Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Won't Be Cheap

But I'd sell out if the price were right:

Predictions for 2010:

—Bloggers will continue to mau-mau the mainstream media in the hopes of being able to sell out and be co-opted by an establishment media company.

Read the whole thing.

(Via First Thoughts.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Emotional Fish?

I'm as fascinated by the scientific study of brain as the next guy. So when they start applying fMRI technology to fish, I'm interested. Then I find out that our emotional fish is dead:

Are fMRI Studies a Red Herring?:

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a technique for measuring brain activity by detecting the changes in blood oxygenation and flow that occur in response to neural activity.

Read the whole thing.

(Via First Thoughts.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peer review

should be a kind of quality assurance system for scholars. But it doesn't necessarily work that way:

Peer review: Life, death, and the British Medical Journal:

This controversy erupted over estimates of war deaths since World War 2 (1939-1945:)

Researchers from Canada, the UK and Sweden have slammed the influential British Medical Journal (BMJ) for publishing an error-filled study on global war deaths, refusing an equivalent rebuttal article and having a flawed peer-review process.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Post-Darwinist.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

There Are Facts and There Are Facts

I'm still struggling with the competing narratives of the CACC(GW) so more competition is not welcome. Trying to remember that we're in the Holocene epoch of the Quaternary period isn't too much of a strain. Terms like the Holocene Climatic Optimum and Younger Dryas stadial are starting to test me, though. The net result of my research to date is to confirm that we are in an interglacial interval in the current ice age. that has had some significant climate fluctuations

Pressing issues include was there a Medieval Warm Period? How warm was it compared to today? (Or can we even reasonably know that?) The same issues arise with the Little Ice Age. Different scientific opinions can be read differently. These are deep waters for a high school graduate.

It's not only that different folks massage different sets of facts differently, but that different facts can be highlighted and others ignored from the same set of facts:

A Christmas Story: Some Facts about Greenland:

The wonderful Christmas season is upon us, and no Christmas story would be complete without snow. If you really like snow, Greenland is the place for you! The snow there lasts all year long and is 1,000s of feet deep in the interior – a white Christmas is guaranteed every year in this [...]

Read the whole thing.

(Via World Climate Report.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Climate Wars?

I'm trying to keep an open mind on the CACC(GW) theory while I do some desultory reading. So I've subscribed to RealClimate, Climate Audit and World Climate Report. The early returns suggest that I might get bogged down in details, scientific arguments I'm not competent to resolve and competing narratives:

Climategatekeeping: Wikipedia:

Lawrence Solomon has an interesting column in the National Post today on William Connolley’s climategatekeeping role at Wikipedia. See also an article last year.

Connolley was one of the nine realclimate founders, but posted little at realclimate. This has notoriously not been the case at Wikipedia. Solomon reports that Connolley “created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles” and that Connolley was granted a senior editorial and administrative status at Wikipedia that enabled him to delete “over 500 articles” and “barred” more than 2000 Wikipedia contributors who “ran afoul of him”.

Particular areas of interest for Connolley were the Hockey Stick debate e.g. here,

Check it out

Read the whole thing.

(Via Climate Audit.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

There's a Cold Breeze Blowing

against CACC(GW). Isn't there something self-serving about simultaneously blocking access to peer-review while dismissing alternative theories because they haven't been peer-reviewed? Admittedly the attempt to block access hasn't been 100 per cent effective. Does that mean we should trust the peer review process when it comes to Climate Change?

WSJ: How to Manufacture a Climate Consensus:

Be sure not to miss Pat Michaels’ view of one of the most important impacts of ‘Climategate’–the biasing of the contents of the scientific literature upon which the EPA bases its Endangerment Finding.
Pat lays out his case in today’s (Dec. 17, 2009) Wall Street Journal.
In summary:
The result of all this is that our refereed literature [...]

Read the whole thing.

(Via World Climate Report.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


in Science is not increase by this sort of news:

Another crack in the wall

Russians confirm that Global Warming is based on "cherry-picked" data.

Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with

Read the whole thing.

(Via Lex Communis.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Koran Versus The Bible

The multiplicity of Scriptural texts over a thousand years and more and the large number of textual variants are viewed by Muslims as a scandal. How could God's Word be variant or doubtful? For them, the Qur'an is the perfect counterfoil to the Scripture Text: uttered from the mouth of the Archangel Gabriel to Mohammed, who memorized it and passed it on to be written down, incorrupt.

For an educated Christian, however, the multiplicity of Scriptural texts and the hundreds of variants are a major blessing. First off, try drawing straight, parallel lines on a piece of paper. In elementary school I was taught that you needed at least three points to make sure a line was correct. By analogy, the thousands of Scripture texts (complete and partial) provide abundant evidence ("points") of the state of the original texts (the autographs).

What about all those variants? Don't they undermine confidence in the text? Not really. No significant doctrinal or historical divergence appears in any of the surviving manuscripts. The Good News of Jesus Christ is the same in every one. For thousands of texts over a thousand years in multiple languages, this is strong evidence for the reliability of our present text.

But is this not still inferior to the Muslim claim of a perfect, invariant text? No, because there is no such text. A great deal of the Qur'an's history has been destroyed thereby reducing the number of "points" we could test the present text against. Enough variants exist, however, to show that there was a history to the Qur'anic text which Muslim apologists are unaware of. Consider the following:

The Yemeni Qur'an:

To quote Puin: "So many Muslims have this belief that everything between the two covers of the Qur'an is just God's unaltered word... They like to quote the textual work that shows that the Bible has a history and did not fall straight out of the sky, but until now the Qur'an has been out of this discussion. The only way to break through this wall is to prove that the Qur'an has a history too. The Sana'a fragments will help us to do this."


One early Muslim declared, "Let none of you say, 'I have acquired the whole of the Qur'an.' How does he know what all of it is when much of the Qur'an has disappeared? Rather let him say 'I have acquired what has survived'" (As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an ).

Read the whole thing.

(Via Jihad Watch.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Natural Theology

is a branch of philosophy. It's heartening to see it being promoted this way:

All the Evidence for God. An Inquiry:

Ruini outlined three ways of access to God, three proofs of his existence, not theological but rational, and therefore able to be presented to all, not only to believers.

The first way departs from the evident fact "that there is something rather than nothing." The second moves from the observation that the universe can be known by man. The third is based on man's experience of a moral law within himself.

Read the whole thing.

(Via New Advent World Watch.)

A Different Perspective

on the Copenhagen Climate Conference:

If the Marx Brothers Held a Climate Conference:

It would look like this

Read the whole thing.

(Via Campaign Standard.)

I Don't Believe in Santa Claus

It's hard to say when it began. Perhaps my nanny taking me (three years old or so) to a store with a large bearded man in a garish red suit. I cried and cried and would not sit on his lap. Perhaps it was later when I had reached the age of maturity (twelve or thirteen) and announced to my sister (six or so) that Santa Claus was a lie. Dad was not happy

As a moralistic parent (thirty plus) I determined never to tell my children lies. So while I never said "There is no Santa Claus", I refused to promote his cult.

Saint Nicholas, on the other hand, we enthusiastically promoted. We hung stockings on the Fireplace mantle on the eve of his feast (Dec. 6). And the first year, just to make the point, Daddy (me) received sticks in his stocking for being a bad boy. You should have seen how big their eyes were.

On Nicholmas morning their presents from the sainted bishop would be found. The gift giving at Christmas was by way of exchange only. They had the advantage on their schoolmates of getting presents early, but otherwise felt left out of the Santa Claus festivities. As young adults they're still not entirely reconciled to Dad's philosophy of Christmas and child-rearing. Oh well.

Santa’s Dead:

Perhaps it was my innocent sheltered and naive nature, but I found the Santa myth quite appealing as a youngster. So appealing, in fact, that I clung it to it long after others my age had discovered that it was no coincidence that Santa Claus and Dad had the same favorite cookies, or that Santa’s handwriting bore a striking resemblance to Mom’s.

Read the whole thing.

(Via In the Agora.)


is in the eye of the beholder. There has been a little sensitivity in the Catholic Blogosphere over the Archbishop of Canterbury describing the Pope's theology as eccentric. I'm not as riled as some over the Dr. Williams comments. He seems irrelevant to Catholicism for the most part. But some of the reactions do raise a smile:

Catholic Culture : Commentary: Off the Record:

The Archbishop of Canterbury is annoyed with England's Labor government, and particularly with the way the government treats religions: as if "it's an eccentricity, it's practised by oddities, foreigners and minorities."

Read the whole thing.

(Via Catholic World News.)

Less Babies

equals happiness? The dark underside of the environmentalist religion has started showing a little more prominently. Promoting the totalitarian regime in China as a leader in the CACC(GW) movement doesn't inspire confidence. These are the children of Mao and he had millions of deaths on his conscience when he died. The current leadership hasn't renounced a single one.

The One-Child policy continues, albeit slightly less draconian in places, and forced sterilizations and abortions still occur. This kind of madness is only now having deleterious effects that are being recognized by these leaders. This is not the kind of leadership anyone needs. Alas, the Financial Post hasn't caught up with the news. As Mark Shea says: "Just enough of me, too much of you". So the following isn't entirely unexpected:

Carbon Scheme: Offset Your Jet-Set Lifestyle by Eliminating African Babies:

Population control groups have been using the hype surrounding the Copenhagen climate change conference to promote their solution to hypothetical impending environmental catastrophes. Earlier this month, two pieces appearing in the same edition of the Guardian revisited a report by Britain's Optimum Population Trust (OPT) that suggests that people in wealthy first-world countries should "offset" the carbon cost of their jet-setting lifestyles by paying to prevent the births of poor children in the developing world.

Read the whole thing.

(Via LifeSiteNews.)

The Sky is Falling!

While I wrestle with the vexing issue of whether and how much the base climate change data has been manipulated there is still the uneasy feeling of salesmanship. When I took a Business Communication course many years ago, one technique they mentioned was "backing the hearse up to the door".

This is a sales technique that uses naked fear to sell some good or service to the prospective customer. Examples of it are on TV all the time. If they're not using sex to sell something, it's about our fears. And the sense that there is an overplayed emotionality to the sales pitch for CACC(GW) reminds me uncomfortably of this technique.

Mark Shea brings in some nice insights from GKC while expatiating on this theme:


The pattern that emerges over the decade is that the preferred governing style of our Ruling Classes is to scare the daylights out of people with some sort of world-imperilling threat and then use the panic to stampede us toward this or that consolidation of massive power.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

A LIttle More Direct

than I would put it:

Jimmy Akin Shares My Skepticism About AGW:

in spades.

When they tell you "Shut up about Climaquiddick! We need to adopt a global one child policy right now!" you should be very skeptical about what the Stampeders in our Ruling Classes are up to.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Catholic and Enjoying It!.)

Is Evolutionary Psychology

a faux science?

Can evolution explain religion?:

Here's my MercatorNet column (10 December 2009),
Evolutionary psychologists offer two contradictory explanations for the existence of religion. They can't both be right, but they can both be wrong.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Post-Darwinist.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Data Manipulation

doesn't equal conscious fakery, by the way:

ClimateGate: Was Data Faked? - Megan McArdle:

To me, the worry is the subtler kind of bias that we indisputably know has led to scientific errors in the past.  Richard Feynman has the most elegant exposition I've ever read:

Read the whole thing.

(Via Campaign Standard.)

Where to Start?

If I'm going to try to get off the fence about CACC(GW) what process should I use? I prefer the process of asking questions. So I'm trying to compose a series of questions that will help me assess, as an ignorant lay-person, the validity of the various claims made.

First question, is the global climate warming? If so, over what period of time and relative to what? This involves a lot more research than I'm entirely comfortable doing. I'd have to assess paleoclimatological questions as well. Hypotheses like the MWP and the "Little Ice age", not to mention even more ancient climate change theories, would have to be dealt with.

Second question, to what extent is this change, if it exists, outside normal change?

Third question, what contribution, if any, are human beings making towards this change, if it exists?

Lastly, what are the chances, assuming we can estimate such things, that these changes will have catastrophic effects on humankind?

Unfortunately, I seem to be stuck at the first question. If the "overwhelming proof" that the climate is rapidly warming has been created by statistical manipulation, how am I to assess what is really happening? The good news is that the blogosphere is on the job:

Intellectual freedom: The difference the blogosphere makes:

In "Bloggers peer review a scientific 'consensus,'" Gordon Crovitz writes (Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2009),

Blogging scientists have been busy reviewing the 15,000 lines of code by programmers that were included in the "Documents" folder of the leaked materials. The latest twist is hidden notations in the data from programmers that indicate where they had manipulated results. The programmers expressed frustration when the numbers didn't fit the case for global warming.

Comments in the code include "These will be artificially adjusted to look closer to the real temperatures," referring to an effort to suppress data showing that the Middle Ages were warmer than today. Comments inside the code also described an "adjustment" as follows: "Apply a VERY ARTIFICIAL correction for decline!!" Another notation indicated when a "fudge factor" had been added.
Read the rest here.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Post-Darwinist.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Puzzling over Global Warming

The CACC controversy is beyond the competence of laypeople and perhaps even many scientists to adjudicate by themselves. So an appeal to authoritative opinions must be resorted to. When these opinions conflict, how does a layperson reach a conclusion?

INEX: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Appeal to authority):

Any argument should ideally be based solely on direct evidence, not on the authority of the messenger. However, it is rarely possible in common discourse to provide all the direct evidence, so an "appeal to authority" is often used as a shortcut

Read the whole thing.

Doubt and Belief

are two sides of the same coin: our attempts to achieve knowledge. In the CACC(GW) debate I'm still on the fence. And the recent brouhaha over the hacked emails (I prefer "the CRUtape letters" as a moniker) I'll let others parse their meaning and import before giving anything like a settled opinion.

It's the uneasy feeling that there are agendas behind some the alarmism. The movie clip that was part of the Copenhagen summit has a little girl screaming while holding on to the branch of dead tree and surrounded by raging waters. That creeps me out: "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!".

And I'm reminded that this isn't the only alarmist nonsense that was used to advance radical change in recent history. Who can forget the "Population Bomb"?

Scientists Behaving Badly:

Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future. Yet the hysteria of the global warming campaigners and their monomaniacal advocacy of absurdly expensive curbs on fossil fuel use have led to a political dead end that will become more apparent with the imminent collapse of the Kyoto-Copenhagen process. I have long expected that 20 or so years from now we will look back on the turn-of-the-millennium climate hysteria in the same way we look back now on the population bomb hysteria of the late 1960s and early 1970s--as a phenomenon whose magnitude and effects were vastly overestimated, and whose proposed solutions were wrongheaded and often genuinely evil

Read the whole thing.

(Via Campaign Standard.)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Kennedy Did It!

With his world-shaking election in 1960:

Lex Communis:

As it happens, the tree-ring proxies match up with the thermometer measurements up until about 1960, when there is a “divergence” between the two sets of data. The tree rings indicate a global cooling after 1960, while the thermometer data indicates a sharp warming.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Lex Communis.)

Science and Ideology

There are two parts to my skepticism about anthropogenic global warming (Should I be shortening that to "agw"?). The first the an uneasiness in the face of claims that seem remarkably like a "Chicken Little"-like attempt to stampede leaders into radical changes to society and governance.

The other is the sense that belief in agw has become a litmus test of almost religious proportions. Believe this or be cast into the outer darkness. This particular blend of faith and science bodes ill for all concerned.

Scientists Behaving Badly:

In the current wars over global warming we are seeing an example of scientists behaving badly. I am not referring just to the hacked e-mails that everyone is talking about. Far more disturbing to me is the recent tactic of labeling any scientist who expresses skepticism about the extent of anthropogenic global warming a “global warming denier,” as though they were somehow comparable to holocaust deniers and thus both willfully ignorant and morally repulsive.

Read the whole thing.

(Via First Thoughts.)

I Remain Agnostic

about anthropogenic global warming, but Jimmy Akin has strong opinions and lots of links:

I Told You So! (Well, Maybe.):

It is now clear that, as I've held all along (in private conversations if not on the blog), the man-made global warming claim is based on junk science. 


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Science and Ethics

One of the key points to keep in mind is that even if there were unethical behaviours in the "Climategate" scandal, that still doesn't tell us what the truth is about anthropogenic global warming. Remember, Galileo and Newton fudged their numbers too.

Climategate III: The Mystery of the Missing Data - Megan McArdle:

Sexing up a graph is a bad thing.  But the world is not going to plunge off a cliff because of one overdone graph.  I've become considerably more concerned at items that have subsequently gotten more attention. 

Read the whole thing.

(Via Campaign Standard.)

Philosophy and Science

In our continuing quest to try to understand the conflicting claims of various scientists and others about anthropogenic global warming, here is a beginners guide to evaluating the concept of "scientific consensus":

The “No True Scientist” Fallacy:

In his 1975 book Thinking About Thinking, philosopher Anthony Flew outlined a form of argument that he dubbed the “No True Scotsman” fallacy:

Argument: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”

Reply: “But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge.”

Rebuttal: “Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”

Read the whole thing.

(Via First Thoughts.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Another Lesson in Climate Science

for those who will persevere, there may some enlightenment:

Richard S. Lindzen: The Climate Science Isn't Settled -

Is there a reason to be alarmed by the prospect of global warming? Consider that the measurement used, the globally averaged temperature anomaly (GATA), is always changing. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes down, and occasionally—such as for the last dozen years or so—it does little that can be discerned.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Campaign Standard.)

Climate Science for Civilians

In the wake of "Climategate" it would be useful for the public to consider how Climate Science works and how we are to receive the judgements of these scientists. John da Fiesole of Disputations gives us a two part discussion to enlighten us. Here is the first:

Science and data, i:

A lot of people are spun up over the material stolen from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. Some are spun up over the material, some are spun up over the stealing, some are spun up over others being improperly or inadequately spun up themselves.

Read the whole thing.

Here is the followup.

(Via Disputations.)