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It’s Just a Cartoon!

May 31, 2013 Leave a comment

How seriously should we take cartoons? Judging from the controversy over the “Danish Mohammed” cartoons of 2005 some people take them very seriously. And now, here in New Zealand, we have a similar issue with two cartoons representing a political view which is being viewed by some as racist.

The cartoons depict a Pacific Island (or possibly Maori) family abusing the government’s new food in schools program when the adults dress up as school kids to get the free food. In one cartoon it is explicitly stated and in the other implied that the money they save on food can then be put towards buying cigarettes, alcohol, scratch and win tickets, and possibly electronic goods.

So the cartoons reinforce the long-held view by some people that certain sections of the New Zealand population, especially Maori and Pacific groups, can’t afford to feed their children or themselves because they waste money on luxury goods and just generally make bad buying decisions.

It’s an interesting assertion, but is it true? A lot of the debate seems to portray the issue as black and white (no pun intended). A question asked in a TV poll was whether the cartoons represent reality. Interestingly three quarters of respondents thought they did. But the whole question is invalid because I’m sure there are families who can’t afford food because they waste money on tobacco and alcohol, but I’m equally sure there are others who economise as much as they can and still can’t survive. And undoubtedly both types of families exist in all racial groups.

There is no doubt (at least there is none amongst reasonable people) that the current economic and political environment has caused a huge amount of inequality in wealth distribution. There is also no reasonable doubt that the cost of basics like power and housing have gone up much faster than rates of pay. Of course the people who have done well from these policies don’t want to be bothered by any potential feelings of guilt for the victims, and blaming the victims by suggesting they can’t feed their families because they make poor decisions is just too easy.

So it’s unfortunate that the cartoons reinforce this belief when it is probably only true in a minority of cases. But it is still an opinion and political cartoons generally represent an opinion and try to make a point of some sort without pretending to be too unbiased or rigorous about it. Anyone who uses a cartoon as a serious source of information is being rather foolish, and it’s likely that the people who do take the cartoon seriously already held the view it represents anyway.

I have heard a lot of discussion on the issue but I have heard very little presenting both sides of the argument and backing up any conclusions with actual statistics. The people who condemn the cartoons as racist or inappropriate or offensive and just being much too sensitive. And the ridiculously insipid nonsense from the new race relations commissioner just reinforces how silly that role is (as well as how useless Susan Devoy is in that role – she really should have stuck to playing squash!)

The cartoonist, Al Nisbet, has received some hate mail but also a lot of supporting messages. He says that the country is too politically correct and that the cartoon was intended just to get a laugh. I think he’s right about the PC bit, but it’s disingenuous to say that humour was his only motivation. There is a clear deliberate political message there and everyone knows what it is.

So in summary, the cartoons are fine. They represent a political opinion and do have some element of humour as well. If some people find them offensive or inappropriate then that is their problem – they need to take things a little bit less seriously. I would like to see a further cartoon in the future perhaps representing the opposite view. Maybe something representing the greedy rich class who have done well out of current policies and who are living a life of luxury while hypocritically criticising those who haven’t.

That shouldn’t be too difficult, maybe something along the lines of some fat, white capitalist pigs feeding at the trough while their political servants toss food to them which they have taken from the poor. Yeah, that’s just as offensive and inappropriate as the other cartoons and has just as much relevance: some, but not enough that it should be taken too seriously.

Save the Trees!

May 29, 2013 Leave a comment

People’s work habits usually change slowly. Maybe they just don’t change, and it’s only new generations which allow any change at all (because they don’t have old habits to overcome) but I think it should be possible for people to improve their routines if they just made the effort.

In this blog entry I want to discuss one of my little pet complaints: how people can’t get out of the habit of wasting paper by printing every document they want to read or store. Why can’t they use modern technology and use less paper and save a few trees?

I have worked on being paperless for a few years now myself and have succeeded almost 100%. I must admit that I do still occasionally scribble notes on small scraps of paper but most of the time I type them into my computer, iPad, or (most times) iPhone. I have got quite used to reading from the screen of my various devices so I almost never print anything. And all my document storage is in electronic form.

Mostly this works well. The notes synchronise between all of my devices through Apple’s iCloud and I use the computer (a MacBook Pro with an i7 processor, solid state drive, and 15″ screen) as the “master device” to create permanent documents which synchronise back out to the other devices.

If anyone hands me a piece of paper (such as a receipt, business card, or order of some sort) I just take a photo of it with the iPhone and give it back to them. And I might mention that using an electronic version next time would be preferred. Again, the photos synchronise to the other devices for permanent storage.

And I don’t read books or newspapers, at least not in a conventional form. Ironically, the last book I read on paper was the biography of Steve Jobs, the person who allows me to dispense entirely with conventional reading material. I read news on the iPad and computer through news web sites and I supplement this with podcasts from Radio New Zealand and other sources which I download every morning. And I read a few books on the iPad but mainly listen to audio books which means I can “read” and drive or “read” while walking from one job to the next.

So paper is basically a thing of the past for me. I didn’t even have a printer driver installed on my computer until I had to do some testing for a client. But what about the people I work with? How have they adapted to the new technology?

Generally, extremely poorly.

Almost everyone I work with refuses to read from a screen. They print things and read from the paper instead. Some people even print their email messages! And this applies even to people with high quality devices intended for reading such as iPads.

There have been some truly absurd examples of this. One person has his PA print his emails so he can read them. Then he amends them on paper or writes a new email by hand which the PA types as a new email message. So several sheets of paper are temporarily used for no good reason.

Here’s another example. When I noticed someone printing a 40 page PDF so it could be read I asked why she didn’t get an iPad. She said she had one but didn’t have it at work so couldn’t use it for reading from. When I asked why she left it at home she said it was because she didn’t use it at work so why bring it in? Clearly this was not someone with with knowledge of philosophical logic such as circular arguments!

I try not to be judgemental and I try not to tell everyone how they should work, but I don’t think there’s any harm in suggesting that going paperless is a good idea or even that it is possible. It’s not just because of the environmental advantages of reducing paper use, it’s also about working more efficiently and making the most of the technology we already have available.

Random Evolution Facts

May 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Continuing my series of “random fact” blog entries, I thought I would move on to another potentially controversial subject: evolution. If you follow this blog you will know the previous subject was environmentalism and that could reasonably be said to involve controversy because it is a basically political subject and one which is prone to extreme views on both sides.

But really evolution is not the same sort of thing at all. There should be no controversy because evolution is a fact and is entirely scientific. The only controversy is one manufactured by deluded nutters. But even if it is totally unjustified there is still a controversy, so let’s move on to the facts…

First of all, a fact about that controversy: The result of recent surveys (from 2011) showed that just 50.9% of Americans believe evolution. In the 18 to 44 year old age group 56% believed it, in the older group under 50%, and amongst college graduates 63%.

Analysis: If I remember correctly this is the first time that surveys have shown that a majority of Americans believe evolution, so at least that is a positive point. This is supported by the fact that more young people believe it, which indicates the trend is likely to continue. No doubt this greater level of education leading to greater belief in the facts of science is what is worrying creationists and leading them to wanting to have their myths taught in school.

The last statistic – that 63% of college graduates believe evolution – is nice because it confirms the idea that the more educated a person is the more likely they are to believe in science. But it is still a surprisingly low number. It is hard to believe that a (presumably) intelligent person can complete a college (university) course without being convinced by the evidence. Of course there are many courses which have no scientific content so I guess this lack of knowledge might not be so surprising for graduates in the area of the arts and commerce, for example.

Fact: 99.8% of all species which have ever existed have become extinct.

Analysis: I have heard slightly different numbers for this statistic but they are always above 99% so it is safe to say the number is very high. I do agree that the definition of species is somewhat uncertain but this makes no difference to the basic idea (as I will explain below).

Evolution predicts that the forms of life gradually change over vast periods of time. The change happens through differential survival so extinction is really the most important outcome of evolutionary change. If the variety of life came about by a more directed mechanism, such as creation or intelligent design, we would expect little or no extinction. Why would an intelligent agent create species which are so poorly designed that only one fifth of one percent of them survive?

And the difficulty in defining a species is also a natural consequence of evolution. Because populations are constantly splitting, merging, and changing as a result of environmental and genetic factors species are never stable. Again a designer would be expected to create “types” of life in distinct groups. What we see is totally contrary to this idea.

Fact: RNA has a single helix and can contain information just like DNA can, but it can also act as an enzyme. Therefore a simplified model of early life is possible, involving one molecule (RNA) instead of two (DNA and protein). Because DNA is a better information transfer mechanism it would have out-competed RNA once it became established.

Analysis: There is no doubt that the chemistry of life is incredibly complex and many people have difficulty understanding how it could have arisen without intelligent intervention. But when the details of these mechanism are examined closely it can generally be seen how a much simpler function could have served as an intermediate stage to the complexity we see now.

The “RNA world” hypothesis isn’t universally accepted but it does illustrate one way that the current complexity could have arisen. The current mechanism in “advanced” life involves DNA, RNA, and proteins and is perhaps too complex. But if DNA evolved after RNA it starts making sense that the complexity we see now could have started with something much simpler. It also explains why it is now perhaps unnecessarily complex.

Fact: Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, other primates have 24 pairs. If there was a common ancestor (as evolution states) the chromosomes must have fused at some point because humans couldn’t survive the loss of a whole chromosome. Telomeres are structures which appear at the end of most chromosomes but are present in the center of human chromosome 2 (but are not in other species). This clearly shows a fusion corresponding to chimp chromosome 13.

Analysis: Despite creationists’ ridiculous attempts to suggest the contrary, this is fairly strong evidence for a common ancestor. If an intelligent designer created two species why would one have almost identical DNA to another and why would there be clear signs that one branch had similar chromosomes to the other but slightly rearranged? Wouldn’t the *intelligent* designer get it right the first time and not need to make changes “on the fly”?

The facts indicate evolution is true. Of course there is also a chance that there is a different mechanism involved but one which is virtually indistinguishable from evolution. But that sort of theory is just intellectually dishonest. The Catholic Church accepts evolution but says it is guided by God. Why would they even suggest anything so idiotic? If a god is guiding evolution he’s sure doing a bad job.

A 99.8% failure rate is about what we would expect from a natural process with a high random component, but it certainly isn’t what we expect if there is intelligent guidance going on.

The reality is clear to anyone who actually bothers to look at the facts and then applies an honest appraisal process to those facts. I could have thrown out all of the other facts in this file (those I included here are just a sample) and replaced them with one word: evolution. It’s a fact.

User Pays

May 24, 2013 Leave a comment

In 1984 New Zealand began its great experiment in open and free markets, minimal regulation, and user pays. Strangely it was all started by a Labour government, which would traditionally be far from enthusiastic about these concepts. But that government had been hijacked by extreme idealists form the libertarian camp and bore little resemblance to what would normally be expected from them.

Since then these extreme neo-liberal policies have peaked and are now gradually being backed away from, unless you are one of the few people left in the libertarian wing of the dying Act party. So the experiment has clearly been a failure although some people might argue that things would have been even worse if we hand’t followed the path we did (but who can prove or disprove that?)

And this phenomenon didn’t just happen in New Zealand. As I said in a recent blog entry titled “Zeitgeist”, during the late 70s and 80s it seemed to be an idea whose time had come and many countries were following similar ideas, with Reagan in the US and Thatcher in Britain being great enthusiasts for it.

But let’s just move all the politics and economic dogma aside and look at the concept of user pays from a purely logical perspective. Whatever the political ideology it is usually associated with, is it a good idea? Actually yes, in many ways it is a good idea, but only in certain contexts. Let me explain…

A basic idea behind user pays is that nothing is free. Every user pays for what they need – for housing, food, education, electricity, etc – and the market will establish appropriate prices for these items based on true costs and on market forces such as competition.

So if electricity supplies don’t keep up with demand then the price will go up which will either persuade people to economise to save power or will provide more money to build new power plants. It sounds great in theory and in fact it can be a very effective economic mechanism.

But there are certain necessities for living which any person living in a relatively rich, modern democracy like ours (or in the US or Britain for example) should expect. There is no real excuse for New Zealand having a whole family living in a garage or in a single room, or in getting sick because they can’t heat their homes (or their garage) in winter, or for relying on charities to supply them with food because their other expenses are so great.

So user pays is fine as long as the users can afford to pay for the basics. And in many cases today that just isn’t true. Many user actually can’t pay for housing or for electricity or for food in an open market because their income just isn’t sufficient.

And that is also a natural outcome of user pays. Most employers will pay as little as they can get away with and will claim they are just following the model (which they are). But at the same time people who own rental housing will charge as much as they can get away with. So the user pays a lot but isn’t paid a lot to compensate.

User pays seems to be naturally suited to making the privileged minority much richer while they prey on the majority of “users”. And that’s exactly what we see in every case. I discussed the obscene extremes this phenomenon has reached in the US – where the top 1% have about as much wealth as the bottom 90% – in a blog entry called “When the Revolution Comes”.

So in summary I support the idea of user pays but only if the minimum income is linked to how much a user needs to survive with a reasonable standard of living. Where that point is will depend on individual opinion, but I think compromise is possible. One thing’s for sure: the point certainly isn’t at the income level which the minimum wage provides.

And if there are no jobs for a significant number of people and if the income of many people on poorly paid jobs isn’t sufficient then a user pays system simply isn’t appropriate. We can’t have it both ways: we have to either make sure people have enough to participate in the user pays system or use a different system. It’s a simple choice.

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

May 23, 2013 Leave a comment

What should we be more afraid of: possible harm from terrorists and anarchists who might or might not be real, or possible harm from draconian and unsupervised laws which are allegedly there to protect us?

It’s a difficult question and I suspect the answer might depend on the exact circumstances involved, but at this point I am far more concerned about repressive government laws specifically intended to inhibit citizen’s freedom rather than some uncertain threat which can just too conveniently be labelled as “terrorism”.

There have been a series of recent incidents in New Zealand which have prompted me to tackle this subject, but the issue goes beyond any single country because it exists in many western democracies (so-called) where governments are granting themselves similar powers.

The first incident is the new ability, now being introduced by our government, of New Zealand’s spy agency (the GCSB or Government Communications Security Bureau) to spy on New Zealand citizens. In the past they were (in most circumstances) only allowed to spy on alleged enemies of the country. But they illegally spied on innocent (no arrests resulted from their activity) citizens instead.

So what is the natural response of our government to this immoral and illegal action? Obviously not to hold the agency accountable, because in modern New Zealand the rich and powerful are very rarely held accountable for anything. No, the response was to make the illegal actions legal. Well they can do that if they want to, but they can’t make immoral actions moral.

There is little accountability from our increasingly untrustworthy police force either, even though they clearly broke many laws and acted in a truly outrageous and scandalous way during the 2007 Urewera raids.

Innocent people were terrorised by armed police in a totally unjustifiable way and yet this – which is really the only genuine act of terrorism I can recall happening in New Zealand (except perhaps the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior by agents of the French Intelligence Service in 1985) – resulted in no legal punishment, resignations, or even really any real condemnation of police by those in authority.

Finally there is the Kim Dotcom case, another totally immoral over-use of brutal police violence. I have discussed this in previous blog entries but effectively Dotcom was illegally spied on, and was arrested in a violent armed attack by police purely at the request of American agencies acting on behalf of big business in the US.

So yet again terrorist tactics were used by the authorities for a totally unjustified purpose. Who is the good side and who is the bad in this conflict? I would suggest that we have far more to fear from armed police jumping out of helicopters and smashing down doors and stealing private property than from a single fat nerd running a file sharing site.

I’m not suggesting in any way that all New Zealand police are immoral, violent thugs, although I have no doubt that some of them are. What I am suggesting is that the police are being mis-used by those near the top of the hierarchy and especially by politicians (even though they cannot theoretically influence police operations). Actually, that sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory but I’m sticking with it anyway!

It is interesting that those who distrust the government the most seem to be the ones who are most supportive of these actions. Maybe it’s because these immoral police and spy agency activities will be most likely be directed against the political opponents of the right, and those who demand most freedom for themselves seem to be extremely enthusiastic about ensuring that no one else gets that same privilege.

I don’t want terrorism (whatever that actually is) or other forms of violence here, and it is something we need to guard against. But the question which we all need ask is this: who will guard the guards themselves?

Random Environment Facts

May 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Many people hear useful information each day and later when it might be relevant (such as in a discussion with a political opponent) they might have forgotten that piece of information which might have allowed them to deliver a devastating riposte!

Yes, that used to happen to me until I started using my iPhone to its full capabilities. No, when I hear a useful tidbit I just pull out the phone and make a note of it. The notes are synchronised automatically to my computer and I just do a “tidy up” every now and then and file all the facts away in a file based on the subject area involved.

But many of these little gems have never been used, so I thought why not share them here with my blog readers? And why not start with something moderately controversial like environmentalism? So here they are, some of the contents of my “Environmentalism Random Facts” file which show that what many people believe isn’t necessarily true!

Fact number 1: The energy content of a fabric shopping bag is 130 times greater than that of a plastic supermarket bag. (source: unknown)

Commentary on fact 1: Many people think they are doing the environment a favour by using reusable fabric shopping bags, but this isn’t necessarily the case. A fabric bag involves (in manufacturing, transport, etc) 130 times more energy than a plastic single-use bag. So, if you shop once a week, you would need to have the fabric bag last almost 3 years to make it worthwhile.

Judging by how many of the fabric bags we use break, I’m not sure that many would attain this lifespan. Also, this assumes that the plastic bags aren’t re-used. We re-use ours for rubbish, etc, so that gives them a second life.

I’m not saying that plastic bags are more environmentally friendly that fabric but I am suggesting that the issue isn’t quite as straightforward as many people think.

Fact number 2: Within 50 to 100 years of the Maori (native New Zealanders) arriving in New Zealand the moa (a large flightless bird) was extinct. (source: RNZ podcast, Moa Flourished Through… 2012-08-08)

Fact number 3: The Pacific rat, which was introduced by Maori, caused more extinctions than any other mammal species. (source RNZ podcast, Part 2 the next extinction?)

Fact number 4: In New Zealand 34 species were made extinct by Maori, and just 15 by Europeans. Originally there where were 245 species, of which 174 were endemic. (source RNZ podcast, Part 2 the next extinction?)

Commentary on facts 2 to 4: Many people think that the arrival of Europeans was the greatest factor causing the extinction of native species. These facts show that (at least in New Zealand, but I expect also elsewhere) it is humans in general which are the problem.

Contrary to politically correct belief there is good reason to think that native human populations are no more “in touch with the land” or “integrated with nature” than anyone else.

Fact number 5: Less than 1% of the ocean is fully protected, and just 13% of the land area. (source: RNZ podcast, Managing Our Oceans, approx 2013-01-25)

Commentary on fact 5: Many people who are opposed to conservation claim that industries which exploit the environment (fishing, forestry, etc) are being blocked by excessive environmental protection and regulation. But the facts are that very little of the total area of the planet is fully protected.

Fact number 6: In the US acid rain was stopped by a government cap and trade scheme on sulphur dioxide emissions. Emissions are now 50% below what they were in 1980.

Commentary on fact 6: I often hear conservatives and libertarians claiming that government imposed cap and trade schemes can never work. If that is the case then how do they explain the apparent success of this one?

Note that I am not necessarily a proponent of these schemes myself – just look at the rather dismal failure of the current carbon trading scheme to see why – because they can often be easily manipulated by the exact people they are designed to control. But clearly they can work if they are set up correctly.

I think that any scheme is potentially open to abuse but I also think a carbon (or other pollutant) tax is a better choice. Whatever scheme is put in place the governments involved need to be committed to it and be prepared to stop cynical manipulation by those who will sacrifice the greater good of the planet for their own monetary profit.

Fact number 7: Over half of New Zealand’s recreational rivers are unsafe due to pollution. 52% of those monitored were rated poor or very poor and unsuitable swimming. This was mainly due to farming discharge. (RNZ Podcast 2012-10-17)

Fact number 8: In New Zealand 18,000 to 30,000 people per year contract water borne diseases. These are almost entirely related to pollution from dairy farming. (RNZ Podcast 2012-10-17)

Commentary on facts 7 and 8: There are two common myths which these facts contradict: first, that New Zealand is a “clean and green” country; and second, that farming is a safe and natural activity.

Many parts of New Zealand are clean and green, and some farmers are quite responsible about their farm’s effects on the environment. But as these figures show, neither of those statements are true in general. Dairying is the biggest source of pollution in New Zealand, and the country isn’t particularly clean or green in many places.

Farming is just another exploitative industry but obviously we need it. But it should be much more closely controlled to prevent farmers from destroying the environment just for their own profit. If farming can’t be carried out in an environmentally responsible way then it shouldn’t be carried out at all.

And the myth of our country being clean and green is both a carryover from the past and an invention of the tourism industry. Tourists can certainly visit many parts of the country and not see many signs of pollution, but they would need to stay away from intensive farming areas.

So those are some of my “random fact” highlights. The key feature of many of the facts I gather is that they show things are rarely as they seem, both because of political correctness and the propaganda power of the rich and powerful. I rarely believe what is presented on mainstream media so when I do hear more credible facts from experts I make sure I keep them somewhere safe!

They’re Just Wrong

May 17, 2013 1 comment

Many of my political opponents – mainly consisting of conservatives and extreme libertarians – like to rant about how evil or incompetent those more on the left of politics are. And because they are so extreme in their views they see even moderate philosophies as being the opposite of their own beliefs, so even centrists to them appear “far left”.

Now I will be the first to admit that I have been known to indulge in the occasional rant myself, but at least I recognise that and I even have a tag “rant” which I use on the WordPress version of this blog and a rating system on my OJB blog with red indicating that the post tends towards controversial ranting!

But in future I am going to try to limit my use of rants to special occasions and therefore make the times I do use that rhetorical technique even more rewarding!

So I am not going to rant about the New Zealand government’s latest budget, even though it is basically hopeless as far as I am concerned. In fact I am going to avoid ranting about our right-leaning parties at all, useless they particularly deserve it of course!

Why? Because I look at the mindless rants of my opposition and I don’t see why I should bring myself down to their level. They rant on about the Labour (left-leaning) Party being hopeless financial managers even though I can show them figures which prove this simply isn’t true. They rant about left-wing conspiracies and communist influences even though the true left and communist supporters would be horrified at how far towards the center-right Labour (and even the Greens) have moved.

So my opponents look pretty stupid (is this starting to sound like a bit of a rant on my part now?) when they take extreme positions. Now I am going to evaluate the current New Zealand (center-right) government, especially in terms of their just released budget, without ranting or making silly, extreme statements!

For a start, the current government isn’t extreme right, but neither is the opposition extreme left – not even the Greens, despite my opponents’ assertions to that effect. An extreme right government would never have passed the marriage equality law and they would have fully privatised our assets instead of just selling 49%, for example.

But a true far-left opposition would have announced they would nationalise those assets when they returned to power, instead of just saying they will create a mechanism to try to control prices in the electricity market the right have created.

So the National Party aren’t evil or incompetent, they just follow a philosophy which I disagree with. Primarily this involves a naive belief in the powers of the market and in private enterprise, and a refusal to use government powers directly to achieve political outcomes.

The Labour Party – at least as it is evolving now, because in the past 30 years it has really just been a clone of National – are prepared to intervene when they think it is necessary. Sure, government intervention sometimes produces unintended consequences and occasionally is poorly considered, but I would say that the risk of a poor intervention to correct market failures is better than not even trying.

And anybody who says anything like “markets never fail if they are left alone to work the way they are supposed to” should have a think about the logic of that statement. How do they define market success? Usually it’s achieving what the market wants. So they are really defining market success using a circular argument: market success is defined as the market doing what it wants, and doing what it wants leads to success.

I say we should allow markets to operate (they will anyway) but to shape them and limit them for the greater good. How do we know what that greater good should be and therefore in what direction markets should be lead? I think we all know the answer to that…

If we see a tiny fraction of people becoming incredibly rich while an increasing proportion of the population can barely survive, then I think we have a market failure. If people can’t afford to buy milk, even though we are the biggest producer in the world, but can afford as much Coca Cola as they want, then I think we have a market failure. If the price of electricity rises several times faster than anything else, despite the fact we have a high proportion of cheap hydro power, then I think we have a market failure. The list of failures could go on for pages.

People who deny the reality of these failures aren’t really evil or incompetent – at least not in most cases – they are just wrong. They are wrong because they have let their minds be trapped by the ideology of the market. They will probably never escape this trap because, like most ideologies: political, religious, or philosophical, there are built-in excuses for when the ideology fails.

Pointing out the deficiencies of mindless rants about these problems by so-called left-oriented people like me is just one of the ways the market ideology tries to hide its failures. So what’s the point? Maybe I should be more positive. As I said above: at least we have a government which isn’t actually evil or incompetent… they’re just wrong!