NonScienceNonsense

Blockchain a technology with great claims, without documented success

Blockchain has been wildly mis-sold, but underneath it is a database with performance and scalability issues and a lot of baggage. Any claim made for blockchain could be made for databases, or simply publishing contractual or transactional data gathered in another form.

See a problem, propose a solution you want that might make the problem worse

There were long lines for Election Day Registration (EDR) and it took a whole 10 hours to count enough votes to determine the Governor in Connecticut. Our EDR is a problem, but waiting ten hours for result is just a concern hyped up by a overly impatient press and used as a opportunity by advocates to promote early voting as a solution.

As of this time the states of California, Colorado, Florida, and Georgia are still counting votes. They all have mail-in early voting.  California has a Friday deadline to receive mail-in ballots postmarked by election day and counts them for weeks after election day.  As of Friday all those other states were still counting.

There real are problems and there are reasonable solutions.

What we don’t understand seems all but impossible and fictional

Like you I don’t know a lot about brain surgery, flying a jet, or hacking a cell-phone. Off-hand I often think of all of those somewhere on a spectrum from taking years to learn, to almost impossible, fictional or magical.  Yet the evidence is different. People learn brain surgery, perform it regularly and well. Just this week we saw a mechanic take-off and fly a jumbo jet, apparently with only some video game experience. Which brings me to my newest proverb:

What we don’t understand seems all but impossible and fictional.

But that is not true. Case in point, DEFCON.

Nonscience Nonsense, insults our intelligence and the Granite State

Coverage by Alternet: The GOP Is Plowing Ahead with an Audacious Effort to Hijack the Vote and Rig Elections   <read>

“Plowing” is apt. They are really piling it on.  It could be worse.  They may hide their emails, yet their agenda is transparent.  Instead they could have a hidden agenda and succeed in reducing voting rights by a thousand cuts.

The Republican Party’s efforts to disrupt voting and thwart representative government was on full display this past week, when despite ridicule in the press, the GOP’s leading proponents of undermining voters and rigging elections were unbowed and forged ahead.

Beware the vendor/technologist offering a panacea

The general public, legislators, business people, and many technologists – all of us – often miss-estimate the potential and applicability of technologies.  I remember in 2004, my congressman, told an audience we did not have to worry about electronic voting because of encryption.

The latest “new” technology is Blockchains, the technology that underlies BitCoin.  It has some valuable applicability, yet I suspect  not that much.

Using blockchains for voting has been considered by academics for decades, but only as a thought experiment. If you ask any cryptographer who knows the basics of cryptocurrencies (remember, blockchains were invented by cryptographers) if elections should be conducted using blockchains, they would laugh and say, “Hell no, that doesn’t even make sense!”

Surprising statements by Denise Merrill and Neil Jenkins

Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State and President of the National Association of Secretaries of State and Neil Jenkins from Homeland Security spoke on NPR on election integrity.  <listen>

We disagree with both their similar statements:

.”Because our system is highly decentralized there’s no way to disrupt the voting process in any large-scale meaningful way through cyber attacks because there’s no national system to attack,” [Merrill] said Tuesday at a hearing before the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on the impact of the critical infrastructure designation.

Jenkins was quoted as saying “having thousands of elections offices each with their own systems making hacking elections nearly impossible”

Trick n Tweet: The Age of the Unsound Bite

I was going to write a post discussing the allegations of “widespread illegal immigrant voter fraud”. Yet, voter fraud is not the problem; Russian hacking is not the problem; Immigrants are not the problem; How many attended the inauguration is not the issue.

The problem is that, like Three Card Monte, the controversy takes our our attention off the real issues.

Another Annotation: Don’t stop being concerned about election integrity.

Lately the news is filled with Donald Trump saying the election is rigged and with election officials and others saying that is impossible.  We continue to disagree with both. As we have said:

The truth is that there is no more or less risk to elections this year than in the recent past. The bad news is that the risks of election skullduggery are significant and do not come only from one adversary.

So, lets annotate a recent Op-Ed in the Hartford Courant: Nothing Rigged About American Elections

A Meeting, A Hearing, and Lots of Nonsense

In the last two weeks there was a meeting of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and a hearing of the House Science and Technology Committee on “Cyber and Voting Machine Attacks”.  In total there were seven “experts” giving their opinions along with many of the committee members giving theirs. For the most part, solid facts and reason were missing.  The general plan seemed to be officials going overboard in reassuring the public.

Skeptics Guide Part 2: Absence of Evidence is Not Evidence of Absence

A couple of weeks ago, based on claims that exit polls showed that the primary was stolen from Bernie Sanders, I said: “I stand with Carl Sagan who said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Now we have the reverse situation from the NYTimes: Exit Polls, and Why the Primary Was Not Stolen From Bernie Sanders <read>

I seems like a pretty good case that the exit polls do not prove  the election was stolen.

Unfortunately, the Times headline is incorrect.  This evidence in this article only claims  that the exit polls do not prove that Bernie won. There is no proof that the official results are correct.  They may be, they may not be.  We still need Evidence Based Elections, providing strong evidence that the results are correct.