Junk science double fail

Two bits of science news appeared on my radar today with not much in common except that they’re both exceedingly bad news for the political class. That more or less guarantees that they’ll get poor or nonexistent coverage in the mainstream media and is a good enough reason for me to write about them.

First, the British Meteorological Service and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia are now admitting that global warming stopped in 1997 – there’s been no net rise in the Earth’s temperature in 15 years. And no, this isn’t an illusion produced by the 1997 El Nino peak – if you look at the chart accompanying the article you’ll see that GAT has dropped to pre-el-Nino levels.

The source makes this a particularly difficult pill for AGW alarmists to swallow – for of course, the CRU is the home of the infamous “team” whose work has been at the center of the panic. If they’re wrong now, what warrant do we have that they weren’t equally wrong then?

And, actually, it gets worse. Solar observations suggest we may be headed for an insolation minimum ever deeper than the one in 2008 that wiped out the entire 20th-century GAT rise – in fact, some NASA meteorologists are muttering darkly about a near-term recap of the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age!

This of course, is bad news for the political class because AGW panic was so useful for raising taxes and increasing central control of the economy. The general public has been increasingly skeptical of late, but popular reaction so far has been nothing compared to what will be unleashed if it turns out the real climate problem of the next two decades is how to keep our crops from freezing.

Our other news today is of a study apparently showing that the heritability of IQ increases with age.

IQ, and its heritability, has been a major irritant to would-be social engineers. Because – no matter how much propaganda they sponsor to the effect that IQ is meaningless, or multifactoral, or the tests are culturally biased – IQ assessments done in the traditional way aimed at approximating Spearman’s g keep turning out to be about the single most valuable statistical measure for predicting not just academic performance but all kinds of other interesting things like lifetime earnings and propensity to criminality.

This new result is another turn of the screw. Because now it turns out that while you can raise childrens’ measured IQ with all the usual nostrums (better family circumstances, intensive schooling, etc) the effects of such interventions vanish in the adults that the children become. A particularly strong finding is that while adoptive children tend towards the IQ distribution of their foster families, the adults they become revert to the IQ distribution of their biological families.

This matters because poverty is correlated with and often caused by low intelligence. This is even more true today than it used to be, because we have a whole meritocratic apparatus aimed at scooping up poor-but-bright kids and tracking them into good schools and good jobs so they don’t stay poor. (And, as cynical as I sound in the rest of this post, be in no doubt that I think this meritocratic apparatus is a good thing and among the proudest achievements of our civilization.)

But: Our political class is heavily invested in the ideology that all the factors driving poverty are environmental. Because that means we can social-engineer our way to an egalitarian utopia by methods which – surprise! justify raising taxes and increasing central control of the economy. It’s bad news for them that adult IQ is genetically heritable and intractable to the sorts of interventions that employ thousands upon thousands of bureaucrats and busybodies.

To be fair, neither the prospect of a cooling earth nor the intractability of IQ are good news for the rest of us either. It would be nicer, in many ways, if we really lived in the political class’s fantasy world – the place where all our troubles are self-created, there’s always someone to blame, and always a political fix.

But at least, since we don’t live in that fantasy world, we can tell the political class to stuff its coercive utopianism up its own ass and demand our liberty back.

344 thoughts on “Junk science double fail

  1. You can believe that the politicians are as apt to _give_ us back our liberty as we are apt to give up our guns. Unfortunately, I don’t see much prospect of getting it back from a ballot box this year. It’s obvious that the Republicans aren’t going to select a candidate that believes in small government or personal liberty, and we already know what the Democrats have in store for us.

  2. The heritabilty of intelligence is tied very closely to another question: the comparative distribution of intelligence in different ethnic groups.

    The political class (and especially its academic wing) is enormously invested in the principle that the distribution of innate intelligence must be the same for all population groups. Unfortunately, there is some truth to that counter-proposition: intelligence is heritable, and like other heritable characteristics, varies not only between individiduals, but among groups.

    This investment is understandable, given the history of the counter-proposition. Unequal distribution was vehemently asserted without any hard evidence (and grossly exaggerated) as justification for appalling injustices.

    But the political class denial of the reality of unequal distribution has serious consequences today. Within its sphere of control, the political-academic class treats any “disparate impact” as prima facie evidence of intentional injustice, even when it results from objective tests and measurements that reflect such unequal distribution.

    The result is that our institutions tie themselves in knots either trying to produce equal outcomes, or avoiding sanctions for the “disparate impacts”.

    It has been argued that the gigantic “higher education” bubble of the last 30 years was substantially driven by employers using a college degree requirement as replacement for qualification tests that required intelligence – because the latter produced “disparate impacts”.

  3. The IQ results are interesting, but the writeup doesn’t point to its primary sources. I’m curious how much of the difference might be linked to nutrition in utero and as an infant; for example, it’s known that babies born to mothers on high-carbohydrate diets are born with an increased insulin response that appears to follow them throughout their lives, with all the attendant implications. Twin studies ought to be able to give us some useful information, but there’s nothing in the Al Fin article about methodology.

  4. It has been argued that the gigantic “higher education” bubble of the last 30 years was substantially driven by employers using a college degree requirement as replacement for qualification tests that required intelligence – because the latter produced “disparate impacts”.

    This is the first I’ve heard that hypothesis. However, regardless of its truth or falsity, it’s clear that that particular bubble is nearing its end. I fully expect that the next generation will revert to the older pattern, where only children of upper-middle class kids go to college (unless they are exceptionally bright, merit-based-scholarship kids).

    Why? Because (a) the economy doesn’t need all those college graduates, (b) the college degree (outside of STEM fields) has been watered down to where it isn’t good job training, (c) the cost of higher education has reached the point that it is no longer affordable to those who can’t pay their own way without taking on excessive loans.

    I don’t know what the future structure of employment is going to look like, but the era of college-degree-as-pure-signaling-device is just about over.

  5. @esr:
    > while you can raise childrens’ measured IQ with all the usual nostrums (better family circumstances, intensive schooling, etc) the effects of such interventions vanish in the adults that the children become.

    I would add one word to this: “the *relative* effects of such interventions”. The *absolute* effects (i.e., a given child’s measured IQ compared to what that same child’s IQ would have been without the interventions) don’t vanish.

  6. esr:

    You did not mention all the studies which thoroughly document that plant growth improves with CO2, so much so that if we were to revert back to pre-industrial revolution CO2 levels that crop yields would take catastrophic hit.

    Plants “die” if there is not enough CO2 in the atmosphere, and those which survive do that in a far more worse condition than if there was CO2.

    I am wondering if you follow Piers Corbyn’s weather prediction. He is an astrophysicist turned meteorologist and he bases all his predictions on solar activity.

  7. > It has been argued that the gigantic “higher education” bubble of the last 30 years was substantially driven by employers using a college degree requirement as replacement for qualification tests that required intelligence – because the latter produced “disparate impacts”.

    That’s trivially false when considering the evolution of degree-holding numbers in Europe, for instance, where such measures have not been deployed at all, or not significantly (depending on country). There may be a fairly small effect, but I doubt it.

    Anticipating the argument that university attendance rates are different in Europe for causally different reasons (welfare state, public university systems) this still makes it difficult to explain how the US became the country with highest university graduation rates, and then was surpassed by some others but is still very close to the top. European welfare states aren’t new, so it can’t be attributed to that.

  8. Not to comment on the substance, but you really shouldn’t cite the Daily Mail for anything. It’s a rag newspaper written by and for bitter xenophobes, and it’s the subject of a great deal of ridicule in the UK. Treat anything published there with serious scepticism(!).

  9. That’s trivially false when considering the evolution of degree-holding numbers in Europe, for instance, where such measures have not been deployed at all, or not significantly (depending on country). There may be a fairly small effect, but I doubt it.

    I’m not convinced of the claim myself, but your dismissal is a non sequitur: European society differs from American in a number of ways that make the “trivial” comparison invalid. For an easy example, regulars here have pointed out that, American-liberal talking points to the contrary, Europe is very much a classful society in a manner unlike either the United States or Canada. This sense of class separation could easily influence European higher-education demographics in such a way as to parallel an American response to job requirements.

    (I myself am much more inclined to first point the finger at absurdly easy student-loan or even -grant availability, which does parallel to a large degree.)

  10. One of the oldest tricks of politicians, particularly communist-leaning ones is to create an enemy even where there is none, so that the enemy can

    1. bear the blame for all the problems of the people.
    2. justify tighter control over the liberty of individuals and society as a whole in the name of greater good including the economy..

    Everything is a theme around these two central points, no matter how subtle or clever the actual ideology is.

  11. The “higher-ed bubble” is mostly a matter of government interference in the market for student loans. By sheltering lenders from the risk of lending, it becomes possible for anyone to go into debt to obtain a degree, regardless of the marketability of whatever skills that degree supposedly denotes. For a lot of people graduating with useless degrees, their failure to find satisfactory employment drives them back to graduate school, where they will go further into debt, and emerge still without marketable skills.

  12. >http://www.livescience.com/18132-intelligence-social-conservatism-racism.html

    I generally distrust reports of studies in which political ideology is claimed to be tied to intelligence. There’s a pretty long history of such studies turning out to be partisan axe-grinding erected on sloppy methodology. So I distrust this one, too, even though I find all of the assertions “racists, in general, are stupid”, “social conservatives are stupid” and “social conservatives tend to be racists” individually plausible.

  13. @uma: With respect to plants giving higher yields with higher concentration of CO2.

    It highly depends on the kind of plant; more exactly if the plant has a mechanism to increase CO2 usage (C3 or C4 cycle, if I remember correctly). If it has such mechanism, increasing CO2 doesn’t help; it is not a limitation. If I remember corectly unfortunately for your argumentation all grasses and therefore all grain plans have this “extract useful CO2″ mechanism.

    It was an article in SciAm a few years or more back…

  14. The Wall Street Journal has more bad news for the AGW Chicken Littles. Sixteen scientists call out the AGW establishment with some inconvenient truths of their own. I noticed when searching for the link that the usual suspects are losing their minds about the piece.

  15. Eric, for gods sake.

    That’s blatant data cherry-picking at it worst. And you want me to believe *you* over people who actually know what they’re talking about and care about being right? When you lead with this trash?

    Wikipedia has the graphs, and it’s clear where the daily mail “data” came from. It’s also clear what the graphs are actually showing.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/95/Global_Temperature_Anomaly_1880-2010_%28Fig.A%29.gif

    Read the met-office reply.

    Match up the daily mail graph to the wikipedia graph. Tell me you still believe the bullshit they’re peddling in it.

    Not only that, but you’re taking your story from the data that climatologists are providing themselves. Do you not think they’d notice if something was this amiss?
    No, no clearly you wouldn’t, cause it’s all a big conspiracy. Sorry, “failure cascade”. Coz even you can’t prove conspiracy here.

    And you have the temerity to drag the climatologists over the coals for smoothing a graph on a presentation *cover* and take the daily fucking mail at face value without any
    apparent thought or analysis over it at all. Not even asking “so what does the graph leading up to this actually look like then?”

    And yet you have the temerity to jump on the bandwagon over the misuse and misreporting of the word “trick” when you spend half your life correcting people over the meaning of the term “hacker”.

    No, as soon as you see something that agrees with your prejudice you’re all over it and crowing like a fucking lunatic. You make yourself look bad.

  16. Actually Jim, it IS a conspiracy, and it can be proven.

    Because the same people spearheading the “OMG We’re gonna melt the icecaps” are the same people who were peddling the “OMG, We’re gonna cause a new ice age” in the late 1970s.

    Is it too much to ask them to make up their damn minds?

  17. The graph looks to me like it’s been rising through the 20th century, possibly stable through the past few years, but really too soon to tell. The warmest years on record (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_temperature_record) are all in the late 20th century.

    Honestly, I think it’s pointless to try to argue that the earth has not been getting warmer recently. There’s no way to reconcile that with the data. You can argue that it’s natural fluctuation rather than human-caused (I don’t have the scientific background to evaluate that) or you can simply argue that even *if* climate change is real and human-caused, the cost of regulating carbon is higher than the likely benefit. I’ve seen calculations on that, and to me it looks like a clear-cut case. Especially for domestic laws. The effect on climate of regulating carbon emissions in the US would be negligible, and the effect on our economy would be severe.

    If your real point is that it’s a bad idea to regulate carbon, then say *that.* You’ll be inarguably correct. If you try to say something that contradicts the meteorological record, you don’t really help your case.

  18. >Not even asking “so what does the graph leading up to this actually look like then?”

    Don’t be silly. Of course I knew what the graph leading up to it looked like. I’ve been keeping an eye on climatology since about 1979 when I read the initial results on paleoclimactic reconstruction using bristlecone pines.

    After all your thrashing around about “cherry-picking”, are you going to look at that graph (either the Daily Mail’s or Kevin Drum’s version) and claim statistically significant global warming over the last 15 years? Not if you’re honest.

    So, explain this: if CO2 drove the increase in GAT before 1997, why has it failed to do anything similar since? The real significance of that graph is that the atmosphere has not behaved as the alarmist models insisted it would. For fifteen years, CO PPM went up, yet GAT has insisted on tracking – *gasp* – solar activity instead. The greenhousing models are failing to predict. They’re busted – or, as Kevin Trenberth said of the Argo data, “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

  19. Brian – the ice caps are melting. This is a fact in the real world. You can go and look.

    It is truly astounding how cultural resentment can blind otherwise brilliant people. We truly are tribal, sadly. That esr would fall for such an obvious gaffled graph is… depressing.

  20. The trend for the last quarter has the iPhone beating all the androids combined. Clearly, this means that android is doomed.

  21. > the adults they become revert to the IQ distribution of their biological families.

    This is probably just a result of systemic racial disadvantage in the adult world as compared to the school-age world. If your biological family is black and your adoptive family is white, and if IQ reflects social advantage to some extent, it follows that your IQ should read higher than average when you’re a kid living at home, and lower once you’re independent.

    I think Flynn is correct that IQ measures something, and that it is something that you probably want everyone to have, but there’s no reasonable person who thinks that IQ is measuring only intelligence and/or any other purely biologically-determined capacities. (For example, why does IQ go up every year? It isn’t because our brains are evolving that fast.)

    And this hardline libertarian position, which says that poor people are poor because they have low IQ (rather than the other way around) has been proved, again and again, to be no more than half-right. To suggest that it’s completely right is the most obvious case of libertarian wishful thinking – if it were true, then we wouldn’t be morally on the hook for trying to raise equality, because everyone who was doing poorly would be doing poorly because of their own shortcomings. In just the same way, if it turned out that there was no pollution-based collective action problem, then we wouldn’t be morally on the hook for doing more than our share of polluting.

    (Side note: today is also a day when new overwhelming evidence was published about the rapid anthropogenic acidification of the oceans)

    Standard disclaimer: my own politics tend more strongly toward libertarianism than English big-state liberal paternalism, so I’m not unsympathetic to the American libertarian point of view. But I think that this IQ stuff, and this AGW stuff, are easily the weakest, dumbest way of arguing in favour of the libertarian position. If you’re against redistribution of wealth, you’re far better off arguing the case for liberty rights, or the case against egalitarianism, rather than trying to bend the facts to show that there is no unjust inequality in the world.

  22. >(Side note: today is also a day when new overwhelming evidence was published about the rapid anthropogenic acidification of the oceans)

    Pointer, please? I’m actually worried about this effect – I think it’s real, unlike nonlinear CO2 greenhousing, and have said before on this blog that I think it’s a good reason to burn fewer fossil fuels.

  23. >If your biological family is black and your adoptive family is white, and if IQ reflects social advantage to some extent, it follows that your IQ should read higher than average when you’re a kid living at home, and lower once you’re independent.

    You may be very sure that if the reversion effect showed up in black adoptees of white families but not white adoptees that would have made it into the public report – precisely because that would give the study results a politically comfortable explanation. People could mumble “discrimination!” and shut their brains down.

    Because there was no such representation, we can be pretty sure the reversion effect is significantly not correlated with race – and that means you are engaging in faulty reasoning based on a hypothetical not matching the facts.

  24. It’s politically uncomfortable to admit that any component of IQ difference is based in biological factors. But I’m not disputing that! I’m just telling you that you’re not off the hook for rectifying the inequalities unless the *entire* difference in IQ is biological, which it clearly isn’t.

  25. Interesting thing about IQ: it’s highly heritable in middle class households, but much less so in poor ones. When poor kids are adopted into rich households, their IQ’s jump. (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/opinion/16kristof.html?em) Even if something to do with IQ is biological, intelligence can also be damaged by poverty. That could explain the Flynn effect; we’ve been getting rid of the extreme poverty that stunts people’s minds. (This would also imply that IQ is going to get more heritable as poverty declines; we could imagine a future where nobody is poor in absolute terms, but it’s nearly impossible for the relatively poor to enter the ranks of the super-rich.)

  26. @esr -> claim statistically significant global warming over the last 15 years? Not if you’re honest.

    Nice, completely stuffing the ballot there. You’re acting like the graph is expected to be perfectly smooth. Well, no, look at the graph we’re currently in a short stable point. The data points are NOT indicative of a flattening out, however.

    To say fifteen years is disingenuous. You can only claim that if you’re not looking at the trendline. The trendline is clearly up and flat for significantly less that the fifteen years. And this isn’t unusual in this graph, it’s been flat – and even gone down before. The overall trend however, is still up.

    You want to talk about being honest, look at this graph.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/95/Global_Temperature_Anomaly_1880-2010_%28Fig.A%29.gif

    Keep in mind the flatness of the redline around 1970, 1980 and its decline around 1990 and claim that this graph is statistically flat. Not if you’re honest, you can’t.

  27. >When poor kids are adopted into rich households, their IQ’s jump.

    But this study implies they revert towards their pre-adoption IQ as adults.

    >That could explain the Flynn effect; we’ve been getting rid of the extreme poverty that stunts people’s minds.

    Correct. And it also explains why the Flynn effect petered out in the 1990s in the developed world, where “getting rid of extreme poverty” is a solved problem. My personal theory, which I used to be very tentative about but has been looking like a better and better fit to the facts recently, is that the Flynn effect was primarily driven by steady improvements in early-childhood nutrition.

    >This would also imply that IQ is going to get more heritable as poverty declines

    Well spotted! I hadn’t thought through that consequence fully yet, but yes.

  28. >Keep in mind the flatness of the redline around 1970, 1980 and its decline around 1990 and claim that this graph is statistically flat. Not if you’re honest, you can’t.

    I’m actually not sure what you’re talking about – I don’t see “flat” there, and that “decline” looks remarkably like falloff from a decadal El Nino peak. I think it’s fair to criticize skeptics who overinterpret the decline from the ’97 peak, but that means you need to be extra careful not to make the same mistake.

  29. ESR said,

    I generally distrust reports of studies in which political ideology is claimed to be tied to intelligence. There’s a pretty long history of such studies turning out to be partisan axe-grinding erected on sloppy methodology. So I distrust this one, too, even though I find all of the assertions “racists, in general, are stupid”, “social conservatives are stupid” and “social conservatives tend to be racists” individually plausible.

    “Social conservatives are stupid” is another way of saying that stupidity is one cause of type-5 (per http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=4001) anti-intellectualism.

    “Social conservatives tend to be racists” may be true, but the phrasing implies a causation that I think is the opposite of reality. (And what many people who make this claim actually mean is that conservatives oppose affirmative action.)

  30. >“Social conservatives are stupid” is another way of saying that stupidity is one cause of type-5 (per http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=4001) anti-intellectualism.

    Huh? Only true if you equate thalamic anti-intellectualism with social conservatism. I’m not a so-con and don’t like so-cons much, but fairness requires me to protest this. Your archetypal social conservative is more like a type two.

    >the phrasing implies a causation that I think is the opposite of reality.

    There, on the other hand, I think you have a point. Under present conditions, anyway; the most virulent form of racism in history was associated with the hard-left ideology of Naziism.

  31. I’m curious – supposing that AGW were conclusively proven somehow to be entirely true, and that catastrophic consequences would inevitably result, how would you respond?

    It may well be that AGW is the result of an error cascade – I have some sympathy for that view – but I feel like a lot of libertarian-leaning people believe that primarily because it’s more convenient, just like left-leaning politicians strongly believe the opposite because it is convenient. As a libertaian-leaning person myself there’s something deeply unsatisfying about this view. The success or failure of an ideology shouldn’t be based on random chance about physical effects, that could just as easily come up in some similar form in the future.

  32. most virulent form of racism in history was associated with the hard-left ideology of Naziism.

    You’re sounding like Jonah Goldberg. This is completely ahistorical. There were strains of what could be looked at as progressivism in it, true. But if combining corporate and government machines into an expansionist hell is left-wing, David Duke and the Soveriegn Citizen types are clearly on Noam Chomsky’s side.

    When redefining history, it pays to wait until people who were alive then have died. I was an exchange student in Germany in 1989 (yes, got to be there when The Wall fell), and my host parents are still alive. They were kids during WWII. My host-mother’s father probably died somewhere on the eastern front., but at that point paperwork wasn’t being diligently kept. Anyway, the notion that the Nazis were leftists struck them as bizarre at first, and then a mixture of hilarity and contempt as the understood the political maneuvering behind it.

  33. >I’m curious – supposing that AGW were conclusively proven somehow to be entirely true, and that catastrophic consequences would inevitably result, how would you respond?

    Suppose vampires and werewolves existed. How would you respond?

    Think very carefully before dismissing this analogy. There are more levels to it than are obvious.

  34. esr Says:
    >“racists, in general, are stupid”, “social conservatives are stupid” and “social conservatives tend to be racists” individually plausible.

    The thing about these in popular sources is that people read them wrong. They don’t read “social conservatives are stupid”, they read “is is stupid to be a social conservative” which really is a completely different claim. After all, 50% of people in the United States are of below average intelligence.

  35. GAT is a meaningless number. We should be looking at ocean temperatures as the true measure of the Earth.

    If you were taking your child’s temperature, would you wave a thermometer in the air around them, or stick it in their saliva-filled mouth?

    OFC, Ocean temps have been falling too. :)

  36. >OFC, Ocean temps have been falling too. :)

    That’s what happens to water when you melt a whole lot of ice into it.

  37. mdc Says:
    > I’m curious – supposing that AGW were conclusively proven somehow to be entirely true, and that catastrophic consequences would inevitably result, how would you respond?

    I think this is an interesting question, though it is hard to answer with any precision because it isn’t all that precise (what consequences, who is the “you” who is supposed to respond?)

    However, the libertarian answer is pretty straightforward: deal with it. Build bigger sea walls, make better flood plans, exploit the improved productivity of agriculture. Create a market in products and services to help solve local impacts of global warming. It might work, it might not. I’m not sure.

    There is an alternative view that we should have some overriding government or pan-planet government somehow regulate the whole thing and make it work by profoundly repressing everyone and severely weighing down the world economy. This agency could certainly repress everyone and screw up the economy, but does anyone thing they have a chance in hell of fixing the problem? If you do, you have obviously never really looked at the success rate of governments and big social engineering projects. Look, the people who run governments can’t even issue you a drivers license, without an age of torment. Why do you think they can do anything hard?

    So the choice, AFAIK is between a libertarian solution, that might work, and a government solution that is guaranteed to fail.

    Look at Kyoto. A freaking disaster. Why does everyone seem to assume that politicians are capable at solving difficult problems?

  38. >Suppose vampires and werewolves existed. How would you respond?

    I’m supposed to say “it’s a silly question” but that would just be evidence of a lack of open-mindedness. The answer is fairly complex, but here is part of it:

    - if vampires were repelled or burnt by the cross, I’d be forced to reconsider my disbelief of Christian mythology, which would be painful and difficult.
    - if vampires and werewolves were able to instantly regenerate from most physical injuries, I’d be forced to reconsider my belief in various basic physical laws as well as by general disbelief in anything supernatural, which would also be very difficult for me.
    - i’d be forced to re-evaluate my usual assumptions about how easy it is to keep things secret in the modern world (which would make me start wondering about alien visitations, freemason cults, the 9/11 attacks, and so on)
    - if vampires were immortal or very long-lived, I’d need to reappraise my acceptance of death and old age as necessary parts of life, and start to see them as unnecessary misfortunes.
    - in short, it would force me to make a fairly radical reappraisal of my attitudes toward evidence, reality and the scientific method. It would be a pretty life-changing event.

    The real answer to mdc’s question about global warming has to be one of three things:
    1) You will in fact *never* react to further evidence about global warming (or ocean acidification, or global cooling, or whatever else) because it would require too big of a political and ontological overhaul, and you find it easier to distort facts than to change your mind on these sorts of big-ticket issues,
    2) You would adopt a softer version of libertarianism that makes some room for pooling resources for collective action and nation-responsibility, or
    3) You will figure out and begin promoting a means by collective action problems can be solved without consolidating power into states or state-like bodies.

    I’m sure some version of 1), 2) and 3) would constitute different people’s reaction to the discovery of vampires and werewolves too. Your analogy is fine, but it doesn’t show what you want it to show.

  39. >Bennett Says:
    >January 30th, 2012 at 11:11 am

    >That’s what happens to water when you melt a whole lot of ice into it.

    Ah, so I’m glad you mentioned this.
    Here:
    http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/schweiger/ice_volume/BPIOMASIceVolumeAnomalyCurrentV2.png?%3C?php%20echo%20time%28%29%20?

    Is a plot of sea ice volume. It demonstrates the earth has lost approximately 15,000 cubic kilometers of sea ice since 1983, only in the Arctic (The antarctic has been growing, but I’ll ignore that to help you out here).

    Now, let’s consider the total volume of Earth’s oceans. What is that number?
    It is between 1.3 and 1.5 BILLION cubic kilometers.

    So you propose that:
    15,000 KM3 of water from the arctic
    is having a measurable affect on:
    1,500,000,000 KM3 much of which has more direct sunlight shining on it than the arctic.

    Oh, and we haven’t even considered density changes or total heat content, considering that ice is less dense than water and ice has a specific heat lower than water

    Really?

  40. If AGW is true — something I’ve pretty much taken for granted because I don’t have time to read all those papers — then reducing emissions in one country *obviously* won’t reduce global carbon. And experience shows that rapidly industrializing countries like China don’t like to sign emissions treaties; they want to join the ranks of rich countries, and that means more factories and cars. Politics is a lousy way to counteract the harms of global warming, even if those harms are severe.

    The smart money’s on adaptation — floodproofing cities, switching to more drought-resistant forms of agriculture and generally increasing water efficiency in dry areas. Eradicating mosquitoes if new regions of the world become warm enough to be malaria-prone. And take advantage of everything helpful about warming — start farming farther north and with longer growing seasons, extract natural resources from previously frozen land, etc.

    If this stuff sounds boring, then the real reason you cared about global warming wasn’t because it’s harmful, but because you dislike industrialization for some independent reason.

  41. @Jim T wrote “The trendline is clearly…flat for significantly less that the fifteen years.”

    The ten-year trend is pretty darned flat:
    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/wti/from:2001/to:2012/normalise/plot/wti/from:2001/to:2012/normalise/trend

    The 15-year trend is ever-so-slightly positive, but not nearly enough so to redeem the model predictions:
    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/wti/from:1997/to:2012/normalise/plot/wti/from:1997/to:2012/normalise/trend

    (The woodfortrees index is an average of HADCRUT3VGL, GISTEMP, RSS and UAH, offset by their baseline differences.)

  42. >So the choice, AFAIK is between a libertarian solution, that might work, and a government solution that is guaranteed to fail.

    Well put, Jessica. The rest of you might want to reread my essay Pessimistic Anarchism for an expansion of this point.

  43. “I’m curious – supposing that AGW were conclusively proven somehow to be entirely true, and that catastrophic consequences would inevitably result, how would you respond?”

    I’d make it a priority to invest in geo-engineering research and development.

    One sure sign of AGW-as-religion is when people claim that AGW is true and will be catastrophic, and then scream loudly against geo-engineering.

    Another example is people who claim to be very green, pro-environment, and anti-pollution, and then scream loudly against nuclear power.

    Logic fail….

  44. >The answer is fairly complex, but here is part of it:

    That was an intelligent response, but wandered about 180 degrees from where I was going with the analogy. Never mind. Between you and Jessica Boxer we’ve ended up at approximately the right place.

    >3) You will figure out and begin promoting a means by collective action problems can be solved without consolidating power into states or state-like bodies.

    Duh. This, of course, is my answer, as it has been since I concluded that minarchism is unstable in the direction of tyranny and abandoned it. The way we solve collective-action problems without government is called “free markets”. The way we spread large risks is called “insurance companies”.

  45. @esr

    The rest of you might want to reread my essay Pessimistic Anarchism for an expansion of this point.

    Thanks for that. Perfectly dissected.

  46. >Anyway, the notion that the Nazis were leftists struck them as bizarre at first, and then a mixture of hilarity and contempt as the understood the political maneuvering behind it.

    Nazi = National Socialist, and Hitler’s speeches were full of anticapitalism, hatred of markets, and statism. Your host parents’ inability to recognize this as “leftism” is a problem in their categories, not mine.

  47. >Suppose vampires and werewolves existed. How would you respond?

    >Think very carefully before dismissing this analogy. There are more levels to it than are obvious.

    I would buy some silver bullets… if I didn’t live in socialist EUrope ;( At any rate, werewolves and vampires pose no fundamental threat to my libertarianism.

    But it’s not a fair analogy anyway:

    1. Even if you think the chances of AGW being real are less than 50%, they’re a lot higher than the existence of vampires and werewolves. AGW has a plausible physical mechanism and at least some empirical evidence to support it. Mythical creatures do not.

    2. It’s highly plausible that a similar AGW-like (ie. internalised benefit/large externalised harm) issue could emerge in future. We’ve already experienced a number of less serious ones in the past that have been fixed, like CFC/Ozone damage.

    [Reposting this because it didn't seem to show up, whereas my first comment showed up immediately. I'm not too familiar with this software so if it actually went into some sort of approval queue, feel free to delete this.]

  48. “I’m curious – supposing that AGW were conclusively proven somehow to be entirely true, and that catastrophic consequences would inevitably result, how would you respond?”

    1) Have anti-nuclear activists tried for treason to humanity.

    2) Since carbon burial can remove carbon from the biosphere, we should legally prohibit recycling paper.

    3) Cover the oceans with a layer of reflective plastic.

    That’s not what you had in mind?

  49. > Your host parents’ inability to recognize this as “leftism” is a problem in their categories, not mine.

    Anyone who has taken the time to read even a handful of Hitler’s speeches understands very well that he was the leader of a German Socialist movement. The main argument between his version national socialism and the international communists he eventually overthrew was a matter of defining the group membership criteria. Like the Marxists, the Nazis wanted to eliminate the concept of the individual, but unlike them they didn’t want to define the proletariat as a generalized “humanity.” In other words, Hitler’s ideal world would consist of a socialized utopia for Aryans, supported by a network of client and slave states to do the dirty work or provide buffers against potential aggressors.

    He repeated this vision constantly (and worked to make it a reality), so the real mystery is how Western revisionists managed to ludicrously repaint Hitler as some kind of small government conservative in the popular imagination.

  50. >1) Have anti-nuclear activists tried for treason to humanity.

    This seems like a pretty good idea in any case. :-)

  51. >He repeated this vision constantly (and worked to make it a reality), so the real mystery is how Western revisionists managed to ludicrously repaint Hitler as some kind of small government conservative in the popular imagination.

    Redefinition of Hitler as “right wing” was a principal focus of Soviet propaganda during and after WWII. As for how they did it…well, with enough agents of influence in Hollywood, academia and the news media you can sell just about any myth.

    Sigh…I still haven’t entirely recovered from learning that Dorothy Parker was a Stalinist…

  52. @ esr
    I just finished Pessimistic Anarchism. I think I understand your point and I’ve seen similar queries in the past where a potential human tragedy is presented as the only alternative to a government program of some variety. Such a presentation is a false dichotomy at best.
    Still, when confronted by anarchist ideation, I feel compelled to produce exactly this sort of query and I don’t feel dishonest about it. Anarchy is on one end of exactly that sort of dichotomy, so “How would society work with absolutely no government? How would we fight off marauders and enforce laws without it?”
    Do you think I’m being fair with this question or is there some part of your position that I have missed? The only alternatives to a government military and police force that I know of are mercenaries and bounty hunters. I am aware of no private alternative to a trial.

  53. >I am aware of no private alternative to a trial.

    Even under the present state system there’s such a thing as binding arbitration. That’s exactly a private alternative to a trial; it’s not uncommon for contracts to require it because the government court system is overworked, slow, and lacking domain expertise for many sorts of decisions.

    As for your more general question, I’m not going to try to answer it in this thread. You might want to start by finding and reading a copy of David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom.

  54. Fair enough, though it looks like that book is going to be prohibitively expensive for me.

  55. >>He repeated this vision constantly (and worked to make it a reality), so the real mystery is how Western revisionists managed to ludicrously repaint Hitler as some kind of small government conservative in the popular imagination.

    >Redefinition of Hitler as “right wing” was a principal focus of Soviet propaganda during and after WWII. As for how they did it…well, with enough agents of influence in Hollywood, academia and the news media you can sell just about any myth.

    hm, I think it’s fair to say that Hitler wasn’t exactly a small government proponent.
    But nazism’s ethnic nationalism, racism, social older, anti-egalitarism, militarism, its stance on issues like homosexuality or the role and position of women in society, … that’s not the sort of stuff that says ‘Left wing’ to me (or, I imagine, Jamie’s hosts).

  56. Machinery of Freedom is available as a free pdf on David’s website, just scroll down on the right for the link.

  57. >as it has been since I concluded that minarchism is unstable in the direction of tyranny and abandoned it.

    All human systems are dynamically unstable, in my opinion, the key point is whether it costs more in time, effort, and attention to keep a government limited than it does to address the same problems (for example, collective action problems) in the absence of government. Though we apparently ended in nearly the same place.

  58. esr Says:
    > since I concluded that minarchism is unstable in the direction of tyranny and abandoned it.

    Is it your view that anarchism is not subject to this same instability? Witness the basic fact that humans started in anarchistic societies, and ended up here.

    Some smart guy said that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

  59. >We’ve already experienced a number of less serious ones in the past that have been fixed, like CFC/Ozone damage.

    The “CFC/Ozone damage” was purely a fraud, it was “fixed” because it never was a problem in the first place. During the supposed worst period of the “damage”, ground level UV readings were lower than the previous decade, skin cancer rates were going up because many more people were spending much more time in the sun. The Antarctic ozone hole was caused by a combination of Antarctic volcanic eruptions, which pumped chlorine into the higher atmosphere, and the lack of sunlight in the Antarctic winter, which kept new ozone from forming.

  60. William B Swift Says:
    > The “CFC/Ozone damage” was purely a fraud, it was “fixed” because it never was a problem in the first place.

    I don’t know much about the science on the CFC thing, however, there is another really important aspect. Specifically it was fixed because it was easy to fix. Substituting one type of refrigerant for another was cheap, easily legislated, and easily implemented. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t negatively impactful, or that individuals didn’t incur significant expense, but compared to controlling global carbon emissions it is barely a blip on the radar of life.

  61. “But nazism’s ethnic nationalism, racism, social older, anti-egalitarism, militarism, its stance on issues like homosexuality or the role and position of women in society, … that’s not the sort of stuff that says ‘Left wing’ to me (or, I imagine, Jamie’s hosts).”

    When you see someone attributing Nazism to either the right or the left, it’s a sure sign that they want you to react emotionally rather than think.

  62. But nazism’s ethnic nationalism, racism, social older, anti-egalitarism, militarism, its stance on issues like homosexuality or the role and position of women in society, … that’s not the sort of stuff that says ‘Left wing’ to me (or, I imagine, Jamie’s hosts).

    That’s because of Marxism’s intentional corruption of the language of ideology. Marxism decided to redefine anything and anyone not within its narrow orthodoxy as “reactionary” and “right wing”.

  63. >But nazism’s ethnic nationalism, racism, social older, anti-egalitarism, militarism, its stance on issues like homosexuality or the role and position of women in society, … that’s not the sort of stuff that says ‘Left wing’ to me (or, I imagine, Jamie’s hosts).

    Goddess. Where to even begin? I can see from the things you list that you’ve completely bought the Left’s diligent whitewashing of its own historical record.

    Ethnic nationalism: The hard left has been quite willing to use it as cover. One excellent example is the IRA, which masked hard-left ideology under Irish nationalism so effectively that misty-eyed American Irish patsies funded its bombing campaigns for decades without suspecting they were handing money to Soviet proxies.

    Racism: What you don’t know about the history of anti-Semitism in the Soviet bloc, or the propaganda still emitted about non-Han minorities in Communist China, wouldn’t just curl your hair but outright crisp it.

    Militarism: True, the Left isn’t gung-ho-militaristic – except about the armies of guerillas and dictatorships it approves of. Are we just imagining Che Guevara’s beret and bandoliers, all that iconography of Castro and Kim-Il-Jong in miltary fatigues, the endless newsreels of May Day parades?

    Homosexuality: The USSR was strongly repressive of homosexuality and most 20th-century Communist parties denied membership to or expelled homosexuals (this was, mind you, at the same time the KGB and GRU were actively recruiting Western homosexuals like Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt of the Cambridge Five). The USSR never decriminalized homosexuality before it fell; surviving Communist bastions like Cuba and Red China did not decriminalize until after that process was well underway in the West.

    Role and position of women: All modern totalitarianisms have treated women about the same – as baby-making machines except for a handful of exemplars to be paraded in uniform as evidence of whatever version of ‘progressivism’ they were selling. The Soviet record (and Communist China’s today) is no better than Naziism in this regard. Well, except the Soviets had a couple of much-feted female military aviators; as far as I know the Nazis never managed that.

  64. >Is it your view that anarchism is not subject to this same instability?

    Not with the right cultural capital, no. The Icelandic Commonwealth lasted nearly 400 years – longer than the history of the U.S. – and had to be kicked over from outside by the Catholic Church and the kings of Norway.

  65. Ok, since people are actually arguing about this…

    The Fascists and the Communists were enemies all over Europe. They were enemies in Germany before Hitler took over. They were enemies in Spain. In almost every European country, and especially in Eastern Europe, it was fascists against communists. A friend of my family who was alive then (and living in Eastern Europe) said we had to understand that in those days you were either a fascist or a communist. There was not always a moderate democratic faction.

    Ideological kinship is pretty much beside the point. Of course Hitler and Stalin were both totalitarians and had things in common. Of course neither was a “small-government conservative.” But as a historical matter, fascism was identified as the “right” and communism as the “left” and that’s what everyone called them and they were bitter enemies.

    Modern Anglo-American conservatism isn’t the descendant of Naziism. You have to think of these things in historical terms; and the Tories and the Republicans weren’t influenced by the fascists, and as far as I know the fascists weren’t influenced by them. Calling modern conservatives fascists is (almost always) just a satisfying insult with no additional meaning. But it’s also not true that the modern left is descended from the fascists. Nobody except a few loonies is *actually* much like a Nazi today.

  66. @ esr

    The assertions you make in your second paragraph are false.

    As others have said, a reactionary tabloid is probably not the highest-quality source to build an argument on. You might as well link to Delingpole for all the credibility it brings.

  67. >But it’s also not true that the modern left is descended from the fascists.

    Agreed. In a historical sense the modern left and fascism are more like estranged siblings or cousins – both carrying a lot of the DNA of the Marxist Old Left, but unwilling to acknowledge the inheritance.

  68. Note that Eric is not agreeing with Sarah, because he ignored the sentence directly after the one he quoted.

  69. @ esr

    Is it just a coincidence that your source for your politically-convenient IQ factoids has also posted a rehash of the Daily Mail piece you link to (including the same “Frozen Thames” image as well as the charts)?

  70. esr Says:
    > Not with the right cultural capital, no. The Icelandic Commonwealth lasted nearly 400 years

    I remember David Friedmann always talking about Iceland. I really should learn more about it. Thanks for the heads up.

  71. > Goddess. Where to even begin? I can see from the things you list that you’ve completely bought the Left’s diligent whitewashing of its own historical record.

    I can see from your list that you equate ‘Left’ with ‘Socialist or Communist’, whereas I think of ‘Left’ as in favor of change in society and ‘Right’ as conservative/maintain status quo – with a sympathy for the ‘lower’ classes and some revolutionary tendencies on the left, and a sympathy to the ruling classes on the right. AFAIK that’s not far from the historical division.

    > Ethnic nationalism: The hard left has been quite willing to use it as cover. One excellent example is the IRA, [...]

    Even so, nationalism is much more part of the right-wing discourse, where the Left usually has ‘internationalism’

    > Racism: What you don’t know about the history of anti-Semitism in the Soviet bloc, [...] non-Han minorities in Communist China, [...]
    > Homosexuality: The USSR
    At the risk of sounding “no true Scotsman”, the USSR and Communist China are first and foremost totalitarian regimes. It wouldn’t occur to me to call them ‘left’

    >Militarism: [...] armies of guerillas and dictatorships it approves of. [...] Che Guevara [...] all that iconography of Castro and Kim-Il-Jong in miltary fatigues, the endless newsreels of May Day parades?

    you have a point,
    Still, in the US political landscape, would you associate “the belief or desire that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests” or “the glorification of the ideals of a professional military class” more with left-wing politicians, or with right-wing ?
    From what I hear on this side of the pond, I think the latter.

    > Role and position of women: All modern totalitarianisms have treated women about the same – as baby-making machines [...] The Soviet record (and Communist China’s today) is no better than Naziism in this regard.

    ‘totalitarianisms’, you said it.
    And for Nazism to be of the left, wouldn’t you also have to show that “Children and Kitchen” does not show up significantly on the right ?

  72. >Nobody except a few loonies is *actually* much like a Nazi today.

    I was going to let this go, for Godwin’s Law reasons and because it’s true about the racialism and eugenicism that is remembered as the definitively ‘Nazi’ policy. But after considering the matter I think I have to demur.

    The Nazis were enemies of free-market capitalism, and today’s enemies of free-market capitalism often use rhetoric which (though they’re generally too historically illiterate to know it) is disturbingly reminiscent of fascist tropes. I have to tell you that my blood ran a little cold when I saw some of the Occupy Wall Street propaganda about “Wall Street bankers”, complete with veiled or not-so-veiled anti-Semitism. It was like having Der Stürmer come back to haunt us.

    Every time I hear someone arguing for “gun control” I remember that the Nazis pioneered the systematic registration and confiscation of civilian weapons under color of law. And I remember why they did it, too – so the Jews and the Gypsies and the gays and the dissidents would have no recourse when the stormtroopers kicked down the doors. Today’s gun-grabbers also think it is right for individuals to be helpless against state power. That doesn’t leave a lot of distance between them and Nazis, not where it counts.

  73. >Is it just a coincidence that your source for your politically-convenient IQ factoids

    What source do you think you’re talking about?

  74. > When you see someone attributing Nazism to either the right or the left, it’s a sure sign that they want you to react emotionally rather than think.

    Not really. It’s more like a history test. It’s almost trivially obvious to assert that Hitler was a progressive of his era, espousing many of the same views as other progressives in the West (like Woodrow Wilson, for instance). That included views on racial supremacy and the role of eugenics, the dangers of capitalism, the loathing of the bourgeoisie, central economic planning, wealth transfers etc.

    The better question would have been to ask whether Hitler would still be a progressive by modern standards, and what a postmodern “American Hitler” would look like. My guess is he would either:
    1) forgo the specific racial stratification component of Naziism either in favor of the kind of Nativist populism you see in political mutants like Pat Buchanan, or
    2) he would double-down on the current political tactics of multiculturalism, perhaps developing affirmative action into a full racial spoils system of the sort the original Hitler percived for Aryans.

    I think the latter is more likely, given the demographic problems of the first. As far as that goes, the specific arrangement of the winners and losers of that racial system would depend on the race of the New Hitler, but he (or she) would probably couch it in the same kind of multi-culti bromides that Old Hitler was experimenting with as late as 1937, as when he said (in explanation of his entreaty to foster separation of the races):

    “And this will not lead to an estrangement between the nations; but, on the contrary, it will bring about for the first time a real understanding of one another. At the same time, however, it will prevent the Jewish people from intruding themselves among all the other nations as elements of internal disruption, under the mask of honest world-citizens, and thus gaining power over these nations.”

    So in other words, Hitler was saying cultures must be kept separate and intact to foster understanding (no mixing, muddling or assimilating), and to better equip them to pick out the “villainous Jews” who might infiltrate and take over a Babylon. This is entirely similar to the multicultural, anti-Zionist Left of the kind that assembles in Durban to bemoan Israel’s many crimes, and who talk about America being her puppet. Oddly, the fringe Left and the fringe Right are usually in alignment on this issue: cultures must be kept distinct, except for the Jewish culture, which must be destroyed.

    As for all of the other elements of Naziism? The planks could mostly be nailed directly on to a modern progressive platform with little or no change. Not only would his views on labor unions, corporate profits, nationalization and entitlements fit in nicely with the typical modern American liberal’s stump speech, Hitler would likely find a few of the current proposals even more radical than his own, in a “I wish I thought of that” sort of way. In particular, Hitler was very outspoken conservationist, and there is no question in my mind that New Hitler would adopt a Green agenda, seeing a wonderful synchronicity between his revolutionary socialist goals and his ecological ones.

  75. @esr – FYI, not sure if this is happening to others, but I think my posts are getting trapped in a filter.

  76. Well, not that last one, obviously! And perhaps not this one either…

  77. Sarah,

    In other words, fascists and communists were like Yankees and Red Sox fans in Connecticut?

    That dovetails nicely with what I know about European politics. And it certainly explains The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a hell of a lot better.

  78. Every time I hear someone arguing for “gun control” I remember that the Nazis pioneered the systematic registration and confiscation of civilian weapons under color of law. And I remember why they did it, too – so the Jews and the Gypsies and the gays and the dissidents would have no recourse when the stormtroopers kicked down the doors.

    In addition to these I remember that Dianne Feinstein has an entourage of armed bodyguards, and that Chuck Schumer concealed-carries.

    The hypocrisy and tyrant-wannabe-ness astounds…

  79. @Bennet: “And this hardline libertarian position, which says that poor people are poor because they have low IQ”. As a small “l” libertarian, I have to take offense to this straw-man. Libertarianism (which used to be liberalism until the liberals fell into the everything-is-oppression trap) is very much about the relationship between the individual and the state. It has very little to say about how people relate to one another. In fact, if you look at a lot of the enlightenment philosophers who’s impact shaped much of the US’s founding, you’ll note phrases like “all men are created equal” and “Tabula Rasa”. Sadly, both of these are demonstrably false. However, it shows to some small degree that this particular philosophy of government is based on the idea that people have the same opportunities as others. To prove otherwise in the context is regrettable, but unsurprising. The idea that poor people are poor because of low IQ isn’t “libertarian”. It can be neo-social-darwinism, karmic, a punishment from God, a poor lot in life, or a whole host of other views.

    @mdc: “I’m curious – supposing that AGW were conclusively proven somehow to be entirely true, and that catastrophic consequences would inevitably result, how would you respond?”

    I’ll take a stab at this, too. Assumptions:

    1) Conclusively proven means that we’ve converted our (global) climate model to a reasonably simple, comprehensible model which has made falsifiable predictions and is based on and can be derived from fundamental underlying physical principles with few “magic” constants, and for which all of the dependent variables are either insignificant (such as mean universe background temperature), constant, or also well-understood by the same means.

    2) Entirely true means that human CO2 emissions, largely from combustion of coal, oil, etc., trap heat directly and/or indirectly on the planet so as to increase the temperature on earth. This may be due to either direct action (CO2 only) or feedback mechanisms (CO2 increase leads to small amounts of warming which leads to more water vapor in the atmosphere, leading to much greater amounts, whatever).

    3) Catastrophic consequences means that there are global changes to the climate which are disastrous for a large and widespread portion of humanity. For example ice melting resulting in 20 feet of rising seas, or Minnesota being too warm to farm grain, etc.

    4) Inevitably result means that the consequences of above will occur unless we are able to reduce the primary (and possibly secondary) causes of warming by reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

    5) I means what government policies should be taken by myself and the US government (and possibly foreign governments and entities over which they have influence). Since this is both a collective-action problem and an externality problem, government action seems appropriate. Given that this is a problem which impacts pretty much all citizens, this is appropriate action to be taken by the Federal government.

    That having been said, I’d do the following:

    *) Put in place a steep carbon tax. The existing gas tax could be cranked up for vehicle fuels (no exemptions for farm vehicles), and similar taxes imposed on coal. These should phase in over 3-5 year with announcements up-front so that customers and industry will have some time to adjust. No such tax should apply to carbon-sequestration-based fuels (Fischer-Tropsch process with atmospheric-sourced CO2).

    *) Drastically alter the environmental and safety regulations around power plants, most notably nuclear power and pumped-storage capacity. Adding more pumped-storage capacity allows oversupply of nuclear power and wind power to be saved up and thus be more appropriate for a greater percentage of the energy supply.

    *) Review all vehicle requirements with an eye to drastically reducing the mandatory weight or efficiency-reducing equipment in a vehicle. This should apply not just to passenger vehicles, but also bus and truck transportation as well.

    *) If water vapor is part of the problem, prohibit new outdoor-pool construction. Tax existing outdoor pools. Change environmental regulations to encourage paving over wetlands.

    *) Consider directing funding towards carbon sequestration. For example, if we can have the Fischer-Tropsch process create long-chain hydrocarbons, we could in effect create synthetic crude oil and shove it back inside the earth. Perhaps the carbon credit above can go towards this cost.

    *) Get a UN embargo against countries who don’t cut back their CO2 production. If major CO2 production is still occurring, consider bombing the oil/gas/coal mines and power plants. You’re harming us – you can starve now. If you want help building wind/nuclear/hydro plants, we’re happy to help.

  80. I always thought that a belief in AGW was prima facie evidence of low IQ.

  81. >I always thought that a belief in AGW was prima facie evidence of low IQ.

    No, it’s just more evidence that the primary purpose of intelligence is rationalizing beliefs you already hold for other reasons.

  82. >At the risk of sounding “no true Scotsman”, the USSR and Communist China are first and foremost totalitarian regimes. It wouldn’t occur to me to call them ‘left’

    And where else but totalitarianism do you think leftism leads? You may think of it as “in favor of change in society”, but the kind of change that calls itself “left” always heads in the same direction – the command economy, the command state, the abolition of any distinction between “personal” and “political”. (Well, actually, all governments naturally devolve in this direction, but the “left” takes the express train.)

    >And for Nazism to be of the left, wouldn’t you also have to show that “Children and Kitchen” does not show up significantly on the right ?

    But it does. Consider as an example Francoite fascism – which unlike Naziism was genuinely right-wing in origin and style. My point was that the position of women in society is not an issue where Communism and Naziism had any significant differences. The (historical) left claimed virtue here, but as usual did not actually possess it.

  83. You lost me with the Nazi comparison.

    I don’t like people pretending they’re protecting me.

  84. “This new result is another turn of the screw. Because now it turns out that while you can raise childrens’ measured IQ with all the usual nostrums (better family circumstances, intensive schooling, etc) the effects of such interventions vanish in the adults that the children become.”

    Don’t you think that this is evidence that IQ testing results depend on a person’s environment? In a rich environment he tested well…then he grew up and went off by himself and became a dullard. It’s the same brain in both cases. I think that the whole thing has proved the opposite of what many of the readers of this blog want to believe.

    For too many of us, I think that our high IQ scores are simple trophies of self-validation. People are smart and stupid at the same time, and they are never as smart as they think they are.

  85. @ TomA
    > I always thought that a belief in AGW was prima facie evidence of low IQ.

    Boom tish!

    @ LS
    > high IQ scores are simple trophies of self-validation

    I think you’re right – IQ measures something, but what it measures sure aint a person’s worth.

  86. @ Garret
    > I’d do the following

    Out of interest, is there a reason (other than political preference) that your proposed interventions are of the tax and spend variety?

    I’m sure you already know that tax-and-spend is generally considered less efficient than a market-based mechanism for reducing emissions.

  87. Gadzooks! Is it too much to ask that we all remember that climate change should be measured in centuries at a minimum and millenia as a preference? 15 years of ‘stability’? Give me a break. This also goes for a ~50 year temperature rise. Neither proves climate change.

    Having said that, it would be prudent to investigate ways of counteracting or mitigating damage should global warming or cooling turn out to be happening.

    Very interesting about the IQ articles. I wonder if part of the issue is the movement of IQ toward 100 as we age (at least this is what should happen as 100 is defined to be the mean and IQ == equivalent age of your intelligence / actual age. I suppose it would be reasonable to have something like a constant dollar equivalent to allow for a better representation of changes in IQ in populations over time, but I digress.) It could also be that as aging occurs, nutritional effects or some other local effect from youth begins to dwarf the late childhood effect of better schools / higher expectations / options 3 through 12,049,930.

  88. >Page 1 of that blog (http://www.alfin2100.blogspot.com/) links to the discredited Daily Mail piece you link to above.

    Discredited in your wishful dreams, perhaps. But this is coincidence; I didn’t notice the link.

    Coincidentally, I read earlier today that the Daily Mail is now the world’s most visited news site, having just passed the New York Times.

  89. @esr
    > And where else but totalitarianism do you think leftism leads?

    Unfortunately, I think the usual answer for many leftists is “Utopia.” It’s Utopia or bust for them.

  90. Bennett Says:
    > And this hardline libertarian position, which says that poor people are poor because they have low IQ

    You know, most people would call me a hardline libertarian, and I didn’t know I was supposed to think that. Dang, I must have missed the memo. Let me just quickly check my spam folder….

    I think a more likely libertarian position is that poor people are poor because they are locked in a dependency trap created by the government, or poor people are poor because a big oppressive government robs them of a chance to advance in life. Or poor people are poor because government regulation makes it impossible for them to start their own businesses. Or poor people are poor because they are hearded into a school system that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

    Yeah, I got the memo on those ideas. They seem to be a better fit to me.

  91. @Jessica Boxer
    > You know, most people would call me a hardline libertarian, and I didn’t know I was supposed to think that.

    I don’t recall that one either. On the other hand, I suppose I am a bit behind on my imaginary libertarian party dues, though, and have missed more than a few of our famously extravagant political rallies. In fact, I’m not entirely sure I even remember what a “hardline” libertarian is supposed to be; something to do with the gold standard, I think.

  92. @ esr (or “Admin”)

    > Discredited in your wishful dreams, perhaps.

    Another commenter has already directed you to the Met Office response to the Daily Mail piece. Which you ignored.

    If you hadn’t ignord it, you would have seen that the purported primary source for the news article you link to says the relevant article “includes numerous errors” and is “entirely misleading”.

    Maybe “discredited” means something different to you?

  93. > Another commenter has already directed you to the Met Office response…

    This line of argument never ceases to amaze. The credibility and reputation of the Met Office and CRU hangs in bloody tatters, and yet their damage control responses over the past three years are somehow of paramount importance to the debate regarding solar variation. This is a bit like “ignoring” the bank robber’s response when he’d been arrested inside the bank with a gun, a mask and a bag full of money.

  94. @ Grantham
    > The credibility and reputation of the Met Office and CRU hangs in bloody tatters … their damage control responses over the past three years …

    So where are the goalposts now?

    This is tiresome, but apparently you are serious, so:

    1. Eric asserted that the Met Office and CRU have “admitted” that there has been no warming for 15 years.

    2. In support of this assertion, Eric linked to a Daily Mail newspaper article.

    3. The Met Office published a response to the relevant newspaper article that identifies shortcomings in the article and confirms that the “admission” Eric referred to has not been made.

    4. Eric’s assertion in 1. is therefore provably false.

  95. @ TomM

    Don’t be fatuous. Obviously by “admitting” both Eric and the Daily Mail mean “by their released datum” not by smacking themselves in the foreheads and saying, “Whoops, our models were very wrong.” Although, they should consider doing just that, since Trenberth and others have admitted as much in their (formerly) private emails.

  96. @ Grantham

    Whoosh. There go those goalposts again.

    (I’ve said before I don’t expect Eric or others posting here in a similar vein to change their minds. You’ve already decided you’re right and no amount of evidence to the contrary will convince you otherwise. There’s an adjective to describe people like that. It isn’t “skeptical”.)

  97. @ Sarah contends that Fascists and Communists always were bitter enemies. This was not always the case.

    Fascists and Communists between 1919 and the 1940s often fought to the death, but they often cooperated also, given that both were ruthlessly pragmatic. Before seizing power in 1922, Mussolini often fought the Communists, but also at times reached local truces, or even cooperated in combatting government forces. Similarly, Hitler was a bitter opponent of the Reds, but that did not prevent him from signing the Non-Aggression Pact with Stalin that enabled the start of WWII.

  98. @Tom M
    > Whoosh. There go those goalposts again.

    Sound effects aside, I haven’t moved anything. It’s not as if esr or his source quoted anyone at the Met Office or Hadley CRU as saying “we admit our models stink.” Trenberth already admitted as much (privately), and its been discussed in the past, but this is about the Met Office releasing the relevant data showing it. The goalposts are exactly where they should be, and the “skeptics” or “denialists” or “climate heretics” or whatever you’d like to call them once again kicked the ball through the uprights.

  99. >Yeah, I got the memo on those ideas. They seem to be a better fit to me.

    I’m pretty sure I do qualify as a “hardline libertarian”, and as such I will cheerfully certify Jessica correct on all counts here.

    That is: nothing in libertarian ideas requires or even does much to encourage the idea that poverty is caused in significant part by subnormal intelligence. I, personally, do believe it’s a significant factor, but that belief is independent of my libertarian ideas.

    On the other hand, Jessica’s summary of the actual libertarian diagnosis of poverty is quite correct. She’s even got them in about the right order of (decreasing) priority.

  100. >Don’t be fatuous. Obviously by “admitting” both Eric and the Daily Mail mean “by their released datum” not by smacking themselves in the foreheads and saying, “Whoops, our models were very wrong.”

    Well, that’s what I assumed the Daily Mail meant, anyway. I’ve been ignoring TomM’s petty forensics about this because it’s the kind of twitching people do when they half-suspect they’re on the wrong side of an argument.

  101. The Fascists and the Communists were enemies all over Europe. They were enemies in Germany before Hitler took over. They were enemies in Spain. In almost every European country, and especially in Eastern Europe, it was fascists against communists.

    And the Calabrian and Sicilian mafias are enemies all over the world. So are the Crips and the Bloods. That doesn’t mean there’s any significant difference between them. They were enemies because they were competitors for the same political niche, and for no other reason. Fascism is simply a Marxist heresy.

  102. Grantham Says:
    > In fact, I’m not entirely sure I even remember what a “hardline” libertarian is supposed to be; something to do with the gold standard, I think.

    No, not the gold standard, an idea I do not subscribe to.

    Obviously it is the ability to quote “Atlas Shrugged,” or “The Road to Serfdom”, chapter and verse.

  103. @Jessica Boxer:
    > Obviously it is the ability to quote “Atlas Shrugged,” or “The Road to Serfdom”, chapter and verse.

    Maybe, but I think you still need to be able to recite full passages from Bastiat’s “The Law” in an appropriately solemn tone in order to the Libertarian Olympic Trials.

  104. @ Grantham
    Arguing with you is clearly pointless. But for some reason now I’ve started I’m morbidly compelled to continue.

    Are you seriously trying to assert that the express claim made in the second paragraph of Eric’s post (“global warming stopped in 1997″) is supported by a “datum” (to use your word) other than the misreporting of the Daily Mail?

    If so, then *citation needed*. Which was my point (and I suspect you know this).

  105. @ TomM
    > Arguing with you is clearly pointless.

    Agreed. Your morbidity is also obvious.

  106. @Jacub Narebski:

    It highly depends on the kind of plant; more exactly if the plant has a mechanism to increase CO2 usage (C3 or C4 cycle, if I remember correctly). If it has such mechanism, increasing CO2 doesn’t help; it is not a limitation. If I remember corectly unfortunately for your argumentation all grasses and therefore all grain plans have this “extract useful CO2? mechanism.

    Everything from a plant’s water needs (critical in high drought regions) to the amount or resources it uses (fertilizer etc) improve significantly with higher CO2. What you are referring to is the carbon fixation and carbon sequestering. Wheat, Barley, and Rice were ALL confirmed to have increased yields (by some 15-20%) due to 100ppm delta in CO2 concentration in air (the increase that we’ve seen over the last few decades). Higher concentrations and the yields went up by 40 or 50 percent. Those crops are the strategic crops crops that feed mankind. But then again the eco-junk-scientists hate humans and they’d rather empty this earth from as many humans as possible.

    Unlike the AGW junk science and junk models, the study of CO2 impact on crop growth and yields is pretty much an exact science. Set up the exact same experiment, with the exact same control group, and you’ll pretty much get the exact same result anytime, anywhere, and forever and always.

  107. @ Grantham
    As I expected – Empty snark and no substantive response. Figures.

  108. Won’t comment on the AGW topic(most studies, on both sides, seem completely fake to me). I will, however, on the other topic. Many here have stated that the difference of IQ between racial groups were obvious.

    I happen to see none. I work since 2000 in computers programming – a domain where intelligence is rather important, I think, and since 2005, I’ve met people from many origins : whites(the main group here in France), arabs, subsaharians, slave descendants, asians from different zones, and even an chilian from mapuche origin. I have not seen any differences in terms of intelligence/skill/whatever.

    What I have seen, however, is that intelligence does not make a career. Communication does. Best programmers stay programmers(and it means never evolving career-wise, at least in France), best speakers end up as big bosses.

  109. Some might feel you’d need to cast your net a bit beyond programmers for variations to start showing up. Programmers tend to be intelligent enough to program, otherwise other careers beckon.

  110. The better question would have been to ask whether Hitler would still be a progressive by modern standards, and what a postmodern “American Hitler” would look like. My guess is he would either:
    1) forgo the specific racial stratification component of Naziism either in favor of the kind of Nativist populism you see in political mutants like Pat Buchanan, or
    2) he would double-down on the current political tactics of multiculturalism, perhaps developing affirmative action into a full racial spoils system of the sort the original Hitler percived for Aryans.

    Completely aside for the actual historical record, which allows us to make judgements about such things, he wrote a book. You can look it up. Although it wasn’t called that at the time, he had opinions about multiculturalism. Hint: unless you define state powers as leftist, there is no way to get there. (that appears to be esr’s notion, but I’m finding him more comfortably loony on that front by the comment.)

    …Clearly, David Duke is a leftist. See also, no true Scotsman.

  111. >Hint: unless you define state powers as leftist, there is no way to get there. (that appears to be esr’s notion, but I’m finding him more comfortably loony on that front by the comment.)

    Oh, no. “Left” is more specific than just “statist”. It’s a group of ideologies radiating out from Marxism, with some remnant influence from pre-Marxist socialist theories such as Fourierism and Saint-Simonism. This family includes both Italian and German Fascism. All members share important axioms and structural features, including corporatism, utopianism, and an eschatological theory of politics themed around class or race warfare. All members of this group claim to be “revolutionary”.

    For contrast, the statism of Francoite Spain and of Japan between 1890 and 1945 is properly “right” in that it was tied to social conservatism rather than being derivative at a remove or two from Marxism. Various less-well known forms of what political theorists call “organic statism”, mainly phenomena of South and Central America, also fall in this category. Rather than being utopian and revolutionary, it is nostalgic and reactionary. It is also much less likely to be militant and genocidal (with Japan as a notable exception on both counts).

  112. @esr -> “I’m actually not sure what you’re talking about – I don’t see “flat” there, and that “decline” looks remarkably like falloff from a decadal El Nino peak.”

    Here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/going-down-the-up-escalator-part-1.html

    The animation on this website shows exactly what I meant. There are many short term trends in that graph that at the time could have been construed as flat, or declining, even though the overall trend was up.

    Phil Plait has an interesting article and set of links I’m sure will be dismissed:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/01/30/while-temperatures-rise-denialists-reach-lower/

    I’m feeling a little more chilled today. And I really don’t care what the outcome is, I’m not a climatologist nor do I play one on tv. I care that you think you see something that isn’t there. You’re making a prediction (that might be right, who can tell?) that is unjustified. If that prediction comes true, it’s a Worse Than Failure situation. It’s not appropriate now, evidentially speaking, to dismiss climate change.

  113. It is also much less likely to be militant and genocidal (with Japan as a notable exception on both counts).

    The Japanese certainly killed a lot of people, mostly in China, though I think quite a few of them indirectly through disease and starvation. But it wasn’t really Nazi-style systematic genocide directed at specific groups based on developed racial theories AFAICT. Yes, Unit 731 was nasty.

  114. My problem with the left-wing and right-wing classifications is that they don’t actually seem to exist in my country. (U.S.A.) You have politicians on the “left” who say they want to take all your money for bureaucracies, and politicians on the “right” who want to take all your money for military and law enforcement. But if you ignore the words coming out of their mouths, they all start to look the same: a bunch of politicians who want to take all your money. And due to our democratic political system they end up compromising and spending your money on both wings no matter which wimg you vote for.

  115. >But it wasn’t really Nazi-style systematic genocide directed at specific groups based on developed racial theories AFAICT.

    No, it was more like casual genocide against everyone non-Japanese and therefore racially inferior.

  116. ESR

    >Suppose vampires and werewolves existed. How would you respond? Think very carefully before dismissing this analogy. There are more levels to it than are obvious.

    I’d go looking for where to sign up. Not being able to get a tan is a small price for immortality. I don’t think if AGW was real, it could confer such huge boons on some individuals.

  117. @Bennet which leads to that somewhat shocking conclusion that if any random of the prevalent supernatural myths was proven true, it would greatly increase the chance of all the other myths being true. Which then leads to the even more interesting conclusion that the random hippie down the road who believes in chakras and crystal healing and telepathy is objectively helping that very organized religion he generally loathes and would love to see destroyed, and of course it works the other way around too. That’s some interesting food for thought…

  118. I think “Left” is just whatever currently fashionable amongst intellectuals and “Right” is whatever currently not. There was a period when eugenics was considered “progressive” for example, from Ted Roosevelt to the Social Democrats of Sweden. Porn was “progressive” in the age of the sexual revolution and “regressive” in the age of third-wave feminism. The only way you can put Ayn Rand and Jerry Falwell under the same label is “not popular amongst current intellectuals”.

  119. >the random hippie down the road who believes in chakras and crystal healing and telepathy is objectively helping that very organized religion he generally loathes and would love to see destroyed

    This isn’t breaking news to any rationalist.

  120. >Jim T Says:
    >January 31st, 2012 at 7:48 am
    >
    >Here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/going-down-the-up-escalator-part-1.html

    That’s interesting looking at that data. There’s no el nino peak, no la nina troughs. It’s BEST data, so it is by definition incomplete (they admitted as much in their recent press releases that their work was preliminary). It’s almost like it is smoothed data. Drawing conclusions from data that is so smoothed should be suspect, no? A number of people seem to want to generate strawmen to remove the justification for skepticism, that graph you link to there is exactly that. It is a plot on which no skeptic has ever been plotting “cooling” trends, and the points are smoothed out enough that even the gigantic warm spells are missing.

    >Phil Plait has an interesting article and set of links I’m sure will be dismissed:

    >http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/01/30/while-temperatures-rise-denialists-reach-lower/

    ^^ Phil Plait is just using and exploiting confirmation bias to increase his hits and popularity. I’m not suggesting that no other bloggers ever do this, but it speaks badly to his credibility. He also sets up the same strawman, showing the smoothed BEST data and calling skeptics crazy for pointing to any reversal of the predicted warming trend by the models.

  121. admin Says:
    >No, it was more like casual genocide against everyone non-Japanese and therefore racially inferior.

    Certainly, I don’t think the Japanese had a specific policy to deliberately wipe out completely a particular racial stock like the final solution. But lets not let them off that easy. For sure they had a belief that they were vastly superior to the Koreans and Chinese. They considered them dogs.

    The rape of Nanking surely stands as one of the most dreadful actions of a civilian massacre in modern times. And it was driven by an attitude that the civilians who they murdered were worthless trash, rather than real human beings.

    It just shows the power of propaganda, and I suppose the debilitating effects of war on men’s minds. But it reminds me a lot of the argument as to whether we should have bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The plain fact is that that action by the United States undoubtedly saved millions of Japanese lives. Not many less Japanese died during the invasion of the tiny Island of Okinawa that died in either of these cities. The civilians threw their babies off the cliffs to death rather than have them fall in the hands of what the propagandists said about the Americans.

    Okinawa was a tiny island, one can hardly imagine the carnage that would have resulted during an invasion of the main islands.

    Something I have never quite understood about that whole thing though is this: all across the Japanese empire officers and men sacrificed their own lives rather than disgrace the emperor by surrender. And yet, at the very end, that self same emperor signed the instrument of surrender with nary a tanto in sight. He died in his bed, and old man. Somehow, that seems inappropriate to me.

  122. >And yet, at the very end, that self same emperor signed the instrument of surrender with nary a tanto in sight.

    Well, the emperor was a god, not a samurai. The rules are different.

    OK, OK, Japanese national mythology does not actually hold that the Emperor is literally divine. But he is supposed to be a direct descendent of Amaterasu, the Sun goddess who created the Japanese archipelago, and is regarded as a sacred priest-king in a style that hasn’t really been seen in Europe since the late Bronze Age. Hirohito lived in ritualized isolation from the Japanese nation he notionally ruled, and spoke a court Japanese dialect so archaic that his radio announcement of surrender was barely intelligible to his listeners.

    The seppuku thing was a samurai custom for expunging dishonor that would otherwise adhere to the samurai’s family and lineage, a kind of atonement rendered to the samurai’s superior. For the Emperor to commit seppuku wouldn’t have made any sense – he had no superior to atone to. He was the embodiment of the Japanese nation, and for him to commit suicide would be a signal that the entire nation should die.

  123. What is odd about the massive atrocities committed by Japanese troops in the ’30 and ’40′s is that at the beginning of the century, during the war with Russian in 1905, the Japanese adhered far more closely to Western standards in treatment of prisoners. Indeed, they may have been above average in conduct.

    What happened in those few decades between?

  124. @esr

    the propaganda still emitted about non-Han minorities in Communist China, wouldn’t just curl your hair but outright crisp it.

    AFAIK the propaganda regarding non-Han minorities in Communist China is that China is a happy multi-cultural nation with well treated minorities and there is no ethnic conflict. One happy-happy showcase is the Cultural Palace of Nationalities.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Palace_of_Nationalities

    It is the reality that is sometimes more disturbing. While the mostly fully assimilated minorities like the Man or Zhuang more or less are equal to Han anywhere with a separatist movement is not so happy (Tibetians, Uighurs, etc). The minorities typically enjoy certain official benefits (exemption from the one child policy, preferred college admission, etc) if they aren’t being jailed (or worse) for being separatists.

    Assimilation, in the US and it seems everywhere else has certain benefits. The loss of cultural identity/autonomy is a downside but probably going to be the outcome for most ethnic minorities inserted in a huge population anyway. Especially as one as ethnocentric as the Han are. Might as well get something out of it.

  125. On the AGW thing, Instapundit linked to this:

    http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=39968

    …very nice comment on the whole situation, BUT:

    No matter if the planet is warming or cooling, you can’t double or triple the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere without consequences. The consequences are much more likely to be bad than good. Stop pissing in the soup; we’ve all got to eat.

  126. > Completely aside for the actual historical record, which allows us to make judgements about such things, he wrote a book. You can look it up.

    It seems you are saying that pulling a direct quote from a 1937 Berlin speech Hitler gave on the anniversary of the Nazi party taking power isn’t good enough. Obviously, you think it would have been better to pull passages from Mein Kamph, but before I went searching an appropriate one (among his rantings about blood affinity, land and tribe, etc), I realized that you don’t seem to understand the problem I actually posed.

    This is not a time machine that summons forth the actual Adolph Hitler in all his era-driven particulars, but rather a new progressive socialist who finds the same kind of success he achieved in 1933, but according to current political realities. So, yes, this “New Hitler” has two options: design a form of nationalism based on non-racial Nativism and cultural hegemony (what the so-cons do), or promote an ethnic tribalism that preserve boundaries between the races, become the leader of your tribe, and then play a polity-by-polity demographic game (Lebensraum) until supremacy is achieved (what the multiculturalists do).

    It’s not so far-fetched. La Raza, in particular, is a darling of the soi disant “multiculturalists” of the Left. La Raza means “the Race”, and happens to be one adjective shy of another infamous race. You might have read about it, in the works of another Nazi progressive, Martin Heidegger. In any case, the thought experiment is not about New Hitler’s goals (ethno-tribal supremacy, socialist empire) which I assume would remain unchanged, but rather the tactics available to achieve them.

    In another half-century or so, there might be other options, too – particularly in America. I could even imagine, for instance, a Melting Pot Hitler, who endorses (and eventually enforces) widescale miscegenation to create a uniquely American race that is bound to the land. But this is a bit science fiction-y, and in order to not be written off as a kook this unique race would already have to be the default (with other racial designations like “white”, “black or “asian” being more or less obsolete) for Postmodern Hitler to take political advantage of it.

  127. @esr I wonder if maybe your filter is catching longer posts (my last attempted post was 2258 char)? Or maybe it was due to content? I mentioned Hitler a whole lot (though certainly not in flattering ways).

  128. @SPQR Transition from the milder Taisho democratic period to the much more militaristic and ultra national early Showa facist period. By the 30s Japan had huge military dominance over their asian neighbors. You went from a more liberal government to one that was essentially driven by the military that had it’s own power structure and often ignored the civilian government. The Diet was dominated by military officers/officials and the Kwantung Army was it’s own little government in Manchuria.

    Whatever you weird argument you want to make about the Nazis the Japanese fascists were not leftists.

    And yes, the early Showa period saw a huge rise in the Japanese racial superiority meme vis a vis other Asians. The Nanking massacre and other Japanese atrocities an obvious outcome. Given how well they did in the early parts of WWII vs western powers reinforced the notion of japanese racial superiority.

    If it took 50+ years for Japanese nationalism to begin rising again it’s probably because of the serious culling of males predisposed to that sort of notion. Hopefully it wont require another round of nuking to keep in check in the future as I’d be willing to bet that China would be more than happy to be the one applying that lesson.

  129. >The consequences are much more likely to be bad than good.

    A completely unsupported guess.

  130. >Given how well they did in the early parts of WWII vs western powers reinforced the notion of japanese racial superiority.

    Hm, I’d have pegged that to the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, actually.

  131. @esr
    >>The consequences are much more likely to be bad than good.

    >A completely unsupported guess.

    weren’t you worried about ocean acidification earlier in the comments?

  132. >weren’t you worried about ocean acidification earlier in the comments?

    I was. But increasing CO2 also implies, among other things, better crop yields. So it’s not clear what the optimal CO2 level for human purposes. Historically, human civilizations have prospered more in warm periods than cold ones.

    And I’m actually less worried about ocean acidification since I saw the latest report on it – so much of it was computer simulations and hot air.

  133. Commentary on applied junk science: Do Wind and Solar Work?

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/01/do-wind-and-solar-work.php

    One of the nice things about engineering and finance, as opposed to science, is that the practitioners get whapped upside the head in a way that is harder to ignore. This is why I trust banks with my money and engineers with my life. Research scientists doing unverifiable historical computer modeling? Not so much. The banking method, the engineering method and the hacking method are superior to the scientific method. Even the Lada wasn’t built based on peer review.

    Yours,
    Tom

  134. @ esr
    > increasing CO2 also implies, among other things, better crop yields. So it’s not clear what the optimal CO2 level for human purposes. Historically, human civilizations have prospered more in warm periods than cold ones.

    You are at your least peruasive when you so smoothly parrot contrarian talking points.

    If you’re at all interested in the reasons why you are wrong:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives-intermediate.htm

  135. @ Tom DeGisi

    That is a peculiar link indeed. Whether wind and solar power generation “work” doesn’t seem to be the question the purported author is examining.

  136. I’m done with David Friedman. I have to say I agree with almost everything he said. The sections on protection agencies and private arbitration firms were fascinating. True, they would probably produce grotesque mockeries of justice, just like we do now, but at half the cost in a fraction of the time!
    Good stuff, but innumerable codes of law working in parallel is something that requires some more flushing out. If a person is broke or is a new comer from another country, do they have any legal protection? How would an unprotected person seek justice if legal codes, counter measures and insurance are bought ahead of time? Clearly Friedman believes that the hyper evolutionary craftsmanship of the market place would solve these problems but it should have been addressed.
    I also noted that not even Friedman is convinced he understands how an anti-nation defense would work without a nation to defend us. He just seems dogmatically convinced that it would work, somehow, perhaps through charity or something. This is just ignoring the commons dilemma. Most people are never going to pay for an army they get ether way.
    Also ignored is who is in charge of the military and what their obligations to other people would be. It would be a pretty piss poor army didn’t claim special rights above and beyond other people. Being financially liable for every piece of property and every person in a war zone would make fighting on your own land prohibitive.
    I also find his arguments against the likelihood of governments arising inside the anarchy-capitalist state less than reassuring. True, if one group of heavily armed people rose up against the others there would could be a war that they could not manage. However, what is to stop these groups from banding together into a more fearsome whole before any fighting began? What is to stop the military from doing this in the absence of any other form of government? Friedman says that power freaks are less likely in a non coercive power structure, but there has never been a military force outside of a tribal community in which the hierarchy wasn’t coercive.

    Anyways, good read, my thanks to esr and Michael Hipp

  137. The notion that fascism and socialism are ‘opposites’ is psychologically very interesting. I used to believe it. I was even told by my teachers at school to divide a list of Nazi policies (the 15 Points or something?) into “Nationalist” and “Socialist” categories. At the time it seemed unclear which most should go into, but I didn’t seriously question the narrative I was fed that they adopted aspects of two ‘opposite’ ideologies out of sheer expediency to grab as many votes as possible.

    Looking back, it seems a lot like how someone who was deeply emotionally involved in the Wars of Religion of 17th century Europe would present Protestantism and Catholicism. To them, the difference is everything, and the belief that their minor theological disputes make them opposites is very real. But step back and you can scarcely tell them apart.

  138. it’s not uncommon for contracts to require [binding arbitration] because the government court system is overworked, slow, and lacking domain expertise for many sorts of decisions.

    It’s also not uncommon for contracts to require binding arbitration because:

    The people who write the contract get to pick the arbiter, sign the arbiters’ checks, and reap whatever rewards those incentives bring.

    Judges who would never be quite so stupid as to rule “Regardless of whether they breached their end of the contract, you still agreed to pay their fee” somehow still make rulings like “Regardless of whether they breached their end of the contract, you still agreed to let their arbiters be the judge of that”.

  139. >And where else but totalitarianism do you think leftism leads?
    >“Left” is more specific than just “statist”.

    I don’t doubt you know about Anarchism (I’m referring to the original, socialist variety)
    How do they fit your theory that leftism/communism/socialism is an express train to totalitarianism ?

  140. Vaspasian Says:
    > Good stuff, but innumerable codes of law working in parallel is something that requires some more flushing out.

    Just something for you to think about Vaspasian: there is no flushing out. The good professor is not suggesting we should set up a system like that, he is proposing that in an anarchstic world, with suitable cultural capital, that that is the system that would arise, or perhaps he is demonstrating that there exists a system that could work.

    It no more needs a central planner of the law and enforcement agencies than food production does. It would arise, and automatically adjust itself as needed.

    It is a different way of thinking about things. Not sure if I buy it entirely, but I find if fascination nonetheless.

  141. >I also noted that not even Friedman is convinced he understands how an anti-nation defense would work without a nation to defend us.

    Bear in mind what you just read was mostly written before 1973. Dr. Friedman has figured out a few things since. One is how to socialize national-defense costs using insurance companies. Actually, this idea may originate with Vernor Vinge, who wrote a vivid fictional extrapolation of it in The Ungoverned (1985). Full text here.

  142. No matter if the planet is warming or cooling, you can’t double or triple the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere without consequences. The consequences are much more likely to be bad than good.

    Actually, the last time that sometime tried to quantify the effects of the various estimated amounts of warming itself, it took a lot of vague handwaving about the supposedly detrimental effects to even match the far more concrete beneficial effects of warming.

  143. esr:
    > (And, as cynical as I sound in the rest of this post, be in no doubt that I think this meritocratic apparatus is a good thing and among the proudest achievements of our civilization.)

    Like Charles Murray, you are drinking the koolaide.

    Firstly, the high point of meritocracy was the 1950s, where they really did rely almost entirely on test results. Today, they affirmative action not only women, blacks, and so forth, but they also give preference to progressives. And because you cannot simultaneously select the smartest and the leftist and the most victimized, they create dumbed down courses, not only the infamous victim studies courses, but also education courses, urban planning, and stuff like that, whose course content testifies that these are not the best and brightest.

    Today, an advanced computer science degree from an elite institution does not necessarily guarantee that the job candidate can actually program. The elite institutions try to select from the best and brightest, but having selected them, but, in elite institutions, when they select a lemon, they are reluctant to fail him out. At best the elite institution tracks the lemon into an interdisciplinary studies degree (“interdisciplinary” being elite institution code for “idiot”) but at worst they graduate him, and his employer finds the graduate cannot do the job he is accredited for.

    Secondly, meritocracy is not meritocratic. Judging someone’s talents by his membership of the superior gender or a superior race or aristocratic background is unreliable, but going by test results is also unreliable. If you really want the best and brightest, you should take both test results and membership of superior groups into account, as they did in the supposedly bad old days, as they supposedly did in the 1950s, and as they really did do in the 1890s

    The Chinese mandarinate (where people were inducted into the elite by open exams objectively marked) produced notoriously poor results, because the exams were an unreliable indicator of talent – lots of rote memorization and studying to the test. Aristocratic systems often produced results obviously superior to the Mandarinate system. The aristocracy often bred themselves to the best, and produced a group where ancestry was a better indicator of intelligence and fitness to rule than tests of dubious relevance. Viscount Garnet Wolesely, who should know better than anyone, remarks on how the mandarins were not only inferior to English gentlemen, but also inferior to Manchu aristocrats of the Qing dynasty. He remarks that Chinese are smarter and more industrious than whites, and if it were not that they were cursed with terrible government, would probably dominate the world.

    Wolseley also speculated that if some Western adventurer was to make himself emperor, and give the Chinese good government, pretty soon instead of English fleets piratically harassing the Chinese, Chinese fleets would be piratically harassing the English.

    That is what “Meritocracy” gives you: The infamous Chinese mandarinate. Selecting those that have merit is hard. “Meritocracy” pretends that it is easy, resulting in rule by those that conspicuously lack merit.

  144. The best (cheapest) defence would be primarily based on nuclear deterrence, backed up with a militia purely to stop incursions that are on too small a scale to seriously risk strategic retaliation. It would be very easy to defend a country that is reasonably well separated from its enemies (eg. US, UK, Australia, Japan) in this way.

  145. James A Donald: Come on, China’s problem was with the fact it was so centralised and authoritarian, leading to it having no free market. Aristocratic countries in the West that had this similar centralisation and authoritarianism turned out similarly badly, eg. Russia, the Ottomans and Austria-Hungary. Their only advantage was that their geographical position meant war pressured them to reform more urgently. Pre-Meiji Japan is an aristocratic society with exactly the same problems. British India had a competitive civil service based on examinations, and an aristocratic elite that ran substantial fractions of the territory (the Princely States). Both parts of India performed similarly badly.

    Who runs the Politburo is far far less important than that there is a Politburo to start with.

  146. >How do they fit your theory that leftism/communism/socialism is an express train to totalitarianism ?

    Yes, I’ve studied left anarchists. They don’t lead anywhere – they don’t have a program, just a set of resentments. People who think libertarians are impractical utopians should eyeball left anarchists to find out what “impractical utopians” really look like.

  147. @ SPQR

    It’s hard to know whether you are deliberately stating an untruth or simply repeating what you have heard and wish to be the case.

    Link?

  148. > Yes, I’ve studied left anarchists. They don’t lead anywhere – they don’t have a program, just a set of resentments.

    I’ll try again :
    If leftism/communism/socialism invariably leads to totalitarianism or to a big government command state and command economy
    how do you explain the mere existence of anarchists on the left ?

  149. No, it was more like casual genocide against everyone non-Japanese and therefore racially inferior.

    Well, casual genocide seems like a contradiction in terms to me. But if you find it has explanatory power you should go with it.

    But it reminds me a lot of the argument as to whether we should have bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The plain fact is that that action by the United States undoubtedly saved millions of Japanese lives. Not many less Japanese died during the invasion of the tiny Island of Okinawa that died in either of these cities.

    The planned invasion would surely have been a bloodbath if they’d headed straight into it. But I’ve never understood what the hurry was. The US had air supremacy, all they needed to do was sit there for six months and starve them into submission. Admittedly, there was a certain enthusiasm in some quarters for seeing what effect the bombs would have on cities, and the enlisted men probably liked the idea of being home for Thanksgiving. And if the Japanese hadn’t volunteered as test subjects, who had?

    And yet, at the very end, that self same emperor signed the instrument of surrender with nary a tanto in sight. He died in his bed, and old man. Somehow, that seems inappropriate to me.

    MacArthur and the people who set up the occupation seem to have had the idea that Hirohito was the glue holding Japan together, and prosecuting him would have opened a Pandora’s box of ungovernability. The option was there for a while to give Japan a hard reset, but Cold War priorities soon took over, a bunch of old wartime bureaucrats got wheeled back out of retirement and considerable continuity was established.

  150. @Adrian Smith

    Even today Japan is usually self-sufficient in food. They have a problem getting raw materials.

    A blockade is more difficult than you might think. The British never tried to stop all French commerce, only their navy. Blockades are expensive, and hardly bloodless.

    Furthermore, we had already killed far more Japanese than died under the bomb with firebomb raids.

    It was time to end it.

  151. Even today Japan is usually self-sufficient in food. They have a problem getting raw materials.

    Specifically oil imports, without which that self-sufficiency would go away real fast.

    A blockade is more difficult than you might think. The British never tried to stop all French commerce, only their navy. Blockades are expensive, and hardly bloodless.

    Even with air supremacy? I’m not saying using the nukes was a surprising decision. If I’d decided unconditional surrender was the only option but I didn’t fancy hand-to-hand fighting through ruined cities like in Germany, they’d probably have looked pretty good to me too.

  152. >It’s hard to know whether you are deliberately stating an untruth

    Warning: The frequency with which you merely insult people who disagree with you, as opposed to actually presenting an argument, is rising into a range I consider unacceptable. I’ve tolerated it up to now because I considered your ranting a useful public object lesson in how religious fanaticism damages the thought processes of AGW alarmists, but being a cautionary example to others only buys you a limited amount of slack around here. Amend your behavior or be banned.

  153. TomM,

    > Whether wind and solar power generation “work” doesn’t seem to be the question the purported author is examining.

    Sure it is. Wind and solar power generation don’t work at the scale necessary to replace nuclear, coal, hydroelectric, natural gas or oil for electric generation so as to reduce carbon footprint. They work fine at small scales for limited purposes. Most people who claim the mantle of science to support their worries about man-made catastrophic global warming are wildly awful at using science to pick their power generation solution. They pick wind and solar. If they were using good applied science (aka engineering) they would pick nuclear, lots of it and fast.

    Also, why do you apply the adjective ‘purported’ to the noun ‘author’? If you are referring to the blogger, and implying a criticism of his use of a large excerpt with little of his own writing, well, that’s silly on your part. That method of sharing information is perfectly honest. It’s no different from photocopying a section of an article, saying, “read this”, and commenting on it. Do you throw purported at the thousands of professors who do this in their classes? If you are referring to the excerpted piece, well, that’s even sillier and makes no sense.

    Yours,
    Tom

  154. Jamie Says:
    > Brian – the ice caps are melting. This is a fact in the real world. You can go and look.

    I look. I see random fluctuation. Right now total sea ice area is pretty close to its thirty year average.

    Global sea ice has been lower in the period 2003-2012, so you could say that there is a trend downwards, but it is not at all obvious that the trend is statistically significant. Throw out 2004-2008, and does not look like a trend.

    The claim that “the icecaps are melting” depends on three or four recent outlier years, which is arguably weather, not climate.

  155. mdc Says:
    > China’s problem was with the fact it was so centralised and authoritarian, leading to it having no free market.

    China had a bunch of problems, but one that contemporary observers noticed and complained about was that the strictly meritocratic mandarinate conspicuously lacked merit, as compared with the leadership produced by competing systems of the time.

  156. Vaspasian,

    > Good stuff, but innumerable codes of law working in parallel is something that requires some more flushing out.

    I have not read David Friedman yet, but it seems to me that a large number of codes of law working in parallel arising out of anarchy is … what we have now. We’ve been flushing it out since … we became human. I don’t think we will ever stop.

    Yours,
    Tom

  157. @ James A Donald
    A meritocracy that fails to locate and exploit merit is at the very best a failed meritocracy. Merit is established in the practice of an art labor or science, not in a facsimile thereof, which no matter how internally valid, will be dissimilar to external situations and thus external performance. Anyone who expects human beings to be exactly as adept at test taking as achieving does not understand the concept of external and internal validity.
    Also, royal families are no place to show boat the merits of genetic superiority, at least not if you consider this to be born of concentration of certain traits. I do believe that there are advantageous and deleterious traits in any environment but the institutionalized breeding programs of the aristocracy over the past millennia has produced a random assortment of: genius, madman, madman, idiot, genius, idiot, madman and so on. I would never willingly bet on those odds. Far better that a stream of mediocre candidates happen into power than that we oscillate wildly between brilliant men picking up the pieces and retards scattering them apart, to say nothing of the inherent fallibility of any system that makes this absurdity possible.

  158. > Jamie Says:
    > > Brian – the ice caps are melting. This is a fact in the real world. You can go and look.

    > I look. I see random fluctuation. Right now total sea ice area is pretty close to its thirty year average.

    This seems a typical exchange in this kind of discussion. People look at the actual data and have no trouble drawing opposite conclusions. I can understand people who claim the science supports man-made catastrophic global warming as having a valid argument. I cannot understand people who also claim the science is settled. That claim has no merit.

    Yours,
    Tom

  159. Tom DeGisi: The specific complaint the article you linked makes is wrong. A lot of countries, including many of the biggest ones, release extremely detailed data about wind power output:

    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c26/page_187.shtml – Ireland

    http://uvdiv.blogspot.com/2009/12/section-17.html – Germany

    James A Donald: Name a single centralised economy that has prospered because its bureaucrats were competent.

    The West (or more specifically, the UK, US, Netherlands and maybe France) prospered precisely by eliminating both aristocrats and bureaucrats from most of the economy.

  160. Name a single centralised economy that has prospered because its bureaucrats were competent.

    A case could be made for Japan there, up to the bubble era at any rate.

  161. “MacArthur and the people who set up the occupation seem to have had the idea that Hirohito was the glue holding Japan together, and prosecuting him would have opened a Pandora’s box of ungovernability. The option was there for a while to give Japan a hard reset, but Cold War priorities soon took over, a bunch of old wartime bureaucrats got wheeled back out of retirement and considerable continuity was established.”

    Indeed, when the Occupation government banned prewar/wartime politicians from holding office, they discovered that elections produced Communists victors. Essentially, the U.S. then said, “Oops, that’s not what we meant,” and rehabilitated the prewar men.

  162. >>The consequences are much more likely to be bad than good.

    >A completely unsupported guess.

    @esr: Are you sure that *your* guess is so good that you would risk the planet’s people on it? Do you make random changes in your life, expecting that they have a better chance of improving things than making things worse?

    The atmospheric CO2 concentration has swung up and down within limits for the last 900,000 years. (We have ice core measurements.) Now, we have doubled the amplitude of the swing, and are going to triple it. Thanks to natural selection, the planet’s biota have optimized themselves to live at the old concentration range. How can you say that the new range is likely to be good? How can you be sure that the restoring forces at play here are strong enough to maintain the oscillation, rather than going into some runaway situation that screws things up completely?

  163. Interesting that the “solutions” to global cooling (1970s) and global warming (today) are the same:

    “[i]n order to stave off disaster, we must reverse the march of civilization, stop our profligate use of carbon-based fuels, cede power and money from the First World to the Third World, and wherever possible revert to a Luddite pre-industrial lifestyle.”

    http://pjmedia.com/zombie/2012/01/31/the-coming-of-the-new-ice-age-end-of-the-global-warming-era/?singlepage=true

  164. @LS

    Substitute “atmospheric CO2 concentration” with “unchecked state power” and I think you might have something close to esr’s answer.

  165. LS, how did you get from “more likely to be bad than good” to “how can you be sure [that it won't be terribly, terribly bad]?” It’s entirely logically possible that someone could know your “more likely” claim is wrong without being more than 99% sure that terrible consequences won’t follow.

    If you want to go all precautionary principle on us, that’s an argument, but it is almost perfectly independent of the claim that ESR was disagreeing with. It’s rather as though you had originally claimed that Zeus is more likely to be benign than Thor, and when called on it, you had responded with Pascal’s Wager (granting Zeus the privileged position of having his infinitesimal chance at a infinite payoff considered, while the complementary infinitesimal chance of infinite punishment by Thor is treated as negligible).

  166. This seems a typical exchange in this kind of discussion. People look at the actual data and have no trouble drawing opposite conclusions. I can understand people who claim the science supports man-made catastrophic global warming as having a valid argument. I cannot understand people who also claim the science is settled. That claim has no merit.

    I’ve been mulling over whether to bring this up, but The Economist recently published an interesting (and troubling) article on forensic DNA interpretation: A study found that analysts in government labs, who were trying to be objective, consistently interpreted ambiguous results in whichever way favored the prosecution’s case.

    If such a confirmation bias exists in a science as reasonably well-grounded as DNA matching, how can we expect reliable interpretation in an endeavor as patchwork as climate predictions from individuals with publicly acknowledged axes?

  167. @esr

    Hm, I’d have pegged that to the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, actually.

    While Russia lost, and often big time, you’ll note that Japan was in no hurry to help Hitler out on a new front. Japanese losses against Russian prepared positions weren’t light and Russian counterattacks sometimes failed barely. The Japanese lost some 50 thousand troops in the war.

    They had a brief clash again in ’39 at Nomonhan/Khalkhin Gol. Zhukov reminded them that Russians weren’t pushovers (and earning himself his first Hero) and any desire to take Siberia were shelved along with any hope of German victory. Of course, Japan already had it’s arms full taking on everyone else in the Pacific so they were otherwise occupied even if they had been overly inclined.

    I wonder how things would have gone if Admiral Makarov hadn’t died. I think Togo still would have won but Makarov was a fighter. By the time Tsushima happened Togo might have been short a few more ships and the battle might have gone the other way and Rozhestvensky managed to hook up with the Vladivostok squadron.

    This is a very different result from the Battle of Singapore where 80K British and ANZAC troops ended up surrendering after 7 days and Japanese losses were very light. Or the earlier Malay campaign with about the same results (huge numbers of UK prisoners and low Japanese losses). Or in the Philippines against us. And of course, Pearl.

  168. “how can we expect reliable interpretation in an endeavor as patchwork as climate predictions from individuals with publicly acknowledged axes?”

    That seems very similar to a fundamental question in Bayesian statistics: there’s no rigorous way to know what prior probabilities to use, and our conclusions depend on our prior probabilities, so aren’t we fundamentally screwed when trying to infer anything by statistics? The Bayesian answer is “sorta” — the results *will* depend on our prior probabilities, but they will also converge to the correct results eventually. As long as we have lots of data, our prior probabilities would need to be very wildly wrong to delay the convergence for very long, so our uncertainty about priors only means that we’re slightly screwed, not that we’re totally screwed. And I think the answer to the imperfect-scientists question is probably that as long as the theories and data aren’t all that good, there will be plenty of room to wonder whether two people looking at the same facts are honestly disagreeing about scientific reality or just cynically supporting a political agenda, but when/if a strongly predictive theory is constructed and a lot of good data comes in, the scope for honest disagreement will naturally become small.

  169. >And I think the answer to the imperfect-scientists question is probably that as long as the theories and data aren’t all that good, there will be plenty of room to wonder whether two people looking at the same facts are honestly disagreeing about scientific reality or just cynically supporting a political agenda, but when/if a strongly predictive theory is constructed and a lot of good data comes in, the scope for honest disagreement will naturally become small.

    I strongly agree with this. That is, the amount of argumentative heat around AGW theory is because it fails to be predictive, or even properly retrodictive. But it least – unlike, say, “intelligent design” – it is the sort of theory that generates falsifiable claims.

  170. >Well, casual genocide seems like a contradiction in terms to me. But if you find it has explanatory power you should go with it

    I mean “casual” in the sense that it wasn’t an intentional policy of genocide like the Final Solution, but emergent from the xenophobic attitudes that prevailed among Japanese at the time.

  171. @ esr

    My apologies.

    It was wrong and insulting of me to imply that there is no source for SPQR’s claim that “… the last time that sometime tried to quantify the effects of the various estimated amounts of warming itself, it took a lot of vague handwaving about the supposedly detrimental effects to even match the far more concrete beneficial effects of warming”.

    I look forward to reading SPQR’s link when it is provided.

  172. Well, apparently genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”, not that wikipedlo is gospel or anything. I’d throw “class” in there for good measure, Stalin’s attacks on the kulaks and Pol Pot’s on intellectuals fit the bill for me. But Japan, I dunno, which is the group they were going after? Non-Japanese?

    Not saying it wasn’t deeply heinous, btw. I just think genocide has a more specific meaning in normal usage.

  173. @ Tom DeGisi

    I agree “purported” was a poor word choice.

    The blog you link to in turn links to a .pdf published by Fred Singer’s Social and Environmental Policy Project. The relevant section of text has no byline attached to it.

  174. >But Japan, I dunno, which is the group they were going after? Non-Japanese?

    Since you ask…yes, actually. Xenophobia is a very old and deep trait in the Japanese – and not just xenophobia but considering gaijin subhuman. They’re more civilized about it now – being nuked twice might have something to do with that – but I’ve been to Japan twice and I’ve felt its shadow.

    No, I never felt threatened or was even treated with disrespect – my hosts were charming and friendly (it helped that I was in Japanese terms a revered teacher, often addressed as “sensei”). But there’s a kind of…impenetrability…about Japan. You are always the alien, always the outsider looking in, always aware that the Japanese have a deep tribal identity with each other that you could never even possibly share.

    I found it very easy, even among modern Japanese, to imagine that tribal solidarity mutating back into something truly barbaric under the right sort of pressure.

  175. I’m not sure that “IQ is genetic” leads to “you can’t social engineer a society with less poverty”. This isn’t to say that the egalitarian utopia is possible, just that things can be massively better than they are now.

    A huge culprit is the push to pretend that low-IQ kids, well, aren’t. By law, no kid with an IEP can be taken off the college track until age 16. Most states have initiatives cramming the “college is for everyone, only failures don’t go to college” line down kids’ throats as early as primary school (ages 5-10 for those outside the US).

    I have an aunt who has a very low IQ. Being from a different generation than I, she didn’t have an IEP or anything like it, people just called her “slow” politely out of earshot. She went to school through about 8th grade, but it was a small school and they just moved her through the curriculum more slowly, putting extra focus on basics like four-function math. She spent lots of time with my grandmother learning how to keep house and do other everyday things.

    My aunt worked in the kitchen of a local hospital, lived on her own, and bought and paid for her own house. The ladies from work took her out to dinner or to play bingo after work sometimes. My grandmother or my mother would pick her up when we were having a family dinner or going out or something. She had a few TV shows she liked to watch, and occasionally she embroidered something. Hers wasn’t a glamorous life, but it was a good life and a pretty independent one. All this with an IQ around 70 at best.

    If my aunt had been on the college track at any point, or if she’d been raised to believe that working in a kitchen were not a respectable choice, she probably would have ended up living off the public dole, living in poverty or some horrid institution.

    With the right social engineering we *might* be able to create a society where kids grow up to find their niche, like my aunt did. We can’t make them *smarter*, but we can make them *more capable* of living well. One doesn’t need to have a degree or a high-prestige job to stay away from crime and out of poverty.

    P.S. — The guy who pumps my septic tank makes more than my lawyer.

  176. TomM Says:
    > My apologies.

    I get the feeling esr wasn’t looking for apologies, merely advertising his contempt for your particular form of argument. It’s an ungainly mixture of glib anti-argument and links that are advertised without even an abstract to describe their content, let alone show you have any meaningful understanding of it. This puts many of your posts beneath the level of “memebot” and dangerously close to failing an old-fashioned Turing test. They are also profoundly boring. I’m guessing this might be why he threatened a ban, whereas the racist (and now, apparently and hilariously, aristocratic) fool James A Donald continues apace. His posts are fascinatingly insane, whereas yours tend to follow the math of “bland insult + unexplained link to specious source.”

    Anyway, I personally hope he doesn’t ban you (unless you become a total spambot, and start trying to sell us all Viagra). I enjoy a bit of white noise just as a reminder of what the cause of reason is up against, and comedy inevitably ensues.

  177. William Newman Says:
    >LS, how did you get from “more likely to be bad than good” to “how can you be sure [that it won't be terribly, terribly bad]?” It’s entirely logically possible that someone could know your “more likely” claim is wrong without being more than 99% sure that terrible consequences won’t follow.

    >If you want to go all precautionary principle on us, that’s an argument, but it is almost perfectly independent of the claim that ESR was disagreeing with.

    Two things:
    1. I hate and despise the ‘precautionary principle. (It’s just an excuse to never try anything for the first time.) I do believe, however, that you need to be cautious when dealing with the atmosphere. All this pro/anti AGW stuff is proof that people don’t *know* what they are talking about – lots of heat, little light. In a situation like this, don’t mess with the planet.

    2. I’ve already mentioned the argument from natural selection, and the argument from control theory in support of ‘likely to be bad’. The only argument in support of ‘likely to be good’ is ‘plants will grow better’. If the weather patterns change (heat and drought), that one goes by the boards.

    I would ask everyone to consider their own lives. Whatever your situation, you’ve done whatever you can to optimize it. You try to do the best that you can under the circumstances. Do you think that making some random change is going to improve things? No…you are at a maximum point, and any change is most likely to do the opposite. esr is wrong. All these things lend very strong support for ‘likely to be bad’.

  178. TomM, I was referring to the much criticized Stern Review of four years ago. And I was clearly expressing my opinion of it. Your quick shot to call people you disagree with liars is noted. That you do so while in utter ignorance of what is even being referred to only reinforces the impression given by your behavior.

  179. @ esr
    > increasing CO2 also implies, among other things, better crop yields. So it’s not clear what the optimal CO2 level for human purposes. Historically, human civilizations have prospered more in warm periods than cold ones.

    You are at your least peruasive when you so smoothly parrot contrarian talking points.

    If you’re at all interested in the reasons why you are wrong:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives-intermediate.htm

    This post is a good example of what I was talking about when I say “beneath memebot.” I know that many (most?) of us here are either professions programmers or program as part of our professions. Looking at the above post, I see don’t see an argument or even a fragment of an argument, but rather a potential algorithmic bot. In fact, I think I could design an even more convincing Turing argue-bot to argue in much the same fashion, without even doing any heuristic processing of the link in question.

    If I actually find the time to do so, I will be sure to beta test it here.

  180. @ James A Donald
    > A meritocracy that fails to locate and exploit merit is at the very best a failed meritocracy. Merit is established in the practice of an art labor or science, not in a facsimile thereof, which no matter how internally valid, will be dissimilar to external situations and thus external performance

    And examples of a successful meritocracy are?

    How is our current leadership doing? Take a look at those of our elite that came out of Urban Studies and Interdisciplinary studies, Michael Mann for example. And even the hard courses, such as Computer Science, still seem to graduate a small but significant number of accredited idiots from elite institutions. If you get the occasional computer scientist who cannot program, what must be coming out of urban studies?

    It is hard to have objective impartial exams for merit, even with the best of intentions, and when the test results matter, everyone is apt to have the worst of intentions. They are apt to be gamed from above and below – the elite institutions preferentially selecting the politically correct, and the test takers gaming the tests, discovering the flaws in the tests and training to the test.

    Because of the unreliability of testing, particularly when the test comes under pressure because it matters, the best approach is to take into account all available evidence, including impermissible evidence such as ancestry and gender. Viscount Garnet Wolseley’s impression was ordinary Chinese were smarter than ordinary Englishmen, but that English leaders selected by a system that rather heavily weighted wealth and illustrious ancestry, among other things, were smarter than mandarins selected by a single rather stupid test.

  181. I said:
    > This post is a good example of what I was talking about when I say “beneath memebot.”

    That might be confusing, since the post where I mentioned that seems to be hung up in moderation (I just can’t win against wordpress today!).

    Anyway, I wasn’t suggesting that TomM is an actual bot, merely that his form of argument by “insult + friendly link” could be modeled fairly easily.

  182. @esr:
    “My hosts were charming and friendly (it helped that I was in Japanese terms a revered teacher, often addressed as “sensei”). But there’s a kind of…impenetrability…about Japan. You are always the alien, always the outsider looking in, always aware that the Japanese have a deep tribal identity with each other that you could never even possibly share.”

    Mmmm, “never even possibly” may be a bit strong. I know that some Westerners have married Japanese and settled in Japan permanently. The strange case of William Adams shows that under extremely unusual circumstances, a gaijin could even become samurai and hatamoto. But these are corner cases.

    I’ve long been fascinated by Japanese culture, and I have visited Japan once. I acknowledge the truth at the core of what you’re saying. Japanese culture is probably one of the most insular in the world today, especially if the set under consideration is limited to democracies.

  183. “They are apt to be gamed from above and below – the elite institutions preferentially selecting the politically correct, and the test takers gaming the tests, discovering the flaws in the tests and training to the test.”

    Of course, the ability to game the tests from below is likely one indicator of intelligence. Slow students likely have less ability to do this without cheating outright.

  184. @LS:
    “Do you make random changes in your life, expecting that they have a better chance of improving things than making things worse?”

    Sometimes, yes. Every time I take a new job in another state, I’m rolling the dice. I may end up much worse off than if I hadn’t left. There’s never any way to have enough information to be sure.

    I reject the automatic use of minimax theory that seems to have infected many modern minds. Sometimes you don’t want to make the choice that guarantees mediocrity, rather than roll the dice when there are reasonable odds of a significant improvement at the risk of some negative impact. We know from psychological studies that most humans get more pain from losses than pleasure from gains of the same quantity, but I suspect that the most successful humans are those who do not suffer from this trait, or in whom it is weaker than average. How could any entrepreneur ever found a company if he was more worried about losing his capital and investment of time than in the potential gains from the enterprise?

    A world that truly reduced its carbon emissions by 80% (barring major breakthrough like cheap and widespread nuclear fusion) is no place that I’d want to live. I consider it worth some finite amount of risk to play the game and bet on a better one.

    I’ll grant you that you want to avoid gambler’s ruin, but I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that the climate is really in a one-shot-to-save-it state, even if AGW is ultimately shown to be real to some extent. (The effect may be real without being all-out catastrophic.)

  185. esr: the problem with left anarchists is that they have no plans. They know that they want to smash the state, but they have no idea what they want to replace it with other than peace and flowers.

    jessica: we didn’t start in a state of anarchy. We started without a state, and no committment to stay that way. An anarchy would know full well how bad a state is, and would avoid creating one.

  186. They’re more civilized about it now – being nuked twice might have something to do with that

    I’m not sure the lesson you thought was on the timetable has been learnt there. There’s a lot of we-are-the-victims stuff floating around about H&N, eliding the events that led up to it.

    But there’s a kind of…impenetrability…about Japan. You are always the alien, always the outsider looking in, always aware that the Japanese have a deep tribal identity with each other that you could never even possibly share.

    A common feeling (apart from a minority of blood-and-soil types) seems to be that there’s so much fidgety detail to the culture that assimilation is impossible, you have to be brought up in it. It can be hard to imagine why an adult with an established identity would even want to – I’m going to immerse myself in this baroque meshwork of obligations and responsibilities for what, exactly? Some appear to find it an interesting challenge, nevertheless.

    I found it very easy, even among modern Japanese, to imagine that tribal solidarity mutating back into something truly barbaric under the right sort of pressure.

    Me too, but the only thing I can imagine providing that pressure would be cutting off imports. Well, a collapse of the J-bond market and the yen would have a similar if slower effect. We’ll certainly be getting out if things look like going that way, assuming we still can.

  187. >> Whether wind and solar power generation “work” doesn’t seem to be the question the purported author is examining.

    >Sure it is. Wind and solar power generation don’t work at the scale necessary to replace nuclear, coal, hydroelectric, natural gas >or oil for electric generation so as to reduce carbon footprint.

    The question about ‘work’ that I’d really like to see is if the market value of the power produced is to the point where building windmills (and solar farms) is a good investment — dollars in up front and for operating costs vs income from the power produced.

    If that number shows a positive — as a business investment by a rational player — then they are a good thing. They don’t need to be a total or perfect solution so long as dollars in is enough larger than dollars out for someone to make money at it.

    If government subsidies are necessary to make it a good investment, which is what I fear is still the case, then not so good.

    I haven’t looked real deep, but so far I haven’t seen any good numbers that showed that the windmills were a rational business investment on their own.

  188. >I get the feeling esr wasn’t looking for apologies, merely advertising his contempt for your particular form of argument.

    The apology was a good start.

  189. @ SPQR

    Apologies for the cheap shot. Still, referring to the “much criticised” (your words) Stern Review as the last word on anticipated climate change impacts strikes me as a little odd. This is because Stern:

    - was focussed on economic analysis as an input to policy formulation; and
    - insofar as the science goes, predated IPCC 4AR (if you’ve not read it, WG II’s contribution – particularly Chapter 19 – is worth a look): http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/contents.html

    @ Grantham

    Happy to confirm I am not a bot.

    @ Jim Hurlburt

    A well-designed carbon pricing mechanism operates in part by recalibrating some of these investment decisions to factor in emissions intensity. That is one reason a well-designed emissions trading scheme is considered more economically efficient than bare tax-and-spend subsidy schemes.

  190. >I’ll try again: If leftism/communism/socialism invariably leads to totalitarianism or to a big government command state and command economy how do you explain the mere existence of anarchists on the left ?

    Oh. I see I misunderstood the question.

    That’s easy. “Left anarchism” exists because left anarchists don’t understand the implications of their own premises.

    This isn’t a problem unique to them; scratch any well-intentioned leftist and you’ll see it. Left-wing economic prescriptions (from redistributionism out to the abolition of property) can’t be implemented without escalating levels of coercion that cannot be reconciled with any respect for human liberty and dignity. Noticing this is what drove Ayn Rand’s critique of left-statism, and for all her flaws and quirks and leaden indigestible prose she got that part right.

    To be a leftist at all, you have to either not notice this contradiction or not care once you have. But the contradiction is especially acute for anarchists. It’s why left-anarchist theory is an incoherent mess, veering from a sort of blinkered fuzzy feelgoodism to angry nihilism and back (sometimes within the same turgid paragraph). There’s no overall logical structure to it because there can’t be. Very different situation from Communism, which follows much more logically from its premises even if the premises are crazy and evil.

    In addition to reading left-anarchist theory, I’ve actually tried to elicit a coherent account of what a left-anarchist future would be like from a person holding that position, and it was a really odd experience. Not quite like a dialog with a faith-holding religionist – less like hitting a wall of self-willed stupidity, more like trying to cut fog with a sword. There wasn’t any there there. Bizarre.

  191. >[A] well-designed emissions trading scheme is considered more economically efficient than bare tax-and-spend subsidy schemes.

    And the argument that it is more efficient is theoretically sound. But the gain is not realized in practice, because (as experience from Europe shows) emissions-trading markets rapidly produce fraud and forgery on a massive scale. Corruption is just too easy and tempting when you are dealing in certificates for carbon never emitted. Because, really, how do you measure that? You have to impute carbon emissions to hypotheticals in order to even estimate how much is being foregone. It’s a fast trip to cloud-cuckoo land – a tissue of ungrounded assumptions even if everyone is trying to be honest.

    But honesty doesn’t last. One thing that happens is that you get industrialists commissioning design studies and paperwork for soot-belching factories they never intend to build just so they can collect and sell the indulgences. IIRC this kind of flim-flam got so bad that the EU carbon-trading exchange collapsed two years ago. Nobody in the EU is even pretending they’re going to meet their Kyoto targets.

    I’m opposed to carbon taxes, but at least they’re assessed on a reality that can be measured.

  192. For someone who wants to learn how a libertarian anarcho-capitalist society would function, what’s a good book to start on? I’ve always been anarchy-capitalist out of the pure ethical belief of the non agression principal and an inherent distrust of authority, but I should really understand how the system I support will function in reality if I’m ever going to be a real adult.

  193. @ esr
    > One thing that happens is that you get industrialists commissioning design studies and paperwork for soot-belching factories they never intend to build just so they can collect and sell the indulgences.

    Which is why I said “well-designed”. Design features to minimise fraud are key to the success of a scheme.

    I expect we differ at a philosophical level as to how achievable this is in practice.

  194. >Design features to minimise fraud are key to the success of a scheme.

    That’s kind of like saying “frictionless bearings are essential to the success of my perpetual motion machine”. It may be true, but it conveys no information about what can be done in the real world.

  195. @ esr

    One of the most interesting aspects of climate policy development over the last two decades has been the debate as to whether a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme is preferable from a policy perspective.

    Earlier activism generally supported directly taxing carbon emissions (a straightforward development of the polluter pays principle). The downside of the taxation approach is that a direct tax is an indirect policy lever and leaves the emissions budget floating.

    The significant advantage of a well-designed emissions trading scheme is that it allows the allowable emissions budget to be more directly controlled at a lower total cost to the economy.

  196. > it may be true, but it conveys no information about what can be done in the real world.

    Your analogy is false. Fraud can be minimised but never eliiminated. Which is why I said “minimise” and not “eliminate” .

  197. >Fraud can be minimised but never eliiminated. Which is why I said “minimise” and not “eliminate”.

    It remains to be shown that fraud can be “minimized” below the level where total deadweight losses exceed those of a Pigouvian tax-based scheme. I’m not a hostile audience on this issue – I loathe taxation so much that I’d really like your thesis to be demonstrated, but so far the real world evidence is against it.

  198. @ESR

    The essential premise of every left-wing idea from communism to left-anarchism is that human nature is programmed by society and in an equitable and free society people automatically stop being selfish. The point is, if you want to debate left-anarchists, all you need to do is to focus on this thing alone, as this is basically the major source of disagreement between them and you.

    One of the best counter-arguments I found was the economic calculation problem, which if I understand it correctly means a selfish person is functionally indistinguishable from an unselfish person who wants to do a job well – i.e. someone in charge of feeding orphans still has to buy the best products for the lowest price possible and basically behave functionally selfishly towards everybody but the orphans. And the perfectly unselfish steel mill manager still has to decide what is the real bottleneck, whether the orphans need spoons more than spare parts for the truck that delivers the food, by which we end up with something pretty much like the market system even in a perfectly unselfish society.

  199. >One of the best counter-arguments I found was the economic calculation problem

    Yes. In fact this is the one I normally use when I judge my interlocutor is intelligent enough to understand it.

  200. @ esr
    > It remains to be shown

    One possibility is a cap-and-trade scheme (rather than a baseline and credit model) that does not permit abatement credits (or linking to schemes that permit abatement credits), so that the only tradeable permits would be those that are available to liable entities who demonstrate measureable reductions in their emissions intensity.

    (Yes this assumes that the accounting and measurement tasks are robust. Good progress in those areas has been made over the last decade.)

  201. >Yes this assumes that the accounting and measurement tasks are robust.

    It also assumes the cost of abatement equipment is less than the cost of buying lies or silence from the people who do the measurement. If that’s not true, we know from experience what will happen. Though, to be fair, this is a problem with Pigouvian taxes as well.

  202. >esr, what’s the latest on your data-n-demogogues project?

    Stalled. I ran out of time at a crucial point, and the two partners more or less vanished.

  203. @esr
    > The apology was a good start.

    Yeah, they always are – if they are sincere apologies instead of snarky ones.

  204. > “It also assumes the cost of abatement equipment is less than the cost of buying lies or silence from the people who do the measurement. If that’s not true, we know from experience what will happen. Though, to be fair, this is a problem with Pigouvian taxes as well.”

    Pigovian taxes are a recipe for corruption for this reason and /many/ others.

  205. @esr:
    >…less like hitting a wall of self-willed stupidity, more like trying to cut fog with a sword.

    I spoken with a few of these anarcho-Leftists, two as recently as last November at Zucotti Park, and asked a similar question about the kind of reality that would result. Have you ever heard Harry McClintock’s song, “Big Rock Candy Mountain?”

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
    All the cops have wooden legs
    And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
    And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
    The farmers’ trees are full of fruit
    And the barns are full of hay
    Oh I’m bound to go
    Where there ain’t no snow
    Where the rain don’t fall
    The winds don’t blow
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

  206. @TomM: “Out of interest, is there a reason (other than political preference) that your proposed interventions are of the tax and spend variety? I’m sure you already know that tax-and-spend is generally considered less efficient than a market-based mechanism for reducing emissions.”

    Err. Yes (or mu). First of all, by increasing the price of carbon emissions (well, sales of extracted carbon-laden fuel which is nearly the same thing) people will overall naturally reduce their consumption and shift towards other options. This demand reduction is in-fact a market-based solution. Using a Pigouvian tax with an announced schedule upfront provides a window to have people alter their behavior with a minimal shock to the system. The reason I choose a carbon tax is that it is directly tied to the problem, very visible and very transparent. That is, people know what the cost of the abatement measure is, and it is very hard to game that system. Also, mass hydrocarbon-extraction is generally done by several large companies dedicated to that goal. Auditing them for compliance is fairly easy. Also, given the general exhaustion of easy-to-access near-surface hydrocarbon fuels it is difficult to establish a worthwhile tax-evasion scheme. This is in contrast to cigarettes where a boat-full could be worth tens of thousands of dollars in tax price differentials. In comparison to the market which is supplied by huge tankers, a cigar boat smuggling a few hundred gallons of fuel would have a minimal impact on the market. An emissions credit scheme runs into problems with automobiles. Would it require every person with a car to buy a certain number of credits for the year? How do you differentiate between people who drive aggressively and those who drive with efficiency in mind? That’s just too much work.

    @James A Donald: “Today, an advanced computer science degree from an elite institution does not necessarily guarantee that the job candidate can actually program.”
    Silly you! You assume that computer science has anything to do with producing software. Computer science is a completely different discipline from software engineering. Its like the difference between chemists and chemical engineers. I’ve interviewed comp sci PhDs and they were unable to whiteboard the code to sort an array. (We didn’t hire that guy).

  207. @Cathy: If you ‘roll the dice’, as you say, and things don’t work out well, you still have your life and you still have your health. If we crap up our planet, we have…what?

  208. Grantham writes of TomM’s “links that are advertised without even an abstract to describe their content, let alone show you have any meaningful understanding of it”.

    This. Or more than this. I chased one of TomM’s links earlier, and made some effort to understand it. It was like studying the punishment book from _Anathem_: I could feel my brain being harmed. Maybe writing a detailed criticism here will be therapeutic. Or a useful warning for others.

    TomM wrote “if you’re at all interested in the reasons you’re wrong” and gave the link
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives-intermediate.htm

    That skepticalscience link is two pages connected as tabs. It seems to me that the most charitable interpretation is that TomM intended his link to refer to both pages.

    The “intermediate” page that TomM linked to directly doesn’t even have an argument. It’s just a loud and proud partisan conclusion followed by a proposal that someone should compose a particular type of argument to support it, and that perhaps that argument should cite some of the assorted papers which are listed afterwards. The content of that page is to an actual argument what the content of an I’m-more-of-an-idea-rat non-programmer’s “open source software project” page is to an actual open source software project.

    If we decline to interpret TomM’s idea-rat link as a taunt about how badly we are being trolled, then perhaps we can’t go home yet, and must tab to the other page,

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives-basic.htm

    Once there, if we have the patience to slog through a lot of red meat for passionately faithful greenies, we can eventually find an almost-a-citation to a relevant argument: an approving mention of “the Stern report” which is presumably intended as a sort of citation to the same Stern review that SPQR criticizes,

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sternreview_index.htm

    So on the plus side, at least TomM and SPQR seem to have arrived at agreement on a relevant battleground! TomM would be willing to defend the Stern review, SPQR to attack it. And while I’m unimpressed with the Stern review myself, at least it rises to the level of an actual argument, unlike this not-even-wrong skepticalscience drivel.

    On the minus side, that is a terrible (almost-a-) citation. It seems to be there to justify the preceding claim “while there have been very few benefits projected at all.” That claim is, all too typically for claims on that page, largely irrelevant to the thesis. How few or how many benefits there are doesn’t determine the truth of the thesis. If there were a billion $0.01 benefits, the thesis would still stand. If there was one overwhelmingly valuable benefit, the thesis would be destroyed. So while the citation does have the virtue of accidentally conveying useful information (that TomM and SPQR have different impressions of the Stern review), that’s sadly not because the citation is a nugget of actual thought in the miasma of pure stupid.

    On the plus side, there is also shortly afterwards a passing approving mention of the IPCC AR4 report. There’s no citation or hyperlink given, but the “IPCC AR4″ keywords would make it easy for a Google-savvy reader to find it, so this is another way that a sufficiently motivated reader could eventually reach some actual arguments starting from this page.

    But back on the minus side, it’s quite a miasma of pure stupid. It goes on and on with remarkably sloppy and poorly thought out red meat for partisan idiots, seemingly purely for red meat for partisan idiots’ sake. Almost none of the text there attempts to logically justify either part of the thesis at the top of the page (“science says … outweigh”). Instead the text is largely free-floating claims that merely rhetorically suggest that outweighing could be plausible. The text generally doesn’t bother to connect the claims to technical justification (with e.g. hyperlinks or footnotes or supporting text), so they are technically empty; the “science says” part of the thesis is evidently an empty ritual invocation which does not require logical support. (Perhaps being on a website with “science” in the name is supposed to be enough?) And the text generally doesn’t bother to give estimates of the size of terms, much less begin to tote them up to support the “outweigh” part of the thesis. (When the page does give a quantitative estimate, it can still be vague to the point of uselessness: “deaths attributable to heatwaves are expected to be approximately five times as great as winter deaths prevented” over what time period, under what CO2 emissions scenario?) The page doesn’t even *define* the “outweigh” part of the thesis. (What quantities does the page author propose to weigh? “Deaths” are mentioned approvingly as a weighed quantity in the earlier quote, but pretty clearly from the kinds of claims which are held to be relevant that’s not the only quantity in question. So? Years of life? Infant mortality? GDP? “Sustainable” GDP? GDP with a discount factor to reflect how a bill 50 years from now tends to be easier to pay?) Anyone who is familiar with Green analysis of policy impacts in general, or who remembers the controversy over the Stern review in particular (appropriate discount rates, anyone?), will appreciate that a lot of ambiguity lurks in the undefinedness of the quantities under consideration.

    As a less fundamental but annoying problem, the page is also so disorganized that one may need to (re-)study it before making a claim about it. E.g., I was going to complain about how it doesn’t even acknowledge the obvious point about how longer growing seasons in places like North America and northern Asia could be an economic benefit. As it happens, it does mention that effect, just not in the “economic” section.

    These two skepticalscience pages are not even wrong: the weakness of the connections from supporting “arguments” upward to the claimed thesis and downward to the empirical evidence makes dispute about those pages incoherent from the start. My strong impression is that it would be (tedious but) straightforward to make strongly parallel pages justifying the theses that “science says” that GMOs are harmful and that Rifkin’s _Entropy_ is correct. (My main uncertainty is that I can only remember perhaps a dozen arguments for each, and I’d probably want to use two dozen chosen from a pile of four dozen or more.)

  209. @LS:
    “The only argument in support of ‘likely to be good’ is ‘plants will grow better’. If the weather patterns change (heat and drought), that one goes by the boards.” That second sentence is not necessarily so. It depends entirely how the weather patterns change. It’s not known whether more heat leads to more or less rainfall and humidity. More heat means less rain given a certain amount of water in the air, but it also leads to larger amounts of evaporation, putting more water in the air. If one area becomes more prone to drought and another larger area shifts from desert to grassland, it’s a net gain. It seems entirely plausible to me that an increase in temps could be helpful at one value, harmful at the next, and them helpful again with a larger increase.

  210. @Grantham and the Big Rock Candy Mountain

    Said song is an interesting song. I first heard it on the soundtrack to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

    Now that you mention it, that attitude does sound like an anarcho-Leftist.

  211. William Newman Says:
    > If we decline to interpret TomM’s idea-rat link as a taunt about how badly we are being trolled…

    It’s impossible to interpret it as anything else. Look at the way he tried to rat-lawyer the meaning of the word “admit” in the OP. Instead of simply saying, “Ah yes, I can see that the usage of ‘admit’ can refer to the public release of their data, which Eric thinks shows that their GAT predictions failed. It’s the more obvious meaning, considering the article’s lead sentence contains the phrase ‘the release of new temperature data’. Anyway, I still disagree that the data shows what Eric and others here think it shows, for reasons A, B and C…”

    That would be the appropriate, non-trollish approach. But instead he doubles and triples down on an interpretation that only he agrees with, calls people “liars” and festoons his arguments with childish modifiers like, “Are you seriously trying to assert X?!!! What a waste of time arguing with you, but oh well I will try anyway. Here, read this link filled with bullet points.” Uh, no thanks.

  212. @karrde

    Yes, it is one artist’s version of Hobo Heaven. That’s almost exactly what the folks down at OWS were trying to simulate. They even succeeded for a short time, to some degree (and with a little help from corporate sponsors like Unilevel and their corporate mascot, Ben Cohen). But after about a month, the park smelled like a slaughterhouse filled with decaying cheese, rapes and assaults were rampant, and their hilariously broken decision-making process resembled a kind of childish hand jive that has to be seen to be believed (think of Monty Python’s “The Ministry of Silly Walks” only with hand signals).

  213. > And examples of a successful meritocracy are?

    Unregulated or relatively unregulated industry has a track record of incredible success both in terms of productivity and innovation. Promotion within the united states military is also largely based on merit. They seem to be pretty good at what they do.
    Professional Sports is a perfect example of successful meritocracy. They produce better and better players because they have a better measuring stick than a single test. Potential players in the NFL are not asked to lift as much as they can once, run a hundred meters once, throw a ball once, and then receive a salary and position reflecting their “merits”. Instead their merits are usually measured over many successive contests and sold to the highest bidder.

    > How is our current leadership doing?

    Swimmingly, they live lives of nearly guaranteed opulence at the expense of the peasants they claim to be serving. Of course, our current leadership might be a bad example of a meritocracy considering that most of these guys come from old money, went to the same schools and have memberships with the same clubs. Other than this, we know less about the people who make the laws than we do about the people who drive trucks professionally.

  214. >Of course, our current leadership might be a bad example of a meritocracy considering that most of these guys come from old money, went to the same schools and have memberships with the same clubs.

    OK, this is going to sound strange given all the snark I’ve written about the political class, but I think one part of your peroration here is unfair – the part about “old money”. My family isn’t old money, but I’ve known old money – I went to an Ivy League university, I’ve vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard and hung with guys who had yachts. I’m just close enough in SES to the real upper crust that I can blend in and speak their language when it’s appropriate.

    Therefore, listen carefully when I tell you that real “old money” often – not always, but often – has much more of a genuine ethos of service than you’ll find in most of our leadership nowadays. Old money won’t, as a rule, screw with you – it doesn’t have to, and a lot of it was raised with the notion that its privileges required it to give in return. I think, for example, of one wealthy American aristocrat I knew back in the 1990s who spent long hours administering a not-for-profit hospital when he could have been collecting antique cannon.

    The dangerous element of our political class isn’t old money, it’s new money – people from families that have only been wealthy for a generation or two and are still on the make. The smart, honest ones among these tend to go into business and generate wealth; the lazy and/or sociopathic ones tend to go into politics to confiscate it.

  215. Completely off-topic: has anybody had any problems browsing this site in rekonq?

    When I advance to the next post via the link at the upper right, sometimes I am presented with the raw HTML. When I refresh, the page generally formats on the first try, and always by the third of fourth try. This does not seem to happen in Chrome of Firefox.

  216. “It seems entirely plausible to me that…”

    @phlinn: …which is why I said ‘if’. I don’t really know, and you don’t really know, because, when you come down to it, NOBODY KNOWS. It just ‘seems’ to people. I think that the reasons I’ve given for maintaining, and possibly reducing atmospheric CO2 levels are stronger than anything anyone has said about possible advantages. There’s too much that can go wrong, and when you have many possiblilities for bad outcomes, you’re likely to have a bad outcome.

    Example: Plants *do* grow better….so do toxic algae blooms.

    This ecology stuff is so *complicated*. *Everything* is connected to *everything else*! All you need to make your point is to calculate with enough factors to prove your point, ignoring all those others that may swing things the other way. Until we know more than we know now, we should ease up on terraforming the Earth.

  217. For those asking for reading, besides his Machinery of Freedom, David Friedman also has a novel that incorporates many of his themes, for example raising an army when you can’t tax or conscript, Harald, which is available for free download. He also talked about the economic background of Harald in the last two posts on his blog.

    Another good book, also free from Baen, is Michael Z Williamson’s Freehold. I would move to the Freehold of Grainne in a minute if it was available.

  218. Arrgh, I apparently forgot to close the first link. The last two words, “his blog”, of the first paragraph is a separate link, going to his blog.

  219. My intention is not to claim that families that have been rich for a long time are evil. I’m only saying that being meritorious doesn’t count for nearly as much as being rich and well connected.

    I am slightly confused though. Lazy sociopaths can steal money no matter how many generations of their forefathers were rich. Why should we be more worried about people whose parents got rich quick?

  220. @Vaspasian

    You have a point, except that Old Money culls. Otherwise it becomes newly poor.

  221. > Why should we be more worried about people whose parents got rich quick?

    I think maybe what esr is hinting at is cultural differences between those who built and preserved their fortunes pre-Depression versus those who built it after (or perhaps some other delimiter, such pre/post Industrialization, pre/post WWII, pre/post Modernism, etc).

    His comment makes me think of the breed of old money WASPs who are much maligned and lampooned in the popular American culture, often presented as evil, rapacious and comically square. Growing up in a lower middle class household in the 70′s, I used to assume those stereotypes had to be least somewhat grounded in reality. At college, I met a few of the real ones and found out it was mostly a bunk intended as a balm for certain middle class anxieties (although, I suppose we could argue about the “comically square” bit).

    Anyway, it seems that wealth has certain saturation point among families with strong, consistent cultural values where accumulation stops being an end in itself, and philanthropy, pride in work and the good standing of the family name become paramount. New money families usually needs some time to settle in before they stop trying to one-up their predecessors in the pocket book.

  222. @ Garrett
    >An emissions credit scheme runs into problems with automobiles. Would it require every person with a car to buy a certain number of credits for the year? How do you differentiate between people who drive aggressively and those who drive with efficiency in mind? That’s just too much work.

    There are a number of ways an emissions trading scheme can be designed to capture transportation (including automotive) emissions. Usually it is considered preferable for the point of liability for those emissions to be the fuel distributor or wholesaler rather than an individual fuel user buying credits for their emissions. Where this is the case, the price of fuel purchased by Joe Sixpack at retail will reflect its implicit carbon cost.

  223. That all SOUNDS reasonable but I could just as easily say that my own experiences with the newly wealthy lead me to believe that they are hard working morally upstanding people who know the true value of what they have earned.
    Conversely, those born to affluence and surrounded by those who were born to affluence feel that they are entitled to their wealth because of their inherent superiority and can rationalize doing anything in order to keep it.
    That also sounds good, but I doubt if there is any real predictive truth to it. Some folks just choose to be evil and this choice is largely unrelated to the amount of money their great grand parents had.

  224. Way up there, the esr made the most important and more obvious observation about the AGW issue:

    The greenhousing models are failing to predict.

    Models that can’t predict [close to] correctly are … wrong.

    Definitionally*.

    (*Well, unless they’re models that can’t predict because they’re untestable, in which case they’re not even science, let alone “wrong”.)

  225. @Vaspasian
    > Some folks just choose to be evil and this choice is largely unrelated to the amount of money their great grand parents had.

    No doubt, and I grant that my example is purely anecdotal. But by new money, though, I meant “those who were born to affluence”, not people who were born to poverty and attained great wealth in adulthood, who are another creature entirely. I was referring to the children (and grandchildren, and perhaps great-grandchildren) of those people, versus the children of families who have attained a sort of dynastic wealth, where the money works for the family rather than the family working for the money. I do think that the tendency for old money to be less rapacious and unscrupulous is generally true, but there are enough counterexamples to force one to keep his wits about him when in the company of moneyed families of any age.

  226. I rather suspect that the problem you guys are having with classifying old money vs new money vs politicians, is that the coupling is not very tight between the age of the money and the ethics of the politician.

    I suspect that the age of the money, and the ethics of the businessman might be more closely coupled — if nothing else because the ‘old money’ types are quite possibly looking farther out — thinking of what things need to be for the grand kids instead of the next quarter.

  227. >I do think that the tendency for old money to be less rapacious and unscrupulous is generally true, but there are enough counterexamples to force one to keep his wits about him when in the company of moneyed families of any age.

    Both parts of this sentence are true to my experience.

  228. Shenpen Says:
    > I think “Left” is just whatever currently fashionable amongst intellectuals and “Right” is whatever currently not.

    Now that I think about it, you must be right.

    If you saw the SOTU address, Obama displayed what I would call a very moderate position, quoting Lincoln’s “Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves and no more” then turning around and asking Congress to outlaw insider trading by Congress. Yet if you pay attention to much of the media, the right-wing, and even some libertarians here, Obama is an extremist socialist.

    As I recently described it elsewhere:

    Five reasons why Obama is not a socialist:

    1) Do you have free medical?
    2) Do you have free medical?
    3) Do you have free medical?
    4) Do you have free medical?
    5) Do you have free medical?

  229. > > And examples of a successful meritocracy are?

    Vaspasian Says:
    > Professional Sports is a perfect example of successful meritocracy. They produce better and better players because they have a better measuring stick than a single test. Potential players in the NFL are not asked to lift as much as they can once, run a hundred meters once, throw a ball once, and then receive a salary and position reflecting their “merits”. Instead their merits are usually measured over many successive contests and sold to the highest bidder.

    “Meritocracy” means that those with merit rule. Professional sportsmen do not rule.

    Supposedly, that those with the power (the unfireable public servants and tenured professors, not the politicians they so casually dispose of from time to time) all went to the right universities is because those universities select on merit, and all the very smartest people are to be found at all the very best universities. That is what “meritocracy” means. Supposedly, the really smart people are running things

    However, these universities tend to turn out an awful lot of STEM graduates with PhDs in interdisciplinary fields, and non STEM graduates in fields such as urban this and that, and assorted victim studies.

    If someone has a PhD in an interdisciplinary science field, this generally means he found real science too mathy and too sciency, hence probably not the cognitive elite. If some has a PhD in a field that has “urban” in its name, that generally means he found the kind of stuff that dead white males used to do at university much too hard, hence definitely not the cognitive elite.

    If you have a guest with a PhD in “Urban something or other” from an elite university, and you are worried you will have to share your stash of the good stuff with him, hide your stash in a book by a dead white male. Graduates in Urban Planning don’t read books by dead white males. Dead white males are like kryptonite to them.

    ‘Here’s a nineteenth century book.’

    ‘NOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! It was written by a dead white male!’”

  230. If you have a guest with a PhD in “Urban something or other” from an elite university, and you are worried you will have to share your stash of the good stuff with him, hide your stash in a book by a dead white male. Graduates in Urban Planning don’t read books by dead white males. Dead white males are like kryptonite to them.

    Yer plagiarising a black guy, they’ll kick you out of the Aryan Nations for that for sure.

  231. @ William Newman

    > The “intermediate” page that TomM linked to directly doesn’t even have an argument.

    The link (provided in response to Eric’s assertions that warmer=better and earlier comments that more CO2=better) contains the following:

    - an example (quoting Dennis Avery) of the sort of common statements made about the claimed net benefit of warming; and

    - a list of both the positive and negative anticipated impacts of warming, with each bullet-point (on both sides of the ledger) containing a reference to its origin in published scientific papers.

    Perhaps I should have prefaced my link with words like: “the actual published science anticipates that impacts of warming will have a net adverse effect.”

    Perhaps I should just have linked to IPCC 4AR WGII (to avoid another smack: ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/contents.html) and been done with it.

    But even if I had done those things, I would not have convinced you (or Eric) that you are wrong, and the published science is correct.

    > The text generally doesn’t bother to connect the claims to technical justification (with e.g. hyperlinks or footnotes or supporting text), so they are technically empty

    Sigh. The skepticalscience page tries to be a resource that is accessible to general readers. It is true that the “basic” tab, as you say, lacks “hyperlinks or footnotes” (much like your comment, it might be said) but as I noted above, the “intermediate” tab, which is the link I actually provided, gives a reference for each statement.

    I am perfectly happy to acknowledge that a link to 4AR would have been better. (Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth about supposed fraud and mistake waterfalls or whatever that ensues whenever IPCC is mentioned on this blog).

    > not even wrong

    Hilarious.

    @ Grantham

    > Look at the way he tried to rat-lawyer the meaning of the word “admit”

    Eric’s post both claimed that global warming has stopped, which statement he supported with a hyperlink to a Daily Mail newspaper article, and claimed that the Met Office and CRU have “admitted” this.
    Neither of those claims cash out when one examines the actual source material.

    But I have “rat-lawyered” the meaning of words?

    Hilarious.

  232. I’m still trying to make sense of the IQ claim. I thought the whole point of IQ tests was to identify a hard upper limit on some important mental capacities– that there was no way to improve one’s score on an IQ test.

  233. I thought the whole point of IQ tests was to identify a hard upper limit on some important mental capacities– that there was no way to improve one’s score on an IQ test.

    Some people claim dual n-back training works. Others say fish oil.

  234. Problem I have with meritocraty is that merit is highly dependant on the activity. You can judge people on their current activity. It is not, IMHO, a predictor of ability on any other activity. That’s why many sportsmen who try being trainers are failures. Some succeed, most don’t. Yet, all of them were very fine sportsmen(women as trainers are rare, but that’s another topic).

    Same for me. I’m not too bad as a computer programmer(if I believe my current manager, that is), but I’m pretty sure I would be a bad manager. Though to be sure, there is only one way : trying.

    Trying is horribly costly. I could fail(or succeed, though not likely) a 6-people, 6 months projects, before the smoking gun would be there : I’m (or not) fit for the role. Huge, huge costs(as the lack of a successful porject usually costs far more than the cost of the project. There would have been no project at all if otherwise).

    Even worse, past results are even not always a good predictor for performance. Many efficient sportsmen lost their abilities while changing of teams – while some others revived.

    All those reasons explain why “deciders” tend to rely on lighter predictors, as diploma, skin color, age, or accent. Or behaviour during interview. 6 months of a wrong choice cost a lot, much more than 6 months of salary, and you can’t give its chance to any person walking down the street.

    Then come arbitrary elements. Ability to memorize & to think mainstream(mandarinate), to solve mathematic problems(french grandes ecoles, which I did), to convince the university recruiter, to have great ancestors, to have the right appearance, to have the right diploma, to play the cello as much as the recruiter, etc….. All of them are poor predictors. Yet, the alternative is to try anyone in hope it works. Usually it does not. But it works often enough to guarantee people will stick to it : it seems better than pure random.

  235. @ Grantham, William Newman

    There’s some more analysis at Skeptical Science (http://www.skepticalscience.com/media_v_reality.html) of the Daily Mail newspaper article that Eric liked to.

    I think that makes it difficult to adopt the charitable view of what Eric meant by “admitted” that you were advocating. You might disagree.

    (Taking into account your criticims, I think you want me to give some context when throwing you the link. How’s this: “warming has stopped” is the equivalent of “I am ignoring the actual published data that disagrees with me”. I quite like the graphical representation of this in the Skeptical Science link above).

  236. >I think that makes it difficult to adopt the charitable view of what Eric meant by “admitted” that you were advocating.

    What, you’re still on about that? How pathetic….

    Grantham was perfectly right about what I meant, as anybody but a religious fanatic bent on damning me as an unbeliever can easily see. You “admit” whenever you release information contrary to your interest, which is exactly what the CRU has done. He was also quite right to describe what you’re doing as “rat-lawyering”, a nicely evocative term which I shall adopt in future.

    Get some perspective, man! All the rat-lawyering does is make you look petty and vindictive.

  237. @ esr

    Perhaps I was too subtle.

    CRU has not released information “contrary to [their] interest”, despite what your Daily Mail link said, that can sensibly be understood as supporting your proposition that “global warming stopped in 1997″.

    If you don’t like my Skeptical Science links, Jamie (way upthread) linked a post by Kevin Drum which also illustrates the cherry-picking going on in the Daily Mail article.

    So I’m “petty and vindictive”? The insult doesn’t make you less wrong.

  238. I can’t imagine why anyone would pay close attention to Eric’s phrasing; it’s not as though he’s fascinated by memetic warfare and social engineering, and certainly Eric would never use the tools of language to attempt to shape the values of a community.

  239. Shawn Yarbrough Says:
    > 1) Do you have free medical?

    There is no such thing as free medical.

  240. Eric, did you know there is a smiley emoticon at the bottom of this page? It is cheery, but doesn’t really seem your style.

  241. This week’s episode of “climatology experts ponder what simple words mean” has been enchanting.

  242. @Jessica Boxer

    Right. There’s no such thing as free anything, except perhaps the milk from the teat – and even that shuts down if the mother isn’t fed. Interesting that this is such a mind boggling concept to some people.

  243. Just for fun I took a spin around “skepticalscience.” It’s fascinating. William Newman properly eviscerates it above – it is a swamp of rhetorical pap – but I believe I’ve discovered the purpose for it’s existence (with the help of TomM’s “tries to be a resource that is accessible to general readers” comment).

    The site’s author, John Cook, is the “Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland.” It is essentially a “How to Argue the Green Movement’s Case For Dummies” website. Everything is handily blocked and color-coded, like one might find in a child’s textbook, with red for the bad, bad “skeptic” arguments, and green for the “science says” stuff (Like the game “Simon Says” perhaps, or “Red Light, Green Light!”)

    Thus Mr. Newman’s Anathema-esque brain pain above. The site’s purpose isn’t to inform, but to proselytize to (presumably young) believers and train them to minimally argue the Greens’ case on blogs like this. The idea is a sort of liturgical call-and-response, to connect the Red-Wrong arguments to the Good-Green ones, until you’ve created an army of Pavlov’s Climate Trolls.

    Even if the Green-Red and Basic-Intermediate-Advanced nodes aren’t imprinting well enough for instant recall, the visitors to his site never have to do the boring thing (read and evaluate the published works in question, think rationally about the possible motivations for misrepresenting certain data) because they have John Cook’s Climate Cliff Notes to fall back on in a web discussion. I don’t think the purpose was link-spamming, however. I think the idea was to just have visitors parrot the talking points, even if they are “not even wrong” ones like the carbon cost-benefit chart.

    @esr, I think you should also consider experimenting with this design philosophy, instead of your dull black and white presentation. Perhaps from now on you can highlight all of your unshakable truths in green and all of your ruthless memetic warfare and social engineering in red. It might make it somewhat easier to debate you.

  244. I was goofing around on the web, and I came across this quote from NASA that made me laugh, and seemed surprisingly relevant to the whole AGW thing. It is a quote about Apollo 15:

    “During the final minutes of the third extravehicular activity, a short demonstration experiment was conducted. A heavy object (a 1.32-kg aluminum geological hammer) and a light object (a 0.03-kg falcon feather) were released simultaneously from approximately the same height (approximately 1.6 m) and were allowed to fall to the surface. Within the accuracy of the simultaneous release, the objects were observed to undergo the same acceleration and strike the lunar surface simultaneously, which was a result predicted by well-established theory, but a result nonetheless reassuring considering both the number of viewers that witnessed the experiment and the fact that the homeward journey was based critically on the validity of the particular theory being tested.”
    Joe Allen, NASA SP-289, Apollo 15 Preliminary Science Report, Summary of Scientific Results, p. 2-11

    Real science is testable and falsifiable. Gutsy scientists do the experiment on TV in front of a billion people, and are willing to put their butts on the line.

    The contrast with AGW science is very telling.

  245. esr,

    If TomM is ‘rat-lawyering’, which I doubt, I don’t think he is doing it on purpose. I suspect that if we were speaking and could see each other so we could both hear tone and judge expression and body language it would be obvious that people are talking past each other and are getting very frustrated by it. TomM really does not believe that CRU has admitted anything and really does not believe there has been no warming since 1997.

    TomM,

    OK, I think I understand what you believe. So here is the most important question for me. Why haven’t the climate change models accurately reflected real world conditions for 15 years? That way we aren’t arguing over whether or not CRU admitted anything (none of us can read their minds) or whether the temperature changes since 1997 were essentially flat or reflected real but subtle warming (that difference can probably be argued forever since it is probably small enough to be indistinguishable from noise). The climate models predicted warming which was much greater and which we have not seen.

    Yours,
    Tom

  246. >The climate models predicted warming which was much greater and which we have not seen.

    More specifically, the models centered on CO2 forcing predicted warming which was much greater and which we have not seen. Because GAT has not been tracking CO2 levels; instead, it looks like it’s been slightly lagging the solar-activity cycle. This is what I predicted as the solar-activity minimimum in 2008 was beginning, and it gives me a better record of accuracy than the IPCC models.

  247. Jessica Boxer, I don’t think lack of tabletop experiments is a big problem for CAGW. Newtonian mechanics is very friendly to tabletop experiments, and that’s wonderful, but many other theories aren’t, and that’s OK. Generally theories involving earth’s weather are not friendly to tabletop experiments. That doesn’t show that theories involving earth’s weather are bad science. Consider that other theories unfriendly to tabletop experiments include the origin of many geological features from widespread glaciation in the Ice Ages, evolution as the explanation of observed distribution of species and fossils, continental drift, cosmic microwave background radiation, and general relativity. I’m pretty convinced that those are good theories, and real scientists have worked extensively on those theories, but AFAIK none have been cleanly tested on live TV.

    IMO actual big problems distinguishing CAGW advocates from good scientists include (1) concluding that a theory with little explanatory power is settled fact based largely on a weak fit to a modest historical dataset, and largely ignoring or poo-pooing overfitting issues, (1.1) probably being so badly wrong about the historical level of fluctuations driven by terms not included their models (famously LIA and MWP) that their supposed good fit to the last 150 years is essentially guaranteed to be overfitting, and (2) circling the wagons around sloppiness, secrecy, dishonesty, and other misbehavior involving key datasets, key statistical analyses, and high-profile reports to the public and to policymakers.

  248. > This is what I predicted as the solar-activity minimimum in 2008 was beginning, and it gives me a better record of accuracy than the IPCC models.

    This is what I assumed would happen too, and that by 2020 astrophysicists like Soon would be widely and publicly vindicated and the work of scam artists like Jones and Trenberth flushed down the loo. However, considering the tremendous success of Green propaganda over the past twenty years, I am starting to think that there’s never going to be any dramatic capitulation, like when the Soviet Academy of Science officially opened Lysenkoism to critics. I think “climatologists” in their current mold will continue on for a long time, muttering about various externalities and looming super tornadoes. But I do think that they’ll be marginalized and politically toothless by mid-century, if the current trend continues. Of course, it won’t matter, since I’m sure the political class will have found a new bogeyman by then.

  249. >Why haven’t the climate change models accurately reflected real world conditions for 15 years?

    Because they never have? I was just going thinking about the fact that every climate prediction that I have heard in the last thirty years has seriously over-estimated the amount of heating that has taken place. Note also that though the estimates have been going down, from 6 C in the next twenty years, which claim was common in the late 1980s, to more recent claims of 1.5 C rise by 2100, but the fear-mongering, “OMG the Ice Caps are going to melt”, “NYC is going to wash away”, et cetera, has actually been staying more or less constant.

  250. William Newman Says:
    > I don’t think lack of tabletop experiments is a big problem for CAGW.

    I don’t believe I made any such claim. On the contrary, I made my point at the end — what is lacking, mostly, in the whole AGW is falsifiability. Science is in essence the art of predicting the future. Falsifiability is an attribute which describes whether a prediction can be called right or wrong. AGW doesn’t make such predictions, or not predictions in timeframes that are realistically useful.

    I’m sure there are parts of it that are falsifiable, the the core premise — burning carbon energy sources will cause a runaway greenhouse effect with dreadful consequences to humankind, isn’t.

    In fact a while ago one of the hangers on of the AGW gang (I’m thinking Al Gore, but I could be wrong) predicted that the north pole would be ice free in the summer of 2015. Awesome I thought, and actual, measurable, falsifiable prediction. The rest of the AGW gang ran away from that claim faster than the speed of light. Nobody in that world wants anything out there that can be objectively measured, and objectively demonstrated false. Not that I can see anyways. Apparently, they aren’t to embarrassed that it isn’t a lot hotter today than they said it would be.

  251. @ Tom DeGisi, esr

    > More specifically, the models centered on CO2 forcing predicted warming which was much greater and which we have not seen.

    Just to be clear, this is a different issue to the claim that warming “stopped” in 1997 (which claim is not supported by the observational data, as shown in the Met Office response to the referenced Daily Mail piece).

    To your question: IPCC projections show a warming trend. Observations show a warming trend generally within the range of IPCC projections.

    Eric thinks the observed warming trend is caused by (or at least more strongly correlated with) the solar activity cycle rather than athropogenic greenhouse emissions.

    He might be right.

    My view, as a non-scientist, is that given the very large volume of published science examining this issue that disagrees with Eric, he is more likely to be wrong.

    (Yes, I am aware that none of this is likely to convince anyone here who has formed a contrary view.)

  252. @Jakub

    >It highly depends on the kind of plant; more exactly if the plant has a mechanism to increase CO2 usage (C3 or C4 cycle, if I remember correctly). If it has such mechanism, increasing CO2 doesn’t help; it is not a limitation. If I remember corectly unfortunately for your argumentation all grasses and therefore all grain plans have this “extract useful CO2? mechanism.

    This is one of the reasons, as I understand it, that grasses have been so successful recently (in terms of geologic time), compared to plants without this adaptation. Do fruit trees have it? What about potatos and other tubers?

  253. @TomM

    http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/PredictionFromCycles.htm

    Above is a pro-AGW climate news site that has a number of graphs. There seems to be no upward trend over the last decade. It is also too early to tell if there is a cooling trend. Even if there is a cooling trend, we have no idea if there will be another, even stronger warming trend after 20 or 30 years like the 1940 – 1970 trend. All we know is the IPCC models did not predict a leveling off, so the models still need some work and probably shouldn’t be trusted to predict out another 50 years. If the IPCC is claiming there is still an upward trend, then they are doing so by smoothing out all the bumps and deviations over the last 200 years. Perhaps, if you were already 100% convinced AGW is real, this makes a sort of sense, but it seems the best thing to do is simply show the data (graphically) in all its confusing reality, both over the last 6000 years and over the 200 years and let people make up their own minds.

  254. @ Chris Green

    A minor quibble, but the site you link to is not a “pro-AGW” site. (Probably better described as the reverse,

    On your substantive point:

    - there is a plot showing data from NASA and UAH up to 2011 (under the heading “Recent measurements of global temperature”) here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/media_v_reality.html. The plot shows a warming trend in air temperature (see also comments at that link regarding warming in the oceans).

    - even if you and Eric were correct that there is no warmng trend since 1997, this means (almost) nothing, as the long term multi-decadal warming trend remains.

    Models are continuing to improve.

  255. Jessica Boxer Says:
    > Real science is testable and falsifiable. Gutsy scientists do the experiment on TV in front of a billion people, and are willing to put their butts on the line.

    Wow great NASA quote. Love it.

  256. Shawn Yarbrough Says:
    > Wow great NASA quote. Love it.

    Yeah, don’t you just love that dry NASA humor.

  257. TomM,

    > Just to be clear, this is a different issue to the claim that warming “stopped” in 1997 (which claim is not supported by the observational data, as shown in the Met Office response to the referenced Daily Mail piece).

    Yes the claim is supported by the data. Like I said we can argue this forever and get nowhere. I will say it’s flat. You will say there is a slight warming trend. We will be looking at the very same graphs. And in reality the difference is the noise. We have a very large, very chaotic global climate system, for which we have a paltry number of measurements, many of which have been compromised by being repurposed for uses for which they were not intended. In addition we do not have to computational power to truly analyze, much less model over centuries, this hugh system. The tiny difference between my flat and your slight warming trend is well within the measurement error.

    For a comparison, you might consider political polling data, and the commonly used phrase ‘toss-up’.

    > To your question: IPCC projections show a warming trend. Observations show a warming trend generally within the range of IPCC projections.

    Not since 1997 they aren’t.

    Yours,
    Tom

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  260. Adrian Smith @January 31st, 2012 at 6:02 pm:The planned invasion would surely have been a bloodbath if they’d headed straight into it. But I’ve never understood what the hurry was. The US had air supremacy, all they needed to do was sit there for six months and starve them into submission.

    The US leadership simply could not imagine not invading Japan.

    RAdm Dan Gallery (Chicago’s greatest naval hero) had a comment about this in his memoir Eight Bells. After commanding a “Hunter-Killer” group in the Atlantic, and capturing U-505, Gallery was transferred to the Pentagon. His duties included alternate member of the Joint Logistics Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He wrote:

    “So when the plan for invasion of Japan came up before the [JLC] I naively raised the question, Why invade at all?

    I should of stood in bed, The Army and Air Corps members looked at me as if I had just puked on the table.”

    Ironically, it was possible that declining to invade the Home Islands might have “broken” the morale of the hard-liners. Their last fantasy was that when the US invaded, fanatical Japanese mass attacks would cause heavy casualties, breaking the will of the US to continue the war. If the US didn’t invade, that couldn’t happen.

  261. esr @January 31st, 2012 at 10:14 pm:: But there’s a kind of…impenetrability…about Japan. You are always the alien, always the outsider looking in, always aware that the Japanese have a deep tribal identity with each other that you could never even possibly share.

    For interesting and frequently hilarious commentary from a foreigner in Japan, I recommend Gaijin Chronicles. The author is an American who has lived in Japan for about six or seven years. He’s now married to a Japanese woman and has a beautiful 14-month-old daughter. Even so, he is, as you write, “always the alien, always the outsider looking in”. He’s a 6′ 2″ black dude, which makes things even more interesting. He’s hasn’t written much in the last year (the kid, work, and he got tired of his “Japan is weird” shtick, he says). But his archives are chock full of interesting stuff, much of which will leave you paralyzed with laughter.

  262. The IQ stuff (reversion to the biological) has been known for some time. This latest report is just confirmation.

    What this also means is that programs like Head Start (middle class the kids) are useless. Nice but useless.

  263. > programs like Head Start (middle class the kids) are useless.

    I think the elite is giving up on middle classing the underclass, after the cataclysmic failure of giving million dollar mortgages to the underclass. The state promoted video “whip your hair” seems to instead to aim at underclassing middle class kids.

    If your goal is equality, it is much easier to equalize downwards.

  264. >aim at underclassing middle class kids.

    >If your goal is equality, it is much easier to equalize downwards.

    That is Pournelle’s take on NCLB, as he says, the only way to make sure no child is left behind is to make sure none gets ahead. But there is an older take on it, that I cannot remember the source, but I read it around 1990, that points out that the upper-class encouraging “ghetto” behavior, ostensibly so as to not penalize real ghetto youths, is one way to cripple middle-class youths so they cannot compete with their upper-class offspring.

  265. >” … and the fact that the homeward journey was based critically on the validity of the particular theory being tested.”
    > Yeah, don’t you just love that dry NASA humor.

    I have a Far Side cartoon showing the astronaut standing over a hammer lying on the ground with a feather floating 2′ above it with the caption. “Oh Shit!” stuck in my head now.

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  267. @M. Simon

    What this also means is that programs like Head Start (middle class the kids) are useless. Nice but useless.

    Head Start would not be useless if they taught the kids to read. A four year old is more than ready to learn to read if taught Phonics. Head Start doesn’t do that.

    It’s depressing how many of these noble social programs wind up doing little or no good. It’s almost as if they’re designed that way.

    Teach your children to read yourself before they enter Kindergarten. It is absolutely the best thing you can do for them. Leapfrog Talking Alphabet/Word/Complex Word Complex DVDs can help with that.

  268. BobW Says:
    > Teach your children to read yourself before they enter Kindergarten. It is absolutely the best thing you can do for them.

    No kids here Bob, but I wanted to ask you if this is really true. If they learn to read before they get to school, then they are going to spend the first few years of school with nothing to learn. That doesn’t seem like a good habit pattern to begin.

  269. esr: I generally distrust reports of studies in which political ideology is claimed to be tied to intelligence. There’s a pretty long history of such studies turning out to be partisan axe-grinding erected on sloppy methodology.

    Is there a particular reason why you don’t have the same policy when it comes to reports of studies in which race is tied to intelligence?

    (By the way, did you ever decide to come back to this thread? I’m curious to know if you’ve revised any of your beliefs; it just kind of faded out there with you saying you were formulating hypotheses and doing more reading.)

  270. Jessica Boxer Says:
    > If they learn to read before they get to school, then they are going to spend the first few years of school with nothing to learn. That doesn’t seem like a good habit pattern to begin.

    If your kids are above average in intelligence (as I expect the majority of esr’s readers’ kids would be, considering IQ’s heritability), you own books, you read books, and they see you reading them, then you’d have to lock them in closets to keep them from trying to figure it out themselves before age 5. Why not help them?

    Alternatively, you could hand them over to the torture device that is “whole-language instruction.” Teaching them to hate reading for life is IMHO not an improvement over teaching them to handle boredom. Phonics may be boring to some kids, but those are mostly the ones who are already reading, and they probably already informally learned phonics from their parents.

    Of course, if you were expecting public schools to entrain good habits in your children, read some John Taylor Gatto.

  271. > No kids here Bob, but I wanted to ask you if this is really true. If they learn to read before they get to school, then they are going to spend the first few years of school with nothing to learn. That doesn’t seem like a good habit pattern to begin.

    Didn’t hurt my brother from my perspective. I’ll ask he and Mom about it, if memory serves.

    Yours,
    Tom

  272. Oh, here we go. Arguments over AGW aren’t bad enough, we have to go on to “Why Johnny can’t read”.
    The Phonics Phanbois are here….

    Stop the foolishness about which method is better. Children learning to read use BOTH. They easily learn to recognize small, whole words. It gets them started with some confidence and little boring drill. Later they pick up on how certain letter combinations go together with certain sounds and start reading new words that way. The two methods reinforce each other. Start the kids off on pure phonics and despite your best efforts, the kids will start memorizing whole words to save themselves time and effort.

    My whole first grade class learned to read with no trouble at all. We used the classic Dick, Jane and Sally “Look! See Spot run!” (whole word method) readers. Our parents all expected us to learn to read, and they saw that we did.

    See that last sentence. Can you guess why Johnny can’t read? Oh! Oh! Oh!

  273. >Is there a particular reason why you don’t have the same policy when it comes to reports of studies in which race is tied to intelligence?

    I do think extra skepticism about those is merited for historical reasons – but they produce predictions that are much easier to check.

    >I’m curious to know if you’ve revised any of your beliefs [about rape]

    I did in fact learn a great deal from that thread (I just reread it in its entirety). Most of it, however, was about what statistically seem to be relatively small corner cases involving the 3% highly-deviant cohort that shows up in all other sorts of criminality and insanity. So yes, some of my beliefs changed as a result of that thread, but mainly in a theoretical way – my practical stance about how to meet the problem was unaffected.

    More recently, I’ve had long conversations (specifically to explore the issues in that thread) with a woman who did rape counseling for years; she comments occasionally here as HedgeMage. She actually confirms my suspicions about inflation and definitional games in rape statistics, and has had to cope first-hand with the consequences of denying women agency over their sexual behavior. She’s particularly scathing (and funny) about the “drunken fumbles equals rape” hoo-ha.

    I’ve also discussed the thread issues with my (female) sword teacher, and found her and HedgeMage to be in pretty close agreement everywhere their experiences overlap. Neither woman has much good to say about the standard-issue feminist cant.

  274. LS, I don’t have a problem with whole language instruction as such. My problem is with intentionally denying phonics to kids, as if there were something wrong with it. That’s what the obsession with whole-language in the public schools is about.

    As far as your class was concerned, if your parents and your classmates’ parents all cared about your results, then congratulations. You’re in the middle class, lived in a middle class neighborhood, and went to a middle-class public school. You were far enough removed from the sociocultural dysfunctions of the underclass that you all were effectively school-proof.

  275. Interesting article in the WSJ, excerpted from the book “The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse,” by David Owen.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203889904577198922867850002.html

    Owen argues, rightly, that if we really believe that the planet is at risk from AGW, resource depletion, energy depletion, etc. we will be forced to actually lower our living standards, rather than simply develop more efficient technologies. In fact, he argues that increased efficiency actually makes us consume more resources in total even the the resources consumer per-use may fall.

    I’m convinced that the vast majority of AGW proponents screaming, “Precautionary principle! We must reduce our carbon footprints!” don’t realize or refuse to acknowledge that they are really calling for a poorer world where they would have to make real sacrifices in living standard, not just change their light bulbs to CFL’s and switch their cars to Priuses.

    Owen calls it “the Prius Fallacy”.

    “Flying from New York to Melbourne in 1958, on a propeller plane, consumed more energy pre person than 2010 flight did, but it was ‘greener’ nevertheless. It required stops in San Francisco, Hawaii, Canton Island, Fiji, and Sydney, and it cost each coach passenger something like a quarter of that year’s U.S. median family income each way. If [this were the only option], I and almost all of my fellow passengers would certainly have stayed home. The only unambigiuosly effective mthod of reduce the long-term carbons and energy cost of air travel is to fly less-a behavioral change, not a technological one.”

    Of course, I reject voluntarily reducing my living standards. I believe that we are better off continually improving our technologies and efficiencies, and preparing ourselves to deal with the inevitable side effects and consequences of this. But if you disagree, know that you are implicitly choosing to fly less, not just to fly more efficiently; to drive less, or not at all, not just to drive a hybrid; to eat less meat, not just to switch to locally-raised meat.

  276. >I’m convinced that the vast majority of AGW proponents screaming, “Precautionary principle! We must reduce our carbon footprints!” don’t realize or refuse to acknowledge that they are really calling for a poorer world where they would have to make real sacrifices in living standard, not just change their light bulbs to CFL’s and switch their cars to Priuses.

    Good example of why Casey divided environmentalists into 2 catgories: eco-ninnies and eco-nazis. The former are the mindless twits who repeat feel-good nonsense they’ve been taught in school or seen on the TV without really understanding it. The latter have also been called “watermelons” or “the anti-industrial revolution”, vicious thugs who are using environmental fear-mongering to advance their own anti-human agendas.

  277. William B. Swift,

    There is considerable overlap. Lots of nazis are only nazis because they are also ninnies.

    Yours,
    Tom

  278. In re phonics vs. whole word: I taught myself to read from a phonics oriented book when I was about five, and didn’t find it especially difficult.

    In Hebrew school they used flash cards with word on them for the first two years, and I only learned one word. (yayin (wine)) because it has a distinctive shape. In the third year (age eight), they introduced phonics, and that was easy for me. (I still don’t know much Hebrew, but it’s a phonetic language.)

    I didn’t, and don’t, have much eidetic memory. However, from what I’ve heard, there are children who are better with whole word and other children who are better with phonics, and a competent teacher offers both.

  279. “However, from what I’ve heard, there are children who are better with whole word and other children who are better with phonics, and a competent teacher offers both.”

    Yes, except that better with one or the other, children *use* both when learning. It’s somewhat similar to the processes that small children use when learning to talk. That’s why I get upset with phonics evangelists – phonics appeals to parents, because, as adults, that’s close to the way they learn. It’s not how kids do it, though….

  280. William B Swift Says:
    > Good example of why Casey divided environmentalists into 2 catgories: eco-ninnies and eco-nazis.

    FWIW, I don’t agree with that at all. I think that a significant number, perhaps even the majority of people who express concern about AGW do so without being ninnies or nazis. They are simply people with an honest concern who believe what they have heard based on the principle of rational ignorance. Not everyone has the time or capacity to lift the covers and see under the whole AGW machine. I think most people come to it with an honest and legitimate concern. There is a pretty solid cultural wall trying to bury the AGW deniers (such as myself), and it is hard to see past that. If you think the world is getting warmer, and you have a general believe in the competence and good nature of government, then government action seems a legitimate demand.

    Truth is, most people are too busy with their lives to do the research, it is a lot easier to buy the curly fry light bulb, or recycle your trash than it is to swim against the tide.

  281. @Jessica Boxer:

    No kids here Bob, but I wanted to ask you if this is really true. If they learn to read before they get to school, then they are going to spend the first few years of school with nothing to learn. That doesn’t seem like a good habit pattern to begin.

    In my (limited — have two really bright kids) experience, if you love them and read to them (lots of different interesting kids books, not just one or two), it’s not really a matter of teaching them to read. Quite the contrary — you can’t keep them from reading. And I’m sure, as LS points out, that the learning is multi-modal.

    Also, in my limited experience, the schools are (somewhat) prepared for this, but all parents are so enamored of their own kids’ capabilities that the schools have to take the parents’ description of the kids’ capabilities with a grain of salt. My oldest was reading fairly well before kindergarden, and was reading really well halfway through kindergarden — used her city and school library cards a lot. I think sometimes the teacher would even have her read to the other kids and slip away for a break. We moved that spring, and a couple of weeks after she started at her new school, there was a parents’ night at the school where the kids got to show off their drawings, etc. The teacher made it a point to corner my wife and exclaim “When you said Suzanna was reading, you weren’t kidding, were you!”

    Elementary school teachers seem fine with kids who can amuse themselves by further learning through library books. The pain starts in middle school, but fortunately many larger districts have magnet programs that kick in around then, so if you can get your kid into one of those, you’re probably golden.

    Of course, if you send your kids to private schools, you theoretically have a lot more clout about what gets taught, but so do all those parents who think their kids are reading…

    BTW, we’re in the process of moving to a new house, and are organizing things like bookshelves. I know when some friends adopted kids from Russia a few years ago, we gave them probably over $1000 worth of childrens’ books and video tapes, but I think we’ve probably still got about the same amount kicking around. Thanks to Ben Franklin, it’s not strictly necessary to buy books but kids really love it when they can own a favorite, as my wife found out when she spent some time tutoring up at the school.

  282. @Jessica

    No kids here Bob, but I wanted to ask you if this is really true. If they learn to read before they get to school, then they are going to spend the first few years of school with nothing to learn. That doesn’t seem like a good habit pattern to begin.

    The school may or may not teach using phonics. I happen to think that phonetics is the best way to teach the short words. It’s easy to sound out c-a-t or d-o-g. Short words are more likely to follow the Anglo-Saxon+Danish spelling rules. Longer words may well follow French or German rules. That’s confusing.

    The main point is that it’s easy to get them started reading at home, and it’s better to make sure, rather than depend on the luck of the draw in Kindergarten teachers.

    Your language centers are wired to your ears, not your eyes. Once a child learns to read phonetically he’ll read everything that way. Unknown words will have sounds. They may not be the right sounds, but they’ll stick better in his head. For every public gaffe he makes mispronouncing hors d’ ouvres he’ll have many other words like trinitrotoluene or deoxyribonucleic correctly.

    I’ve also found it easy to make points with immigrants from countries that use non-latin alphabets who have sensibly transliterated their names by the English spelling rules. It’s easy to remember how to pronounce a name like Anushiravan Naghshineh if you read it phonetically.

  283. You know I’m no expert on the acquisition of reading skills, but it seems to me that this whole discussion revolves around the central flaw in the public school system — one committee gets to decide for all of us.

    If we privatized the school system (perhaps using my suggestion of a $7000 per child tax credit for qualifying expenses) then different schools would teach in different ways, heaven forbid they might even customize to the needs of the individual child. Some schools would suck and loose customers, some would be awesome and build new campuses to supply the demand. Some would write an iPad program that used bouncy balls to allow the children to learn themselves and used voice recognition to correct them when they were off (the technology already exists in Rosetta Stone.) Some would do other brilliantly innovative things that my mind can’t conceive of.

    But the problem is that we don’t have any choices — or not many. Nobody competes for the students’ business, they are more concerned with competing for the support of politicians who pay their bills. So it is run by an elite academia that really has little accountability, and uses little children as rats in their experiments, robbing many of them of a quality eduction in their prime learning years.

    Really, if we need to nationalize something, couldn’t we do something less important than schools?

  284. I’ve also found it easy to make points with immigrants from countries that use non-latin alphabets who have sensibly transliterated their names by the English spelling rules. It’s easy to remember how to pronounce a name like Anushiravan Naghshineh if you read it phonetically.

    “Nagheenanajar”. It’s not that hard to say…

    No kids here Bob, but I wanted to ask you if this is really true. If they learn to read before they get to school, then they are going to spend the first few years of school with nothing to learn. That doesn’t seem like a good habit pattern to begin.

    I know this because I lived it. Reading was a first-grade concern where I grew up — K had letters and basic phonics but no reading — and my first grade teacher was a martinet of the worst sort. She absolutely refused to believe that I could read competently and usefully — whole sentences and paragraphs, gaining information from what I’d read. She marched me through the silly workbooks on long and short vowels and when I asked about doing material beyond the class’s position in the current workbook her denial was flat and simply justified: “Because you haven’t learned that yet.”

    Needless to say, I was a profoundly bored first grader.

    Oh, and if you have young kids, there’s a good chance they fall under this woman’s influence too; because she is now a Ph.D. and education professor, and develops lesson plans and coursework used worldwide.

    It’s the school’s damn fault for pigeonholing the kid in a “grade” based on age rather than discovering what he does and doesn’t know and going from there. This can be done systematically and cost-effectively. Just not in the battery farms which pass for “schools” in 21st-century Murka.

    So the question of whether teaching a kid to read early boils down do this: is their competence in a literate, numerate, etc. world more important than their ability to cope in a battery-farm environment?

  285. BobW Says:
    > My approach requires no group action.

    Usually the best approach. However, in a sense it does — it requires the school to accomodate a student that is ahead of the prescribed learning goals of the rest of the class. Sounds like your kids have a good school who is willing to do that. Kudos to them.

    I just think that the approach we see a lot in schools is to think of kids as an empty vessel into which we pour knowledge. But I don’t think the human mind works that way at all. I think learning is far more like a muscle. It needs constant exercise at or beyond the limits of its capacity to continue to grow and strengthen. Neglect leads to atrophy. A lack of “I don’t get it” moments, and the hard won “aha!!!” moment that can follow, are a poison the the spectacular capacity of the human mind. I think that is no less true of adults than children, but kids have got a lot of stuff to learn, so it affects them more.

    It sounds to me that you and Mom are very committed to keeping the mental gym going for your children, and they are consequently very fortunate to have such great parents.

  286. A child who does not learn to read is stunted. Everything else in school depends upon reading. There is no guarantee that any particular teacher will do what is necessary to ensure that any particular child learns to read. The “Whole Language” method in vogue does not work and many teachers are forbidden to use any other method.

    I worry more that the child will not learn to read properly than that he will be bored. Most children are bored in school not because they already know the subject, but because they do not have the background to understand it, and are falling ever further behind. These children tend to make life hell for those who are up to speed.

  287. BobW,

    > Most children are bored in school not because they already know the subject, but because they do not have the background to understand it, and are falling ever further behind.

    True, although when I was bored because I was ahead I would read further ahead in the more interesting textbooks, so even then reading helped!

    Yours,
    Tom

  288. Pingback: On Intelligence, Meritocracy, and Poverty | The Thinker

  289. @ Tom DeGisi

    > He’s completely untrustworthy on the subject because his belief is pure faith, no science.

    Leaving aside altogether the data presented by Gleick (which you ignore), if we are now discussing the trustworthiness of the authors of newspaper articles (I thought you’d never ask!) the author of Eric’s linked Daily Mail piece is David Rose.

    Some of Mr Rose’s previous pieces on climate science have been dissected pretty thoroughly here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/global_warming/rosegate_1/

    It’s hard to shake the impression of an agenda running through his work, you’d have to agree.

    (The less said about his contribution to the public debate before Iraq the better.)

  290. … somehow I expected you would say that.

    Presumably you don’t trust the published science, either.

    (Maybe you believe Eric’s “error cascade” line, or maybe you have swallowed the “OMG FRAUD” angle pushed by Delingpole and others.)

    Whatever. The point is you have already made up your mind and nothing (certainly not data that disagrees with you which you therefore distrust) will change it.

  291. TomM,

    I’ve been watching Lambert for a long time on more than one subject. Look, you have been busy claiming that the Daily Mail isn’t a good source, among others. Sauce for the gander.

    > The point is you have already made up your mind and nothing (certainly not data that disagrees with you which you therefore distrust) will change it.

    I’ve already changed my mind on climate. I used to suspect we had a real global warming problem. Now I suspect we don’t. If the science gets better and starts demonstrating the feedback mechanisms required I’ll change my mind again.

    Yours,
    Tom

  292. I’d be genuinely interested in what your issue with Lambert is, although that might be stretching the hospitality of our host given how far OT we are headed.

  293. Tom, there are a couple of problems. This issue has become so utterly politicized that no sensible person would take someone else’s data without extreme skepticism. Surely you are familiar with the idea the one may torture the data till it confesses.

    When the scientists involved are, or have been, hesitant to make available the supposed raw original data, any serious scientist has his skepticism meter kick into high gear. And when there are fairly obvious trends that don’t correspond with the tenor of the predicted trends my meter is rev-ing in the red zone.

    But in a sense it doesn’t really matter. The science is a tiny fraction of the whole issue: it is what comes after the science that is most controversial. And the proposals for what comes after the science fall into one of two categories — “meaningless token gestures”, and “batshit crazy.”

  294. > But in a sense it doesn’t really matter. The science is a tiny fraction of the whole issue: it is what comes after the science that is most controversial

    We agree about this at least: The policy implications of the science are where the real debate should be.

    I suspect we are seeing some people being uncomfortable about the policy implications and arguing backwards against the science because of that discomfort. (If the science is bogus, we don’t have to do anything! PHEW!)

    > the scientists involved are, or have been, hesitant to make available the actual raw original data

    This has always been a strawman, but in any event I think you’ll find that most if not all “raw original data” is now made available.

    Certainly satellite and thermometer temp data is available for download from the public internet. For example:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/

    Torture away!

  295. Last I heard, important chunks of some original data sets appear to have been lost in some cases. Was it found?

    Yours,
    Tom

  296. People who are good with numbers can torture the data numerically. People who are good with words can torture the data descriptively. Lambert is good with numbers and good with words. I’m not as good with numbers, so I don’t know if Lambert tortures the data numerically. I have seen Lambert torture the data descriptively.

    Yours,
    Tom

  297. Found? It was never lost. Assuming you are referring to the excitement around CRU’s allegedly mssing weather station data:

    1. This referred to CRU’s copies of approx 5% of original weather station data (“large chunks”?) which data is still held by the met services operating those stations.

    2. There are multiple separate groups apart from CRU whose work shows similar if not identical warming trends.

    3. The BEST results (http://berkeleyearth.org/findings/), embarrasingly for the wattsupwiththat crowd, are consistent with 2.

    The relevance of the “missing” data is hard to spot.

    (But if all you trust are the politically conservative commentators who ran – and in Watts’ cae, still run – the “CRU lied and destroyed data” line, you won’t be convinced by little ol’ me. Or the science.)

  298. >This has always been a strawman

    I don’t agree. By no means am I suggesting that it is conclusive proof of misconduct, however, it is a worrying thing and decreases the credibility of the people making the predictions. It doesn’t prove they are wrong, it is just a disturbing deviation from the good and standard practices of science.

    This is especially when you are doing this kind of softer science. We are not doing reproducible experiments here, rather we are relying on back analysis of data. Imagine if you will that all we had on cold fusion was the records of Pons and Fleischmann (sp?). If these guys were unreliable, we would have reason to doubt.

  299. My standards for lost and found are informed by my experience with source code version control. I’ve seen strict version control and sloppy verison control. The data handling for temperature data sets does not sound like it is of the strict variety.

    This does not begin to address the other data quality issues, which have to do with data collected for one purpose – short range meterology – and being used for another – very long range climatology.

    Yours,
    Tom

  300. You are correct that management of paper records is a different challenge than source code version control and no doubt an argument can be made that discarding any records is not best practice.

    However, you ignore points 2. and 3.

    The BEST studies I linked go in part to addressing some of the sort of data quality issues you might be concerned about.

    (To save you the trouble, yes I know Watts doesn’t like the results.)

  301. But even if there were fire where you say there’s smoke, you still haven’t explained the buckets and buckets of independently sourced and analysed data and studies which are consistent with the CRU results.

    Like BEST.

    (If you’re interested in doing some analysis yourself, in addition to the temp data links I provided earlier, Realclimate keeps a list of links to various datasets, models and related tools that are available: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/)

  302. No, I haven’t. I’m not a climate scientist, and often under these circumstances the best you can do is go with meta data like your level of trust in some of the leading lights. That after all is the basis of the whole “scientific consensus” argument. I think that a lot about the science has a disturbing smell. But you are correct, I have not run the numbers myself.

    Like I say, though, ultimately it doesn’t really matter in any substantive way. From my perspective the correct response is the same whether AGW is real or imagined. Which is to say, do nothing except react locally to the consequences.

    As soon as I hear people talking about gigantic planet wide plans to save the earth I know it is far more to do with control, tyranny, power and oppression than really saving the planet.

    BTW, I’m not by any means suggesting that you advocate that, I don’t really know what response you advocate. Like I say, the truth or lack of truth of AGW is irrelevant to me in terms of what I think the correct response should be.

  303. [thanks Eric for reverting to the old theme!]

    @ Jessica Boxer
    You may be interested to read some of the research presented by IPCC 4AR WG II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability): http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/contents.html

    Some key findings:

    “Adaptation will be necessary to address impacts resulting from the warming which is already unavoidable due to past emissions.”

    “Adaptation alone is not expected to cope with all the projected effects of climate change, and especially not over the long term as most impacts increase in magnitude.”

    A neat diagrammatic summary of anticipated impacts is here:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/figure-spm-2.html

  304. “AGW alarmists,” seriously? And you link to JunkScience.com, a website run by a TV pundit, Steven Milloy, who happens to share your political position. Milloy previously used that website to advocate against the science that showed second-hand smoking is carcinogenic and he denies evolutionary theory, too.

    “This of course, is bad news for the political class because AGW panic was so useful for raising taxes and increasing central control of the economy.”
    Just because you don’t agree with the policy implications doesn’t mean something doesn’t exist. I’m disturbed that you could so easily allow your political views warp your views on science. That’s not only foolish, it’s dangerous. I also can’t believe I almost took your views on guns seriously. After reading this, I’m can only assume all of your views are the result of your ideology rather than an objective search for truth. Perhaps you should give a bit more weight to the experts, and a bit less weight to the ideologues.

    From Ars Technica:
    -Climate skeptics perform independent analysis, finally convinced Earth is getting warmer
    -Climate skeptics perform independent analysis, finally convinced Earth is getting warmer

    As for the IQ thing, I don’t know enough about that issue to take a strong position at the moment. Given how quick you are to put your ideology above the facts (“IQ, and its heritability, has been a major irritant to would-be social engineers.”), I can only assume you’re probably in the wrong here as well.

  305. Pingback: The Mind of David Krider » Forget global warming?

  306. Junk science fail indeed.

    As if we needed more proof that AGW denialism is nothing more than oil money trying to out-shout peer-reviewed scientific research. Now the Hearland Institute is employing the same tactics used by their friends in Big Tobacco: get ‘em young. Heartland, you may recall, is the same institute which funded dishonest research about the link between smoking and lung cancer on behalf of the tobacco companies.

    With a special guest appearance by Anthony Watts, often cited hereabouts, who is setting up a new, Heartland-sponsored climate web site.

    Oh, and while I’m at it: “heritability of IQ” is easily recognized as a stalking horse for such toxic, eugenics-movement-funded “research” as may be found in The Bell Curve

  307. Some points on Hitler and why he DEFINITELY wasn’t left. Left mindview (in USA and west Europe) is defined by the following principles:
    1) Heritage (genes) doesn’t matter, upbringing does. “Being makes thinking” All people have (nearly) equal potential, it isthe society that uses it differently for different people.
    2) Religion shouldn’t play a political role.
    3) Women should be equal to men.
    4) Free capitalism is evil
    Of those positions, only the last is compatible with the Nazi politics. Nazis put heritage (in form of Race) s the main defining factor, endorsed religion, pushed women into strictly-defined role, and, by destroying trade-unions, helped big business prosper. Only the “Big Government” ideology was adapted from sozialism.

  308. SS13, indeed. The salient characteristics of leftism are not a large state with a government-managed economy, but populism and egalitarianism. This has been true ever since the post-revolutionary French parliament: the royalists sat on the right, the egalitarians sat on the left.

    Despite paying lip service to leftist values, Russia under Stalin was at its core right-wing — right down to state-entrenched ill will against certain ethnic groups (Jews in particular). Bob Altemeyer could find no difference between kind of the right-wing authoritarianism fomented in soviet Russia and the kind the Republicans foment here in the US — it’s only a question of degree.

  309. Jeff Read,

    > This has been true ever since the post-revolutionary French parliament: the royalists sat on the right, the egalitarians sat on the left.

    What? The French egalitarians promptly created a large, extraordinarily tyrannical state with a government-managed economy. Equality? Brotherhood? Give me liberty, which the French egalitarians completely squashed.

    Yours,
    Tom

  310. Jeff Read,

    Furthermore, large, extraordinarily tyrannical states with government-managed economies are an essential feature of leftist egalitarianism. That is because there are no known ways to achieve equality without a large, extraordinarily tyrannical state with a government-managed economy.

    That’s why leftism has the associations it has.

    If you limit equality to equality of opportunity you can escape this bind, but leftist egalitarians are unwilling to accept that limitation.

    It should be noted that untempered royalism often produces large, extraordinarily tyrannical states with government-managed economies, but not always. Just ask Genghiz Khan, who preferred to skip the government-managed economy to maximize his tax revenue.

    Yours,
    Tom

  311. This just illustrates the simple truth that many psychometricians knew all along. Deviations in IQ among a single person are due to TESTING ERROR and are not reflections of that person’s underlying general intelligence factor or g.

    This is really quite obvious if you think about it – many IQ tests rely on vocabulary size as an indicator of intelligence. If a person from a foreign country came to the US, they would score really low on such a test, and then year after year their IQ would appear to be increasing. Their score would eventually top out at some number that was close to their actual g. Other kinds of tests suffer less from this problem, but they are not favored by these junk scientists spewing their crap all over the media because they show that IQ is immutable.

  312. >If a person from a foreign country came to the US, they would score really low on such a test, and then year after year their IQ would appear to be increasing.

    Your argument isn’t crazy but your grasp of the facts is weak. What psychometricians consider heavily g-loaded is vocabulary in the subject’s language of primary usage, and the Flynn effect (before it topped out) was extensively observed in native-speaker populations.

  313. @Jeff Read

    So long as you invoke the power of the state the left-right continuum wraps round upon itself. The evil is not in your ideals but in the mechanism. You cannot use the One Ring for good.

  314. @Tom DeGisi

    … Just ask Genghiz Khan, who preferred to skip the government-managed economy to maximize his tax revenue.

    Unfortunately, the Mongols didn’t learn to shear the sheep instead of skinning them before they warped Russian politics in ways that still echo centuries later.

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