Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Comparing moms and dads

AP reports:
It may be a man’s world, as the saying goes, but lesbians seem to have an easier time living in it than gay men do.

High-profile lesbian athletes have come out while still playing their sports, but not a single gay male athlete in major U.S. professional sports has done the same. While television’s most prominent same-sex parents are the two fictional dads on “Modern Family,” surveys show that society is actually more comfortable with the idea of lesbians parenting children.

And then there is the ongoing debate over the Boy Scouts of America proposal to ease their ban on gay leaders and scouts.

Reaction to the proposal, which the BSA’s National Council will take up next month, has been swift, and often harsh. Yet amid the discussions, the Girl Scouts of USA reiterated their policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, among other things. That announcement has gone largely unnoticed.
I am guessing that there is less concern about lesbian scout leaders because they do not go around penetrating girls in order to turn them into lesbians. But my interest here is with the parenting prejudices:
Still, while many see the two dads on the “Modern Family” sitcom as groundbreaking, others have a sense that the societal discomfort with gay men as parents is at the root of many of the jokes.

“A good portion of that is for comedic effect,” says Don Todd, a 32-year-old father in a two-dad family in Orange, Calif. He doesn’t think most people would think it was as funny if the characters were two moms.

Herek, the researcher at UC-Davis, has, in fact, found in surveys that heterosexuals think lesbians would be better parents than gay men.

Nancy Dreyer, a mother in a two-mom family, has noticed this in her own life.

“With gay male friends of ours who have kids, people will say, ‘My gosh, who takes care of this baby?’ — as if they’re not capable,” says Dreyer, whose 57 and lives in suburban Boston.

The assumption, she says, is that men aren’t nurturing. And if they’re too nurturing, she says, people get suspicious, noting that no one has ever questioned her and her partner about their ability to raise their son, who’s now in college.
So which is more accepted, the gay (adoptive) parents or the lesbians? This article has conflicting messages. My impression is that the lesbians are a lot less likely to face social stigma. But the gays are more accepted on TV. Is that because the gays are accepted, or because people are laughing at the gays?

I live in one of those leftoid communities where everyone bends over backwards to show tolerance for LGBTQIA folks, so I don't kmnow. I have heard, anecdotally, that those familiar with gay and lesbian parenting usually say that the gays are doing okay but the lesbians make horrible parents.

The Wikipedia article on LGBT parenting announces a "consensus":
Scientific research has been generally consistent in showing that gay and lesbian parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.[3][4][5] Major associations of mental health professionals in the U.S., Canada, and Australia have not identified credible empirical research that suggests otherwise.[5][6][7][8][9]
Politifact analyzes this claim:
Assertions that it makes no difference whether children are raised by heterosexual or homosexual parents have been "shattered by the latest and best social science and research."
Politifact says that the claim is overstated, and concludes:
A prudent scholar, he said, would conclude that "the question is by no means settled, either by the literature as a whole or by the Regnerus study, the latter having far too many problems and issues to be considered ‘definitive.’"
The claim did not say that the Regnerus study is "definitive". The question of how homosexual couples acting as legal parents compare to heterosexual parents is not settled, meaning that the latest and best social science and research does not resolve the issue.

Wikipedia is biased and false to say that there is a consensus on the issue. There is not. I follow the scientific evidence, and I am happy to post it either way it goes. Those "major associations of mental health professionals" are corrupt, and refuse to recognize evidence like the Regnerus study.

One judge argued in 2010:
These reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children. ... As a result, based on the robust nature of the evidence available in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.
You can spot the fallacious legal reasoning from phrases like "no differences", "irrational", "best interests of children", and double negatives. Of course there are differences. The psychology professors have blinders on.

Now that our society has embarked on a vast and irresponsible in parenting by non-parents, I am hoping that at least we get some academic studies comparing male and female parenting styles.

As I write this, an NBA player is being celebrated as the new Jackie Robinson:
In a first-person article posted Monday on Sports Illustrated's website, Collins begins: ''I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.'' ...

''I have a feeling he's got a whole new career,'' King said. ''I have a feeling he's going to make more in endorsements than he's ever made in his life.''

Sports equipment maker Nike released a statement Monday saying: ''We admire Jason's courage and are proud that he is a Nike athlete. Nike believes in a level playing field where an athlete's sexual orientation is not a consideration.''
A black lesbian basketball player, Sheryl Swoopes, has already been down this path:
Swoopes was married from June 1995 to 1999 to her high school sweetheart, with whom she had a son, Jordan Eric Jackson in 1997. In October 2005, with her announcement that she is gay, Swoopes became one of the highest profile athletes in a team sport to do so publicly. She and her partner, former basketball player and Houston Comets assistant coach, Alisa Scott, whom Swoopes at the time said she would like to someday marry, together raised Swoopes's son, Jordan. ..;

As of 2011, Swoopes had broken up with Alisa Scott and was reportedly engaged to a man.
I guess the leftoid psychologists will say that the child will turn out just as well as any other child because lesbians are born that way and their lesbian relationships are just as good as any others. I hope someone studies these ideas objectively, before everyone goes nuts.

Update: Pres. Barack Obama said:
Yeah, I’ll say something about Jason Collins. I had a chance to talk to him yesterday. ... I told him I couldn’t be prouder of him. ... the LGBT community deserves ... not just tolerance but a recognition that they’re fully a part of the American family. ... this is who I am, I’m proud of it, I’m still a great competitor, I’m still seven feet tall and can bang with Shaq and, you know, deliver a hard foul — ... I’m very proud of him. All right?
Really? Is this what makes our President proudest? There is no word about Collins having a domestic partner or lover, but apparently he does "deliver a hard foul" and "bang with Shaq", whatever that means. And tolerance is not enough, so I have to give my approval? No, I do not have to approve of him banging with Shaq.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Drugging our kids

The NY Times reports:
Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the A.D.H.D. diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children.
The rate is 20% among boys aged 14-17.
The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 41 percent rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with A.D.H.D. but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis.

“Those are astronomical numbers. I’m floored,” said Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He added, “Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy.”

And even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychiatric Association plans to change the definition of A.D.H.D. to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment. A.D.H.D. is described by most experts as resulting from abnormal chemical levels in the brain that impair a person’s impulse control and attention skills.
Maybe ADHD is described that way, but no one has even been able to link it to abnormal chemical levels in the brain.
A.D.H.D. has historically been estimated to affect 3 to 7 percent of children. The disorder has no definitive test and is determined only by speaking extensively with patients, parents and teachers, and ruling out other possible causes — a subjective process that is often skipped under time constraints and pressure from parents. It is considered a chronic condition that is often carried into adulthood.

The C.D.C. director, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, likened the rising rates of stimulant prescriptions among children to the overuse of pain medications and antibiotics in adults.

“We need to ensure balance,” Dr. Frieden said. “The right medications for A.D.H.D., given to the right people, can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, misuse appears to be growing at an alarming rate.”
Of course the experts will claim that they somehow have the ability to give the right drugs to the right people, but the evidence is that they cannot.

AP reports on efforts to drug more kids:
In an effort to find a treatment for autism, scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, are leading a $9 million experiment that aims to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs within weeks rather than years. ...

Federal statistics show one child out of 88 in the U.S. is believed to have autism or a related disorder. The number of cases has jumped in recent years mainly because of wider screening and better diagnosis. Children with autism may make poor eye contact or exhibit repetitive movements such as rocking or hand-flapping.

The causes of autism are unknown, but scientists lately have focused on genetics, which is thought to account for roughly 20 percent of cases. People with autism are often prescribed drugs to manage hyperactivity and aggressiveness, but the medications do not target the core problems, doctors said.
So they don't know the cause of autism, but they are going to fast-track experimental and unproven drugs to kids with poor eye contact and repetitive movements, even tho they know that the drugs are not treating the core problem.

Parents with diagnosed kids are eager for whatever they can get, and demand insurance coverage:
In the past few years, more than half the states have passed legislation mandating some level of autism coverage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But some families of autistic children say they've received little or no benefits. ...

Professionals identify one in 88 children as having Autism Spectrum Disorders, which can cause social and behavioral challenges. It's often treated through applied behavior analysis, known as ABA, an intensive one-on-one therapy that focuses on specific goals, such as toilet training.
I wish that there were some effective treatment for the kids who need it, but there is not. Spending a lot of insurance money on toilet training really isn't helping much. Some problems cannot be solved with money.

Update: The Santa Cruz Sentinel has another story:
While the number of families affected is small, their plight underscores the huge changes on the horizon for health care consumers as they navigate ongoing state and federal health care reforms.

Parents say they were promised the move would not disrupt services for autistic children.

But many now say they feel betrayed after weeks of conflicting or unclear answers about whether their children can continue a popular and effective therapy, applied behavioral analysis, that can cost $20,000 to $50,000 a year.

Catalena's therapy has been discontinued and restarted twice -- and is now scheduled to end again Tuesday.
Those services cost a lot of money, and do not help much.

Update: Here are more signs of persecuting autistic kids:
That’s the opinion of Fehmi Kaya, head of the Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children in Adana, Turkey. Autistic children are atheists, he said, “due to a lack of a section for faith in their brains.”

From TimeTurk (English edition) 4/22/13:

“Autistic children do not know believing in God because they do not have a section of faith in their brains,” Kaya said, according to daily Milliyet.

Kaya said the underdevelopment of faith sections in the brain caused autistic children to not believe in God.

“That is why they don’t know how to pray, how to believe in God. It is needed to create awareness in these children through methods of therapy.”

Kaya added that autistic children should undergo treatment to “create areas of faith in their brain.”
Other autism news says the problem is in the placenta:
"We can look at the placenta at birth and determine the chance of being at risk for autism with extremely high reliability," said Dr. Harvey Kliman, a research scientist at Yale University.
And in the gut:
More than 90 per cent of children with autism spectrum disorders suffer from chronic, severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Of those, about 75 per cent suffer from diarrhea, according to current literature.
This is crazy.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

How the court created illegitimacy

Dalrock has an excellent article on How we came to embrace illegitimacy. There has been rapidly increasing illegitimacy (births to unmarried women), and public acceptance of it, but nearly everyone ignores some crucial court decisions.

One case was Levy v. Louisiana - 391 U.S. 68 (1968), about whether an illegitmate child can file a wrong death suit in behalf of his dead mother. The US Supreme Court ruled:
However that might be, we have been extremely sensitive when it comes to basic civil rights (...), and have not hesitated to strike down an invidious classification even though it had history and tradition on its side. (Brown v. Board of Education,...). ...

Legitimacy or illegitimacy of birth has no relation to the nature of the wrong allegedly inflicted on the mother. These children, though illegitimate, were dependent on her; she cared for them and nurtured them; they were indeed hers in the biological and in the spiritual sense; in her death, they suffered wrong in the sense that any dependent would.
While that may sound reasonable, should a plaintiff have to prove dependency, caring, nurturing, biology, and spirituality? No, the state defines legal relationships to simplify the law and make it unnecessary to prove those other things.

The dissent said:
The Court today, for some reason which I am at a loss to understand, rules that the State must base its arbitrary definition of the plaintiff class on biological, rather than legal, relationships. Exactly how this makes the Louisiana scheme even marginally more "rational" is not clear, for neither a biological relationship nor legal acknowledgment is indicative of the love or economic dependence that may exist between two persons. ...

The rights at issue here stem from the existence of a family relationship, and the State has decided only that it will not recognize the family relationship unless the formalities of marriage, or of the acknowledgment of children by the parent in question, have been complied with. There is obvious Justification for this decision. If it be conceded, as I assume it is, that the State has power to provide that people who choose to live together should go through the formalities of marriage and, in default, that people who bear children should acknowledge them, it is logical to enforce these requirements by declaring that the general class of rights that are dependent upon family relationships shall be accorded only when the formalities as well as the biology of those relationships are present.
At first glance, this case seems to be just a good civil rights decision that bastards have full rights as persons under the law. But no one ever denied civil rights to bastards. The issue was whether the state can codify family relationships. That is, can the state require registering a relationship before allowing a lawsuit based on that relationship? The court said no.

The next case, Gomez v. Perez - 409 U.S. 535 (1973), directly concerns child support:
The issue presented by this appeal is whether the laws of Texas may constitutionally grant legitimate children a judicially enforceable right to support from their natural fathers and at the same time deny that right to illegitimate children. ...

Under these decisions, a State may not invidiously discriminate against illegitimate children by denying them substantial benefits accorded children generally. We therefore hold that, once a State posits a judicially enforceable right on behalf of children to needed support from their natural fathers, there is no constitutionally sufficient justification for denying such an essential right to a child simply because its natural father has not married its mother. For a State to do so is "illogical and unjust." Id. at 406 U. S. 175. We recognize the lurking problems with respect to proof of paternity. Those problems are not to be lightly brushed aside, but neither can they be made into an impenetrable barrier that works to shield otherwise invidious discrimination.
The dissent said:
With the issues so vaguely drawn and the alleged discriminations so imprecise, I would dismiss the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted.
This decision was a direct blow to the ancient idea that a man marries a woman in order to take responsibility for the resulting kids, and to the advice that woman should get a ring before having kids.

The upshot of these cases is to destroy the state's ability to use its laws to discourage out-of-wedlock kids. The states are prohibited from making that distinction, and women are assured that they will get just as much child support money if they never marry.

My guess is that these court decisions did not get much attention because people foolishly thought that they were humanitarian and harmless efforts to avoid stigmatizing illegitimate kids. But the decisions really help the single moms, and encouraged a whole lot more illegitimate kids. This is another example of the law of unintended consequences.

Dalrock has more data on the rise of illegitimacy. He shows that histories of child support, such as here and here, ignore the above court decisions. An exception is this 2007 paper by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers:

Supreme Court rulings in the 1960s and 1970s also changed the nature of family relationships by eliminating many of the legal distinctions stemming from the marital status of a child’s parents. ...

Currently all but five states have some form of unilateral divorce and two-thirds allow unrestricted unilateral divorce.

These legal changes fundamentally alter the basis of the marriage contract. They remove the ability to make intertemporal contracts within marriage — one spouse cannot promise not to leave his or her spouse in the future. They shift the right to divorce (and hence bargaining power) from the party most interested in preserving the marriage to the person who most wants out of the marriage.
Thus these changes mean that a marriage cannot be a binding union (either spouse may unilaterally divorce), cannot offer legitimacy benefits to kids (the state cannot discriminate), and cannot provide for support of the kids (state child support obligations are independent of any marriage contract).

Libertarians sometimes talk about letting people have the freedom to write their own marriage contracts. The concept of people voluntarily taking on the rights and responsibilities of marriage seems to great to me. But it is a legal impossibility unless a whole list of laws and court decisions are reversed, and I never hear about any libertarians or LGBTQIA advocates pushing for those reversals.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Six life terms for stunning a local cop

This is a followup to previous local crime story. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports:
Maurice Ainsworth was sentenced Thursday to more than six life terms in prison in a 2009 home invasion and a 2010 rampage in which he shot a sheriff's deputy with a stun gun and held a gun to the head of a preschool teacher. ...

Ainsworth had been in Santa Cruz County Jail in November 2010 awaiting trial in home invasion case when he escaped from a deputy during a trip to Dominican Hospital for an MRI.

He escaped from the deputy, stole her stun gun and shot her in the head with it, prosecutors said. Still wearing jail clothes, he then took her handgun and fled to a preschool on a nearby street. He broke in and demanded car keys from a preschool teacher at gunpoint. ...

Deputy Cathy Bramanti, the sheriff's deputy whom Ainsworth stunned and bit during the escape, told a local TV station that she appreciated that Ainsworth "at least acknowledged to me that he made a mistake."

She has not been able to return to work.
Six life terms? The real problem here is that a 6-foot-7 265-pund violent criminal with a fake shoulder injury was taken to get a govt-paid MRI by just one woman cop who is barely 5-foot-3 and 100 pounds. Reportedly she put up a tough fight, but she was no match for the task.

Bramanti has been off work for 2.5 years because a prisoner zapped her with a stun gun? Has she been collecting her salary in the meantime? I say that if someone is not tough enough to withstand a stun gun attack, then she is not fit to be moving prisoners around. And she should not be carrying a gun unless she can hang on to it.

Meanwhile, Jodi Arias killed her ex-boyfriend in a jealous rage, and attempted to destroy the evidence, and she may not get that stiff a sentence. The trial is supposed to finish next Friday. Her main hope is to bluff the jury with the sort of bogus psychology testimony that often works in the family court. She is going to call psychologist Robert Geffner to testify on Wednesday. His otherwise-unreviewed book just a couple of negative reviews on Amazon:
Please Dr. Geffner, please dont ruin your career over Jodi Arias, she isnt worth the $300 an hour you would receive for your testimony. Jodi has ruined enough lives, dont let her ruin yours too. Please, I beg you to think about this. I am a survivor of DV and I also have a Ph. D. in counseling. Im am in no way trying to intimidate you or tamper with you as a witness if you choose to testify, just tired of all the bad light cast on DV survivors...it is setting back work done to help DV victims and survivors. So, please, THINK with your heart and not your pocket book. Not worthy of writing a book about or the 15 minutes of fame you'd receive.
There is no significant evidence that Arias was ever abused by anyone, or that her victim abused anyone. Nevertheless the DV experts have made careers out of over-exaggerating trivial events, and rationalizing bizarre female behavior. This trial is exposing the DV experts as charlatans.

This weekend's NY Times Magazine long story is titled The Mind of a Con Man:
Diederik Stapel, a Dutch social psychologist, perpetrated an audacious academic fraud by making up studies that told the world what it wanted to hear about human nature.
I mentioned Stapel before in 2011 and 2012.

The story here is not just that one professor got away with fraud for many years. It is that the whole academic field of psychology is based on leftoids telling each other what they want to hear about human nature. That is what I expect Geffner to do at the Jodi Arias trial next week, and I do not expect other psychologists to call him on his lies.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Judges cannot delegate decisions

The very popular legal blog How Appealing announces:
"Only judges may make decisions in child custody cases." Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an order adopting a new Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure that will eliminate the use of parent coordinators in child custody cases.

On December 31, 2008, a former client of mine lost his appeal challenging the legality of parent coordinators under Pennsylvania law. Although that battle was lost, the war (as they say) appears to have been won.
The new rule says:
Rule 1915.11-1. Elimination of Parenting Coordination.

Only judges may make decisions in child custody cases. Masters and hearing officers may make recommendations to the court. Courts shall not appoint any other individual to make decisions or recommendations or alter a custody order in child custody cases. Any order appointing a parenting coordinator shall be deemed vacated on the date this rule becomes effective. Local rules and administrative orders authorizing the appointment of parenting coordinators also shall be deemed vacated on the date this rule becomes effective.
The California courts have said that judges cannot delegate custody decisions.

I know, judges like Commissioner I. Joseph do it all the time, and just rubber-stamp the recommendations. I have pointed out the illegality on appeal, but I got nowhere.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Women nag about trivialities forever

Here is the Dear Annie column:
Dear Annie: When I was 11 years old, I made an insulting remark to one of my older sister's teenage friends, teasing her about her acne. The next day, my mother loudly confronted me about it, and my grandmother and sister joined in. For the next several months, if I said anything my mother didn't like, she'd angrily remind me of the horrible thing I'd done. For years after, she'd allude to it. This continued until I was close to 30. ...

Really, Annie, when can a 35-year-old man expect forgiveness for something he did when he was 11?
Okay, this is a no-brainer. An insult from a 12yo boy is a trivial matter requiring nothing more than to inform him of better manners.

But no, Annie won't let it go either.
Dear New Yorker: ... You have acknowledged your rudeness toward this young woman and, we assume, apologized to her at some point.
She wants him to apologize after 24 years?

There appears to be some genetic difference between men and women where women blow trivial matters out of proportion, memorize them, and nag about them for years. There ought to be a DSM-5 disorder for women who do this.

I was astounded when my ex-wife went into family court with an assortment of confusing gripes about trivial incidents that happened years in the past. And the judges and psychologists took her seriously! They could not figure out what she was really complaining about, but maybe they assumed that she had some legitimate beef that she was not expressing well.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unfit to be a judge

I mentioned below that the former Commissioner I. Joseph is being considered for a judgeship. I have drafted the following email to submit to the state advisory commission. I urge others to send their own comments. I believe that it is your right and duty, as a citizen, to help get better officials appointed to powerful govt positions.

I am strongly opposed to an appointment for Irwin H. Joseph. He is unfit to be a judge.

I was in his family court in Santa Cruz from 2005 to 2008. He was incompetent, prejudiced, malicious, and vindictive.

He had a grudge against me because I once got him reversed in the 6th District appeals court. He made me pay extra non-formula child support based on my ex-wife's husband having a mortgage and me not having one, and on my daughter taking dance lessons.

He signed an ex-parte order to send the sheriff to seize my kids, even though a CPS report did not recommend any action.

He gave my ex-wife temporary sole physical custody pending a psychological evaluation, but then refused to appoint an evaluator for 2 years.

He eventually allowed an evaluation, but only if we found a Jewish psychologist.

He claimed that he was not reading my blog, but he had his assistant read my blog and he then asked my ex-wife to charge me with contempt of court based on me quoting open-court testimony against me.

I believe that I am the only one in California history to be charged with contempt for quoting the open testimony against me.

Even after Joseph was demoted to the juvenile delinquency court, he issued a family court order against me without any hearing.

Joseph was eventually fired for incompetence as a Santa Cruz county commissioner.

There is a book being written about bad family court judges, and Joeeph will be featured. He has declined to rebut the accusations
against him.

I observed Joseph in many other cases, and he was nearly always unfair. There are many much better choices to be a judge.

George AngryDad

Comments can be emailed before May 20 to the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission at jneccf@calbar.ca.gov. You can also send comments to addresses of the commission members.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

DSM-5 to be released

A Slate article says:
Beware the DSM-5, the soon-to-be-released fifth edition of the “psychiatric bible,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The odds will probably be greater than 50 percent, according to the new manual, that you’ll have a mental disorder in your lifetime. ...

Another way that the increased prevalence of mental illness occurs is by lowering the threshold of what it takes to be diagnosed with a given disorder. For instance, DSM-5 will change in the criteria for “generalized anxiety disorder,” a disorder that involves excessive and persistent worrying. Whereas the criteria in DSM-IV required three out of six symptoms of worrying, only one symptom is needed in DSM-5. Similarly, whereas in DSM-IV the symptoms must have persisted for at least six months, in DSM-5 the duration has been reduced to three months. So if you are excessively worried for three months about your finances or your health or that of a family member (to the point where you can’t control the worries), you would be considered to have a disorder, whereas in the past you would not have.
The UK Daily Mail reports:
People who hoard, pick their skin, binge eat or throw temper tantrums will soon be classed as having a serious mental illness.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), to be released on May 22, includes an extended list of psychological behaviors.

But the decision to categorize seemingly benign habits as full-fledged disorders has divided opinion, and many believe it just extends the 'reach of psychiatry further into daily life.'
Temper tantrum

Behavioral patterns: Temper tantrums should be classed as a mental illness, according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Advocates say it will lead to more accessible treatment and greater understanding of the conditions, but others argue it will add to America's growing prescription drug abuse problem.

Gary Greenberg, author of The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry, writes in The New Yorker: 'Every revision of the DSM causes controversy; that’s what happens when experts argue in public about the nature of human suffering.

'But never has the process provoked warfare so brutal, with attacks coming from within the profession as well from psychiatry’s usual opponents.'

Some critics have suggested that the new guidelines will make mental illness more common. For instance, according to the DSM-5 those who eat to excess 12 times in three months will be a candidate for binge eating disorder.

The Daily Beast jokingly writes: '[This] makes us think twice about the last time we devoured a pizza pie (last week) or ate three doughnuts in one sitting (this morning).'

And prominent names in the psychiatric profession have highlighted the serious consequences of the revisions.
Nation of hoarders: An estimated 4 million people in the U.S. are believed to suffer from the disorder

Nation of hoarders: An estimated 4 million people in the U.S. are believed to suffer from the disorder

Duke University psychiatrist Allen J. Frances, who was tasked with putting together the fourth edition of the DSM published in 1994, but did not work on the updated handbook, expressed concern over the changes.

'A new diagnosis can be more dangerous than a new drug,' he told The Daily Beast.

He said the new diagnosis of 'disruptive mood dysregulation disorder'(DMDD) - a term used to describe children's temper tantrums combined with mood swings - is one of the most worrying entries.

And clinical social worker Joe Wegmann said it was based on 'no credible research' and would trigger an 'zealous binge' of over-diagnosis.
The increase in diagnoses is mainly a scam to benefit shrinks and the drug industry. I post it here because sometimes the labels are used to deny parental rights in family court.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Teachers favor girls

A Georgia study found:
Why do girls get better grades in elementary school than boys—even when they perform worse on standardized tests?

New research ... suggests that it’s because of their classroom behavior, which may lead teachers to assign girls higher grades than their male counterparts. ... The study, co-authored by [Christopher] Cornwell and David Mustard at UGA and Jessica Van Parys at Columbia, analyzed data on more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It examined students’ performance on standardized tests in three categories — reading, math and science - linking test scores to teachers’ assessments of their students’ progress, both academically and more broadly.

The data show, for the first time, that gender disparities in teacher grades start early and uniformly favor girls. In every subject area, boys are represented in grade distributions below where their test scores would predict.

The authors attribute this misalignment to what they called non-cognitive skills, or “how well each child was engaged in the classroom, how often the child externalized or internalized problems, how often the child lost control and how well the child developed interpersonal skills.” They even report evidence of a grade bonus for boys with test scores and behavior like their girl counterparts. ...
This tracks other findings. A parallel finding is that moms tend to focus more on grades, while dads focus on how much their kids learn.

Of course leftists and feminists are endlessly denying that humans have any sex differences. A couple of psychology academics write a NY Times op-ed:
MEN and women are so different they might as well be from separate planets, so says the theory of the sexes famously explicated in John Gray’s 1992 best seller, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.”

Indeed, sex differences are a perennially popular topic in behavioral science; since 2000, scientific journals have published more than 30,000 articles on them.

That men and women differ in certain respects is unassailable. Unfortunately, the continuing belief in “categorical differences” — men are aggressive, women are caring — reinforces traditional stereotypes by treating certain behaviors as immutable. And, it turns out, this belief is based on a scientifically indefensible model of human behavior. ...

But what of all those published studies, many of which claim to find differences between the sexes? In our research, published recently in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we shed an empirical light on this question by using a method called taxometric analysis.

This method asks whether data from two groups are likely to be taxonic — a classification that distinguishes one group from another in a nonarbitrary, fundamental manner, called a “taxon” — or whether they are more likely to be dimensional, with individuals’ scores dispersed along a single continuum.

The existence of a taxon implies a fundamental distinction, akin to the difference between species.
This sort of analysis would deny that men are taller and heavier than women. Yes, someone who is 5'8" could be a man or a woman, but th height differences are obvious and significant.

I am not sure which is worse -- these silly studies that deny sex differences, or the studies that blame men for whatever differences they find. For example, NBC TV News reports:
While pop culture claims that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, both sexes are pretty similar. Yet despite the genders' psychological overlap, a few small studies in men have suggested they have trouble "mind-reading" and guessing what women are thinking and feeling. For instance, one study found that  men interpret friendliness from women as sexual  come-ons.
Men only have trouble mind-reading women because women have trouble verbally communicating.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cops blocked from unfounded accusations

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports:
Law enforcement officers and child welfare advocates are concerned about a little-noticed change to California's child abuse database, saying it could hamper their ability to keep tabs on hundreds of suspected abusers who work with kids outside the home, including teachers, coaches and clergy.

The database is used to flag such people when they apply to work with kids, adopt or take on foster children. It was changed in 2011 to protect the rights of the accused and shield the state from lawsuits, but one provision prohibited police from submitting suspects' names to it.
I did not notice this change either, but the police should certainly not put the names of suspects on the database.

Men are innocent until proven guilty. If the cops find someone committing a crime, then they can make an arrest and/or pass the evidence to the DA. But to put people on a child abuser database without filing charges? Absolutely not.
The law's author, State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, stands by the change, saying it was needed to ensure innocent people weren't unfairly flagged and noting that police still have the power to arrest someone if they can substantiate allegations against them.

"They can't just place somebody's name (in the database) just because they think somebody's guilty," he said.
Unfortunately CPS can still place somebody's name in the database just because they think somebody's guilty.
The latest change, approved by the Legislature without any significant opposition, was the result of the state spending millions of dollars to defend lawsuits brought by people whose names appeared on the database though no criminal charges were brought.

Ammiano's original bill sought to block from the database cases in which an investigation of abuse allegations was inconclusive and to ensure an appeals process to remove someone's name. But then the provision was added to bar all police reports, including "substantiated" cases in which an investigator believes evidence "makes it more likely than not" that abuse occurred, but that the person may never be arrested, charged or convicted of a crime.

As of April, the database held 672,634 individuals with substantiated cases, 41 percent of which came from law enforcement reports that were submitted prior to the change, according to the state Department of Justice. No law enforcement reports were added since the change.
The state should abolish the whole database.
Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, supported Ammiano's bill but is willing to look at it again.

"We want as much information in as constitutionally permissive to keep kids safe," while balancing due-process rights, Mecca said. He said he would be open to having a discussion with police and child welfare advocates to hear their suggestions to improve the current database.

"The Legislature has been moving that needle" for decades, Mecca said. "If there's an argument for another tweak of the needle, maybe there is."
This means that the supposed do-gooders will do everything they can to make unfounded accusations, up to the point where the courts say that it unconstitutional.

Ammiano wrote a letter to the San Jose paper editor:
Due process a key part of child abuse cases

Due process -- a citizen's protection against state excesses -- is one of our Constitution's great provisions.

It is also at the center of a recent AP story. The headline suggests, "Law change makes child abuse hard to track." The law does not affect proven abuse.

Police apparently want to put names on the Child Abuse Central Index without proof, without notifying people, without giving them a chance to respond -- in short, without due process. That jeopardized CACI and lead to the change in law.

The law doesn't merely "shield the state from lawsuits." Existing court decisions threatened to invalidate the whole abuse database because of police conduct. What hinders tracking is police failure to investigate cases so that charges are filed, or transfer them to child welfare agencies.

It's unconscionable -- when DNA testing increasingly reveals police errors long after trials -- that officials would tar innocent people based on mere suspicion.

Tom Ammiano
Assemblyman, 17th District San Francisco
Good for him. A reader sent me this link, and added:
As you have posted, you were placed on the CACI despite the allegations against you being unfounded. And the US Supreme Court didn't even want to touch the CACI issue.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Joseph being considered for judgeship

I am told that the California Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission is considering an appointment of Irwin H. Joseph to a judgeship. Comments can be emailed before May 20 to the commission at jneccf@calbar.ca.gov. I will submit my own, and post them here.

There is a whole web page on Joseph's crimes. I did not follow the details, but it tells the story of how Joseph personally set out to destroy Clive Frank Boustred.

Joseph once threatened to jail me for contempt of court for criticizing him on this blog.

Fellow angry dad Dan Brewington sits in an Indiana jail for conviction on 3 counts, one of which was that he suggested on his blog that readers send complaints about Judge James D. Humphrey to a state ethics adviser named Heidi Humphrey. Heidi turned out to be the judge's wife, and the Humphreys were spooked. Dan got screwed by a vindictive judge.

A second count against Dan Brewington was that he compared Judge Humphrey to a child abuser, because he was using prejudice to force kids to grow up without a dad. The court ruled that it was a felony in Indiana to make this accusation on his blog because it subjected the judge to ridicule when the judge was just doing his job.

I have also blogged that Joseph was like a child abuser. It is still legal for me to say that in California, as far as I know.

In spite of Dan's sad story, I believe that it is 100% legal to post this message. A state agency is considering Joseph for a state appointment, and is accepting comments from the general public. I believe that it would be irresponsible not to inform the commission about his incompetent and corrupt track record, and about what a terrible judge Joseph would be.

Update: The Commission says that it is better to send comments to the lead investigating commissioner, Lara Krieger.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Compared to Rosa Parks

This podcast makes fun of people who compare themselves to Rosa Parks, the Alabama black activist who refused to move to the back of the bus in 1955. She spent a day in jail and became a national hero.

So let's compare her to Dan Brewington, who is sitting in jail for threatening to expose a corrupt family court judge and a psychologist who unjustly took his kids away. He has sacrificed far more than Rosa Parks, and did it for a much bigger and more important issue.

The Hitler analogies also offend people:
The comparisons recently prompted the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, to call on critics of gun control to keep Hitler and the Nazis out of the debate.

The rhetoric "is such an absurdity and so offensive and just undermines any real understanding of what the Holocaust was about," said Ken Jacobson, the ADL's deputy national director. "If they do believe it, they're making no serious examination of what the Nazi regime was about."

But some gun rights advocates firmly disagree.

"People who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it," said Charles Heller, executive director of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, which has long compared U.S. gun control to Nazi tactics. "I guess if you're pro-Nazi, they are right. But if you're pro-freedom, we call those people liars."

Comparing gun control activism to Hitler is not new. In a 1994 book, "Guns, Crime and Freedom," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre wrote that "In Germany, firearm registration helped lead to the Holocaust."
I am inclined to agree that these Nazi comparisons are not helpful. But California is actively seizing guns, and considered confiscating a lot more.

Just this week, California was in court defending censorship of psychotherapists in order to further a leftist political cause:
SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court on Wednesday tussled with the legality of California's unprecedented ban on gay conversion therapy for minors, suggesting it could be upheld despite concerns for the free speech rights of counselors who support the practice.

During nearly two hours of arguments, a three-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel grilled lawyers on both sides of the issue, wondering whether the First Amendment applies to psychotherapy ...

Mathew Staver, head of Liberty Counsel, a group challenging the law, called the California ban "breathtakingly broad," insisting there is conflicting evidence on whether it is justified and that it is preventing teens who choose the therapy from getting professional help. Therapists who violate the law risk losing their licenses. ...

The judges, however, also pressed Alexandra Gordon, deputy attorney general, on whether the evidence the Legislature relied upon to enact the ban was too anecdotal to risk eroding free speech protections, citing past court decisions that could be problematic for the state. That includes a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down California's ban on the sale of violent video games to minors because it violated the First Amendment.

Kozinski, in fact, noted that psychotherapy generally involves "speaking opinion," and he expressed concern about the lack of scientific proof of conversion therapy's harm to minors. "The evidence before the Legislature is weak," Kozinski told Gordon.
The great deniers of civil liberties in the 20th century were the Commies and the Nazis. I have never met a Nazi sympathizer, but I have met dozens of Commie sympathizers. All of our major universities have had professors who were Commie sympathizers. We have free speech for Commies. We do not have free speech for Christians, California psychotherapists, and fathers. Dan Brewington sits in jail for complaining about the crooked officials who took his kids away.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Prosecution expert gets cross-examined

I watched the defense cross-examine the prosecution expert in the Jodi Arias murder trial. I post this as a lesson in how a psychologist can be attacked in court.

The defense asked about a web page for Janeen DeMarte:

Years in Practice: 8 Years
School: Michigan State University
Year Graduated: 2009
License No. and State: 4120 Arizona
The apparent discrepency here is that she did not get her degree until 2009, and got her license in 2010, and yet she still claims to have practiced for 8 years. The simple answer is that she was a student practicing under the supervision of licensed psychologists.

Next the lawyer asked about Jodi scoring a PTSD diagnosis from the PDS test. DeMarte was accused of sharing the copyrighted PDS test questions with the prosecutor, even tho he is not a licensed psychologist and public distribution of the test could invalidate the test.

Here is the list of PDS questions, from an online Jodi Arias discussion:
Below is a list of traumatic events or situations. Please mark YES if you have experienced or witnessed the following events or mark NO if you have not had that experience.

1. Serious accident, fire or explosion ? Yes ? No
2. Natural disaster (tornado, flood, hurricane, major earthquake) ? Yes ? No
3. Non-sexual assault by someone you know (physically attacked/injured) ? Yes ? No
4. Non-sexual assault by a stranger ? Yes ? No
5. Sexual assault by a family member or someone you know ? Yes ? No
6. Sexual assault by a stranger ? Yes ? No
7. Military combat or a war zone ? Yes ? No
8. Sexual contact before you were age 18 with someone who was 5 or more years older than you ? Yes ? No
9. Imprisonment ? Yes ? No
10. Torture ? Yes ? No
11. Life-threatening illness ? Yes ? No
12. Other traumatic event ? Yes ? No
Actually these questions are from the closely related PTSD Symptom Scale (PSS), but the 12 items are essentially the same.

When Jodi did this test for the defense psychologist Samuels, she checked Yes for 1-4 and 12. For #12 she wrote "repeated emotional/psychological abuse". When asked on the PDS which of these was worst, she chose "4. Non-sexual assault by a stranger" and added, "assaulted and life threatened".

At the time that Jodi did the PDS test, she was claiming that strangers killed Travis and tried to kill her. She now admits that this story was a lie. Thus the PTSD diagnosis was based on a lie.

The defense got DeMarte to admit that assault by a non-stranger could also be traumatic.

There was also some discussion of the Trauma Symptom Inventory™-2 (TSI™-2) test. DeMarte used the previous TSI, and was criticized for not using the latest TSI-2 revision.

While DeMarte is younger and less experienced than Samuels and LaViolette, she had the advantage that she could answer a yes-no question with a yes or a no.

The copyright issue seems ridiculous. The defense lawyer put these questions up on the screen where they were shown on HLN TV. It is just a list of traumas. There are also a bunch of questions about how upsetting the trauma was, such as whether it causes nightmares. If someone wants to fake PTSD on the PDS test, it is pretty easy whether she has seen the test or not. Some of the other psychology tests are harder to fake. Probably the most secret thing about the PDS test is the minimum number of lies to tell to get a PTSD diagnosis. But that is essentially what Jodi did, so you could get a good idea by just watching the trial.

While copyright law does allow test-makers to charge money for their tests, public trials use public evidence. These test-makers market their tests for forensic work, so there is no avoiding the public learning how they are used for and against a murder defendant.

I don't think that the defense did much damage to this witness. Criticism about bias and credentials do not impress me much, and nitpicking about hours, scoring methods, and experience does not either. But that is mainly because I put very little stock in these experts' opinions anyway. To me, they are only convincing when they are explaining verifiable facts and textbook knowledge. Much of what they say is just crap. But I am a skeptic, and the jury is probably more gullible.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Psychotherapists being blamed

I have been following the Jodi Arias trial on TV (TruTV and HLN). The prosecution psychologist expert took the position that the defense experts empathized with Jodi Arias, and therefore crossed the line between evaluation and therapy, and showed bias. It is funny to see a psychologist blame other psychotherapists for having too much empathy.

The prosecution expert Janeen DeMarte testified that Arias has a borderline personality disorder, based on a MMPI computer-scored true-false test, and some observations about inappropriate jailhouse behavior. I had to take this test for one of my child custody trials.

The typical juror may just conclude that psychology experts can be bought, and paid to say whatever the lawyers want her to say.

Usually a criminal defendant would not be subject to prosecutor expert psychobabble about how she has a criminal mental profile. But the defense has put forth testimony that she does not, so the prosecution can rebut it. Another except is where a man is accused of domestic violence, as California has a special law saying that the prosecution can present an expert saying that the man matches the profile of a domestic abuser even if his girlfriend denies it.

Meanwhile, leftist Democrats are on a campaign to destroy parental rights, and limit free speech thru the regulation of teachers and psychotherapists.

The San Jose California newspaper reports:
"Parents can teach their children whatever they want," said Guay, now 41, a pastor's son who lived 20 years in San Francisco until moving recently to West Hollywood. "What they don't have a right to is knowingly or unknowingly using the guise of psychotherapy to damage their children."

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court will review whether California's attempt to ban the practice on minors trampled on the rights of families to seek such counseling -- and also whether it improperly threatens professional therapists who risk the loss of licenses and livelihoods if they violate the law.

A group of therapists and parents challenged the law in January, arguing it interferes with religious practices and violates free speech rights by barring gay conversion discussions between young patients and their counselors.

The case has produced a legal standoff between a state's power to regulate what it considers harmful conduct by licensed professionals and supporters of the therapy who insist parents have a right to follow their beliefs in arranging such therapy for their children.

Two Sacramento federal judges have split over the issue, one upholding the law and the other finding it runs afoul of the First Amendment. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the law on hold while the case proceeds.

The showdown is being closely watched as other states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, move to enact similar laws. Legal experts say the case poses tough questions because the U.S. Supreme Court has not established much precedent on a state's ability to impose such restrictions on the speech of licensed professionals.

"It hasn't really told us to what extent restrictions are constitutional," said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor. "This is not clear."
Most psychotherapy is damaging to children. If psychotherapists were banned from doing anything damaging, then most of them would be out of business. California passed a law banning one type of psychotherapy, but there is no scientific paper saying that it is any more harmful than any other psychotherapy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Summary of Arias expert problems

I have criticized the experts in the Jodi Arias, but I think that I am understating the case. So I try again. You can watch the trial on Tru TV or HLN TV, or watch excerpts online.

A couple of forensic psychotherapists got exposed when they testified in the 2013 Arizona televised murder trial of Jodi Arias. She drove hundreds of miles to see her ex-boyfriend, seduced him, took naked pictures with his new camera, shot him in the head, stabbed him 29 times, slashed his throat, attempted to destroy the evidence, and discarded her gun in the desert. When police found her, she told a wild story about what happened, and bragged on national TV that no jury would convict her.

At her trial, psychologist Richard Samuels testified that he gave her a computer-scored personality test, and diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Apparently the anxiety of shooting her friend caused her to forget why she stabbed and slashed him, and where she dumped the gun. Samuels concluded that she probably shot in self-defense, because a premeditated murder would be less likely to cause PTSD.

Even more ridiculous testimony came from a well-known domestic violence expert, Alyce LaViolette. She testified that the dead ex-boyfriend was the jealous domestic violence perpetrator, not Arias. Drawing on anecdotes from leading 25 years of California court-ordered (punitive) domestic violence classes, LaViolette testified that emotional abuse is worse than physical abuse, and that the worst emotional abuse is so subtle that only an expert like herself can detect it. Her evidence was mostly emails and text messages with name-calling such as Arias being called a "sociopath", and that his messages were worse than they sound because of the common saying that "90% of all communication is nonverbal".

The problem with these experts is not just that they are hired guns who are biased towards the source of the money, or that they say things that are contrary to common sense. The deeper problem is that their whole testimony is directly contrary to court rules of evidence and procedure.

An ideal expert witness serves to inform the judge and jury on generally accepted published knowledge that is beyond common experience and not easily accessible to the layman. For example, a DNA expert might explain how DNA tests work and the signficance of a DNA match, but leave it to the jury to decide the guilt or innocence of the defendant. The expert testimony should be objectively verifiable by consulting textbooks.

Samuels said that as a psychologist he can only speak in probabilities and not certainties, but he never gave any probabilities for anything. He had no generally accepted knowledge on murderers having PTSD.

LaViolette never even cited any published knowledge, except her own chart showing how all human relationships lie on a "continuum of aggression and abuse". Most of her testimony consisted of arguing that she had sifted thru volumes of hearsay and had determined who was telling the truth and who was lying. She said that she was like an "FBI profiler".

Lie detector tests and FBI profilers are not allowed in court, and for good reason. They are speculative. They can be manipulated. They are unreliable. If the perfect lie detector gets invented someday, then maybe we won't need judges and juries anymore. That day has not arrived.

Samuels and LaViolette had no actual expertise on issues bearing on the guilt of Arias. Samuels could recite the symptoms of PTSD, but had no explanation as to why some particular definition of PTSD would be relevant. LaViolette could not even recite a definition of domestic violence or abuse.

The emptiness of their testimony was revealed by their inability to answer hypothetical questions. Ordinary (non-expert) witnesses testify only about facts, but experts testify about how scientific knowledge can be applied to the facts of the case, but it is the jury that is empowered to decide the facts. Ideally the experts would not express any conclusions about whether the defendant was telling the truth, and leave that to the jury in the light of scientific knowledge.

These experts spent most of their time giving opinions and conclusions on subjects where they have no expertise at all. For example, LaViolette testified about the importance of Mormon baptism and whether various people were faithful to Mormon teachings.

Part of LaViolette's claimed expertise was in conducting California child custody evaluations, and in testifying for family court child custody disputes. Apparently no one has ever explained to a judge how she is ruining families with her bogus testimony.

Yesterday, the Arias trial had a hearing over whether a defense photograph enhancement expert had testimony meeting the Daubert standard. The expert was indeed skilled at using Photoshop tools to enhance photos, and had applied his skills to magnify a reflection of Jodi in Travis's cornea, as he was naked in the shower shortly before she killed him. The dispute was over a hand-drawn outline around a blurry image. Prosecutor Martinez said that the image looked like a dog to him, and that there are no scientific standards for drawing such outlines. The defense argued that the outline is necessary because the video equipment in the courtroom is not as good as what the expert has in the lab. It seems to me that if they can spend $2M on a trial, then they could rent a hi-res display for a couple of days. The judge wanted to consult Arizona Rule 702. Testimony by Experts :
If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.
This was amended last year to adopt the federal rule. The fact at issue, I guess, is whether Jodi had both hands on the camera as she was taking the picture, and no knife or gun. I question excluding the jury from this hearing. The jury ought to be told the arguments for and against reliability of the testimony. Anyway the prosecutor ended up conceding that Jodi did not have a weapon when she took the picture.

The picture was taken just a couple of minutes before the dropped camera picture, according to the metadata, and Jodi says that the dropped camera led to the fight that resulted in death. The right half of the above picture has Travis's eye magnified and enhanced, and the expert tried to draw in an outline of Joidi. It seems absurd to me to draw any conclusions about Jodi from it, but I guess the prosecutor was not willing to contest the expert.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mandated fertility coverage

A proposed new gay rights law, California AB-460, says:
(g) Coverage for the treatment of infertility shall be offered and provided without discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.
I am trying to wrap my head around this. Suppose I am a single (unattached) man, and I complain that I cannot get pregnant. A fertility clinic says that this condition can be treated by having a surrogate mother bear the pregnancy. Will this have to be covered?

Suppose a woman cannot get pregnant because she is too old, or is in a wheelchair, or has a serious genetic illness, or used to be a man. That also has to be treated?

I suppose that gay couples think that it is unfair if opposite sex married couples get fertility treatments, and they are stuck with mismatched organs. Maybe it is unfair. But can someone please explain this remedy to me? These grand non-discrimination principles sound noble in principle, but what are the consequences here? The proposed law defines:
(b) For purposes of this section, “infertility” means either (1) the presence of a demonstrated condition recognized by a licensed physician and surgeon as a cause of infertility, or (2) the inability to conceive a pregnancy or to carry a pregnancy to a live birth after a year or more of regular sexual relations without contraception.
So if a man changes his "gender expression" or "gender identity" to female, would his lack of ovaries be a "demonstrated condition" entitle him/her to non-discrimination under this?

And what is "regular sexual relations"? I would assume that means normal male-female coitus, but then people accuse me of being a heterosexist bigot when I say stuff like that. I am guessing that a gay couple could complain that they have had regular sexual relations for a year, and no one got pregnant, so they are entitled to medical assistance.

The Weekly Standard says:
AB 460, of course, does not arise in a social vacuum. It reflects the modern tendency to use health care law to enact social policy. In the United Kingdom, for example, the National Health Service provides IVF (which in the United States typically costs between $12,000 and $15,000) to women up to age 42 free of charge, even though aging naturally reduces fertility from the late thirties on. As under AB 460, lesbians in the United Kingdom are entitled to receive a sophisticated form of artificial insemination at no cost as a means of erasing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The UK policy discriminates on sex and age, so would not comply with AB 460. We will soon have laws mandating all medical services for everyone, until the system runs out of money.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

DV expert widely criticized

I pointed out below that there is an organized campaign to destroy the career of folk singer Michelle Shocked, because she once shocked a San Fran audience with a Christian anti-homosexual rant. California liberals can be remarkably intolerant sometimes, but I don't have a dog in that fight.

The Jodi Arias experts are widely despised for their televised testimony. USA Today
For three days this week, a domestic violence expert witness named Alyce LaViolette held her own against prosecutor Juan Martinez in the Jodi Arias murder case in Maricopa County Superior Court.

But LaViolette was annihilated in cyberspace. ...

The barrage of cyberstalking was the subject of lengthy meetings in a judge's chambers on Monday. It sent LaViolette to the emergency room last weekend.

Legal observers are not certain if it constitutes witness tampering, slander, or just an expression of free speech.

"It's the electronic version of a lynch mob," said retired Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields.
Anxiety sent her to the emergency room?

I hate to pile on, but the LaViolette is evil. She is not just expressing a personal opinion like Ms. Shocked. She is being paid by the government to tell lies under oath. She has spent her whole life trying to ruin the lives of good men by exaggerating the significance of trivial incidents.

Alyce D. LaViolette inspired this Change.org petition:
Alyce LaViolette should no longer be given the opportunity to speak at abuse seminars based on her testimony in The State vs. Jodi Arias Murder trial. In her testimony, she named Travis Alexander as an abuser without ever having met him. This man was stabbed over two dozen times, shot in the head and nearly decapitated by Jodi Arias slitting his throat. Based on the words of admitted liar and killer, Jodi Arias, Ms. LaViolette has tarnished the reputation of Travis Alexander in front of his grieving family. Her inability to see that the murder victim was also the victim of other abuse by Jodi Arias should disqualify her from speaking on the subject of domestic violence indefinitely.
Her Amazon book listing now has 100s of 1-star (lowest rating) reviews, such as this:
I am saddened and disgusted by how men in general are portrayed by LaViolette. This woman has taken the most innocent of actions and has made them out to be abuse, and I lack the understanding as to why she has done this. So many simple actions are now twisted to the point where if a man doesn't call a woman right away after a date or a sexual encounter, he is emotionally abusive, or if a man just so happens to become angry in traffic, it's a precursor to violent behavior and abuse. I'm totally up in arms! Look, I was in a very violent and abusive marriage, and I am absolutely sickened by what this author has done to genuinely TRUE DV victims. She has set this issue back at least 30 years. She wonders why DV is rarely taken seriously? Well Ms. LaViolette, the reason this is true is all due to people like you.
There are also 100s of other negative Amazon comments.

I don't usually advocate boycotts, but LaViolette is a menace. She makes her living from the state by pretending to be a domestic violence expert, but there is no factual backing to anything she says. It is just anti-man opinion. The state is paying her and she is doing harm. Her phony propaganda should be rebutted at every opportunity.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Backstabbing sister to call CPS

Here is yesterday's bad newspaper advice column about CPS. I post it because it is likely that there are busybodies everywhere who might backstab you in order to take your kids.
Dear Annie: My sister, "Suzie," has always been a bit of a flower child, and my parents think it's funny. Suzie dropped out of high school to pursue her "career" in something — art, music, dance, yoga, whatever. ...

Suzie insists that the children be fed only vegan and organic products. When the boys stay with us, which is fairly often lately, we feed them healthy balanced meals that they wolf down like they're starving. The oldest boy told me they usually eat oatmeal with some peanut butter in it. I believe both boys are anemic. ...

She's leaving the boys with me for two weeks this summer, and I'm tempted to have Child Protective Services evaluate them. My wife agrees. My parents don't. I'm scared Suzie will bolt with the kids if she gets wind of my suspicions. She's done it before.

I want the best for my nephews. How do I go about it? — W.C.

Dear W.C.: Don't wait until summer. Call Child Protective Services anonymously, and ask them to investigate the home environment now. (You need not inform your parents.) ...

And if CPS determines that the kids need to be removed from Suzie's care, we hope you will offer to take them.
This is wrong on several levels. I don't doubt that Suzie has some substandard child-rearing practices, but then I disagrree with most parents on some issues. The problem here is in thinking that CPS is some sort of useful authority, in calling CPS anonymously, in betraying her own sister, in taking a rash action against the judgment of their parents, in accepting a CPS opinion as decisive, and in scheming to take custody of the kids.

Here, there are much better alternatives. The writer can re-assess the situation in the summer. She can schedule a family conference with the parents (ie, grandparents). She could take the boys this summer contingent on getting an opinion from a neutral third party. She could get a medical test for anemia. An anonymous call to CPS is the worst of all choices.

Reader of this blog probably do not get their advice from a Dear Annie column. But you may have a sister who takes this advice seriously, and is planning to betray you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cultural differences in child-rearing

One problem with family courts and child custody evaluations is that the judges and shrinks are completely incompetent to legitimate differences in child-rearing philosophies. Everyone has opinions about child-rearing, but they usually do not have any understanding about how their opinions are better or worse than others, or even how they are different from others.

Nicholas Day writes in Slate:
Sara Harkness, a professor of human development at the University of Connecticut, has spent decades compiling and analyzing the answers of parents in other cultures. They have a lot of answers, it turns out. ...

Every society has what it intuitively believes to be the right way to raise a child, what Harkness calls parental ethnotheories. (It is your mother-in-law, enlarged to the size of a country.) These are the choices we make without realizing that we’re making choices. Not surprisingly, it is almost impossible to see your own parental ethnotheory: As I write in Baby Meets World, when you’re under water, you can’t tell that you’re wet.

But ethnotheories are distinct enough, at least to an outsider, that they are apparent in the smallest details. If you look just at the words parents use to describe their children, you can almost always predict where you are in the world. In other words, your most personal observations of your child are actually cultural constructions. ...

Every society interprets its children in its own way: The Dutch, for example, liked to talk about long attention spans and “regularity,” or routine and rest. (In the Dutch mind, asking lots of questions is a negative attribute: It means the child is too dependent.) The Spanish talked about character and sociality, the Swedes about security and happiness. And the Americans talked a lot about intelligence. Intelligence is Americans’ answer. In various studies, American parents are always seen trying to make the most of every moment—to give their children a developmental boost. From deep inside the belly of American parenthood, this is so obvious it isn’t even an observation. It is only by looking at other societies that you can see just how anomalous such a focus is.
So suppose a judge or evaluator has to decide between a Dutch parent and a Spanish parents about the best interest of the child (BIOTCh). It is impossible.

Currently the hottest NY Times article is about an experiment on the benefits of talking to babies:
The disparity was staggering. Children whose families were on welfare heard about 600 words per hour. Working-class children heard 1,200 words per hour, and children from professional families heard 2,100 words. By age 3, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words in his home environment than a child from a professional family. And the disparity mattered: the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental.
I suppose that this is a polite way of saying that black people don't talk to their kids, combined with a naive leftoid belief that social problems can be solved by teaching blacks to talk more. Pres. Obama is even babbling about Head Start again. No, that doesn't work either. I would like to tell you that there is scientific evidence on good child-rearing, but it is not much better than common sense, and the usual advice from experts is worse.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Long-term evolution of marriage

Science Friday discussed a new book:
In The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates, primatologist Frans de Waal explores traits like empathy and fairness in our closest relatives, bonobos and chimpanzees, and argues that human morality is not the product of rational thought or religion, but evolved long ago.
A reader sent this review:
One of the world's leading primatologists believes his decades of research with apes answers a question that has plagued humans since the beginning of time.

Are we moral because we believe in God, or do we believe in God because we are moral?

Frans de Waal argues in his latest book that the answer is clearly the latter. The seeds for moral behavior preceded the emergence of our species by millions of years, and the need to codify that behavior so that all would have a clear blueprint for morality led to the creation of religion, he argues.
I am very skeptical about drawing moral lessons from apes. First, we are equally closely related to chimps and bonobos, but they are completely different in their social structures, customs, sex practices, etc.

Second, it is very difficult to detect something like empathy or morals in a wild animal.

Third, animals do all sorts of things that we do not tolerate in humans. Besides stealing, killing, etc, the male apes are all deadbeat dads. They do not support their young. They are much more concerned with fighting off rival males.

A genetic analysis paper claims to discover the Evolutionary History of Hunter-Gatherer Marriage Practices. A summary says:
Regardless of the ancestral state of early humans, arranged marriages probably have an evolutionary history going back at least 50,000 years.
I did not follow the logic on how they could deduce 50k years of arranged marriages. But if so, does that mean arranged marriages are natural and good? Certainly not.

So maybe we had 5M years of living like apes, then 50k years of arranged marriages, then 500 years of modern civilization with nuclear families, and now we are embarking on a grand social experiment where the family is being destroyed and managed by the state. Human nature is not changing, but our social structures are radically changing. I am not optimistic.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Penney campaign flopped

One of my most controversial posts last year was the JC Penney ad for Fathers Day. See also updates here and here. This was a gay ad that was part of a gay campaign led by their new CEO. He came from Apple Computer, the gayest of the Silicon Valley companies. Apple CEO Tim Cook is gay, according to Out.com.

The Penney strategy was a big failure:
You gotta figure that getting canned as CEO is bad enough, but consider former Apple store guru Ron Johnson. Just the rumor that J.C. Penney had cut him loose as CEO caused the retailer’s stock to shoot up nearly 11 percent. ...

As the Daily Finance piece pointed out, Johnson didn’t test market his ideas, instead issuing the refrain, “We didn’t test at Apple.”
The NY Times reports:
Mr. Johnson liked to tell employees that there were two kinds of people: believers and skeptics, and at Apple, there were only believers. He wanted the same at Penney: when employees pushed back on Mr. Johnson’s strategies, they got nowhere, according to several former executives. ...

“Ron’s response at the time was, just like at Apple, customers don’t always know what they want,” said an executive who advocated testing. “We’re not going to test it — we’re going to roll it out.”
Again, I don't object to Penney marketing to gays. Gays need clothes also. My gripe was about the lousy Fathers Day messages. I do not like these ideological attacks on dads.

Anyway, I hope JC Penney returns to being in the business of customer satisfaction, instead of trying to force ideologies on people.

Update: The NY Times reports:
But that was just one more bit of downbeat news in what has been a downbeat few months. All told, $290 billion has been wiped off Apple’s value since September. It might seem difficult to believe, but Apple now ranks among the biggest losers in the stock market over the last seven months, right next to the J. C. Penney Company, that sick man of American department stores. The last time Apple was trading this low was in November 2011. Steve Jobs had just died and everyone wondered how Apple would carry on without its visionary leader.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

New precedent for expert testimony

A big problem with the family court is its sloppy use of experts, like psychologists. To my surprise, the Jodi Arias murder trial has had some of the same problems. In federal court, expert testimony is limited by the much stricter FRE 702:
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;

(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;

(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and

(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
See this Bernstein paper for an up-to-date discussion of how the federal rule is applied. This rule replaced the looser 1923 Frye rule about 15 years ago.

California has stuck to the Frye rule, and calls it the Kelly-Frye rule after a 1976 California case called Kelly. Here is how the rule is codified:
801. If a witness is testifying as an expert, his testimony in the form of an opinion is limited to such an opinion as is:

(a) Related to a subject that is sufficiently beyond common experience that the opinion of an expert would assist the trier of fact; and

(b) Based on matter (including his special knowledge, skill, experience, training, and education) perceived by or personally known to the witness or made known to him at or before the hearing, whether or not admissible, that is of a type that reasonably may be relied upon by an expert in forming an opinion upon the subject to which his testimony relates, unless an expert is precluded by law from using such matter as a basis for his opinion.
Now the California supreme court has moved a little closer to the federal standard in a Nov. 2012 case, Sargon v USC (.doc file).
We construe this to mean that the matter relied on must provide a reasonable basis for the particular opinion offered, and that an expert opinion based on speculation or conjecture is inadmissible. ...

Thus, under Evidence Code sections 801, subdivision (b), and 802, the trial court acts as a gatekeeper to exclude expert opinion testimony that is (1) based on matter of a type on which an expert may not reasonably rely, (2) based on reasons unsupported by the material on which the expert relies, or (3) speculative. Other provisions of law, including decisional law, may also provide reasons for excluding expert opinion testimony.

[footnote] In People v. Leahy (1994) 8 Cal.4th 587, 604, this court held that the “general acceptance” test for admissibility of expert testimony based on new scientific techniques (see People v. Kelly (1976) 17 Cal.3d 24) still applies in California courts despite the United States Supreme Court’s rejection, in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (1993) 509 U.S. 579, of a similar test in federal courts. Nothing we say in this case affects our holding in Leahy regarding new scientific techniques.
The way I read this, if an expert is testifying based on novel scientific techniques, then those techniques must have been published in the generally accepted scientific literature. Otherwise, the judge is supposed to follow this new "gatekeeper" re-interpretation of the California rule, and exclude unreliable testimony.

If the California family court took its own rules of evidence seriously, then most of the child custody evaluations and other such expert testimony would be excluded as being unsupported and speculative. The child custody evaluators have never been able to show any reliability to their recommendations, and that should make their reports inadmissible. This Calif. supreme court case is a step in the right direction.

This is wishful thinking on my part, as I am sure that the family courts will ignore this decision. But in the long run, these quacks/experts will be seen as no better than astrologers.

Just look at the sloppy testimony that Arizona is allowing for Jodi Arias. I guess that the judge is bending over backwards so that the appeals court will agree that she got a fair trial and had every chance to make every argument. But the experts should have had to clearly explain what makes their testimony admissible. How do these experts have knowledge that is sufficiently beyond common experience? Where are they relying on generally accepted knowledge? How does that assist in the determination of facts?

About all I see is that Samuels could administer a multiple-choice computer-scored personality test, and read the DSM-IV symptoms for PTSD. LaViolette has no specific expertise, except maybe to say that a wide variety of behaviors can be reported as abuse. Everyone else is just unsupported opinion that is no better than astrology, and should not be admissible.

Yesterday, prosecutor Martinez more directly attacked the validity of the testimony of the domestic violence expert LaViolette, after making fun of her Snow White analysis and lecture. He asked if her opinion was subjective, and she seemed to not understand the question, and even argued that her testimony was as objective as any other testimony. Of course she was forced to admit that she was less objective than DNA expert testimony.

She then compared herself to an FBI profiler. This was a stupid analogy, because we would never convict someone from the word of an FBI profiler. He asked her if FBI profiler testimony is admitted in court, and she said that she did not know.

He went on to show that she made dozens of inferences about who was telling the truth, and he argued that these possibly-faulty inferences influence her conclusions.

She even said that her Continuum of Aggression and Abuse is used in California (730) child custody evaluations! Sigh.

I am not sure that the jury, or even the judge, understands this last point. The ideal expert witness would not make any factual inferences, and leave that to the jury. She might explain, for example, how PTSD or domestic violence is diagnosed and let jury decide whether the criteria are met. She might give recognized published data on how PTSD or DV relate to murder. She might even give condition testimony, such as saying that a particular conclusion is valid assuming that a story about an incident is true. But the jury gets to decide whether the jury is true.

LaViolette testified that Travis had a pattern of lying and that Jodi did not. Travis is dead. Jodi lied on national television, and proved that she can be a convincing liar.

Usually it is the responsibility of the judge, not the jury, to decide on the rules of evidence. But this case is out of control, and it will be up to the jury to make sense of it.

Update: (Tues, midday) The DV expert LaViolette continues to testify badly. She is quite evasive when asked about the possibility of secondary gain, ie, that Jodi was lying for the purpose of improving her legal situation. This is a crucial point, as the jury is making its own assessment of whether Jodi is telling the truth. LaViolette admits that lying is always possible, but refuses to explain how she finds Jodi credible. She only says that she did 44 hours of interviews, read a lot of documents, and formed an opinion.

A good expert witness would figure out a way to convey her expert knowledge about domestic violence, without injecting her personal opinion about Jodi's credibility. LaViolette has completely failed to do that.

With the jury outside the courtroom, LaViolette is confronted with the fact that Jodi's own parents told the police that Jodi has never been honest since she was 14 years old. Of course Jodi's parents' opinion is of dubious admissibility also, and has not been allowed.

The legal point here is that the judge has to drawn the line on hearsay evidence, or else the trial can break down to a lot of reputation trashing by outside parties. But this judge is allowing an expert to testify as just a way to sneak in a lot of inadmissible hearsay. The court needs to stick to the rules about expert testimony, in which case LaViolette would not be allowed.