Biden’s plan to create millions of energy jobs might work, but only because renewables are so labor-intensive and only at a very high cost

According to president-elect Joe Biden “If executed strategically, our response to climate change can create more than 10 million well-paying [clean energy] jobs in the United States that will grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class enjoyed by communities across the country, not just in cities along the coasts.” Is that possibly true?

Source: Biden’s plan to create millions of energy jobs might work, but only because renewables are so labor-intensive and only at a very high cost

Survey Results: Where Are All the Sick People? — Watts Up With That?

The “Where Are All the Sick People?” survey has had nearly 3000 participants since its inception at 10 a.m. EST. Three questions were posed to illuminate the issue of the effects of the SARS-CoV-2, which is causing the current Covid-19 Pandemic, on the readers of this blog, WUWT.

Survey Results: Where Are All the Sick People? — Watts Up With That?


  1. If you don’t know any people sick with/from Covid-19 you having the same Covid-19 experience as the vast majority of other people – at least according to this somewhat unscientific survey.
  2. If you don’t know anyone who has died, or only one or maybe two, you are again having the same experience as almost everyone else.
  3. While most of us don’t know anyone who has died from/with Covid-19, we probably know someone who does know someone who has sadly lost a family member or acquaintance during the ongoing pandemic.
  4. Opinions vary wildly on the subject of Governmental Responses to the pandemic.  It will be years before the historians, sociologists, medial researchers, and others sort out the quagmire of mistakes that have been made at all levels of governance.

Safe and Effective

(Don Boudreaux) Tweet I’m sure that someone must have already posed this question, but, if so, I’ve not yet seen it: Why do not the Covid-19 lockdowns and other nonpharmaceutical interventions have to meet the same strict standard in the United States that the FDA requires new drugs and medical devices to meet?

Source: Safe and Effective

I think the question has been posed, just not in those exact words.

As Science Frauds Go, Haeckel Beats Piltdown Man — Lord Buckbeak

by David Klinghoffer@d_klinghoffer November 9, 2020, 4:13 PM – for Evolution News & Science Today My cmnt: see my post Ernst Haeckel: Social Darwinist, Racist & Fraud. Ecologist Jeremy Fox at the University of Calgary offers a list of scientific frauds, with Piltdown Man at the top of the list. Writing at his blog Dynamic […]

As Science Frauds Go, Haeckel Beats Piltdown Man — Lord Buckbeak

This piece basically rehashes the legend that Haeckel’s notions about embryo development are wrong, and that no one has corrected his illustrations because to do so would poke holes on Darwinian evolution.

I wound up writing a comment on this piece referencing rebuttals from the Talk Origins website, just to present the other side of the discussion.

The owner of the blog rejected my comment, as is his perfect right.

However, I have the perfect right to link to his piece and post my comment here.

You might find this to be interesting reading:

And from the same site:

1) Haeckel’s pictures are irrelevant to the question of whether the embryos are similar. What matters are the embryos themselves. Within a group, early embryos do show many similarities. For example, all vertebrates develop a notochord, body segments, pharyngeal gill pouches, and a post-anal tail. These fundamental similarities indicate a common evolutionary history. Other embryological similarities are found in other lineages, such as mollusks, arthropods, and annelids. These similarities have been long known. Professor Agassiz in 1849, for example, said, “We find, too, that the young bat, or bird, or the young serpent, in certain periods of their growth, resemble one another so much that he would defy any one to tell one from the other–or distinguish between a bat and a snake.” (Scientific American 1849)

2) The embryos also show some differences, which Haeckel glossed over. However, differences should also be expected, since the animals are not all equally related. It is the pattern of both similarities and differences that displays patterns of descent. Organisms that are less closely related are expected to look less similar.

3) When Haeckel’s inaccuracies were exposed, authors started using corrected versions. Science tends to be self-correcting.

A longer response can be found here. One brief excerpt:

Wells is particularly incensed at the authors of introductory textbooks who, he claims, are misleading their students. I agree that he can reasonably argue that textbooks should not use the obsolete and inaccurate drawings done after Haeckel’s work, but, in what I consider the most amusing line in this entire chapter, Wells expresses indignation that “Some textbooks, instead of reproducing or redrawing Haeckel’s embryos, use actual photos.” How dare those nefarious textbook authors use photographic data to support their ideas!

Note: not drawings, but photographs. So if the photographs show what Haeckel was trying to illustrate in his drawings, maybe there’s something there after all.

Anyway, in response to his email, I added the following:


I’ve actually read quite a bit of the Creationist material, including exhibits from the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in which it was shown that “Of Pandas and People”, one of the major books supporting Intelligent Design, was originally a book supporting “Scientific Creationism”, after having been run through a search-and-replace function to replace “Scientific Creationism” with “Intelligent Design”.  

One recurring theme I’ve noticed in the Creationist literature is the casual assumption that the objections raised to evolution are items biologists have never considered, nor ever tried to answer. For example, in Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe raises numerous alleged problems with evolution. He spends a lot of time on the blood clotting cascade, describing it as an example of “irreducible complexity”. Despite having consulted with biologists in the field, he somehow manages to miss the fact that the evolutionary pathway of this cascade has been traced from simple, and not “irreducibly complex” origins. 

In a similar fashion, the Haeckel illustrations are presented as if they have been enshrined as Holy Writ, never to be questioned once they were revealed. The text and links I provided were intended to show that’s not the case. The illustrations are not treated as needing to be shielded from all possibility of contradiction, and in fact have been refuted by scientists. This is in contradistinction with people like Wells who have their story and will stick to it, no matter what contrary facts may come their way. 

(Chi) Squaring up Benford’s Law

You may have heard about Benford’s Law. You may have seen the charts. You may have seen the video where the charts are featured. Links to the datasets are included in the description of the video.

I was finally curious enough to look at the data and run a chi-squared analysis of the data. The idea here is that I can compare the observed number of times a given number is the first digit in all the precinct-level counts, and the expected number according to Benford’s Law.

The first attempt yielded huge values, corresponding to wildly improbable differences between the observed first digits of the precinct counts and the values expected according to Benford’s Law. The smallest chi-squared statistic, corresponding to the closest fit with Benford’s Law, was still quite improbable — less than one chance in a billion of being due to chance. The largest ones had a likelihood similar to winning the Powerball grand prize a dozen times in a row.

On further reading, I learned that the Chi-square test is rather sensitive to sample size, even though the sample size does not show up in the formula. Large sample sizes will result in chi-square statistics that look highly significant (highly unlikely) even for small deviations from the expected value.

So I redid the calculation after dividing all of the values for each category by a number intended to make the smallest value in all the categories equal to five.

Why five?

The chi-square test starts to run into trouble when the value of any category drops below five. For a large number of categories, it’s OK if 80% of the values are five or greater. That would mean I could have set it so the second-smallest value is five. However, setting the lowest value at five gave me reasonable results.

I looked at the data for Allegheny County, PA and Fulton County, GA.

Allegheny County, PAFulton County, GA
Trump: total votesX2 = 5.80p = 0.669X2 = 4.00p = 0.857
Biden: total votesX2 = 190.5p = 5.73e-37X2 = 15.50p = 0.050
Apparent shenanigans in Biden’s vote totals in Allegheny County

In both counties, Trump’s precinct-level vote totals match pretty well with Benford’s Law. In Fulton county, Biden’s vote totals are on the edge of significance.
In Allegheny county, Biden’s vote totals vary from Benford’s law by an amount well outside the bounds of chance.

Can we call “shenanigans” here?

MICROBIOME NEWS: Microbes in the gut could be protective against hazardous radiation exposure. “A …

MICROBIOME NEWS: Microbes in the gut could be protective against hazardous radiation exposure. “A new study by scientists at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and colleagues published Oct. 30, 2020, in Science, showed that mice exposed to potentially lethal levels of total body radiation were protected from radiation damage if they had specific types of bacteria in their gut.

The researchers noted that only an ‘elite’ set of mice had a high abundance of two types of bacteria, Lachnospiraceae and Enterococcaceae, in their guts that strongly countered the effects of the intense radiation. Importantly for humans, these two types of bacteria were found to be abundant in leukemia patients with mild GI symptoms who underwent radiotherapy.

The study showed that the presence of the two bacteria led to an increased production of small molecules known as propionate and tryptophan. These metabolites provided long-term protection from radiation, lessened damage to bone marrow stem cell production, mitigated the development of severe gastrointestinal problems and reduced damage to DNA. Both metabolites can be purchased in some countries as health supplements but there is currently no evidence that the supplements could aid people exposed to intense forms of radiation.


Because radiotherapy that is widely used to treat cancer often leads to GI side-effects, the investigators wanted to understand how their experiments in mice could translate to people. They worked with colleagues at Duke University, Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical College, and studied fecal samples from 21 leukemia patients due to receive radiation therapy as part of an arduous stem cell transplant conditioning. The scientists found that patients with shorter periods of diarrhea had significantly higher abundances of Lachnospiraceae and Enterococcaceae than patients with longer periods of diarrhea. These findings correlated closely with the researcher’s findings in mice although Ting cautions that much larger studies are needed to verify these conclusions.

Importantly for potential human use, in mice that were supplemented with Lachnospiraceae, the benefits of cancer radiotherapy were not lessened.

Source: MICROBIOME NEWS: Microbes in the gut could be protective against hazardous radiation exposure. “A …