The Dim-Post

July 7, 2012

Roughan’s column this week is also an instant classic

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 8:31 am

It starts out with the possible discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN:

physicists have found the stuff in atoms that they have long suspected stops everything in the universe flying apart. By smashing protons together at the speed of light . . .

And ends with a rant against environmentalism:

Geology says we should let oil prospectors go looking for it, environmentalism says we should not. Greens see a threat to rare sea life at that depth and a risk of ocean pollution if an accident happens.

If it happened I dare say the Southern Ocean would deal with it much as oceans deal with undersea volcanoes and material constantly vented from the cauldron below.

Science has been dominated by environmentalism for too long. What it gained in political attention and research grants has come at a cost to its power to excite us. If a subatomic particle has opened a door to phenomena we can barely comprehend, science will be wonderful again.

At least he admits that science is something he ‘barely comprehends’, although barely might be a bit too weak an adjective.

98 Comments »

  1. I concur with Mr. Roughan. Why, if it were not for those pesky environmentalists who knows what great, earth altering acts of public works the private sector could achieve with the peaceful use of atomic weapons? Want a new lake for a hydro scheme? Have I got a 20 megaton solution for you!

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 7, 2012 @ 8:41 am

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plowshare

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 7, 2012 @ 9:31 am

  3. Someone should perhaps mention to him that “the environment” is not fussy about which species survive. To misquote Mythbusters “extinction is always an option”.

    Comment by Moz in Oz — July 7, 2012 @ 10:09 am

  4. http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2008

    Comment by Vanilla Eis — July 7, 2012 @ 11:29 am

  5. Echo chamber of te righteous.

    Comment by wusel — July 7, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

  6. Roughan, Bridgeman, George (as was), Holmes …

    Here’s the job interview for prospective Herald columnists:

    “Alan Partridge – great comic creation, or role model?”

    “Never heard of him.”

    “You’re hired.”

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — July 7, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  7. “Geology says we should let oil prospectors go looking for it”?

    I’m pretty certain geology per se doesn’t make valued judgements like that – then again, maybe Geology came to him in a dream and spoke directly to him. Of course, geology can help to answer questions like how much impact human emissions can have on the atmosphere, but he;s clearly not interested in geology when it gives him answers that he finds ‘hard to believe’ – only when it comes to him in a dream and tells him to do stuff.

    Comment by kahikatea — July 7, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

  8. ‘barely’ is an adverb not an adjective. I blame the lack of league tables.

    Comment by Jay — July 7, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

  9. i agree with the echo chamber. that column is the weakest attempt *ever* to justify prospecting. surely if john had an ounce of awe of nature in his bubbly little head he’d understand why mining is a bad idea.

    instead we get ill-conceived, soft-porn like reverence for the resilence of mother nature.

    Comment by Che Tibby — July 7, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

  10. ps. in his defence, must be hard for him to remain lucid, what with his own spinchter gradually choking him

    Comment by Che Tibby — July 7, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

  11. @ Che – the echo chamber is this blog.

    Comment by wusel — July 7, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

  12. good. hate to think i misunderstood you.

    Comment by Che Tibby — July 7, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  13. maybe Geology came to him in a dream and spoke directly to him

    Sure, why not? The entire Universe itself regularly chats with James.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 7, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  14. @wusel

    Nobody’s asking you to echo. Feel free to engage and rebut. You’ve had two attempts, and said nothing. Third time lucky?

    Try this for starters: Roughan says “Science has been dominated by environmentalism for too long.”

    Evidence?

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — July 7, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  15. “and the possibility there really is a dimension to the world that is beyond human sensory perception”
    Gaia?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 7, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

  16. And what was your masturbatory Alan Partridge comment about Sammy.

    Comment by wusel — July 7, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

  17. Humour, wusel. If you don’t get it, don’t talk … that way you don’t appear a moron.

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 7, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

  18. But but but “Evidence?” or does that only apply to others, scooter.

    Comment by wusel — July 7, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

  19. Sammy’s evidence is printed in the Herald on a weekly basis, isn’t it Tim (oh, oops, Wusel)? Now, go pull the wings off flies like a 14 year old, there’s a good lad.

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 7, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  20. Good science demands, at least, healthy scepticism, a good grasp of relevant facts,intelligible and robust debate.

    Good journalism demands, at least, healthy scepticism, a good grasp of relevant facts, intelligible and robust debate.

    How the hell does Roughan justify his salary?

    Comment by peterlepaysan — July 7, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

  21. It really is an echo chamber of the faithful and rabid.

    Comment by wusel — July 7, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

  22. you have a brilliant mind, wusel, and you’re right to try and hide it behind a facade of dense, unimaginitive stupid. because if people knew how smart you really are they would try to eat your brain!

    Comment by nommopilot — July 7, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

  23. “What it gained in political attention and research grants has come at a cost to its power to excite us.” – Roughan
    Curse you Science, for trying to engage us in rational public debate on mining threats to our ecosystem, and failing to wow us with glitzy Women’s Weekly interviews with the industry paragons who will shower us with their gold…

    But seeing as Roughan is firmly of the view that “…oceans deal with undersea volcanoes and material constantly vented from the cauldron below”, he won’t mind me pouring my used car oil in the sea near him next time he goes for a swim, right? Cos’ the ocean will laugh it off, and sneer at the precautionary principle of the those silly Greenies. Riiiight.

    Time for a proper mandatory media complaints watchdog with teeth, to cover all media forms. The press complaints system is a joke, which is why Roughan, Armstrong ,et al, get away with this nonsense.

    Comment by bob — July 8, 2012 @ 12:02 am

  24. “flashing light”, “nomo” and “bob” I’m flattered that you love to hate me so – really I am, nah really – and it’s sooo cute that find yourselves sooo smart and green because everyone else are suuuch silly thickies even if you do get confused trying to attribute handles to your hate fetish de jour.

    Comment by Tim — July 8, 2012 @ 8:01 am

  25. You should be ashamed of yourselves – now you’ve made him cry!

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 8, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  26. Start mining & raise living standards.

    They mine in the Nordic socialist utopias should be able to manage it here.

    No poverty in Norway unlike NZ.

    Comment by Simon — July 8, 2012 @ 9:44 am

  27. Oh, now little Rhino comes out to play with his wittle gween buddies, haven’t you got a sunday paper editorial to get all het up about dear?

    Comment by Tim — July 8, 2012 @ 10:09 am

  28. OMG Look it’s Rhino!

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7239614/Protesters-auction-off-PMs-home

    Comment by Tim — July 8, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  29. I wonder if John Roughan is a closet Scientologist?

    And a recent Granny editorialsupposedly a Roughan piece – also outdid itself on education matters:

    “Parents want only to see their children in schools that promise the best results. They do not care about the home circumstances of other pupils. “

    And we thought our ancestors came here to escape class-ridden 19th Century Britain.

    Comment by deepred — July 8, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

  30. PS. And who can forget Roughan’s shark-jumping moment?

    Comment by deepred — July 8, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

  31. Class warefare that’s it yes yes yes. Ever consider that some people i.e. the majority who turfed your chiseling little cunt mates out of power want schools to show clearly how their kids are doing compared with their cohort peers across the country?!

    Comment by wusel — July 8, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  32. Perhaps, but that would have been a bit humiliating in your case, Tim.

    Comment by Judge Holden — July 8, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

  33. @29/30 deepred

    Roughan’s writing is awash with passive-aggressive waffle such as “I can’t help wondering that…” “I feel that…” “It seems that…” “It worries me that…” He’s begging the question everywhere – but with purposefully vague questions, never actually referring to anything factual – and then leaps to unsupported conclusions. Purely as rhetorical criticism, I can say that it’s lazy and indeed dishonest argument because he raises a question with mock-innocence and then furnishes and answer he’s already arrived at without demonstrating the reasoning that’s led to it. It’s quite dishonest, because it dodges any scrutiny of his premises and provides lazy readers with the assurance that they’ve had their prejudices justified.

    And of course, it’s “all for the sake of the children”, that old sentimental trigger (“if you don’t agree with me, then you don’t care about the poor babies”).

    The willfully vague logic and sentimentality used to justify a fundamentally reactionary poisition reminds me of Pete George, actually.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 8, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

  34. Why would that be humiliating for me ‘Judge’,because I’d score ~155 on an IQ score?

    Comment by Tim — July 8, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  35. Oh no doubt you would, wusel. You’re so very clever and all, even if you do have trouble remembering who it is you’re being when trolling.

    Comment by Judge Holden — July 8, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

  36. @32 Judge Holden

    “Would have been”? I suspect that you used the wrong tense.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 8, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

  37. The truck and trailer brothers. Do you write email to yourself as well Rhino?

    Comment by tim — July 8, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

  38. @Rhino #32: Or to put it succinctly, concern trolling.

    Comment by deepred — July 8, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  39. Please validate me Rhino/Judge Dredd/DeepRed/, I “need” you I weely weely do..

    Comment by tim — July 8, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

  40. Somehow I don’t think that this is the second coming of Oscar Wilde – it must be Stephen Fry after all.

    Oh this is so easy that it’s not fun any more… Calm down Little Timmy, you need to relax into a nice hot soothing beltway for a while. To be a good troll, you have to get under another’s skin without them getting to you. I’ve seen some very sophisticated trolls who were fun to read, but you’re operating at the level of one of Pavlov’s dogs.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 8, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

  41. @38 deepred

    Thank you. Succinctness is generally not my strong point.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 8, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

  42. Oh, how cute, our poor wee Rhino keeps coming back to ‘prove’ his ‘superiority’.

    Good boy!

    Comment by tim — July 8, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  43. He doesn’t have to prove that which is self-evident, poor lil man. A boy with your IQ should know that, and ‘how’ and ‘when’ to ‘use’ quotation ‘marks’.

    Comment by Judge Holden — July 8, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

  44. But poor ickle Rhino feels the need to “pwove’ himself, just like you, can’t keep away can you fella.

    Comment by tim — July 8, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

  45. Says timmy, who feels the need to create alter egos to hide the number of times he comments on a site he despises, least he appear a bit needy and, you know, desperate for attention.

    Awaits infantile response in 5, 4, 3 … .

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 8, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

  46. Well then, that was amusing.

    Anyway, onwards…

    Roughan’s own attitude towards “science” as he construes it is interesting to see, though not, I suspect, atypical. If it supports his prejudices, it’s “real” science, and if it doesn’t, it’s “corrupted” in some manner. He seems to be somewhat confused by or oblivious to the difference between science, technology and industry and apparently believes that science should serve to provide some sort of “sense of wonder” and justify anthropocentrism, which is more the role of the most vulgar science fiction. Personally, probably due to my Presbyterian heritage, I prefer the “cold shower” kind of sf of Lem and Wells that says that the universe isn’t too fussy about who prospers and declines in the short term, it only favours those who are smart in the long term.

    There’s a discussion going on on Public Address about the communication of science to the general public, and Roughan’s own ignorant, ham-fisted opportunism demonstrates what’s wrong. I remember… oh, I think it was Michelle Boag complaining on the almost accurately named Jim Mora’s show, “The Panel” complaining that when the facts changed, scientists changed their minds, so how could you trust them? As opposed to people who don’t change their minds when the facts change, apparently. I think that this does touch on something that may not be wrong but which certainly appears to be weak in the public understanding of science. I feel that the schools and the media need to communicate that science is not a canon but a method. Now how can that be done in soundbites? Carl Sagan was brilliant at it. Who now?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 8, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

  47. Oh FFS Rhino, you’ve said it yourself, you love spieling in place of actual argument, namely, “If it supports his (Roughan’) prejudices, it’s “real” science, and if it doesn’t, it’s “corrupted” in some manner” which is *another* of your specious lead in positions to a 2000 word essay on why *you* are sooo right followed by some completely irrelevant ego wanking.

    Comment by Tim — July 8, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

  48. …2…1…0

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 8, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

  49. And to think, tusel/wim put all of his IQ of ~155 into that little missive. Stick to one sentence comments, tusel old chum. Less embarrassing all round.

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 8, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

  50. I think someone misplaced a decimal point, actually.

    Anyway, on topic, people speak well of Neil de Grasse Tyson as a successor to Carl Sagan. There’s even news of him writing and hosting a series following from Cosmos which I am very much looking forward to seeing.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 8, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  51. @Flashing Light #49: A high IQ isn’t always proportional with a high EQ. Rupert Murdoch, anybody?

    Comment by deepred — July 8, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  52. Ruoghan qualifies among the “arrogant ignorant”. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know…and doesn’t doubt the veracity of his opinions for one second in the face of not having a clue. Many recent studies have demonstrated ignorant people don’t know they are ignorant. Trying to explain this is the case only reinforces their determination to remain unknowing.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — July 9, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  53. Speaking of ignorance (and science), have you been following the kerfuffle over detrending data and the screening fallacy surrounding the Gergis et al (2012) study ‘Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium’?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 9, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  54. This seems relevent to the topic of science reporting:
    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/6/28/uk-conference-of-science-journalists.html

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 9, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

  55. Speaking of internet trolls:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/7245308/Internet-trolls-have-low-self-esteem

    Comment by MeToo — July 9, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

  56. @ MeToo

    So all Tim’s compulsive, onanistic utterances (ejaculations?) are a desperate 155 IQ cry for help!
    As his involuntary interlocutors – possibly the only human contact he has outside of Castle Grayskull / his mum’s basement – is it our duty to launch an intervention?

    Comment by Gregor W — July 9, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

  57. “Storm” the animated movie explores the science of why we are ignorant of science

    (h/t the standard)

    Comment by ropata — July 9, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

  58. complaining that when the facts changed, scientists changed their minds, so how could you trust them? As opposed to people who don’t change their minds when the facts change, apparently.

    I recommend you check out the research behind a Freakonomics Podcast “The Truth Is Out There…Isn’t It?” (from November 2011)

    To quote their blog post :
    Greater scientific literacy and numeracy were associated with greater cultural polarization: respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and those predisposed by their values to credit such evidence more concerned, as science literacy and numeracy increased.

    In words, smarter people are more likely to dismiss data or evidence that fails to meet their pre-existing beliefs, whatever those beliefs happen to be.

    I feel that the schools and the media need to communicate that science is not a canon but a method. Now how can that be done in soundbites? Carl Sagan was brilliant at it. Who now?

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is central to a “reboot” of Cosmos, which is set to debut on Fox in the US (yes, yes, we all get the irony) some time late 12 or early 13 I believ. Tyson probably should be your preffered candidate.

    Comment by Phil — July 9, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  59. Not in a position to comment Gregor, last time the Scientologists took my IQ it was only 154.

    Comment by MeToo — July 9, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

  60. In words, smarter people are more likely to dismiss data or evidence…

    smarter people just produce more elaborate arguments to support views which often aren’t in themselves the result of logical, dispassionate reasoning.

    Comment by NeilM — July 9, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

  61. Gee MeTooGregor, you have a slavering obsession with me don’t you, must be some kind of weird low self esteem thing. At least Rhino has kept the bottle closed today.

    Comment by wusel — July 9, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  62. Test

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 9, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  63. Phil, NeilM, having problems with WordPress that I’ve encountered several times before. Interesting comments. Hopefully I’ll get a reply through eventually.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 9, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  64. OK, trying again. Note: Danyl, I’ve often noted that WordPress is PHUQYNGE USELESS on this and other blogs. I’m not the only one by any means. You might want to consider another service. Seriously.

    Precis:

    Phil, seen it before, yes, interesting albeit counter-intutive. I suspect that “knowledge” of science is simply awareness of the “wonders of science”, not an understanding of empiricism. The survey itself might be flawed at a fundamental level. Do the interviewees actually know what is meant by “science”?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 9, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

  65. Amazingly, that got through. Right, next segment. NeilM @60, yes, I think that that is a very astute observation.

    The question might well be, “When we talk about ‘scientific literacy’ what do we mean by that? Reverence for the canonical authority of what we think is science or understanding of the scientific method itself?”

    Yes, some “intelligent” people are relativists and that current culture rewards that relativism. One can be of a certain level of intelligence – however it’s measured – but view knowledge as having merely relative value, potentially equal to any other epistemological system while others of the same intelligence are skilled in negotiating compromises (which is no little skill, considering the limited social ability of many engineers I’ve met) and simply do not comprehend the fact that some facts are simply not amenable to negotiation at all. I’m referring to C. P. Snow’s concept of “Two Cultures” – one is scientific, and understands that certain facts are immutable, while the other is grounded in the humanities and instinctively feels that everything is negotiable and simply cannot comprehend the fact that some facts aren’t negotiable – their brains simply flash “does not compute” and defaults to Key’s answer, which was “Well that’s one expert, but I can find another.”

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 9, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

  66. Bozhe moi*, that actually worked. Wordfuckingpress…

    *Russian for “Oh my God.”

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 9, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

  67. Sometimes I think there must only be two other people on the internet. Each one running thousands of sock puppets.

    Comment by passerby — July 9, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

  68. “Bah!”, as Dogbert would say. The passage, “but view knowledge as having merely relative value, potentially equal to any other epistemological system and be skilled in negotiating compromises ” should read “some can understand the basis for certain observed facts and principles derived from observation how they are understood according to empirical observation while others view knowledge as having merely relative value, potentially equal to any other epistemological system these people of the same intelligence are skilled in negotiating compromises (which is no little skill…”

    An edit button would be nice, and more important, the choice of a service other than the bug-ridden WordPress that arbitrarily blocks posts would be really nice.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 9, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

  69. passerby: Sometimes I think there must only be two other people on the internet. Each one running thousands of sock puppets.

    Wrong. We’re all viral chatbots. Stay out of this or otherwise we’ll start running you through the Turing Test.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 9, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

  70. #68: At the very least, WordPress could do with a preview button.

    Comment by deepred — July 9, 2012 @ 11:42 pm

  71. My pre-existing beliefs predispose me to believe the opposite of whatever Freakonomics says.

    Comment by bradluen — July 10, 2012 @ 4:11 am

  72. “feels that everything is negotiable and simply cannot comprehend the fact that some facts aren’t negotiable”
    Are there many facts in that non-negotiable set? We know dinosaurs existed, because we find their fossils, so we know life wasn’t created as per the bible. But other than that fact? Do we KNOW the god particle exists now? Or is there simply more evidence that it is likely to exist than not?
    Just look at how much argument over whether we are seeing more extreme weather or not, whether the Medieval Warm Period existed or not, and if it did, was it global or only over the North Atlantic. Studies conflict over whether water vapour creates a positive or negative feedback on our climate. There are arguments over whether the urban heat-island effect is real or significant.
    Sheet, some folk even think diesel cars are “more” enviro-friendly than petrol cars. As if that was a fact, not merely marketing/greenwash bullshit.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 10, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

  73. Are there many facts in that non-negotiable set?

    Isn’t this begging the question to a degree, CF?
    A whole bunch empirically proven stuff (certainly since the 17th century anyway) sits in the non-negotiable set.

    Comment by Gregor W — July 10, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  74. Not negotiable by currency traders turned politicians – which would make a very big set indeed.

    As for global warming, it would require rewriting the laws of thermodynamics and chemistry for an increase in overall temperatures not to be happening, so I’d say non-negotiable. As for the resulting climate change (to make an analogy, climate change is to global warming what AIDS is to HIV – one’s a cause and the other’s an effect), it’s definitely not something I’d trust the judgment of a currency trader over, but overwhelming majority (that is, high into the 90% range) real climatologists. Climate is a complex phenomenon with multiple factors (ie., there will be local cooling against an overall rising trend), but those factors exist in a hierarchy. Quibbling over this or that local effect is a distraction if applied to the overall trend, a refinement if subordinated to it.

    Or is there simply more evidence that it is likely to exist than not?

    I’d call that concern trolling. Physics, and especially experimental physics is the epitome of rigour. The body of quantum physics has been the most successful set of theory over the last century. Yes, you will get uncertainties; witness the recent kerfuffle over apparent superluminal travel of neutrinos, but that was sorted out pretty quickly. That in fact is how empirical science works: an observation is made and then it must be reproduced (a humorous magazine for scientists was once called The Journal of Irreproducible Results in fact). The FTL neutrino case was quickly put down to human error, but CERN has been very cautious preceding their announcement.

    All science is contingent to some degree, but if you look at the margins of error in the case of CERN’s recent announcement case, you’ll see that there is a huge number of zeroes before you get to a different digit. A lot of people like to blather about Schrodinger’s Cat without understanding what it’s about and claim some sort of wriggle room in a totally unrelated field. The fact that the wriggle room is so pitifully tiny seems to get glossed over in demagogic rhetoric – and often disingenuously.

    You’re drawing a long bow indeed to connect – even by implication – the Higgs Boson and “greenwash”. However, indeed there is a lot of nonsense spouted about hybrid vehicles, particularly in assessing overall life-cycle costs. The amount of energy needed to mine and manufacture batteries and then dispose of them far outweigh their more obvious or superficial efficiencies. A second-hand Volvo is a better bet than the latest Prius.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 10, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  75. “A whole bunch empirically proven stuff (certainly since the 17th century anyway) sits in the non-negotiable set.”
    So why there is so much controversy about what data was included and what data was excluded in these studies of historical temperature series? Controversy over the adjustments or corrections made to raw data? Controversy over the fact that the raw data has been lost? Did you hear about NIWA’s own data scandal? Did you realise that there may be shonky scientists? Like there are shonky doctors, lawyers, accountants, politicians & bankers?
    http://www.examiner.com/article/new-zealand-climate-agency-accused-of-data-manipulation

    Empirical proof? What about observational bias? Selection bias?
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/12/13/101213fa_fact_lehrer

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 10, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

  76. “As for global warming, it would require rewriting the laws of thermodynamics and chemistry for an increase in overall temperatures not to be happening, so I’d say non-negotiable.”
    But what about rewriting history? Dinosaurs roamed the world when CO2 levels are said to be much higher than today’s levels? So why didn’t the water vapour positive feedback kick in and take the world over the tipping point? Why didn’t that happen during the medieval warm period? Why did the little ice age happen instead? (Note these aren’t my questions: they are the questions of scientists. I hear them ask these questions and think “Hmm, but I thought the man with the beard said the science is settled?”)
    http://www.john-daly.com/artifact.htm
    “The Journal of Irreproducible Results” – ha, love it. Are there any entries in there for computer climate models?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 10, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

  77. “However, indeed there is a lot of nonsense spouted about hybrid vehicles, particularly in assessing overall life-cycle costs. The amount of energy needed to mine and manufacture batteries and then dispose of them far outweigh their more obvious or superficial efficiencies. A second-hand Volvo is a better bet than the latest Prius.”
    Agree, but depending on what costs you leave in or out of your calculations, how you place a vlaue on the various sub-, the vehicle can look like a winner. So too can the value of solutions like wind turbines.

    I can’t help but worry that the concern over global warming comes from some people’s predisposition to worry about consumption.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 10, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  78. Did you realise that there may be shonky scientists?,/i>

    Of course there are shonky scientists, some who have had tremendous political influence such as Trofin Lysenko, but the crucial fact is that Lysenko’s findings were rejected by the worldwide community of geneticists. As I said, reproducibility and synergy is essential to practice. Most scientific issues are beyond human cognitive abilities, which is why it is a gradual, collaborative process and information is continually being weighed and added. Frauds are eventually discovered because, as Feynman said to the Challenger Inquiry, “Nature cannot be fooled”. Let’s not reiterate points already covered.

    during the medieval warm period?

    Assuming that it was global, not European and ice cores and tree rings outside Europe tend to say that both it and the Little Ice Age were local.

    Dinosaurs roamed the world when CO2 levels are said to be much higher than today’s levels?

    The world was in fact a lot warmer then and sea levels were higher. Though you don’t mention or imply it, it is often said “what’s the problem? Life endures changes”. Life does (mostly), but not without changes that in the short term of decades or centuries are catastrophic. The “tipping point” is simply an anthropocentric popular term that indicates that something would be catastrophic and long-term for us but countered by natural processes over many millennia.

    Are there any entries in there for computer climate models?

    The journal’s defunct, but the The Annals of Improbable Research is still running. Models maybe, but not observations such as the trend of rising temperatures retreat of arctic ice, which is well-documented.

    “Hmm, but I thought the man with the beard said the science is settled?”

    An presumably the woman without one too?😉 Anyway, look at the difference between local and global, short-term versus long-term. El Nino/La Nina cycles generally take five to seven years for instance and Milankovich cycles last millennia, but a few cold wet summers or mild winters don’t prove anything either way, so you need to observe a longer term trend in the observational data does offer an indication.

    What you’re addressing is actually the poor communication of science by the mass media – any difference is seized upon and given equivalence. One of the worst offenders in this practice in another area is the Daily Mail’s campaign to sort everything in the universe into things that either cause or cure cancer. I’m honestly surprised that the news programmes these days don’t cover geographical issues or report on space exploration without interviewing representatives of the Flat Earth Society for the sake of “fairness and balance”.

    concern over global warming comes from some people’s predisposition to worry about consumption.

    Probably by a lot of people, but to base any serious criticism on that is like saying that acrophobia causes gravity.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 10, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

  79. Italics fail…

    P.S. I don’t mean to come across as snarky (since I’ve gone all Doug Piranha with wosshisname). I take your views seriously and see this as an issue in the public understanding of science and how knowledge is assessed. I think it’s a worthwhile discussion.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 10, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  80. Holy fuck, CF! That’s a chunk of verbiage (not to mention ruthless threadjack).

    What I was pointing out is that, irrespective of your pet beef wrt AGW, it’s dumb to suggest that there isn’t a whole arse-load of science that nicely fits into the “non negotiable” set (i.e biggies like Newton’s constant, Boltzmann’s constant etc.)

    Comment by Gregor W — July 10, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  81. “medieval warm period….. ice cores and tree rings outside Europe tend to say that both it and the Little Ice Age were local.” Bollocks, search and you’ll find plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise: A sediment core from the eastern Bransfield Basin, Antarctic Peninsula, preserves climatic events in the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period. Khim, B.; Yoon, Ho Il; Kang, Cheon Yun; Bahk, Jang Jun (2002). “Unstable Climate Oscillations during the Late Holocene in the Eastern Bransfield Basin, Antarctic Peninsula”.

    “Though you don’t mention or imply it, it is often said “what’s the problem? Life endures changes”.”
    Actually, no that wasn’t my point. My point was exactly what I said: positive feedback mechanisms, inherent in today’s computer climate models, did not tip the planet into a death spiral, in spite of the high levels of CO2 and higher temperatures.

    “but not observations such as the trend of rising temperatures retreat of arctic ice, which is well-documented.”
    Are you really so obtuse? I think skeptics avoid using terms like settled science, but the data seem to show no warming since 1998 I believe. Sure, I won’t bet the house on such a short time period being “proof” that AGW (or ANY warming) isn’t happening. But it is hysterical to see warmists spin this or that year or decade being the hottest since blah-blah.
    And it’s funny how, when the sea ice returns, it doesn’t make the news.

    “What you’re addressing is actually the poor communication of science by the mass media”

    concern over global warming comes from some people’s predisposition to worry about consumption. – Probably by a lot of people, but to base any serious criticism on that is like saying that acrophobia causes gravity.
    You miss my poinT: I am conceding that perhaps, being a baby-eating rightnut wingjob, I am predisposed to close my eyes when evidence of AGW hove into view. I am pointing out (see Phil @ 58) that perhaps your leftwing, environmental or anticapitalist (I assume) views predispose you to seeing a need to counter our culture of consumption. And the spectre of AGW would seem to be the embodiment of the wages of those consumerist sins.
    Re 79 – indeed!

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 10, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  82. “What I was pointing out is that, irrespective of your pet beef wrt AGW, it’s dumb to suggest that there isn’t a whole arse-load of science that nicely fits into the “non negotiable” set (i.e biggies like Newton’s constant, Boltzmann’s constant etc.)”
    Indeed, but a lot of science, esp around climate, is “new” and relies on observation. You only need to spend some time reading about the collection and recording of the data to realise how uncertain everything is. See (without knowing whether this is legit or not:
    http://www.informath.org/apprise/a5610/b101201.htm

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 10, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

  83. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18770964

    A good example on how scientists can reach different conclusions.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 10, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  84. Life endures changes”.”
    Actually, no that wasn’t my point.

    I didn’t say that it was. I was careful about that – it’s just a tangent.

    Bollocks, search and you’ll find plenty

    Beware cherry-picking. Search engines are the ultimate cherry pickers.

    seem to show no warming since 1998 I believe.

    There was a peak in 1998… again… look at trends, not single year readings, and IIRC that 1998 figure is out of date in any case.

    I think skeptics avoid using terms like settled science

    Some do, some don’t, but muddying the waters, or the newer term, “concern trolling” is a more frequent tactic, ie., emphasising uncertainty and pointing at wriggle room in the data, however small, facilitates avoidance and delay.

    leftwing, environmental or anticapitalist (I assume) views

    Well, to be pedantic and to bring in my possibly irrelevant personal views, I’ll call myself a liberal social democrat and describe capitalism as Churchill described democracy – the worst possible system except for some others that have been tried from time to time. I am very sceptical of command economies and too many of my friends and relatives have lived under various real totalitarian systems – communist or Nazi – for me to feel any sympathy for either. One old friend of mine defected from communist Czechoslovakia and spent some time in France, where she suffered the exquisite irony of having French communists lecture her on the the virtues of Marxism. She was, at best, amused.

    I’m also frequently appalled at the philistinism and luddism of the Greens. I do not think that being an environmentalist means eating cold lentils in the dark while wearing a hair shirt. I actually want to see climate change combatted so that I can enjoy the luxuries of modern civilisation. I even think that nuclear energy (even dirty old fission!) is better than coal rather than both being unthinkable because that’s the choice in the real world where unicorn farts really aren’t a viable alternative and wind and solar might not be adequate.

    “new” and relies on observation.

    Ahem, observation trumps desire every time.

    You only need to spend some time reading about the collection and recording of the data to realise how uncertain everything is.

    I do. Again, all science is uncertain to some degree. If you want a definition of science, it is this: “It is the best description available now of how nature works according to our present understanding, consistently and coherently organised.” That may sound weak, but refer Churchill’s observation on democracy.

    See (without knowing whether this is legit or not

    In which case, I needn’t.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 10, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

  85. Re the oft-quoted 1998 reading, see http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14527 for a quick refutation.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 10, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  86. A good example on how scientists can reach different conclusions.

    Indeed. Again, individual scientists don’t matter – it is the practice of science that matters. This is a perfect example of science doing what it does best.

    Refer the superluminal neutrinos – individual findings may be interesting, but the reproducibility of results has to be overwhelming.

    In fact, most scientific findings will prove to be wrong, and that is a good thing, because science works by someone proposing something and then the rest of the community checking. Every time an hypothesis is proposed, it must be tested. In a Darwinian process, only the fittest survive. The prestige or charisma of individuals or the potential excitement of what they propose is irrelevant. (I take it as an indication of your good faith that you don’t mention Al Gore.) You don’t look at or cherry pick an individual finding, you look at the consensus.

    Indeed, in history there have been radicals and Kuhnian paradigm shifts, but in reality they’ve been very, very rare. Wegener and continental drift is one example, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any others. Einstein did not demolish Newton, for example, instead Relativity added another layer to physics. Galileo is often used as an example by denialists, but he wasn’t arguing with scientists – he was arguing with a theologians.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 10, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

  87. refute? I see links to Hadley CRU’s data. But they lost the unadjusted historical data and haven’t adequately explain how & why adjustment ahppenbed. I also see reference links that are blogs (RealClimate). come on, you can do better!
    Thank you for clarification on yr views: I was out a bit.
    “There was a peak in 1998… again… look at trends, not single year readings, ”
    A number of statistians have explained how trend lines are easily manipulated. I don’t have the links to hand on this PC (and heaven forbide I use a search engine to find them, eh?).

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 10, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  88. I also see reference links that are blogs

    ?

    how trend lines are easily manipulated.

    Lest I seem idealist, science is also a very competitive business, as does academia in general – I often say to friends outside the redbrick towers (ivory? not here!) Inspector Morse was hopelessly unrealistic – the homicide rate in a real university would never be so low… So at the risk of seeming a bore, I’ll dismiss any individual incident or fuckup and look to the consensus. I really don’t care one whit about what any single critic has to say about anything, any more than I care about what one observer has to say about what they’ve seen or what one agency happens to have accidentally flushed down the toilet.

    heaven forbide I use a search engine to find them, eh?

    Right🙂

    As you might have guessed, I work in a university and it is eternally frustrating to me that students use the internet as their primary source. That would be fine, as most academic journals are now online, but one of the classes I teach is on writing essays (it’s really, really basic) and as an exercise, we have students find and assess the credibility of sources. You would not believe the number who come back saying that a source is “credible” because it provides “coverage”. If I facepalmed, I’d have a concussion.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 10, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

  89. this PC

    A PC?! Unclean! Burn the witch!

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 10, 2012 @ 9:25 pm

  90. “I work in a university” What’s yr area of specialty?

    Are you sure that the consensus on the feedback effects of cloud cover is “positive”? Sorry to harp on about this feedback, but seems to be fundamental to the theory of AGW.

    And leave my PC alone! She’s beautiful: I built her myself. Okay, okay: so I don’t fabricate chips. I assembled her myself.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 11, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  91. Re Messrs (mesdames?) R, CF et al – lacking a 155 iq, am still digesting their arguments – but thanks for an absorbing discussion for my lunch hour.

    Comment by Leopold — July 11, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  92. Water vapour… OK, a few aspects to that…

    It’s uncertain whether cloud-cover will increase, AFAIK, it won’t – and I have to break that down into albedo and thermodynamics. First, reflectivity is measured as “albedo”. A high-albedo (white) object will reflect more light and one with a high albedo in the infrared will reflect more heat, meaning that if there is more cloud cover, more light and heat will be reflected away into space, as clouds are light in visible and IR bands. However, loss of ice and snow coverage reduces the earth’s albedo as ocean and desert are darker than ice. Moreover, if there’s greater energy in the atmosphere on account of it being warmer, then it becomes more dynamic, evaporation increases, but precipitation increases too and we get more of the water coming back down again and a lot more frequent and powerful storms. That’s what actually concerns me about GW rather than fairly gradual sea-level rise (in the medium term) as there’ll be more weather-related natural disasters (and insurance premiums going up).

    As for the role of water vapour as a greenhouse gas in itself, a lot of the sceptical literature on the early 2000s emphasised uncertainty – “wriggle room” as I called it. The later scholarly (based on observation, peer-reviewed etc) work from such sources as NOAA and NASA dated from the later 2000s both show rises in quantity and temperature – and confirm earlier models. In short there seems to be a consolidating consensus that water vapour is just going to make things worse.

    Re your curiosity about me: I’m in the postdoctoral void (overqualified to tutor most undergrads, not enough of a publications list for whatever passes for tenure these days) and therefore part of the casualised academic workforce. I have too many job descriptions and I have qualifications and positions that range from industrial design to english literature. I work in three schools and last trimester I had eight different contracts. I expect this trimester to be much less complicated with just three this time (plus some professional writing on the side). Anyway, the result is that some days I work along side some quite hard building scientists and engineers, another day its time with linguists and another day it’s literary critics – so at the very least I have an appreciation of the workings of both the sciences and humanities, and the differences between how the generate and value knowledge.

    Hope that helps, and I won’t say nasty things about PCs. I want my own Heuristic ALgorithmic machine anyway.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 11, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  93. … further to the albedo blather… it’s my feeling that due to lack of political will worldwide to actually stick to emissions targets, we’ll see more news in the coming years about “geoengineering” solutions, some of which include artificially increasing cloud cover. The more luddite factions of the greens will certainly oppose that, as they’ve already started to oppose fusion.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — July 11, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  94. Most snow and ice is at the poles isn’t it? The amount of sunlight and thus heat reaching the poles is quite low, so ice loss can’t make much difference to the amount of heat reflected in those regions. So if cloud cover increases elsewhere, then the net effect must surely be more reflection. I know it’s more complex than that, as clouds also trap heat. But these guys seem to think increased wind speed will result in larger, more reflective cloud droplets:
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009GL041320.shtml

    “we’ll see more news in the coming years about “geoengineering” solutions, some of which include artificially increasing cloud cover”
    There again, any AGW may well simply be swallowed up in any cold snap from a solar minimum..?
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/01apr_deepsolarminimum/

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 11, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  95. “lacking a 155 iq, am still digesting their arguments ”
    I have no idea of my IQ. I’d rather be thought of as a fool than take the test and remove all doubt…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 11, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

  96. @CF #90: I’ve been putting my own computers together since the early Pentium era – now that’s going back a fair while. What are your latest vital stats?

    Comment by deepred — July 11, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  97. CM Silencio (there’s a theme starting there), Antec HCG-620, i7-2600, Intel DH61B3, Ripjaw 8GB, Vertex+ 120GB SSD, Win7Pro 64, HD6670 running 3x 24″.
    “That’s a small harddrive you’ve got there. Are you compensating with those monitors..?”
    I started with the monitors and worked backwards. The theme is quiet-at-a-reasonable-price: some may find the sound of a hard drive being indexed or scanned musical, but I don’t.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 12, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

  98. @CF: And here’s mine:

    i5-2500K
    GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3
    2x 4GB HyperX 1600MHz
    4x Seagate/WD/Samsung HDDs (not paranoid, just spreading the risk)
    660W PSU
    768MB GTX460
    iCute 0408 mid tower (soon to be an Antec Lanboy?)
    Win 7 Ultimate

    I always plan ahead when making a major upgrade, because mobos are the fiddliest to replace.

    Comment by deepred — July 12, 2012 @ 7:43 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: