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Category : Conspiracy

US accuses NK of unleashing WannaCry

And it’s probably bullshit.

Here’s the first reason to think this was not North Korea… it made the hackers barely any money. In total only around 360 people or so paid the ransom. The hackers were not prepared to receive large numbers of payments as there was no way for them to immediately identify a payment made to a specific infection. Nevertheless they did provide decryption for those who paid the ransom. They didn’t even steal any data – which is something that often happens with Ransomware. They put a lot of effort into making their malicious program look nice and work well, and barely any effort into exploiting it for financial gain. Sure 360 people or so paid the ransom, but the ransom wasn’t very much and all the data remained on the victim’s computers, none was ever stolen or permanently destroyed which is the kind of mischief we’d expect a State actor like North Korea to get up to. After all the stealing of information was clearly a motivation behind the infamous Sony Hack.

Remember, when the outbreak happened back in May, every self-proclaimed “security expert” appearing on TV or cited in the papers was saying it was spread through a malicious email campaign, with no evidence whatsoever to backup their claims. I rightly called it for what it was, and pointed out that the malware had the ability to spread itself directly to any vulnerable computer connected to the internet with some obvious caveats (for example there would need to be port-forwarding from the router), and that once just one PC on a network was infected that all other vulnerable computers on the same network could be infected. This is why it was so insidious to large organisations, but seemed to affect ordinary households much less. If you had a vulnerable computer connected to the internet in May, your router probably blocked connection requests on port 445 and that would have been the only thing that saved you from infection! Oh and it’s also why security experts who examined it say there was no email campaign associated with WannaCry.

There’s also another point to make. The ransom note was translated into 28 languages. The Korean version is apparently not very good and likely machine translated, and the Chinese is much better. Of course if it was a State-sponsored actor then you might expect them to obfuscate their origin by getting a native Chinese speaker to write the note, and that wouldn’t be hard for NK to find. However the sloppy Korean note suggests that it wasn’t written by a native Korean speaker.

WannaCry was a huge public attack, that has resulted it people being more mindful of cybersecurity. This fact completely contradicts the usual intentions of a State-sponsored actor who generally want their attacks to be carried out quietly in secret so they can inflict as much harm as possible. This is what we see from NSA-backed attacks for example. And they want to be able to use their exploits for as long as possible.

Now I’m not saying that we know that NK was not involved. Just that it may have been China, or Russia, or South Korea, or maybe not even a State actor at all. And unless we see the respected independent non-state sponsored security firms lining up to blame NK I would remain extremely sceptical of any such claim. Do you see any of the major independent security companies backing this statement? No you don’t. What we can say, and this I think is the insulting thing about the USA’s claim that is parroted by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and the UK, is that the US Government and its State agency the NSA are squarely responsible for the outbreak. They’re the ones that developed the exploit and weaponized it. The ShadowBrokers are also a squarely guilty party, as they were not in any way interested in the “responsible reporting” of the security vulnerabilities. Responsible reporting means making security companies aware of the problem so they address it before it becomes widespread public knowledge. The NSA should have done that, instead they developed or bought exploits to weaponize.

Why aren’t journalists consulting the experts?

Symantec issued a statement on their blog back in May: “Despite the links to Lazarus, the WannaCry attacks do not bear the hallmarks of a nation-state campaign but are more typical of a cybercrime campaign.” Kaspersky’s assessment was similar. So far only Microsoft’s Brad Smith squarely accused NK, but I’d hardly count him as an unbiased source of information. This surely begs the question – why are the media too lazy to get statements on the US government’s claim from the top security firms?

Why have the US only now come to blame NK? The only real difference in facts between May and now is that the hackers withdrew their bitcoin in August (and appear to have left later ransoms received in the wallets). The rest of the facts and evidence was there for them to analyse, and it’s not like the evidence is overly complicated or difficult to examine. Certainly not to the point that it would take seven months to do.

Hold the US to account

The pathetic thing about all this is the unwillingness of any sovereign nations to hold the US to account for this. Not only that but they minimise their role even further by using incorrect terminology and calling their cyber-weapons “tools”. Heck, the hackers couldn’t even be bothered to create their own exploit based on the NSA’s weapon: for the “EternalBlue” cyberweapon the hackers simply copied the NSA’s code and used it as-is!! To put that in context, that’s like saying Person A invents the firearm, and then instead of making their own version based on Person A’s firearm, Person B just copies it exactly and makes the exact same gun. So even saying that WannaCry was “based on” the NSA’s code and cyberweapons is somewhat inaccurate, it contains the exact NSA code the way that the NSA wrote it. The US claims they want to hold NK to account for it, of course without actual proof of wrongdoing, yet think they don’t want to admit any guilt. See here’s the thing, the US even arms terrorists and drug cartels with conventional weapons, and escapes being held to account. But on the other hand, if you decided to do that as an individual you could be charged with anything from inciting violence to treason and gaoled forever.

By the way, the US also invented the nuclear bomb, something North Korea is also arming themselves with. So perhaps it is time we think about holding the US to account for all this?

The cyber espionage group known as Longhorn has been formally identified by Symantec as the CIA.

Now, take a breath and get ready to learn the ugly truth behind this revelation. We live in the digital age, and underpinning that is the illusion of electronic security. Now I say illusion, but I wish to stress that this illusion is so strong that it gives people the confidence to conduct online transactions, and for banks to allow their customers to access their accounts over the internet. How secure is your data and your bank account? Not very. It’s about as secure as an ordinary bank vault. With the right tools, equipment, and expertise it can be broken into.

Electronic security is never truly provably secure. Take a moment to think what that means. Let’s say you have a large safe in your office – should you trust it with a high security mechanical lock (Manifoil MK4, S&G 2740B) or an electronic lock (the TL11G is the SCEC approved electronic equivalent)? Well, allow me to blow your mind for a moment: the mechanical locks are provably secure. They are not perfect, and they can be broken into (for example if someone guesses the right combination). The TL11G is not provably secure, its source code is closed, and the ROMs can of course be flashed if someone wanted to intentionally supply a known-vulnerable product, and it would be impossible for a user to tell the difference. I’m actually surprised it’s SCEC approved given the clear vulnerabilities that could exist or could be introduced. Granted though I’m not a locksmith or for that matter security professional.

On 7 Mar 2017, Wikileaks began publishing information relating to Vault 7. Vault 7 is an arsenal of CIA developed cyber-weapons. They are believed to have been sold for sometime on the darkweb. The reason why security companies and professionals hate intelligence organisations is because these intel orgs deliberately find vulnerabilities in software, but do not publish the information. What this means is that a vulnerability can exist for several years before it is independently discovered outside of an intelligence agency. And it doesn’t matter who you think are the “good guys”, if one intelligence agency found the vulnerability and developed a cyber weapon, you can bet that others did as well – the Chinese, the Russians, etc. In fact it would be unthinkable that the CIA could develop such weapons without the Chinese developing them at the same rate or faster given their expenditure on finding them. But as already mentioned, even without the same vulnerabilities being found, the CIA’s entire arsenal of cyber weapons has been leaked for some time and sold on the darkweb to the highest bidders.

On 10 Apr 2017, Symantec positively identified the north-American cyber criminal group known as ‘Longhorn’ as in fact being the CIA. Longhorn has been active since at least 2011, and has been described as the worst cyber criminal group of our age. They have infected 40 known targets in 16 countries. To quote:

The tools used by Longhorn closely follow development timelines and technical specifications laid out in documents disclosed by WikiLeaks. The Longhorn group shares some of the same cryptographic protocols specified in the Vault 7 documents, in addition to following leaked guidelines on tactics to avoid detection. Given the close similarities between the tools and techniques, there can be little doubt that Longhorn’s activities and the Vault 7 documents are the work of the same group.

That’s a pretty goddamned strong statement. Now there is another way to read that statement, the other way to read it would suggest that whoever Longhorn is they have had access to most or all of the Vault 7 cyber weapons soon after they were developed by the CIA. Meaning that if Longhorn is not a part of the CIA, they are a group the CIA has been intentionally arming with the weapons, or they had the ability to steal them from the CIA. None of those options are any better than the CIA is Longhorn.

Conclusion

So let me start this off by doing one of the shortest film reviews in history, and laying my cards on the table. I’m going to give the docu-series 3/10. It’s not completely terrible, but most of it is unnecessary padding, and there was no reason to make it seem like Jason is the centre of their investigation just because that’s Dear’s belief. In my view, OJ was certainly at the scene of the murder, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the view of his culpability, and he most likely acted alone.

History

So let’s backtrack to another docu-series that was much better: OJ Made in America. Made in America is a really great multi-award winning docu-series. It gave us a whole biography of OJ’s life. It talked about facts of the case I never knew about, and wouldn’t have known about from Is OJ Innocent such as that most whites in America in 1995 believed OJ was guilty while most African Americans believed he was innocent. It explained quite well how OJ was acquitted – and that was through a very rigorous defence that exemplified all the flaws to be found in the prosecution’s case, and the police investigation. As a result of this case of course, new policies and procedures were put in place by the police to better protect their investigations and the collection of evidence. Made in America also exposes the problem with guilt or innocence being determined by juries. You can learn all of this in Made in America, but in Is OJ Innocent none of this is ever discussed.

Let’s recap. On 12 June 1994, around 2215 Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were brutally murdered. Ron was 25 years old and a 3rd degree black belt in Karate – he had put up a valiant fight. Nicole was OJ’s ex-wife, and 35 years old. The police did a thorough investigation and the forensic evidence proved that the murder was committed by OJ. OJ was acquitted, and William C Dear believes that it was OJ’s son Jason who perpetrated the murders.

Evidence

Dear’s evidence, at least as presented in this docu-series, never stacked up. For that reason it was just marketing to make this about Jason Simpson, and I think it was terrible to do that. On the positive side though, the other “investigators” in the show Kris Mohandie and Derrick Levasseur did a good job of examining the evidence that Dear provided, instead of slavishly bringing Bill’s book OJ Is Innocent and I can Prove It to the screen. Based on the positive reviews for his book I honestly thought his case would have been stronger. It was a shame that the opinions of Kris and Derrick were intentionally obfuscated until the end of the series, instead of allowing for a natural flow of investigation to take place. If this were done then they could have provided more information to viewers of the hard evidence of the case, such as the shoes which barely got a mention.

Let’s go over some of Bill’s stupid claims. According to Dr Henry Lee who was a Forensic Expert for the defence in the OJ trial, there were two sets of footprints at the scene of the murder. Okay that’s his valid professional opinion, but the opinion of William J Bodziak the Forensic Expert who testified for the prosecution was that there was only one set of footprints, and they came from size-12 Bruno Magli shoes. OJ claimed he didn’t own a pair, yet his civil conviction was secured because a photograph of him wearing the shoes at a Buffalo Bills American Football game was found (later still they unearthed dozens more). Had this photograph been presented at the time of the criminal trial it’s very likely that OJ would have been convicted: According to the company only 299 pairs of that particular shoe had been sold in the US, and Simpson wore size-12 shoes of which only 9% of American men wore. In total there would have been about 27 pairs of those particular shoes in the right size in all of the USA.

This is not at all the only time the docu-series leaves us with only partial information. At one point in the series they talk to Andrea Scott, a friend of Ron’s. She says that she lent her car to Ron and that the police returned her keys caked in blood still sealed in an evidence bag. They then talk about how keys can be used as a stabbing weapon in self defence. They talk to Bill Pavelic (lead defence investigator in the criminal case) who claims that they keys were found in Ron’s hands and that the police would have tested them, and if the blood didn’t match either of the victims or OJ they would have destroyed the evidence! The big problem here though is we’re not given any hard evidence of any of this. How does Pavelic know they were found in Rons hands and not his pocket? Where are the trial notes that would demonstrate this or a photograph of them in his hands? If you have the stomach for it you can google the photos of Ron’s deceased body, and I can tell you – there are no keys visible. If they were in his pocket then it disproves the hypothesis that they were used as a self-defence weapon. Also, if they were used in that way they would have been damaged/broken, and not just caked in blood.

Bill also claims the time card evidence is dubious and wrongly identifies the first entry as Sunday 12 June 1994 when it clearly runs Monday to Sunday, not Sunday to Sunday as Bill kept claiming. You just have to look at it to know that – otherwise there’s no space for Monday on the card (the machine automatically prints each day of the week at a different level on the card). The knife Bill believes is the murder weapon is another lunacy, the experts clearly believe the primary murder weapon was a single-edged knife, and it makes no sense that the killer would use more than one knife in the attack. Especially when no murder weapon was left behind.

Bill claims that the watch Nicole was wearing at the time had stopped working. This, however, contradicts the evidence. In the series they talk to Tom Lange who was a police detective in the original investigation, and he tells them that it was operational – and this does appear in the official records/police notes that were taken. In favour of this hypothesis is that Tanya Brown (Nicole’s Sister) received the watch back “damaged”, something they learn from Bill Pavelic and later confirm by talking to Nicole. Now I’m not sure why this makes a huge difference to the case anyway, the watch displays 9:59, and the police believe the murders happened at 10:15. And again, they never actually test their hypothesis – all they had to do is buy an identical watch, put it on a dummy and let the dummy fall to the ground and see if it stops or not. I suspect it would keep working. And I suspect the reason it “didn’t work” when given to Tanya is because it had been in police evidence for months and the battery had worn out. Or that oxidisation had occurred due to moisture from the blood.

To be fair, the production company did a really good job of getting interviews with people connected to the case. Interviews that could have made for a really great series had they let these people tell their stories openly and produced and presented that instead. Don’t get me wrong, it appears they were at least mostly respectful with how they treated their guests, but they didn’t let them tell their stories! Unfortunately, Kato Kaelin (a friend of OJ and Nicole) and Fred Goldman (Ron’s father) don’t add very much to this docu-series, and that’s because their stories are not directly relevant to “examining Bill’s theory”.

Eyewitness nonsense

Possibly the lowest moment in the series, is when Dear announces he has discovered a new eyewitness who can put Jason at the scene on the night of the murders. Interestingly this isn’t just some whack-job that the producers hired, he actually spoke to Dear as early as 2014 well before this docu-series was produced as evidenced by this facebook post. ‘My name is Michael Martin and I am the witness in this video. It has been a long journey in finding the courage to come forward to the world with all that I witnessed that night. I will now not stop until justice is given to Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. I wrote this quote during one of my many dark moments while dealing with my depression and guilt over this long held secret. “Times spent in memory of the violent acts from the past will leave a scar that is carried on by all those who were forced to endure what they should never have witnessed.” M M’ But there are problems with eyewitness statements, that this docu-series never mentions. They’re highly unreliable – they’re the least reliable form of primary evidence in a courtroom! They’re unreliable because we misremember things that have happened in the past, and we can be made to do so by events in the future. He might be remembering an entirely different night. Sunday a week earlier. If he was there the night of the murder how come he didn’t know a murder had occurred? Wouldn’t he have heard the blood-curdling screams of the murder victims? Another example of why we can’t trust eyewitness testimony is when they talk to the silent owner of Jackson’s (the restaurant where Jason worked), he identifies the top entry as Sunday 12 June 1994 (leaving nowhere for Monday’s entry). But notice that they ask him a leading question, they don’t ask where is Sunday, they tell him that line is Sunday in their question! Yet on the very same time card we see Sunday at the bottom, and clear blank lines for the days not worked (Thursday and Friday). Yet another witness is Carlos Ramos, a former worker at Jackson’s, emphatically claimed the chefs would have finished work and left by 9PM at the latest on a Sunday night, yet this claim is also clearly disproved by the time card itself as it has Sunday’s entry clearly stamped out at 10:20 PM.

Jason Simpson

Actually, strike that, the lowest moment of the entire series is when they decide to psycho-evaluate Jason Simpson based purely on his diaries that Bill has. Diaries that any decent person would return to Jason. They don’t take into account what the people who know him have to say about him (even though they talked to them in the series), it’s just one-sided and largely speculative. That was absolute trash, and I don’t think it tells us anything valuable about his character, it just unfairly defames and slanders an innocent third party for no valid reason other than to make the viewer think they really are interested in “investigating” Bill’s farcical conspiracy theory. We actually see Tanya Brown get really upset about the fact that Jason faces allegations by Bill; and they’ve clearly been less than truthful with her by not revealing the true nature of their documentary or the fact that they are working with Bill Dear. Look in the end they do exonerate Jason (well Bill doesn’t but that’s because nothing will deter his belief in his hypothesis), but not before spending five of the six episodes treating him as their prime suspect.

Where is the evidence?

I must say I was expecting Dear to present much better evidence. All of Dear’s evidence was highly speculative. For example, Dear claims that the beanie belonged to Jason because he is photographed with a similar one. The “investigators” go and ask Tom Lange why the hair in the beanie wasn’t tested for DNA and he tells them what they should already know – you can’t get DNA from hair. That was true at the time of the investigations, although you could do so now. The handwriting analysis was absolutely farcical – they looked nothing alike. And finally, the docu-series ignored most of the trial evidence, including the shoes which are really a smoking gun in this case, in my opinion.

The other thing never talked about in the entire docu-series is the issues of means, motive, and opportunity. The killer had to have all three, and with OJ as a suspect we do have all three. He was in the prime of his life – 46 years old, physically fit, well trained and strong. He was possessive and violent, and had been stalking Nicole. His whereabouts on that night provided him the opportunity to commit the crime. On the other hand while we do know Jason had an arrest or conviction for violence, we don’t have evidence brought to us by Bill that he was well trained and could have successfully won a fight against a Karate black-belt. So his means are at best plausible. He didn’t have a motive, from what we hear he loved Nicole very much and she loved him like a son. And he has a solid alibi for the whole duration of the time of the attack, so he didn’t have the opportunity. We can never say anything in life with absolute certainty, but I have to say that even if the police planted evidence (which is unlikely), the evidence of OJ’s guilt is overwhelming.

Trump V. Turnbull

Turnbull on Sunday: Tells Australians that Trump has agreed to honour the deal made under the Obama administration.

Tuesday-Wednesday: White House spokesman say that no decision has been made yet whether to progress with the deal, and that any refuges would need to face “extreme vetting”. Note that we’re talking about people who have already been assessed as having g refugee status!

Meanwhile Turnbull insists the deal is good.

Washington Post today: Trump hung up on Turnbull more than half an hour early, was angry, and said it was the worst call from a world leader. Furthermore he called the refugee-swap deal “the worst deal ever”, saying “I don’t want these people” and telling Turnbull it was “his intention” to honour the pre-existing agreement – a phrase used to allow him plenty of wiggle room later so he can (presumably) say “despite my best intentions we cannot honour Obama’s arrangement”.

Meanwhile Turnbull still insists the deal is good!

The Presidential Twitter account today:

Dead, buried, and cremated. Enough said!

Continuing on from my security-based theme, let’s examine the claims made by a Fairfax investigation that a bunch of Indians are selling Telstra, Optus, and Vodafine customer details. According to the report, they (a company called AI Solutions as well as others) will sell anyone willing to pay: your name, your address, your date of birth, all your phone numbers, and your call history as well.

How did they get this sensitive data? Well according to the story, they have bought it directly from the Indian call centres that are contracted by the Telco’s to handle their customers. This just goes to prove that you cannot trust a non-Australian company to protect sensitive user data. But it’s much worse than that too.

Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone are crying foul – but they are the goddamned assholes responsible for this mess. This I think goes to show why it is unethical for companies to ask you for information which they do not need to know – like your date of birth, or your home address if you have a mobile with them. It also highlights why the metadata laws are huge potential beach of your human rights, and your privacy. For example, it means that a violent ex-partner can gain access to your information, and get the phone numbers of all your best friends all in one hit – just from purchasing your data from these pricks.

Indian people have a completely different culture to us, and generally speaking the kind of people who work in these call centres feel no obligation to treat their customer information as confidential. In fact, they often feel apprehensive towards wealthy cashed-up westerners that they have to talk to for their jobs, and god-only-knows what hours through the night. This is not an attack on Indian people, it’s just a reality – and even if people like this make up a minority in call centres it’s still a reality. Now if you don’t believe me, and you think I’m being too harsh – look up Indian scammers on Youtube, where you will find a multitude of videos containing Indians that work in call centres for the Microsoft Security Scam and often voice their opinions about the people they scam/rip-off; and they routinely deny that they are doing anything “wrong”. That last point is really important, because from listening to those calls I can tell you that many of them genuinely feel that they are entitled to scam the wealthy westerners and it does not bother their conscious – and they only difference between those Indian Scammers, and the Indians selling your data illegally is the call centre company they work for. And remember, this is India – even for people who do have respect for privacy, they are in a country that does not have the privacy laws that Australia has, and that alone creates a weakness where vulnerable Indians can be exploited to reveal confidential customer information.

I should point out that I love Indian people, I know quite a few in Canberra and they’re all great people. I just would never trust someone working in a foreign country with my personal information, and neither should you.

How should you respond? If you have a mobile phone with one of the companies listed above, I would highly suggest changing to another company and writing a letter of complaint explaining why. They are required to port your mobile number when requested, and if you are under contract I would suggest calling and asking to be released from it because they have broken their obligation to ensure that your sensitive information is stored safely and kept confidential. If they do not agree, I would refer the matter to the TIO. The only appropriate response in my opinion is a strong one to show these pricks that they should put their customers first, and not their profits by jeopardising your data. And the only response from these Muppets should be to move call centres back to Australia – at least for everything where customer information is required.

There is a section at the end of this blog post about their recent Tumblr drama, but the focus on this blog post is on the question health advice, as well as mental health. Okay, so let’s get right into this. They both have a superiority complex – and I have one as well. I don’t think that is a bad thing – in fact for me it’s been most helpful over the years. I’ll explain why in a moment, but let’s start with the premise that health is not just about physical health, but also psychological well-being, as well as spiritual well-being, and even community well-being. Earlier this week, new parliamentarian Julian Leeser devoted his maiden speech to talking about depression. Most people know what it is like to go through depression at some point, but it can affect people in disproportionate ways. And it can be very difficult to seek help for. When I went through a period of this myself as a young adult, I tackled it completely alone. And so one day I decided that I needed to help myself – if I’m not going to reach out for help, then I need to step up and provide a solution. And that’s what I did, and it was very successful for me. What I decided was that I didn’t give a fuck what anyone else thought about me, I would love myself unconditionally. So that’s why I have a superiority complex.

What I don’t allow it to do is guide my belief-set. It has taken a very long time to free myself from preconceived beliefs. And I believe the reason I have been successful with this is because I am quite receptive to receiving and considering information, even when it gets overwhelming. Health, unfortunately, is one of these areas where people have a lot of preconceived ideas, and everyone thinks they’re an expert. Not only that, but then they join the “evil” diet industry and are oblivious to the fact they’re a part of it. It wouldn’t bother me so much if when we showed people like this evidence they looked at it and said “that’s interesting, let me have a very good look at this and come to a fresh conclusion”. Diet is a very fast growing area of study, and things we used to believe about cholesterol and saturated fats have turned out to be wrong. If you don’t know exactly what I mean by this do not worry I will explain it in the future.

Much of the stuff that Leanne “Freelee” Ratcliffe and Harley “Durianrider” Johnstone have said regarding health is based on incorrect assumptions, and knowledge drawn from questionable sources. For example in 2014 Leanne said that Chemotherapy “killed” 13-year old cancer patient Talia Joy. Now it’s certainly true that chemotherapy is dangerous, and can result in patient death. This actually happened to someone I know recently. However, doctors do not prescribe the treatment unless the potential benefit outweighs the risk. That is to say, if you have a terminal illness like cancer then the prospect of dying a little sooner due to a negative reaction to treatment is outweighed by the potential to go on and live a long healthy life if the treatment is successful. So it’s not accurate to say that chemo killed the patient, when in fact it was cancer that was the main culprit.

In the video Leanne made, she claims that a raw vegan diet could have cured the girl’s cancer. As evidence she uses a testimonial from a man claiming that he overcame colon cancer by switching his diet. But Belle Gibson made the same claim and we now know it was a complete fraud. But even if the anecdotal case is true, it is still just evidence of a correlation and not causation. And that is a very important distinction to make. She also incorrectly claims that the health industry has a monopoly – the truth is that it is very difficult to research alternative cancer treatments because you cannot prevent patients from having surgery and/or chemotherapy as a part of the treatment for the purpose of research. What you can do is anything that will not prevent them from having those treatments, so if you wanted to do a large randomised controlled trial where people were given different diets – let’s say DASH, and Vegan, and Control – you could do that, you would get ethics approval. In her criticisms of chemo she does not cite anything peer-review or even from respected experts in the field.

My heart sank when I saw the video Leanne made about Eugenia Cooney. Eugenia suffers from some form of eating disorder, and is clearly quite underweight. I used to think that Freelee’s advice was based on a misunderstanding about nutrition, but I now can confirm it’s based on a lie. Eugenia suffers from a mental disease, not a diet-related-illness. Her poor diet is a symptom, not the cause, of her illness. Leanne’s video is completely misinformed about this, and in particular she makes comments about Eugenia’s body which are counter-productive. When a person is suffering from an eating disorder it means they also suffer from body dysmorphia. Criticising her body will only reinforce the beliefs that Eugenia has about her body. Asking Eugenia to go vegan is very inappropriate because it’s the exact opposite of what her therapist would be trying to do, which is to let her know that foods are safe, and that she can be less obsessive about her diet without it adversely affecting her. Also, therapists will want to introduce foods the patient enjoys, and not limit their choice by imposing restrictive constraints on their choices.

Was Harley abused by Leanne?

Right, so as promised I do have an opinion about this. I do not know the full story, of course. When I first saw the video I thought “he looks like a wreck”! But then I realised that was a manipulative attempt by Harley to convince people he was telling the “100% truth”. You could say that I took my preconceived ideas about Leanne into this and I had to keep them in check.

In this instance I see a few things that concern me. Harley consistently hurls insults/accusations at Leanne. This was true by the fact that he was sending her text messages, and in the video he posted where he began by saying “Freelee’s been using botox since 2013, but I don’t judge people who use it…” If you watch the video from start to finish you’ll see it’s a consistent attack on the other person, first botox, then claiming she “changed”, then calling her out for cheating. Notice that he talks about how she used to be carefree but started using makeup as well. What I see are clear actions of a perpetrator trying to exert control over their victim. I’m not saying that Leanne is innocent in this, on that point I do not know, but from what I’ve seen from Harley’s side is clear evidence of a manipulative abuser. He talks about her punching him in the head, but in a later video he says it only happened twice. Which is of course not evidence of systemic abuse against him, but perhaps a desperate attempt by her to fight back. As I said that much is speculation, but it does appear Harley was abusive nevertheless. A victim of abuse is not going to be the one who is sending abuse towards their former partner by texts, those actions alone incriminate Harley.

With all that said I think he made one valid point, which is that Leanne has been using botox since 2013. I don’t think that’s a lie, and I don’t think that Leanne realises how much she has been lying over the years about her health. Yes she might be a raw-to-four vegan, however she also does an excessive amount of exercise and has made use of cosmetic surgeries including her breast reassignment surgery. One thing I’ve learned in nutrition is that the more active a person, the more so-called “crap” they can eat in their diet. She preaches the opposite which is that you need to be excessively active and eat only raw foods. Athletes actually do eat a lot of “junk food” purely for the extra energy they need, and the reason why they can do that is because of their lifestyles. Leanne seems to be completely oblivious to this, and that is why I would caution anyone from taking advice from people like these.

I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind, just please remember to be sceptical and to look at what the evidence says, and not what so-called “health gurus” say.

 

Census privacy woes

Updated 8-8-1026

Well. I have been swearing a lot in the last two days at my television. Mostly that’s because the ABS’s chief statistician David W. Kalisch seems to have no fucking clue when it comes to the privacy problems with the 2016 Census.

Now I want to say something very clearly. I fully support the census, I believe in it, it provides wonderful and valuable data, and I believe all Australians should fill out all census data honestly and fully. Census data is used to track trends that include the aging population and the distribution in non-communicable diseases, among other things.

By saying that I should also note that there are three things the ABS does not need to know for comprehensive census data: they don’t need to know your name, they don’t need your exact address (but they do need your location), and they don’t need your DOB (your age alone should suffice).

I will be filling out a paper census form which will include all the information the ABS needs, and none of the information they don’t need. That is: it won’t have my name address and DOB. I would fully encourage everyone else to do so, but please be aware that legally you may face a fine if you do not provide all information, or if you provide misleading information. I am willing to risk that, and I believe Section 12 of the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT) protects me and other Canberrans from being forced to hand over personally identifiable information in the census.

Why is there a problem?

I have identified three very serious problems with the 2016 census. There could be more issues that privacy experts are aware of, but these are the issues that I have identified as a layperson who has a track record for strongly supporting privacy. The ABS says the name and address information is stored separately from the census forms, but there are two big problems with this. Number one: they are still connectible. To give an example, Lance Armstrong’s doping was revealed because the ‘anonymity process’ was not comprehensive, and the ‘de-identified’ samples were still connectible to their owners – thus they weren’t fully de-identified. Now in his case he deserved to get exposed, but we’re talking about 23 million Australians, most of which are innocent of any serious crimes.

So for security reasons alone, names and addresses should not be stored at all. They are a target for hackers, or unscrupulous ABS workers who want to steal the information and sell it – which is something that has already happened with two ABS workers persecuted for it just last year! Furthermore, we don’t have electronic voting in Australia because it was shown that doing so could compromise the integrity of the electoral system. And I would further note that with the Australian-invented “secret ballot”, ballot papers must not be in any way identifiable to their owners.

Second is that it’s not ethical. What I mean by this is that in research it is not ethical to ask questions to which you don’t need to know the answer to. A person’s name has no benefit whatsoever to the census data. Yes it can be used in a database of its own to find out how many people have what name and what the most common newborn names are, however it absolutely does not need to be identifiable with the census, and I am shocked to know that it doesn’t go straight into a completely separated database from the rest of the census data. It can of course also be checked against the electoral roll to check that everyone filled in a census, however, that should be a completely separate database just as it is in elections (there is no way for your ballot paper to be identified to you, unless you write your name on it in which case it’s an informal ballot and not counted).

Third of course is privacy. And for this I’ll just give an example. Let’s say you are a victim of domestic violence. When you enrol to vote you are allowed to enrol without an address so that your safety is upheld (no one in the AEC can leak your address to your violent ex-partner). Same principle with census – if the data is there it can conceivably be accessed from someone in the ABS who is a perpetrator of domestic violence, and by statistics alone (the stats that are published by the ABS themselves) you would in fact have to assume there are people in the ABS in high positions of power who are perpetrators of domestic violence. For this reason alone, names and addresses should not be even on the same form as the census, let alone be identifiable to the forms they belong to.

I am very dissatisfied with the process for obtaining my census form. As of today (8th of August) I still have not received my census form, despite ordering it at the earliest opportunity! What kind of monkeys are running a census that doesn’t even get the forms to people in time for the census itself? I have never in my life filled in the form early or late, and I don’t want to – I want to fill it in tomorrow on the 9th of August! And I would further note the ABS has completely stuffed this shit up, even if you call the number provided to order the paper form they never ask you how many forms you need, even though on their own website it says people can request additional forms for privacy, in case you don’t want your house-mates or family reading your answers. And that’s not trivial either, some people become an atheist, but are afraid to tell their spouse or parents; and others join religions they would feel stigmatised if their family or house mates knew about. So here’s a tip: if you want two forms say you have 8 people in the house when using the automated ordering process, and that will force them to send two without you needing to call again (and if it doesn’t have a privacy envelope then just use your own if necessary).

So in conclusion, I will be filling out the census completely, and I encourage everyone to do so. Please think carefully about your privacy, these issues are not trivial. Do not think that I’m advocating for civil disobedience, or that you should not fill in the census – the census data is very valuable, please please fill it in.  I would very strongly recommend leaving your name and full address off the census form. By “full address” I do mean you should include your State and Postcode on the census form, probably your suburb as well, but not your full street address. I do not recommend using the online form. I believe (but I’m not a lawyer) that if you are in the ACT or Victoria that the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT) s12 or Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (Vic) 2006 s13 protects you from being forced to hand over your full name and full address on your census form. It would be a good idea to cite the relevant Act if applicable to you.

Well this post will cement my return to tackling the far more controversial and “difficult” topics on my blog. I want to acknowledge that this post does not provide all the answers you may be seeking, but after doing 2 low-level psychology units at university I feel it is imperative to share with you some of the contradictory information that set off alarm bells in my head, by highlighting some of the large unanswered questions the discipline leaves us. But firstly consider this: I’m asking the question “is mental illness a sham”. A sham does not mean that it doesn’t exist, what it does mean is that at some level there is a misalignment of priorities, a miscommunication of fact versus theory, and at least some level of deception.

I want you to consider a peer-reviewed journal article titled Spirituality, religion and health: Evidence and research directions, by Williams & Sternthal (2007), you can read the text online here. It talks about the evidence that exists for the connection between religion and health. Overall the effect is positive, but there are some negative effects also. This is not controversial, this is something very well known. For all the bashing I did to Christianity in recent posts, note that I’ve never denied the evidence that does show conclusively that religion generally brings participants better health. Doesn’t matter if it’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

There are two main responses that critically thinking people have to the above. The first (the point of view I subscribe to) is that community involvement in solving health problems and promoting positive health should be valued and nurtured. The World Health Organisation also shares this view, as does the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. Some benefits include that it is cheap and can break through barriers that prevent people from accessing other health services. I would further argue that strictly from an evolutionary point of view as it applies to human culture (game theory etc.) it predicts that behaviours and structures that benefit the whole should ultimately rise and prevail above those that don’t. To put it in a nutshell, religion and culture exists because the people who practised them outperformed the people who didn’t. Religion does create barriers as well, and that’s one of the negatives.

The other main point of view is that although religious beliefs have a positive correlation with health they do not benefit society overall. This point of view could suggest that religion has been a powerful force for good in the past, but that now its benefits do not have the merit that they once had. And it’s certainly true that people slip through the cracks when religion gets involved. At one time Christians believed that all illnesses were caused by daemons as per Acts 5:15-16. Later this belief was changed to daemons causing some illnesses but miasmas causing others. In Romans 1:26-27 Paul writes pretty clearly that homosexual desires are caused when people turn away from God and his truth. This type of primitive mythology for explaining so-called ‘deviant’ human behaviour is the seed from which discrimination and oppression are grown and has caused a great deal of suffering for different people. It creates barriers between people. But I would argue that although that is true, in every society there are marginalised and disadvantaged people. You can’t judge a society just because it has disadvantaged people, but you can judge it on their attitudes and whether they minimised the number of people who would be disadvantaged.

So how do we apply this information to modern medical thinking then? Well an effective medical treatment will either alleviate symptoms or cure an ailment. It should improve the quality of life, and reduce the burden of disease. But it does come with a similar expense to that of religious participation – medical treatments also have negative health effects. And as you will see, Psychology cannot always offer any improvement to existing techniques for treating certain mental illnesses.

If a person has been diagnosed with a mental illness, there are an array of theories behind how or why that illness has developed. Behavioural, Cognitive, Biological, Evolutionary, Genetic, Physiological, Psychodynamic, Naturalist. The only two theories that have absolute conclusive proof for causing a mental illness is physiology and genetics. We know for instances that brain damage can cause an irreversible impaired mental state. We know that roundworms in the small intestine can cause clinically significant depression. Impaired foetal development can also cause lasting mental illness. Autism and Alzheimer’s have strong genetic predispositions, but both are thought to be due to an autoimmune disease (i.e. triggered by an environmental factor such as an infection).

Now that’s all fine and well, but we also know that life events can contribute to or cause mental illnesses. There’s really not a debate that this happens – even the social gradient effect on the cognitive ability of children has been established – the question however is why it happens. So let’s take something like Gambling Disorder. How should it be treated do we think? With medication perhaps. What about interventional therapy? Okay, well the most researched forms of therapy are cognitive therapy (CT) and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). But there’s also behavioural therapy (BT), motivational therapy (MT), and “minimal intervention” (MI), a striped down intervention that simply has a therapist deliver targeted advice to the patient just once for as little as 10-15 minutes or as long as an hour. There’s also the 12-step program that’s refused to change or update the 75 year-old method – Gambler’s Anonymous (GA). Surely CBT and CT based treatments did best, right? WRONG! CBT, CT, BT, MT and MI all performed essentially equally well according to Toneatto and Gunaratne (2009). Well there’d at least have to do much better than Gambler’s Anonymous anyway. WRONG AGAIN! Marceaux and Melville (2010) found that GA was just as effective as CBT after 6-months (their results are from a controlled study). Petry et al. (2009) conducted a study with one cohort receiving CBT in addition to MI, one receiving just the MI session, and a control group, and found that both of their groups that received the intervention showed improvement with no significant difference between the group that received the CBT and the one that didn’t!

How can this be? If you don’t know what a mental illness is to begin with, then how could you possibly know how to treat it? The disciple of Natural Psychology argues that mental illnesses are non-existent:

The question is not, “What is the best definition of a mental disorder?” The question is not, “Is the DSM-5 definition of a mental disorder better than the DSM-IV definition of a mental disorder?” Those are absolutely not the right questions! The first and only question is, “Do mental disorders exist?” The phenomena certainly exist. The birds and bees exist; pain and suffering exist. But birds do not prove the existence of gods and pain does not prove the existence of mental disorders. Let us not play the game of debating the definitions of non-existent things. Let us move right on. (Eric R. Maisel Ph.D. on Psychology Today).

So if we don’t understand how mental illnesses occur, and we can’t clearly define it, and all of our wildly different treatment options performed equally well as each other, wouldn’t that tell you that something is seriously amiss? Now I want to acknowledge that I’m not saying I know either – but I do know that the risk can be reduced environmentally. That is through policies that provide better safeguards for people who are at risk of developing an addition, and ensuring early proactive intervention rather than reactive intervention.

Pharmaceutical companies are some of the most immoral in the world.

Certainly more immoral than tobacco companies – at least tobacco companies can’t advertise their products on TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. And yes, the risks are stated on the label, supposedly, the label that you see AFTER you buy the medication. Many of the patients who are currently dependant on pharmaceuticals were never told that in the first place, because the development of dependency wasn’t known at the time. Over-medication, dependence, and people accessing the wrong medications for their health issues, as it is, creates a huge amount of pharma-waste. Pharmaceutical advertising encourages people to self-diagnose, and self-select the medications they think they need. This is a massive problem with non-mental medical disorders; so you can just imagine how big a problem it is with mental-health related diagnosed “disorders”.

If you see a psychiatrist here, in Australia, they will diagnose you according to the DSM-V. If you go to China, and see a psychologist they will diagnose you according to the CCMD-3. That’s right – there are two completely different diagnostic manuals, that define mental illness differently to each other, and designate a number of different illnesses. Each has illnesses that are unique to their manual as well – in other words there are illnesses that exist in CCMD and not in DSM (and vice versa)! Mental health illnesses are also defined in the ICD-10 (maintained by WHO) with some difference to DSM.

So then, is mental illness a sham?

Yes I believe so. Hypothesises are presented to clients as medical fact and that means it’s falsely presenting mental health issues as sure and certain factual illnesses. Now I just said before that there are some mental health issues that we know are illnesses like Autism and Dementia. But those are believed to be autoimmune diseases; they’re a physiological disorder that causes mental health problems. But the mental health problems that are purely mental health related with no known link to physiology or bacteria or viruses are not proven to be illnesses per se. They may masquerade themselves into a diagnosable condition; but that’s not an illness. Think about this: we still call gender dysphoria an illness because all conditions in the DSM are mental illnesses by definition (DSM-5 = Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5); yet this is offensive to many people who suffer from the condition, and the French government actually declared that it is not to be considered a mental health condition whilst guaranteeing that people who suffered from the condition would still be able to receive subsidised healthcare.

So I personally welcome a clear delineation between illnesses and other states of mental health, and I look forward to the day that we stop using the word “disorder” to refer to people’s health problems that we don’t understand.

References

Check back they will be edited in. :)

Privacy is a basic human right, defined in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see also Right to Privacy in the Digital Age). We should all be very concerned with invasions of our privacy, or where our privacy is not guaranteed. Or when our data is accessed illegally (as in PRISM) by foreign government agencies and then passed to our law enforcement agencies. Or when your data is invaded because somebody else uses your network and is under investigation. Or when your data simply falls into the wrongs hands because it’s been stored inadequately and has been accessed by a hacker (as happened to the Ashley Madison website). People don’t necessarily feel sorry for Ashley Madison – they quite rightly feel apathetic towards the company – but they certainly feel sympathetic to innocent users who had their accounts hacked (note it’s not our place to judge anyone’s guilt based on the services they use).

Now imagine instead that your ISP was hacked, and hackers revealed everyone who had accessed services such as Ashley Madison, or mental health services, or Lifeline/Beyondblue, or domestic violence help, or financial assistance, or family planning and abortion services, or drug rehabilitation services, alcoholics anonymous, gambling help online, or emergency food relief charities, or specialised legal services, or religious services, or other sensitive services a person might feel self-conscious about and rightly expect they have a right to privacy about. Virtually all of the services I just mentioned promise to provide either confidentiality or anonymity. If your data is stored by your ISP, by law, then it becomes a target for hackers. Once the data is obtained by a hacker (or a disgruntled employee) it can be mined and sold. Vulnerable people can be selectively targeted. For example, people suffering from gambling addition could have their details (their full name and email address) sent to advertisers who could then target everyone on the list with online gambling services. Identities can be stolen wholesale. This list of horrendous possibilities goes on. You might want privacy for all kinds of genuine reasons, but you need privacy in order to be able sure of your security as well as to access sensitive services that require anonymity or confidentiality. I highly suggest listening to the recent IQ2 debate Only The Wicked Need Fear Government Spying (seems to be unavailable as at 21/02/2018, check here).

Government spying is not legal in Australia. The metadata honey-pot for the various law enforcement agencies to access cannot legally be stored by any government agency – yet the Federal Government and law enforcement agencies wants this information stored indiscriminately by service providers so they can access it whenever they need it. Many have argued, including Malcolm Turnbull, that this data is “already available”. Well that’s not entirely true. If it was already available there would be no cost associated with storing it. The reality is the law forces ISPs and Telcos to store more data and for longer. For example all email providers have to now store metadata relating to your emails! That’s a list of everyone who you contact, and when, and everyone who contacts you, and when. You have no control whatsoever over what comes in to your email address! In Europe, where similar data retention laws were passed in several countries, the duration for the storing of metadata was usually much less than 2 years – typically around 6-12 months.

Europe is an interesting case. The European Union came up with a directive instructing member states to enact mandatory data retention by Telecommunication companies, after 8 years the directive was struck down by an EU Court by a finding that found that the directive was illegal. Across Europe, in response to the EU Directive, similar laws were passed, and in a number of countries they have since been retracted – and in many countries on constitutional grounds. The list of European countries I know about that had data retention laws struck down by a constitutional court includes Austria, Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Cyprus, and Argentina. Note that in the Slovenia ruling the court ordered Telcos to destroy retained data immediately! And that’s just a list of EU countries where it was revoked on constitutional grounds alone. The Netherlands scrapped their law, Hungary’s law may be struck down constitutionally, and the UK’s has been suspended by court order with a suspension on the suspension order until 31 March 2016! In the majority of cases in Europe VPNs were included along with ISPs in being forced to log data.

The United States, of course, does not have any mandatory data retention laws. Canada does, and the law appears to apply to VPNs as well as ISPs (it has not yet been tested in court).

So where does that leave us – here in Australia? Well our legislation is set to come into effect on October 7. It’s now widely viewed all across Europe, and in the USA, as a clear breach of privacy. Most Australians don’t understand what data is to be stored (see iiNet and journalist Quentin Dempster‘s article). ISPs, Email providers, and Telcos all now have to store “Metadata” in Australia. That’s right – even your email provider – so you can get a foreign email and the data won’t be stored, but if you use an Australia email provider from October 7, the provider is required to log all activity on your account. Local providers cannot compete evenly with overseas providers, who are able to offer greater protection for privacy not just for your emails, but also for voice calls. This could also push companies who host their websites in Australia overseas so they can avoid having their company email “medata” logged and stored by providers. The retained data can be accessed without a warrant, and for the reason of suspicion of any crime. The government argued there isn’t a need for a warrant because that’s for the content proper – however, iiNet points out the so-called “metadata” provides as much information (or more) as the content itself does. And mentioned earlier – your data may be accessed along with every else who used a shared internet connection (such as a family or workplace internet connection). Imagine this, there could be 6 people in your household, and one person for some reason becomes under suspicion of a crime by law enforcement. When the ISP data is accessed, everyone’s data is accessed at once – the one person under suspicion, and the five who are not. If you use public WiFi – that data also has to be logged and your data will be accessed when anyone who used it is under suspicion!

How to go about securing your privacy online will be the topic of my next post.

If you’re like most of us, you know people who have lied to your face, I know some quite well. One was so convinced of his lying ability that even when I would say something like “nonsense” they would explode into a straw-man argument saying “how dare you say that it’s nonsense”. There are many different times I can think of when I knew the clear truth but the other person chose to persist with a lie even when faced with the truth (rather than an argument against their position). For instance, one person once tried to tell me AAPT was the second-largest telecommunications company in Australia, after Telstra. I said (near instantly) “nonsense, Optus is the second-largest telecommunications company in Australia”. He refused to concede his “point of view”, and by the way, yes he was an AAPT sales representative. Boldface lying.

When you hear the words “Global Climate” what comes to mind? Many people think that the global climate “should” be “consistent”. This is not what evidence tells us at all, it in fact is always varying. Many people also think that humans are the primary driving force due to CO2 concentrations, although they really have no idea if there’s sound scientific basis for this. You know, just the other day I drove past a “Hybrid” Camry. And I thought to myself “yeah, that’s clean energy alright: instead of 100% fossil fuel power it uses part fossil fuel power and part hydrogen power, the hydrogen comes from burning fossil fuels, so that’s 100% CO2-inducing fossil fuel power, what a load of crap!”

Imagine that you don’t know anything about climate change. Imagine that until now nobody’s even noticed it – if it’s there. Imagine.

Lies can only take root if we are, somewhat, “ignorant” about the truth. For instance, if you were blind and everyone who could see told you that grass is red, you would have no ability to discern the “truth” from it. Inconvenient Truth, is a film by Al Gore which has many lies in it, proven in court, and it is still taught in schools to our children as representing the truth. You know, if a Math’s textbook contained serious mathematical flaws within it, it would either be replaced, or the “bad information” would be purged from it. Well think of Inconvenient Truth within this context, Al Gore perfectly demonstrates what happens when a scientific viewpoint is taken as Gospel Truth. Not only that, but it also shows what happens when science becomes so political and popular. There is precious little science in the film, because Al Gore is a politician not a scientist, with a political agenda, certainly not presenting scientific information from a neutral point of view.

By the way, I again challenge you: do I only say what is “convenient”? Why not read my blog entry “pornography: no child is sacred” and see for yourself if I chose to be convenient and talk about how to solve a problem that is 50 years old and grew from something that started legally in one “rogue” sovereign nation and has since spread throughout the entire world. Or if I chose to report the inconvenient facts of the matter.

In my opinion this movie should never be shown in schools as representing “science”. When it is it amounts to political indoctrination, and on the 10th of October 2007 the High Court in London ruled there were 9 major inaccuracies in the film.

1. Sea level rise of up to 20′.

Gore never states that sea levels will rise this much in our lifetime; however he clearly insinuates it by showing flashy and probably very expensive animations depicting sea levels rising over current populations. Factually: for about 150 years sea levels have been rising at approximately the same rate (that’s before and after increased hydrocarbon use). And the fact of the matter is, again, that a casual correlation does not prove cause and effect.

2. Low-lying islands in the Pacific Ocean are having to be evacuated because of the effects of global warming.

This is an imagined effect. A bold-face lie. End of story, there are no “sinking islands”. The Carteret Islands are endangering themselves by blowing up their reefs, but that’s human activity and has nothing to do with climate change.

3. The Gulf Stream would be shut down by global warming.

The Gulf Stream is driven mostly by winds. Al Gore is imagining no more windy weather in the warmer future? Regardless, there is strong scientific consensus that Global Warming will not affect the Gulf Stream.

4. CO2 always drives temperature.

By the way, like the preceding point, you won’t find many scientists who hold the view that past climate change was driven by greenhouse gas activity. Gore uses a graph of Ice Core data collected from Antratica over the last 650,000 years. There is a strong correlation between Temperature and CO2 – Gore states verbatim “When there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer, because it traps more heat from the sun inside.” This is a false conclusion. The change in CO2 lags by 800-2800 years behind the change in temperature. Gore also states verbatim that 100ppmv of CO2 in the atmosphere is “the difference between a nice day and a mile of ice above your head”. Finally, the CO2 concentrations at Antratica don’t necessarily represent the global CO2 levels. That isn’t to say they don’t all follow the same up’s and down’s, but what I mean is just because CO2 has never gone about 300ppmv there isn’t to say it didn’t happen at the equator.

5. The disappearance of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania was due to global warming.

This is another imagined effect of Global Warming. Well it is an effect of climate change, of course it is, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the recent period of global warming, and this because the temperature at the summit of the mountain never drops below freezing. We have decades of climate readings from the area and climate itself at the mountain is stable. For this reason, a 2006 study concluded that “Rather than changes in 20th century climate being responsible for their demise, glaciers on Kilimanjaro appear to be remnants of a past climate that was once able to sustain them.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter if the climate was completely level for the last 150 years, they’d still be receding, and at exactly the same rate.

6. The shrinkage of Lake Chad in Africa was caused by global warming.

I personally found this one quite offensive when I head it originally in the film. The last time the lake was completely dry was about 100BC. It is being over-used by humans, and as a result has been shrinking. It is not tied to global warming. There was, however, one paper by NASA that had global warming as a contributing factor; but that on its own is not sufficient evidence when the primary factor is human activity in the region.

7. Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming.

Obviously, no individual hurricane could be linked to Global Warming, even if it was responsible for increasing them. But that doesn’t matter because Global Warming has not been shown to produce more hurricanes. It hasn’t been shown to do this, because there hasn’t been shown to be a trend of more or less hurricanes over the past 50 years (it is my understanding that before that we didn’t have the equipment to actually record every hurricane event occurring like we do today). Additionally it wasn’t the fact of the Hurricane Katrina hitting that caused so much damage. Well it was, but any category 3 hurricane would have done the same thing. The levees were never going to survive the hit. There’s an entire Wikipedia article about the Hurricane Katrina levee failures. You have engineers the world over talking about how the levees were destined to fail, “the costliest engineering mistake in American history” indeed.

By the way, if you missed the point, much of the destruction and flooding caused by Katrina would have been prevented with adequately engineered levees and flood walls.

8. Polar bears are drowning because they have to swim too far.

More ridiculous nonsense, just like everything else in Inconvenient Truth. Gore is probably referring to a 2005 study which talks about 4 polar bears which died in a severe storm. The ice where this happened is not even receding. Furthermore, Gore infers that Polar Bears are at risk of extinction by his argument! Totally irrational – they have been around for 200,000 years and survived temperatures far higher than today, with of course far less ice.

9. Coral reefs were being bleached by the effects of global warming and other factors.

Oddly enough there is some truth to this argument – but only in the future, current coral bleaching can be linked to other causes and not global warming. The scientific view is that bleaching will likely occur with a one degree rise in global temperature. The fact is that even when this happens, corals will adapt and the bleaching won’t be anywhere near as severe as alarmists say. There are plenty, far more important, other risks to coral at present.

Now just because a judge found those nine glaring errors in the film, don’t think there aren’t many, many more. It is riddled with errors from start to finish. I can’t force you to see my point of view, I just hope you will think for yourself and not just believe what some politicians tell you about climate change.