Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

We’re all drug lords now

Jerry Stratton, November 22, 2008

Bowers is a common enough name that when I read the news reports about the Christian missionary plane being shot down, I wrote “American missionary family saved from fate worse than death” for the Walkerville Weekly Reader and assumed nothing would come of it. And officially, pretty much nothing has. The CIA covered their asses and some politicians even came out in support of shooting down civilian aircraft.

But I did hear about it again a year later from an unlikely source: my parents’ next door neighbor who has been a family friend for almost as long as I can remember and who led our Boy Scout troop back when I was a teenager. The missionary family that was shot down was his brother’s family.

Some day, so many people will have been killed by prohibition that everyone will know someone who clearly died only because of the drug war and not because of drugs. Will we still support the drug war when that day arrives?

January 13, 2016: Cargo cult police science
Green tea

“Leaves and stems”. It looks like what we want to see, therefore it must be what we want to see. These cops could be climate scientists.

Four years ago, Robert and Addie Harte were raided because they went to a gardening store and, eight months later, drank tea:

  1. On August 9, 2011, Robert Harte and his children went to a hydroponics gardening store, emerging with a small bag of gardening supplies for a school project.
  2. On March 20th, 2012, seven months later, the police officer surveilling the gardening store reported this to the Johnson County, Kansas, Sheriff’s Office.
  3. On April 3, 2012, Deputies Mark Burns and Edward Blake found plant material in the Hartes’s trash, but their tests (which aren’t documented) came back negative. Their conclusion was that the marijuana, which must have been there, “was misidentified”.
  4. On April 10, 2012, eight months after initially suspecting the Hartes, Burns and Blake took a second look at their trash. This time, the field test (barely documented) showed a positive result.
  5. On April 17, 2012, eight months and one week afterward, they performed a second trash pull and redid the barely documented field test, which also came back positive. The field test is extraordinarily unreliable, according to the manufacturer. It specifically was so unreliable that it should only be used to justify sending the “sample in to a qualified crime laboratory”.
  6. That same day, April 17, Burns asked a judge for a warrant.
  7. They executed the warrant at 7:38 AM on April 20. After holding the family for over two hours and searching the house, they found nothing.

After eight months, they couldn’t wait less than two weeks to get a more definitive result from a more reliable test. The error rates of their field tests are incredibly high—possibly 70% or more because the test is apparently more unreliable for kitchen matter, which the tested trash obviously was.

What struck me while reading about the police behavior is that they acted like bad scientists: specifically, like climate scientists. They kept trying over a long period (8 months in this case) until they got the result they wanted, and then, despite the long period to get the evidence they demanded immediate action, rather than waiting for confirmation.

They had a theory: the Hartes were marijuana growers. When their first examination came back that no, the evidence does not support that, they did not reexamine their theory. They tried again to prove their theory. In a sense, Deputies Burns and Blake were better than climate scientists: they tried twice, but, of course, it was the same unreliable test that they tried twice, and they didn’t even follow the appropriate methodology for that test.

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