Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Time to Up the Social Security Age!

Chicago Sun-Times:
Life expectancy for Americans by 2050 will surpass government projections by as much as eight additional years for women and five for men, with disastrous implications for a country unprepared for an explosion of elderly, a new study released today says.

Forty years from now, women will live 89.2 to 93.3 years; and men, 83.2 to 85.9 years — driven by ongoing advances in both treatment of major fatal diseases and slowing of the aging process — according to the report in a journal of health and health policy, The Milbank Quarterly.

U.S. government projections for life expectancy by 2050 now stand at 83.4 to 85.3 years for women; 80 to 80.9 years for men.

And these estimates assume a linear increase in life expectancies! But as more and more medicine becomes digitized, increases are likely to be exponential.

Cracking the Cancer Code

Scientists Crack Genetic Code of Two Common Cancers

Now This Should Give Scientists Something to Think About:
Decode scientists have found one such instance. They report in Friday’s Nature that a DNA variant increases a person’s risk of Type 2 diabetes by 30 percent if inherited from the father, but reduces the risk by 10 percent if comes from the mother.

Because the two effects tend to cancel each other out, they have not been picked up by the standard tests that do not identify the parental origin of each section of DNA.

DeCode found that five of seven variants tested made different contributions to disease depending on the parent of origin. In most cases the effect was of differing degrees of severity, depending on the parent involved.

How odd! I can't imagine why this is the case.

Hmmmmm Childhood obesity is directly related to how close kids live to convenience stores, according to the preliminary findings of a major Canadian study presented at the Entretiens Jacques-Cartier in Lyon, France.

It's in the Genes The discovery of a gene linked to a form of hearing loss primarily in males could lead to early treatment, U.S. scientists said.

Christian Pedophiles

A North Carolina judge has ruled that laws limiting a sex offender's ability to attend church are unconstitutional.

Nanotech News Nanosensors Can Successfully Detect Early Signs of Cancer with Simple Blood Test Scientific efforts to engineer artificial blood components took two big strides forward this week. On Monday, researchers from UC Santa Barbara and the University of Michigan published a study describing their synthetic red blood cells, which are capable of delivering medicine, oxygen or MRI contrast agents throughout the body.

Avatar in IMAX 3D is...

quite simply one of the most amazingly beautiful specticals I've ever seen. The story line was a little weak, and I thought its portrayal of men was almost comically stereotypical, but the overall visionary experience makes up for it.

If you get a chance to see it, make sure you see it in 3D, and in IMAX 3D it is just...mesmerizing.

Oh, the trailers don't do it justice, so go see it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Colby Cosh profiles...

Steve McIntyre.

Boomtime for Federal Workers

The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months — and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.

Societe Generale Tells Clients How to Prepare for Global Collapse
Société Générale has advised clients to be ready for a possible "global economic collapse" over the next two years, mapping a strategy of defensive investments to avoid wealth destruction.

Their basic premise is the same as mine: Debt has achieved unsustainable levels, things won't improve markedly unless we suck it up and deleverage, and there's much that governments can do to screw things up royally in the meantime.

But, "collapse" will only happen if governments are foolish and screw things up (not that this gives much comfort).

Deric O. Cadora critiques...

...the Banking Reform Bill of 2009 that recently passed the House.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Climagegate scientists receive death threats.

That's just nuts. Cummon' folks, this isn't China.

Friday, December 12, 1930:

Bank of the United States was closed by New York banking regulators.


Consumer debt continues to shrink at a record rate.

Rodney Johnson contemplates the significance.

UPDATE:> Barry Ritholz offers some interesting analysis.

Are You REALLY Unemployed?

Watch this to find out:

Sad but true!

Regulating Financial Markets the "China Way"

China executes rogue trader.

Glenn Reynolds scrutinizes...

the Left's increasing use of the "America-has-become-too-big-to-govern" narrative.

But, truth be told, the United States were never really meant to be "governed", at least not in the manner that today's Left uses the word, and at least not by a centralized, federal government. So, to the extent that the country seems so "ungovernable", things are working as intended, I would say.

Steven F. Hayward:

One of the several scandalous revelations of the Climategate e-mails is that this claim of consensus is a lie. Never mind the skeptics: It turns out many of the scientists in the CRU inner circle had doubts and disagreements about their data, methodology and conclusions, and often bickered with one another about defects in their project.


Not just a scientific scandal, it’s a journalistic one.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Healthy and Wealthy Offered Lower Annuity Rates
Pre-retirees living in affluent areas are being urged to shop around for an annuity if they smoke or have a medical condition, as more pension providers introduce postcode ratings.

Canada Life this week became the latest provider to use postcode pricing on its annuity range, with better rates being offered to people who live in less affluent areas because of assumptions about their shorter life expectancy.

Steven Dubner asks...

...why the US ranks 29th in life expectancy.

I think it might have something to do with the fact that, in general, we are far fatter than most, we use illegal drugs far more often, we murder each other at far higher rates, and we drive far more miles per capita per year in automobiles.

Banking Problems
About 20% of all Michigan-based banks are considered problematic or worse by the bank ratings agency BauerFinancial Inc., another sign of the toll that the deep recession is taking on the state's financial institutions.

At the end of September, 29 of the 141 Michigan-based banks rated by BauerFinancial were considered to be problematic, troubled or worse than troubled. Of those 29, 15 or about half were rated as worse than troubled, BauerFinancial's lowest rating.
Bank difficulties aren't limited to Michigan. Nationwide, more than 130 banks have failed so far this year and 552 others have been labeled problem banks by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Here's and excellent post explaining...

...why the historical warming numbers matter, and therefore why Climategate matters.

A teenager and his father...

...demonstrate the urban heat island effect:

And with no budget!

It's in the Genes

British and German scientists believe they have discovered a gene that maintains the function of the ovaries, according to the UK's Daily Mail.

When the gene was switched off in adult female mice, another gene became active, literally changing ovarian cells to those found in testes, which also led to the production of testosterone in the mice.

BusinessWeek compares...

...Kindle v. Nook.

Everyone makes mistakes...

...but when governments do so, the costs/consequences are enormous:

Two months ago, we pointed out in our story on flu in The Atlantic that the antiviral drug Tamiflu might not be as effective or safe as many patients, doctors, and governments think. The drug has been widely prescribed since the first cases of H1N1 flu surfaced last spring, and the U.S. government has spent more than $1.5 billion stockpiling it since 2005 as part of the nation’s pandemic preparedness plan.

Now it looks as if our concerns were correct, and the nation may have put more than a billion dollars into the medical equivalent of a mirage.

Dinosaurs orginated in...

...South America.

Maybe This Explains Why Married Men are So Appealing to Some Women:

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene:

Pope Apologizes for Priests

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday once again apologised for sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, this time directing harsh words to Irish clergy cited in a damning report.

The pope "shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland (over) these heinous crimes," the Vatican said in a statement.
The meeting followed the publication last month of the report concluding that Dublin archbishops concealed clerical abuse and failed to inform police of their crimes over a period of more than three decades.
The pope has already apologised on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church for the actions of paedophile priests in the United States, Australia and Canada.

Apologies are nice, but defrocking the priests and bishops involved would go a long way toward showing that he means what he says.

Ya Don't Say
A new poll finds Americans are doing a tremendous amount of personalizing – picking and choosing from a diverse variety of religious traditions. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, nearly six in 10 Americans from all religions blend their faith with New Age and Eastern beliefs, like astrology, reincarnation, and the spiritual – not just physical – benefits of yoga.

"What we're really finding here that we haven't known before is how much Americans mix and match their religious beliefs and practices. That is, how often people who are regular churchgoers also believe in things like astrology and reincarnation," said Alan Cooperman of the Pew Forum. "Individual Americans hold within themselves elements of diverse religious traditions. And they practice in many cases, more than one faith."

Krauthammer Gets It:

One of the major goals of the Copenhagen climate summit is another NIEO shakedown: the transfer of hundreds of billions from the industrial West to the Third World to save the planet by, for example, planting green industries in the tristes tropiques.

Politically it's an idea of genius, engaging at once every left-wing erogenous zone: rich man's guilt, post-colonial guilt, environmental guilt. But the idea of shaking down the industrial democracies in the name of the environment thrives not just in the refined internationalist precincts of Copenhagen. It thrives on the national scale, too.
Socialism having failed so spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck upon a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralized power given to the best and the brightest, the new class of experts, managers and technocrats. This time, however, the alleged justification is not abolishing oppression and inequality but saving the planet.

Beware the Enviro-Fascists

Diane Francis, writing in Canada's national paper, calls for governments around the world to impose a "one child policy":

A planetary law, such as China's one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.
Ironically, China, despite its dirty coal plants, is the world's leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation, thanks to its one-child-only edict.

The intelligence behind this is the following:

-If only one child per female was born as of now, the world's population would drop from its current 6.5 billion to 5.5 billion by 2050, according to a study done for scientific academy Vienna Institute of Demography.

-By 2075, there would be 3.43 billion humans on the planet. This would have immediate positive effects on the world's forests, other species, the oceans, atmospheric quality and living standards.

-Doing nothing, by contrast, will result in an unsustainable population of nine billion by 2050.
The fix is simple. It's dramatic. And yet the world's leaders don't even have this on their agenda in Copenhagen. Instead there will be photo ops, posturing, optics, blah-blah-blah about climate science and climate fraud, announcements of giant wind farms, then cap-and-trade subsidies.

None will work unless a China one-child policy is imposed. Unfortunately, there are powerful opponents. Leaders of the world's big fundamentalist religions preach in favor of procreation and fiercely oppose birth control. And most political leaders in emerging economies perpetuate a disastrous Catch-22: Many children (i. e. sons) stave off hardship in the absence of a social safety net or economic development, which, in turn, prevents protections or development.

These Malthusian catastrophe scenarios, which envision populations expanding exponentially while the resources to support them don't, have been discredited so many times that few scientists today take them seriously. The fact is that, as I often chronicle on this blog, advances in genetic engineering, nanotechnology and solar energy production will solve the next Malthusian resource crisis just as surely as fertilizer solved the last one. They will do so by making physical resources (and not just information technology) subject to Moore's Law. Thus, by the end of this century, the world will be able to easily sustain populations double or triple those about which Ms. Francis worries, though it almost certainly won't have to do so (since population growth naturally subsides with prosperity).

On the other hand, declining populations and failure to expand prosperity would be disastrous for the world's economy and environment, as people like Harry Dent often note and as politicians in Japan, Russia, Italy and any undeveloped country already realize.

Thus, the solution to the problems about which Ms. Francis worries lies in more innovation, more technology, more industrialization, more prosperity, more people with plumbing and cars, and yes...more people to make all of these things happen sooner. Her fascist, luddite proposals will only lead to more misery and environmental degradation, not less--always has and always will.

UPDATE:> Maurice Vellacott responds to Diane Francis' fascist idea, making many of the same point I do above, only with more particularity.

UPDATE2:> Diane Francis is mother of two. Geez.

Steve McIntyre provides...

the enlightening context in which "Mike's nature trick" was employed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chris Mooney...

writes propaganda defending global warming orthodoxy.

It's all very disappointing--short on facts and long on misleading assertions. Whether his statements are the result of startling naiveté or an intent to decieve, they are unacceptable regardless.

Take, for instance, this quote from the above link:

But the skeptics were lying in wait. They didn’t need good science to make another sally: Their strength has always been in communication tactics anyway, and not scientific exactitude or rigor.

I suppose Chris means the type of rigor that led to the CRU to loose raw temperature data while preserving only the "value added" data? While it seems that some of this lost data may serendipitously be preserved in other data-sets custodied at other institutions, is it really the CRU's "scientific rigor and exactitude" that we have to thank for that, Chris? I don't think so.

So, perhaps you mean instead the type of scientific rigor that caused CRU head Phil Jones to admit intentionally destroying data in defiance of Freedom of Information Act Requests while pleading with his colleagues to do the same?

Or maybe you mean the rigor that lead Michael Mann to create the famously discredited Hockey Stick Chart that Al Gore used so successfully in his movie on climate change? Yes, perhaps. But, you couldn't possibly mean the type of scientific rigor employed by climate skeptic Steve McIntyre, who demonstrated statistically that the computer code used to create the chart would generate a hockey stick shaped graph ninety-nine out of one hundred times, even when fed random data.

So, perhaps instead you mean the type of scientific exactitude that caused paleoclimatologist Ed Cook to conclude:

[W]e can probably say a fair bit about <100 year extra-tropical NH temperature variability (at least as far as we believe the proxy estimates), but honestly know fuck-all about what the >100 year variability was like with any certainty (i.e. we know with certainty that we know fuck-all).

Or maybe it's the exactitude that Phil Jones secretly employed when he used "Mike's nature trick" to "hide the decline" in temperatures suggested by tree ring data since 1960?

Or, maybe you mean the rigor that led to almost 90% of surveyed surface temperature stations being sited on or next to parking lots, roof-tops, exhaust vents, airport runways, sewage treatment plants or other areas likely to overstate temperatures due to the urban heat island effect?

Or perhaps you mean the scientific exactitude that prompted the CRU to hire a self-admittedly incompetent programmer to write code for its climate models?

I could continue ad nauseum, but more of your gems await:

The new skeptic strategy began with a ploy that initially seemed so foolish, so petty, that it was unworthy of dignifying with a response. The contrarians seized upon the hottest year in some temperature records, 1998—which happens to have been an El Nino year, hence its striking warmth—and began to hammer the message that there had been “no warming in a decade” since then.

It was, in truth, little more than a damn lie with statistics.

And yet, this "foolish" and "petty" lie, the one that was "unworthy of dignifying with a response" was apparently told so compellingly by those tricky, statistic-loving skeptics that, at least in their private correspondence, many of the world's most prominent global warming alarmist fell under its spell:

From: Kevin Trenberth
To: Michael Mann
Subject: Re: BBC U-turn on climate
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600
Cc: Stephen H Schneider , Myles Allen , peter stott , “Philip D. Jones” , Benjamin Santer , Tom Wigley , Thomas R Karl , Gavin Schmidt , James Hansen , Michael Oppenheimer

Hi all

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low.

This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather)

Trenberth, K. E., 2009: An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth’s global energy. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 1, 19-27, doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2009.06.001. [1][PDF] (A PDF of the published version can be obtained from the author.)

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.***

In light of Trenberth's email, it's clear that you "doth protest too much" on this point, Chris. Well...either that or else Trenberth is simply "foolish" and "petty" and his contention that recent cooling isn't wholey explained by 1998's El Nino is a simple "statistical lie" intended to deceive rubes.

But Trenberth isn't the only one. There's also Tom Wigley, who rebuked Michael Mann for creating yet another deceptive graph, this one designed to back up Wigley's own hypothesis that recent cooling was still consistent with the theme of overall continued warming:

On Oct 14, 2009, at 5:57 PM, Tom Wigley wrote:


The Figure you sent is very deceptive. As an example, historical runs with PCM look as though they match observations—but the match is a fluke. PCM has no indirect aerosol forcing and a low climate sensitivity—compensating errors. In my (perhaps too harsh) view, there have been a number of dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC. This is why I still use results from MAGICC to compare with observed temperatures. At least here I can assess how sensitive matches are to sensitivity and forcing assumptions/uncertainties.


Well, Chris...if the last decade of cooling is so easily explained by 1998's El Nino event, then why were these esteemed scientists, as recently as the last few months, mystified by it, and why were they offering competing explanations for it? Heck man, all they needed to do was to call you! You had it figured out all along: "It's the El Nino, stupids." You'd think they would have listened.

Again, I could continue on this point, but the hits just keep on coming. You proceed to say:

Whether we will recover some necessary momentum in Copenhagen—a formal United Nations venue for deliberation where scientific expertise is respected, and where misinformation will likely have less power—is up in the air.

Of course, Chris, how could we have been so foolish?! The United Nations, a fundamentally political organization, is the perfect place for honest scientific debate! The UN has a long history of being an honest broker on sensitive issues like this. It's ability to set aside political agendas in favor of an honest pursuit of truth is...well...legendary. Plus, it's never been susceptible to corruption or anything.

Silly us. The UN said it: Ipse dixit. It's determinations should be sufficient for any true scientist--well, at least those that aren't foolish and petty liars, right Chris?

"Massive" TSA Security Breach

The Transportation Safety Administration has posted its secret airport screening methods online:

In a massive security breach, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inadvertently posted online its airport screening procedures manual, including some of the most closely guarded secrets regarding special rules for diplomats and CIA and law enforcement officers.

The most sensitive parts of the 93-page Standard Operating Procedures manual were apparently redacted in a way that computer savvy individuals easily overcame.

The document shows sample CIA, Congressional and law enforcement credentials which experts say would make it easy for terrorists to duplicate.

Never fear, the Feds will do much better when it comes to protecting our private health data, I'm sure.

The Smoking Gun

If this is right, then climategate is just the tip of the iceberg.

UPDATE:> More evidence of perhaps unwarranted temperature adjustments (or "homogenization"), this time with data from Nashville, Tennessee. The net effect was the same as at Darwin: The adjusted data showed a warming trend where the raw data showed a cooling one.

Such adjustments may be warranted, but the burden is on the AGW alarmists to demonstrate so. But, until recently, they have shown remarkable reluctance to release the raw data that would make such a demonstration possible.

Andrew Bolt...

...spanks climategate scientist Tom Wigley.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Fighting climate change with 1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges.

An amazing email from...

...paleoclimatologist Ed Cook to the CRU's Keith Briffa:

Hi Keith,

After the meeting in Norway, where I presented the Esper stuff as
described in the extended abstract I sent you, and hearing Bradley's
follow-up talk on how everybody but him has fucked up in
reconstructing past NH temperatures over the past 1000 years (this is
a bit of an overstatement on my part I must admit, but his air of
papal infallibility is really quite nauseating at times), I have come
up with an idea that I want you to be involved in. Consider the
tentative title:

"Northern Hemisphere Temperatures Over The Past Millennium: Where Are
The Greatest Uncertainties?"

Authors: Cook, Briffa, Esper, Osborn, D'Arrigo, Bradley(?), Jones
(??), Mann (infinite?) - I am afraid the Mike and Phil are too
personally invested in things now (i.e. the 2003 GRL paper that is
probably the worst paper Phil has ever been involved in - Bradley
hates it as well)
, but I am willing to offer to include them if they
can contribute without just defending their past work - this is the
key to having anyone involved. Be honest. Lay it all out on the table
and don't start by assuming that ANY reconstruction is better than
any other.

Here are my ideas for the paper in a nutshell (please bear with me):

[Ed Cook describes his idea]

Without trying to prejudice this work, but also because of what I
almost think I know to be the case, the results of this study will
show that we can probably say a fair bit about <100 year
extra-tropical NH temperature variability (at least as far as we
believe the proxy estimates), but honestly know fuck-all about what
the >100 year variability was like with any certainty (i.e. we know
with certainty that we know fuck-all).

Amazing. These guys admit privately that they can't say anything meaningful about the environment looking back more than 100 year ago, but yet some of them state publicly that they are "dead certain" that continued CO2 omissions will be the end of us.

Hat tip: Bishop Hill

Sunday, December 6, 2009



UPDATE:> Climate heretic Pielke responds.

Mark Sheppard explains...

...what "hiding the decline" really means. Very informative.


Bias at the AP.

Michael Silence thinks this AP "news story" should be labeled "analysis."

It's yet another example of the AP failing to live up to its own "statement of values."

A Famous Scientist You've Probably Never Heard Of:

David Bellamy.

Myron Ebell:

Obama’s Science Adviser Confirms the Scandal — Unintentionally

Programmer's Unflattering Self-Assessment Confirmed

Apparently, the person asked to write the code for the CRU's climate models wasn't a professional programmer and wasn't very confident in his own abilities. Here are some programming notes he left behind in the code:

Something is very poorly. It's my programming skills, isn't it.

So, once again I don't understand statistics. Quel surprise, given that
I haven't had any training in stats in my entire life, unless you count
A-level maths.

and.. yup, my awful programming strikes again.

So, good news - but only in the sense that I've found the error.
Bad news in that it's a further confirmation that my abilities are
short of what's required here.

Apparently, professional programmers who are now getting a look at the code for the first time (thanks to Climategate) agree with this unflattering self-assessment.

Question: If you're writing a program that will provide some of the primary support for the claims of the IPCC report and that will be used by governments across the world to justify draconian restrictions on CO2, why not at least hire a professional programmer?

UPDATE:> To their credit, the BBC covers the story:

Brendan O'Neill:

Rushing to the front of the race for the prize of Most Vomit-Inducing Environmental Initiative Ever Devised, the UK’s Optimum Population Trust — which counts such grandees as David Attenborough and Jonathon Porritt among its supporters — has just launched PopOffsets. This quirkily named campaign is actually deeply sinister: It invites well-off Westerners to offset their carbon emissions by paying for poor people in the Third World to stop procreating.

In short, if you feel bad about your CO2-emitting jaunt to Barbados, or the new Ferrari you just splurged on, then simply give some money to a charity which helps to “convince” Third World women not to have children, and — presto! — the carbon saved by having one less black child in the world will put your guilt-ridden mind at rest.

Remember what I said about the dangers of pursuing the "common good" directly?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How To Get Free Sex in Copenhagen

Copenhagen Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard sent postcards to city hotels warning summit guests not to patronize Danish sex workers during the upcoming conference. Now, the prostitutes have struck back, offering free sex to anyone who produces one of the warnings.

Pelosi Blames Bush for Stimulus Failure

Silly Polosi, everyone knows it failed on account of global warming.

The Right to Bear Arms

Washington Post:
A federal appeals court has cleared the way for the owner of a Virginia security company to sue the District for seeking to arrest him on charges of possessing unregistered handguns.

Why Most Scientists Are Liberals

Steven Hayward has written an excellent summary of Climategate that includes much history about which I was previously unaware, as well as previously-unknown-to-me details of the leaked emails.

And interestingly, Steven's summary includes the following comment:

In 2004, Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin wrote in the New York Review of Books: “Most scientists are, at a minimum, liberals, although it is by no means obvious why this should be so."

Respectfully, I beg to differ with Mr. Lewontin (and Hayward to the extent that Lewontin speaks for him). It is obvious why most scientist are "at a minimum" liberals: Successful scientists working at prestigious academic or research institutions often perceive themselves (sometimes rightly) as being among the "best and brightest" in the world. And, people convinced of their own intellectual superiority are particularly susceptible to the totalitarian temptation--that is, of coming to believe that everyone's interest is best served (i.e., the "common good" is realized) when the smartest people make the most decisions. And, since the less intelligent among us are not likely to just hand their life over to these luminaries, the luminaries need government to intercede to require them to do so. Hence, big government advances these scientists' worldview.

Add the above to the fact that, by virtue of their chosen profession, scientists are generally not opponents of modernity and progress (i.e., they favor social evolution and don't cling to the past), and what you find is that, almost to a man/woman, scientists are what I call "Collective Modernists" or what society today calls "liberals" or "progressives". These are people who believe that society works best when experts make decisions for the "common good" (i.e, they are "collectivists" in that they value the common good above individual liberty), and that society needs to evolve progressively (i.e., away from tradition and towards something newer and better).

And, if you think about it, it couldn't really be any other way: For few "brilliant" people are possessed of sufficient humility and self-discipline to realize that the common good can ever only be an emergent property. ;-)

Stephen Shankland:

Google edges toward Rosetta Stone status.

Now Available on Google Street View:

Pompeii! How cool.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Real, Sad Legacy of Climategate

Daniel Henninger:
I don't think most scientists appreciate what has hit them. This isn't only about the credibility of global warming. For years, global warming and its advocates have been the public face of hard science. Most people could not name three other subjects they would associate with the work of serious scientists. This was it. The public was told repeatedly that something called "the scientific community" had affirmed the science beneath this inquiry. A Nobel Prize was bestowed (on a politician).

Global warming enlisted the collective reputation of science. Because "science" said so, all the world was about to undertake a vast reordering of human behavior at almost unimaginable financial cost. Not every day does the work of scientists lead to galactic events simply called Kyoto or Copenhagen. At least not since the Manhattan Project.

What is happening at East Anglia is an epochal event. As the hard sciences-physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering-came to dominate intellectual life in the last century, some academics in the humanities devised the theory of postmodernism, which liberated them from their colleagues in the sciences. Postmodernism, a self-consciously "unprovable" theory, replaced formal structures with subjectivity. With the revelations of East Anglia, this slippery and variable intellectual world has crossed into the hard sciences.

Read the whole thing.

The lessons seem clear to me:

(1) Scientists and other "experts" are people
(2) People are motivated by perceived self-interest (even in acts of altruism)
(3) Hence, experts' "opinions", even if they represent a "consensus", are helpful in exposing their self-interest but mostly useless in determining "truth."
(4) Truth (or rather UN-truth) can only be determined via the disciplined application of reason and the scientific method.

In short, the opinion of an "expert" or a "scientist" should be given no greater weight that that of the average schmuck, unless it is anchored in reason and confirmed by diligent application of the scientific method. In the case of Climategate, the "Hockey Players" actively sought to subvert diligent application of the scientific method by refusing to publicly disclose much of their data and methods (except to like-minded scientists who they knew in advance would be supportive of their conclusions).

As a caveat, I will emphasize that this doesn't necessarily make their conclusions wrong, but it does make them unscientific.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By This Definition, Most Global Climate Models Are Not Science

American Physical Society (via Instapundit):

Science is the systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the universe and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories.

The success and credibility of science are anchored in the willingness of scientists to:

1. Expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others. This requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials.

2. Abandon or modify previously accepted conclusions when confronted with more complete or reliable experimental or observational evidence.

Adherence to these principles provides a mechanism for self-correction that is the foundation of the credibility of science.

I assume that the APS deems "open exchange" to include more than just sharing data and methods with like-minded scientists while withholding it from skeptical ones.

Guess Who Said These Words:

“…the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

No, it wasn't Nostradamus predicting Climategate.

(via Instapundit)

Scientists seek men in their twenties who have never viewed porn...

...and fail.

John Stewart Talks Climategate


Hardly a Ringing Endorsement

David Coursey concludes that AT&T's wireless service is "not as lousy as everyone thinks".

I agree, though I've been using it for so long I don't have much against which to compare.

A New Theory...

...on why women live longer.

Lord Monckton...

...has compiled a summary of Climategate.

Many of his conclusions are admittedly biased, and he often assumes nefarious motives when perhaps mere incompetence would suffice, but the undisputed facts do speak for themselves and, given the secrecy employed, it's hard to explain some things merely by assuming incompetence or lack of diligence.

Much Obliged

Bluto of The Dread Pundit Bluto fame was kind enough to leave a comment on my post here saying some good things about some comments I had previously made on this post.

Much obliged, Bluto.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sometimes I think...

Charles Johnson is brilliant, and sometimes I'm convinced he's simply a troll, albeit one operating his own very popular blog.

Today, it's the latter. Take, for instance, this post criticizing as "right in your face" racist a newspaper ad comparing Congress, the Courts and the Media (not Obama!) to three monkeys who "see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil".

Seriously, Charles, there's enough to criticize about this ad without you just making stuff up. Wake up and smell the coffee!

(Oh wait, I said "coffee". Coffee is black. Maybe I'm racist?)

Steve Keens explains...

...everything you need to know about the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

Strange things are afoot...

at the Circle K CRU.

Today the UK Ceased to Be An Independent Country


Steve McIntyre...

takes on the increasingly common "we-didn't-provide-the-data-because-every-time-we-did-ignorant-skeptics-couldn't-understand-it-and-kept-asking-for-more" excuse.

And Ouch Again!

Steve McIntyre:
If North is going to issue pronouncements on Jones’ trick, then he should at least know what Jones’ trick is. If he doesn’t know precisely what it was (as he obviously doesn’t), then it’s better to say nothing than to pretend that he knows what it was.


Rosin also writes: “It is impossible to imagine Tiger [Woods] occupying the same cultural brain space as Rihanna, with Nordegren playing Chris Brown. If Tiger had been chasing down his wife with a golf club and she had shown up with bruises, even if she had cheated with, say, K-fed, we would be a lot less ambivalent and complacent.” That’s probably correct, for certain values of the word “we,” but why is that, exactly? Cheating men deserve to be beaten, even with weapons, while cheating women do not?

Or could it be, you know, sexism? But that’s not possible, because Hanna Rosin can’t be sexist, and neither can those who agree with her. If you’re Hanna Rosin, “sexist” is a name you call other people. You know, bad people who believe in stereotypes and stuff.

I'm Sure This Will Turn Out Well
A government caseworker outlined a plan calling for Rifqa Bary, 17, and her [Muslim] parents to listen to each other's views on religion.

Bary needs to hear out her parents' explanation of their beliefs when she goes home, according to the proposal filed in Franklin County Juvenile Court. In turn, her parents must listen to Bary explain her newfound Christianity.

The goal is for both sides to better understand why the teenager ran away to Florida over the summer and stayed with a Christian family she met online.

Again, the Passive Voice Proves Useful

Robert Gibbs: "[C]limate change is happening."

Yes, Robert, and water runs downhill. Thanks for cluing us in.

UPDATE:> Stonewalling with stupid.