"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
1. Edward Snowden: I brought
no leaked NSA
2. New EU rules to curb transfer of data to US
3. How science goes
4. me + ME
There is an earlier
file today, but it is a Dutch issue in my autobiographical series.
Also, today there wasn't much I could find on the crisis, but I report
three items, while the fourth section is about me and my
Edward Snowden: I brought no leaked NSA documents to Russia
The first item today is
about Edward Snowden, and is an article by Ed Pilkington in the
This starts as follows:
the source of US National
Security Agency leaks, has said he left all the leaked documents
behind when he flew from Hong Kong to Moscow
and there is no chance of them falling into the hands of Russian or
In an interview with the New York Times, Snowden said he had
decided to hand over all digital material to the journalists he had met
in Hong Kong because it would not have been in the public interest for
him to hold on to copies. "What would be the unique value of personally
carrying another copy of materials onward?"
speculation that he had run the risk of China and Russia gaining access
to the secret files. He said he was so familiar with Chinese spying
operations, having himself targeted China when he was employed by the NSA, that he knew how to
keep the trove secure from them. "There's a 0% chance the Russians or
Chinese have received any documents," he said.
Incidentally, the interview
with the New York Times above will display only - it seems - if you are
a paid viewer (which I can't afford, and don't need).
As to what he says: I am
quite willing to believe him, though I think his statement on chance is
quite strong, also because he has meanwhile given the documents to
He also said several more
things, of which I select two. First he said:
Quite so - and it is quite
ridiculous (and dangerous) that a man like Clapper can lie under oath,
and not be punished in any way. But indeed it is not just Clapper, and
also it are not just the laws dealing with secrecy or the NSA: it seems
that in the present US there are two systems of law, one very strict
one, for the poor and the dissident, and one very lenient one, for the
rich and non-dissident, and for those that govern and have some leading
"If the highest
officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or
even any repercussions at all, secret powers become tremendously
Next, Snowden said:
continuance of these programmes represents a far greater danger than
their disclosure. It represents a dangerous normalisation of 'governing
in the dark', where decisions with enormous public impact occur without
any public input."
Yes indeed, and again this
comprises more than merely securrity and the NSA: The Obama
administration seems to be more secret than any other US
administration, and seems to have classified at least 90 million
documents (which, since they have been classified, can also not
be tested by independent judges, courts or persons, whether they were
classified with any decent ground, as some documents indeed have).
2. New EU rules to curb transfer of data to US after Edward
Next, an article by
Ian Traynor, again in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Note first this is explicitly
owed to Edward Snowden's revelations. Then again, the proposed
regulations are so far only a draft, and certainly will not close all
loopholes, nor regulate everything, as Ian Traynor makes clear in the
rest of the article.
New European rules aimed
at curbing questionable transfers of data from EU countries to the US
are being finalised in Brussels in the first concrete reaction to the Edward
Snowden disclosures on US and British mass surveillance of digital
Regulations on European data protection
standards are expected to pass the European parliament committee stage
on Monday after the various political groupings agreed on a new
compromise draft following two years of gridlock on the issue.
The draft would make it
harder for the big US internet servers and social media providers to
transfer European data to third countries, subject them to EU law
rather than secret American court orders, and authorise swingeing fines
possibly running into the billions for the first time for not complying
with the new rules.
But it is a beginning, and it shows Snowden's revelations are taken
serious, also by the EU, which is certainly a step forward.
How science goes
Next, a paper in The Economist,
or rather two papers at The Economist:
The first one starts as
A SIMPLE idea underpins
science: “trust, but verify”. Results should always be subject to
challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated
a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern
science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly
for the better.
But success can breed
complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not
enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of
Too many of the findings
that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or
poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology
venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be
replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one
biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53
“landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a
drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly
important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that
three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly
80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was
later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties.
And this is from the second
one, though not from the beginning:
John Bohannon, a
biologist at Harvard, recently submitted a pseudonymous paper on the
effects of a chemical derived from lichen on cancer cells to 304
journals describing themselves as using peer review. An unusual move;
but it was an unusual paper, concocted wholesale and stuffed with
clangers in study design, analysis and interpretation of results.
Receiving this dog’s dinner from a fictitious researcher at a made up
university, 157 of the journals accepted it for publication.
That is, over half
of the peer reviewed journals accepted total rot, that was
created as rot on purpose. In case you say that this must have been the
journals, here is the next paragraph:
Dr Bohannon’s sting was
directed at the lower tier of academic journals. But in a classic 1998
study Fiona Godlee, editor of the prestigious British
Medical Journal, sent an article containing eight deliberate
mistakes in study design, analysis and interpretation to more than 200
of the BMJ’s regular reviewers. Not one picked
out all the mistakes. On average, they reported fewer than two; some
did not spot any.
Then there is this, from
the second paper:
And this is from the ending of
the second paper
Fraud is very likely
second to incompetence in generating erroneous results, though it is
hard to tell for certain. Dr Fanelli has looked at 21 different surveys
of academics (mostly in the biomedical sciences but also in civil
engineering, chemistry and economics) carried out between 1987 and
2008. Only 2% of respondents admitted falsifying or fabricating data,
but 28% of respondents claimed to know of colleagues who engaged in
questionable research practices.
then the editor of Science, outlined what
needs to be done to bolster the credibility of the scientific
enterprise. Journals must do more to enforce standards. Checklists such
as the one introduced by Nature should be
adopted widely, to help guard against the most common research errors.
Budding scientists must be taught technical skills, including
statistics, and must be imbued with scepticism towards their own
results and those of others. Researchers ought to be judged on the
basis of the quality, not the quantity, of their work. Funding agencies
should encourage replications and lower the barriers to reporting
serious efforts which failed to reproduce a published result.
Information about such failures ought to be attached to the original
Then there is this, from the
And scientists themselves,
Dr Alberts insisted, “need to develop a value system where simply
moving on from one’s mistakes without publicly acknowledging them
severely damages, rather than protects, a scientific reputation.”
In the 1950s, when
modern academic research took shape after its successes in the second
world war, it was still a rarefied pastime. The entire club of
scientists numbered a few hundred thousand. As their ranks have
swelled, to 6m-7m active researchers on the latest reckoning,
scientists have lost their taste for self-policing and quality control.
The obligation to “publish or perish” has come to rule over academic
life. Competition for jobs is cut-throat. Full professors in America
earned on average $135,000 in 2012—more than judges did. Every year six
freshly minted PhDs vie for every academic post.
And to the above, one must add
the following, which happened in Holland over the last 45
years, and no doubt is quite similar in most other European
nations and in the US, where similar developments occurred, all
starting in the second half of the 1960ies:
In brief: This is why I must regard myself as one of the
last proper scientists, and that not because those younger than me
are more stupid  but because all of them
have received a much worse education than I did, and than
anybody else did, who got into any university in any faculty, and
was born in 1950, as I was, or before. And this applies to both
the pre-university education, and to the university-education, that
these days is mostly fit for nearly all or all of the more intelligent
half of the population, instead of for 2-5% or 10% at most.
- The entry-conditions of
the universities have been roughly halved, over a period of 40 years or
- The educations the
universities give have also roughly halved, over the same period.
- Almost nobody cared, for
"getting a degree" was made much easier, which made many more
people - nominally - eligible for high paying jobs.
- Besides, almost no one
saw, for it happened mostly slowly, and piece by piece, just as the
payments for degrees increased, also slowly.
- In 1984 the average IQ
in the University of Amsterdam was 115, which means that at present,
with many more students, who have even worse pre-university educations,
it must be considerably lower.
- Until the late 1960ies,
every Dutch student could read at least three foreign languages; at
present most only know English, and that not well.
- Some five years ago, it
was announced 18-year olds who were admitted to engineering studies
could not do simple algebra that I (and everybody else my age)
had to do at 12/13, in the early 1960ies - but, while they also had to
finish within 3 years, this was "solved" by "remedial teaching", and
since then the papers just don't write anymore about it.
Then again, I do know that only "a fascist terrorist elitarian"
like me has the courage to write these things, while almost no decent
Dutchman thinks like this.
Even so, I write these thoughts because I think them, and I think them,
think a real university should be for the genuinely talented, and that
is a fairly small minority always.
Just as it is the case in professional soccer and sports, where every
agrees with me...
me + ME
Finally, a bit about myself and my ME/CFS,
just to keep the few who want to know informed - and the links that
follow in the next paragraph are to Wikipedia:
I am doing rather well, in the circumstances, with ME/CFS since 35 years,
sicca and Dupuytren's
contracture, that are both autoimmune
diseases, since over 1 1/2 years now, and am doing a bit well since
June, and rather well since the end of August, when my eyes (finally)
allowed me to sleep again for 8 hours a day, which had been quite
impossible for more than a year then.
Also, the last 4 1/2 months I cleaned out my house, which was impossible
the last few years; and I bought a bike for the first time this
millenium, and cycled most days for 1 1/2 month now, for three quarters
of an hour to two hours, which is more than I could do since 2001, also
without collapsing or getting worse (and in fact getting better, at
The only cogent explanation I can give is the
mB12 protocol that I follow, that also is the only explanation for
my not having more problems with more than a year of
sleep between 4 and 6 1/2 hours.
Also, I should say that I am a psychologist and a philosopher (having -
excellent - academic degrees in both), and that I have ME/CFS for 35
years now, since I was 28, and have all the time since I
was 28 lived from student loans or from Dutch dole, and have all the
time gotten no help, namely "because your disease is
psychosomatic", always pronounced by medical doctors who did not
know anything about me, and also did not want to know, and did do no
research of any kind, and were almost totally ignorant about ME/CFS,
but who did decide for the Dutch bureaucratic institutions.
Since I also took my MA in psychology with an average of 9.3 out of 10
maximally, while doing all of my studies while I was ill, this seems
pretty good evidence that I was and am genuinely ill, for
living in the dole, while one is ill and gets no help, is quite
difficult, and I would almost certainly have had an academic job, given
my marks, and also given some professors who knew me, had I not been
19, 2013: I added a link, a bolding, and a few words.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, thay the governors do not rule, or at least, should
not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part
of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more proper
that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same
principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some
particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and
the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I
quote from is quite pertinent.)
most of them are, in IQ-terms,
for I do have a very high IQ, but that is neither to my credit nor
to their demerit, and does only mean that I am scholastically quite
capable - but what it means in terms of real talent for a real science
not very clear, at least.
About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.:
The "/CFS" is added to
facilitate search machine) which is a disease that I have since 1.1.