Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Skeptics Case

If you are interested at all in why everyone ought to be skeptical of the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis, this is must reading.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Updating Gleick-Fest 2012

I never did get around to redoing the post I lost the other day, and now there is very little need. Megan McArdle has done all the heavy lifting on the subject. The only people defending Gleick now are the cranks, the loonies, and the really quite unstables.

It is one of the good things about these kinds of episodes; it reveals those who are so far beyond the realm of rational discourse that one can dispense with worrying about them, at least in an intellectual capacity. It's like trying to reason with a neo-Nazi skinhead. Such people are not amenable to reason so you don't have to worry about trying to convince them with facts or logic. Though one does still have to worry about their propensity to violence, of course. Indeed, violence is the next step down the road once people embrace the irrational as their guide. The Green movement has long displayed fascistic elements, as anyone who makes a study of "Earth First" ideology can discover for themselves, in that it explicitly rejects rationalism, presents an organic view of society, and advocates a new "warrior culture" to produce social and political change through violence. (In case you are not aware, that is three for three in the "fascist ideological tendencies" category.)

You may think I'm overreacting here, but I must say I am shaken by the defenses being offered in this case. The flight from reality and reason needed to make these defenses are truly frightening to behold. If they are willing to justify and praise this, what won't they condone?

UPDATE:

To wit: Woman accused of hiring hit man to kill random fur-wearer



A self-proclaimed animal rights activist in Ohio has been charged with soliciting a hit man to kill a random person wearing fur, either by shooting the individual or slitting his or her throat.

Meredith Lowell, 27, of Cleveland Heights, is accused of creating a phony Facebook profile with the intention of contacting a would-be killer, according to the affidavit filed in an Ohio district court.

Lowell allegedly posted on the social media website the following request: "I would like to create an online community on facebook which would allow me to find someone who is willing to kill someone who is wearing fur toward the end of October 2011 or early November 2011 or possibly in January 2012 or February 2012 at the latest."

...

She then allegedly requested that the murder take place at a local library and that she be present so that she could then hand out documents about animal cruelty after the homicide.

"Bring a sharp knife that is at least 4 inches long, it should be sharp enough to stab someone with and/or to slit their throat to kill them," Lowell allegedly wrote in an e-mail, according to the affidavit.

The individual should be at least 12 years old, but "preferably 14 years or older," Lowell allegedly wrote.

Slitting the throat of a 14 year old girl or boy so she can hand out literature on how it is inhumane to wear fur.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Not Surprising In The Least

Where to start? How about at Time:

Climate Expert Peter Gleick Admits Deception in Obtaining Heartland Institute Papers


Last week the climate world was rocked — or at least, strongly buffeted — by the publication of memos that were allegedly from the Heartland Institute, a nonprofit research group that takes a strongly skeptical attitude toward climate science. The memos detailed budget information — including news that groups like the archconservative Koch Foundation and corporations like Microsoft had donated money to Heartland — and detailed strategies that included fighting the teaching of climate science in U.S. schools.

To advocates of climate action, the memos were proof that the Heartland Institute and its allies were playing unfair, seeking to spread doubt about climate science as a way to delay action that could harm corporate interests. A group of climate scientists — many of whom had been victimized by the Climategate e-mail hacks of 2009 and ’11 — even wrote a letter to the Heartland Institute criticizing the group.

For its part the Heartland Institute implicitly acknowledged that at least some of the memos were real — apologizing to donors who had been promised anonymity. But the group claimed that the memo detailing its supposed climate strategy was false and announced that it would prosecute the person who had obtained the documents.

The question was who. And now we know: Peter Gleick, the president of the Pacific Institute and a veteran climate and water expert.

Gleick admitted his actions in a blog post put up Monday evening on the Huffington Post...

I've read every word of the documentation (which can be downloaded from here, I apologize for linking to such a brain dead blog, but they are the tools promoting this), and I must say I have rarely seen anything less shocking, at least in the real documents. Heartland is a free-market institution that promotes free-market thinking and (the horror) spends money to do so. But to the alarmist crowd doing something like creating a website which people can use to look at NOAA weather data more easily is strictly verboten. Presumably data is something which the great unwashed is to be "protected" from, at least until it can be properly "filtered" I suppose.

From the real "2012 Fundraising Plan" document, here is the extent of the climate change talk:


Weather Stations Project

Every few months, weathermen report that a temperature record – either high or low – has been broken somewhere in the U.S. This is not surprising, since weather is highly variable and reliable instrument records date back less than 100 years old. Regrettably, news of these broken records is often used by environmental extremists as evidence that human emissions are causing either global warming or the more ambiguous “climate change.”

Anthony Watts, a meteorologist who hosts WattsUpwithThat.com, one of the most popular and influential science blogs in the world, has documented that many of the temperature stations relied on by weathermen are compromised by heat radiating from nearby buildings, machines, or paved surfaces. It is not uncommon for these stations to over-state temperatures by 3 or 4 degrees or more, enough to set spurious records.

Because of Watts’ past work exposing flaws in the current network of temperature stations (work that The Heartland Institute supported and promoted), the National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the government agency responsible for maintaining temperature stations in the U.S., has designated a new network of higher-quality temperature stations that meet its citing specifications. Unfortunately, NOAA doesn’t widely publicize data from this new network, and puts raw data in spreadsheets buried on one of its Web sites.

Anthony Watts proposes to create a new Web site devoted to accessing the new temperature data from NOAA’s web site and converting them into easy-to-understand graphs that can be easily found and understood by weathermen and the general interested public. Watts has deep expertise in Web site design generally and is well-known and highly regarded by weathermen and meteorologists everywhere. The new site will be promoted heavily at WattsUpwithThat.com.

Heartland has agreed to help Anthony raise $88,000 for the project in 2011. The Anonymous Donor has already pledged $44,000. We’ll seek to raise the balance.

How nefarious can you get!!?!! DATA!!! IN EASY TO UNDERSTAND GRAPHICAL FORMS!!!?? WHAT BARBARISM!!!!!!!!

And there is this:


Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools

Many people lament the absence of educational material suitable for K-12 students on global warming that isn’t alarmist or overtly political. Heartland has tried to make material available to teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. Moreover, material for classroom use must be carefully written to meet curriculum guidelines, and the amount of time teachers have for supplemental material is steadily shrinking due to the spread of standardized tests in K-12 education.

Dr. David Wojick has presented Heartland a proposal to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools that appears to have great potential for success. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. He has a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science and mathematical logic from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. in civil engineering from Carnegie Tech. He has been on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon and the staffs of the U.S. Office of Naval Research and the Naval Research Lab.

Dr. Wojick has conducted extensive research on environmental and science education for the Department of Energy. In the course of this research, he has identified what subjects and concepts teachers must teach, and in what order (year by year), in order to harmonize with national test requirements. He has contacts at virtually all the national organizations involved in producing, certifying, and promoting science curricula.

Dr. Wojick proposes to begin work on “modules” for grades 10-12 on climate change (“whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy”), climate models (“models are used to explore various hypotheses about how climate works. Their reliability is controversial”), and air pollution (“whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial. It is the global food supply and natural emissions are 20times higher than human emissions”).

Wojick would produce modules for Grades 7-9 on environmental impact (“environmental impact is often difficult to determine. For example there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather”), for Grade 6 on water resources and weather systems, and so on.

We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $5,000 per module, about $25,000 a quarter, starting in the second quarter of 2012, for this work. The Anonymous Donor has pledged the first $100,000 for this project, and we will circulate a proposal to match and then expand upon that investment.


See how dastardly that is? It A) admits another side of the debate exists, and B) includs facts the alarmists wish students would remain ignorant of. Those vicious, heartless, bastards!

Anywho, on to the real, and by real I mean fake, fun.

Included in the document dump is one file completely unlike the others, labelled "2012 Climate Strategy." This file is not an original .pdf file like the other memos, reports and minutes. It is a scanned document. Red flag warning immediately should go up when something this incongruous appears.

TO BE CONTINUED-----

(The stupid Blogger editor ate half my post, so I'll have to re-do it later today.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Spending Too Much Time With The Stupids

A quick show of hands: Who believes, along with super-genius James Fallows, that Pete Hoekstra knows how to code HTML?

I should know better than to be spending any time on The Atlantic.

I apologize.

It won't happen again.

UPDATE:

Ah, I see from another site, Fallows and his fellow sleazeballs got their "evidence" by selectively editing out the parts of the HTML they didn't like. So, they aren't just scumbags, they are frauds to boot.

Excellent.

(And, yes, I checked. There is no correction on the Fallows story.)

Monday, February 06, 2012

It's Winter Somewhere

I must say I'm enjoying our milder than normal winter up here in the usually frigid upper Midwest.

However, our comfort seems to have been bought at the expense of Europe's misery. Sorry folks. Still it is amazing to see photographs like this one in Venice.



Stay warm over there!

How David Frum Convinces Me He Is In Fact Lazy

This is embarrassing: Is the White Working Class Coming Apart?

Charles Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 is an important book that will have large influence. It is unfortunately not a good book—but its lack of merit in no way detracts from its importance. If anything, the book's flaws add to its power, by enhancing the book's appeal to the audience for whom it is intended. Coming Apart is an important book less because of what it says than because of what it omits; less for the information it contains than for the uses to which that information will be put...

Coming Apart details the social problems that have overtaken the poorer half of the white American population over the past generation. This population is less committed to the workforce than its parents and grandparents were. It has more trouble with the law. It has more children outside marriage.

None of this information comes as news to anybody. Social observers have been making these points for years. The novelty of Coming Apart is Charles Murray's remarkable—and telltale—uncuriosity as to why any of this might be happening.

I should probably pause to note here that Charles Murray and I have had our personal innings. When I was sacked from the American Enterprise Institute in 2010, Murray posted a blog insisting that I had been fired—not for writing this blogpost—but for laziness...

Well, now is your time to shine Davy my lad. Show me what you got:

Here is the book's one discussion of the idea that the social troubles of lower-class America might be related to the (rather notorious) economic troubles of lower-class America. It's such a revealing and fascinating statement that I will quote at length, both on the passage's own merits and to ensure that the argument is given its full context.



A natural explanation for the numbers I have presented is that the labor market got worse for low-skill workers from 1960 to 2008. More [working-class white] men worked short hours because they couldn't get work for as many hours as they wanted; more of them were unemployed because it was harder for them to get jobs; more them left the labor market because discouraged by the difficulty of finding jobs.

In one respect, the labor market did indeed get worse for [working-class white] men: pay. Recall figure 2.1 at the beginning of the book, showing stagnant incomes for people below the 50th income percentile.** High-paying unionized jobs have become scarce and real wages for all kinds of blue-collar jobs have been stagnant or falling since the 1970s. But these trends don't explain why [working-class white] men in the 2000s worked fewer jobs, found it harder to get jobs than other Americans did, and more often dropped out of the labor market than they had in the 1960s. On the contrary: Insofar as men need to work to survive - an important proviso - falling hourly income does not discourage work.

Put yourself in the place of a [working-class white] man who is at the bottom of the labor market, qualified only for low-skill jobs. You may wish you could make as much as your grandfather made working on a General Motors assembly line in the 1970s. You may be depressed because you've been trying to find a job and failed. But if a job driving a delivery truck, or being a carpenter's helper, or working on a cleaning crew for an office building opens up, why would a bad labor market for blue-collar jobs keep you from taking it? As of 2009, a very bad year economically, the median hourly wage for drivers of delivery trucks was $13.84; for carpenter's helpers, $12.63; for building cleaners, $13.37. That means $505 to $554 for a forty-hour week, or $25,260 to $27,680 for a fifty-week year. Those are not great incomes, but they are enough to be able to live a decent existence - almost twice the poverty level even if you are married and your wife doesn't work. So why would you not work if a job opening landed in your lap? Why would you not work a full forty hours if the hours were available? Why not work more than forty hours?

Murray is baffled that a collapse in the pay and conditions of work should have led to a decline in a workforce's commitment to the labor market.

Really? C'mon Davy. I mean I'm pretty certain you haven't read all of the book, but I'd have thought you would at least read the part of it you quote. When Murray says... "On the contrary: Insofar as men need to work to survive - an important proviso - falling hourly income does not discourage work." What the hell else is Murray supposed to do? Put in an alarm to sound when the page is reached? Obviously Murray is suggesting men no longer have to work (or at least work as hard) to survive, and this fact shows up in the numbers. Murray suggests in an interview this fact may have something to do with the Great Society programs of the 1960's, which causes Frum to get his panties all in a wad.

Here Frum attempts to mock Murray's argument:

Now look at you. Yes, unemployment is high right now. But if you keep pounding the pavements, you'll eventually find a job that pays $28,000 a year. That's not poverty! Yet you seem to waste a lot of time playing video games, watching porn, and sleeping in. You aren't married, and you don't go to church. I blame Frances Fox Piven.

Yeah, it doesn't work so well when you have had trouble convincing your reader you have even read Murray's book. But I'll cut Frum some slack and suggest it wasn't because he was playing video game and watching porn. Maybe he was busy reading Dostoevsky. (You never know.)

Ah, but Frum has an alternative explanation, one he has seemed to glean entirely from reading signs at Occupy protests:

Across the developed world, we see the wages of the bottom half (and in some cases more than half) have stagnated, even as gains have accrued to the top 20%, bigger gains to the top 5%, and the biggest gains to the top 1%.

This trend toward inequality varies from country to country—more extreme in the United Kingdom, less extreme in Germany. The subsequent destabilization of working-class social life likewise varies from country to country. But if the trend is global, the cause must be global too. Yet that thought does not trouble Murray.

OK, so the person with less than a high school education won't work because he has an inchoate sense that on a global scale, people are doing better then he is?

That's your "explanation"?

Are they being moved by the Hegelian world defining spirit? Or are they on the verge of revolutionary class consciousness brought about by their immiseration, possibly brought on by video games and porn?

Look, no one has to like Murray's book, but to write an honest to goodness critique of the thing means you have to actually engage with what it says; not what it would be convenient for it to have said. The sad fact is Frum's entire screed is so shoddy the conclusion is quickly reached that it is a product of intellectually laziness.

The word simply fits.

ADDING:

This isn't the first time I've found Frum's social science skills, shall we say lacking?

Genocide Enablers

In the run up to World War II there was a cottage industry of people who simply would not believe in the evil intentions of the Nazis regardless of the plain as day facts of the matter, including the very words of the Nazis themselves which were discounted as being unimportant. "Oh sure," the America First crowd intoned, "the Nazis say they want to annihilate the Jews, but they don't really mean it."

Of course, the Nazis did mean it.

Flash forward to a short piece penned by historian Niall Ferguson: Israel and Iran on the Eve of Destruction in a New Six-Day War



It probably felt a bit like this in the months before the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel launched its hugely successful preemptive strike against Egypt and its allies. Forty-five years later, the little country that is the most easterly outpost of Western civilization has Iran in its sights.

There are five reasons (I am told) why Israel should not attack Iran....

5. A nuclear-armed Iran is nothing to worry about. States actually become more risk-averse once they acquire nuclear weapons.

....

The responsible nuclear Iran. Wait. We’re supposed to believe that a revolutionary Shiite theocracy is overnight going to become a sober, calculating disciple of the realist school of diplomacy ... because it has finally acquired weapons of mass destruction? Presumably this would be in the same way that, if German scientists had developed an atomic bomb as quickly as the Manhattan Project, the Second World War would have ended with a negotiated settlement brokered by the League of Nations.

I'm not sold on all of the points Ferguson makes in his piece, but on this I am absolutely convinced. You have to take the stated goals of the Iranian regime seriously. Ayatollah: Kill all Jews, annihilate Israel



The Iranian government, through a website proxy, has laid out the legal and religious justification for the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of its people.

The doctrine includes wiping out Israeli assets and Jewish people worldwide.

Calling Israel a danger to Islam, the conservative website Alef, with ties to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the opportunity must not be lost to remove “this corrupting material. It is a “‘jurisprudential justification” to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and in that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm.”

The article, written by Alireza Forghani, an analyst and a strategy specialist in Khamenei’s camp, now is being run on most state-owned sites, including the Revolutionary Guards’ Fars News Agency, showing that the regime endorses this doctrine...

Forghani details the Islamic duty of jihad as laid out in the Quran for the sake of Allah and states that “primary jihad,” according to some Shiite jurists, can only occur when the Hidden Imam, the Shiites’ 12th Imam Mahdi, returns. Shiites believe Mahdi’’s return will usher in Armageddon.

In the absence of the hidden Imam, Forghani says, “defensive jihad” could certainly take place when Islam is threatened, and Muslims must defend Islam and kill their enemies. To justify such action, Alef quotes the Shiites’ first imam, Ali, who stated “Waging war against the enemies with whom war is inevitable and there is a strong possibility that in near future they will attack Muslims is a must and the duty of Muslims.” In this regard, Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa in which he has even authorized carrying out primary jihad in the age of the absence of the Hidden imam under the authorization of Vali Faghih.

These are the people many in this country want to have atomic weapons - or at least do not wish to stop them acquiring them. To wit (though it is a crime against the English language to use the word in connection with the moronic site linked here):



What is the evidence, exactly, that Iran’s political elites are irrational or indifferent to the survival of the regime? Apart from the not-very-thinly-veiled racist implications (scary Muslims! Probably suicide bombers!), there’s nothing here.

This denial of the theocratic impulses to suicide attacks has to be denialism on the scale of those that deny the Holocaust happened. No one could get this accidentally wrong. There is no room for intellectual integrity in the making of such a claim. None. So ignorance cannot be an excuse.

As for the absolute faith this fool places in the idea that the religious leadership in Iran does not believe in their own millennial faith... well the word "blithering" comes to mind.

I hate to break it to people, but the German leadership class in 1938 absolutely believed in the idea of a German "master race"; the Russian leadersip class in 1920 absolutely believed in the idea of a "vanguard party leading the oppressed classes"; and the leadership elite of theocratic Iran absolutely believe "Armageddon" requires the destruction of Israel. The first two example led to the deliberate killing of over ten million human beings.

And that's not even counting the war dead.

In the face of extremist ideology you cannot assume they don't mean what they say. Well, you can, but it marks you as a scumbag of the fist order.

Shocker: Social Science Should Be Held To Scientific Standards

From Hot Air: WaPo/ABC ends sample transparency in national polling


The Washington Post and ABC News has a new national poll out today. It purports to show that Barack Obama has a 50% approval rating and that he would beat Mitt Romney in a head-to-head matchup. And heck, that might even be true, except for a couple of problems. First, this is a poll of general population adults rather than registered or likely voters, so it’s not even a proper polling type for the predictive outcome they claim.

More importantly, though, the poll series has dropped its reporting of partisan identification within their samples. It’s the second time that the poll has not included the D/R/I split in its sample report, and now it looks as though this will be policy from this point forward. Since this is a poll series that has handed double-digit partisan advantages to Democrats in the past (for instance, this poll from April 2011 where the sample only had 22% Republicans), it’s not enough to just hear “trust us” on sample integrity from the Washington Post or ABC.


This critique is entirely correct. I teach social science methods for a living, and I tell my charges if an opinion poll does not come clean about its methodology (including the breakdown of party ID) you have to throw it out as being untrustworthy. In fact, the only reason not to give this basic information is you have something to hide.

This Washington Post/ABC poll is neither social science nor journalism. It's advocacy.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Most Important Story In The Entire World...

..at least according to the MSM is the Komen Foundation not re-gifting donations to Planned Parenthood.

WTF? Who could possibly have a rational reason for giving a shit? Please show me ONE person who gave money to Komen who did so because they thought that money would really go to Planned Parenthood.

Here's an idea: if you want money to go to Planned Parenthood, DONATE MONEY TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD.

"Problem" solved.

And thank you MSM for wasting my time. It's really appreciated.