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Monday, February 28, 2011

America is moving and removing the boundary stones....

Proverbs 22

 1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
   to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
 2 Rich and poor have this in common:
   The LORD is the Maker of them all.
 3 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
   but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
 4 Humility is the fear of the LORD;
   its wages are riches and honor and life.
 5 In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,
   but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.

Saying 5
 28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
   set up by your ancestors.

Proverbs 23

 Saying 10
 9 Do not speak to fools,
   for they will scorn your prudent words.

   Saying 11
 10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
   or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,

Proverbs 24

 Saying 29
 19 Do not fret because of evildoers
   or be envious of the wicked,
20 for the evildoer has no future hope,
   and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

When God repeats Himself, it is no accident.   As the Jews were quite careful with copying the scriptures, it is obvious that the admonition to not "move an ancient boundary stone" is not an accidental repetition but is rather a means of underlining the concept.   Boundary stones were set out to mark out the property lines that were agreed upon by contract amongst men.   To move them would be to defraud the owner. 

In society, God set up boundary stones in the Law, prohibiting some actions, admonishing people to worship God and to love their neighbors, and so on and so forth.   Many centuries later our Founding Fathers depended upon these same boundary stones to set up the laws of the land.   Never in his wildest dreams would Thomas Jefferson or George Washington imagine that society would try to move the boundary stones of marriage (for all of human history the joining of a man and a woman) or murder (by attacking our most helpless citizens while they are still in the womb) and many other precepts of the Judeo-Christian ethic   It would be unthinkable to them that society would decline to the stage of the inhabitants of Canaan before the Children of Israel took back the Promised Land.    Then Canaanites worshipped creatures and false gods and sacrificed children on alters and engaged in  sexual sins both privately and in public rituals.   Now in the USA so many people, including a large number of our legislators, judges, academics, scientists and celebrities fully endorse and even fight to move the boundary stones of ethics and morality!

Because the Bible tells me the fate of the wicked who do these things and aid others to do these things, I am not concerned about ultimate justice.  God is Judge and He will judge rightly...those who fight against God in this life will beg on their knees for a second chance after they have thrown their temporal lives away and they will spend the rest of eternity in a state of perpetual death.   

Revelation 20:12-14 (New King James Version)

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

So my only chance to reach out to people is while they still live.   Those of you who agree with these wicked modern attacks on morality and do them are in great peril.  So I appeal to you to reconsider your lives. 

for the evildoer has no future hope,
   and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

Yes, if you persist in doing evil and living in contempt of God you will pay.   So therefore I ask you to consider the phrase "no future hope."   You see, Christians have a future hope, we will live with Christ in a new heaven and a new earth where sin is done away with and all evil has been banished.  God will have his world renewed without sin, for Jesus Christ has paid the price for sin and risen to lead the way for all who believe and trust in Him.  Christians also have a philosophy that applies to this lifetime, in that we are to love others as we love ourselves.   So the Christian philosophy is to worship and follow God and to obey God by living according to His precepts. 

But if you do not live for God and instead believe the world just kind of randomly happened with no purpose, then what is the point of your life and for what purpose do you do things?   How do you know what is good and what is bad?  I have asked this question before and have received no logical answer from a commenter other than the honest ones who say that they live for their own pleasure and enjoyment.   Honest response.  Not particularly praiseworthy from my point of view, but then if there are no standards how can conduct be judged?   Do you really believe that mankind just figured out a bunch of rules which we are now free to change at our leisure?  

Since we know that the Universe had a beginning then we know it requires a First Cause...unless you believe in multiverses or the concept that life is but a dream or perhaps that we are all simply characters in a massive video game and other such nonsense.   All of the basis of Darwinism, every aspect of it, is speculative and doesn't provide the simplest and most logical answer to the questions of life and meaning and existence.   How did we get here?  Why are we here?  Where did all this stuff come from and why does it all work?  Why do we live when no one can find a way that life could come from non-life, in fact it is statistically impossible beyond any possibility at all.   Compared to the odds against winning Powerball, life on Earth coming about by chance is like comparing the land masses of the entire globe to a grain of, even that is too conservative.   Naturalistic Materialism not only makes no sense, it is crummy philosophy.  It is bad for society and it is bad for the individual.  The pathetic hopelessness of "No Exit" by Sartre or "Something Happened" by Heller or the magical baloney of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Pirsig are all simply crappy neurotic precursors to clinical depression or an invitation to substitute fantasy for reality.

One reason I continue to present evidence supporting creation as historically documented in the Bible is because people need to know that there is a better choice than *poof* for the truth of it all.   There are simply no absolutes in the Naturalistic Materialistic world.   There is no firm grasp of right or wrong.  There is no purpose for your life.  You are born you die and you do stuff in between and then you are eventually forgotten.  Does that work for you?  Really?   Not for me, sorry.

John 3:16-21

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  

17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  

19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  

20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  

21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Another Proverbs reference:

Proverbs 20:27 (New King James Version)

27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD,
      Searching all the inner depths of his heart

God can see you inside of there, He hears your thoughts, knows your pains and desires, and remember that Jesus became a man so that He could understand all of your temptations and live the sinless life you should have led and then paid the price you should have paid so that you would have the eternal destination God had destined you to have!  If you have a dead spirit, it remains God's way in to know you better than you know yourself.  If you are born again, a new creature, you have welcomed the Holy Spirit to live within you and be your guide and strength.

There is nothing hidden from God.   I find this to be incredibly liberating.  I do not try to hide anything from God because I cannot anyway.   Since I have asked Him to live in me in then His Spirit is with me always, guiding and leading and prompting me to help me resist sin and do good.   I do not always follow the leader, I do not always think pure thoughts, I do not always do right...yet I know God knows my weaknesses and helps me win most of the battles.  

For this reason and to follow God I also live a very transparent life in front of my family and friends.  The guy at work is the guy at home is the guy at church is the guy in the automobile.   Oh, it was hard to work on my lead foot.   And oh, it is hard to stifle my pride and not be a sarcastic grump on my blog.   So many comments cry out for being sliced up with a rapier wit and yet, when I really come down hard to defend myself instead of defending God then I am wrong.   So behind the keyboard and behind the steering wheel are two places I have trouble obeying, more than most.

But then I have been transformed from a drunk druggie who lived for himself into someone who has at least three outreach ministries that I give my time and effort to for no monetary gain already.   When I see 3, 4 or even 6 thousand visitors to this blog in one week's time I realize it is worth it.   When I wade into the political muck trying to clean up the Republican side while firing broadsides at the liberals it pays me nothing and causes more stress and trouble than I need to have.   When I mentor a student or when I am teaching the small group or the entire high school youth group I must prepare powerpoints and pull material together into a cohesive whole while asking God to lead.   In all these things I am seeking to please God and not myself.   If it was about me, I would not blog nor mentor nor deal with politicians nor spend hours working with teens.

I was offered paid positions working for a sports team, twice so far, and both times I turned the offers down even though I could use the money.  But I would have had to abandon my blogs and my ministries for the money.  I love sports and I love fantasy sports and so you might think it was a hard decision.  But really it wasn't.  It was cool to be asked...but no I must follow God first!
Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

But God gives you the desires of your heart.  Not that you want to be rich or famous, but rather when you worship Him and seek His will he gives you the love for what He has planned for you.  It is God that has given me love for teenagers, to help them grow.  It is God who has given me love for the propagandized, to help them see that Creationism is fully science and fully comprehensible.   It is God who has given me the love of country and way of life to fight.   There are famous people who know my name and with whom I sometimes have conversations or trade phone calls or emails.   I work behind the scenes so I am not famous, for I do not run for public office.   I am an officer for a couple of well-known organizations but it all is for the sake of country and for the American people.  Because God has given me the love to give of myself even to people who despise and mock me and make false statements about me.   This is why I will not quit.   I have mission fields.   Missionaries minister from love and dedication.   We know missionaries who have been on the field for decades now, they have become part of the countries and the people they were called to live with and they will likely die in those countries, serving God with their last breath.  

God has richly blessed me with a big family, all Christians, and the man who led me to Christ is still ministering to others and sends me emails all the time.   My teenagers are awesome, and I rejoice in their big wins in football games or swimming or their performances in musicals or as they go off on mission trips or college.  I pray for them when they are in difficult times.  I laugh with them, I admonish them or even scold them and kid with them and feed them massive amounts of pizza if I have them over for football or something.  I encourage them to reach out and be real Christians in words and deeds and that begins with thoughts and habits.

Let me encourage you.   Some of the most devoted Atheists can be converted to Christianity.   My old buddies in the drug gang and my old friends who knew me before I moved to my previous city would never imagine me being a preacher or teacher.   But it happened.   So anyone can be redeemed!  This means you.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Obama in his own words - Paint everything purple aka SEIU and COMMUNIST but mock the Bible

So he is in the hip pocket of Andy Stern and the SEIU. Organizing...friend of Bill Ayers, student of Saul Alinsky. Yep.

Muslim faith? Communist faith? He mocks the Bible like a Canucklehead! Barack Obama is no Christian...

Obamacare already forced my doctor to join a conglomerate of hospitals and clinics to deal with the regulations and paperwork and BS and now an office visit has gone from $60.00 to $110.00. But Obama would like to see people go to jail, too?

If we don't get Obamacare killed and if our legislators do not put pressure on to drill for oil and natural gas and mine coal and build atomic reactors then gas prices will go up and everything will go up and only the rich will not feel the pain. Most of "the rich" I am talking about are the Soros and Buffet guys. When the Democrats say "the rich" they mean businesses. Insane!

I told everyone back in 2008 that if Obama was elected that the economy would collapse and unemployment would go up, not down.   I was right, unfortunately.  Now I am telling you that if this President doesn't reverse his energy policies and Obamacare is not struck down by the courts that 2011 will be worse economically and 2012 even worse yet.   It is insane to keep spending more and more while choking off your own resources.  Budgets need to be brought under control and crooked union bosses need to have their mitts pried off the tiller of the ship of State.


As for all these teachers walking out of work and legislators running away from their jobs and states?   From an article attributed at the bottom...Give parents vouchers and have schools compete for students and the level of education will rise.   The best teachers will get the best jobs at the best schools.   Otherwise, when the government school unions refuse pay cuts, layoffs will take the youngest teaching talent and throw them onto the streets.

"...As Bill Cosby and many other liberals are now convinced, the only solution that will produce change at the grass-roots level that will benefit every single individual is consumer choice. See for the national leaders of the left and right. Consumer choice gives the power to the individual parent to decide what is best for his or her child with the funds following the parent's choice of school. In addition, as schools respond to the better-informed and more caring parents, the schools will be forced to improve for the benefit of students whose parents do not care, of which there are many.

This is the way that consumer services get better and better in America because all voluntary associations must respond to the more informed consumers. I do not know anything about electronics, nor do I care, but my electronic and digital communication devices are constantly improving.

Absent monopoly power and government control, when consumer choice is allowed to operate, then providers of services, such as schools, have to do a good job or they will fail. This is the major reason that some private schools are better than public schools on average, because parents care enough and the schools have to provide a good environment or they will go out of business. Their teachers and staff are not usually “better” than the public schools' employees. There are good people in both systems. However, political control models produce scarcity and rationing; they do not produce an abundance of good services.

I wish that I were wrong, but 20 years of involvement in public education reform efforts, including representing school districts as legal counsel, being designated a Hero for Children by the State Board of Education, and numerous activities to try to improve public education have convinced me that parental choice is the only method that will ever produce significant change from the bottom up.

We do not need to empower the mayor with more political power. We need to give his constituents power to choose — power for a better life for their children. Now is the time for bipartisan solutions which will help students."

Allan E. Parker is president of the Justice Foundation.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Republicans fight for their beliefs, Democrats run away

Yes, Fannie and Freddie and the mortgage bank disaster was "A tremendous job" by the Democrats, said the Democrats. Was this 2004 hearing a "lynching" or was it Republicans seeing the disaster in advance and trying to get it under control. In retrospect the Republicans were correct, the Democrats were lying and Barney Frank was in the forefront defending the process and Maxine Waters gave us flowing praise of a situation that was going to lead to massive debt for this country and the failure of financial oversight by the Democrats in charge. SOX didn't cover it all and therefore needed changing. This is just a reminder that Republicans foresaw the crisis and sought to stop it, the Democrats took the money and stepped on the gas. The result? Check out the national debt and think about what it was in 1900 versus now.

So with Republicans in control of Congress, we drive slower. If Democrats are in Congress, we drive faster. What if we had Republicans in charge of the White House and both houses in Washington, DC? I hope we find out because...With Democrats in control of the White House AND Congress, we began driving at NASCAR speeds under Obama! Can the Republican-controlled House just voted in bring the speeds back down? Actually, don't we need to turn around and go back the other way? 

Now in Indiana we have Republican lawmakers balancing the budget and trying to fix a couple of broken processes to avoid new taxes, make the State more business-friendly and thereby improve our Indiana economy. Since the Democrats are not in control, they cannot set up a dog-and-pony show like they did in 2004 and the voters have put them in the minority so they have gone AWOL.

What is happening in Wisconsin is that teachers get great pay and benefits far better than the average worker and while the State is trying to avoid bankruptcy the teachers are refusing to take any cuts in pay or benefits. Yet the Governor has shown them that the only alternative is to layoff a large number of them, thus increasing class sizes and making a Wisconsin education (lacking in ability to teach kids to read and do math already) even worse than it is now. Do teachers care about the kids or is this just unions digging in to avoid the pay cuts while the entire nation is in a recession bordering on depression? Will they all cut back just a little, or do they want the youngest of the teachers tossed into the unemployment line?

Is that what Indiana teachers want? Go ahead and layoff the people who are recent graduates, the bright young lights of the bunch, so the old fogies get to keep every nickel? In Indiana, the voters clearly and loudly voted for Republicans who ran on balancing budgets and making Indiana business-friendly. Because your job today can be offshored to Pakistan or India tomorrow or perhaps to a Right-To-Work state where someone would rather make 20 bucks an hour than be unemployed standing in line at a township food bank. Because Indiana requires a balanced budget, it is going to be either/or = teachers give back a little or students will suffer and the least-tenured teachers will be looking for new jobs. Class sizes will be larger, students will get less personal time with teachers, Indiana's children will be less likely to learn. How long before more parents then opt to home-school their kids rather than send them to overcrowded government schools?

So-called "representatives" have run away to frustrate the legislative process that is America at work. They are AWOL. They are breaking the public trust.   Nobody voted for an empty chair at the table.  Republicans fight for what they believe, but Democrats run away?   Is that how it's going to be?

Genetic Algrorithms reconsidered and statistics fail dismally to support abiogenesis

GA first, as we have a commenter who claims to have ground-breaking information about them.  So here you go:

Evolutionary Algorithms: Are We There Yet? — December 17th, 2010 by Ann Gauger

In the recent past, several papers have been published that claim to demonstrate that biological evolution can readily produce new genetic information, using as their evidence the ability of various evolutionary algorithms to find a specific target. This is a rather large claim.

It has thus fallen to others in the scientific or engineering community to evaluate these published claims. How well do these algorithms model biology? How exactly was the work done? Do the results make sense? Are there unexamined variables that might affect the interpretation of results? Are there hidden sources of bias? Are the conclusions justified or do they go beyond the scope of what has been shown?

A new paper by MontaƱez et al. [1], just published in the journal BIO-Complexity, answers some of these questions for the evolutionary algorithm ev [2], one of the computer programs proposed to simulate biological evolution. As perhaps should be no surprise, the authors found that ev uses sources of active information (meaning information added to the search to improve its chances of success compared to a blind search) to help it find its target. Indeed, the algorithm is predisposed toward success because information about the search is built into its very structure.

These same authors have previously reported on the hidden sources of information that allowed another evolutionary algorithm, AVIDA [3-5], to find its target. Once again, active information introduced by the structure of the algorithm was what allowed it to be successful.
These results confirm that there is no free lunch for evolutionary algorithms. Active information is needed to guide any search that does better than a random walk.

[1] doi:10.5048/BIO-C.2010.3
[2] doi:10.1093/nar/28.14.2794
[3] doi:10.1038/nature01568
[4] doi:10.1109/SSST.2010.5442816
[5] doi:10.1109/ICSMC.2009.5345941

So first we see that Genetic Algorithms are formal programs designed by an intelligent source and in no way a proof of macroevolution happening in organisms.  In all the years since Darwin first published we have never seen it.   Makes you wonder why so many scientists believe in it?   Believe is the key word.   Darwinism is a faith rather than a scientific fact.
Secondly, a commenter compared Powerball to the statistical odds of abiogenesis being possible.   The basic flaw in this premise is that a lottery of this kind is a random assortment of numbers that must be matched and it will continue to produce new numbers until someone matches them.  This commenter pegged the odds as "One chance in twenty-three billion."   That sounds like a very unlikely event.   Of course, there are around 6 billion people on the planet so if we all played four times, then one of us would win.   So it is not such an amazing number at all.

Now the formation of life is nothing like a lottery, because it requires all kinds of molecular combinations and chemical actions and reactions that do not happen to be able to happen in any kind of order in our atmosphere or in fact in any known atmosphere.   There are hard stops concerning chemical reactivity that stops chemicals from becoming amino acids for instance.   The kinds of building blocks needed for DNA do not form in the wild and even if they did they would be racemic anyway and that would preclude the formation of the DNA string.   But all that aside, a look at the numbers as if abiogenesis was in fact possible from an old post of mine:

The odds against life forming from non-life: Abiogenesis

Pasteur disproved it, but....naturalistic, materialistic scientists keep asserting that it happened - life forming from non-life.

"From its first formulation by Aristotle in the 4th century BC it was an article of both common and learned belief, at least in Europe, that complex living organisms arose spontaneously from non-living matter - fleas and adult mice from dirty laundry and from piles of wheat, maggots and flies from rotting meat, aphids from drops of dew. Life, in short, came about by spontaneous generation, or abiogenesis. Holes began to be knocked in Aristotle's dictum by early biologists in the 18th century, but not until the meticulous experiments of Louis Pasteur in 1862 was it finallyestablished that a truly sterile medium would remain forever sterile, and that complex living organisms come only from other complex living organisms. The "Law of Biogenesis", (omne vivum ex ovo or "all life from an egg") based on his work is now a cornerstone of modern biology.

The modern science of abiogenesis addresses a fundamentally different question: the ultimate origin of life itself. Pasteur had proved that abiogenesis was impossible for complex organisms. Charles Darwin's theory of evolution put forward a mechanism whereby such organisms might evolve over millennia from simple forms, but it did not address the original spark, as it were, from which even simple organisms might have arisen. Darwin was aware of the problem. In a letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker of February 1 1871, he made the suggestion that life may have begun in a "warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity, etc. present, [so] that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes". He went on to explain that "at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed." In other words the presence of life itself prevents the spontaneous generation of simple organic compounds from occurring on Earth today - a circumstance which makes the search for the first life dependent on the laboratory.

The answer to Darwin's question was beyond the reach of the experimental science of his day, and no real progress was made during the 19th century. In 1936 Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin, in his "The Origin of Life on Earth", demonstrated that, pace Pasteur, it was the presence of atmospheric oxygen, and other more sophisticated life-forms that prevented the chain of events that would lead to the evolution of life. Oparin argued that a "primeval soup" of organic molecules could be created in an oxygen-less atmosphere, through the action of sunlight. These, he suggested, combine in ever-more complex fashion until they are dissolved into a coacervate droplet. These droplets, he suggested, "grow" by fusion with other droplets, and "reproduce" through fission into daughter droplets, and so have a primitive metabolism in which those factors which promote "cell integrity" survive, those that don't become extinct. All modern theories of the origin of life take Oparin's ideas as a starting point."

Some evolutionary scientists continue to point to the Miller-Urey model as a starting point for envisioning the formation of the first life. Brad Harrub, Ph.D. and Bert Thompson, Ph.D. weigh in:

Have Scientists Created Life?: Examining the Miller-Urey Experiment

How did living cells emerge from nonliving chemicals? This simple question has dogged evolutionists for centuries. Try as they might, they never have been able to establish a firm foundation for how living things first appeared—a foundation on which they then could build an evolutionary tree of life.

In the past, the modus operandi was to teach the long-ago-disproved concept of spontaneous generation, hope that no one noticed the question of the actual origin of life had never been answered, and then teach the theory of evolution as if “somehow” the origin of life had been established as a fact. As a result, almost every science textbook printed within the last fifty years contains the now-famous Miller-Urey experiment of 1953. In this experiment, Harold Urey and his graduate student, Stanley Miller, tried to simulate what they thought represented the Earth’s early atmospheric conditions, in order to determine what products they could generate by adding an electrical spark (i.e. simulating lightening). These same textbooks never fail to mention that Miller and Urey were successful at producing a few simple amino acids—“the basic building blocks of life.” From there, the textbooks lead into a new chapter on evolution and the origin of life—allowing the student to draw the conclusion that scientists have thus proven that life can be generated from just a few nonliving chemicals.

It is a logical progression, and one that, admittedly, works well in the classroom. The only problem is that this notion is totally false. Not once have scientists succeeded in producing living material from nonliving material. And yet, year after year the public is led into believing that the very foundation upon which evolution stands has been resolved. Nobel laureate George Wald of Harvard admitted:

We tell this story to beginning students of biology as though it represents a triumph of reason over mysticism. In fact it is very nearly the opposite. The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation; the only alternative, to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position. For this reason many scientists a century ago chose to regard the belief in spontaneous generation as a ‘philosophical necessity.’ It is a symptom of the philosophical poverty of our time that this necessity is no longer appreciated. Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing. I think a scientist has no choice but to approach the origin of life through a hypothesis of spontaneous generation (1954, 191:46).

Evolutionist John Horgan concluded that if he were a creationist today, he would focus on the origin of life because this by far the weakest strut of the chassis of modern biology. The origin of life is a science writer’s dream. It abounds with exotic scientists and exotic theories, which are never entirely abandoned or accepted, but merely go in and out of fashion (1996, p. 138)."

So let us consider this problem. Now, there can be no natural selection or mutation involved in the development of the first self-replicating organism, because it is the first! Therefore, it must arise from chance. While scientists have tried in vain to carefully produce any set of circumstances possible in order to produce life, if the first life came about by chance it had no help but formed randomly.

Raw Facts

Scientists who believe in a long age for the Universe tend to believe the Universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old. That computes to about 10^18 seconds.

It is believed that there are about 10^78 electrons in the entire Universe.

If every electron had made one effort to form the first life each second of the supposed span of time of the Universe, that would be 10^96 trials. But electrons are quick moving little things, aren't they? Let us give them 10^3 trials per second. Now we are up to 10^99 trials to form life on Earth if every electron in all of space and all of time tries 1,000 times per second to form simple life.

10^99 trials to become life. That is a nice, big number!

Is it sufficient to allow life to have occurred? Has this been studied, quantified? Yes, it has. I turn to Dr. Harold J. Morowitz of Yale and NASA for some answers, excerpted from the book, EVOLUTION: POSSIBLE OR IMPOSSIBLE? MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND THE LAWS OF CHANCE

A new approach to the subject, based on
exciting recent discoveries involving
proteins and DNA, the "golden molecule "
of heredity



Probability Research in Molecular Biology

"The Simplest Possible Living Thing

Dr. Harold J. Morowitz of Yale University has done extensive research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to discover the theoretical limits for the simplest free-living thing which could duplicate itself, or, technically, the minimal biological entity capable of autonomous self-replication. He took into consideration the minimum operating equipment needed and the space it would require. Also, attention was given to electrical properties and to the hazards of thermal motion. From these important studies, the conclusion is that the smallest such theoretical entity would require 239 or more individual protein molecules.

This is not very much simpler than the smallest actually known autonomous living organism, which is the minuscule, bacteria-like Mycoplasma hominis H39. It has around 600 different kinds of proteins. From present scientific knowledge, there is no reason to believe that anything smaller ever existed. We will, however, use the lesser total of 239 protein molecules from Morowitz' theoretical minimal cell, which comprise 124 different kinds.

Proteins With Only Left-Handed Components

It was noted earlier that there obviously can be no natural selection if there is no way to duplicate all of the necessary parts. In order to account for the left-handed phenomenon, chance alone, unaided by natural selection, would have to arrange at least one complete set of 239 proteins with all-left-handed amino acids of the universal 20 kinds. There is reason to believe that all 20 of these were in use from the time of life’s origin.

Using figures that were furnished by Morowitz, it can be calculated that the average protein molecule in the theoretical minimal living thing would contain around 445 amino acid units of the usual 20 kinds. One of the 20 types of amino acids, glycine, cannot be left- or right-handed, because its “side chain”is not really a chain, but merely a hydrogen atom like the one opposite it. It can be presumed that this minimal theoretical cell would in many ways resemble bacteria in its make-up. In some bacteria, glycine accounts for just over 8 percent of the total amino acid molecules, so we will estimate that in the average protein of the minimal cell, there will be 35 glycine units in the chain. That will leave 410 of the total 445 which could be either left- or right-handed.

If amino acids had been formed naturally in the “primitive” atmosphere, they would have occurred in statistically equal amounts of the left- and right-handed isomers. This became clear from experiments described in the preceding chapter. That means, then, that if a protein chain is to form by random linkups, all 410 of the nonglycine sites could be occupied with equal ease by either L- or D-type amino acids.

The first one has a 1 out of 2 chance of being left-handed. The same is true for each of the other 409. Since we are now figuring this at equal probability for either hand, the probability at anyone site is not affected by the amino acid before that one in the chain.

To calculate the probability in such a case, the formula to use is the multiplication rule, the heart of probability theory. Mathematician Darrell Huff said it thus: “To find the probability of getting all of several different things, multiply together the chances of getting each one.”

To get the probability of all 410 of the isomeric or handed amino acids of just one protein chain, we must multiply the 1/2 probability which is the case for each position in the chain. It is like flipping a coin 410 times, hoping to get all heads. For each step, there is 1 chance in 2, so we must multiply the 2 by itself (2 x 2 x 2 x . . . x 2). using the figure 410 times. That is 1 chance in 2^410. (The exponent means: Multiply together 410 two’s.

It will be easier to work with this figure if we translate it to powers of 10 instead of powers of 2. As you know, multiplying 10 by itself is just adding another zero. The equivalent of 2^410 is roughly 10^123.

The probability that an average-size protein molecule of the smallest theoretically possible living thing would happen to contain only left-handed amino acids is, therefore, 1 in 10^123, on the average.

That is a rather discouraging chance. To get the feel of that number, let’s look at it with all the 123 zeros: There is, on the average, 1 chance in –
that all of the amino acids of a particular protein molecule would be left-handed!

Using All the Proteins That Ever Existed on Earth

Professor Murray Eden at Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that the total number of protein molecules that ever existed on earth might be 10^52 as an extremely liberal approximation. If we assume for the moment that all these were the same size as the average protein in the smallest possible autonomous living thing, we can then figure the probability, on the average, that anyone protein that ever existed on earth would have only left-handed amino acids just by chance:

The answer is 1 in 10^71 (which is 10^123 divided by 10^52). Written out, that is only 1 chance in –
that even a single one of all these protein molecules that ever existed on earth would on the average happen by chance alone to have only L-amino acids. Saying it another way, the odds are a hundred billion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion to one against that happening!

That isn’t all. Even if one did occur, 238 more all-left-handed ones would be needed to work with it, or all would be lost. Since all 239 would have to be together in space and time, the probability of each of the remaining 238 would be 1/10^123. Those huge numbers would then have to be multiplied together and with the 1/10^71 probability of the first one, according to the multiplication rule. This would give the probability of the needed group of 239 protein molecules being all left-handed.

The number is beyond all comprehension, namely 1 in 10^29345. Even if we allow for overlapping groups, it cuts the exponents only a few “orders of magnitude” (powers of 10). And, if we had all of them, they still could not duplicate themselves, so it would be the end of the line, unless chance could also produce the DNA code and the entire translating system. The code, moreover, would have to specify that amino acids would be manufactured in the left-handed form, and the coding for all the enzymes would have to match.

For comparison, the number of inches across the known universe from one side to the other is only about 10^28. The odds against even one average-size protein having all left-handed amino acids is a figure 10 million trillion trillion trillion times that big, namely, 1 in 10^71. Remember, that is out of all the protein molecules that ever existed on earth. The foregoing calculations were on the assumption of equal likelihood that either hand would link up.

Probability Figured If 6/7 Preference for the Same Hand

Now, the probability is to be computed if this extreme is assumed, namely, a preference factor of six chances in seven that the same isomer will link up next.
If a handed amino acid happens to be first in the chain, no preference would be exerted upon it, since there would be none preceding it. We will assume the same to be true whenever another amino acid follows a glycine residue in the chain, since glycine is neither left- nor right-handed. For all the rest, we are to consider that the probability is 6/7 that the same hand will link up next as the one just preceding.

Let it be supposed that there are 32 sites in the chain of 445 where an isomeric amino acid either follows a glycine or comes first in the entire chain. Each of these 32 will therefore have a probability of 1/2 of being left-handed, as there is no handed amino acid preceding it to exert any preference. Each of the other 378 sites will have a probability of 6/7 that the position involved will be occupied by the same hand as the one just before it. When we remember the 35 glycines, this accounts for all 445.

Computing this for the 32 sites at 1/2 probability and for the 378 sites at 6/7 probability, we arrive at a probability of 1 in 8.7 x 10^34 that a particular protein would have only L-amino acids. Since a minimum of 239 such proteins is required before there are enough for the theoretical minimal living entity, and each would have the same probability, by the multiplication rule, we conclude that on the average the probability would be around 1 in 10^8350 that any given set of 239 would be all left-handed.

Going back to the 10^52 protein molecules that ever existed according to Dr. Eden, we may divide these into contiguous sets of 239 for such a minimal cell. There are 10^49 such sets, rounded. By dividing this figure into 10^8350, and further dividing by a million to allow for overlapping sets, we arrive at the astounding conclusion that there is, on the average, one chance in 10^8295 that of all the proteins that ever existed on earth there would be a set of 239 together which were all left-handed, the minimum number required for the smallest theoretical cell. Another concession was given to make it easier for chance, in that we did not consider the time factor for the 10^52 proteins that ever existed, and calculated as if they all existed at the same time.

Out of all the protein molecules that ever existed on earth, the odds against there being even one set with only left-handed components sufficient for the smallest theoretical living entity are 10^8295 to 1. This is the conclusion when it is assumed that there is a 6/7 selectivity factor for the same enantiomorphic form. Compare that with the number of seconds since the universe began, which is 10^18 for about the longest such estimate – about 15 billion years.

Even if the L-amino acids were 100 times as likely to link with L- as with D-, the odds would be 184 billion to 1 against an average size protein molecule having only L-amino acids. To get the required set of 239 would make the probability slimmer than 1 in 10^2642 out of all the proteins that ever existed on earth. And, even if we also allowed 100 to 1 preference in the case of the 32 amino acids which follow glycine – supposing that the preceding portion of the chain could exert such selectivity – the probability would still be astronomical beyond the ability of the human mind to conceive, namely, 1 chance in 5 x 10^373, using all the proteins that ever existed on earth.
To be more realistic, however, let’s go back to the figure for one minimum set if the preference is assumed to be 6/7. That was a probability averaging 1 in 10^8295. Just to print the number would require more than four full pages. It would take six minutes to say the number in billions, speaking rapidly all the while. These numbers are too fantastic to understand. Chapter 7 on large numbers will offer comparisons that will help.

What if we suppose, contrary to any actual evidence, that at the start there were only forty proteins required, of only forty units in length,16 with 6/7 preference for the same hand? Considering three of these to be glycine, the odds would be sixty billion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion to one that no single set of protein molecules out of all that ever existed would have only left-handed amino acids. (That is 60 x 10^69 to 1.)

Conclusion: No Conceivable Probability

No natural explanation which can adequately explain this left-handed mystery is in sight. We have just seen that the odds against its happening by chance are so tremendous as to be completely incomprehensible.

If, on the other hand, there was a Creator of living things, He could have decided for reasons of His own to use just L-amino acids in proteins. He would have placed the proper L-enzymes and coding in the cells which would form only left-handed amino acids for use in proteins.

These created enzymes would thereafter be replaced as needed at the orders of the DNA code. The same Creator would be the Author of that amazing code which carries complete instructions that are incredibly comprehensive and detailed in the genes of every living thing on earth.

For those whose philosophy is evolution, this left-handed matter is an embarrassing problem. The many efforts at solutions that have been made are noteworthy for the questions they bring up rather than for answers. It is not likely that this mystery will ever be adequately explained, as long as the evidence of intelligent planning is ignored."

Hmmmm. Even with 10^99 trials in all of space in all of time, the odds against a simple self-replicating organism appear to be generously given as 1 in 10^8196, which is far more than the 1 in 10^50 considered to be the number beyond which a chance is considered an impossibility.

Now, these are simultaneous trials continually ongoing, so no complaints there. The math is simple statistics, the old coin flip math, much like the binary choices made in a computer. On or off, yes or no, heads or tails, although certain advantages are given to the proteins to make it easier for life to form....and yet statistically it could not have happened!

No strawmen or fallacies here

The math is straight-forward. But you say, suppose the Universe has formed and re-formed infinite times and with so many different Universes, one had to have formed life! Here is the evidence for multiple formation of the Universe:

still waiting?

gee, no evidence? In fact, the fine-tuning required in the formation of this Universe is such that many scientists admit it could not have happened by chance. So to suggest that it has happened over and over and over is, well, silly.

But you say, evolution doesn't require life from non-life, but simply describes simple to complex life. Okay, where did the life come from? If you say, "God", then you didn't need evolution to make all the creatures found today. The remarkable leaps of faith to believe that irreducibly complex systems just happened are no longer necessary......neither is evolution. No, the true evolutionist is a naturalistic materialist who will not conceive of God or any factors beyond the ability of his five senses to apprehend. If you assert that you are a God-believing evolutionist, well, that makes no sense to me, frankly. Panspermia????? We have seen that the conditions in outer space will kill off any simple life that might be drifting in from another location.

Go ahead and try to show me how Morowitz got it wrong. But if you try to assert that "much simpler life-forms existed then" or "simpler self-replicators formed together" or "conditions were more conducive to the formation of life" you had better present evidence or you are just repeating a 'just-so' story that you heard in school. Cheers!


So now we give an overview of the problems for a naturalistic origination of life from another source:

Origin of life

From CreationWiki, the encyclopedia of creation science

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The origin of life is a key point of distinction between the theistic and atheistic worldviews and between the Creationistic and Darwinistic scientific schools of thought. Creationists believe that life was created by God, whereas the naturalists contend that organisms originated through purely natural processes from nonliving, inanimate material at some point in the very distant past. This theory is commonly known as abiogenesis (Greek a "without", bios "life", and genesis "beginning, origin").

Evolutionists typically believe that this life came from a single self-replicating protocell which in turn originally came into existence through spontaneous chemical reactions. In contrast to this atheistic perspective, most creationists believe that God created the the first ancestors of all forms of life on earth (including humans), endowing non-living matter with life through a deliberate, supernatural act.

To date, scientists have not observed abiogenesis happening in nature, nor have they been able to create a lifeform through controlled experiments. In fact, experimental simulations resembling the Earth's early conditions have even failed to produce the most basic homochiralic polymers that all lifeforms possess (protein, DNA, RNA, etc.). It therefore appears that intelligent design is more reasonable explanation for the origin of life than the evolutionary model. At present, each model still requires faith and currently falls outside of the realms of science since neither has been observed nor have they been proven by experimentation.
Although Darwinists often insist that abiogenesis (the origin of life) and biological evolution are separate issues, this is done merely as a debate strategy. The theory of evolution must (and does) include a theory of the origin of life, much as stellar evolution also postulates a mechanism for the birth of stars.




Critiques of naturalistic abiogenesis fall into several categories:
  • Arguments from impossibility: purporting to show that the nature of life itself precludes naturalistic abiogenesis
  • Arguments from improbability: purporting to show that the coincidences necessary to provide for spontaneous abiogenesis are so improbable as to be unreasonable and unscientific;
  • Arguments from inexplicability: purporting to show that there is currently no explanation or demonstration of naturalistic abiogenesis, and that belief in it is a matter of faith and speculation, rather than science.
Despite repeated attempts under every reproducible circumstance, atheistic scientists have been unable to reproduce a reasonable method for the origin of life without a creator, nor do they have a clear understanding of the chemistry involved. Many evolutionists have now chosen to remain agnostic on the actual origin of life, and will frequently try to dodge the issue by claiming that abiogenesis is not part of the theory of evolution.
Lee Strobel in his book, A Case for Faith quotes William Bradley:

The optimism of the 1950's is gone. The mood at the 1999 International Conference on Origin of Life was described as grim-full of frustration, pessimism and desperation.
In contrast, creationists have issued several probabilistic studies indicating the difficulty of any such phenomenon. Although some contend that these studies do not accurately portray the modelling involved, it is clear that no credible explanation for abiogenesis has been demonstrated by evolutionary biologists.
The Nobel laureate Dr. Francis H. Crick, in his 1981 book, Life Itself insists that the probability of life's chance at origin simply defies calculation. Crick, an atheist, had this to say:
What is so frustrating for our present purpose is that it seems almost impossible to give any numerical value to the probability of what seems a rather unlikely sequence of events... An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle.
On this point creationists would find themselves in complete agreement.

Chemical evolution

Chemical evolution.png
Theories concerning molecular evolution generally assume molecules naturally coalesce in to macromolecules during times when both their concentration, and their atmospheric conditions favor such contact. In 1924, Alexander I. Oparin determined which chemicals must be in the earth's atmosphere for amino acids to form (e.g. methane, hydrogen, ammonia) and which chemicals would prohibit the formation of amino acids (e.g. Oxygen).

In the 1950s, Stanley L. Miller performed the first experiment attempting to reproduce these conditions. Methane, ammonia, hydrogen and water were placed in a flask that was subject to an electrical discharge. After several days, the experiment yielded several organic compounds including amino acids. Other researchers repeated these experiments using different energy sources such as UV, and other presumed primitive atmospheres. When hydrogen cyanide was used, even nitrogenous bases were obtained, which are a component of the building blocks for DNA.
Diagram that depicts the experimental set-up of Urey-Miller. By passing electrical sparks through mixtures of hydrogen, methane, ammonia, and water vapor, scientists produced several amino acids, the building blocks of organic life.
Replication of the Urey-Miller experiment.
However, in all of these experiments that attempted to produce life's building blocks, molecular oxygen was absent. The earth possesses an oxygen rich atmosphere, and even the oldest rocks (according to radiometric dating) contain oxides, which is evidence that they were formed in the presence of oxygen. In fact, oxides have been found in rocks supposedly 300 million years older than the first living cells. Oxygen is produced by all photosynthetic organisms, and is required for metabolism by all life forms except a few microorganisms. A hydrogen-rich reducing atmosphere was used in these experiments only because amino acids and nitrogenous bases simply will not form spontaneously in an oxidizing environment.

Interestingly, in his experiment of passing an electric spark through his simulated atmosphere, Miller saved the amino acids he produced only because he removed them from the area of the spark. Had he left them there, the spark would have decomposed them. Moreover, assuming the amino acids survived the destructive ultraviolet atmosphere of primitive earth and reached the ocean to form a theoretical "organic soup," further chemical reactions would not have been possible as bodies of water are not conducive to the necessary chemistry.

Another problem arises in relation to the amino acids that were theorized to have generated by chance. Even the correct sequence of the right amino acids is still not enough for the formation of a functional protein molecule. Each of the 20 different types of amino acids present in the composition of proteins must be "left-handed." Yet, while some amino acids are "left-handed," others are "right-handed." Should they be formed at random in a "organic soup," it is most likely that they would occur in roughly equal proportions. The question of how a specifically required combination of "left-handed" amino acids could unite by chance, while excluding "right-handed" amino acids, constitutes an impasse for abiogenesis.

Nevertheless, many evolutionists still believe that experiments like Miller's have shown that life could have begun by fortunate interactions in the early Earth.


Main article: Abiogenesis and ozone
Ozone poses a major problem for naturalistic models of abiogenesis. Ozone (O3) forms when molecular oxygen (O2) is struck by cosmic radiation. Thus, without oxygen in the atmosphere, there can be no ozone. Without ozone, ultraviolet radiation would destroy any life exposed to the sun. All known life that produces oxygen requires exposure to the sun. Without life able to survive in the sun, no oxygen can be produced. Without oxygen produced, there can be no ozone, and therefore no life.
In order to solve this problem, naturalistic evolutionists must provide one of the following:
  • A way that ozone can form without atmospheric oxygen;
  • A way that oxygen can be produced without life that requires sunlight;
  • A way that oxygen-producing lifeforms can survive without ozone.
Thus far, the first two have been utter failures. There is no known way for ozone to form without atmospheric oxygen, or for oxygen to form without life that requires sunlight. Several attempts have been made to show that oxygen-producing life can survive without the protection of the ozone layer, but none have succeeded.


Spontaneous generation was the original theory that proposed life could originate from nonliving matter. It is now well known that the spontaneous generation of life in our present ecosystem is impossible. Louis Pasteur abolished the theory of spontaneous generation in 1859 because he believed that life was far too complex to have originated instantaneously from nonliving matter. He simultaneously established the theory of biogenesis (the origin of life from preexisting life). Within ten years of Pasteur's experiments Thomas Huxley had coined the term abiogenesis.
I shall call the... doctrine that living matter may be produced by not living matter, the hypothesis of abiogenesis. (Huxley, 1870)
Observations and experiments have proven conclusively that all recognized life forms are produced by preexisting organisms or life forms, called the law of biogenesis. Despite the absence of substantiation for the theory, abiogenesis has become accepted by nearly all practicing scientists. The hypothesis of abiogenesis remains virtually unchanged since its inception in the 1920s, and assumes that life originated at some point in earth's past under conditions no longer present. This particular tenet of evolution can be summed-up by the phrase "abiogenesis at first, biogenesis ever since". It is taught today as a certainty, although the exact mechanisms remain theoretical. Discussions in evolutionary biology textbooks go to great lengths to demonstrate how abiogenesis could have occurred under multiple primordial scenarios.

Law of Biogenesis

The Law of biogenesis states that life can only come from life. This principle was demonstrated by Louis Pasteur. Note that this is in direct conflict with the hypothesis of abiogenesis, not only that life can be formed from non-living material, but that this can happen by random chance. The arguments usually given by some evolutionists fall under two types: 1.) The Law of biogenesis does not apply to early earth, 2.) The Law of biogenesis does not apply to less complex lifeforms, such has those supposedly formed in the primordial soup.
1) The Law does not apply to early Earth The Law of biogenesisis a scientific law because it meets the criteria of being simple, true, universal and absolute. In order to meet these criteria, there has not been any known exception to the Law of biogenesis. A scientific law is defined as a principle taken to be universally applicable.[1] The only known exception to a law in terms of time is at the starting or ending of the universe, clearly evolutionists are not arguing that life formed at the same time the universe formed. There is no reason to think that time would affect the law of biogenesis, just as there is no reason to believe that the Law of Motion did not apply on early Earth.

1) The Law does not apply to less complex lifeforms While it is true that some laws have had to be modified in order to account for known exceptions (this is true of Einstein’s correction to Newton’s Law of Motion at speeds approaching the speed of light), these exceptions must be demonstrated. Currently, the Law of biogenesis states that life can only come from life, it makes no distinction between single-celled and multi-cellular organisms. While the evolutionists state that the law was only tested on maggots and rats, this is entirely untrue. There have been many experiments in which scientists have tried to create life from non-living material. All of these experiments have been unsuccessful in creating life. Scientifically, it would then be assumed that the Law of Biogenesis is as applicable to single-celled organisms as to multi-celled organisms. This law should only be refuted if a scientist were able to create a life from non-living material.
An argument made by Talk.Origins states that Louis and Redi solely disproved one form of creationism.[2] This is entirely incorrect (see: CreationWiki response). First, it is impossible to disprove the supernatural with science, the study of nature. Second, Louis and Redi demonstrated that there is no type of naturalistic explanation that will lead to life that does not contradict with the Law of Biogenesis. Only a supernatural (an intelligent designer greater than the laws of the universe) explanation would be able to account for life forming from nonliving material.

The Law of biogenesis (life can only come from life) differs from the Biogenetic Law (embryology recapitulates ontology). The biogenetic law which states that during the stages of birth, the embryo goes through all of the stages of evolution. This “Law” was supported by many evolutionists. It was found to be untrue and that Haeckel (the champion of this Law) had doctored and forged work to support this Law. This is the only scientific law which has been proven entirely false. It is interesting that the only law to be proven false was used to support evolution. It also seems ironic that evolutionists would so readily ignore a true scientific law when it does not suit their purpose, yet propose a false scientific law that does.

Future work

If indeed a self-replicating lifeform is, at some future date, created in the lab, its plausibility and actual manifestation of a mechanism for the origin of life was made possible through deliberate design of intelligent minds. There will still be no known process acting in nature to produce life from non-life, therefore, abiogenesis seems out of the realm of empirical science. Furthermore, the extreme complexity of all lifeforms seems to point in the direction of an established Intelligence outside of nature. The Intelligence designed life to be governed by what are observed natural mechanisms or processes that enable diversity. This is perhaps why Francis Crick (one of the Discoverers of DNA) and Leslie Orgel (a microbiologist) proposed the theory of directed panspermia: the belief that life came to earth from outer space.

The origin of life conundrum has scientists theorizing that life might have begun on some other planet (See: Panspermia). The theory is currently experiencing a revival and much of the research currently underway by NASA is an attempt to discover signs of life on other planets, such as Mars. If found, however, this would not explain the origin of life, but merely push the question to a more distant location.


  1. Scientific Law MSN Encarta
  2. Index to Creationist Claims: Claim CB000 by by Mark Isaak, Talk.Origins. 2004.

See Also

External links


Science and information.   Can you take the time to read up on this subject and think carefully about it?  Pasteur was right, Redi was right, life cannot come from non-life. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Darwinists are magical thinkers, so they try magical tricks on us! Like changing the subject

As it happens, magicians are actually illusionists.   They manage to draw your attention in one direction as they do something quickly and surreptitiously right under your very nose!   They also use various gadgets and false panels, trapdoors, etc.  Often they have at least one attractive female assistant to take the eyes away from what they are doing and certainly using animals gives more pizzaz to what they do.   We realize that somehow we are being tricked even as our senses tell us something magical happened.   How did that bird fly from an empty hat?  How did he pull an egg from behind my ear?  Did he really make a 800 pound cow disappear?

As a blogger, it is beginning to feel a bit like working with magicians as commenters.  I make posts concerning science, they make comments that draw attention away from science.   I present evidence that the rock layers were formed by the Noahic Flood, that the Biblical genealogies are accurate, that organisms had to have been designed by an Intellect far beyond our own, that Anthropic Global Warming is unscientific, that scientists promoting both Darwinism and AGW use long-falsified "evidence" and unfounded assertions, that real science is about primarily "what" and "how" first rather than "where did it come from?"

In science, how and why are subservient to what.   What is it and what does it do?   Then we investigate how it does it?   These are real-time scientific questions and endeavors.   If you are a Darwinist, you may spend many fruitless hours trying to prove that there is no "who" or "why" component, sadly.   Because understanding both who and why helps explain the what and the how.   A scientist who understands that the original DNA string was optimal and is devolving is a step ahead of one who thinks it is evolving and should evolve.

Sometimes we get into philosophy on this blog and even sometimes politics.  Sadly, in the comments thread there are people who attempt to take the focus away from science.    Why do they do it?   Can it be that the science part of Darwinism is sadly lacking in real evidence and is a hodge-podge of innacuracies, falsehoods, misunderstandings and fairy tales?  So while I blog on science, the commenters are:

  • Asking me for a cartoon website quite rudely.   So I say, go find it yourself, I am busy.
  • Trying to allow a commenter to have private conversations with a young friend of mine that he is unwilling to share with me.  I told this commenter he could write an article for me to post but he has declined.  If we can't see it, then forget it!
  • Assertions made with authority that are easily falsified.  I laughed when one of them claimed bacteria don't have languages just because he thought an ID source had discovered them.  Nope.
  • Asking about lotteries.
  • Presenting long lists of questions that have nothing to do with the post itself
  • Name-calling.  Is this the third grade?  Seriously?
  • Making the same tired old claims like "the fossil record is sequential", etc.  Except rock layers get dated by the fossils and fossils get dated by the strata, it is circular and in the hands of Darwinists, so how do we know any of it is true?  They rode Haeckel for about 100 years knowing it was fake.  We know that Darwinists have a history of presenting false and faulty information so if they are in charge of the system, you know only one point of view will emerge.   Thus, the need for ICR and AIG and CMI and ARN and The Discovery Institute and multitudes more like them.   Science has a way of ferreting out true things and tossing aside false things, even if it takes a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong time.
But when challenged to go into court and be limited to presenting actual evidence?  They slink away.  Because evidence is something Darwinists just don't have.

Tell you what, business is pressing and I don't have much time for blogging right now.   Here is a lottery post for you:

Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code

Photo: John Midgley
Is the apparent randomness of the scratch ticket just a facade, a mathematical lie?
Photo: John Midgley

Mohan Srivastava, a geological statistician living in Toronto, was working in his office in June 2003, waiting for some files to download onto his computer, when he discovered a couple of old lottery tickets buried under some paper on his desk. The tickets were cheap scratchers—a gag gift from his squash partner—and Srivastava found himself wondering if any of them were winners. He fished a coin out of a drawer and began scratching off the latex coating. “The first was a loser, and I felt pretty smug,” Srivastava says. “I thought, ‘This is exactly why I never play these dumb games.’”

The second ticket was a tic-tac-toe game. Its design was straightforward: On the right were eight tic-tac-toe boards, dense with different numbers. On the left was a box headlined “Your Numbers,” covered with a scratchable latex coating. The goal was to scrape off the latex and compare the numbers under it to the digits on the boards. If three of “Your Numbers” appeared on a board in a straight line, you’d won. Srivastava matched up each of his numbers with the digits on the boards, and much to his surprise, the ticket had a tic-tac-toe. Srivastava had won $3. “This is the smallest amount you can win, but I can’t tell you how excited it made me,” he says. “I felt like the king of the world.”

Delighted, he decided to take a lunchtime walk to the gas station to cash in his ticket. “On my way, I start looking at the tic-tac-toe game, and I begin to wonder how they make these things,” Srivastava says. “The tickets are clearly mass-produced, which means there must be some computer program that lays down the numbers. Of course, it would be really nice if the computer could just spit out random digits. But that’s not possible, since the lottery corporation needs to control the number of winning tickets. The game can’t be truly random. Instead, it has to generate the illusion of randomness while actually being carefully determined.”
Srivastava speaks quietly, with a slight stammer. He has a neatly trimmed beard and a messy office. When he talks about a subject he’s interested in—and he’s interested in many things, from military encryption to freshwater fossils—his words start to run into each other.

As a trained statistician with degrees from MIT and Stanford University, Srivastava was intrigued by the technical problem posed by the lottery ticket. In fact, it reminded him a lot of his day job, which involves consulting for mining and oil companies. A typical assignment for Srivastava goes like this: A mining company has multiple samples from a potential gold mine. Each sample gives a different estimate of the amount of mineral underground. “My job is to make sense of those results,” he says. “The numbers might seem random, as if the gold has just been scattered, but they’re actually not random at all. There are fundamental geologic forces that created those numbers. If I know the forces, I can decipher the samples. I can figure out how much gold is underground.”

Srivastava realized that the same logic could be applied to the lottery. The apparent randomness of the scratch ticket was just a facade, a mathematical lie. And this meant that the lottery system might actually be solvable, just like those mining samples. “At the time, I had no intention of cracking the tickets,” he says. He was just curious about the algorithm that produced the numbers. Walking back from the gas station with the chips and coffee he’d bought with his winnings, he turned the problem over in his mind. By the time he reached the office, he was confident that he knew how the software might work, how it could precisely control the number of winners while still appearing random. “It wasn’t that hard,” Srivastava says. “I do the same kind of math all day long.”

That afternoon, he went back to work. The thrill of winning had worn off; he forgot about his lunchtime adventure. But then, as he walked by the gas station later that evening, something strange happened. “I swear I’m not the kind of guy who hears voices,” Srivastava says. “But that night, as I passed the station, I heard a little voice coming from the back of my head. I’ll never forget what it said: ‘If you do it that way, if you use that algorithm, there will be a flaw. The game will be flawed. You will be able to crack the ticket. You will be able to plunder the lottery.’”

The North American lottery system is a $70 billion-a-year business, an industry bigger than movie tickets, music, and porn combined. These tickets have a grand history: Lotteries were used to fund the American colonies and helped bankroll the young nation. In the 18th and 19th centuries, lotteries funded the expansion of Harvard and Yale and allowed the construction of railroads across the continent. Since 1964, when New Hampshire introduced the first modern state lottery, governments have come to rely on gaming revenue. (Forty-three states and every Canadian province currently run lotteries.) In some states, the lottery accounts for more than 5 percent of education funding.

While approximately half of Americans buy at least one lottery ticket at some point, the vast majority of tickets are purchased by about 20 percent of the population. These high-frequency players tend to be poor and uneducated, which is why critics refer to lotteries as a regressive tax. (In a 2006 survey, 30 percent of people without a high school degree said that playing the lottery was a wealth-building strategy.) On average, households that make less than $12,400 a year spend 5 percent of their income on lotteries—a source of hope for just a few bucks a throw.
Photo: John Midgley
Mohan Srivastava, a geological statistician living in Toronto, realized that the logic he used to find gold deposits could also crack lottery cards.
Photo: John Midgley

There was a time when scratch games all but sold themselves. But in the past two decades the competition for the gambling dollar has dramatically increased. As a result, many state lotteries have redesigned their tickets. One important strategy involves the use of what lottery designers call extended play. Although extended-play games—sometimes referred to as baited hooks—tend to look like miniature spreadsheets, they’ve proven extremely popular with consumers. Instead of just scratching off the latex and immediately discovering a loser, players have to spend time matching up the revealed numbers with the boards. Ticket designers fill the cards with near-misses (two-in-a-row matchups instead of the necessary three) and players spend tantalizing seconds looking for their win. No wonder players get hooked.

Srivastava had been hooked by a different sort of lure—that spooky voice, whispering to him about a flaw in the game. At first, he tried to brush it aside. “Like everyone else, I assumed that the lottery was unbreakable,” he says. “There’s no way there could be a flaw, and there’s no way I just happened to discover the flaw on my walk home.”

And yet, his inner voice refused to pipe down. “I remember telling myself that the Ontario Lottery is a multibillion-dollar-a- year business,” he says. “They must know what they’re doing, right?”

That night, however, he realized that the voice was right: The tic-tac-toe lottery was seriously flawed. It took a few hours of studying his tickets and some statistical sleuthing, but he discovered a defect in the game: The visible numbers turned out to reveal essential information about the digits hidden under the latex coating. Nothing needed to be scratched off—the ticket could be cracked if you knew the secret code.

The trick itself is ridiculously simple. (Srivastava would later teach it to his 8-year-old daughter.) Each ticket contained eight tic-tac-toe boards, and each space on those boards—72 in all—contained an exposed number from 1 to 39. As a result, some of these numbers were repeated multiple times. Perhaps the number 17 was repeated three times, and the number 38 was repeated twice. And a few numbers appeared only once on the entire card. Srivastava’s startling insight was that he could separate the winning tickets from the losing tickets by looking at the number of times each of the digits occurred on the tic-tac-toe boards. In other words, he didn’t look at the ticket as a sequence of 72 random digits. Instead, he categorized each number according to its frequency, counting how many times a given number showed up on a given ticket. “The numbers themselves couldn’t have been more meaningless,” he says. “But whether or not they were repeated told me nearly everything I needed to know.” Srivastava was looking for singletons, numbers that appear only a single time on the visible tic-tac-toe boards. He realized that the singletons were almost always repeated under the latex coating. If three singletons appeared in a row on one of the eight boards, that ticket was probably a winner.

The next day, on his way into work, he stopped at the gas station and bought a few more tickets. Sure enough, all of these tickets contained the telltale pattern. The day after that he picked up even more tickets from different stores. These were also breakable. After analyzing his results, Srivastava realized that the singleton trick worked about 90 percent of the time, allowing him to pick the winning tickets before they were scratched.

His next thought was utterly predictable: “I remember thinking, I’m gonna be rich! I’m gonna plunder the lottery!” he says. However, these grandiose dreams soon gave way to more practical concerns. “Once I worked out how much money I could make if this was my full-time job, I got a lot less excited,” Srivastava says. “I’d have to travel from store to store and spend 45 seconds cracking each card. I estimated that I could expect to make about $600 a day. That’s not bad. But to be honest, I make more as a consultant, and I find consulting to be a lot more interesting than scratch lottery tickets.”

Instead of secretly plundering the game, he decided to go to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Srivastava thought its top officials might want to know about his discovery. Who knows, maybe they’d even hire him to give them statistical advice. “People often assume that I must be some extremely moral person because I didn’t take advantage of the lottery,” he says. “I can assure you that that’s not the case. I’d simply done the math and concluded that beating the game wasn’t worth my time.”

When Srivastava reported his finding, he was referred to Rob Zufelt, a member of the lottery corporation’s security team. After failing to make contact for a few days, he began to get frustrated: Why wasn’t Zufelt taking his revelation more seriously? “I really got the feeling that he was brushing me off,” Srivastava says. “But then I realized that to him I must sound like a crazy person—like one of those people who claims that he can crack the lotto draw because last night’s number was his birthday spelled backward. No wonder they didn’t want to talk to me.” Instead of trying to get Zufelt to return his calls, Srivastava decided to send him a package. He bought 20 tic-tac-toe tickets and sorted them, unscratched, into piles of winners and losers. Then, he couriered the package to Zufelt along with the following note:

In the enclosed envelopes, I have sent you two groups of 10 TicTacToe tickets that I purchased from various outlets around Toronto in the past week… You go ahead and scratch off the cards. Maybe you can give one batch to your lottery ticket specialist. After you’ve scratched them off, you should have a pretty solid sense for whether or not there’s something fishy here.

The package was sent at 10 am. Two hours later, he received a call from Zufelt. Srivastava had correctly predicted 19 out of the 20 tickets. The next day, the tic-tac-toe game was pulled from stores.
How to Pick a Winner
The first lottery Mohan Srivastava decoded was a tic-tac-toe game run by the Ontario Lottery in 2003. He was able to identify winning tickets with 90 percent accuracy. Here’s how it works.—J.L.
Look over the card. You’ll be hunting for so-called singletons—numbers on the visible tic-tac-toe grid that appear only once on the whole card.
Make a plot of the card, marking each cell with a number that indicates how many times the numeral in the cell occurs on the whole card. If, for example, a cell has a 26 in it and the number 26 occurs one other time somewhere on the card, mark that cell with a 2.
All the singletons will now be marked with a 1. If any of the singletons appear in a tic-tac-toe then the ticket is almost certainly a winner: The numbers in these cells will appear under the latex coating at the left side of the ticket. Keep the ticket.
Scratch off the latex. You’ve got a winner! Not surprisingly, after Srivastava alerted the Ontario Lottery to his technique, the game was pulled from stores.
The official explanation from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is that the tic-tac-toe game suffered from a “design flaw.” According to Tony Bitonti, a senior manager of media relations at the Ontario Lottery, the printer of the game, Pollard Banknote, provided “written assurances” that “none of the other instant games it printed were impacted by this.” As a result, the Ontario Lottery continued to sell scratch tickets with baited hooks. The story of the broken game got little public attention. It was, however, cited in a 2007 investigative report by the Ontario ombudsman, who was investigating retailer fraud.

Srivastava, meanwhile, was becoming even more interested in scratch tickets. “It got to the point where I knew I needed to get back to my real job,” he says. “But I found it hard to believe that only this tic-tac-toe game was flawed. What were the odds that I just happened to stumble upon the only breakable game the very first time I played the lottery? Of course, I knew it was possible that every other scratch game was totally secure. I just didn’t think it was very likely.”

He began by looking at other tic-tac-toe games in the US and Canada. Srivastava soon discovered that it wasn’t just an Ontario problem. At the time, one of his best friends was living in Colorado, and Srivastava asked him to send along a few tickets. It turned out that the same singleton trick also worked on the Colorado game, albeit with only a 70 percent level of accuracy. (Colorado Lottery officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)

Srivastava was even able to break a Super Bingo game (sold in Ontario in 2007), which also featured an elaborate baited hook. In this case, he says he could sort winners from losers with a 70 percent success rate. The Ontario Lottery says the Super Bingo game didn’t have the same flaw as the tic-tac-toe game but that it was pulled off the Ontario market in March 2007 as a precaution.

In North America, the vast majority of lottery tickets—everything from daily draw Pick 4-style games to small-stakes tic-tac-toe and bingo scratchers—are produced by a handful of companies like Scientific Games, Gtech Printing, and Pollard Banknote. These publicly traded firms oversee much of the development, algorithm design, and production of the different gambling games, and the state lotteries are largely dependent on their expertise. Ross Dalton is president of Gtech Printing, and he acknowledges that the “breakability” of tickets is a constant concern. (Several other printing companies declined to comment.) “Every lottery knows that it’s one scandal away from being shut down,” Dalton says. “It’s a constant race to stay ahead of the bad guys.” In recent years, Dalton says, the printers have become increasingly worried about forensic breaking, the possibility of criminals using sophisticated imaging technology to see underneath the latex. (Previous forensic hacks have included vodka, which swelled the hidden ink, and the careful use of X-Acto knives.) The printers have also become concerned about the barcodes on the tickets, since the data often contains information about payouts. “We’re always looking at new methods of encryption and protection,” Dalton says. “There’s a lot of money at stake in these games.”

While the printers insist that all of their tickets are secure—”We’ve learned from our past security breaches,” Dalton says—there is suggestive evidence that some state lotteries have been gamed. Consider 2003 payout statistics from Washington and Virginia, which Srivastava calculated. (Many lotteries disclose claimed prizes on their websites.) In both states, certain scratch games generated payout anomalies that should be extremely rare. The anomalies are always the same: Break-even tickets—where the payout is equal to the cost—are significantly underredeemed while certain types of winning tickets are vastly overredeemed. Take a blackjack scratch ticket sold by Virginia: While there were far too few $2 break-even winners redeemed, there were far too many $4, $6, $10, and $20 winners. In fact, the majority of scratch games with baited hooks in Washington and Virginia displayed this same irregularity. It’s as if people had a knack for buying only tickets that paid out more than they cost.

According to Srivastava, that could well be what’s happening. (The state lotteries insist that people simply forget to redeem break-even tickets, although it remains unclear why only some games show the anomaly.) “Just imagine if there were people who made a living off plundering the lottery,” he says. “The first thing you’d want to do is avoid the losing or break-even tickets, which is why they’re underreported. They’re a waste of time. Instead, you’d want to buy only the tickets that made money. If there were people doing this, if there were people who could sort the winners from the losers, then what you’d see on the payout statistics is exactly what we see. This is what a plundered game looks like.”

I then ask Srivastava how a criminal organization might plunder the lottery. He lays out a surprisingly practical plan for what he would do: “At first glance, the whole problem with plundering is one of scale,” he says. “I probably couldn’t sort enough tickets while standing at the counter of the mini-mart. So I’d probably want to invent some sort of scanning device that could quickly sort the tickets for me.” Of course, Srivastava might look a little suspicious if he started bringing a scanner and his laptop into corner stores. But that may not be an insurmountable problem. “Lots of people buy lottery tickets in bulk to give away as prizes for contests,” he says. He asked several Toronto retailers if they would object to him buying tickets and then exchanging the unused, unscratched tickets. “Everybody said that would be totally fine. Nobody was even a tiny bit suspicious,” he says. “Why not? Because they all assumed the games are unbreakable. So what I would try to do is buy up lots of tickets, run them through my scanning machine, and then try to return the unscratched losers. Of course, you could also just find a retailer willing to cooperate or take a bribe. That might be easier.” The scam would involve getting access to opened but unsold books of tickets. A potential plunderer would need to sort through these tickets and selectively pick the winners. The losers would be sold to unwitting customers—or returned to the lottery after the game was taken off the market.

At the moment, Srivastava’s suspicions remain entirely hypothetical; there is no direct evidence that anybody has plundered a game. Nevertheless, there’s a disturbing body of anecdotal evidence (in addition to those anomalous statistics) that suggests that the games aren’t perfect. Consider a series of reports by the Massachusetts state auditor. The reports describe a long list of troubling findings, such as the fact that one person cashed in 1,588 winning tickets between 2002 and 2004 for a grand total of $2.84 million. (The report does not provide the name of the lucky winner.) A 1999 audit found that another person cashed in 149 tickets worth $237,000, while the top 10 multiple-prize winners had won 842 times for a total of $1.8 million. Since only six out of every 100,000 tickets yield a prize between $1,000 and $5,000, the auditor dryly observed that these “fortunate” players would have needed to buy “hundreds of thousands to millions of tickets.” (The report also noted that the auditor’s team found that full and partial ticket books were being abandoned at lottery headquarters in plastic bags.)

According to Massachusetts State Lottery officials, the auditor’s reports have led to important reforms, such as requiring everyone who claims a prize over $600 to present government-issued identification. The auditor attributed the high number of payouts going to single individuals to professional cashers. These cashers turn in others’ winning tickets—they are paid a small percentage—so the real winners can avoid taxes. But if those cashers were getting prepicked winners, that could be hard to uncover. “There’ve been quite a bit of improvements since we started identifying these issues,” says Glenn Briere, a spokesperson for Massachusetts auditor Joe DeNucci. “The problem is that when there’s a lot of money involved, unscrupulous people are always going to be looking for new ways to game the system, or worse.”

Furthermore, the Massachusetts lottery has a history of dispensing large payouts to suspected criminals, at least in one Mass Millions game. In 1991, James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious South Boston mob boss currently on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list—he’s thought to be the inspiration for the Frank Costello character in The Departed—and three others cashed in a winning lottery ticket worth $14.3 million. He collected more than $350,000 before his indictment.

At the time, authorities thought Bulger was using the lottery to launder money: take illicit profits, buy a share in a winning lottery ticket, redeem it, and end up with clean cash. In this respect, the lottery system seems purpose-built for organized crime, says Michael Plichta, unit chief of the FBI’s organized crime section. “When I was working in Puerto Rico, I watched all these criminals use traditional lottery games to clean their money,” he remembers. “You’d bring these drug guys in, and you’d ask them where their income came from, how they could afford their mansion even though they didn’t have a job, and they’d produce all these winning lottery tickets. That’s when I began to realize that they were using the games to launder cash.”

The problem for the criminals, of course, is that unless cracked, most lotteries return only about 53 cents on the dollar, which means that they’d be forfeiting a significant share of their earnings. But what if criminals aren’t playing the lottery straight? What if they have a method that, like Srivastava’s frequency-of-occurrence trick, can dramatically increase the odds of winning? As Srivastava notes, if organized crime had a system that could identify winning tickets more than 65 percent of the time, then the state-run lottery could be turned into a profitable form of money laundering. “You’ve got to realize that, for people in organized crime, making piles of money is one of their biggest problems,” says Charles Johnston, a supervisory special agent in the organized crime section of the FBI. “If they could find a way to safely launder money without taking too big a loss, then I can guarantee you they’d start doing it in a heartbeat.” There is no direct evidence that criminals are actually using these government-run gambling games to hide their crimes. But the circumstantial evidence, as noted by the FBI, is certainly troubling.

And then there’s Joan Ginther, who has won more than $1 million from the Texas Lottery on four different occasions. She bought two of the winners from the same store in Bishop, Texas. What’s strangest of all, perhaps, is that three of Ginther’s wins came from scratch tickets with baited hooks and not from Mega Millions or Powerball. Last June, Ginther won $10 million from a $50 ticket, which is the largest scratch prize ever awarded by the Texas Lottery.

Perhaps Ginther is simply the luckiest person on earth. (She has refused almost all requests from journalists for comment.) While the lotteries are extremely rigorous about various aspects of security, from the integrity of the latex to the cashing of tickets at stores, the industry appears to have not considered the possibility of plundering the games using the visible numbers on the ticket. For instance, when I contacted the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, their security experts couldn’t recall having heard of Mohan Srivastava or the broken Ontario games. This is one of the largest trade associations of lotteries in the world, and it had no recollection that at least a few of its games had been proven to be fatally flawed.

And this is why the story of the crackable tic-tac-toe tickets has larger significance. “The lottery corporations all insist that their games are safe because they are vetted by outside companies,” Srivastava says. “Well, they had an outside auditor approve the tic-tac-toe game. They said it couldn’t be broken. But it could.”

Fundamentally, he believes that creating impregnable tickets is extremely difficult, if not impossible. “There is nothing random about the lottery,” he says. “In reality, everything about the game has been carefully designed to control payouts and entice the consumer.” Of course, these elaborate design elements mean that the ticket can be undesigned, that the algorithm can be reverse-engineered. The veneer of chance can be peeled away.
What’s most disturbing, perhaps, is that even though Srivastava first brought these flaws to the attention of the authorities in 2003, they continue to appear. A few months ago, Srivastava bought some scratch tickets at convenience stores in Toronto. He started out with a Bingo ticket, which featured an elaborate hook. After a day of statistical analysis, Srivastava was able to double his chances of choosing a winning ticket. (Normally, 30 percent of the tickets feature a payout—he was able to select winners approximately 60 percent of the time.) “That might not sound very impressive, since I’m still going to buy plenty of losers,” Srivastava says. “But it’s a high enough percentage that one could launder money effectively.” In one of his most recent trials, conducted at the request of Wired, Srivastava identified six unscratched tickets as probable winners out of a set of 20 cards. If the tickets were uncrackable, approximately two of them should have been winners. Instead, Srivastava ended up with four. The odds of this happening by chance are approximately one in 50. And yet he’s done it multiple times with a variety of Bingo and Super Bingo games. (An Ontario Lottery spokesperson says they’re unaware of the issue.)

How did he do it? He used a version of the frequency trick. The number of times a digit appeared on the baited hook revealed crucial information about the bingo numbers underneath the latex coating. Srivastava could tilt the odds in his favor, like a gambler counting cards in a casino.

The fact that these games can be manipulated, that a geological statistician can defeat their algorithm, seems to undercut a crucial part of the lottery’s appeal. Everybody knows that the chances of winning a big payday are minuscule, a tiny 1 in front of an awful lot of zeros. But we play anyway, because hope is an irrational hunch. We assume that, even if the odds are stacked against us, we might get lucky. Today might be the day. And then, when the latex reveals a stack of losers, when we’ve lost our money yet again, we blame the fickleness of fate. But maybe our bad luck isn’t the problem. Maybe we never win because someone else has broken the game.
Contributing editor Jonah Lehrer ( wrote about the new science of stress in issue 18.08.

So the powers that be do not care that the cards and similar games can be "gamed."   You say, well, Powerball can't!  I guess you never saw the movie, "The Sting", huh?   Are you sure?  I bet you think Tim Donaghy didn't actually throw any NBA games he reffed, either, right? 

I knew professional drug dealers and pimps who filled out tax returns and listed their business as "gambler or  gaming."   It was and is legal to gamble in some states and places and now you can do it online.   The drug dealer would declare as much income as his purchases would indicate he made and launder and/or hide the rest.  Money laundering is supposed to be secretive.   Oh, and lotteries of all kinds are supposed to be completely random.   Oh, and NBA referees never bet on games or have contact with gamblers.  Oh, and no professional athletes are doing performance-enhancing drugs of any kind.  Oh, and there is no way any elected official would be skimming money from the till or hiring relatives to do nothing.  Etc.  So how gullible do you want to be?  Unless you are a Darwinist, because if you are you believe the impossible happens all the time.   So can lotteries be scammed?   If there is anything run by the government, it can be skimmed, scammed, tapped and looted.