Wednesday, April 03, 2019


I don't know why President Trump can't pronounce the word "origins," which he pronounces as "oranges" three times in this clip (while correctly pronouncing the singular form of the word):

(I do know at least one person -- not at all suffering from dementia and far smarter than Trump -- who experiences similar trouble when pronouncing a few common words. It seems like a spoken-word analogue to dyslexia.)

And I don't know why Trump has said on three occasions that his father was born in Germany. (His grandfather was born there, but not his father.) My guess is that Trump regards this as "truthful hyperbole" -- he thinks the factoid is more vivid if it involves his father rather than his grandfather.

I'll grant that those could be signs of the onset of dementia, as many people seem to believe. However, I strongly suspect that this isn't:
Addressing the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Trump claimed that sounds made by wind turbines cause cancer....

Trump didn't make that up. Opponents of wind power have actually advanced that argument.

Here's a story that appeared in the Irish edition of the Daily Mail:
Wind farms can contribute to people getting diseases such as cancer and heart attacks, two leading Irish health experts have warned.
That's alarming! However, when you read further and discover the alleged cause-and-effect relationship, you see that it's very, very tenuous:
Professor Graham Roberts, head of the Department of Endocrinology at University Hospital, Waterford, and Professor Alun Evans, an expert in public health at Queen’s University, Belfast, met Alan Kelly yesterday to warn the Environment Minister that the current guidelines in Ireland are a cause for alarm.

The rules allow turbines and power lines as close as 500 metres to a family home, while international standards demand they should be at least 2km away.

Prof Evans, recently wrote a report pointing to ‘serious adverse health effects associated with noise pollution generated by wind turbines’.

The risks were due to sleep disturbance and deprivation with loud noise being one of the main causes....

Prof Evans explained: ‘It is a problem, the big thing being noise and sleep deprivation. Once you deprive people of sleep you make them more liable to become overweight and you delay their learning because while we sleep we reinforce memory.

‘Depriving people of sleep is not a good idea, overweight children become obese adults and obese adults are far more likely to [develop] a whole range of diseases particularly cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.’
So even these scientists don't believe that wind turbine noise directly causes cancer -- they believe it can cause sleeplessness, particularly if the turbines are too close to houses, and that sleeplessness can cause weight gain, and that weight gain in children can lead to lifelong obesity, and that obesity can lead to serious disease, and that one of the serious diseases it can lead to is cancer.

That's quite a chain of causation. And most scientists don't believe it:
There is no evidence ... that any sort of sound — including the low-frequency ones emitted by wind turbines — causes cancer. After all, as Philip Jaekl wrote in the Atlantic in 2017, if it were the case that wind turbine sounds could cause cancer, you’d expect evidence of the connection to emerge among residents of countries that have lots of them, like Denmark. But it hasn’t.

From Jaekl’s piece:
[I]nfrasound from wind turbines is no different than infrasound caused by other harmless, common sources. “Everyone is surrounded by infrasound every day. It’s emitted by natural sources like the surf, storms, wind itself, our own heartbeat and respiration. We also are exposed to it in cars, from ceiling fans, motors, and urban noise,” says Simon Chapman, a professor emeritus at the University of Sydney. “If wind turbines were harmful to nearby residents, entire cities and small nations would be stricken across much of Europe, where we see the highest density. Copenhagen is surrounded by turbines but my Danish colleagues are not seeing queues of sick people.”
Trump hates renewable energy because liberals like it. He hates wind power in particular because he's long resented a plan to build offshore wind turbines near a Trump golf course in Scotland. Trump began fighting that plan in 2006, and has presumably been collecting anti-wind-power facts and pseudo-facts all that time. (The wind farm Trump opposed was completed last year.)

This is Trump believing nonsense because of motivated reasoning. It isn't Trump losing his marbles.

Now, about that time when Trump called Apple's Tim Cook "Tim Apple"...

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