14 Nov 2020

BMS ep 162: Bob’s Rant About NPR and Dispelling of 1 Particular Voter Fraud Argument

Bob Murphy Show 31 Comments

I only did audio for this one…

31 Responses to “BMS ep 162: Bob’s Rant About NPR and Dispelling of 1 Particular Voter Fraud Argument”

  1. Coupon Clipper says:

    I noticed you violated the law of conservation of expected evidence towards the end:

    You can’t say, “I’ll test X; if X is true then the probability of my hypothesis being correct goes up, but if X is false then the probability stays the same.”

    I could tell you were uneasy about this though! You intuitively sensed that you were committing a logic crime.

    • Tel says:

      Hypothesis: black swans exist.
      Check X: white, white, white, black.
      Ha! They do exist.
      Check more X: white, white, white, white …
      Do they exist a bit less now?

      • Harold says:

        “For a true Bayesian, it is impossible to seek evidence that confirms a theory. There is no possible plan you can devise, no clever strategy, no cunning device, by which you can legitimately expect your confidence in a fixed proposition to be higher (on average) than before. You can only ever seek evidence to test a theory, not to confirm it.”

        I think the key is that “on average” and your expectation of how your confidence will change.

        I think the way to put it is test a swan to see if it is black. Your hypothesis is that black swans exist, but are rare. Your expectation is that the tested swan will be white.

        If the swan is black, the probability of “black swans exist” goes up, in this case to very close to 1. Maybe it is not a swan, or covered in soot or something. The increase in confidence with this observation goes up considerably.

        To counter that, the observation that the swan is white decreases your confidence only a very little bit, only as 1 swan is a proportion of all swans.

        But before the test, you should expect you confidence to be the same, because you have a large chance of a white swan and a very small chance of a black swan. On average, you do not expect your confidence to change.

        If you get a black swan, then your confidence will in fact have changed, bit that is not what you should expect to happen. I think that is it.

      • Harold says:

        In the case in question, the hypothesis is that the election is fixed. On looking at the wider data, Bob concluded that this number was in fact not significant, so it is not a test at all, but he discusses a hypothetical where it only happen in one place and stood out – that is State A.

        Bob says his expectation, given the fixed election, was that he would see Not State A because the Dems would have hidden it and easily been able to do this. Seeing Not State A would not shift his confidence much, but presumably very slightly increased it because it was what he would expect given his hypothesis. The analogy is that his hypothesis is all swans are white, and seeing the next swan is white increases his confidence a bit.

        Had he then seen state A, he would have increased his confidence a lot. This is breaching the law of conservation of expectations (if such a thing exists). Whichever way it turned out, his confidence increased. This tells us that it is not a test of the hypothesis.

  2. Harold says:

    Typing as I listen, so it will be a bit rambling.
    I guess the media will stop correcting lies on the fly if there are far fewer lies. They didn’t do it before because it was not necessary. The media had a problem dealing with the number of lies. No president before has come any where near that performance and the media had to decide on the reponse.

    I thnk if you look back, presidential lies were always given lots of coverage. Several days in many cases. In Trump’s case this was not possible, because of the sheer number of lies. Alternative strategies had to be used.

    It is a fact that Trump lies continually, and to not report that would be dereliction of duty. It is simply neutrally stating the facts. When someone has demonstrated repeatedly that he never does his due diligence there comes a point where just calling them lies makes a lot of sense. Trumpabused th respect of the office for years.

    It is not the same reporting on flat Earth meetings. Theyare not the president. The media simply don’t report on them much and their errors do not make a difference. What the president says does get reported. It probably would have been better overall if they simply stopped reporting what Trump said, but that was never going to happen. Can you imagine if every time Trump said something wrong they would have to go and get someone to give evidence that he was wrong? With several claims a day it would be impossible. That method worked very well with previous presidents. they made occasional false claims that could be checked, would be in the news for days and allowed for disuccion and pointing out why the claim is viewed by many to be false. That cannot work with many claims every day.

    Trump makes it easy because he repeats the same thing over and over even when it has been disproved. When someone is in a position to know that a claim is false and makes it anyway, then lie is a reasonable term to use. So it is possible in many cases to report that he islying, because the claims have been already disproved and Trump knows it, or ought to know it.

    The sort of claims you cite regarding Biden do get a chance for full debate and discussion. If Trump made the occasional such claim it would be possible to do the same, but he just swamps any opportunity to do that.

    People are taking election fraud seriously, which is exactly why Trumps continual lying is a problem. He is able to say things essentially unchallenged, because the continual fact checking has tired everyone out. We are just about certain that he lied about fraud in the past election because he could not find any evidence in 4 years as president. He is now making exactly the same claims. Why are we not worried about flat earth? Because they are not going to take over. They have no power. Trump has a lot of power and it is not impossible that he could execrcise that power in a way the flat Earthers cannot do.

    All the evidence is just about as convincing as flat Earth evidence. It is not true that there is no evidence for a flat Earth. It looks flat and that is evidence. We sometimes say there is no evidence to mean there is no convincing evidence or the evidence is so weak it is not reasonable to give it more than a cursory consideration.

    All the evidence so far is very similar to flat Earth evidence. Someone plots a Benford graph showing the distribution is not one should expect. Simple analysis shows that in fact the distribution is exactly what you would expect from a fair election. There are numerous affidavits of people who want to beieve in voter fraud seeing things they think are suspicious, but so far there has always been a much more resonable explanation. Just like flat Earthers, there will always be more stuff you can throw at the wall and some people apparently are convinced by this.

    We are continually promised that the evidence is about to be dropped. Release the Kraken. As yet it has not materialised. If and when it does I will shift my position, but at the moment it in about the same place as my position on flat Earth.

    The numbers on excess votes for Biden could be explained by Republican leaning voters being pissed off with Trump. They vote Republican down ticket but Biden for President. However, given your other data it looks like noise.

    BTW, the Senate is not really like the House of Lords. The Senate has much more power. The UK Govt can force through legislation they had in their manifesto.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Harold your nickname should be “the Gaslighter.” Among other false things you said:

      “People are taking election fraud seriously…”

      The media–including Fox News–and Democrats keep assuring me that Trump is lying and that there is no evidence substantiating any claim of election fraud. What would it look like if they weren’t taking election fraud seriously?

      • Transformer says:

        I think it would probably be truer to say that the claims of election fraud were initially at least given a serious review but the total lack of evidence to backup the claims have led to the media (including Fox) no longer taking them seriously.

        How seriously is the media supposed to take unsubstantiated claims ?

        • Transformer says:

          I should have said ‘serious election fraud’ because (as Harold points out below ) minor election fraud is probably a feature of most US presidential elections.

      • random person says:

        I mean, Harold technically said, “people are taking election fraud seriously” not, “the media is taking election fraud seriously”. “People” is rather non-specific. “People” could mean anything from a large group of people protesting, to random people he met while passing out orange juice at Salvation Army. (Not that I’m saying that Harold passes out orange juice at Salvation Army. It was just an example.)

        • Harold says:

          Yeah, I clarified below. I meant a lot of people, not the media and not just a few I met at the Sally Am.

    • Tel says:

      Trump makes it easy because he repeats the same thing over and over even when it has been disproved. When someone is in a position to know that a claim is false and makes it anyway, then lie is a reasonable term to use. So it is possible in many cases to report that he islying, because the claims have been already disproved and Trump knows it, or ought to know it.

      The sort of claims you cite regarding Biden do get a chance for full debate and discussion. If Trump made the occasional such claim it would be possible to do the same, but he just swamps any opportunity to do that.

      Those two paragraphs are self-contradictory. If Trump makes the same claims over and over then the detailed explanation of why this is false needs only to be generated once … after that it’s very efficient to link back to that original explanation.

      We are just about certain that he lied about fraud in the past election because he could not find any evidence in 4 years as president.

      It’s been a long while and my memory is fading fast but I have this dim recollection that someone else was telling lies about election fraud in the past 4 years and could not find any evidence. It wasn’t Trump who was doing the accusing, ahhh I think Trump might even have been the one being accused. A name comes to mind … Robert Mule … is that it?

      Sheesh, it’s gotten dark in here, can you just turn the lights up a bit? I will see this better with a bit more lighting … there’s a chap.

      • Harold says:

        ” If Trump makes the same claims over and over then the detailed explanation of why this is false needs only to be generated once … after that it’s very efficient to link back to that original explanation.”

        Exactly. This is what is done. We don’t have to go over it again, we can just say he is lying, see this evidence we prepared eariler. Of course, you have to actually go to the original explanation to see.

        “It’s been a long while and my memory is fading fast …” I am sorry about your memory, but we can look things up to remind ourselves.

        ” someone else was telling lies about election fraud in the past 4 years and could not find any evidence.”

        Yes, exactly right. That person was Trump. He claimed voter fraud was very common, that dead people were voting, that illegal immigrants were voting, that people were being bussed over State lines to vote illegally. Honestly, you can look this stuff up. It is all there. There were many tweets about it. I really cannot believe you are not aware of this.

        He set up a commission to investigate. A year later thay had found nothing, and just sort of gave up without reporting.

        What are the claims this year? Very similar and from the same person.

        There were a few allegations of voter fraud from some Democrats following the 2016 election, but no action was taken by the democratic party and Clinton stressed the election was not rigged in that way.

        They were complaining about other things. They had 3 main beefs, none of which was voter fraud. In brief, Clinton won the popular vote, Comey released the letter about new email investigations and Russian interference.

        The Russian interference was confirmed not only by Mueller, but also by Trump’s Select Committee on Intelligence. From volume 2 Findings.
        “The Committee found, that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin.”

        From volume 5 “The Committee found that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian effort to hack computer networks and accounts affiliated with the Democratic Party and leak information damaging to Hillary Clinton and her campaign for president. Moscow’s intent was to harm the Clinton Campaign, tarnish an expected Clinton presidential administration, help the Trump Campaign after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and undermine the U.S. democratic process.”

        You may not trust Mueller or the media, but surely you trust the Republican led Select Committee?

        Comey did release the letter, and 538 believes it likely cost Clinton the election. That is not certain and was not blamed on a conspiracy, but it did happen. Comey was probably covering his own backside.

        Clinton did win the popular vote, and some think that the winner should win the election, but hey, that’s not the system. So there were a few grumbles.

        To summarize, in 2016 it was Trump who made the accusations of voter fraud similar to the ones he is making now. They were thoroughly debunked then, and his own commission failed to find any evidence. The Democratic leadership did not make similar claims, but some Democratic voters thought there had been some funny business.

        I hope you have found this illuminating. I am accused of gaslighting when it is really clear and obvious that it was Trump not the Democrats making these claims then as now. I can provide light, but you do have to open your eyes to see.

        • Tel says:

          I got a chance to look at that committee report.

          The stuff in there that can be verified has serious errors in it. They blame Papadopoulos for seeking a connection with Putin but that’s exactly backwards. It was Alexander “Dolly” Downer and Joseph Mifsud and Stefan Halper who were going out of their way to seek out Papadopoulos and saying to him, “Hey we have connections in Russia! You should get into this!”

          Then there’s the question of Carter Page, and the fact that he was a known source for the CIA (cooperated with them back in 2008 to 2013 on a different investigation). Kevin Clinesmith ended up admitting that he edited this out on an email in order to mislead the FISA court over Carter Page … the Senate Intelligence Committee gave this footnote:

          While there were several problems with the FBI’s FISA renewals for Page, the Committee assesses that Page’s previous ties to Russian intelligence officers, couples with his Russian travel, justified the FBI’s initial concerns about Page.

          So Page had been asked by the CIA to help them out, and he cooperated, and now the fact that he actually did this is used as the basis for greater suspicions? That’s just ridiculous but the Committee went along with it, even knowing about the problem.

          There’s a lot of stuff in there that I cannot easily check but if I can find those major errors that makes me discount a lot of what else is in the document. They claim there was a hack by “FPN 26165” and that’s supposedly “Fancy Bear”.

          But the name “Fancy Bear” was simply a name cooked up by Crowd Strike in their report and completely unverified by anyone. The FBI lamely nodded along without doing any investigation of their own and the Senate Committee then nodded along as well. This contains no real evidence, it’s all assumption. No one other that Crowd Strike had any access to the actual first-hand evidence and Crowd Strike were hired by the DNC.

          Then there’s all the smearing of Jill Stein, and while I don’t support her Green politics, she is genuinely anti-war and the fact that she did a few interviews on RT and then went to a dinner and very briefly shook Putin’s hand hardly makes her some deep Russian agent. Look … she is in politics to get publicity, if RT will run her interviews and she thinks they gave her fair presentation without twisting it around too much then that’s about as legitimate as NPR (state media) or the BBC (also state media) or CNN (highly friendly to the Democrats) or the ABC in Australia (state media) or various other known biased media. They all have their special invite-only dinners where they schmooze with politicians.

          What do they think? Some kind of Russian essence is going to rub off on Jill Stein when she does an interview? There’s a massive double-standard, I mean people like John Brennan can shoot straight from a high level government job to being a news commentator and semi-permanent fixture on CNN and MSNBC, and strangely that’s not suspicious in the least.

          A serious Senate Committee should be ashamed involving in slimeball insinuations … they obviously have nothing solid against Jill Stein so they should just say as much and shut up with the stupid RT allegations.

          With Michael Flynn they had something slightly more substantial in as much as he had been collecting significant money from a range of foreign contracts including speaker’s fees and other things. It was more than just an interview and shaking a few hands. That doesn’t prove anything, but at least it’s a start. Some of the Trump “transition” team’s enthusiasm to get stuck into foreign affairs was premature, but if you want to apply those standards you have to apply it equally to Joe Biden right now and oddly Biden gets a free pass.

          Then there’s really garbage things in there like trying to ascribe some sinister motive to Trump tweeting about where Hillary’s emails vanished to. I mean really … are we adults?

          Hillary got away with running a dodgy email server, illegally containing classified data. She walked away and simply shrugged it off … sure Trump had every right to point that out.

          All and all it’s a document that shows the worst in these kind of committees.

          • Harold says:

            When a report comes in from a body set up under Trump, run by Republicans, I am not inclined to think they are part of a conspiracy against Trump. Where does it end? We can’t trust scientists, we can’trust the media, we can’t trust government workers and now we can’t trust Republican led committees.

            Whilst I am sure the report has many flaws, it strikes me that the flaws are not likely to biased against the Republican message. Had it been a Democrat led committee I might be inclined to agree that they would spin it their way. I presume that they have spun it their way, and it still backs up Russian interference and a valid justifiaction for the investigations unequivocally.

  3. Harold says:

    Perhaps you could view my gaslight as illuminating?

    Many people are taking election fraud seriously and are convinced not only that it happened but that the evidence for it is extremely strong.

    I therefore don’t think that you can reasonably say that what I said was false. You could say I was unclear which people I was talking about and you may well be correct in that. The expression “people are taking it seriously” could reasonably be interpreted as “people generally” or “most people” are taking it seriously. I intended it to mean “many people” and I welcome the opportunity to clarify that.

    If the media are saying there is “no evidence” then I believe they are technically wrong. There will always be evidence of voter fraud because it is a thing, albeit generally a minor thing. It does get very clumsy to ensure your speech is always absolutely correct. I interpret statements such as these to mean “insufficient evidence to support the claim”. Such as “there is no evidence for a flat Earth.”

    I came across another one similar to the Benford’s Law plots from someone called Dr Shiva Ayyadurai. He claims to have spotted patterns in the data proving that tens of thousands of votes were transferred from Trump to Biden by some sort of algorithm. Unsurprisingly, the pattern was simply an artifact of the way he processed the data and was exactly as one would expect. Somewhat surprisingly, the votes for Biden processed in the same way showed the same sort of pattern. As you did with the data you looked at, if you spot a pattern which suggests something untoward, then you go on to test that suggestion. That he failed to do this, or report it, suggests the good doctor is either incompetent or deliberately misleading. If you are going to put out evidence to support a very serious claim that undermines democracy I think you should do a bit of basic checking.

    I have seen many links to this as proof that there was fraud, so the doctor has achieved the result of convincing many people that fraud exists, although his particular claim is false. There are nearly 1 million hits on youtube, compared to the more usual <10k for most of his videos. I see now that since the flaws have been pointed out he has changed the story to sidestep the criticisms. His main argument before was the slope of his graphs proved the re-distribution. Now it is the scatter or the absolute positioning, not the slope. He is looking a bit desperate.

    Anyway, I await the evidence but I will not be surprised if there is (almost) none.

    • Tel says:

      It’s been a great place to look for my keys underneath your gaslight.

      Out of fairness I should admit that I’ve never actually found any keys … but the visibility is excellent!

  4. Coupon Clipper says:

    I just want to say that I appreciate having Harold around, both when I agree with him and when I don’t. Not everyone reads blogs they disagree with, but even fewer people stick around to debate and really engage with the “locals”.

    • Harold says:

      Thank you, Coupon Clipper.

  5. Harold says:

    In these serious times it is good to have some humour, and everyone’s favourite Mayor is providing it as usual.

    Giuliani should probably stick to his landscaping parking lot tour, as he did not fare so well in the much tougher courtroom gig. He mixed up the judge with a different judge, mixed up “opacity” with “transparency” and rambled for a while about fraud, before the judge had to ask him if fraud was alleged in the suit, requiring a higher standard of “strict scrutiny”. Giuliani said ““If we had alleged fraud, then yes, but this is not a fraud case,” Never a good look when the judge has to remind you what your case is.

    The judge asked for written evidence, but I don’t see this one going anywhere but dismissal.

    Boockvar said the allegations were “at best garden variety irregularities”, which presumably had Giuliani seeking advice from his landscaping consultants, showing he was playing 4-D chess all along.

  6. Jim Fedako says:

    Just looking at Michigan …

    I think the election was rotten. However, third parties might explain the differences. If net of Const Party went Trump, he gains 44k. If net of Green went Biden, he gains 26k. Assume Trump leaked 36k to Biden, then almost all adds up.

  7. Transformer says:

    Tucker Carlson is taking the claims seriously:


    • Harold says:

      You can listen to the oral testimony in the Giuliani hearing

      God knows, I skipped through a lot. The impression that Giulinani does not know what he is doing is hard to avoid. The judge specifically asked one of the attorneys involved in the original case to be present because she had knowledge of the history of the case. Several times that attorny saved Giullinani from total disaster. The judge specifically said at the end that I bet she is glad he asked her to be there. Otherwise Giulliani would have sunk the whole ship if she had not been there to rescue the case.

      He did not seem to understand what was going on. Asked by the judge about the difference between strict scrutiny and rational basis review he answered as a man in the street rather than a lawyer who actually understood the concepts. In effect, Giuliani was seeking strict scrutiny when he was only offering evidence that required rational basis review. He did not seem to understand the difference. It is quite sad. Listen form 3:10:00 for a taste. He is rescued by the other arrorney, then demonstrates he does not understand the rational basis scrutiny standard. Cringe.

      I know they have dropped several case, but there are so many I am not sure if this is one of them. Given Rudy’s perormance i would not be at all surprised if they considered this a lost cause. This was defense aginst a dismassal, We had not even got onto whether the evidence supported the case. This hearing presumed that the evidence did support the case, and given that, was there grounds to dismiss it.

      It is really quite pathertic. Why anybody sees anything in this is beyond me.

    • Harold says:

      It seems that Tucker has decided he can get some credibilty by calling the BS a bit early. He can see the writing on the wall, that the claims are simply posturing for public consumption, and figures he can anger the supporters now for greater kudos later.

      Even taken at face value, the evidence she cliams to have is one person who claims he helped orchestrate Chavez’ manipulation of the vote. Even if we accept totally this claim (rather than him possibly being a fantasist) it does nothing at all to demonstrate fraud in the US elections. It is so shallow it does not even get to be a puddle. We know that Giuliani’s mass of affidavits are just people swearing under oath that they saw something they thought was suspicous, such as vans arriving in the night.

      It is clear enough to Tucker that this is going nowhere, and he has bailed.

      I wonder if this will affect how people see Powell’s claims in the Flynn case, where she is making similar claims about how convincing the exculpatory evidence is. It is abundantly clear that she will make public claims that are unsupportable, so why not in the Flynn case also?

  8. Harold says:

    You may be interested how the case Giuliani pled came out. Here is the outcome.

    From the introduction
    This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated. One might expect that when
    seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens. That has not happened. Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more. At bottom, Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to state a claim upon which
    relief may be granted. Therefore, I grant Defendants’ motions and dismiss, with prejudice.

    Not very surprising, but good to hear it from a judge. That “with prejudice” is important – it means it can’t be brought back.

    An amusing quote from the judgement.
    “Plaintiffs’ only remaining claim alleges a violation of equal protection. This claim, like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together from two distinct theories in an attempt to avoid controlling precedent”

    I get the impression the judge was not very impressed with the plaintiff’s (Giuliani) case.

    I think this was a hopeless case from the start, but after listening to the oral arguments and then readig the Judge’sconclusions, I think that Giulianis’s involvement did nothing but harm the case.

      • Harold says:

        I dislike it intensely. Maybe that is what you meant.

        “The first lawsuits were probably just to keep the fraud argument alive while lawyers dug for the good stuff.”

        Think about what he is saying here. I am convinced there was fraud, although admittedly I have not yet seen any evidence. I am so convinced that although I have seen nothing to justify my belief I will just asssume that the good evidence is coming.

        He is in effect asking for them to prove there was no fraud, faced with allegations of fraud with no significsnt evidence. Whatever evidence is offered to dismiss the allegations is dismissed.

        Crazy stuff. He had some good points about persuasion, but he has lost it now.

        I mean, Trump is in charge of the Executive.. He is not some powerless outsider claiming to be shut down by the powers that be. He is the power. He had the DOJ look into it, and they found nothing.

        • random person says:

          If there is never any power that be that has more power than the US president, then what happened to Kennedy?

          Granted, this doesn’t prove any allegations of exceptionally widespread fraud this last election (as in, more widespread than what happens every year). But well, if Kennedy got killed and people are still arguing about who did it and why, I don’t think we can claim that being US president automatically makes one the supreme power that be.

        • Transformer says:

          Either Adams is practicing the art of irony in which case I like it because its funny , or else he’s being serious in which case I like it because its an example of how weird (given current state of the evidence) the pro-Trump case really is.

          • Harold says:

            Yes, it is a good illustration of the absurdity of some current thinking re the election. I don’t think he is being ironic.

            Adam’s big point before 2016 was that Trump may be wrong, but he was a master persuader.
            In his recent periscope, Adams explains that the failed lawsuits were just to keep people talking about it, because if you keep hearing about it you think there must be something going on. He also does not believe in the Venezuelan whistle blower. Yet somehow he is convinced that damning evidence is coming. He fails to see that he has become a victim of the very persuasion he describes.

            He is not being intentionally ironic, but does display an amusing irony anyway.

            • Transformer says:

              It is weird how close to parody his defense of the Trumpist position reads.

              Perhaps I’ve been brainwashed,

  9. Harold says:

    On the difference between President and senate candidate, (about 42 minutes) if you look back to previous elections you find similar discrepancies. Obama had a much larger “excess” and sometimes the difference is negative. What seems suspicious may just be normal when you look into it.

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