line that prior to Coke the image of Santa was tall and thin. That part made it unequivocally fiction. The elements of the modern Santa predate Coke. Coke just put together one artist’s conception of Santa.



…as I said previously, the notation that he was ‘tall and thin’ previous to the Coca-Cola campaign being the fiction would carry more weight if the Snopes article actually loaded the photos of what Santa looked like before the campaign.  As it is I have to go find images myself, and having dived into this subject a few times now I have to say that research on this subject is made more difficult by the number of people who seem to think they know something about the subject writing contradictory articles about it.

Like the subject of Christmas (or Yule) itself, separating fact from fiction is a laborious process.

(feedback exchange with the SGU)

Editor’s note. In this exchange of messages with Dr. Steven Novella I failed to mention that both my grandmother and her sister had wood carvings of Santa Claus that they displayed during the Christmas season. In both cases the carvings looked very old and they were both of a tall and thin bearded man. These two anecdotal experiences do not equate to a general pattern of perception, but it does lend weight to the belief that one might have about Santa Claus as being a tall, thin man if you had seen nothing but these kinds of icons representing Santa in your family.

I still dispute the finding. I’ve never gotten the page at Snopes.com to load properly until today. The variance in the red costume, wide belt, whiskers and ruddy complexion are negligible. So Coca-Cola did not create the image. Fine. Some of the images and icons of Santa Claus are also not of a grossly fat man. I’ve included an image I found on the internet as an example of this. This inconsistency confuses the question as presented by Steve in that Science or Fiction back in 2015. My verdict stands.

JFK Assassinated 52 Years Ago Today

One of the most widely accepted conspiracy theories in the US remains the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Just last week I heard someone suggest that Oswald didn’t act alone.  Statistics show that more than half of US residents agree with this statement, and are convinced to this day that Oswald was a patsy, silenced by Jack Ruby a few days after the assassination.

For many, many years I was one of those people. I read several books on the subject, I watched every documentary, I even went to Dealey Plaza once simply to stand next to the spot where Kennedy was shot. In many ways the assassination of JFK was the lynchpin for all of my conspiratorial thinking; it was the first conspiracy theory I had ever heard, it was the most solidly defensible of any of the many popular conspiracies that cropped up later (so much so that even the US government has agreed there was a conspiracy, contradicting the findings of its own commission that investigated the assassination) and once I was led to question that theory, my belief in all those other theories also crumbled.

Why shouldn’t they, when they didn’t even have a magic bullet to hide behind?

The trip to reality was long and arduous for me. It started about the time I started writing this blog, and continues to this day.  Every single thing I read these days sends me off looking for corroborating sources and counter-arguments, just so that I can be sure I’m dealing with real facts and not some fever dream of the magical thinking majority.

I wish I had access to Case Closed when I was a young man looking for facts on the JFK assassination.  The depth of investigative research that Gerald Posner has gone to is unequaled amongst the many different authors on the subject.  Here is an interview with Posner from 2013, discussing the mountains of evidence linking Oswald to the killing, and detailing the kind of man Oswald was.

Gerald Posner, Author “Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK”

If Case Closed had been available to me when I first started looking into this subject, I never would have started down that rabbit hole of conspiratorial thinking in the first place.  Would have simply come to the conclusion ah, Oswald shot Kennedy and left it at that.  But I didn’t have access to that book back in the 70’s when I was into the subject.  I don’t even remember the titles of the books I did read; but I do remember The Men Who Killed Kennedy documentary being something I watched and rewatched many times, as well as the Oliver Stone film JFK which I remember receiving quite credibly.

Except for one thing.  The repeated mantra back and to the right which Stone puts in Garrison’s mouth in the film. I actually went back and reviewed the Zapruder film because of this, and discovered that the motion he insists is there really isn’t there at all.  The film clearly shows the headshot coming from the back and above, just as Posner says in the video.

But I didn’t have Posner.  I never ran across his book until I was listening to back episodes of the SGU (like so many good skeptical habits I have picked up) what I had was my own inability to ignore evidence when it is presented to me. What I stumbled across was this re-enactment (one of several) proving that the magic bullet was nothing of the kind. That the trajectory of the bullet is mappable and repeatable given an accurate reproduction of the events of that day.

First off is The Kennedy Assassination – Beyond Conspiracy. (That video is no longer available for streaming anywhere on the internet. My apologies. -ed.) The second source of video was a very detailed recreation of the exact poses of the victims taken from Zapruder film footage, poses that were mocked up by Anatomical Surrogates Technologies for the  documentary JFK: Beyond The Magic Bullet .

Unsolved History: JFK – Beyond the Magic Bullet Discovery channel programming. JFK: Beyond The Magic Bullet (Part 1), JFK: Beyond The Magic Bullet (Part 2)

Lastly we have the recreation of the headshot showing that the direction that Oswald fired from was indeed the only direction where the damage seen to the President’s head can be replicated.  For those who simply aren’t convinced by the replication of the magic bullet’s trajectory.

JFK Assassination – Head shot recreation (Part 1)
JFK Assassination – Head shot recreation (Part 2)

Conspiracy theorists will of course come up with reasons why this proves nothing. Personally I see no reason to continue pretending that Oswald did not kill Kennedy.  If you feel the forensic tests are simply not enough evidence, then I encourage you to pick up a copy of Case Closed.  If none of this suffices, then I suggest you look to your own mental barricades. If your beliefs cannot be falsified, it says as much about your failings as a critical thinker as it does the indefensibility of your opinions.

New this year, the long derided photo of Oswald displaying the same model rifle as the one that killed Kennedy has been scientifically analyzed and found to be genuine.

As Dr Novella goes into on his blog entry, conspiracy theorists attempt to discredit evidence that would seem to destroy their preferred fantasies by picking apart the details of the evidence, looking for the slightest anomaly that they can then use to discredit it.

Having watched The Men Who Killed Kennedy I remember the attempts to discredit this photo and the autopsy photos quite vividly. I remember wondering at the time why anyone would go to such lengths to hide evidence, marveling at the scale of the conspiracy required to perpetrate such a massive hoax.

It is with a wry chuckle that I remember my own gullibility on the subject.  The understanding of the scale of the conspiracy should have been my first clue as to the implausibility of the conspiracy itself.  That understanding would take years to mature, though.

The computer simulation embarked upon to validate this photo is as much of an over-the-top effort to show the solidity of the evidence for Oswald being the shooter, as the series of videos I linked above was.  In the study linked here, you can see the many points of data used to determine if Oswald is actually standing in a stable position, and that the shadows in the photo match the shadowing that would have been present at that time of day and season of the year.

This is the kind of thorough analysis that is required to refute the claims of conspiracy fantasists who continue to insist that it simply wasn’t possible for such a insignificant little man to have killed the most powerful man in the world single-handedly.  At least the computer modeling techniques showcased here can be used for many other instances of questionable photographic evidence, so that their validity can also be certified.

Editor’s note

The content of this article has evolved over time and the previous versions have been preserved and similarly noted. The  Anatomical Surrogates Technologies video segments were originally posted here along with the Peter Jennings 2003 broadcast that has since disappeared from the internet. I radically enlarged and embroidered the original article for the version posted here, and I’ve copied that version to the day it should have been published on, and will be published on again in the future if the wild hair suits me.

Conspiracy fantasists are getting on my nerves and I don’t feel like cutting them any slack. When new sources of solid evidence emerge, I will try to edit them into future versions of this article. I will also try not to duplicate the video entries again. Even I am getting tired of seeing them repeated now.


97% of the state of California is currently experiencing a drought, according to the website Californiadrought.org. 46% of the state is suffering in an “exceptional drought”, the most severe status. California’s central regions, it’s farmland, is taking it on the chin, but overall, there is estimated to be about 36 million Californians effected by this drought. Any way you look at it, the water situation in California is dismal.

The Skeptics Guide

I had relatives who dowsed. They believed in their abilities to find water and would deny that what they engaged in was magical thinking.  On the other hand, I have no way to explain how they found water; and they did find water, in some cases more reliably than engineering firms of the time. Sadly none of them are still breathing, so I can’t test them or suggest they submit themselves to testing. I simply resent the blanket dismissal of ‘magical thinking’ as it relates to the subject of dowsing.

A farmer knows his own land, sometimes in ways that he has a hard time explaining.  Finding water on land that he is familiar with might actually tap into understanding about the lay of the land, the various structures that would lend themselves to collecting and channeling water.  The act of dowsing then simply gives form to the assembling of knowledge already at hand. A method for explaining why they know where water is most likely to be. 

All of this is a completely different subject than the notion that you can pay someone else to dowse your property and get a return on your money.

Ted Cruz Thinks He’s Running for President. Papers, Please?

Not to put too fine a point on it but the guy wasn’t born a US citizen and his social security record will probably show that. How do I know this? Because I wasn’t born a US citizen:

…and if the US government can pretend that I wasn’t a US citizen for several years, and if the birthers still can’t be convinced that Obama is a US citizen, then I’d really like to know what portion of the population will accept that Ted Cruz, born in Canada to a US mother and a Cuban father is a US citizen? No really, I want to know what fraction of the population will accept this Zodiac Killer lookalike as their president?

Fine, fine. He can claim citizenship, I get that. His mother is an American and children born to Americans can claim citizenship if they want to do that. I was born to two Americans and the government still pretended that I wasn’t a citizen when I flew into the country at six months of age on my mother’s American passport. Look, I’m willing to share the territorial boundaries of the United States with him, no problem. I’m mostly wishing he’d stop pretending he’s a Texan, because a half-Cuban Canuck that has two college degrees cannot be a native Texan. My left nut is more Texan than he is. The religious right here in Texas like him though, so I’m stuck with him as a Senator from my home state even though he’s the worst mannered Canuck I’ve ever run across.

There is a problem though, as this Politifact article points out:

Sarah H. Duggin, a professor of law at Catholic University, has written about and studied the issue extensively. She told us in 2008 that the question of natural born citizenship is “one of the most deceptively simple, complex issues.”

We reached her again this week to ask about Cruz’s eligibility. “It would be reasonable to interpret the Constitution’s natural born citizenship provision to include children born abroad to U.S. citizens, including Senator Cruz, for a number of reasons,” she said.

But is it 100 percent sure?

“Unfortunately, we cannot say for sure without either a definitive Supreme Court ruling, or an amendment to clarify the Constitution.”


What I’d like is for the SCOTUS to rule on this subject before we accept that this man is eligible to run for President. It’s a reasonable request, and I suggest that someone get started on this now, because I’d really hate to have to still be pointing this fact out come 2016.

The fun part of all of this will be listening to Obama birthers explain why their man Ted is different than Obama. Where is Ted Cruz’s birth certificate? His naturalization papers? How, exactly did he become a US citizen so easily, when (as I’ve pointed out in the linked article above) it took me years to get the government to admit I was a citizen, even when I had two parents who were both from the US?

No, I’m not kidding. I want an explanation before I accept that the man can even run for President. He is a US citizen because of his mother’s citizenship if he wants to claim US citizenship. US law, if not clear, is pretty definitive on that point. That in no way means that the Constitution allows that either of us, born in similar situations, can serve as President. That is up to the SCOTUS to decide.

Once that question is answered, then we can get to the even bigger question; Does Ted Cruz have the mental capability to serve as President of the United States and not manage to start World War 3 within a few minutes of taking the oath? I actually think that question is marginally more important.

There is an interesting Google fail related to this issue. If you query Google on the nationality of Ted Cruz, the search returns a result of “American”.

Now, I’m sorry Google, but American is not a nationality. A Brazilian native is also an American. American is a hemispherical status, not a national status. Ted Cruz’s nationality is actually in question here. He was born a Canadian. From his father he might have had the right to claim citizenship in Cuba. He definitely would be granted citizenship in the US from his mother’s citizenship, if he applied.

But that nationality would be United States or US, not American. This is easily demonstrable by a search of countries. There is no country called America.

I get it that we refer to ourselves colloquially as Americans. This is a lot like Germans thinking of themselves as Deutsche, Germany as Deutschland. However, everyone who lives in the Americas is American, they just don’t happen to be citizens of the United States. Nationality is United States or US, like German nationality is DE.

I’d appreciate it if you’d fix that, Google.

The March 24th edition of the Austin American Statesman puts the shoe on the other foot:

There are those who can imagine Ted Cruz being elected president – or at least being the 2016 Republican nominee – and those who cannot and will not allow themselves to contemplate that possibility. I am among the former, in part because every prediction of Cruz’s imminent political self-immolation so far has proved wrong, and because of how unhinged Cruz deniers tend to get in their denials.

Austin American Statesman

Look, I get it. He won once, he can win again (not against Hillary) What I’d like to establish is baseline credentials for being able to do the job. First on that list is eligibility. I don’t think he even passes that test; which doesn’t even begin to address the far more important fact that he’s not a real person, or as the Statesman article goes on to note:

Cruz is testing the proposition whether, amid the rise of the tea party movement, there may be longing in the conservative movement for a return to its roughest theocratic and insurrectionary edges, albeit as brought to you to by a Princeton/Harvard anti-intellectual intellectual.

Austin American Statesman

The guy has two degrees. He’s not stupid. The jury is still out on his sanity, so I can’t say if he’s crazy. But the concept of an anti-intellectual intellectual is fake. It is a pose, a hypocrisy, a false piety. There isn’t any way he can keep up the image of borderline wacko for the next two years.

You also might want to take a look at tedcruz.com if you think this guy is serious about winning the election. That’s some quality planning showing, right there. If you can’t even get the pre-candidacy resources in place before announcing, your ability to run the far more complex machine we call the US government will be (and should be) the highest concern of any voter.

It won’t be, but it should be.

Come on I hear you saying, he can’t be that bad, can he?

If you think that, then in my opinion you haven’t been playing enough attention. Ted Cruz is the guy who convinced the House of Representatives to shutdown the government in 2013. If he had gotten his way, the government would still be shut down, which means it probably would have collapsed and been replaced by some other system of government (that’s what happens when you create a power vacuum. Other systems emerge to take the previous one’s place) probably one not based on such arbitrary notions as representational democracy.

Some of you would probably be fine with that. You people scare me.

Here’s some more food for thought. After his announcement (at the religious college where the students were compelled to attend) several people spoke out concerning his unsuitability to be President, including California Governor Jerry Brown who said he was “absolutely unfit to be running for office.”

In response, Ted Cruz commented to the Tribune:

“You know it used to be it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier”

Texas Tribune
The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe – The Dumbest Thing We Heard This Week – Ted Cruz Edition

I’m a bit of a science geek. Have been one all my life. The stunning lack of scientific understanding evident in that statement should give anyone pause to wonder what this guy is doing in government at all, much less running for President.

Why you ask? Let me explain it to you.

First off, it was Eratosthenes of Cyrene who calculated the circumference of the earth, a couple of hundred years before the birth of Christ, or Before the Common Era (BCE) as it is noted these days. So, while the myth goes that people thought the world was flat, most people have not thought so for a very, very long time. It is the modern era that has seen the creation of the Flat Earth Society, a tribute to the stupidity we humans can descend to when divorced from the natural world by layers of technology, and reliance on ancient texts, for our knowledge.

Secondly, Galileo Galilei promoted the idea of a heliocentric system, as theorized by Nicolaus Copernicus more than a hundred years earlier, and was jailed by the then Ted Cruz’s of the world at the time (the Roman Catholic Church) for daring to contradict scriptural doctrine. The church finally apologized for this indignity in 1992 when Pope John Paul II admitted the church acted in error.

It only took 300 years. Not an inspiring observation. Ted Cruz is displaying some Sarah Palin level savvy on the subject of reality. Also not very inspiring. Or to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen:

“Senator, you’re no Galileo Galilei

Forbes, NASA and the NOAA

This Forbes article goes into just how wrong Cruz is, when it comes to global warming. Yes, the same Forbes that is solidly pro-business:

“The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA ’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies.”

Source NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record

Ted Cruz could be a US citizen through his mother if he claims US citizenship. He now needs to get a nod from the SCOTUS clarifying his eligibility status. Then he’s free to trip on his own light-footed contact with reality while believing he is running for President. Not just on this one subject, the subject of his possibly ever being president of the United States, but nearly all of reality that is not directly related to conservative dogma. I’m just waiting for the sound of a campaign implosion, like so many of the also-rans last time round (Yes, I’m looking at you Mr. Trump) Then we can get to the real political races.



Ted Cruz never made it out of the primary for the presidential race. He was almost defeated by an unknown Democratic opponent named Beto O’Rourke for his own Senate seat in 2018. Donald Trump became President instead. The country has gone mad in the subsequent four years, and Ted Cruz helped Donald Trump attempt a coup in Washington D.C. this week (January 6, 2021) during the counting of the electoral college votes that handed the presidency to Joe Biden. Hold onto your butts. Hope we’re all still here in two weeks for the inauguration.