Sierra Club pitches nonscience nonsense for obscure company

It seems that for the Sierra Club, reason and science end at the edge of the environment.  They are now touting a product for Internet voting from a company that simultaneously claims that they have a product that is “a revolutionary mobile voting platform designed to securely cast votes in elections across the globe.” while running a Contest  awarding $230,000 to actually accomplish that “In this Challenge, we are asking Solvers for help in overcoming the significant obstacles that stand in the way of bringing safe, secure, and easy voting to people worldwide.”

The article link from the Sierra Club goes to Huffington Post:  Why You Might Vote For the Next President From Your Couch  [Update: Link has been removed from Huffington Post and updated at the Sierra Club] <read>  Read what you can about the company, Votem here: <read>

For many years my career in Computer Science involved evaluating software from large and small companies for use in a large company. Later for close to a decade I worked for a couple of small startups, building and marketing data communications software.  One of those was successful, started by an engineer with a working product in demand before the doors opened.  The other, was started by a serial entrepreneur, who I later learned was also a serial failure. He was good at getting venture capitol and publicity for attractive concepts, lacking feasibility.

My BS detectors go up when I see a company web site touting their revolutionary product, completely missing information on the company structure, missing information on principles, with no customer success stories, and touting their expertise at getting media placement! I am disappointed that the Sierra Club is sucked in.

Electronic voting is far from ready for prime time. I see that the Challenge and award is just for paper designs to solve some of the many challenges of electronic voting. Here is what top security scientists, computer scientists, and voting experts report after an exhaustive study:

I wonder who Votem will have evaluate the submissions? If their system is already secure as their web site claims, why do they need this help?

My BS detector is confirmed by their blog trashing science and scientists?

I see the first entry cites errors by Einstein and others, and claiming therefor that those skeptical about Internet voting are wrong:

The world is full of experts. Very intelligent and well-meaning people make predictions about our world every day. And because we are all human, many experts get it wrong; and some in a very big way.

Just the same we can point to industry “experts” who have made many “errors” which coincidentally helped their products.  We recall the doctors claiming the safety of tobacco, the claims that our nuclear waste problems would be solved years ago, that fracking is safe, that we would all be driving in flying cars by now, and now that some computer systems are unhackable. There are a lot more startups on the scrap heap along with failed corporate and government projects, that Einstein predictions.

The second blog post is entitled “Beware of The Experts”.  The third claims support of Republican presidential candidates.

It is as if Sierra wrote positively about a Challenge by a startup energy services company to award prizes for white papers describing how to do safe fracking or building safe oil pipelines, touting they were just around the corner, leaving the impression that we might as well not bother with green technology investment and conservation.


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