Seven Eight Warning Signs of Junk Science

I’ve written before about scientific error cascades and the pernicious things that happen when junk science becomes the focus or rationale of a political crusade.

The worst example of this sort of thing in my lifetime, and arguably in the entire history of science, has been the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) panic. Now that the wheels are falling off that juggernaut, I’m starting to hear ordinary people around me wonder how I knew it was bullshit and hot air so much in advance…

Some of the answer to that is complicated and not easily replicable. I happened to have the right sort of knowledge base to know that, for example, specific AGW-panicker claims about historical climate were impossible to reconcile with primary evidence – wine grapes grown at 59 degrees north around the year 1000, that sort of thing. This motivated me to dig for other problems with their narrative well before they were really on the public’s radar.

But a lot of it was more general. I’ve seen a lot of “scientific” panics ginned up from nonexistent or scanty evidence over the last several decades. There’s a pattern to these episodes, a characteristic stench that becomes recognizable after a while. I’ll describe some of the indicia, which I’ve culled from episodes like the Alar scare, the ozone-hole brouhaha, the AIDS panic (are you old enough to remember when it was predicted to become endemic among heterosexuals in the U.S.?), acid rain, and even the great global cooling flap of 1975.

So. Here is a non-exclusive list of seven eight symptoms to watch out for:

Science by press release. It’s never, ever a good sign when ‘scientists’ announce dramatic results before publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. When this happens, we generally find out later that they were either self-deluded or functioning as political animals rather than scientists. This generalizes a bit; one should also be suspicious of, for example, science first broadcast by congressional testimony or talk-show circuit.

Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of eschatological panic. When the argument for theory X slides from “theory X is supported by evidence” to “a terrible catastrophe looms over us if theory X is true, therefore we cannot risk disbelieving it”, you can be pretty sure that X is junk science. Consciously or unconsciously, advocates who say these sorts of things are trying to panic the herd into stampeding rather than focusing on the quality of the evidence for theory X.

Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of moral panic. When the argument for theory X slides from “theory X is supported by evidence” to “only bad/sinful/uncaring people disbelieve theory X”, you can be even more sure that theory X is junk science. Consciously or unconsciously, advocates who say these sorts of things are trying to induce a state of preference falsification in which people are peer-pressured to publicly affirm a belief in theory X in spite of private doubts.

Consignment of failed predictions to the memory hole. It’s a sign of sound science when advocates for theory X publicly acknowledge failed predictions and explain why they think they can now make better ones. Conversely, it’s a sign of junk science when they try to bury failed predictions and deny they ever made them.

Over-reliance on computer models replete with bugger factors that aren’t causally justified.. No, this is not unique to climatology; you see it a lot in epidemiology and economics, just to name two fields that start with ‘e’. The key point here is that simply fitting historical data is not causal justification; there are lots of ways to dishonestly make that happen, or honestly fool yourself about it. If you don’t have a generative account of why your formulas and coupling constants look the way they do (a generative account which itself makes falsifiable predictions), you’re not doing science – you’re doing numerology.

If a ‘scientific’ theory seems tailor-made for the needs of politicians or advocacy organizations, it probably has been. Real scientific results have a cross-grained tendency not to fit transient political categories. Accordingly, if you think theory X stinks of political construction, you’re probably right. This is one of the simplest but most difficult lessons in junk-science spotting! The most difficult case is recognizing that this is happening even when you agree with the cause.

Past purveyers of junk science do not change their spots. One of the earliest indicators in many outbreaks of junk science is enthusiastic endorsements by people and advocacy organizations associated with past outbreaks. This one is particularly useful in spotting environmental junk science, because unreliable environmental-advocacy organizations tend to have long public pedigrees including frequent episodes of apocalyptic yelling. It is pardonable to be taken in by this the first time, but foolish by the fourth and fifth.

Refusal to make primary data sets available for inspection. When people doing sound science are challenged to produce the observational and experimental data their theories are supposed to be based on, they do it. (There are a couple of principled exceptions here; particle physicists can’t save the unreduced data from particle collisions, there are too many terabytes per second of it.) It is a strong sign of junk science when a ‘scientist’ claims to have retained raw data sets but refuses to release them to critics.

It would be way, way too easy to list the ways these symptoms have manifested with respect to the AGW panic. It’s a more useful exercise for the reader to think back and try to recognize them in previous junk-science flaps. Go and learn. And don’t get fooled again.

428 thoughts on “Seven Eight Warning Signs of Junk Science

  1. Excellent. Another:

    Extraordinary efforts by “scientists” to prevent dissemination of their supporting data to the public. Including data bought and paid for by the public. Can there be any greater indication of perfidy than fear of public scrutiny?

    ESR says: I saw this just after adding that very point as an eighth sign

  2. I was wondering what do the signs and banners on your blog stand for? What organisations do they belong to?

  3. >I was wondering what do the signs and banners on your blog stand for? What organisations do they belong to?

    Clues: The Eric Conspiracy, the Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto, and the Hacker Emblem.

  4. Past purveyers of junk science do not change their spots. One of the earliest indicators in many outbreaks of junk science is enthusiastic endorsements by people and advocacy organizations associated with past outbreaks.

    Sure, but as soon as you bring this into the discussion, someone will correctly (and often viciously) point out that it is an ad hominem attack, and things will rapidly go downhill from there, like when I was excoriated roundly on this very blog when I observed out that the first I had heard about AGW being problematic was in the early-to-mid 90s from the same think tanks that were heavily pushing a creationist/intelligent design agenda.

  5. The late Particle Physicist Richard Feynman explained what a true scientist does. Everything else is opinion or manipulation, wearing the cloak of science without the integrity that produces true results.
    ( http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm )

    === ===
    Feynman: [edited]   Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can to explain them, if you know anything at all wrong or possibly wrong.

    If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem.

    When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea
    for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.
    === ===

    Prediction is everything, and it must work more than once. Explaining everything after the fact is merely making up complicated stories.

  6. This is a great list, but I think the argument is much, much simpler. I was a believer (how funny that sounds!)
    but I was absolutely floored by the non-stop stream of failed predictions followed by more of the same without any acknowledgement whatsoever of the failure of previous predictions. A lay man need not know anything about a scientific field to intelligently evaluate it other than whether the humility (or lack thereof) of the practitioners of the field calibrate with the success (or failure) of their models’ predictions. In AGW, the record is so stupendously awful, that I get angry just thinking about it

  7. >someone will correctly (and often viciously) point out that it is an ad hominem attack

    But it isn’t. There is an important difference between saying “I think person X is lying about global warming because person X has often been caught lying before in similar circumstances” and saying “I think person X is lying about global warming because he likes to bugger sheep.” In the latter case, the claim that X likes to bugger sheep is probably irrelevant to X’s truthfulness about global warming; in the former, the specific claim about a pattern of lying is relevant. The latter is ad hominem; the latter is not.

  8. You will never go wrong betting against Paul Ehrlich. I knew AGW was bullshit when he jumped on the bandwagon.

    He is the only man in the world to get rich by never, ever being right.

  9. >You will never go wrong betting against Paul Ehrlich.

    Indeed. In fact he was one of two individuals (rather than organizations) whom I had in mind when I listed that point.

  10. >but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

    Yes. Feynman articulated here what is formally captured by the concept of “generative” (as opposed to merely “descriptive”) theory.

  11. I would add that something is junk science if its proponents go out of their way to villify challengers. Real science *wants* to be challenged, retested, verified, confirmed. No self-respecting scientist would ever utter a phrase like “the science is settled” or try to demonize dissenters. Real scientists welcome an alternative point of view and will hopefully integrate it into a more thoroughly researched conclusion.

  12. Climate models come in two forms: Based on scientific numbers entirely (albedo, energy influx, available biomass etc.) and based on historical information. It’s not nearly as bad as economics, which is entirely bogus data since it’s a self-feeding model with billions of humans acting mostly irrational to begin with. Epidemiology is probably a mix at best best. All in all, I don’t think you can push all the climate models on one huge pile, this portrays climatology as something as scientific as economics, while, in fact, the better models are of far better quality and ignore the garbage data you’re pointing at. There is a lot of junk (political motivated) climatology going on, but, a lot of better universities and research studies outside of the USA take pride in good computer models.

    Apart from that, the point obviously stands – nice article.

  13. I think #5 “Over-reliance on computer models” should be bumped to #1 with “Failed predictions down the Memory Hole” right behind it. If you go back to the Club of Rome models in the early 70s you would see many of the same error cascade problems. They also qualify as “Past Purveyors of Junk”

    Another sign has to be moving the goalposts… As soon as AGW mutated to Anthropogenic Climate Change the whole show should have been laughed off the stage and all the players terminated (tenured or not).

  14. >Another sign has to be moving the goalposts

    In draft, I actually had “Moving the goalposts” as an item. It changed to the memory-hole one.

  15. > >someone will correctly (and often viciously) point out that it is an ad hominem attack
    >
    > But it isn’t. There is an important difference between saying “I think person X is lying about global warming because person X has often been caught lying before in similar circumstances” and saying “I think person X is lying about global warming because he likes to bugger sheep.” In the latter case, the claim that X likes to bugger sheep is probably irrelevant to X’s truthfulness about global warming; in the former, the specific claim about a pattern of lying is relevant. The latter is ad hominem; the latter is not.

    yes, precisely. similarly, appeal to authority is only invalid if the authority is irrelevant to the subject. “i believe in relativity because of einstein” is reasonable, “i believe in pacifism because of einstein” isn’t.

  16. Compare & contrast how real scientists do it properly: “This looks wierd. Our neutrinos seem to be going too fast. We think we’re probably making some kind of measurement error but we haven’t been able to find it. Help”.

  17. I was looking at this example of “blaming your opponent for your own flaws”. The list in the parent post perfectly fits AGW-denialist’s pseudo-science. So I pondered whether I could respond effectively.

    Then I remembered who wrote it. Over two decades of intensive biomedical research still have not squelched the doubts of the author about HIV causing AIDS:

    But I strongly suspect that Duesberg was onto something and there are other things producing immune-system collapse that have been mistakenly attributed to HIV, especially in Africa where HIV infection is co-morbid with several rather vicious tropical diseases.

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=3894#comment-336361

    Furthermore, the author never even suggests he reads any primary literature on the subjects he discusses (be it the climate or AIDS). So how the author gets so sure there is no real science behind it is a mystery to me. Or it must be that ignorance breeds confidence.

    So what kind of research could convince the author that AGW was real? (or HIV is thecause of AIDS) None I could think of. Certainly none published by scientists in a peer reviewed journal as you read in his original post.

    Then I thought of all the times commenters on this blog even argued against smoking causing cancer. So to expect them to just believe scientific studies and arguments would be quite a stretch.

    Finally, I remembered the “Better Dead than Red” mentality of the USA Libertarian movement towards solving global problems by coordinated international actions, or even towards accepting state intervening to get required medical treatment to their compatriots. Eric proclaims to be a libertarian (as far as I can distinguish all its different sects) and I suspect he shares far to much of this mentality to accept mere scientific proof that does not fit his believe in the efficiency of markets.

    So I decided to leave it at that and go do more productive work.

  18. Focusing on stuff like “If a ‘scientific’ theory seems tailor-made for the needs of politicians or advocacy organizations, it probably has been.” and not taking into account the current retreat of glaciers or changes in ecosystems that are pretty measurable seems like a self-reassuring discourse to me. Don’t get me wrong, I really wish that the global warming didn’t occur, but I do not feel competent enough to pretend I debunked a scientific consensus after a few blog posts.

    Besides, the examples esr used for comparison are interesting: the growth of the ozone hole which was (and still is) very real and measurable has been slowed down. If nothing had been done, it would certainly have become bigger (the correlation between the hole and its evolution and ozone-depleting emissions is… well, striking). As for AIDS, if nothing had been done it could have infected much more people and become more or less endemic, as it is in Africa today.

    All that being said, there’s one junk science sign on this post that is much stronger than others because it has nothing to do with subjectivity: not making available primary data sets, which amounts to denying repeatability. I just can’t get why these data sets weren’t released and IMHO it would have been nice if the “official excuse” when it comes to global warming was stated here.

  19. ESR wrote: “The latter is ad hominem; the latter is not.”

    Shouldn’t one of those latters be a former?

  20. @ esr

    I am not seeing the reason why you have included “Acid Rain” on your list of pseudoscience.

    While the headlines have often exaggerated the issue, there is no doubt that human emissions DO acidify precipitation and that the acidified precipitation DOES have some deleterious effects. The more widespread biological effects are, however, mostly limited to areas with poor soil buffering capacity. The power plant SO2 scrubbers and auto catalytic converters mitigated the worst effects of the problem at minimal / acceptable cost to society for maximal gains in air quality, imo.

    Certainly the permanent loss of sensitive species in some areas of the Adirondacks, in the NE US, Canada, and Scandinavia is undeniable and worth some concern, even if minor in scale.

    Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I don’t know too many people who want to see the return of excessive pollution or irresponsible stewardship of the land, even if the watermelons always try to push the envelope.

  21. Steg wrote: “Don’t get me wrong, I really wish that the global warming didn’t occur . . .”

    Steg needs to reread ESR’s post. It is not about “global warming”. It is specifically about “the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) panic.” The tenets of that panic include the following:

    - “Global climate is changing.” (True, but unremarkable. Climate has undergone continual change during all of history.)

    - “Today’s climate change is unlike any that has ever occurred before.” (False, as ESR alluded to with his reference to “wine grapes grown at 59 degrees north around the year 1000″.)

    - “The effects of the change will be catastrophic, even apocalyptic.” (That’s symptom #2 on ESR’s list: Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of eschatological panic.)

    - “Humans caused the change, and have the power to reverse it.” (Symptom #3: Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of moral panic.)

    - “The apocalypse can only be averted through drastic policy changes at the national or international level.” (Symptom #6: A “scientific” theory that seems tailor-made for the needs of politicians or advocacy organizations.)

    - “Anyone who opposes these policy changes is evil.” (Symptom #3 again: Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of moral panic.)

    Steg’s error is in focusing entirely on whether global climate is changing. That, by itself, is not the issue. The issue is whether the change is unprecedented, anthropogenic, catastrophic, and reversible by human action. Merely pointing to retreating glaciers and measurable changes in ecosystems is insufficient. Have those things happened before? Did humans cause them, or are they natural phenomena? Are they really harbingers of global catastrophe, or is that just hype? Do we actually have the power to reverse any of it? These are all relevant questions.

    Legitimate science welcomes such questions and does its best to address them. It does not smear the questioners as “deniers”, and it does not attempt to intimidate and silence them.

  22. i believe in relativity

    I have an issue to raise with this wording. I don’t “believe” in facts, I acknowledge them as having been proven. Relativity is a model which fits repeatable, demonstrable phenomena, and has successfully predicted phenomena which have been observed in experiment. It’s a scientific model; a framework for understanding what we observe, as opposed to the computer projections which people have taken to calling “models”.

    I propose that we quit calling these climate programs “models” at all, and call them “digital Ouija board emulators” instead.

  23. It’s certainly true that AGW is a highly politically charged subject and I can well believe that there are many studies which are (consciously and unconsciously) slanted to push politicians in one direction or another. This is unfortunately the sort of thing that happens when you mix science and politics.

    For me there are two basic aspects for AGW that I understand are well supported by actual peer-reviewed studies and that haven’t been seriously refuted :

    1. Large amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere have the effect of trapping heat and causing average global temperatures to rise.

    2. The human race has been throwing unprecedented amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere over the last century or so.

    Yes, there are all sorts of other details around how much CO2 is needed for what rise in temperature, how quickly it will happen, what the effects will be on the various ecosystems around the world etc. etc. and I can well believe that the science in these areas is far from settled – but until the above basic points are addressed by the skeptics and deniers, I’m inclined to accept that AGW is a real effect and continued research in the area is justified.

  24. esr> It’s never, ever a good sign when ‘scientists’ announce dramatic results before publishing in a peer-reviewed journal.

    This is not right. Scientists not only may but should court some forms of publicity before the peer review process is finished, since it can take over a year for journals to give their opinion, and journals quite frequently reject good science. E.g., http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/lynn-margulis-1938-2011/

    What corrupts is not seeking an audience, but being driven by what non-experts will make of your results. So when Andrew Wiles explained his (wrong) proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem over a year before he submitted anything to any journals, he was doing nothing, wrong, nor is there anything corrupt about the practice of distributing preprints. The kind of peer review done by journals is not central to science in quite the way this point suggests.

    It might seem that I am really only objecting to the word “journal” here, but it is not clear to me how to fix this warning sign to be something with sharp teeth.

    esr> Consignment of failed predictions to the memory hole.

    Do any professional scientists actually do this with journal-published predictions? I guess you would not make this point if there were no examples, but I think this is a red herring.

    I do agree about the dangers of corruption of science, and that we have many examples of science that have either become junk or had their value undermined. But there is another danger, one related to the applicability of science. Sciences that care only about their own homegrown explanatory goals, construct grand frameworks that come to constitute their discipline and insulate themselves from applications are in an equally unhealthy state, though one that is not so dramatic. It is hard to make your science be driven by the outside world without tailoring yourself to it in some degree. And it is not true that all shaping is corruption: the history of science shows many fruitful examples of this.

  25. eric: on your earlier comment
    “The latter is ad hominem; the latter is not.” One of those is the former.

  26. >When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea
    for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

    Hmmm… which reminds me of that part of Unix philosophy that a good piece of software ought to have many other originally unintended uses. Is the similarity merely accidental or is there a principle that connects the two ideas?

  27. Science by press release. I think good anti-example here is “cold fusion” stuff.

  28. The latter is ad hominem; the latter is not.

    If anything’s happened to that cat, all I can say is Schrödinger’s a dick.

  29. esr> Consignment of failed predictions to the memory hole.

    “Do any professional scientists actually do this with journal-published predictions?”

    In the medical field there are two active and long standing examples: 1. vaccination safety and efficacy, and 2. the cholesterol heart disease myth replete with glaring omissions, confounding variables, and pleiotropic effects of statins that are never given the light of day in the mainstream media and rarely within the medical-industrial complex.

  30. Acid rain as a global problem was a complete fraud. It was a real, but fairly minor, problem immediately downwind of major sulfur sources.

    The “ozone hole” is a naturally occurring result of atmospheric dynamics over Antarctica. Mainly the result of lack of sunlight in winter (remember ozone is made from O2 by UV light). The reason it was worse and has gotten smaller is that the scare was during the eruption of an antarctic volcano that was blasting enormous amounts of chlorine into the upper atmosphere. CFCs had nothing to do with it, being so stable and dense that little, if any, ever made it into the upper atmosphere. In fact, chlorides from wind-driven salt spray are a far larger constituent of atmospheric chlorine than CFCs ever were. Also, over the US where much of the CFCs were being released the amount of UV reaching the ground was decreasing during the same period (as the “ozone hole” was being fear-mongered). [from memory mostly from The Holes in the Ozone Scare that I read in 1995]

  31. It would probably be rude to ask where channelling Pan or healing by the laying on of hands fits in the junk science spectrum, wouldn’t it?

    (wait, did I say that out loud?)

  32. Hmmm… which reminds me of that part of Unix philosophy that a good piece of software ought to have many other originally unintended uses. Is the similarity merely accidental or is there a principle that connects the two ideas?

    Computer science is, well, science, right? Look at all the uses for just the simple ‘wc’ utility:

    The longest filename in the directory:
    ls -a | wc -L

    The number of files in a directory, excluding . and ..
    ls -A | wc -l

    If you didn’t have the du command, you could do this:

    find . -xdev -type f -exec cat \{\} \; | wc -c

    to get the size of all the files in a directory. (A little slow, but it works.)

  33. I have a question for those here who support the AGW hypothesis, and who advocate a global coordinated response against it:
    “I you were to find out today that the world was going to be 6 degrees (centigrade) warmer by the end of the century through entirely natural causes, what would you consider the best course of action”.

  34. @esr:

    But it isn’t. There is an important difference between saying “I think person X is lying about global warming because person X has often been caught lying before in similar circumstances” and saying “I think person X is lying about global warming because he likes to bugger sheep.”

    I was responding to what you wrote, not what you were thinking:

    Past purveyers of junk science do not change their spots. One of the earliest indicators in many outbreaks of junk science is enthusiastic endorsements by people and advocacy organizations associated with past outbreaks. This one is particularly useful in spotting environmental junk science, because unreliable environmental-advocacy organizations tend to have long public pedigrees including frequent episodes of apocalyptic yelling. It is pardonable to be taken in by this the first time, but foolish by the fourth and fifth.

    This says nothing about requiring deliberate lying, and, in fact “One of the earliest indicators in many outbreaks of junk science is enthusiastic endorsements by people and advocacy organizations associated with past outbreaks” applies quite well to “scientists” like Roy Spencer who think that creationism fits the facts better than evolution. The first rumblings against AGW I ever saw were, I think, around 1993, from people like him, so that was a pretty early indicator on the anti-AGW scene. As I’ve mentioned before, I have been watching these clowns for awhile, since I live in Texas, and we have to keep chucking them off the school textbook committee.

    Personally, I don’t think it would be useful to require claims of deliberate lying. It’s useful to know and publicize who profits greatly from a given worldview or course of action (e.g. the big-government forces on the AGW side, vs. the Koch brothers and Exxon on the other), but declaring any particular individual to be disingenuous simply because they believe one side or the other is done too often in the wider press, as a tool to blunt the force of real instances of lying.

    So, I don’t know or care if Roy Spencer likes to bugger sheep, but he claims to be a scientist and he is dead wrong on creationism, and when he says AGW is a crock, I have to take that with a grain of salt. For years all the people who I heard claiming AGW was a crock fell into this category. I don’t know how you distinguish this from what you’re trying to show here, but you haven’t yet done so in a way I find useful.

  35. heavily pushing a creationist/intelligent design agenda.

    Which think tanks were those? Names please, I’m not familiar with any creationist think tanks, although I suspect there are some.

    I was suspicious mainly because:

    1) The predictions were model based.

    2) When the models/reconstructions disagreed with the data an attempt was made to suppress the data.

    3) I lived through the ozone scare where the only invariant result was disaster even as the proposed chemistry was changed as various reaction rates failed to live up to requirements.

  36. Patrick Maupin Says:
    > Sure, but as soon as you bring this into the discussion, someone will correctly (and often viciously) point out that it is an ad hominem attack

    “Ad hominem” is a legitimate response to “appeal to authority”.

    It is legitimate to respond to “I’m a scientist therefore you should believe me”, with “ah but as a scientist, you suck”, assuming, of course, that you’ve got appropriate support for “suck”.

  37. Fill me in, wine grapes at 59 north latitude is new? Casual web search results indicate they are grown there today:

    http://www.dairyscience.info/science-and-technology-of-wine/124-the-science-and-technology-of-wine-making.html?start=1

    “Wine grapes grow almost exclusively between thirty and fifty degrees north or south of the equator. The world’s most southerly vineyards are in the South Island of New Zealand near the 45th parallel and the most northerly is in Sweden, just above the 59th parallel. As a rule, grape vines prefer a relatively long growing season of 100 days or more with warm daytime temperatures (not above 95°F/35 °C) and cool nights (a difference of 40°F/23 °C or more).”

    And http://dccw.ca/gambo.htm
    Whitehorse, Yukon
    60° 05′
    Brandon, Manitoba
    49° 55′
    Hallstahammar, Sweden
    59° 38′
    Vitebsk, Belarus
    55° 20′
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    54° 80′
    Helsinki, Finland
    60° 05′
    Laerdal, Norway
    61° 20′

  38. @chuck:

    Google for Howard Ahmanson, Discovery Institute, George C. Marshall Institute.

    Wikipedia page on Ahmanson is pretty good. Lots of other material available, but of course, a lot of it is from the other side’s psy-ops, so you have to take a lot of that with a grain of salt, as well. Everybody has an agenda.

    @Jessica Boxer:

    It is legitimate to respond to “I’m a scientist therefore you should believe me”, with “ah but as a scientist, you suck”, assuming, of course, that you’ve got appropriate support for “suck”.

    Absolutely. Unfortunately, just because a scientist sucks, doesn’t mean that he’s wrong in any particular instance.

  39. With respect to number 7, here’s Phil Jones of the Univ of East Anglia responding to a request for data for the HadCRUT data series of temperature:

    ““Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

  40. With respect to number 7, here’s Phil Jones of the Univ of East Anglia responding to a request for data for the HadCRUT data series of temperature:

    ““Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

    Because you claim to be a scientist, and that what scientist do: share data so results are reproductible?

  41. “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

    Oh, come on, he was just BSing. The real problem was that he didn’t have the data, CRU had lost it. These guys got caught out in their incompetence and made excuses, opened 1,279 cans of red herring, and burned down an acre of strawmen rather than admit the simple fact that they screwed up.

  42. In his 1953 colloquium on “Pathological Science,” Irving Langmuir distilled his analysis into the “Six Symptoms of Pathological Science”:

    1. The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, and the magnitude of the effect is substantially independent of the intensity of the cause.
    2. The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability; or, many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results.
    3. Claims of great accuracy.
    4. Fantastic theories contrary to experience.
    5. Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment.
    6. Ratio of supporters to critics rises up to somewhere near 50 percent and then falls gradually to oblivion.

    Here is a transcription of the address: http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~ken/Langmuir/langmuir.htm

  43. >Fill me in, wine grapes at 59 north latitude is new?

    It wasn’t done for centuries because European grapes weren’t sufficiently cold-hardy. As I mentioned in a comment on a previous post, modern grapes have genetic input from North American species that tolerate cold much better than the varieties available in Europe before New World contact.

  44. >It would probably be rude to ask where channelling Pan or healing by the laying on of hands fits in the junk science spectrum, wouldn’t it?

    No, actually, it wouldn’t. You see, I do try to think like a scientist, even about my mystical experiences. You would do well to reread Dancing With The Gods.

  45. >Other warning signs (the first of them corresponding with yours):

    Right, the author was focusing on a different sense of “junk science”. There’s yet a third sense having to do with ‘scientific’ testimony in courtrooms’ my wife the attorney has dealt with that version a lot.

  46. >Is the similarity merely accidental or is there a principle that connects the two ideas?

    I think the connection is real, and goes through the concept of compressive learning.

  47. >So, I don’t know or care if Roy Spencer likes to bugger sheep, but he claims to be a scientist and he is dead wrong on creationism, and when he says AGW is a crock, I have to take that with a grain of salt.

    I did not know this about him, and you are certainly correct that it justifies some additional skepticism about any scientific claim he makes.

    I can’t really address your claim that creationists were prominent in early AGW skepticism, because I developed my skepticism on my own and I am certainly not one of them. You could be right and I was simply unaware of what they were doing; on the other hand, beware of sampling bias.

  48. There was a series of stories about recovery-of-repressed-memories, linked to accusations of child-abuse, during the 1980s.

    Does that rise to the level of junk science, or was it just a couple of frauds with good PR?

    (Bonus question: does either psychiatry or psychology rise to the level of science?)

  49. I did not know this about him

    And now you do? It’s right up there with the Koch brothers, creationist think tanks, and Exxon among other ghosts that haunt the demon infested world of the Left. As far as I can tell, Dr. Spencer has done a good job managing the UAH temperature data, which is pretty good agreement with the other satellite data, and the articles of his that I have read seem cogent and well reasoned.

  50. @esr:

    I can’t really address your claim that creationists were prominent in early AGW skepticism, because I developed my skepticism on my own and I am certainly not one of them.

    I’m certainly not claiming you’re in cahoots with the fundamentalists. Just pointing out that enthusiastic endorsements by advocacy organizations don’t make the science right or wrong — in fact, don’t fundamentally change the science at all. They merely mean you need to heavily discount those opinions (and, unfortunately, the opinion of anybody they swayed). Basically, the SNR is being severely damaged on both sides.

    You could be right and I was simply unaware of what they were doing; on the other hand, beware of sampling bias.

    I don’t doubt that you were unaware. As I said, the only reason I had to know anything about it was that I was reading up on the creationists/IDers. But back then, that was all I really saw on that side of the debate. So when I saw anti-AGW gaining more public acceptance several years later, my first thought was that those guys were really successful with their PR, because originally, those weren’t merely the majority of the samples I knew about — they were the only samples that I knew about.

    @chuck:

    Yes, I think we do know this about him. And I think we do know that Exxon and the Koch brothers and Ahmanson funded a lot of research and advocacy. There is no doubt that a lot of the people reporting on these things have an axe to grind, but if you have contradictory data on these assertions, I’d love to see it.

    As far as I can tell, Dr. Spencer has done a good job managing the UAH temperature data,

    That may well be, and he may well be a fine upstanding scientist, but his higher reasoning skills are obviously clouded by religion in some instances.

  51. > The human race has been throwing unprecedented amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere over the last century or so.

    That isn’t particularly relevant unless you think that that “man made” CO2 is different.

    If you think that “man made” CO2 is just like “natural” CO2, the relevant issues have to do with CO2 levels, regardless of source.

    I mention that because CO2 levels have been higher in the past, when men didn’t produce any CO2. Unless you’re claiming that climate physics was different then, that’s surely relevant.

  52. @Patrick

    but his higher reasoning skills are obviously clouded by religion in some instances

    Cite the papers where you have detected this flaw.

  53. 1. Large amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere have the effect of trapping heat and causing average global temperatures to rise.

    The first part is acknowledged; the second claim is equivocating. Large amounts of CO2 would cause temperatures to rise if all else were equal. The world is a complicated place with numerous feedback mechanisms. One of the core criticisms of climate models is that they’re handwaving the effects of clouds, oceans, plant growth, and other factors.

  54. if all else were equal

    If all else were equal, the temperature rise would be 1.5C per CO2 doubling, not something to be worried about. The models have to build in positive feedback in order to achieve the catastrophic predictions. Doing so is speculative at best and the failure of the model predictions becomes more significant in that context.

  55. @Andy Freeman:

    If you think that “man made” CO2 is just like “natural” CO2, the relevant issues have to do with CO2 levels, regardless of source.

    Actually, it is different – it’s got a higher ratio of Carbon-14 to Carbon-12. Not that this is climatologically significant…but that is the way that we can tell what percentage of the change of carbon in the atmosphere is human-released.

  56. karrde Says:
    >There was a series of stories about recovery-of-repressed-memories, linked to accusations of child-abuse, during the 1980s.

    This was more a failure of the courts to be overly reliant on testimony or dubious reliability. The scientists were probably quacks, and the court system was gullible in the extreme.

    >(Bonus question: does either psychiatry or psychology rise to the level of science?)

    I think it worth saying that science is about a methodology. There is much science that is in its infancy, but a lack of knowledge does not delegitimize a scientific discipline. Rather it is an illegitimate approach and an unrealistic, unfounded optimism about the accuracy and precision of results.

    The mind is certainly not well understood, however, as with much of medicine, there is a known statistical correspondence between certain inputs and certain outputs. If you are bipolar and the doc gives you a certain drug, there is a probability distributed expectation of result. If you are OCD and the doc gives you appropriate aversion therapy, there is a distribution of results. If you have a headache, and the doc gives you an aspirin, there is a certain probability of results.

    Of course if you have an unknown allergy to aspirin and you die that is not a success. But that doesn’t make it junk science. It just means that the error in the known models is not zero. In the case of medicine, the error rate is often quite well known and measured.

    To put it another way, the wise know the limits of their knowledge, and there is nothing so foolish as a fool who thinks he is wise.

  57. @karrde:

    In addition to the points Jessica made, bear in mind that if you think psychology doesn’t rise to the level of science, but that economics does, you get to explain Daniel Kahneman…

  58. everything to do with being a good scientist.

    Really? What about Knuth? What about Francis Collings? For an older example, what about Eyring? What about scientists who are Marxist? I don’t see how you can claim Spencer isn’t a good scientist without extending that claim to his climate research. So which of his climate papers show a failure to be a good scientist?

    I’m atheist myself, but outside the narrow bounds of their discipline I find many academics and scientists who are also atheist to believe things I think are nonsense. Faith of one sort or another creeps in, for who wants to admit that their life is by rational measure pointless? Or that the destruction of the earth would be a cosmic micro-blib of no consequence?

  59. @Patrick Maupin,

    Interesting challenge.

    However, I would put psychology into the realm of science before I would put economics there.

  60. @Jessica Boxer:
    “To put it another way, the wise know the limits of their knowledge, and there is nothing so foolish as a fool who thinks he is wise.”

    Or as an old aphorism goes:

    He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool; avoid him.
    He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a student; teach him.
    He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep; wake him.
    He who knows and knows that he knows is a wise man; follow him.

    And then James Hogan added the following (from Endgame Enigma):

    He who knows not whether he knows or knows not anything at all is a politician. Get rid of him!

  61. @chuck:

    > What about Knuth?

    Show me anything that says Knuth believed in creationism or ID.

    > What about Francis Collings?

    I don’t know him.

    > What about Eyring?

    This Eyring? http://markii.wordpress.com/2008/05/10/henry-eyring-mormon-scientist-and-supporter-of-evolution/

    > What about scientists who are Marxist?

    What about them?

    > I’m atheist myself, but outside the narrow bounds of their discipline …

    What does atheism or any other unfalsifiable personal belief have to do with people who (a) theoretically understand the scientific method; and (b) claim that ID follows the scientific method and explains the world as we know it better than evolution?

    > I don’t see how you can claim Spencer isn’t a good scientist without extending that claim to his climate research.

    That’s my entire point. It’s very difficult to see someone who purports to understand science yet proves that they really don’t in one area, and then take their word for how things work in another area. I have to say, though, that where I work, there are a lot of religious engineers, to the extent that I think that engineering and religion go together better than science and engineering. And, for example, caretaking of a dataset is something that a competent engineer can usually do quite well on his own.

  62. @Partick

    Eyring believed in intelligent design. Knuth has speculated about the role of randomness in God’s design. Francis Collins was one of the leaders of the human genome project and believes in theistic evolution, which I think is close to what Knuth believes in. Marxists believe in the inevitable fall of capitalism due to internal contradictions, something that has yet to happen. I suspect they would have been better off basing a philosophy of historical necessity on ordinary corruption.

    The point is, you need to discredit the scientific work in itself. It doesn’t serve to point out that the scientist is gay, or Christian, or left wing, or a believer in Gaia, or beats his wife, or whatever other smear that avoids the fundamental question: is the work sound and are the results honest.

  63. Certainly, I don’t agree with Creationism or its stalking horse Intelligent Design. And that Roy Spencer believes in at least the latter is unfortunate. But that does not undermine the fact that the bizarre behavior of Remote Sensing journal editor with respect to one of his peer reviewed papers shows the politicalization of the AGW topic and the pernicious attempts at controlling what gets published on the topic.

  64. karrde Says:
    > More interestingly (in the realm of junk science) is the field of eugenics.

    In principle eugenics is not junk science at all. On the contrary, without a doubt controlling the breeding population can make for a stronger population overall. We do it all the time with animals and plants.

    Eugenics is of course utterly repugnant, and a gross violation of the most basic rights of humans, and an example of the core reasons I favor gelding governments rather than the people they rule.

    Nonetheless, science is amoral. Unless you expand the definition of “junk science” from “bad science” to include “evil science”, I don’t think it, or its many equally evil cousins can be labeled junk.

  65. Finally, someone else that thinks O3 molecules swooning at freon 50 miles below is nonsense.

    However I should say I’m equally sceptical of the age of the earth/solar system, and the darwinian pictures showing complete human beings from three bone fragments fou d i a cave (when it isn’t piltdown man). There is also no chemical/physical mechanism to produce complexity – where the information gap is too large.

    Not that I can’t be convinced, and biochemistry, physiology, etc. are science, but there is so much extrapolation from so little data concerning rocks, fossils, and computer models of DNA mutation that I prefer to say “I don’t know”.

    Yet if it is true, except for C S Lewis argument in “the abolition of man”, (online for free) why not? There can be no moral issue with bags of chemicals, or if there is, then many traditional views might be wiser even if they say debauchery is shameful.

  66. @chuck:

    Eyring believed in intelligent design.

    Are we talking about the same Eyring? I just pointed you at an article that says that at least one Eyring _didn’t_ believe in ID.

    Knuth has speculated about the role of randomness in God’s design. Francis Collins was one of the leaders of the human genome project and believes in theistic evolution, which I think is close to what Knuth believes in. Marxists believe in the inevitable fall of capitalism due to internal contradictions, something that has yet to happen. I suspect they would have been better off basing a philosophy of historical necessity on ordinary corruption.

    We’re talking past each other. Lots of people hold unfalsifiable beliefs which don’t get in the way of their science. But ID purports to be a scientific falsifiable belief that explains the real world better than evolution.

    The point is, you need to discredit the scientific work in itself.

    Lots of people much smarter than me have discredited ID; I don’t think I can do a better job. As far as the climate science goes, I thought I made it clear that I was addressing esr’s point that people who have been wrong before on science (not faith, science) tend to be wrong again. In general I agree with this because scientific reasoning is scientific reasoning, but I thought I made it pretty clear that it doesn’t always follow. In essence, if you claim that Spencer’s climate research is impeccable, you are making my point for me.

    It doesn’t serve to point out that the scientist is gay, or Christian, or left wing, or a believer in Gaia, or beats his wife, or whatever other smear that avoids the fundamental question:

    or, in esr’s words, that he buggers sheep.

    is the work sound and are the results honest.

    Sure, but if the scientist has been caught doing fake science (e.g. ID), then you just need to look extra hard to make sure he’s not doing it again.

    @spqr:

    But that does not undermine the fact that the bizarre behavior of Remote Sensing journal editor with respect to one of his peer reviewed papers shows the politicalization of the AGW topic and the pernicious attempts at controlling what gets published on the topic.

    Sorry, don’t know anything about that contretemps. I was just using Spencer as an example of someone who apparently does both good and bad science.

  67. @chuck:

    In addition to unfalsifiable beliefs, I think most of us hold some relatively unexamined beliefs. Most of these are harmless; like classical mechanics, they mesh with the real world well enough.

    But Spencer claims that he has examined his belief in ID in earnest, and that the evidence favors it over evolution. This is not a casual instance of just going to church every day because that’s what you’ve done all your life, or being a Marxist because you sympathize with the downtrodden. This is as close as a scientist gets to what an engineer does when he puts his stamp on a drawing — putting his professional reputation on the line.

    Of course, this is just my opinion and you are certainly free to disagree, but I really don’t understand why you don’t seem to think that it’s reasonable that this behavior might be deemed somewhat questionable by the casual observer. When I see a resume, it might have lots of fancy things on it that I don’t know about. I might ask a few questions about those, but I will probably spend a lot of time on what the job candidate claims he knows that I know something about. That way, I can tell if he’s inclined to blow smoke up my dress. Well, guess what? I’ve seen a lot of ID stuff, and I’ve seen Spencer blowing smoke up my dress. Is he acting that way on climate science? Beats me. It’s too much of a mess for me to wade in and figure out what’s what.

  68. Having read quite a lot of the (anti-)AGW comments on this blog and then reading this post, I couldn’t help but thinking ..

    Let’s say I ‘m “green” in the way Bennet describes here : http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=3954#comment-343335
    Obviously, I’ve heard about global warming. I wasn’t aware of any strong opposition against theories on [A]GM until I came across esr’s posts and commenters.

    I understand the anti-AGW theories on this blog and its comments aren’t science, or scientific theory. Still, what if I used esr’s checklist as a quick litmus test to see if there’s something of value in those “AGW is a scam” claims :

    >- Science by press release. … announce dramatic results before publishing in a peer-reviewed journal

    -> blog posts, emails, no sign of publications in peer-reviewed jpurnals

    >- eschatological panic. “a terrible catastrophe looms over us if theory X is true … ”

    The looming catastrophe of more big government, more power to corrupt and incompetent politicians, more tax, the end to our economy and our way of life …

    >- “only bad/sinful/uncaring people disbelieve theory X”, .. trying to induce a state of preference falsification …

    “green is the new red”, and people who don’t see this AGW is a scam are ignorant followers, “sheep”, … or profiteers, cowards looking to save their jobs and their funding, …

    >-seems tailor-made for the needs of politicians or advocacy organizations

    the anti-AGW discourse and the libertarian agenda appear to be made for each other

    4 out of 8, and since the theories expressed on this blog aren’t real science, some of the tests don’t match well with the proposed checklist (computer models, data sets, …).

    That’s enough for me to take this anti-AGW campaign with a grain of salt.

  69. aaron davies said:yes, precisely. similarly, appeal to authority is only invalid if the authority is irrelevant to the subject. “i believe in relativity because of einstein” is reasonable, “i believe in pacifism because of einstein” isn’t.

    Yes, and no.

    That’s a valid enough heuristic for laymen, certainly. (Where “laymen” are “anyone so outside of the field in question that they are thus unable to usefully evaluate claims themselves”.) But even then it’s only a heuristic, and shouldn’t be taken too far – for every Einstein, who revolutionized a field and despite being wrong about some things (his dismissal of quantum mechanics) was Pretty Much Right, there’s at least one Chomsky, who revolutionized a field despite being pretty much entirely wrong. Fame and authority can’t always be trusted.

    For scientists actually dealing with relativity, it’s still and lastingly invalid; relativity can be demonstrated, and that’s why they/we believe in it, not because Einstein was famous and won a Nobel prize.

    At best, for scientists, ones who personally knew Einstein and knew him to be a rigorous thinker and Very Smart Man Of Physics could be forgiven for thinking “it’s probably right, because he’s not sloppy and is very unlikely to have gotten it wrong”.

    But that’s not really argument by authority, then…

  70. kn –

    However you’re missing one serious point –

    None of us have ever had to falsify or deny the existence of data to support our position. The AGW alarmist crowd, however, cannot predict the past accurately with their models.

    When reality does not match your predictions, it is not reality that is flawed.

  71. I would add something along the lines of, “Religious admonitions cast forth in the guise of Accepted Scientific Fact.”

    Many times, in threads arguing AGW, I have seen AGW proponents speak along the lines of, “Yeah but what if it IS true? Better safe than sorry.” Granted, these aren’t the scientists themselves, usually, but are rather the devoted followers, receiving the ‘wisdom’ and making up nasty names for those who reject it.

    A lot of people have said the same thing about Hell. “Sure, you say you don’t believe in Hell, but what if there really is one? Better to become a (believer) while you can, than be sorry for all Eternity.”

    I’m sure others could come up with many other aspects of AGW that have been stated and argued in terms much more religious than scientific. The whole idea of Armageddon itself has roots in religions as does the idea of an enlightened few carrying the seeds of Salvation. The whole proselyting aspect of AGW is astounding, and the righteous fervor of the proselytizers themselves.

  72. >Yeah but what if it IS true? Better safe than sorry.”

    That’s point two, “Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of eschatological panic.”

  73. I just pointed you at an article that says that at least one Eyring _didn’t_ believe in ID.

    The article pointed out that he believed in evolution. On the other hand, he was quite fond of Paley’s watchmaker analogy. In other word, he thought that evolution would be God’s way to achieve a larger purpose, a teleological point of view, and that science was an attempt to understand God’s creation and purpose. I suppose that isn’t strictly intelligent design, but it is a sort of creationism.

    Re Spencer: “Is he acting that way on climate science?”

    That’s the question, no? I don’t think you have actually looked at any of his climate stuff, so I believe you when you say you don’t know. Now if Spencer didn’t come with a lengthy positive resume of accomplishments I might agree that his belief in intelligent design raised questions, but he does possess such a record and to dismiss him out of hand for ancillary beliefs isn’t justified. One might as well dismiss Godel because of his conviction that his food was poisoned.

    Sometimes politics and religion does affect the science. Steven Jay Gould would be an example of that, dismissing the accuracy of Morton’s measurements of cranial capacities without actually checking if they were correct. I suspect his explanation of the differential achievement of men and women in such things as mathematics is of the same sort. But that doesn’t mean he did no useful research in paleontology and evolution as long as he stayed away from politics.

  74. Also, “better safe than sorry” breaks down when the cost of “safe” (dismantling our technological civilization) is so close in cost to the purported “sorry”.

  75. Kn,
    Here’s a real-life reason to take the AGW bullshit with more than a grain of salt – in January incandescent light bulbs will no longer be legal to buy or sell in this country. Bad science along with crony capitalism screws us again, all in the name of “settled science”.

  76. Patrick,

    I read the paper here: http://www.ideasinactiontv.com/tcs_daily/2005/08/faith-based-evolution.html

    At first glance I see nothing wrong with the reasoning in it. It makes claims that are not controversial, using reasoning that is not problematical, and most importantly requires no faith. That you cite it without explaining why you find the reasoning either faulty or faith based says to me that you are the one not doing any reasoning.

    Yours,
    Tom

  77. I skimmed too much. The premises are not controversial and the reasoning is reasonable, but the final conclusion, that evolution is a matter of faith is certainly controversial. Evolutionists always claim that creationists and intelligent designers are evoking a “God of the gaps”. Well, they are evoking an “evolution of the gaps”. The form of the argument is the same.

    Yours,
    Tom

  78. kn: When emails reveal that scientists are fudging data and trying to influence peer review to suppress critics, you don’t need to publish a peer-reviewed paper to call shenanigans.

    As for the fact that creationists were prominent in early AGW skepticism, the old saying applies: “Just because an idiot says the sky is blue doesn’t make it another color.”

  79. Evolutionists always claim that creationists and intelligent designers are evoking a “God of the gaps”. Well, they are evoking an “evolution of the gaps”. The form of the argument is the same.

    Evolution is a fact, observed directly. Natural selection is part of the theory that attempts to explain that fact. Intelligent design is a _purely_ ad-hoc adjustment to traditional creationism to make it fit the facts. The author of the article is horribly confused.

    Furthermore, intelligent design has been thoroughly refuted. The basic ideas are flawed (look up “irreducible complexity” if you want a good laugh).

  80. Pingback: Out And About 11/28/2011 » All Things Expounded

  81. Roger Phillips,

    > Evolution is a fact, observed directly.

    Really? With a new kind of being as an end result? As someone who believes in evolution I would really like to see the evidence. Now you are skimming. The article points out that we have observed plenty of evolution within, for example, moths. But no moths to flies, for example.

    > Intelligent design is a _purely_ ad-hoc adjustment to traditional creationism to make it fit the facts.

    You are _purely_ mind reading and I _purely_ don’t believe you.

    > Furthermore, intelligent design has been thoroughly refuted.

    Yeah right. Pull the other one.

    Yours,
    Tom

  82. >Really? With a new kind of being as an end result?

    Tell me what you mean by “new kind of being” and I’ll answer that. But be aware that you’re wading into some serious definitional hoohaw here – all map, no territory.

    It is the case that all the processes required for speciation have been observed in the laboratory and in the wild.

  83. esr,

    > But be aware that you’re wading into some serious definitional hoohaw here – all map, no territory.

    I know. Our inability to rigorously define biological groups makes my head hurt. I don’t think I am alone in this.

    > It is the case that all the processes required for speciation have been observed in the laboratory and in the wild.

    I really would like to see this. It doesn’t seem to have made it to the level of popular science.

    Yours,
    Tom

  84. From the National Review article -> The Dog Ate My Global Warming Data
    === ===
    Phil Jones and Tom Wigley authored the first comprehensive history of surface temperature, in the early 1980′s. They worked at the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia, Climate Research Unit. Their paper served as the primary reference for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) until 2007. It supported the IPCC claim of a “discernible human influence on global climate”, a warming of 0.6° ± 0.2°C in the 20th century.

    Jones and Wigley used data from ground weather stations not designed to monitor long term trends. Many stations were placed near trees, in parking lots, and near heat vents. Changing urban settings surely biased readings. They modified the temperature data before using it in climate models. But, Jones and Wigley did not report their original data or how thay had modified it.

    The Australian scientist Warwick Hughes wondered where the error estimate of “± 0.2°” came from. He wrote Phil Jones in early 2005, politely asking for the original data.

    Jones responded “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”
    === ===

    More about Global Warming

  85. >I really would like to see this. It doesn’t seem to have made it to the level of popular science.

    It’s not even difficult! It’s high-school science-project stuff if you have an organism with sufficiently short generations. This is why biologists love E. Coli and fruit flies so much – you can put them under weird selective pressures and watch them do the Darwinian thing in real time.

  86. @SkipKent:

    The whole proselyting aspect of AGW is astounding, and the righteous fervor of the proselytizers themselves.

    As esr said, this is addressed by one of his points. I would like to add, though, that you have hit upon the reason why IDers were at the forefront of the anti-AGW movement. An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming (which Roy Spencer signed) makes it abundantly clear that the evangelicals view anti-AGW as a competing religion that must be stamped out at all costs.

  87. @esr:

    It’s not even difficult! It’s high-school science-project stuff if you have an organism with sufficiently short generations. This is why biologists love E. Coli and fruit flies so much – you can put them under weird selective pressures and watch them do the Darwinian thing in real time.

    My daughter is enrolled in an MD/PhD program, and IIRC, one of her major personal criteria for her PhD subject matter was that it be based on a microorganism, for the simple reason that using mammals such as mice could easily extend the time to complete her PhD by a couple of years.

  88. If you don’t have a generative account of why your formulas and coupling constants look the way they do (a generative account which itself makes falsifiable predictions), you’re not doing science – you’re doing numerology.

    I don’t agree with this entirely. If you gather data and find formulae that seem to relate the variables to one another to some reasonable level of confidence, even if you don’t have the generative account, the fact that the model works justifies telling everyone “hey, this model works, but I don’t know why” so that they can try to figure out that generative account, or show that another model works nearly as well and does have a generative account.

    Let’s take the development of the periodic table of elements as an example. Chemists noticed that different elements had behaviors that could be grouped together long before quantum mechanics produced the generative account for electron shells, orbitals, and spin. It really is OK to say “there’s a correlation here that deserves further study”. Just so you do actually say that, not “the science is settled”.

  89. >An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming (which Roy Spencer signed) makes it abundantly clear that the evangelicals view anti-AGW as a competing religion that must be stamped out at all costs.

    I think you typoed; they view AGW as a competing religion. The pro-AGW commenters around here demonstrate this almost daily.

  90. @esr:

    > I think you typoed; they view AGW as a competing religion. The pro-AGW commenters around here demonstrate this almost daily.

    Yes. Exactly. There are religious nuts on both sides. There are unprincipled partisans with oxes to gore on both sides. And there are, I think, earnest, well-meaning individuals on both sides. It really makes it hard for the casual observer to separate the heat from the light. Obviously, tools like your warning signs list are helpful here.

  91. Answering a particular statement by saying that it was made by a liar is an ad hominem argument. It does not prove the statement false; even the boy who cried “wolf” was right once.

    But ESR did not say that the previous record of lying by the speaker proves the statement is false; he only cited it as a warning sign of probable falsehood.

    I have a question for believers in CAGW driven by carbon dioxide emissions.

    China burns coal for most of its energy, and burns more coal every year. China is either the largest producer of carbon dioxide, or is on track to be so very soon. Chinese emissions alone are (I estimate) sufficient to exceed the limits on CO2 emissions which CAGW advocates claim must be met to avert CAGW.

    China’s increasing coal consumption is necessary to China’s continued economic progress out of grinding poverty. There are no alternative sources of sufficient energy to support non-poor life for China’s population.

    Suppose China persists in burning these large amounts of coal, rather than accept continued poverty for its population, so that Chinese CO2 emissions exceed the CAGW limit…

    Would you, CAGW advocate, support a war against China to stop the coal burning? Leave aside economic sanctions and other non-violent means. Such measures cannot force China to stop burning coal. China might decide that enough domestic energy production for its people to live well is more important than foreign trade.

    Note that such a war would of necessity be a nuclear war, as China has nuclear weapons. Indeed the only rational way to begin such a war is with a pre-emptive nuclear attack on China’s nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon delivery systems.

    If you had to choose between a pre-emptive nuclear attack on China, or exceeding the IPCC’s recommended limit on global CO2 emissions, which would you pick?

    (A similar question arises with India.)

  92. @SPQR:

    > “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

    One thought about Hansen. Obviously, he was in a position to figure out he was being targeted by religious zealots a long time ago — probably well before most of us would have noticed the nascent debate.

    This doesn’t excuse his behavior in the slightest, but it might go a long way towards explaining the data hiding and the apparent doubling down on bad models.

  93. @Rich Rostrom:

    Answering a particular statement by saying that it was made by a liar is an ad hominem argument. It does not prove the statement false; even the boy who cried “wolf” was right once.

    But ESR did not say that the previous record of lying by the speaker proves the statement is false; he only cited it as a warning sign of probable falsehood.

    I agree with all that, and thought I made that clear. Unfortunately, we have that warning sign in abundance on both sides of this debate.

  94. > Obviously, he was in a position to figure out he was being targeted by religious zealots a long time ago — probably well before most of us would have noticed the nascent debate.

    > This doesn’t excuse his behavior in the slightest, but it might go a long way towards explaining the data hiding and the apparent doubling down on bad models.

    It only explains the data hiding if he also thinks that every person trying to replicate his results is a religious zealot, which is also known as paranoia.

    As to explaining the “doubling down”, “the ignorant people tricked me into bad science” isn’t much of an explanation.

  95. > On the contrary, without a doubt controlling the breeding population can make for a stronger population overall.

    Umm, no. Controlling the breeding population can make for a population more adapted to the controls. Said population is “stronger” wrt that situation, but weaker wrt others.

  96. Umm, no. Controlling the breeding population can make for a population more adapted to the controls. Said population is “stronger” wrt that situation, but weaker wrt others.

    Really? The overall benefits of having more people with hereditary illnesses like Tay-Sachs disease or cystic fibrosis might be equal or greater than the overall benefits of having more people without those conditions? This is not an argument for involuntary eugenics, but there are obvious benefits to eugenics.

  97. This is a (somewhat) oldie, but a goodie, that helps to inform in a way somewhat complementary way esr’s list:

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/lying.htm

    excerpt (by John Brignell, retired mathematician):

    “How we know they know they are lying

    That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright,
    But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.
    Tennyson – The Grandmother.

    It is to some extent forgivable when people adopt extreme positions out of misapprehension or delusion. It is quite another matter if they mislead others by deliberate falsehood. Politicians, of course, treat the lie as part of their professional equipment. Indeed, in some circumstances they are obliged to use it (when, for example, telling the truth about the economy would cause a run on the currency). In science, up to recent times, there is no circumstance in which a deliberate falsehood is justifiable. It requires at a minimum being drummed out of one’s learned society.

    All that has changed with the rise of authoritarian government. In Britain this took the form of nationalisation of the universities, begun under Thatcher and completed under Blair. In the USA it took the form of new state-funded bureaucracies, such as the EPA, who maintained control by the monopoly of funding. The global warming religion changed everything.

    There is a contrast in the behaviour of people who speak from conviction and those who speak from convenience. This enables us to uncover those who are lying deliberately and distinguish them from the merely deluded. As M. Maigret once remarked “It is always the clever ones who leave a clue.”

    He goes on to describe, in detail, several symptoms, or “clues”:

    Patronage
    Secrecy
    Rewriting the past
    Ratchet reporting
    Censorship
    Consensus
    Greed
    Shifting sands
    Avoidance of debate
    Hidden agenda

    Professor John Brignell’s “Number Watch” site (www.numberwatch.co.uk) has been one of my favorites for many years. Sadly, he’s starting to suffer ill health, but when he posts, he still manages to do it with a certain cheer that brightens my day, even when the topics are gloomy.

    Regards,
    Ken

  98. Really? With a new kind of being as an end result? As someone who believes in evolution I would really like to see the evidence. Now you are skimming. The article points out that we have observed plenty of evolution within, for example, moths. But no moths to flies, for example.

    You are _purely_ mind reading and I _purely_ don’t believe you.

    Don’t waste my time by nitpicking my use of emphasis. Intelligent design is an obvious attempt a sneaking creationism, which is the result of wishful thinking on the part of religious people, back into the realm of credibility. If you can’t see the difference between the kinds of laughable nonsense being spouted by the ID folks and the genuine-but-flawed work that goes into real biology, then I really feel sorry for you.

    Yeah right. Pull the other one.

    What? Is this a serious comment? Have you bothered to look into this at all? It’s about as discredited as Nazism.

  99. This is a good list. Another early warning signal is the direct or indirect invocation of Marxist memes, such as you saw with Earlich’s work, obviously with Lysenkoism, and now within the AGW policy movement. All depend upon a kind of magical economic thinking very much in tune with Marx, whereupon the portions of the energy gap that can’t be filled in are discarded as unimportant, even if they are vast.

    Junk science certainly isn’t purely a product of the Left (just look at ID on the Right), but, given the direction academic funding normally flows, it does seem to dovetail more smoothly with it. And since Leftists in general tend to be both less religious and less philosophical than the population as a whole, it seems many of them are desperate to find a moral mirror to preen themselves in, and a secular heroic cause to fight. This is also most likely the explanation for why the religious Right sided with the skeptics so quickly. Those people undoubtedly saw right away that this was less a true science than a competing “humanist religion,” and religions famously hate competition.

  100. Oops. I missed part of my post, which was to point out that (as Eric has pointed out) speciation has been observed directly. How about instead of mindlessly parroting hideously misinformed randoms from the Internet you go and read some real books for once?

    Don’t be a sophist; ID has no credibility. Actually read what these people think. Taking this to the level of arguing that technically I can’t know if it’s 100% purely ad-hoc reveals that you’re only interested in playing games (even if that game is to play the iconoclast).

  101. >I think the connection is real, and goes through the concept of compressive learning.

    Googled compressive learning, didn’t become wiser… I think if there is a connection, it is due to the isolation of problems. As the same problem can appear in many different sets of problems, if it is properly isolated and solved, the same solution can be reused in different sets.

  102. When reading comment threads such as this I am often minded to recall that there is evidence that more than 50% of the population of the US are young-Earth creationists.

    Increased scientific literacy is a pressing need.

  103. esr>>> Consignment of failed predictions to the memory hole.

    charles>> Do any professional scientists actually do this with journal-published predictions?

    gamma ray> In the medical field there are two active and long standing examples: 1. vaccination safety and efficacy, and 2. the cholesterol heart disease myth replete with glaring omissions, confounding variables, and pleiotropic effects of statins that are never given the light of day in the mainstream media and rarely within the medical-industrial complex.

    I guess either I’m confused as to what Eric meant here or you are. I was thinking along the lines of there being particular scientists who have published claims that have been publicly refuted and brought to their attention, and then published further claims that presuppose their original claim. Glaring omissions is not the same kind of thing, and occurs in normal science because good scientists are still fallible and professionalism does not eliminate the possibility of such omissions. The other two points are methodological and so not relevant to this symptom.

  104. TomM: Be careful what you ask for. You may get it. Increased scientific literacy would have doomed AGW alarmism a long time ago.

  105. The problem with the argument from “authority” today is there is little integrity or honor, even if they aren’t lying outright to preserve their status, they are negligent or careless.

    It used to be there were some that when they made an assertion, it was because they personally checked and rechecked and verified results. So it is “someone credible says he has verified X”. Today they often repeat hearsay.

    Read the opening to CS Lewis The Abolition of Man about ‘the green book’ if you wish to know where the change is coming from.

  106. TomM Says:
    > Increased scientific literacy is a pressing need.

    I agree that that is true. However, the plain fact is that belief in a young earth and special creation has close to zero impact on most people’s lives. They make very few choices based on this information, and so, in a sense, it doesn’t make much difference to their lives what they believe.

    AFAIK, pretty much all of American scientists believe in “old earth” and evolution, and make all their decisions based on that.

    Which is to say, when it matters, people are not young earthers.

    Believing in young earth allows one to be part of a church and religious community that offers many direct benefits easily offsetting any negative costs associated with young earth faith. So, in a sense, believing in young earth is a rational choice for many people. Most people’s life goal is to be happy, not to be scientifically correct.

    I know a girl who is currently a Biology PhD student at a very prestigious University. She is spectacularly smart. She is also a very fundamentalist, Bible believing Christian. Somehow she manages to compartmentalize the two entirely contradictory beliefs — her certainty about the veracity of Genesis and the need to recognize and practice in accordance with evolution in her work.

    The human mind is a remarkable thing.

  107. @Andy Freeman:

    This doesn’t excuse his behavior in the slightest, but it might go a long way towards explaining the data hiding and the apparent doubling down on bad models.

    It only explains the data hiding if he also thinks that every person trying to replicate his results is a religious zealot, which is also known as paranoia.

    He actually doesn’t need to think that. He just needs to think that if he gives the data to anybody else, he has lost control of it and the religious zealots will get it.

    As to explaining the “doubling down”, “the ignorant people tricked me into bad science” isn’t much of an explanation.

    C’mon. We’ve all seen, or even been, relatively smart people doubling down on bad arguments. The psychology is in us. Persecution makes religious faith stronger, for an example. The drive/want/necessity to be right has powered many a scientist through rough patches. Barry Marshall is a good example of this. Unfortunately, when you combine this tendency with external forces (money raining down, lots of other researchers depending on you, etc.) it provides a temptation to take shortcuts to tide you over until you get better data (a time that may not come).

    Again, I’m definitely not excusing his behavior. Merely trying to explain it. Viewed from the cool objectivity of your favorite desk chair, the whole thing looks stupid. But then so do a lot of schemes cooked up by people.

  108. Sigh. I agree with most of the generalizations. Then you turn around and clumsily apply it to my field, buying into a whole slew of common and commonly propagated misunderstandings and errors. Ouch.

    There could be weeks of work untangling the confusion about climate science in the offing; unfortunately this comes right on top of our busy season (AGU meeting in SF). But I’ll be back.

  109. Believing in young earth allows one to be part of a church and religious community that offers many direct benefits easily offsetting any negative costs associated with young earth faith. So, in a sense, believing in young earth is a rational choice for many people. Most people’s life goal is to be happy, not to be scientifically correct.

    Ignorance is strength

  110. Mike Swanson Says:
    > Ignorance is strength

    Not really, but for oftentimes ignorance is bliss.

  111. @TomM: “When reading comment threads such as this I am often minded to recall that there is evidence that more than 50% of the population of the US are young-Earth creationists.”

    Do you have a source for this? I know that there are many YEC in the U.S., but I have trouble believing it’s as high as 50%. Since nearly all YEC are likely to vote Republican, a simple union of the YEC and the business community would imply over 50% Republican votes in every national election.

    Of course there are regional differences (lots of YEC in the South), and some outlier groups (e.g., most black YEC probably vote Democrat), but still…

  112. From today’s WSJ:

    “As with religion, [the global warming religion] is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term ‘climate change’ when thermometers don’t oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other ‘deniers.’ And as with religion, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit.”

    – from “The Great Global Warming Fizzle”, by Bret Stephens

  113. > The overall benefits of having more people with hereditary illnesses like Tay-Sachs disease or cystic fibrosis might be equal or greater than the overall benefits of having more people without those conditions?

    We know that one copy of the sickle-cell anemia gene offers some help with malaria, so I wouldn’t be surprised if other genetic traits don’t have some advantage in some situation. After all, if something causes even 1% less “fitness” in every situation, it has a lot of trouble surviving many generations. (Do the simulations.)

    Also, there is no way to target those traits and nothing else.

  114. > Since nearly all YEC are likely to vote Republican

    It takes a lot of ignorance of American politics to write that.

    > the business community

    Likewise. Even if you assume that biz always votes its pocket, you’ve failed to account for the fact that Dems run a far more lucrative biz-patronage scheme than Repubs do. Surely you’ve heard of Wall Street, Hollywood, and GE?

  115. >>As to explaining the “doubling down”, “the ignorant people tricked me into bad science” isn’t much of an explanation.

    > C’mon. We’ve all seen, or even been, relatively smart people doubling down on bad arguments.

    I didn’t intend to imply that it wasn’t understandable. I was trying to point out that it isn’t acceptable as an excuse, that it isn’t a “good”. It’s actually a bad.

    When the pressure is on is when it’s most important to get things right.

  116. @Andy Freeman:

    > It takes a lot of ignorance of American politics to write that.

    Probably partly sampling bias, based on where she lives. OTOH, YEC are more visible in the Republican party for the simple fact that they are welcome there. Just like gays are more visible in the Democratic party. Seems like a bad miscalculation on the part of the Democrats, since there are a lot more YEC than gays.

    http://scienceblogs.com/strangerfruit/2008/06/latest_gallup_poll_on_evolutio.php

  117. @Andy Freeman:

    > When the pressure is on is when it’s most important to get things right.

    And also when it’s hardest.

  118. “China burns coal for most of its energy, and burns more coal every year. China is either the largest producer of carbon dioxide, or is on track to be so very soon. Chinese emissions alone are (I estimate) sufficient to exceed the limits on CO2 emissions which CAGW advocates claim must be met to avert CAGW.

    China’s increasing coal consumption is necessary to China’s continued economic progress out of grinding poverty. There are no alternative sources of sufficient energy to support non-poor life for China’s population.

    Suppose China persists in burning these large amounts of coal, rather than accept continued poverty for its population, so that Chinese CO2 emissions exceed the CAGW limit…”

    This is exactly what is behind Freeman Dyson’s thoughts on AGW. He believes that it is already too late to head it off; the developing world will not accept limitations on their economic progress; the only thing for all of us to do is to adapt ourselves to a warmer world.

    Dyson is a genius and I have the greatest respect for him. My only objection is the fact that the CO2 we generate is going into the oceans. The acidification it causes is measurable. It is real. It is unlikely that the oceanic biota can adapt to this relatively rapid change as quickly as we humans can. If we trigger some sort of oceanic die-off, it can cut off a large percentage of the world’s food supply, at a time when the world’s population is at an all-time high. This is NOT A Good Thing.

  119. All this blather and we still have people who believe in the greenhouse theory. The greenhouse theory has been well and truly refuted because reality stubbornly refuses to follow along.

    If you can come up with a theory of human-induced climate change that does not involve CO2 and the greenhouse theory, then by all means share it with us. Until you can, then the entire thing is consigned to the realm of conjecture and needs more work.

  120. Dyson is a genius and I have the greatest respect for him. My only objection is the fact that the CO2 we generate is going into the oceans. The acidification it causes is measurable. It is real. It is unlikely that the oceanic biota can adapt to this relatively rapid change as quickly as we humans can. If we trigger some sort of oceanic die-off, it can cut off a large percentage of the world’s food supply, at a time when the world’s population is at an all-time high. This is NOT A Good Thing.

    The Great Filter is a-comin’…

  121. Pingback: Long Thanksgiving Weekend Wrap-Up « Countenance Blog

  122. “If you can come up with a theory of human-induced climate change that does not involve CO2 and the greenhouse theory, then by all means share it with us. Until you can, then the entire thing is consigned to the realm of conjecture and needs more work.”

    This whole post and thread is devoted to the idea of spotting junk science. One thing not prominently listed in the ‘great eight’ is simple common sense – ‘Is what they are saying reasonable?’ (It doesn’t always work, I know; relativity and quantum mechanics don’t make sense, at first.) There’s no great theory needed for the idea that doubling or tripling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere ought to bring about changes in our climate. Don’t you think that the atmosphere figures into the climate, somehow? Even if the scientists’ models are wrong, isn’t it reasonable to expect some effect, expecially with such a chaotic system as the earth’s weather?

    Another thing. Political motivations were mentioned in esr’s eight. The greatest motivations that I see in the anti-AGW rants are political at the personal level. There are many whose lives would be disrupted by all those AGW mitigation schemes; they would emerge poorer. It’s all too easy to believe, in these hard economic times, that if we just drill and pump and burn, the good times will come back. Economics is driving them, not science. Most of the junk science is squarely on the anti-AGW side.

  123. Sigh. I agree with most of the generalizations. Then you turn around and clumsily apply it to my field, buying into a whole slew of common and commonly propagated misunderstandings and errors. Ouch.

    Libertarian mindset 101: If you do intellectual work which seems to suggest the need for policy controls on human activity, then you are — wittingly or not — a purveyor of a pernicious viral meme complex instigated by the KGB to undermine the American political and economic system. Honest intellectual work — by definition — supports and reinforces the libertarian dogma.

    (It certainly can’t be because the libertarian is a purveyor of a pernicious viral meme complex instigated by the propertied elite to perpetuate the status quo and secure and consolidate their power base…)

  124. There’s no great theory needed for the idea that doubling or tripling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere ought to bring about changes in our climate. Don’t you think that the atmosphere figures into the climate, somehow? Even if the scientists’ models are wrong, isn’t it reasonable to expect some effect, expecially with such a chaotic system as the earth’s weather?

    What’s reasonable to expect is one thing. What’s measurable and provable is another. The AGW alarmists want us to completely upend civilization as we know it based upon a conjecture.

    This is no different than the “precautionary principle”, in that unless something can be proven to do no harm it ought not be done. Since you cannot prove a negative, the precautionary principle is merely cover for neo-Luddism. So it is with AGW alarmism.

    There is no evidence that proves, or even suggests, that CO2 is a driving force in climate change. Every single theory that starts from CO2 and ends with climate change has been proven wrong by 20 years of measurements.

    Another thing. Political motivations were mentioned in esr’s eight. The greatest motivations that I see in the anti-AGW rants are political at the personal level. There are many whose lives would be disrupted by all those AGW mitigation schemes; they would emerge poorer. It’s all too easy to believe, in these hard economic times, that if we just drill and pump and burn, the good times will come back.

    Straw men. All of it. It’s not at the personal level, it’s at the level of entire civilizations. A not insignificant number of AGW alarmists literally want to turn out the lights, as though going back to some agrarian civilization will magically cure all ills.

    None of us on the side of reality (i.e. there is no AGW) are advocating for unlimited pollution. We are saying that rushing to dismantle the energy sources that allowed us to grow to where we are is a bad idea, and that we should find alternatives in a sensible way, not one driven by political considerations (Solyndra, anyone?) or alarmism (Corn ethanol?).

    Economics is driving them, not science. Most of the junk science is squarely on the anti-AGW side.

    Bull. We haven’t had to “Hide the decline” or deny the existence of recorded history to make models work. We’ve simply relied upon the fact that the last time this particular group of socialists made up an enviro scare (remember the coming ice age from 1977?) they were wrong. They’ve come up with another one, and the solution is, miraculously, the same! Socialism, central planning, and a permanently lowered standard of living for the plebes.

  125. I am curious to see if East Anglia will race to integrate CERN’s recent findings on cloud radiation into their climate models. It would represent a big step towards repairing their tarnished reputations, and might actually advance the field of climate science and increase our knowledge of the natural world.

    I sincerely doubt this will happen, though; they have traveled too far down this sad road, and a good deal of their life’s work will have to be tossed into the furnace. The shame is that there might have been some useful observation and analysis lost in the blizzard of apocalyptic fudge factors, but thanks to the chicanery and the outright lies coming from the Team (Lonnie Thompson’s public whopper about Kilamanjaro sublimation springs to mind).

  126. … but thanks to the chicanery and the outright lies coming from the Team (Lonnie Thompson’s public whopper about Kilamanjaro sublimation springs to mind), it will take decades or longer to untangle the primary research from the political spin. Unfortunately, by then we will all be drowned by boiling seas.

  127. @brian:

    I’m not sure what you mean by the “greenhouse theory” because the greenhouse _effect_ is real, and explains why Venus is hotter than Mercury despite being twice as far from the Sun.

    With respect to AGW, the theory that human CO2 emissions cause warming due to the greenhouse effect is, I would agree, dubious at best, but your choice of words was overly imprecise.

  128. @Jessica Boxer

    Sorry for the long-delayed reply.

    > Nonetheless, science is amoral. Unless you expand the definition of “junk science” from “bad science” to include “evil science”, I don’t think it, or its many equally evil cousins can be labeled junk.

    In specifically calling eugenics as practiced in the US between the 1880s an d the 1930s, I’m calling out the assumption that (a) crime is often caused by low intelligence, (b) said low intelligence is a inheritable trait, and (c) forcible eugenics should be done to reverse that in society.

    While definitely ‘evil science’, I would assume that at part (b) is junk science, and part (a) may be also.

    I don’t dispute that selective breeding can be successful. However, I am not accustomed to calling it eugenics–which may be a misunderstanding on my part.

  129. @ConceptJ

    OK, let me be more precise then.

    The greenhouse theory of climate change as presently expressed requires several things that just plain do not occur in nature. The greenhouse effect is something that is measurable and shown in existing systems.

    To get from our present atmosphere to one where the greenhouse effect becomes dominant requires something that does not ever occur in nature – a positive feedback loop. Since the “greenhouse theory” relies upon CO2 forcing (well, actually uses CO2 as a proxy for water vapor forcing) to drive a positive feedback loop, it is bogus just from looking at it.

    But then after 20 years of actual life, there’s still no evidence of a direct relationship between CO2 and temperature, then there’s something seriously wrong with the theory, and it needs to be reworked.

    Instead, we get told “the models never showed that temperature wouldn’t drop”, which is an outright lie.

  130. Now that this ball of fluff is finally coming apart at the seams, I am struck by the most humorous projections of the AGW Team, and wonder if there might also be signals for junk science buried in them. For instance, do any of you recall the interview Hansen gave to Salon in the late eighties, and his predictions that the Hudson River would overflow and cover the West Side Highway in the early 21st century? It just occurred to me that it was a brilliant stroke of marketing genius on Hansen’s part, targeting his apocalyptic claim on the ethno-tribal center of the deep-pocketed, neurotic American Left. And in Salon, no less!

    Perhaps another signal of junk is when an extrapolation of theory X is when the panic being ginned up intersects perfectly with a specific demographic or ethno-tribal conduit of funding. It calls to mind Ehrlich saying that he “would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000,” and rattling off his astral coefficients to abortion rights advocacy groups.

  131. >While definitely ‘evil science’, I would assume that at part (b) is junk science, and part (a) may be also.

    No.

    As to (b), estimates of the heritability of intelligence from range from 50% to 83%; the better-controlled ones (such as separated-twin studies) show outcomes that cluster nearer the high end of that range than the low.

    As to (a), the claim that low intelligence “causes” crime oversimplifies the eugenicists’ actual argument, which was more that many people of subnormal intelligence become criminals because they can’t handle the cognitive demands of non-criminal ways of making a living. This is not a controversial theory among criminologists.

    The eugenicists’ error was in premise (c). They diagnosed a real problem, then opted for a “solution” that went wrong in the entirely predictable ways that forcible intervention by the state usually goes wrong.

    Even so, eugenics might have remained respectable (there are certainly enough people willing to defend equally tragic botches today, like the “War On Drugs”) – but then Naziism happened, and eugenics became “what the Nazis did”.

  132. @Grantham -

    I made this observation years ago. Whenever you ask one of these alarmists why we can’t just adapt to slightly higher seas, they always start crying about New York City and Los Angeles.

    We’re talking about a theory that predicts destroying the mansions of the bi-coastal leftist elite, here!

  133. esr Says:
    > Even so, eugenics might have remained respectable (there are certainly enough people willing

    In Freakonomics the argument is made that the recent decrease in crime in America has been partly due to the very high rate of abortions in the black community subsequent to Roe vs Wade (a court decision legalizing abortion in the USA.) This argument has scary parallels to the eugenics argument. One might well conclude that it is evidence that points a) and b) have some validity.

    Thankfully, it has the one positive quality that the eugenics was performed voluntarily. (Well, the mom’s actions were voluntary, I imagine the potential baby might not be quite so cooperative given the choice.)

  134. Straw men. All of it. It’s not at the personal level, it’s at the level of entire civilizations. A not insignificant number of AGW alarmists literally want to turn out the lights, as though going back to some agrarian civilization will magically cure all ills.

    The irony is hilarious. Decrying a straw man of unlimited pollution in one breath and producing another that AGW alarmists “literally want to turn out the lights”.

    Despite the fact that one of the biggest proponents is sitting in a huge mansion and unlikely to give up his creature comforts.

    [quote]
    None of us on the side of reality (i.e. there is no AGW) are advocating for unlimited pollution. We are saying that rushing to dismantle the energy sources that allowed us to grow to where we are is a bad idea, and that we should find alternatives in a sensible way, not one driven by political considerations (Solyndra, anyone?) or alarmism (Corn ethanol?).[/quote]

    Nobody is rushing to dismantle anything. However, spending money on alternative energy IS a good idea despite Solyndra. Reducing dependence on middle-east oil will also do wonders for world security.

    From a strategic standpoint limiting drilling in the US is a smart move. We’re going to want that oil in the future. If OPEC is willing to sell to us at current rates until they peak, just fine whether that’s 10 years, 20 years or 100 years. We’re going to really need oil when that happens so I’d just as soon leave it in the ground until then.

    Conservation is a great thing too. Contrary to belief we are capable of conservation AND maintaining our lifestyle. It requires giving a shit though and spending a little more money to do so.

  135. Jessica Boxer>> I know a girl who is currently a Biology PhD student at a very prestigious University. She is spectacularly smart. She is also a very fundamentalist, Bible believing Christian. Somehow she manages to compartmentalize the two entirely contradictory beliefs — her certainty about the veracity of Genesis and the need to recognize and practice in accordance with evolution in her work.

    The human mind is a remarkable thing. <<

    I'm not religious myself, but I don't see it as so remarkable. The beliefs are contradictory only in the theoretical realm. There is no practical (industrial) application of 'believing the veracity of Genesis', but there is a demonstrable application of the science she is learning. All it takes to resolve the two and get on with the business of living (and working and doing science) is for her to answer the question "How can they both be true?" with "I don't know". She can believe in her heart of hearts that somehow, somewhere there is a way to resolve the two but she just hasn't found it yet. She can say, "God knows," and simply leave it at that.

    She can happily continue to enjoy what she likely feels to be the nurturing of her soul with her religion, and making a living and contributing to the world's knowledge of itself with her practice as a Scientist. This ability to quickly and with great finality 'resolve' inner conflicts is one of the great strengths, in my opinion, of religions.

    What separates your friend from the AGW alarmists, and makes her much their superior, in my opinion, is the fact that she seems to know instinctively to separate the two realms. She is not applying her science to salve an inner emotional turmoil at the expense of others. AGW alarmists, on the other hand, willingly blur their eyes at anything that contradicts the thought that the changes they seek are just, righteous and must be applied in the physical realm at virtually any cost. They wage jihad against any and all who they see as impeding them.

  136. Bull. We haven’t had to “Hide the decline” or deny the existence of recorded history to make models work. We’ve simply relied upon the fact that the last time this particular group of socialists made up an enviro scare (remember the coming ice age from 1977?) they were wrong.

    The global cooling scare of the 1970s was completely made up by the media in order to generate ratings and readership. It did not have a strong basis in published science from reputable journals. AGW does.

    Socialism, central planning, and a permanently lowered standard of living for the plebes.

    Look around you, man! “The plebes” are squatting in tents in New York, Boston, LA, and elsewhere because they’re pissed off and fed up with their lowered standard of living, but uh — it ain’t socialism they’re demonstrating against!

  137. >something that does not ever occur in nature – a positive feedback loop.

    Sigh… Positive feedback loops aren’t at all uncommon in nature. AGW is bogus because this specific one is bogus, not because the general phenomenon is nonexistent.

    When you talk nonsense like this, you give credence to the AGW-alarmist claim that “deniers” are scientifically-illiterate yahoos.

  138. I wonder what the next great pseudo-science will be? Anti-vax seems to have mostly burned itself out in the first world, with even a whisper of it tanking Michelle Bachmann’s political career. For a while, I thought it might be Avian Flu or a similar overzealous adventure in epidemiology, but that balloon was busted years ago (not before the political class got a few miles out of it, though).

    Nutritional science has many laughable, “science-y” junk salesman with tentacles the consumer sphere, many of which the political class explores for potential revenues and power grabs (sin taxes, regulatory bodies, etc), so it’s conceivable that a new mass movement on dietary regulation could emerge, claiming to increase efficiencies in the looming socialized medicine regime.

  139. >a new mass movement on dietary regulation could emerge, claiming to increase efficiencies in the looming socialized medicine regime.

    Yes, very plausible.

  140. This seems semi relevant, as so much of climate science depends on the predictive ability of models.

    TLDR version: Given a perfect model (it generated the data), when attempting to determine coefficients (the form of the equation was left alone) by data fitting, there were numerous local optimums. When the data had artificially induced error added, the correct coefficients looked worse than some of the false sets when fitting, although only the proper coefficients were effective at predicting additional data.

  141. The “ozone hole” is a naturally occurring result of atmospheric dynamics over Antarctica. Mainly the result of lack of sunlight in winter (remember ozone is made from O2 by UV light). The reason it was worse and has gotten smaller is that the scare was during the eruption of an antarctic volcano that was blasting enormous amounts of chlorine into the upper atmosphere. CFCs had nothing to do with it, being so stable and dense that little, if any, ever made it into the upper atmosphere. In fact, chlorides from wind-driven salt spray are a far larger constituent of atmospheric chlorine than CFCs ever were. Also, over the US where much of the CFCs were being released the amount of UV reaching the ground was decreasing during the same period (as the “ozone hole” was being fear-mongered). [from memory mostly from The Holes in the Ozone Scare that I read in 1995]

    No, no, no. This is completely wrong.

    The science behind CFC-caused ocean depletion is there if you would but look. Unfortunately your stubbornness has precluded you from doing so.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=chlorofluorocarbons-cfcs says:

    Much can be learned about the atmospheric fate of compounds from the measured changes in concentration versus altitude. For example, the two gases carbon tetrafluoride (CF4, produced mainly as a by-product of the manufacture of aluminum) and CFC-11 (CCl3F, used in a variety of human activities) are both much heavier than air. Carbon tetrafluoride is completely unreactive in the lower 99.9 percent of the atmosphere, and measurements show it to be nearly uniformly distributed throughout the atmosphere as shown in the figure. There have also been measurements over the past two decades of several other completely unreactive gases, one lighter than air (neon) and some heavier than air (argon, krypton), which show that they also mix upward uniformly through the stratosphere regardless of their weight, just as observed with carbon tetrafluoride. CFC-11 is unreactive in the lower atmosphere (below about 15 kilometers) and is similarly uniformly mixed there, as shown. The abundance of CFC-11 decreases as the gas reaches higher altitudes, where it is broken down by high energy solar ultraviolet radiation. Chlorine released from this breakdown of CFC-11 and other CFCs remains in the stratosphere for several years, where it destroys many thousands of molecules of ozone.

    If you want some actual science I suggest you start with “Stratospheric sink for chlorofluoromethanes: chlorine atom-catalysed destruction of ozone” by Molina and Rowland; and “Large losses of total ozone in Antarctica reveal seasonal ClOx/NOx interaction” by Farman, Gardiner, and Shanklin. They shouldn’t be hard to google for.

    But I honestly can’t blame you for your science-denial. The CFC ban was a phenomenal success, achieving what the market couldn’t: the destruction of ozone by CFCs is slowing and may even be reversing. This conflicts strongly with the libertarian dogma that the free market finds optimal solutions and we’re all worse off for having government regulate aspects of our economic activity. Libertarians are therefore forced to deny the science in order for their ideology to hold up. Rather like young-earth creationists, actually.

  142. @Nigel – Don’t say that nobody’s talking about dismantling anything, people like Gore (with the aforementioned mansion) has said repeatedly that we will have to learn to live with less to save the planet from destruction.

    And spending money on alternative energy that is always net negative or has other massive negative effects (like food shortages) is a bad idea. Looking for alternate energy transmission methods might be worthwhile. Hydrogen, for instance, is a massive net negative, but if we build enough nuclear power plants then the electricity needed for hydrogen production becomes cheap enough to not care.

    @esr – Chalk it up to the inefficiency of the English language. The whole of Anthropogenic Global Warming relies upon the existence of a positive feedback loop that never triggers a limit switch, ergo causing a runaway increase in temperature. Granted, I’m not a climate scientist (I’m a computer engineer that started as an EE) but I know of no system with a runaway positive feedback loop that’s long term stable. Even oscillators have limits to keep them from turning to smoke.

  143. Granted, I’m not a climate scientist (I’m a computer engineer that started as an EE) but I know of no system with a runaway positive feedback loop that’s long term stable. Even oscillators have limits to keep them from turning to smoke.

    It’s kinda like how markets can remain irrational longer than you can stay solvent. Runaway feedback loops can persist longer than human life on Earth at present scales.

  144. >Chlorine released from this breakdown of CFC-11 and other CFCs remains in the stratosphere for several years, where it destroys many thousands of molecules of ozone.

    Yeah. But incident solar UV creates ozone at a rate that varies inversely with the ozone content in the air. So when CFCs destroy ozone, they speed up the rate of ozone formation. It’s a pretty classic hysteresis situation.

    This was one of the sillier ones, for sure. I truly don’t know how the CFC-ozone scare took in anybody who passed high-school chemistry. I found the whole flap inexplicable until years later, when I learned that Freon was about to go off-patent at the time and DuPont wanted to lock in a market for refrigerants that it still owned. It was just like the incandescent-light ban – regulatory capture for profit masquerading as greenness.

  145. where it destroys many thousands of molecules of ozone

    IIRC, the initial reaction rates used to compute the chlorine catalysed destruction of ozone were off by a factor somewhere between 10 and 100, 70 comes to mind. So the race was on to discover substitute reactions, which I believe is where fluorine came in. But that wasn’t sufficient either, so reactions on the surface of ice crystals were brought in. A couple of years ago another critical reaction rate was remeasured and I think was off by a factor of about 10, so we are now back to GO but someone definitely collected $200 on the way. Stratospheric ozone is still not understood after all these years.

    Now I’m not complaining about the reaction rates, they are difficult to measure at such low concentrations and pressures, what with diffusion to container walls and such. But the continual updates required to maintain the conclusion don’t look like disinterested scientific research in retrospect.

  146. I found the whole flap inexplicable until years later, when I learned that Freon was about to go off-patent at the time and DuPont wanted to lock in a market for refrigerants that it still owned.

    This is also wrong, and blatant unfounded conspiracy-theory mongering at that.

    Freon was first patented in 1928. Du Pont had a 1966 patent on a manufacturing process for the stuff, but by the 1970s several firms were already producing it — and paying no royalties to Du Pont. They were by no means the driving force behind the Montreal Protocol; they fought against scientific and public opposition to CFCs for years before having a change of heart in 1986 (once they had developed a profitable Freon alternative they could sell). Kinda like oil companies with green energy and AGW: launching a PR campaign against the science which threatens their cash cow until it becomes accepted in the minds of the general public, then doing a complete about face when they see it’s a losing battle and trying to figure out quickly how to make money in the new regime. Fairly typical big-corp behavior.

  147. @Grantham:
    “I wonder what the next great pseudo-science will be? Anti-vax seems to have mostly burned itself out in the first world, with even a whisper of it tanking Michelle Bachmann’s political career.”

    Sadly, not true. It’s nothing like a majority, but it’s high enough to put a lot of kids at risk.

    —–

    More Parents Skip Childhood Vaccines (NY Times)

    “Health officials have struggled for years to reassure parents that childhood vaccinations are safe, but the number of parents who skip the shots continues to grow, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press.

    “In more than half of the states, the number of parents opting to skip some or all childhood vaccines is rising, according to The Associated Press report. And in eight states, more than 1 in 20 public school children do not get the vaccines that are required for kindergarten attendance.

    Health officials have not identified an exemption threshold that would likely lead to outbreaks. But they worry when some states have exemption rates climbing beyond 5 percent. The average state exemption rate has been estimated at less than half that.

    Even more troubling are pockets in some states where exemption rates are much higher. In some rural counties in northeast Washington, for example, vaccination exemption rates in recent years have been above 20 percent and even as high as 50 percent.”

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/29/more-parents-skip-childhood-vaccines/

  148. Probably the most frightening possibility is that a “politically useful” junk science will emerge from a serious field, such as genetics, perhaps as a sort of neo-Larmarckism. Gene mapping already has seeded plenty of hucksterism and quackery out in the popular culture (for laughs, look up an outfit called “African DNA”), but I’m sure there is a wily villain out there who can exploit our current gaps in understanding to enhance the centralized authority of the state… or at least make a quick buck off of suckers.

  149. @Cathy

    Well, I suppose it’s mildly troubling, but 2.5% national is nothing compared to the rates in Asia Minor, particularly when the data suggests the highest concentrations of the U.S. exemptions are endemic to, forgive me for saying so, East Bumblefuck rather than in highly concentrated urban centers where risk of outbreak is high. I mean, lets cross reference that data with other factors, like average novel human contacts, or health checkups. Northern Washington is pretty widely known as the locus of this particular cargo cult in the U.S., so it doesn’t surprise me that they continue to add acolytes there, but it seems to be largely contained in the U.S. as opposed to the Philippines or India.

  150. Regarding inheritability of intelligence, Jerry Pournelle has posted this seeming paradox on his web site:

    Some Teachers Unions have pointed out that the average grade and high school performances in Wisconsin, which has teachers unions, are higher than the corresponding averages in Texas, which is a right to work state. This is true. The average student performance in Wisconsin is higher than the average student performance in Texas.

    It is also true that the average black student performance in Texas is higher than black student performance in Wisconsin. The average Hispanic student performance in Texas is higher than the average Hispanic student performance in Wisconsin. The average white (non-Latino) student performance in Texas is higher than the average white (non-Latino) student performance in Wisconsin. The three classes are collectively exhaustive.

    These facts are true, and they are not contradictory although they may appear to be.

    http://jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/?p=3694

  151. It’s kinda like how markets can remain irrational longer than you can stay solvent. Runaway feedback loops can persist longer than human life on Earth at present scales.

    Not really. The market will never, for instance, go into an exponential growth loop towards infinity – at some point it runs into a limit switch and heads the other way.

    Greenhouse theory said that there would be a “tipping point” reached after which rapid temperature increase was inevitable. This was always nonsense on stilts.

  152. Grantham,

    Leave it to the Pacific bloody Northwest to be the major holdout for a form of hippy-dippy-dom that’s long been debunked and considered harmful.

  153. > wine grapes grown at 59 degrees north around the year 1000, that sort of thing.

    I live at 60 degrees north and it currently happens to be +6 C here. The internets tell me that its +5 C in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, in one of their prime wine growing areas in the Rhine valley. No wine grapes growing around here yet, but I’m certainly not opposed to the concept. This November has been extremely warm and I’m a fan, apart from the storm we just had that killed a couple of people in Norway and knocked out electricity for tens of thousands in Finland.

    The example of the medieval warm period that people cite around here is oak trees growing in the Oulu region at 65 degrees north, which quite evident in the pollen record. Currently they only grow in the wild in the southernmost coastal areas of Finland at 59-60 degrees.

  154. @Jeff Read

    >Leave it to the Pacific bloody Northwest to be the major holdout for a form of hippy-dippy-dom that’s long been debunked and considered harmful.

    Interesting. From some of your comments here, I just assumed you were a major proponent of “hippy-dippy-dom.”

  155. I never much thought of Anti-vax as a product of the Left or the Right, but rather a psychographic phenomenon, drawing in the most paranoid subjects regardless of political alignment. Maybe that’s why it still hasn’t quite caught fire in the West; neither ideology could figure out a good way to exploit it for cash and power grabs. ID has a definite Rightward tilt, but it’s effect is mostly benign (for instance, I also had to learn “Home Economics” in public school; useless subjects in public education do not begin and end with ID).

    The big problem with CAGW was that it very conveniently and obviously lent a teleological component to international Marxism that it was sorely lacking. It quickly became the doctrinal well for a cultural movement, complete with a secular Eschaton that the Left could use as a rally point. During their first attempt at world domination, the communists were too quick to murder God without first inventing something desirable to take his place, but CAGW (or CACC, heh) provided a perfect framework for secular spiritualism required to complete their project.

  156. There is rather compelling evidence that the Earth has had much higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere than we currently have. (Millions of years ago.) If there was a positive feedback loop, This planet would be uninhabitally hot, and it isn’t.

    The most reasonable mechanism that introduces negative feedback is that when the CO2 level in the atmosphere rises, the amount of carbon bound by photosynthesis is increased. This happens both on land, in plants, and in the sea, mostly in algae. Given enough time and temperatures that are not too hot for survival, photosynthesis will bring the CO2 levels down. There is some equilibrium point where CO2 concentration is so low that only a few hardy species survive, but we have never been close to that point in the history of the Earth. Animals evolved, introducimg a positive element in the feedback loop. This produced oscillation in CO2 levels as animal populations grew and shrunk. Human intervention has released a bunch of CO2 that was previously bound into the atmosphere. The capacity for binding the carbon again is a far cry away from balancing the CO2 emissions, but in a longer perspective, this matters little. Humans will stop burning fossil fuel sooner or later, either by exhausting the supplies or by becoming extinct. Smarter species will evolve, given enough time.

  157. Jeff Read: Hippy-dippy-dom?

    I mean, yes, vaccine-avoidance is that.

    But look at the places they single out in the report, for the Northwest – counties in rural northeast Washington.

    There aren’t a lot of hippies out there… where are they “concentrated”? Tonasket? Almira? Colville?

    (Now, Ashland, where two of the idiots the AP quotes are from, and one of the people in their picture? Hippies. So many hippies.

    I was wondering why all the hippie-quotes were from Ashland, then I saw that the reporter is from Grant’s Pass, half an hour up the Interstate… so Ashland was the nearest hippie concentration.)

  158. Scientific American leans extremely far to the left. I quit subscribing in the 1980s because of their regular anti-US stance. And if your quoted section is indeed from them, they still don’t let reality (or science) get in the way of their biases.

    >some heavier than air (argon, krypton)

    Argon is lighter than air, much lighter than nitrogen, and half the density of oxygen, and krypton is the same density as oxygen, though admittedly denser than nitrogen. And the rest of the thing, since it gives no numbers to the amount of decrease with altitude, which it admits to, could support my previous knowledge at least as well as it does your claim.

  159. >There is rather compelling evidence that the Earth has had much higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere than we currently have. (Millions of years ago.) If there was a positive feedback loop, This planet would be uninhabitally hot, and it isn’t.

    And if it acidified the ocean as much as some people (including Eric in an earlier post) fear, there would have been at least some evidence of that, which I have never even heard any mention of.

  160. Argon is lighter than air, much lighter than nitrogen, and half the density of oxygen

    Umm, no. Look at a periodic table. For given pressure and temperature, the density of an ideal gas is proportional to the atomic mass of the particles. Nitrogen has an atomic mass of ~14, the atomic mass of a nitrogen molecule of about 28. Argon’s atomic mass is ~40.

  161. @Joel C. Salomon:

    Regarding inheritability of intelligence, Jerry Pournelle has posted this seeming paradox on his web site…

    Anybody with a smattering of algebra or a smattering of programming could understand how to construct a scenario that would match those facts. Anybody who already knows that whites are no longer in the majority in Texas could probably reason it out without resorting to variables. And it’s certainly not a paradox that a union would use flawed statistical reasoning to get its message across. So, the only real paradox here is how someone could apparently think that those facts by themselves say anything about IQ heritability.

    I can also tell you that at least one of those “facts” is dead wrong — being a right-to-work state does not preclude having teacher’s unions. The unions theoretically cannot engage in collective bargaining, but you know how that goes. But that is incidental to your main point.

    http://www.utwatch.org/archives/workingstiff/vol2no9_educationaustin.html

  162. What about scientists who are Marxist?

    Like this guy?

    A marxist, by definition, is either an idiot or a thug. Neither are traits conducive to clear thinking.

  163. @Nigel – Don’t say that nobody’s talking about dismantling anything, people like Gore (with the aforementioned mansion) has said repeatedly that we will have to learn to live with less to save the planet from destruction.

    And spending money on alternative energy that is always net negative or has other massive negative effects (like food shortages) is a bad idea. Looking for alternate energy transmission methods might be worthwhile. Hydrogen, for instance, is a massive net negative, but if we build enough nuclear power plants then the electricity needed for hydrogen production becomes cheap enough to not care.

    Learning to live with less isn’t learning to live with nothing. First, I think that was Obama and not Gore and second, it’s like driving a more efficient car vs driving a huge SUV unless you’re regularly towing a boat and not like walking vs driving. If you need to haul a gaggle of kids around then switching to a more efficient 4 or 6 cyl station wagon or mini van vs a V8 SUV. If you need to haul a boat around, then by all means, keep a big V8 to tow the sucker. But you know what? I won’t cry if you have to pay more for a luxury gas guzzler.

    If you care about your kids/grandkids then you might be inclined to consume somewhat less while keeping your current standard of living regardless of whether AGW is true or not. The fact of the matter is that we CAN voluntarily reduce oil consumption without ending up living in caves. How do I KNOW this? Because we dropped from peak oil usage in 2005 of 20.8M bbd to 18.7M bbd in 2009. We saved more oil per year than any new domestic fields would ever produce.

    http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_cons_psup_dc_nus_mbblpd_a.htm

    We rolled back 10 years worth of increased oil usage. If we can get back to 1983 (15M bbd) level of oil usage through electric and hybrid vehicles that would be fantastic.

    That’s living with less comfortably while maintaining our current lifestyle (more or less). Keeping the thermostat a couple degrees cooler is somewhat less comfortable but wearing a sweater in the winter vs shorts doesn’t really impact standard of living.

    It’s cheaper to conserve energy than to build new plants or drill for more oil. And while solar may not be dollar for dollar more cost effective vs coal but there’s a lot to be said for designing your home to be energy efficient enough that solar meets a large percentage of your electrical needs. There are advantages to getting off the grid beyond pure $ savings. That doesn’t mean no AC or no large HDTV. It does mean energy efficient appliances, increased insulation and improved thermal design. From just a cost perspective it’s a negative. From an independence perspective (individually and as a nation) it buys you quite a bit.

    China is going to need more oil than they do now. As someone noted above they are going to insist on using their share of the petroleum energy pie because they need to. They will spend blood and treasure to make that happen.

    In that scenario, is it better if many/most folks are driving a EV and living in an energy efficient home augmented by solar or is it better with the current status quo?

    Is it worth a trillion or two to make that happen? Would be better of strategically with fewer carrier battle groups and a smaller military overall but a more energy independent nation? As a big hawk and with my salary dependent on a big military (specifically Navy) I’m still inclined to think yes, we would be better off.

    That we’d also be producing less pollution is a nice side benefit…AGW or no AGW.

  164. The global cooling scare of the 1970s was completely made up by the media in order to generate ratings and readership.

    Yeah, they didn’t figure out a way to make it benefit power-seekers. That’s why it fizzled out so quickly.

  165. @Nigel -

    I never said anything against any of that.

    However, when the 10 year TCO of a Honda Fit is less than that of a Prius, it doesn’t say much for the value of hybrids in the long run. And if you add in the environmental impact of the batteries, forget it.

    And PV Solar is a non starter here in the Northeast. And even in the places that it CAN work, it still can’t be done without subsidies.

    But if you listen to the leftists that push the AGW hype, they want us to go back to not having the lifestyle we have now. Some of them want us to go back to a subsistence lifestyle, some only back to the standard of living of the 1950s, with 1 car and 1 TV per family.

    I reject all of that out of hand, and it infuriates me that the left is using lies to convince people that somehow there is virtue in living like a pauper.

    In the immortal words of Glenn Reynolds: I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.

    I use less energy in a year than Algore does in a month. I win.

  166. In case it isn’t obvious, I’m neutral on AGW, not having studied the data in any detail. Frankly, I couldn’t care less…reduced energy dependence on oil is a big enough win on it’s own merits regardless of any environmental impact.

    I also think that AGW opponents are guilty of their own fear mongering.

    The probability that our political system will drive any significant change based on environmental impact without actual flooding of coastal cities or other painfully visible stimulus (like lake eire catching fire…actually the cuyahoga river) approaches zero. The most you’ll see is some governmental lip service coupled with some watered down laws that will get even more watered down after big business lobbyists get done.

    And you know what, I even like the Federal Clean Water Act. It beats the hell out of the “free market” that resulted in rivers that caught fire.

  167. > If you care about your kids/grandkids then you might be inclined to consume somewhat less while keeping your current standard of living regardless of whether AGW is true or not.

    Hey, I think we have a winner on warning signal #3:

    Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of moral panic.

    In all seriousness, there is nothing inherently wrong with conservationism. In fact, I think that’s probably why Eric included the line, “The most difficult case is recognizing that this is happening even when you agree with the cause,” in his sixth signal. Many critics of the carbon catastrophe crowd are longtime naturalists and conservationists, myself included. But pseudo-science needs to be exposed to sunlight and fraud needs to be punished, even if some of the professed ends are desirable. Otherwise, we are headed for another Medieval Period, whether it is warm or not.

  168. Nigel, any sentence that begins with “you don’t need” is invalid in a free society. It’s not anyone’s place to tell me what I need or don’t need. I drive the vehicle that fits what my needs are, and nobody else gets a say in the matter.

    The same comment applies to hybrids. 95% of my driving is at 70-75 MPH in cruise on the highway, where a hybrid gains me exactly nothing in return for the greater weight and higher expense, both initial and ongoing. Electrics are not even to the point where I *can* consider them: my mission profile has me hauling a midsize (Blazer/Explorer/Highlander-class) SUV load of people and/or stuff 300 miles at 70 MPH, and being ready to do it all over again in 15 minutes, indefinitely. No electric vehicle is anywhere close to meeting that mission.

    Sure, there are pie-in-the-sky plans. When the pie goes splat onto my driveway, then maybe I’ll consider it. Until then, aerial pie is inedible.

  169. @brian:

    However, when the 10 year TCO of a Honda Fit is less than that of a Prius, it doesn’t say much for the value of hybrids in the long run.

    Why are you comparing those two cars? Why not compare the Honda Insight against the Honda Fit?

  170. @Nigel -

    I’m an engineer. Efficiency is my lifeblood.

    And I get it, I really do. The problem we’re discussing here isn’t one of conservation or not, it’s whether or not it is acceptable to pervert science and lie to the public to achieve some “higher goal”. Especially when the goal is of dubious height.

    I support using less oil for fuel because it’s so useful for all kinds of other stuff. If I thought electric vehicles were viable, I’d be all for them. But battery-making material is scarcer than oil is, and our power grid would collapse if even 5% of the cars on the road were battery-electrics.

    As far s political decisions being made, in 32 days it will no longer be legal to buy, sell, or make available incandescent light bulbs of 100 watts or greater output. And those laws came about BECAUSE of big business lobbying. Decisions are being made for us without our consent, and we’re being lied to about it. Doesn’t that bother you even a little?

    I drive a little car that gets 31 mpg on the highway, I’ve got a little house that uses less than 500 gallons of oil to heat it all winter long.

    I’m waiting for someone to buck the green trend and build a little turbine-electric that runs on CNG and you could fill up at your house. Hell, if I had the time and money, I’d try to retrofit one myself. How hard can it be?

  171. @brian if you prefer a Honda Fit over a Prius I think that’s just fine. I don’t care how the cat is skinned. And PV subsidies is just fine with me because the TCO for oil once you factor in military expense is too high, and I’m not talking just $$$.

    Plus, given the widespread power outages (from storms) these last couple years I’m inclined to install solar just because PEPCO sucks, subsidy or no subsidy.

    AGW leftists are extremists that should be rightly ridiculed (heh)…but find me a mainstream democrat that would push 1 car and 1 TV per household. Political suicide. Not even a Prius driving treehugger is going to go for that. For one thing if you bought a Prius you already have indicated you’re not willing to trade comfort for the environment beyond a certain point.

    More infuriating to me are folks in my party without the foresight of a gnat prattling on about drilling for more oil in the US. Crude is going for $99/bbl today. Wanna bet that it’s going to be worth a lot more than that in a couple decades? You really want to burn that in your SUV today vs conserving a little more and reserving it for future needs?

  172. @Nigel -

    You really ought not include the cost of the military in the price of oil. Our military would not shrink one iota if we were to stop using oil tomorrow. The world is a dangerous place, oil or not.

    Subsidies are not fine with me, because I don’t like having my money stolen from me at gunpoint to be given to someone else to chase after unicorn farts.

    I do know that there are things we can do, now that will lower the price of oil (and things that can reduce the price of energy, full stop). I also know that the greens are opposed to all of them because their goal is a world with less of us in it.

  173. @brian I think we’re largely in agreement except I don’t feel all that incensed about AGW. It’s political now which pretty much means everyone is lying and spinning to their own advantage. Any eco-nazi pro-AGW spin, IMHO is likely offset by big oil anti-AGW spin. The truth is likely where it normally is. Somewhere in the middle.

    Scientists are political and they always have been. Scientists are human first with all the normal foibles. And they aren’t any better at far reaching global conspiracies than anyone else so I disbelieve some grandiose green orchestration as much as I disbelieve that Bush orchestrated 9/11.

  174. @grantham It might be true if I was a AGW proponent. I’m a IDRGAS (I don’t really give a shit) proponent with respect to global warming.

    I care about oil supplies, environment, etc on the same level that I care about the deficit. At some point the bill comes due. I’ll likely be dead by then but I can see my kids being very much alive. If I can push the problem out another 50 years I dunno that I really care that it goes to hell in a handbasket at that point. Too far removed from me emotionally to really care all that much.

  175. > If I can push the problem out another 50 years I dunno that I really care that it goes to hell in a handbasket at that point. Too far removed from me emotionally to really care all that much.

    I know what you mean, in a way. Of course, both the lefties and the righties would probably consider you a nihilist for saying it, but it’s not that extreme. It might even be the best strategy: always keep Armageddon a comfortable brace of years in the future, so we don’t have to worry aboutour grandkids reenacting Mad Max. But solar, wind and hydroelectric won’t forestall that kind of future, and neither will a West weakened by carbon regs. Fracking, off-shore, coal and nuclear are our best bets for the next 50 years.

  176. If you need to haul a gaggle of kids around then switching to a more efficient 4 or 6 cyl station wagon or mini van vs a V8 SUV.

    You mean the station wagons that have been largely phased out in the United States because of CAFE standards—and replaced with SUVs?

  177. @brian Given where the military spent the last decade I disagree. If Iraq had no oil we’d have left it to its own sad devices just like a bunch of other petty dictatorships. Oil drives policy and it has since Jan 1980 when Carter baldly stated it in his state of the union and further expanded by Reagan. The US will use military force to defend our national interests in the persian gulf.

    I can’t disagree with that sentiment. That’s what the military is for, to defend our national interests, otherwise why bother.

    But oil money enriches our enemies and our dependence on oil is a significant strategic weakness that requires huge amounts of force projection capability to offset. Far beyond what we need otherwise even as a superpower.

    I have a picture in my office of several destroyers and cruisers in formation. Very pretty, flags whipping, white water at the bows, steaming at speed.

    For us, it’s a not particularly important surface action group. One of many we can field and not really of note given there’s no carrier attached.

    For any other navy, except for very very few, it represents more tonnage and firepower than everything they have combined. We can’t just beat any two navies out there. We could probably beat them all. So why have that much overkill? IMHO Carter Doctrine and the Reagan Corollary. Push comes to shove we can take the resources we need from pretty much anyone if it comes down to it.

    But that has come with a cost as it always does.

    I can live with spending treasure inefficiently. Spending blood inefficiently not so much.

  178. Christopher: Not only that, but the myth of the more efficient minivan is just that, a myth. I’ve driven more than a few minivans in my travels as rental vehicles, and I’ve never had a single one produce better than 20 MPG.

  179. @christopher No, SUVs are a result in a CAFE loophole. Note that you’re seeing a lot more station wagons around these days.

  180. @jay

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byclass/Minivan2012.shtml

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byclass/Sport_Utility_Vehicle2012.shtml

    SUVs tend to seat 2 fewer (5 vs 7) than Minivans and tend to have lower MPG (both real world and spec’d). That’s the difference between a V6 and V8. Given that there are 4 cyl SUVs it’s not true across the board but on average you can haul more kids around town in a minivan and burn a little bit less gas in the process than you can in a SUV.

    Sure, you can get a Durango that can seat 8 but the mileage on that is really low.

    Of course that’s today. Back when I was growing up we’d throw a bunch of kids into the back of a full sized van without seats much less seat belts. Throw 8-10 kids in the back and the fuel/kid ratio gets a lot better.

  181. > Oil drives policy and it has since Jan 1980 when Carter baldly stated it in his state of the union and further expanded by Reagan. The US will use military force to defend our national interests in the persian gulf.

    It’s not really energy necessity that drives oil policy in the Gulf, but rather a nexus of private financial interests and the allure of “regional stability” (i.e. keeping the Gulf nations in the thrall of an undiversified ecomony run by occasionally disloyal but micro-manageable monarchs). The U.S. gets about 35% of it’s oil from domestic sources. Our biggest imports come from the Middle Eastern Gulf State of… Canada, at 21%, more than all of the Gulf States combined. It’s true that OPEC and Russia supply much of the rest, but OPEC is hardly confined to the Persian Gulf (Angola, Nigeria, Libya, Venezuela, Ecuador).

    Anyway, we probably should achieve some degree of energy independence, regardless of whether we want to continue to prop up Middle Eastern world powder-kegs or not. But that’s not what the Greens are after. I think they are trying to cripple the West’s economic engine to a degree that the average citizen will accept collectivism as an alternative to a pauper’s death.

  182. Nigel says: “It’s cheaper to conserve energy than to build new plants or drill for more oil.”

    James Lovelock (the Gaia guy) says: “We can’t drill our way out of our energy problems, and we can’t conserve our way out of them, either. Diets don’t work.”

    We’re just going to have to muddle through by doing a lot of different things. Do them. Don’t talk, do.

    I really like Glenn Reynolds’ dry wit, but the reason people aren’t acting like it’s a crisis, is that it’s not a crisis – yet. When it gets to be a crisis, it will be much too late. We need to take steps now to avert a global trainwreck, of which AGW is only a small part.

    1. The world is warming. Whether it’s the CO2 or not, rising seas will have to be dealt with. Millions of people in places like The Netherlands and Bangladesh will be threatened.

    2. Developing nations will not stop their development. We will need to do what we can to help them because the more prosperous people are, the fewer children they produce, and the strain on the earth’s resources will be reduced.

    3. If we can get 2. (above) going, we’ll have another problem where fewer workers are supporting a larger cohort of the elderly, which leads to

    4. The world of work is changing rapidly. It’s not clear if there will be jobs enough for all, and a large body of idle people makes 3. (above) worse.

    5. Add here the additional nuisances of tin-pot nations hell-bent on aquiring nuclear weapons, religious nuts blowing people up in the name of God, the sovereign debt crisis, etc.

    The list above is not exhaustive, of course, and the solutions will be expensive, but there is no help for it. Namecalling and denial are not helpful. There are so many people on the planet now that we’re all tied together. Libertarians don’t like it. All these things add to the sneaking suspicion in the back of their minds that their libertarian beliefs simply are untenable in the real world. That suspicion is correct.

  183. @christopher No, SUVs are a result in a CAFE loophole.

    That’s essentially what I said. The tightening of the CAFE standards caused manufacturers to quit making station-wagon models and to make “light-truck” SUVs instead. This is a classic and readily foreseeable unintended consequence.

    Note that you’re seeing a lot more station wagons around these days.

    I’m not. I don’t even know where to buy one. The “hatchback” versions of cars like the Jetta aren’t big enough to take the role of the station wagons I grew up riding around in.

  184. In re eugenics– it’s certainly possible to breed plants and animals for specific traits, and to breed healthy plants and animals for specific traits if you’re careful. (Insert rant about show cats and dogs.)

    However, I don’t know of any examples of selective breeding producing organisms which can outcompete the wild strains.

    As for the argument about abortion lowering the crime rate, it wasn’t that those women had such bad genes that their children were more apt to be criminals, it was that if they had children when they (the women) thought they had adequate resources to raise them, those children were less apt to be criminals.

  185. @ LS you need to recheck your facts and assumptions

    1) the world as a whole is NOT warming – regions of the world warm or cool and regional climates change in a chaotic manner controlled by the vagaries of a global heat engine driven by solar and endogenous heat inputs. Most of the purported warming of the last century has been centered on Arctic and northern hemisphere temperate regions while Antarctic (etc) regions have cooled. But in fact, the suspect HADCrut data shows NO SIGNIFICANT GLOBAL WARMING at all for more than the last decade even with it’s built in warming bias. The observed increased global anomaly reported for the last century up to 1998-99 was point 8 degrees C . For example, most of the USA has cooled from it’s 90′s peak in the current decade by much more than the observed global anomaly.

    Sea level change prediction reported by some reputable scientists is 10 cm per century plus or minus 10 centimeters (less than half a foot). This is a non-issue atm. Low lying areas of the globe are ALWAYS threatened by storm surge and flooding caused by chaotic and black swan events that have nothing whatever to do with AGW or even GW.

    2) developing nations will have to primarily help themselves simply because all the developed nations are broke. That’s the reality.

    3) demographics is destiny. AGW has nothing to do with it, and all the malthusian predictions of the past turned out to be garbage just as your concern is theoretically laudable but practically absurd.

    4) this is something new ? take the last 1000 years, rinse, repeat as required.

    5) see 4

    Libertarianism in it’s manifold forms is doing fine, tyvm for your concern and go away. I raise your pitiful suspicion with a market crash and a global ponzi scheme.

    ——————-

    just by the way, numerous estimate calculations have shown that CO2 concentrations will peak at ~ 480 – 600 ppm even after ALL known reserves of fossil fuel have been consumed. [ex Pieter Tans (2009) (Oceanography Vol. 22, No.4)

    ocean acidification is an absurd non-issue — carbonic acid is a trivial hydrogen donor that barely manages to change the pH from 8.4 to 8.3 and photosynthesis regularly changes the local pH from 8.3 to ~10. Organism’s EAT the CO2 and its carbonic acid equilibrium by products like candy. In any case, the ocean is massively buffered and huge while CO2 is weak and less than point 03 percent of the atmosphere.

  186. Nigel, every SUV in the class I’m interested in has three-row seating available. They also have nice powerful V6s as well as V8s. No, I don’t need a Durango with a Hemi; it won’t fit in my garage anyway. Neither will a Tahoe.

    My last eight vehicles have been midsize SUVs: a 1987 S-10 Blazer, a 1992 Explorer (ugh!), a 1996 RAV4, a 2001 RX300, a 2007 RX350 (damn, I loved that one), a 1989 Bronco II, a 1995 Blazer, and now a 2000 Subaru Outback Limited wagon (which might as well be an SUV). Everything from the RAV4 on has been 4WD. I know damn well what works for me, and what it’s capable of. The RX350 was quite pleasant to drive. The Outback is underpowered, because it has a 4 in it. 160 HP just isn’t enough.

    Out of that entire crop, you know which one got the best gas mileage? The RX350. The Outback is a close second; it does fine empty, but drops fast when I load it up.

    I’ve never once had a minivan give me even as good gas mileage as the RX300. Never. Not once. Hell, the 1995 Blazer beat most of them, and it’s not known for being especially thrifty.

    Sorry, but the minivan myth just doesn’t hold up. Those who slam SUVs just don’t know the facts.

  187. I screwed up. I not only confused atomic weights and numbers, I mixed them together within the same comparison, and misremembered the actual numbers.

    Getting back to CFCs though (and this time checking my numbers), even the lightest halocarbon, fluoromethane (CF4, aka carbon tetrafluoride), has a molecular weight of 160, almost twice krypton’s (83) and four times argon’s (40).

  188. Uh.. Nutrition unscience COULD be the next zealot fad? What planet are you on, they have been pushing “healthy” PUFA oils and low-fat, low-salt diets for decades, and there is more (the idea is if it tastes good, it is sinful). Go read the Fathead blog, they are snooping through children’s lunch boxes to make sure they can dump their grain gruel, fructose bombs and low-nutrition-density vegetables in school kids. (then, they can be “educated” about the great danger of obesiteee)

    Whatever wine you want to grow, the Rhine valley is located in the extreme SW of the German federal state, and has exceptional mild climate due to various factors. Other than that, they grow quite some wine in Germany, but generally it’s too cold to compete with the Andes or California.

    Germany has had no rain for literally a month, and quite some of that under depressing fog and grey flat cloud filaments that always seemed to form out of the nothing. Wonder if that is still natural.

  189. >Uh.. Nutrition unscience COULD be the next zealot fad?

    No, I don’t just mean the obvious zealotry/demagoguery they’ve been kicking around the porch. I mean a well organized and coordinated political “they”, where a single nutritional theory can catch fire in the monoculture and drive strict and sweeping dietary regulation for adults… or maybe even a “cholesterol credits” regime, or something. I can see a lot of political capital in that neck of the woods, and certainly a healthy portion of moral panic: “Look at the greedy fatso wasting our collective health insurance! One neck good, two necks bad!”

  190. >The most you’ll see is some governmental lip service coupled with some watered down laws that
    >will get even more watered down after big business lobbyists get done.

    It’s fascinating to me that people don’t see the inherent danger in something like this. Almost every single awful, egregious law that you can think of started with or was justified by a watered down law passed previously. Camels, noses and tents.

  191. “just by the way, numerous estimate calculations have shown that CO2 concentrations will peak at ~ 480 – 600 ppm even after ALL known reserves of fossil fuel have been consumed. [ex Pieter Tans (2009) (Oceanography Vol. 22, No.4)”

    The coal we mine and burn is what remains of the great forests that covered the land during the Carboniferous Period. Wikipedia has a good article on this. The era ended rather abruptly with an interval of glaciation (an ‘ice age’) where the climate cooled considerably during a time period of only a thousand years or so. While you might want to postulate an asteroid strike, volcanos popping up all over the place or space aliens, it’s more reasonable to think that all that CO2 removed from the atmosphere and stored in the plants had something to do with it.

    Now we are burning the coal, and returning that stored carbon to the atmosphere. That amount of carbon might well be enough to trigger a change in climate, even if it’s as little as 480 ppm. That’s three times the concentration observed ca. 1850. We should not be mucking around with the air. It’s too important.

  192. “The era ended rather abruptly with an interval of glaciation (an ‘ice age’) where the climate cooled considerably during a time period of only a thousand years or so. While you might want to postulate an asteroid strike, volcanos popping up all over the place or space aliens, it’s more reasonable to think that all that CO2 removed from the atmosphere and stored in the plants had something to do with it.

    No, it is not “more reasonable” at all. The explanations for the cycles of glaciation are still not fully understood but center around longer term cycles unrelated to CO2 concentrations. I do hope that your comment is not supposed to be an example of “good” science thought.

  193. Morgan: Yup, and the Sienna and RX300 have the same 3 liter 1MZ-FE V6 engine – though it’s rated at 220 HP in the Lexus and 210 in the Sienna for some reason.

  194. @LS: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  195. @morgan You didn’t disprove my point but made it: The RX300 seats 5. The sienna seats 7.

    http://www.autobytel.com/lexus/rx-300/pictures/

    http://www.autobytel.com/toyota/sienna/2003/

    @jay

    The RAV4 is classified as a compact crossover SUV built on the corolla platform. The ’96 did not have a 3rd row. The RAV4 didn’t get that until 2005. You better put SMALL kids in those seats.

    The RX300 and RX350 doesn’t offer 3rd rows and is one of the cons in comparison to larger competitors. It’s another cross-over SUV and built on top of Lexus ES platform.

    “As impressive as the 2012 Lexus RX 350 is, it faces worthy rivals. The Buick Enclave, Lincoln MKT and Mercedes-Benz R-Class are all larger and offer a third-row seat for those with bigger broods. ”

    http://www.edmunds.com/lexus/rx-350/2012/

    The Subaru Outback Wagon is a wagon like it says and seats 5. My ex had one of those. If there was a 7 person option on either the forester or outback I’d have gotten one over a minivan.

    The Ford Bronco II is a compact SUV. It sure as hell didn’t have a 3rd row option. My buddy had one of those, it’s short.

    Pretty much you listed either 4WD crossovers based on passenger vehicles or small SUVs. Most have decent gas mileage in comparison to mid-sized SUVs and few seat 7. There’s a fuel economy cost for 4WD and a interior room cost for the SUV layout. Most minivans seat 7 with a few like the odyssey seating 8 with a 2nd row jumper seat.

  196. @jay in case it’s not clear, my opinion is if you need a SUV get one. Whether its for 4WD, towing or whatever. There’s no reason NOT to get a SUV if you need one. The ones you’ve picked are similar to the one I would have.

    Whether you should want one is up to you. I prefer to have a SUV over a minivan. It’s just that a minivan has been a lot more practical. Perhaps when the current one dies I’ll go for the 4WD Sienna.

    My opinion is that if you want a Hummer or other big assed SUV just because, that’s fine too. But I wont cry if someone slaps you with a luxury tax.

  197. In other auto-news, I hear the Chevy Volts are exploding now. But, hey, at least it costs 41K, has a daily range of 40 miles and is subsidized by the taxpayers. If the Carbon Justice Movement had a nation-state, the Volt would be its Volkswagen.

  198. @Nigel, what it takes to get from “peak oil usage in 2005 of 20.8M bbd to 18.7M bbd in 2009″ is a massive financial crisis leading to the destruction of trillions of dollars of paper wealth, major increases in unemployment, and the decrease in energy usage implied by increased poverty and lower economic activity. I would argue that the oil consumption falloff was largely involuntary, and that no such decrease could be achieved by voluntary means. Unless you’re hoping for a permanent Great Recession, I think I’d have to prefer higher oil consumption to the kind of pain that appears necessary to produce even a 10% drop in that consumption.

  199. @Nigel: What sort of gas mileage do you think you’re going to get in that minivan with 7 to 8 adult-sized people crammed into it? Hint: it’s not going to be anything close to 20 MPG. Consider that typical usage patterns for SUVs and minivans are that most of the time, there will be no passengers — just the driver. That means the passenger/mpg ratio you keep talking about is essentially meaningless.

    Also, SUVs based on passenger cars are currently the most popular option. The best-selling SUV in 2011 is the Ford Escape. If you want to point your irk somewhere, point it at the 3 best-selling vehicles: the Ford F-150, the Ford F-250 and Chevy Silverado.

  200. @Grantham:

    > I hear the Chevy Volts are exploding now

    News flash! Concentrated energy is dangerous when you breach the container. See Ford Pinto.

    > has a daily range of 40 miles

    That’s a bit disingenuous.

    > and is subsidized by the taxpayers.

    As are the first ‘x’ hybrids from any manufacturer, and as are all the SUVs that are sold to businesses. What’s your point again?

  201. >No.

    >As to (b), estimates of the heritability of intelligence from range from 50% to 83%; the better-controlled ones (such as separated-twin studies) show outcomes that cluster nearer the high end of that range than the low.

    >As to (a), the claim that low intelligence “causes” crime oversimplifies the eugenicists’ actual argument, which was more that many people of subnormal intelligence become criminals because they can’t handle the cognitive demands of non-criminal ways of making a living. This is not a controversial theory among criminologists.

    Heh. Learn something new every day. (One more item for the ‘junk history of science’ file…intelligence has an inherited factor after all.)

    Maybe I should research the alar scare (I was too young at the time) or the AIDS-for-heteros-in-the-US-scare (I was just old enough to notice that the scare had evaporated).

  202. > > and is subsidized by the taxpayers.

    > As are the first ‘x’ hybrids from any manufacturer, and as are all the SUVs that are sold to businesses.

    SUVs sold to biz are treated just like every other biz vehicle. Where’s the subsidy?

    Or, are you claiming that taxation based on net profit instead of revenue is a subsidy?

  203. > > When the pressure is on is when it’s most important to get things right.

    > And also when it’s hardest.

    If you can’t stand the heat ….

    No one forced Hanson et al to chose a position where strength is required. They did so willingly, and so they’re responsible for living up to the demands. It is entirely proper, virtuous even, to damn them for failing to do so.

  204. Back on the subject of climate, climate modelling, and junk science:

    Does anyone have a database (or even place to start research) on the history of climate modeling? I’m looking for predictions that were made with past climate models, and how the modeler responded to inaccurate predictions.

    I’m also looking for a climate model which gave predictions that were modestly accurate 5 years into the future from the date of model publication.

  205. > Now we are burning the coal, and returning that stored carbon to the atmosphere. That amount of carbon might well be enough to trigger a change in climate, even if > it’s as little as 480 ppm. That’s three times the concentration observed ca. 1850. We should not be mucking around with the air. It’s too important.

    Might could should ought possibly are not facts. 480/3 = 160 ppm <<—– CO2 atmospheric concentrations have NEVER been documented at that level except due to measurement error. It has been postulated that ALL photosynthesis would shutdown globally at 180 ppm CO2. In any case, accurate measurements of CO2 concentrations as low as that of the atmosphere were problematic at best until the mid-20th century. CO2 is STILL much LESS than 1/2 of 1 percent of the total atmosphere. Just the fact that CO2 is so TRIVIAL in concentration should be enough to ring some alarm bells concerning AGW.

    The Carboniferous era was notable in the explosion of lifeforms, giant dragonflies with wingspans of over a yard, and over 35% oxygen concentration of the atmosphere. In fact, most paleo-carbon is currently locked up in carbonate bedrock (limestone, marble, dolomite, etc) which dwarf the tiny amounts found in fossil fuels. You might just as well try to stop plate tectonics and chemical bedrock weathering since those processes mobilizes that carbon.

    In any case, earth survived atmospheric CO2 concentrations well over 2000 ppm vs 380 today without turning into a flaming globe. /sarc

  206. These are the definitive symptoms:

    * Consignment of failed predictions to the memory hole.

    * Refusal to make primary data sets available for inspection.

    The others are grounds for suspicion, but by themselves provide only weak evidence of junk science. These two are an indication that the scientific method itself has been discarded.

  207. @ karrde
    “Does anyone have a database (or even place to start research) on the history of climate modeling?”

    You could always submit a FOI to those generating and using such models. I am virtually certain they would be oh so helpful and provide all formulae, constants, inputs and test run data ! /sarc

    good luck

    Seriously, do a search on the word “modeling” and variants at WUWT http://wattsupwiththat.com/ and you will get a fairly decent breadth of references to work with.

  208. Nigel, the point is that people are always comparing minivans to SUVs and extolling the minivans’ virtues – when in reality they’re tarring with too broad a brush. Every vehicle on the list is an SUV or can be considered one. (The Outback is listed as a wagon, but is a direct competitor to the SUVs – and that is what’s credited as saving Subaru as a maker in the American market. It’s functionally identical to an SUV, with similar carrying capacity, appointments, and capabilities.)

    Minivans are not the saviors of the American fuel state, no matter how much those who hate SUVs think they may be.

  209. @martinra
    “Nigel, what it takes to get from ‘peak oil usage in 2005 of 20.8M bbd to 18.7M bbd in 2009′ is a massive financial crisis leading to the destruction of trillions of dollars of paper wealth, major increases in unemployment, and the decrease in energy usage implied by increased poverty and lower economic activity. I would argue that the oil consumption falloff was largely involuntary, and that no such decrease could be achieved by voluntary means.”

    What he said.

    This is essentially the mirror image of the point made by Kunstler in “The Long Emergency”, that our modern economy depends utterly on the ready availability of energy, and that lack of abundant energy leads to an emergency that won’t end.

    Of course, Kunstler seems to be one of those dramatists who consider this a good thing, and I’d say he has an unhealthy fascination with visualizing a post-collapse world. As evidence, see his novel “A World Made By Hand,” where industrial civilization is replaced by…nothing.

    Quite a different view from “$20 a gallon” (Steiner), an interesting, well-thought-out (and very upbeat) non-fiction view of what the world may look like as petroleum-based fuels become scarcer and more expensive (more telecommuting, more trains, higher-density neighborhoods, etc.)

    Followers of Kunstler don’t have any faith in free minds and free markets, or the ability of a flexible society and economic system to adjust to even major changes. I’m firmly in Steiner’s camp.

  210. @Andy Freeman:

    SUVs sold to biz are treated just like every other biz vehicle. Where’s the subsidy?

    No, they’re not. They are eligible for enhanced section 179 deductions (compared to cars). Granted, not nearly as much as they used to be, but still…

    Or, are you claiming that taxation based on net profit instead of revenue is a subsidy?

    Not at all. But if cars and SUVs are treated differently in the tax code (which they are), then you need a term to distinguish the treatment. “Subsidy” for SUVs, “penalty” for cars… I don’t really care what term you use, but there is a difference in tax treatment.

    Oh, and before you go claiming that with near-zero percent interest rates, depreciating something or taking a section 179 deduction is a wash, you should consider this: when you sell a piece of capital equipment that you used in your business for at least a year, you have to declare a profit on the sales price minus the basis (which has been reduced by your depreciation or section 179 deduction), but you do not have to pay social security/medicare on that profit.

  211. @Andy Freeman:

    No one forced Hanson et al to chose a position where strength is required. They did so willingly, and so they’re responsible for living up to the demands. It is entirely proper, virtuous even, to damn them for failing to do so.

    I started out my very first comment on this issue explaining that I did not excuse the behavior. Do you really think you are arguing against me here?

  212. >(One more item for the ‘junk history of science’ file…intelligence has an inherited factor after all.)

    Yes, it does. The reason you don’t know this is that the high heritability of IQ is a severe problem for people whose politics is organized around social-engineering an egalitarian utopia. Therefore they do their best to convince people that IQ doesn’t measure anything real, or that the tests are culturally and SES-biased, or that it isn’t highly heritable. All three of these claims are false to fact.

    In fact, it does seem to be possible to influence IQ with environmental factors – but only downwards. Poor childhood nutrition, anoxia – the brain is a delicate organ, anything that compromises its development or damages it will reduce the general reasoning capacity that IQ measures. But the maximum IQ you can have is probably set by your genes.

  213. > The coal we mine and burn is what remains of the great forests that covered the land during the Carboniferous Period. Wikipedia has a good article on this. The era ended rather abruptly with an interval of glaciation (an ‘ice age’) where the climate cooled considerably during a time period of only a thousand years or so. While you might want to postulate an asteroid strike, volcanos popping up all over the place or space aliens, it’s more reasonable to think that all that CO2 removed from the atmosphere and stored in the plants had something to do with it.

    Let’s test that “reason”. The carboniferous period was roughly 50 million years long. How does the CO2 level at the end compare to CO2 levels during?

    If you don’t know and are about to type “it stands to reason” ….

    Steady-state forests are basically carbon neutral. So, if you’re going to blame increased forests for a CO2 drop, you get to explain why the “explained” CO2 drop occurred 50 million years before the glaciation.

  214. >As are the first ‘x’ hybrids from any manufacturer, and as are all the SUVs that are sold to businesses. What’s your point again?

    I believe my point was that the Chevy Volt is an overpriced, underpowered heap junk, symbolic of the government’s power to pour mountains of taxpayer money into a furnace in order to mollify a smattering of deep-pocketed Greenies who fork over the big campaign bucks.

    Given the Volt’s sales figures, I’m fairly sure I’m not alone in that opinion.

  215. >> SUVs sold to biz are treated just like every other biz vehicle. Where’s the subsidy?

    > No, they’re not. They are eligible for enhanced section 179 deductions (compared to cars)

    Note that I wrote “biz vehicle”. Cars, like personal computers, are given special treatment. SUVs aren’t.

  216. > I started out my very first comment on this issue explaining that I did not excuse the behavior. Do you really think you are arguing against me here?

    And ever since that first comment, you’ve been justifying that behavior.

    I agreed with that first comment, the rest, not so much.

  217. Patrick: Be careful. The Section 179 treatment for SUVs is only for the absolute largest, the ones they don’t *make* any more like the Excursion and the Hummer H1 and H2. The SUVs I’ve owned would not qualify. The reason is that they were covered under an exemption for medium heavy trucks. There’s a reason they don’t make those any more: the tax advantage wasn’t enough to offset the costs of running them.

  218. @Andy Freeman:

    > Note that I wrote “biz vehicle”. Cars, like personal computers, are given special treatment. SUVs aren’t.

    No, personal computers and SUVs are treated better than cars. Look it up.

    > And ever since that first comment, you’ve been justifying that behavior.

    No, I haven’t. Not at all. I’ve been trying to understand the behavior by putting it in a reference frame of other behavior that I have seen. As part of that understanding process, I toss out theories to see if anybody has anything useful to say.

    > I agreed with that first comment, the rest, not so much.

    That’s because you’re really good at setting up strawmen and knocking them down.

  219. @Jay Maynard:

    > The SUVs I’ve owned would not qualify.

    Ah. So you’ve really owned minivans all along, anyway.

  220. @Grantham:

    I believe my point was that the Chevy Volt is an overpriced, underpowered heap junk, symbolic of the government’s power to pour mountains of taxpayer money into a furnace in order to mollify a smattering of deep-pocketed Greenies who fork over the big campaign bucks.

    Given the Volt’s sales figures, I’m fairly sure I’m not alone in that opinion.

    So they don’t sell any, yet the (tax break * number of vehicles sold) is a huge amount of money? BTW, I bet on a different forum you’d be arguing that a tax break isn’t really a subsidy because it’s just the government letting you keep a little bit more of your own money…

  221. > So they don’t sell any, yet the (tax break * number of vehicles sold) is a huge amount of money?

    Actually, I never said anything about the “tax break” (although that somewhat mythical $7500 tax rebate mostly went to dealerships, rather than the end buyer). I was talking about the 400 million that the government pumped directly into design and rollout… of 10,000 vehicles.

    Do some basic math for me, Patrick. Here we have a sticker price of 41K with a tax rebate of $7500. That means the buyer is actually paying $33,500 per car. 400 million pumped into R&D for a run 10,000 cars that cost $81,000 per unit to produce and are sold for $33,500. Forget about the maximum profit in this scenario, and tell me what your minimum loss is on this wonderful project?

    This is “Green Math” at it’s best. Oh well, at least the UAW got a 50 billion dollar bailout in return for cranking out the ultimate emblem of green lunacy. That’s got to be worth something, right?

  222. @ Andy Freeman
    > Steady-state forests are basically carbon neutral.

    The idea of any forest being steady state for 60 million + – 10 million years (the estimated length of the Carboniferous) is of course, absurd. The idea that we have even an order of magnitude knowledge of the CO2 concentration over that period is problematic and the error bars are massive.

    In any case, I think the meme goes something like this: plants invaded land for the 1st time during this period and their populations exploded lowering the CO2 concentration and raising the O2 concentration. This is a joke of course since the vast majority of carbon sequestration occurs in oceans as is obvious from simple mass balance concentrations of the earth’s crust.

    Some of the source data is summarized and linked here and it certainly is worth a look, even if so tentative in nature as to be useless in practical terms. Proxies are of course, merely general indications of a relative nature.
    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html

    In any case, we know from recent ice cores from both Greenland and Antarctica that proxy temperature rises predate proxy CO2 increases by decades to centuries.

  223. the AIDS panic (are you old enough to remember when it was predicted to become endemic among heterosexuals in the U.S.?)

    The AIDS panic is like the Y2K panic: the worst-case scenario was averted precisely because active preventative measures were taken.

  224. The topic of the Volt actually reminds me of a field that is littered with reams of very popular junk science: economics. Happily, it serenely intersects with the junk du jour: the government-backed octopus of carbon-forced climate change alarmism.

    If you are really interested in seeing the deepest, chocolaty-est fudge of fudge factors, take a peek into the externalities that are generated by some rascals and charlatans out there in order to claim that fossil fuels are more expensive than a solar/wind grid. Not even that they will be, mind you, but that they are, right now!

    Perhaps that’s another signal of junk, when familiar junk cottage industries spring up all around the main junk factory, either to carve out a slice of the juicy grant pie or as a bien pensant toadie hired by the political class to gussy up their wealth transfers with a few insane white papers.

  225. @Grantham:

    > the 400 million that the government pumped directly into design and rollout

    I wasn’t paying enough attention at the time to notice that. But it’s not like this behavior is new, or particularly worse than just about any other government handout designed to encourage the good behavior du jour.

    > 400 million pumped into R&D for a run 10,000 cars that cost $81,000 per unit to produce and are sold for $33,500.

    The $81, 000 figure is assuming that they only produce that 10K units, and cannot reuse any of the infrastructure (or knowledge gained, for that matter) for subsequent vehicles. Toyota sold Priuses for a loss for a long time, but they are quite profitable now.

    The thing is, if you sanely consider any project in isolation at any company, you probably wouldn’t do anything. The first sign of decline is when the beancounters are in charge.

    take a peek into the externalities that are generated by some rascals and charlatans out there in order to claim that fossil fuels are more expensive than a solar/wind grid.

    Sure, but this happens on both sides. I’ve seen claims that taking a car for a short trip is less energy/carbon intensive than taking a pedicab…

  226. Patrick: At least four of the eight were body-on-frame small truck-derived SUVs, which qualify by anyone’s definition – except those who hate SUVs and the consumer choice they represent.

  227. “The Huffington Post”?

    What, you couldn’t take the time to dig up a completely irrelevant link from “Salon”, “WaPo”, or “The Guardian”?

  228. >Seems to be an honest scientist, who has taken the time to check all the research.

    False flag. Muller’s a true believer who’s being presented as a skeptic by the media. Here’s some evidence in the form of his own quotes.

  229. @ Jacob Hallén

    so it would SEEM. Unfortunately, this is not the case, since the article contains factual errors [read: lies and spin]. Mueller is a warmist and always has been. Once he let this cat out of the bag by releasing his preliminary results prior to publication (which has not yet occurred even now) it rapidly became a monster he could not control.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100114292/lying-cheating-climate-scientists-caught-lying-cheating-again/

  230. @Patrick

    >The $81, 000 figure is assuming that they only produce that 10K units, and cannot reuse any of the infrastructure (or knowledge gained, for that matter) for subsequent vehicles. Toyota sold Priuses for a loss for a long time, but they are quite profitable now.

    Ah, it sounds like you are about to inject some of those infamous unquantifiable “externalities” I was talking about. Please feel free to do so, but do at least attempt to solve the math problem of the minimum loss. I know it hardly matters, since it is other people’s money (and in the service of “saving the planet”, at that), but it was a fair question. I’ll even let you project to the 40,000 vehicle 2013 sales target that Chevy set for itself (hardy har), if it helps your cause. Who knows? Maybe you will even figure out a way to torture the Volt into a net profit?

    >The thing is, if you sanely consider any project in isolation at any company, you probably wouldn’t do anything.

    The thing is, there is a difference between “risk” and “suicide.” Happily for the crony capitalists at Chevy, the Volt was neither. So what if the market research showed zero viability? Thanks to the current political moment, they could capitalize the profits and socialize the loss. Just like Fannie and Freddy!

    >The first sign of decline is when the beancounters are in charge.

    The beancounters are there for a reason: to prevent lunacy like the Volt (except in this case; see above).

    I know this isn’t an economics thread, but this is all corroborating evidence of signal #6: If a ‘scientific’ theory seems tailor-made for the needs of politicians or advocacy organizations, it probably has been.

    Look, I think there are several very good reasons for expanding our energy options, reducing worldwide pollution and increasing redundancies and efficiencies in our grid. But not if it involves destroying massive amounts of wealth, eliminating the premises for wealth creation, robbing people of their hard-earned cash to fund political boondoggles and disfiguring the scientific method in the process.

  231. @Jay Maynard:

    > At least four of the eight were body-on-frame small truck-derived SUVs, which qualify by anyone’s definition…

    Does that mean that my 1996 Ford Aerostar Minivan was a SUV?

  232. @Grantham:

    > Please feel free to do so, but do at least attempt to solve the math problem of the minimum loss.

    Sorry, your minimum loss assumes an $81K/car production figure, which assumes only a particular number of units sold and that there is no reuse.

  233. > Sorry, your minimum loss assumes an $81K/car production figure, which assumes only a particular number of units sold and that there is no reuse.

    I gave your the parameters, and you chose to repeat my bit about the 10,000 initial rollout as though I hadn’t included it. Are you afraid there’s a trick to it? There isn’t.

    By the way, at this point I would’ve accepted an answer like “a shitload.” But it’s not even the amount so much as that it is money that is being pissed directly down the drain, with full knowledge by all parties involved that there was no chance of this making a dime or even of providing a viable sampling for future projects.

    I suppose they at least learned that lithium ion batteries are a touch on the unstable side. Of course we already knew that. So, what’s the least amount of money that remedial education cost?

  234. “Steady-state forests are basically carbon neutral. So, if you’re going to blame increased forests for a CO2 drop, you get to explain why the “explained” CO2 drop occurred 50 million years before the glaciation.”

    The coal seams we mine today are remains of those forests. That’s 50 million years of plants growing, taking CO2 out of circulation, and keeping it out by getting buried. This is not a steady-state, carbon neutral situation.

    @SPQR: None of those long-cycle glaciation theories have proved to be successful. Maybe in this one case I have a winner? We won’t know until we have some way of reading atmospheric CO2 concentrations through the period.

  235. LS, even today, only a small fraction of the carbon cycle involves human activities and not all of the human CO2 generation comes from fossil fuel consumption. There were glaciation periods on the Earth prior to the Carboniferous period and glaciation cycles since.

  236. > You gave me your parameters.

    Well, yes. And then I even gave you room to expand them to include your own (a confession: I love watching propagandists wriggle and squirm and try to get out of admitting, “Okay, fine. It was a terrible idea”).

    > BTW, their sales are going up…

    Oh, goody! So tell me: How much money has the product lost so far?

  237. > I love watching propagandists

    How do you figure I’m the propagandist when you’re the one who pulls numbers out of your ass and straight from other propagandists? I especially love the “has a daily range of 40 miles” and how I explained this was disingenuous and you never recanted. Go troll elsewhere.

  238. > How do you figure I’m the propagandist when you’re the one who pulls numbers out of your ass and straight from other propagandists?

    What numbers? The battery doesn’t have an operating range of 40 miles daily? Is it 50? I’ve heard everywhere from 35 to 50 on a nightly charge, so I roughly split the difference. I wonder if I would have been any less of a “troll” if I said 42.5. Oh well.

  239. Speaking as someone who already has multiple vehicles in the family and has contemplated the purchase of a Leaf, but who has zero interest in the Volt, why would somebody buy a car with all the extra complexity of a gasoline engine if they never planned on using it?

  240. By the way, another crystal ball into junk science might be: If the proponents of theory X buy a Chevy Volt, or to think the project was remotely a good business proposition, there’s a very good chance they are too dangerously insane to be taken seriously.

    The CAGW crowd does its own credibility great harm when they expend energy defending all of the boondoggles and power grabs the political class endeavors in the name of their research. They defend the obviously indefensible, tooth and nail, including a poisoned culture at Hadley CRU that any sane person with an ounce of scientific training would at least find troubling. That’s another signal: Not even the slightest admission of fault or error, whether personal, professional or scientific, is ever admitted in public, even when the evidence of it is overwhelming.

  241. The AIDS panic is like the Y2K panic: the worst-case scenario was averted precisely because active preventative measures were taken.

    Well that’s not going to support your case any.

    The Y2K panic was 99% farce. Yes there was a potential issue with Y2K, banks being the one that really comes to mind. And the banks were on top of it long before of the panics truly started (and in fact were on the process long before Y2K was identified, having legacy software that you don’t have code for is a business risk whether your dates are going to wrap-around or not). In a world where no-one heard a peep about Y2K, the only ones affected would have been the shammsters doing Y2K readiness checks for individuals.

    Compare that to the “worst case scenario” portrayed by mass media (Apparently Y2k is going to make your fridge explode) and i think you’ll agree that the “worst case scenario” never existed for anyone.

  242. > Compare that to the “worst case scenario” portrayed by mass media (Apparently Y2k is going to make your fridge explode) and i think you’ll agree that the “worst case scenario” never existed for anyone.

    I’m pretty sure that Y2K was also going to cause super-Hurricanes, swarms of killer mosquitoes, and coastal flooding (but, apparently only the Upper West Side and parts of Fort Lauderdale – go figure).

    Did anyone remember to move the goalposts on that stuff?

  243. @David Scott Williams:

    > Warm Fuzzies?

    On the off-chance that you’re serious, I’ll note that the Volt apparently has a warning light to tell you that your gasoline is getting old and it’s time to use it up, so that particular warm fuzzy comes with some serious constraints, not to mention the other gasoline engine maintenance headaches.

  244. @ Karrde, BioBob

    > Does anyone have a database (or even place to start research) on the history of climate modeling? I’m looking for predictions that were made with past climate models, and how the modeler responded to inaccurate predictions.

    On the off chance you are (oh be still by beating heart) remotely interested in the actual science, you could start with Chapter 8, WG1 in AR4:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter8.pdf

  245. @ TomM

    2007 means somewhat dated. There are now 5 more years of actual data (esp satellite / remote sensing) and constructive criticism of this chapter and previous models. In any case, as we have seen, IPCC AR4 has been thoroughly tainted by gatekeeping and sourcing issues a la Climategate 1 & 2.

    I stand by my suggestion of WUWT as a place to start but certainly this chapter is worth a look for historical purposes at least.

  246. > Does anyone have a database…

    Try sending an FOIA request to Phil Jones at Hadley CRU for the raw station data. Don’t let him shine you on about the homogenized HadCRUT3 set, either, or claim that he left it in his other suit, or that his dog ate it, etc. Keep your boot directly on that sly rascal’s throat.

  247. @grantham The USG spent $400M on the Volt? Good.

    The Japanese have been pouring decades of R&D into hybrids making Japanese car companies far more competitive than US ones. It’s not JUST that US car companies were badly run. They were badly run AND their competition was funded by the Japanese government through MITI and subsidies.

    I prefer that the US wins. If the game is played this way then lets play the game to win. We’re a generation behind and the Volt represents a significant improvement in capability. It’ll probably take another couple gens to catch up to the Prius in profitability.

  248. > @grantham The USG spent $400M on the Volt? Good.

    Well, they spent/are spending much more than that, and no, it is not good. The Volt was a design disaster and purely a vanity project. There are good hybrids in the marketplace right now, but the Volt is not one of them. They might as well have flushed that money down the can.

    The only thing that could have made the Volt worse was if it was a Chrysler.

  249. Eric was of the view that:
    > Muller’s a true believer who’s being presented as a skeptic by the media.

    Then BioBob said:
    > Mueller is a warmist and always has been.

    Later, BioBob poured out the good oil:
    > I stand by my suggestion of WUWT as a place to start

    Anthony Watts said in March this year:
    > Now contrast Rohde [leader of the BEST project ] with Dr. Muller who has gone on record as saying that he disagrees with some of the methods seen in previous science related to the issue. We have what some would call a “warmist” and a “skeptic” both leading a project.

    Maybe the media shouldn’t have used WUWT as a place to start…..

  250. > The USG spent $400M on the Volt? Good.

    Yay! Wasting stolen money! What fun!

    If you want to toss your own money down the drain, that’s your business. When it’s tax money, it’s a problem.

  251. Yes there was a potential issue with Y2K, banks being the one that really comes to mind.

    I was working at a bank when that fracas was going on, and truth to tell, it was a great way for us to get the funding for all kinds of work that had been put off for way too long. Y2K wasn’t nearly as much of an issue as Euro conversion or Dow 10K, though.

  252. @ Yet Another Darren Says:

    my “place to start” referred to

    karrde Says:
    November 30th, 2011 at 2:50 pm request > “Does anyone have a database (or even place to start research) on the history of climate modeling? I’m looking for
    > predictions that were made with past climate models, and how the modeler responded to inaccurate predictions.”

    and bupkis to do with the cant of Muller

    I fail to see how WUWT as a source for current information on the state of climate modeling has anything at all to do with Muller’s missteps on BEST press releases and errors concerning unpublished papers and science by press release.

    Since generally “the media” rarely refers to WUWT, at least as far as the mainstream media, and WUWT IS the media in the blogosphere, I don’t quite get what you are trying to impart in your last sentence although it has the whiff of decomposition about it. ;D

  253. @esr ” You see, I do try to think like a scientist, even about my mystical experiences.”

    So you published all the data about the mystical experiences, did some experiments with control groups, and taught us how to consistently reproduce teophany? Must have missed that post.

  254. It seems to me that the IPCC CAGW position belongs at least as
    strongly in another category as it does in the stock “pseudoscience”
    category. I don’t know any standard term for my proposed category: perhaps
    “stalking horse” (in the older meaning, not the
    synonym-for-trial-balloon meaning that Wikipedia seems to be pushing
    in the first paragraph of their current article). It’s something that is
    supposedly believed, but evidently is not literally believed, because
    evidently its logical consequences only apply when they advance an
    agenda which was generated by some other process.

    It seems to me that this is a fairly characteristic pattern in
    fear/anger/envy pseudoscientific beliefs pushed by the modern
    left/university/MSM coalition. YMMV on how characteristically modern
    leftist it is, though: I grant that the pattern is only a special case
    of the category of double standards which I grant is beloved of all
    partisan stripes. (E.g., “your terrorist/tyrant, my
    freedomfighter/liberator;” or discovering that the Constitution is not
    a living document w.r.t. rolling back previous growths, or conversely
    discovering that the Constitution isn’t to be interpreted as it was
    when written when it comes to particular expansions of government
    power that one particularly loves.)

    Supposedly there is no legitimate use for guns with large magazines,
    or guns for personal protection — but then instead of starting with
    the easy things of taking large-magazine guns away from duty cops and the
    Secret Service and taking carry guns away from off-duty cops and
    politicos, the point is to jump straight to how This Is Such A Vital
    Social Interest That It Justifies Setting Aside Explicit
    Constitutional Protections and disarming ordinary citizens. Supposedly
    the obstructionism of IPCC/CAGW critics is so horrendous and
    threatening to life that vile Holocaust denier rhetoric is appropriate
    — but then somehow the people who spout this vile rhetoric very
    consistently avoid targeting their Green movement allies, whose core
    anti-nuke and anti-GMO looniness stands in the way of what would be
    obvious policy responses if CO2 CAGW were an actual technical problem
    instead of a stalking horse for advancing a political coalition.
    Supposedly setting aside ordinary measures of individual merit in
    favor of discriminating against overperforming groups (“diversity”) is
    socially beneficial, but instead of using this result to rehabilitate
    the reviled private anti-Jewish and anti-Asian discrimination of yore,
    we jump straight to how TISAVSITIJSAECP that Asians (but not people of
    Jewish ancestry, for no reason that I can see except that we trend so
    strongly Democratic) should be discriminated against (Grutter v.
    Bollinger, as applied for decades). Supposedly aptitude tests are
    somehow perniciously racist, so that any test with disparate racial
    impact should face an impossibly high burden of proof to show that the
    test is nonetheless a particularly good way to select good employees,
    but somehow no such burden of proof should be extended to employers
    requiring university degrees (Griggs v. Duke Power Co., as applied for
    decades). Various pro-abortion arguments of the “woman’s right to
    control her body” flavor are also in this category: taken literally
    they would be pro-pornography and pro-prostitution and
    pro-recreational-drugs (outcomes that as a libertarian I favor) but
    it’s understood by bien pensants that they are only applicable to the
    outcomes favored by the left, first pro-abortion and now
    pro-homosexuality as well.

    Incidentally, all the examples above are well-known selective
    application of supposed beliefs in public debate, but I’ve also run across
    some examples of selective application of supposed beliefs buried
    within CAGW tech work. E.g., one of the things Steve McIntyre
    periodically points out is how strange it is not to energetically
    update the temperature proxies (width of rings in tree core samples,
    e.g.) to see how well they continue to track modern changes in
    temperature. If one literally believed that the relationship (featured
    in the cover graphic of the big IPCC assessment report ca. 2000AD,
    taken from the paper that I nominated for Winter’s challenge) was
    statistically valid and a key to understanding historical
    temperatures, it would be natural to update and expand the input
    datasets energetically instead of largely coasting on correlations
    mined out of old data. This would be good not just for pure scientific
    curiosity, but both for vindicating the statistical relationship
    discovered and for improving the accuracy of the results which could
    be extracted from the relationship. I’d go further and it’s strange
    not to investigate the strength of the correlation supposedly
    discovered global temperature and a few anointed local sites. It’s a
    strong enough correlation, and an odd enough correlation, that the
    people trying to understand global climate should have a technical
    interest in figuring out what it is about global climate dynamics that
    makes this correlation emerge.

  255. Adriano Says:
    > So you published all the data about the mystical experiences, did some experiments with control groups, …

    That is a cheap shot. He said “thought like a scientist”, not that he acted like a scientist. Any reasonable person would understand that what he meant was that he was introspective, and gave consideration to the biological, physiological and psychological processes he and his compatriots were going through.

    Frankly, I’d like to hear him talk about it. I have always found the mystical religious mind an fascinating thing, and certainly have strong opinions on the aforementioned processes. I’d love to hear an uber smart person like Eric talk about his personal experience with religiosity.

  256. “Yes there was a potential issue with Y2K, banks being the one that really comes to mind.”

    The television network that I worked at was very heavily dependent on software for its operations. They started preparations LONG before the magic date. On the evening of Dec. 31, 1999 a New Year’s party atmosphere prevailed. Everyone was called in. The commissary was open, handing out free food. The head of engineering for the main program switching area handed out noisemakers. They were all used enthusiastically when, at 00:00:00 CUT the proper programs all rolled and switched up properly, and on time….

    My take? “That’s enough! We will reconvene on December 31, 2999….”

    Well…it got a laugh at the time…you had to be there….

  257. @Jessica “That is a cheap shot [...] Any reasonable person would understand that…”

    I’m not so sure. From context, the original question esr was responding to was about junk science, recognizable not by being introspective, but by not applying the scientific method nor sharing results or data. That’s why I snarked, anyway.

    “I’d like to hear him talk about [esr's personal experience with religiosity].”

    I think he did, with that essay.

  258. @TomM, BobB: thanks for the notes on sources for climate models.

    Tom, my main reason for asking is this. (And it’s a question I’ll still ask, after a skim of the linked paper.) Where is the published data on the models which contains (A) predictions from when the model was made, (B) variations between the model predictions and actual observations, and (C) how the model was fixed.

    I notice a nice table of models, but the table doesn’t include a column for ‘Variance between model and observed data’.

    I notice a nice graph of temperature-versus-models, but I don’t notice a chart showing predictions past date of publication, with error-bars (or footnotes) explaining how the predictions would vary with CO2 emission or other factors. In case you couldn’t tell, what I’m looking for is a model released in ’07 with predictions out to ’12, or a model released in ’10 with predictions out to ’15. Even a model released in ’75 which predicted global temps between ’75 and ’80.

    I notice a long list of references in the IPCC report…which I assume is where I might find the data I’m looking for. But as BioBob and Grantham said, other people have tried to get model or temperature data through FOI. And failed.

    Now, to add fuel to a different fire…

    I am seeing indications (in a non-scientific, but also non-scare-mongering blog) that the FDA’s position on salt in the diet may be badly sourced, overblown, or not-well-founded. A commenter has already asked about fat/cholesterol in food.

    Are either (or both) of those junk science?

  259. > …other people have tried to get model or temperature data through FOI. And failed.

    One of my favourite threads in the second dump is a conversation between Jones and his FOI manager Dave Palmer in reponse to Willis Eschenbach’s requests for a simple site list with corresponding data locations. You can read Eschenbach’s open letter to Jones here, which he wrote upon discovering that such a list does not exist, and that Hadley CRU does not have a list of sources for their primary data set. The dog ate it, I suppose.

  260. When I can do this with a Leaf (or other EV) I’m getting one.

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/01/nissan-demonstrates-leaf-powered-smart-house-we-go-hands-on/

    Seems to be smarter than buying a home generator. Most small residential gensets either suck or are expensive. 6-7 kW is about the size I was thinking of installing. The cheap ones are about $2K but the Generacs are reputed to be very crappy. The GOOD ones run $5-10K.

    2 days seems reasonable enough a run time as a backup power supply.

  261. > The Japanese have been pouring decades of R&D into hybrids making Japanese car companies far more competitive than US ones. It’s not JUST that US car companies were badly run. They were badly run AND their competition was funded by the Japanese government through MITI and subsidies.

    Hold that thought.

    > I prefer that the US wins.

    We agree.

    > If the game is played this way then lets play the game to win.

    Not so fast. While it looks like the Japanese govt is capable of helping its companies with subsidies, that doesn’t imply that US govt subsidies are a good idea.

    US govt subsidies have a horrible track record of damaging the industries that they were supposedly intended to help. Those industries would have been better off without that “help”.

    Until that changes, US govt subsidies are a bad idea even if the Japanese benefit from Japanese govt subsidies. And no, it doesn’t matter how much better things would be if US govt subsidies worked because they don’t.

  262. >> Note that I wrote “biz vehicle”. Cars, like personal computers, are given special treatment. SUVs aren’t.

    > No, personal computers and SUVs are treated better than cars. Look it up.

    I did look it up.

    As has been pointed out, Maupin has been playing fast and loose with the term “SUV”.

    Many “SUVs” are treated as cars because that’s how they’re classified. How is the same “better”?

    The SUVs that aren’t cars, but are large vehicles are treated mostly like vehicles of the same size (actually weight). Note that I said “mostly” – large SUVs are, in some cases, treated worse than other vehicles of the same size. Larger vehicles are treated better than cars, but “dump trucks get special treatment” or “larger vehicles get special treatment” isn’t much of a high-horse.

    And then there’s the whole bit about biz vs personal use which doesn’t distinguish “SUVs” of any definition.

  263. > The coal seams we mine today are remains of those forests.

    Yes and no.

    > That’s 50 million years of plants growing, taking CO2 out of circulation, and keeping it out by getting buried.

    Not from the forests. Forests don’t continuously take CO2 out of circulation – their carbon stays on/above the surface (modulo roots, and even their carbon is reused). The only way for a forest to contribute to coal is via a “covering” event.

    Swamps, on the other hand, can do continuous CO2 removal. See http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/coal.html . Most coal is from swamps, not forests.

    However, you still haven’t provided any evidence for a connection between CO2 levels and glaciation events. You’ve merely asserted that there is one.

  264. > As has been pointed out, Maupin has been playing fast and loose with the term “SUV”.

    Hey, it’s not my fault they shrunk both the benefits and the size of the SUVs over the last 5 years or so.

    > The SUVs that aren’t cars, but are large vehicles are treated mostly like vehicles of the same size (actually weight).

    It is sufficient to my point that *some* SUVs receive special tax treatment, which they still do.

    This whole sub-thread started when I pointed out that the fact that hybrids are treated differently in the tax code than other vehicles is not unique. There are lots of different provisions in the tax code designed to encourage “good” behavior, some or most of which do quite the opposite. My point still stands. Why should you get different tax treatment for buying a dump truck than an automobile, if that is what your business requires? And why should we whine about the tax benefit for hybrids in particular?

  265. @Nigel:
    “2 days seems reasonable enough a run time as a backup power supply.”

    It might or might not depending on your area. People in New Jersey lost power for more than a week after that October snowstorm. What some people have been doing is using their hybrids as backup power. When you drain the battery of your Prius, the engine automatically starts up and recharges.

    @Andy Freeman:
    “However, you still haven’t provided any evidence for a connection between CO2 levels and glaciation events. You’ve merely asserted that there is one.”

    Look at the chart and text at the bottom of:
    http://www.planetforlife.com/co2history/index.html

    They actually don’t seem to mark the periods of glaciation on the chart, but they do mention the correlation in the text.

    What should be plain in the chart is that the atmosphere is barely stable. It’s underdamped and tends to oscillate. Such a system will be sensitive to any perturbation, which is why we shouldn’t be pouring more CO2 into it.

  266. >That is a cheap shot. He said “thought like a scientist”, not that he acted like a scientist.

    Indeed I did, and you took my meaning correctly.

    The difference between me and your ordinary garden-variety mystic isn’t that I perform and publish the results of controlled experiments, it’s that I’d jump at the chance to do them if I knew how. Also, I don’t do the silly shit that many mystics and religious people do, like believing in the “supernatural” (a nonsense word!) or having “faith” (self-induced shutdown of skeptical reasoning).

  267. >Are either (or both) of those [dietary phobias about salt and fat] junk science?

    Yes, absolutely. Next question? :-)

  268. Toxicology is another field that is larded with dangerous junk, particularly when it comes to pesticide research. Also, you see some of esr’s “Past purveyers” of junk pop up in there, albeit some in novel ways. For instance, Ehrlich was in favor of pesticide reduction, for instance, since it would help with controlling the real, two-legged “pests”, i.e. humans.

  269. Morgan Greywolf said: @Nigel: What sort of gas mileage do you think you’re going to get in that minivan with 7 to 8 adult-sized people crammed into it? Hint: it’s not going to be anything close to 20 MPG. Consider that typical usage patterns for SUVs and minivans are that most of the time, there will be no passengers — just the driver. That means the passenger/mpg ratio you keep talking about is essentially meaningless.

    Well, I’ve driven a Sienna with 900 pounds of historical-recreation camping gear in it (which is, say, equivalent 5 or 6 adults, depending on size), and still got well over 25 mpg.

    The extra few hundred pounds to get up to 7 adults heavier than 150 pounds aren’t going to drop the mileage under 20.

    (Aerodynamics matter far more than anything else at that level, and minivans are very aerodynamic these days…)

  270. (Aerodynamics matter far more than anything else at that level, and minivans are very aerodynamic these days…)

    My sister owned one. I called it The Wedge.

  271. I like smoking and I am interested in lung cancer statistics. I never really pursued the matter until today, when I discovered JunkScience.com, which appears to be a wonderful website, which is now at: http://junksciencearchive.com/

    I have never personally known of anyone getting lung cancer and any doctor that I have asked has gotten cagey and never given me any numbers. Today I found:
    http://junksciencearchive.com/JSJ_Course/jsjudocourse/12.html

    Epidemiology can be a very useful tool in studying disease, especially rare diseases. For example, lung cancer is a rare disease, striking 1 out of 10,000 nonsmokers over the course of a lifetime. But, U.S. smokers have rates of lung cancer 10-20 times greater than nonsmokers–a relatively high rate of a rare disease. However “all cancers combined” aren’t easy to assess through epidemiology because it is a relatively common disease.

    So, I thought, that explains why doctors don’t want to talk about it, it is a rare disease and even if I smoke, I only have one chance in 500 or 1,000 of getting lung cancer.

    However, The Canadian Cancer Society
    http://www.cancer.ca/Canada-wide/About%20cancer/Cancer%20statistics/Stats%20at%20a%20glance/Lung%20cancer.aspx?sc_lang=en
    has a bunch of stats that a person can’t really interpret and goes on to say:

    “One in 11 men is expected to develop lung cancer during his lifetime and one in 13 will die of it.
    One in 15 women is expected to develop lung cancer during her lifetime and one in 17 is expected to die of it.”

    The American Cancer Society
    http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/LungCancer-SmallCell/OverviewGuide/lung-cancer-small-cell-overview-key-statistics

    Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is by far the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Lung cancer is fairly rare in people under the age of 45.

    The average lifetime chance that a man will develop lung cancer is about 1 in 13. For a woman it is 1 in 16. These numbers include both smokers and non-smokers. For smokers the risk is much higher, while for non-smokers the risk is lower.

    The two cancer societies claim lung cancer is a common disease that one in about 10 to 17 get.

    Someone is lying. Who?

  272. > Then how come every Town & Country or Astro I’ve ever driven has gotten no better than 18 MPG?

    Driving style matters,
    driving conditions too – long stretches at constant speed in high gear give better mileage than city traffic with lots of stop and go and low gears, plus traffic jams and idling

  273. @Sigivald:
    “The extra few hundred pounds to get up to 7 adults heavier than 150 pounds aren’t going to drop the mileage under 20. (Aerodynamics matter far more than anything else at that level, and minivans are very aerodynamic these days…)”

    In what kind of driving? City or highway? Flat, or in the hills? If you are in stop-and-go traffic, it’s the acceleration that is going to use up energy. If you are in the hills, hauling extra weight up them is going to use more energy. If you are cruising down the highway in an aerodynamic vehicle that’s properly lubricated, it takes remarkably little power.

  274. There’s no great theory needed for the idea that doubling or tripling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere ought to bring about changes in our climate. Don’t you think that the atmosphere figures into the climate, somehow? Even if the scientists’ models are wrong, isn’t it reasonable to expect some effect, expecially with such a chaotic system as the earth’s weather?

    1. First of all, why does that strike you as a reasonable expectation? Do you expect that tripling the amount of argon in the atmosphere would also bring about changes in our climate? How about halving it? It might do so, since it is — as you point out — a chaotic system, but I see no particular reason to expect it to do so, or to be surprised if it doesn’t.

    2. Supposing it can be expected to have an effect of some kind, isn’t the effect as likely to be a good one as a bad one or a neutral one? Why would you automatically expect any change to be bad? As it happens, the earth could do with being a degree or so warmer than it is. That would be a wonderful change in the climate, and if we can figure out a way to achieve it I would advocate doing so.

  275. BioBob sallies forth:
    > I don’t quite get what you are trying to impart in your last sentence although it has the whiff of decomposition about it. ;D

    Here’s what I was imparting: Watts was among the first to dub Muller a “skeptic” (his jazz hands, not mine). If other folks decide to report Muller as a skeptic, then they’re not really so very far off Watts on that score. In other words, you can’t really be cross about “the meeja” calling Muller a skeptic unless you are also cross about Watts saying it. Watts (without ever actually saying he was either conned or had made a mistake about Muller) only decided Muller was a lifelong “warmist” *after* Muller failed to follow the Doing Science Proper colouring book and got the wrong answer. Probably the best bit though is where Watts decides that Muller’s a bad chap because he broke an embargo about the release of data and techniques that weren’t authored by him. Whiff of decomposition? You’re not standing close enough, Bio.

  276. Pingback: I’m Proud of It and I Don’t Mind Saying So « TeeJaw Blog

  277. > Watts (without ever actually saying he was either conned or had made a mistake about Muller) only decided Muller was a lifelong “warmist” *after* Muller failed to follow the Doing Science Proper colouring book and got the wrong answer.

    Of course Dr. Judith Curry, Muller’s colleague and the second listed author of the BEST study, had very similar things to say about Muller’s preemptive about-face in an interview with the Daily Mail:

    ‘This is “hide the decline” stuff. Our data show the pause, just as the other sets of data do. Muller is hiding the decline.

    ‘To say this is the end of scepticism is misleading, as is the statement that warming hasn’t paused. It is also misleading to say, as he has, that the issue of heat islands has been settled.’

    False flag indeed. I suppose that people will fly them for a while longer, though, in the hopes that those cargo planes will eventually land.

  278. > Not only did the idea sound totally wacky, given that just a couple of years earlier it was global cooling they were trying to scare us with, but it also seemed to be a scientific theory eerily tailored to fit a political agenda.

    Something very scary has changed (or my perception changed)…

    “Global cooling” and “sugar is poison” was popular but (as I remember) wasn’t picked up by the government as something about which they should make new laws.

    “Global warming” and “fat makes you fat” is more of “the sky is falling – we need more laws”. And, of course, government agencies, budgets, penaltie, taxes to create the right incentives, etc.

  279. Oh, yeah…. When I was a kid (45 years ago), I had a book in which Chicken Little ran around screaming that “The sky is falling”. At that time, “the sky is falling” was for kooks. Real adults didn’t pay attention to such things.

    Now, “The sky is falling” means we need a powerful new Falling Sky Agency.

  280. I wish people would stop bandying about “hide the decline” as if it were some sort of smoking gun.

    It isn’t.

    If anything, the “decline” under discussion (the decline of tree-ring growth since 1960) is even more damning of mankind’s environmental activity than if there were no decline to hide.

  281. > “Global cooling” and “sugar is poison” was popular but (as I remember) wasn’t picked up by the government as something about which they should make new laws.

    “Sugar is poison” is still floating around out there, and still has plenty of acolytes, many of whom have explicit political agendas (i.e. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).

    There’s a special creepiness about first world people who obsess over what is in a neighbor’s diet, and enjoy informing them that they are eating “poison” or, even better, “feeding [their] children poison”. Despite the hard won gains in public health and longevity that real science has bought the West over the past several centuries, the relative comfort also seems to have bred a sort of madness in the culture. Maybe it is simply aftershocks of the Cold War, but whatever it is, the worst junk messiahs and their flocks seem to thrive on a degree of paranoia and busybodiness that would make Joe Stalin salivate.

  282. > I wish people would stop bandying about “hide the decline” as if it were some sort of smoking gun.

    “Hide the decline” most certainly is a smoking gun (though not the only one), and the corpse is the Dendrochronology Reconstruction portion of the Carbon Apocalypse theory. Why do you think Mann tried to keep Briffa’s work out of journals until he agreed to help downplay the divergence “problem”?

  283. > Maybe it is simply aftershocks of the Cold War, but whatever it is, the worst junk messiahs and their flocks seem to thrive on a degree of paranoia and busybodiness that would make Joe Stalin salivate.

    Another aspect is the average person’s willingness to consider and express outrageous views, perhaps just to make their lives more interesting.

    I was a child in the ’60s, brought up by parents just out of the ’50s. In the ’50s, it was not generally socially acceptable to express outrageous views. When the people who made the ’60s what they were finally grew up, got jobs, cut down on the dope, they were still prepared to believe… almost anything.

    That idea, that almost anything is acceptable to believe, is very liberating compared to the ’50s, but the problem is that they are prepared to believe almost anything. Those people, the “baby boomers” have elected a lot of people to fix almost anything. And, of course, some of them have been the ones who’s goals involved the power and/or money involved in (making the laws and spending the money for) fixing

  284. sorry… lost the last line…

    And, of course, some of them have been the ones who’s goals involved the power and/or money involved in (making the laws and spending the money for) fixing almost anything.

  285. > I was a child in the ’60s, brought up by parents just out of the ’50s.

    Well, yeah that was my point entirely. That generation – the Boomers raised in the shadow of the Cold War, the ones who authored the 60′s counter culture and slogged through the 70′s malaise – seem to take to junk science like fish to water. I know that voodoo and potions and tonics have been around for as long as humans have, and that a sucker is born every minute, but the Boomers seem to have the ability to immediately internalize and politically weaponize junk science like an old school Lysenkoist or some such other Soviet martinet.

  286. @Milhouse: I posted this link before: http://www.planetforlife.com/co2history/index.html . It’s quite readable a tells you about CO2′s absorbtion spectrum, which is why it, and not Argon is the subject of this thread. Argon is non-reactive, and its atmospheric concentration doesn’t vary like CO2′s; more important, we’re not pouring Argon out into the biosphere in any great amount.

    As to why I’d expect a change to result in A Bad Thing, rather than a Good One, how often do you make a blunder that results in something good? I’m sure that it does happen sometimes, but not most of the time. Most mistakes are just that.

    A warmer planet might make you more comfortable, but it might come at the expense of drought and desertification elsewhere. You are not the only person living in this world, you know.

  287. Grantham choruses:
    > Of course Dr. Judith Curry, Muller’s colleague and the second listed author of the BEST study, had very similar things to say about Muller’s preemptive about-face

    So you’re saying that Curry, who hopped on to BEST because it was a skeptical re-evaluation of the temperature record, didn’t pick Muller as a “warmist” either? Put plain: if Muller’s a false flag, he’s a false flag who managed to suck in not only most of the it’s-not-warming/it’s-warming-but-not-much/it’s-warming-but-who-cares blogoworld, but also other “skeptical” scientists. If Curry and Watts thought he was a crypto-”warmist” prior to the announcement of the BEST results, why didn’t they say so?

  288. > “Sugar is poison”

    Wasn’t that very topic the subject of a post here not too long ago?

  289. >“Sugar is poison” is still floating around out there, and still has plenty of acolytes, many of whom have explicit political agendas (i.e. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).

    The reason this one has legs is probably because it’s actually true.

    But I’ll stick with cutting most of the sugar out of my own diet. Those who aim to use sugar toxicity as a pretext for meddling in other people’s lives are my enemies as certainly as they would be if sugar were entirely benign.

  290. Yet Another Darren Says:
    > So you’re saying that Curry, who hopped on to BEST because it was a skeptical re-evaluation of the temperature record, didn’t pick Muller as a “warmist” either?

    Not sure if I can properly un-mangle your interpretation there. When you say Georgia Tech chair of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Judith Curry “hopped on to BEST because it was a skeptical re-evaluation of the temperature record” what do you mean by that?

    It seems you are labeling Curry a skeptic flunkee of some sort (or perhaps even a “denialist” heh heh). That is highly amusing. Frankly, I think even Gavin Schmidt and the “chorus” at RealClimate would find your views of Dr. Curry amusing, and maybe a little embarrassing.

  291. Grantham stakes his ground:
    > Not sure if I can properly un-mangle your interpretation there.

    You don’t have to. It’s not mangled. You’re saying Curry thinks that the BEST study shows a pause to the warming trend. In so doing, she also thinks that Muller gets it wrong and reveals himself to be a “warmist” by saying that BEST broadly confirms previous findings of a warming trend. And what I’m saying is that if Muller has “always been a warmist”, why did Watts start out by calling him a “skeptic”? Why did Curry say this after her Daily Mail excursion?:
    “[Muller] is clearly driven by the science and is very sincere about wanting to make progress on understanding the global temperature record… all in all, I am ok with what is going on in the BEST project”.

  292. Yet Another Darren says:
    > You don’t have to. It’s not mangled.

    Sure it is. You are now changing the goalposts, as is the norm with the little Carbon cultists who scurry around the internet.

    >You’re saying Curry thinks that the BEST study shows a pause to the warming trend.

    No, I’m not saying I “think” that. That is what Curry said. I’m just citing it.

    > In so doing, she also thinks that Muller gets it wrong and reveals himself to be a “warmist” by saying that BEST broadly confirms previous findings of a warming trend.

    No, again, I don’t claim to read Dr. Curry’s mind. I just reported what she has said of Muller going to the press before their study was even peer-reviewed. She never calls him a “warmist”. She very frankly says what she thinks, if you read the article.

    Look you said something very embarrassing and revealing when you characterized Curry this way: “Curry, who hopped on to BEST because it was a skeptical re-evaluation of the temperature record…” You were trying to casually paint Curry as a “skeptic” (and, perhaps, a “denialist”, or, perhaps in Al Gore’s latest lexicon, a “climate racist”) because you had no idea who she was, and indeed have no clue what you are talking about. You are simply yammering.

  293. Jeff Read writes: If anything, the “decline” under discussion (the decline of tree-ring growth since 1960) is even more damning of mankind’s environmental activity than if there were no decline to hide.

    Rather typical of AGW propaganda actually. If X indicates AGW is true, then not(X) also indicates AGW is true. Here Jeff Read, after pointing to a lame and obsolete explanation for the cutting off of tree ring data that recent email disclosures show even the AGW insiders thought weak, basically wants to claim that while large tree rings show warming’s effects, so do shrinking tree rings.

    The mind boggles. And actual scientific method gets more corrupted.

  294. > “Sugar is poison”

    Well, shoot (as I have taught my parrot to say if I drop somethiing). “Sugar is poison” sounds so stupid…. glucose is the most basic food, fructose is “fruit sugar”… why is it 20 years later that I find out that there is something to this?

    @esr
    I am reading a long blog by Chris Masterjohn at
    http://blog.cholesterol-and-health.com/2010/11/sweet-truth-about-liver-and-egg-yolks.html
    The idea is that fructose goes right to the liver (whereas glucose is distributed around the body), it gets turned into fat in the liver and that the problem may be not enough Choline, which is necessary to get the fat out of the liver. People used to get more Choline when they used to eat more egg (yolks) and organ meat. Comments?

  295. >The idea is that fructose goes right to the liver (whereas glucose is distributed around the body), it gets turned into fat

    There are other toxic effects too, promoting metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure and Type II diabetes. But yeah, the hepatotoxicity of fructose is the bell-ringer. I’m pretty sure it outright killed a gaming buddy of mine last year. Craig Trader will know who I’m thinking of.

    >the problem may be not enough Choline, which is necessary to get the fat out of the liver.

    Well now that’s interesting. I’d like to believe it, because eggs and meat are about my favorite foods. Thus I must be skeptical.

  296. > The reason this one has legs is probably because it’s actually true.

    Well, I’ll admit I haven’t poked into this one much in a long while. But the general “sugar is poison” notion has junk signals all over it. One might declare a gin & tonic to be “poisonous” as well, but that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy one from time to time, or insist that someone else should not, or that it is an “epidemic” or some sort that must be stopped at all costs.

  297. >Well, I’ll admit I haven’t poked into this one much in a long while.

    You should. This is one case where ignorance is both blissful and dangerous; I didn’t get really rattled until I grokked the metabolic pathways in the liver that fructose messes with.

    >But the general “sugar is poison” notion has junk signals all over it.

    If so, I have escaped noticing them. I mean, I’ve heard other commenters mutter about gangs of dietary totalitarians seizing on this as a pretext, and I can’t say that sounds particularly implausible; I just have no direct evidence.

    So, let’s take this as a learning opportunity. I suggest you run down my list of indicators. Toss me links to sources you think show a positive for each signal; I’ll play devil’s advocate. This ought to be fun.

  298. > So, let’s take this as a learning opportunity. I suggest you run down my list of indicators. Toss me links to sources you think show a positive for each signal; I’ll play devil’s advocate. This ought to be fun.

    Sure, hah hah! I don’t mind questioning my own opinions, unlike the implacable, unerring high priests of Thermageddon Science. It might take me a few days to, uh, digest Lustig’s stuff, though.

  299. Gratham goes for it:
    > You are simply yammering.

    That’s a shame. I’ve called you no names, and I’ve levelled no accusations about the quality of your discourse. I’ve expressed no opinion about whether Judith Curry is a “skeptic” or a “denialist” or a “scientist” or any other thing. By implication, and largely because it I think it’s true, I’ve expressed an opinion that Judith Curry was interested in the BEST project largely because it gave itself the job of “skeptically” re-examining temperature records to confirm or deny a stasis in a trend. So you may not be so hot at reading Judith Curry’s mind, but it’s not stopping you from attempting to read mine.

  300. >But the general “sugar is poison” notion has junk signals all over it.

    This is anecdotal, and is more about the public than the science, but I used to hear “White sugar is poison, but brown sugar is sorta OK” a lot 30 years ago. I would think “Yeah, right. Brown sugar is just white sugar covered with molasses.”

  301. Yet Another Darren Says:

    > I’ve expressed no opinion about whether Judith Curry is a “skeptic” or a “denialist” or a “scientist” or any other thing.

    Just so we are crystal clear about it: Yes, you did, Darren. You are ashamed about it now, but that is exactly what you did, when you said the following balderdash:

    So you’re saying that Curry, who hopped on to BEST because it was a skeptical re-evaluation of the temperature record, didn’t pick Muller as a “warmist” either? Put plain: if Muller’s a false flag, he’s a false flag who managed to suck in not only most of the it’s-not-warming/it’s-warming-but-not-much/it’s-warming-but-who-cares blogoworld, but also other “skeptical” scientists.

    A reasonable person couldn’t interpret what you said any other way. But since you are so obstinate, and apparently believe that words have no objective meanings, let’s dissect your statement bit by bit:

    So you’re saying that Curry, who hopped on to BEST because it was a skeptical re-evaluation of the temperature record, didn’t pick Muller as a “warmist” either?

    You say that Dr. Curry (the 2nd listed author of BEST), “hopped onto BEST because it was a skeptical re-evaluation of the temperature record”. Let’s leave aside your empty characterization of the study, and focus on the word “because” instead. What you mean is that Curry’s motive for “hopping” onto the Berkley Study had something to do with her being a “skeptic”. You’ve tried to wriggle and weasel your way out of this statement since then. I presume this is because you are one of those “Google professsors” with a lack of impulse control, shooting before you bother to load or aim. Don’t worry; you are not alone. But you are also dead wrong. Even the people who agree with your religious faith in OMG-Carbon-Dooom-Theory would disagree with you about your breezy dismissal of Curry in that sentence.

    Put plain: if Muller’s a false flag, he’s a false flag who managed to suck in not only most of the it’s-not-warming/it’s-warming-but-not-much/it’s-warming-but-who-cares blogoworld, but also other “skeptical” scientists.

    Well, not much is “put plain” about the vitriol here. But the one part that is “plain” is the part you say at the end [emphasis mine]: “but also other skeptical scientists.”

    “Other.” Meaning skeptical scientists “other” than Judith Curry at Georgia Tech. Meaning that Judith Curry is a “skeptic.” This is what you typed and almost without a shred of a doubt what you meant. Do not try to worm out of it any longer, or put on a ridiculous Passion Play about “context” like Jones and Schmidt have been doing for a couple of years now. If you are not a person who says what they mean, then there is no use talking to you.

    If you are a person who says what they think, than you think that Dr. Judith Curry is a “skeptical scientist,” implying that she is a hack, a moron, a mercenary, or all three. Or, perhaps you meant “skeptical” in the old-fashioned, scientific way: the default position of all good scientists.

    In either case, it’s clear you think “skeptical” is a pretty terrible thing to be. I don’t need to read your mind for that; only your words.

  302. This is anecdotal, and is more about the public than the science, but I used to hear “White sugar is poison, but brown sugar is sorta OK” a lot 30 years ago. I would think “Yeah, right. Brown sugar is just white sugar covered with molasses.”

    So a bit of wiki-research shows that there could be a word issue here.

    There IS a brown sugar that is what you say.
    But natural brown sugar (also known as “Raw sugar”, “demerara sugar” in the UK or “turbinado sugar” in the US) “is produced by extracting the juice from sugar cane, heating it to evaporate water and crystallise the sugar, then spinning in a centrifuge to remove some impurities and further dry the sugar.” reference

    There is a meme that i’ve frequently heard that basically boiled down to “unrefined/unprocessed is healther than refined/processed” which i’d suggest is what the source of what you’re talking about is.

  303. BTW, not arguing for or against “sugar is poison” here.
    Just suggesting that your experience that ‘brown sugar is just white sugar covered with molasses’ is not universally correct.

  304. ESR – I came to this blog after reading this piece on The Global Warming Policy Foundation website. Obviously you will guess I am a Brit.

    Thank you for a very thought provoking blog – I will be back as often as my wife’s list of things I have planned with allow.

    Thank you for indirectly introducing me to Lazarus Long – only read a few of the quotes so far and they are just wonderful. How can I be 66 years of age and not know the works of Robert Heinlein? I can only express embarrassment at such an omission in my reading. The short-coming will be rectified.

    Thanks also to Andrew_M_Garland for the link to the Richard Feynman address on Cargo Cult Science. I had never seen it before. 1974 and it could have been presented yesterday (which in a way is saddening). He was most certainly one of the greatest minds of my parents generation. He gave me, through one of his quotes, a very good piece of everyday advice which because of my techie nature I have struggled to live out.

    “Always choose the Chocolate option” – I can’t find the exact quote now but his advice was simply to not waste years of your life trying to determine the best car, the best TV, the best lawnmower etc. or even the best desert. He reckoned that if you always choose the Chocolate desert at the end of a meal, they can’t do too much wrong with it and you won’t have spent time worrying over which to have. Just choose the GMC or the Ford. In all cases what you choose will be at least 95% as good as the very best and you will have saved your time for more important things.

    To Americans on here I say bring your production home and buy American – if you can find anything made in the UK (and don’t hold your breath) please buy some of that as well.

  305. > which i’d suggest is what the source of what you’re talking about is

    I’m old enough to have seen that white sugar-brown sugar meme enter mainstream, and my recollection is indeed that originally it was about “white, refined sugar” vs “raw [cane] sugar” – I don’t quite remember whether the reasoning was that partially refined cane sugar contains nutrient minerals and traces of vitamins that are absent in refined sugar and is therefore better (or less bad), or if there were actual biochemical reasons that would make raw sugar ‘better”.
    Anyway, his then got dumbed down in people’s mind to a simple “white sugar bad, brown sugar good”.

    If I ever were to write something about “N signs of junk reasoning”, argument by sound-bite would probably be somewhere near the top of the list.

  306. @RetiredDave: Minis are still assembled in the UK, I believe. But, sadly, Americans won’t stop buying Toyotas and Nissans and Subarus because they foolishly believe that the Japanese produce better or more reliable cars than their homegrown counterparts.

  307. > “white, refined sugar” vs “raw [cane] sugar” to “white sugar bad, brown sugar good”

    Part of it seemed to be people twisting themselves up with “highly processed food is bad” [therefore] “white sugar is poison must be true”.

    I also saw the same sort of logic-dance with “The hole in the ozone layer is bad” [therefore] “The greenhouse effect must be true”.

    I just checked Google – I am not the first person to think of the word “sillygism”.

    Another aspect to this (in addition to the ozone thing not being a problem at all) is that I noticed that many people “believed” in global warming (as it was called back then) but didn’t realize it was a different problem than the ozone thing.

    However this tells us more about how silly people think than about junk science.

    >“Raw sugar”, “demerara sugar”
    There may be differences that I am not aware of, but I was always under the impression that what makes “raw” and “demerara” brown was that each grain of sugar still had a covering of molasses. I always thought that molasses in general was boiled down sugar cane juice with some of the sugar crystallized out. I wasn’t aware that they made brown sugar by recombining refined white sugar and molasses – it means that they can make it out of sugar-beet sugar. In any case, there was certainly a lot of “unrefined/unprocessed is healthier than refined/processed” as you suggest.

    > If I ever were to write something about “N signs of junk reasoning”, argument by sound-bite would probably be somewhere near the top of the list.

    I agree, but a lot of people “believe” in units of sound bites. Maybe what we can learn from the “brown sugar meme” is “If it looks like faith and quacks like faith, it might not be science at all.”

  308. Morgan, I’ve purchased 7 new cars in my life. Two GMs weren’t too bad, but plagued with weird shit that kept breaking (a 1987 S-10 Blazer had the bracket holding the power steering pump to the engine break five times!, two after being recalled for that exact problem). Two Fords were utter disasters that nearly sent me to the poorhouse and the company refused to stand behind, Three Toyotas were flawless, between them requiring exactly one trip to the mechanic.

    Guess what my next new car will be?

    Well, maybe a Subaru. I’m pretty impressed with the Outback I’m driving.

    And as for “buy American”, what’s more American, the Corolla built in Fremont, California, the Outback built in Lafayette, Indiana, the Fusion built in Hermosillo, Mexico, or the HHR built in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico?

  309. @Morgan
    Even though US-designed cars are certainly improving from the awful mire they have been in for so long, for my part at least I simply don’t like them. I don’t like the interiors, I don’t like the steering feel, and I don’t like a lot of the underlying designs. Although that last I can apply equally to various Japanese or European cars too.

    Seems to me that American cars are still built to sell to a certain mindset, and one that does not mesh with mine. I’ll keep to my Subarus and Mazdas, thanks (and my one Honda, but it’s Special).

  310. I don’t have sources to site directly right now, but Dr. Curry was actually not quite the skeptic even a couple of years ago. She tried gamely to play the moderate and “properly” skeptical roll in working to get the two camps to actually talk. I remember reading several guest posts at WUWT and ClimateAudit where she some of the more vehement skeptics to task for misrepresenting AGW positions.

    She seemed genuinely interested even then, though, in the actual science. Which is why the Climategate scandals have upset her so much. There has clearly been a concerted effort on the part of the AGW proponents to suppress the opposition. The appeals to peer-reviewed literature and the authority of the IPCC (and all documents published by said) fail to impress anymore. She is clearly not under any illusion that the proponents have been playing fair. They’ve gamed the system, and used sources that are not in any way reliable.

    The 2007 report, for example, which is sited as “definitive” by some advocates here, has been pretty much demolished. At least 40% of all of the sources sited by the review are presented by advocacy groups, have been thoroughly refuted, or are simply hearsay. There was a series of guest posts at Roger Pielke, Jr.’s blog that looked at several chapters of AR4 and actually tracked down every single citation. The supposed “settled” science was anything but.

    And lastly. I find it interesting that a term that used to actually have cache in the scientific community–skeptic–is now used derogatorily by AGW proponents. Isn’t the proper position of any thinking person to first be skeptical? I.e., to not simply take new information on faith, or simply on the word of an “expert”? Yet, if we question the science behind AGW, and try to poke holes in it, and ask for the raw data and methods used to reach the conclusions they’re claiming, then our skepticism is suddenly some sort of evil mark.

    One of the keys to the success of the Left for the last half-century is a masterful use of language, and the manipulation thereof. This is, in my opinion, a perfect example. Yes, I am a skeptic. Proudly so. In all of the reading and studying of the science, math, and algorithms driving the AGW claims, I have not seen anything in any way compelling enough to have me accept the arguments. And to forestall any “who the hell are you” questions: I have a BS in Physics and Mathematics. I have an MA in Computer Science. I am a computer programmer by vocation. I may not be intimately familiar with all of the math, science, and algorithms involved, but I understand enough to be able to suss out the work being done. I’m not convinced. It’s going to take a hell of a lot more to demonstrate conclusively that AGW is a real phenomenon.

    And the slight-of-hand performed by “The Team” is unconscionable and, frankly, disqualifying. I think the process needs to be started from the beginning, by an entirely different group. All of the work needs to be completely transparent. The peer review process needs to be, as well. All raw data, code, algorithms, and results need to be posted for public dissemination. Along with all funding.

    Until that time, it is all farce.

  311. @Morgan: After my ’93 Accord got stolen, I bought a Ford Probe. This was a Mazda MX-6 that Ford reskinned and sold as their own. Every place that Ford touched the car, they cheapened it. The battery failed with two shorted cells (in August!) after one year. (The car had to be towed.) The brake rotors were so shallowly hardened that they had to be replaced after the first brake job. I really hope that Ford has got its act together since then.

  312. > They actually don’t seem to mark the periods of glaciation on the chart, but they do mention the correlation in the text.

    They don’t mark the periods because if they do so, the “cause” happens after the effect.

  313. > They actually don’t seem to mark the periods of glaciation on the chart, but they do mention the correlation in the text.

    Also, we have similar data going back much earlier which shows higher CO2, so the supposed “peak” comes from data selection.

  314. > In fact, it does seem to be possible to influence IQ with environmental factors – but only downwards. Poor childhood nutrition, anoxia – the brain is a delicate organ, anything that compromises its development or damages it will reduce the general reasoning capacity that IQ measures.

    Eric, you do realize that this very fact means you have to be very careful in interpreting IQ test results, since there are a *lot* of confounding factors due to these environmental influences? It may well be true that the maximum IQ you can have is set by your genes. But that’s quite consistent with believing that the primary thing IQ test results are telling us is that most people’s actual IQ is nowhere near the maximum IQ they could have, due to environmental factors. The Flynn Effect is, IMO, a huge piece of evidence in favor of the latter proposition.

  315. A perfect example of the character assassination that took place amongst the AGW intelligentsia. This isn’t just “boys will be boys”. This is a concerted effort to perform a virtual assassination on someone who doesn’t agree with the AGW “consensus”. As the Climategate I and II emails clearly demonstrate, the entire process of scientific inquiry, including peer review, has been completely corrupted.

    If we are to ever find out if there is any “there” there, the current crop of AGW scientists need to be taken out of the loop, and the process needs to be restarted from scratch.

  316. The word “denier” itself is a warning sign of junk science.

    We had a couple of WWII holocaust deniers up here in Alberta a number of years ago. From Wikipedia entry for Terry Long: “1980s and early 1990s, the Aryan Nations’ Canadian branch was led by Alberta-based Terry Long”. I can’t recall if he was actually a “denier” but he was accused of it.

    I have never doubted that Hitler et al were responsible for the deaths of a vast number of Jewish people. But when I started to hear talk of how legal action should be taken against “Holocaust Deniers”, all of a sudden I felt a red flag go up. When a government has a number and you believe it or you are bad, that is evil.

    Freedom of speech is crucial. Freedom of belief is even more crucial. Once the government gets into the business of deciding what I am allowed to believe…

    Personally, I liked having a few people like Terry Long around. You don’t want them teaching your kids in school, but their existence is a green flag, demonstrating, to some degree, the existence of the most important fundamental liberty.

    When I hear people denounced as “deniers” I get really wary.

  317. >> As has been pointed out, Maupin has been playing fast and loose with the term “SUV”.

    >Hey, it’s not my fault they shrunk both the benefits and the size of the SUVs over the last 5 years or so.

    Not true. There have always been SUVs that are cars.

    >> The SUVs that aren’t cars, but are large vehicles are treated mostly like vehicles of the same size (actually weight).

    > It is sufficient to my point that *some* SUVs receive special tax treatment, which they still do.

    Let’s review.

    In response to “and is subsidized by the taxpayers.”, you wrote “As are the first ‘x’ hybrids from any manufacturer, and as are all the SUVs that are sold to businesses. What’s your point again?”

    Some isn’t all. Also, SUVs are never treated better than other vehicles of the same weight class and in at least one case are treated worse.

    So, are you claiming that trucks are subsidized relative to cars? That’s relevant because the supposed subsidy of SOME suvs is the same/worse than the tax treatment of other vehicles of the same weight. Cars don’t get that subsidy because vehicles that heavy aren’t classified as cars.

    Note that the “special treatment” is less than the extra cost. Is Maupin suggesting that companies pay more for no additional benefit? If not, then companies are not substituting SUVs for cars, they’re buying heavy SUVs for exactly the same reason they buy trucks of that size – because they need those vehicle characteristics. Which gets us back to “are trucks subsidized?”

    And there’s still the biz/personal use problem, which voids the special treatment, regardless of weight.

  318. @Andy Freeman:

    > Some isn’t all.

    So I mis-wrote based on what I read 5 years ago. That still doesn’t obviate the point.

    > Note that the “special treatment” is less than the extra cost.

    What does that have to do with anything? The special treatment of buying a hybrid is sometimes less than the extra cost of buying a hybrid. It’s still preferential treatment by the government. If one business needs a car, and another business needs a dump truck, and the dump truck is fully expensed in the first year and the car isn’t, that’s a preferential treatment.

    > And there’s still the biz/personal use problem, which voids the special treatment, regardless of weight.

    No, for business use, there are different classes of vehicles with different subsidies. My point that the subsidies for hybrids are no different than a zillion other government subsides stands. Why are you trying to make this contentious?

  319. And, before you nit-pick again, by “no different” I mean the fact that the subsidies are offered is not in any way unusual, not that the details of the subsidy are identical to any other.

  320. Brian Marshall Says:
    > The word “denier” itself is a warning sign of junk science.

    The use of “denier” should immediately invoke Godwin’s law in an internet thread. It is a deliberate allusion to “holocaust denier.”

    > Personally, I liked having a few people like Terry Long around.

    Amen. If idiotic losers can say dumb stuff then it is much more likely that sane, but out of the mainstream people can too. You defend the castle walls so you don’t have to defend the King’s bedchamber.

  321. @Jay Maynard:

    > And the S-10 Blazer and Bronco II were always classed as SUVs, ever since their early-80s introduction.

    Personally, I always thought that was marketing. Them and the jeep stuff too. But maybe not. In any case, by the definition you gave earlier, it would seem that my 1996 Ford Aerostar Minivan was an SUV, yet it’s clearly not. Why is that?

  322. “As the Climategate I and II emails clearly demonstrate, the entire process of scientific inquiry, including peer review, has been completely corrupted.

    If we are to ever find out if there is any “there” there, the current crop of AGW scientists need to be taken out of the loop, and the process needs to be restarted from scratch.”

    Uh…no. There’s really less than meets the eye. You have a bunch of people looking to discredit the AGW side, so they make a big fuss ‘exposing’ people being people.

    Science being made is messy. It’s not like ‘the Scientific Method’ you saw in your grade-school textbooks. When I was a physics grad student, I saw the same sort of things going on that are being denounced by the outsiders, except there was no email. All that stuff was conducted by telephone. Same sh*t, though…

  323. @Jessica Boxer:

    Amen. If idiotic losers can say dumb stuff then it is much more likely that sane, but out of the mainstream people can too. You defend the castle walls so you don’t have to defend the King’s bedchamber.

    That’s an interesting theory. But it might partly be smoke and mirrors. It turns out the stuff you really need to censor is the stuff that makes a modicum of sense, or at least the stuff that you don’t have a ready answer to. If you let the most egregious stuff be spoken, it’s easy to counter, and then you’re obviously not censoring, so nobody looks to see if you’re exerting more subtle pressures elsewhere…

  324. @Patrick Maupin
    >IIt turns out the stuff you really need to censor is the stuff that makes a modicum of sense

    Um… I hope I am totally misunderstanding you, but… are you suggesting that the government should censor some people? I don’t want to look like an idiot, here, but your third sentence….

  325. @Brian Marshall:

    > are you suggesting that the government should censor some people?

    Not at all. My third sentence was from the point of view of someone attempting to perform censorship. (Hint: it’s sometimes, but not usually, the government.) Compare and contrast the amount of time and energy spent shutting up Terry Long against the amount of time and energy spent shutting up Lawrence Summers.

  326. The Aerostar’s a van for the same reason the Econoline’s a van: it’s not a truck-based body, but a van body. Also, as it happens, the Aerostar was built on an entirely new platform, not the Ranger truck platform, though many components were borrowed from it.

  327. > the amount of time and energy spent shutting up Lawrence Summers..

    Have anyone managed to do so yet? Larry seems to keep getting high ranking appointments in the federal government. :-)

    Obviously, though, the “shutting up” you’re describing is his resignation from Harvard, while under pressure from academics on staff, students, advocacy groups, the usual axe-grinders in the media, etc, etc. The witch hunt was very unfair and unfortunate, but there is a difference between censorship (silenced by authorities who regulate speech through the use of courts boards – even if they are merely laughable kangaroo courts, like what has been going on in Canada) and what happened to Summers. He was shamed, harassed and protested until he finally said, “The Hell with this. I’ll take the golden parachute they’re offering, and maybe in a couple of years I’ll get a nice plum political appointment on a Government Advisory Board of Such-and-So.” Turned out to be a pretty good plan, all things considered.

    Now, that’s not to say I agree with the shrill, reactionary, Kafkaesque and often nonsensical response to Summers’ comments that influenced his decision to step down. But, on the other hand, when you look at it a certain way don’t those shrill reactionaries have the right to their opinions, too? Shouldn’t they have been allowed to express them? What happened to Summers was coercion, deception, scapegoating, and witch hunting of the sort that is, unfortunately, very common in academia. Shameful, yes, but I don’t think you could call it censorship.

  328. >The Flynn Effect is, IMO, a huge piece of evidence in favor of the latter proposition.

    How annoying, then, than the Flynn effect has stopped. It seems to have stalled out sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, or at least psychometricians in Denmark and (I think) England didn’t find it where they were expecting. My interpretation is that the easy ways of helping children reach their genetic IQ potential have been maxed out, at least in the First World. This result has also tended to confirm my conjecture about early childhood nutrition being really, really important.

    And the kind of intervention hopeful environmentarians and social engineers really wanted to believe in – better teaching, better parenting, “better” socialization, stuff that wasn’t directly messing with brain chemistry – never worked. So while you have a theoretical point, it doesn’t buy what people who raise that point generally want it to buy.

  329. @Jay Maynard:

    > Aerostar was built on an entirely new platform, not the Ranger truck platform, though many components were borrowed from it.

    Good wikipedia-cite. But that still begs some definitional question. How is it an “entirely new platform” if it borrows so many components from the past?

    > The Aerostar’s a van for the same reason the Econoline’s a van: it’s not a truck-based body, but a van body.

    That’s somewhat circular logic. It’s a new platform defined for this vehicle, so this vehicle must be a van. It’s also perhaps not entirely correct. I haven’t looked in awhile, but I’m almost certain you used to be able to buy Econoline trucks on the same chassis as the Econoline vans.

    Also, people don’t usually call the Aerostar a “van” — they call it a “minivan” although they call the non-passenger cargo version a “van.” It’s all very confusing.

    Your original statement “At least four of the eight were body-on-frame small truck-derived SUVs” still matches the Aerostar pretty well. If you look under it, it looks a lot more like a truck than it looks like the average passenger vehicle (such as, e.g. the WindStar).

    I don’t claim to know what is an SUV vs. what isn’t, but I will say that from my perspective, it all looks like marketing…

  330. @Patrick -

    Not marketing, deliberate classification for the benefit of CAFE standards. Minivans aren’t trucks, and the car standards apply. SUV’s are, and therefore they call under the less restrictive “light truck” standard.

    Obama wants the EPA to change that to a single standard, which will effectively end the SUV since there’s no way to hit the CAFE number if you sell any SUVs.

  331. >Hint: it’s sometimes, but not usually, the government.

    Without government force behind it, it’s not censorship. Note that libraries and schools practice censorship because they are government institutions. Nobody calls a church library not having books on atheism censorship.

  332. @Grantham:

    > Shameful, yes, but I don’t think you could call it censorship.

    @William B. Swift:

    > Without government force behind it, it’s not censorship.

    No, it’s not direct censorship. And it’s not (directly) government sponsored censorship. But it does have a chilling effect on the speech of others who don’t have Larry Summers’ resources to fall back on. Arguably, this is one legitimate function of “society.” But my point was that, if you want to control speech, you only need to bother with the speech that you think people might listen to (e.g., it at least sounds reasonable) that you don’t like, and they will self-censor.

    That was the most immediate example that came to mind about the greater need to shut up the plausible speaker than the obvious nutcase. But you’re right that a government example would be better.

    I give you Shirley Phelps-Roper: “All federal judges should die.” She’s a nut-case. The only debate she engenders (not that I want to minimize this) is how to write laws to keep funerals viable solemn affairs without trampling on the first amendment.

    I give you Jim Bell. To paraphrase, “here’s how we can band together to kill the federal judges who need killing.” I could be wrong, but I think the government expended a lot more energy on this guy…

  333. > How annoying, then, than the Flynn effect has stopped. It seems to have stalled out sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, or at least psychometricians in Denmark and (I think) England didn’t find it where they were expecting. My interpretation is that the easy ways of helping children reach their genetic IQ potential have been maxed out, at least in the First World. This result has also tended to confirm my conjecture about early childhood nutrition being really, really important.

    For “at least in the First World”, I would substitute “at least in the *cultural* First World”. There are some subcultures in the “First World” that do not place the same weight on helping kids reach their potential as other subcultures do, not just in early childhood nutrition (though that is certainly one aspect).

    > And the kind of intervention hopeful environmentarians and social engineers really wanted to believe in – better teaching, better parenting, “better” socialization, stuff that wasn’t directly messing with brain chemistry – never worked. So while you have a theoretical point, it doesn’t buy what people who raise that point generally want it to buy.

    No argument with that last point. I would add, though, that the criteria used by the social engineers to discern “better” teaching, parenting, socialization, etc. were, how shall I put this, not exactly reliable. Not that I think you would disagree with this, just pointing out that even if we do learn how to optimize brain chemistry, the brain still has to have things of substance to think about, and that requires attention to teaching, parenting, socialization, etc. Even if we justifiably fire the social engineers, those things still have to be done somehow.

  334. > Without government force behind it, it’s not censorship.

    Right. It’s not just academia; you could pick any sampling or subculture and find all kinds of non-authoritarian mechanisms for suppressing dissent within the ranks. Without a board, a tribunal, a court, a committee or even just one tyrant to enforce it, it’s not censorship. If I’m the CEO of a multinational, and I say something that gets picked up by the media and pisses off a lot of people, and the board gets together and decides to force me out, that’s not censorship either. That’s damage control, and businesses have a right to protect themselves.

    Still, it’s not completely neat and clean, and there are some problem scenarios. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church springs to mind. He was dragged into court for the funeral protests, but to the court’s credit they ruled in his favor 8-1. It’s only censorship if they actually succeed in shutting you up, so no problem there.

    But although Phelps was not prosecuted in a court for subsequently threatening to burn the Koran, he was subjected to direct intimidation from government authorities and military leaders, and in the wake of the whole deal he finds the IRS performing a colonoscopy, his insurance policies cancelled and his mortage called in. All of those things could be coincidental, but there’s a certain whiff of authoritative buggery in his case. Sure he is weirdo with lots of dumb ideas and zero class, but that’s sort of the point.

  335. > Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    Err, sorry. I meant “Terry Jones” not Phelps. Sorry, I sometimes get my psychotic ministers mixed up.

  336. @Grantham:

    > Fred Phelps … springs to mind.

    He should if you really read what I wrote, since I was using his daughter as an example.

    In any case, I can’t tell whether you are agreeing or disagreeing. Let me try again:

    The Westboro church folks are much kookier than Jim Bell, and not apt to be taken seriously by nearly as many people, so the government hasn’t persecuted them nearly as much.

  337. Grantham Says:
    > Now, that’s not to say I agree with the shrill, reactionary, Kafkaesque and often nonsensical response to Summers’ comments that influenced his decision to step down.

    Perhaps, though it is hard not to have a little schadenfreude when a Prince of political correctness is hoist on his own petard. And it is hard to suppress an ironic chuckle when the nattering nabobs of feminism get the vapors at the very idea that men and women might be different.

    I certainly agree that private censorship is perfectly acceptable, my only quibble would be questioning whether our academic system, drunk on the milky teat of government subsidy, really entirely counts as a private institution. However, the solution here is not censorship, it is weaning the suckling.

  338. > I give you Shirley Phelps-Roper: “All federal judges should die.”

    Had to refamiliarize myself with her (daughter of aforementioned Supreme Court “psycho minister”). I mean, she’s obviously either marginally savvy enough not to actually threaten a federal judge, or just deluded enough to think her God will hurl bolts of lightning at the feddies because she hates them. In any case I don’t really see the problem with her, though. Just like her dear old dad, she seems like another “funeral greeter” freak. They’re both jackasses, but so are the kids at the OWS protests. In fact, at least the OWS kids were sleeping (and canoodling, and defecating) in a private park when they got booted, whereas Phelps did his loony protesting on public streets outside graveyards. I guess he’s a somewhat savvy lunatic in that sense too.

    > The only debate she engenders (not that I want to minimize this) is how to write laws to keep funerals viable solemn affairs without trampling on the first amendment.

    Right. You want to try to protect privacy at the same time you protect public speech. But the court ruling in favor of Phelps was a no brainer, and so would (hopefully) any other U.S. ruling with similar parameters. Not so in Canada or the EU or just about anywhere else these days. If you did what Phelps or OWS did almost anywhere else on the planet, you could expect a show trial filled with hectoring bureaucrats, hefty fines, prison time, or perhaps just a nice, neat public hanging.

  339. > He should if you really read what I wrote, since I was using his daughter as an example.

    Oh, I wasn’t responding to you in that post. I think we were typing them at the same time.

    > The Westboro church folks are much kookier than Jim Bell, and not apt to be taken seriously by nearly as many people, so the government hasn’t persecuted them nearly as much.

    Are they really “kookier” than Bell? I’m pretty sure that is a matter of opinion. I mean, they are plenty kooky, but as I said, they are either savvy enough to present their views without including physical threats. I mean, Bell is one of those candidates it looks as though he could be guilty of the crimes he was charged with, none of which were “speech crimes.” It’s just that his writings twigged the feds that he might be a threat, and once he was on their radar, they built an indictment on criminal activity.

    Now, that is not to say that there isn’t a “whiff” of buggery about that either, maybe similar to the Jones case.

  340. “I mean, they are plenty kooky, but as I said, they are either savvy enough to present their views without including physical threats [edit] or they are too benign to be considered a threat.”

  341. Grantham Says:

    Not so in Canada or the EU or just about anywhere else these days. If you did what Phelps or OWS did almost anywhere else on the planet, you could expect a show trial filled with hectoring bureaucrats, hefty fines, prison time, or perhaps just a nice, neat public hanging.

    and with that, your credibility is out the door.

  342. Jessica Boxer Says:
    > I certainly agree that private censorship is perfectly acceptable, my only quibble would be questioning whether our academic system, drunk on the milky teat of government subsidy, really entirely counts as a private institution.

    Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s also part of the problem with public research grants and one of the more queasy aspects of the climate debacle. The more the tentacles of government reach into an institutions, the blurrier the censorship issue becomes. When the leaders of a private institutions become financial dependents of the political class, you could see a kind of sockpuppet government suppression arise.

    Actually, that sounds a bit like the IPCC, but I still wouldn’t necessarily characterize what they are doing as true “censorship.” They can keep the research papers they don’t like out of their assessment reports, but they can’t actually prevent those authors from saying and writing what they think.

  343. > and with that, your credibility is out the door.

    Is it? So they don’t charge holocaust-deniers in Germany? They don’t have something called the Alberta Human Rights Commission in Canada, where they haul in people who make political speech they don’t like, or ban their writings from being published? In Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, Asia Minor, there are really a plethora of countries that wouldn’t beat, rape torture and execute folks like Phelps protesting military funerals, or groups like OWS crowd who advocated for the overthrow of society?

    Right.

  344. So they don’t charge holocaust-deniers in Germany?

    I can’t find any references to Phelps or OWS-people ( being accused) of being holocaust deniers.
    So if that’s what you meant with “what Phelps or OWS did”, please provide sources.
    If it isn’t what you meant, why suddenly bring it up ?

    … Canada, … Middle East, the Far East, Asia Minor, …

    Don’t know Canada et.al. that well , so I won’t comment on that. Id o have some experience with protests and such in Europe.
    I notice suddenly Europe is missing from this list . For your original claim to be somewhat convincing, I’d have expected numerous examples of a large number of European countries having public hangings of protesters or so.

    Your lumping together (almost) every country except the US in the way you did suggests that you see everything outside the US as a homogeneous blur. I consider that a sign of ignorance, hence your credibility going down the drain.

  345. So they don’t charge holocaust-deniers in Germany?

    I can’t find any references to Phelps or OWS-people ( being accused) of being holocaust deniers.

    So if that’s what you meant with “what Phelps or OWS did”, please provide sources.

    If it isn’t what you meant, why suddenly bring it up ?

    … Canada, … Middle East, the Far East, Asia Minor, …

    Don’t know Canada et.al. that well , so I won’t comment on that. I do have some experience with protests and such in Europe.

    I notice suddenly Europe is missing from this list. For your original claim to be somewhat convincing, I’d have expected numerous examples of a large number of European countries having public hangings of protesters or so.

    Your lumping together (almost) every country except the US in the way you did suggests that you see everything outside the US as a homogeneous blur. I consider that a sign of ignorance, hence your credibility going down the drain.

  346. >I consider that a sign of ignorance, hence your credibility going down the drain.

    So, what you’re saying is you jumped to a stupid conclusion based on your stereotypes about Americans. Right.

    Here’s a flare-lit clue for you: Someone’s credibility was damaged in this exchange, all right, but it wasn’t Grantham’s.

    (I fixed your broken blockquote tags for you.)

  347. >So, what you’re saying is you jumped to a stupid conclusion based on your stereotypes about Americans. Right.
    >Here’s a flare-lit clue for you: Someone’s credibility was damaged in this exchange, all right, but it wasn’t Grantham’s.

    If being skeptical about blatant over-generalization damaged my credibility, I can live with that.

  348. I posted something rather large and if failed to appear. Some of the ideas were brougt up while I was composing it, but I decided to post it any way. Is there a length limit? I will do this in two smaller posts because there really was two topics…

    OK, here’s a good one: “Hate Crimes”. We (US and Canada) have pretty good systems of criminal law, at least formally (I understand that the US has moved from having trials to plea bargaining – I’m not too sure how much that happens here). In any case a crime is a crime. Where does the government get off telling me who I am not legally allowed to hate?

    This is actually part of a much broader issue (which I am sure ESR must have blogged about)… “Rights” used to be about our rights in relation to the government. Now, a “Right” is a legal plum presented by the government, generally to some minority.

    I believe racism is stupid. To me it is wrong. And it is wrong if it is practiced by the government, which is supposed to treat everyone equally under the law. But it has been turned around into the government making it against the law for me to be racist. That is a violation of my (old-style) rights. People should have the right to hate anything they want, including other races.

  349. kn Says:
    > I’d have expected numerous examples of a large number of European countries having public hangings of protesters or so.

    What? No, you’ve completely misunderstood. I didn’t lump them together. What I said was [my emphasis added]:

    “If you did what Phelps or OWS did almost anywhere else on the planet, you could expect a show trial filled with hectoring bureaucrats, hefty fines, prison time, or perhaps just a nice, neat public hanging.”

    You “could” expect one of those things to happen or several, depending on where you are in the world. Certainly not “everywhere” and probably not “all at once” For instance, the authorities probably won’t give you a show trial, then fine you, then imprison you, and then publicly hang you, all on the same charge. Well, perhaps in North Korea. :-)

    The EU nations are far too meek and sclerotic to be shooting rioters in the streets these days, but Germany, France and Austria will lock you up for denying the Holocaust, and – along with Denmark – will also haul you in for committing the ever popular and politically shifting miasma called “hate speech.” In Holland, they even drag their own politicians into criminal proceedings if the content of their political speech isn’t suitably in line with that of the bien pensants. In Turkey, they subject novelists to show trials, too. In Italy in 2006, Oriana Fallaci was dragged into to court for writing that Islam “brings hate instead of love and slavery instead of freedom,” and she was a beloved Italian journalist who had once interviewed both the Shah and Ayotollah Khomeini.

    That’s not all… and that’s just Europe we’re talking about!

    In Canada “bureaucratic hectorors” recently subjected a stand-up comic in Canada to a show trial for putting down a couple of lesbian hecklers in a tone that wasn’t in keeping with their fine standards of state-approved multiculturism. Canada is even more feeble than the EU in terms of strong arm tactics, so no bullets for you and probably no jail either. But it comes to ridiculous, unelected kangaroo courts, enforcing PC speech codes, they put most American university campuses to shame. They will fine you and blacklist you. Mexico is mixed, but it’s got the slippery “offends good morals” clause in there, to give the Powers That Be suitable cover whenever they want to lock up people who insult their flag and crap like that. Central and South America is a mixed bag. I hear Brazil is mostly good. Do not try OWS in Venezuela, however. If you are not shot in the streets, you will be thrown into La Sabeneta, which is basically akin to a death sentence.

    Africa: Please hand me a list of countries in Africa where freedom of speech is a protected right, so that I may proceed to heartily laugh at it. Perhaps Kenya, now, and South Africa to a small degree. Everywhere else… please do NOT try marching around with signs and yelling epithets at the military funerals for your local tin-pot dictator’s personal army.

    Middle East… NO! Nowhere is it protected, except in Israel. Even in countries that do not have explicit Sharia Law, they stil have plenty of blasphemy laws and lots of other kinds of speech and assembly laws intended to shut you the Hell up. As for OWS, the Arab Spring certainly did not go down very peaceably or bloodlessly.

    China, forget it. That’s a quarter of the world right there. The rest of Asia is almost all a wash too except for India, which is a great counter-example and a place I’ve found very conducive to free speech.

    Australia… do they even have free speech on the books?

    Anyway, unfortunately this is not a picture of a very free world. It is a picture of a mostly statist, suppressive world full of regimes who fear free speech. The U.S. is far from perfect, and that includes free speech. But it’s not at all jingoism to say that the environment for free speech is better here than in most of the rest of the world. It just is.

    All of these are analogous to the Phelps crew and the OWS “Marx was right” crowd, in that they

  350. (sorry… truncated for some reason)

    All of these examples are analogous to the Phelps crew and the OWS “Marx was right” crowd, in that they in that they would represent challenges to the established social order; whether you agree with the speaker or the order is completely irrelevant. In most places on Earth, governments have legal tools to help them suppress such challenges.

  351. @Grantham – Australia has an essentially euro-flavored consideration of ‘free speech’

  352. If being skeptical about blatant over-generalization damaged my credibility, I can live with that.”

    Dammit…if only you had worked ‘context’ into that defense, I could have scored you a perfect 10.

  353. > Australia has an essentially euro-flavored consideration of ‘free speech’

    I’ve heard that too. I just haven’t been there yet, and was pretty sure they didn’t have much legal precedent about speech. Also, some of the Aussie PC control boards and whatnot that I’ve heard about seem so far removed from the free-thinking/speaking Aussies I’ve known that I wonder how effective their speech police really are.

  354. The Phelps gang are not crazies (well, not just crazies). They have a carefully constructed racket going.

    They deliberately cause serious offense and distress to persons to whom the general public is strongly sympathetic. They do it in a manner and context intended to provoke rage in those they harass and their sympathizers, and if possible, a violent response, which will be recorded by them on video. Then they file damage suits against the responders and anyone else who can in theory be held liable – civic authorities, cemetery associations, etc. They are very good at staging the incident as a violent attack on peaceful persons, and often win or settle for substantial damages.

  355. @Rich Rostrom:

    That may be true, but it’s an incredibly dangerous way to make a living…

  356. @ Grantham
    > was pretty sure they didn’t have much legal precedent about speech.

    Not quite sure I understand what “legal precedent about speech” is supposed to mean.

    That aside, in Australia we have no Bill of Rights or similar and our Constitution is very light on guaranteeing substantive rights to citizens. The High Court has found a very limited implied right to freedom of political communication but there is no general “right” to freedom of expression expressed with binding legal force.

    Interestingly, when the left calls for a Bill of Rights its the pseudo-libertarian right that whinges the most.

  357. @Grantham

    By “Euro” i think they mean “English”.

    Australia does not have freedom of speech enshrined in our constitution but it does have an implied right to freedom of speech. Perhaps more importantly we don’t have very good laws shielding the press.

    Having said that, there are a few things politicians can do that are guaranteed to get the back up of a large majority of Australians. (Note that these are my perspective and i’m sure SOMEONE will argue with me… however)

    * Take a knock at the diggers.
    While we’re probably not the most martial nation in the world we are inordinately proud of what military history we have. You do NOT FSCK with the diggers. That is all. The last politician I heard that did this was put in a closet somewhere and never heard from politically again.

    * Tax alcohol
    The K.Rudd did one thing that guaranteed his removal from the top job. He organised a tax on alcohol (and the mines… but i reckon the alco-pop tax is what did it)

    * Take an aggressive stab at the media
    The only time this is not a political death sentence is if it’s obvious that the media in question have gone up in hysterical flames and you’re just the voice of reason (classic recent example was a comment i think from the PM that she thinks the papers should just “not print crap”) . And you have to be careful. Very careful. If you’re thinking of going legal you’d better hope that God, reason, the military and the foot of every fricking rabbit killed by the calici virus is on your side.

    If theres one thing i know about Aussies, it’s that the quickest way to turn the ignorant majority into political pundits is to tell them they can’t say something. They’ll start screaming it from the rooftops on general principle.

  358. TomM Says:
    > Not quite sure I understand what “legal precedent about speech” is supposed to mean.

    Well, just that they don’t seem to have much in the books about it. Not complicated, unless someone is being deliberately obtuse. Like you.

    > That aside, in Australia we have no Bill of Rights or similar and our Constitution is very light on guaranteeing substantive rights to citizens.

    Oh, okay, there’s a good way of saying exactly what I said, in a completely roundabout, redundant and needlessly contrarian way. Thanks for that, TomM. It’s good to know that not all Aussies are as direct and plain-spoken as the ones I’ve known over the years.c :)

    JonCB Says:
    > By “Euro” i think they mean “English”.

    It’s possible, but probably not the “kn” troll I just mopped up and booted down the garbage chute. There was a certain Continental je ne sais quoi about his/her impotent rage.

    > Australia does not have freedom of speech enshrined in our constitution but it does have an implied right to freedom of speech. Perhaps more importantly we don’t have very good laws shielding the press.

    Yeah, this is what I was talking about when I asked, “on the books?” I just don’t know what to think of Australia, in terms of how powerful their version of thought police really are. I almost wonder if their censorship is something more like the private suppression you see in subcultures. They clearly have the ability (guns, courts, etc) to censor, but does the political class they have the need and the will? Are there any Aussie political prisoners of note? I don’t think that Australia bans books (though they might have, at some point in their history).

  359. @ Grantham

    I was trying to be precise rather than obtuse.

    Apologies if the subtelty was lost.

  360. Rich Rostrom Says:
    > The Phelps gang are not crazies (well, not just crazies). They have a carefully constructed racket going.
    > They deliberately cause serious offense and distress to persons to whom the general public is strongly sympathetic.

    Yeah, that’s a thought I often had back when they were in the news. That’s part of the reason I kept using the word “savvy” to describe them. There’s just something so symmetrical about it; they go to the funerals of dead soldiers and scream “God hates fags.” It almost seems carefully designed and calibrated to piss off the maximum number of people possible.

    Patrick Maupin Says:
    > That may be true, but it’s an incredibly dangerous way to make a living

    Yeah, that’s the other thought I had, and probably the biggest signal of lunacy for me. Even if it’s a scam, they deliberately go to places where military families are having their darkest hour of grief, and insert themselves into the memories of their final goodbyes. I don’t know how many of you come from a military family, or know any, but they usually have more than one former or current soldier in the clan, many of who might even pack heat to a funeral. They are mostly extraordinarily disciplined, but in a moment of anger who knows? There’s gotta be much safer ways to scam a buck.

  361. The validity of a proposition can be assessed by looking at the nature of the proponents. An earlier commenter noted that anything Paul Erlich supports can be safely ignored. The same goes for Gore, Gillard, Soros etc

  362. @George Warburton:

    > The validity of a proposition can be assessed by looking at the nature of the proponents.

    Except there are lunatics on all sides. As I pointed out, the very first time I heard anything about AGW being a crock was IIRC early to mid nineties, and the people who said that were creationists.

  363. Eric, someone commenting on the new post wrote that he had a comment appear and disappear. The same thing happened on this page to someone else’s comment.

    I made another goof: “Getting back to CFCs though (and this time checking my numbers), even the lightest halocarbon, fluoromethane (CF4, aka carbon tetrafluoride), has a molecular weight of 160, almost twice krypton’s (83) and four times argon’s (40).”

    The lightest halocarbon is fluoromethane, but it is CH3F not CF4, and another commenter pointed that out later that day (Wednesday). When I tried to find that comment again to quote it when submitting my mea culpa, it was gone.

  364. >When I tried to find that comment again to quote it when submitting my mea culpa, it was gone.

    Very strange. I don’t remember deleting it, and can’t imagine a reason I’d have done so. Perhaps the SQL installation I rely on is hiccuping.

    We’ll have to keep a watchful eye on this and see if there’s any pattern to it.

  365. @Grantham
    > the “kn” troll I just mopped up and booted down the garbage chute

    eh. At least your elaborating on the matter of free speech in “the rest of the world” got me to think there might actually be something to your claim that the US is exceptional in this area.

  366. Pingback: Don’t get fooled again » Cold Fury

  367. My biggest frustration with the Climate Science thing is that they seem unwilling to make any testable predictions — ones that can be measured in a timeline that is useful. So making predictions in 2100 just isn’t helpful or realistically testable.

    However, in another blog I found a link to this article. Apparently six years ago the UN predicted that 50 million people would be refugees of climate change by 2010. That is clearly a testable prediction, and it is clearly incorrect, on the contrary, population in the relevant areas has risen.

    I can’t find an original source, but here is an article from that Right Wing NeoCon rag, Der Spiegel:

    UN Embarrassed by Forecast on Climate Refugees

    Perhaps someone can find an original, though from what I hear the UN is tossing it in the memory hole.

    Can any proponents of AGW point to a prediction of doom that has actually come true, or can be measured before I die?

  368. @Patrick Maupin:

    “Unfortunately, just because a scientist sucks, doesn’t mean that he’s wrong in any particular instance.

    True, but it certainly destroys the value of an appeal to that particular scientist’s authority. After that, you’ve got to find some real evidence to point to, or at least an authority who hasn’t been discredited.

  369. @Jessica Boxer

    Yes, I agree. Which is why it is very frustrating to listen to someone preaching a carbon apocalypse to point to the IPCC synthesis reports, which are policy briefs, not the scientific studies themselves. A small group of scientists, selected by unscientific bureaucrats for their political usefulness, act as gatekeepers and editors for those reports. Politicians and bureaucrats love to select trends from nosy signals and make predictions that are frightening enough to get press but remote enough they will never live to reap the professional consequences if the prediction is wrong.

    When you think about the wild conjecture about the scope of potential disasters and the panchrestons that arise when certain predictions don’t turn out to be true (such as the “super hurricane” theory, or the rate of GAT rise in the 00′s), this is really the biggest signal of junk science; this strident “Never Wrong-ism” that becomes so toxic you try to destroy anyone who questions you.

    It’s true that the culture of research is filled with rancor and massive egos and selfish hoarding of data, but most of that is due to the mad scramble to get grant money for studies that perhaps 0.01% percent of humanity will ever care about, even if your theory is sound. If you break into big application markets, you might even get modestly rich (though you and your research will probably also get somewhat locked away from human sight during your most productive years).

    And then there is science on the public teat. Once you hit the jackpot on a theory that a politician thinks he can run to the soapbox with, the stakes for your ego and your pocketbook rise dramatically. Suddenly you’ve got a few song-and-dance men on your side; high-functioning morons like Al Gore and Newt Gingrich with an uncanny knack for convincing people they are intelligent. They keep reminding you how brilliant and important you are, and it appears to be true because you are chairing departments and U.N. committees and your bank account is swelling and Diane Sawyer wants to interview you and Leonardo DaVinci knows your name.

    Heady stuff. So all the normal rancor, egotism and secrecy gets ratcheted up by several orders of magnitude. I feel a little sorry for some of the Team members. Not the truly bellicose villains like Mann, Jones, Trenberth or Wigley, but having read much of the correspondence in both dumps, I find a bit of pity for Briffa. I know he complied and collaborated, and that did and said many things that were dishonest and self-serving. But when you reconstruct his emails chronologically, you can see portrait of a struggling young scientist in a somewhat mundane and thankless field who slowly succumbs to corruption. Mann never had the temperament to be a good scientist, but you can see that Briffa did.

  370. >Mann never had the temperament to be a good scientist, but you can see that Briffa did.

    When the Climategate I emails came out, one of the two theories popular among my blog commenters pointed at Briffa as the leaker. I thought it was more likely the programmer on the team (the guy who wrote all those despairing comments about the crap code and data sets) but I agree that of the investigators Briffa is the most likely.

  371. esr:
    > …one of the two theories popular among my blog commenters pointed at Briffa as the leaker. I thought it was more likely the programmer on the team…

    The programmer Ian Harris was what sprung to mind when reading the first dump, and he still does make for a good case as the leaker. Just looking at his commented code, it was obvious he had some disdain for the garbage he was being forced to feed.

    I don’t think it could possibly be Briffa. Or, rather, if it was him I don’t think he would ever confess, and if they could ever pinpoint him they would have done it by now (after all, who better to pin “Climategate” on then the source of the “divergence problem”).

    It’s not “Chinese hackers.” That’s an idiotic theory, and it points to how many of the acolytes of the CAGW church are not only careless, but they’ve traded Occam’s Razor for his Nuclear Bomb. No nation stands to make out better from the IPCC-backed regulatory scheme than the nuclear, authoritarian, pirate regime of the PRC. They will simply ignore any recommendations, and let the rest of the world commit economic suicide while they cheerfully industrialize.

    I might be alone in this, but I always assumed it was an IT admin with the tools and permissions to thoroughly cover his prints. In the case of CRU, maybe it was Mike Salmon. If he was even a bit smart, they could never pin it on him.

  372. @Jessica Boxer: There are no really good, accurate models…yet. The predictions are off the wall. It should occur to the critics of the scientists, however, that if the *experts* are so venal and bumbling, how much less do *you* know? Those that are claiming that there is no AGW are making a prediction, too, and despite BioBob’s objections, the world does seem to be warming, even if the amount doesn’t match anyone’s model. Myself, I look at the atmospheric CO2 curve over the last 400,000 years and see an oscillation that we are greatly enhancing. If you push an oscillator too far, you can go beyond the range of the system’s restoring forces, and it can run away on you. This happens in economics and electronics and I’m sure it applies to the climate. In any event, until we have models we can rely on, we need to NOT MESS WITH THE ATMOSPHERE. (My 35 years as an electronic engineer taught me to not mess with a working circuit.)

  373. LS: That’s a recipe for not doing anything productive ever. Sure fits in with the Left’s goals of making us equal – equally poor.

    Come talk to me when the theory holds up and calls for solutions that do not demand total state control of the economy.

  374. @Jay Maynard: I hate and despise the so-called ‘precautionary principle’ as much as you do. It’s just another version of Arthur C. Clarke’s, “Nothing shall be done for the first time.” BUT I see evidence that we are fooling with something dangerous here. We can do much more to produce useful energy without belching more CO2 into the atmosphere. Building more nuclear power plants would be good. I haven’t advocated doing nothing like you think I have.

  375. > I notice suddenly Europe is missing from this list . For your original claim to be somewhat convincing, I’d have expected numerous examples of a large number of European countries having public hangings of protesters or so.

    Remind me – what can one say about Muslims in Europe and the UK these days without risking some official investigation? What happens if one says something mildly negative? Say “devout Muslims may not want this job because it involves being near pet dogs”.

  376. > > Some isn’t all.

    > So I mis-wrote based on what I read 5 years ago.

    Hmm. So, we should always ask you whether you know what you’re writing about. How about you label things as you write them instead?

    You’re right – that won’t work because you insisted that you were correct this time and insisted that I “look it up”.

    >That still doesn’t obviate the point.

    Actually it does. “all the SUVs that are sold to businesses. What’s your point again?” is wrong in both specifics and in insinuation. It would have been honest to say “larger vehicles”, but you wanted to do a smear (or a suck-up – it’s not clear which).

    > As are the first ‘x’ hybrids from any manufacturer, and as are all the SUVs that are sold to businesses.

    Note that argument for different tax treatment for the first x hybrids seems to bes very different from the argument for different tax treatment for large equipment. Do you really think that they’re the same?

    The objection was to the Volt subsidy which is basically the same as the “first x hybrids” subsidy. It’s unclear how repeating that is a defense of the Volt subsidy.

  377. @ Morgan Greywolf

    Back on November 30th – sorry I have been away from the screen!!! Yes the Mini is made (depending how you define made) in the UK, but designed and owned by BMW. BUT it provides jobs here, as do the similar assembly outfits in the UK, owned by Toyota, Nissan and Honda (plus MG which is Chinese owned). We still have the volume stuff – Rolls Royce, Aston Martin and Land Rover (all foreign owned).

    To many others on here who discussed the merits and de-merits of their cars, American or not. You have gone through the same process as we have in the UK. Our cars are crap so we will buy anybody else’s we like (mostly Japanese). In the good times, it is comforting to believe that you have done the best for yourself and your family. BUT the USA and the UK are now in the crap and my point to you originally was to start to look seriously at where your best interests are.

    I drive a Honda Accord made in Japan, but I will not buy any car now unless that company assembles some vehicles in the UK. Having had numerous Fords, they now only make Transit vans in the UK (they hang by my buying thread).

    I read that 3 of your top companies have seen the light already and are bringing manufacture (we are not talking cars here) back to the USA from China because their labour costs are increasing at 16% pa., because you have to ship the stuff across the Pacific, and because companies in China often rip-off your intellectual property rights. AND you need the jobs.

    I am not advocating buying sub-standard stuff but I am now a lot more careful about where I put my money. Too many people in the UK are very keen to apply an “I will buy what I want” attitude, but expect others to buy their stuff and keep them in business. Miners and farmers have been in this category in the UK for as long as I can remember.

    I am in receipt of a UK government pension, it is paid for by the UK tax-payer. I believe that is my responsibility to support that tax-payer with my purchases.

    I guess that many on here, by the nature of the blog, are self-reliant people who like to exercise their rights – I am just saying that we have responsibilities to balance those rights. I am far from left-wing but I do believe that we have to look after each other, or we will sink without trace, and maybe we would deserve to.

  378. Hmm. So, we should always ask you whether you know what you’re writing about. How about you label things as you write them instead?

    So you thorougly research everything you write down before you write it? Good to know. I don’t have time to play “gotcha” right now, but I’ll be watching.

    Actually it does. “all the SUVs that are sold to businesses. What’s your point again?” is wrong in both specifics and in insinuation. It would have been honest to say “larger vehicles”, but you wanted to do a smear (or a suck-up – it’s not clear which).

    No, I was just using the common name of the tax break, which must have made it easier for you to look up. Which tax break still exists, just in a much attenuated form. Which you would know if you really did the research you claim.

    Note that argument for different tax treatment for the first x hybrids seems to bes very different from the argument for different tax treatment for large equipment. Do you really think that they’re the same?

    Yes, they’re both designed to encourage good behavior, for someone’s definition of good.

    The objection was to the Volt subsidy which is basically the same as the “first x hybrids” subsidy. It’s unclear how repeating that is a defense of the Volt subsidy.

    No, the objection was to the Volt. The Volt subsidy was given as an example of what is wrong with the Volt. I think it’s specious reasoning to take a subsidy that is applicable to all hybrids and use it to show what is wrong with the Volt, as opposed to using it to show what is wrong with all hybrids.

  379. BTW, the quibble you have with my using the term SUV instead of some other term for a tax-advantaged heavier vehicle, really is incidental to the point I was making, and I’m sure if you looked up “SUV tax loophole” you could have easily figured out what I was talking about. But way to pretend like I don’t know what my own point is.

  380. The problem is that the common name of the tax break is wrong, and got applied to a legitimate business equipment tax break by unthinking leftists.

    I argue against unthinking use of the term SUV because it’s almost always associated with criticism of the form “Nobody needs something that big!”. I categorically reject the notion that anyone gets to define for anyone else, in our society, what they need. If you mean Excursion/Hummer H1/H2-class SUVs, say so. Just saying SUV is far too broad a brush unless you really mean to lump S-10 Blazers and K-3500 Suburbans together.

  381. >> I notice suddenly Europe is missing from this list . For your original claim to be somewhat convincing, I’d have expected numerous examples of a large number of European countries having public hangings of protesters or so.

    >Remind me – what can one say about Muslims in Europe and the UK these days without risking some official investigation? What happens if one says something mildly negative? Say “devout Muslims may not want this job because it involves being near pet dogs”.

    You must really like these games.

    Grantham already responded to that with quite an elaborate list of examples, which I found convincing enough to reconsider my stance, and I said as much.

    the list of things one can say about Muslims in Europe without risking official investigation quite long, I think. So long I wouldn’t know where to start.
    The issue was more about what you can say in the US that you can’t in Europe.

    “official investigation” is also pretty vague. I believe we were talking about laws and lawsuits. Is that what you mean or are you broadening it to all sorts of investigation by gov officials – say, eavesdropping on electronic communications etc. ?

    So, where do you want to go with this today ?

  382. >Grantham already responded to that with quite an elaborate list of examples, which I found convincing enough to reconsider my stance, and I said as much.

    I was remiss in not praising you for this. Sooner. Not because of what you changed your stance to, but because you changed it at all. A lot of people, and especially a lot of lefties, would have hunkered down and gone “la-la-la” in response rather than evaluating those facts as facts. Good on you for being more sane.

  383. The problem is that the common name of the tax break is wrong, and got applied to a legitimate business equipment tax break by unthinking leftists.

    Sorry, but I can’t resist… What makes it a “legitimate” break? Is any business break deemed “legitimate” by unthinking rightists?

    Seriously, though, if one business needs a car, and another business needs a dump truck, why do we give the one that needs a dump truck preferred tax treatment on the investment? As an aside, I understand there are several practical aspects here, starting with some individuals abusing the car tax break and practically nobody abusing the dump truck tax break, but still, from an efficiency standpoint, if a small business needs to invest in a car, why disadvantage them by giving them worse tax treatment on that than on just about anything else they buy?

  384. Lucky you, esr: you /know/ why you could sniff out the bullshit. I have *no idea* why I detected several years back that GW was nonsense. When I was first fed it (in Geography lessons at about age 15) I believed it, and was worried about all those people who didn’t care and were dooming the planet with their big cars and all the rest of it. About six months to a year later, I had reached a point of being convinced that it wasn’t really happening – yet I have no idea what convinced me. Indeed, all the arguments I find convincing now, about error cascades and affective death spirals, about our state of knowledge of atmospheric physics, about the standard of the data, heck even the Hockey Stick malarkey, were things I hadn’t yet heard of. (Incidentally, this causes me to be worried that I may have written my Bottom Line first, but then I didn’t even know about Yudkowsky-style Bayesian rationalism until a couple of months ago, and I have yet to make much headway in training myself to do rationalism properly)
    So, I don’t know what made me realise GW was bullshit. The only ones of your warning signs I even knew were present were 3 (moral panic) and 5 (computer models), and I did not have the experience to know that they were warning signs. Yet, about five years ago, I knew GW was wrong (though not that it was a fraud). The earliest sceptic commentary I can recall reading was the Telegraph’s Christopher Booker (whom I already respected for his distrust of the EU), and I remember, not being enlightened that GW was wrong, but /relieved/ that someone was publicly making the case against.
    I find this state disorienting and disturbing, as I have no generative myth for my current opinions, and thus cannot evaluate my performance as a rationalist.

  385. > So you thorougly research everything you write down before you write it? Good to know. I don’t have time to play “gotcha” right now, but I’ll be watching.

    Maupin is always playing gotcha, so this isn’t a change.

    One difference – when I make a mistake, I own up to it. Maupin doubles-down.

    But, if this gets Maupin to do some research, great! Shades of “A Boy Named Sue”.

    > No, I was just using the common name of the tax break, which must have made it easier for you to look up.

    No.

    > Which tax break still exists, just in a much attenuated form.

    The only “attenuation” is anti-SUV wrt other vehicles of in the same size classes, but that doesn’t support Maupin’s argument.

    The “large vehicle” tax treatment applies to large pickups, some of which have four doors. In other words, so much for the “dump truck” argument.

    Then again, you’d have to actually know relevant things about the tax code and vehicles.

    Maynard got it right.

  386. @Andy Freeman:

    I’ll ignore the rest of your crap and focus on this:

    The only “attenuation” is anti-SUV wrt other vehicles of in the same size classes, but that doesn’t support Maupin’s argument.

    For you to write that shows that you are still ignoring the argument I explained I was making. I know you’re smart enough to know better, but if it makes you feel good I’ll fess up that I fucked up completely.

  387. The AIDS panic is like the Y2K panic: the worst-case scenario was averted precisely because active preventative measures were taken.

    Not true. There was never any chance of an AIDS epidemic among heterosexuals in the western world. See Michael Fumento’s work on the subject.

  388. Pingback: They Learned Well From The SPLC and ADL « Countenance Blog

  389. OK, here’s a good one: “Hate Crimes”. We (US and Canada) have pretty good systems of criminal law, at least formally (I understand that the US has moved from having trials to plea bargaining – I’m not too sure how much that happens here). In any case a crime is a crime. Where does the government get off telling me who I am not legally allowed to hate?

    At least in the USA, a hate crime is not a crime consisting of hating someone. It’s perfectly legal to hate anyone you want to, for whatever reason or lack thereof seems appropriate to you. It’s also perfectly legal in the USA to express that hate, in terms as strong as you like. Hence Phelps. A “hate crime”, in USA law, is a crime that is motivated by hate.

    Beating someone up is a crime no matter what the motive; but if the reason was the person’s membership in a broader class of people whom you hate then the beating becomes a hate crime. Spraying your tag on a wall is vandalism; spraying a swastika on a synagogue is vandalism motivated by hate, i.e. a hate crime. Hate crime laws provide for sentence enhancements, so that the guy who sprays the swastika, with the intent of throwing terror into the hearts of holocaust survivors, is likely to get a longer sentence then the guy who just vandalised the synagogue because he was bored and it was there. Which IMHO is just as it should be.

    But if there’s no crime in the first place then there can’t be a hate crime. Displaying a swastika on your own property, or burning your own cross there, in compliance with all fire regulations, etc., is not a crime, and thus not a hate crime. On the contrary, it’s protected by the first amendment. In Canada this is not the case; the mere expression of hatred is enough to be a crime. If Phelps lived in Canada and did what he does in the USA he’d be quickly convicted.

  390. Middle East… NO! Nowhere is it protected, except in Israel.

    And Israel has some pretty strict “hate speech” laws; you could easily land in prison for saying the wrong thing. For instance, a few years ago an artist served 16 months for drawing a cartoon depicting Mohammed as a pig.

  391. Australia… do they even have free speech on the books?

    Not technically, but the High Court has ruled that free political speech is inherent in the concept of elections, and so is protected by the constitution. Non-political speech, however, is fair game.

  392. Australia has an essentially euro-flavored consideration of ‘free speech’

    Not really. Europe at least has a formal constitutional guarantee of free speech, hedged and limited though it is. Australia does not.

  393. Pingback: What’s an Ad Hominem – The Only Winning Move

  394. [...] A lot of people [..] would have hunkered down and gone “la-la-la” in response rather than evaluating those facts as facts. Good on you for being more sane.

    Thanks. I appreciate that.
    It’s roughly what I meant with that reply about me challenging generalizations — to find & evaluate the facts underneath (if any)– but I see I should have phrased my comment in a less trollish/prejudice-like manner.

  395. Cell phones causing cancer: 1 – yes. 2 – sort of. 3 – not really. 4 – somewhat, though it’s still on the first round of predictions. 5 – I don’t know. 6 – yes! 7 – I don’t know. 8 – I don’t know.

    Vaccines causing autism: 1 – yes. 2 – yes. 3 – yes. 4 – yes. 5 – not quite. Faking data isn’t the same thing. 6. Sort of – tailor made for the interests of the hoaxer. 7 – somewhat. 8 – yes, in a way. Letting everyone see faked data is just as bad.

    Debt-financed economic stimulus: 1 – yes (or blog post – it’s the same thing). 2 – hell yes! 3 – very much yes. 4 – sort of. 5 – is there any other kind of model in economics? 6 – hell yes. 7 – very much so. 8 – not really. The predictors aren’t collecting the data, and it’s all out there.

  396. The main difficulty is that most people know thi stuff is true because the NYTimes, WashPost, USAToday ABC, MSNBC ad nauseum say it’s so, so it must be true. My favorite argument happens to be the grapes.

  397. Robert Heinlein pointed out more than thirty years ago that one of the signs of the collapse of our civilization was people that watched TV for several hours a day and got all of their knowledge and opinions therefrom.

  398. For the past 80 years we have seen a concerted effort on the part of free market advocates to chip away at Roosevelt’-s New Deal. It started slow. It sputtered. It hit dead ends. But the laissez-Fa-ire advocate persevered-. Their efforts became more productive after WWII. Corporatio-ns and wealthy business people funded think tanks and propaganda institutes-. They had one purpose: To fight unions, social conscience-, and promote the idea that money made you a wise and superior person.tera gold

  399. Hey ESR – how’s that project of yours that will show that at least climate model is junk?

    You guys seem to have given up about 2 years ago.

    Why?

  400. Just a word on ID. It is not the refuge of the religious. I have no religion.

    But to think that intelligent life and a defined set of physical “laws”, can just appear from absolutely nothing, boggles my secular mind.

  401. One of the posts asked, supposing it proven that “natural” (i.e., non-anthropogenic) forcings would result in a 6C warming, what would you advocate as a response?

    This is a common nonsequiteur (“Warming is natural, therefore nothing need/can be done”). But in fact this is more reason to worry about the consequences of human activity. Unavoidable radon exposure does not make smoking safe. Contrariwise!

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